I sat speechless for a moment, the words refusing to sink in. Nancy has blown.
Bill sat across from me, with just a hint of a smile on his face, as if to say we all knew this was coming, didn’t we?
"How?" I managed to say. "When?"
"She drove to Ontario Airport and took a flight to Pittsburgh. She called Security from her parents’ house to say that she had left and was not coming back." He paused. "They asked her, ‘what about your husband?’ You know what she said?" Bill was enjoying this.
I shook my head.
"She said, ‘I have no husband.’"
This cut me to the quick. I looked away. Why hadn’t I paid her more attention? Why hadn’t I acted, talked to her, done something?
"You’ll be better off without her," Bill told me, clapping me on the back. I guess he thought that would make me feel better. No longer saddled with a "downstat."
I discovered our joint bank account was leaking like a sieve, as Nancy withdrew money from it to handle whatever exigencies she was experiencing. We had about $5,000 stashed away. I let it run until it was down to about $500, then shut it off. I had to keep something. In our eventual divorce "settlement" (really just a casual agreement between us), I kept the car. I went down to Ontario Airport a few days later and found it in short term parking, paid the bill, and drove it back to the Base.
It fell on me to pack up all of her stuff and ship it to Pennsylvania. Sorting it out was hard – after 15 years of marriage, our possessions were hopelessly intermingled. I didn’t have any time off to do this, of course, so every night after post I’d spend an hour or so sorting and packing, alternately cursing Nancy and crying. It took weeks. Then, finally, it was all gone. I packed up my own things and moved into a men’s dormitory at the Kirby Apartments.
It had been fifteen years since I’d lived in a dormitory, and it was a shock. There were fourteen men living in a two bedroom, two bath apartment. The bedrooms had four men each in them in bunk beds, there were two men in the dining room area, and another four in the living room. The place was a mess, and smelled of unwashed bodies and laundry. The kitchen was a jumble of soda cans and Top Ramen containers. I had a lower bunk and no closet space. I put most of my possessions into storage. Sunday mornings I tried to whip my roommates into some sort of enthusiasm about cleaning the place.
When I had lived with Nancy, we could at least enjoy a private room and a kitchen shared only with one other couple. Going home at night had provided a bit of a break. Now, I had to scale things down, live in a tiny space and endure the sounds and smells of thirteen other bodies as I tried to sleep. It was depressing. But this was how Sea Org Members lived if they weren’t married.
Ironically, Bill Dendiu himself blew just a few months later. And this time it was for good – he wasn’t "recovered" this time. The post of CO CMU fell to Caroline Mustard. I’d known Caroline for years – she was a big, flamboyant redhead from England – via Canada. In the 1960’s she had been part of the British music scene – she had been a singer herself and her best friend had been Marianne Faithful. She was a woman of volatile moods – she was usually either demonstrating a manic enthusiasm or a complete emotional breakdown. There was no middle ground for Caroline. Whenever she had a "brilliant idea" (and her ideas were always brilliant!) she would browbeat one and all into an appropriate enthusiasm. I could tell when Caroline had had an idea as she would soon whip up a certain group of CMU women into frenetic laughter and piercing screams. It fell to me to ask the prickly questions like "have you actually surveyed this?" so I would get branded as a dour wet blanket who didn’t appreciate her genius, a role I was happy to fulfill. But with all that said, I liked Caroline and we had become good friends.
Caroline was very soon way over her head. As I had experienced on the CO CMU post, it was a constant barrage of demand after demand – far more than could ever be accomplished. It became common to hear her talking sweetly to some executive over the phone, then slamming down the receiver and loosing a string of four-letter words.
The final straw came as we were approaching the annual IAS event in October 1995. This was an event commemorating the formation of the International Association of Scientologists in 1984 as an international membership organization dedicated to "defending Scientology." In practice, that meant donating money to Scientology that could be used to hire lawyers, PR firms and private investigators. However it had been found years earlier that it was easier to get money from Scientologists if you said it was going towards "Planetary Dissemination," therefore a big presentation of a "new Scientology Campaign" had become an essential part of the IAS Event planning. And usually, it was left to the last possible moment.
