The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018
102 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL “Her lingering perfume filled his head with indecent thoughts.” “The shredder guy in the no-water roomwhose name nobody could remem- ber…” “The Big K Kebab truck with the Tuni- sian chef whose fat, greasy hands turned meat intomiracles.” Who has not relied in real life on the steady sanity and sassiness of a LaRhonda Watson? “LaRhonda clicked her turquoise nails on the desk top and snapped her bubble gum.” (The same LaRhonda, whose full character is presented only later in the tale, deftly intervenes to give a rare element of hope in a world of moral ambiguity.) The institutional setting is the “Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execu- tion,” aka BOGIE. Red cape to bull, East taunts us with the acronym, which evokes … boogie, Bogie (Bogard), bugger, booger, bookie, bogus. The reference comes up dozens of times, reminding us of classical bureaucratic sil- liness (viz., Nikolai Gogol) and the decent intentions of the humblest among us. Miles Miles; the sinuous Chloe, plan- ning her wedding even as the seasons advance; the morally ambiguous Ralph Dvorak; the dead (get it?) Graves; and the fetching Karen Ung remind us, among other things, that unexplained human impulses generally come from the waist down. The classic Americanmotif: the loneli- ness of good, versus hucksters on steroids. “High Noon,” with the straightforward motives of those seeking only to do their jobs, guided by decency and brains in gear. This remains America’s hope, even in dire times. America’s current king of noir , Walter Mosley, would have much to learn from B.A. East, and vice versa. I can only imag- ine the electric sparks resulting from their meeting. n Dan Whitman was a French interpreter for the International Visitors Program from 1969 to 1984 before joining the Foreign Service. From 1985 to 2009, he served in public diplo- macy posts in Africa, Europe and Haiti. His recent book, Answer Coming Soon (New Aca- demia Publishing, 2017), offers thoughts on policy, the arts and narrative primary source history. He teaches at American University.