The 5th Tour
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More About This Title The 5th Tour


The 5th Tour tells the story of David Thompson, a “meat and potatoes” Midwesterner, who grows up in a small farm town in Central Iowa. Despite some unfortunate childhood setbacks, he becomes a popular high school student and makes his way to college earning a degree in Russian with a minor in business in the late 1980s -- a time that saw the Iron Curtain come down and an open door to what once was the USSR.
Always grandiose and ambitious, Dave thinks he will become an FBI agent or work for the National Security Agency with his Russian skills, but when the wall comes down, he becomes confused. Regrettably, Dave partly finances his education by becoming a drug mule and helping his roommate, Tom McCann, to sell hard drugs to local fraternities and sororities in Iowa City, Iowa -- all while trying to maintain a good boy/athlete image around campus. Life is getting a bit complicated for Dave, but it’s only the beginning….
Shortly before his graduation, Dave meets a girl. Kathy is intrigued by Dave’s good boy nature, but after a month of serious dating, she learns the truth about Dave. Dave has a brush with the law, gets dumped by Kathy right after graduation and starts a downward spiral. Months go by and Dave gets by with the help of a job painting houses. He decides to press on with his spy dreams and is seriously interviewed by the FBI. After a lengthy interview process, the FBI turns Dave down because he admitted using and aiding in the sale of drugs on the original job application.
As fate would have it, Dave meets a nice pastor and his wife closer to his boyhood home of Story City, Iowa and farther away from the heartbreak of Iowa City. The family, led by former college basketball star Steve Masterson, lets Dave stay in their basement in a country home outside of Ames, Iowa – 10 miles away from his aging father. Dave enrolls in graduate school in economics and works as a painter and research assistant for a local agricultural think tank with ties to the former Soviet Union. He takes free lance work as a translator and tries to find more stable work in banking or agribusiness companies – with little to no success.
A year later, he is approached by the FBI, this time by Agent Bob O’Malley from the Omaha field office and ends up becoming an informant covering the upper Midwest. Dave provides the feds with detailed intel on drug trafficking, visiting Russian scientists and also on radical Muslim students in the area. The FBI is so impressed by his accuracy and commitment, that they put Dave on their cash payroll system and promote him to a more secretive field operation’s role where he handles other informants and works on high-end assignments.
Dave takes a fall weekend trip to Wisconsin and tells the Masterson’s, his dad and other friends that he will visit his aunt and uncle who live just outside of Madison. What Dave is really up to is a secretive FBI-sponsored office break-in. The trip starts out well and it looks as though Dave has found another love interest, but when he least expects it – his cover is blown. This embarrassment sends Dave into yet another prolonged depression.
Agent O’Malley, facing pressure from Washington about the blown operation, feels sorry for Dave and promises to help Dave transfer to “the other company.” Dave is asked to take a rarely-administered intelligence test in a safe house in Des Moines proctored by O’Malley. The test questions are beyond odd. Dave thinks the strange test is a disaster and forgets about it. Actually, the results are astounding and sent to Langley for further analysis. Little does Dave know, but the Project MK Ultra recruiters at CIA Headquarters in Langley come to a conclusion that here has never been anyone in the history of black operations (whether military or civilian) who ever scored so high on this specialized test.
After the results and Thompson’s past are analyzed by Langley, two operatives from a special black ops unit of the CIA show up in a motel room in Ames a week later. The pair sit on a cheap bed in a dirty room and beg Dave to join the CIA as a junior field operative because his Russian is amazing and he had been doing some great stateside undercover work for the FBI. Dave tells them: “it’s not his deal”... Being spiritually reborn, he just can’t be in this life style.
However, after a $10,000 cash payment planted below a rear floor mat of his beat-up Chevy preceded by an unexpected phone call from Don (the CIA alpha personality from the motel) telling him he had a “gift in a place he can imagine”, he takes “the job” with a non-profit that is actually his new cover and accepts a promise (that turns out to be a lie) that he wouldn’t spy, but just write “reports.” The new job leads to four wild and whacky tours of duty (as Dave called them) in the former Soviet Union both as a single man and with family. Unfortunately, the cost is beyond measure. Prior to the 5th tour, Dave loses his family, his income, his self-respect and wonders what happened to his so-called life of faith.
The 5th Tour purposely tracks Dave, now an older lonely business executive, as he finishes this fifth (and final so he says) tour of duty in the former USSR. After several unsuccessful tours with other companies and a sad separation from his Russian wife, Natasha, who lives in the States with their two children, Dave finally lands a job back in Russia with a renewable energy company, Global Grid Technologies, Inc. (GGT), to create micro power grids for small towns and businesses there. While on tour, he recalls elements of his very sad life such as the time when he lost all higher than top-secret security clearances over his true love for Natasha.
While in Russia, Dave opens a new office for the company in Moscow, handpicks his staff and manages to design and sell many power grid systems to small Russian towns. After almost five years of work for GGT, Dave is burnt out and beaten down, but optimistic that his bosses will renew his contract and pay him his large and fully-vested bonus that he is promised and often dreams about. After all, he was by far the top performing country director and had avoided (well mostly avoided) all the scandals, booze, prostitutes, crooks, bribes and usual corruption Russia has to offer. This fifth year again is a record breaker for GGT.
What Dave is not – is a corporate “suck up.” Dave hadn’t attended a global sales meeting in two years despite ongoing pleadings from his boss and friend, Mark Tucker. Mark manages to keep the higher ups (the CEO Bill Stevens and COO Ted Dickson) off of Dave’s case, but the top brass is furious – despite Dave’s contribution making over half of the company’s revenues and profits. Dave’s semi-clean business strategy angers yet another handful of powerful adversaries ranging from gangsters, who know Dave from his murky past, to city officials, and to even another GGT employee with a hidden agenda.
The 5th Tour shines the spotlight on Dave as he runs into expected and unexpected trouble from many different fronts all at the same time and all near the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season.


"Rich" Selby is a retired business executive after a twenty-seven year career working in over 60 countries in energy and commodities. He attended the University of Iowa and the famous Iowa Writer's Workshop. He has a BA in Russian and Business and an MBA in Finance. Rich is married to Svetlana Selby. The Selby's have two children and currently reside in Houston, Texas USA.