Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chapter Seventeen: Freedom

My wheels hissed against the asphalt as I drove north on 101, through Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks. It was a drive I’d made many times, going up to see Mom. It was after midnight, and there wasn’t much traffic. A light misty rain dusted my windshield, but a touch on the wiper every few minutes kept it clear.
Boxes and bags were piled high on the back seat. More boxes filled the trunk. The Accord felt heavy, slow. I had put as many of my belongings into the car as I could. The rest, including my furniture and boxes of books – most of them Scientology books – were in a storage facility in Beaumont, just over the hills from the Base.

Streetlights cast a yellowish glow, haloed in the mist. Bits of civilization drifted by: a car dealership, a gas station. I looked at it all with new eyes, curious eyes. Me, the newborn citizen of this world – the world outside Scientology. As I started up the long grade at Newbury Park, cars rushed past, their taillights glowing in the mist. Let them rush; I was in no hurry. I had the rest of my life.

It was Saturday, April 16th, 2005. That morning, I had woken up in my dormitory room in the Old Gilman House. I had spent ten weeks in the OGH Compound, weeding and clearing brush, and getting Security Checking, hour after hour, to clean up all my "critical feelings about David Miscavige" by finding my "crimes against Scientology."
At the beginning of April, Manu and Michela had arrived at OGH. They had been told they were being offloaded as well, out of the Sea Org. We began working together, and soon any animosity melted and we all became friends. Security had purchased an old fire engine and wanted to get it cleaned up and polished, so Manu, Michela and I worked on that, day after day. Evenings, the two women would frantically write up ethics conditions formulas, petitions, confessions. They were desperate to get reinstated to the Base. They encouraged me to join them, but I said no – I was not interested in going back. In my mind I was already gone. I spent the evenings reading, or sorting and repacking my belongings.

There were two other CMU staff at OGH, two of the artists, Carrie Cook and Jimmy Yeoh, also slated for offload. With Manu and Michela gone, I estimated there were only about eight people left in CMU – really a skeleton crew. And it wasn’t as if Miscavige’s winnowing process had left the cream. Jimmy and Carrie had been the best designers. The only designer left, Kerrie Francis, had been the worst and slowest designer. And with Manu and Michela gone, there was no one left who could competently write a marketing campaign. CMU had been decimated, it was no more.

But the morning of April 16th had not been like any other. The Security Guards were in a panic. Those who were slated for offload had to be gone, right now, today. One can only imagine what the "flap" was. Maybe Miscavige was on his way back to the Base.

I said goodbye to Manu and Michela. They said they might go to Italy, where they both had family. Jimmy Yeoh gave me his e-mail address.

Most of my possessions had been brought out to OGH and stacked in a spare room, but some of the larger items were still out at the Kirby Apartments. A Security Guard named Salvatore Meo took me out to Kirby in the Security truck and we got the rest of my things, including a big queen mattress and my desk. It took two trips to get everything. Then Sal drove me to a U-Haul place in San Jacinto where I rented a truck. I paid for it – of course. I drove it back to OGH, where we loaded up the truck with everything I owned. Anything I was going to need immediately, I packed into my car. The rest was going into temporary storage.

Sal and I drove the truck up through Lamb’s Canyon, over the hills to Beaumont, where we found a storage place. I paid for the space, then Sal and I unloaded everything and locked it up. We about to head back to the Base to get my car when Murphy phoned. Change of plans: I was not to come back to the Base. Murphy would meet us with my car.

We waited at a nearby Dennys, sipping coffee until Murphy showed up. Sal and I got into my car; Murphy took the truck back. Sal drove my car. It was dark by the time we entered the lobby of the Hollywood Guaranty Building on Hollywood Boulevard. We took the elevator to the 11th floor, where the Office of Special Affairs was. I was ushered into a conference room where there were a couple of OSA legal staff. There was a video camera at one end of the conference table, and a stack of documents. When they turned on the camera, Sal stood over to one side, out of camera range – having a uniformed guard standing behind me might look too much like "duress."

In my frame of mind, I simply signed whatever they put in front of me. Yes, I understand I have no rights, I can never sue the Church, I can never speak out against the Church, I can never reveal what went on at the Base, on and on. Yes, yes, whatever. Initial each page and sign the final page. Document after document, all recorded on video. It took hours.

Finally, we were finished. Sal handed me an envelope with a check in it. Five hundred dollars. This was my "severance pay."

Five hundred dollars? I had no idea what it cost to rent an apartment or buy food, but I knew five hundred dollars wouldn’t get me very far. It was a slap in the face. I had assumed, throughout my whole ten-week "offload" process, that the Church had some way of relocating staff they dismissed – even those who were "declared Suppressive." I had assumed there would be some kind of assistance in finding an apartment and a job, and sufficient severance pay to, at least, pay a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment and living expenses for a month or so, until one could get a job.

It was not to be. I found myself walking back to my car with $500 in my hands. Fortunately I still had a bit of money left from Mom’s inheritance. Not much, but enough to live for – what? Four months? Six months? I had no idea what things cost.

I got in my car and just sat for a moment. I was parked on Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Boulevard, in a car crammed with my belongings. I was 58 years old, and at that moment, homeless. I had a modest bank account, and a check for $500 in my pocket.

I had no place to go. My brother, my only living relative, was still a Scientologist. As a Suppressive Person, I had been told by Murphy, under no uncertain terms, that I was forbidden to talk to him. The last I’d heard from Kim he was moving to Clearwater. I had no address or phone number for him. I had lost track of Gwennie – she had moved without a forwarding address. I hadn’t heard from her in four years. And after 35 years working for the Sea Org, my only friends were Sea Org Members. I knew no one on the "outside." So it was just me. Me and my car full of belongings, sitting on Vine Street in Hollywood.

At that moment, I realized I could literally drive anywhere and start a new life: down the coast, up the coast, out to Arizona. But I knew where I would go – Santa Barbara, where my mother had lived. It was a city I knew and loved. It was by the sea. And it was in the opposite direction to the Base.

I slipped a CD into the stereo, and turned it up: the Rolling Stones’ "Start Me Up." I pulled out into traffic.

Half an hour later, as I drove up the coast, I felt strangely disembodied, floating. The music had stopped, and I slid along silently, down the long hill into the lights of Camarillo, then through darkened farm country to the lights of Ventura and the Coast. On my left, the Pacific Ocean glimmered in the scattered moonlight. I wound between cliff and ocean, riding the edge of the continent, drifting.

It was well after midnight when I finally pulled in to Santa Barbara. I took the downtown exit and headed up State Street. I found a motel with a vacancy and checked in. It was $100 a night. There went a fifth of my severance pay, but I didn’t care. I was exhausted. It had been a long day.

Santa Barbara - my refuge

Sunday morning, I woke feeling refreshed. I went outside and smelled the fresh sea air. It really came home to me then – I was free, and I was on my own. It was exhilarating.

At the same time, I felt an underlying panic. I had no job, no home. I had to get busy. I went across the street to an IHOP for breakfast. On my way in, I grabbed a local paper. As I ate, I turned to the classified section, apartments to rent. I knew that was my first priority: I had to find a place to live.

Ironically, I found a place available right on Bath Street, about a block from where my mother had lived. I went over and saw it, but it turned out to be unavailable. I called a few more places, then walked down State Street, got a haircut, and went into Barnes & Noble to look for some books on job hunting.

I’d been out of the job market for 35 years. I had no idea how to look for a job, or even how to write a resume. I got two books, Idiots Guide to the Perfect Resume, and What Color is Your Parachute, a book about career changes. I figured that’s what I was doing – a career change.
I didn’t want to pay another $100 for the room, so looked into other motels. I found one a block down the street willing to charge me $55 a night for five nights – through Thursday. The motel was run by a nice guy named Chris, who gave me some advice on apartment hunting.

Over the next few days, I looked at dozens of apartments. I finally settled on a small studio apartment near downtown on East Victoria Street. It was just right for one person, and the rent was low. I put in an application.

Meanwhile I was studying like mad every night on my job hunting books. I was still, to some extent, operating in "Base mode." I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing something, producing something, every minute. I didn’t want to be "idle." I ate my meals fast and got back to work. I was frantic. I even felt guilty because I wasn’t studying Hubbard’s works every spare minute. I tried to listen to a Hubbard lecture one evening, but I couldn’t keep my attention on it – I felt too anxious.

Then one day I was hurrying down State Street to grab a quick lunch, and I happened to notice it was a beautiful, sunny day. People were walking up and down State Street, just enjoying the weather, the shops, the caf├ęs. I kept walking, and ended up down at the beach, watching the waves roll in and the gulls wheel overhead. Hours later, I returned to my motel room. The world hadn’t ended, nothing had been destroyed. Maybe it was OK to just relax a bit.

State Street

One of the books I was reading, What Color is Your Parachute, talked about the importance of envisioning your ideal career. That choice drives everything – how you write your resume, where you look for jobs, how you act during interviews. I decided that what I really wanted, more than anything else, was to pursue a career in graphic design. It was what I was trained in and what I most enjoyed doing. One of my main disappointments in the Sea Org had been not being able to do design work. Sure, I could just desperately take any job – driving a fork lift at Costco or "flipping burgers at McDonalds" as Miscavige liked to say. But why? I had some time; I wasn’t destitute yet. I would find a job in graphic arts.

I secured the Victoria Street apartment on Wednesday, picking up the key and paying the deposit and first month’s rent. Then I called U-Haul and arranged for a truck on Thursday. It was a long, long drive back out to Beaumont, 180 miles, filling up repeatedly on diesel fuel and agonizing over every dollar. I paid the storage fees, then loaded everything – single handed – into the back of the U-Haul and drove back to the Victoria Street Apartment. A couple of young guys who lived next door helped me unload. It was another long day and an exhausting one.

Friday and Saturday I devoted to setting up the apartment. I unpacked everything, then went to Sears and got everything I needed – bedding, pillows, shower curtain, iron, trash can. Then I went furniture shopping and found a cheap bed frame, a chair for the desk and some shelving from Home Depot. I set up the apartment, putting framed family pictures all over the walls. At least I would be surrounded by family in picture form. I had one picture of Cathy I’d managed to smuggle out by hiding it under another picture. I framed it and put it on the wall as well.

Jeff's house

Then – food. I hadn’t cooked my own meals in 35 years, and had no idea where to start. I found myself in Vons, meticulously inspecting prices and package labels. I just sort of got what I felt like eating and seemed easy to prepare. And I got what I thought I’d need for the kitchen – pots, pans, knives, silverware, dishes.

I remembered that Mom had mentioned once that my Dad’s old business partner, Merv Corning, lived somewhere in the area. I looked him up and called him out of the blue. He lived in Solvang, about half an hour north of Santa Barbara. Sunday I went out and saw him and his wife Tula. We hadn’t seen each other since I was about 12, but we spent a lovely afternoon together and he told me some very funny stories about my Dad. Merv was a very talented painter and he showed me his studio. It was nice – it was some kind of connection to family.

