Not knowing what to do upon graduation from college, I got a management job at Broadway Wilshire in the Miracle Mile of Los Angeles. I was assistant manager of housewares, toys, and luggage until the manager got caught with his hand in the till and I was promoted to manager. It wasn't a job I was suited for, but there were moments. One of them was the Frenchman who ran the loading dock and warehouse in the basement, Georges. I can't recall his last name. If I could, I might be able to solve the mystery surrounding the man.
Georges and I hit it off and became fast friends. We would lunch together on the roof of the building each day that I brought a sack lunch to work. He was full of stories. He had been chief of police of all French Polynesia and had written a book about his experiences called Rogue Cop. As a high ranking French naval officer, he had seen combat in World War II and French Indonesia and had been given an attache job to the king of Morocco. What was he doing in the basement of a department store? He'd given up telling his life story to anyone else because everyone thought he was crazy. I half believed him and never revealed any of my doubts, so he continued to regale me with his tales. I was told that he was in constant written contact with the Moroccan king and would tell me the advice he had given the monarch.
Instead of his native "Mon cher," Georges always called me "My dear." He was generous. He had a special deal with one of the wineries in Cucamonga where they would give him cases of new wine barely fermented, something many Frenchmen crave. He would often give me a few bottles. One day, shortly before I was to report to serve in the army, he called me to his office. "I'm going to show you something no one else here will see, since they don't believe anything I say." He pulled out a large black and white photograph taken in Viet Nam before the French were kicked out. There was a line of French army and naval officers and smack dab in the middle was Charles DeGaulle himself. Standing two away from him was none other than a very recognizable but younger, Georges.
A few years ago, I recalled our time together and decided to research my old friend. It was an impossible task. I Googled a list of all the past police chiefs of French Polynesia. There were none named Georges. Maybe Georges was an alias. I looked up the book Rogue Cop. I found one, but it was not a French one and the author's name was unfamiliar. My brother lived in France and I elicited his help. He found nothing. To this day I don't know if Georges' exploits were real, but there was that photograph.