"We’ll never get it done in time," Caroline wailed. "It’s impossible to get a big public campaign done on this Base, it’s just impossible!" But then she had her "brilliant idea."
She was going to send me to Los Angeles to connect up with Scientologists who were pros in the ad business, and work with them over the next week to develop a "brilliant" campaign. She wanted me to "repeat what I had done with Dianetics in the 1980’s" The only difference was, I wouldn’t have any funding, I wouldn’t have any help…and I wouldn’t have any time. I would run into this repeatedly in the coming years – people who wanted me to duplicate my "successful actions" of the 1980’s, but without actually forming a unit, training anyone, doing any research or surveys or taking the time to put anything sensible together. It was all supposed to magically fly out of my head in an instant and then somehow magically get done without any actual work.
But I was game, foolishly so. I went to LA, commandeered an office in Bridge Publications, and started calling every Scientologist advertising person I knew – Wendy Gillotte, Peter Green, Randy Stith, Joe Spencer and others. They were all Scientologists, but not on staff or in the Sea Org – they all worked professionally in advertising or graphic arts. I briefed each one of them on the project and the deadline – one week. They all thought I was crazy. Wendy was the most level-headed and sane, and she and I began poring through the binders of research and surveys I had brought with me, and working out possible strategies and ads.
I was supposed to get a researcher – Linda Sukkestad, my old SBMU surveyor. But she didn’t arrive. I was supposed to get some funding to at least pay people something – but nothing came. Caroline wouldn’t take my calls, she was always "too busy." I began to realize I had been set up. Caroline knew it was impossible to put an ad campaign together in that time, so she had set me up to take the fall for the failure – and meanwhile keep the pressure out of CMU.
Ironically, the only person who called me was David Miscavige.
"What are you doing in LA?" he asked.
I explained I was putting together the campaign for Scientology for the IAS Event.
"Why don’t you do it up here?" he asked. I explained that I was working with Scientology pros as no one in CMU could be spared to do it.
"Well, if you have to work with pros, fine," he said, "but bring them to the Base."
But I was too far into it, and the deadline was only a few days away. Wendy and I were working day and night. I wasn’t getting any sleep. Finally, the day before the ads were due, we ended up out at Peter Green’s studio, with Peter and his layout people putting ads together as Wendy and I and anyone else I could corral wrote them. It got later and later and I became more and more desperate.
At one point, about four in the morning, running on nothing but coffee and adrenaline, I just lost it, and burst into tears. I was at the end of my sanity. Wendy quietly motioned me outside, and we went for a long, long walk through the darkened streets of Burbank. I talked, she listened. When she had me calmed down, we went back and finished the ads. Then, as the sun was coming up, I got in my car and took them up to the Base. I don’t know what Wendy thought of my rant, but she just listened with patience and compassion that night, and earned my respect.
The next day, Ronnie, Marketing Exec Int, called me and told me that the ads were all approved. They had been very much liked. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had somehow pulled it off. But Ronnie also said that they would not be shown at the IAS Event – we would be developing a whole campaign around these ads, including TV ads, for launch next year.
Caroline was pleased, but I knew I’d have to keep my eye on her. We were still friends, but I now knew that she wasn’t above sacrificing me to save her own neck. Survival on the Base depended on being at least a little politically savvy and watching your back. Old time executives – the real political players – knew that if you had a potentially hot or flappy activity under you, the first thing to do was get a junior appointed or assigned to it. Then you were buffered if anything went wrong. The junior could take the heat for any failure, and the exec could discipline the junior responsible – even removing them from post (and appointing someone new to be the buffer). Meanwhile they would act contrite and repentant to Miscavige and scrape by without serious harm. The key thing was to make the junior make all the decisions and prepare the "CSW" (Completed Staff Work). The exec merely signed off on it as it was passed through him, and some execs would even write "OK on your OK" beside their signature – claiming, if anything went wrong, that they had been "too busy to read it." This might get them a hand slap. Thus the really practiced executives could slip and slide their way out of almost any flap – by having a junior handy to throw under the bus.
