The Holy Grail
by Michael Priv
"By their own follies they perished, the fools."


Spurred by adrenaline and pure desperation, I slammed through the back emergency door marked DO NOT OPEN, ALARM WILL SOUND. The sound of the alarm tore through the hospital calm with insane intensity. I afforded a quick glance back as I bolted out. Nothing but a couple of oblivious nurses and some medical equipment along the hallway walls. There was no pursuit. Yet.

Momentarily blinded by the sunlight outside, I raced across the parking lot toward the concrete wall, pulled myself up and over and ran across a busy street on the other side. As a lousy runner, I wanted to put as much distance as possible between me and the expected pursuers. I had to assume that the guards, alerted by my absence and the insane hospital door alarm, would chase after me. With my heart clucking somewhere in my throat, I ran into a shoe store across the street and looked back just in time to see one of the guards clearing the wall across the street. He looked around and sprinted to his right along the wall.

I crossed the store in long strides toward the back door, soliciting quizzical looks from a couple of Latino sales girls in attendance. I smiled at them, panting. A long time ago somebody once told me that I had a nice smile. The moment seemed right to try it now. The first door I encountered at the back of the sales area of the store stated DO NOT ENTER in large cheerful letters. I entered. The back door proclaimed once again that the alarm would sound and it did—with now familiar ear-splitting intensity. Another parking lot, another wall. A glance back confirmed that I was not being pursued.

I ran across an overpass bridge, then along a street lined with warehouses and auto repair shops and turned into a grungy alley. Keeping at a brisk clip, I labored to get a full breath into my burning lungs. No time for jubilations just yet. Freedom was too close to take any chances. Several turned corners later, completely out of breath, I ran into a liquor store, ironically named “AA Liquors.”

“Can I use your phone, please?” I wheezed to the middle-aged, hefty, blue-eyed sales lady.

“No,” curt but to the point. “Customers no phone,” she added sternly with a heavy Russian accent.

“That’s okay then,” I replied in Russian with an attempt of a smile which probably came out tortured, “I don’t want to buy anything from you. So I am okay.”

“That completely changes things! I thought you were a customer!” The lady replied in Russian, laughing, “My name is Anna. Sure, use the phone in the back,” she waved her hand vaguely. “Why are you so huffed up? Hey, you want some?” She handed me her bottle of Gatorade which she was drinking from and I downed the remaining half-forgotten chemical sweetness hungrily.

“Thanks, Anna. I am Misha.”

“You're welcome, Misha. Russians must stick together and help each other, right?”

I nodded despite being a Ukrainian. Who wanted to split hairs? Good being a Russian, if you wanted a favor from a chubby, blue-eyed Russian lady by the name Anna.

In the back I discovered a tiny office with a phone on a table cluttered with papers, a bunch of loose change, torn up bags of potato chips and mangled soda cans. With shaking hands and a trembling voice I placed a collect call to my parents in San Francisco.

“Hi mom, it’s me.”


“Me who?”

“Your son, Misha.”

“Do I have a son?” Mom started crying.

“You do! I just ran away.”


“I'm out, mom!”

“How? Where…? Are you okay?”

“I'm okay, fine… How are you and dad?”

“Never mind that, you scoundrel! Are you in any danger? Are these Scientology bastards chasing after you?”

“Bastards? Mom, listen, there is Scientology which is good and then there is a Church of Scientology which is… Never mind. I'm alright. I am in a liquor store in LA, they won’t find me here.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I stirred up some trouble and walked off my post at that secret base in the desert where I’ve worked all these years and they sent me to LA for a special rehabilitation program…”

“They put you in jail?”

“Well, it is not exactly…”

“Shut up, Misha! They threw you in jail and you escaped!”

“Well, pretty much, I suppose.”

“I hate Scientologists!”

“Mom, that’s unfair. The corrupt Church of Scientology is one thing but tens of thousands of Scientologists who…”

“Shut up! Just shut up! Stop this nonsense! Get on a bus and come home!” mother yelled, “Or are you too brainwashed to do at least that?”

“I have no money, not a penny.”


“Okay, hang on, honey!”

Then I heard my mom yelling to my father, “He escaped from that damn prison!” then it sounded as if she dropped the receiver and moved further away from the phone. In a minute my father picked up the phone, “Hey, idiot! How are you?”

“Pretty good, dad, how are you doing?”

“Better than you, for damn sure! Eighteen frigging years you gave them! Eighteen best years! You were twenty-seven when you started! And for what?!”
“Not now, dad, please.”

“Okay, okay. Stay where you are, we are getting somebody to pick you up. What’s the address?”

I read the address to him from some a Geico junk mail envelope.

“Okay, good,” my dad continued having written it down. “Call me back collect in a few minutes.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The line went dead.

“Who are you?” a quiet voice behind me. I turned around and found myself staring into Anna’s blue eyes. How long had she
been standing in that door?

“Who are you?” she asked again, wide-eyed.

Who am I? An interesting question. Who am I? A Ukrainian man? A US citizen? A human being? An animal? A fool? A brainwashed victim of a hateful cult? A holy man? A soldier? A traitor? A hero? A loser? A former member of the Sea Org, the
elite paramilitary management corps of the Church of Scientology? A former translations executive, a member of the International Management of the Church? A convict? A coward? A fugitive?

I looked deep into Anna’s pretty eyes and replied, “I am a Scientologist.”


SAN FRANCISCO, 1987 - 1988
Chapter One

          I parked my sporty Daytona just off Market Street on 7th, near McAllister. Crumpled fast food bags, paper cups and unrecognizable rubbish rolled around in the wind or soared through the air. Homeless folk with their overstuffed shopping carts were busy shaking down hurried passersby for some change.
          Glaring at the nearest bum self-righteously, I dropped a few quarters into the meter, then fished out an empty coke can from my car and pitched it at the homeless man, hitting him on the leg.
          “Hey!” the bum yelled, offended.
          “Hey what?!” I glared. “Lift your ass off of that curb and work! Recycle cans! Do something useful, man! You’ll feel better!”
          “Fuck you!” The bum shuffled off with his cart, muttering. 
          I suddenly felt a rather decisive tug on my sleeve and found myself staring into the dark eyes of an attractive young woman, a raven brunette, slender, Caucasian, simply but tastefully dressed, holding a clip board in her hand. I immediately forgot the lackadaisical derelict whom I was just mentoring.
          “You were rude to that man.” The girl was not pleased, I could tell. I often had this effect on women.
          “My name is Kit. Is this your car?”
          “Yes, it is. You want a ride?”
          The girl ignored the last question. “Nice car. What’s your name?”
          “Michael. Nice to meet you, Kit, but unless you want a ride, you have to talk fast. Got to run. What can I do you for?”
          “Is that a Russian accent I hear?”
          “Yes, it is. What do you want?”
          “My grandparents were from Russia a long time ago, before the war.”
          “Try very hard to omit the blah-blah. I mean it.”
          “Okay. I want you to take the Oxford Capacity Analysis. It is a free personality test. It comes out like this, see? The test shows your strong qualities…” She looked me over dubiously, from my expensive loafers and beat-up but trendy pants to the coffee-stained shirt and old “Members Only” jacket, “…if you have any… and also your weaknesses that you should improve on.” Kit kept pointing her slender index finger with haphazardly trimmed fingernail at various parts of the graph on her clip board.
          “Oxford—is that in England? Personality test? Wild! Hey, I don’t need one. I don’t even have any personality!” Trying to be witty, I was immediately struck with a realization that if she did this all the time, she’d probably heard this line a million times before. 
          “Ha-ha, you don’t have any personality. Funny.” Kit wasn’t laughing. She wasn’t letting go of my sleeve, either. In fact, she grabbed it more comfortably and kind of twisted it to increase traction. It was obvious that in her view of the world there was no room for my “No.” A crazy girl. Such a good-looking girl. Too bad. 
          “Right around the corner is our Church. Come with me!”
          “I'm not into churches, honest! Let me go!”
          “Wait! I bet you don’t get along with hardly anybody! Can you communicate well? Or are you always in trouble? Are you divorced?”
          “I do all right, thank you…” I didn’t, “…and no, I'm not always in trouble!” I pretty much always was. “And no, I'm not divorced.” I was. “Listen, I'm in a hurry now.” That was true, “Daddy got to work. I’ll see you on the way back.” I attempted to peel her fingers off my sleeve now, albeit in vain since I did not want to hurt her.
          “No, you won’t. You lie socially all the time, don’t you? Are you a salesman? Do you work around here?” Kit positively was not going to let go. Barracuda! How did she guess I wasn’t planning on coming back? Not to mention that I was divorced.
          “I'm a construction estimator. See that rat-nest hostel across the street? They want to remodel the place and my company is bidding on it. I have a walk-through with the manager in five minutes.” 
          “Jack? You’ll see him afterwards. I know him, he won’t go anywhere, he’s always there.” Kit was pulling me in earnest now, digging in her heels, extending her butt out, weighing her whole body on my arm, straining and panting with exertion. She blew a stray lock of shiny hair off her forehead. I was swinging her slim body back and forth now, attempting to break her death grip on my jacket. Kit hung on. I was getting annoyed.  
          “Hey, Kit, is this man bothering you?” A hairy tousled bum of indeterminate age eyed me suspiciously. From the corner of my eye I saw two more moving toward us now.
          Just peachy! All I needed was a duel with a vagabond first thing in the morning! Nuts!
          “Okay, I'm coming with you!” I grumbled, a little curious but mainly hoping to shake her off around the corner. “Let go of my jacket!” She didn’t.
          “It’s okay, Douglas, I am fine.” Kit replied to the bum politely, out of breath. “Thank you, Douglas.”
          “Yo, Dougy, you worthless fleabag, go hit St. Vincent de Paul for a doughnut and coffee or something!”
          “Knock off insulting these people immediately!” Kit glared at me angrily now but still wouldn’t let go. “You know what? Don’t talk at all! Just walk!” she ordered. We started walking. Am I being abducted by a 100-pound pretty girl? I wish! Nah. Not with my luck.  I sighed and kept walking.
          To be honest, I felt guilty for belittling Douglas in front of everybody, as the poor bum was just trying to help Kit. Their fault! First they made me angry, then they wanted me to be courteous! Screw them!
          In silence we turned the corner onto McAllister—Kit still dragging me by the sleeve—and ended up in front of a huge glass entrance with a sign CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY above it and a funny looking spiky cross next to it, kind of like a cactus.
          “Oh, is this like Christian Science? Jesus and all that?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t. I really was not into Jesus. I had no idea what Christian Science was all about and did not want to find out.
          “No, this is Scientology, it is very different from Christianity.”
          “Oh, good!”
          We stepped inside. The place struck me as old and unkempt but busy. With no cross or any religious décor of any kind that I could immediately discern, the place looked nothing like a church. The setting resembled an office, a busy, even if shoddy, place of business. About a dozen people at the desks were talking to each other or on the phones, some were walking by purposefully, some of them carrying fat folders or books. I glimpsed a book store to my right and a marble stairway to my left. Nobody was laughing or crying uncontrollably, arguing with themselves or exhibiting any other obvious outward signs of insanity.
          A burly, bearded guy sporting a tiny braid on the back of his balding skull, walked by waving “Hi!” and smiling into his neatly trimmed beard. He then turned onto the grand stairway and walked up and out of sight.
          “We’ll get you set up for your test right here, Michael, follow me.”
          “I'm done following you, got to run.” I yanked my sleeve out of her grip and walked to the door. Suddenly there was another lady in front of me. In her thirties, pleasant and chubby, she was relaxed in a homey kind of way. Kit took position next to her, small fists on her hips, glaring at me accusingly. The older woman stuck her open hand up and out so it hovered somewhere in the vicinity of my upper chest, smiled nicely and said, “Hi, I am Linda, and you are Michael? Did I overhear correctly?”
          “Yes, I am Michael,” I ignored her awkward attempt at a handshake, “And I'm in a hurry. Let me out! Now!”
          “Nobody is keeping you here,” Linda replied with her nice smile standing squarely in the door with Kit on her left. I squeezed around her on the right, fuming now.
          “What you are doing is illegal! You can’t drag people into your church and then keep them here!” I blurted over my shoulder on the way out.
          “Why not? And what laws did we break?” Linda asked calmly.
          “Did I twist your arm or torture you?” Kit asked angrily. I lost my resolve and fumbled in the door.
          “Kit is about half your size.” Linda chimed in. “Do you think she had nothing better to do this morning? Do you think you were so nice to talk to? We just wanted to help you.”
          I whirled around. “I didn’t ask for your help! You are all nuts! Leave me alone!” I jumped out and marched toward the hostel, glancing back frequently to make sure nobody was following me. “Half my size, my ass! Barracudas! Both of them!” I walked a few more steps and stopped. Kit stood up to me for the homeless people. She did. That was honorable. And honestly, she was about half my size. The hostel bid could go to hell. The job would be awarded to the lowest bidder--that wouldn’t be us. Catering predominantly to higher- end residential customers, our company could never be the lowest bidder on a flea-infested hostel. This simply was not our venue.
          Damn! I turned around cussing under my breath in two languages and strolled back to their weird “church.”
I ran into Kit as she was walking out with her clipboard to drag in the next victim, no doubt. She stared straight into my eyes tight lipped. “Yes?” she asked.
          “Er… Kit, I just wanted to apologize. I’ll take your test.”
          “I forgive you! Come!” Kit smiled and grabbed me by the sleeve again. What is wrong with this woman?
          We ran into the burly man with a tiny braid at the door. He introduced himself as Robert, Kit’s senior. I confessed that I was rude to the girls.
          “Don’t worry, man,” Robert waved me off dismissively, “They’re used to that.”
          Their Oxford Personality Test consisted of 200 questions and took me about two hours. It was a multiple choice test with YES, MAYBE and NO for every question. When I was done, Kit evaluated the results for me in her usual subtle way.
          “Michael, bad news. You are nervous, unhappy, unstable, totally irresponsible, you do not appreciate others, can’t communicate worth a dime, don’t get along with anybody, do not really like anybody and nobody likes you. Are you married?”
          “Divorced.” I mumbled, shocked.
          “Doesn’t surprise me. Any pets?”
          “Your fish hate you, Michael. Everybody hates you. You are simply not a likable guy. You are cold, unforgiving and calculating. With all that and being completely irresponsible, you are also very aggressive. That makes you a potential murderer.”
          What?! A murderer now? Well! Rage whaled mightily inside my chest. Ever since I laid my eyes on this woman I had nothing but trouble and insults. Enough!
          “Who is totally irresponsible? Me? I keep three dozen people working! I am on the prowl all over the Bay Area six-seven days a week keeping the company going! I AM responsible!”
          “Oh, yeah?” Kit answered looking bored, “What time is it?”  
          “Eleven, why?”
          “If you are so responsible, what are you doing here at eleven in the morning? Shouldn’t you be working? I thought you had a 9AM appointment to bid on a job. What happened to that?”
          Breath caught in my chest. A few tortured squeaks escaped my constricted throat. Overwhelmed with pure, red-hot rage I would have to admit that murder did seem like a sweet alternative at the moment. I bolted away from Kit’s desk looking for a manager, whom I’d either murder or complain to in no uncertain terms—whichever worked.
          I scooted around the place for a while in search of a manager, getting strange looks from the locals. Robert saw me all bent out of shape and came over.
          “Keep your bitch on a short leash, Bob!” I yelled, “She is dangerous! I want to file a formal complaint! Where is the damn manager?”
          “Very sorry, Michael, this is a Church. There is no manager here. Listen, I can’t have you running around disrupting work and upsetting people. Let’s talk at my desk.”
          “No more talking!”
          I ran out of their crazy church and slammed the door. Humiliating! What conceit! Calling ME irresponsible?!
          Rage, heavy and palpable, enveloped me, weighing me down like a chain mail frock. My boss at JDS Construction was very upset with me. His reprimand for missing the hostel walk-through proved to be an utter failure as an attempt to improve my outlook on life. I was so distraught by the personality test outcome that I could hardly sleep that night, holding lengthy debates with Kit about all my significant and numerous virtues all night long in my mind. My asthma kicked in a couple of times through the night too, because of stress. Should just sue the bastards! I called in sick at 8AM the next morning and drove to San Francisco to strangle the what’s-her-name.
          Kit was sitting at her desk writing something. Without any preamble I yelled, “Kit, you miserable little bitch! I hate you and your test! Where do you get off calling me a murderer? I'm better than all of you shitheads put together and I… I…I…!”
          “Michael!!” Kit suddenly yelled then lowered her voice. “Sit down! We have to do something about your responsibility level NOW! Or you will DIE!”
          I froze in my tracks and sat down, bewildered. Nobody had ever talked to me that way. Kit immediately pushed a piece of paper and a pen in my direction and told me to read and sign. I glanced it over. A legal waiver of some sort, talking about Dianetics spiritual counseling or something, which I was accepting of my own volition (ha!) and did not hold the Church liable… blah-blah-blah. I probably shouldn’t sign, I thought, should just bolt through that door and run!
          I signed.  
          “What’s Dianetics?”    
          “A method of handling harmful incidents from your past that affect you now. Your auditor will explain better.”
          “What’s an auditor?” I asked, confused.
          “The person trained in the application of Dianetics.”
          Kind of like a psychoanalyst, I figured. A shrink of sorts. Here?
          Kit continued, “You will receive a free introductory session right now. Today you’ll improve on some of the points we went over yesterday.” She seemed certain of that. What a nut. “Let’s go meet your auditor. His name is Barry.”
          We walked through the book store, filled with excessively colorful, gaudy books and tape binders, into a large office. Several people surrounded a desk of an important looking woman. Walking through the busy hum, we passed more beat-up desks, book shelves, ringing phones and fat folders. One of the desks was occupied by a mouse of a man who turned out to be my auditor. Barry was about thirty-five or forty, small, bespectacled, grayish and balding. His scrawny unkempt goatee was threatening to take over his entire face. Barry wore a grayish crumpled jacket over some old wrinkled shirt. His shapeless khaki pants and cheap half-dead sneakers completed the picture.  
          “This is Michael,” said Kit with distaste—or did it just sound that way? “Michael, meet Barry, your auditor.”
Was it too late to run? “Nicetomeechu,” I mumbled unconvincingly. Barry’s broad smile illuminated the shoddy office. Shaking my hand, he stared straight into my eyes. Barry’s hand was firm and dry. He suddenly did not look like a mouse, but he didn’t look like a psycho-therapist, either. Except for his open stare and a firm handshake, he looked kind of like a minimum-wage mail clerk in the back room of some mail-order company.
          Barry ushered me into a small, rundown room on the 2nd floor with a table, a bookshelf and two chairs. Chirpy morning sun, filtered through a large and very dirty window on the back wall, illuminated innumerable dust particles, as well as a tiny straw basket filled with all kinds of small bric-a-brac in the middle of the table and some books on the shelf next to it.   
          Barry asked me to sit down on a chair facing the door with my back against the window and took the opposite chair. It didn’t escape my attention that Barry had now positioned himself between me and the entrance door. What’s wrong with these people? Control freaks. Was it too late to make a break? I knew that I could take Barry out any time if need be—what with my brainless aggressiveness and all.
          I stayed.

Chapter Two

          Barry had my folder with him. I didn’t even know I had a folder. A dossier on me? So soon? Freaks. He opened the folder and there it was: my personality graph, the shameful testimony to my low responsibility as well as to my murderous and maniacal nature.
          “Yeah…” he uttered significantly after studying the incriminating graph for a minute. “I see.” He added and smiled at me through his glasses.
          “What do you see, Barry?” I was annoyed. “You are not telling me I am a basket case, are you? I’ve about had it with your church here.”
          “I am sorry you feel annoyed, Michael,” Barry remained totally calm. What are the odds of that? “You wanna tell me about it?”
          “Tell you about what? You mean why I’ve had it with your church?”
          “Yes, that.”
          “Oh, that! Sure! In no uncertain terms.”
          “Thank you. Close your eyes please for better concentration. Go to the first moment of the upsetting incident. Are you there?”
          “You mean when Kit pulled on my sleeve?”
          “If that was the first moment of upset. Was it?”
          “No. I guess the real upset started when she wouldn’t let go of my jacket.”
          “Great! What do you see?”
          “Your crazy Kit bitch yapping her mouth, that’s what!”
          “Thank you. Can you kind of hear her voice in your mind?”
          “No. But I know what she said. She said ‘Are you divorced? Don’t you have any friends? Are you usually in trouble?’”
          “Great. Continue.”
          I didn’t really want to tell him much but for some compelling reason I closed my eyes and told him anyway—the entire ordeal from Kit’s death grip on my jacket to him studying my humiliating profile in front of me. I finished my story feeling really worked up all over again. Barry listened silently, just prodding me along a bit and paying close attention.
          “Thank you very much.” Barry said when I finished. “Go back to the very beginning and go through this again. See if you can find some additional details, such as sights and sounds around you, your body position, your thoughts and decisions. Okay? Move to the beginning of the incident and go through it.”
          “What about a frigging analysis? Aren’t you supposed to analyze something for me? Get it explained by phallic symbols and get it all tied in to my sexual insecurities or something?”
          “We do not do that here. Evaluation of any information from you and any analysis are not a part of this technology. Evaluations are actually prohibited, we find them very harmful. So there won’t be any of that. Please move to the beginning of the incident and go through it again.”
          “Well, okay,” I agreed and reluctantly told him the entire story again. And again. I was getting into it, re-living the incident in my mind. After about the fifth time I was no longer really angry, I was just bored with the whole thing and refused to continue. Barry convinced me to do it anyway, just one more time.
          “Make sure you get all the data from this, all the sights, sounds, tactile perception, contact the exact moment of any shock in detail.”
          I went through it again, annoyed that I was made to keep recounting the damn incident.
          “Thank you. Go back to the beginning now and run through it one more time.”
          “No! Fuck you!” I jumped to my feet and swirled around the table toward the door. I had had enough of this bullshit! Wasted half a day! I knew Barry couldn’t stop me. He was too small and mousy and he was an American. I wasn’t. Having grown up as a Jew in the urban jungle in the Soviet days, my affliction with American civilities was purely superficial.                                Expecting some meek resistance, I was ready to shove Barry out of the way, when I was suddenly and inexplicably stopped dead in my tracks by his hand on my shoulder, his calm and friendly expression and his firm, “Sit down in that chair.” Obviously, something went very wrong with my exit strategy. What the hell is this? I thought, bewildered. I just didn’t feel like leaving. I clearly understood that he was helping me—free of charge, mind you, and my antics were simply undesirable. My resolve waned. Didn’t I actually want to leave? Or did I? What the fuck..?
          “Would be a pity to rearrange your face—what, with the glasses and all.” I grumbled, returning back to my chair.
          “Thank you very much for not rearranging my face. Much appreciated. Now please return to the beginning and go over the incident one more time.”
          I did, reluctantly.    
          “Thank you,” Barry acknowledged pleasantly when I was done. “Is there an earlier similar incident?”
          “No! I was never dragged into any damn church before and there is definitely no girl similar to Kit—at least not on this planet, that’s for sure!”
          ”Okay. Let’s just take a look. Is there an earlier similar incident?”
          “What do you call similar, Barry? What am I supposed to remember?”
          “Just whatever you’d call an earlier similar incident. Just take a look. Something earlier that feels similar to you.”
          I thought about it. “Nothing at all.” I finally replied. “I mean, of course, I grew up in the USSR and their methods of control are only slightly milder than yours so I had tons of upsets there.”
          “Got it. Tell me one of those upsets that was similar.”
          “There were lots and lots, all the time.”
          “Could you isolate one for me?”
          “Well, okay, for example, I remember when I didn’t want to participate in a May Day parade, you know May 1st, but they made me anyway. I had to carry some stupid sign. It read something like, “Lenin and the Party are One and the Same”. Who gives a shit about Lenin and the Party? And what does it even mean? Morons. I hated it.”
          “I understand. So what happened there?”
          I told him the incident and then went over it several times. My annoyance morphed into boredom. I should have run the hell out of here when I had a chance, I thought to myself dejectedly as I kept chewing on the stupid incident, no longer angry. What difference could this recounting possibly make? I did notice, however, that my anger evaporated, replaced with boredom, albeit tainted with irritation. The edge was gone. I had to admit that it was an improvement in the way I felt about the whole thing.
          “Is there an earlier similar incident?” Barry inquired pleasantly.
          “Yeah. I told you, I have a ton of these. USSR was great for earlier similar incidents.”
          “Okay, tell me one that was earlier, as early as possible.”
          “I don’t know, it is just a mess, they are all stuck together, the whole life was fucked. Enough of this already!”
          “I’ll repeat,” Barry replied, unruffled and firm, “Find an earlier similar incident.”
         Miraculously, one popped into my head. “Yes, okay, I remember one.”
         “Good. Tell me what happened from the beginning.”
         “My dad made me eat cream of wheat. I must have been about two, I can see it now. Bastard! He squeezed me between his knees and force-fed me with a spoon! God-awful stuff. I hated cream of wheat! Where the hell was my mom? People ought to get sued for these things! Neglect, endangerment…”
         “Thanks, I get it. What color is the table cloth?”
         “No idea. Who cares about the damn table cloth?”
         “Alright. What do you see?”
         “My father’s shirt sleeve right in front of my face and I feel his hand holding my head like so!” I grabbed my own head to illustrate. I could actually feel pressure of my dad’s fingers on my skull.
         “Very good. Do you see your father’s face?”
         “No, you idiot! God damn it! I just said that I was facing the table! Where were you?”
         “Alright. I understand now that you were facing the table. Good! Please continue.”
         And so it went. Barry ran me through it several times until all the anger and even boredom were gone and I felt vaguely amused by the incident.
         “Go back to the beginning and go through it one more time, picking up any additional details. Can you contact your father’s voice?”
         What happened on my next recounting could only be referred to as “miraculous.” The upset suddenly blew, bringing me relief that felt truly palpable. Some tangible weight, which was there for so long that I stopped noticing it a long time ago, had lifted off my shoulders and was gone like a puff of smoke. Boy, did I suddenly feel relieved! I opened my eyes. The ugly room seemed brighter. A volcano of delicious and refreshing laughter erupted from inside of me. Being forcibly fed seemed funnier than a Groucho Marx movie. “...and father says… ha-ha… yeah, but she said you eat it all so… ha-ha… so you eat it all... ha-ha-ha!” I was doubling up in laughter, out of breath, tears in my eyes. Barry joined me.
          “Well, great,” he said when we were done laughing. “How do you feel about being dragged in here kicking and screaming?”
          “That’s quite alright. Much appreciate you guys trying to help me. Kit is a bulldog of course but kind of cute… like a pug!” I laughed again.
         “And how do you feel about your life in the Soviet Union—the over-controlling aspect of it?”
         “I don’t hate them anymore. I met a lot of very good people there, as I was growing up. Come to think of it, I feel a little uneasy that I just ran away and left them all. I probably should’ve helped in some way, at least tried. What the hell was all that about?”
         “That was Dianetics. Cool, hah? Glad we got that upset out of the way and you realized something important because your profile needs some work, man. We will start immediately. Today you will improve something. Any questions?”
          Now I vaguely believed that we would be able to immediately, today, improve something in my life. I felt I had already achieved something truly valuable and we just barely started! In fact, I knew I just gained a profound insight into my birth place and my… what? Responsibility? Damn! What was this Dianetics that I unwittingly stumbled upon?    
          “What is Dianetics?” I asked, interested now.
          “’Dia’ is “through” and ‘noos’ is “mind.” That can be loosely translated from Greek as ‘through the mind’ or ‘what mind is doing to the body’. Here, look.”
          On the desk in front of me Barry lined up several bolts, nuts, an eraser, a pebble and a binder clip—all fished out from the straw container.
          “These are all the similar incidents in your mind. They form a chain. See, this one is the closest to present time while these go further and further back. And they are all similar in some way. That is how they are all on the same chain. See?”
          I saw.
          “If you go earlier and earlier on the same chain—I mean unless you jump chains—you will eventually either what we call ‘key out’ the chain or erase it. We reached a key-out on the chain we were working on, which means we tapped into it, bled it out somewhat and disconnected it or turned it off. It will most likely return to haunt you but not nearly as strong. Maybe half as strong or even less than half. To erase a chain completely we’d have to get to the very first incident that started the chain, see? Like a foundation for the chain, or a root. The first incident would actually erase, it would seem to vanish, bringing you a huge relief. You’d still remember it happening but all the upsetting details would seem to have vanished. With the first incident gone, we call it ‘basic’ on the chain, all the later incidents lose their strength and the whole problem or unwanted condition ceases to exist forever.”
          “But how do you know we hadn’t hit the basic incident on this chain that I remembered?”
          “Ah! Good question. Because at the bottom of every chain is a moment of physical pain and full or partial unconsciousness. Always. Such incidents are called ‘engrams.’ Basics are always engrams. In other words, at the bottom of all the upsets are engrams. Your dad feeding you was not anywhere near painful enough to create an engram. Was it? Did you go unconscious?”
          “No, it wasn’t painful. So pain and unconsciousness from the past is the cause of all the upsets?”
          “Exactly and not just upsets but all kinds of illnesses and irrational or self-destructive behavior, too.”   
          “Well, let’s take upsets for now. So if my wife runs off with the milkman, and I get upset, how is that based on earlier physical pain and unconsciousness? Nonsense.”
          “If the relevant engram chains were erased or keyed out, you’d feel sad and angry for a short bit and then started remembering good times with your wife. You’d probably realize something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I have my nice memories of her being truly mine to cherish forever. But since she betrayed me, she became an enemy and so I’d probably be better off without her in my life at this point anyway.’ It may have actually been a stroke of luck that that idiot yanked her out of your life. You’d also see all kinds of happy implications of your new freedom and you’d no longer be upset.”     
          “So did Ron Hubbard invent all this baloney?”
          Barry remained unperturbed. “Nobody invented anything. These are your engrams and upsets. Ron Hubbard had his own. He was the first one to describe and isolate the phenomenon and to develop a therapy, that’s all.”
          “Sounds bogus, you know?”
“Does it? How did it feel to key out a chain?”
“Well, it felt awesome but it is still all bogus. For example, how could an incident vanish? Is this what’s called ‘brainwashing’?”
          Barry was as relaxed and interested as ever, smiling at me amicably and ignoring jabs. “I think they first started using that word in the Korean War when the enemy would beat and torture our guys into making statements against the US—or some such crap. Is that similar to what we were doing just now?”
         “Did anybody torture you or dictate or even hint in any way what you should feel or say?”
         “Right. What we are dealing with in Dianetics is simply the mechanism of the mind. Nobody invented it, it’s always been there. It’s all mechanical. You don’t get all loused up because at the age of two you saw your mother’s vagina or because you envied your father’s penis. That is all strictly a pile of horse shit. You get loused up only by moments of physical pain and partial or full unconsciousness in your past. That’s just what it is and how it works.”
         “What if somebody didn’t have any accidents or surgeries?”
          “Were they ever born? Because if they were, they’d have at least one very painful incident right there. Actually a cluster of very painful incidents. But in reality they have hundreds or thousands of them, besides birth, including childhood illnesses, high fever, accidents and all that. And you know, that is all on top of hundreds of prenatal painful incidents. That’s in your mom’s belly.”
“Hell, no! No way!” I glared at Barry. “You don’t expect me to believe that a fetus can think, do you?”
“Yep. Not really think but the engrams are all there and you will find them down to every word, sloshing sound and bed squeak, you just wait.”
          “No way! Hundreds of them after birth or before birth?”
“Both,” Barry replied, adjusting his glasses and smiling at me most patronizingly. 
“But I can only remember three or four now, like a tonsillectomy, appendectomy, a couple of accidents and that’s about it.”
 “You can’t remember pain but it is there. It never leaves, it just buries itself. There is a portion of the mind called the reactive mind. It is different from your normal, analytical mind. Reactive mind is the collection of all the pictures, sounds and other perceptions that comprise your engrams, it is like an animal mind, all stimulus-response. The bell goes ding-ding, you start salivating—that kind of a thing. Kit grabbed you by the sleeve, you got pissed. The engram was brought to life in your present environment by Kit in this case, you started doing and feeling things in accordance to that engram. It colors how you see things, how you feel and how you respond.”
          “But I don’t remember the engrams and don’t realize what’s happening. So I don’t know why I am doing things, right?”
          “Exactly. If you can’t explain some of your thoughts or actions, you’ll immediately invent some more or less plausible explanations, something handy at the moment but it’d always be totally wrong. For example, you feel angry and so figure that’s because you suspect your wife cheating on you and act accordingly. Actually, your anger has nothing at all to do with your wife. You just have a restimulated engram and can expect all kinds of manifestations, starting with nervousness and including acute and chronic pains, maladies, suicidal thoughts and irrational hates and fears. You never remember engrams.”
          “Never? I remember my surgery.” I always hated broad generalizations.
          “Never-ever. Let’s take your surgery. You analytically remember that you had your appendix removed, let’s say, but the entire period under anesthesia is a complete blank. But all of it is right there in your reactive mind from the beginning to the end, including every word of the doctors and nurses present. The words act as hypnotic commands. Memory is a function of the analytical mind. Pain and unconsciousness are recorded in the reactive mind. All we are doing in Dianetics is dragging material from your reactive mind into your analytical mind where it gets instantaneously analyzed and filed chronologically in line with all the other memories. If it is too insignificant to bother with, you may not even remember the details but it is there and you could find it again. That’s what an erasure is. It is just a complete refilling of an incident. I mean, can you tell me what you had for breakfast on May 21st of 1969?”
          Of course, I couldn’t.
          “See? It is all there and could be found but it is just too insignificant.”
          Holly shit! I was stunned by the implications of the things I just heard. If that were true…
          “What about illnesses?” I asked eagerly now, “Sometimes doctors can’t explain some medical condition, you know?”
          “Engrams. Actually, doctors can’t explain or cure over seventy percent of illnesses. Have you ever heard of anybody ever getting cured of arthritis, for example? Or bursitis? Or asthma? Or even hay fever?”
          “So you cure people here?”
          “Sh-h-h. In this day and age you mustn’t cure people unless you have a medical license. It is strictly forbidden. You go to jail for curing people without a license or even for talking about it! So, as a Church, we deal with the mental and spiritual matters, we don’t cure bodies. Bodies simply get well on their own as a side-effect of the application of our technology.”
          “Nice. You know, I have asthma pretty bad sometimes.” I pulled out my two inhalers as the evidence. “Can you cure asthma?”
          “Didn’t I just say that we don’t cure…?”
          “Yeah, yeah, I got it. Let’s stay focused.”
          “But you understand, Michael, we are not a hospital? We are a Church.”
          “Bullshit! What God do you worship here?”
          “We don’t worship any God.”
          “So you can call yourselves a ‘Millennium Falcon’ or anything else, if you want. I don’t care. Let’s get going!”
          “I just don’t want you to turn around and try to sue us. You signed a paper, by the way. Did you read the waiver?”
          I didn’t. “I will hurt you, man, I swear. You are beginning to piss me off.”
          “An upset? Great! Close your eyes and go back to the beginning of the incident…” he started laughing.
          “Listen, I really want my asthma gone. Let’s do it!”
          “Well okay, man! Close your eyes. Let’s remember your most recent asthma attack. Tell me what happened.”
          To make a long story short, I came out of that session some five hours later with no asthma. I thought it might come back next day or in a week or two at best but it has never returned in any appreciable force. I had experienced some minor asthma discomforts over the ensuing years, until it was completely eradicated in further auditing, but I never had to use an inhaler since June 1987. And yes, Barry and I uncovered an engram that keyed out the asthma chain, the tonsillectomy and struggling for a breath, while the doctors did their best to prevent that breath from occurring. The funny thing was that the nurse kept saying, “He can’t breathe! He can’t breathe!” I felt noticeably better after I repeated those words a few dozen times as a part of the procedure. I was three years old at the time of the surgery. How did I manage to remember things that far back with such clarity? Dianetics had its tools, as I found out, very simple ones.   
          That was the absolutely stunning and incredible result of my first, free demonstration session at the Church of Scientology. When I finally came out—tired and starving but very happy—and ran into Kit, I immediately scooped her up in an attempt to kiss her on the cheek. She pushed me away, laughing, “I know who just had a great session! Congratulations!”
          “Michael, can I see you for a sec?” Robert waved at me from his desk. I came over.
          “Well done on your session, but you can’t be groping girls around here. It is a Church. Okay?”  His calm half-smile did not totally jive with his words. Kit was fully capable of taking care of herself and then some. And why were they always calmly half-smiling around here and why did they always stare into your eyes? Trying to intimidate? The Alpha dog routine?”
         Dogs are cool. I liked dogs.
         I stayed.

