Dressed in my funny, little Giovanni’s Pizza uniform, I approached the security checkpoint of the Baltimore FBI office carrying three pizza boxes—wondering all the while whether the silk skirt under the red and white pinafore would give me away.
“What have we here, little lady?” the male attendant said.
“Some agents ordered pizzas,” the female attendant replied. “I love a good Giovanni’s pizza.”
The man pointed at me. “Can you leave one of those behind?”
“Not a chance,” I said through my smile. “Special Agent Strunk would have your jobs … and mine, too.”
“You’re not a terrorist are you?” the female attendant asked. They laughed while she searched my purse and set it on the conveyor belt.
I snickered. “Ever hear of a five-foot, one-hundred-eight-pound female terrorist before?”
“Not in this country,” the female said. “You don’t even look old enough to drive. You deliver by bike?”
“No, ma’am. I bought a car on my sixteenth birthday last month.” I set the pizza boxes next to the conveyor belt and watched the female attendant separate and place them side by side. They disappeared through the hanging black slats. Once I passed this point, part one of my master plan would have been completed.
“Wait a minute,” the man said. “Why aren’t you in school?”
“It’s a holiday,” I replied.
“Labor Day was last weekend, sweetie,” the female said.
Red alert! She’s got me—but wait. Maryland boasts a large Catholic population.
“I go to the St. Ignatius School, and it’s the birthday of our patron saint.”
The female attendant squinted and deep thought lines wrinkled her brow. Who knew the birth date of St. Ignatius? She unwrinkled and nodded.
The man reached out. “You’ll have to give me that cute little hat, too.”
“Of course.” I yanked it off and handed it to him. Its triangular shape repulsed me. The male attendant was seriously fashion-challenged if he liked it. Who was I to talk? When I turned fourteen I split from my female peers, gave up caring about fashion and everything else they were interested in, and wore only what appealed to me—but I drew the line at that bizarre hat.
The man looked inside it, set it on the conveyor belt, and then pointed to the open door frame. “Go on through.”
On walking through, the alarm sounded, and the female waved me back.
“Oh,” I pulled off my hair band. I forgot this. It has metal under the velvet covering.”
She slipped it onto the conveyor belt, and I walked through the door frame. No alarm this time. “I wonder if either of you could direct me to the ladies’ room.”
“Sure,” the woman said and pointed down the wide hall. “Pass the elevators on your right, turn left down the next hall, and it’s the second door on your right.”
I slipped on my hair band, gathered my belongings, and wished the attendants a good day. In the unoccupied bathroom, I scurried to the window, opened it, and threw the pizzas outside. I untied the pinafore, snatched off the hat, and walked to the paper towels. After cramming the clothing deep into the disposed towels, I jerked out several clean ones from the dispenser, wadded them up, and stuffed them on top of the clothing.
Washing my hands, I stared at my reflection. “There, that should cover me.”
Opening the bathroom door, I peered out, looked left, looked right, and, seeing no one, stepped out.
“Now,” I whispered, “I’m just someone’s kid on ‘take-your-daughter-to-work’ day.”
I walked back in the direction of the elevators. Two suited men rounded the corner and my heart and stomach fluttered. Staring at their eyes, I saw they were too engaged in conversation to notice me; and soon they passed by.
Walking to the corner, I leaned around it and stared at the security checkpoint.
“There they are,” I whispered, realizing that slinking around in the hall of the FBI would only arouse suspicion.
Staring at the attendants again, I watched them help an older woman remove the purse strapped over her right shoulder and set it on the conveyor belt. Neither looked my way.
I stepped out, walked the thirty feet to the elevator hall, turned left, and scurried to the farthest one. “Good,” I whispered, pushing the ‘up’ button. “They’re out of sight.”
I waited a long time, and then a bong sounded as the elevator closest to the main hall opened. Two men and a woman stepped out. I spun away from them and pushed the ‘up’ button again. The elevator door closed and the ‘up’ button light blinked off. I waited longer and pushed it again.
Glancing at my watch, I looked toward the hall. A few people strolled past, but none walked toward the elevators.
My elevator door opened, and I rushed in. Spinning around, I pushed the third-floor button and moved to the corner. A man rushed toward me. “Wait! You! Wait a minute!”
I flattened my lips, gulped, and reached for the third-floor button again.
“Stop!” the man said from thirty feet away. I punched the third-floor button so hard I almost sprained my index finger.
“Ouch.” I looked at the man and shrugged my shoulders. The doors started closing, and he arrived with them only a foot apart. “Sorry, sir. I don’t know how.”
“It’s okay—,” he said before the doors closed.
“Good, he wasn’t after me … only the elevator. Well, I certainly don’t need to hold a conversation all the way to the third floor.” I tapped the purse hanging from my left shoulder. “Now, Agent Strunk, get ready for a most unusual visitor.”
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