My "approval" on the Scientology ads was too good to be true. In early 1996, Miscavige decided he didn’t like them after all. He stormed down to CMU to take us to task, followed, as usual, by a retinue of executives from CMO International and Exec Strata. Miscavige was always flanked by his two assistants. His wife, Shelly, was posted as "COB Assistant" and Laurisse Stuckenbrock ("Lou," a plucky Aussie) was "COB Communicator." The three of them always dressed identically. If COB was in whites, Shelly and Lou would be in whites. If he was in black (which he often was – he liked the all-black uniformed look), then they were all in black. Shelly and Lou carried two small tape recorders, and these were used interchangeably to record his every word. The tapes were then rushed up to his office where his personal secretarial pool would transcribe the tapes and then issue the transcripts to all concerned staff (carefully editing out the profanity and threats). Most staff had thick binders crammed with these transcripts. It wasn’t unusual for meeting to go on for four or six hours, and the massive transcripts were turgid, rambling and often contradictory.
There was a long row of flat files at the back of CMU, and this was COB’s favorite place to hold court. It made a sort of stage with him on one side, flanked by Shelly and Lou, and everyone else on the other side – the "audience." He declared that the ads were "pieces of shit," and asked if anyone had any other ideas for Scientology ads.
Steve Hall, the CMU Copywriter, said that he had done some ads six months ago, but that they had been rejected. Miscavige demanded to see them.
I had known Steve since being in LA, he was a very bright, very funny man – the CMU "class clown." Even in the roughest of times, he could get us laughing. He had this pair of funny sunglasses with candy-striped rims that he kept in his drawer, and every time someone was getting roasted by an exec, he’d slide those out of the drawer and put them on "to ward off negative radiation." This became a standard gag, and it was all we could do to keep from laughing.
Steve was a great copywriter too – he had taken a class from a professional copywriter, Mike Whitlow, and had gotten quite good at it. His ads were clever, quirky and humorous – a rarity in Scientology promotion. He was, like me, a bit of a rebel who didn’t just go with whatever Hubbard had dictated, but tried to do something new and effective.
Miscavige had a look at his ads and thought they were good. "Why weren’t these used?" he demanded. Guillaume Lesevre, ED Int, and Marc Yager, CO CMO Int hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that they had rejected them as "too far out." Miscavige gave them a withering glare, and then ordered Steve to write the Scientology Campaign ads.
I met with Steve and we went over all of the research, as well as the list of ideas Wendy and I had come up with. Steve took it from there and wrote a series of ads, some for the book Scientology: Fundamentals of Thought ("FOT" – every book title had its acronym) and some for Scientology: A New Slant on Life ("NSOL"). Meanwhile, I fleshed the whole thing out into an actual marketing campaign, with an analysis of publics, a research analysis, media strategy, budget and so on. We even worked out how the Org Public Divisions would tie into it.
In the middle of this, Steve Hall was suddenly transferred to the Cine Division to write scripts. He was very upset. He had taken the time to get himself trained as an advertising copywriter and loved doing it. He knew nothing about scriptwriting. But, the transfer had been dictated by Miscavige. Steve had been well liked in CMU and his work respected. In Cine, however, he was treated from the start as a second-class citizen, harassed, threatened and abused on a constant basis for his seeming inability to get a script approved. He did manage to get a series of Scientology ads completed for FOT and NSOL. These were run on TV eventually and did well. He also wrote some brilliant ads for the book Scientology 8-8008 and for Have You Lived Before This Life? They were produced and shown at an event to get campaign donations – but never aired. Steve lasted a few years in Cine, but turned bitter and disillusioned, and finally blew.