Chapter Three

           After I bought the book Dianetics: Modern Science of Mental Health at the church bookstore, I was told to come back the next day and see Linda who’d explain my next step.
          “How much is more of this auditing?” I asked Linda next day.
          “It is only $180 for a 12.5-hour block. But that is not what you want to do next.”
         “No. Here is what you want to do next,” with a flourish, Linda presented me with a Purification Program picture book and explained the program to me verbally. Purification Program was described in the book in visual images and simple terms, accessible to five-year olds or even to people outside of this church—to all the dingbats and imbeciles out there. I didn’t bother looking through that picture book. Not being a complete moron, I got the concept from Linda’s brief explanation. What was there not to get?
         Most of the toxins and radioactively affected cells accumulate in the fatty tissues of the body because of the low blood circulation in those tissues. These toxins are slowly released into the blood stream, poisoning the body and restimulating (bringing back to life) engrams. A lot of engrams are associated with toxins, such as anesthesia, drugs, x-rays and alcohol. Engrams manifested themselves, first of all, by aches and pains but also by sluggish thinking, depressions and irrational angers and fears. All those things stood in the way of auditing. The Program was designed to remove the toxins from the body, thus clearing the way to faster and more effective auditing. The Program consisted of a special vitamin regimen to dislodge the toxins followed by thirty minutes of jogging and 4.5 hours of sweating in the sauna daily to flush them out. The vitamin regimen contained niacin, the B3 vitamin, as its pivotal element. Ron Hubbard apparently discovered in the 60’s that B3 would damage and dislodge fat cells, starting with those that were already damaged, thus flooding the toxins into the blood stream, so they could then be effectively sweated out. Vitamin regimen also included good oils to replace bad fat.
All this data may or may not have been true, but after my session with Barry the other day I tended to take it seriously. 
         With a $1500 price tag, the Program was within my reach. Linda, however, promptly offered me a 50% discount anyway. I signed up for the Purification Program, but since I worked full time and did not have five hours a day to do it, Linda worked out a three-hour schedule for me. At five hours a day the Program would normally take two-three weeks but I could expect it to take longer at only three hours per day.
         “How would you know when I am done?” I asked her. “What if I am done in one week? How could you tell?”
         “We are not the ones to tell,” she replied smugly. “You are. You are done when you tell your Case Supervisor and he checks out the indicators and confirms.”
         “Who the hell is that Case Supervisor now? You have auditors and this and that. And who are you? What do you do?”
         “I'm the Registrar,” Linda announced as if she were the Keeper of the Royal Slippers—at the very least. “I sign people up for services.”
         “You are a salesman then?”
         “Do I look like a salesman, hm-m?” she asked throatily and puckered her red lips.
         “I meant a salesperson, of course, not a sales man as in the male gender, ha-ha! I know what females look like. They have tits! I can tell the difference.”
         “Good for you, Michael! And to answer your question, yes, I am the sales person.”
         “Then you shouldn’t have given me a half off right away, you numbhead! I would’ve paid the full price.”
         “Well, I guess I'm not a very good sales person. I just want people to sign up because I want to help them.”
         “You what? That is totally unprofessional! Grow up! Alright, relax, papa will later teach you good salesmanship, starting with price gauging and deceiving, then we’ll touch upon arm twisting techniques, blackmailing, extortion and then graduate into throat cutting.”
         “Thank you, Michael, looking forward to that. Meanwhile, I want you to start tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. as we worked out, okay? Bring exercise clothing with you.”
         “Okay, Linda.”
         That night I started reading the book Dianetics. L. Ron Hubbard, or LRH as he was always referred to, called Dianetics an adventure and expressed his hope that the reader would never be the same again. After the first 50 pages I saw the point. I realized a few things that night, such as why Barry and the guys at the church seemed so difficult to throw off or upset. They did not seem to grab onto or respond to any jabs, open insults or even violence, really. Why? They knew those were your engrams talking and were simply not interested in letting their engrams fight with yours. As I found out later, most of them were actually Clear, which meant they no longer even had any engrams and so they were particularly not interested in talking to yours.
         I also understood the underlying reason for the very existence of the mechanism of the reactive mind. That reason was SURVIVAL. On the cellular level, an organism considers the past moments of pain and unconsciousness as extremely valuable for survival. Since the organism survived through such terrible danger once, then it would only have to approximate the same actions, thoughts, words, attitudes and everything else to survive again through similar moments in the future as they present themselves. Any verbal content of an engram was then enacted as absolute commands, along with any emotional content, pain and other perceptions. There is no analytical sense or reason in the way engram commands work. If you had a surgery and somebody said that they hated Mexicans, then later, if and when the engram was restimulated, you hated Mexicans. As idiotic as that. No analytical reasoning. You would have to quickly invent the reason you hated Mexicans, just as an example, to explain your odd attitudes.      
         If this were even partially true, wouldn’t Dianetics create fascinating new possibilities for sanity among humans? Could crime be curbed down that way? Wars?
         I showed up next day on time with my sports bag slung over my shoulder. Wendy, the Purification Program In-Charge (or as they called it ‘Purif I/C’) greeted me and showed me the sauna. Wendy with her wild hair and contagious laughter was an easy going, fat lady of about forty. She assigned me a buddy, a gaunt, tall and unsmiling middle aged man by the name Chuck, short for Charles. I called him Charles—long for Chuck.
         Wendy’s briefing indeed was brief. “You guys are buddies now, fully responsible for getting each other through the program. If any problems arise with your buddy at any time during the program, let me know. Okay, Chuck?”
         If Charles betrayed the fact that he had heard her speak with any, even most imperceptible, body movement or a nod, I must have missed it.
         “Okay, Michael?”
         “I guess so. Does Charles ever talk?” I asked Wendy.
         “I don’t think so, but you are welcome to ask him. You may have to tickle him, though.”
         “Charles, speak!” I poked him in the shoulder. He shrunk back silently.
         “What the fuck, man?” I pressed on.          
         “Change in the bathroom,” Charles suddenly responded.
         I glanced at Wendy. She gave me thumbs up with a happy smile.
         Upon my return from the bathroom, Wendy handed me a handful of vitamins and a glass of water. Then Charles and I jogged for half an hour to the City Hall, around the square and back to the church.
           The sauna had hot stones that were sprayed with eucalyptus every ones in a while. There were six people in the sauna, two of them middle age women.
          Sweating in the sauna has always been one of my least favorite activities, second only to a good, solid kick in the head. It is way too hot in a sauna, so you keep sweating and dripping, you can’t read or get comfortable. A significant reduction of the temperature would defeat the purpose of having a sauna, which leaves nothing else to do but suffer. With a sigh, I laid down on the bottom bench and braced for a lengthy feat of suffering. Having suffered that way for about fifteen minutes with my jaw set hard in resolve, I turned on my other side, groaning, and asked Charles if it was time to cool off. He silently got up, hardly even sweating, took one look at me and motioned for me to follow him.
          When we came out into a much more humanly acceptable anteroom, Charles pointed at the mirror. One word escaped his tightly clinched jaws, “Niacin.” I looked unnaturally red in the mirror, except for a white band around my wrist. “Sunburn,” Charles dropped in my direction on his way to the shower. I had a full blown niacin rush in the locations of some old sunburns. My body started itching, I felt weak and kind of nauseated.
          “Wendy, I am dying. Look at me. It’s all your fault.” I announced sadly to the Purif I/C.
          “Just a niacin rush, dude, don’t worry,” she answered from her desk, not even bothering to get up or look. “Take a cool shower and get back into the sauna. The more you sweat, the faster you get through it. It is nothing to wallow in. Just get it done.”
          Charles came out of the shower, so I stepped in and cooled off a bit. I felt like hell.
          The sauna occupants were still there, suffering silently, smearing sweat all over themselves and drinking water from gallon jags. I looked at my watch, it was exactly fifty-two minutes into the program, including running. The nausea was getting worse. I would gladly quit and not even ask for my money back if they’d just let me go, but I knew they wouldn’t.
          The first couple of days in the sauna were very unpleasant but uneventful, consisting of itching and burning of niacin flashes, followed by quiet suffering in the heat, punctuated by regular cooling breaks.
The third day was hell. Toward the middle of it I became increasingly lost in a delirious stupor of sorts.
          I felt truly terrible next day, half-unconscious and sick. My head started to ache, too.
          The next day in the sauna was only marginally better until almost the very end. Charles and the guys were asking me something incomprehensible which I continuously ignored, being almost dead on my bench. Charles dragged me out every fifteen-twenty minutes to cool off. Toward the end of the day my head suddenly cleared and I felt pretty good, actually. I woke up feeling rather refreshed and cheery. Nothing hurt. Even the heat did not bother me. I set up and looked around.
          “Welcome back!” One of the ladies, Marlene, greeted me. “I know how it is. I hate anesthetics coming out.”
          Oh, that’s what it was! Anesthetics. Made sense.
         About a week later Charles had a full-blown LSD trip. LSD, d-lysergic acid diethylamide, the psychiatrists’ gift to mankind, is a derivative from a substance produced by fungus growth on rye. Charles suddenly became anxious and agitated—an unlikely pattern of behavior for Charles, to be sure—started pacing, gulped some water hungrily and asked me with a cheery smirk if I ever noticed the beautiful orange hue of the cider wood that the sauna was built with. Then he looked at me and touched my ear with a totally uncharacteristic “Wow!” Something was very wrong. I dragged him out of the sauna.
          Having questioned Charles about his condition, Wendy informed me that he had an LSD trip. Apparently that was bound to happen sooner or later, since he had taken LSD in the past.  I wished somebody had warned me. LSD crystals apparently get lodged in the fatty tissues right next to all the other garbage. Purif digs them all out, releasing them back into the blood stream. Charles didn’t even look like he had any fatty tissues, but I guess he must have had at least one or two.
I babysat Charles through his trip.
          “Do not leave his side.” Wendy instructed me. “Do not let him leave the sauna for twenty-thirty minutes at a time, limit the cooling breaks to one or two minutes and back he goes! Physically restrain him, if he starts bothering other people.”
          “Gee, Wendy, I don’t know. I won’t do any physical restraint. You need to find somebody else to get him through this.”
          “Don’t worry, Michael, you’ll do fine! And I'm always here for you. Easy stuff, happens all the time. Would’ve been much better if you guys did five hours a night but… Relax, it’ll be over before you know!” 
          Charles went through the entire gamut of emotional changes, very fast, back and forth, several times. He also talked a lot. I liked him better when he didn’t. Looking at Charles, I was elated that I had never taken LSD.
          Wendy did not allow us to leave at 10PM, as we usually did. We had to stay about an hour longer until his trip wore off. She stayed with us in the almost empty church. Then she questioned Charles and checked his eyes and pulse before allowing us to leave.
          “Thanks.” Charles said to me with a deformed facial expression, which must have been a smile, and slapped me on the back. “You wanna stop for a beer? My treat.” I declined as we were not allowed to drink or do any drugs or medications while on the program. Charles knew that. I thought he was still tripping but didn’t alert Wendy.      
          And so it went for me for thirty-eight days, every evening—half an hour of jogging followed by two-and-a-half hours in the sauna, sometimes torturous, most often relatively tolerable.
          Toxins were coming out in layers, dislodged by ever increasing doses of niacin. At some point the stench of oil-base paints and solvents in sauna made my eyes water. Wendy’s brief investigation named me as the culprit. I was emitting the smell through my pores. I used to paint houses for a living to support myself through college. My fellow sauna attendees complained, and Wendy was forced to evacuate the sauna, leaving me in it alone. Everybody went home early except Charles who stood watch outside, looking in at me through a small window cut into the sauna door and dragging me out to cool off every fifteen minutes or so. I was dizzy, nauseous and apathetic, kind of delirious and half asleep, suffocating in the noxious fumes that I was emitting.
          We stayed till almost midnight that day. I could not believe how wonderful I felt when the solvents were gone from the system. Novocain, other pain killers and anesthetics, as well as pesticides and radiation were real downers when they were coming out. They would cause a truly loathsome delirious stupor condition.
           Day by a thorny day I felt more awake, more energetic, my skin cleared out, I felt GOOD!         
Charles completed the program three days before I did. Toward the end of the program he acquired some color on his previously sallow cheeks and some mirth in his eyes. He was still not much of a talker but turned out to be an altogether pleasant chap. He announced one day that he was done and was sent to get it checked out. I completed the program without a buddy.
          When I was done, I knew it. My Case Supervisor concurred, I was sent to see the Examiner, a new experience, and a fascinating new electronic device—my first encounter with the e-meter.
          The Examiner, an elder, very pleasant lady by the name Claire, gave me two cans to hold in my hands and placed a card in front of me. The card read “Purification Program End Phenomenon: A person who is free of residues of drugs and toxins in his body.”
          The cans I was holding were attached to a device in front of her.
         “Thank you.” She said, smiling, although I never opened my mouth or did anything. “Your needle is floating. Would you like to attest to completion of the Purification Program?”
         “What was that floating? A needle?”
         “Oh, I am sorry, Michael. Hasn’t anybody shown you the e-meter yet?”
         “Not yet, I guess.”
         With a smile, the old lady turned the device toward me. It was a pleasant looking oval device with a large dial and a long, thin needle. There were several knobs and LCD displays on it, too.
         “This is an electro-psychometer or e-meter, Mark Six, it measures mental mass.”
         “Mental mass? How is that?”
         “When you are upset about something, you feel heavy, right? Do you ever feel literally weighed down by some problem?”
“And when it is gone, I feel as if the load is off? I had that once in a session with Barry.”
“Yes, great! Exactly. That is a manifestation of mental mass.  Let me show you. I will have to pinch you. It will sting a bit.”
Claire pinched me very hard.
“Did you see how the needle dropped to the right?”
“Yes, it sure did.”
“Now watch. Recall the moment of that pinch.”
I recalled the moment of that ouch. It hurt again, ouch! I noticed that the needle dropped to the right again exactly as it did at the actual moment of the pinch.
“Yeah. What is that supposed to show?”
“Mental mass. Now, recall the moment of that pinch.”
I did, again. This time the needle swing was smaller, just as the pain I felt.
“Thank you. Recall the moment of that pinch.”
The needle swing diminished further. On the next recall the swing was barely more than a slight tick and I could no longer feel any pain. Claire asked me to recall the moment of the pinch once again after that but there was no movement of the needle or any pain.
“So this is how Dianetics works, right?” It was fascinating to see it with my own eyes. “The engram was erased?”
“Oh, you already know about Dianetics! Wonderful! Yes, that is exactly how it works, although a pinch is hardly an engram, but it created some mental mass for us to play around with and dissipate. Mental mass simply creates more resistance in the circuit. The e-meter has a battery inside that sends a constant very small current through the circuit which goes through you. These cans are two terminals.”
“So when resistance changes, the needle reacts?”
“Yes. A pretty simple device, really, but very sensitive.”
“I bet it is! Mind blowing that it can detect mental mass as resistance in the circuit. Who invented it?”
“The first prototype was worked out by some engineers in England in 1952 based on Ron Hubbard’s ideas and specifications.”
 “Thank you. This is a very interesting device.”
“You are welcome, Michael. Now, I told you that your needle was floating. That is simply one of the indications that the process had ended. In the end of any process in Scientology you get a certain motion of the needle. I saw that motion on the meter and told you that I saw it. Remember what we are doing here? We are attesting to completing the Purification Program.”
“Okay. So I am done with the Program then? Now what?”
“Let’s do it again. Would you like to attest to completing the Purification Program?”
“Yes, I would.”
“Thank you. Your needle is floating. Would you like to write a success story?”
“A what?”
“Here is some paper. You can write any wins or anything you want to say about the program you just completed and how you feel about it.”
I wrote that it was a damn difficult program, but I made it through and feeling great, more alert, more awake, happier and all the colors now seemed brighter.
Claire read my success story smiling and said, “That is wonderful! Thank you very much. Would you like someone else to have similar gains?”
“Yes, I would!” I felt even better now for no apparent reason.
“Thank you. Your needle is floating! You can put down the cans now.”
I was done!
“You should join staff,” Wendy told me casually, when I stopped by after my attest to thank her.
“Why would you suggest something silly like that?” I asked her.
“Because you want to help others. And also you have the entire set of Scientology courses and auditing ahead of you. That’s a lot of money. You get it for free on staff.”
What was I getting into? Well, thus far I had gotten myself into some pretty neat and highly satisfying life-changing situations. And I hadn’t spent a fortune on it. How could I just say “Goodbye” and part ways?
I stayed.

Chapter Four

Next evening I joined staff.
First I ran into Kit, who was whizzing around at a hundred miles an hour as usual.
“Michael, come body route with me.” She said.
“What does that mean? Body what?” The woman was crazy.
“We go outside and drag somebody in here for the personality test.”
“Who, me? Are you out of your mind? I would never do that to anybody!”
“Do you want others to have similar gains to yours? Because if you do…”
“I am not going out there. Go away, Kit! You are crazy!”
I turned and walked away.
“Pussy,” I heard behind my back.
“Crazy bitch,” I muttered under my breath. That kid definitely needed to mellow out. A good, steady boyfriend would probably do a lot of good in such a situation. A little tenderness and regular orgasms go a long way with high-strung females, I heard.
In fact, later on I brought that point up to Kit once, volunteering my services. Her reply was to the effect that she had a firm rule to never date excessively handsome men. Considering that I had never been handsome, excessively or otherwise, to me that was the absolute best ask-off any man could ever hope to get. Kit and I remained good friends.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it was with considerable chagrin that I found myself on Market Street an hour later with a clipboard, next to Kit, reeling people in—or trying to. That one intervening hour was spent mainly on discussing the premise that Church of Scientology was salvaging the planet (Earth?) and they needed my help. That sounded insane to me but so it was with the Church of Scientology—some things were ingenious and valuable beyond any riches and others were, in fact, insane, fully suitable for the loony bin. Roses are red, violets are blue and Scientology is both an incredible asset to mankind and the Mother to the crazy, conceited and sociopathic organization, the Church of Scientology. Salvaging the planet?
They had my ear when we got into discussing the ways of becoming a Dianetics auditor with Linda and the HR lady, Keira. HR was called “HCO” there, the Hubbard Communications Office. Yes, indeed, I wanted to train as a professional, licensed auditor to help many people, whether I knew them or not, with Dianetics. As a staff member, I could train free of charge and then audit people and even get paid a little. The Dianetics course itself was only $300 but there was a professional basic auditors’ training course I wanted to do, the Training Routines Course, which was a lot more expensive and I needed to take a course on the study method used here and a few additional smaller courses as the pre-requisites. The total package that I wanted ran close to $4000. Staff members worked either on day or evening schedules forty hours a week. As I was not in general opposed to the idea of helping people, and elbowed along by my urge to save $4000, I decided to take the plunge and join Barry as a Dianetics auditor.     
As soon as I signed my two-year staff contract, I was sent outside to “body route,” as they called it here. Reluctantly, I joined Kit on the corner of Market and 7th.
Talking about rough going! Growing up as a Jew in the Soviet Ukraine with all its poverty and anti-Semitism, the four month of wallowing in the Soviet bureaucracy and playing tag with the KGB to get the permission to leave USSR, then almost five hellacious months en route to the United States, followed by several years of acclimation, running my own small remodeling business in a thoroughly unionized Pittsburgh, PA, studying engineering at Pitt with almost no English, action,  adventure, occasional feats of raw survival and mortally dangerous situations—all those travails of the past eight years had not prepared me adequately for body routing strangers into the Church of Scientology on San Francisco Market Street.
Dissected, my early body routing calamity consisted of only two distinct problems. First, people simply did not want to come with me and, secondly, I was afraid to ask, although I did anyway, faking being tough. People are hard to fool and toughness was not what was needed anyway. I suspect, upon closer examination, that my earlier attempts at body routing were majorly unsuccessful for one reason only: I did not like people enough or was able to relate to them enough to convince them to join me.
Kit, on the other hand, could bring in five-six people an hour, sometimes more. Once she brought in an entire platoon of Russian Navy sailors dressed in all black with large stars on their belt buckles, thirty-four sour looking, grim sailors in total. Several people at the Church had nervous breakdowns and Keira called 911 with a hysterical message that the church was overrun by the Soviet army when they all piled in. I had to translate the personality test to them. Their profiles were pretty close to mine, we were all potential murderers with miniscule responsibility levels. Soviet Union was a toxic place to grow up.
I observed Kit do her magic many times and tried to mimic her in my attempts at body routing but where she was successful, I would fail miserably.
I firmly believe, and my belief is fully rooted in fact, that if you can body route people successfully, you can succeed in anything, including personal relations and marriage, business, politics, and career.   
I went to Robert, my senior, for guidance.
“What you are lacking is the ability to confront,” he said. “Just the ability to be there comfortably and talk to another person in front of you. He has problems, sometimes severe, sometimes life-threatening. Do you think you could help him with Dianetics?”
“Yes, I think Dianetics would be of tremendous help to every one of those people walking out there.”
“Okay, Michael. Well, is there anything else besides Dianetics out there that could really help them eradicate and set right those things that torment them? Like psycho-analysis or yoga or whatever the hell else?”
“I suppose those things could, too, like yoga and all that, but I am not sure how deep they go.”
“That’s right. Not deep. Listen, just think, with no idea of engrams or how the mind really works, how could they really eradicate any unwanted condition? They can’t. They may or may not help but they definitely can’t cure anything beyond the placebo effect. You know? One out of five or so will usually recover even if you give him a sugar or chalk pill and call it ‘crapazipan’ or something—or just pat them on the head and say ‘go, you are cured’ and that’d be it.”
“I am not sure that is correct, Robert. Nothing except Dianetics can cure anything? Sounds bogus. Pretentious. Delusional even.”
“There are other ways to cure such things as worms or pull a tooth or something. I am talking about things of psycho-somatic nature which is pretty damn near everything but not absolutely everything. Well, example. Have you ever heard of anybody ever getting cured of arthritis? Or depression? Or anything, really, even a broken leg often enough? The leg is all healed but the person is still limping or having pains twenty years later. The hernia is removed but the pain remains. The tonsils are removed but sore throat is chronic. Sounds usual? It shouldn’t be. What about all kinds of skin diseases and rushes? It is all psycho-somatic. Dianetics handles it very thoroughly, completely and very efficiently.”
“I am not an expert but I have to agree that I never heard of people getting cured of arthritis, for example.” 
“That’s right. But we do that here without even trying. It is just a simple side-effect of auditing. No drugs, no hypnosis, no confusing mumbo-jumbo, no snooty evaluations, no invalidations, no months and years of therapy for hundreds of thousand dollars. We are only talking twenty-five hours, fifty hours, a hundred hours. Dianetics is 16 dollars an hour. Poof! No arthritis. Poof! No seborrhea. So you see that you had personally sentenced to suffering every person who you’d failed to bring in here? He or she wouldn’t know that, they just keep on walking by. But you do! You know!”
That night, enflamed by the pep talk, my resolve to help others burning brightly in my heart, I went outside and asked the first person walking by, who accidentally happened to be a tall, stunningly beautiful woman in her early thirties, “Are you happy in your relationships? Do you have aches and pains? Do you sleep okay? I have a solution for you.” “I am listening,” she replied. She was listening. I brought her in.
“She” turned out to be a transvestite.
“You brought that in, you take that out,” Robert ordered. “We don’t want their kind in our Church.” I guess the burning desire to help people, which Robert ranted to me about just a few minutes prior, was burning selectively toward some people more than others. I refused to kick “that” out, so Robert did it himself. Nonetheless, that was my first successful body routing experience.        
For those of you, readers, who find body routing thoroughly reprehensible, let me assure you that I am in full agreement with you on a social level. Yes, I agree that it is against the norms of this society to impose and insist that way. But let me remind you, bias and rumors aside, that Dianetics actually works. Therefore, the drastic actions, such as body routing, are actually justified. Dianetics works. That is not because I say so or I believe so and invite you to believe, too. That is just the way it is.
          I became a so-so body-router, helping Kit, who worked on both day and evenings schedules, eighty hours a week, bringing new people in. Vast majority of them were blown back out the door by the arrogance of staff, obnoxious personality test evaluations and subsequent sales attempts, but some stayed for their free introductory Dianetics session with Barry.
          About a month passed. I had not started my auditor training. “Later,” I was told. With both Kit and I bringing people in, Barry was getting overloaded. Robert started taking people in session himself, then Linda followed suit. That finally prompted my seniors to enroll me into the Dianetics course on four hours per day schedule, in the evenings.
          I completed the theory part in two weeks and had a week of internship under Barry. Dianetic auditing was fascinating. The drama, the excitement, the triumphs and defeats, the tremendous feeling of accomplishment, ushered on the coat tails of the key realization that you have actually and unequivocally helped another human being—THE ADVENTURE!
          A sum-total of a person’s hang-ups and fears, illnesses and incongruous quirks, self-destructive and sociopathic impulses and all the rest of the stuff, which we stupidly accept as traits of personality, is referred to in Scientology as the person’s “case.” The case is composed of everything acquired and not native to a being. Like flotsam, jetsam, trash, seaweeds and dead fish, brought in by surf from elsewhere and deposited onto the white sand of a beach, these aberrations are acquired through engrams and other factors, not yet touched upon in this book.
          The concept of engrams—pain and unconsciousness, caused externally to us as innocent recipients—is the easiest for most of us to accept. Engrams dovetail perfectly into our basic belief that all our troubles are externally caused and that we are being victimized by the mysterious “them.” Nobody really knows who “they” are, but we happily put one face or another on the otherwise faceless “them” and go to town beating “them” silly—or trying to. Be it Irish, Polish, Mexicans, Chinese, Arabs, women, gays, blacks, Muslims, Jews, terrorists or your mother in law, beating “them” will never relieve you of your fear of people, low self-esteem and sciatica.  But it is true that your personal issues can be externally caused and your engrams will, indeed, louse you up.
          In a bit over a year as a Dianetic auditor on staff at San Francisco Org, I have audited over a thousand hours, which is about hundred and fifty clients, considering that an average client receives five-ten hours of Dianetics auditing before either dropping out or moving on to Purif and Scientology auditing. 
          The cases I worked on, and the improvements or recoveries I caused with such brief stints of therapy, were too numerous to describe in detail, but I will mention one, which forever changed my own life.
Lillian was a 42-year old Mexican female. Her complaints were panic attacks, nervousness and a sleep disorder. Additionally, I also noted her low self-esteem, very bad eyes sight and a chronic skin condition—a rash—on the visible parts of the front of her body, namely on her hands, face and throat.    
Lillian received a full block of auditing, called an “intensive”—twelve and a half hours. As I remember it took five sessions. I started with tracing back the chain of her panic attacks and keying it out on an incident in her childhood. Lillian was satisfied with the results of that first session, which is always important, as otherwise she wouldn’t have come to her second session.
The next session I tackled her sleeplessness, but was not able to erase or key-out the chain. Instead, it went into recession, as we call it. In other words, it was beaten out of sight without any noticeable resurgence for the client—a hallmark of bad auditing and an indication that she was being audited on things that she couldn’t confront, was not ready or strong enough to look at. Auditing had to progress more gradually. Recession usually hides the entire chain for some days and is considered to be a serious boo-boo in Dianetics. I ran some pleasurable incidents with Lillian in the end of session just to drag her up from apathy, where I parked her with my inexpert fumbling. Running pleasure moments has its own therapeutic value. Lillian considered it a pretty good session, although I knew that it wasn’t. I had to ease up on the intensity of the incidents I was asking her to find.
The third session I tried for recent small upsets and disappointments to unburden the case and increase her ability to confront her past incidents. That session resulted in a noticeable resurgence in her energy level and outlook. She felt relieved and unburdened and so it was a good session.
The fourth session I continued with upsets and ran into a heavy loss, which is a separate kind of an incident, called a “secondary engram.” That chain keyed out with very good results for Lillian . She was actually laughing at session’s end. It was gratifying to see her eyes sparkle for the first time in my experience with her.
In Lillian’s estimation, she did great as she felt more optimistic, calmer, slept better and had not had any panic attacks or nervous breakdowns since we started. Good enough result for ten hours of work, in any book. In my estimation, however, knowing what Dianetics could do, our progress was minimal.   
The last session seemed as miraculous and unbelievable to me, as it will to you, although technically it was a disaster. Whatever sentiments and swear words come to your mind as you read the following passage, trust me, I had the same sentiments and swear words—in two languages—and that made for a whole lot of cussing in my head. 
Having pretty much failed to make a truly decisive dent in regards to any of her complaints, I went with my observations and in the last session I got her into the chain of her itchy skin condition. We fumbled for a bit, trying to find the first time she experienced a skin rash on the front of her body, then found an early childhood incident when she experienced an itch all over the front of her body and asked her mother, who replied that she was marked by God because she was special. Having beaten that incident into recession, in desperation I continued asking for an earlier similar incident, nonetheless. Technically, I shouldn’t have as she obviously could not face it. It had to be done more gradually. One does not have to learn how to swim by being thrown overboard in high seas.
On the other hand, it is important to understand that if her skin condition persisted (and it did) than she was constantly hardwired into that engram. She was in constant contact with it in her life regardless of my auditing, Ron Hubbard, Dianetics or anything else. She was looking straight at it all her life but made it so that she did not see it, pretending that she did not see it because it was too scary for her to look at. She could not see the incident because she was scared to death of it but she was sitting in it her entire life. Therefore, my reckless probing in session did not do absolutely anything new to her. I simply insisted that she confronted it head on. I wanted her to overcome her fear and actually see. Once again, I just wanted to declare that running Dianetics that way is incorrect, it should not be done as it constitutes bad auditing. Auditing has to be done gradually and only on incidents that the person can more or less comfortably face.     
Lillian finally got a glimpse of a bright light, which terrified her half to death, started crying, wriggling her entire body in pain and scratching her rash like a maniac. I kept pressing on, using the few tools that Dianetics offered to help a person contact the content which they had no analytical recollection of and couldn’t face. I had no choice but continue. If I let go, minimally, she’d be guaranteed to get sick after that session.
We finally dragged the engram out—get ready with your cussing—a Hiroshima atom bomb explosion in 1945. Lillian  was an old Japanese woman then, who witnessed her entire family instantaneously vaporize. She vaporized also, of course. The nuclear blast occurred in front of her, so the heat wave scorched the front of her body first. On the first few recounting, I had to hold both of Lillian ’s hands, since she drew blood, scratching herself. It was a terrifying and tense experience for both of us.
My first thought was that the incident was imaginary. People sometimes come up with incidents that never actually happened. Maybe they saw something on TV or read something or simply created it in their mind. L. Ron Hubbard’s solution to these incidents was to run them anyway, just as if they were real. If they did not improve upon several recounting—and they obviously would not—then the procedure demanded looking for an earlier similar incident, that’s all. So imaginary incidents received exactly the same treatment as the real ones. Nobody really cares in Dianetics if the incidents are imagined or not, nobody is judging one way or another. It just makes no difference. All the work is done for one purpose only: betterment of the client’s condition.
This incident to be imaginary would have fallen neatly into my view on things. Born and raised in the godless USSR with no religion at all, I was not in any way a starry-eyed dreamer, given to counting angels on the tip of a needle or pondering the imponderable. Having received a degree in engineering, I worked as a cost estimator, project manager and salesman for a construction company. I spent most of my time with construction crews or buried into blueprints and pricing binders.
As an engineer, at least by education, and as a construction specialist by trade, I was dead certain about cause-effect relationships of things, as opposed to the involvement of God or any other random breaks in logical causation. You are hungry because you didn’t eat. The job took longer because the crew was not supervised but left to its own devices. Your car is out of gas because you forgot to fill it up. Simple. Nothing out of the realm of ordinary causation. There are always causes and consequences or effects of those causes. Every effect has its cause. Every cause has its effect or consequence.
Well, Lillian’s rash cleared right in front of my eyes and was completely gone by the end of the session. Only self-inflicted scratches remained. When she opened her eyes, she also realized that she had always had a whitish film on everything she saw, like an underexposed photo, with colors washed out or just indistinguishable and grayish. She thought everybody saw colors that way. She only realized that she was wrong when the whitish film was gone and for the first time the colors she perceived were bright and vibrant. Later on it turned out that her sleeping pattern had much improved and her panic attacks vanished. She even wrote a success story to the effect that she felt good and stable, her rashes were gone, she slept well and her eyesight was much improved and that she also gained some self-confidence and optimism for the future.
I had to conclude that in order to cause such consequences, the incident must have been a true incident on her time track, a true part of her case. Period. Either that or I had to take the don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts approach and dismiss the whole thing as a fluke, which I honestly couldn’t do.
          So here we go, I ran smack into the past lives phenomenon and all the myriad of questions that it represented—with no answers thus far. To add to the aggravation, the Hiroshima explosion was not the basic on that chain. There must have been at least one even earlier similar incident, possibly more than one. When? And where? There were no nuclear explosions prior to Hiroshima. On Earth, that is… that we know of…
The experience was bewildering and even upsetting but incredibly exciting.
I saw Robert regarding this, my senior. He told me that anybody who did Dianetics inevitably ran into past lives just because all the chains went so far back, that sometimes you couldn’t even get the number of years ago into an average calculator. WAY far back.
“How could all this data be recorded in the brain? And how come we don’t remember any of it?” I asked, completely flabbergasted. 
“Now we are talking Scientology,” Robert smiled and slapped me on the back. “That’s not Dianetics. That’s exactly how it happened. LRH worked out the Dianetic procedure in 1948, audited a bunch of people, ran into a bunch of past lives and started exploring the phenomenon and accumulating research data, had the first e-meter constructed in 1952 and there you go.”
“Where I go? How does this cookie crumble, Robert? Spit it out.”
“Hey, listen, Michael, the old man recorded some 3000 lectures, wrote a couple dozen books and developed gradual auditing procedures that filled 17 oversized volumes. You want me to just spit it out in a sentence or two?”
“Yes, spit it out.”
“Well, okay. You are not a piece of meat. You are a spiritual entity. You are not native to the physical universe with all its laws, you only use it as a common playing field to play with the others. You’ve been playing this way for so long and got so degraded and confused that you don’t know any longer up from down or who you are, or what the hell is going on. But where you come from there is no time, so immortality is not even an issue here, there is simply nothing else you can do. You got stuck in your game, you got lost in it, you forgot how to control or distinguish truth from the play and lost your sense of direction. There is a hell of a lot to all this, man. If you want to learn, start listening to the lectures, get on course, get some auditing. Meanwhile, get to work.”
“Work can wait. Hey, why don’t we remember?”
“Several reasons, the main one being that you don’t want to remember. You had zillions of life times, you went through it all. You are sick and tired of all this already. You failed in a zillion attempts to get out, you are a total loser—we all are. You are disappointed and bored up to your yin-yang. You want some meaning and purpose and you want some interest in your life. None of it is actually there. You have to put it there if you want to have any. You have to bring it in, conjure it out of nothing or buy into it. So, man, you either have to find your way to get unstuck from the birth-death, I-am-a-one-life-dumb-animal merry-go-round, or you must forget your true nature and keep the game going the best you can to have any fun. You chose the latter because you failed utterly at the former a very long time ago and stopped trying. Alright? Now, get out there and help Kit body route, unless you have somebody to audit. Do you?” Robert was obviously busy but, frankly, I didn’t give a hoot.
I felt uncomfortable, to say the least. “I said work can wait. So if I don’t want to remember, I could just change my mind on that and I should remember then, right? But I don’t!”
“You put it on automatic. You kick the bucket, you still remember, you get a new body, you forget that you just lived. You set it up that way and you forgot how to undo it. You forgot how to do pretty much everything you could ever do, except writhing at the bottom of the pit in the stinking mud like a maggot, thinking that all you need to be happy is more mud.”
Robert looked up straight into my eyes from his desk, expecting me to argue. I didn’t.
He went on, “Of course, there are other factors and other players, that dovetail with that mechanism that you set up, but you either set them up, those mechanisms, or at least agreed with them being set up for you. I am not going to just blabber here. You have to learn things on your own. Otherwise, you won’t know. You’ll never really know, till you find out for yourself. You see? Or you’ll have to trust me or blindly believe, or argue with me or whatever. It’d just all be a waste of time. Find out for yourself. And now go out and get to work. We have a planet to salvage!”
I hated when they started talking that way. What conceit! Salvage the entire planet? Really?
I thanked Robert and went outside to body route but really just to think it over. I had just gotten more than an earful.
By then I was already aware of some criticism of Scientology in the media and a suspicion toward Scientology in the society in general. To me, however, as a true Soviet Ukrainian Jew-turned-American despite the odds, the majority opinion meant exactly zilch. In fact, I was always suspicious about commonly known, venerable truths and broadly held opinions—the correct Party line. Such as me being a one-life animal. Or “an apple a day” nonsense. Or washing your face with soap every day. Or all Muslim men beating their women every Thursday. Or the benefits of daily jogging. Or the absolutely miraculous qualities of some new exotic berry. Or, or, or… People are intelligent each in their own right. But when, starved for approval from other humanoids, they buy into the mob think, they are just a mindless herd of cows—per my observations. 
If Scientology were so bad, why did hundreds of thousands of people around the world practice it and the book Dianetics sold some twenty million copies in two dozen languages? For that matter, if there were no smear campaigns against alcohol manufacturers, did it mean that alcohol was good? If millions of people worshipped Hitler in his time, did it mean at the very least that he wasn’t a homicidally insane thug, responsible for the death of tens of millions? It is all PR. Truth has nothing to do with it.
The truth existed out there, but it was not to be found in commonly held sentiments. If most people knew the right answers, we would be surrounded by much happier, healthier, more able and more successful people and there would not be much of any health issues, poverty, criminality and war. All logic indicated that commonly held beliefs and opinions were wrong—or very suspect, at best.
Robert’s revelation was not a small thing. It could indicate a global billion-dollar hoax or simply an insanity, possibly akin to the Kool Aid drinkers of the Jim Johns’ People’s Temple. Truth be known, I have not actually seen anything truly disingenuous in any church personal, with whom I was in contact so far, or in any new information I had gleaned. I have seen some unattractive tendencies to over-control, patronize and treat everybody else like retards, but I have not seen any malice, misrepresentations or harmful lies. And as for Jim Johns, I was not going to die of docility, I was certain of that.
There was another possibility, however, that what he said was true, fully or partially. What if I actually were a powerful and immortal spiritual entity? I never felt that classifying human beings as smart apes was correct. I, for one, never considered myself an ape or any other animal. It is a huge cognitive error to accept the form of something as its content. Similarities with a chimp notwithstanding, I am not a chimp and neither is any other human. What is the difference between us and chimps? The difference is the essence, the center core, the true identity of who we are—who I am.
What do I mean every time I say “I”? That is the exact difference. What is that core identity? Chimps don’t make art. Why do we make art? Why do we decorate our homes? Why are we so attracted by esthetics of things? Why do we like to dwell on abstract matters like friendship, love, beauty, good and evil, duty, God, loyalty or even geometry and math? Some of these things are so overwhelmingly important to us that we may sacrifice everything, including life, for some of these abstract notions, while they hold precious little, if any at all, meaning to chimps. Why would we want to explore and learn the nature of the Universe at a distant point millions of light years away? What for? Can’t eat it, can’t sell it. Why bother? What about ambitions and aspirations? Why do we always strive for something more and better? What about our dreams of the future? All those questions had an answer in common: our spiritual nature. That is exactly what Robert was talking about. An ape is pretty much a piece of meat. I am not. An ape mainly wants food, procreation and safety. I want the same things, but I also want much more—oh, so much more! There is some higher presence here.
After all, I had just personally run out an engram which took place in 1945 in Hiroshima and have achieved the result that I was supposed to achieve per the book. That incident could not have come from the brain of Lillian’s body. What was the true function of the brain? Conversely, what was the true nature of the mind? Where was the information really stored? Why did running that incident of 42 years ago had proven to be so profoundly beneficial to Lillian now? 
I was torn by indecision. Do I stay, or do I leave now and pretend that nothing happened? That I never touched on to something… what? Eternal? Cosmic? Huge? Wise beyond my comprehension? Omnipotent? God? Was I balancing on the threshold, beyond which were the answers to eternal questions? Did I really want to know?
What would I lose by staying? Not much, I decided. What could I gain?
I stayed.

Chapter Five
Life is lopsided. A fleeting infatuation with a cute blond can take up 100 percent of your attention, while important matters whiz by completely neglected. Sometimes a full-time job, a career, intended to see you through to your retirement and provide for the golden years, is largely overlooked in favor of a hobby.
Working full time at the construction company in Hayward and full time at the Church was not easy. The construction job was gravely interfering with my Church duties. Getting off from the Church after 10 p.m., the commute time and some last minute things, and then having to get up at 6 a.m. did not leave me enough time to sleep. With not enough sleep I was not allowed to study at the Church because they were very strict about what they called “body rudiments,” mainly food and sleep.
Both jobs were stressful in their own way, although auditing Dianetics was immeasurably more gratifying. Financially, they were incomparable. The job at the Church, or at the Org as staff members called it, paid on average only about $50 per week, while I was making $650 a week plus bonuses at my day job.     
          Despite the demanding schedule and lack of sleep, I managed to complete three beginning courses around that time. One of them was Basic Study Manual.
          Basic Study Manual, or BSM, was a short course on the study method, intended to help better and faster assimilation of data. The use of that method also eliminates sleepiness, bellyaches and headaches associated with intensive studies. And studying does associate with maladies, as any student would attest. LRH study method well deserves a mention here. Although there are other parts to the study technology, I will mention one here as a paramount cause of untold upsets and failures, destroyed lives and careers, headaches and exhaustion. LRH isolated the single major barrier to studying or learning anything in life: the misunderstood word. Sounds simple? Well, stop going by any word or symbol you do not fully understand, start clearing your words properly, then sit back and watch what happens.      
          In his research concerning study and training done with various groups over the period of several months, L. Ron Hubbard found that a misunderstood word remains misunderstood, despite any guesses or superficial remedies, and will later hang a person up unless he clears the meaning of the word in the context of the materials being read or studied, and also clears it in all of its various uses in general communication. He also found that a misunderstood word creates a distinctly blank feeling in one’s mind, whereby the page he or she just read registers as totally blank. One finishes reading a page and realizes that he has no clue what he just read—not that he does much realizing at that point, with all the fog and heavy tiredness that overwhelms him. This is supplemented by sleepiness, a dreamy not-there feeling and headaches.   
To clear a word, one looks it up in a good dictionary. The first step is to look rapidly over the definitions to find the one that applies to the context in which the word was misunderstood. One reads the definition and uses it in sentences until one has a clear concept of the meaning. This could require 10 or more sentences. When it clicks, you’ll know.
The dictionary may contain several definitions of the word you were clearing. Of them fit the context. In addition to that definition, which was just cleared, one clears each of the other definitions of that word, using each in sentences until one has a conceptual understanding of each definition.
The next step is to clear the derivation, which is the explanation of the word’s origin ad its original definition. This helps gain a basic understanding of the word and will occasionally open up as a revelation, making your jaw drop. Languages intuitively pack a philosophic punch at times, reflecting some fascinating viewpoints held as common knowledge in the ancient days.
For example, 1000 years ago among Saxons, the word “friend” meant “free,” and the word “person” meant “a mask” in Ancient Greece. Your friend is not your slave in any way and any person is a mask. What happens if you manage to dominate or beat your friend into submission? He stops being your friend, all appearances to the contrary. Who will tell me that those are not deeply philosophical concepts that make you stop and think?   
One must also clear any other information given about the word, such as the idioms, notes on its usage, synonyms, etc., so as to have a full understanding of the word.
This sounds cumbersome and it is—at first. Things get better and faster as you get in the groove of always clearing words.
          It is impossible to overestimate the importance of clearing words in life, not just for assimilating the data but also for improving your sense of well-being and quality of life. As the fog clears, important things come into a crisp focus, data gets properly evaluated and the unimportant falls off, your ability to confront the world or a task at hand soars high and your ability to act replaces the lethargic procrastination that most of us call life. Additionally, you gain the ability to see right through the monstrous complexities, created in the fields of human endeavor that are least understood, as often happens in the fields of the mind, philosophy and religion. You gain the ability to call a spade a “spade” and a pile of manure by its proper name any time you are confronted with such things—formidable as they may seem.
          The second course I did at that time was the TRs Course, which provided additional training necessary for being an auditor. TRs are Training Routines, so the course was a series of drills. Specifically, communication drills. The end product of this course was a gained ability to resolve anything in life with communication alone.     
          It turns out communication has its composite parts. There is a structure to it. The drills are constructed to improve one’s abilities to use those parts. I will not get into the entire gamut here, but would like to mention the starting point, the first two drills that I found to be key to successful communication: You have to be there comfortably in order to communicate. First and foremost, you have to be present. Seems obvious, but it isn’t.
          Beginning TRs train you to be there comfortably and perceive, regardless of any destructions, regardless of where you are and whom or what you are confronted with—no squirming, compulsions to scratch or not look straight at something or someone, no fidgeting, no aches or upsets, no adverse reactions at all to simply being there comfortably and perceiving. I found those beginning TRs especially important in achieving results with communication.
          The third course I completed was suggested by Kit and I did not feel like arguing. It was a “How To Get Along With Others” course. Getting along with others was not my strongest ability. The course was very short. It gave an overview of the three components of Understanding: Affinity (the degree of liking or hating), Reality (the degree of agreement) and Communication. The neat thing about these three components is that they rise and fall together. They are kind of welded together, in a way, forming a rigid triangle A-R-C. That comes about for the simple reason that they are really one thing: Understanding. In other words, if you want to lift any of the three points or all of them, it is only necessary to lift any one corner. Then you can lift them higher by again lifting any one of the three and so on. For example, if you are in the middle of a domestic quarrel and you simply hug your spouse and hold on tight, thus establishing affinity, you will shortly see a remarkable change in his or her demeanor. If you then continue with communication which would not accuse, insult or recriminate but would instead agree with your spouse (building a reality), you’ll see an immediate end to your fight. It is not necessary to actually resolve the contentious issue. It is only important to use affinity, agreement and communication to achieve understanding. 
Talking to strangers, selling things, picking up girls, pacifying an irate boss or a hood in a dark alley—whatever the situation may be, you always improve your odds by applying the simple principles of A-R-C.  
          All three of these courses, that I managed to actually complete despite my schedule, were life-changing. And they were just simple, short introductory courses. What else was there? What was the true potential of this thing I stumbled on? What else could this organization, over-controlling, arrogant and conceited as it was, potentially give me?     
          I stayed.