With the apartment handled, I concentrated on finding a job. I got my phone connected, and got a DSL line hooked up. I still had my laptop computer, the one I’d ordered when I was at the PAC Ranch. They’d erased all of my photos, but it still worked well. I got that hooked up and running so I could do internet job hunting. I ordered a printer/fax/scanner from Dell, and got a two-drawer file cabinet. I also got a big presentation binder for my "portfolio." I went through everything I had managed to take out with me – old Advance Magazines, promotion, books – and found enough of my old design, illustration and cartoon work to use. Surprisingly, it didn’t look too dated. I got it all copied at Kinkos and inserted into the binder.

I wrote a resume using a format that emphasized skills rather than work history. My Idiots book informed me that it was an acceptable format. I disguised my Scientology history as best I could, putting things like Bridge Publications and new Era Publications. Then I got the resume and some business cards printed at Kinkos.

I went through all of the online job sites I could find and posted my resume, and searched the sites for any graphic design jobs. I applied to every one I found, either by e-mail or regular mail. I created a file of every ad agency, newspaper, and magazine in the area, and started cranking out letters.

In my resume, I put that I was proficient in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. And I did have some familiarity, but not nearly enough. I invested in the Adobe Creative Suite and installed it on my computer. Then every night I would read manuals and drill on the programs. After a few weeks of this, I was pretty much up to speed.

I started noticing a change in my health. I was sleeping all night every night – eight and even nine hours. I was eating well. And I was finding time to relax. I started feeling a lot better and a lot healthier. And with that, I felt some sanity returning.

I found my old friend Jerry, from the Canyon days. He had his own video production company in Burbank, and I went down one Sunday and spent the day with him. He was glad to hear I was finally out of the Sea Org. Jerry himself had been out of Scientology for 30 years. He had nothing good to say about it. Despite everything I had been through, I still considered myself a Scientologist, and as almost a knee-jerk reaction, I defended Scientology and tried to get him to see it in a positive light.

I didn’t consider myself done with Scientology. I fully planned to do my "A to E" steps and get the SP declare lifted so I could once again talk to my brother. I was going to pay my "Freeloader Debt" – the bill that you get when you leave the Sea Org for all of the services you obtained while a Sea Org Member. I fully intended to do all this and remain a Scientologist. My priority now was finding a job – then I’d worry about getting back into Scientology’s good graces.

The weeks were going by, and still no job. I was phoning prospective employers every day, sending out e-mails, mailing resumes, and rushing out to interviews. I was in a quasi-panic about it – money was running out and none coming in. As I was rushing to an interview, I’d pass these homeless guys on State Street asking me for money. I came to resent them. I don’t have a job either, I’d think, but I’m hustling while you sit there in the sun! Later, when I had steady work, I was more charitable.

In May, I interviewed at a local weekly magazine called Casa. They needed a Production Manager – someone to lay the mag out and get it to press. We talked and they were impressed with my skills. They said they’d get back to me.

Gradually, gradually, I felt myself recovering. I’d get out and take a walk every day, longer ones on weekends. I got into hiking in the hills above Santa Barbara, eventually tackling La Cumbre Peak, the highest mountain in the county.

The view from La Cumbre Peak

The city was beautiful and calming. I’d take long walks on the beach and just relax. I felt like I was slowly gathering up the pieces of my life and getting back some pride and confidence and self-respect.

I still missed Kim and wished I could talk with him. I wondered if they had told him I was declared like the promised to. Probably not. I also wondered where Gwennie was. I tried Googling her name but came up with nothing.

Almost every night I had nightmares. I would be back at the Base, in a meeting with Miscavige, or waiting for a meeting. Or I would be at a Gold Muster, or roaming a strange nightmare version of Building 36. I came to expect the dreams. But every morning I’d wake in my own little apartment and smell the sea air and I’d know everything was all right.

At the end of May I got a call from Mark Whitehurst, the Publisher of Casa Magazine. He wanted to hire me – on a freelance basis at first. He wanted to pay me $16 an hour. I negotiated him up to $20. I had no idea if that was good or bad, but it seemed like I could survive on that when I did the numbers. I started down at Casa Magazine that week – five weeks after my job search had begun.

I got an e-mail from Jimmy Yeoh. He had been in Malaysia visiting family and had just arrived back in the US, in San Diego. He gave me Carrie Cook’s e-mail and I contacted her. She was in Vermont with her husband Peter, who had also left the Sea Org. She was working as a designer for a local magazine there.

On June 5, I began working at Casa full time, on the payroll. For the first time since being out, my income exceeded my expenses. It was a red-letter day, and I vowed that from then on, my income would always be greater than my expenses. I had some catching up to do.

Casa Magazine was a small office, half a dozen people. It was run by Mark Whitehurst and his wife Kerry, a pleasant couple about my age. The magazine was about 60 pages every week, and had to be printed every Thursday night and out on the stands Friday morning. A lot of the ads carried over from the previous week, but there were always new ads to be designed and laid out, and editorial content to be put together. I told them I was interested in art and so became the de facto Art Editor, interviewing artists and gallery owners and putting articles together. They had other freelance writers doing poetry, theater, movies, wine and so on. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays we’d be putting the whole thing together to get to the printer.

When I first started working there, we’d sometimes have to work "late" Thursday night to get an issue out – sometimes until 6, 7 or even, God forbid, 8pm. Mark was careful to check with me and make sure I was OK on that. I almost laughed. Even getting off work at 8pm was like a vacation for me!

"You really work well under stress," Mark told me. To be honest, I hadn’t even noticed any stress.

Mark had to "dial me down" a bit. When I first started working there, I wore a tie every day. He told me that wasn’t really necessary; Santa Barbara was not really a tie place. And he’d notice me working through my break times. "Take a break, take a break," he’d tell me. It took a while to get used to the idea.

With a job secured, my evenings and weekends became my own – a very new experience for me. I remember the first Friday, as I left the office Mark said, "See you on Monday." My immediate thought was "Monday? That’s two days from now!" Then I realized I had two days to do whatever I wanted. I went to the Zoo, the Museum, the library, went to movies, read books, took hikes. Almost everything was within walking distance of my apartment. I started thinking about painting again. When my birthday rolled around in June, I went down to the art store and got myself a set of acrylics, brushes and canvasses.

Out of necessity at first, I stopped using any Scientology terminology. I had to learn to speak without the shorthanded Scientology jargon I’d used for the past 35 years. And to do that, I was forced to rethink concepts. I had to take a Scientology concept and discover how to say it in English. Not surprisingly, I found myself re-evaluating those concepts. Without the Scientology slogan or bromide to fall back on to "explain everything," I had to start really thinking about things. It felt like old, rusted gears in my mind were starting to turn again.

When I first started working at Casa Magazine, I had some vague idea of using Hubbard’s "administrative technology." But as I worked in the office, most of it seemed unnecessary and time-wasting. Sure, I could work out an "org board." Why? It was six people, and everyone knew what to do. I could write a program. Why? It dawned on me that even as disorganized as that office was, it was producing rings around the Marketing area at the Int Base. There, it could take months to produce a single 16-page brochure, doing it over and over and over again. Here, we were getting out a 60-page magazine every week. There were no musters, no inspections, no hordes of executives and program operators swarming down for inspections, no Ethics Officers and Security Guards snooping around, no endless meetings, no recriminations, shame and guilt, no capricious rejects from executives trying to justify their existence. All we did was get out a magazine. And it was easy.

With my evenings and weekends free, I had more time to think about what had happened to me. On a whim, I had picked up 1984 by George Orwell and started to read it. I was struck by the parallels between the thought control systems described in the book and my experiences at the Int Base. In the book Orwell describes "doublethink" – the art of believing two contradictory ideas at the same time. I realized that Scientology was full of those. One was told to "think for yourself," for instance, yet in fact everyone knew that no disagreement with Hubbard was allowed. Scientology teaches that the secret to good communication is high affinity (liking) and high reality (agreement). Yet staff are taught to scream at each other and even physically abuse others. Scientology champions "human rights" yet runs an abusive RPF prison system. I had always known these things, but I had justified them, explained them to myself – in other words, I had become adept at doublethink. With that realization, the sense of hypocrisy, the gap between what is preached and what is actually practiced by Scientology, began to grow in my mind.

I had considered that the Int Base was an anomaly, an unfortunate deviation from the true nature of Scientology. But what if that atmosphere, that culture, was actually the culmination of the unrestrained application of Scientology? I had worked for 35 years to bring about a "Scientology World." Suppose that Int Base was a microcosm of what a Scientology World would be like in reality – an authoritarian regime where "downstats" are abused and any real human emotion is mocked and repressed. I would want nothing to do with such a group.

The tipping point came as I was trying to plan my finances. I knew that I was way behind. I had nothing for retirement, and I was already 58. I calculated out my monthly income and tried to itemize all of my expenses. One of the expenses was my Freeloader Debt. Even at $500 a month, it would take years to pay off. I felt frustrated.

Then an odd thing happened. I got mad. Why, I asked myself, should I pay them any money at all? I had worked for the Church of Scientology for 35 years, seven days a week, often 16 and 18 hour days, for next to no pay. I had no savings. How, in the name of all that is fair, do I owe them anything? I decided, there and then, that I would never, never, pay them a cent on any "Freeloader Debt." And, as that was the second step on the "A to E" steps to get the Suppressive Person declare lifted, that I would never, never do my A to E steps. Never. I owed them nothing. So they labeled me an SP? So what?

All of a sudden, I felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Thise were things I didn’t have to worry about – Freeloader Debts, SP declares. I didn’t have to worry about those things because…a radical thought formed in my head.

Because I am not a Scientologist.

It felt good to think it, to say it, to scream it. I am not a Scientologist. I am no longer a part of that madhouse called the Int Base. I no longer have to practice doublethink. If something is wrong, I can say so, honestly and openly, without fear. I no longer have to justify abuses – to myself or anyone else.

I took my Scientology books and put them in boxes, then drove them down to recycling and threw them in the bin. It felt great. I am not a Scientologist.

I became determined to find Gwennie. I had last heard from her at the end of the 1990s. She was living in San Francisco with her boyfriend, and had just given birth to a baby girl, Devon. She had sent me pictures. Then, after 2000, nothing. My letters had been returned by the Post Office. I tried one of those net detective services. I gave them her full name and birth date, and a list of past addresses. After a few weeks, they sent me a long, long list of addresses and phone numbers that were somehow connected, they thought, with Gwennie. I despaired of calling all those numbers. Then, in the middle of the list, I saw the name Hare – my first wife’s maiden name. I thought it must be one of Tina’s relatives. I called the number and asked the woman who answered if she knew Gwen Wilson.

"Sure, that’s my Granddaughter," she said.

"Do you know where she lives now?" I asked.

"Yes, she’s right down the street." She gave me the phone number, and I called.

Gwennie was amazed to hear from me, and doubly amazed that I was out of the Sea Org and out of Scientology. She said, "I’m coming down, I’m leaving right now." Six hours later, she was at my door.