With the Scientology Campaign completed, I prepared a presentation of the campaign and all of the advertising. I ended up presenting it to Miscavige alone – just me and him in the Lower Lodges conference room. It was a one hour presentation. At the end of it, he said it was all approved. I was ecstatic. For that one brief moment, it seemed that Miscavige and I were on the same page, the same team. He had me repeat the whole presentation for all of RTC, who were immediately called down to the Lodges. As they were ushered in, I was pulled aside by Shelly and told I was not to talk about what I was about to see. She indicated two bedraggled, filthy figures being ushered in to stand at the back. It was Greg Wilhere and Norman Starkey, the two most senior executives in RTC. They had obviously incurred Miscavige’s wrath and were doing "deck work."
CMU was ecstatic about the approval. We had a campaign to launch. I asked Caroline who would be the Campaign Manager.
"Why you are," she said.
At this point my post was called Director of Research and Planning. My job was to supervise market research – I had two staff who handled that – to work with the designers and writers to put together the creative work, and to work out the media planning. I was the only person in CMU with a long track record in all of those areas. The actual execution of the campaigns was handled in a different division, the Marketing Execution Division. Here were the Project Managers, people who acted as Programs Operators, taking the written campaign program and getting it done, target by target.
For Caroline to say that I was going to execute the Scientology Campaign was saying, in essence, that I was being removed from Director of Research and Planning and posted as a junior staff member in the Marketing Execution Division. I was outraged. I refused. But once again, it was a "COB Order." He wanted me to run the campaign, period. "You should take that as a compliment, an honor!" Caroline insisted.
The Director of Marketing Execution, a young Italian woman named Michela Stave, was also not happy about the situation. She was tall, dark-haired and strikingly beautiful, in a petulant sort of way, and very Italian. She had wanted to run the Scientology campaign herself. I think she considered it her chance at glory. She resented me coming in to her division and it soon became obvious she was not going to make it easy for me. Michela had been an "executive" or Programs Operator for her entire Scientology career. She had never put together a marketing campaign, written an ad, or designed anything. Her one talent, if you could call it that, was intimidating and bullying others into doing her will. She was known for screaming at the top of her lungs at her juniors, calling them "motherfucker" and "cocksucker" in her thick Italian accent.
A few days after I arrived in her Area, Miscavige stopped by and grilled me a bit about the campaign. He asked if any of the TV ads would be showing on prime time TV. I said "Yes, Sir." After he had left, Michela grabbed the media buys and went through them, then wrote a scathing "Knowledge Report" about how I had "lied to COB" as most of the ads were not running in prime time. She screamed and yelled at me at the top of her voice for "lying to COB" and immediately took over the campaign herself. I was relegated to being the "Dianetics Campaign Manager."
I entered purgatory. I became everything that I hated. I had rebelled against Kerry Gleeson in 1982 because he had insisted I run the Dianetics Campaign via the orgs. Now I was running a Dianetics Campaign via the orgs. I had railed against mindless Programs Operators who robotically badgered others for "Compliance Reports." Now that was my only job. My stat, literally, was "Number of Compliance Reports," and Michela ruthlessly screamed at me, assigned conditions, and pulled Team Share Cards if my stat dipped. Life became a stupefying, dragging hell.
My fellow inmate in hell was a young woman named Manuela Spencer. I had known Manu for years, since we had been in the trailers. She was pretty and intelligent and, unlike Michela, could actually write copy and come up with marketing ideas. Michela turned over running the Scientology Campaign to her. Manu and Michela were best friends, but when it came to the job, Michela ran roughshod over Manu just as she did everyone else. Manu was intimidated by her.
I looked for any excuse to escape, to do something else. In 1996, Miscavige was preparing his Golden Age of Tech for release, along with a new E-Meter. It was a complex subject with a lot of new drills and procedures to train people. Miscavige’s dream was to make training as rote as possible, so anyone could be trained to just execute a set procedure. This was supposed to stamp out any possibility of squirreling – everyone would just be trained and drilled to perfection in the same exact procedure. He took great pride in demonstrating various facets of his plan – at one meeting, he had a completely untrained person – Julie Caetano – drill Ray Mithoff, who was a Class XII and the most senior technical person in Scientology – Senior Case Supervisor International. It seemed that the demonstration was as much to humiliate Ray as to demonstrate his point.
