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…

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Scene One—Rewind: The American Consulate General Karachi fourth floor hallway. I first meet the CIA girl…

When the new arrival had sauntered down the Hallway on the fourth floor of the American Consulate General Karachi I was caught flatfooted. I had been staring at the floor in an attempt to resolve work issues related to a war between Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) and the curse of the pharaohs (well, you know).

When I lifted my head, she smiled. I said, “Hello.”

We made small talk. She said she worked, “Upstairs.”

I assumed that she meant the CIA.

Incredibly, I walked away without introducing myself or asking her name. But one thing was for sure: I had seen this CIA girl before. For the life of me I couldn’t remember where.

Since I was the only “single guy” in the RCO office, the other eight CEO techs conspired for me to meet the CIA girl with no name in the shuttle bus headed back to the Clifton apartments where the single people resided.

Their plan worked.

Her name was Allison and she identified her job as a “secretary for “the guys upstairs.” I made an offhand comment that she should come over to my place for dinner some evening, as my servant Basheer was a great cook.

CIA Agent Allison immediately accepted my offer. We agreed on Saturday night, two nights away. I was ecstatic.

Scene Two—Fast forward: Saturday Night in Karachi

The aroma of Basheer’s Beef Wellington permeated the apartment, the Bee Gees sang “How Deep is Your Love,” and Allison brought a bottle of red wine. With five hours until I had to jet off to Cairo, I had taken a ride on that proverbial cloud nine.

She asked if I had two wine glasses (does it get better than that?).

While I searched for the two goblets left by a previous tenant, the Bee Gees sang,

How deep is your love, how deep is your love
How deep is your love?
I really mean to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down when they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

When I returned to the living room with the two goblets Allison was seated at a dining table. She opened the wine bottle with ease. The exiting cork made hardly a sound…

My memory lapse of “Where had I met Allison before?” crystallized in that brief but exact image, like a single frame of a movie. All those loose synapses had connected to the lost memory that I had tried so hard to retrieve.

Scene Three—Rewind: The OC Bandits night on the town in Alexandria, VA during August of last year…

I hadn’t thought about the bandits too much since I had left the radio shop back in October four months ago on assignment to the RCO office here in Karachi. As I have mentioned in previous messages the “OC Bandits” were spirited. We were a diverse group of technicians from various backgrounds. We all happened to unfurl our wings and land at the Springfield, VA radio shop like ducks seeking refuge during the hunting season.

Occasionally, our rebellious attitudes to emulate Smokey and the Bandit, a famous movie at the time, starring Burt Reynolds, went beyond the call of duty. This was usually in conjunction with the imbibing of large amounts of alcohol at various Northern Virginia bars. I make no excuses for the bandits nor do I condone all their activities. However, admittedly the OC Bandits’ antics were habit forming. Many war stories were crafted from those escapades.

So it was on a nice Friday evening in August that five OC Bandit “single guys” —Zoom Zoom, Playboy Byron, Gentle Ben, Dudley-Do-Right, and myself—assembled at a disco bar in Alexandria, Virginia.

We were all on our third beer and planned a steak dinner at the Tom Sarris Orleans House later. Needless to say, the bandits were cranked up. Playboy Byron had brought along a Collins Radio engineer from Texas who had just returned from an assignment in West Africa. James Culpepper was a brash fellow and his outbursts seemed to correlate with his alcohol consumption.

By our fifth beer James Culpepper had drained his flask that he hid under the table. He had taken over discussion of the table, claiming that he earned over a fifty K in Africa last year and the only thing he had to pay for were Nigerian prostitutes. Culpepper’s crass remarks had Playboy Byron making apologetic expressions.

In the middle of Culpepper’s boastful claim of accommodating three women in a single sized bed a quite attractive waitress arrived and asked Playboy Byron if we wanted anything else.

Culpepper cut in and said with a Texas swagger, “Sweetheart, bring us a bottle of the best champagne you’ve got.”

The waitress (who was obviously no bimbo) raised her eyes at Culpepper’s lack of manners.

Unimpressed, she said, “I’ll get you a wine list.”

Culpepper said in a loud voice, “I don’t need a wine list, Sweetheart. Just bring me…”

He paused to give her a full body scan, which even embarrassed the audacious Zoom Zoom.

“Bring me the best you got.”

She gazed at me with an accusing stare (like I was responsible for James Culpepper’s antics) and then turned around and left.

Culpepper unleashed a hideous laugh after her that induced a sobering effect on the Bandits.

A few minutes later the cute waitress wearing the short red dress, white blouse, and black vest returned with a bottle in a bucket of ice. She read off the champagne’s name and vintage, but I don’t think anyone was listening, except me.

“Does this meet your satisfaction?” She said to Culpepper, in a sassy voice.

“Yeah, sweetheart, that will be fine.”

I watched her open the bottle of champagne. Only a short “poof” occurred, which amazed me. She poured a scant amount into a glass and handed it to him. Culpepper tasted it and said something like, “I bet you taste just as good.”

The waitress glanced in my direction with that “it’s your fault” expression again.

What happened next was a blur. Culpepper told the waitress there was something in his glass. While she reached over to look he brought his hand up behind her.

She gave a short squeal and backed away.

“How dare you. I’m going to have my boss throw you out.”

She rushed off.

Culpepper slapped two one hundred dollar bills on the table and said, “Come on boys, we better get the hell out of here before the Gendarmes arrive.”

Scene Four—Fast forward once again to my Karachi apartment where I observe as Allison opens the bottle of wine…

As I previously mentioned, the sight of Allison expertly opening the wine bottle unleashed the memory. Allison and the Alexandria, VA disco waitress were one and the same.

My epiphany caused her smile to flee.

I can only surmise that my expression triggered a switch upstairs that had caused Allison to return to that August evening when James Culpepper had violated her. Since I had been sitting across from him at the disco bar it was guilt by association.

I watched as Allison tried to formulate words, but only one word escaped her lips.


The word had razor sharp points attached to it.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t know Culpep—”

“I… I have to…”

She shook her head, rose up and grabbed her handmade Tibetan purse.

“I have to go.”

I was shell-shocked. I didn’t know what to say.

The door slammed behind her.

Basheer appeared out of nowhere. His raised eyes questioned me.

I just stood there, head hung low.

Finally I lifted my head and said, “Basheer, the young lady decided not to stay for dinner.”

Scene Five—The film suddenly breaks. The celluloid snaps and crackles over and over until the projectionist pulls the plug.

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