Wonderful Gwennie visits me in Santa Barbara

She stayed all weekend, and we spent hours talking. We walked down State Street all the way to the beach, and I told her all about what I had been through at the Int Base. It was the first time I had really unloaded to anyone. Our progress down the street was slow, because every couple of feet she’s stop and look at me and say "No way!" or "That’s nuts!"

It was an amazing experience for me. I had lived at that Base for years. That was "daily life." It was "normal." I was the one who was crazy, criminal, SP. To hear the reaction of someone outside that bubble was priceless. That’s nuts! And I was free to say, yes, yes it is.

I went from laughing to crying to laughing. Gwennie would hug me when I cried, and laugh with me when I laughed, and we somehow made it through the weekend like that. I told her everything, and I felt unburdened, liberated, free.

I vowed to come up and see her, and I did, and still do. Every few months I see her and my wonderful, amazing granddaughter Devon.

Devon with "Grampa Jeffie"

I started searching the internet for information about Scientology, and about Miscavige. I visited all the sites that had been "forbidden" to me while I was a Scientologist, and learned all of the things that had been hidden from us. I was amazed at how much I didn’t know about Scientology’s history, about Hubbard’s life. I was incensed to learn the magnitude of the lies I had been told through the years. In a few weeks on the internet I discovered more about Scientology’s history than I had known in 35 years on the inside. I began to realize how sheltered we had been and how much our information had been controlled.

On one of the sites, I found a name I recognized, and a phone number. It was Chuck Beatty, someone I’d known for years in the Sea Org. I called him and we talked. He connected me up with a Yahoo chat group called XSO. I was amazed to find that there were hundreds of Ex-Sea Org Members who were members! I began to post on the chat group, using my real name. Soon the floodgates opened, and I began to get e-mails from all over the country – and even from other countries – from people I’d known in the Sea Org who had now left. Where I thought I had no friends on the outside, now I found I had hundreds.

I began to travel to see some of my old friends. I drove out to an Ex-Sea Org reunion in Las Vegas, hosted by two wonderful sisters, Terri Gamboa and Janis Grady. There were about 50 Ex-Sea Org there, people I’d known from Copenhagen, from the Apollo, from Clearwater, and from the Base. While I was there, I spent a relaxing afternoon with Bill Dendiu and his new family.

After I got back, I got an e-mail from Scientology’s "International Justice Chief," taking me to task for "consorting with known SPs." Somehow they had planted an OSA spy at the reunion. I wrote him a scathing e-mail back, taking him to task for spying. I informed him that I was no longer a Scientologist and to never write to me again or presume to tell me who I could or could not associate with. That felt great.

Christmas 2005, Jimmy Yeoh and I went up to Seattle and spent Christmas with another former PDO staff member, Georgianna. George was gracious enough to invite us up to spend the holidays with her family. It was my first real Christmas in many years.

I made frequent trips to LA to see many friends there. Gabrielle Allen, now married and running her own marketing company, invited me down for barbecues and parties. I visited my "hijita," Yael, in Huntington Beach. She's gone back to school, works at a great job and is rebuilding her life.

And always, when we’d get together, we’d talk, tell stories, and laugh a lot. It was amazing to hear people tell their side of a story – things had been so shrouded in mystery and secrecy in the Sea Org that you never quite knew what was going on. To be able to speak openly and find out what really went on behind the scenes was amazing – and salutary. I was able to find out, first hand, from people who had been there, exactly how Miscavige had taken control of the Church. And I found that his physical violence and beatings of staff had started much, much earlier.

I got back in touch with my first wife, Tina, and we began to regularly e-mail back and forth. I also found my second wife, Nancy, now living in Pennsylvania and working for an environmental construction firm. I was happy to hear she was doing well, and we began exchanging regular e-mails. Today I am close friends with both of these ex-wives.

But there was still someone I wanted to talk to more than anyone else – my brother Kim. I had talked to Gwennie about it and she said it was ridiculous that I couldn’t talk to my own brother. She even volunteered to call him for me. I didn’t want to get him in any trouble with the Church, but I did want to let him know that I was out and living in Santa Barbara and doing well. Gwennie tried some numbers I had, but they were all disconnected.

I began searching for Kim, but even the net detective service came up with nothing. Finally, in an internet search, I found a mention of his daughter Slayde. It was an unusual name, so I didn’t think there was more than one Slayde Hawkins. It was on the Reed College website and was her senior thesis. I called Reed, and they put me through to Alumni Services, as she had graduated the previous year. They said they could not give me her e-mail address – school policy. I explained that I was her uncle, and asked if they could relay a message to her. They agreed to do that. A few days later, Slayde called me. I explained to her that I was out of the Sea Org now and in Santa Barbara, but I couldn’t talk to Kim because I was declared. I asked her if she could just call him and tell him I was OK.

Ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was Kim.

"You know, you’re not supposed to talk to me," I said.

"I don’t give a shit about that," he said. "You’re my brother. I know you’re not Suppressive!"

We talked for an hour. He told me they were living in Clearwater now to be close to Flag. His wife Cathy, who had been out of Scientology for 30 years, was now back "on lines" and doing courses. I told him all about my new life in Santa Barbara and what I was doing. I was vague about why I had left, not wanting to get into it with him. I just told him that I had "been through some rough times." He asked me if I was doing anything to get "back on lines," and I said no. I told him I was done with Scientology. "Wow," he said, "I don’t know what you went through, but it must have been rough if that was the result."

After that, we talked every week, every Saturday morning. I never elaborated on my Int Base experiences and he never asked.

About six months later, Kim and Cathy flew out to California for a business trip. I drove down to see them and we spent the weekend together. At one point, Kim and I had some time together to talk.

"OK, spill," he said.

"You don’t want to get into it," I demurred.

"No," he insisted, "I do. Tell me what happened."

Over the next hour, I told him everything. The conditions at the Int Base, the abuse, the beatings, the crippling of Int Management.

"I thought there were checks and balances to prevent this sort of thing," he said. "Isn’t there a Watchdog Committee?"

"Name one person on that Committee," I said. Of course, he couldn’t. No Scientologist could – it’s "confidential."

After I had told him everything, he was quiet. Then he said, "I’ve known for some time that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. What you’ve told me confirms what I’ve felt."

They went back to Florida. The next weekend he called me – our usual Saturday morning call. He was at Flag, attending an event. He had arrived early and secured a good seat, only to be thrown out of his seat as it was needed for someone "more important." He had left in disgust. We talked for a few minutes and then hung up.

About ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was Cathy, his wife.

"I’m going crazy; I have to talk to someone," she said. "I chose you."

"What’s going on?" I asked.

"I don’t want to be in Scientology any more," she said.

I asked her why, and she gave me a litany of mishandlings – having to get endless repairs on her auditing, at her own expense. Being told to take services she didn’t want. Being pressured constantly for money.

I asked her if Kim had told her any of the things I’d gone over with him in San Diego. She said no. I gave her a rapid summary.

"Gee, my complaints sound like nothing," she exclaimed. "But I don’t know what to do – I can’t talk to Kim about it, he’s such a dedicated Scientologist."

"Try it," I suggested. "I think you’ll find him more open that you think."

The next day my brother called.

"We’re out," he said.

They started researching on the internet, as I had, all the "forbidden" sites. And they started posting on the XSO chat group, using pseudonyms. Before long, they had an OSA staffer on their doorstep, with printouts of their posts. How he obtained posts from a private chat group he never explained. He told Kim that he would have to disconnect from me, or be declared Suppressive.

"You picked the wrong family," Kim told him. He refused to disconnect.

Today, three years after my exit from Scientology, I’ve created a new life for myself, a life of happiness and freedom. I am surrounded by a group of amazing friends and my incredible, loving family. I live in Portland now, a city I love, and run my own very successful freelance graphic design business. My brother and Cathy live in Portland too, and we see each other all the time. Just last year Gwennie gave birth to a son, Eden, and now I have two awesome grandchildren. I get down to see them as often as I can. I have fully reclaimed my life.

Every once in a while, someone new leaves the Int Base, and I hear the latest news. The most recent person to leave told me that things had gotten "much worse." It strains my imagination to even conceive of what that would be like.

A few of my good friends remain inside. Foster still works in the PAC Mill, still operating that same CNC router. He’s been there now for almost six years.

And Cathy still soldiers on at the Int Base, still on the post of Port Captain.

It is for them, and other friends still "inside the bubble" that this narrative is written. I hope someday, somehow, they can read it. If I had only a few moments to reach those inside, I would say to them only, "I am still here, I am still your friend, I will always be your friend."

I write this also for those tempted to follow Scientology’s Yellow Brick Road – so you can see in advance the nature of the man behind the curtain.

This, then, is my story. I am neither hero nor rogue, neither victim nor fanatic. Perhaps a bit of each. Like Solzhenitsyn, I believe that the line between good and evil passes through the heart of every person. We all make choices. Some are good and some bad. Some are wise and some are foolish. And in the light of hindsight, we can often see that yesterday's wisdom was indeed folly, and in yesterday's foolishness there was sometimes wisdom. I am just a man who followed a dream, some might say to the bitter end, and wound up lost in some very dark and strange places.

I do not look back with regret. I look back, I hope, with greater wisdom, greater tolerance, and greater compassion.

One day, about a year after I had left the Int Base, I took a long walk down State Street in Santa Barbara, all the way to the beach. At the end of State Street, Stearn’s Wharf juts out into the Pacific Ocean. It is a long pier, filled with shops and restaurants. I walked all the way to the end, past all the souvenir shops, past the fishermen with their lines dangling into the water. I walked to the very end and looked out over the broad Pacific. It was a bright and sunny day, white clouds on the horizon, and distant sailboats tacking in the wind. I felt the salt breeze in my face, the warm sun.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a heavy gold ring. It was blocky and ugly, a huge square with the number 25 embossed on it, and over that, the Sea Org symbol. It had been presented to me in 1996, for 25 years service in the Sea Org. I felt its weight in my hand.

Then I spun and with all the force I could muster, hurled it in a long curving arc out over the waves. It disappeared without a trace.

I turned and walked back towards town.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chapter Sixteen: Nine Lives, Part Two

The famous CMU "flat files" where COB liked to hold court. Left to right, CMU artists Thomas Bourke, Carrie Cook, Kerrie Francis and Cynthia Coleman

When I got off the van, I found Cathy waiting. She gave be a big hug. "I knew you were coming back," she said. It was April, 2003 and I had just returned to the Base after four months of exile to "Big Blue" in LA.

I was amazed to find myself accepted back on the Base as if nothing had happened. People started to call me "Nine Lives." I was always coming back. But then that was the Sea Org motto, wasn’t it? "We Come Back."

In my absence, virtually nothing had happened on the CD lecture marketing. No new releases had been planned, no new promotion had been designed or written. It was as if time had stood still. Miscavige had ordered that a Lecture Marketing Team be put into place. Yael would not be a part of it – I found out that she had blown.

