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A Spy At Home

A Spy At Home

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A Spy At Home

3/5 (5 valutazioni)
263 pagine
4 ore
Nov 19, 2011


Garrison’s story begins when he retires from the CIA. In retirement Garrison shares the pain he inflicted on his family during his life abroad. Noah, Garrison’s adult son with Down syndrome, a form of mental retardation, doesn’t trust dad when he returns home. Experience has taught Noah that dad always leaves again. Over time they grow closer.

Louisa, Garrison’s wife, gradually accepts her husband back; however, accepting him as her husband and trusting him with her child present two separate obstacles.

Tragedy strikes, and Louisa dies. Garrison becomes solely responsible for Noah, who has developed Alzheimer’s, common in aging people with Down syndrome. This disease tears at Garrison’s heart. Noah ceases to be himself and relives a life his dad knew nothing about.

Nov 19, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

I am Joe Rinaldo, and I’ve written four novels - Valerie's Retreat, A Mormon Massacre, A Spy At Home and Hazardous Choices - that are available on Amazon. By day I work as Credit and Financial Manager for a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning distributor. When I first started writing, I thought being a numbers guy would make me an oddity as an author. That’s proved to be wrong. The more people I meet in this industry, the more I run across accountants and CFOs. Apparently, creativity infects a variety of people. Of course, I have the same dream as other writers. I hope my books sell a million copies and become smash hit movies. Selling ebooks isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme I thought it was before being published. It’s been a lot of work.

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A Spy At Home - Joseph Rinaldo


By Joseph Rinaldo

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2010 Joseph Rinaldo

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Note To Reader:

Since you’re reading this, I’m dead. A great many years of my life I worked for the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, for the federal government of the United States of America. I didn’t say proudly worked, because I wasn’t proudly serving the entire time. Don’t yawn; you haven’t read this one before. The book won’t self-destruct; this isn’t the same reworded spy novel you’ve read a dozen times where the hero does the right thing in the final scene and everyone good lives happily ever after and the bad guys go to jail. To be honest with you, I don’t know how much spy stuff will be in this book. The important thing for you to know is that the author’s royalties from this book support Noah, my son. He was a surprise, but not the kind of surprise you’re thinking. You’ll meet him later, and I assure you everyone will like him. Everyone always does. We’re complete opposites. He’s innocent, and I’m not.

As for me, you’ll get to know me. I’d really like to hear what you think about me, but I was too chickenshit to release this while I lived. You’ll have to judge me posthumously. Most people tell stories using themselves as the conquering hero. I tried not to do that; in fact, I’m certain you won’t conclude I’m any kind of hero. On the other hand, I hope you don’t end up hating me. My excuse for not presenting this during my lifetime was National Security. You know the term that forgives all government workers for being dishonest and secretive.

In case I forget to say it later, thanks for the money. You paid me a lot of dough over the years for my salary, and one big lump sum, which you’ll hear about in detail. Being a CIA operative means everything I do is covered under the veil of National Security. Don’t worry; nothing you’re going to read will put any American agents in danger. I’ve been out of the game for a long time, and most of the governments I helped create or defeat have no one left alive who can figure out my real identity.

My job enters into this book some, well, a lot, but it’s not really the point. I hope you think I ended up being a good person. My guess would be that most folks will see what I did in my job as acts of evil piled onto one another to build a temple to undermining decency. At the time, I acted for God and country, actually, just country because I don’t believe in God. I was raised Catholic – before you ask, no, I wasn’t molested by a priest. After touring the worst parts of the world, and seeing the worst side of humanity, I decided not to worship anything that had the power to rectify those cruelties and chose not to. Life is less complicated for me when I believe God simply doesn’t exist.

Some of you might recognize part of this story from newspaper accounts in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m the guy who shot his wife; again, not for the reason(s) you think. We’ll cover that in detail, too. You’ll hate me for shooting someone who gave so much to the world and always thought of others. I hate myself for it.

I wrote some of the book and then came back to this note. You should be warned that this tale doesn’t follow some chronology of events. It’s not some impossible to read stream of consciousness, but it is out of order.

