The Man Who Knows What You Don't Know

A spot of mustard-yellow sun is stuck to the chrome bar stool where the Man Who Knows What You Don't Know sits. Sounds of an acoustic guitar drift from the porch through open windows, a creaky Beatles tune fracturing on dark wooden walls. The restaurant is empty, closed. The two employees stagger around like an undead cleaning crew, zombies with mops and sponges. For them, this is the end of a very long, tiring day. The Man Who Knows What You Don't Know stares into his empty coffee cup. In a city, he would exit the restaurant and leave the staff to their cleaning, but there isn't a city within four hours of hard driving and, out here, nobody is in a hurry. The song outside finishes and the latches on a guitar case snap open and shut. In the kitchen, a mop squeaks quietly on linoleum. The point of mustard-yellow light ascends the stool, a miniature sunrise locked in an inverse relationship to the sunset outside.

The Man Who Knows What You Don't Know looks up from his coffee cup. Perhaps he has divined something from patterns in the dregs. The conversation has no point of origin, it just starts. These types of conversations always begin without warning, though bystanders should probably be warned with sirens and flares. Waco. He wants to talk about Waco. "The Feds shoulda never been there. It shoulda been the state police or Texas National Guard. Not us." The Man Who Knows What You Don't Know worked for the Secret Service. As a sniper. When the Secret Service didn't need him, they pimped him out to other government agencies: the FBI, ATF, CIA. "I liked the FBI guys, but the CIA? They're assholes. Arrogant. Tight-lipped. But I tell you what, I'd love to know what the hell is going on in there. They do a lot of work. Look after their own. You wouldn't believe it."

Waco was his last job. He says the ATF asked him to shoot a woman standing on the roof of the Branch Davidian compound. She had been there for a long time, standing around with her son, refusing to move. The ATF was edgy. Was she going to pick off someone? Blow herself up? Shoot her son? Probably. "She was just standin' up there with her kid and they asked me to shoot her. I never saw a weapon and I wasn't about to kill an unarmed woman... I got enough shit from Vietnam to deal with." The ATF, disgusted, packed him up and returned him to the Secret Service in Washington. Insubordination didn't help his career. Upon returning, the Secret Service parked him behind a desk as a low-level functionary and, after a brief stint pushing papers, the Man Who Knows What You Don't Know resigned—exactly as they wanted.

When he worked for the Secret Service he "cleaned out" cities before presidential visits. "God, I wish I'd been around when Kennedy was in office... that woulda never happened. You know how many people planned to kill Reagan? A lot of them came close. Saint Louis is a remarkably bad town. Chicago. New Jersey. Lots of mafia." The Man Who Knows What You Don't Know says that his group was quietly deployed two weeks prior to the president's arrival and they would systematically get rid of people considered likely to assassinate the Commander in Chief. American citizens. Without warrants. His brown eyes are open and unblinking between his slick gray hair and pushbroom mustache. "And you think I'm crazy. People in this country don't know half the things that's going on. But I don't care anymore. I don't mind talking." The mop has stopped squeaking in the background. Everyone is listening.