These days everything seems to be available on-line. And while places like the SI Vault are wonderful, there is still so much good writing–especially magazine and newspaper writing–that cannot be found with a google search.
Pat Jordan has been a freelance writer for more than forty years. The majority of his work is not about sports and not available on-line. So I’m going to feature some of Pat’s original work here from time-to-time. (The pieces are reprinted with permission from the author.)
First up is a story Pat did for Penthouse in 1999 about a woman bodyguard.
A Different Drummer
By Pat Jordan
She racks the slide of her Glock .40 Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol to chamber a round. She takes aim at a paper target, a silhouette of a human, 20 feet away. “This place is an absolute toilet,” she says.
The indoor gun range is a filthy concrete room reeking of burnt gun powder. Bullet casings litter the concrete floor. She aims at the heart of the silhouette and squeezes off a round. A loud, “Pop!” echoes off the walls. Then another, and another, spaced fifteen seconds apart.
“Guys fire in rapid succession,” she says, still aiming. “Women take their time and aim. We learn differently. We have to read the manual first to know everything before we shoot.”
She fires off 12 more evenly spaced rounds then peers over her yellow shooter’s glasses at the target. The holes are slightly to the left of the human target’s heart.
“I shot with this woman cop once,” she says. “She kept shooting across the lane into my target. I said, ‘Heh, what are you doing?’ She said, ‘Oh, I always shoot to the right, like when I killed that perp.’”
She ejects the pistol’s clip, thumb-loads 15 rounds, slaps in the clip, racks the slide, and takes aim again. She squeezes off five more evenly spaced rounds, all to the left of the heart. She says, “You’ll probably write that the broad can’t hit the broad side of a barn.”
She is 32, with white skin, pale blue-green eyes that look slightly startled, and long, wild, luxuriant, curly red hair like Julia Roberts. She stands 5-5, and weighs 130 pounds, but she appears to be a much bigger woman. She has broad shoulders and muscular legs. She is wearing black sneakers; black, spandex shorts; and an oversized, sleeveless t-shirt that exposes the tattoo on her left arm. “A Japanese fire dragon,” she says. “For strength, because my left side is my weak side.”
She reloads and begins squeezing off rounds again. “I’m a control freak,” she says. Pop! “I vowed I’d never be a helpless victim.” Pop! no one ever bothers me.” Pop! “I carry myself in such a way…” Pop! ‘… THAT I NEVER GET FUCKED WITH.” Pop! “Except once.” Pop! “I was a little kid.” Pop! “This boy knocked a book out of my hand.” Pop! “I flew into a blind rage.” Pop! “I kicked the shit out of him.” Pop! “The other kids were shocked.” Pop! “The Bookworm lives!’ they shouted.” Pop! “It was a totally unfeminine thing to do.” Pop! “But he fucked with my book.” Pop! Pop! Pop! She puts down her gun and smiles, a disarming smile. “It was Greek Mythology.” Then she grabs a broom and begins sweeping up her spent shell casings.
Laura Sofia was graduated from high school at 16, got her college degree in Anthropology at 20, became a martial arts expert, a firearms expert, a bodybuilder, a gourmet chef, a magazine writer, and a professional bodyguard. She was one of the first, and the most successful, female bodyguards in an industry dominated by men. She worked for Vance International, World Class Protective Services, based in Virginia. Mostly, she guarded the women and children, Princesses and Princes, of the Saudi Royal Family when they visited the States.
“Vance is the largest security company in this country,” says Mike Pattillo, 33, a Vance bodyguard for nine years. “Laura was the fourth woman who called attention to themselves. Laura was the best. She was athletic; she looked good; and she blended in. Laura changed the industry. She set the standard. We’ll use more women now because the Saudis request women because of Laura.” He pauses, then adds, “If I had Laura with me in a physical confrontation I’d feel more comfortable than with most men.” He laughs. “Laura could hurt you in a heartbeat.”
“I took an I.O. test when I was four,” says Laura. “They placed me in a school for gifted children in Long Island.” Her I. Q. was 160.
