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Actual Stop
About the Author: C.E. Albanese is a former U.S. Secret Service special agent with more than twenty-years of law enforcement experience. His details including assignments in the Newark, NJ and New York City Field Offices, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and the Vice President’s Protection Division. His first novel, DRONE KINGS, is a thriller with a Secret Service hero and is currently under submission. He is also a co-host of The Crew Reviews podcast.

The presidential motorcade barreled up the northbound lanes of the Baltimore Washington Parkway, the lush foliage lining the side of the road zipping past in a streak of green. A vast array of wildflowers stretched across the wide, grassy middle divider creating a vibrant swirl of color.

There’s safety in speed.

Tommy Evans remembered learning the phrase, but couldn’t recall who said it. Probably one of the instructors at the Academy, he thought.

He’d learned a lot at the Academy: how to handle various weapons, how to investigate financial crimes, and how to conduct protective advances. He’d even been given diagrams of the secret bunker under the White House.

He wrinkled his nose.

But he couldn’t remember anyone ever telling him that the inside of the presidential spare limousine lacked any noise or smells.

Constructed to near perfection, the Cadillac behemoth, an identical twin to the President’s limo—the Beast—had been engineered to provide passengers with a comfortable and luxurious experience. But the sterile atmosphere made Tommy’s stomach churn.

“Got any good jokes?” asked Jon Bork, the seasoned Secret Service agent sitting behind the steering wheel.

Tommy blinked several times. Jokes? Any other time he would have had something silly on the tip of his tongue, but at the moment, laughing was the furthest thing from his mind. The last twenty minutes he’d barely contained the excitement bubbling under his skin. And the last time he’d felt this much nervous energy, he’d been on one knee, about to forfeit his carefree bachelor life and ask Sarah to marry him. Then, he’d been confident of the outcome; now, he had no idea what to expect.

“And to think everyone said you were the funny guy,” added Bork disappointed when Tommy didn’t reply right away.

Tommy shifted in his seat. The weight of the Sig Sauer P229 and dual magazine pouch clipped to his belt still felt awkward two weeks into his new protective detail assignment. “Sorry,” he said, tight-lipped, “I’m just thinking ahead.”

Bork made a noise that sounded like a scoff. “Just remember your training and you’ll do fine.”

Training, right.

Like every other Secret Service agent, Tommy had spent four months at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, and another five months at the Secret Service Academy in Beltsville, Maryland.

It seemed a lifetime ago.

Before raising his right hand and swearing an oath to support and defend the Constitution, Tommy worked day and night at the CPA firm owned by his father. Debits, credits, and spreadsheets were the extent of Tommy’s professional world. But then he reconnected with a childhood friend, Eric Miller.

At first, Tommy thought their reconnection happenstance. It wasn’t. Miller, the man in charge of the Secret Service Presidential Protective Detail, or PPD, was there to recruit him.

Unlike Miller, Tommy didn’t come from a family steeped in law enforcement history. He hadn’t served in the military either. In fact, he’d never shot a gun, let alone owned one. And in high school, Tommy wasn’t known for the advance placement classes he aced every year, or for being a member of the National Honor Society, but as the class clown. As a fan of old-school stand-up comedians, like Belushi, Pryor, and Dangerfield, Tommy learned at a young age it was easier to make friends with humor than with boring facts he’d read in a book.

Miller was one of the few who saw through Tommy’s charade. He saw beneath the jokes and one-liners to Tommy’s analytical mind, strong work ethic, his internal drive to help others, his unquestionable honesty, and his unwavering love of his country. Qualities that made for a successful Secret Service agent.

The deep baritone voice of Special Agent Don Davis, the shift leader sitting in the Secret Service follow-up vehicle, crackled through the earpiece secreted in Tommy’s ear. “Command Post. Command Post. This is Halfback. We are Bravo.”

Tommy’s pulse ticked up several notches.

Bravo, in Secret Service slang, meant the motorcade was less than five minutes to their destination: an office building nestled in the wooded suburbs of Prince George’s County, Maryland.

This story appears in our AUG2021 Issue
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Reader Discussion

One of my favorites in this issue. Good story and authentic writing!
By D Sehgal

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