Second Thoughts

December Monday 9:00AM FBI Academy Quantico, Virginia

Gary Hurst sat alone in his dormitory at the FBI academy at Quantico, Virginia. The recent FBI graduate sat on his bed looking at a new 40-caliber Glock model-23 pistol, in his hand, and his mind was going wild. He was nervous, excited, worried, and maybe a little angry - mostly with himself. Gary turned his attention to an open box of Federal hollow point bullets on the nightstand. He reached for a box of ammo but his hand stopped short.

Shit how in the hell did I get here, he tightened his lips and shook his head. The new FBI agent had second thoughts on his new job. His psychological reasoning told him his emotional baggage caused him to mess up again.

He remembered someone saying, “We are the architect of our own destiny.” Gary never really believed that but he was starting to believe it now. His education, experience, and the twenty-eight years he walked on earth was making him a believer.

His father frequently told him, “If you don’t obtain your desire, within reason of course, it is because you didn’t want it bad enough. The only one stopping you, from succeeding, is you.” Gary saw how true that is. He would hear people bitching all the time about how hard, life is or how unfair it is but they would not do anything about it. The sad true is, “We are where we choose to be.”

Gary wrote a paper for one of his psychology classes describing that in general people are able to control 85% or better of their destiny and as little as 15% are situations are beyond ones control. Gary knew he was a FBI Special Agent because he put himself there. It was not by chance or coincidence but he knew it had something to do with his parent’s divorce, mostly feelings from his mother.

He had mix feels with his new job and was not sure he wanted to work in law enforcement. Gary could not believe he had come this far and to make things even more interesting he never really had a desire or aspirations of becoming an U.S. government gun carrying G-man. Thousands of people apply for an FBI job, and only a few are considered and here I am a Special Agent, Gary thought as he looked at his shiny new gun.

He psychoanalyzed himself to determine how he managed to get where he was. He would do when things got weird and this was one of those times. He analyzed himself, pedal to the metal. He had no one to blame, for being there. He knew all he had to do was to look at the mirror to see the guilty person. He knew his parents divorced was one of the reason he was there. He was pissed off because he knew he suckered himself into making a wrong decision. His self-evaluation and phycology studies told him his mother screwing around had screwed him up big time. He was trying like hell to get his mother’s promiscuous past behind him and to fix his screwed up mind. Gary felt like a dumb ass, he felt like he was seventeen years all over again.

He became interested in Psychology because he wanted to know why people do the things they do. He wanted to figure out what happened to his family, specifically his mother, and perhaps help others along the way.

His parents divorced when he was a Junior in high school and was the last time his family had Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and vacation together. There are so many events in a family life he took for granted. The divorce caught him by surprise because his parents seemed like they had a good relationship and he never saw anything that showed otherwise. Both his father and mother showed affection for each other all the time and never heard them have arguments. Maybe they had but he never heard them. As far as he could remember, he heard his mother tell his dad she loved him. He must have heard her tell his dad “I love you” a million times.

Gary remembered the look on his father’s face when he walked into his bedroom to tell him about the divorce. He had never seen his dad with that look before. He told him he was filing for a divorce because his mother was seeing someone else. He did not have to go into details, but Gary knew what his father meant when he said his mother was seeing another man. His young teenage hormone active mind went wild. He imagined his mother with another man doing what men and women do in bed and then some. His stomach knotted up, felt anger, disgusted, and disappointment. Gary had his mother on a pedestal or pulpit. He thought of her as the perfect mother, the perfect wife, but that moment all what he thought of her crumbled. He did not think he could feel any worst, he was wrong. He hit rock bottom when his father explained it had happened before some years back. His dad explained he was devastated and his first thought was to get a divorce but after giving, it much thought he decided to get marriage concealing helping him deal with the betrayal. He attended numerous marriage concealing sessions and talked to several priests. His father made the decision to forgive his cheating wife. He figured it could have been him. He had been tempted to cheat many times, had been propositioned by several women, and he had to admit and understood that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes some big, some small so he gave it his best effort to forgive his wife to make their marriage work. It was not an easy task. He learned how to manage the anger, the doubts, and the mistrust but when he caught her, again he decided to file for divorce. Gary’s mom actions confused him because she did not want to get divorced even though she continued to see other men. She said she loved her husband, wanted to stay together, and wanted to work things out. His mother’s remark did not make any sense to Gary or his father. She pleaded with her husband to forgive her again but Gary’s dad did not want to deal with it anymore. The trust was gone forever, and he pressed forward with the divorce.