Laura is sitting on her beige sofa in her sparsely furnished Ft. Lauderdale, Florida apartment. It’s the apartment of someone used to living sparely either because of their nature (“I lead a very, very, very clean life,” she says), or because they are always on the run (“You have to leave at a moment’s notice when you get a detail,” she says.), or because they have no intention of ever putting down roots (“I don’t plan on getting married,” she says, “and I never want kids.”), or maybe all three.
The glass and chrome coffee table is littered with magazines: Allure (“Lipstick and liposuction,” she says.); American Hunter, Muscle and Fitness, Guns and Ammo (“I’m an NRA member,” she says.); and National Geographic (“I love to travel,” she says.).
There is a statue of a Javanese Warrior with women’s breasts in one corner, and two prints on the wall. A sexual, Georgia O’Keefe rose and a Samurai Warrior. Her Glock semi-automatic pistol is on the dinning room table.
“As a kid I was different,” she says. “When I got a doll house I threw out all the dolls and put in animals. I never did mommy stuff. I liked to play “Mod Squad” with my friends. I was always Julie.”
Her mother, Ann, says, “I was a very girlie, girlie child, always playing with dolls. Laura’s first toy was a Tonka cement truck. She marched to a different drummer. She was my first child (Laura has a younger brother in the restaurant business) so I thought all two year olds spoke in complete sentences with complex clauses.”
Laura enjoyed her school for gifted children, Sands Point Academy, until the fifth grade when she was transferred to a public school. “The great unwashed,” she says. “I did not fit in. I was an avid reader which wasn’t cool. The others were cheerleader types. I didn’t wear make-up. I was an ugly adolescent and I was younger than the others. My friends were different, intellectual. One of them became a Medieval History professor, another works with medicine for retarded adults. The other kids became, like travel agents, whose ambition was to go to Disney World.”
By eighth grade, Laura knew she wanted to do something “cool with my life, not sit in an office.” She thought she’d like to be a travel writer. Her mother, a high school English teacher, encouraged her. “She liked that I was whacky,” says Laura. “She encouraged me to be an independent thinker. I remember one day she whispered to me, ‘Don’t ever get married.’ I always thought my mother could have done more, you know, but she married at nineteen.”
Laura’s father, Nicholas, was of Sicilian and Neapolitan background. He worked as a foreman in a concrete factory. “He was a typical, conservative Italian father,” says Laura. “Very working class, anti-intellectual. We did not get along. He was just the crabby person in the house. And me, well, I was not his ideal daughter. He didn’t like the person I was. He didn’t want me to go to college. He just wanted me to marry a dentist and have kids. It was my mother who made a big stink for me.”
“My husband is an old world Italian,” says Ann. “Very conservative. When I taught in ghetto schools I made a point of not taking him there where he’d use the word, ‘Nigger.’ Laura was not the person he envisioned as his child.”
Laura passed her four years at Oyster Bay High School with what she calls “the Alternative crowd. You know, not hard core druggies but the kinds of kids who talked about Sartre. We’d sneak into Manhattan for Grateful Dead concerts. Oh, I had a few boyfriends when I was 16. One was 21, the other 28, but nothing serious.”
She also began to rebel against her mother, staying out past curfew until she heard her mother confide to her grandmother one night, “She’s gonna break my heart. She’s got a tongue like a viper.” After that, Laura says, I made an effort not to hurt her.”
Laura majored in Anthropology at Buffalo State College (“I thought I’d be Margaret Mead, living in a hut. taking down folk tales,” she says.), was graduated at 20, and went to New York City (“My father was against that,” she says.), where she found a job as a copy editor for a cable TV magazine. Within four months she became the managing editor. She wrote celebrity profiles of stars like Carly Simon, Jeff Goldblum and Keifer Sutherland. She spent most of her time in L.A., and Europe, on movie sets, which was “really cool.” A few years later, she got a job with Showtime’s cable TV magazine as a liaison between stars and writers.