Chapter Six

In the spring of 1988, a Sea Organization mission arrived at our Church on McAllister. The missioners were dressed in spiffy Navy-like uniforms with lanyards and military style hats. One of the missioners was an officer, who wore one golden ring around the calf of his dark-blue jacket and golden buttons. The other one wore silver Petty Officer 2nd Class chevrons on his shoulder and silver buttons. Both proudly wore campaign bars.
The younger guy, about 28, my age, had only a few bars. They looked serious. Everybody in the Org called them “Sir”, even Linda, the Executive Director, the undisputed Queen in the Org.  As usual, I asked Robert about these people, but he flatly refused to tell me anything and referred me to LRH materials. That was the prescribed way of doing things because, per LRH, “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true.”
          I read up on the Sea Organization, the paramilitary, elite administrative and management corps of full-time Scientologists, kind of like a high monastic order. Sea Org members sign a billion-year contract. It actually means something to Scientologists, although it means nothing in legal terms. Skipping ahead to more advanced data about Sea Org, which I did not learn then, I will describe the strict and elaborate Sea Org structure. It will become relevant when we touch upon the current predicament of the Sea Org (and thus the entire Scientology religion with all the churches and centers in the world) having been hijacked, milked for all it’s worth and reduced to rubble by a sociopath.
Scientology was the fastest growing new religion in the world, its membership and influence spanning the globe. Therefore, the hijacking of such a world religion is a grandiose scandal; it could probably be considered the heist of a century—or two centuries, unless we have an even greater heist in store for us in the 21st century. From that perspective the basic concept of the existing structure of the Sea Organization is important to grasp. 
The very top of the Sea Org is L. Ron Hubbard. Everything the Church does or is supposed to do, all the materials, services, and all management policies and practices are rooted deeply in L. Ron Hubbard’s works, and if he hadn’t written something, it is not considered to be true. That is the law. Since he stopped actually managing the Church in 1982, and especially after his death in 1986, LRH’s leadership is conveyed through his writings that are supposed to be implemented by the entire structure below him.
 Right under LRH, as the actual top of the chart, is the Religious Technology Center, the RTC, the legal holder of all the trademarks of Scientology. RTC oversees the entire network, but is not supposed to be a management body. Top management of the Church internationally is Senior Executive Strata. Right next to it is the Commodore’s Messengers Organization International (CMO Int) with its Watch Dog Committee, the top enforcement arm of the RTC. The physical locations of the RTC, CMO Int and Senior Executive Strata are unknown to the general public or to other Sea Org members, public or staff of any Scientology Churches. That location is so secret that it is only disclosed to people who passed certain clearance procedures and were approved by the RTC. A rather odd arrangement for a Church, to say the least. With the defectors numbering hundreds, the secret location of the top management is well known and can easily be found on the web: 19625 Highway 79, San Jacinto, CA 92583.   
         Senior Executive Strata issues programs, directives and orders down the command chain to Flag Command Bureau, located in LA, which issues orders to continental Sea Org units. Each of these organizations has their own CMO units enforcing policies and directives of RTC on them.
          L. Ron Hubbard was the Commodore, the top command, the person singularly in charge in the Sea Org. His messengers were the most trusted personnel who ran errands for him, delivered messages or inspected things on his request and reported back to LRH. Thus, the CMO organizational network of enforcers of orders from the top and the observers of the compliance was set up internationally.
          Sea Org units manage all the orgs and centers in their region. Most of the routine management traffic goes through long distance lines, such as mail, internet or modem (used to be done by telex). However, in emergencies orgs ask for their Sea Org management body to send a work party of experts, called “missions”, into their orgs to help sort out or handle specific situations. These orgs finance such missions. Sometimes Sea Org missions come uninvited. The orgs still finance such missions. Missions are occasionally fired into orgs for Sea Org recruitment purposes or to help implement a certain Management program, or help release a new course or a tape series for the public to buy. A Sea Org mission usually consists of two persons, one of them the In-Charge, or I/C, and the other being the 2nd. They are referred to as the Mission I/C and Mission 2nd and everybody addresses them as “Sir,” regardless of their gender.
Missions are very carefully planned. Mission orders are written by experts and the missions are tightly run by Mission Ops back at the base. Mission I/C writes daily reports on the Mission Orders progress or target completions and receive the Ops answers and guidance same night. Missions have absolute power in the org where they operate.
          For example, the Cincinnati Org contacts their continental unit, requesting assistance with paying their rent as the landlord is camping on the front steps, threatening eviction, while the income of the organization is catastrophically low. A mission arrives and basically and effectively takes over the org. They can change anything as long as that would be in compliance with LRH policy, order anybody, remove people from their post or move people around, etc. The mission does not leave, ideally, until the situation is fully handled or, more likely, much improved. Missions are usually successful, but not always.
Sometimes missions fail, which necessitates a Committee of Evidence, kind of like a court of law, for the missioners when they return to their base. A Committee of Evidence will look into all aspects of their failed mission, come up with a decision on the matter and publish the Findings and Recommendations that can range from fully absolving the missioners from all fault (highly unlikely) to removing them from their posts, demoting them, putting them on RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force—an equivalent of a jail in the Sea Org) or even handing out the equivalent of capital punishment in Scientology: full excommunication from the Church. There are provisions for recourse and redress of wrongs, of course, too. LRH thought of everything. Sea Org is definitely a tough organization, to which I belonged for 18 years of my life—15 of them at the secret International Management location.        
The first Sea Org mission I encountered was a recruitment mission to San Francisco Org originating from the Flag Command Bureau in LA. My first meeting with the Sea Org missioners in 1988 in a way summed up my entire experience with the Sea Org and everything that is wrong with it.
The Mission In-Charge, Rick Fiandaca, sporting an Ensign one broken gold bar on his sleeve, gave us all a recruitment briefing. It was essentially a briefing about, first of all, how dumb and unethical non-Scientologists were—referred to as “wogs” derogatorily—and, secondly, about the enemies of Scientology. Those enemies, the blood-thirsty villains, were dead set on destroying Scientology because of their insatiable greed and/or fixation on world domination. Those creatures included but were not limited to the entire Interpol, Food and Drug Administration, all world bankers, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, some pharmaceutical corporations and the media in general, but especially the LA Times, St. Pete Times and Times Magazine.
          I had an inkling that the newspapers were not after world domination, which left insatiable greed as their only possible motivation in criticizing Scientology. Interpol and the FDA, on the other hand, the conniving world dominators, were obviously up to their usual ruse of suppressing billions of people into oblivion. Scientology was the only hope of mankind. Only we, the Scientologists, were aware enough and powerful enough to stand up for mankind. And our only answer to these scheming merchants of chaos right there and now, the only solution forged in pure desperation was to immediately join the Sea Org and take a ride to LA with Rick Fiandaca. Yes, stand up and get counted! Bare your chest to their bullets and say “Stop, you evil bastards! No more!”
Sounds crazy? One can intuitively perceive the falsehood in putting down pretty much everybody and accusing a great many people and organizations in being sociopathic and evil. The insanity, however, goes much deeper and reaches even further than it seems intuitively and so merits a closer examination.
Even if there were some rhyme or reason to such accusations, even if profits did indeed motivate some organizations or people inappropriately, or lack of judgment on the part of some specific high-ranking officials in some agency did indeed lead them astray, still such a view on life, coming from the top of a world religion and shoved down the rank and file, the “they are all stupid or evil” and “us against them” mentality, the disassociation from the Affinity, Reality and Communication with the world—those things were murder to Scientology as they were in direct violation to Scientology principles. The only distinguishing feature of Scientology as compared to anything else out there in the fields of religion and the mind was just this one thing: Scientology worked. The Sea Organization by violating basic principles of Scientology destroyed its workability, wherever those violations touched Scientology.
In this case, if there was a problem with some agency, it could be either let go (no need to fight every single fight that comes along) or resolved with Scientology—using tenets and technology of Scientology—but it was not. It was being resolved in the same shoddy old way humanity had been employing since Cain and Abel: WAR. Scientology and war, however, are direct opposites on a philosophical level. If you are in San Francisco, the war, as a view of life, is toward San Diego and Scientology is toward Seattle, so to speak. Their paths do not cross.
           One of the basic principles of Scientology, right next to the concept of Affinity, Reality and Communication being the components of Understanding, there is a notion of the dynamics of life which should be illuminated here.
          In Scientology, the dynamic principle of existence is survival. Survival is that pervasive and omnipotent thrust which propels the organism through life and dictates all solutions, decisions and actions. Survival is understood a lot broader in Scientology than just mere breathing and the heartbeat. There is a gradual scale of survival ranging from near death, through danger, emergency, normal condition and affluence to power. These are conditions of existence, which are closely connected to the level of survival. Survival is the one and only dynamic of life.
          However, that single dynamic thrust can be broken down or compartmentalized into eight distinct thrusts, the eight dynamics. The dynamics are usually depicted as eight concentric circles—with you in the center—that represent thrust toward survival of, starting from the closest to you and moving outward, (1) self, (2) sex and children, (3) groups, (4) mankind, (5) plants and animals, (6) the physical universe of Matter, Energy, Space and Time, (7) the spirit and spirituality, and finally God or Infinity as the 8th Dynamic.
          Thus, clearly, your dynamics encompass everything and everybody. In other words, everything falls within one or another of YOUR dynamics, including terrorists, criminals, your no good brother-in-law and people in Bhutan whom you never met and never will. These are YOUR dynamics, your thrust toward your survival. Therefore, by fighting against parts of your own dynamics, you cut your own throat.
As always, things are not nearly that absolute. You would not think twice before killing a wild animal if it were threatening your child, for example. The wild animal is a part of your 5th dynamic. But the basic message of Scientology regarding survival is very simple: everybody is a part of your dynamics and by selecting out and attacking “them” you are attacking yourself. Buddhism, Tao and Vedas, the roots of Scientology, hold true the same concept of survival as unity, harmony and balance of all things.  
          So far in my explanations of Scientology I never strayed beyond the realm of the rock bottom basics, the 2+2’s and ABCs, but you, the reader, can already see the rift between the basics of Scientology and the Sea Org recruitment briefing by Ensign Rick Fiandaca in San Francisco Org in 1988.
          I could not quite formulate it then, but I perceived that rift and the danger it presented, and was very concerned for the future of Scientology. I considered Scientology a thing of beauty, breathtaking simplicity and of immense value to humanity. Therefore, my immediate reaction to that briefing was to hate Sea Org and act accordingly. I was defiant toward the missioners when they tried to recruit me and I expressed my dislike and even contempt for Sea Org to other staff members, who were obligated to report such matters to the Ethics Department of the org. Thus, I found myself in ethical trouble.
          L. Ron Hubbard originally developed the subject of applied ethics as a personal thing. A person makes decisions regarding his own survival, his own ethics and his own actions and makes his own judgments. Specifically, a person determines his condition in regard to a certain part of his life.
A person is always in some condition. There are, per Scientology Ethics, only a few separate conditions of existence from Non-Existence, through Danger, Emergency, Normal and Affluence to Power. Each of these conditions contains a series of steps, or a formula, designed to take a person through the condition and deliver him into the next higher condition. Haphazard application will work slower, intelligent and decisive application will work faster and better but if the formulas are applied to any degree at all, up and up that person or activity will go. There is one catch, however. If you misjudge the condition you are in and so apply the formula for the wrong condition, you will invariably slide one condition lower. Conditions are determined by statistics and everything can and does get statisized in Scientology for that reason.
          L. Ron Hubbard also isolated so called Lower Conditions, conditions of existence below non-Existence, and implemented them allegedly to help but in reality, at least partially, as a punishment, a part of the carrot and stick used by the org to control staff members and public and get compliance. I believe, LRH, being a bit over-controlling and even paranoid at times—due to his own non-application or misapplication of ethics conditions—intended them that way. Lower conditions are not assigned based on statistics. They are assigned more or less arbitrarily, supposedly to help an individual to sort out a specific situation or undesirable trends of behavior. These lower conditions can and often do actually help a person. However, if they are done over protest or solely for punitive purposes, their application can introvert a person and drag him down the conditions, reducing his survival.
          The Ethics Officer Manuel opened up by calling me a traitor. I told him he was wrong.
“You instigate other staff against the Sea Org,” he explained. “LRH created Sea Org for a reason. If it weren’t for the Sea Org, we would not even be here. We’d be gobbled up a long time ago.”
It is hard to negate a statement of events that never happened. Who knows if we’d be gobbled up or not? Maybe we’d be stronger and bigger.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“You see? That is exactly what I meant. You are spreading your venom and malcontent to others. You are below Non-existence as a Scientologist because you took up some qualities of an enemy.”
Manuel presented me with a list of lower conditions and asked me which condition I thought I should apply.
I read through the list of conditions below Non-existence: Liability, Doubt, Enemy, Treason and Confusion.
“Which condition do you think you are in?”
“I don’t find here the condition that I think I am in, Manuel. I audit people with good results, I bring people in from the street, I study my courses well. I don’t think I am a liability to anybody, I am not in doubt about anything and I don’t feel I am an enemy.”
“Okay, Michael. I don’t have time for this. I am assigning you the condition of Treason. You have 24 hours to bring me the formula write up to be upgraded to Enemy.”
“Manuel, I don’t think…” I started.
“Shape up!” barked Manuel and left. 
I went back to see Manuel but only got yelled at.
Treason was, in fact, a wrong condition. My attempts to apply it only got me introverted and dragged me down into Confusion. I got sick—not an uncommon result of a wrong lower condition application due to restimulation. What started out as a cold, quickly turned into bronchitis. The Ethics Officer’s take on things was that my own unethical behavior was making me sick and he had nothing to do with it. That got me further confused.
But I stayed.

Chapter Seven

Being sick and not quite there at my construction day job for quite a while, I lost that job. Luckily, I had some minimal savings. The Ethics Officer, Manuel, maintained that I lost my job for the same reason that I got sick, i.e. my own unethical behavior, specifically holding Sea Org in contempt and—oh my God!—discussing my forbidden attitudes with other staff members. I considered myself an ethical person. I was working two full-time jobs and body routing people into the Church and auditing people for practically no money.
The only bright spot in that otherwise grim, confusing and insulting nightmare, was one session of New Era Dianetics auditing which I received to handle the engram responsible for my bronchitis. And it was a very bright spot indeed! New Era Dianetics was very different from the Dianetics I knew in that it used an e-meter to find incidents—a huge improvement—and a much more refined and effective procedure. The Org was charging somewhere in the vicinity of $300 per hour for NED but I got my session free of charge as a staff member.
Just as Robert told me and as I was finding out myself in the auditing which I was delivering, the engrams (moments of pain and full or partial unconsciousness) were at the bottom of everything and the earlier the engrams, the more power they had. Therefore, the engrams of true consequence were always incidents that occurred before this lifetime or, as it is called in Scientology, on the “whole track.” Time is viewed as a track. There is a whole track ending with your last death, and then there is this lifetime. Well, what do you know! I contacted my first whole track incident on NED!
The auditor applied the NED procedure. With the help of the e-meter I found little bits and pieces and then, in going over it with the e-meter several times, I was able not only to reconstruct and blow that engram, but also remember that entire life-time, at least the relevant part of it. The floodgate had opened and I was awash with a life long gone.
A retired military commander of about forty, in the 12th century I resided in Namur, Belgium, with my wife and two daughters. With a nostalgic ping I recalled bits and pieces of the daily life and the stuffy three-room house we lived in with low door openings, uneven wooden floors and hand-made rather uncomfortable but somehow pleasant furniture and elaborate sundries and tapestries. My feelings toward my pest of a wife and perpetually fault-finding daughters were quite complex. I provided the means for the family through my old military savings and stashed loot but finances were a bit of an issue with my wife, who, assisted by our two daughters, sometimes worked at home, making wool thread, dying it with goldenrod and pokeweed and knitting for a local merchant.
As my auditor kept running the NED procedure, waves of old emotions rolled over me, that wondrous life-time was opening up more and more to my mind’s eye. Oh, how exciting it was to connect with that lifetime! There is simply nothing to compare it with. Imagine coming home after some eight hundred years and realizing that you still loved your wife despite her being such a nag. Deep inside, very deep, I missed her all these years. Her and my beautiful daughters, the best and most beautiful daughters in the world—my two little girls.  
The incident started unfolding for me from the end but here I will present that incident chronologically. I was contacted by Charles, the lord of a small town down our beautiful river Meuse with a job proposal. He wanted me to assemble an 800-men army, train it for combat in three weeks and arrive as mercenaries to the walls of his town on a certain date in the morning to help him defend the town against a neighbor enemy of his. Most likely he was afraid to create a mercenary force too powerful to deal with if we turned against him but large enough to be a factor in dealing with the neighbor. The enemy army was expected that morning at the town walls. It was a matter of some old, disputed debt that would come to maturity that morning.
The attacking force was expected to be 3500-strong. Baron pegged his own army at about 1200. Charles believed that with the addition of 800 mercenaries within the town walls, he would have a great chance of repelling the attackers and then possibly even decimating them with an all-out sortie. The baron paid half upfront. My share of that half was enough for my wife and daughter to live carefree for a few months.                   
          With no lack of applicants, I picked 800 biggest and meanest guys for my army, most of them experienced soldiers, some novices, equipped them, organized them into eight regiments, appointed regiment commanders and their lieutenants and trained that army into a cohesive fighting force out in the meadows.
          We boarded barges rented by the baron and shipped to the walls of his town early in the morning on the date of the expected attack. There Charles stalled for time for a couple of hours and finally refused to open the town gates for us, forcing me to fight the neighbor, who arrived mid-morning with his army. The baron kept his 1200 men inside town walls as his second line of defense.
          An envoy I dispatched to the attacking baron in an attempt to make peace was decapitated. My employer, Charles, must have really pissed off that neighbor. I shared his sentiments, as I too was deeply disappointed in Charles at that point.
          Confronted with such a betrayal and with no retreat routs, I had no choice but to battle the opponent who outnumbered us four or five to one. Luckily, their army was forced to advance uphill through a relatively narrow approach, probably no more than about 20 men abreast with some room to swing a sword. A winning strategy quickly took shape in my mind, a strategy I called a “pitchfork” formation. I assembled my regiment commanders and ordered them to line the regiments up in a two-prong formation.
The strategy was to ram into the enemy front with the two prongs hugging the hillsides and keep moving forward, maintaining the formation as much as possible, deeper and deeper into their ranks and then on my command close the front, surrounding a portion of the enemy troops inside the sack, while bringing back my rear to fill in between the prongs, annihilating the trapped enemy troops. The entire concept had to do with creating an isolated and defensible advantage against a small part of that army, and destroying that part while utilizing the terrain to keep the majority of their forces at a disadvantage or cut out of the battle entirely.
We started with a volley from long bows. Then we rammed into the enemy front, hacking right, left and center, but keeping the formation somewhat, and within a couple of minutes I figured we had as many enemy soldiers between the two prongs, as we could chew. Trumpets sounded my orders to close the front and to bring back the rear. The enemy retreated to the river bank, leaving behind several hundred dead and wounded to our few dozen casualties.            
          The slightly taken aback neighboring baron regrouped and ordered a new attack—with similar results, except this time I pursued the enemy as they retreated. With no heavy armor, we had speed advantage. We wore belted long chain mail frocks, chain mial hoods or steel helmets and tall leather boots. Some had leather or steel breast plates, though most didn’t. Also we used round shields made of wood, about two feet in diameter. I was able to buy them cheap in large numbers from the local cooper. The enemy troops were heavier armored and carried larger oval-shaped, steel-reinforced shields.  As a result, my troops were a lot lighter on their feet. We used that speed advantage to the fullest in that exhilarating advance down the hill toward the river.      
We chased the enemy to the beach and along the shore. Most managed to escape. Some stampeded into the water, trying to reach our barges, moored off-shore in deeper waters. They drowned in their heavy gear. The baron with 500-600 men surrendered. I let him go, based on the principle that an enemy of my enemy was my friend, and convinced his remaining troops to fight on my side, allowing them to keep whatever loot they plundered from the town. That deal was made on the beach a bit down the river and out of sight from the castle as we were hidden by the foot of the hill.
With a few dozens of my guys—all of us banged up and bloodied—we plodded up the hill toward the town as a sorry-looking crowd. At the foul-smelling mot I begged the sentries to help us. Charles came out in all his splendor to thank us for our great service and ordered the guards to lower the bridge and open the gates. We trudged inside, then promptly cut down the guards—Charles escaped my wrath then—and defended the gates and the bridge for a few minutes until the rest of my army arrived, now at least a thousand strong.
The Charles’ army was paralyzed by fear. We decimated them as a fighting force in one short battle. They threw down their weapons and scattered in all directions down the cobble-stones streets, chased by my men within an inch of their lives.
The last battle unexpectedly erupted at baron’s coffers, which, as it turned out, were being defended by a small contingent of his best and most loyal guards. I was mortally wounded in that ambush by a sword in the upper chest (remember my bronchitis?) and died about a day later en route home with all the gold and riches that I had plundered for my family. The baron escaped during the skirmish, but was re-captured later while trying to skip town dressed as a peasant, betrayed by one of his own men. I had Charles beheaded before we left town.
No words could express the fascination and the sense of calm assurance that I experienced as a result of remembering my first whole track incident and, thus, of fully and irrevocably realizing my immortal spiritual nature. I was NOT a one-life animal. Incidentally, my coughing got worse and then less and less until it fully stopped right there in session and my headache went away. That engram took over four hours to find and run. I left the auditing room a healthy man.
The changes in my viewpoint on life’s problems as a result of that session were immediate and staggering. Let us say you had an upset today with an imbecile driving fifty-five in the left lane when you were in a rush—potentially a highly annoying situation. Imagine if you suddenly started viewing that upset from a vantage point of an entire year, five years or twenty years. It would not seem as such an important upset at all or not even an upset, really, just a mundane occurrence.
What if you viewed some very important and life-changing calamity, such as a divorce, for example, from the viewpoint of a century or two, or a millennia? You’d think, “Ah, so what? What’s all the hoo-ha about?” You’d become stronger and smarter. And tougher. And calmer. And happier. You’d feel that getting back in the saddle would be a piece of cake. You would just turn all the way around in your mental attitude in an instant just by viewing it from a greater distance.
In addition to realizing that I, just like all of us, all the people everywhere, was an immortal spiritual being, there was also another reason for my jubilations, possibly not as spectacular. I suddenly felt enriched as I regained a long gone family, especially my wife, who was an apple of my eye for a quarter of a century, and also my daughters. I regained the incredible sense of pride of leading my own army and fighting a battle next to my men. The exhilaration of the battle, the feeling of being a part of a tough fighting force, the feeling of being invincible and unstoppable—I am telling you, watching Braveheart does not even hold the candle (no offense Mel). I did it. I led the army in battle. I won the battle. The fact that it was of no consequence historically or that I was killed in that battle made no difference.
If I was capable of heroic feats of bravery and possessed superb organization and fighting skills that I never suspected, what else had I conceivably done and, theoretically, could do again? Everything.    
Despite the extremely unpleasant Treason condition assignment and the ethics handling—
I stayed.

Chapter Eight

          Since I was not showing any signs of coming to my senses in regards to the Sea Org, Rick Fiandaca met with me personally.
          “What’s your beef with the Sea Org? Or is it with me personally?” he asked. I liked the directness of his approach. I was beginning to grasp the reality that Sea Org was not known for the beating-around-the-bush approach to life, as a general rule.
          “I do not like that you wear military uniforms and that we call you ‘Sir’. I hated your paranoid briefing. I despise your attitude toward normal people, non-Scientologists. You insult them by calling them ‘wogs’ and putting them down.”
          He was surprised with my audacity, but did not seem upset.
“Anything else?”
          “Yes. You violate the basics of Scientology, specifically the A-R-C and the Dynamics with your paranoid dirt talk. I was assigned a wrong condition and in the process of sorting that out, and as a direct result of all your bullshit I got sick and lost my job.” It suddenly seemed to me that he wasn’t paying enough attention. “Listen, you fuck, that happened because again Scientology principles were violated in that condition assignment, and again it had to do with you! Are you listening?”
“Yeah, I am all ears.”
“Good. You bet your ass I have a beef, you dick!”
          In the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping to provoke him for a little fist action. That would straighten out the world for me a bit as it would further indicate just how far he really strayed from being a true Scientologist. Besides, I hoped to whoop his ass. He had at least seven inches and 50 pounds on me, but he did not grow up as a Jew in Soviet Ukraine. Plus, he was wearing a uniform, complete with tight buttoned up jacket, and I was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of baggy jeans.  I knew I had a good chance, if it came to blows. He just had to throw the first punch.
          Rick just looked at me and smiled amicably. He stood up and walked around a bit, smirking.
“We could use an asshole like you in the Sea Org,” he finally said.
“Hell, no! You’re dreaming!”
He asked me politely to wait for him and walked out. He returned in a couple of minutes with some LRH tape transcripts and some papers. While I was reading the references, that he found for me, he fetched a lot more references, including some booklets, a red Scientology Dictionary and some LRH Policy Letters and Technical Bulletins.     
          I spent several hours in that office reading the LRH references that he showed me. Most of them were by LRH in writing, so I considered them to be true. In those references and tape transcripts LRH repeatedly referred to non-Scientologists as “wogs” derogatorily, claiming “wogs” to be, most of all, stupid, kind of like a herd of cows and just about as unaware of anything around them. Secondly, “wogs” were supposedly wildly immoral. Rick’s attitude toward “wogs” seemed to have been in full agreement with that of L. Ron Hubbard.
LRH warned against talking to the media. His idea of talking to any reporter was to just say nothing or talk about the weather, or simply kick them down a flight of stairs. He claimed it didn’t matter what you’d answer, they had their articles pre-written before they ever showed up at your doorstep to interview you, so there was no point in talking. According to LRH, there was no room for the truth, fairness, justice or any possibility of A-R-C in any discussions with the media. He described several examples of his dealings with the media and even one example where LRH instead of answering a reporter’s questions slammed the poor fool into his birth engram, parked him there and asked him out of his house. The reporter was guaranteed to have a very rough time for about a week.
Then, I read some hateful LRH words about the FDA. It turned out they had outlawed the e-meter in 1963 as they claimed that it had been misrepresented by the Church as a healing device. They even had one of the churches raided with guns drawn, scaring the living daylights out of parishioners and staff.
It seemed the lawsuit by the FDA centered around a medical claim made by L. Ron Hubbard in his first book Dianetics: Modern Science of Mental Health (known as DMSMH for short). Chapter 5 of DMSMH, Psychosomatic Illness, asserted, "The problem of psychosomatic illness is entirely embraced by Dianetics, and by Dianetic technique, such illness has been eradicated entirely in every case. About 70 percent of the physician's current roster of diseases fall in the category of psychosomatic illness. That all illnesses are psychosomatic is, of course, absurd, for there exist, after all, life forms called germs which have survival as their goals." [emphasis in the original.] Later in the chapter L. Ron Hubbard asserted, "Bizarre aches and pains in various portions of the body are generally psychosomatic. Migraine headaches are psychosomatic and, with the others, are uniformly cured by Dianetic therapy. And the word cured is used in its fullest sense." [emphasis in the original.] Such claims had brought the Church to the attention of law enforcement agencies.
LRH finally won.
Rick showed me numerous, abundant LRH references against psychiatrists and psychiatry. By then it was clear to me personally without any references that psychiatry was a harmful practice, especially their more invasive methods, such as lobotomy and shock treatments, but also common psychiatric drugs, like Amoxapine, Prozak, Serax or Valium as well as a host of other medications of that nature.
In my attempts to audit several people who underwent psych treatment, particularly electric shock and psych drugs victims, I saw firsthand the level of devastation to the mind machinery those drugs had caused. In my personal honest opinion, psychiatry can in fact be a very ruinous practice. I allow, however, that individual psychiatrists may be decent people desperately looking for solutions to help their patients, especially severely mentally incapacitated patients, whom Scientology is not willing to help at all. L. Ron Hubbard stated many times that Scientology was intended to help the able become more able. Then who will help the not-so-able—help or at least try to take care of these people? Governments, psychiatrists, other religions and their churches, non-profit organizations. Definitely not Scientology—of that I was certain. Scientology was only intended to help the able to become more able.
Where he urged us, his followers, to dislike and stay away from the FDA and completely ignore the media reporters, he urged us to ATTACK psychiatry head on, solicit complaints against psychiatrists, investigate the complaints, find and prove their crimes—and crimes were always there to be found, per LRH—and help throw the guilty psychiatrists in prison. In fact, he organized an international organization dedicated to nothing else but getting psychiatrists investigated and imprisoned, the Citizens Commission for Human Rights (CCHR). In their heyday, CCHR would cause the imprisonment of about one psychiatrist every day of the year on average, causing a significant drop in the number of new psych students at the medical schools and prompting some cuts in government funding—the government being psychs’ mainstay.
LRH considered psychiatry a vicious hoax and the single most harmful ideology on Earth—the ideology being that man was a soulless one-life animal fully controllable through stimulus-response tricks and all his emotions, dreams and aspirations were a product of chemical reactions in his brain.
Rick then presented me with some evidence of current (1988) well-organized attacks against the Church of Scientology, perpetrated by the Psychiatric Association, including slanderous media attacks, instances of infiltration into our organizations in the US and elsewhere in the world and planting evidence, stealing auditing session folders (strictly privileged information as protected by law probably in every single country in the world) and then publishing some of the contents and spreading discontent. There were documented cases of agents offering money to church staff members to commit some of these crimes. There was even an LRH policy allowing the staff members to keep the money received from enemy agents but report such occurrences to the Org’s seniors.
There was a lot of documentation there—all by LRH or raw data in support to what he was saying. There was a lot going on under the radar, behind the façade of this civilization. There really were some people and organizations bent on destroying Scientology. Why? Per LRH, because it worked. Nobody was trying to wipe out Hare Krishnas or Jehovah Witnesses—nobody cared, because they couldn’t do much good anyway. Did it mean that Scientology could not have been applied to its enemies instead of fighting wars? Not sure. I believed Scientology could be applied and should have been applied, but it never really was.
Damn! So there probably was at least some place for war in Scientology. I found one LRH quote especially apt in clarifying his viewpoint on this, “Constant willingness to fight back is the price of freedom. There is no other price, actually.” Not necessarily constant fight, but constant willingness to fight back, mind you.
          Members of the Sea Organization wore uniforms resembling US Navy uniforms, complete with ranks and ratings and even campaign bars. Another nod toward the war action instead of Scientology application action. I couldn’t make the heads or tails out of it all and decided to take a closer look, as things were beginning to form a picture that I truly did not like. There seemed to have existed an actual situation of “us” against “them”—in seeming or actual violation to Scientology basics. In fact, it took me some 20 years to really sort it out.
          Therefore, in addition to the administrative and management functions, Sea Org was supposed to defend Scientology against any enemies to ensure its continuous existence for centuries to come. In that regard, I could clearly see that with some people not playing nicely and with Scientology being arrogant and overbearing, quite a bit of defensive action was needed. L. Ron Hubbard, per some of the references I read, was in full agreement and even initiated a lot of those arrogant and overbearing actions and attitudes. In fact, his actions were at times illegal, as I found out later, for which his wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, among several others, served four years in prison in the 70’s for espionage and theft of documents from a total of 136 enemy offices. Mary Sue was in charge of the office that handled defense of Scientology, the secretive Guardians Office, the GO. When the illegal activities of the Guardians Office were uncovered by the FBI, all members of the GO, including his own wife, were excommunicated from the Church for their transgressions by L. Ron Hubbard, who claimed complete ignorance of their actions despite conclusive evidence that he personally directed their criminal activities.
          Thus, I first became aware of the malevolent shadow that L. Ron Hubbard cast on Scientology, which he created. At the time, I could not reconcile his genius and self-sacrifice in helping others and the fact that he had personally planted the seeds of its destruction. I did not even know half of that then.
          The answers to these questions, the true understanding of what had transpired, how, why and wherefore, may be forever hidden from us now, obscured by layers upon layers of lies. What is left for us? We are left with the Scientology technology which is fully capable of taking us to the heights that absolutely defy imagination. Looking at it that way, we are left with a whole lot of riches.
          I stayed.          
Chapter Nine

In addition to management and defense of Scientology, Sea Org was also entrusted by LRH to be the custodian of the upper levels materials and auditing. Sea Org provides security to the safekeeping and delivery of confidential materials of Scientology. That secrecy and paranoia is just another brick tied to Scientology’s neck as it is treading water or trying to—another brick, roped there by no one else but L. Ron Hubbard himself.
A brief description of the levels of Scientology auditing and the corresponding levels of gained awareness and abilities that parishioners would achieve through that auditing. General familiarity with the entire gamut of Scientology processing is important in understanding a unique and contentious matter of the secret “Upper Levels.”
 Auditing and training in Scientology are organized on a graduated chart, called the “Bridge.” The idea is that you are currently on a certain level and there is a bridge that reaches high up onto a completely new very high level, a new plateau. It is a weird allegory as we are used to horizontal bridges, rather than steeply ascending ones, but such is the concept. Thus, the Bridge.
The Bridge starts with the Purification Program, which we touched upon already.
The next step is Objective auditing, which orients a person in his environment and puts him in better control of matter, energy, spaces and time in his life—a tremendously beneficial level, I might add, for anybody who spends at least two hours a day out of bed or off the couch.
The next step, Scientology Drug Rundown, is an auditing action aimed at releasing an individual from mental masses associated with drugs and alcohol use. On this level people usually get their first glimpse at the inner workings of the mind and the whole track. Drugs and alcohol go way back.
A-R-C Straight Wire is the next level up. “Straight Wire” just means “recall.” The A-R-C recall processes were formulated and organized by LRH in a remarkable way in that these processes cut out the lower bands of being. In other words, they may or may not significantly and stably improve a person’s emotional state, outlook on life or abilities, but they absolutely will prevent the person from sliding any lower. The end phenomenon of A-R-C Straight Wire is, “The person knows that he or she won't get any worse.”
Then, we have a succession of Grades from Zero through Four. These are often lengthy auditing actions. The end result of each of the grades are:
Grade 0                   Ability to communicate freely with anyone on any subject;
Grade 1                   Ability to recognize the source of problems and make them
Grade 2                   Relief from the hostilities and sufferings of life;
Grade 3                   Freedom from the upsets of the past and ability to face the
Grade 4                   Moving out of fixed conditions and gaining abilities to do
new things;
          The Grades do achieve their respective end results and then some, every one of them, every time, as thousands upon thousands of people could attest, including me—wholeheartedly. The only requirement for achieving those results is to actually apply Scientology instead of discussing it or quitting in the middle of a process.
Grade 5 is New Era Dianetics, the end result of which is a Clear. A Clear is a person no longer manipulated like a puppet by his engrams for the excellent reason of all his engrams being gone.

Clear is a highly desirable state of being. The Bridge is constructed in such a way that you usually go Clear on New Era Dianetics, although there is an alternate route if NED is taking way too long. There is a course that you can take after a substantial amount of Grade 5 auditing which will get you to the state of Clear. And that course is… you guessed it—confidential.  More secrets.
          Above Clear we have the levels of pre-OT, the pre-Operating Thetan. The word “Thetan” comes from “Theta,” a designation for the life force, the élan vital, the mysterious energy permeating everything alive and the absence of which is called “death.”
          What is Theta?

Greek letter Theta (Θ) is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, derived from the Phoenician letter Teth. In the system of Greek numerals it has the value of “9,” the Indestructible or Eternal Energy. To the Ancient Greeks, just as to the Phoenicians before them, the symbol of Theta stood for that mysterious energy that George Lucas called "The Force" in his Star Wars and that Lao Tze called "Tao" in his Tao Te Ching.
Theta is energy peculiar to life which acts upon matter in the physical universe and animates it, mobilizes it and changes it. It is a natural creative energy of the spirit manifested, for example, in constructive communication, such as art. I do not mean that only Mozart and other famous artists or musicians manifest Theta energy. Women are often works of art in the elaborate way they dress, the shape they keep their bodies in, their make-up and demeanor. We all like to tell a joke or a story to our friends, play a good game, sing or decorate our homes with esthetic brick-a-brack. We all continuously endeavor to achieve beauty as we understand it. Most people agree with each other about what art is. Others adhere to their own definition of art.
          A thetan is a self-aware unit of Theta. If you are self-aware, if you know what you mean when you say “I,” referring to yourself, you are a thetan. We are all thetans—a bum sleeping on a sidewalk, Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie and Albert Einstein alike. The closest concept to “thetan” in English is “soul.” The only difference between a thetan and a soul is that, semantically, you can HAVE a soul but you can’t have a thetan, you ARE a thetan.   
          An Operating Thetan, an OT, is not just any old thetan. He is a spirit fully cognizant of his true nature and abilities, fully in control of his perceptions, decisions and actions as a spirit—with or without a body. An OT is a person who is at cause (able to command) over Matter, Energy, Space, Time and Life. We are talking about potentially immense powers and levels of awareness here and it all could get extremely esoteric but just as anything in Scientology it starts small with OT I, then OT II, etc., and reaches OT VII as pre-OT levels and then OT VIII is the first true OT level. An OTVIII person is very high up, very able and very much spiritually aware. He CAN and DOES create miracles but actually falls short in terms of being able to FULLY control and command everything, including life. But OT VIII is where the existing Bridge stops. Therefore, the Scientology Bridge, although fully capable of taking you into the stratosphere of existence, does not deliver you all the way up and out of the body trap.
Per rumors, there are actual further OT levels through OT XV hidden somewhere at the International Management secret location, unrealeased as yet to the general public. Not sure. I spent a full 15 years of my life working at that secret location and I very much doubt the existence of any further OT levels. I am positive that L. Ron Hubbard simply had not completed his research and so truly there is no Bridge, or at least the existing Bridge does not reach all the way across the chasm to that highest plateau. Of course, the miraculous advancements one makes traveling the existing part of the Bridge are no less than absolutely astonishing and should not be underestimated. However, there is an element of untruth in the claims of the existence of the Bridge. As an engineer, I assure you that a bridge that fails to reach the other shore is not a bridge. Once again, among the Scientology jewels of incredible value we also find some repulsive feces of lies, planted there by no one else but L. Ron Hubbard himself.      
          All of the OT materials from OT I and up are confidential. They are guarded by Sea Org at the specially equipped six locations in the world with security systems rivaling the CIA’s. That secrecy again!
Secrecy earned Scientology the reputation of being a cult. Most people consider a cult to be something dangerous. Just look in the tabloids. Scientology is viewed as secretive which in many people’s minds equates to “menacing,” “dangerous,” “Jim Jones,” “death,” “cult” and so on. Although Scientology is dealing with powerful, hitherto unknown to the Western Civilization form of energy, of which life itself is made, it is not dangerous because its technology contains safeguards and corrective measures to straighten out any boo-boos.
Driving a car at 100 miles an hour is dangerous. Scientology is not. But there is a caveat: the Church of Scientology in its current form, with their rampant human rights abuses and pressures that create an unsafe environment and with the alterations of LRH technology, adds the element of danger to it, especially on the upper levels.
To give you an example, one of the alterations of the technology was re-defining the Floating Needle, a crucial e-meter needle movement. As discussed, a Floating Needle, or F/N, indicates the end of a process. There are millions of small processes on the Bridge, all of them end with an F/N—or at times not, if the definition of F/N is altered. The resultant “over-runs” cause temporary worsening of a person’s condition and may lead to illness. These over-runs can be very quickly repaired but, again, auditors can’t always repair the over-runs if they are missing actual F/N’s during the repair. Then they over-run the repair. There are other examples.
Once again, the choice had to be made between the incredible riches, which was Scientology, and a pile of horse manure, which was also Scientology.
I stayed.

Chapter Ten

          What made me join Sea Org? Curiosity. And the sense of duty to (A) contribute to Scientology full time and (B) take a closer look at the Sea Org, which I considered incongruent with LRH and Scientology, although I was no longer completely sure of that. Oh, yeah, and also the fact that for the first time in my adult life I had no job, while Sea Org provided its members with room and board, uniform and small stipend, which at the time, in 1988, was $30 per week.
          Rick Fiandaca and his 2nd were already gone by the time I made the decision, but then the next mission arrived to our Org from LA. This time, a recruit mission from ABLE International, the Association for Better Living and Education. The Mission In-Charge was Kim Whittle, a very nice plump lady, a flaming redhead with a ton of freckles, prone to smiling. The uniform, a bit too small, looked about as appropriate on her as a saddle on a cow. Her Mission 2nd, also a nice lady of about 40, looked even less militaristic, if that was indeed possible.  
These two ladies had such a hard time recruiting any of our public or staff that when I came to Kim with the news that I wanted to join, she thought I was making fun of her. I had to calm her down and convince her in validity of my intentions—silly me.
          The ladies checked my qualifications, based on a very long application that I had to fill out, my fresh personality test graph, IQ test results and two more tests, the leadership test and the aptitude test. I passed all the tests with flying colors. The application contained questions that could disqualify me, such as if I ever seen a psychiatrist or had any psychiatric treatment at all, if I ever took LSD and my drug history in general, any instances of homosexuality, any connections to any government agency and whether my parents were giving me a hard time about joining Sea Org. These would all disqualify me. I also had to list the names of all my sexual partners and list the duration of our relationship and the reason for breaking up. I had to give my medical history, list any medications I had ever taken, list my friends, my hobbies and interests, etc.       
          After I filled out that bottomless application, my honesty was checked on the e-meter. Nobody warned me beforehand. I was simply put on the e-meter and asked a question, “Have you falsified anything on your Sea Org application?”  I hadn’t.
          Then I was given the Sea Org contract to sign. It was the first one billion year contract I had ever signed—and I am sure the last one. The one billion years shook me up a bit but after a short consideration I realized that such a contract had absolutely no legal power, regardless what anybody told me or how many times I signed it. The very wording of my commitment to the Sea Org for the next one billion years voided the contract. I signed it. Then I was sworn in on LRH’s bust. Of brother!
          The next step was to calm down my parents and create some kind of peace with the family. My parents were vehemently against me joining Sea Org, just as they were against me having anything to do with Scientology. That could hardly be considered an intelligent opinion because they did not know anything about Scientology and had no desire to find out. I had my own place and lived my own life, not being particularly concerned about their likes or dislikes. In regards to the Sea Org, my mom was the vociferous one, while my father held a more reserved attitude. My mother’s antagonism toward Scientology was a disqualifying factor for me joining Sea Org, believe it or not, regardless that I was 28 at the time, provided for myself and lived separately from my parents. It turned out it wouldn’t matter if I were 56 and a VP of a huge corporation. Parents have to be supportive, otherwise you get the boot.
          To no avail did I try to educate my parents about Scientology and the Sea Org. All Scientologists know from experience that if you want to be effective you have to use Scientology to resolve life problems, as otherwise you are going to flounder, compromise to no end, settle for a lot less or get beaten black-and-blue by life like everybody else. I knew how to audit Dianetics and so I convinced my mother to have a session.
          I ended up delivering several sessions of auditing to my mom for the total of about 17 hours. I focused my auditing on her upsets with me, including a serious car accident I had at the age of 14 and, especially, severe disputes between us—and we did have a few. My mother was anemic and suffered from arthritis in her shoulders and elbows, sometimes to the point of partial paralysis. By the end of her auditing program, she did not only feel a lot better in general, had more energy, smiled more and acquired a healthy hue to her cheeks. She also significantly reduced (by about 80%) the frequency and magnitude of her arthritic attacks. She also said goodbye to her anemia. I keyed out all her maladies. They did come back to haunt her later but only to a fraction of the original ferocity. I called it a huge success and so did she. On that happy note, she supported my decision to join Sea Org.     
          By the way, recently, some 22 years later, when she told me as usual that Scientology was a hoax, I reminded her of the Dianetics auditing that I gave her in 1988. She said that auditing did not actually help her at all and her health resurgence at the time was fully attributable to Herbalife. At the time of that conversation, 22 years past, she suffered from heart troubles, elevated blood sugar and arthritis in her feet to the point of requiring two surgeries on her toes. I asked her why she wouldn’t use Herbalife to treat those maladies now since it caused her such a miraculous recovery earlier. She just waved her hand dismissively and said that Herbalife didn’t actually work. There you go, the true logic prevalent among the general public. Hey, don’t let me confuse you with the facts!
          I officially joined Sea Org in November of 1988.    

