By 1967, I was buried deep in the bowels of the Bureau at Quantico -- with shitty clearance to boot.
I was a clerk in the Records Management Division. Oh sure, I was an agent for what it was worth. Basically, it came in handy at bars. Every chick within a 10 mile radius wanted to fuck a bonafide FBI agent and I helped them with that.
I started when I was discharged from Korea. A guy in my unit had an uncle who's friend was a G-man. I figured that I had enough Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity to serve my country overseas so why not stateside. After training, it was no time before the conformity of the day turned me into a working schnook and I found myself working as a glorified librarian.
You see, when Special Agents - the real guys - need information for their field agents, I get a either a wire or a phone call. I would pull thousands of case files -- everything from the militant "New Left" to homegrown Communists to the KKK. We feds were on it all.
But there was this one file called "Agent: Orange" that kept creeping across my desk. As conduits of information that often dealt with national security, we were forbidden to open them. And closed circuit cameras made sure we kept our peepers front and center. The rumor I kept hearing, though, was that The Pentagon was developing a new herbicidal warfare program just in case that conflict in Vietnam got any worse. "Agent: Orange" ... they said this was its name.
The file kept getting thicker and I thought nothing more of it.
I loved them.
Out came the flashlight and the first child that I saw was that infamous "Agent: Orange" file. Imagine the shock when I found out that the folder was not named for a classified weapons initiative but a person.
Out came my baloney sandwich, I combed through every line on every page and soaked up every photo.
The file centered on a particular FBI Agent - deep undercover - who, among many things, persuaded mob insider Joseph Valachi to spill the beans about the structure of La Cosa Nostra -- the American "mafia."
The dateline of the case report hit me like a ton of bricks.
09 MARCH 1967
OPERATION -- "AGENT: ORANGE"
FIELD AGENT: FRANCIS A. SINATRA
The more I thought about it and almost choking on baloney, it made perfect sense. It was a genius cover. What better way to infiltrate the mafia than by grooming a young Italian singer into an international icon who would eventually travel in their circles and become one of their most trusted friends?
Oh sure, Hoover like to play up the fact that he was a gangster, but that was part of the cover. The Bureau even went so far as giving him a fake tough guy background by arresting him back when he was first recruited. All these years later, little do his fans know that there was a reason why he got away with everything.
But I couldn't figure out why they called him "Agent: Orange."
About two hours later, the power came back on. It was the only file I got through. And boy, the stuff I learned...
Dreading the farewell speeches that were to come, I almost left but then I saw him at the bar and oddly, he was alone -- at least for the moment. I decided to make my move and as he drank his Jack on the rocks, I introduced myself and informed him that I worked in the Bureau's Records Management Division.
I winked. He stared.
I winked. Again.
He'd clearly had it by this point and before he walked away,