“I spent my time babysitting actors when reporters interviewed them,” she says. “When an actor got uncomfortable over questions it was my job to relax him. I was always real comfortable with celebrities because I was never impressed with them. I realized I had a talent for making famous people less jumpy in bad situations. I read them, had a sense for what was appropriate, and calmed them.”
Despite the fact that she was enjoying herself in N.Y.C., Laura was still not making enough money to move out of her fifth floor, walk-up apartment in Greenwich Village she called “a complete toilet.” Besides, it was in a dangerous neighborhood. Her boyfriend, at the time, suggested she learn some type of martial arts to protect herself. Laura visited a number of different Dojos, martial arts schools, Akido, Kung Fu and Ninjitsu, before she decided on Ninjitsu, a Japanese martial arts that was over 900 years old. The Ninjitsu Dojo was located in the meat packing district in a meat locker. Laura had to walk over blood and cow guts to get to her classes each night.
She selected Ninjutsu over the other martial arts because the others seemed stylized and robotic, with a lot of “leaping around” that would not be effective in a real conflict. “I wanted something practical if someone grabbed you on the street,” she says. “Ninjutsu taught you how to use your body weight to throw an attacker over your head when he grabbed you from behind. You learned how to jab someone in the throat, how to fight with a brick, a rope, a telephone cord, a gun even. The point was to survive the fight. It wasn’t flashy or even a sport. It was short, ugly and effective. Other martial arts thought firearms were not honorable, but Ninjutsu embraced firearms as early as the 1600s. They thought it was an excellent weapon and only a fool wouldn’t take advantage of it.”
Most importantly, Ninjutsu taught Laura how to perceive danger through her instincts, before she found herself in dangerous situations. It was more important to avoid a threat than to confront one. Her instructor would stand in the middle of the room, with his students in a circle around him, with their eyes closed. Then he’d silently approach one student until they perceived him coming. “When he was coming at me,” Laura says, “I’d feel ice on the back of my neck. The threat registered instinctively before it registered mentally.”
Laura was impressed with her instructors and fellow students because none of them were the kind of big, blustery, macho types she’d expected. “They all lived the life,” she says. “I responded to that. I realized I wanted to live my lifestyle, too. I wanted to go on a journey with this, to combine martial arts with my mob. This was where I belonged and what I had been looking for. My instructor suggested being a bodyguard. I thought, I had this ability, why not use it to help others who can’t take care of themselves. It’s a noble profession. So I sent my resume to Vance. They called me for an interview two days later. They were very impressed with my familiarity with Ninjutsu, with celebrities, with the fact that I had traveled to Europe to be on movie sets and could speak French, a little Japanese, some Spanish. They thought I had the kind of worldliness that would allow me to deal with the kind of jetsetters who hired bodyguards. So they put me through their training course.”
When Laura told her mother she was going to become a bodyguard, Ann said to her, “’You’re kidding!’ I mean, what’s a mother supposed to say? It’s not exactly the dream you have for you daughter. I always thought she’d do something creative. Make her mark. But I knew she was very secure in who she was, so I told her it was fine with me as long as it made her happy.”
At eight o’clock at night, Laura began to dress for the night’s detail. Her protectee was a woman in her fifties, but still attractive, in a flashy, Ft. Lauderdale way. Nicely tanned, bleached blonde hair, still a good body she liked to flaunt in tight, spandex mini dresses and stiletto high heels. Which made Laura’s job more difficult. She’d prefer someone who didn’t call attention to themselves in public but those protectees were rare. Most protectees stood out in a crowd because of their wealth, or because they were obviously from the Middle East. They were powerful people .who were used to getting their way. They were certainly not used to deferring to hired underlings. Some were so used to being in a protective state that they were oblivious to the reality around them. They stepped off curbs into traffic, expecting all the cars to screech to a halt. They stopped in the middle of New York City and took out wads of hundred dollar bills.