There was a huge meeting held in MCI with the entire Base present. The only purpose was to get a Lecture Marketing Team appointed – and "comply" with the order from COB. They asked for volunteers. I felt I had no choice – why else had I been brought back? I walked to the front. Out of hundreds of staff, only about a dozen volunteered. It was finally narrowed down to four people – myself, Dan Koon, Mariette Lindstein (a former RTC staffer now working in CMU), and Cebron Walker (a staff member in the LRH Personal Public Relations Bureau). After some vetting, we were all approved to be the new Lectures Marketing Unit. Dan was to be the leader, I was to be the Copywriter.

Once again, we had events coming up and we needed to decide what to release. The first event was on May 9 – the Dianetics Anniversary Event. We decided to release a series of lectures Hubbard had recorded in 1951 called the Human Evaluation Lectures. They went with the book Science of Survival. For the Freewinds Maiden Voyage Anniversary Event, we decided to release an early Hubbard Congress. I started writing the copy for these releases.

I was also put back onto the Purification Rundown. I had already done it twice, but somehow it was thought this was the root of my "problems." I just had to keep at it and keep at it and somehow eventually all the toxins and LSD would be out of my system and I would be a good Base staff member.

On one of his inspections of CMU, Miscavige suddenly stopped in the middle of the room and pointed at me. "What’s he doing here?" he demanded. I was immediately hustled out of the room. I was not to be physically in CMU any more. In a bizarre arrangement, I was set up with my computer and materials in a basement room, in HCO, and I worked from there, writing copy. I could work, I just couldn’t be in CMU where I might "upset COB."

One day, all of Gold was called to a special, mandatory meeting in MCI. When we arrived, all of the Gold executives were at the front, along with executives from CMO Int and RTC. There was a strange circle of chairs at the front of the room. I was directed to sit in one of them. I soon found out that this was for the Gold "troublemakers" – which consisted essentially of anyone who was actually doing anything in Gold, submitting things to COB, or producing anything. These were the people who were "causing trouble on COB’s lines – basically, everyone on his lines. Dan and Mariette were included.

What was supposed to happen was that each of these "troublemakers" was to get up in front of the group and confess their crimes. They were to describe the "criminal operating basis" or "op" that they were using to make Miscavige wrong and sabotage projects. And the Roman Circus atmosphere was beyond anything I had ever experienced at the grueling staff meetings. The crowd wanted blood.

One by one the circle of "troublemakers" got up and attempted to say something, anything, to satiate the blood-lust. "That’s not good enough!" someone in the crowd would yell. "Come on, tell us your real crimes." I saw more than one person break down. Jim Mortland, a man I respected and liked, was led off in tears.

Finally it was my turn. I tried to say something, but was almost instantly shouted down. One beefy guy from the Cine Props Department, Clark Morton, stood up and yelled, "Come, on, tell us your real crimes!" Clark had formerly been a CMO Executive, now busted down to being a propsman in Cine. I could see his face reddening as he screamed.

A voice rang out behind me, "This is the guy who lied to LRH!" It was Nathan Story, a Gold exec. The crowd roared for my blood.

In early September 2003, I was offloaded again. I was taken out to the "Int Ranch," a property about eight miles east of the Base, called, incongruously, "Happy Valley." It had been used as an RPF detention camp for the Base, but Miscavige had shut down the Int RPF and sent them all to LA. Since then it had been mostly deserted, cared for by a small maintenance staff, led by a blonde woman named Rikki Drake. Rikki had been the RTC Rep in Clearwater when the whole Lisa McPherson flap had happened. She had been spirited out of Clearwater and sequestered on the Ranch, not allowed to talk to anyone. I joined a small group of other offloadees, who were cleaning up the Ranch for a big influx of people. We found out that about 60 people were slated for offload from the Base. Miscavige was weeding out the chaff.

Dan Koon hadn’t known anything about my offload. When he found out about it, he raised a stink, and got me reinstated to the Base. I left the Int Ranch just as a huge bus pulled up, full of people from the Base.

I spent another month in my basement copywriting office, trying to write, but still shunned by the rest of the Gold staff. Then in mid-October, for no apparent reason, I was sent back out to the Ranch. It was now full of people, all on work crews, and all being prepared for offload. No one knew where anyone was going. We didn’t know if we were being offloaded from the Base to another Scientology Org, or offloaded from the Sea Org entirely. No one knew anything.

Our possessions started to arrive, in boxes. We had to go through everything, throw out what we didn’t want to keep, and make sure any "confidential" material was taken out – anything with the Base address on it, any photos of the Base. One by one, we were called into an office and shown our "Suppressive Person" declare. Hubbard had directed that anyone offloaded from the Base was to be declared Suppressive.

I assumed I was being offloaded from the Sea Org, and resigned myself to it. I was terrified at the thought that I would never see Cathy again.

I was assigned to chopping wood with two other guys, Jason Bennick and Micky Estrada. Jason was a feisty little guy, and had at one time been CO Gold. At one point he had been a favorite of DM, now he was in disfavor. Mickey had been a drummer for the Golden Era Musicians. There was a huge pile of logs – several large dead standing trees had been taken down and sawn into sections. Our job was to chop it up into firewood to be sold. We used sledge hammers and wedges, or an axe, and sometimes a chain saw. It was very hard physical work, and I got into great shape. Jason and Mickey were both very funny guys, and we spent a lot of time telling jokes and laughing as we chopped. At one point, I told Jason how my grandfather used to call me "Jeffer," and his Tennessee accent turned it into "Jeffa." Jason loved this, so I soon became "Jeffa" to one and all.

One day, Jason, Mickey, and a bunch of the others disappeared. Whatever was going to happen was happening. People were disappearing. Then a week later, in early December, I was told to pack my bags and get onto a van with a bunch of other people. I was leaving – for somewhere.

The van drove for hours, into LA, through LA, and north on the 5. Then we started winding up through a mountain road, mile after mile. It seemed to go on forever. Finally we pulled into what looked like a ranch, and got out into a bitterly cold night. We were ushered into one of the nearby cabins, where a group of people were huddled around a fire. A voice called out.


Jason explained to me what was happening. We were being given "one last chance." We had been sent to the "PAC Ranch" in the mountains above Santa Clarita, California, about an hour’s drive from LA. The Ranch had been used as a boarding school for Sea Org children, to keep them out of their parents’ hair so they could concentrate on their jobs. But the children were grown now, and the school had been closed. The Church was considering one of two options – either sell the property, or turn it into a Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Center. If it was to be sold, the property had to be cleaned up and repaired. If it was to be a Narconon, full feasibility planning would have to be done and a conditional use permit obtained from the county. We were going to do both.

The next morning, I was able to get a look at the Ranch. It was nestled in Bouquet Canyon, 3500 feet up in the Santa Clarita Mountains. About a mile away was the Bouquet Canyon Reservoir. The place was bitterly cold. But it was beautiful – and far, far away from the Base. We all began to relax a bit. As purgatory, it wasn’t bad.

Bouquet Canyon Reservoir

There were about 35 of us there at the Ranch. The only supervision we had from the Base was an MAA named Chris Guider, who would show up once a week or so. Otherwise we were on our own. And amazingly, there were no restrictions on us – we could come and go as we wanted, go into town for supplies, whatever. In this new spirit of freedom, I asked for my car from the Base, and Chris drove it down the next time he came. It’s amazing no one blew, but we took the "second chance" seriously.

One of the offloadees, Jim Mortland, took charge. He had been Estates Secretary at Gold – the division that handled grounds, building maintenance and construction at the Base, so he knew how to run a project like this. His Organizing Officer was Sarah Blythe, and she had experience in architectural planning, design and construction. I liked Jim and Sarah, they were friendly and easygoing. It became clear that there wouldn’t be any yelling or screaming or abuse.

We put in a rudimentary organization – three of the women were assigned to the "galley" – preparing the meals. The rest of us split up into work crews. In the mornings, we started cleaning the place up. Some of us cleared the brush and got rid of junk, others repaired electrical and plumbing lines. In the afternoon, we started working on the Narconon feasibility study.

I was already thinking about a new career in Scientology. I had no intention of going back to the Base. I had always had some interest in architecture, and I thought about pursuing that. I knew there was a big architecture office in LA that was designing all of the new org premises. Maybe I could learn more about it and join that office. I talked to Sarah and told her I wanted to do the architectural planning that would be needed for the feasibility study.

Three of us were assigned to Building Planning: myself, Jacquie Kenenaar and Cynthia Coleman. Cynthia had been one of the artists in CMU. Between us, we would do all of the architectural planning and put together a presentation for the county.

I still had money, so I ordered a nice laptop from Dell by mail. Jacquie and Cynthia also ordered computers, and Jacquie got a printer. I also got some architectural software – AutoCAD – which was good for drafting. Sarah managed to get a program from the architecture office in LA which was used to do 3D modeling of buildings. It was called AutoVIS and was a version of 3D Studio Max with a lot of architectural bells and whistles. I knew nothing about the program but determined to learn it. So we were pretty well set up – all using our own money.

Christmas came and went, and once again I was away from Cathy. I had ordered some presents for her by mail and sent them to her. Then, the day before Christmas, Chris had arrived with a big bag of presents from Cathy – mostly Christmas goodies and warm clothing, both of which I appreciated!

I wrote to Cathy every week, enclosing photos I’d taken of the Ranch, and, sometimes, poetry I’d written, but never received any letters back. I found out later that she was writing to me every week as well, and never received my letters. Both of our letters were piling up in a basket in the Security Office in the basement of Building 36. Meanwhile Cathy, of course, was being pressured to divorce me. She refused.

We settled into a work routine. In the bitterly cold mornings we’d clear brush. Then in the afternoon we’d do the Narconon planning. And in the evening we’d study. I was studying the AutoVIS program.

We managed to get some big topographical maps of the Ranch and scanned them in, which gave us the extent of the property. But there were no plans for the existing buildings, so the first thing we did was run around and measure everything. With the measurements, I did detailed "as-built" floor plans of all the buildings, using AutoCAD, which was fortunately fairly easy to use. Other members of the team did planning as to how many buildings would be needed to establish a Narconon, and we did a second set of plans showing the proposed building extensions as well as new buildings.

This facility was going to be the showcase Narconon for Southern California, so part of the planning was a large information center/convention center/auditorium to be built near the entrance. I did a floor plan for it, then decided to do a 3D model of it in the computer. I conceived it as a sort of mountain lodge, built with logs.

I had started learning the AutoVIS program at the beginning of January. Within four weeks I had mastered the program and done a fairly sophisticated 3D model of the Information Center, complete with stone, glass, wood and metal textures. And I had a ball doing it. I was looking forward to my possible new career in the Church’s architecture office. Somehow, I was sure, Cathy could join me in LA.

The proposed Information Center, modeled in AutoVIS

Strangely, instructions came that I was to get back onto the Purification Rundown. As there were no facilities to do it at the Ranch, I ended up driving into LA every day to do the Purif for five hours a day at the Hollywood Guaranty Building on Hollywood Blvd. I drove down with another guy from the Ranch, a German, Wolfi Frank, who was getting daily auditing. Then I’d work in the evenings.