My death happens at a shootout with a terrorist group from a small Middle Eastern country where I help thwart the terrorist group’s coup against the country’s President, who secretly sympathizes with America’s precarious oil dependency. Just kidding – how in the hell could I possibly know that while I’m writing this? I probably die alone of some common disease in a nursing home with so many beds that all the patients become anonymous. Who cares? (Other than Noah if he survives me)

Chapter 1

Louisa and I warmed plates in the microwave for dinner without speaking to each other. She had learned about the money and yelled, What the hell were you thinking!?

I never answered her. She didn’t expect me to. At this point I wanted to wait, let her cool off, and think about what the money would mean.

Noah had been in his room watching TV and didn’t hear Louisa’s question from the living room. When he heard us banging around in the kitchen, or maybe he came out because he was hungry, I don’t know, he quickly understood we were fighting. Not saying much himself, Noah made up his own plate of leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes to eat in his room.

As a family we usually ate at the table together since I retired, this evening being an exception. Speaking of our family, Noah came as a surprise twenty-five years ago.

Louisa and I had moved outside of Leesburg, Virginia. The road we lived on had been an old mountain road thirty years ago, but now it had houses from eight hundred square feet to three thousand square feet and trailers from fairly new to unfit for human habitation. We lived here because a mountain too steep for a house sat across the road and the terrain around our house kept the neighbors on either side hundreds of yards away. In other words, we had lots of privacy.

The decrepit mobile home next door caught fire about three months after we moved in. I happened to be home officially filing reports from my previous assignment and unofficially relaxing, getting to know my wife after six months in the field, and trying to forget the previous assignment after emailing (even though I could have driven the fifty minutes to the office) my official reports of total success to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

A man wearing a torn t-shirt and greasy jeans had been loading boxes into a beat-up old pickup truck at the house a few days before the fire. We’d never spoken, or even waved to him. From time to time we’d spotted a tattoo covered woman who had been very pregnant. Using this information as a reason to talk the firefighter standing by the fire truck blocking the road, we told him what we knew, and asked if anyone was inside. In general, we were being nosy, because extracting information from people is my job, and in my free time it’s my hobby.

The firefighter thanked us, shrugged in response to the question about people inside, and repeated what we told him to a man putting on a mask.

We watched the fire and saw the masked man enter the house. Since we still stood near the firefighter by the truck, we heard over his walkie-talkie a baby was inside. The firefighter bolted into action. Right before our eyes he transformed a patch of lawn into an emergency room. He never wasted a movement spreading a sterile blanket and opening cases of medical equipment while speaking to a dispatcher requesting an ambulance.

It was a spectacle we’d never forget.

Another masked man came running out of the burning house clutching a silver blanket. The thick fireman’s jacket had burning embers smoking on the shoulders. Got ‘em, Hamby, the firefighter said taking the silver bundle from the smoking house stormer.

The smoking man nodded. Chief Biz, he’s a cutie. Take care of him.

Chief Biz gently set the bundle on the sterile blanket and unwrapped the prettiest naked baby you’ve ever seen. The baby’s eyes stared straight up at the Chief leaning over him. When the cold metal of the stethoscope touched his chest, the baby laughed and squirmed. His little hands tried to push it away, his little legs pumping for all they were worth.

I almost started crying, and when I looked at Louisa she already had tears dripping off her chin.

The Chief radioed the ambulance the good news about his patient’s heart, breathing, and blood pressure.

While the Chief wrapped the baby in a soft blanket, a voice announced over the walkie-talkie, One woman found dead in the back bedroom.

Louisa gasped.

I held her, staring at the baby.

The metal piece connecting the hose to the truck sprung a leak. The Chief stepped toward it then stopped. Scanning the area he frowned before turning to face me. I’ve got to fix that. Can you hold this baby?

Uh-huh, I mumbled.

My life to that point had never involved babies. I’d probably only held one here and there for a grand total of fifteen minutes. Louisa immediately took him from me, and I felt cheated. I’m not trying to say Noah and I bonded that fast, but I was entrusted to hold him; the Chief gave him to me. For some reason I couldn’t explain, I wanted to be his protector.