Most of Laura’s protectees stood out because they were wealthy Saudi Royalty in America. They looked exotic, and although they didn’t wear Muslim dress, they always wore expensive clothes, silk suits and gold jewelry, that showed their wealth. It was no problem when the women power shopped in New York City at exclusive stores where they dropped $20,000 on shoes, but it was a problem when the women wanted to shop for bargains, just like ordinary Americans, at what Laura thought were “seedy malls,” and then afterwards stop with the children at McDonalds for hamburgers. Once, Laura tried to convince such a group – mother, aunts, children, nannies – that the mall they wanted to go to was too seedy. But they refused to listen.
The women shopped the way women do, looking in store windows, unaware of their surroundings, their purses dangling, carelessly, from their shoulders. Easy targets for thugs looking “to pop a mushroom, their expression for mugging an uncomprehending mark. Laura noticed just such a group of thugs following her party through the mall. She moved behind her party, between them and the thugs. When her party went into a store, Laura went in, too, and stood by the front window, staring out. The thugs stopped at the store and looked in threateningly. Laura stared at them, making sure she made eye contact, and then looked down at the fanny pack on her hip with her Glock inside. She reached her hand into her fanny pack, made sure the thugs saw her gesture, and nodded at them. They left.
That’s all there was to it, sometimes. Just let them know it wouldn’t be as easy as “popping a mushroom.” Most thugs were lazy and bullies anyway. They preferred easy marks, which is why they were thugs in the first place” Most of her protectees’ threats came from local thugs. But occasionally, there were other, higher level threats. Terrorists. Disgruntled employees. Kidnappers. In one such case, a child kidnapper, who’d made a threat against her protectee, was seen only two blocks from the protectees’ hotel. Laura was issued a Kevlar vest meant to stop bullets from penetrating, and placed on a heightened alert.
When Laura finished dressing, she checked herself in the mirror. She had only a light dusting of make-up, a little eye-shadow, pale lipstick, that was it. Her wild, red hair was pulled back in a bun. She wore a plain polo shirt and long, baggy, khaki slacks with low heeled shoes, black sneakers, for comfort and agility. She walked over to her dinning room table in that distinctive walk of hers. Neither feminine nor masculine. It was a completely neutral walk, the walk of someone merely moving authoritatively in the direction she wanted to go in.
Laura was neither beautiful, nor plain, just as she was neither big nor small, threatening nor vulnerable, feminine nor unfeminine. She existed someplace in between extremes. She had a broad, handsome face that looked sexual when her wild red hair hung loose, but looked merely attractive when it was in a bun. She had a firm, athletic body, but not an overly muscular one. She was without feminine or masculine artifice except for her habit of brushing her wild hair off her eyes with the back of her fingertips. Her voice was soft and comforting; her eyes often wide with wonder her features quick to smile. She caught people off guard. They couldn’t categorize her because she had mapped out an original persona for herself that was beyond conventional categorization. She was simply Laura.
She sat down at her dinning room table and began loading Hydra Shok, hollow point bullets into her clip. She used Hydra Shoks because they expanded in flesh on impact. They stopped perpetrators without passing through their bodies and possibly hitting an innocent bystander, her protectee. One of the first things Laura learned at Vance was that if she had to draw her gun she hadn’t done her job. Her job was to anticipate and recognize a threat and avoid it before it developed. If she didn’t like the looks of a restaurant she hustled her protectee out of it. If she was walking through a hotel lobby with a Saudi Princess after The Gulf War, and someone came up to them, shouting obscenities at her protectee, she would tell that person that her “friends” were Italians, not Middle Easterners, and hustle them into an elevator. If all else failed, and shooting started, Laura knew she’d be the first to get shot. Terrorists always took out the bodyguards first, and then the object of their attack. At Vance, Laura had studied the Aldo Moro kidnapping. It was a textbook case of stupidity by Moro’s bodyguards. They took the same route every day, never varying it as Laura had been taught. The bodyguards drove in the car behind Moro’s car, and they kept their guns in the trunk. Complacency, Laura was taught, was a bodyguard’s worst enemy. More protectees had been kidnapped or killed when a bodyguard thought he or she would just step out to get a cup of coffee than at any other time.