We completed the presentation and Ken Hoden (also one of the offloadees) took it to the county and pitched it. I heard later, long after I left Scientology, that it had been approved, but Scientology was now in a pitched battle with the local residents over whether or not to have a Narconon there. It was never built.

In early February, Sarah called me into her office. She had just been talking to Chris Guider on the phone.

"How would you feel about returning to the Base?" she asked.

To her surprise – and mine – I started crying. "No," I finally managed to say. "No, I don’t want to go back there." Sarah said she understood and would go over it with Chris.

But I was not to have a choice in the matter. The next evening, Jim rushed up to me and told me that I had to get in my car right now and drive to the Base right now for a meeting. I tried to object, but there was no questioning the order. Whoever had delivered the message to Jim had scared the living daylights out of him, and he didn’t let up until I was in my car and out the gate.

I took the back way to the Base, taking the old Pearblossom Highway across the desert, then down through the Cajon Pass on the 15. I had plenty of time to think. Part of me was terrified at the prospect of returning to the Base. But another part of me thought about the beautiful woman waiting for me there, and as I drove on through the night, those visions of Cathy came to dominate my thoughts.

I pulled into the Base about eleven at night, and was rushed into the conference room in Building 36, where I waited for about an hour. Finally, the door opened, and David Miscavige walked in – by himself. This was unusual; he normally had a large entourage.

"You heard Dan Koon blew," he said. I shook my head.

"Yeah, he took off in January," he said. "So I’m willing to consider the possibility that I offloaded the wrong guy."

Miscavige went over with me what he needed. He was still hell-bent on getting all of Hubbard’s lectures out on CD – it was his top priority, and therefore the top priority for the Base. The first to be released would be the "Basics" or "Milestones" – the name hadn’t been decided. These were lectures that went with a particular LRH book, and there were about ten of these book-lecture series combinations. Reproducing the lectures on CD and packaging them up was pretty straightforward, but there was also to be a supplement booklet for each lecture series, containing Hubbard’s written essays from the period, as well as a written introduction to each series. It was the introductions that he needed me for. These had to be well researched and well written, laying out the Scientology history and technical development that led up to that particular series of lectures. Dan had been writing these, but he was gone. So, I had been brought back.
Another chance at glory.

As soon as the meeting was over, I found Cathy, and we hugged for a long time. She was living in a dormitory, but we soon arranged to get our old room back.

I had a desk set up for me in CMU. There was a new Lecture Marketing Officer on post, Rick Cruzen. Rick had been at the Base forever and had worked in many areas, mainly in Audio. He was a brilliant guy with a reputation for being able to solve problems. He was glad to have my help, and we started working together to get the CD lectures series packaged and ready.

The next day, Miscavige came down to CMU and took up his usual position at the flat files, with all of CMU and various executives on the other side. He threw out is usual bit of opening gossip: "Did you hear what those guys at the PAC Ranch were up to?"

It turned out that Jim Mortland and Sarah Blythe had been having an "out-2D." This had been discovered and reported by Jason. Miscavige took me to task for not having seen and reported it myself. He told us they were all being sent to the RPF, every one of them.

"You just barely escaped," he told me.

The Base seemed deserted. There had a lot of offloads over the past year, and now there were only about 350 people on the Base. At its biggest, the Base had almost a thousand staff, now it was down to a third of that. Miscavige kept talking about "getting rid of the deadwood" and "getting rid of the SPs." He had even threatened to close the Base entirely.

CMO International and Executive Strata, I found out, were confined to the Base – they were not allowed to go home. That had already been going on for three months. They slept underneath their desks and showered in the garage. The word was that Miscavige had "declared them all SP" and they were working on their "A to E steps" in the CMO Int conference room every day. The "A to E steps" were the steps an SP was supposed to go through to stop being an SP. Miscavige also had them on "mest work," cleaning out the septic ponds at the west end of the property.

He had informed both CMO Int and Exec Strata that they "had no org board." This seemed odd to me as both organizations had existed for years on some sort of organization chart, but DM insisted it was wrong and he had not approved a new one. So part of their feverish activity was hours spent revising their org board and submitting it to DM. He routinely rejected anything they sent to him. Meanwhile, he told them that no one was on post as they had no org board. This was to go on, literally, for years.

Marc Yager, Guillaume Lesevre and Mike Rinder were spending a lot of time "on the decks." They could be seen out in the Swamp, near the OGH house, clearing brush in their blue boiler suits. When it came time to do an event, they would be gotten off the decks, rehearsed, and put in front of the cameras reading off a teleprompter. I am sure the Scientology audience had no idea where they had gotten those nice tans.

Even RTC itself had been decimated. All of RTC staff, except for Miscavige’s personal staff, had been suddenly demoted to CMO International, This included long-time veteran executives like Greg and Sue Wilhere, and Norman Starkey. They were all in CMO Int now, in the "unposted" mess. It was amazing, but there was literally no one on post or operating at the top of Scientology except one person – David Miscavige. He was unchallenged, and what he said was law.

I got to work, and wrote the first four of the introductions needed. One day COB showed up in CMU and, as usual, held court across the flat files. He began railing at me, "This is the guy who sabotaged all the earlier CD releases!" he proclaimed. He demanded to see what I had been doing. I brought the four introductions I had written. He slammed them down on the counter.

"I can offload you again, you know," he screamed. "You’ll be flipping burgers at McDonalds."

"Yes, Sir," I stammered.

"Yes Sir? Yes Sir?" he shouted. "You want to get offloaded? Get him out of here!"

I was grabbed by the Chief MAA, Gerald Duncan, and hustled down to the HCO offices, where I was put into a room and told to start writing up my crimes. A few minutes later, someone cam dashing down from CMU. "You’re needed back up there right away!"

I rushed upstairs. Miscavige was still there, with the group around him, but everyone was oddly quiet. Miscavige was reading my introductions and making notations on them.

"These are pretty good," he said finally - as if nothing had happened. "I’ve made a few notations of things to be fixed, but otherwise well done." He handed them back to me.

I was saved – for the moment anyway.

I began to work feverishly to complete the rest of the introductions needed. I was one of the group that was on "COB’s schedule," which meant staying up until the wee hours of the morning and then coming in at noon. We would usually get called to attend a meeting with Miscavige in late afternoon or evening, and these could go on for hours. He would review the work that had been done, usually tear it to shreds, and then dictate what was to be done "and on my desk first thing in the morning." As the meeting might not break up until midnight, we then got to work and finished the submission for the next day.

It became usual for me to arrive home just as Cathy was getting up. Then I would have four hours of sleep, if I was lucky, and take the noon bus back to the Base, ready for another round. For the entirety of 2004, I averaged 4 hours sleep a night, often less.

The meetings could get volatile. During a break from a meeting in the Lower Lodges, Miscavige ended up repeatedly slamming his hand into the side of my head, then he went over and knocked Marc Yager to the ground.

Once he was giving a tour of "Building 50" – the RTC building – to a group of executives. The building was nearly empty. He was talking about CMO International someday taking it over. We moved from room to room as he described what could go in each room. As he was leaving one room, he had to pass right by me, and without warning he punched me in the gut. "I can smell Black PR a mile away," he said. I tried to reply but it just came out as a croak, I couldn’t breathe.

In the middle of Building 50 was a huge covered courtyard, going up two stories. Miscavige set this up for himself as a sort of conference room on steroids. He liked to take all of the submissions that people had sent him and pile them up on tables and say "Look at all the things I have to handle. I’m wearing every hat on this Base." At the same time, he insisted that everything come to him and that only he could give final approval.

At one of these meetings, he threw Mike Rinder off his chair and onto the ground. Mike, like many of the CMO Int Execs, had been trying to curry favor by grabbing some part of the "Basics" release and "handling it." This was seen as the path to redemption – but it was more often a path to catastrophe as Miscavige trashed whatever work they had done. One of his favorite punishments was to have executives run laps around Building 50, and sometimes he would send the entire conference out to run laps – 25 or 50 times around the building.

Another punishment was "overboarding." The offending person would be taken to the swimming pool and thrown in, fully clothed, by the MAAs. After 2000, this was the only use that pool ever got.

Of course, any punishment meted out by COB was soon copied throughout the Base, so "overboardings" and "laps" became the usual. One night we were out at the Castle at a Gold muster, and as I had missed some deadline or had something rejected, I was assigned to 15 laps around the Castle – a huge building. That was something like two miles. I ran it – in my street shoes. One was not allowed to put on running shoes!

The top of my left foot was rubbed raw and hurt like hell. In my few hours at home, I dressed it as best I could, and went back to work. The next night I started to feel feverish and weird. I stumbled down to MCI to see if I could get something to eat, and ended up passed out on the floor. A Security Guard found me. By the time I got to the Medical Officer, I was running a high fever and there was a bright red line running up my leg as the infection traveled. I ended up in sick bay for a week, then on crutches. Of course, I got accused of "making the CO Gold wrong" for having me run those laps.

In December, COB was down in LA and ordered a bunch of people down to LA. It included all of the key executives, Marc Yager, Guillaume, David Bloomberg, Norman Starkey and scores of others. I was included, as well as Rick Cruzen. Michela and Manu also came from CMU. Manu was the CO CMU.

Miscavige was operating from the ASI building on Hollywood Boulevard, so he had us take over the ground floor. It was insane. Everyone was expected to continue working on whatever they were working on, so soon truckloads of files started to arrive with everyone’s work. The room was a mess. We would have long, abusive meetings with DM, then everyone would frantically try to get something done. It was a colossal, but typical, waste of time. Henning Bendorff was there and took the opportunity to knock me down several times.

During one meeting, Miscavige told me, Manu and Michela that we were all offloaded as of that minute, right onto the streets of LA. The three of us left by the main door and were actually walking down the street, when the doors burst open and the rest of the group chased after us and brought us back.

"What do you mean by leaving?" they demanded. "You must have crimes!" It was all just a bit too crazy for me to comprehend. I was happy when we at last got back to the Base.

Amazingly, we had half a day off for Christmas shopping. Cathy and I went out to the mall in Cabazon. I knew we would never have Christmas itself off, so treated the day as our Christmas, and I bought Cathy whatever she wanted. She saw a $500 dress she liked – so I just told her to get it. We wandered around and had coffee. It was the first thing resembling a day off that we had ever had. And it would be the last.

Cathy was happy. She had at last been approved to go onto the post of Port Captain Gold, which meant she would get to deal with external PR and community relations, the things she most loved doing.

I finished all of the introductions for "the Basics" and started on the Congresses. These were big events that Hubbard had held, where he gave a series of lectures over a weekend. There were about 20 of these Congresses. To get them all done in time, COB assigned three of us to it full time – me, Rick Cruzen, and LRH Biographer Dan Sherman. I had worked with Danny on and off over the years. He was supposed to be Hubbard’s "official Biographer," but there was no biography forthcoming. He spent most of his time writing "Ron Magazines" – puff pieces about Hubbard’s life – or writing Miscavige’s speeches.