Gary’s senior year, in high school, was an emotional roller coaster ride. His life turned inside out along with his father. Gary’s dad sold the house. Gary and his father moved into an apartment, and his mother moved to a nearby town. He stayed with his father to finish high school. His dad took the divorce hard but he had gone through the emotional roller coaster a few years back when he caught her the first time. This time it hurt but not as profound, so he recovered much faster unlike his teen-age son. Gary did not expect his parent’s divorce would affect him that much, but it did. He had his mother on a pedestal, thought of her as a good mother and wife, and the saintly vision of his mother evaporated. He stopped going to church because of his mother. Not because he would see her there but because as far as he could remember his mother always got him up, to get him ready, for church. She talked about being a good Christian and she even taught Sunday school class for several years. The family life, the church, and his faith as he knew it disintegrated. He felt he had lived a lie. It was all a make believe life, a con, or a bad dream. His mother’s actions played a big part for his lack of faith in the church. He felt betrayed and had a profound disappointment but he still loved his mom. Seventeen-year-old Gary learned one could be disappointed at someone and still love him or her. From that day on Gary saw his mother in a completely different way, she was not the Christian mother he remembered, she was something else, a walking breathing lie. Not only did she break her father’s heart she also broke her son’s heart as well. Gary no longer believed in her, the trust was gone, but he still loved her. Something snapped in him, no more like something broke deep in his heart, which made him suspicious of all women’s feelings.

He was twenty-eight years old and had not had a serious relationship. He did not have sex until his early twenties and did not date much. One reason was he was busy with his college studies, took his military commitment seriously, and between college and the military there was little time for girls. Normal people always try to make time to party, have some fun, and especially make the time when there is chance of having a little sex, but Gary was not normal, he was broke inside. He shied away from women because he did not want to get hurt. He knew he was still hurting from his parents’ divorce. He was suspicious of women’s feelings or intensions. Gary was a handsome and well-built man and would have no problem dating but he kept his distance. The girls he dated would get serious much faster than he liked and if they told him they loved him or were falling in love with him, he would terminate the relationship. He would remember his mother tell his dad the same words “I love you” many times and that scared the hell out of him. The vast majority of people he met in the Air Force were on their second marriage or working on it and concluded couples don’t stay together for the long haul. As they say they talk-the-talk but do not walk-the-walk. He realized his parent’s divorce had scared him good and he had some serious psychological issues he had to deal with.

When Gary’s mother heard his dad was seeing a woman, was serious, and was planning to get married, Gary was surprised again how she reacted. They had been divorced for over a year yet she became un-glued, got really pissed off, and accused him of having her on the side, cheating on her, when they were still married.

Gary chose to deal with the divorce by keeping busy in a positive way and enrolled in college after graduating from high school. He buried himself in his studies, took Psychology classes, and after finishing one year in college joined the Air Force. His decision to join the military was indirectly related to his parents’ divorce. He found it difficult deciding whom to visit on holidays. His mother wanted him for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays. His dad never pressured him, told him he could go visit his mom whenever he wanted, but Gary still felt guilty as hell. He felt like he was letting his dad or his mother down. He felt like he was taking sides whomever he visited. His initial interest in Psychology was to help himself self-heal, understand why people do the things they do, but more importantly try to understand why his mother did the things she did. He fully understood the long-term consequences children suffer from their parent’s failures. Every one of his psychology class referred to it and he was living proof.