Cops were always bad bodyguards because they were taught to look for trouble and react to it. Bodyguards had to be proactive. At Vance, the trainees were put through scenarios to see how they’d react. They’d take a client into a bar and notice two rowdy, rednecks watching a football game. They had to make an instinctive judgment as to whether the rednecks were a threat or merely overly-exuberant football fans. One ex-cop entered such a scenario with a protectee and saw a man at the bar take out a penknife and begin cleaning his fingernails. The ex-cop yelled, “Knife!” drew his gun and held it to the head of the man with the penknife. The ex-cop didn’t get hired by Vance. Laura did, because she was expert at spotting red-herrings during scenarios. She also knew how to deal with clients who wouldn’t listen to her. In one scenario, she got a stubborn, high-powered executive out of a dangerous bar by telling him his wife wanted to talk to him on the car phone in the parking lot. Laura learned she sometimes had to deceive protectees to save them.
By far, the worst bodyguards were the huge, knuckle-dragging thugs celebrities liked to hire. They were nothing more than posers looking for trouble, rather than trying to avoid it. Such big thugs called attention to themselves and their clients which put them in even more danger. And when things went bad, they were almost useless. Look at Rosie Greer, the 6-6, 300-pound, ex-football player who was guarding Bobby Kennedy when he got shot by Sirhan Sirhan. What was the first thing he did after Kennedy was shot? He sat down in that kitchen and cried.
When Laura finished loading her Glock, she slapped in the clip, racked the slide to chamber a round, and put the Glock in her fanny pack holster on her hip. She already felt her adrenaline starting to rise. It was why she loved her job. The excitement of it. Now she began to plan her night.
She didn’t have enough notice to map out the route she’d take to the restaurant on Ft. Lauderdale beach. She didn’t know the restaurant either, the entrances and exits, the class of clientele, the ladies’ room. She always accompanied her female protectees to the ladies’ room. She checked each stall first before ushering her protectee in. Some female protectees didn’t like her accompanying them to the ladies’ room so she had to wait outside. She didn’t know this protectee, hadn’t had a chance to meet her and read her. Would this woman listen to Laura? Did she want Laura to work her close or light? Sit with her at the dinning table, or sit at the bar away from her? Whichever, the protectee would set the parameters.
Usually, Laura would direct her driver to park in front of the restaurant, but tonight the protectee insisted they park in the darkened parking lot and walk to the restaurant because it was a soft, warm beautiful night. This was Laura’s biggest worry, the trip from the car to the restaurant and, late at night, the trip back to the car. This was where most women were abducted, in darkened parking lots, because they never looked around them for a threat. A thug lying under the car to grab her ankle. Most women thought such things couldn’t happen to them. Laura thought, if things looked weird she’d trust her instincts.
One of Laura’s first assignments for Vance in 1993, was to protect the Dali Lama when he visited New York City. She worked the command post, a basement room, in the townhouse the Dali Lama had rented. She answered phones, checked packages for bombs, and escorted the Dali Lama and his monks to their cars. She was paid a day rate of about $2000 a week, plus all expenses. Occasionally, she’d get a tip from her protectee. The tips ranged from a low of $400 for seven months work to a high of $3,000 for less than a month’s work. It depended on the mood of the protectee and how they reacted to Laura.
Most of Laura’s protectees were women. Male protectees, and many women protectees, always requested male bodyguards rather than female bodyguards. Which is why female bodyguards worked less than males. The work was sporadic, maybe six months a year, while men worked almost a full year. Often, a detail could last for a year, seven days a week, 18 hours a day. It wreaked havoc on bodyguards’ personal relationships.
“There’s no social life,” says Laura. “You shut out the world. You don’t talk to anyone except your protectees and your fellow bodyguards. You lose touch with friends you’ve known since college. Your world becomes a microcosm. It ruined one of my relationships. If you’re gonna be married don’t be a bodyguard. They can’t have normal relationships. They’re divorced four times because they cheat all the time.”
