The Author’s Message

Special Update September 24, 2018 Please visit my new blog! Click on “Novels by DKMatthews” or go to the “my books” page in the heading. This blog will tune you in to some of my other writing interests. For the rest of this year “Novels by DKMatthews” posts will be related to my latest novel, L.A. Ghost Story…

American Embassy Nairobi | Terror at Happy Valley! (Part Two)

Author note: For those readers who have not read “part one” of this short story I strongly suggest you “click here” and read it before proceeding. Happy Valley | 1980: A Mid-Summer Nightmare Chynna and her mom were in a real fix. A dangerous panga gang had broken into their home located in an isolated…

American Embassy Nairobi | Terror at Happy Valley!

My assignment to the American Embassy Nairobi during 1979 to 1981 occurred during a tumultuous period. The security of regions throughout the world was on the edge. Nairobi had its own security concerns as tribal factions and bandits confronted an increasingly westernized city with violence. My job at the RCO office (Radio Communications Office) was…

Cairo International Airport | Thanksgiving in August

August 1978 Preface When I departed the American Embassy Cairo after my third visit I felt good about my situation. It had been nine months since the Pakistani Air flight had touched down at Karachi where I would be assigned for two years. The RCO (Regional Communications Office) there had been a big challenge but…

American Embassy U.A.E. | The Music Man

June 1978—The United Arab Emirates I was serving the U.A.E. missions on the way to Cairo and Athens. I had begun at Muscat, Oman. It might have been Abu Dhabi or Dubai (memories fail) where I ran into CRO Wojakowski. Wojo, short and non-descript, was in his mid-thirties. A short man, he owned a bald…

The Summer of ’78 | Technology and Magic

Preface: In Profiles of the Future (1962) Arthur C Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey and others) postulated his three laws. Also an inventor, a philosopher, and a futurist the author’s glimpses into the future changed a lot of opinions. Clarke’s famous three laws best describe his ideas: Law#1: When a distinguished scientist states that something is possible,…

Darts With Donna Summer | The Disco Queen

June 1978—American Embassy Amman, Jordan I enjoyed my visits to Amman, Jordan. Hands down it was the closest thing to Israel in the Middle East. I had to believe that was due mainly to the guidance of King Hussein, one of my idols. As I’ve mentioned in several previous messages (tag: King Hussein of Jordan),…

Travel Tuesdays in the Middle East | The Only Way to Fly

Travel experts argue that Tuesdays are the best days for travel. They point out factors such as competition, demand, the economy, and seasonality. It’s always nice not to stand in long lines at departures. A flight can be more comfortable with a vacant seat next to you. But there are other reasons for traveling on…

The American Embassy Athens | A Home Cooked Meal Includes Spoiled Milk

April 1978 RCO Bob Roberson had offered for me to layover the weekend in Athens before returning to my home base at Amconsul Karachi. I accepted with the only caveat being that I attend a half-day security upgrade at Am Embassy Athens. >photo Hellenikon Air force Base, Athens, Greece circa 1976 by forgottenairfields.com I was…

The Belgium Interest, Baghdad | WATTS Up?

May 1978 TDY (temporary duty), Baghdad: The U.S. government was starting up an “interest” at the Belgium embassy. I was part of a team of OC (Office of Communication) technicians tasked with installing an HF (High-Frequency) radio system called WATTS (West Africa Telecommunication and Teletype Systems) there that had the capability to handle classified telegrams. …

Baghdad | The Casablanca Nightclub

April 1978 TDY (temporary duty), Baghdad: The U.S. government was starting up an “interest” at the Belgium embassy. I was part of a team of OC (Office of Communication) technicians tasked with installing a High-Frequency radio system there that had the capability to handle classified telegrams. After drilling into very hard walls using very dull…

Baghdad | By the Rivers of Babylon

April 1978 The ’57 Chevy driven by a black-mustached Iraqi rumbled (the shocks were all gone) down the highway from the airport into Baghdad. I bet the tires (probably retreads) had little tread wear left. Boney M album cover courtesy en-wikipedia.org We passed a billboard that advertised the Iraqi leader Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. The old man…

Baghdad, Iraq | Arrival Resistance

April 1978 My cohort at the American Consulate Karachi, Al, had warned me. Regional Communications Officer Bob Roberson was adept at “expanding” our scheduled trips once we got out in the field. Bob’s well-crafted messages not only exonerated him but put the onus on us techs. Robertson’s message referenced the Office of Communication’s “Request for…

