After Erika, the individual Ryan Moran trusted the most was his longtime partner at the CIA he called Toothpick (Also known as T.P.) When it came to doing the really big missions around the world, T.P. was always a top pick. As stated in the book, T.P. was a black man who mysteriously floated somewhere in the background of our lives and was involved with our security. According to Ryan, he was a fierce warrior with an exceptional skill set necessary to survive in the cloak and dagger world. Somehow he seemed able to remain separate to a certain extent from Erika’s security lieutenant. Seemingly he acted more like a private security guard Ryan could use if and when he needed to. Still, I could tell by the way Ryan talked about T.P. that they had an especially strong and warm relationship going back many years. Obviously they were involved in many tight and dangerous situations together where they had to watch each others back.
I only met T.P. once and never directly spoke to him. Being inquisitive when I first heard Ryan speak his name, I asked why he was called T.P? Ryan explained to me how he always seemed to have a toothpick in his mouth which he continually chewed on. Early on in my relationship with Ryan, he became agitated about a security situation developing around us. Although he would not tell me what it was about, it bothered him enough to take action and call in T.P. This event was before the time he kept a revolver and rifles in the house. In his mind this must have left him feeling exposed. With a call to T.P. we were on our way to Middletown to meet him at a burger shop they both knew. But before we left for the drive, Ryan went over to one of the neighbors homes and asked to borrow their son’s toy rifle. I did not even know about the rifle but Ryan must have been keeping an eye on the boy and his special toy. When he brought the rifle back to our house I asked him what the toy rifle was was all about. He explained to me how he wanted certain people to think he was armed and the toy rifle was just a ruse to convince them.
When we finally left the house that evening and entered his black car, Ryan wielded the rifle just like he would a real one. Needless to say, the drive that night to Middletown was fraught with suspense and tension for me. Shortly into our trip on the freeway a jeep like vehicle pulled up next to ours. The male driver looked over at us for a few moments, nodded at us, then sped off down the freeway. I asked Ryan what that was all about and he just said, “Oh…the boys are back in town.” I guess reinforcements never hurt.
We made our way to the burger joint without any incident and entered inside with Ryan still carrying the rifle in tow for protection. He eventually stashed the rifle between us in a sit-down booth while looking around and told me to jump behind the counter if there were any problems. Nervously I scanned the interior for a black man who was chewing on a toothpick but found none. Moments later Ryan told me to follow him as he got up, exited through a side door, and quickly started up the stairs to a cheap motel just next to the restaurant. We climbed to the second story and there on the landing at the top was what I was looking for. A large black man chewing a white toothpick out of the side of his mouth. No words were exchanged but when our eyes met he gave me a smile and reassuring nod of his head. I knew every thing would be okay from there on out.
T.P. eventually faded from my view a couple of decades later due to a reassignment after the September 11th terrorist attacks. According to Ryan he was needed to help with the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. There was however one interesting conversation between he and Ryan prior to his leaving that I found telling about the man. It involved a phone conversation in which I only had privy to Ryan’s part of the conversation. It was obvious T.P. was having marital problems and Ryan, with his exceptional counseling skills, was acting as a sounding board in this matter. During the conversation it was also revealed T.P. had recently finished a degree from Harvard University, an accomplishment in which Ryan expressed his great pride. It was a milestone T.P. had always wanted to accomplish. This resonated well with my assumption of T.P. having risen up from the ranks of the military and not going through the University system as Ryan did.