Miscavige wanted us near him, so set us up in a corner room up in Building 50. Miscavige’s personal staff were glad to see us there. "The building has been so empty," they told us. It was true; except for Miscavige and his personal staff, it was deserted, a big echoing hulk of a building.
Working in that corner office late at night, we could hear him in his big courtyard conference room, roasting some executive. We couldn’t hear the words, just an agonized howl reverberating through the empty building, like some rabid beast trapped in the depths of a vast and echoing labyrinth.

Relations between Miscavige and I, never that good in the first place, got icier. Soon I was being excluded from meetings. I’d show up and he’d say "get him out of here!" I’d be rushed out so as "not to upset COB."

Once I was standing with him and Rick, and he turned to Rick and said, "Look at this guy," indicating me. "He’d just love to punch me. I wish he would. Then I could really unload on him."

Finally it all came to a head after one particularly flappy meeting with COB in February 2005. It was decided that I would be "overboarded." I was allowed to change into a blue boiler suit, then escorted out to the lake. Danny Dunegan, a Security Guard, was present in case anything "happened." After all, I was a 58 year old man, it was the middle of a February night in the high desert, and the lake was freezing cold. I stepped to the edge of the pier and the MAA pushed me off. I hadn’t expected the water to be so cold. Gasping for breath, I struggled to the dock and was pulled up, soaked and shivering.

I changed back into my uniform and went back up to CMU. Manu, the CO CMU, told me that Rick Cruzen was up in Building 50 with COB. At that point, the MAAs came through saying that everyone had to secure (go home) NOW. It was a COB order! The buses would be held until everyone was on board. Manu and I didn’t know what to do. We could get in trouble if we secured while Rick was still in a meeting with Miscavige. We could also get in trouble for defying the COB order to go home. We were finally prevailed upon to go the bus.

Everyone crammed onto the buses. The only seat I could find was way at the back. Then we heard that Miscavige had come down from Building 50 and was inspecting to make sure everyone was on the bus.

Suddenly, he appeared at the front of our bus, and began walking down the aisle, scanning the faces. Finally, he spotted me at the back.

"Did you know I was still in a meeting with Rick Cruzen?" he demanded.

"Yes Sir," I said.

He addressed the bus in general. "Do you see that? Do you see the level of responsibility I have to deal with? He knows I’m in a meeting with his senior, and he decided to go home." His eager audience made the appropriate sounds of disgust and righteous anger.

"I’m sick of dealing with CI," he said. "Every staff member at this Base needs to go home tonight and make a decision, whether they want to become a real Sea Org Member or not." He stormed off the bus. Manu and I were hustled off the bus, amid shouted curses. After some discussion amongst the Gold execs, we were hustled back on the bus, to go home after all.

Cathy was already there. She took one look at me and knew something was wrong.

"What happened?" she asked.

I tried to explain about being thrown in the lake and the bus ride home. She couldn’t understand what I was talking about. I’m sure I sounded half crazy. Finally she did the only thing she could think of to calm me down – she had me clean the apartment. Mest work, the universal solvent.

I mindlessly cleaned the room. I had reached the end. I had to purify myself once and for all.

Tomorrow, tomorrow would be a bright new day, a brave new world. I would purge myself. I would confess to everything, anything. I would reach into the blackness of my soul, the core of my being, and dredge up and vomit out every secret hatred, every vile perversion and fetish, every black and evil thought. I would cleanse myself forever, let go of my "stubborn, self-willed exile" and emerge a bright and triumphant being, a perfect Sea Org Member, an ideal citizen of this new Base, this new Miscavige world, never doubting, never questioning, never failing, steely-eyed, working tirelessly towards the goal of a Cleared Planet, a perfect Scientology world where every citizen marched forward into a bright new future in perfect lockstep, ever faithful, ever dedicated, ever OT…

Sleep wouldn’t come. In the dark, Cathy’s hand found mine, and held on tight. I think she sensed, like me, that this was no new beginning.

It was the end.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chapter Fifteen: Nine Lives, Part One

New Years Event, 2000 (Photo famously photoshopped by the Church)

I had a splitting headache, one of my knock-down, please-cut-my-head-off migraines. I could barely see straight as I coiled electrical cords and carried them to the waiting truck. I just wanted it to be over, so I could sleep. It was about two in the morning, and we were breaking down after the 2000 New Years Event at the LA Sports Arena. It had been an unmitigated disaster. The Gold crew were working doggedly to break down the event, but the scent of raw fear was in the air – there would be hell to pay for this.

Planning for events was always late, and it was always a massive emergency to get everything done in time, but this event had taken the cake. Miscavige had decided that this could not be like any other event. After all, it was the dawning of a New Millenium. It had to be the biggest, baddest, most spectacular event ever held. Miscavige’s vision was truly awe-inspiring. He, David Miscavige, would be the one and only speaker. He would tell the story of the history of Scientology, of Hubbard’s life and breakthroughs. He would trace the history of Scientology through the 60s, 70s and 80s, showing expansion after expansion, win after win. And finally he would show his own triumphant victories – the brilliant management reorganization, the Golden Age of Tech, the unprecedented expansion of the Church under his direction. It was to be a brilliant tour de force, a defining moment in Scientology’s history, with Miscavige as its glittering center.

Behind him, on huge screens, there would be constant pictures, illustrating each point of the history. There would be video presentations of key parts of the narrative, about 20 videos in all. The problem was, someone would have to find all those photos. Someone would have to write all those scripts. Someone would have to edit them all. It was massive – and only a few weeks to prepare everything. The event would go out live to all orgs.

The entirety of the Base was mobilized to make it happen. As I had some video editing experience, I was sent down to LA with a team to edit one of the videos. The Commanding Officer Gold, Steve Willett, bless him, assigned Cathy and I to the same team. It was broadly known now that we were engaged, so the wagging tongues were stilled for the moment.

We spent a week in an editing bay in Hollywood, putting together a complex video presentation that would represent about five minutes of the two hour presentation. The other videos were being done at editing facilities all over Los Angeles. We were up day and night, taking turns on the reception couch for a few hours nap. On Christmas Day, I went out to Canters and got our "Christmas Dinner." And we carried on. But Cathy and I didn’t care. We got to be with each other constantly. It was, in fact, the only Christmas we would spend together in our five years of marriage.

We rushed our finished video down to the LA Sports Arena, to the editing trailer. Other videos were arriving right up to a few minutes before the event, with editing staff working frantically to get it all loaded and programmed. There was an atmosphere of barely controlled panic as the minutes counted down to the start of the event.

Cathy and I found seats on the upper level. By now I was well into a screaming migraine after a week with virtually no sleep. We watched as Miscavige strutted onto the stage to thunderous applause and began his presentation, all lights and eyes upon him. It soon became obvious that something was terribly, terribly wrong. The pictures on the screens were not matching what he was saying. Sometimes they would inexplicably go black. I covered my face. Oh, this was going to flap.

Somehow the event limped forward, the visuals struggling to keep up. And finally it was over. The audience filtered out, and the Gold crew mustered down below and were told to break down the event, taking down the huge set, the lights, the audio equipment, and loading it into trucks. As the night wore on, I felt worse and worse, my head pounding.

Suddenly, Cathy was there by my side. "Come on, get your stuff, I’m taking you home. I’ve cleared it with the MAA." The Master at Arms was the Sea Org term for the Ethics Officer, who was in charge of crew mustering and schedules. Cathy was my angel of mercy. I collapsed into the car and she drove me back to the Base.

As predicted, the wrath of God, or at least Miscavige, descended on the Base. The entire Base was out-ethics and criminal. Everyone was to do "lower conditions." All liberties were cancelled. All leaves were cancelled. All holidays were cancelled. And these rules stayed in effect until I finally left the Base five years later.

And our marriage was one of the last – if not the last – marriages to be performed on the Base. We had planned to have a nice ceremony out at the Castle and invite friends, but that was not to be, given the current atmosphere. In fact, we were repeatedly discouraged from going through with it - it was "not a good time." But we got married anyway, by the simple expedient of grabbing a minister, Ken Hoden, and two witnesses late one night and holding the ceremony in Ken’s office.

Cathy and I managed to get a room at the Kirby Apartments. All of the Base crew had been consolidated into that one apartment complex, and there were no "wogs" living there any more – and so the apartment complex could be guarded at night. The two-bedroom apartments had been made into three-bedroom apartments by the simple expedient of walling off the living room. So we shared a small apartment with two other couples. As I now had money, thanks to Mom, we set about furnishing our room, setting up an ideal nest, a haven. We had a wall of books, a nice sound system, a huge bed, big closets. Cathy had great taste in clothes, but rarely got to wear them. We stocked the refrigerator with food that we liked, so we could always have a meal when we came home.

Cathy hated her job in Sales – it was not what she wanted to do. She loved PR and was very good at it. She had been the "Port Captain" on the Freewinds, dealing with all the "shore" people – merchants, government, local dignitaries. She was friendly, outgoing and caring. But here she was, stuck behind a desk, trying to make money for Gold. Meanwhile I was still on Dianetics program execution under Michela, and hating that. The room became our refuge. Once a week, on Saturday night, we tried to have a romantic evening, with candles and wine.

We also got a new car, a 1998 Honda Accord. It was everything I wanted, a dark luminescent green with leather seats. We had to dash out to Palm Desert one Sunday morning when we were supposed to be on CSP to pick it up, racing madly back to the Base to make it in time for muster at 12:30.

But conditions on the Base continued to deteriorate. It was like an armed camp. Gold had "betrayed COB" and therefore the whole Base had to "make amends" to Miscavige. We worked for hours and hours on his new office building, on the grounds around the building and around Hubbard’s mansion. Often these "all hands" would go late into the night, and finally, sometime in the wee hours, we would get the OK to "secure" (go home), and the buses would roll out. Then we would be back on post first thing in the morning, tired and sore. These became more and more frequent.

Building 50, the RTC building, with Bonnie View behind it

Staff musters and meetings got more and more vicious, with people being called up in front of the group and their transgressions and crimes read aloud. You were expected to shun anyone who was "in bad" and you could get in trouble for even talking to "downstats."

In late 2000, Miscavige did a series of "evals" – evaluations. These were done according to a formula laid out in Hubbard’s policy letters. You were supposed to find a Situation, and then, following a rote analytical procedure, discover the Why for the situation and the Who. These evals came out with great fanfare – all staff had to study them intensively, as well as a long list of Hubbard references. These evals were supposed to be the thing to turn the Base around and get it in-ethics and productive.

As Miscavige was doing the evaluation on Marketing, I came under intensive investigation, and found myself in a "gang-bang" Security Check, with the Chief Master at Arms, Gerald Duncan, grilling me on an E-meter, and Marty Rathbun, Inspector General RTC, standing behind him, shouting accusations.

"What was that? What was that?" he shouted, pointing at the dial of the E-Meter. "That read on the meter. What is that? What’s your crime, Jeff? Come on, spit it out!"