He assumed his parents would grow old together and when he visited them, he would sleep in the room he grew up. Gary did not want to take sides but he felt he had to and a simple visit became a big problem for him. Deciding whom to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Years, Easter, or other holidays no longer a problem he had the perfect excuse he was far away in the military.

An event in one’s life can steer you into an unknown direction sometimes for good and sometimes not. Gary suspected his parent’s divorce had something to do with the current state, in his life. If his parents had not divorced, he would have not left home to join the military. He figured he would have gone to college, gotten married, and maybe would have a kid of his own by now. The divorce steered him into an unplanned path and, in addition, he acquired a psychological issue with women.

New FBI agent Hurst reached for the box of ammo, opened it, grabbed a dozen rounds, and began to load a magazine. He continued to analyze his situation trying to figure out the choices he made that lead him to that point in his life. The marbles in his head continued to bounce around and the rush of emotions had not subsided. He was still feeling dazed, nervous, worried, and a little scared. Perhaps if he had wanted the job from the start he would have felt better. He was still coming to terms becoming a badge carrying, gun carrying, FBI Special Agent. He was not a NAT (New Agents in Training) anymore he was the real thing now. Gary continued loading the pistol magazine, contemplating how he got there.

The graduation ceremony was two days ago. His mother and her new boyfriend attended as well as his father and his wife. His dad congratulated him, hugged him, and told him he was proud of him. His mom reaction was different. She treated him more like a kid, told him to be careful. He got caught up in the twenty-week intense fast-paced special agent training and even up to the graduation, ceremony it had not sunk in he was a full-fledged FBI Special Agent. It was his nature to embrace a challenge and that he did at the academy. It had not been his desire or goal to become a special agent but that did not stop him from giving it his best. All his classmates thought highly of him. He came across as a bookworm, a nerd, but a likeable handsome one. There was a friendly competitive atmosphere at the academy; everyone tried his or her best to be the top guy or gal. Gary excelled in all the classes, which pissed off a couple of ex-army and marines. He shot better than most of them. An embarrassed NAT, an ex-marine, asked him where he learned how to shoot so well.

Gary told him when he joined the Air Force he could not hit the side of a barn. He was discouraged, wanted to do something about it. Several of his coworkers recommended contacting the range master, Master Sargent Yates, for help. Yates had earned a reputation of being one of the best handgun experts around. He had been competing for years. With Master Sargent Yates training and lots of practice, he became proficient. “Proficient my ass! You’re a damn dead eye shot!” the ex-marine commented.

Gary Hurst had a graduate degree in Information Technology, a minor in Psychology, and had just graduated from the FBI academy. He was not sure if things had turned out, as he wanted. The first issue was he had not planned to look for a job, at least not for six months maybe a year. He wanted to travel and take it easy. The second issue was most disturbing because he had not planned a career in law enforcement.

He attended college for a year before joining the Air Force and during his six-year military commitment he continued taking college classes, he took online classes, night classes, and spent all available free time studying, doing homework, and research. His friends in the Air Force would always tease him about spending so much time taking classes and studying.

Gary started a six-year tour, in the Air Force, as a pencil pusher, an administrative job, but ended his military commitment working for the OSI (Air Force Office of Special Investigations) as a computer analyst. He finished his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and minor in Psychology while in the military. His CO (commanding office) liked Gary thought highly of him. When Gary earned id Bachelor’s degree his CO encouraged him to sign up for OCS (Officers Candidate School). His CO knew Gary would be a damn good officer and would have a bright future in the Air Force. Gary told his CO he did not plan to reenlist which did not go over well. His CO wanted him to stay in the military because he was sharp and smart as hell. He had written an encryption text application that the NSA had not been able to crack and did not want to lose his talent and brains. After his military obligation was up, he continued going to school, for his Masters. For years, his social life was on hold and he was due for a serious vacation, time off, R&R, and even maybe finding a girlfriend or two. He had plans to take some time off after getting his Master’s degree and travel across the United States and Canada before jumping into the corporate world. A job could wait for a while and he felt confident a graduate degree in Information Technology and a minor in Psychology would open a few doors. Psychology and Information Technology intrigued him and he couldn’t decide if he wanted to pursue a Doctorate in Information Technology or Psychology.