Most of Vance’s clients were members of the Saudi Royal family which created distinctive problems for male bodyguards. In Muslim countries, Laura says, “Men can’t be in women’s quarters, not even their bodyguards. It’s not cool for men even to talk to women, or look at them. So Vance used me to protect the women. I could go into their quarters and relay messages to my male detail leader. But I had to learn to be subservient, especially to the Saudi men. It was hard for me to swallow. I had to be especially tactful with the Saudi Royal Guards. (“They took offense to Laura,” says Pattillo, “because she was a woman.”) But still, I was in control in a way. I had the gun.”
The Saudi guards were condescending to Laura, at first. They flirted with her lasciviously. “I was just this hot red head to them,” she says. “I responded by being charming. One night, I was in my command post cleaning my gun when this Royal Guard came in. He was shocked to see I’d broken down my gun, and was expertly cleaning it. All of a sudden he became very cool. He said, ‘Sometime I think maybe women make better security because they have nothing to prove.’ After that he began to hang out with me when I patrolled the grounds. Before that, they had me patrol the back of the grounds (where there was a minimal threat), now they had me patrol the front.”
“Once the male Saudi Guards adjusted to Laura,” says Pattillo, “she broke new ground for female bodyguards. They saw she was professional, and still feminine, that she didn’t have what we called “The Princess Disease.” Some female bodyguards live so closely with their protectees, Saudi Princesses, that they think they’re their friends, not employees. Laura never crossed that line. She was also great with their kids.”
Saudi children thought Laura was “cool,” because she was different than any woman they’d ever known. She had wild red hair, muscles, lifted weights in her free time, and carried a gun. Her little girl protectees were particularly drawn to her. One told her, “You’re very strong. I bet you could beat up my mother.” Laura responded, “Now, why would I do that? Your mother’s a very nice lady.”
Some children grew attached to their bodyguards because they spent more time with them than their parents did. Often, this annoyed the parents, and they’d ask the guards to be reassigned. “I didn’t make overtures to the kids,” says Laura. “I was just there for them. Some of the kids were bratty, but most were nice. They were all spoiled, though. I mean, they couldn’t even tie their shoelaces. Otherwise, they were just regular kids who liked videos, McDonalds, and Disney World. One father insisted I not get his kids VIP treatment at Disney World, you know, special guides, side entrances, no waiting in line. He insisted his kids wait in line and play with other kids.”
Once Laura became accepted by Saudi men, she was even asked to bodyguard them on occasion. One Saudi Prince took her to an NBA game with him, and another asked her to teach him Ninjutsu. “He insisted I punch him for real,” Laura says. “He said, ‘I want to feel it!’ We had a rapport because he respected my knowledge.”
Laura became such a favorite of the Saudis that it began to cause problems with her own male, Vance bodyguards.
“Bodyguards had always been macho guys,” says Pattillo. “There was a lot of prejudice against female bodyguards. Laura took a lot of shit from them. But she never cried harassment. That’s not her style. She’d rather take them out back and beat the shit out of them.”
Laura doesn’t like to talk about her problems with Vance bodyguards. She only says, “I had problems with guys who had something to prove. They saw me closer to protectees than them and they were jealous. I got tips, presents. One Prince wanted me close to his mother so he had me installed in an inside post while the other guys froze their ass outside in the mud and I was being served mint tea and cookies. But I’d spent three months freezing my ass off, too. Sometimes, they pulled rank on me. They’d order me to do something, like wear a Kevlar vest, and when I said, ‘Why are you handing me a fucking vest!.’ they’d say, ‘You don’t need to know.’”
Laura’s last assignment for Vance was a 16 month detail guarding the children of a Saudi Princess in Phoenix, Arizona. She lived in a nearby hotel and reported to the family’s rented house every morning where one of her duties was to patrol the grounds. It was an exhausting detail Laura took “and rode as long as I could,” she says. “I wanted to buy a car (she did, a Jeep) and to save up some money.” At the end of her detail, she took a sabbatical from Vance because she was burned out, both by her exhausting detail, and the other male Vance bodyguards she’d had to do battle with. She went to Ft. Lauderdale and enrolled in the Ft. Lauderdale Culinary Institute to become a gourmet chef.