Louisa and I had repeatedly agreed at different times during our marriage not to have children. I usually came home for a few weeks and left for months. Being married and a mom alone never appealed to Louisa. The time never seemed right, and having a baby is something you’re either one hundred percent convinced of doing, or you shouldn’t have one.

To my surprise, Louisa held the baby like an experienced mom. Where I had stiff and overly cautious rigid hands, she skillfully swung him and comfortably supported his head. All the while tears streamed down her face.

A siren shut off which disrupted the background noise and caused me to look up. The ambulance had parked right beside us. EMTs took the baby from Louisa and laid him in the back of the ambulance. They immediately pushed and prodded, listened to his heart again, listened to his lungs, and pronounced him healthy. Apparently, the examination tickled for the baby now shrieked with laughter as the EMTs hands moved over him. We stood at the ambulance’s back door watching.

He appears to be fine. The EMT addressed us both. Did you get him out of the house before he inhaled any smoke?

I started to tell him our relationship to the baby, but Louisa answered before I had a chance. A fireman pulled him out.

Here you go, the EMT said handing the baby back to Louisa. He’s a happy little guy. Is he always this happy or is it me?

I’ve never seen him frown, Louisa truthfully replied.

We could take him to the hospital if it makes you feel better, but I can’t find anything at all wrong with him, the EMT said to Louisa.

He can stay with us, she decided.

At this point I should have sensed trouble. Sensing trouble kept me alive in politically unstable foreign countries where I usually encouraged revolts and coups. My only defense for missing it here – I was off duty.

Excuse me. I have to check with the firemen for more victims. The EMT headed for the Chief who had left the truck and gone near the trailer, or the smoldering remnants thereof.

Normally in a group I’m the guy who sees everything happen. At a restaurant I know where our waitress is at all times. At the basketball game I quickly access the crowd keeping an eye on possible troublemakers. This always came natural to me, but the CIA honed this skill. This ability kept me alive and intertwined with my knack for sensing trouble. Watching Louisa hold that little baby completely erased my perception of the world around me. A police officer I hadn’t seen approach suddenly stood next to me.

’Eve’nin, folks. He greeted us with a southern accent and slightly mumbled words due to the tobacco tucked just inside his front lip. Everyone make it out of the house in time?

I answered this time. The firemen said a woman died in the back bedroom.

He pulled out a notepad. You know the woman’s name?

No, I said.

When he looked to Louisa she said the same.

What’s the baby’s name? the officer continued.

We answered honestly that we didn’t know which led to numerous follow-up questions. After we’d answered those questions, he called the Department of Social Services; they handle child welfare for the State of Virginia.

The firemen finished extinguishing the fire. The arson investigator began sifting through the debris. DSS still hadn’t arrived.

Louisa began her subtle prodding that finally alerted me to the danger in my midst. I don’t think this little baby should be out here. Even though it’s a nice night, I’m sure this little fella feels cold now. Why don’t we all go over to our house?

The officer, a young man in his early twenties, who seemed to be fresh out of the academy, probably preferred a shoot-out to infant health care questions stared blankly at my wife.

We live right there. She nodded toward our house several hundred yards away.

Let me ask the Sergeant.

The officer explained the situation. The Sergeant, whose voice we clearly heard blaring from the handset clipped on the officer’s shoulder, yelled about DSS taking so long to arrive. The officer received instructions to call DSS and if they agreed, allow the couple to take the baby until they arrived. DSS agreed, and worried all of us when their dispatcher asked for the address again. I’d bet a box of road apples she didn’t have this call on her list, the officer concluded.

We went back to our house. The officer stayed for a while until he had to go set spikes to give a drunk driver flat tires. DSS still hadn’t arrived.

While Louisa stayed with the baby, I drove to the nearest convenience store for diapers, food, rash prevention creams or powder, and anything else that looked necessary for the care and well-being of the little baby. My life experiences provided no help in determining which products would be needed. Everything was based on age or weight; two details I did not know. The grandmotherly looking cashier might have been willing to help me, or she might have been concerned that my questions were due to my having stolen a baby. Without her assistance, I bought one of everything and hurried home.