Gary did not want to go to the job fair at the university but after getting a call from his mother that she wanted to visit for a few days he decided to go. She would most likely bring a new boyfriend and he did not want to deal with it. Evert time he saw his mother with other men made his mind go wild and it disgusted him. To avoid the situation he told her he was going to be busy that week at the job fair.

During the job-recruiting fair at the university, he interviewed with Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, and a couple of software companies. It never occurred to him to seek employment with a law enforcement agency. Lance Macomb, a FBI recruiter operated booth at the job fair. Macomb was one enthusiastic, well-informed FBI Special Agent gifted with a skilled tongue.

This guy would make one hell-of-a car salesman, Gary grinned as he listened to the enthusiastic agent. He told him how great it is to serve your country and how FBI work is so exciting that many agents did not want to go home at the end of the day. When the FBI recruiter discovered Gary's job history, educational background, and his interests he moved in for the kill. He started, with the FBI is looking for computer geeks sale’s pitch. Cyber warfare really got Gary's interest and computer virus attacks from other counties and homegrown Cyber terrorists got his juices going.

“I still have a year before I graduate -” Gary barely had time to say. The FBI recruiter had the perfect comeback.

"Perfect, you have time to complete the application, get a physical, time for your security clearance background check, and make all your interviews. If all goes well, you will receive an acceptance notification before you graduate.” Lance did not miss a beat.

According to Agent Macomb plan, “A” was to enroll in the FBI academy and become a Special Agent. If Gary was not a good fit at the academy he would fall back to plan “B” which was to work at the Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. What the slick talking recruiter really meant to say was, if Gary washed out, did not cut it, failed to meet the agent training requirements, or wimped out at the FBI academy he would get a job in the Cyber Division and work with fellow computer geeks.

The gung-ho FBI recruiter volunteered to help him fill out the academy application. The hard pushing recruiter said the Bureau desperately needed IT professionals to move the agency into the future. With his masters in Information Technology, minor in Psychology, six years in the Air Force, and with an active Top Security Clearance the recruiter told Gary the FBI would certainly consider him a good candidate to serve America and have a great career. Many of Gary’s classmates got job offers at the job fair. The smartest computer geeks end up working for software gaming companies. The software companies pay the big bucks, unlike Uncle Sam, and provide a casual relaxed working environment the computer geek’s love.

Gary left the job fair thinking about working for the FBI combating computer attacks from foreign countries. The thought of fighting cyber-crime intrigued him so he filled out all the required paperwork, had his physical exam, his polygraph exam, and all his interviews but did not really expect to be accepted into the academy. Agent Lance Macomb called him several times letting him know the status of his application, which made Gary wonder if the recruiter worked on commission. Shortly after Gary’s graduation, he found himself at the FBI academy at Quantico, Virginia. The planned time off, the traveling, the relaxation, and finding a girlfriend or two was on hold once again. Not only did Gary make the cut at the FBI academy plan “B” never came into play.

Gary graduated in the top five percent. The only time he had fired a weapon was in the Air Force and only once a year to qualify. In the Air Force, his initial shooting qualification was pitiful. He challenged himself to improve his shooting skill and ended becoming an expert shooter with a handgun and a marksman with a M4 carbine. At the academy, he learned how to fire and clean various types of weapons. The BIO (biochemical) gas mask training he received in the Air force came in handy at the academy.

