dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

My guest poster, Larry O’Donnell, is here to continue the story of how he met my sister-in-law (and I might butt in occasionally).

When we left off, Larry and his partner Dave were performing surveillance on a drop-off of 2 tons of marijuana linked to terrorist financial organizations.

How I Met My Wife by Larry O’Donnell

About 5 hours before the scheduled delivery, we established a position 150 yards from the drop-off site.  Dave was the spotter, hidden behind me in a wooded location.  I was camouflaged and mostly buried under leaves, observing the site through the optical sight of a Steyr AUG.  The Steyr AUG assault rifle looked like something from Star Wars.  It was a style statement to anyone I might meet, enabling me to respond to anyone posing an imminent threat to the driver or our agent. 


Four and a half hours later, we were advised that the smugglers called a last minute change of location, five miles away.  A vehicle was dispatched to our location and Dave and I were rushed to the new place.  We arrived almost simultaneously with the delivery truck and bailed out of the SUV.  We ran through a small neighborhood and found a decent position to cover the agent and driver.  Fortunately it was dark. 

We covered the unloading, which was accomplished without incident.  The two tons of marijuana were placed in a garage attached to a mushroom house—a building designed for the harvesting of commercial mushrooms.

(A building that once housed the mushroom-growing business of my late father-in-law, but which was now rented to tenants. Tenants who always paid on time. Just thought I’d mention that.)

We still had to watch over the load to make certain it didn’t get distributed unless we were on hand to arrest all the participants.  The mushroom house was located behind a farmhouse, about seventy five yards from the road down a shared driveway.  There was a house at the junction of the driveway and the road, occupied by a solitary woman.

(Um, that would be my widowed mother-in-law, who marched outside with a flashlight to rap on the window of the car parked in her driveway and demand, “Who are you?! I’ll call the police!”)

The woman cooperated and made her garage available to agents to monitor the load.  We still needed agents with a direct view of the mushroom house.  The woman explained that her divorced daughter lived with two children in the farmhouse, and offered to introduce us so we could observe the mushroom house from there. 

Just after 9:00 pm, the woman knocked on her daughter’s door.  The daughter, Deb, stopped reading a nighttime story to her children and opened the door.  


(Imagine for just a moment my poor sister-in-law opening the door to her mother in the company of two fully camouflaged, fully armed, and seriously scary federal officers.)


Her mom introduced us and our purpose.  Deb agreed to move the children and herself to her mom’s house for the night, and we occupied the house to watch the load.

(Meanwhile, at the Salerni house, we were battling the flu with two small children, aged 4 and 1.  My husband answered the phone late in the evening, held his hand over the receiver, and said to me, “It’s my sister.”  Then he said into the phone: “What? Why are you whispering? What? WHAT!”)

I was very impressed with Deb’s reactions and her composure.  Well experienced in entering people’s houses to conduct arrests and searches due to enforcement operations or hurricanes, I was expecting drama, outrage, and attitude.  However, Deb responded as if this sort of thing happened every other week.    

Deb and her kids returned to the house the next day, and she allowed two agents to remain in the house watch the load.  For the next two weeks Dave and I worked twelve hour shifts, opposite two other agents, observing the mushroom house.  It was during one of those shifts that Dave, having noticed my admiration for Deb, talked me into asking her out on a date.  I was uncharacteristically reluctant due to the awkward nature of our meeting, the stress of having us in her home, and being eight years her senior.  Nonetheless, Dave prevailed on me to make the attempt.

I ventured down to her kitchen and suggested that we might go out for dinner.  She politely but emphatically refused to date me. 

I returned to the observation point and informed Dave that the smoking hole in the yard was where I landed after asking the question.  Dave said he was surprised but maybe she would re-consider.  I mumbled something about hell freezing over.  


(Of course, it doesn’t end here … Please return on Friday!)