LOS ANGELES 1988-1989

Chapter One

          Upon arrival to LA, I was escorted onto the Estates Project Force, the EPF, the Sea Org equivalent of a military boot camp. EPF was located in the bowels of a huge old hospital which used to be called Ciders Hospital. It was refurbished into a Sea Org base, the largest in LA. I was issued my uniform: two beat up blue coveralls, a matching cap, two white T-shirts and a used pair of black work boots. I was also issued a bunk bed in such a terrible place that I sincerely hoped I’d never see. Bunk beds went three high with very little room to spare. As Russians say, “There was just enough room for a wide smile.”
          The EPF program consisted of eight hours a day of grueling physical labor and five hours a day of study. The program was completed when a new recruit was able to confront and handle work and did his courses and passed the tests.
          The grueling physical labor was not all that grueling. It was mostly cleaning and dishwashing, although we did do a bit of digging once as well.
Discipline was very harsh. The EPF In-Charge was an old sea hand, who sailed under LRH, an OT V, Lt. Larry Burns, one of the best people I have ever met. He was a loud-mouth, dirt-talking, rooting-tooting 60-year old trouble maker with a heart of gold. He had a bosun under him, a failed Sea Org member who was being groomed to return into the ranks by serving as the second in command to Lt. Burnes, and several teams with an appointed In-Charge (I/C) in each. Everything was done by teams. All the movements around the base, except when working, were done running, no walking. No smoking, either, except during meal breaks.
There were three musters (general assembly of the entire EPF, about 60 people), after breakfast, after lunch and after dinner, and if anybody were even a second late or out of uniform or not properly cleaned up, or insubordinate, the entire team would get punished. The punishments were never harsh but embarrassing, such as push-ups or an assignment to the most undesirable project. Then team members would deal with the actual offender.
Teams would get their targets to complete certain work by a certain time and those targets were to be met. Non-attainment of any targets was mentioned at musters derogatorily, while any target attainment was mentioned favorably. The Team In-Charge, whose team habitually would not meet their quotas would get demoted and replaced with a different team member.        
Our team was once assigned the worst project, the kitchen. John, a young soldier, fresh from the Army, and I were assigned to the dreaded Pot Land as a punishment for me calling some officer “a fool” because he stepped on the floor that I just washed. The entire team was assigned to the kitchen and I got the Pot Land as the result. I learned several new swear words from the conversations with my team members right after that happened. “Fucking Russian” was the mildest one, but I already knew that one anyway.
Our base was home to more than 1000 Sea Org members who belonged to about a dozen different organizations, but they all lived there and ate there three times a day. Some stayed up late and ate the 4th time, called “midnight rations” or “midrats.”  So the kitchen, called ”galley,” was quite huge, as well as old and relatively unequipped for the job it was doing. Washing dishes in an old rickety conveyor-belt machine, which was too small for the job, and especially washing pots and pans, was an everlasting uphill battle.
The Pot Land was a relatively small room with two large sinks, counters along all walls and unwashed pots and pans stacked up ceiling high both inside and outside the room. I have never seen before the likes of the flying cockroaches the size of a humming bird that I had seen in the Pot Land. Nobody during my tenure up to that point had ever succeeded finishing all the pots and pans, although the target was always to finish all of them and clean and disinfect the room spotless. That assignment was a pure push-ups material.     
          We lost our first battle with the Pot Room. Sweating, stressed out and frustrated, when the dust settled, we found more pots and pans piled up than when we started. Twenty push-ups, here we come—and the entire cussing and muttering team with us.
          John woke me up in the middle of the night. He wanted me to step outside with him, have a smoke and discuss the epic Pot Land defeat. Walking around and especially smoking after lights-out was prohibited. We ignored the rules, feeling relatively safe at two in the morning.
          We went over the fiasco, spotting exactly how and why we had been creamed by the inflow of dirty pots and pans. With no production line, we were constantly running into each other. We would both grab a pot or a pan and scrub it with this or that tool, wash it, rinse it and stack it outside on the washed pots and pans rack. Those that were especially crusted over, we had to leave on the counter some place to soak some more before we could tackle them. That obstructed traffic and added to the commotion.
          Right then and there, on the exterior stairway on the 6th floor of the Ciders, we worked out a production line, our respective duties, the staging location, the relay points, the holding location, special cases location as well as our positions and footwork.
          The next day we managed to keep up with the incoming traffic and even made a dent in the old unwashed stock.
          On the third day, we completed all the newly arrived pots and pans, fully handled the entire backlog first time in who knows how long and cleaned and disinfected the entire room floor to ceiling spotless. The funniest thing was that we completed half an hour before quitting time. It wasn’t all that hard after all.
          I happened to have five bucks on me so we went to the canteen and had some coffee and cinnamon swirls. Bad move, as it turned out. EPF members did not have canteen privileges except during their meal times.
          Some officer saw us in the canteen. John keeping his feet on the chair did not help, I am sure. The officer came over, kicked John’s feet off the chair and ordered us to immediately get back to our team.
          “Hey, Mike,” John asked me in a relaxed and friendly manner, “do you know this ugly old fuck?”
          “No, I don’t, John,” I replied honestly. “I have never seen this ugly old fuck in my life.”
          John turned to the officer and told him to go screw himself. The officer left, probably to go screw himself, we mused.
          Lt. Burnes was at our table in about a minute flat. His yelling and feet-stomping was so loud that security came running in, just as some other attendees were rushing out. That was actually scary. I think the nicest epithet that I earned in that yelling extravaganza was “black-hearted son of a Russian hog.” Everything else delved deeply into my alleged bio-anatomical peculiarities and had to do mainly with the material of sexually explicit nature.
          Needless to say, we both ran very fast back into the galley to face the wrath of the other team members of our Team D who were already tired of constant push-ups in front of everybody. They threatened to kill us, among other threats.
          We dreaded the dinner muster. We knew what was coming.
          John was actually shaking. No idea what they go through in the Army. He really believed that he was about to be physically beaten at muster.
          “If anybody lays a finger on me, I’ll kill the bastard,” he told me, shaking.
          “Hey, don’t get so uptight. Nobody will lay anything on you. But if they do, I am with you, man, we’ll go back to back.”
          He brightened up, “You will? Hey, cool! The girls won’t fight, so we are talking some 30 guys or so and most of them are pussies.”
          “All of them, man! Just relax. Breathe deeper and slower.”
          But I was not so sure. I really thought this was going to hurt or at least turn into an excruciating insult fest. I kept thinking that we probably shouldn’t have insulted that ugly old fuck.
          At muster, right after reports from all the Team I/C’s, Lt. Burns yelled in his usual manner from the top of his lungs, “Listen up, you black-hearted evil sons of bitches! Crazy Russian and crazy soldier, yes you! Front and center!”
          “Don’t start swinging before they do,” I warned John in the last ditch effort to avoid the bloodshed as we were marching to stand in front of the crew. He just hissed something defiant through tightly clenched jaws.
          Lieutenant Burns measured us up and down with a usual scowl, “These two miserable rotten little punks completed their target at the Pot Land well before quitting time! Look and learn, you runts! Treat them with respect. These are your future executives! The crazy Russian is assigned as the In-Charge of Team B and the crazy soldier is assigned as the In-Charge of Team E. Well done, you pricks! The current I/C’s of those teams are to step down. The entire Team D and the two crazies are awarded half an hour extra for dinner plus today’s officers’ dessert—apple pie and whipped cream. For their accomplishment, crazy Russian and crazy soldier both get commendations!”
          Such a turn of events was completely unexpected. I approached Lt. Burns on wobbly legs, received my commendation and then Bosun escorted me to my newly won place in front of Team B. I endured a lot of backslapping and congrats from my new team members right after Burns gave the command to fall out. My legs stopped shaking very shortly after, but my feeling of triumph did not leave me for quite a while.
          I know what you, the reader, may be thinking. You are smart. You see right through the mind games! The use of embarrassment, the positive reinforcement and all those manipulative ploys—true. However, please note that in the great outdoors out there, in the corporate American wilderness, everywhere, down to the last nook and cranny of human existence, life constantly does these things to you anyway. Actually things can and do get immeasurably rougher out there as any person who was fired from a job, got divorced, any homeless person, a drug addict or a criminal in jail would attest.
Furthermore, competence is competence. No matter how you gain competence and in what area of your endeavors, you gain your overall competence and self-respect, you work up to something that way. As long as there is no actual injustice, brutality or unpredictability—and with Lt. Burns at the helm there never were—you get better and stronger, you really do—and fast. That accounts for remarkable improvements that new military recruits often show after their boot camp, although theirs is a whole lot tougher than EPF in the Sea Org. They gain competence.
          The few courses we had to take to graduate all had to do with history of the Sea Org and Sea Org rules and regulations.  
          Sea Org lore ran deep, LRH made sure of that. In 1967, LRH bought several small seaworthy vessels and recruited the first handful of Sea Org members to help him in his research, which he called Mission Into Time, an expedition to the coastal regions of Greece and Spain, where LRH’s whole track recalls were put to the test by actual archeological excavations. His recalls were proven to be accurate every time. He put out the research and all the findings as a book under the same title in an attempt to prove the existence of past lives to the broad public. I don’t think the book ever took off, or that anybody was interested at the time—the usual “don’t confuse me with facts” attitude. But that is how it all started. There were several ships, including a large freighter Apollo. Sea Org outgrew them all and was finally established on land in the late 70’s. About 10 years later Sea Org purchased a cruise ship, Freewinds for OTVIII delivery. Freewinds is still there cruising the Caribbean.
LRH loved the ocean, felt at home there, held the license to captain and navigate ships anywhere in the world and he did his best to pass his love on to us, his followers, the Sea Org. It was kind of interesting, a whole new world out there in the high seas. I actually went there much later to apprentice on the Freewinds.  
          I completed EPF in three weeks. In those three weeks no less than eight people either ran away (blew), left legally or were discharged. I made it.
I stayed.

Chapter Two

Right after the EPF, I was posted at the Association for Better Living and Education—the org that recruited me in San Francisco—as an executive in charge of Hubbard Communications Office (HCO), something similar to HR in a normal corporation. I immediately felt like a paraplegic swimmer in the tempest seas. 
          “How can I be in charge of HCO? I just got here, I don’t know nothing.” I asked Kim Whittle.
          “Well, not nothing. You know something,” Kim tried to reason with me.
          “I say nothing and I mean nothing. Zilch. What am I supposed to do with these Minimal Standards orders, for example? Looks like about a 10-year project to me, but it is due yesterday. Are you kidding me?”
          “There is just nobody else,” she replied with a sigh. “The previous person in charge of HCO ran away (referred to as a “blow” in the Sea Org). There is no one else in HCO right now. We are very short-handed.”          
          Everybody had their assigned posts where they all struggled days and nights, it seemed. Kim was in charge of the Applied Scholastic International, a branch of Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE). Applied Scholastic schools were simply private schools for kids here and there around the world that taught normal subjects but were licensed to teach using LRH study technology. Regional management for these schools was located in every Continental Sea Org office, so there was Applied Scholastics EU, Latin America, AF, etc. Each of those offices reported to the International office (Int), which was Kim on her own lonesome and with nobody helping her. Her sunny disposition was a huge plus and occasional auditing helped, I am sure.
          Another branch of ABLE International was Narconon Int, the drug rehabilitation centers around the world. Their program was centered around the Purification Program and TRs courses (the communication drills) plus several more courses to stabilize the former addicts and prepare them for future jobs and commitments in their sober life.
          There were two more branches at ABLE Int. Criminon International, dedicated to rehabilitating criminals in jails and The Way To Happiness International (TWTH Int) which raised donations, translated, printed and distributed one small LRH booklet, entitled The Way to Happiness, a comprehensive secular moral code. LRH knew the human mind, so the book was written and organized in such a way that it would deliver some actual albeit very light auditing to the readers, allowing them to blow some mental masses or charge. That would invariably calm the readers as well as educate them. I heard that in conjunction with LAPD they conducted an experiment in LA where 50,000 copies of the booklet were distributed in one of the worst parts of town with the result of reducing violent crimes there by 30% for over a month. Just a tiny bit of auditing.   
Thus, ABLE Int covered a huge area of endeavor, though it consisted of less than 30 staff members from around the world—all overworked, harassed and stressed out. I very much liked and respected all ABLE’s activities and program around the world. 
           Ridiculous as it seemed, it turned out I had a junior under me, a very nice young German lady by the name Veronica. Very nice. She was on a recruit mission in Germany at the time of my arrival. As soon as she returned, she told me that she was happily married to a German guy in the Sea Org management unit in EU, located in Copenhagen. A very apt and timely announcement.
As another one of my forays in to the left field, that you, the reader, already tolerated on numerous occasions in this book, let me mention at this point that Sea Org members were only allowed to get married with other Sea Org members and since 1991, were not allowed to have children. If they had children, they had to leave Sea Org.
There were strict divisions within Sea Org where all activities or even a physical location  of some orgs were… yes, you guessed it—secret from anybody in lower Sea Org orgs. That was called “being Fabian” as L. Ron Hubbard put it.
Therefore, limiting the marriage pool to somebody within the Sea Org was not enough. Your spouse had to be from your org or from a same level org. Since vertical transfers between orgs as a punitive measure, a promotion or a management solution were common, the marriage scene was quite a disaster in the Sea Org. Such transfers up or down between Sea Org orgs would not cause immediate divorce (a spouse leaving Sea Org would) but they definitely put a lot of strain on the marriages as spouses would sometimes not see each other for years and couldn’t talk freely even when they met.
At the Int Base (the secret base for all the top management organizations) with some 750 staff in its heydays we saw some 150 divorces in five years from 2000 through 2004. The current leader (read “the self-proclaimed and self-appointed dictator”) of Scientology David Miscavage issued an order in 2000 prohibiting any more marriages on the Int Base until further notice. I left the base in 2004 and this order still stood. Here is a person hard at work on destroying the 2nd dynamic of the most dedicated Sea Org members on the planet. In regards to not having children, I will cover mandatory contraceptives and abortions later.    
          Veronica was mostly running things while I was mainly studying LRH materials regarding various aspects of ABLE activities. Some of these references were confidential, i.e. nobody outside ABLE Int had access to them. These references were called Advices. Some of them contained in-depth research done by LRH personally into the areas of education, law enforcement and criminal and drug rehabilitation. To simplify, as I remember it, the root of all evils was psychiatric practices and influences, psychiatric doctrine of the brain and bio-chemical reactions, all based on the now-“indisputable” in the Western world Darwinist notion of humans being the result of a fluke in evolution of apes. The fact that Darwin was only talking about bodies and that there was more to humans than just their bodies was no longer recognized in our scientific community or in the society in general.
          He also went over the existing venues and forces that carried the banner of spirituality in these materialistic and animalistic times and flew in the face of the destructive onslaught of psychiatry into every aspect of our existence. Those spiritually-based forces and organizations were on the retreat all around the world. The truth of the existence of human soul in those religions always ended up buried under a pile of rubbish, such as the rigidly entrenched views on homosexuality and abortions in Christian religions, for example, or the attitude toward women or non-believers in Islam, or spiritualists hocus-pocus and psychics’ trickery. He saw Scientology as a progressive, new and vital reinforcement to the army of good, although, in my opinion, he ended up following the path of all the other religions and buried the brilliance and workability of Scientology under a pile of its own rubbish.      
In that research, L. Ron Hubbard was not being belittling or offensive in regards to any individual psychiatrists, but concentrated only on the results of their influence in the society in the face of the diminishing recognition of the spiritual nature of man—not human bodies, but human beings. As his response to the demonstrably worsening conditions in the world, he established Association for Better Living and Education with all its branches. That was my first glimpse at the fact that LRH was not really after individual psychiatrists—appearances to the contrary—but after their harmful practices and their drugs, the attitude which, in my opinion, fell in place a lot more neatly with the Dynamics of Life and other Scientology basics.          
          After about six weeks of these studies, I was suddenly transferred to the Office of Special Affairs International, OSA Int, as the Programs Administrator—a fancy job title for the lowest office help in the Programs Department. I was swapped with some OSA staff member there who could actually perform the duties of the division head over HCO at ABLE International.

Chapter Three

          Office of Special Affairs, or OSA, is the most secretive of all orgs outside of the Int Base. That is where all the attacks by the Church as well as all counter-attacks and PR actions originate. Among other actions, OSA hires private investigators to dig up dirt on the enemies (anybody critical of the Church in the media or anybody suing the Church or any attorneys or witnesses helping the opposition in such lawsuits). OSA also makes sure that all activities in every Scientology org or center of any kind comply with the letter of the Law and that they are registered properly as corporations, pay sales tax and whatever other fees and do not employ illegal aliens. OSA investigates any instances of blackmail or espionage in the entire Scientology network. OSA Int runs continental Sea Org offices and those offices, in turn, have their own staff member at every org or center. The official post title of an OSA staff member working in an org somewhere is Director of Special Affairs. 
          I was not trusted at OSA Int, the hub of secret activities, being a Russian and a relatively new Scientologist fresh out of the boot camp. Therefore, I was not allowed to go anywhere unattended, including the bathroom. I was prohibited from attending musters or staff meetings or talking to anybody about anything except as needed to do my job. I worked in a large room full of overworked and stressed out ladies. My job was filing, the most boring job in the known universe. I was not supposed to read what I was filing, either.
Going to the bathroom was an ordeal as one of the ladies was supposed to escort me and wait next to the bathroom. Every bathroom trip necessitated a conversation with my senior, Becky Hughes, an otherwise very decent person, which would sound approximately like this:
“Becky, could I go to the bathroom?”
“Not now, Michael, not now!”
“But I’ve got to go now.”
“Again? You just went to the bathroom half an hour ago!”
“No I didn’t. That was about three hours ago.”
“Oh really? Hey, listen, I am right in the middle of something. Could you wait a bit?”
“No, I really can’t. Please, Becky.”
“I’ll tell you what, ask Diane here.”
“And why me?” Diane would chime in indignantly. “You think I am not busy? You think I got time?”
“Well, okay, ask Lamberdique. She is not doing anything anyway.”
“Who is not doing anything anyway? I am not doing anything anyway? Fuck you!” Lamberdique would lash back in a heavy French accent.
“Well, what have you done since lunch, ha?”
“I am doing my job! You go!”
During one of such exchanges, about two weeks into my stint at OSA Int, I simply walked out of that much hated room and walked straight to HCO. Surprisingly, nobody noticed my departure or paid any attention to me walking around. In HCO I asked the person in charge to be taken out of their crazy OSA Int immediately. The guy there tried to calm me down and convince me to get back to work but I said no. I was either leaving OSA Int or leaving Sea Org right that very minute, but I was not going back to the Programs room.
He made a few calls and told me that I was going to be posted as the Director of Special Affairs for the Estates org at the Ciders base in LA. Although it was considered a huge demotion, I loved it. For one, I could go to the bathroom unescorted; secondly, I would not have to always stay in one cluttered room. 
Thus, about two months into my Sea Org career I ended up being the Director of Special Affairs of a Sea Org org.

Chapter Four

The base centered around a large, old and ugly building, painted blue—formerly a hospital. There were several adjacent buildings, also ours, also large, also ugly and also blue. The Estates org took care of all the buildings, the grounds, the food, transportation (a few rickety school busses held together by rubber bands, chewing gum and the genius of our Chief Mechanic/Driver Jim) and dormitories of the base. The work load on the Estates org was unbelievably huge but, as usual, there were only about 20 staff members in it, including the accounting, HCO, the base cooks, mechanics/drivers, cleaners, electricians, plumbers, HV&C maintenance, drywallers and painters, the grounds people and everybody else. It also included a day care center for Sea Org children. The parents with children were eventually all expelled and the inflow of new children was later stopped completely. When I was there in early 1989, however, there were at least 500 children of different ages there, in addition to more than 1000 adults. Estates org provided nannies, too. Older kids went to a Sea Org school, inadequately staffed as usual, but the school was not under the Estates, although, as it turned out, the school was also under my jurisdiction for legal and PR matters.
EPF, the Sea Org boot camp, was under Estates. That helped with cleaning and the galley (kitchen). There was also Rehabilitation Project Force, the RPF, an equivalent to a prison in the Sea Org, with about 60 more people in it, who actually did the construction, remodeling and most of the heavy lifting around the base.
In my four months as the Director of Special Affairs, I had seen the inner workings of the legal and PR and became a pretty good paralegal and PR. I handled contracts, sales taxes and health inspections. I handled finances to comply with the legal requirements. I handled children as they caused complaints from neighbors for various mischief, such as throwing potatoes and rocks at the cars or mooning them from the windows. I had to pass inspections of the old busses that were so beat up that they could no longer get registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
I was busy but happy, despite the fact that I was constantly working on hiding all kinds of code violations from government agencies and covering up quite a lot. The day care center, for example, was 21 or some God-awful number of nannies short to meet the minimal requirements, so whenever an inspector would show up on their doorstep, a special drill would go into effect immediately. The inspector would be briefed that per our regulations, I, the DSA, was supposed to be present and I was the only one entrusted with talking to him. Right away I would get a page with a coded message. I would immediately activate the drill, which consisted of 21 specifically assigned female staff members from various base Orgs dropping anything they were doing and galloping full bore from all around the place into the day care through the back door to throw on nanny frocks that were always ready for them. Then I’d show up, greet the inspector and show him the place with all the “nannies” in place.
Health inspections at the galley were even more nightmarish. I would get notified by the Health Department about an upcoming inspection a day in advance. Then I would dispatch the entire EPF and RPF into the galley for “white glove” clean-up. EPFers kept a tight work/study/sleep schedule but RPF would stay up all night repairing, re-tiling, painting and cleaning the galley. In four months I had two health inspections. It was actually one but we did not pass it on a few points. The re-inspection was supposed to happen a day or two later, but didn’t. The inspector showed up unexpectedly about a month later when everything in the galley went to hell already and we could not have passed.
While Security kept the inspector outside, in panic I ran to the Commanding Officer of the Estates Org, Lt. Shane Whitmore, a great Canadian guy, for advice. He was used to do so much with so little that he could be counted upon to come up with craziest, but most resourceful and potentially workable solution. His advice was to try to confuse the inspector and get things signed off without ever letting him see the galley.
It was a performance of a life time. The conversation with the inspector outside at the horse shoe reception went approximately like this.
“Hi, Jim, remember me?”
“Yes, Michael, sure, I remember you from the last time. How is it going?
“Not bad. And yourself?”
“Pretty good. Let’s go in?”
“Why rush? Here, have a smoke. You know, it’s funny you remember me, Jim, I am glad. Usually people forget my ugly face right away.”
“No, I don’t think you are that ugly.”
“Really? Do you know anybody uglier than me?”
“Yeah. My son-in-law. The bum is unemployed again. Where did that stupid cow daughter of mine find that moron, beats me.”
“Oh, you are being too hard on your daughter, I am sure. How old is she?”
“Thirty-something, I have to count.”
“You know, counting has always been my problem too. I can never fully grasp this damn arithmetic, you know? Let’s say here is a key,” I showed him some random key that I fished out of my pocket, “and we call it a ‘1’ and here I take it away and put it back in my pocket and that’s a ‘-1’, see? So the result is ‘0’ or no key, right?”
“Well, here is that key.” I pulled the key out of my pocket again and showed him. “So how could it be zero when it is still a ‘1’?”
“No, that’s not a “1,” that’s a key. You have to get less specific on this thing. You can’t go around counting keys like that, you’ll get all confused.”
“Ah, you are so smart, Jim! I can’t even figure out why they don’t make you a Supervisor. What’s wrong with those fools?”
“Tell me about it! A bunch of back stabbers!”
“You don’t say! Can you imagine? A guy like you? You know, I hate those back stabbing idiots!”
“Me too!”
The conversation went that way for some 20 minutes and then Jim, the inspector, suddenly asked, “Hey, I always wondered why you keep painting these buildings in such an ugly color?”
“Blue? No idea. What color would you suggest? I’ll bring it up to the Management. Can I quote you?”
“Sure. You got to learn something here, Michael. Color consulting is not a simple thing. It all has to integrate, you know. It has to complement and set off nice features, show the beauty and all. You have some nice features right there.” He pointed. I looked.
“Hey, you should see the nice features we have on that other building across the street on the other side. Have you seen it?”
“No, I haven’t. What’s in there?”
“Hell! Why are we still here? Let’s go, I’ll show you!”
We went away from the entrance and all the way around the hospital to another building, the Advanced Org, across the street. The “inspection” lasted for almost an hour. Jim never entered the galley. He finally had to run so he signed off, based entirely on my assurances. Yes, I felt bad about lying but I would have felt much worse if he had seen the galley. Born and raised in the USSR, I did not consider lying to the government particularly reprehensible, anyway. That attitude saw me through and helped a whole lot in my short-lived but successful career as the Director of Special Affairs.
Jim recommended painting all the buildings beige. Like a hospital.
The only thing I did in those four months that I was really not proud of was the report I wrote on the situation with children. Children took a lot of my time. There was simply no way to provide them with enough attention and care within the existing system. There was no personnel and no money to do even a half-way decent job of raising the kids. I finally wrote up a huge report and sent it to the Executive Director International to Int Base. I did not get any answer at the time but later children were outlawed in the Sea Org by a special Directive signed by the Executive Director International Guillaume Lasavre. What that meant exactly was that parents with children were offloaded from the Sea Org and from that point on having children would disqualify a person from joining. Sea Org members were not allowed to have children of any age, period. I think my report had something to do with that directive, which caused and still causes untold upsets and suffering, including mandatory or at least coaxed abortions—quite a blow to the 2nd Dynamic. Where we touch upon Sea Org, we usually discover that some dynamics had been trampled to death.

Chapter Five

 The most significant thing that happened during those four months was auditing. I completed my second step on the Bridge (Objectives auditing) and then the third, Drug Rundown. I was being groomed for the Int Base. I wanted to go there, I was curious and wanted to bring Dianetics to Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the Soviet Republics. They set up a Translations Unit at the Int Base and needed a Russian translator.
In those days, I was the only Russian in the Sea Org—Ukrainian actually but nobody could understand the difference anyway. I received some other excellent and life-changing auditing as well and then a Confessional, which was a part of my clearances for the Int Base. I knew I had undergone a transformation as a result of my studies, experiences and especially auditing. I was much calmer, stronger and happier person. I was still me but a hell of a lot better.
Confessionals unearth and handle transgressions against one’s own moral code here. Any other transgressions, against any other moral code, would simply not read on the e-meter. But one’s transgressions against his own conscience create mental mass and will register on the e-meter. L. Ron Hubbard taught his followers that among all things in life, in the final count, duty and honor meant the most. Since every Scientologist holds in common trust and respect toward L. Ron Hubbard, one’s own moral code gets gradually augmented with LRH’s Code of Honor and that is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Here is the Code of Honor in full:
Never desert a comrade in need, in danger or in trouble.
Never withdraw allegiance once granted.
Never desert a group to which you owe your support.
Never disparage yourself or minimize your strength of power.
Never need praise, approval or sympathy.
Never compromise with your own reality.
Never permit your affinity to be alloyed.
Do not give or receive communication unless you yourself desire it.
Your self-determinism and your honor are more important than your immediate life.
Your integrity to yourself is more important than your body.
Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you can make your tomorrow.
Never fear to hurt another in a just cause.
Don't desire to be liked or admired.
Be your own adviser, keep your own counsel and select your own decisions.
Be true to your own goals.
Thus far, I only mentioned engrams as a source of aberration. Something painful was done to you. Somebody or something caused you physical pain and full or partial  unconsciousness. You were done wrong, you were done in. Well, there is the other side to this, too—something you did to others or to yourself that was damaging to dynamics. These transgressions, called “overts,” are hard to face up, hard to take responsibility for. For that reason, they are addressed some way up the Bridge, on Grade II, to be exact. I had not reached Grade II by a long shot at that point, but in order to get to Int Base and translate Dianetics into Russian, I had to get through my confessional.
A Scientology confessional is as thorough a procedure as everything else in Scientology. It really cleans you up. The auditor asks a question. Let’s substitute a real confessional question with, “Have you ever eaten an apple?” If it reads on the meter he asks you to tell him what happened. If you can’t find it, if you can’t remember ever eating any apples, the auditor helps you find it with the e-meter by saying “there” every time he’d see the same needle reaction, while you are searching through your past. Eventually, you find some part of it and then completely unearth it—the exact time, place, form, event and who and why and wherefore. The auditor helps you to really nail it by asking you when it was, where and if that was all to the overt.
With all those questions taken to F/N, the auditor asks you about all the ways you justified it or explained why it was okay to commit that overt. Then he asks if anybody missed it who should have known and what they did to make you wonder if they knew. You go through all the people who should have known or were affected by your actions. That way you completely handle that special fear we experience when we wonder if somebody found us out and how much they knew. In the end of that entire process on the repeat of that same question, “Have you ever eaten an apple?” the e-meter needle must be floating. If there is no F/N yet, the auditor asks for an earlier similar overt and so it goes until the entire chain F/Ns. You often have to venture way back on the time track to blow a chain of overts. 
Let me tell you, the relief I experienced with the guilt for my overts gone could be adequately compared with getting rid of a hundred-pound sack of cement off my shoulders. I used to blame myself and punish myself for my occasional transgressions. I thought it was all perfectly normal, everybody lived the same way—and everybody probably did. I learned to accept others to a degree based on the understanding that they too, just like me, occasionally transgressed and did things that they later regreted. I learned to forgive. Or try to forgive. Or just screw all that sissy forgiveness bull and fight! Strangle those sons of bitches! That was my life as I realized—a constant restless struggle. 
By knocking out some chains of overts, I was able to reach the source of some nasty habits. Suddenly, at some point I felt a joyous and peaceful relief. I felt clean. I felt good! I was done with my confessional. It took more than a week. It was a rather short confessional, just a dozen questions or so.
Grade II is a long confessional with a whole lot of questions on all kinds of subjects, along all dynamics. The end result of Grade II is “Relief from the hostilities and sufferings of life.” Think about it. Where did the hostilities and sufferings in your life come from if you could relieve them through confessional? You take full responsibility for your own misdeeds and you gain relief from the hostilities and sufferings of life. And that is the way the dice actually roll.
I was given a replacement for my post to groove in. It took a couple of weeks.
The secret International Management Base, the enigma—here I come!

INT BASE 1989 - 2000

Chapter One
          I caught a transport van at the Hollywood Guarantee Building at Hollywood and Vine, where a lot of the Sea Org members who lived at the Ciders worked. The van driver, a mousy, bespectacled and pleasant lady, named Brenda, sported a Commodore Messengers Org International nametag on her uniform shirt. I have never seen a CMO Int staff member before and, although Brenda did not look in any way threatening, my resolve to translate the Dianetics book into Russian wavered. I was the only Russian available for the task at the right time in the right place and with the right qualifications for the Int Base and TU. There was nobody else. The buck stopped here.
Truth be known, my dislike for the Sea Org never abated, although I was poised to now enter the very heart of the beast’s layer as a trusted apprentice. Of course, the EPF and several months in the Sea Org gave me a deeper understanding of the organization. Sea Org, as created by LRH, was all about just two things: the expansion of Scientology and competence. And most, if not all, of the Sea Org members I met, were in fact a cut or two or three above the general public in their level of competence and ability to get things done. Competence was not a problem and was, in fact, highly admirable.
On the other hand, the strong, even fanatical purpose to expand Scientology, was a calamity in the making, simply because it would lend itself so easily to being counterfeited with blind obedience to Command orders. Not too scary, really, unless Command fell into the wrong—evil, greedy and unscrupulous—hands. At that time it was already firmly in the wrong hands, but I did not know it yet.
In any case, I sensed that the uniforms, the lore, toughness, the exotic sea-faring terminology, the rigid discipline and tradition, the campaign bars and “Yes Sir’s” were all tinsel, the bedazzle on a dangerous bull-mastiff.
The two-hour ride to the Base was uneventful, except that I was torn by apprehension and premonitions. From the Soviet Union, a huge prison, I was now getting myself into a billion year contract with… what? Was I a classic case of a fool jumping from the frying pan into the fire? I knew I was in a way, but things are never that simple.
I have a theory about traps. We are caught into many traps all the time, it is our normal state of existence. At first you are a completely helpless infant (a trap), then a child (a trap), we go to school (a huge trap), then college for the higher education (a trap that can be fun), we get a job (a trap and a half), we get married (a trap), we have social and familial obligations (many traps), we get children of our own (more traps), we have to provide a nest egg for our retirement (another trap) and so it goes. There are great many smaller traps comprising larger ones, kind of like the Russian nestling dolls setup. Obviously, being in a trap with little wiggle room and no real and immediate solution for getting out is not a bad or unfamiliar condition in itself. The trick is to navigate the traps in such a fashion so as to get caught in the correct and optimal traps for you. I was inclined to accept Sea Org as the optimal trap for me.
On the way to the Base I saw desert for the first time in my life. To say simply that I was not impressed would be an understatement. Clumps of dry grass, tumble weeds, some minor hills in the background. Who came up with such an unappealing décor? Imagination of an idiot.
We arrived. Some new places immediately strike you as nice and calm, others—as active and busy. You may immediately feel right at home somewhere—or not. A place may feel oppressive or indifferent, or outright dangerous and hostile. We all to one degree or another possess this faculty to perceive the vibes of a new place if we are willing to stop and put the feelers out—if we allow ourselves to stop trying to be interesting and just calmly permeate the ambiance.
          Int Base did not feel like any other place I had ever known. It felt stuffy as if there was not enough air to breathe, it felt hot and uncomfortable, menacing and merciless, saturated with anger and intolerance—and fear. The layer of the beast. An invisible evil giant seemed to have cast his menacing shadow over the entire huge expanse of that 700-acre facility. Yes, it felt unwelcoming, but to call it simply unwelcoming would have been as toothless an epithet as characterizing cholera as a belly ache.          
The secret Int Base was and still is located in the desert at 19625 Gilman Springs Road, San Jacinto, California, 92583, near Hemet, about 90 miles south-east from Los Angeles, 40 miles from Riverside.  
The Base is the home of Golden Era Productions, the media and publications division of the Church, which is the largest of the several organizations of the Sea Organization, located there. Golden Era Productions is not a part of the top level management. It is strictly a production facility and the organization that maintains the Base for the upper orgs. Golden Era Productions has a monopoly on e-meter manufacturing and certification as well as production and distribution of all church audio-visual materials, both internal and promotional. That includes all CDs and DVDs, all the recording of translated lectures, editing, restoration of old lectures, shooting, editing and post-production of all films, events and marketing items. Golden Era Productions, or Gold, also contains LRH Compilations Division (R-Comps, as in “Ron’s Compilations”), which compiles and produces new courses from LRH lectures and books. Translations Unit International (TU Int) was a department of R-Comps. 
The Church of Scientology bought Gillman Hot Springs, a former resort, in 1978 and for some years it was used almost exclusively as a film production facility. Nowadays, the vast compound, surrounded by hills,  in addition to Golden Era Productions, is home to all of the highest level management units of the Church of Scientology, including Religious Technology Center, the Commodore's Messenger Organization International and Executive Strata International, whose Commanding Officer, Guillaume Lasavre, is supposedly the person in charge of the entire Scientology worldwide. In reality, he is not. The place and the entire movement internationally is run by Dave, the evil giant himself—a 5’7” imposter, the Chairman of the Board (self-proclaimed and even the post title is self-invented) of the Religious Technology Center, the legal owner of all Scientology trademarks.
All Base buildings, the stone veneer or pure white walls, the conical turrets, steeples and a sky-blue tiled roofs were designed in the likeness of a village in Scotland, complete with a castle and a church. All of the buildings share the same motif.
I stepped out of the van into the 100-degree desert heat and the first person I saw was the Commanding Officer of the Commodore’s Messengers’ Org International Captain Mark Yeager, a somewhat unlikable fellow, whom I’ve seen before as a speaker at international events. He was talking to another officer with three bars on his shoulders, a Commander, whom I did not recognize. Just as an aside, the top rank in the Sea Org is Captain and there are only three Captains left in existence, and those are David Miscavidge, the Chairman of the Board, Guillaume Lasavre, the Executive Director International and Marc Yeager, the Commanding Officer of the Commodore’s Messenger Organization International. The second highest-ranking echelon in the Sea Org is the Commanders and there are only a dozen of those. One of the three Captains and one of a dozen Commanders in the entire world were standing in front of me, looking concerned, unhappy and, yes, haunted. I felt the ambiance.
“Shit!” I said to myself and with that profound insight I trudged through oppressive heat with a Translations Unit escort to the TU offices.

Chapter Two

TU and the entire R-Comps were located at the Ranchos, two smallish, long, one-story structures, painted white, located next to an imposing, old 2-story building called Del Sol, the headquarters of the CMO International and Exec Strata International.
            The chintzy and impersonal TU offices consisted of two large rooms with continuous Formica counters running along all the walls with computers set up on the counters every so often. The Translations Unit Director Porzia Tristano, a young and reasonably pretty Italian girl of about 24, met me at the entrance. She was alright, I guess, but I did not much care for her immediately. Why? The fanatical conviction in her voice and insincerity of her smile, mainly. Her habit of moving in too close to your face and talking too much, common to friendly Italians, but uncomfortable to us, northerners, did not help, either. I was supposed to call her “Sir,” as officer of either sex are referred to as “Sir” in the Sea Org. 
          I liked the translators, my best friends for many years to come. There was Goran Andersson, the Swedish I/C, Thomas Teautch, the German I/C and a few others: the Danish I/C, the Italian I/C and the Spanish I/C Pablo Lopez Moraleda. There was also an old guy, Bernard, the French I/C. Out of these I immediately singled out Thomas, the German I/C, as the most intelligent and truly remarkable person. He was a young gentleman, very polite, great at listening, very friendly. There is a certain feel you sometimes get around a person, you can call it his aura or some kind of emanation. Thomas could be characterized as “perfectly clean.” He did not have a mean, contentious or even unfair bone in his body. Thomas became my best friend, a person I respected and still respect deeply. He was 23 when I first met him, 5 years my junior. He was almost 40 when I was shipped off the Base into the Ciders jail, the RPF, in 2004. Thomas is still there at Int Base today, in 2012. He is 46 now. I am truly sad that he spent his life in that hellhole. Thomas is one of the finest and most civilized people anybody would ever hope to meet in any lifetime.
          Pablo Lopez Moraleda, the Spaniard, was about my age, a fun person, loved to laugh, kind and perfectly devoid of any dangerousness. I called him “sunshine.” There was no edge to him. He was just always a fun-loving, smiling or laughing, friendly person. After the jungles I went through in life, Pablo was my first direct introduction to the concept of the possibility for people to be harmless while not being cowards. 
Goran, the Swede, was about 32 or so then, in 1989. He struck me as a nice and interesting bloke, although very unusual. His hair looked unwashed and uncombed, his uniform had an appearance as if he’d slept in it, and he moved in a slow and relaxed manner. Goran was highly intelligent and erudite, although kind of lazy, sloppy, slow and excessively easy going. A highly unusual type for a Sea Org member, especially all the way up at the Int Base. Goran was a survivor. His most prominent quality was his ability to remain consistently relaxed and live on the very edge of being thrown out, while making himself indispensible. That is how he used his incredibly high IQ and abilities. All kinds of people with gold shoulder bars tried to get rid of Goran for as long as I knew him but no one succeeded till about the year 2000. He wanted to stay at the Base and in the Sea Org and would always manage to make himself indispensible.
In 2000 he was shipped to Copenhagen and posted in the Translations Unit EU which was a huge demotion, but he remained in the Sea Org and is still there.      
Porzia took me on a tour around the base. It was hot and dusty. The huge dining building, called MCI, with cheap collapsible tables and chairs, all covered in dust and fly shit, was sitting pretty much in the middle of the advancing desert, threatening to claim the building as its own. Sand drifted through the place. Flies, numbering in the hundreds, enjoyed themselves immensely. The desert right outside the dining building did not look like any place a good Ukrainian boy, born and raised among lush forests next to the wide expanse of the Dnepr River, should be associated with—just dry ugly dirt covered with clumps of dry grass and large round tumble weed bushes.
“Out there on the other side of this lawn (what lawn?) we have a lake,” Porzia explained, making wide waving motions with her hand in the general direction of Abu Dhabi, I would say. “But I don’t think we should go there right now because of the rattle snakes. They come out now to warm up in the sun.”
“Yes, Sir, I agree. I already saw a lake before. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” I immediately concurred.
The place was surrounded by a six-foot cyclone fence with barbed wire attached to the top. There was a payphone by the fence. The reason I am mentioning the payphone is because it was removed shortly after and all calls from that point on were done from HCO (the equivalent of HR) with a special permission in writing and Security listening in on every call. All the roads and walks were made of gravel, dust covered everything and got everywhere, carried by hot wind.
          In TU I was assigned a nice space facing the window, a comfortable new swivel chair, a state of the art computer, a Tandem, which TU bought in bulk for only $3600 each, a steal for those state of the art machines with multi-language capabilities in 1989. All of them put together had about one-millionth of the computing power and memory of a free go-phone you now get at AT&T for re-signing. Goran, of course, was the systems administrator, he researched the market and found the Tandems, he set them up for various languages and he taught me how to use mine.
          “Save your file every two-three minutes or so. Just press F5,” he instructed.
“Oh, come on, Goran. Every two-three minutes?”
“The first time you lose all your work, you’ll start saving every few minutes,” he promised, with his usual relaxed smile.
The first time I lost about four hours worth of work I started pressing F5 all the time compulsively, like a maniac. But that was later, toward the end of 1989.