In the Air Force, he attended biochemical training several times. All the airmen hated going to the mandatory BIO training. The Air Force airmen would walk into a large tent, the tent door closed, and the instructor would throw a gas canister in a brick pit in the center of the tent. The gas fumes would quickly filled the large hot uncomfortable tent. The next part was hell, the instructor waited until the fumes were nice and thick, everyone was beginning to gage and turn blue, and only then did he give the order to put on the mask. Putting on the gas mask in the air-conditioned classroom was a cakewalk, simple, an easy task, but in a sealed hot tent full of iterating pepper gas putting on the gas mask took a whole new meaning, it was a bitch. A fraction of a second to put it on seemed like forever. Gary never thought he would have to go through BIO training again.

He was wrong at the FBI academy Gary did it again. This time it was close-up and personal, the instructor gave him a strong dose of pepper spray directly at his face. To pass the test, NATs (New Agents in Training) had to keep their eyes open while a fellow NAT attempted to take his or her weapon. Keeping the burning eyes open, struggling with a fellow NAT, and not losing your side arm was not fun at all.

Most of his cowboy classmates, as Gary frequently called them, were ex-military or police officers and really got into it at the gun range and simulators. There were also a couple of college professors, a biologist and two lawyers in Gary’s class. One of the NATs was a lawyer that had quit a prestigious law firm in Dallas, Texas to join the FBI. Gary wondered what motivated the lawyer to take a considerable cut in pay for a job that paid much less and was by far more dangerous. The NAT lawyer was a gun enthusiast and owned a small arsenal of weapons enough to arm a small army. Typical Texan cowboy, Gary thought. All the trainees tried to out-shoot each other at the gun range and simulators. Even the female agents in training got into it at the range and wanted bigger guns. Some NATs asked if they could buy their own side arm and asked what firearms the FBI authorized.

Gary’s roommate a biologist from UCLA opted to buy his own weapon instead of the issued FBI Glock 23. He talked about the superior man stopping power of the 45acp caliber and showed Gary his new full size pistol, a Glock model 21 chambered for the 45acp.

“This is a real man’s caliber,” he kept repeating. Gary rolled his eyes every time he brought up the subject. One day, the range master inform the class the FBI was officially dropping the 40-caliber bullet. The FBI wrote detailed requirements, for the new FBI service pistol, chambered for the popular 9mm. Everyone acted as if the Pope had been fired or something. Gary was shocked how his class reacted to the news. Some were pleased, others did not like the idea, and others commented the FBI should have gone back to the 10mm or better yet the original 45acp caliber. Hell, it was worse than discussing politics or religion. Everyone had their own argument for their choice of caliber. Gary just wanted to pass the FBI’s firearm shooting requirements and concentrate on more meaningful and interesting classes like interviewing, investigation techniques, Bureau operations, intelligence collection, ethics, law, behavioral science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, cognitive, and forensic science. He frequently told his cowboy classmates to go play with their guns so he could play with his computer. He was looking forward to working in a nice comfortable office programming sophisticated subroutines to detect, track, and defend computers from hackers. He thought this was like playing chess, but more interesting because the opponents were faceless and unknown.

Gary picked up more bullets and started loading a second magazine. The dormitories at the academy were all but empty. All his class mates, ex NTAs (New Agents in Training), got their first assignment and had left except him and that bothered him. Shit, I feel damn weird about all of this, he made a face.

During the graduation ceremony, all his classmates told the audience what their choice location was and what they were assigned. He felt like an ass, he chose Honolulu, Hawaii and he had to say his field assignment was undetermined, all the class laughed. He did not think it was that funny. Agent Hurst had been told there was a delay on his assignment and he would get an assignment in a couple of days.

Gary looked at his watch and in and less than an hour he would find out what his assignment was. He would find out why all his classmates got their assignments except him. He finished loading his second magazine, got up, and walked out of his dorm room. Outside he noticed his car was the only one left in the parking lot. The groundkeepers were busy shoveling snow off the sidewalks. He walked several blocks to the academy administration building. He could tell the administration building was fulling staffed by the full parking lot. He was a few minutes early but decided to make his presence anyway. He wanted to get it over with.