American Embassy Damascus | The Skinny on Elephant Skin

March 1978 Perhaps it was the numbing effect of my in-flight epiphany (see previous message). I have no remembrance of what Damascus International Airport looked like. A cohort had told me that every Middle East city had a character of its own and the chameleon-like American embassy changed the color of its skin to blend…

Middle East Travel | The Road to Damascus Ends at the Emerald City

March 1978 (Aboard a Jet Airliner 33,000 feet above Syria)  In biblical scripture the “Road to Damascus” referred to the sudden turning point in the life of the apostle Paul (when God shined the light on him) while literally on the road to Damascus from Jerusalem. Prior to that moment, he had been called Saul,…

American Consulate General Karachi | The Return of Tony the Tiger

March 1978–Karachi, Pakistan After several days of fighting “Karachi’s revenge” I awoke in a pool of sweat sans a fever. My steadfast servant Basheer smiled. I asked him what day it was. Friday morning hearkened the beginning of the weekend in Karachi. For the first time since before I got sick I felt hungry. Basheer…

Flashback—1959 | The Abalone Cove Field Trip

Portuguese Bend, Abalone Cove, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California As the bus left the Point Vicente Lighthouse I made plans to check out both Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mysterious Island again from the Walteria Library. Also, I wanted to learn how the Fresnel lens was made. Mrs. Shoulder’s brows wrinkled but she said…

Flashback—1959 | The Unforgettable Point Vicente Lighthouse

Portuguese Bend, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California The yellow-orange school bus labored up Hawthorne Boulevard to the top of Palos Verdes. Near the very top the bus driver changed gears and for a brief period the bus remained motionless as the engine struggled to obey the transmission’s command. <feature photo of the Point Vicente Lighthouse The…

Flashback—1959 | The Farmer’s Market Field Trip

Looking back I think the elementary class field trip to the Farmer’s Market was another small but important step of my coming of age in the world outside Torrance, California… 1959—The Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles, California The bus driver let out the Walteria Elementary school fifth grade class in the parking lot on the corner…

Flashback—1959 | The Fifth Grade Class Field Trip

While I was fever ridden in bed at my American Consulate General Karachi apartment oddly enough I dreamt of my childhood, beginning with a field trip our fifth grade class had made to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles… 1959: Walteria Elementary School—Torrance, California Field trips were the neatest things that could happen in…

Flashback | 1959—The Year Began with a One-Eyed Dog

While I was fever ridden in bed at my American Consulate General Karachi apartment oddly enough I dreamt of my childhood. In particular 1959 featured many events, some which could be described as trivial, but nevertheless would affect me for the rest of my life… <feature photo of George Reeves (Superman) and his beloved one-eyed…

American Consulate General | The Karachi Curse

February 1978 After my botched date with CIA Agent Allison I returned to Am Embassy Cairo to fix the radio repeater that had mysteriously ceased to function just hours after I had boarded a plane for Karachi. I had attempted to have the crypto tech Bill H at Am Embassy Cairo look at the problem…

Caught on Film | The CIA Girl Who Waitressed at a Virginia Disco

[Part Three] February 1978 Looking back the CIA girl incident unfolds as a series of scenes, like a one-reel wonder. To bring the reader into the fold I will treat this message as such… <feature photo by lightbulbs.com Scene One—Rewind: The American Consulate General Karachi fourth floor hallway. I first meet the CIA girl… When…

The CIA Girl Without a Name

[Part Two] American Consulate General Karachi | February 1978 I stood in the middle of the fourth floor hallway at the American Consulate General Karachi with mouth agape. I had stopped the new girl in the hallway and hadn’t even bothered to introduce myself to her. She said that she worked, “Upstairs.” During our brief…

The Pharaoh’s Curse Reaches Out | American Consulate General Karachi

February 1978 [Part One] After an arduous two weeks in Cairo trudging over one sand hill after another (not literally) I packed up and returned to Karachi. The majority of my time at the “sand pile” had been waiting on a radio repeater that was intended to extend the radio network coverage from Am Embassy…

Am Embassy Cairo | TUMS (Not a Remedy for a Stomach Ailment)