Chapter Three

Many times over the years I asked myself why a smart Soviet Ukrainian Jew from a good family who hates governments would do a rush and dangerous thing like jumping into the thick of the Scientology government. Because I wanted to introduce Scientology to the Ukraine, Russia and other countries, and I wanted to make the world a better place where decent beings could flourish and prosper unhindered by war and criminality. Those are the official Aims of Scientology as specified by L. Ron Hubbard. Since I was the only Russian in the Sea Org, the buck stopped here.
I cannot characterize more than one-third of my life invested on that Base as Hell. I would characterize, or rather diagnose it, as “chronic dental extraction aggravated by severe rectal discomfort.” For the medically challenged, yes, there absolutely is a medical condition of chronic tooth extraction. And upon closer examination, your dental nerves turn out to be actually hardwired into your colon—who knew? There you go, yet another scientific breakthrough. Science marches on.
Chronic dental extraction aggravated by severe rectal discomfort is a prevailing condition of existence at Int Base under Die Liebe Fuhrer Dave. You eventually start producing your own Novocain. Of course, if you grew up in the Soviet Union, you’d just be producing Novocain all the time anyway.
          In 1989, upon arrival, I studied for two months how to translate and what L. Ron Hubbard expected from his translators. Then, I finally started on my new post and translated two short illustrated books on how to study: the Learning How to Learn for children and Basic Study Manual for adults. I then translated The Way to Happiness booklet, one of my most favorite books by LRH. However, I did not succeed in getting any translations approved through the RTC Authorizations and Verifications.
          L. Ron Hubbard wanted the translations of his materials to go through several quality control steps. First, they were to get sidechecked at least twice with another Russian translator who didn’t exist, then the translation was supposed to be proofread at least twice by two Russian proofreaders who didn’t exist, then verified by a Russian Class VI auditor, the first of which was about 10 years away, then the final translation was supposed to be back translated from Russian into English by another Russian translator, who was not in any way involved in any of the previous steps and, of course, there was no such translator. The last step was not by LRH, it was a more recent invention by David Miscavige, a very distrusting person, to make things more difficult or impossible to get approved. Then the back translation was submitted to RTC, the Authorization and Verification Unit, for approval.
Since languages do not match, that back translation would shuttle back and forth a zillion times with a ton of questions. Once approved, the translation would get the proper copyrights and trademark notices and then typeset by the R Compas typesetters, then proofread again until a totally clean read and shipped to the Sea Org publishing house for non-English materials New Era Publications in Copenhagen.
          First of all, I had to convince everybody that getting one Russian translator on post would have been a waste of time, if in order to do his assigned duties he were required to have another translator available for side checking, two proofreaders, a Class VI auditor and a back translator—none of whom existed anywhere in the world. There were no other Russian Scientologists in the world fit or willing to translate at that time, period. I was it. There were half a dozen public Scientologists in various US orgs and one in Adelaide, Australia, but they did not know enough Russian and/or did not want to join Sea Org or translate for Russians in their spare time. They viewed their former countrymen as barbarians, oppressors and anti-Semites—and so did I. But I wanted to educate and help those barbarians, oppressors and anti-Semites as opposed to just badmouthing them. Truth be known, I could name a 100 Russians and Ukrainians whom I personally knew who were among the most decent people anybody had ever met. Dismissing millions of people as trash did not work for me.
One important point to realize about the Soviets is that they were seriously confused by centuries of corruption and inverted ethics and completely buried under an avalanche of outright lies and falsifications in every single aspect of their life—much more so than the population of any civilized country, for example the United States. I could give examples of such Russian falsifications that would make your jaws drop, such as, for example, a Russian dictionary definition of a “human being” as a self-sustained work unit able to design and produce implements of production and use them in labor demanded by the society. I bet you didn’t know that the single human spark that separated you from wild beasts was your ability to design and manufacture tools and work with them as per any orders you received. Those people needed serious professional help. I was grooming myself to become that professional.  
          I arrived at the base in May of 1989, started translating in August and ended up getting no translations approved that year. Low stats on the post spelled trouble. First six weeks on any new post are a grace period. My Approved Pages statistic was zero for quite a while.
          Life of every Sea Org member anywhere on the planet is completely defined by his stats. The stats are holier than Moses in the Sea Org. Stats are everything and then some. Every post keeps accurate statistics, that are officially assigned to that post. According to those stats you determine your condition and apply the proper formula. If your stats are down, you can expect some trouble from the Ethics Department and you are ineligible for a day off, called “liberties” or “libs.” Every second week you are allowed to take a Sunday off in the Sea Org, provided that your stats were up. That is called “libs.” If the stats were down, forget it, you would have to wait two more weeks for your libs, working on getting your stats up.
Our allowance at the time was $30 a week, which was usually not paid to us at all or we’d get a portion of that, depending if there was any money to pay the crew. Taking libs with five bucks in your pocket was about as much fun as window shopping or staring through the window at people eating at a nice restaurant. So I was always rather indifferent to libs and sometimes went for years without any days off. Sea Org schedule gives you a few hours off every Sunday morning anyway—sufficient to go to a store for sundries, do your laundry and clean up your dorm, referred to as “berthing” in the Sea Org.  
Therefore, having your stats down some isolated week was not a painful experience, although it might have meant some minor trouble—or maybe not even that if your stats were up often enough on other weeks. However, if your stats were down for the second week straight, you could expect a visit from your senior, who’d try to help you sort things and, possibly, such was the case with Porzia, yell at you a little bit and call you bad names.
If, God forbid, your stats were down again for the third week straight at the Int Base (not necessarily in other Sea Org locations), you were what’s called “ethics bait.” The Ethics Officer, called “Master-at-Arms” in the Sea Org, or the MAA, would call you over or come to your desk, inspect, talk to you, give you his piece of mind, possibly help untangle you in some way or just reprimand you. Your senior would jump into the feeding frenzy and they would all let you have it in no uncertain terms.
If your stats were down the fourth week, the MAA would interrogate you with the help of an e-meter, investigate your life and situation on post, you could be blasted in front of everybody at musters or you could be prohibited to eat normal meals, but only allowed rice and beans three times a day and nothing else.
If the stats were not reverted after that for the fifth or sixth week, you would first get an Ethics Hearing, kind of like a Small Claims Court. It would most likely assign you a lower condition and demand making amends. If that didn’t do the trick, you could expect a Committee of Evidence convened on you, which would look into your performance and could very well take you off post and transfer you to do manual labor in Estates. There was always plenty of work at the 700-acre facility with some 50 buildings on it. The Committee of Evidence, with sufficient evidence against you, could assign you to the RPF or even excommunicate you from the Church and boot you out for good. 
My two stats were Translated Pages and Approved Pages. Well, my doggone Approved Pages stat stayed zero for months, the condition of Non-Existence, and my Translated Pages stat was not enough to out-weigh that.
Meanwhile, my beautiful submissions to RTC remained un-answered or answered with an order to report to Ethics for gross and numerous alterations of LRH technology in my translations. The way they figured that out was through my own back translations. But it is really impossible to judge the accuracy of the translation through the back translation because languages do not match.
To give you an example of the fallacy of the back translation method of quality control, the English words “house,” “dwelling,” “hut,” “building,” “structure,” “edifice” and “tenement” can be translated by pretty much with just one Russian word “house.” On the other hand, an English word “storm” can be translated into at least two dozen different Russian terms and the back-translator could legitimately use any one of them in his back translation. That would create problems with getting the translation approved.  
We are also dealing with the fact that English is a huge language with some hundred thousand words, easy. Russian is a fraction of that. Such words as “to handle,” “serenity,” “asset,” “confusion,” “liability,” “postulate,” “infatuation” or even “survival” in its broader sense, to name a few, have no exact equivalent in Russian. Some English terms, such as “purpose” and “goal” would have to be translated with the same word in Russian. So the submissions with a multitude of such words would shuttle back and forth between me and Authorizations pretty damn near indefinitely, often stuck at Authorizations for a month at a time while I was vividly experiencing the aforementioned slow tooth-pull accompanied by sever rectal discomfort.
The order to Ethics by RTC was not a light matter. At that point the MAA had no choice but make your life a living Hell. All translators went through the same treatment because nobody could get anything approved, although Romance languages, such as German, Italian, Spanish and French, are much closer to English than Russian, so they faired a bit better. We, the TU, were considered complete rejects, the bottom of the food chain, trash. Porzia, as our senior, was always in trouble. Her hate for us knew no bounds and she was in no way subtle in letting us know. All the time. For any of us getting one page approved by RTC was a cause for absurd jubilations.      
The entire Org, Golden Era Productions, would have a night off in the end of the week when the major stats were up. Those were fun nights of videos, pizza, junk food and soda at MCI, the dining building. TU was excluded because our stats were always down. As slaves chained to their ore in the gallows, we would always be there in TU, cranking out hundreds of pages of explanations to RTC about discrepancies between the English original and the back translations.
The bright spot in that otherwise extremely bleak existence was, as always, auditing and studies. I listened to LRH lectures, read books and received some auditing personally. A whole new wondrous world of the spirit was opening up for me—and “opening up” is the exact sensation you get when that happens. There is just so much space! No David Miscavidge and his victims/puppets, such as Porzia or the Master-At-Arms could succeed in constantly keeping me down, introverted, confused and upset. Nobody could really take my freedom because the only freedom that counts was within me. LRH was a super-genius, the auditors at the Int Base were absolutely the best on the planet. That auditing occurred mostly in 1990.     
In 1990 I was also finally able to push through Learning How to Learn and the Basic Study Manual gaining the whopping 63 standard pages (1 standard page = 300 words) of LRH for the Russians. A rather puny step for mankind. 
Half of the original TU were discharged by then because of low production, a few other translators arrived. Thomas, Goran, Pablo and I remained, as well as Porzia. The situation was dismal. I had to get my stats up to relieve the rectal discomfort, but I had no control over the Approved Pages stat and the other stat, Translated Pages, was not enough to get an up-stat average between the two. Any average between two stats one of which is always zero would give you a condition of Danger, which is exactly what I felt all the time: Danger. The first step of the Danger formula is “Bypass habits and normal routines,” the second step is “Handle the situation and any danger in it.” There are five more steps but I could never get through the first two because they were completely out of my control. You know, I finally figured out the way to apply Danger successfully. It took me a year to figure out but I did—with Goran’s help. He was a genius at Sea Org survival.
One zero stat would always drag the other one down to Danger, true. Goran’s idea was getting an extra stat, the third stat, and create a chance to outweigh the zero. It was not allowed to arbitrarily start reporting an extra stat. It was a big deal. The only way to have an extra stat was… getting an additional post. Thus, I became the self-appointed Pioneer Languages In-Charge in addition to being the Russian In-Charge. I made myself double-posted.
In TU we categorized languages as “major,” i.e. used in countries with lots of Scientology orgs, and “minor” in the countries with some official Scientology centers in existence. There were four major languages in Scientology at that time: German, Italian, Spanish and French—areas with the most orgs outside US, UK and Australia—and there were two minor languages that were worked on: Danish and Swedish. And there also was Russian, but there were no Russian orgs or any Scientology representation so I proposed to recognize so called “pioneer”  languages for the countries with no officially registered Scientology organizations of any kind and consider Russian a pioneer language, akin to any other language on the planet with no Scientology presence, such as Polish, Zulu, Tamil or hundreds of other languages. Translations of basic materials into such languages were needed for expansion into those countries. I proposed myself for the post of the Pioneer Languages I/C and brought forth a completely worked out system for that post, including goals, strategies, plans, projects, stats and everything else needed for a successful post.
Don’t get me wrong. I did not write the strategy for TU expansion, the Pioneer Production Line and got the entire post approved solely for the sake of raising my stats. I very much wanted the expansion of Scientology into all these new lands. But the stats and the sense of self-preservation was a starting point in my calculations. I pushed everything through and even earned a chevron and some respect in the process. I was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class. Steel colored buttons and lanyard and an appropriate hat for my Class A Dress uniform, which I was obligated to wear in LA, looked quite respectable. I either had to wear Class A’s or Dress Whites, which was a beautiful white uniform that was a bitch to keep clean in field conditions.
Being officially appointed the executive over all those non-existent for Scientology languages gave me an opportunity to leave the Base and spend a lot of time in LA with no Porzia or the MAA to stress me out and poison my life.
As an Int Base staff at lower orgs in LA, I had an upper hand in dealing with the staff members and public. Everybody called me “Sir” and saluted with both hands, so to speak, as soon as they saw my name tag. I searched through all Sea Org orgs and several large non-Sea Org orgs in LA and Orange County areas and found about a dozen staff members and public who were Polish, Romanian, Albanian, Greek, Hebrew and Dutch.  The last three were actually considered minor languages, not Pioneer languages, because one org existed in each of the corresponding countries, but I managed their production because they were not represented at the Int Base in TU and so only I could really handle them. They also contributed to my stats.
The new post assignment also immediately gave me a six-week stats grace period. My friends, Thomas, Pablo and Goran were very happy for me. I found a Class VI auditor, Sabrina, in LA with a lot of free time on her hands as a volunteer tech checker for my translations via the back translation.
As I organized a very part-time but robust and consistent production of my volunteers in LA, I started getting some pages trickling through the production line, elevating me from the perpetual Danger zone. I would often go to LA, sometimes stay at the Cedars Base overnight, eat at the CMO dining room, enjoy longer meal breaks and deserts. Food at Cedars and at the Int Base was good, and consistently so. At Int especially. We had steak dinners every once in a while, always had two choices of entree—usually fish and chicken, plenty of vegetables, salads, fruits, tea, coffee, deserts. Of course, up to that point at the Base I was mostly on rice and beans, so scrap everything I just said.
In LA, I did pretty much what I wanted and that was mainly lots of productive activities, fully backed up by local Commodore Messengers Orgs as my post strategy was approved by RTC. With CMO help I was busy finding new people to translate or side check for me in more languages, turning people into Scientologists by auditing them on Dianetics, resolving their marital problems or helping them with Scientology, free of charge. I also organized the logistics of sidechecks, proof reads, back translations, Class VI quality checks, resolved conflicts and helped get the usual barriers in life out of the way for the growing number of my volunteers. That number, by the way, in my heydays topped 1200. Right from the beginning it was not that huge but it was never a dinky operation.
In addition to that, I was creating a grassroots Scientology movement and groups in Pioneer countries through my translators in LA, sometimes long-distance, other times by getting them trained and sent back to their countries to organize groups. The groups, as one of their most urgent priorities, were translating LRH materials under my supervision.
Toward the end of 1990, I had added Japanese, Afrikaans, Croatian and Czech. There were orgs in Japan and South Africa already so, again, some of these languages were not rightfully mine but, again, I had claimed the field production, and everybody stood back. That was the beginning for me, I felt more and more in charge of my life, more and more competent and able, and the pressure eased off. In Scientology it is referred to as the “altitude.” If you emanate the sense of altitude, people treat you with respect but they also expect more of you. Altitude is a manifestation of power. It is completely, 100% assumed. Nobody can give it to you. You are either able to assume it or you don’t, you either have altitude or you don’t, you are either a powerful person or you aren’t. Occasional Scientology auditing and education helped me quite a bit in removing the chains that held me back for who knows how long.  
Somehow, I learned that and gained my space and respect. I was through cowering and taking lumps at musters. I was through being scared of a little girl named Porzia just because she yelled and called me names. In fact, Porzia stopped yelling at me because my improved stats were pulling her stats up as well and because of one more factor, one more thing I loved about the Sea Org: if your stats were more often up than down, you had ethics protection. You were protected. Nobody could treat you with disrespect, yell at you or get on your case for pretty damn near anything. In other words, as long as you could produce well on your post, you were pretty much untouchable and invincible, little stumbles notwithstanding. 
Per the production priorities that I got approved through RTC, I was working on The Way to Happiness in all my Pioneer languages, then the study books (Learning How to Learn and the Basic Study Manual) and then Fundamentals of Thought, the first basic LRH book. That book was a relatively simple 80-page project. The next one after that was the biggie—Dianetics: Modern Science of Mental Health, the 550-page complex and fancy DMSMH, the most important of the basic books as it contained the actual technology of clearing engrams.
I managed to write, get approved by RTC and send out to all Sea Org installations an issue, kind of like a memo, asking for Pioneer leads and contacts and stirring up some excitement about future expansion. Sea Org staff members in various continental offices responded, I started getting letters and help offers. By early 1991, I added Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Portuguese, Taiwanese and several field translators in German, Italian, Spanish and French.         
Things started rolling. My approvals stat was still most often zero, but I would work magic with my other stats and, most importantly, there was actual and tangible expansion as I was working with field translators located in their countries and groups organized around them. With my blessing, those groups started using the materials they translated without any RTC approval.
Suddenly, somebody on the Int Base noticed that I, a lowly translator, was stirring up quite a production and expansion on global scale—on my own, with no orders, personnel or finances. Of course, such a success had to be stopped immediately. I was taken off my post temporarily and sent to LA on a mission to help translate and publish a promotional brochure about LRH in 18 languages. The brochure contained a compelling description of his childhood, young years, barn-storming pilot days, sea captaining career, including Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, accomplishments as a Sci-Fi writer and, finally, the founder of a rapidly expanding world religion. It was not a bad product to translate and publish, but it wasn’t written by LRH and so did not fall under the Translations Unit. LRH was very clear on that account. We were not supposed to get pulled off LRH translations for any reasons. Somebody was thwarting translations of the entire TU with promo materials.
What I was doing was a grassroots expansion of Scientology, all on my own. My actions led to actual expansion. Somebody tried to stop me. It occurred to me that my activities were flushing out the enemy, but I still did not know who that was. I ran squarely into the major problem with the Sea Org: doing what was right or per LRH was substituted with orders from Command. From where I sat, I could not see higher than Executive Director International. Thus, I singled out Guillaume Lasavre as the enemy within, the enemy mole dedicated to the destruction of Scientology. I was wrong. Guillaume had nothing to do with it. It took me 17 more years to fully sort it out.
At that time, many times, I also met the Chairman of the Board (COB) of the Religious Technology Center, the ecclesiastical leader of Scientology, David Miskavige. The COB was short, but in great physical shape. He commanded a huge presence. When he walked into a room, you knew it. The Captain’s four golden bars, the cold blue eyes, devoid of any warmth or mirth, strong face, the deep booming voice—Dave was definitely in charge. He was capable of exerting terrible power over you and your friends and you knew it. He was the Commander-in-Chief. When we complied with the orders from the Command, those were his orders and they were destructive to personnel and the jobs they performed. Sometimes we saw it, but we always attributed the destructiveness to the implementation, i.e. somebody below COB, somebody like the Executive Director International, would implement the orders in a dumb and harmful manner. COB RTC had always been beyond reproach.
The main observation that I made in those days about COB RTC was that his thinking was instantaneous, he knew everything and you were a helpless and hopeless moron by comparison. Talking to him or even witnessing him discussing anything with anybody else was like listening in on an inside joke. I could not understand most of what he was talking about. For one thing he wouldn’t properly start or complete his sentences because, it seemed, his speaking was lagging far behind his thinking and he just couldn’t operate that slow. I think there was more to that, more to keeping people confused. I think he intentionally spoke in a confusing manner.
He could come over with his entire entourage to suddenly start yelling at somebody about an unnamed somebody else, whose sexual aberrations the COB didn’t care about as he was only interested in that guy’s post production. And you just stood there completely lost. What guy? What was that all about? What did the person he yelled at knew that you didn’t? How did they know? Why didn’t you know? Was it important to know? What else didn’t you know and why? Or he came once and called one of my favorite in many ways R-Comps executive, Tanya Alexander, Eva Broun. Eva Broun was the mistress of Adolf Hitler. What was that all about? No clue. The chilling impression I always got was that there was a hell of a lot going on behind my back that was all unknown to me. After a while, I simply stopped caring about esoteric and insubstantial problems of that nature. I had much better, more substantial and tangible problems to worry about.
In conversations with me personally, COB was very tolerant and more mellow than usual. He seemed to like me. He asked me about Russia and the Ukraine, about my impressions of the Base and my opinions about various things. These conversations were short and thank God for that. I never felt any real connection, real A-R-C or understanding. Sometimes I would make a joke but he’d just keep staring at me with his scary sky-blue eyes. On other occasions, I’d just say something totally ordinary and not at all funny, and he’d suddenly chuckle. What the hell was going on behind those cold eyes?         
          Porzia perceived me to be in a more advantageous position in regards to COB than most other people she knew. She would normally start propitiating to me after such talks to COB, which did not make things more comfortable between us but would protect me to a degree from her hateful screaming.
Meanwhile, my field operation was withering with no due attention. It was supposedly covered by Porzia while I was away for weeks and months straight. Porzia always did her best but, being saddled with the entire TU, she was not really able to run my post.

Chapter Four

After the successful LRH promo magazine mission and another campaign bar, I came back to my ruined post, my baby. Pretty much everything I had worked for was gone, and I couldn’t find any ends. It took me about four weeks out of my six-week grace period to pull some minimal production together again. Now, I wasn’t going to let go. Oh, no! I was going to hold on to my post, continue expansion in several pioneer countries, continue my translation of the Dianetics book into Russian and that’s it. No more distractions!
I made it known and was immediately assigned as the 2nd to a recruitment mission for TU translators to Europe. In the Sea Org, like in the military, you comply with your orders. If you don’t, they discipline you and if they can’t do that, they will keep working on you util you agree to comply. I finally gave in. I was definitely under the impression that somebody, willfully or otherwise, was working against me in what I was trying to achieve.
I had lived in Austria and Italy for a total of more than four months on my way to the USA originally in 1979 when I left Soviet Union, so I was familiar with Europe. It is pretty much impossible not to like it, in my opinion.
I arrived to the EU continental office, located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sea Org members lived in an old and run down Nordland Hotel, purchased by Sea Org some years prior, but never repaired. Crew berthing at Nordland was atrocious, but I was not their crew. As a missioner from the Int Base, I got one of the best rooms with only one roommate, a CMO EU officer. He never called me “Sir” but that was okay with me.
My mission I/C, Joy Alsop, was an Australian OT V. She was a copyrighter in Marketing at Golden Era Productions. We set her up at the EU office and I left on my recruit tour around Europe. I visited several orgs in Germany and recruited a German translator, who was actually British, but was fluent in German. I visited a couple of Swiss orgs, then went to Italy, Spain, Portugal, then circled back to Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. I traveled by train except once I took a ferry boat from Denmark to Oslo, Norway.
In my travels, I saw a lot, met a huge number of people, learned to do successful recruitment briefings to hundreds of people—and make it all fun, learned to mediate grievances and be a true representative of the Int Base the way I had envisioned it. I tried to preserve the altitude in all my communications. I wouldn’t get chummy, was nobody’s pal, but I tried to always imbue my communication with helpful and benign wisdom and measure it against the way I heard LRH spoke and interacted with the public in his lectures, especially the earlier ones. L. Ron Hubbard talked about the attitude of benign wisdom but this attitude lost in the shuffle over the years, making Sea Org a tough and intolerant place.
Once I was even called upon to investigate a theft in the Paris Org. A public person was accused of stealing 500 francs from the org bookstore. The money was never found. She could not get any justice and cleared her name, although the evidence against her was at best circumstantial.
I listened to all involved, asked who was supposed to empty the money box at the bookstore, took everybody with me to that person’s desk in Accounting, ordered the guy to take out all drawers and empty his desk and drawers on the floor. I found the money. It had fallen behind the drawers. I had the guilty staff apologize to the public lady and shake hands. The local executives involved thanked me and said they learned something from it. 
On that mission I recruited one each, a Danish, German, French, Spanish, Arabic and Dutch translators. We brought them to LA for their auditing and clearances and left them there in the care of the local CMO unit.
Once again, I returned to the Base to my ruined field operations post. Amazing what happens to people in the field, and especially in developing countries, in 14 weeks. They die, move, lose jobs, change jobs, get married or divorced, children are born or die. My Vietnamese translator was arrested and killed by the government per rumors. One of my translators in India was abducted by paramedics at home, dragged out of bed, restrained against his will, taken to the nearest psych hospital and given a series of electric shock treatments. That immediately disqualified him from translating LRH materials or joining the Sea Org, as he had planned. I wanted to cry when I read his letter.
On the bright side, from my massive campaign right before I left, I gained a Ukrainian, Serbian and Hungarian translators and a Hungarian Class VI, OT VIII. My efforts to find and tie the loose ends of my disintegrating operation were paying off. I knew I could do it all again if they just left me alone for a few months. They didn’t. The clearances for the translators I recruited bogged down and I was sent back to LA to get my guys through. This was not a formal mission to LA, so I was obligated to come back every few days. I took every moment to continue translating the Dianetics book into Russian.
I was nervous and upset about my post, which I cajoled out of thin air, and all it meant for the expansion into Pioneer countries. In such an agitated frame of mind I accidentally cut my finger off on a table saw during so called “renos.”      
Every Saturday, all Sea Org members on every base do renovations, or renos, as a part of the Sea Org schedule. This time is used to beautify the base. Int Base, specifically, could stand a whole lot of beautifying in those days. Week by week, we worked in the desert, creating our Base. We got rid of the rattle snake field outside of MCI, expanded the lake and installed a waterfall and a fountain in it, put walkways, built new buildings, renovated old ones.
I ran my own remodeling company in Pittsburgh, PA, for about seven years up through 1986, so I liked renos. It was a way for me to forget the daily hustle, build something, exhibit competence, make friends and talk to other Sea Org members, even from higher orgs, like CMO Int and RTC. I loved most of the guys and girls at the Int Base. Renos were good for me except at the moment I was worried about my Dianetics book and my Pioneer Translations post. I just did not have the time for renos and for socializing.
In that frame of mind, I was using a table saw. Things went wrong. It only took an instant and there went one of my fingers and an about half-inch tip of another. Our Medical Officer drove me to the Riverside County Hospital. They didn’t attach the cut off part of my finger. They just sew up the wound and back to work I went.
Because of my injury, I was allowed to skip renos for a month—a welcome breather to just sit and translate. I wanted to complete the Dianetics book in Russian. I had no idea how to get it approved by RTC, so my plan was to smuggle it to Russia and just get people to start auditing without any RTC okay. 
Also in 1991, Executive Director International Guillaume Lasavre issued his directive to expel all Sea Org members with children and prohibit Sea Org members from having more children. As children are an integral and vital part of one’s dynamics, a relentless attack against having children in the Sea Org worked as just another nail in the coffin of Scientology.
Several of my friends quietly packed up and went, with not a word. We were so conditioned that nobody ever complained against any orders by Command.
LRH had passed away only five years prior but the winds of troubling changes, the forerunners of the evil tidings had already started blowing.
1991 did not turn out to be such a great year.

Chapter Five

I had not left the Soviet Union on a whim. Neither did I arrive in America by accident. There was never that dramatic “Oh-my-God!” moment as in “Oh, my God, look at that—America! How did I get here?” The reason I left the Soviet Union despite incredible difficulties and danger was because I wanted to get out of that nuthouse and I wanted to stay out. “Bah-bye! Call me when the first waves of civilization start hitting you, people.”
I left that country because I hated it and considered it unlivable. Life expectancy for men in Russia was 59 years, worse than in Bhutan but a bit better than in Laos.  Trust me, that place needed serious professional help.
With Scientology, I found the way to help those people lift their dangerous, rotten-to-the-core and drunk Motherland out of the muck it had been stuck in for about 15 centuries. Of course, there are always dangers involved with any sortie into Russia, for any reason. You couldn’t just barge in and willy-nilly start helping people with Dianetics and expect to accomplish anything or even to get out of there reasonably intact. The place had always been oppressive and criminal to the core.
In Russia, just as in any other organized crime outfit, you can do absolutely anything at all that you want, but only with an indulgent nod from the nearest Capo or, better yet, from the one above him—if not from the Capo dei capi, the highest boss.
PR operatives from the Office of Special Affairs managed to befriend a relatively small-time, yet well-connected Capo in Moscow, the Dean of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, Professor Zasorsky. Brilliant solution. Professor was relatively accessible while his connections reached to Kremlin and beyond.
Right after Christmas of 1991, the Commanding Officer of the Office of Special Affairs International, Mike Rinder, arrived to the Int Base. I was called into the Field Executive International (one of the 12 top executives under the Executive Director International) office where I had met Mike Rinder in person for the first time. I had seen him speak at several international events, but I had never met him. I liked Mike immediately, mainly because he seemed to be an intelligent and fun person. He had fun with what he was doing. He was not all stuck up and regimented. He didn’t strike me as the type to suddenly burst into goosestep or start saluting with both hands to anybody. Not his forte. I liked that. I was in charge of the Pioneer expansion, the uncharted lands, the unusual, the war zones at times. My success depended on wing-it kind of an approach, on shifting organizational lines and procedures, on alert adaptability, on acceptance of constant change and I excelled at that. My idea of opening strategy for a new language was going to LA, grabbing the first person I met who spoke the needed language and auditing him or her on Dianetics or having them read The Way To Happiness and getting them to volunteer as translators for me. Under my guidance they would then write to their home country and start a group. 
Therefore, I almost did a “Woo-hoo!” somersault right in that office when Mike Rinder informed me that I was going to Moscow as the Mission 2nd to help run the construction of the L. Ron Hubbard Library at Moscow State University.
The Mission I/C was Fred Harris, another high-placed free-spirited trouble maker with a broken nose, which did not seem to foil his suave demeanor. Here was a guy who knew how to wear a nice suite and a fancy overcoat, talk about the weather or Dianetics, drop names masterfully and charm the living crap out of everybody with his polished verbiage and demeanor. All those things couldn’t fool me, though, I was a field specialist. Observing people was a large part of my profession. Fred was trouble. I liked that about him and never had any problem with calling Fred Harris “Sir.”
We flew to Moscow in the beginning of January of 1992.
Moscow in the winter was pretty much as I remembered it: cold, miserable, chaotic, dirty and, with all that, beautiful. But mostly cold and dirty.
The future L. Ron Hubbard Library was going to be located at the Faculty of Journalism on Karl Marx Street, a couple of blocks away from the Red Square—a wrong translation from Russian, by the way; should be the “Beautiful Square.” Professor Zasorsky granted us an about a 1000-square-foot hall with 16-foot ceiling and three large arched windows inset deep into thick walls, at least 5-foot thick. It was quite a place.
Unfortunately, it was a wreck. The walls and ceiling were crumbling to the point where you could walk into a couple of such crumbled spots as if into closets. It actually worked that way with walls five feet deep. There were 11 layers of carpeting, as we counted later, dating back to Napoleonic war of 1812. The Faculty Maintenance Director Ilya Ivanovich walked with us so I asked him when the place was last remodeled.
“That must have been…” He thought hard about it pouching his lips and staring reflectively up at the crumbling ceiling and then answered with conviction, “…in 1813.”
“What? How could it be in 1813? And how do you know?” I asked, thinking he was joking.
“Oh, that’s easy. We had a fire in 1812 when Napoleon took the city and then it was remodeled the following year. Then they’d just throw a new layer of carpeting and a fresh coat of paint every twenty years or so.”
“What did he say?” asked Fred Harris.
“He said the place was last remodeled in 1813,” I answered.
“Hundred and ninety years ago?” Fred did not seem surprised. “Holding up pretty well. I wouldn’t give it a day over 175—at most. Tell him we want him to do a major spruce-up of this place, Zasorsky’s orders.”
“Hey, listen, Ilya, we need to remodel this place,” I translated, “Zasorsky’s orders.”
“Don’t look at me, Misha. My monthly maintenance budget is 300 rubles.”
“How much is that really? What can you buy for 300 rubles?”
“300 rubles will bring you about three bucks on the street. You can buy two half-liter bottles of vodka, that’s about it.”
“How do you operate then?”
“Look around. That’s how. Did you see the statue of Lenin in the lobby with snickers painted on his feet?”
“Yes, I noticed.”
“Been that way for two months. Can’t buy any paint to paint the sneakers over. Fuckin’ university. You are on your own, bud. Tell your fancy boss here to go back to Zasorsky and ask for some real money.”
I translated the situation to Fred. His reply surprised me. The man had no word “can’t” in his vocabulary. Probably that was exactly how he got his broken nose.
“Doesn’t matter. Michael. I knew he’d say that but it was worth a try. Zasorsky will not pay. You know construction. Calculate how many bricks you need to close off the worst of the holes and how much mortar and get those materials to me right now. I mean today. Line up a couple of workers for tomorrow and let’s start.”
We had just arrived. The time was about 7 p.m.
“Sir, you just didn’t understand yet where you are. You think you are somewhere else, but you are not. Do you think I can go and buy bricks and mortar now? Not to mention that it is late, but there is just no place to buy. These materials are not for sale in this country, except to organizations through government with a request order approved by the appropriate government agency or Ministry. No money involved. Nothing is set up anywhere to sell this stuff. You CAN’T buy this shit.”
“Whatever, man. Get going. Be a loose cannon, you are great at it! I mean now! Out, out!”
This was going to be a long mission.
I went outside into a damp cold, wind and wet snow. There were two drunks hanging around. Not an unusual sight in Moscow by any measure.
“Hey guys!” I yelled, “Come here!”
They stumbled toward me. They were both young, wearing old and dirty telogreykas, short, warm military uniform jackets. Probably recently returned vets.   
“Want to make some money?” I asked gamely.
“Yeah, man! A bottle of vodka!”
“Each!” interjected the second drunk.
“Deal!” I replied. We shook hands.
We reached a happy agreement, although I hadn’t had a chance yet to brief them on what I needed them to do. I could call this vignette, “Doing business in Russia.”
“Okay, boys, here is what I need right now: Bring me 260 bricks and some mortar.”
“Where do you want the bricks?” asked the taller one gruffly. He seemed generally more with it or just less drunk.
I was in good hands if that was his only question.
“Oh, just bring them inside, through this door, then first door on your left. I’ll be waiting there.”
“Cool, boss!”
I returned to Fred Harris and helped him talk to one of the faculty librarians. He was already thinking about staffing the future LRH Library.
In a few minutes the drunks started bringing in bricks on a piece of old plywood. Bricks looked ancient, dirty and wet. They were obviously uprooted and dug out from some thick wall. 
Fred spoke softly into my ear, “Mike, whatever happens, don’t you dare ever telling me where these bricks came from.”
“Okay, Sir.”
I went to the two hooligans and told the taller one, “Whatever you do, don’t ever tell me where you got these bricks from.”
“Ah, don’t worry, boss, relax! It stood for 400 years, it’s not gonna fall down now.”
“What did I just say? I just said to NOT tell me!”
“Okay, okay!”
In about an hour we had a pile of 400-year old bricks on the floor. No amount of vodka could convince the bums to bring any mortar. “There is no cement, man!” they professed earnestly. I finally believed them because they were honest people. I knew that if there were a snow cone’s chance in Hell for them to steal cement, they’d do it. 
 We took a cab to our apartment that was rented for us somewhere faraway. Somebody puked in the elevator. My entire digestive system cringed—America had made a weakling out of me.
“Hey, look, Mike, somebody had fish for dinner,” commented Fred Harris, unperturbed, on our way up. I almost puked. It wasn’t easy to hold my breath all the way to the 16th floor, either.
That was just the beginning of our mission.
I got cement the next day. The key to success in Russia is connections. By the time I remembered that maxim from my happy childhood, Fred Harris had already lined up all four of the Faculty of Journalism librarians on the phones calling their friends and relatives to find a line to get hooked up with some sand and cement.
By 10 a.m. we had a line. Somebody’s friend’s of a relative’s friend’s aunt was in charge of a local ZHEK 311 residential repairs warehouse. Some guidance through the web of the Russian housing authority system (ZHEK) may be in order but I am going to omit that as irrelevant. Suffice it to say that we had a good, solid lead on some mortar mix.
The cab driver I stopped for that errand became my good friend and accomplice in various adventures for the next two years. His name was Gennady. About 45, unwashed and sloppy, skinny but somehow bloated, unhealthy looking, with a cigarette always dangling from the corner of his mouth and with a permanent half-scowl on his unshaven face, Gennady was a perfect Moscow cabby. It turned out he never went past the fifth grade in school but it took him six years. He kind of liked the first three, he said.
No, seriously, the real reason I hired Gennady full time for the next two years was that first errand. Gennady asked me where to and I answered truthfully that we were going to ZHEK 311 warehouse to see if we could score some mortar mix which we would then transport in his cab in this pile of buckets that I had with me.
“Who’s the goalie out there at that warehouse?” he asked.
“Some old lady, somebody’s aunt or something.”
“How many lipsticks you got?”
“Lipstick? I don’t have any lipstick. Why?”
“You got twenty dollars then?”
“Oh, you mean, I am going to pay twenty dollars for the mortar?”
“No. For me. We’ll have to go see the aunt but you won’t get anywhere. Then we’ll drive to a guy I know and pick up a few lipsticks and drive all the way back here again, load up and drive to the university. That’s like more than half a day of driving.”
“How do you know all this? What if she gives me the mortar? Or sells it to me?”
“Okay, let’s go check. It’s your money, boss. Get the twenty dollars ready.”
We found the place. It was a really sorry looking small warehouse in the basement of some really sorry looking industrial shop of some kind. It was pretty dark there and very cold. Aunt Zina, a sorry looking old lady, bundled up in a very dirty inside-out fur coat, started our little talk with a “No” and ended it with a “No.” She asked me if I had a job order for their ZHEK filled out properly and with all the signatures and no, she would not sell me any materials.
“What does this look like, your closet or something? This is a warehouse! You can’t just walk in and take stuff. This is an important facility and I am in charge!” she insisted on my way out.
“Hey, Gennady,” I asked the driver upon my return to his taxi, “could I hire you by the day? Say, for the next week?”
“Sure, twenty bucks a day.”
“For how many hours?”
“However many you want. For two thousand rubles I’ll drive you all day and all night, too, if you want. Gas included.”
“Well, alright, you are hired! Let’s go pick up some lipstick.”  
“Yeah, I know a guy, I’ll hook you up. You may even score some brown lipstick. Brown is the best.”
Who could have thought? I had no idea.
We returned in a couple of hours with three lipsticks, two of them brown.
“Let me talk to her,” Gennady told me. I just nodded, defeated.
“Aunt Zina,” Gennady started, pointing at me, “he is a bit retarded so I just wanted to stop by again to say that we got these lipsticks here that we don’t know what to do with. Any ideas?”
“Any of them brown?”
“Oh, yeah, we got two browns, different shades.”
“And who are you?”
“I am his zavhoz (a person in charge of logistics). He’s been living in America too long, poor guy. Too much Coca Cola, you know, brain damage. So they put me in charge to keep an eye. Name’s Gennady.”
“M-m. Let me see the lipstick.”
He did. We stood there for a minute just waiting. She was busy scrutinizing the lipstick with a warm glow on her unattractive face.
“Just take whatever you want.” Aunt Zina finally told me, still mesmerized by the three small cylinders in her hand. “You got a truck?”
“No, a cab.”
“A cab? What do you think this is, some tiny little closet? It’s a warehouse! What can you load up in a taxi? You ARE retarded.”
          When we loaded up the cab with my buckets, on the way back to the job site I explained to my driver what we were doing here and why. I made a small excursion into Dianetics. Gennady immediately started talking about his wife. We had a pretty nice short session in that cab. He had a smile on his face and a bit more life in his eyes by the time we arrived to Karl Marx Street.
          After a few days of such an unsettled way of remodeling the place, we’ve had enough. Fred sent a fax back to the Base asking for a crew of professionals and at least a 100G’s of real money. Meanwhile, we kept plodding along. I forgot to mention that we had a deadline on this remodeling—Ron Hubbard’s birthday, March 13. A video of our Library was supposed to be shown at the International Birthday Event in LA. There were several such events every year. They were recorded, translated with foreign subtitles or voice-over and shipped all over the world to Scientology organizations. In order for the Library to make it onto the Event, we had to get it fully completed by March 7th the latest.
          I kept finding some workers, but they were all lazy and incompetent. I finally found a small team of Tartar women, girls, really, who were hard workers and very competent. So the remodeling was progressing, though not nearly as fast as we needed.
          Field Executive International Sherry Ingen started an international fundraising drive to finance us and within a week we had a quarter of a million dollars at our disposal. In fact, they sent a bag of cash with an officer in charge of it. He arrived and promptly forgot the bag in the men’s room at the university. An old lady, the janitor, brought it to us looking for the owner. Of course. Who else could have had a bag full of money there?  
Fred Harris, when we completed the Library, ordered to build a small station for that old janitor lady to sit inside the library as the Chief Custodian. We left good money for her salary ‘till the end of her days, probably. Of course, just leaving the money with the management was no guarantee that she saw any of it, but one certainly hopes.
          Meanwhile, our mission grew first to six people and then to 15 people as more Sea Org PR personnel arrived mainly from Copenhagen, LA and London. We were all working on PR aspects and the remodeling. I was mainly translating all the time—even on TV once, in a program Who-What-Where with the celebrity host by the name Versechagin, I think. For such a huge PR team we needed a lot of translators. I had to hire several and was running them as In-Charge. I also had Gennady get a couple of additional reliable cab drivers full-time and was the transportation In-Charge as well. Later I was also assigned in charge of the money exchange and most of the logistics.
Gennady was my money driver. He never stole a penny. I gave him a raise to $24 a day, for 24-hour shifts. He was always on duty. I would send him home to sleep and shower any chance I had which was every few days or so. Otherwise, he slept wherever and whenever as the opportunity presented itself.
Even with a ton of money we could not buy remodeling materials and especially finishing materials in Moscow. We finally sent two of our guys to Finland to rent a 3-ton truck there, load it up with everything we needed and drive it back across the border.    
          The five Scientologists professional carpenters finally arrived from Los Angeles with Joe Crass, a licensed General Contractor, in command. The guys went to work immediately, although we kept the Tartar girls too, as they impressed the hell out of everybody with their competence and good looks. 
          Our mission—now several missions actually—created quite a buzz. Once at the end of January, we’d been working through the night on some PR event and I got home in the morning completely wasted. Before I went to sleep, around 8 a.m., I gave Gennady $200 and asked him to change it into rubles for pocket expenses for everybody for the coming day. I also asked him to wake me up at 10 a.m.
          I was awakened at 9 a.m. by one of our two other full-time drivers with the news that Gennady was arrested and held at the nearest police precinct. I jumped out of bed and had the other driver drive me to where they held him.
          “I am an American citizen! How dare you!” I yelled from the door upon entering the police station, “I’ll have your ugly asses all over the newspapers, you imbeciles! Free Gennady Lavrov now! Immediately!”
          The peculiarities of surviving in Russia came back to me. It is always easier to later lighten up the rhetoric if needed than to escalate it after you failed to make the correct first impression.
          “Sir, can I help you?” a young receptionist cop asked me politely and kind of timidly. He was intimidated. Good.
          “What’s your name? You are fired! Free Gennady Lavrov now! You got five seconds before I totally lose it! I am a US citizen, you mother-fucker! Who do you think you are? Counting to five! One! Two! Three!”
          “Oh, you must be Michael Priv?”
“Damn right I am!” Shit, how did he know?
“Captain is waiting for you in his office, Sir. Third floor, can’t miss it.”
          “Thanks.” I allowed haughtily and marched toward the stairway briskly. Several cops scattered out of my way like cockroaches.      
           What the hell was all this about? Why did they arrest Gennady? How did that cop know my name? Was I expected here? Obviously. I started remembering all my misdeeds of the last four weeks, including getting a city bus off its route for two hours in order to get all of us plus a bunch of printed materials, fold-up tables and stuff to some PR event we were doing. Was I about to get in trouble now? A US passport offered some protection in Russia, but who knew to what extent.  
          I threw the Captain’s door open and barged into his office yelling from the top of my lungs, “What’s your name, Captain? You are finished! You’ll retire a traffic cop! I am a US citizen! You are fucking with the wrong guy!”
          “Sit down, Michael,” the Captain interrupted me pleasantly.
          “No! I’ll stand! I demand you to free my abducted driver who you had kidnapped earlier this morning! Yes! Kidnapped! I am filing a protest with the United Nations and Interpol for your groundless harassment! I will destroy you!”
          “Oh, are you talking about that Gennady driver guy? He was released already. Oh, yeah, he left. Or at least he is free to go. Hey, Sergey!” he shouted to a uniformed cop who poked his head into the office to check out the yelling, “Is that driver guy still here? Gennady? We should have released him an hour ago.”
          “Yes, Sir, he was released, but he is still here. Don’t know why.”
          “Well, get him to me then! Right now!”
          They brought in Gennady. He did not simply look bad, tired or frightened—he looked tragic. He looked a lot older than Russian life expectancy for men. His shoulders were hanging low, his lower lip trembled, his eyes were red, his face wet with tears. Could anybody really be reduced to such a shambles in an hour? Could somebody get so terrified so fast without enduring any actual physical abuse? Yes, a Russian man could. It was a part of the conditioning.
          “Gennady, go outside and wait for me.”
          Gennady made a few small tentative steps toward the door and then bolted down the hallway as if he had a piranha fish stuck to his butt.
          “What was the charge, Captain? Why did you arrest my driver and let him go right away? You scared the guy out of his mind.”
          “Well, Michael, he shouldn’t commit crimes. According to the law enacted in 1919, it is illegal to exchange foreign currency on the streets. The penalty is confiscation of the currency and a year of hard labor.”
          “Are you joking? That was in 1919. There are thousands of money exchange kiosks and stations all through the city. Thousands of people use their services all the time, all day long!”
          “That doesn’t make it legal. Nobody ever cancelled the law.”
          “I want the two hundred back right now. It’s church money.”
          “Oh, sure.” The Captain gave me an envelope stuffed with rubles. I guess they grabbed Gennady right after he exchanged the money. They must have been tailing us. Large cheerful letters on the envelope read EXHIBIT A.
          “That’s exactly what I want to know—the church. What is this hubbub all about? You are building something, throwing money around, a bunch of foreigners, some kind of new church of science or some bullshit—all on my territory. I want to know.”
          “So why didn’t you call me and ask?”
          “Ha-ha! Look who is talking! A saint! Why did you barge in here screaming and threatening? That’s just how it’s done, that’s all. You understand that. I understand that. It is very important to make the correct first impression.”
          “Well, okay, sorry I yelled and threatened. Are you sorry you arrested my driver?”
“Fuck you.”
“Just thought I’d ask. What did you want to know?”
          I gave the Captain a quick rundown on who we were and what we were doing. He was totally satisfied with my answers, we shook hands and I left. The young cop on reception tried to melt into the background and become truly invisible when he saw me. He was scared of me. Why? Because I yelled at him. Incredible. I came over and apologized for over-reacting and for being disrespectful. He didn’t know how to take that, so I left.
          I gave Gennady eight hours off for his sufferings.
          I was very busy organizing translators, any other personnel needed, transportation and finances, i.e. logistics as well as translating myself. That was a lot of fun.
          On February 27, around 9 a.m., when the high pitch of our Library remodeling and all the PR activities was nearing a truly unbearable crescendo, Fred Harris informed me that President Gorbachev’s birthday was in three days, on March 2nd, and we were going to commemorate that stupendous occasion with a special present.    
          “Great, Sir, I’ll buy him a tie.”
          “Don’t be silly. He is the asshole who whacked this crazy place. He deserves better than a tie.”
“A tie and a matching hanky?”
“Shut up. He is getting a bronze plaque with an engraving of the Code of Honor in Russian. Grab Gennady and go get it done. The reception ceremony is in three days on March 2nd at 10 a.m. for all the dignitaries. I kissed plenty of asses to get mine on the roster. Don’t let me down!”
          “Sir, That’s silly. You’ve been here for two months. Have you seen any bronze or plaques or engravers anywhere so far?”
          “Oh, yeah, and I want it on a black velvet cushion. Or is dark blue better?”
          “And how many velvet cushions have you seen lately?”
          “Michael, I know it’s rough but you got three days. I really need you to pull it off. You can spend as much as you need. You have an unlimited expense account. Just get it done!”
          “I can spend as much as I need?”
          “Unlimited budget! Limitless! Just give me a number! Any number!”
          “Five hundred dollars.”
          “Two hundred and fifty and not a penny more!”
          “Four hundred and fifty or I am getting a tie!”
          “Three hundred! I could go find a bronze plaque for half that price practically anywhere if I had the time!”
          “Four hundred! It is not in my Mission Orders. I don’t have to do it!”
          “Three fifty, you damn criminal, and that’s my final offer!”
February 27th, Day One
I took $350 in fifties and went to see Gennady before Fred had a chance to change his mind. My trusted chauffeur’s hysterical, yet oddly hollow laughter when he heard the news is still ringing in my ears.
          “Do you guys ever do anything normal? You are all crazy! I want a raise!” he lamented unhappily and then added, “Besides, I don’t want to bust my balls for the asshole who destroyed our country!”
          “Gennady, focus. Who cares about the asshole? Do you ever drive assholes in your cab?”
“Yeah, I drive you!”
“Exactly! So get the librarian girls together and make sure they understand the project. Get them onto finding a piece of bronze first, about yey big, okay? Needed yesterday!”
Gennady just shrugged in resignation.
“I am going to find a quiet place and translate the damn thing so we can engrave it.”
Time check: 10:30 a.m.
In about ah hour Genady returned into my “office” with a ferrety looking little dude in a huge inside-out fur overcoat.
“You looking for bronze?” asked the visitor in a conspiratory manner, looking around as if he had lost a dog and was hoping to accidentally find it here.
“Yeah. You got bronze?”
“Here,” he said opening his coat. There he had a green-black, twisted and banged up piece of bronze, about 24” X 18” with rough, jagged edges. It was at least half an inch thick.
“Beautiful, no? More than Gorbie deserves, the moron who destroyed our country.”
“Yes, thank you, that will have to do, I guess. How much?”
“Twenty dollars.”
“A bit steep, don’t you think? For an old, dirty piece of junk like this.”
“It’s not the material, boss, it’s all labor.”
“What are you talking about? There is no labor in this.”
 “You go steal a piece of bronze and see how much labor that is! You think it was easy on such a short notice?”
“Okay, okay, stop talking right now! Here is your twenty. Go away.”
The super-librarians’ next assignment was finding a line to a machine shop.
Shortly, Lena, the Chief Librarian, ran in yelling, “We got a machinist!”
Time check: Noon.
They found a machine shop on the outskirts of Moscow, working for the military. The place was surrounded by barbed wire with armed guards and dogs walking the perimeter. Pretty much the worst place to be for a person with a US passport in Russia in February of 1992—what with Russian eternal brutal mentality, xenophobia and paranoia.
Gennady parked his cab on the snow-covered parking lot. Armed soldiers with dogs made him nervous. We waited a bit for the machinist. He finally showed up, grabbed the bronze, hid it inside his coat and said in a way of introduction, “Hundred dollars.”
“Fifty,” I replied in kind.
“Okay. Will take me some time. No idea how long. May have to do it after work tonight. You wait here.”
“All right, we’ll be here.”
We waited for him for a while with Gennady getting increasingly nervous and worried about all the soldiers and guns.
Around 3 p.m. Gennady was tittering on the edge of a full-blown nervous breakdown. I asked him if he wanted to go wait in the alley a block away and I’d just find him there when I was done. He happily agreed. I got out, he drove off. The temperature was hovering in the teen digits Fahrenheit. I knew it would start dropping further when darkness fell around 5 p.m.     
There I was, standing in the middle of an almost empty parking lot next to a military installation. I wasn’t dressed for this, either. Damn, it got cold after a while!
The guards pretty much ignored me. I suppose they were used to people waiting for hours in the cold. They brought a dog to me a couple of times, a great hairy beast, a German Sheppard. The lackadaisical dog sniffed me indifferently and walked away, the guard never said anything.
Around 7 p.m. a guard armed with a machine gun approached me and asked what I was doing there—finally.
I was ready for that with a snappy retort.
“Waiting for a friend,” I answered. To be honest, I was so cold and hungry that these soldiers no longer seemed like such a huge threat.
“Ah!” The soldier nodded amicably and walked away. Flawless, impenetrable security. My grandma, may she rest in peace, could probably have run a better totalitarian regime than these clowns.
The machinist showed up around 8 p.m. with a shiny rectangular, smaller piece of bronze about a quarter of an inch thick.
“You’ll need to polish off the machine marks,” he said.
I paid him. Frozen stiff, I could not walk very well, so he gave me a ride to Gennady in his Zhihuli, a locally made bucket of bolts.
Gennady was contrite. I was more than half-unconscious. We both lived through the happy reunion and Gennady drove me straight home.
Before collapsing, I told Gennady to give the plaque to my friends, the drunks, to hand-polish the machine marks off.
February 28th, Day Two
The next morning I was back at the job site feeling like a truck hit me—a huge improvement over how I felt the night before.
The drunks brought in the bronze. It was absolutely perfect, like a mirror, on both sides. I paid them $20—enough for a dozen bottles of vodka—for their excellent and prompt service. I also offered them a job, provided they stopped drinking. They refused, true to the Russian maxim, “If your drinking interferes with you work, quit working.”
At 9 a.m. I put the girls on the phone to find any way to engrave the plaque.
An hour later a guy walked in who could not do the engraving but he proposed he’d install false bronze rivets in four corners for ten bucks and that was all he could do for that traitor who destroyed his country. I told him to come back in the evening. 
At noon we got a lead on a dentist with nice handwriting who said that for seventy dollars he could write on bronze using his dental drill, despite his dislike of the man who destroyed his beautiful country. Gennady whisked me, my translation and the bronze to the dentist. I ordered the girls to start calling on the oak frame in the mean time.
The plump and bald dentist locked up the office. We rigged up a table of sorts right over the dental chair under good light and settled down for a long engraving procedure. First, the dentist calculated the layout and drew barely perceptible lines with a pencil. The dental drill was probably not intended for writing, but he seemed to have been a virtuoso dentist. A lousy speller, though, as evidenced by a typo he made about an hour into it, a Russian “щ” instead of a “ц” almost at the end. I really wanted to strangle the bastard.
“Another typo and you are dead,” I briefed him weightily. “I am a certified crazy, I am not legally accountable for my actions. Understand?” The startled dentist glanced at Gennady, who nodded vigorously.
The dentist turned pale, “I understand,” he whispered. He went to work on the other side of the plaque—the tip of his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth and beads of sweat rolling down his pink, hairless head.
At around 5 p.m. we left the dentist with the Code of Honor in Russian fully engraved. It looked a bit childish and unprofessional as his handwriting, although nice and clear, was not a professional calligraphic quality writing by a long shot. Additionally, the depth of the engraving varied from extremely shallow, almost imperceptible, to very deep gouges. I couldn’t expect better from freehand engraving done by a dentist on a dental drill machine with flapping belts. From that standpoint he actually did an excellent job.  
We could not improve the handwriting, but Gennady handled the hell out of the variable depth of engraving with some black shoe polish that we bought along the way back. He smeared the shoe polish on the plaque and then wiped it off carefully, leaving it only in the letters. They all looked evenly black that way.
I already knew that the girls were not able to scare up any frame makers so we took our time getting back to job site and had a pretty nice dinner for a change.
The riveter guy was waiting for me when we returned. We drove to his place and for ten bucks he installed four fake shiny bronze rivets in the corners.
March 1st, Day Three
            With the presidential reception looming large and Fred Harris yelling at me, I started the third day with a mistake. Around 10 a.m. an artist walked in, summoned by one of the librarian girls. You would pick him out as an artist in any lineup—what with the full head of unruly hair, a large bow tie and oversized garb.
          “M-m. I see your predicament,” he uttered pompously and chewing on his generous lips, while scrutinizing the plaque for a while through his spectacles and brushing a lock of graying hair off his forehead. “I may be able to help you.”
          “Oh, good! Please do!” I replied.
          “You don’t need a frame. Frames are trite and over rated. Passé. What you really need is sophistication. What you need is an artistic concept. What you need is a message. Right?”
“I guess so. Something artistic and sophisticated that would also cover the writing on the back would work fine for me.”
“Exactly! What you need is a sophisticated artistic concept that would also cover the back! You really need me, not some carpenter! But I’ll have to give the exact concept some thought.”
“Okay. How much?”
“A hundred dollars.”
“Deal. Design it and let me know what. I want to know the exact concept first, okay?”
The artist promised to return in a couple of hours and I was able to catch up a bit on my regular duties.
Upon his return, the imbecile proudly handed me a very heavy monstrosity where an inch-thick slab of rough and beaten steel was spot-welded to the back of my beautiful plaque.
“What is this?!” I yelled, horrified. “Take this piece of shit off my plaque!”
The artist was taken aback, even insulted, “That is the artistic concept! Don’t you see? The elegant, refined and polished bronze is rooted in unrefined, rough steel. The Mother Earth image. The raw power of the elements. The sublimated masculinity image.  Brilliant! Don’t you agree?”
“No, I don’t! I want this piece of shit off my plaque NOW!”
“Oh, I can’t take it off, it is welded. It’ll damage the plaque.”
“It will WHAT?!” I grabbed him by the lapels and propelled him toward the five-foot thick wall, against which I whacked his head pretty hard. He squeezed out a terrified yelp.
At least six of my friends were upon me like a pack of wolves. They threw me on the dirty floor and held me down. I noticed Gennady doubling up in laughter, literally holding on to his scrawny stomach with tears in his bloodshot eyes. As I was being brutalized and humiliated, I made a mental note to smack Gennady when I had a chance.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Fred hissed, leaning over me with the tip of his tie tickling my upper lip. “This is a fucking church, not to mention we are in a foreign country, not to mention we are in fucking Russia!”
“Look at the plaque,” I hissed back as I couldn’t speak normally under all the weight.
Fred looked at the plaque, a few strangled cusses escaped his constricted throat. He grabbed the heavy plaque and suddenly raised it high above my head with insane look in his eyes. Some of my captors scrambled out of the way.     
          I raised my arms in a feeble attempt to protect my head and yelled, “I’ll fix it somehow!”
          “Yes! You will!” roared Fred with the same insane look in his eyes.           
          “I want my hundred dollars!” the artist suddenly yelled from the entrance. I pushed the do-gooders away, jumped to my feet and rushed at him again. He promptly disappeared and I found myself on the floor again with no less than four people whom I barely knew sitting on various parts of my body.
          Time check: Noon.
          The girls made a 2 p.m. appointment with some old guy who had a full woodworking shop at home. Gennady, still a little sullen after I smacked him pretty hard earlier, drove me as usual. We were both silent.
          The old guy introduced himself as Eduard. He lived on the 8th floor of a high rise way the hell out there in Tsaritsino in a two-room apartment with his old lady. One of the rooms was turned into a woodshop or sorts.
          “Eduard, congratulations!” I started, “Let me shake your calloused, professional hand. You were selected to make history by building a frame for this birthday present to President Gorbachev!” I explained, slapping Eduard on the back and shaking his hand.
          “Who? That idiot who destroyed our country?”
          “Yes, him.”
          “How much?”
          “It depends. Can you make a nice frame?”
          “Don’t know. I didn’t expect you. I don’t even have the material. I only have some pine in stock. Come back in a week.”
          “Pine won’t do. Need oak. How about this oak arm chair?”
          “This piece of junk has been in my wife’s family for over a hundred years. She’d kill me if I ruined it.”
          “Where is your wife? I’ll go ask her. I am sure she’ll agree to sell it. Money is not a problem.”
          “I hope so. We need money. She is in the kitchen.”
          I navigated a smelly and cluttered corridor to the old, beat-up kitchen. A mean looking old lady was washing dishes in the kitchen sink.
          “Hi!” I started enthusiastically.
          “What do you want?”
          “Just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Misha. We are here to see your husband on a very important business for which I am willing to pay him a thousand rubles.” I paused dramatically.
          “What’s the business?” she asked, warming up a little.
          “It is a great honor. We want to ask him to help us with a birthday present for President Gorbachev.”
          “That criminal who destroyed our country? Leave my home now. Go!”
          “You are a mother, you should understand. Are you a mother?”
          “Yes. So?”
          “Well, you have to understand that we are not doing it for him. Of course not! Who cares about that traitor who destroyed our wonderful country? He can just go rot in Hell as far I am concerned. We are doing this for his mother! Can you imagine how proud and happy she would be? Mothers are like that. Unconditional love. Hey, who am I am explaining this to? You know a lot better than I about mother’s love, don’t you? Well, don’t you?
“Yeah, yeah.”
“I thought so and I was right! Do it for his mother. She’d be so pleased.”
          “What do you want from Eduard exactly?” the old lady eyed me suspiciously but at least she quit kicking me out and was interested now.
          “We need him to make an oak frame for a bronze plaque. Unfortunately, he has no oak, but I am willing to take that old arm chair off your hands for six hundred rubles.”
          “I will not let you touch that chair for a hundred times that much. It is a family relic. Use pine.”
          I was not able to change her mind on that point no matter what I did. I finally agreed with her that we’d just use pine for the frame.
Upon my return to the “shop,” to my sincere dismay I found that Edward already took the chair apart and was going over one of the legs with a router. This whole thing wasn’t going well.
          “What did she say?” he asked anxiously.
          “She said it was fine, no problem,” I lied. What else could I say? He already destroyed the damn chair.
          “Gennady!” I called. He came over. “Stand right here at the door. Nobody gets in or out till we are done.”
          Gennady understood. “Did she say ‘No’?” he whispered.
          I nodded. He shook his head dolefully and turned the bolt knob on the door into the locked position.
          By about 4 p.m. I beheld the masterpiece. I wished. The wood was way too dry and Eduard did not have all the necessary tools, so the end product looked vastly inadequate in many ways.
          “Would you give this to a president?” I asked Eduard. “Look at these miter cuts and splinters.”
          “I did the best I could with what I had,” Eduard pointed out, “and I destroyed the armchair.”
          “Yeah, you sure killed it. But I can’t give your product to the president. Brake it off.”
          “Will you at least pay for the chair?”
          “I sure will, Eduard, I won’t leave you hanging.”
I paid Eduard twenty dollars and we slipped out of his house—still frameless, leaving poor Eduard to his fate.
          Fred had librarians work overtime.
          Time check: 8 p.m.
          One of the librarians announced that she finally scored. She found a line to a supervisor of a furniture company. The company was closed for the night but the supervisor was there waiting for us and he had his best worker with him.
          Gannady and I rushed back to his cab and drove all the way to Yasenevo, where we found a pretty small by Russian standards furniture shop. The supervisor Igor, a middle-aged tall, thin man, who looked like he could have possibly been suffering from stomach ulcers, was in a bad mood. He spoke in questions.
          “You think I am a goddamn ambulance? Do I have to save your sorry ass when you come at the last possible moment? So you can give your stupid present to that motherfucker who destroyed our country? Is that it? So I have to sit here and wait for you all night?”
          “I am really sorry, Igor. Perhaps $50 would make you feel a little better about the whole thing,” I suggested.    
          “Well, I don’t know. Let’s try.”
          I gave him a 50. He stuffed it into his pocket.
          “No, didn’t do the trick,” he said, his voice ringing with disappointment. “Let’s try another 50.”
          I handed him the second 50.
          Igor stuffed the second one in his pocket with a deep sigh and told me that he felt a little better.  
          “Oh, good. Where is your worker?” I asked a bit ticked off by having to pay a hundred bucks to this guy. Now I only had $35 left from my expense account.
          “I’ll call him,” replied the supervisor, opened his office door and yelled “Dmitry, get your ass in here!”
          Dmitry shuffled in, holding on to the walls and furniture.
          “Hello,” he said bashfully and hiccupped. He was drunk. Very drunk. My heart fell. Gennady started laughing.
          “How could you do this to me?” I asked the supervisor by the name of Igor. “This man is drunk! How can he work?”
          “Yep!” replied the drunk suddenly, “When I am drunk I can work. When I am sober, I can’t work.”
          “He is good,” vouched Igor. “Give him a try, he’ll get the job done for you.”
          We followed Dmitry to the shop. He found some pieces of oak of various sizes and profiles and got to work. Gennady and I followed the drunk in utter amazement with our jaws scraping the thresholds. He was the best finish carpenter I had ever seen. A maestro. In about an hour or so he managed to create a flawless oak frame, detailed and elaborate enough, nicely and effortlessly enveloping the steel plate. The only problem was that they had no wood putty to cover the nail holes.
          “Here,” he said. “You like it? A bottle of vodka and I go home.”
          “I like it very much, Dmitry, but you need to fill in these nail holes.”
          “I told you. We don’t have anything for that. He will have to do without.”
          “Who? You know who. He doesn’t deserve his nail holes filled anyway.”
          “Well, I am not paying. You blew it. Fill the nail holes if you want your money.”
          Dmitry thought about it for a minute, keeping himself propped up more or less vertically against the work bench.
          “Can I use your driver and the car?” he finally slurred.
          They left. I had a dubious pleasure of talking to Igor for a better part of an hour.
          The boys returned with a brown mascara pencil and some hair spray. Dmitry got to work on that pencil with a razor blade. The nail holes were filled with the pencil lead in no time.
Then he sprayed the entire plaque with hair spray. It wasn’t a bad idea. I was worried about somebody inadvertently smearing off the shoe polish.
          “Wait a few minutes,” Dmitry said. We all waited.
          Finally the time had come. Dmitry lifted the plaque, turned it over and shook it gently. Nothing fell out.
          “Yes!” he yelled, “My money!”
          I tried to give him a 20 but Igor asked me not to.
          “We won’t see him here for two weeks,” he said. “Give him five.”
          I gave him 10. Hypothetically, that would keep him off this place for one week.
          It was after 1 a.m. by the time we returned. Surprisingly, the Library was dark and empty. All our guys already left.
March 2nd, The D-Day
          We were back there at 7 a.m.
          “I knew you’d come through,” said Fred Harris looking over the plaque. “Boy, the damn thing is heavy!”
          “Well, alright then, Sir! Good luck to you at the reception, say “Hi” to Gorbie for me and all that. I am getting back to my normal duties.”
          “How much did it cost you?”
          “You son of a gun. You are a good estimator. You probably were right asking for a bit more money because you are still missing a velvet cushion.”
          “Come on, Sir! At seven in the morning? What velvet cushion? Where am I going to get a velvet cushion for you right now?”
          “I don’t care. Get out there and do your magic again! Be back here by 0900 sharp.”
          I translated that to Gennady. He cussed in Russian and shook his head in disbelief.
          “Relax. All we have to do is drive around for two hours and come back.”
          We drove around town for a while. Great city peaked at us through the miserable gray veil of slit with drizzling rain. Snow plows were pushing piles of very dirty snow and dirt around.
At about 8 a.m. or so we passed an alterations shop, specializing in manufacturing of custom-made winter coats. Did they sell velvet?
          Various rolls of material were hanging on the wall at the reception. Mostly dark and heavy wool stock. No velvet.
          “Privet!” I greeted the cute, young receptionist. “Do you have any velvet for sale?”
          “We don’t sell material here. We repair clothing or we can make a new coat. But we don’t sell the material.”
          “That’s what I meant! I would like a velvet coat. Could you make one for me?”
          “No, we don’t have velvet. We only have wool. Everything we have is right here on the wall.”
          I looked through the samples on the wall and found heavy black material that would look passable as a pillowcase on a small pillow.
          “This one,” I pointed. “I want this one.”
          “I’d like to buy some. Could you sell me some, please? Since it’s my coat?”
          “No, we can make a coat but we can’t give or sell you the material.”
          “Why not?”
          “What if I paid for my coat, could I just take the material?”
          “No, Sir, I am sorry. We can make a coat but we can’t...”
          “But if I paid…”
          “You can’t pay right now anyway, Sir, the manager is not here yet. He is the only one allowed to handle money. Come back in a couple of hours.”
          “Okay, I might do that but there is something I don’t get. If it is my coat and I am paying for it, why can’t you give me the material?”
          “I am sorry, regulations.”
          “Okay, what about my off-cuts?” I was groping for the straws.
          “What off-cuts?”
          “When you make my coat, wouldn’t you have some leftover material?”
          “Yes, of course.”
          “Great! I would like to get my off-cuts now. Thank you.”
          “No, I am sorry, Sir, how could I give you your off-cuts if we haven’t made the coat yet?”
          “Of course, but look, you already agreed that I would be entitled to my off-cuts and that off-cuts would in fact exist as a direct result of you working on MY material, correct?”
          “Yes, but, Sir…”
          At that point Gennady jumped at the bimbo out of nowhere and grabbed her by the throat yelling, “Give him the material, you bitch!” The girl screamed bloody murder. They both toppled behind the reception desk noisily and messily. The shop doors flew open and at least half a dozen guys piled out, grabbed both of us and threw us out into the snow. Too bad. I thought I was getting somewhere with that receptionist.
          We return to the Library empty handed to endure Fred’s taunting.
During Gorbachev’s reception, with a hired cameraman filming, Fred Harris said, “Careful, Sir, it’s very heavy,” to Gorbachev, to which the great statesman appropriately replied, “Wow, it’s like a mirror!”
          I wonder if Mikhail Gorbachev had any idea at all what it took to get that bronze plaque done. Was it a needed and important assignment? Considering that Gorbachev was a highly controversial figure in Russia and was later tried in congressional court as a traitor and a criminal? And was finally forced to blow to the United States? Of course, not. We never used the footage from that reception. But it was fun to watch it all together in our new L. Ron Hubbard Library at Moscow state University, Faculty of Journalism.
          We had the LRH Library opening reception, complete with speeches and toasts and such. It was carried on all national and Moscow channels.
          I returned back to Int Base in time for the LRH Birthday Event on March 13, 1992.