He was concerned that the "Golden Age of Tech" be communicated correctly, so he wanted a team of copywriters to put the promotional copy together. I of course volunteered, to get away from my "day job." We spent weeks, day and night, writing copy, and I learned to write some of my best copy with an RTC exec standing over me with a stopwatch. It was a round-the-clock rocket ride. The high point was when one of my pieces came back with COB’s handwriting on the top: "Now this is copywriting!"
That became my life – weeks and months of drudgery, being a "Program Operator," punctuated by special projects where I could do a bit of writing and creating.
Meanwhile the Base continued to expand, and we were still working every Saturday on "Renos" to complete building projects. CMO International and Exec Strata moved out of Del Sol and were put into a temporary building (made from pre-fab trailers) between the 200’s and Del Sol. The old hotel was completely renovated and set up for staff auditing. The huge Cine sound stage was completed at the west end of the property – built to look like a Scottish castle. Work started on the huge RTC building at the top east end of the property, and also on a huge mansion to replace Bonnie View, to be a new home for LRH. If any of us had any doubts as to why this 9.4 million dollar house was being built for Hubbard, complete with office and secretarial facilities, Miscavige made it clear one day. "It is not a museum," he said. External contractors were being used exclusively for Hubbard’s house – no "all hands" there!
The Cine Castle, with its duck pond in front.
Throughout 1996 and 1997, Miscavige was often gone from the Base, either in Washington DC or Clearwater, handling legal and PR work. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was handling a very specific "flap." In December of 1995, a woman named Lisa McPherson had died in a room in the Fort Harrison Hotel.
When Miscavige left, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief, and for a few weeks or months there would be, if not calmness, at least a slight lessening of tension with everyone somewhat able to get on with their work. Then a buzz would go through the Base, and there would be frantic projects to clean up the Base, clean up the offices, get urgent projects completed and generally prepare for the onslaught. Years later, I saw the movie The Devil Wears Prada and laughed at the scene where Stanley Tucci runs through the office yelling "Gird your loins, people!" It was exactly like that.
The first thing Miscavige would do when he hit the Base was do an inspection, walking through all the Base spaces with a cadre of executives and asking pointed questions. And woe be to the staff member who manifested any nervousness or hesitation – he was obviously "hiding some crimes" and would be rushed into Security Checking. It wasn’t unusual for someone to hit the RPF as a result of these inspections. I witnessed Miscavige walk into a room and at someone, saying with contempt "what’s he still doing here?" The person was on his way to the RPF within minutes.
I came to dread Miscavige’s inspections and meetings. He was always intense and intimidating, and accompanied by a crowd of executives, eager to curry favor with him by acting as his Greek chorus. We would usually have some warning that "COB is coming down to CMU" and every executive on the chain of command would start running in, usually out of breath. After a crowd of fifteen or twenty execs had congregated, Miscagige would suddenly appear. Sometimes he’d throw out a derogatory little tidbit: "Did you guys hear what that asshole Gary Weise just did?" Then he’d describe some staff member’s "out-ethics" in detail, everyone nodding in agreement about what an out-ethics scumbag Gary Weise was – and hoping they weren’t next. Then he’d take up whatever he had come down to see us about – sometimes slamming a submission down on the counter before proceeding to pick it apart. He had a way of talking about people in the third person, as if they weren’t there. "Look at him," he’d say, pointing at some staff member. "See how he looks at me." Or "Listen to how she talks to me." He’d often throw around threats of RPF, or even offload. "You’ll be flipping burgers at McDonalds," he’d say.
I found that, in those confrontations, my mind would simply cease to function. The words would not come. It was as if a switch had been thrown, shutting off my brain. I would stand there stupidly, with people around me urging me to say something. But I had nothing to say.
