Thaaaat’s riiiiight… I hung out for a day with SOFREP’s own Buck Clay; Doctor and Corporate Lawyer by day, author and clandestine subversive operative by night.
I’m an honest sort of fellow, at least I fancy myself one. Therefore I should be up front, or at least next to upfront that I don’t actually ‘hang’ out with Buck Clay per se; rather, I hung out with him for the better par of a day months back because folks… that’s about as long as anyone can endure the living Buck Clay without rest.
Too many ideas, a plethora of theories, oodles of oaths, credible conspiracies, so much sarcasm, too much rage, too few pauses. The truth, the logic, the common sense, the insight, the marketing… all too much to assimilate after about a seven hour saturation– the mind simply can’t hold it all. It’s like seeing the ocean for the first time in your life. Your mind blanks at its vastness, because it has nothing to gage it with, then it slowly starts to grasp the grandeur.
Yep, it was ‘round about 2000… oh I don’t know, I guess I wanna say about 2015 I think the year was, and about the November-ish time frame that Buck was headed south–literally headed south–to pick up on some stories at the US/Mexican border.
With Albuquerque being on Buck’s southern trajectory, we found it mutually acceptable to link up for a gun run through my Human Traffic (HT) hunt Area of Responsibility (AOR). I could brief him on current situational details and flounder ideas by him in hope of gleaning some two cents from another set of tactically-sound eyes.
Some of my ideas would be met with an are-you-serious chuckle. Some would be interrupted with a wagging finger and a stern “Nope… nope… nope…” others merited not even an audible supplement, just a roll of eyes. Ah but the few, the chosen few ideas warranted an approving few seconds of silence, followed by slow hand to the chin, and thoughtful finger tap to the lower lip.
I remember that day like it was just last year. I mean how could I forget? The day prior I was suddenly met with a pang of panick… nervous as a young wife throwing her first dinner party. What if nothing at all happened on our patrol? I mean SOMETHING usually happens, but I admit there are some slow days that feel like they just sucked eight hours right out of my body. It’s days like that I wish I had at least a ‘book on tape’ to listen to so I won’t feel an entire day was wasted.
Perhaps, I thought, perhaps I should go out the night before and prep the hood with some random assault rifle fire and molotov cocktails to stir and heat things up. No… no I would let the chips fall where they may. My plan B would be to take him out to the bosses place and we could put on some dog and pony show about our organization and how great and wonderful the thing are that we are accomplishing is… just not today.
Comms in the clear set the time and location for the link up, the diner at the largest truck stop in Albuquerque. This truck stop is a petrie dish of all seething and unclean things the city brings to bear. It is constantly rife with the nation’s nomadic gypsy trash wandering in, and staggering out. I would say the top five most most detestable things I have seen in my civilian life were perceived at that truck stop. What a fine presentation it would make to welcome the venerable Buck Clay. This was putting my best foot forward. This would get my foot in the door… what a feat this would be.
The Sacred TA Truck Stop in the ‘Q’
I got to the diner a tad early, because Martha Stewart once told me in person that that is what a good host does, and that was even before she got slammed in the pokey. I parked in the lot and began to collect my usual atmospherics: Tractor with no berth behind the cab; that’s a local route runner, why does he need to even be in a truck stop? Hmmm… Some trucks pull into truck stops and just sit in them for an hour with their engine running, then leave. Hmmmm.
Truckers are required to show they took rest breaks in their log books wether they feel like they need them or not. It’s too easy to get busted by the DOT system so many truckers will just go through the motion rather than risk getting caught with a steep fine. I went to a commercial tractor trailer driving school when I was with Delta. We did at one time pack all of our sensitive combat vehicles in tractor rigs and drive them across country for training, so as to minimize attention to ourselves.
So now there was nothing left to do but wait. The watch was ticking, the linkup time was approaching… let’s see what this guy was made of. Well, on time on target Buck arrives. We did the grip and grin and headed inside the diner for a quick bite and orientation.
The woman who would be our waitress was named Beverly, as I recall her announcing. This little sister had one foot in the diner and one foot still in Motel One, just up the street where Buck and I would ignite a ditch filled with foo-gas later that night as our Final Protective Fire (FPF) for our break out of encirclement.
Beverly had hair that was dyed, but not this month, an alien sort of gamut, not complimentary to the prime colors palette. Her haircut was not so much a cut at all as it was an identity crisis to a degree. I met it with a solid stare, though it may have garnered a light golf clap from Cindy Lauper.
Her many tattoos were clearly not of industrial standard application, rather of involuntary institutionalized living. There were brass knuckles, one over each breast. There was a Bette Midler Rose on her shoulder, ok so that was nice. Then there was the omnipresent crown with Baroque scrolled initials, all telltale signs of having been trafficked some time in her thirty something years.
And sadly, she had the unmistakable visage of grief, the strain of years of hard drug addiction that cheated her out of looking the twenty something that she really was. Hey at least she was working, right?? Yeah well I would go to that diner everyday for the rest of my life and be her cheerleader if I thought it would keep her at her job… I just don’t need a pinch to remind me that I’m in the real world.
We spent the majority of our time at the diner with me making excuses for how I was really working a riveting case with a crank-ho street informant that was supplying me with really great information that would bring the HT network syndicate to their knees… but that she had dropped off radar for days now. Surely it had nothing to do with the $100 I paid her the week prior. I continued with my barrage of excuses as we walked out to to the parking lot.
“What’s this gal’s name anyway, Geo?”
“Sally! Holy crap its Sally!” I responded looking across the avenue at Ms Lo-and-behold. Yes Ms Crank-ho was back on the radar screen with a blip, headed to her haunt, the Motel One. “Get in Buck, let’s go have a talk with that ghostosaurus rex.”
Long Tall Sally
We hooked around the block where she had cut through an alley between two industrial compounds. I intended to approach her from her front, where she could see us coming and not be surprised. And so Long Tall Sally didn’t miss a beat when we approached and stopped. She smoothly and efficiently maneuvered her unfiltered Camel in preparation for discussion, as if this had been our plan of the day.
‘Buzz… click… whirrr….’ Buck was extracting recording device after device from his go-bag to capture this Kodak moment. It was clear as the skin on a baby’s butt that this was not Buck’s first day at this.
“Garajo, chiquilla donde estabas? Ok, sooo… what the hell, Ms Sally… get caught up at the Rotary Club again?” Sally let a salvo of disjointed, senseless excuses peal off her chola lips, a salvo whose report still to this day makes me dizzy to recall. Even the brick wall that is Buck Clay reeled slightly there in the saddle.
“No purchase, dear Sally.”
“No purchase; I’m not buying any of it.”
“Well those people at the Motel saw me talking to you last week and now they want to kill me because they think you’re a cop. It’s your fault, mother fucker; You need to protect me Goddamn it… can I have $30?”
“A dub only costs $20.”
“No, Goddamnit… its not for drugs its for my Goddamn rent!”
“Here, you can have $10… now make your meetings chiquilla.”
And so LT Sal closed with the Motel One.
“So Buck, I want to show you the most drug trafficked apartment on this side of town. The parents of one of my street informants live there. Her parents trafficked her for H when she was a minor. Now she’s 23 and there’s nothing I can do for her. She says she can’t stand living with them, so she lives out here on the streets.”
“Geo, want to go back to the truck stop and swap out vehicles, since yours is probably pretty burned by now?” Yessiree… clear as the skin on a baby’s butt.