Chapter Six

          The Base was still stultifying and asphyxiating, renos were still fun, Thomas, Goran and Pablo were still my best friends. My attempts to get anything approved failed as usual. I wrote my own mission orders to complete the translation of the Dianetics book and got it sidechecked and proofread. The production line required several translators for each product, so Russia was the only place where the book could be legitimately brought to completion as there were no Russian Scientologists in the world who’d do it with me here.  
Getting mission orders approved by RTC was supposedly a nightmare. I did not notice. Mine were approved right away. It seemed I was beginning to develop a reputation at the highest levels.
The next hurdle was to get the mission financed. I was able to get the airfare approved through our Financial Planning Committee but that was that. I got an okay to go to LA for four hours under the false pretenses of working on the Croatian translation of The Way to Happiness but actually shaking people for donations to me personally for my upcoming trip to Russia. I raised more than $1800 cash from public Scientologists in LA in violation of numerous policies. That was about as off the rails as anybody could get. I was almost guaranteed an RPF assignment (a jail sentence) if this were to ever become known at the Base. It never did.
Tanya Alexander, the Organization Officer of LRH Compilations, of which Translations was a part, was to be my Ops. Every mission has an Operations Officer who stays at the Base and handles the mission on a daily basis. One of the points of my mission briefing was not to use the recently built LRH Library at the Faculty of Journalism for translations purposes. It was intended for PR purposes only and for any students to drop by and familiarize themselves with any LRH materials. Fair enough.
With all mission logistics kind of more or less in place, I flew back to Russia in April of 1992 with my computer.    
Gennady found a suitable, inexpensive hotel for me on Mir Prospect, near subway station in a convenient, central location. I transported and set up my computer there, and we bought a printer.
Using contacts I made on my first mission, I immediately started putting together a Dianetics group of translators, auditing Dianetics, learning and translating.
The book was completed in a couple of months. The mission was as uneventful as any trip to Russia could ever get. Nothing happened. Except, of course, that I found myself being watched by State Security on and off—an intermittent surveillance. My phone was tapped. Then the local hoods tried to shake me for protection money, betting incorrectly on me being rich simply because I was a foreigner.
I asked for a meeting with el Capo. We met. I explained what we were doing in Moscow and assured him that I had no money for them, not to mention that paying bribes or extortion money was against our religion and so, all in all, they’d have a better chance winning the Nobel Prize than ever getting a penny from me. Besides, I explained, I was under KGB surveillance and so I could introduce them to the KGB if they really wanted to. They didn’t, but they did not necessarily believe me. I saw one of their hoods hanging around for a couple of days and then they spotted the KGB car and that was the end of that ordeal.
With the book completed, I flew back from the Moscow hellhole to the one in the desert.
I found TU just as squashed as I’d left it. Death and destruction, gloom and doom. The forever running reprimands, trouble and failures sucked all the life out of my friends. Then shortly after I arrived, David Miscavige walked into TU and went out immediately with the words “It stinks in here”. The Divisional executives, Tanya Alexander and Porzia, immediately lined us up and started sniffing everybody’s butts and under arms. Have to give Tanya a credit: She was blushing. I venture throwing it out there that she might have even been harboring a slight disagreement with her own actions that very second.
RTC investigators arrived shortly after the sniffing frenzy subsided. They set up camp in our spaces and started investigating the hell out of the body odor situation in TU. As a result, our professional Dutch translator Olfert Kleveringa, whom I helped get to TU, was offloaded as a psychotic. He had been translating professionally for over 20 years. Everything Amsterdam Org had to deliver was done by Olfert. I’d been there, I knew the score.
I confronted Porzia, the TU Dir, on that point. Her reply was that Scientology had failed to expand in Holland beyond a mediocre Amsterdam Church, and so Olfert had no ethics protection. I bet Olfert had no idea that he was supposed to set up and run Churches in Holland to have ethics protection against his body odor. I wanted Olfert to fight the order. I wanted him to stay. I brought him to the Base because he was a pro and I wanted him in TU translating. Olfert was a sharp and experienced old goat so I asked him how he felt about being offloaded. He answered with a strange glint of mirth carefully hidden deep in his eyes that he had no choice because he was psychotic.  I wondered about that glint for a while and erroneously attributed it to him being a psychotic as opposed to him being a sharp and experienced old goat. He simply wanted to get out. My mistake.
Shortly after, we were all thrown overboard. That is a punishment established by LRH whereby, in accordance with an old maritime tradition, offenders get thrown overboard from a ship. Then they get fished out, drowning is not being a part of the procedure. We had a lake which served just fine. All TU staff members, including Porzia, were ordered to be thrown overboard. I was specifically excluded as “the only guy producing anything.” My TU brothers and sisters were busting their butts like nobody else on that Base. The dedication and  tenacity of my friends should have been sung in ballads for ages to come. Instead, they were constantly humiliated in public.
Naturally, I declined the honor and, in silent protest, jumped into the lake together with my friends. It was humiliating. In my tenure in TU, I had gone overboard at least half a dozen times. It gets easier after a while. Returning back to post in TU offices in wet uniforms was prohibited. The procedure was marching from the lake some half a mile to the Estates building with its washers and dryers, undressing down to our to underwear and drying all the clothing there. For a man hater that she was, Porzia happened to sport very nice underwear.  
Having our butts sniffed by Tanya Alexander, a good looking German girl, was an interesting experience, but all things being equal, I’d rather be back in Russia. Out there in Russia, in the field, was life. Here in TU was death. Having spent a couple of weeks back “home” in TU and having successfully survived through the sniffing massacre and the overboard experience, I got myself back to Russia as a part of the DMSMH approval mission.
This time, I did not omit taking ALL my translations on floppy diskettes with me, approved or not, completed or not—a grand total of more than 2000 pages of LRH basic books and courses in Russian. These pages, these pearls of actual and profound wisdom, these maps out of the Hell, were the exact reason I had endured and persisted. I wanted Russians to have these materials.
I wanted Russians to use the materials, not just have them, but inexplicably, I thought that I would not be involved in the implementation and the actual set-up of orgs in Russia and other satellite countries, the remnants of the former USSR, including my native Ukraine. I thought I would not be recruiting staff and the first Sea Org members and training them, I thought I would not be organizing and running the first EPF in Russia and setting up the first Sea Org outpost there. I thought I wouldn’t have to be up to my gluteus maximus in the KGB and mafia, and endure threats against my life, and play KGB against the hoods and KGB officers against each other just to stay alive. I never thought I would walk myself into a position to have my jaw broken by a KGB officer. Hey, I was just a translations guy, right?
I was about to find out that when you put your foot down, clench your teeth in resolve and say, “I am it! The buck stops here!”—guess where the buck stops? Surprise! You find yourself destined to follow all the way through because suddenly it appears that there is nobody else. There are a few helpers and plenty of brass to take all the credit and uncork the champagne, but you are the one who actually stops the buck.
It seems that every facet of life in this huge, complicated world with billions of people is actually carried on the backs of only a few over-worked, under-appreciated and harassed people. My hat is off to these few. I am very happy I had a relatively brief experience in my own life of belonging to those chosen few. They have nobody to blame as they have chosen their own paths in life and, in retrospect, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
A formal mission was properly financed and sent to Russia from the Base to get the book approved. That mission consisted of the I/C Deva Hasselberger from Senior Executive Strata and me as the 2nd.
Deva and I were taking different flights from different airports. Deva flew from LA and I flew from San Francisco where I was sent to handle my Russian visa. On my flight I had an 8-hour long stopover in Amsterdam. I visited that Org and made a fund-raising speech at their course room raising money to buy an e-meter from the Org. I arrived in Russia with an e-meter. It came handy for pinch demonstrations at first. 
That mission was a very rough two months. Have to admit that I can’t remember what happened very well because of little sleep and aggravation by the ton. You see, in order to publish the book we had to get it approved by RTC. Therefore, I had to get it back translated from Russian into English by an independent translator who was, of course, not a Scientologist. As it was being done, I had to mail the back translation to the Base for review by the RTC Authorization Authority, a young and, in equal parts, nasty and arrogant bastard by the name of Sam. He later flew the coop and finally put us out of his misery. Unfortunately, Sam was still very much there on his post at RTC when I had to get my Dianetics approved for publication in mid-1992.
Here is how that chronic tooth extraction procedure worked—or rather did not work, all excruciating 550 pages of it: Sam would read a sentence in the back translation, compare it to the English original and mark any discrepancies as wrong, scribble a bunch of questions and reject points, maybe 50 or 80 per page, and get it to Porzia in TU at the Base. Porzia and all the translators would stay up nights typing up all the comments and questions and faxing them to us one page at a time.
Several professional translators and editors worked with us but at the end of the day, Deva and I set together at the computer answering every question and reject point and faxed it all back. The TU staff at the Base would put our replies in a submission form and send it up to Sam. He would accept some of my answers and explanations, reject some, find some new ones and send it back to TU. They would type it all up again and fax it to us in Moscow, the remaining possibly five or ten per page. Then we’d handle it again. And again. For at least 20 hours a day, every day.
 I, with the help of a couple of hired editors and translators locally, had to answer every one of them, all twenty thousand on the first run through, arguing with rejects and answering questions. That took TU out of production for a couple of months, not to mention Deva and I navigating through it all on automatic in Moscow. Sam was equally unconscious in his posh office at RTC, I imagine. Deva, normally pretty small and slim, had positively withered away. By the end of that nightmare, I was so far gone that I have no recollections of anything at all. All I know is that with the book fully approved Deva returned to the base but I remained in Moscow in preparation for the next mission—the book publishing and release mission. Dianetics was about to come out in Russia.

Chapter Seven
(The odyssey continues)

          For about a week before the arrival of the publishing mission I traveled to Petersburg to meet with the small Dianetics group there, organized around an existing translation by a Russian (Jewish) translator by the name of Misha Goldberg. I saw a copy of that translation. It lacked accuracy required by LRH but it was a literary work far superior to mine. I brought my translation of the Dianetics Seminar to them, a very short instructional course of the Dianetics procedure. It did not require any deep understanding of the subject, it just taught a step-by-step simplified and illustrated procedure of Dianetics auditing. I also brought them my illustrated translation of the OVERCOMING UPS AND DOWNS IN LIFE COURSE, a short life improvement course teaching how to detect and shutter suppression.
          There are certain people, who habitually suppress, make nothing of and even kill those around them. In the vicinity of such a person others make mistakes in life, behave in a crippled manner, feel stressed out, fall sick, end up in jail or a mental institution or have accidents. They also live life as if on a roller coaster: One day way up but next day way down, laughing today but crying tomorrow, being an employee of the month today and fired tomorrow. Thus, the title of the course.
One of about 10 people around every one of us is such a suppressive person ruining lives of others and some of these psychos are truly DANGEROUS. And they are normally hard to spot. Isolating and handling them requires more training and understanding than handling any wild beast known to men. Not all of them are equally destructive, there is a gradual scale, although in the vicinity of any and all of these people others will be unhappy, sick and will make many mistake. Obviously, Stalin and Hitler were much more dangerous than somebody’s Aunt Sophie, who is, nevertheless and totally inexplicably, surrounded by sick and dying family and associates, whom she is busy bringing down and playing against each other, while disguising her efforts as help. There are 12 distinct characteristics of a suppressive (antisocial, sociopathic) personality. Only possessing seven or more of these specific characteristics qualifies one as a suppressive. The illustrated course that I brought with me gave all the basic data and outlined the exact handling. A very much needed course, particularly in Russia.
To my surprise the Dianetics group in St. Petersburg consisted of some 30 people—quite a lot more than I expected. Another surprise was that Misha Goldberg, the first translator of the Dianetics book into Russian, did not attend. I never succeeded in bringing him into the fold, so to speak. An independent soul, for many years he had continued his own Dianetics practice independently from the Church. Although this type of practice was strictly prohibited, I allowed him to operate and covered up for him. Misha Goldberg truly was the person who brought Dianetics to Russia with his translation. I came second. In my opinion, Misha was okay to walk outside the fence or step all over RTC, or refrain from paying tithes to the Church.  
          Upon returning to Moscow I established a group there. Actually, I already had a loose Dianetics group in Moscow, consisting of the guys who helped me translate and get the book approved. In a meeting with the group we assigned responsibilities and worked out an immediate plan of actions.
          I also found a cheap typesetting company and started the book on typesetting. They were planning to put two typesetters on it and get it done for me in 48 hours, just when the New Era Publications mission was supposed to arrive. In 48 hours they had not even started because of some urgent new project which took precedent.  I ended up getting a crash course in Ventura typesetting and doing it myself for about 36 hours straight in their office. It was kind of weird when they all left and I stayed up all night. Two nights. Their typesetters freed up by then and completed the job in a day.
          As the mission was busy finding the acceptable publisher, I sidechecked the book one more time with an actual professional editor I found, Boris Nikitin, while the rest of my guys were proofreading various parts of the book. I also bought a bootleg of Ventura software and was inputting corrections into the typeset files.
          The only incident that stood out at that time was my auditing session with Boris Nikitin to help handle a case of a bad cold. In the very first session—and we only had one—Boris went whole track. We ran out an incident of his previous death in the Soviet labor camp in December of 1948. He spent a couple of years in the German POW camp during the war and returned home, the fool, only to be thrown into Gulag. Stalin either executed or imprisoned all former POWs upon their return as traitors because he viewed getting oneself taken prisoner by the enemy as treason. Boris froze to death in that camp.
          Whole track recollection during auditing was not a surprising or rare occurrence, everybody did sooner or later. What was shocking to me was his attitude. Boris should have been shocked or at least surprised, but he wasn’t.
          “Hm-m. I was wondering what the hell happened,” was all he said.
          I started paying more attention to the guys I was dealing with and realized that Russians were a lot more spiritual than Americans. The existence of past lives was a more or less accepted fact. There were psychics, spiritual healers, shamans and sorcerers (kolduni), there was holy water and even miracles here and there. There was a hidden dimension to these people. That realization boosted my respect for my former countrymen.
          The book finally went to press. A PR mission arrived to release the book with as much flare as possible. About a dozen PRs from US and EU piled up on that task in Moscow, stirring up tremendous interest and excitement—completely deservedly, in my opinion.
          Meanwhile, I had the Dianetics Seminar pack approved by RTC. It was easy as it mainly consisted of passages from the recently approved book. I was working on getting the OVERCOMING UPS AND DOWNS IN LIFE COURSE through proper approvals. I already had LEARNING HOW TO LEARN and BASIC STUDY MANUAL approved, so I requested a New Era Publications mission to publish those. That was successful.
I was pulling in people from various cities in Russia and other former republics of USSR, training them a bit, setting them up with the approved and printed, as well as unapproved, translations of basic books and courses and starting groups. I also organized translation teams and started translating the Dianetics book into Ukrainian, Kazakh and Georgian.

Chapter Eight

In November of 1992, I finished translating the Sea Org EPF materials and recruited the first six Russians for the Sea Org. In order to get them through their EPF I rented a three-room apartment, set it up as berthing for men and for women (the dorms) and a course room. I ran the EPF trying to imitate Lt. Burns. I am not sure if I succeeded but getting my guys through was definitely a lot of fun.
One of my recruits, Dima Cherniak, deserves a special mention here because of the troubles he caused. Dima was dispatched to buy some food once and returned with a bloody nose, no money and no groceries. It turned out before starting his EPF he borrowed $400 from a local loan shark, promising to pay back $500 in a month. He then used the $400 to buy a used color TV and ship it to his parents in a small village about three thousand miles away as a present. Now the hoods wanted their money as evidenced by his bloody nose.
“How were you planning to pay them back, Dima?” I inquired.
“I thought if you were an American organization, we’d all be rich.”
“Did I promise you that or lead you to believe that in any way? As I remember, I told you that you were going to be making $5 a week for pocket expenses.”
“I remember, but I thought you were lying.”
“I was not. So now what?”
“I told them that you owe me $500 so they’ll be after you now,” Dima explained.
I expelled Dima. The same day, I started receiving threatening phone calls. Some guy with nasal congestion kept promising to kill me unless I paid him $500. I kept telling him to fuck off and die. That was a so-so approach to resolving this conflict as I found out when I was jumped by a couple of guys in the lobby next evening. They punched me around a bit, causing no major damage, and told me to pay up. I told them that I was a US citizen on a special assignment here in conjunction with KGB operatives and I’d have my KGB friends talk to them and they should immediately rush to say goodbye to their loved ones. They had no idea how to take that threat so they just dropped me and left. Not for long, I was sure, but I got a respite.
The next morning I went to the US Embassy and presented my problem to a clerk. They couldn’t help me and advised me to leave the country immediately. I declined.  
My procedure for getting rid of the mob was introducing them to my KGB surveillance team. Unfortunately, I no longer had any. KGB appeared to have lost almost all interest in me at some point, although the phones were still tapped. The phone was my line to the KGB.
I called a pro translator friend of mine that evening asking if he knew a good way to falsify documents in order to smuggle several translators out of the country. He said he didn’t know anything about that. I thanked him and hung up.
In order to leave Russia for any reason, people have to get an official permission from a special government agency, OVIR—an agency very much connected to KGB. Receiving such permission was pretty much impossible in the Soviet Union prior to 1992. But in 1992, it became possible, although it was still difficult. The outcome was uncertain and it took several weeks, sometimes months. I didn’t want to smuggle anybody out—and I wouldn’t use the phone if I did—but I was hoping that somebody was listening. Somebody was. Next day, I had surveillance back on. I saw the tail again, their standard black Volga.
I let Gennady go and walked out on the street in front of the surveillance Volga. The KGB driver stopped. I walked to the passenger’s seat and got in.
“Stadion Dinamo,” I said casually. That was my destination the location of the EPF in an apartment building across the street from the subway station bearing the same name.
“What do you think this is? A cab?” growled the driver.
“I know exactly what this is,” I replied. “You are supposed to watch me, so here I am. Watch me.”
He pulled out into the traffic. “You are nuts,” he muttered.
“Actually, I just wanted to ask a question. May I?”
“What question?”
“I have this loan shark threatening to kill me for $500 that I don’t owe him, don’t have and wouldn’t pay him even if I did. What do I do?”
“I know all about their crazy phone threats. Bullshit. He won’t kill you for $500. He could work you over or break your legs, but he wouldn’t kill you. I would believe it for $1000 but not for $500.”
“So what do I do?”
“You can do nothing and see what happens or you could leave the country for a couple of months ‘til it all blows over.”
“I am staying. Can you help me with these guys?”
“Why would I help you? Are you crazy? Do you know who you are talking to?”
“Yeah, I know, I know. Just checking. Well, is there anything you need from me?”
“Me? No, nothing. Just go away. And stop committing crimes.”
“What crimes am I committing?”
“Plenty. You went to St. Petersburg recently. Did you get OVIR okay to leave Moscow? Your visa is only good for Moscow. It says right on top in large letters that you are supposed to register with OVIR within 24 hours upon arrival into the country and then either stay in Moscow or get OVIR permission to travel somewhere else and then register there at OVIR within 24 hours upon arrival. Did you even read that notice?”
“No, I didn’t. Is that a big deal?”
“This is a matter of national security. You are an American fluent in Russian, moving around, meeting tons of people, speaking at all kinds of meetings all the time, translating, publishing shit. What do you think? It is a big deal. And what is that fucking device you are using? Did you even try to get it approved here through the Ministry of Health before you started using it on people? Did you even bother declaring it at customs when you entered the country? You are playing with fire. Talking on the phone about smuggling people out, stopping me in the middle of the street. You are completely insane. That is probably why you are still alive. Anybody even half-aware would have been dead already.” He shook his head in disgust.
“Points well taken, Sir. But look, I get things done. I wanted to talk to you and I am talking to you. Did you want to talk to me? If you did, I am listening.”
“Well, what is that stupid device? A lie detector of some sort?”
“No, it will not detect lies. Any result would be inconclusive.”
“So what do you do with it, then?”
“Many things. For example, we can help find forgotten incidents from the past.”
“You mean, that a person didn’t remember?”
“Can you undo hypnosis with that thing?”
“Nothing to it. Like a hot knife through butter.”
“So you can find any information hidden in the brain?”
“Well, it is not really in the brain. Let’s just call it ‘mind.’ Yes, we can help a person uncover anything in his mind.”
“What do you need it for? Espionage? Who are you people?”
“Hey, easy. We are not interested in your secrets. We aren’t. We are interested in helping people lead happier and healthier lives. But with the e-meter we could find everything out if we wanted to. All your dirty little secrets.”
“What are you talking about? Find out what?”
“Everything. What are you hiding?”
“We are dealing with the matters of national security here. It’s complicated. Americans are dealing with similar problems at their end.”
“We understand,” I slapped him on the shoulder most patronizingly.
“You what? You crazy little fuck! I want to see that device,” he was very rattled.
“I could probably arrange that.”
“Knock off the probably! You arrange that or else!” Positively threatening now. The e-meter bit him hard.
“You can let me out here, I’ll walk. Thanks. I want to see the hoods gone.”
“Fuck you.” The Volga took off at top speed.
I have never seen the loan shark or his henchmen again. Nobody contacted me for demonstrating the e-meter, either. Not for a while.
Toward the end of the year, I returned to the Int Base to get briefed on the upcoming plan to set up a Sea Org office in Moscow responsible for all the countries of the former USSR.  A Command Team was getting fired from the Int Base, LA and EU and I was a part of it. The Commanding Officer of the new Sea Org management outpost in Russia and the top Scientology authority in all the countries of the former USSR was Walter Kotrich, an Austrian Lieutenant Junior Grade, an OT V and a great guy—as you could always expect someone whose hobby was mountain climbing to be.
We arrived back in Moscow where my first five new Russian Sea Org translators became the first staff of the new Sea Org management outpost. I lost translators, but gained a lot of stability for my operation.
The set up of the Operations, Transportation and Liaison office for the countries of the former USSR was done quickly and efficiently. Walter, my old friend Veronica Kiegel from ABLE Int, a few others and my five translators took charge and got themselves set up. My duty was recruitment and training of future orgs’ staff and recruitment of Sea Org members among the locals and getting them through EPF in Copenhagen.
I suddenly was confronted with the daunting task of getting some 20 or more Russians out of the country for training. I did it all legally. The Russian bureaucracy was bordering on the surreal. The entire system was rigged to employ as many people as possible and they all wanted bribes. It is prohibited in the Church of Scientology to pay any bribes, which complicated things and made them more interesting­—self-righteously so.
We set up recruitment events where I would explain a bit about Scientology and LRH and then just grab any volunteer from the audience and demonstrate a Dianetics auditing session right on the stage. Anybody interested in the subject would be immediately gotten onto a simple TRs course. The recruits I was finding that way were all beginner Scientologists with all kinds of problems and complications. About a third of them were motivated by the desire to make Scientology available to Russians and citizens of the other countries of the former USSR. A few were running from the Law, some had purely economically motivated agenda, while still others had the most unbelievable nefarious reasons of their own.
I remember one cute little 19-year old girl in particular, Zoya, who filled out the names and sketchy particulars of 62 sexual partners on her Sea Org application.  I did not read all of them, but even on a cursory examination, found entries such as “a guy on the bus” and “a guy with curly hair.”
“You had sex with 62 men?” I asked in utter disbelief.
“Yea, would that be enough names? I just can’t remember the names or particulars of any others.”
“How many others?”
“Not sure. Am I supposed to remember everybody? I knew it—my memory is not very good, right? You know, sometimes at a party everybody piles in—so who knows?”
“Okay, Zoya, 62 is fine, then. Don’t worry about your memory.”
I checked with Walter, the local Commanding Officer, and with Tania Alexander back at the Base if Zoya was qualified for the Sea Org based on her extreme sexual history. They did not know of and could not find any LRH policy that would disqualify her. I ended up sending her to Copenhagen. They shipped her back within 24 hours, right after she got senselessly drunk and threw up all over several important people at the Nordland Hotel. Her purpose for joining the Sea Org was extensive partying.         
While I was finding and qualifying the recruits and wading my way through the Russian bureaucratic molasses, I was also working with Walter on finding and training future executives and auditors of the future local churches as well handling translations and logistics.
Toward the middle of 1993, all the elements of the normal operation of a Sea Org base fell in place one after another, and the extraneous tasks were taken away from me, except for a bit of recruitment, which required some traveling around the country. But I was mainly translating, running a few guys under me, getting verified as to their accuracy, typeset, proofread and out to the newly formed orgs that were springing up all across the huge expanse of the former Soviet Union—from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to Vladivostok near North Korea, and from Anadyr next to Alaska to Murmansk to the borders with Iran and Afghanistan—half the world, it seemed. We had students and recruits from all 15 countries of the former USSR.
I was not concerned with getting the materials approved by RTC. Just my general lack of responsibility, I guess.
Toward the end of August of 1993, the ambiance started noticeably worsening. Massive pro-communist rallies against the democratic government of Boris Yeltsin would spring up every day in different parts of the huge city. Violence on the streets as well as police valance intensified. The profusion of red flags and throngs of tens of thousands kept my nerves on edge.
The black clouds were moving in, brilliant tongues of lightning lashing out in blind rage. The storm was brewing on the horizon.
          Bring it on.