Oh, I’d seen others handle these confrontations smoothly, particularly Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre. The words seemed to come easily to them: "Yes, Sir, you’re totally right, I see that, that was stupid of me, I’ll handle it right away, I’ll get my ethics in…" Placating words, words of self-abasement and capitulation. But somehow, when I was on the spot, in the hotseat, those words never came. I wanted to explain, to elaborate, to discuss – but any attempt in that direction would be instantly shouted down by the assembled execs: "backflash!" And Miscavige would point at me, "You see? You see how he talks to me?"
So my mind jammed, a system shutdown, and I just stood there stupidly. What is wrong with me? I thought. Why can’t I speak? I began to feel more and more like some kind of invalid, a mental cripple who could not function in normal society.
At first, I was gotten into Security Checking to "find my crimes." For me to behave like that, I must have crimes. When that didn’t work, it was correction. I needed to be cured, healed. I was instructed to do the Purification Rundown again – it must be residual LSD in my system from 1967 that was causing me to malfunction.
That was fine with me. The program was done five hours a day – that was five hours less on the firing line. I got to run outdoors and get fresh air and exercise, then spend hours in the sauna where I could relax and read and unwind. And I had to get eight hours sleep a night to do the program. With the sleep, exercise and fresh air, I started to feel better.
I followed the Purification Program with the Running Program – the one where you run around a pole for five hours a day. Some people thought it was a punishment – I loved it. I got thin and fit. In the midst of it, I had to have a hernia operation. I asked the doctor how soon I could be running again, and he said about a week. He asked me how far I ran every day. "About ten miles," I said.
He gave me a look. "And you’re how old? Fifty one?" He just shook his head.
All of this made me feel better, but I was still as hapless as ever in my confrontations with Miscavige. But I laid low and worked at my thankless job as Dianetics Campaign Manager. Sometimes I would daydream about leaving, getting out of there, as others had done. But I couldn’t think about it seriously. I would have to turn my back on Scientology, on my whole life. I would never be able to do my OT Levels. I would be cut off from every friend. It would be a sort of suicide. And where would I go? What would I do? It was just a daydream, but not a very practical one.
And I was lonely. It had been three years since Nancy had blown. I went home every night to the crowded dormitory and a lonely bunk. I wanted someone – I wanted to get married again.
But finding a prospective partner at the Base was a daunting task – if not impossible. You had no time off. Every waking moment you were surrounded by people, hundreds of eyes watching you. If a man and a woman were observed to be paying too much attention to each other, the Knowledge Reports would fly, and they would be reprimanded – sometimes publicly. It was called "flowing and glowing" and was heavily ridiculed. It was "out 2D."
The phrase "2D" came from Hubbard’s Eight Dynamics – he split life up into eight parts – self, sex and family, groups, mankind, all living things, the physical universe, spiritual beings and "infinity." The Second Dynamic was sex and family, and its abbreviation, "2D," became a colloquial term, as in "they’re having a 2D" or "I’d like to mock up (create) a 2D with you." When a person did something wrong or unethical on the second dynamic, it was called "out-2D." And on the Base, that included flirting, holding hands or even "flowing and glowing." It could wind you up in trouble.
Even so, life goes on, and people did somehow manage to get together. As I had a car, I could sometimes get away with offering a likely woman a ride home – it meant fifteen minutes of private conversation, more if we stopped at a Burger King or In-and-Out Burger. And then there were odd moments at mealtimes or on the bus ride home where one could strike up an innocent conversation. But even that could backfire. One of my cautious advances ended up with an ugly Knowledge Report filed on me.
In mid-1998, I noticed a new staff member in the Golden Era Productions Sales area, an attractive, petite woman with long brown-blonde hair and luminous hazel eyes. She intrigued me. A lot of people seemed to know her, and we had a lot of mutual friends, but I had no idea who she was. I did a little discreet detective work and found out her name was Catherine Fraser. She had been on the Freewinds as Port Captain and then had been brought to the Base as RTC staff. Something had gone wrong and she had ended up assigned to Gold.