This went on and on. The only thing my mind went to the time when Hubbard had written an ad about "get rid of your reactive mind," in 1982, and I had surveyed it and found out it was negative – people didn’t want to get rid of their reactive mind. At the time, Hubbard had been pleased with the surveys.

"So what’s the CRIME?" Marty shouted. "What did you DO?"

"I don’t know, maybe we should have tested the ad itself…" I was grasping at straws.

Marty rushed out. The next day, the Marketing Eval came out. Foster and I were the Whos. We had "lied to LRH" about a survey, presenting "fabricated survey results" to prevent LRH’s ad from being run. We had then "wasted over 70 million dollars" on ineffective ads and thus had sabotaged Scientology Marketing for all time. We were the reason why Marketing was bugged. The handling was to bring me before a Fitness Board and offload me from the Sea Organization.

I was outraged. After 30 years service in the Sea Organization, they were just going to cast me out because of a bunch of lies in an eval? It was insane!

When I was called to appear before the Fitness Board, I had my documentation. I had the actual survey I had presented to Hubbard, as well as his correspondence back to me, showing I had not made up the survey or lied to him, and in fact he had commended me for the survey. I presented the actual statistics for the Dianetics Campaign showing the sales, and the results in terms of Org income. During the period of the campaign, I had not wasted money – in fact the campaign had made on the order of 200 million extra income for the orgs, over and above what they were making. I produced the commendation from Hubbard for the campaign, as well as earlier commendations from Hubbard for Advance Magazines I had done. I presented my 30 year record in detail.

After that, they could not offload me, not if they had any conscience at all. So I was simply removed from post and put onto deck work. The eval still stood – no one was about to contradict Miscavige or tell him that his eval was wrong.

I was restricted to the Base. I lived, with a group of other "deckies," in a rundown trailer parked up in the "OGH" compound. We worked on the grounds, weeding, trimming, cleaning gravel paths. Steve Willett, the former CO Gold, was one of my fellow "deckies" and we became good friends. Cathy smuggled food to me whenever she could.

Finally, I was deemed sufficiently rehabilitated to again join the rest of decent humanity, and went back into CMU, as a copywriter. But it wasn’t a triumphant return – anything but. I sort of crept in the back door and tried to keep a low profile. I was still treated like dirt by the rest of the Gold crew.

Manu was now running the Dianetics Campaign, and she wanted to do a new infomercial. She asked me to write it. I contacted some of my old infomercial people, specifically Tim Hawthorne, author of The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing. He gave me some data about current infomercial trends, then hooked me up with one of the most successful infomercial writers in the business. I put together a script under her direction, which she finally pronounced as excellent. I submitted it to Miscavige.

The next day, we were all called up to the CMOI trailers for a meeting with COB. CMO Int was housed in a big doublewide prefab office trailer. It had been surrounded with pathways and plants to make it seem less transient. In the middle of the trailers was a large conference room, surrounded by cubicles. When I arrived, the space was filled with 30 or 40 people – all of WDC, all of Exec Strata, and key Gold Execs. One side of the table was empty, for Miscavige. Everyone was crammed on the other side or at the ends. After a nervous wait, Miscavige strolled in and threw my script on the table.

"Did you see the crap this guy’s writing?" he announced. Then he picked up the script and began to read out sections of it, in a voice laden with sarcasm.

I wanted to say something about why I had written it the way I had, some of the research that had gone into it. I stood. "Sir, if I could just…"

That was as far as I got. "You see how he talks to me? This is the kind of crap I get from Gold." He turned on me. "All I want from you is what your crimes are. Why don’t you just confess right now, in front of this group, what your crimes are."

I said nothing. I was frozen again.

"Look at him!" Miscavige yelled. "See how he looks at me?"

Then to my horror, he leapt up on the conference table and launched himself at me, shoving me back against the cubicle wall behind me, grabbing my shirt and half tearing it off me, striking me in the face again and again. Then he shoved me onto the floor. My feet ended up tangled in his. "Let go of my feet!" he shouted. I complied, terrified. Miscavige turned and stalked out of the room.

No one else had moved, they all sat like so many frozen statues.

"Get up, get up," someone hissed. "Don’t just lie there – don’t make him wrong for hitting you!"

Don’t make him wrong. Was that all they could say? I staggered to my feet and somehow managed to crumple into my chair. Miscavige came back in and ordered me to stand up. I was escorted out by the MAAs and into a room, where I spent the next several hours on an E-Meter, confessing my crimes. Then I went back down to the basement rooms of Building 36, the HCO offices, awaiting reassignment to the decks. An envelope arrived for me. In it were the buttons from my shirt and some loose change that someone had found on the floor. Then an RTC messenger arrived – with a shirt, sent down from COB. How thoughtful. Except the shirt he had torn had been a $50 shirt I had paid for myself. The replacement shirt was a used shirt from Costumes that looked like it had been made in the 70s, stained and worn, with a button down collar. I put it straight into the trash.

I never told Cathy about what had happened. She asked me why my face was scratched, and I told her I had fallen down. Cathy would hear no ill about Miscavige. She had worked for him for a while, making all of his travel arrangements, and she had even traveled with him and Shelly. She had pictures of the three of them together. Even her dismissal from RTC hadn’t tarnished her opinion of him.

After a few weeks on the decks, I was again deemed fit company for honest people, and rejoined CMU as Copywriter. But I felt even more broken and despondent. Everyone assumed it was my fault, something I’d done, that had enraged COB. And I half believed it – but I had no idea what it had been. My attitude?

One Saturday, I was out on Renos, clearing away weeds around the half-finished Berthing Buildings, when I was called up to see the CO CMO Int, Marc Yager. He explained that the woman holding Audiovisual Exec Int, Laura Marlowe, had just blown. She had left behind a huge undone project, which he wanted me to complete. It had to do with the release of Hubbard’s lectures on CD.

As usual, Scientology was about ten years behind the industry. With a typical mistrust of anything not blessed by Hubbard, we had waited until 2001 to get into CDs – all of Hubbard’s lectures were still on cassette. We had released one set of lectures on CD – a "Special Edition" of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course – 72 lectures. Only 1000 sets were made, specifically for "the most dedicated Scientologists" – which was Miscavige’s code for "richest.’ I had written the copy for it. The special release was to raise money for the project of releasing Hubbard’s lectures on CD. Now Miscavige wanted to get into it big time, converting the entire Hubbard lecture catalog to CD. The problem was, no one really knew what that catalog contained. Hubbard had given over 2000 lectures, and no one had ever heard them all. They all had to be counted and cataloged. We had to know which ones went together in sets, what they were about, whether they were for advanced students or for "raw public." We needed to know the date, the length of the lecture, the sound quality. It was a mammoth project.

After explaining the scope of the project, Yager leaned towards me and added, "by the way, I’m proposing you for Audiovisual Exec Int."

I was dumbfounded. "But… Sir, I was just…on the decks…" I wanted to say I was just beaten up by the Chairman of the Board RTC.

He dismissed my concern with a wave. "We all have our ups and downs." He looked at me thoughtfully. "I always wondered why you never became a player."

A player. Yes Sir, you’re so right Sir, I’m an idiot Sir. That kind of player?

For the project, I was to have an assistant, Yael Sherlock. Yael had been in CMU since the LA days, about 13 years. We called her "JVA" for Jewish Venezuelan Princess. Her family was from Caracas and were well-to-do. She had a Latin temper and a Jewish sense of humor, which made her charming and funny. I liked to practice my high school Spanish with her. As she was my daughter’s age, I called her hijita, "little daughter," and she called me jefecito, "little chief." We made a good team: I was a fast reader and knew Scientology pretty well, and she was methodical and precise. We set up an office in a corner of the CMO Int trailers. She set up a massive spreadsheet and we began filling it in. There was no time to listen to all the lectures of course – that would have taken over a year, time we didn’t have. So I mostly skimmed transcripts to get the sense of the lecture, listening to only a few. We had a matter of weeks to get it all done.

Miscavige wanted to set up a CD manufacturing facility in Gold, and this was being masterminded by Russ Belin, the CO of CST (Church of Spiritual Technology). Russ was Miscavige’s go-to guy when it came to research and technology. His organization, CST, had figured out all the technology to put Hubbard’s work on archival gold discs and platens and seal it in underground chambers hidden around the world. Miscavige had called on Belin to design the new E-Meter, the Mark VIII. Now he had charged him with putting together the CD line. Russ needed our data, and he needed it fast.

Yager rarely came to see us. I began to realize that I was, once again, the buffer. This was a hot and potentially flappy project, so Yager needed to distance himself from it, put someone in charge who could take the fall if anything went wrong. Laura had copped out on him, he had to get another body in there fast. Base Survival 101. But his proposal to post me as Audiovidual Exec Int never went anywhere, and he gradually lost any interest in the project.

Regardless, we did get all the information to Belin, and he was very pleased with its completeness and accuracy. But our project wasn’t done. The next part was to find all of Hubbard’s public lectures – lectures to non-Scientologists. They were all to be released as his "Classic Lectures" – and Miscavige wanted them released at the New Years Event, just a few months away. It was a near-impossible task, and once I realized the scope of it, a totally impossible task. It would require finding all of the Classic Lectures, designing packaging, working out a full mail-order subscription plan, and setting up Gold as a mail order operation. The professional mail order people I talked to estimated six months to get Gold set up as a mail order operation – we had less than two months. As we approached the end of the year, it became clear to one and all that the release would not make it. The solution? Someone had to take the fall for it. Guess who.

I was on the decks again through Christmas and New Years. Not that anyone else had any time off. After a few months of "mest work," I was once again deemed fit for human company. In spring I went back to CMU. I found out that I was to be the "Lecture Marketing Manager," with Yael as my assistant. Why? The Freewinds Maiden Voyage was coming up in June. Russ Belin was just about finished installing a massive CD production line in Gold. Miscavige wanted to announce the first broad public release of LRH lectures on CD with a big fanfare. He wanted to know which series to release. No one knew what to propose to him. No one wanted to make a decision, stick their necks out. The solution? Get Hawkins off the decks. Get him to make the decision. Perfect. I was on the hotseat again.

One could say I never learned. But I got impatient with all this waffle and prevarication. A decision had to be made. You gathered all the data, worked out a plan as best you knew how, and presented it clearly. As Hubbard had said once, "why is your neck so precious?" What was the worst that could happen? I’d be back on the decks.

Miscavige was in Clearwater at the time – had been all year. We held phone conferences with him from there. After I’d had a chance to work something out, I was called up to a little room in CMO Int where there was a conference phone – the senior execs were already there. I was seated right next to the phone. After a minute, Miscavige came on the line.

"OK, what have you got for me." All eyes swiveled to me.