Late January 1978 Secretary of State Cyrus Vance spent less than twenty-four hours and a handshake with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo. I would spend three weeks at post… <feature image of microwave radiation effects on US Embassy Moscow by abovetopsecret.com Before Regional Security Officer Childress left to join his family in Rockville, Maryland on…

The Cyrus Vance Cairo Detail | Radio Interference of the Third Kind

January 1977 At the Cairo International Airport ARRIVALS hall I looked out for the embassy driver dressed in dark trousers, blue cotton long-sleeve shirt with perspiration patches in the armpits, and a well-worn black tie (the drivers all seemed to wear the same uniform). <feature photo by ghettyimages.com When the American Embassy Regional Security Officer Childress…

Rome Fiumicino International Airport | Security Lapse

January 1978 I sipped coffee in a departure lounge café at Fiumicino airport. The New Year had afforded me about two weeks at Am Consul Karachi to get my shit together. My partner Al (a fellow tech out of the Office of Communications in D.C.) and I had figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses….

Flashback: US Army | The Road to Donnersberg and Beyond

January 1970 I finished the Microwave Radio AN/FCC-18 Multiplexer Operations & Maintenance course at U.S. Army STRATCOM headquarters in Mannheim, Germany in mid-January. My classmates and I were immediately given temporary travel orders to proceed to our various assignments at STRATCOM microwave radio stations across Germany. I received a railroad ticket that would take me…

Flashback: US Army | The Night Train to Heidelberg (Part two)

January 1960 Looking back, I have to believe the high alcohol content German pilsner beer at the Nairobi Bar might have saved the three PFC’s that frigid night in Heidelberg… PFC Wertz, who had imbibed more than PFC Duggan and me, had become more coherent after falling on his wallet on an icy strasse (German street)….

Flashback: US Army | The Night Train to Heidelberg

January 1970 I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany after a major snowstorm. Several of us soldiers were being ferried from Frankfurt Am-Main Airport to a processing center downtown. I had learned to negotiate slippery sidewalks the hard way (I had fallen on my butt twice outside the airport). <feature photo by pinterest.com I learned that I…

Flashback: US Army, Ft Monmouth NJ | Freedom & Foreboding

Oceanport, New Jersey 1969 The importance of FREEDOM cannot be overstressed. My first true understanding of it occurred when I climbed out of the rear of a deuce-and-a-half truck wearing my US Army dress uniform at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. I stood alone with my duffle bag in tow as plumes of smoke puffed out of the…

Flashback US Army | Basic Training Blues II

June 1969 I had heard that it always rained in Seattle. Standing in formation inside the back gate at Fort Lewis, Washington at close to three o’clock in the morning it began to drizzle. Since most of us raw Southern California recruits didn’t bring a raincoat or jacket the rain and lower temperature got uncomfortable…

Flashback US Army | Basic Training Blues

June 1969 “You’re in the Army Now!” was beginning to register with me as the olive drab bus took us from the L.A. induction center out to Los Angeles International Airport where we flew a commercial airliner to Seattle. <feature photo by aahabershaw.com It was the first time I had ever flown on a jet…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | Welcome Aboard!

January 1978 | Am Consul Karachi—Stuck in an elevator (continued) After claiming she had accidentally sat on LBJ’s ten-gallon hat as an eight-year old youth BJ waited for the smile to melt off my face. Then she continued her autobiography while I fought to keep the elevator walls from inching closer … <Feature photo of…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | The Early Days

January 1978 | Am Consul Karachi (stuck in an elevator) My cohort Al had said to me on day one: “Watch out for BJ. She’s paddled around the world in a boat with one oar for the past thirty years.” When I got stuck in the Am Consul Karachi elevator with her I cursed myself…

Portrait of a Foreign Service Secretary | The End of a Career

January 1977 | Karachi, Pakistan The Saudi Air flight from Riyadh touched down at Karachi International Airport at close to eleven p.m. The Pakistani embassy driver smiled and took my luggage. It was too bad that I hadn’t stayed here long enough to meet more Pakistani people, but I enjoyed traveling. From what I had…

President Carter/Secretary Vance Joint Protective Detail | The Wrap Up

January 1978 | At the American Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia From my point of view as a radio tech the Carter/Vance S.Y. protective detail was all about the arrival and the departure. What happened in the hours in between were the harmonic byproducts of the constant chatter coming out of the base station’s speaker mixed…