Louisa had the blanket from the fireman in the washer as the baby had soiled it from his front and back, which she informed me also made him laugh. The tears had stopped, and her face glowed.

My job - I specialize in toppling foreign governments hostile to American interests and funneling support to more cooperative factions in politically unstable countries - requires me to understand, evaluate, and resolve numerous details in moments. Her face said we were keeping this baby. Problems such as, if his mother had not been the dead body found in the fire as initially assumed, if his father would take him, if his grandparents wanted to raise him, etc. flowed through my mind. Resolutions to these questions fell outside of my area of expertise.

On the floor in our bedroom we made a crib out of pillows and blankets which we worried would not hold him if he crawled around, so we stayed up all night watching him sleep.

DSS came the next afternoon. I’m Clarita Johnson, the elderly black woman introduced herself. We invited her in and sat in the living room. When offered a coke or coffee she politely refused. I have to fill out some forms so why don’t we jump right in. To speed the process along, I handed her my driver’s license so she could copy the information about us. She never stopped talking. This baby is in our system. He’s Noah Kendrick, and he has Down syndrome. You know what that is?

Her casual tone and relaxed body posture told me she planned to fill out her paperwork and be gone. This would be simply another case.

I know a little bit about it from nursing school, but why don’t you explain to refresh my memory and help Garrison, Louisa said.

He’s mentally retarded. We have programs to help him develop speech and dexterity. Kids like him have physical problems sometimes. The problem for DSS is…

Mrs. Johnson continued to speak but Louisa and I were off in our own little worlds. What did that really mean?

Foster parents have to undergo Special Needs training before they can take a child with his problems. The biggest problem I have at the moment, she sighed, is we don’t have a place to take him. A special needs foster parent got arrested for selling drugs and using the kids we placed with her to transport the money and drugs. You might have seen this on the news…

My head couldn’t quite follow everything. In a matter of less than a minute I learned his name and that he’s mentally retarded. This woman didn’t understand. We’d spent the entire night discussing how we couldn’t bear to send him into foster care. We’d made plans. Part of our savings was going into a college fund. As soon as he could walk I planned to teach him to dribble a basketball. What would he be if he’s mentally retarded?

In my job I almost never showed emotion, unless it helped attain something. If the leader of a subversive element expected me to be angry with the latest law passed by the current regime, I got mad. Each step I took came after methodically plotting a plan. Dealing with Noah through the night of fire, I guess I knew theoretically that the odds of us being allowed to keep him had to be a billion to one against. The fact that he might not ever be ours never entered my mind. By comparison, Louisa felt more intensely about Noah than I did. How did this little baby turn us completely upside down in a few hours?

Louisa and I were in our early forties when the fireman handed us Noah. A part of all this might have been that this would be our last chance for a baby. Opportunity didn’t knock, it handed us a baby. Another part had to be that hell-hole of a mobile home he came from. The seedy parents also engendered our sympathy for this little guy.

All of those kids have been dealt around to other foster homes, and every house is at capacity. A few homes have gone over their capacity, but we couldn’t leave the kids on the street. We also use orphanages, but we have the same problem – no vacancies.

We’ll keep Noah, Louisa blurted out holding him and looking down at his little face.

Mrs. Johnson set her pen down and looked us in the eye. That would be so terrific. We’ve called his paternal grandparents, and they said to put him in an institution because he’ll never amount to anything. Ignorance like that in this day and age never ceases to amaze me.

Louisa instantly started crying. The tears dripped from her cheeks onto Noah’s nose.

Noah smiled, kicked, and tried to catch the drops with his little hands.

…The maternal grandmother is currently in the Campbell County jail on drug possession and prostitution charges. If she ever learns that this baby would entitle her to SSI and Social Security benefits, she’ll fight for custody. Hopefully, that will never happen. If you do keep him, I don’t know how long it will be before we find a foster home…I’ll put you on the fast track for the DSS Special Needs Foster Parent class…

Noah tooted and giggled.

He really is the most adorable thing.

I saw him squirming with a cute little frown. Based on last night’s experience, I knew that this activity quickly evolves into high pitched screams. Quickly I retrieved the baby food for Louisa to feed him while we talked. So far he ate whatever we fed him. He got that from Louisa; she likes the taste of everything.