I laid out my plan. We would do a broad release of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course for all Scientologists. This had been released in a limited edition the previous year, so expanding to a full release made sense. This was also one of Hubbard’s most famous and popular series. As a second series, I recommended The Phoenix Lectures, a good series on basic Scientology principles recorded in 1954. And for Advanced Scientologists, a series of Saint Hill Special Briefing Course lectures dealing with broad society and governments. After I finished laying it all out with my rationale, COB said that the proposal was approved, and we could go with it. There was a collective sigh of relief around the table.

We prepared the release – all the packaging and promotion. The Copywriter now for CMU was Dan Koon. Dan was a highly trained auditor and had been an executive in the Senior C/S Int Office under Ray Mithoff. I never knew what happened, but he was no longer "on tech lines." He was also a good writer, so had been posted in CMU. Dan and I got along well, and Miscavige was happy with the campaign and the promotion once we had it all done. It launched on the Freewinds in June at the Maiden Voyage Anniversary Event, and was a big hit with Scientologists. There were record sales.

We followed it up with the release of the Classic Lectures in September, at the Auditors Day Event. Yael and I had completed much of the campaign in 2001, and while I had been on the decks in early 2002, Yael and completed the computerization of Gold’s mail order lines. It was a subscription system – Scientologists signed up to receive one a month for four years.
Just prior to the release, a group of us were ordered to Clearwater to meet with Miscavige on marketing. The group included me, Dan Koon, the Senior Magazine Editor, Anne Bradley, the Director of Advertising and Promotion, Helen Pinder, and Marketing Exec International, David Bloomberg. Bloomberg had taken over after Ronnie Miscavige, DM’s brother, had left the Base with his wife Bitty a few years prior. We never knew exactly when Ronnie had left – in typical Base fashion, he simply disappeared, and nothing more was said. He became a non-person, as if he had never existed. Dave Bloomberg was a big, dynamic Australian. He had been a top moneymaker for the Sea Org in Australia, and had been promoted to Author Services, where he had been Executive Director. I found Dave to be intelligent and likeable, and enjoyed working with him.

We arrived in Clearwater, and met with Miscavige in the West Coast Building on Fort Harrison Avenue. There was a big conference room on the ground floor. He told us that he had a series of drills for us to do. The first was to go into the nearby Flag buildings and sell the new CD series to public Scientologists. We were to report back at the end of the day that we had sold something – he said that anyone who couldn’t sell anything didn’t deserve to be in marketing.

I have never claimed to be a salesman – in fact, I’ve always been lousy at it. I tend to talk too much. I spent the whole afternoon talking to different Scientologists, telling them about the CDs, but with no luck. Finally Dave Bloomberg took pity on me and set me up with someone he knew would buy.

We reported back to the conference room, and I was able to report I had sold something. Anne and Helen hadn’t sold anything. Miscavige immediately said they were offloaded from the Base, and sent them to work in the galley (kitchen) at Flag. I never saw either of them again. He then met with Dan and I over the next few days and we went over future plans for lecture releases. At the end, he looked at me across the conference room table.

"I bet you’re glad I didn’t offload you," he said.

I held his gaze for a second, then just smiled.

The release of the Classic Lectures was that weekend, and Dan and I stayed for the event. I saw a number of things that had to be handled right away on the campaign and called Yael in CMU. She put me on the speaker box, and I started rattling off instructions, rapid fire. Yael told me later that one of the people listening in at her end asked, "who’s that?" Yael said it was me. "That’s Jeff?" they said.

It was true, I was re-energized. I was no longer the shadow that had been moping around CMU. Dan and I fed off each others enthusiasm. On the way back to the Base, we stopped by several of the LA orgs and did inspections of their address lists. We had all kinds of ideas of how to improve the campaign.

When we hit the Base it was like, as I told Dan at the time, a bullet hitting a pool of molasses. Suddenly everything was serious again, everything was impossible, and there were dire consequences for the slightest misstep. I felt all that fire dying.

Cathy was happy to see me, and proud that I had done well. As always, she had faith in me and my ability even when no one else did.

Within a month or so, the sales of the CDs had started to slip, as we went over the bell of the sales curve. Most active Scientologists had purchased at the event or shortly after. It became harder to get new sales. We switched to mail order promotion, sending out a series of three mailings to the active lists. There were only about 200,000 names on the list, which supposedly represented everyone who had ever taken a course or received auditing in Scientology – including beginning courses. It was a small list to begin with, but there were a high percentage of names with unknown addresses, and a lot of names of people "not currently on lines." How many active Scientologists there really were was a matter of conjecture, but I estimated maybe 40,000 or 50,000 max.

The result of the mailings was predictably poor. Once again, I was a "downstat," and it was Ethics Conditions, penalties, investigations, and abuse. Miscavige made it known that he and he alone had created those initial sales with his brilliant event, and now Marketing had dropped the ball by failing to produce any results. Soon I was once again a pariah, a failure.

Miscavige also wanted to produce a comprehensive chart, showing all of Hubbard’s Lectures. I had done a chart when I was first sorting out the lectures in 2001, but he wanted something permanent, something Orgs could display. I did a number of different versions – but nothing was ever right.

I once again became the target of Miscavige’s wrath – and violence. In the midst of a meeting in CMU, he suddenly started slapping me in the face, and knocked me onto the floor. When I got up, I had a cut on my cheek. Miscavige turned to Laurisse Stuckenbrock, his Communicator. "Lou," he said.

She dug in her purse and produced a bottle of antiseptic and daubed it on my cut.

"Do you know why I beat you up?" Miscavige asked me.

"No, Sir," I said.

"To show you who’s in charge," he said.

There were certain staff who were Miscavige’s "pets." One of them was Henning Bendorff, the Art Director Gold. When I first met Henning, he was a quiet Swede, talented and diligent in his work. He designed the big, ornate sets for Miscavige’s events, and was soon in his favor. As his favor with Miscavige grew, his arrogance and ruthlessness seemed to grow as well.

Taking his cue from DM, Bendorff began to get physical with me. He would come up behind me and forcibly shove my face into my computer keyboard. Once he threw me so violently to the floor that my nose began to bleed. I was filth and he was the golden boy – so he could do what he liked with me.

Eventually I was found guilty of crimes – wasting money, neglect of duty – and I was removed from post in disgrace and sent back on the decks. My friend Foster was also on the decks, and the two of us began working on the Berthing Buildings. Yael was also assigned to the same worksite.

The foundations of the Berthing Buildings had been started eight years prior. After the buildings had been redone and fixed many times, they still stood as empty shells. The latest "flap" was that it had been discovered that the floors had not been properly attached to the walls, and it would take millions of dollars to correct. Meanwhile, we cleaned the grounds around them, and worked on some exterior stone masonry.

One afternoon, Matt Butler, "Murphy," the Security Guard, drove up in the Security truck and told Foster and I that we were going to the RPF in Los Angeles. We were being offloaded from the Base.

We weren’t particularly shocked or upset. We weren’t anything. Deck work, RPF, whatever, it was all the same. By this time, Foster and I were just resigned to whatever fate had in store for us. We grabbed a bag of clothes and headed down with Matt. Amazingly, we talked him into stopping at an In-and-Out Burger on the way down as we hadn’t eaten.

We routed in to the RPF in the Big Blue building, and were assigned a bunk bed in a crowded, cluttered dormitory that held about 40 men, floor to ceiling. We were told we had to wear black jeans and a grey T-shirt or sweatshirt at all times, the "uniform" of the RPF. There were about 200 people on the RPF at the time, men and women. We were not allowed phones of course and could speak to no one outside the RPF. We began work in what they called the PAC Mill, a huge furniture shop in the bowels of the Complex. There, hundreds of RPFers worked, making furniture for Scientology organizations. We were assigned to work crews. Foster and I resolved to make the best of the RPF and graduate as soon as we could.

The next day, we were called to the RPF In Charge’s office and he handed us the phone. It was Murphy. "You guys aren’t on the RPF," he said. "You need to report to Pac Base Crew for posting." Foster and I just looked at each other in disbelief. It was probably the shortest RPF stay in history.

PAC Base Crew was the organization that took care of all of the maintenance of Big Blue – mechanical, electrical, construction. They also ran the galley (kitchen) and the motor pool. And they ran the PAC Mill. Foster was assigned to the Mill, I was assigned to Finishing, where they stained, painted and lacquered the finished furniture. That evening after work, Foster and I found ourselves walking the streets of Los Angeles, laughing about the odd turn of events and our sudden relative freedom. It was Christmas.

Jeff in the PAC Mill Finishing area

I learned all about furniture finishing, mastering brush and spray techniques, as well as faux finishes. I also ran a furniture upholstery shop and learned how to do it. My friend Caroline Mustard, now on the RPF, ran a crew in the upholstery shop. Foster, with his computer savvy, took over a new CNC (computer numerical control) router and got it into operation. We lived in a crowded dormitory in the main building.

I wrote to Cathy every week. Sometimes she’d even come down to the PAC Base for events and sales conferences. Whenever she was there, I tried to see her. It was awkward. If we were seen too much together she would get a Knowledge Report. She told me later that she was under constant pressure at the Base to divorce me. But she refused.

In January 2003, the Int Management Public Relations Officer, Jean Michele Wargniez, came down from the Base to the Mill. I knew JM well, but of course had to call him "Sir." He wanted to find out if the Mill could make trophies. They needed a huge trophy shaped like Saint Hill Manor in England, to award to Scientology organizations who had reached "the size of Old Saint Hill." This was an ongoing incentive game for the Orgs. Hubbard had built up the Saint Hill Organization to hundreds of staff in the mid-1960s, so any organization that could expand to that size would get one of these "Saint Hill Size" awards. They had contacted various trophy firms and had been told each trophy would cost $10,000. Foster and I told them we’d make it for a lot less.

Foster used architectural elevations from the Manor itself, and programmed them into the router. Then he etched them onto Formica, the windows, brick texture, everything. Meanwhile I had a team of RPFers modeling things like balustrades, columns and vases. We then assembled all the pieces into an exact scale model of the Manor. The whole model came apart into 30 pieces, and we made rubber molds of each part, then cast each part in resin. I learned a technique called "cold metal casting" where we mixed copper and brass flakes into the resin. We then assembled the resin pieces and polished them up to a high sheen. It looked exactly like a bronze casting of Saint Hill Manor. The model was then mounted on a shiny black base with a plaque. It had taken us seven weeks – including learning how to do it. And we had done it for about $500. I preserved all of the molds and documented exactly how to do it for future trophies.

Our finished project - the Saint Hill Size Trophy

In March I was promoted to Director of Art and Signs, where I designed and manufactured all of the signage for the new Applied Scholastics center in Missouri – on time and under budget.
In April, I was in my office when the door opened, and David Miscavige walked in, with Shelly and Lou. He was on an inspection of Big Blue.

"Jeff, what are you doing here?" he asked.

I tried to explain my promotion to Director of Art and Signs, but it turned out he had no idea I was even in the Complex. I don’t know where he thought I was – or if he even gave it any thought.

But something had been set in motion.

A couple of weeks later, my phone rang. It was Murphy, the Gold Security Guard.

"You’re to take the next van back to Gold," he said.