One night, we were doing an "all-hands" in the LRH Book Compilations Unit. This was a fairly regular occurrence. A division would get backlogged or in trouble and the whole staff would jump in and handle the situation. The all-hands was going to go all night, and about three in the morning they announced there was pizza in MCI. I happened to be working next to Cathy, who wasn’t able to leave just then. So I asked her if I could bring some back for her. It was a simple start.
As the Rx7 was off the road, I was riding the bus to and from the Kirby Apartments. One night, by putting a book casually on the seat beside me, I kept the seat empty until I saw Cathy coming down the aisle. Then I lifted up the book and smiled at her. She sat down, and we talked.
Something amazing happened during that bus ride, as we made small talk. I looked into her eyes and sort of got lost. I described it later, in a poem to her, as feeling like I was a diver at the top of a tall diving board, about to plunge into a pool far below me. A thought crossed my mind: this is my wife. It wasn’t "Gee’ I’d like to marry this woman," it was just a fact. This is my wife.
Cathy told me later that the same thought entered her mind at that same instant. This is my husband. Being together seemed the most natural thing in the world.
The next day, which was a Saturday – a Renos Day – Cathy pulled me inside, into her office, and said she had to talk to me. "You know, I’m still married."
"Oh," I said. My disappointment must have shown.
"I’m separated from my husband," she told me. "He’s still on the ship. We’re in the process of getting a divorce."
I smiled at her, a little sadly. "OK – thanks for letting me know."
About an hour later I ran into her out on the lawn. "Thanks for being honest with me," I said.
She looked at me slyly. "You know, I won’t always be married…" Our eyes locked. We both smiled.
From then on, we found many excuses to be together. We would casually talk at mealtimes for a few minutes, and managed to sit together frequently on the bus and talk. Sure enough, tongues started to wag, and Knowledge Reports started to fly. Cathy, being the "married woman," got the brunt of it.
The entire Gold crew mustered three times a day on the patio behind MCI, after each meal. We lined up in straight rows, by Division. The executives stood in front. Roll was taken and every person was accounted for – over 400 people. Then there would be uniform inspections, announcements and news. Cathy was made to stand up on a low wall, facing the crew. Then the CO Gold, a cold-hearted martinet named Lisa Schroer, enumerated Cathy’s crimes, her "out-2D," her flirting with me – her, a married woman! I was mortified. I wished I could be up there instead.
We stopped talking to each other and tried to avoid each other. The last thing I wanted was to get her in any more trouble.
A few months later, at Christmas, we had a staff party. Cathy said she had to talk to me, so we went outside. She said she had been proposed to go to Clearwater to handle PR there. She thought that might be best if she were to go. Then she could get her divorce and come back, and we wouldn’t have the strain of trying to avoid each other. I agreed that was probably best. I said I would wait for her for a year if it took that, I would be here.
Again, she got in trouble. Someone had seen us together. She was found to be not qualified to go to Clearwater because of her "Out 2D." Yet we had never touched each other, never even held hands.
We spent the next year ignoring each other. We did not look at each other or speak to each other for one entire year. I would watch her from a distance, then go home at night and write poetry to her, poems I hoped she would someday read:
Cold wind through stark trees
A stranger hurrying by
She’s wearing your face
At the end of the year I managed to get away for two days to see my mother in Santa Barbara. We spent a wonderful time together, walking all over the city, one of the most beautiful in the world. We visited Mom’s favorite parks and gardens, and talked and talked. At 82, my mother was still sharp as a tack, working every day as a tutor. We talked as we had never talked before, and she told me things about her life with my Dad that I had never known. I told her I had found the woman I was going to marry, and she was very happy.
"I’ve put my affairs in order," she told me late one night as we sat in her apartment.
"Oh Mom, you’ll be around for a while yet!" I tried to make light of it. She smiled sadly.
Two months later, in February 1999, I was suddenly called down to the conference room in Building 36. Muriel Dufresne, who worked as an external PR for the Base, had me sit down and then solemnly told me, "Your mother died."
