LAS VEGAS -- Two retired cops, one from New York, the other from Dallas, were sitting on a black faux-leather couch off a hallway of Central Hall. Both are men of a certain age. Bruce Powell, the Texan, has a glorious belly and moves like an old athlete, creaky but graceful. He calls the New Yorker, Artie Mahor, his partner. Artie, dapper in a surprising pink shirt, is the suspicious type, and he's not too sure he wants a reporter sniffing around the CES security apparatus. He would be the bad cop, at least from my perspective. In fact, he'll later tell me that he thinks "the press is a greater threat to the security of the United States than Osama bin Laden." And he tried to look me in the eye while he said it. But terrorists don't like to make eye contact, so I laughed into my shoes.
There's a woman in the room, too. Mrs. Davidson, I think I hear her called. She's the sweet, silent type and listens with admirable patience as the boys tell her stuff that it seems impossible she could care about.
They'd just finished lunch when I wandered into their midst and sat down. Powell was finishing up a Coke, which he got up to throw away. On his way back in, he let forth a tremendous belch, a and excused himself. "One Coke and look at me," he said. He struck me like a gentleman. Or at least he seemed gentle, with his nicely combed gray hair, hearing aids, and made-for-walking sneakers. You wanted him to be your grandpa and teach you how to fix a car or use a band saw. He now lives in Arkansas near the Crater of Diamonds State Park.