The King Hussein of Jordan security detail had been stricken by the reverence of the Magic Kingdom. The State Department Security agents–S.Y.–had already made up radio call signs for everyone. The agent-in-charge answered to Captain Hook. His cadre had taken the monikers of Blackbeard, Bluebeard, Cannonball, Peg Leg, and Gunpowder after they had visited the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. King Hussein would be referred to simply as The King. The agents exchanged shits & grins when they informed me of my call sign—Mr. Smee.
<feature photo by photius.com
Mr. Smee at Disney World
After my powwow with Captain Hook I headed to Disney World where I picked up my visitor pass. The Disney World engineers were very willing to help. When they mentioned a spare UHF omnidirectional antenna some two hundred feet up on the Disney radio tower within my frequency band, I smiled. This was too good to be true. They even offered to connect my radio repeater up to the antenna and test it while I visited Mickey and Goofy.
The next day I made radio tests out at Disney World with the help of a Disney engineer. The UHF radio coverage blanketed the park and its surroundings. When I got back to the hotel I went up to the command center on the tenth floor. The A.I.C. informed me that King Hussein had just been brought to a top floor penthouse suite.
One of the S.Y. agents asked me to check out his handheld radio. I replaced a bad battery. I also changed his surveillance kit, a hidden microphone and earpiece set connected to his handheld radio. Without a reliable surveillance kit the agents couldn’t even talk to Mickey Mouse. When I boasted to the SY crew that they should expect very good radio coverage they all gave me that, “We’ve heard that before,” look.
A Mystery Visitor
With my work practically done, that evening I stowed my handheld under the front seat of the car rental, strapped on my pager and quaffed a few beers at a local pub. Captain Hook had reminded me not to mention my purpose here in the greater Orlando area (the alligators had ears). I met a group of tourists from Redondo Beach, California, near where I grew up. Small world.
I returned to the resort hotel we were staying at around midnight. The lobby was too quiet. I headed to the elevator where Agent Cannonball slapped the buttons with impatience. Why? Because he was escorting a fetching young lady with him?
I followed them into the elevator and lowered my eyes to see that he had pressed the button for the penthouse floor. This was odd given that all the agents (and me) were staying two floors below. I avoided eye contact with Cannonball as I pressed the button for my floor.
“Good evening,” I said to Agent Cannonball and the young lady (whose application of perfume might have been excessive), as I walked out of the elevator.
King Hussein was an energetic guy. Besides going to Disney World, over the next two days he was on the go a lot. The A.I.C. requested that I stay close to the command center in case anything went wrong with the commo equipment. He also offered an Atta boy—the radio coverage looked great. The S.Y. agents complimented me on the crystal clear radio coverage not only at Disney World, but all around the Orlando, Florida area.
Blackbeard Spills the Beans
The night before we left Orlando I hit the hotel bar. Off duty S.Y. agent Blackbeard sat alone on a barstool. I joined him by ordering two more beers. At first he didn’t have much to say other than this was the best radio coverage he had ever had on a detail. I didn’t tell Blackbeard that it was all due to the magic of Disney.
Unlike most of the technicians at Office of Communications–OC, who I privately referred to as the Bandits, I was a good listener. After the second beer S.Y. Agent Blackbeard seemed surprised when I asked him a question about King Hussein’s personal life.
“Where’d you hear about that?” he said.
I wasn’t about to mention about Agent Cannonball escorting a young lady upstairs the night before, hoping Blackbeard would clue me in. When I told him that the A.I.C. mentioned a “companion,” his jaw dropped, but at the same time the makings of a smile formed in his expression. “I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to say,” he said. This surprised me given that on every other S.Y. detail I had been on the agents would spill any rumor at the drop of a dime.
After the third beer, Blackbeard drew me in closer and said, “We’re expecting two more agents in tonight from SECSTATE. They’ll be on motorcycles for the convoy to Neptune [Cypress Gardens]. Captain Hook is determined this detail goes without a hitch.”
Did he mean that the last King Hussein detail had problems? Why did I have the feeling they were expecting some type of incident on the forty-some mile stretch of road from here to Cypress Gardens?
(to be continued)