“I wanted to live a normal life again,” she says. “Cooking had always been my way of relaxing. At 13, I used to cook for my family and it was fun to watch them chow down on what I’d made. Cooking calmed me. When I was on a detail it was nice to come home when I’m essentially living someone else’s life, and spend five hours making a paella.”
Laura claims she doesn’t see the relationship between bodyguarding and cooking, but both have a lot in common. They give comfort to people. The person who cooks or bodyguards controls the person she’s pleasing. In this way Laura can satisfy both her desire always to be in control and another desire, she denies, to be a comforting, maternal person.
In Ft. Lauderdale, Laura set up her life in the way she was accustomed to as a bodyguard, with a strict, daily routine. She went to her bodybuilding gym every morning at 8 a.m. and lifted weights for three hours. Then she went back to her apartment to have breakfast and read the newspapers. In the afternoon, she either went to the gun range, or a martial arts class, and, after she was graduated from the Culinary Institute, she went at night to her job as chef for an exclusive Ft. Lauderdale resort. She had little free time for dates or partying, which is not her style anyway.
“I don’t go to bars alone,” she says. “I have no history in Ft. Lauderdale so I have no friends. I keep my life at a tight level of security.
After only a few months, Laura discovered she didn’t like cooking in a restaurant the way she did cooking for a few people. She didn’t have control in a restaurant. “I was bored,” she says. “Now I can’t wait to get back to bodyguarding.” Which is why she took the small detail of guarding that Ft. Lauderdale woman while she waited for her next assignment from Vance.
“At this point it’s only a matter of time before Laura gets her own detail,” says Pattillo. “She’ll be the first woman to have her own detail. It’ll happen soon.”
While waiting for her Vance assignment, Laura applied to the FBI and passed her first exam. If she passes the next stage of her application, which includes a background check, she’ll be sent to the FBI’s training facility in Quantico, Virginia. She hopes eventually to work in the FBI’s anti-terrorist unit overseas.
Laura sat in the front seat of the car, alongside of the driver. Her protectee, in a tight, spandex mini-dress, sat in the backseat smoking a cigarette. Usually, Laura worked with two other cars of bodyguards, one in front of her and one behind her, but this night she was working alone, with no radio communication with back up.
The woman was pleasant enough. She asked Laura if it was difficult having boyfriends in her line of work. Laura answered while still concentrating on her job. “I never had trouble getting guys I wanted,” she said. “My last boyfriend was Irish. He wanted to marry me and take me back to Ireland.” Laura smiled at the woman. “But I was on a 16 month detail at the time.”
The driver crossed the Las Olas Bridge to the beach and turned right toward the Intracoastal. The road was blocked off and the driver found himself taking a detour he was unsure of.
Laura snapped at him, “If you were my driver I’d fire your ass in a minute.” The driver apologized, and found his way back onto the main road toward the beach restaurant.
The parking lot was dark and unlighted. When the driver pulled into a space, Laura hopped out almost before the car stopped. She looked around in the darkness for a threat. Seeing none, she backed up against the rear door, opened it with her hand behing her back so that she could still see around her while her protectee got out. They walked through the lot, Laura a few feet ahead, until they came to the sidewalk illuminated by a streetlight. A strong warm breeze blew in from the ocean only a few yards away.
Laura entered the restaurant, first, followed by the driver and her protectee. It was crowded, with the kind of upscale clientele that shouldn’t be a threat. The hostess led them to their table. Laura took a seat with her back to the wall so she could see around the restaurant. Her protectee had her back to the restaurant so that it would be difficult for anyone to recognize her.
The waitress came and they ordered drinks. The woman ordered a vodka-on-the-rocks. Laura ordered Perrier water. The woman leaned back in her chair, lighted another cigarette, and smiled at Laura.
“So,” she said. “Why would a woman want to be a bodyguard?”