I called Kim. He said he and his wife Cathy were heading up to Santa Barbara right away to take care of all the arrangements. He said there would be a service the following Saturday and he needed my help with that. I said I would get up there as soon as I could.
But I couldn’t leave. I had to get auditing. In order to leave, I had to pass a Security Check. The sessions went on and on, day after day. I got more and more desperate. But I was told, no, I could not leave, I had to finish my auditing. It took four days, four frustrating, maddening days. Finally, on Friday, I was allowed to leave. As the RX7 was still inoperational, I rented a car and raced up the coast and met Kim and Cathy.
They told me Mom had died suddenly on Saturday night. She had been in the middle of writing a letter – to me. When I read her half-finished letter, I cried for the first time since hearing of her death.
Kim and I worked late into the night working out Mom's service, and on Saturday, we held the service for about 40 of her friends in a little community center downtown. Kim and I spoke, telling stories of her life, and many of her friends spoke as well. At the end, I read from the Scientology funeral ceremony. When I got to the line, "Goodbye, dear Evelyn," I looked up, tears streaming down my face, to find there was not a dry eye in the place. She had many, many dear friends.
We chartered a boat and took her ashes a mile offshore, where we scattered them on the water, along with flowers from the service. I felt a tremendous weight lift. "She’s gone," I told Kim, and he nodded, smiling. We sat in the bow, our arms around each other. "Does this mean we’re grown up now?" I asked him.
"No," he replied, "We can still be kids."
Jeff and Kim: still kids
As I was leaving Santa Barbara, I asked Kim if he could loan me some money to cover the rental car. He said sure, and added, "You won’t have to ask anyone for money for a long time." Mom’s estate had turned out to be larger than we had imagined. By Sea Org standards, I was rich.
Mom had a little Honda Civic, which I took with me, driving it back to the Base. I now had two cars, the defunct RX7, and the Civic. I ended up having the RX7 towed away for charity.
I was driving out of the Kirby Apartments one morning after I got back and saw Cathy standing there, waiting for the bus. She looked at me and our eyes met for a second, a brief flash of compassion and understanding. She’d heard about my mom.
1999 was a long, long year. The big project was the publication of Dianetics in 50 languages. I had somehow gotten back on my earlier post of Director of Research and Planning, and it fell to me to decide which languages to publish in, and to craft an international campaign for its promotion. I had something like two weeks to do all this, which I somehow managed to do. The translations were being done by an outside translations mill – a lot of them ended up being pure crap. But the important thing was to get the editions out there, so it could be announced at an event "Dianetics has been published in 50 languages!!!"
As for a campaign, I not only had no research for all of the countries we would be releasing the book in, but no way to get anything done in those countries. There were no Scientologists there. I ended up using commercially available research and, rather than planning out a campaign, worked out a program for volunteer projects that would go into each country, arrange book distribution, do surveys, and supervise advertising and PR for the book.
Of course, as soon as the plan was done and approved, I got transferred back under Michela to get it done. We got Scientologists to volunteer to go to different countries with the project I had written, and get the book launched there. It was a harebrained, desperate scheme, but we ended up actually doing it in a number of countries. At the end of a year, we had sold 450,000 books – 9,000 average per language. It wasn’t huge, but it was something.
As the year ticked by, I despaired of ever being with Cathy. We continued to ignore each other and never speak, and I wondered, does she still love me?
One day in November, I was walking up the stairs to CMU. I saw Cathy on the landing, talking with someone. As usual, I ignored her and started to walk past. Suddenly her little hand shot out and grabbed my arm.
"I have to talk to you," she said. One look in her eyes told me everything.
"Tonight, on the bus." I replied. She nodded.
For the first time in over a year, we met at the bus and sat together. She told me that her divorce had come through. She was a free woman.
I don’t remember what we said, but that fifteen minute ride seemed to take hours, and at the end of it, I had proposed, and she had accepted. I walked her to her dormitory door and, for the first time, held her in my arms and kissed her.
I didn’t know what the road ahead would bring, but I knew I would now be traveling it with a soulmate.
Jeff and Cathy, 1999