Chapter Nine

In early September of 1993, I was suddenly contacted by KGB on the subject of the e-meter. Many months had passed since my infamous ride in the surveillance Volga. I guess nothing could rival the KGB on the subject of the red tape, especially at that period of massive changes in the political and ideological orientation of the country and in the prevailing guiding policy of the Internal Security troops and the KGB.
They wanted to talk to me right away. If they wanted something, they’d get it. It so happened that I was alone in my apartment so I agreed. There were three of them. Nasty bastards. Russia has always been and still is a police state. They owned the country, they made the laws, they broke the laws, they made new laws. I was threatened with a jail term as they confronted me with a bunch of “crimes” that I had committed, that ranged from numerous and flagrant violation of immigration laws to non-payment of taxes on any money I received from auditing. Guilty as charged. I was not charging anything for my auditing but, occasionally starving, I never refused a donation if a client wanted to contribute—and they usually did one way or another. It turned out I also violated labor laws with my EPF and their health laws by using unapproved electronic device on minimally 150 Russian citizens during at least 17 unauthorized events.
This time they did not just want to see the e-meter. They wanted to see the e-meter AND they wanted me to inform on the OTL operations and even on the Sea Org operations at the Int Base (they called it “The Headquarters”). They wanted me to spy for them or I’d find myself in Siberia doing hard time. The KGB always works through threats, not necessarily empty threats, either. I told them to get out of my house and refused to show them my e-meter. They ordered me to show my passport and visa. The visa had expired. They confiscated my passport and left. No broken ribs, no injections, nothing.
I was scared. This place had no higher authority than the KGB, no recourse, period. If they wanted you dead, you’d be dead. If they wanted to persuade you to do something, they had their ways of getting what they wanted, be it through torture, blackmail or violence against your loved ones. The truth is that almost anybody could be turned.
My visit to the US Embassy was an exercise in futility. Elated with the fall of Communism and their new-found friendship with the Russians (Americans’ standard touching naiveté bordered with stupidity as usual), the Embassy did not want to get involved and told me that the official position of the United States in such matters was that I should not have broken the laws of the land, but if I had, I was on my own. The clerk also briefed me that recently some engineer from a US construction company was sentenced to eight years for espionage for using a GPS device. Not sure if that news was even true or why the clerk would want to share it with me, but it failed to bring me any relief.
Gennady drove me to the airport where I found a guy of about my age at the counter to talk to. Women can be unpredictable, especially Russian women—too much drama. Men were easier. I leaned across the counter to the Aeroflot guy in front of me.
“Hi there.”
“Hey, need a favor. I am a US citizen, here on a business trip. There has been a tragic misunderstanding as the result of which I now have no passport. Any chance I could get through without a passport?”
 “No way. You need a passport.”
“What if I gave you a hundred dollars? Could you look the other way?”
“I would never even consider doing anything illegal because I am an honest person and an exemplary employee. Besides, a hundred dollars would not even begin to start my head turning. I could get in trouble and there are also other people to consider. This is the Check-in. You also have Security, Customs and Boarding. You need a passport but you could, hypothetically speaking, manage with two thousand US dollars.”
“What would you do if you didn’t have two grand?”
“If I were you, I’d probably go file a complaint with the US Embassy or have your company pay off the cops.”
I thanked the clerk and had Gennady drive me to the OTL. I wanted to see Birthe Heldt, their officer in charge of the Office of Special Affairs. I explained the situation to her. Her response was that, first, I should always obey the laws of the land as per my Mission Orders and an abundant number of LRH directives. Secondly, I should not contact the OTL again until I resolve all the unpleasantries with the authorities.
The only communication line to the free world I had left was to Tanya Alexander at the Int Base by fax. I no longer had an operational fax machine and so my fax communication had to go through the post office—a completely unsecure line. I knew the sentiments at the Int Base and I knew Tanya. They would all pile up on me upon my return like flies on you know what. I expected an RPF assignment for the escalation with the KGB and placing the mission and the entire operation at risk. However disgusted with me, Tanya would nonetheless set the Office of Special Affairs International in motion and they would quickly send a mission from Copenhagen to Moscow to extract me—I knew that. The line to the Base may have to be used if or when I found myself backed all the way into a corner. I was prevented from moving in certain directions but I was far from being cornered.        
I thought about the matter upon returning back to my berthing.
Why did the KGB leave so quickly? Why didn’t they drag me to Lubyanka? And why wasn’t I followed for some time? Even my phone had not been tapped. How did they know so much about my movements? I must have had an informant in my immediate vicinity.
I lived in my three-room apartment full of computers, the hub of my translations operation  across the street from the Dinamo subway station. I had two people living with me permanently, my best editor, Sergey Sych, and his brother Vadim, a computer genius and my Systems Manager. Neither one of them had to necessarily be the informant, it could have been Gennady or anybody else in my translations and dissemination network. However, knowing the KGB, I figured they’d get as close to me as possible. That made Sergey and Vadim the most likely suspects.
Vadim was so disinterested in anything except computers, software, networks and modems that I decided to poke Sergey first.
I started with, “How could you?!” as I barged into the translations office, which served as his bedroom, late in the evening. Sergey jumped from behind his desk and stared at me. “How could you inform to KGB on me? You slime! Wasn’t I good to you and your brother? Weren’t we a part of the same team? Traitor!”
Sergey simply dropped onto his bed and started crying. My heart fell. He was obviously the culprit. Seeing an unshaven, heavy set guy crying on his bed was very unsettling.
From his explanations, nervously fragmented and delivered through spasms and tears, I found out that he had been recruited by the KGB through blackmail to inform on me in June of 1993. It turned out he had a homosexual past that was now being used against him. Homosexuality was illegal in Russia. They threw people in prison for being gay. Not sure how they were expected to be rehabilitated sexually that way or what the reasoning was for making homosexuality illegal, but there I had it—Sergey was the spy.
“Am I fired?” he asked sobbing.
“Hell, no! Are you crazy? Of course, not!” I replied. “Just run by me first anything you want to tell them about me. Also, report to me immediately any communication you receive from them. You have to realize that by telling me the whole thing just now, you put yourself into my hands, too. If this conversation becomes known to your KGB handlers, they would have no more use for you and you’d most likely end up in jail being gang-raped by a pack of unwashed thugs.”
“So now you are blackmailing me too?”
“I am just saying that we were a team before and we are still a team, Sergey. I will overlook your treasonous indiscretions of the last few months and play ball with you, but you have to play ball with me, too. I have my own direct line to the KGB, I had three of them in this apartment earlier today. Are we clear?”
He agreed, sobbing.
“What the hell is up with all the sobbing, Sergey?” I snapped. It was getting irritating. “Enough already! Nobody is castrating you!”
He burst into a full-blown feat of tearful hysteria. Jeez! I went to the kitchen for some tea and a snack. Thankfully, when I returned he was no longer crying. He was sitting on the bed, his head in his hands, pouting dolefully, averting his red puffy eyes from mine.   
“What do you know about them?” I asked evenly. “Anything I could use?”
“I don’t know anything about them at all,” Sergey answered peevishly.
“Did you ever visit them?” I continued in a soothing and condescending manner. I was beginning to understand who I was dealing with. Appearances are deceiving. He looked like a burly, unshaven guy, but deep inside he was really a woman. How had I missed it before? How fast was I running past him all the time not to notice for some months? I probably bloody well deserved to go to the RPF for this.
“Yes, I was invited to their office once,” Sergey continued in a small, trembling voice, “and another time I had to bring some LRH books to a translations office but that wasn’t KGB.”
“Who was present at the KGB office?”
“Two guys and a lady. One guy had a crew cut, deep lines down the sides of his mouth. He might have had steel-grey eyes, I think. He looked kind of mean and sounded mean. The other one was blond, with simples, younger and never said a word. He was playing with his key chain.” I knew them both, I just saw them in my apartment earlier that day. I gave them all nick names. The two he was taking about were Grumpy and Bashful. The one he had not met was Dopey. They had an extra guy on me. The problem seemed to be escalating, rather than withering away—or was I just being paranoid?
“Who was the lady?”
“Some translator by the name Elena Eleseyeva. Quite a beautiful woman. She asked me some questions.”
“What kind of questions?”
“About the materials. She wanted English, the original LRH books. She did not want the translations.”
“Did you give her any books?”
“Yes, I did. I gave her Scientology 0-8 The Book of Basics and Creation of Human Abilities. They could purchase those books freely outside of Russia anyway, right?”
“Right. No problem. What else?”
“She is beautiful and carried herself like a model. She could be an advisor or expert, not necessarily KGB.”
“You said she had an office.”
“Yes, a small translations office called “Odnim Slovom” (In a Word), just her and one other lady.”
Sergey gave me the address of the KGB translations office “In a Word” on Arbatskaya. I called a retired pro translator I knew, Peotr Polsky, a grand old man, and asked him for a referral to a good pro translator. He owed me a favor. Peotr gave me the names of several pro translators, I kept asking for more. He finally mentioned Elena Eleseyeva at “In a Word” on Arbatskaya. Apparently, Elena was catering mainly to large foreign corporations, which made total sense as she was a front for a KGB op, and she charged accordingly. I thanked Peotr and hung up.
The next morning I went to the office on Arbatskaya to meet the beautiful KGB translations expert. Why? Why not? Was I supposed to carefully consider my every step before I made it—a sure way to kill any fun at all? Isn’t it easier to first do something and then look back and criticize the hell out of it? It had always been my firm belief that thinking was vastly over rated.
Actually, it is a simple truism of combat that if your retreat routes are cut off, you must never stand still, you must move, even if that meant moving in on the opponent, ATTACK! What weapons could I attack with? Not money, good looks or incredible sexual prowess, no. My only weapon was Scientology. I just had to move in close enough to use it.
Elena Eleseyeva was indeed a very good looking brunette in her early 30’s, a great age for a woman. Her smart and piercing brown eyes under carefully made up eyelashes matched some of the fancy details of her business-like yet revealing attire. Too much cleavage—business, my ass. Her employee, a middle aged lady wore her graying hair in a bun that must have been in vogue when Gagarin in his first ever manned space craft uttered his famous, “Let’s go!” She was of decisively mediocre appearance. If you glanced at her and then looked away, you’d immediately be at a loss trying to remember what she looked like. Which one of them was really the Mission I/C and who was the 2nd? Easy. I bet Elena called her “boss.”
Elena’s office was tiny, just two desks, computers, cluttered book shelves and a short counter in the back with a coffee maker and some brick-a-brack. Shiny posters of expensive travel destinations on the walls completed the picture. Kind of nice. The place smelled good, too.    
“May I help you?” Elena asked from her desk, then rose up slowly in all her splendor and floated toward me. Her “employee” flashed me a quick but penetrating glance and went back to work. Elena Eleseyeva was slowly approaching the counter. Nice legs. Nice everything else, too. Very nice. No engagement/wedding ring. Russians wear only one ring on their right hand that signifies the official existence of a significant other.    
I am 5’8”, a short guy. Elena was a few inches taller. She carried ample breasts on her lithe body with a lot of dignity.
“Yes. Do I know you?” Elena batted her interest at me with the extended eyelashes and even blushed a little. She really looked and smelled good enough to eat. Boy, was she sexy! But above all, she exuded dignity.
“It is an honor to finally meet you in person, Elena. I’ve heard a lot about you from Peotr Polsky. He practically sang ballads about your beauty and professionalism and I see now that he didn’t do you justice—definitely not in the beauty department.”
“Thank you. Totally undeserved, I am sure. Good, sweet Peotr. He really shouldn’t have. I feel positively abashed.”
“Don’t be. Truth is truth. Proud to make your acquaintance. I know you have translated into and from English for some of the largest foreign corporations that entered this market so far, such as Coca Cola, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Motorola and others. And you do excellent work. Is that correct?”
“Yes, thank you, and some other companies, too, like Bechtel, for example. We try our best,” Elena smiled modestly, her eyes sparkling.
“Well, we are not a foreign corporation.”
Her face fell.
“I mean, we are a foreign corporation of a non-profit nature. I represent a church.”
Elena had her smile back on, none the worse for wear.
“Church of Scientology to be exact. Have you heard of us?”
“No, I haven’t. What is it about?” A fleeting spark of recognition sharpened her stare for an instant and she was immediately back to her relaxed, beautiful smile, same spark of interest and attention in the eyes.
“It is about making people more able.”
“I had always been fascinated by religions and philosophy. What did you say your name was?” She moved a yellow pad toward her and was poised to write down my name.
“Michael. Michael Priv.” She flashed her eyes at me, blinding me for an instant with her smile. Delicate, beautiful face, unblemished skin. She wrote down my name and the words “Church of Scientology,” using the correct spelling of my last name and the trademarked spelling of the word “Scientology” in Russian.
“How can I help you, Michael?”
“We need to translate a book into Russian. I mean, it is already translated, but we are upgrading our translations to professional level now.”
“Could you tell me more?”
“It is the book of basic Scientology data, Scientology 0-8, but it has a considerable specialized vocabulary as it goes into the Factors, Axioms, Pre-logics and Logics of Scientology. A ton of terminology. I would provide you with a translated glossary to keep the terminology consistent, but we would still have to work together quite a bit. I don’t think you could make it through on your own.”
“That’ll be okay. Our rates are $25 per page of 300 words, but since you are a church that helps people become more able, I would charge you $10 per page. I hope you appreciate the sacrifice I am making for you, Michael.” There was that blinding smile again. She suddenly leaned forward and rested her elbows on the counter. I was actually thrown off as her cleavage and her face moved in so close. Not particularly caring if she noticed, I continued.
“Very much so. Thank you. I agree to your terms.”
“Here is our standard contract form. We’ll just fill it out very quickly. We require half upfront. How many words is the book?”
“About 45,000 words, 150 pages or 1500 dollars. Our policy, however, prohibits upfront payments. We pay in full upon completion. I hope very much that you make an exception.”
“Well, alright. Granted,” she frowned. “Let’s just sign for now.”     
I signed. There it was, my low responsibility level again. I had no intention of paying her a dime. I had no funds for this.
“Elena, I would like to have a dinner with you some night to go over things.”
“I always have dinners some night.”
“How about tonight? Restaurant Budapest? At seven? It is an urgent project, no time for delays.”
“I do not feel comfortable with all the urgency. It is impolite. What if I had plans? We just met. Aren’t you being too forward and even demanding?” She definitely went out of her way to take it off the business mode and affix it firmly onto a personal footing from the get go.
“No offense meant. I just thought that as business associates we should have a talk and get to know each other just a bit better. Makes sense, no?”
“Yes, it does, oddly enough. Well, okay. I still feel it is too personal and uncalled for at this stage, but alright. I’ll be there at 7 p.m.”
Yessss! A roll in the hey, here I come! Thank God for the KGB. I knew I was about to wet my whistle, so to speak. About time, too. Last time I had sex, Nancy Reagan was still redecorating the White House.
I received a lot of uncharacteristic attention from men and women alike at Budapest when I walked through the great expanse of the place with Elena draped over my arm. I could sense envy so thick, you could stick a nail into it and hang your coat. Now I knew why men would never leave certain women alone in such places, even for a minute.
I had a nice winter coat but as we checked in our top coats at the cloak room, I am sure I looked remarkably second-hand in my crumpled old suite and shoes, my hair unkempt. Elena, on the other hand, looked absolutely ravishing. She wore a simple, open, white dress with some nice doodads, a red coral necklace and a matching coral string belt, large coral-red earrings and matching low shoes. Despite her not wearing any heels, I was still a couple of inches shorter. An odd couple.
At Budapest Elena was seductive, classy and smart—truly a delightful dinner companion. The show was quite alright, too. Russians understand dining very differently. They consider a meal without entertainment is best eaten at home. If they go out, they want a show—in addition to several gallons of booze, usually, and enough food on every table to feed a family in Africa for a week. By the end of the night, that makes for a lot of very drunk people with indigestion leaving huge tips.
Budapest, a cavernous, posh place in its own gaudy way, with very high ceilings, was dark and imposing. The show was loud and expensive. They also had ample dance floor space.  
I ordered my favorite rassolnik, a hot soup in a pickled cucumber base and equally favorite Hungarian goulash, Budapest’s specialty, with red wine. Elena ordered Russian’s all-time darling Olivier salad as an hors d’oeuvre and a pomegranate slaw chicken salad with a sauté’ chicken breast on a side and white wine. Then we drank my favorite semi-sweet Russian champagne with my all time favorite Napoleon cake, a layered custard cake.
I also got a chance to dance with Elena. Allowing for my terrible dancing abilities, I had KGB to thank for that, too. Dancing slow dances with Elena, holding her slender, supple body in my arms after all the wine and champagne made the front of my pants a very crowded place indeed. With her body tight against mine, the situation could not have possibly escaped her attention. Elena seemed startled but pleased. She pressed against me even harder, started rubbing her incredible body against mine and purring. She smelled delicious. How many times in my life do you think I had such incredible dinners, shows and complete knock-out dinner companions rubbing their divine pelvises against me all at the same time and at the same place? I could count such occasions on the fingers of one hand, the one where I was missing a finger, and would still have way too many fingers.
Elena got me so worked up that I was about to hike her dress up on the nearest table and tell the fat elderly couple sitting there to go fly a kite—a behavior totally unbecoming of an Int Base Sea Org executive, especially on mission. Although I was really on a different mission now, a mission to save my butt. Either that or on a quest to get laid—not sure. Standing on my tiptoes I whispered in Elena’s ear that I was about to rape her on the nearest table and she was going to end up with Chicken Kiev all over her butt. She laughed, whispering huskily into my ear that she absolutely adored Chicken Kiev all over her naked body. I squirmed.  
We made love at her place for the better part of the night. At some point, Elena was moaning, lost in her sweet oblivion—and so was I—when I opened my eyes and looked at her in semi-darkness just in time to catch her sober and calculating glance in my direction. A true professional, she was just doing her job, passionate moaning notwithstanding. Did I care? Actually, I did.
I woke up early the next morning to use the john and took a quick snoop around. The medicine cabinet in the bathroom had an unopened bottle of aspirin and a few bobby pins in it. One lonely glass was sitting in the kitchen cupboard that I opened at random. A closet in the bedroom had four or five nice dresses and a winter coat in it and some shoes, nothing else. Kind of like a hotel setup. This wasn’t Elena’s home and Elena could well not even be her real name. And the place was most likely equipped with audio-visual surveillance equipment. Depressing. I went back to bed. Elena woke up and quickly improved my general outlook on life. I think Elena actually liked me a little.
We spent the next day working on the glossary to familiarize her with the Scientology terminology. I did not allow myself to ramble and expound upon the concepts we cleared. I was fishing for some concept that she’d really bite on to go to town on. She was definitely impressed by the basic Scientology premise that all people were basically good and the proof of that, but it wasn’t truly a “Wow!” for her. She was in awe with the Factors, but I found them too dry and scientific to really strike a chord. How far can you go on the notions of creation of space and matter, the nature of time and various characteristics and laws of energy? I was not just trying to impress her, I wanted to turn her around. I needed an ally. She was my only candidate at the moment.
We went out for a lovely lunch.
By the end of the day, Elena mellowed out quite a bit and seemed to like me a lot more. She touched me more often. Instead of sexual and suggestive touching, I noticed she’d pat my face now and then or peck me on the cheek. Her manifestations of affection were silent, from which I derived that the place was bugged with hidden microphones, but not cameras.
The Scientology concept that finally bit was Havingness, the ability to have, an important concept, one of the central concepts of Scientology. She fought with it, got all red and flustered, calling it “complete nonsense”—a good sign. She was only supposed to be a translator. Agreeing with the materials or liking anything she translated was not a part of her job. She was only supposed to understand the concepts she translated and that was precisely what we were working on in a smooth and efficient manner. We were both professionals. She knew that I was not the one who developed those concepts. I was simply doing my job and so was she. But she actually protested the concept of havingness most strenuously. She took it personally for some reason. That was her entry point. That was it. I immediately pounced.
“Let’s look at the definition again: ‘havingness: the concept of being able to reach. By havingness we mean owning, possessing, being capable of commanding, taking care of and taking charge of objects, energies and spaces.” That is an integral part of taking responsibility for something, taking care of something. Do you understand the basic definition that havingness is the ability to reach?
“I guess I do.”
“Do you see how lack of havingness comes from incomplete reach, such as incomplete looking, from the lack of ability to confront. A person just glances over something without really looking at it, so he doesn’t completely understand it and so he can’t have it.”
“I kind of see that.”
“Good. Which part of this concept do you disagree with, then?
“No, that is not what I was talking about. I just don’t get the whole idea in practical sense. Those are all words. Practically speaking, that is just nonsense. If I buy a loaf of bread, I have it. If I don’t, I don’t and that is that!” She turned red, her frustration and annoyance clearly showing.
“Well, Elena, in Scientology what’s true is what’s true for you. We got nothing that you must accept on the level of faith. If you feel havingness as ability to reach and as the foundation of responsibility is nonsense, so it is. That’s totally alright. Let me ask you though, have you ever lost any object that was dear to you?”
“I lost a cat when I was little. We never found him.”
“Sorry to hear that. Let’s just try some inanimate object for now. Have you lost any inanimate object that was dear to you?”
Thinking hard, furrowing her eyebrow and sucking in her left cheek as was her habit. A damn nice looking woman. Damn nice looking!  
“Yes,” she finally answered. “I lost a ring that my father gave me as a present. Not sure how expensive it was, probably not very, but I loved it. I was about 13 then. I still feel sad about it.”
“Can you see that ring now?”
“Yes, I can, I see it right now. It was a gold ring with a blue sapphire. I wouldn’t swear by the gold and the stone, but that didn’t matter. I simply loved the ring. It was the only one I had. I cried for days when I lost it.”
“I hear you. I want you to make that ring in your mind.”
“I can imagine it.”
“Okay, that’s good! Where is it?”
“Right here, in front of me.”
“Great! Make it more solid.”
“Yeah, it is really solid.”
“Feel the weight?”
“Thanks. Now, change the stone from blue sapphire to green garnet.”
“But it was a blue stone. Well, alright, I kind of changed it. It is not my ring now, mine had a blue stone.”
“Okay, thanks. Make the stone oval.”
“It is oval already.”
“Make it square, then. A square green stone.”
“How big is the stone?”
“About a carat and a half.”
“Make it a three-carat garnet.”
“Have you changed it?”
“Yes, I have. This is fun!”
“Cool. Now, make the ring so big that it barely fits on this desk.”
“It is kind of difficult. Wait… Well, I guess I am done.”
“Make it more solid. Add some weight and volume to it.”
“Alright. Very heavy!”
“Even more solid now. Do you see the smooth and shiny gold?”
“Yeah. How pretty!”
“Now, change it back to the sapphire and reduce to real size so it fits on your finger just right.”
 “Now, put it on your finger.”
“Aha, nice. Beautiful!”
“Now take it off and put it in your blouse pocket.”
“Put it back on.”
“Where is it? Where is the ring?”
“Right here on my finger!” She was smiling now.
“Didn’t you say you lost it?”
“I did lose it. I am just imagining it now. I admit that it is fun, but I know that it is gone.”
“Can you see it?”
“Yes, but…”
“How is the feeling of loss, of no longer having the ring?”
“I feel better about it now, but I know that it is gone.”
“Why do you think that? You can see it on your finger and you feel that you have it, no?”
 “Nobody else can see it.”
“So whose problem is that? Nobody can see a bullet in flight. Does it mean the bullet is not there? Some people can’t see an 80-ton truck barreling down the street at them. So? Some people in your life did not see your loyalty. Does it mean you were not their friend? Just because they didn’t see that you were?”
“You are just playing word games, Misha. Listen, I lost that ring, I don’t have it. It’s gone!”
“Oh, but you do have it! Look at it! You can look at it and touch it any time you want. Look at your cat that you lost, too. Pet him on the head. They are right here and a lot more. It is all yours!”
“But I don’t actually have it as in have the thing right here so everybody can see it and touch it with me!”
“So let’s say you see a graceful deer with beautiful antlers in the forest. In order to HAVE the deer, do you shoot the poor thing, cut his head off, stuff it full of old newspapers and hang it on the wall?”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“So how do you go about having that deer? I’ll tell you another thing, let’s say you did. You killed him and hung his head on the wall. So how many deer do you have then?”
“You have a visible aspect of a part of one dead deer. Now look at the family of happy deer grazing in the forest—mama, papa, a couple of aunts and two cute little babies grazing peacefully and having fun together. Do you see them?”
“Do you like them?”
“Yes, I sure do. They are beautiful.”
“They are yours. How many do you have?”
“I see six.”
“What gives you a more fulfilling sense of happiness, the dead, moss beaten head on the wall or six happy deer grazing in the forest?”
“This must be some kind of trickery. It must be nonsense, it just must be, I know it.”
“So the dead head is worth more to you then six live deer in the forest? Is that how you really feel?”
“It doesn’t matter how I really feel. It must be worth more because it is on the wall and everybody can see it.”
“That is exactly the way down. You put all your effort in having lots of heads on the wall and those heads will be all you’d ever have in life. Remember what havingness is? Being capable of reaching out, of commanding, taking care of and taking charge of. You cut off the entire world except for some useless trash on your wall from your sphere of interest and responsibility and what are you left with? You don’t reach in any direction, you are not interested, you don’t feel you belong, you feel that you are nobody, you feel this huge, unknown, menacing world—your world, really!—oppressing and threatening you, you feel that everybody is against you. That is what your friends believe and how they feel and see how miserable they are? You think it is normal to be miserable? Some people whore around, deceive others, threaten others, being mean to others, they steal and cheat. They even kill. They are never happy, they only pretend they are. They do not enjoy anything, even sex. And they are not healthy. But it is very possible to be really, honestly happy and healthy, I swear!” Elena looked at me with huge, unbelieving eyes. I could see that she was wondering if I really knew who she was now.
I continued, “You need to go the opposite way. The opposite way is up. Why do you think the Bible said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God? Not because rich people are all criminals and God will judge them and not let them into Heaven, no. God, the Kingdom of God, Heaven and Hell are all inside you and nowhere else and nobody is passing any judgments on you except you. There is simply nobody else to pass any judgments, it is all you. It is simply progressively more difficult for a person to increase his spiritual awareness and abilities the more STUFF he has. There are more and more chains tying him down, arresting his attention and, cutting his reach so he can have less and less as he gets more and more stuck on his riches. In other words, they have many dead deer on all the walls—of really zero valuable—but they are unable to have the six live deer in the forest, unable to understand, feel brotherhood and unity with anybody or anything.”
“So the poor person then has a much better chance for spiritual enlightenment?”
“Generally yes, but not necessarily. Being poor could be just the opposite side of the same medal. Rich or poor, all they may want is money and more and more and more stuff and more and more money to buy more and more stuff and rent more and more storage rooms to keep their useless stuff that they don’t even use or enjoy. Give me, give me, give me! More, more, more! They are consumed by desire for more stuff. They are overwhelmed. They go nuts! They all want to be rich and nothing is ever enough. Why is nothing enough? Because they can only have those things that they nailed to the wall, very few things. They don’t actually have much at all—rich or poor—so they always want more stuff. They will all have huge problems in trying to rise above their maggoty level of existence.”
“So rich is bad, poor is bad. Nobody can achieve any spiritual gains, then? Except you, that is?” 
“Listen, not all the people are consumed and overwhelmed by desire for money and for more and more stuff. People are not divided into just rich and poor. Several thousand of my friends and I work for $30 a week, often days and nights non-stop, sometimes starving, sometimes in very difficult or even dangerous situations. Look at the Green Peace activists who risk bodily harm and jail, look at Christian missioners or volunteer doctors somewhere up to their elbows in dysentery and cholera, look at any decent non-profit organization working with troubled youth or criminals or you name it, volunteers at homeless shelters, volunteer teachers, fire fighters or hospital personnel, look at lawyers defending the rights of the poor for a fraction of what they could be making, look at medical doctors volunteering in war zones and getting their asses shot off for no money at all. Look at the vast majority of soldiers, nurses, cops and firefighters or any other less glamorous professionals honestly doing their jobs and going beyond the call of duty if needed. Look at even very rich people, like Anita Roddick or the Saudi Prince bin Al Soud or Andrew Carnegie, who dedicated their lives to charity and did a hell of a lot of good in the world. There are tens, maybe even hundreds of millions of such people. They are not motivated by more and more money and by more and more stuff nailed to their wall. They are motivated by duty and a sense of responsibility. They really want to help and feel they are making a difference. They kind of feel that other people are their cousins.” I saw a glint of sudden understanding in her eyes. The comparison to cousins hit home.
“So these do-gooders have a better chance?”
“Definitely. They don’t have their attention stuck in the mud. They don’t crawl over dead bodies to gorge on more and more mud. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are rich or poor. It does mean that they are motivated by desire to help, by friendship, happiness, love and, above all, by their sense of duty—by the very things that you can’t see and can’t nail to the wall.”
“You equate concepts like happiness to things like gold rings. There is something wrong here, some trick or word play.”
“Not really. Look at Buddhist monks. They are happy but they do not possess anything except a robe, sandals and a rice bowl. They are on their way to reaching Nirvana, they want to help others to rise spiritually, they want to be able to control the recurring birth-death cycle, they want immortality and happiness for themselves and others. If they want those things, they simply can’t be stuck in a bunch of things and money. Of course, Scientology auditing resolves those problems in motivation but the basic principle remains.”
          “So Scientology is like Buddhism? I didn’t know that.”
          “Yes, Scientology is a post-graduate form of Buddhism, equipped with an industrial strength ascending conveyor belt for mass production of Bhodhi. You can hop onto the conveyor belt at any point and it will carry you further and higher all the way to OT VIII. That is how far it goes. That is more or less the Buddhist state of Bhodhi.”
          “Is that what you are doing here? Setting up the conveyor belt to OT VIII for Russia?”
          “For $30 a week?”
          “Sometimes less or even nothing, depending if there is any money to pay us at all.”
          “But why? You do not strike me as a crazy person, Misha. Why would you waste your best years making no money?”
          “Because I feel you are all my people, I take care of you and help you the best I can. You are all my cousins. Even those who want to harm me.”
          “Like Jesus?” she asked softly with… something in her eyes. Did I really deserve that something?
          Elena got up and walked around looking down. She seemed upset. Then she came behind me, hugged me and reached down into my pants. I think she wanted to give me something and probably thought sex was the only thing she could ever give to a man. I got up and looked into her face. She averted her eyes and started unbuttoning her blouse. 
“Elena, I need to go take care of some things. Let’s meet at about nine, alright?”
“You want to meet at home?” I guess she meant that I didn’t want to go out.
“No, I meant here.”
“This is my home,” she smiled.
“I know,” I replied unsmiling. “This is your home and your name is Elena. Well, if this is your home and your name is Elena, we can meet here,” I replied looking hard straight into her eyes.
“Call me first,” she said looking at me with scared eyes. She was certain now that I knew.
“I will,” I promised and kissed her on the cheek gently. Then I whispered into her ear, “I would love to see where you really live, see how you were as a little girl in your family photo album, meet your cats…”
“No cats, but I have an eight-year old little boy at home,” she whispered into my ear, pulled my face away, smiled looking straight into my eyes and kissed me gently on the lips.
“Why don’t we meet instead at Arbat at nine?” Elena asked in full voice.
“Sure, sweetie, see you then!” And sweetie she definitely was—that KGB whore.  The bedrock precept of Scientology is that all people are basically good. Scientology does not just hold true the notion that EVERYBODY is basically good but provides a conclusive proof to that statement. Usually—not always—that good readily shines through at the slightest provocation. For most of us, like for Elena, the mother lode is only about a scratch below the surface. For others, you have to dig deeper and work harder.   
Meanwhile, I went back to my apartment/office. As the first thing I read a fax from Tanya. Apparently, Birthe Heldt from the new Sea Org outpost in Moscow had alerted Tanya and OSA Int about my situation. Tanya was now briefing me that an Office of Special Affairs mission stood ready to come to my rescue and lift me out of here as soon as I needed them. Well, thanks for that.
I had a lot on my plate. In addition to more than a dozen translation projects in several CIS languages, I was also working on getting two new Dianeticists arrived for training, one from Kazakhstan and the other one from my hometown Kiev, Ukraine. They wanted to open new centers. Several other dissemination projects were simmering on the back burners, including a seminar for the local businessmen on the use of statistics and condition formulas. All my activities were currently impaired by the KGB predicament. In a couple of hours that I had I tried to salvage as much as I could. I wrote a bunch of messages, telegrams and faxes and instructed Sergey and Vadim on how and where to send them, called Gennady and gave him enough work collecting done work at some addresses and delivering them to other addresses. I knew I couldn’t catch up, but I had to do the most I could.  
The foreboding sense of the impending doom regarding my current mission to Russia loomed over me. Specifically, impending forced eviction from this hellhole was the thing looming most prominently in my most immediate future. However, the absence of passport, plane ticket or money would make any attempts of that eviction to loom and impend look rather silly. I couldn’t leave Moscow even if I wanted to, even if I were ordered to do so by the authorities.
Therefore, one of my faxes to be sent out was a message to Tanya Alexander, my handler, asking to get me some money here or a ticket, fast. I actually had a ticket on me as the last time I arrived to Moscow with a two-way Lufthansa ticket—the cheapest non-exchangeable, non-upgradable and non-refundable Apex ticket, which expired months ago. I was stuck here for now with my expired ticket, even if I managed to get my passport back. 
My “attack” on the KGB, which consisted of moving close in on them through my dissemination and closeness to Elena, was clearly not about to pay off in any tangible way on its own. There had to be a follow up. Elena was too small a fry to make any difference, although I was very happy for myself and for Elena on a personal level. Both the sex—way overdue—and the expansion of her spiritual understanding that I caused made my heart sing. Was it worth the RPF assignment? That was irrelevant at this point. The objective was to extricate myself from the KGB grip and save my butt to fight another day. However, as I was confident in my ability to eventually prevail over the KGB, I was looking a little further down the road. And what I saw there was several years on RPF back home.
You see, creating a PR flap with the KGB was an RPF offence. Having sex out of the wedlock was also an RPF offence in the Sea Org. RPF in itself was not the end of the world or the worst thing that could possibly happen to anybody. However, an RPF assignment, as one of its most unpleasant consequences, meant the loss of your post for years or, very possibly, forever. I created my post. I loved my post. I defined myself through my post. I WAS my post. I was the Pioneer In-Charge. The idea of losing my post and all the positive impact I could affect in the world was sickening to me.
Earlier in this book I likened RPF to a jail. That is not quite an accurate analogy. Rehabilitation Project Force is a rehabilitation program for criminals within the Sea Org. In a narrow sense, a criminal is a person who obtains something for nothing. Broadly, in the society, a criminal is a person who breaks the laws of the land. In the Sea Org a criminal is defined, essentially, as a non-productive staff member who breaks the Sea Org laws. Be it as it may, incorrigible criminals, as defined in the Sea Org, are assigned to the RPF.      
The program essentially consists of pairing up the serious or repeat offenders and having them dig each other out through pairing up on certain extensive auditing processes. RPF is segregated from the rest of the Sea Org and guarded. The RPFers wear black uniforms, they always run, they are punished with push-ups and/or running laps for even the smallest offence, their life is strictly regimented—lights out at certain time, eight hours of sleep, musters, three 20-minute meal breaks, intense physical labor and five hours of study/auditing time, which is called the “redemption time.” They possess nothing beyond a few necessities and have time for nothing else but the program.
LRH originally set up the RPF on the Sea Org ships in such a way as to have people graduate the program in two, three months and go back to post fully rejuvenated. The program in its current form takes several years of humiliation. The program requires tremendous auditing skills, for which the RPFers have to train first on a special shortened training line-up which takes many months. Per actual observation, only ten percent of the RPFers actually graduate the program, the rest route out of the Sea Org, run away or get forcibly kicked out. The ten percent who eventually make it through are posted on the lowest posts in the lowest orgs. That way an accomplished executive from the Int Base after several years on RPF may get stuck as the Night Janitor in some lower org in Copenhagen, for example.
RPF was nothing to look forward to. I did not consider myself a criminal or that I’d done anything really wrong. Mistakes are made sometimes in the heat of the daily bustle, especially on a mission to Russia at the time of the collapse of Communism and amidst all the changes. So what? Did I get my job done? Yes, and quite a bit more. Not given to a lot of pondering and true to my irresponsible nature, I hoped to get away unscathed with all my “crimes”—and when the time came, I did.
That evening I met with Elena for a nice dinner and then she invited me to her apartment, the actual place where she lived with her eight-year old son. Her little boy was asleep when we arrived. The baby sitter was watching TV. The place was elegant and clean, upscale per Russian standards: three rooms, Romanian furniture and Persian carpet in the living room, Czech glass vases and the ceiling chandelier, Audison Italian stereo speakers. Not an overly pretentious décor but somewhat pricey and in good taste.
With the babysitter gone, Elena cuddled up to me, still standing in the middle of the living room, cradled my face in her hands, pulling me toward her and kissed me gently on the lips. I wanted her so much, my insides ached. But, sadly enough, the time for fun and games had passed. Probably completely undeservedly but I managed to elevate myself in her eyes to a position of some spiritual guru of sorts. There was no longer any way for me to have sex with her without betraying the trust she now felt, which I had created through Scientology. I explained that to Elena, and she accepted my explanations with a fond caress. We settled down in front of the TV, our hearts racing, and had a talk. Per Elena, this apartment was not bugged as she was never supposed to bring her work home. She cuddled up to me again.
“Elena, how could you have possibly become a KGB agent seducing foreign businessmen to pump them for information?” I asked. “You are absolutely not the type.”
“I am not a KGB agent. I am a translator and have been for almost 10 years,” she pulled away, put off by my allegations. “A couple of years ago my then boyfriend, who was a KGB officer, offered me a consulting part-time job with the KGB to occasionally translate English documents or tape recordings of conversations.”
“So that’s how it started? Didn’t you understand that they already had an army of translators working for them and were looking for something else?”
“You mean they needed a cute chick to be their whore?” There was pain in her eyes.
That was exactly what I meant.
“No, Elena, I meant an agent to obtain information for them and work on their behalf. Although, sex, the actual intercourse, was within their expectations from day one, I am sure.”
“Well, I didn’t get it at first. The intercourse part. For one thing, I could not have ever imagined Oleg selling me out to get on a good side with his bosses at work—definitely not with his jealousy and suspicions.” I would bet my last pair of sneakers that recruiting Elena was the sole objective for Oleg when he started his relationship with Elena.
“So you trusted OLeg?”
“Of course! I really believed that their translators were buried under the work load. I also believed in the ideals of fighting crime and foreign influence, in defending my country against enemy spies.”
“And now? Do you still believe that KGB helps defend your country?”
“The ideals remain, but from my experience the actual activities of the KGB do not live up to those ideals. They are not really looking for spies. They are looking for ways to incriminate foreigners into anything they can. They mostly work through blackmail.”
“But you stayed in KGB?”
“I am not in KGB! I told you. I am an independent contractor, a translator. Listen, Misha, out of all people you must understand. The money is very good. I have my little boy to support. I was able to get him into the best pre-school and now he is in the 2nd grade of one of the two best private schools in Moscow. He is a good student, good grades and all and they play sports there, no drugs, no violence. He has a great future when he graduates.”
“I understand now. Well, alright, and then they ‘helped’ you open your own shop?”
“Yes. They opened it for me, actually, and they advertised it through their channels so I always have plenty of work, even too much to handle at times.”
So much for being an independent contractor, I guess. Elena obviously did not see it that way. She thought it was her shop, when in fact it belonged to the KGB.
“Your employee there at the office, is she your KGB handler?”
“Tamara? Yes, she is one of them.”
“And the boyfriend?”
“We broke up a few months ago. He is still all sore about it. He was very jealous, became abusive and controlling. I finally kicked him out.”
“And he just left?”
“No. He was threatening me with taking away the business so I complained to his senior officer. They made him leave me alone.”
“Sure! You are a valuable asset.”
“Guess so.”
“So what’s going to happen when we don’t show up at that other place? Is he going to come here looking for us?”
“Who? Oleg? Never. We are through. He is out and he knows that.”
I had heard that before and it was always a lie. Per my observation, people never give up, they only pretend they do. Exactly how illusory could those pretenses get for a dominant and controlling guy, a KGB hood who was still in love with a gorgeous woman?   
“When was the last time you two talked?”
“On Monday, I think. He called to ask me out.”
Three days ago! Exactly as I thought. The illusory pretenses had just evaporated. He left like a good boy alright. Elena had missed the boat yet again, which would not be the first time in her life that she completely misjudged things. Somebody was bound to show up, probably Oleg.
My original plans for the night were to go sleep at home as I always firmly believed that sleeping with a woman who wanted you without satiating her sexual desire was a crime and a damn shame. Now I decided to stay with Elena over night, albeit without sex.
My “attack” on the KGB continued. I wanted to engage them further, create a scandal, provoke some trouble, get noticed, present as huge of a problem as possible to them. I felt that my obscurity was much more dangerous than notoriety and had a significantly higher chance to result in my untimely demise. I had to become too big to be disposed of quietly and swept under the carpet. Those were just general ideas. Unfortunately, I was groping in the dark with no clear plan of action.
Acting on premonitions and not having a clear plan was nothing new to me. The only certainty I had was that things could hardly get much worse. I was totally at their mercy and I had no way out as they had my passport and, in any case, I had no ticket or money. The only things that stood between me and their Lubyanka Street basement at the moment were my Church, my US citizenship and their hope to learn something new through their well-positioned spies, Elena and Sergey—indeed, a rather insubstantial defense shield.
I promise, no, I solemnly swear to never again spend the night with a beautiful woman who wanted me and refuse to have sex with her. I am not even going to get here into the incredible bitterness of that night. I simply swear, never again.
I liked Elena’s son Andrey very much when we met in the morning. Marveling at how intelligent and warm-hearted the little boy was and how much fun it was to have him around, I was also reminded once again that at 33 I had no family, no children and no hope of ever having children. Bitterness swelled inside my chest as it always did whenever I allowed myself to indulge in that line of thinking. We had a great breakfast together, just the three of us—about an hour of real family life. I thought I was going to start crying. The babysitter showed up on time and took Andrey to school.
“Goodbye, uncle Misha,” he said politely. “Will you stay with us?” Andrey really wanted me to say, “Yes,” I could tell. I couldn’t lie to the boy, so I said nothing. Elena hugged Andrey and sent him on his way with his motherly type middle aged babysitter—probably also affiliated with the KGB. Crazy country, crazy Sea Org, crazy world, crazy me!
Elena’s boyfriend Oleg showed up at around 10 a.m. The alarm must have sounded at Lubyanka that we were AWOL and he came to check. He was about my height but, unlike me, he seemed to be in great shape. The lightness and power of the way he moved betrayed martial arts training, probably Russian sumbo style, most common for Special Forces. The huge and calloused knuckles on the index finger and the one next to it on both hands could also indicate karate training. He knew how to hit so as not to break his hand and he practiced frequently. I saw the terrified and glazed over eyes of Elena. She knew what was coming. She was already in shock. She was misjudging the situation once again, and misjudging me. Elena, Elena.
“Leave my girlfriend alone, you Jesus moron, or I’ll kill you with my bare hands!” he yelled. He was obviously not an expert in religions. Probably didn’t have time, being always pre-occupied with killing people with his bare hands. 
“Fuck you,” I replied impolitely, taking in the situation. We had a witness in the room, Elena. Being in shock, she probably wouldn’t be able to remember what happened in detail but she would possibly remember something. In a brilliant flash of sudden inspiration, I yelled, “Oleg, I told you before and I am telling you again that I will never help you get on CIA payroll! Never! Forget it, you fucking traitor! Go get your own mother fucking lines to CIA if you want to sell out!”
Oleg suddenly stopped in his tracks with an astonished look on his face.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Elena, this fucker is trying to sell out to CIA! He is trying to kill me to cover up!” I yelled to Elena, who stood there terrified, her hands covering her mouth. I turned to Oleg and kicked him in the balls. I followed my kick with an immediate attack, knowing that I only had a tiny window of a chance as he’d been momentarily incapacitated. Even incapacitated he was an immeasurably better fighter. He blocked my subsequent kicks. He blocked my punches. He blocked pretty much everything I was able to throw at him. Then he counter-attacked, I missed a punch and heard my jaw crack. The world dimmed down as a lightning of pain shot through my brain. My feeble and disoriented attempts to defend myself from that point forward were an exercise in futility. The last thing I remember was rolling down a flight of stairs.        