Noah’s a touch underweight for a six month old baby. You need to make sure you keep feeding him whenever he’s hungry. What’s the longest you could keep him?

Are you sure he has Down syndrome? Louisa asked still hanging on the edge of denial, I thought he might, but I work geriatrics as a nurse and I wasn’t sure."

Pointing toward Noah’s head, Mrs. Johnson explained, Look at the shape of the forehead and the almond-shaped eyes. Once you know what to look for it becomes obvious. How long would you be willing to keep him?

We - I answered first thinking I could propose the idea more delicately and persuasively than Louisa. We have discussed it, and we’d like to keep him – permanently.

Mrs. Johnson stared at me and raised an eyebrow.

This little baby is a joy. We already love him and can’t imagine our lives without him, Louisa added.

The DSS worker said, Letting you keep the baby right now is not a reflection of any decision on the part of DSS. The department simply has nowhere else to place him. If you two are serious about this, you need to understand the difficulties you will have raising a child with an intellectual disability. It won’t be easy.

"Raising any child is

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  • (3/5)
    With a title like A Spy At Home it is easy to expect this book to be a mystery or a thriller but it is neither. Sure, there is a mystery, and sure, there are incredibly hard to find bad guys but this novel is more about taking care of one's family than surviving in a war zone. This is a relatively short book, only 122 pages, but it took me a while to read it, possibly because it was not like the books I'm used to where the author takes the readers into the story. Instead Garrison is the narrator, telling us about things that happened and somehow even though there's always talk about how this or that event made him feel the scenes that engaged me weren't as frequent as I would have liked. There simply wasn't the sort of detail that brings the story into the here and now and makes the characters come alive. For example when I read "Louisa began her subtle prodding..." I wished I knew what she said and how she finally got the police officer to tell her what she wanted to know. In addition to that sort of telling and not showing the copy I got had many spelling and grammatical errors and while I allow that the manuscript may have gotten proofed and revised to eliminate those at a later date they were too much of a distraction for me. There are few characters in this book and Noah, Garrison's son with Down syndrome, is the most developed one. I repeatedly caught myself thinking that the author must have either done extensive research or has personal experience with this condition because the way Noah is portrayed feels very authentic and the family's reactions to the developments he undergoes are particularly believable.It is understandable that secondary characters, like the family's friends and Garrison's former superior and CIA contact, weren't written with much detail but I expected that by the end of the book I would know this family. Instead while I found out what they did for a living, how they managed to keep the stolen money hidden and some very intimate particulars about their sex life I didn't really feel that I knew them. They were a family an acquaintance told me about, not a family I got to know myself.I really wanted to enjoy this book and in the light of some very favorable reviews out there I'm inclined to think that my state of mind wasn't ideal for it. There were quite a few very insightful moments that I felt came from experience and gave authenticity to the writing, and the final sentence was so strong that as soon as I read it I knew it was my favorite part of the book, but as a whole this novel didn't really do it for me. I urge you to check it out though, may be it'll be just right for you.
  • (3/5)
    I received this book from the author requesting a review. I enjoy reading and will try any book and post a review. A Spy at Home is the story about a retired CIA agent, his wife Louisa and their son Noah. You learn how Garrison and Louisa met and how they finally have a son. Their son Noah is not biologically theirs but a child that is rescued from a neighbors house after a fire. Noah has Downs Syndrome and most likely would not be adopted. Louisa has fallen in love with the baby and they decide to adopt him.This story is about their life and raising a child with Downs Syndrome. You have a husband who has pretty much been out of the picture most of the time because of his job. The story does jump around a lot and that can be confusing. I didn't care for how the book ended. I didn't feel satisfied when I finished the book. It left me hanging and wanting to hear more about Noah and how his life continued with Alzheimer's disease. Otherwise I enjoyed the book and did tear up a little while reading the book. I don't believe I have ever read a book that focused on Downs Syndrome before. I had a neighbor growing up who had Downs Syndrome and am familiar with some of the characteristics with them. I enjoyed reading a book that did cover them in a good way and how endearing people with a disability really are.