I came around on the back seat of a Volga. I had no recollection of what happened. My entire body hurt, but upon closer and more careful examination I could isolate only two sources of serious pain—the jaw and at least one rib, possibly two. Or three. The safety of RPF in Los Angeles seemed a great alternative at the moment. We hit a few potholes.
Next time I woke up I found myself back at Elena’s “work” apartment, on the bathroom floor. Somebody dumped a bucket of cold water all over my head. Two men dragged me into the living room. It caused considerable pain but I was done passing out.
My old friends, the same three KGB stooges, Grumpy, Dopey and Bashful, joined by Oleg now, were in the room with me. They set me up on the couch. Then I noticed the fifth person, a new guy. He was a bit older, in his late 40’s or 50’s, with a mustache. I called him “Burt Reynolds.”  Burt was just sitting quietly at the table. Some kind of an observer. Or perhaps a senior person? Elena was not present.
Grumpy opened up the deliberations, “You’ve had enough, you motherfucker? Or should we work on your ribs a bit more?”
“Oh, by all means. Let me sit up a little more comfortably,” I replied bravely, scared stiff and trying to sit up straighter.
“Don’t waste your breath! You are a goner, man. The only way you are coming out of this room is in a plastic bag. You will die here tonight.”
“Yeah, I know you could kill me. But you didn’t so far and you won’t because you are scared of me. What do you want?” I tried to seem less scared than I was and at least a little cooperative. But I knew he was bluffing. Things were not really that bleak for me, although it was all very frightening. Grumpy was just a low level operative, most likely not allowed to take a piss without a written authorization in triplicate. I wouldn’t warrant a higher level operation because I was a nobody. But, on the other hand, I had the entire international religious organization looming huge right behind me, an organization which pulled considerable PR weight all around the world, had billions in its war chest and a horde of lawyers on its payroll. And, above all else, I was a US citizen. Considerable significance had always been attached to an American passport in Russia—in the past and even more so after the Berlin wall came down, when the almighty ruling apparatus lost all interest in a public relations war with America.
Talking was painful. Specifically, bringing the jaws close together hurt a lot. The fact that I could talk at all meant to me that the jaw was not fractured. It was, most likely, thrown off its hinges, dislocated. Well, I wanted more engagement. I got more engagement. Looking at it that way, I had them right where I wanted them—my slight physical discomfort and all.  
“Nobody is scared of you! You kicked a State Security officer in the balls—unprovoked! You are a dead motherfucker!” Grumpy informed me, still fuming.
“Of course I did! Keep your idiot on a leash!” I flew off the handle, true to my role. “I am sick and tired of that moron! I reported his harassment to my seniors in the US a few days ago so you can expect an international media fuck-fest now. They will crawl up your asses with microscopes! You are all finished! Same time next month you’ll all be painting houses for a living!”
“What exactly are you accusing him of?” Bashful suddenly spoke.
“If you want to talk to me, get me a lawyer and a US Embassy representative here first. Fuck you!” The Hell would freeze over before they’d agree to invite a US Embassy representative to sit in at an investigation of alleged involvement of one of their own with the CIA.
Heavy silence enveloped the room. My jaw hurt. My ribs hurt. My butt hurt. Everything hurt. Grumpy, Dopey and Bashful just stared at me. From where I sat I could not see Burt. They heavily frown upon traitors in the KGB.
“He was lying!” Oleg yelled fervently, probably referring to what they heard from Elena. “A textbook CIA technique! He is CIA to the core, don’t you get it? I’ve never seen this guy before this morning. He made it all up!”
“Oh, yeah? Then why did you try to kill me?” I interjected. I hadn’t presented any allegations against Oleg. They only heard whatever they heard from Elena so far.
“I never laid a finger on you before you kicked me in the balls! If I tried to kill you, you’d be dead!” Oleg bellowed, flailing his lethal hands in the air in frustration. Then he turned to Burt, “He was fucking Elena!” I was right, Burt was in charge here.
“Of course I was fucking Elena! Who was not fucking Elena? Everybody was fucking Elena!” I grabbed the lead. “That’s her job! Did you try to kill all her clients? You wanted me dead to cover your tracks, that’s why!”
“I didn’t try to kill you! And, you…” Oleg was immediately shut up by Bashful’s gesture. Did Bashful ever talk? He looked quietly alert, as opposed to Dopey, who looked kind of lackadaisical all the time, even a bit retarded. Oleg probably wanted to say that Elena never brought any of the others to her actual home. To her little boy.
 “When did Oleg ask you about the CIA?” a quiet voice with enough authority to suddenly puncture the balloon of our lively proceedings. Burt Reynolds. A senior officer or somebody higher up investigating the fight? Or investigating something else? Did it matter?
 “Oh, good! Sir, maybe you could talk some sense into these imbeciles. We are a Church! You understand? I reported the harassment to my top management in Los Angeles a couple of days ago. They will blow it all up sky high for you. You specifically, Sir, will never again…”
“When did Oleg ask you about the CIA?” Burt repeated evenly.
“Oleg stuck to me like a wet leaf to a bare ass. We talked last about a week ago or so, I guess.” The short glances that the three stooges shared did not escape my attention. Did I hit something in the dark? Oleg’s “He is lying!” was immediately cut short.
“Hey, Sir, listen, with due respect, but if you want me to say another word from this point on, you get me an attorney and a representative from the US Embassy. Right now, I am not even bringing up the matter of medical attention to the injuries and mutilations I suffered at the hands of your hoodlum here.”
“What mutilations?! You want mutilations?” Oleg’s retort was cut short again.
Grumpy started asking me something but Burt, suddenly very authoritative and curt, ordered them to drive me to my apartment. Was that a good thing? Did I win? My take on it was that if my defeat was not immediately obvious then I should just take the opportunity to declare a victory and get the hell out of there—kind of like the US and Russia in most of their wars.
At home, all I wanted was to lie down and lick my wounds, so to speak. That and have a bite to eat. That was pretty much what I did, except I couldn’t chew on either side of my mouth and had no time to lick any wounds as I had too much work to do. So I had a glass of milk and went straight to work.
The first thing I did was check for a fax from Tanya at the post office. Her reply centered on the fact that she had put in a Purchase Order request into the Financial Planning Committee, which was meeting in about a week and if the tickets were approved, she’d have my tickets in about two weeks, although she’d still have to get them to me. Realistically, I was looking at three weeks before I had my tickets in hand. Bad news.
Could I hold out that long? Probably, if the political climate in Moscow didn’t get any worse and if I managed to keep up the game I started with the KGB where they were on the defensive and confused. They would probably eventually want to just give me my passport back and send me on my merry way back to LA as fast as they could. I had to slow them down, while being careful not to stop them in their eventual decision to get me out of their hair. Burt Reynolds did not strike me as a fool or an excitable type.
Sergey Sych, the double agent now, would have to become a major player, but I still had to think it all through.
I did not want to use Elena for anything. I wished I could kiss her again. I wished I’d have told her some things that she needed to hear and helped her to get her life together, but the time when I could do that was gone. At this point I couldn’t give credence to Oleg’s allegations of jealousy as the reason for his attack, I had to play it cool. Elena the Beautiful was gone from my life.
 Delving deep into my work helped me get perspective on things. It wasn’t for nothing that L. Ron Hubbard insisted that “production is the basis of morale.” I knew I’d be alright regardless of the current KGB setbacks if the situation in the country stayed relatively stable. It is very easy for a person, me for example, to disappear amidst general turmoil. The situation in the country was worsening as the newly established and duly elected parliament voted for the return of communists and demanded the impeachment of Boris Yeltsin. It was definitely not a great political situation of rock-solid stability, but the life of the country was not yet impaired. Things seemed stable enough to see me through.
          That all went straight to Hell the next day. I was awakened next morning by deep rumble of heavy equipment out on the street. Stepping out onto the balcony, I was horrified to behold dozens of green armored personnel carriers with huge red flags slowly rumbling down the street from as far to the right to as far to the left as I could see. It seemed to me that several hundred armored personnel carriers with potentially tens of thousands troops on board entered the city. A communist meltdown! There was no army stationed in the city that could defend it. The democracy was doomed, Yeltsin was history, and so was I. Now I knew I was in deep, deep shit, the deepest shit I could possibly get myself into. I could envision KGB interrogations, drug injections, electric shocks, hypnosis, torture. I realized that simply ending up dead in this situation could eventually become a blessing.
          Now for the first time I felt truly cornered. I had no place to run, no time, no money, no ticket out and no passport. And I was alone. And I had just pissed off a number of KGB thugs, including the karate expert, whom I kicked in the balls—unprovoked.
          With trembling hands, I turned the TV on. As it usually happens in life, the situation turned out to be not quite as bad upon closer examination.
          The troops I saw, numbering 860—not tens of thousands—were mercenary troops from Ukraine and Moldova hired by the Parliament to take out Boris Yeltsin.
The parliament voted to take him out and reinstate the Communist Party at the helm and revert back to socialism. That decision of the Parliament was a legal and binding decision, made by a duly convened legislative body but Yeltsin refused to comply and ordered the Parliament to disband—an illegal order. He even turned off electricity to the Parliament building, uniquely referred to in Russia as the “White House.” The parliament then, following the letter of the Law, ordered the Russian army, several divisions stationed outside of the city, to roll in and carry out the Parliament’s orders. It was a legal military order as the army, per the new constitution, was under the orders of the Parliament, not the President or any other person. The army, however, did not budge. About half of the troops wanted to comply with the legal order from Command, while the other half wanted democracy above all—thus, the stand-off.
The parliament tried to order Moscow police, numbering more than 10,000 armed personnel, but for police, an order from the Parliament was not a legal order. The order through their legal command channels from the Ministry of Internal Affairs was not forthcoming, so the police stayed put. The parliament then ordered the Internal Security troops to step in. The Ministry of Internal Affairs instead confined all the Internal Security troops to the barracks with all liberties cancelled.
Having run out of options, the Parliament brought in 860 battle-hardened veterans of the recently finished and not-quite finished wars that had flared up all around Russia the moment Soviet Union collapsed.
A hundred-thousand-strong crowd of pro-communist supporters was already gathering for a huge demonstration. Per TV news, that gathering was taking place about three blocks away from the old EPF apartment where I lived.
Sergey Sych was very upset and started sobbing again. His brother was also upset and so was I—a highly unproductive setup. Therefore, instead of cowering in our apartment, I decided for all of us to go see the communist demonstration and get the feel for all this.
Outside we were immediately swallowed by a seemingly endless but loose crowd moving toward the staging area. People were very excited. Most of them looked homeless or at least extremely destitute. When we arrived, I was shocked to realize that most of the people around me, the people who were about to take part in the demonstration, were drunk. How could tens of thousands of people all be drunk at nine in the morning and all in the same place? The mystery was solved when I saw a three-ton truck, which was slowly making its way through the crowd, stopped. The back flap flew opened and a couple of guys started passing out bottles of vodka into the crowd that went nuts with thousands of people stampeding the truck. The guys on the track started tossing the bottles into the crowd far and wide to disperse the feeding frenzy. The truck was full of cases with vodka. They must have had thousands of bottles there.    
          Steering clear of the truck melee to protect my ribs, I ran into two bums stinking of body odor and puke, carrying a beautiful red sign stating in huge white letters “AWAY WITH AMERICAN IMPERIALISTS!” How, may I ask, would they even know what that meant? How would they see any connection between the American imperialism, which I also hated wholeheartedly at the time but not nearly as much as I hate it now in 2012, and the current events in Russia? I am not even asking how the hell they could have possibly made such a sign.
          “Hey guys!” I slurred, “Where can I get a sign?”
          “Over there!” One of them unsteadily pointed toward a building nearby.
          Pushing through the crowd, we finally came to a huge pile of red flags, all with golden hammers and sickles, and various signs, neatly made, all red with white writing. Another mystery solved.
          This demonstration was a very well-staged show.
          We made our way back home in silence. The news on TV showed throngs of people with red flags looting everything and beating people up. We also saw similarly huge pro-democratic crowds gathering all over the huge city. They were not well-organized, had no nice signs and were sober. The throngs of democracy supporters were pulling in toward Kremlin from everywhere in order to defend Boris Yeltsin from a hundred thousand drunken bums and 860 heavily armed mercenaries. The news commentator estimated their numbers at about half a million, although later I heard higher as well as lower estimates.
          Boris Yeltsin came on TV and radio and called for the citizens of Moscow to defend the democracy against the communists and criminals. He shared the prevailing opinion that the mercenaries would attack Kremlin at night.
          The only troops under the Presidents command were 250 Kremlin honor guards, the show troops, the tourists’ darlings. They would greet foreign dignitaries with parades and they would hold watches at the Lenin’s tomb and other ceremonial locations. Minimally 6’4” tall, these guys could definitely march goosestep and do various tricks with their rifles, but they were not fighting troops.  
          Meanwhile the mercenaries reached the White House, the seat of the Russian Parliament, and took position in and around it. Later in the day they tried to advance toward Kremlin, but were blocked by huge crowds of Yeltsin’s supporters. They returned to the White House and did the strangest thing. In order to insure the security of the White House they started shooting randomly anything that moved within some distance from the building. The on-lookers and participants of the opposing rallies scattered away from the White House like cockroaches, leaving dead, wounded and pinned down behind. A field translator of mine, Sergey Zarenko, spent a couple of hours on the ground next to some dead body, playing dead. When things calmed down, he tried to run away but was shot in the foot. He hobbled up to my place. His mangled shoe was full of blood.     
          Sergey, Vadim, half a dozen of my Dianetics guys, including freshly bandaged Sergey Zarenko in one shoe, and I went to Kremlin to take part in the defense of Boris Yeltsin against the mercenaries. It was a cold night. 
          I still can’t avoid tears when I remember that night. Unarmed people of all ages, sizes and genders gathered in hundreds of thousands to stop 96 heavily armed battle vehicles carrying 860 armed to the teeth murderers. This was either going to be a terrible carnage or the mercenaries would have to turn back. Or both. With us here, the Parliament had no winning solution for taking Kremlin by force. In either case, democracy would win the PR war—at the very least.
          I really believed that everything that was transpiring in Moscow at that time was reverberating all around the world, televised in the USA and that UN was all over it. It turned out not to be the case. Most of this data was completely unknown to Americans. Boris Yeltsin by his illegal but heroic actions against the Parliament and by putting democracy above the law, actually created bad PR for democracy, so nobody at this end was interested in siding with him, believe it or not. 
          In any case, we spent that night next to the Kremlin wall, burning fires and waiting. Meetings and fiery speeches would spontaneously break out here and there. Press was very much in attendance to televise some of them. I saw some women bringing in food and water for us, the Kremlin defenders. Some old lady dragged in a whole bag of cartons of milk. I was very grateful to her when I managed to get one, since I still couldn’t chew anything. A medical station to treat the wounded was set up nearby by about a dozen grim and determined-looking nurses of all ages in nurse uniforms. They laid out their meager medical supplies on wooden crates that some guys set up for them. There were some pro-communist agitators stirring up trouble here and there.
I saw two groups of some twenty cops holding each other at gun point from behind their cruisers. I also saw a cop stopping a car with red flags sticking through the back-seat window and simply firing two shots through that window. The car sped away.
The whole thing was immeasurably bigger than any one person present there. I totally believed that personnel carriers would have to drive over thousands upon thousands of dead bodies to get through to Yeltsin. 
          The cold and scary night wore off. Nothing happened. The mercenaries never left their positions at the White House. Somebody there with some brains decided against fighting a battle that they could not possibly win.
          My fears of KGB actions against me evaporated. I had bigger problems. Exhausted but elated and uplifted by everything I saw, I returned to my apartment in the morning. We all crashed and slept until about noon.
          Vadim woke me up with the news that communists had organized another rally with an estimated four thousand drunks, led by some four hundred mercenaries, marching on Ostankino, the national and local TV hub of Moscow. The mercenaries marched by platoons in step at a slow pace in perfect formation. The red-flagged crowd of unruly drunks was following them, bashing windows and vending machines along the way. Ostankino was many miles away. I guess, marching through the streets, as opposed to driving the battle vehicles, was supposed to galvanize more communist supporters into action as their numbers dwindled most significantly from the day before. I think that worked fine for them, inasmuch as they did in fact gathered at least ten thousand people by the time they reached Ostankino, but I wasn’t following their progress as I spent a few hours doing touch assists on the wounded.
Assists are short Scientology procedures that help wounds heal faster and relieve pain. A touch assist usually takes five to fifteen minutes. I am not even sure how many assists I did, probably a dozen or more. I was so out of it that my actions were mostly automatic. Gennady drove us, a cab-full of beginner Scientologists and me, to a hospital to do assists. Probably one of my guys organized it, not sure. It was good to feel that I did not always have to be in charge. I wasn’t up to being in charge at the moment and so somebody else—don’t even know who—stepped in to take my place. I felt proud of my guys, but I wasn’t all that lucid. I do remember, however, a 14-year old boy shot in the back. His mother kept saying that he was so lucky that the AK bullet went all the way through. I remember thinking how tragic that attitude was and how fast the normal life of a school boy and his parents was transformed into something altogether different. Some serious changes must have occurred in the mother’s head to start rejoicing that her son was shot from an assault rifle in the back but the bullet went out through his chest instead of getting lodged in his lung.
Having gotten home probably around four or five, I crashed again and was woken up in a couple of hours with the news that mercenaries were taking over Ostankino and the Kremlin guards started arriving by helicopters to stop them. The pretty boys finally decided to fight. About time. Enough goosestep already!
TV news showed parts of a battle that was truly incredible to behold. Kremlin guards in battle fatigues were disembarking from helicopters on top of the Ostankino administrative building a few at time as the choppers would fly away to bring more. They quickly assembled a force of 125 men. The Kremlin troops on the roof were dressed in battle fatigues and looked no different than any other soldiers in any army, except when a camera shot would catch them next to some civilians who were being evacuated from the building. The soldiers looked at least a foot taller than anybody else.
The cameraman followed them down onto the top floor of the Ostankino building. We saw a long shot of the corridor with a bunch of doors and Kremlin soldiers securing the floor, moving from behind the camera and rushing forward and away from the camera. Their speed and competence were startling. They moved through that floor like wild fire at a hundred miles an hour, it seemed. A small avant-garde contingent covering the corridor ahead, moving forward one by one and covering each other, a couple of guys covering the back, teams kicking the doors in, keeping a certain formation and a perfect drill going and so it went room by room very fast. Crisp commands, crisp reports, break-neck speed. The entire floor was secured in about ten seconds, it seemed. My jaw dropped. I LOVED competence and here I saw the deployment of a crack special forces unit. Show troops, my ass.
By the time the cameraman made his way to the next floor down, it was already secured. We saw a soldier escorting several scared civilians up to the roof. The tallest civilian just about reached to the middle of his breast pocket.
The mercenaries, meanwhile, were moving up floor by floor destroying some equipment and setting fires selectively to some archives. What was the purpose for their orders to destroy tapes? Some food for thought, you, conspiracy theorists out there. Some employee was reportedly resisting in some way and was shot and killed. Several other employees were smacked around with rifle butts.
On the fourth floor the opposing forces finally met. There was no footage of that except for a couple of seconds that looked like an inferno. Then a soldier quickly grabbed the cameraman under his arm and carried him out while the sounds of the gun battle were still on for a second longer. Many AK’s going at the same time in a confined space plus a grenade explosion. My own problems seemed positively microscopic by comparison.
Sergey Sych grabbed my hand, staring at the TV screen in pure terror. I let the awkward moment pass. What bothered me the most at the moment was the outcome of that gun battle. There was no news as nobody knew what was happening. Even the commentators stopped chattering.
The camera picked up the action again in the lobby. The decimated mercenaries were pinned down under a huge balcony or mezzanine of some kind, occupied by the Kremlin troops. Suddenly a city bus, Icarus, a huge Hungarian made bus, smashed full speed into the glass wall of the Ostankino entrance lobby and careened inside the building, immediately riddled with bullets, tires blowing up under it. The last few feet the bus had no tires left at all, steel rims screeching bloody murder on the marble floor, creating showers of sparks. The picture was not very steady, but the bus was obviously used as a cover for the remaining mercenaries to evacuate the building. The bus with the remaining mercenaries behind it screeched its way out the glass wall. The Kremlin guards did not pursue, probably because the building was surrounded by thousands of drunken supporters of Karl Marx’s agenda of the hegemony of the proletariat at the moment.
The news reporter, just as most of us, I guess, stood in silence a few minutes later observing Kremlin soldiers carrying their dead and wounded in seemingly endless procession to the roof to be loaded up onto the helicopters. There were a whole lot of dead and wounded.       
          Next morning, four unidentified heavy tanks entered Moscow and slowly proceeded through the city, maintaining radio silence and messing up the asphalt. All we learned from the news was that they belonged to the famous Tamansk Tank Division, the elite. Nothing at the disposal of the warring parties could easily stop them, so they could pretty much do what they wanted. The only trouble was that nobody knew what that was.
          The talking heads on TV speculated on that point endlessly. Some retired generals explained a thing or two about the T-90 tank with its 125 mm (about 5”) gun and all kinds of other goodies it was carrying. If their target was the Kremlin and they wanted Yeltsin out, he’d be out. Of course, there was always a chance for the unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators to throw themselves under the tanks to stop them. The news broadcast showed people pulling in and assembling around Kremlin to do just that.
Historically, the Tamansk Division was always the best, always in the forefront, the Party Defenders, the Stalin’s Iron Shield, the Afghan Iron Fist. They’d drive over people if they had to. They’d done it before. Things could get very bad indeed. Did the Kremlin guards have anything heavier than RPG’s in their disposal? Nobody had a clue.
          My guys went to defend the Kremlin, but I had Gennady drive me to the White House. I did not want to be too close to the building as the mercenaries kept on shooting everybody in range indiscriminately, so I set myself up across the river under a tree just to observe. I saw the armored personnel carriers and some sentries around the place, some people on the roof, presumably, snipers.
 The tanks did not go toward Kremlin. The city exhaled. The tanks rumbled toward the White House instead and took position at least ¾ of a mile away on all four sides. A Lieutenant in charge made a brief announcement to the effect that each tank would shoot a round every 30 minutes into the White House windows until the Parliament disbanded in compliance with the President’s order. The Democracy was safe.
          Gennady drove me to the nearest tank which took position across the river. There were eight or nine civilians huddling behind it.
“Why is everybody hiding behind the tank?” I asked the middle age lady closest to me, just as a bullet struck the armor with a ping a couple of feet away from my head and flew through the windshield of an empty car, parked about 50 feet to my left.
“A ricochet,” I heard somebody explain. “It probably wouldn’t kill you.”
“But then again it might,” somebody ventured.
“Does that answer your question?” the lady asked me.
I heard Gennady blowing his horn, trying to get me back into the car. He was triple parked to shield himself from any stray bullets fired from the White House. Nobody seemed to care about parking violations in Moscow at the moment, while the cops were busy slacking off or fighting each other. I beaconed to Gennady to leave the cab and come join me, it was safer behind the T-90.
I felt relatively safe behind the tank and I was fairly sure that the mercenaries were not able to aim accurately at this distance anyway. I seemed to remember from my Military Readiness classes in school, around the 5th or 6th grade or so, that AK had an effective aim range of up to 1 kilometer. We were approximately ¾ of a mile or at least 1.2 kilometers away from the building. Gennady joined me, cussing and calling me names.   
   “Our” tank shot a round straight into a window of the White House. They put one in very neatly from that distance. The windows looked very small from where we were. The entire neighborhood jumped up and shook with the shot, windows rattled in the nearby buildings, car alarms went off. Our small crowd, looking on from behind the tank, stirred and murmured approvingly as the explosion inside the White House sent a cascade of broken glass, furniture pieces and who knows what else flying out the entire row of windows. 
Soldiers climbed out of the tank. When joyous greetings subsided, they were offered cigarettes. Some woman brought in some water in a large jug. I noticed in general that in emergencies older Russian women start compulsively bringing water and milk to the troops. Everybody did their best to slap the tank soldiers on the back.
“Nice shot!”
“Thanks,” their Sergeant took it personally. “We know how to shoot,” he spoke with a Caucasus Mountains accent, probably an Osetin or an Azerbaijani. He climbed back into the tank through the lower hatch, using the massive turret as cover.
“Do you guys practice a lot?”
“Yeah, all the time one drill or another,” one of the soldiers answered.
“And how far can this thing shot?”
“Oh, I suppose about 5-6 kilometers or so.”
“No, we practiced further than that, Andrey. No?”
“Not sure.”
“No kidding! That’s far!”
“Are you guys married? Have girlfriends?”
“How is the army food nowadays? Used to be for shit,” the senseless questioning continued.
“Lots of buckwheat and herring.”
“Yeap, yeap, I hear you.”
“Hey, how much can it go top speed?”
“We get it up to 60 kilometers on dirt and better than that on asphalt.”
“Boy, you sure do a number on that asphalt!”
“No kidding!”
I had cigarettes for everybody who wanted them. The surreal conversation kept rolling easily, occasionally punctuated by pings of bullets ricocheting from the armor. The Sergeant received his order to fire another shot. The guys climbed back in.
The ground shook, car alarms went off again, windows rattled. The shell went into a window of the White House across the river as smoothly as the first one—a different window this time. Debris flew out.
The soldiers emerged from the tank again, relaxed as ever.
“Hey, good shot, guys!”
And so it went again. I told Gennady that we were leaving. We ran to his taxi, keeping low, and Gennady drove me home.
Things quickly went downhill for the Parliament. They threw a white flag a few hours later when White House was already on fire and most of the furniture was already outside the building in little pieces, blown out through the windows by at least a dozen of explosions of 125 mm shells inside the building.  
          The order in the city was quickly restored by the army, which stepped in with more tanks entering the city, pulverizing the asphalt. Police went back to work. I thought we lived through the worst of it, but I was wrong.
Enraged Yeltsin, as incapable of controlling his temper even in the best of times, as he was of holding his liquor, issued an inexplicable in its brutality order to kill mercenaries on sight, no prisoners. I heard the order myself on Moscow radio. What didn’t he want known? The conspiracy theorists of the world unite!
For the next few days thousands of heavily armed men had fun chasing several hundred just as heavily armed mercenaries around town.
I personally observed several skirmishes and killings, all of them in close proximity, too close. One of the mercenaries was killed not even 50 feet from me, riddled with bullets from six AKs, all in his torso. I was on the front seat of Gennady’s cab, which screeched to a halt when the shooting started, as the entire traffic went berserk for a second and immediately gridlocked. The bullets went through the body of the mercenary, pulverizing his back and chest into minced meat, shredding the clothing. The six soldiers came over to the gory remains and one of them, a Sergeant, fired into his head point blank.
“Kill him again, Sergeant! You only killed him about 200 times so far! Shoot him again just to make sure!” I yelled from the car window.
“Fuck off,” Sergeant replied, noticeably upset. “Orders.”
“Okay, sorry, man.” I knew exactly what he meant—the almighty orders. 
          On another occasion, I was walking down Mir Prospect when a couple of individuals in civilian clothing, sporting AK’s and grenade webbing, ran into some store, closely followed by four uniformed soldiers. The firefight erupted inside—the shoppers must have been having one hell of a bad day—just as I was walking by the storefront. There was an explosion and the huge storefront shuttered and flew out in little fragments. I never moved so fast in my entire life as I jumped that morning. One second I was walking by the store, next instant I was 20 feet further down the street on the ground.
          The biggest battle I saw was right under my windows at Dinamo subway station. There was a small, overgrown park surrounding the entrance to the station. Firefight in that small park started around 7 p.m. and went on for some hours deep into the night. A line of ambulances waited on the street—drivers and EMT’s huddled behind the fronts of their vehicles. The park was surrounded by soldiers armed with 50-caliber machine guns to contain the mercenaries being slaughtered inside. A detachment of the cordon troops was covering the ambulance line to prevent the fugitives from taking hostages or using ambulances to escape. Several women from nearby apartment buildings were serving water to the ambulance personnel and soldiers. Some of the vehicles had bullet holes in them and some shut-up windows.
The soldiers would drag their wounded out of the park and load them up into the ambulances. The other drivers would climb back into their vehicles and move forward. Innocent bystanders crowded behind the ambulances, discussing the events. Nobody tried to shoo them off, except one lonely cop, who finally showed up on the scene. He addressed the on-lookers with a short but laud sermon, straining to be heard above the staccato of the gun battle, to the effect that this wasn’t a party or a movie and somebody was bound to get hurt hanging around here. Nobody paid any attention so the cop left. Observing the proceedings from the 11th floor balcony gave me an incredible view of the small forest riddled by muzzle flashes, explosions and tracers flying every which way in the dark among the bare winter trees.      
Walking through that park next morning, I was amazed to find bare trees with a lot of the branches and bark shut off. I found myself ankle-deep in woodchips. What firepower had these soldiers have to endure here last night? What immense, blind, overwhelming force had been applied here against soft tissues and bones of the human body? Pure insanity.
Some people grant wars full legitimacy as a tool in the diplomatic toolbox or as a color on the political palette—enough legitimacy to support every single one of the 13 wars that the USA had fought since World War II. Those people are called “Repub…” beg your pardon, I meant “insane.” Unless they were safely tacked away into mental institutions last night, they should’ve been here at Dinamo, getting killed, like everybody else who was here.
My KGB friends, lead by Grumpy, paid me a visit when the dust settled. I didn’t let them in at first because they did not have an attorney or a US Embassy representative with them. They cussed and threatened me from the corridor. I opened the door.
That reunion was short, yet joyless. They wanted to see the e-meter. I refused to show it to them. More threats followed. Suddenly Dopey spoke quietly, chewing on a toothpick, “We shoulda whacked ’im when we had all that shooting going on. Coulda make it look like a robbery or somt’n.” He rolled the toothpick thoughtfully between his index finger and his thumb and shook his head. There was dirt under his fingernails and deep in the pores of the skin of his hand—the kind of grime you get by working on a car. Must have been a lot of work.
That oily grime on his hand suddenly struck me, driving home the obvious. These guys were regular people, like me and you, improbable as it seemed. They all wore wedding rings, they lived their lives, had wives, kids with their schools and home works, cars to fix, a little not enough money, a few too many problems—just like everybody else. Unlike other people, however, they had inverted disposition toward others. They were the wrong way to in their heads—the other way around and upside down people. They bit the poisoned apple. They fell asleep forever. The evil apparitions I saw walking around and ruining everyone they touched were not them. They were really dead asleep, poisoned.  
“Well, you fucked up, because you are such idiots. Too late now. Out, all of you! Out!”
“That’s what you want,” Grumpy hissed menacingly, “that’s what you get.”
With that vague threat, they left.
Next morning, a courier from OVIR delivered a summons for me to appear before an OVIR officer, stating the time—only a couple of hours in advance, and place.
I hand-wrote a fax to Tanya, the shortest mission communication I had ever written, only five words: “Send the OSA mission now” and my signature. Gennady checked in on the hour as usual. I told him to come by and give me a ride to OVIR. We stopped on the way there to send my fax. It went out. I thought I spotted a tail but it no longer made any difference.
My instructions to Gennady were to wait for me for 24 hours, and then report to Birthe Heldt at the Sea Org Operations, Transportation and Liaison office if I was still not out same time the following day.
“What’s happening?” Genady asked, startled by my orders. “What do you need here?”
“Just getting my passport back and my visa extended.”
“And that takes 24 hours?”
“It might, Gennady.” I looked straight into my friend’s eyes. “Hey, how much do I owe you now?” I asked.
Gennady took out his torn up note book from the glove compartment and leafed through it thoughtfully.
“$400,” he finally said.
 “Well, sorry, buddy. I can’t pay you the full amount. I have a bit over $200 left and I am in deep shit in many ways on a number of different levels right now.” I nodded toward OVIR entrance.
“You are always in deep shit,” Gennady waved his hand carelessly.
“We are talking about a whole new level of deep-shitedness here.”
“That says a lot coming from you,” Gennady grinned. I did not return the smile.
Gennady’s face paled as he mouthed, “KGB?”
I nodded. “Are you upset by this?”
“I am very upset, yes,” Gennady was frightened now. “I’m gonna write it down and I expect to get paid! I’ll wait till you come out even if it takes a week!” He really wanted me to come out of there alive.
“Okay, will do,” I promised getting out of his cab and slamming the door behind me. Well, somebody thought I’d be getting out of this alive.  
I expected my visit to OVIR regarding my visa and passport to turn into something a lot more sinister, like a prelude to a formal KGB interrogation, for instance, or imprisonment, or worse—or all of the above.
As expected, I was greeted by a grim-looking OVIR officer who ushered me to a small office, or an interrogation room, complete with a large mirror on the wall, presumably a one-way window. The drab steel desk and three beat up chairs, illuminated by a single bulb on the ceiling, casted stark shadows on linoleum floor.
Without much ado, the officer presented me with 17 counts of immigration laws violation, all documented and factual. He had me write a confession in my own handwriting regarding each of those occurrences. I obliged. Those were all true violations on my part, all documented with written reports, supported by surveillance tape transcripts and even a few photographs. And those were just some of the violations. The true extent of my “crimes” was not even known here. Yes, indeed, I freely moved around the country, not paying due attention to the limitations imposed on my freedom of movement by my visa, disregarding the law about having to register within 24 hours upon arrival and not getting permissions for conducting meetings and public gatherings. I didn’t see any point in being coy about any of it now.
The officer collected all 17 confessions, told me that from here I was going straight to prison and left. I remained seated, sweating profusely.
Another person walked in, a middle aged tough looking dude with steel grey eyes, wearing black slacks and a black turtle neck which did nothing to hide his considerable physique. I felt the power. One tough mother fucker. He was followed by a younger thug, not nearly as muscular and a lot less focused.
“You are finished,” the older man started. “You are gone.”
“Who am I talking to?” I asked politely just to check his momentum.
“You are talking to me,” the dude would not be stopped. “And while you are at it, I want to know all about your meetings with Oleg Zhukov, including the last one where you attacked him.”
“Who is Oleg… Oh, the guy who attacked me at that whore’s house? That son of a bitch!”
“Wrong answer. Arkady, put this criminal under arrest, he is going to jail for immigration law violations.”
“Hold your horses, General! Show me a law that specifies a jail term for the failure to register with OVIR. You probably can’t even deport me for that. All hot, stinking air, like a fart. You are just a commie fart,” I imitated the sound the best I could with my dry lips. “You are trying to scare me? I’ll get you dragged through the Red Square tarred and feathered! I am a representative of an international religious organization. And you know who you are? An evil coward.”
The punch in the stomach came completely unexpected, lightning fast and very hard. He must have had a lot of practice. My ribs! I coughed, unable to breathe. Tears veiled my eyes. Damn! I suppose I had it coming.  
Hard stare of the steely, unblinking eyes. “Crying? This is nothing. Wait for the real trouble! I can keep you for three days for no reason at all. I promise to make your stay very interesting.” Didn’t this sound just like a confession that he had nothing on me? Idiots.
“Comrade Colonel,” the younger man dove in, “perhaps Mr. Priv here does not realize the true extent of his offenses.”
“Perhaps. Lay it on him. Then book him and straight to Lubyanka.” The older thug got up and left the room.
Exit the bad cop. Enter the good cop.
“Hey, Michael, I want to keep things nice and cool. But you just managed to piss off the boss. That is dumb. We do have plenty here to burry you with.”
“Like what?”
“Like the unauthorized electronic device that you’ve been using on people. Like tax evasion. Like conning people and providing medical treatment without a medical license. That’s ten years hard labor, right there.”
“House of cards. The tax evasion just means I may owe you about 40 bucks if you can prove it. The conning part is just me practicing my religion and, anyway, you’d have to prove any criminality by questioning the “conned,” you know, the “victims.” But even if you managed to scare them into false statements in court, I would still walk free because I was just practicing my religion. Our attorneys would just breathe on your case and it’d all dissolve.”
“Oh, yeah? What about the rape? Don’t you think the rape of Elena Yeleseyeva would put you away for at least ten years?”
“I would never rape anybody.”
“That’s not what she said. Do you want to see her sworn statement? Here.”
He tossed an official looking piece of paper my way with the Ministry of Internal Affairs letterhead and a signature at the bottom, presumably Elena’s.
I got upset for Elena, imagining what she had to go through. These people were poison. Pure poison.
The “good” cop continued, “We keep on tightening the noose. No problem. But you know the funny thing? It is not even about you! Don’t flatter yourself. You are a nobody and nobody is interested in you. This is all about Oleg Zhukov.”
“Go to Hell, Arkady.”
“Why are you covering up for him? Do you see how suspicious it looks? And why are you refusing to demonstrate that stupid e-meter of yours? You know we could get a hundred e-meters of our own, if we wanted to? We don’t need you.”
“Exactly. You can buy an e-meter all over the world plus by mail order it straight to Lubyanka from Copenhagen, Sydney or LA. So go buy your own.”
“We will buy our own and go out have a party, and you will be working hard in a very cold place, eating shit for dinner.”
“Listen, I will not tell you anything. That’s just the way it is. Get your idiot boss back in here and let’s continue with your illegal arrest and harassment. I said it before, I’ll say it again: you want me to talk, get me an attorney and a US Embassy representative. Otherwise, go fuck yourselves.”
The Colonel came back in.
“Colonel, he isn’t cooperating,” Arkady announced melodramatically. “I tried to help him but he is just too dumb.”
“Okay, go, I’ll talk to him,” conceded the older man. 
When Arkady left the room, the Colonel came over. I tightened up, scared stiff, expecting more beatings. The Colonel patted me on my chest with the soothing, “You look so scared! It’s okay, nobody wants to hurt you here!”
I just stared up at him.
“Arkady can be quite rough sometimes. My apologies.”
So now this imbecile was the good cop? What a comedy routine! People did this for a living?
“Did Arkady explain that we mean no harm to you and really are not interested in you or your crimes?”
“I didn’t commit any crimes and yes, he did explain some things.”
“Yeah, exactly. I just need to hear the full Oleg Zhukov story.”
“You won’t, not without a US Embassy representative present.”
“You want me to get rough?”
“Our attorney will make you a new asshole if you do.”
“What about the e-meter?” I liked how he dropped the subject of getting rough. Good news.
Colonel continued, smirking at me all relaxed now from across the table, “We are not even interested in your e-meter, I only want to know why you keep refusing to show it to us. Are you simply being loyal to your so-called ‘church?’ They dropped you like a hot potato the moment you got in trouble. You can’t even set foot at your church in Moscow now, the one that you busted your ass putting there. Your handlers from Los Angeles are not in a hurry to come help you either. Don’t you see it, Misha?”
“Call me Michael.”
“I can call you Napoleon Bonaparte, it won’t change a thing. You are alone and you are thoroughly fucked. And why did you even get into that stupid religion of science, or whatever you call it? I checked our records. It is a reactionary pseudo-religious movement.”
“A what?”
“A reactionary pseudo… movement. That’s all it is.”
“What’s the hell is ‘reactionary?’ What does it mean?”
The Colonel froze with half-smile, half-sneer on his face and stared at me for about 20 seconds, then suddenly said, irritated, “I don’t fucking know. It’s just a reactionary movement! ‘Reactionary’ means ‘bad’, okay?”
“No! It’s not okay. You insult my religion but you don’t even know what it’s called and you claim it is ‘reactionary’ but you don’t even know what ‘reactionary’ means! Outrageous! How can you be so incompetent? You guys are grotesque, evil clowns. And your ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine sucks!”       
“Shut up!” he pounded his hand on the table.
“You are just mean kids playing in a sandbox. Now I am taking my little sand shovel and my little bucket and go the fuck home.” I tried to get up.
The Colonel pushed me down and again slapped his hand on the table in front of me, “Why are you covering up for Oleg Zhukov and why you are so insistent on hiding that stupid device from us?”
“Because those are the two things you want from me right now. Whatever you want from me, I don’t give you. If you wanted snow in the winter from me, I wouldn’t give it to you. If you wanted a cigarette from me, I wouldn’t give it to you. If you wanted five kopeks from…”
“I got it! That’s dumb! Very childish. You really think your Headquarters in Los Angeles will come to your rescue! They won’t! They wouldn’t anyway because they don’t give a shit about you, but we also intercepted your fax. You know where it went? To Lubyanka. Nobody is coming to help you! You’re fucked!”
“Well, okay, then. I am leaving now.” 
“You leave when I say you leave! Give me something or I’ll burry you right here and now!” He was really pissed now.
“Okay, okay! My God! So much drama! Here, here, calm down. You look so upset. I will show you the e-meter. Wednesday at 4 p.m.” If the fax went through, I expected the cavalry here on Tuesday. If he were telling the truth, well…  
“Not Wednesday. Tomorrow. Morning. Early!”
“Fine. Tomorrow at 4 p.m. Take it or leave it.”
“Okay. No fuck-ups this time or I’ll rot you into mulch in Siberia!”
“Goodbye, Comrade Colonel. Have a nice evening with your family.”
          On my way out of the building, I ran into Arkady, the Colonel’s sidekick. He put his arm around my shoulders, patted me on my cracked ribs, sending agonizing waves of pain through my body.
“Tsk-tsk-tsk. It’s alright,” the jerk continued soothingly, “you look so scared! Calm down, calm down, man, we don’t want to hurt you. Breathe deeply.”
          They probably all went to the same school for assholes. I walked out, inhaling carefully through clenched teeth. The pain slowly subsided.
          It was dark outside already. Was I scared? Yes, I was. I was hysterically terrified, in fact, of electric shocks and psychiatric drugs, attendant to KGB interrogations, as I heard.  Per the L. Ron Hubbard’s directive, they would immediately disqualify me from receiving any further auditing. In case you did not fully get it yet, auditing means your eternity, among other huge things, such as inner peace, happiness and ability to truly understand others. Auditing is the process of gradually peeling off your disabilities and stupidities. Unless you are Gautama Siddhartha or Jesus Christ, you need auditing to gradually emerge from the mud, you need lots of auditing. These idiots here had the power to bar my road out. I was terrified.
          Next morning the OSA mission arrived. It consisted of an OSA Int staff member from LA by the name Andy, a slight, skinny dude of about 30 and Maria, a Swiss girl I knew, from OSA Europe. Despite the young age, there was not all that much hair left on Andy’s head, so he combed the remaining fine blond strands to one side in a futile attempt to cover the bald spot which was most of his head. He wore glasses. I knew Maria from my earlier missions to Europe. She was a nice, cheerful lady alright but... This was the cavalry? I was doomed.
          “Did they beat you?” Andy asked.
          “M-m.” I unbuttoned my shirt and showed the tight bandage I wore to support the ribs. “I can’t chew, either.”
          “Care to brief me?”
          “Any medical exam or witnesses?”
          “Are you okay, generally?” asked Andy.
          “Generally,” I replied, “And you?”
          He ignored my retort. “Need medical attention?”
“Too bad, because I can’t offer you any. Stay home and wait for further instructions.”
“Hey, Andy, do you have money for my ticket out? Or any money for me?”
“No, I don’t,” he looked me in the eye. I think he was trying to tell me how much he hated me for creating this problem and how much he wanted to tell me to fuck off but he couldn’t because as Int staff member I was senior to him. “No money at all,” he reiterated, “for you.” Maria just smiled.
“Fuck you too, then,” I replied and ushered them out.
At 4 p.m. the KGB clowns came, five of them this time. There was an electronics specialist with them. With insincere apologies, I told them I turned over the e-meter to the OSA mission that just arrived to get me out and they could definitely track the mission down and get the e-meter from them. The infuriated KGB men left with their usual threats. They had no idea what that mission was capable of (and probably it wasn’t capable of a hell of a lot) and so couldn’t take any chances with aggravating me further. They hated my guts. The feeling was somewhat mutual. Right now the mission was my shield but it too, just as my other defenses, was illusory, it was all a bluff. I knew I was doomed.
Next morning I received a call from Andy to be at the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation office at such and such address at 11 a.m. sharp. He hung up. That was huge! A Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs? Andy did that? That couldn’t be right.
I dressed up and called Gennady to give me a ride.
“Still alive?” Gennady greeted me with a usual scowl and slapped me on the ribs. I yelped.
 “Ministry of Internal Affairs,” I hissed to Gennady.
“That’s my man! Give ‘em hell! Let’s go.”
We drove to the Ministry in silence. Andy and Maria waited for me by the Deputy’s office door. Maria was explaining something to Andy as he was going through a folder full of documents.
“Did you highlight article 14? Where is it?” I heard him asking.
“Yes, Sir, right here. As I said, I organized them on a gradient from misdemeanors…”
“Yeah, I got it, Maria, thanks.”
“Michael, you’ll translate. No stupid stuff. Follow my lead.”
A secretary ushered us in. The Deputy Minister was a burly man in his 50’s, wearing a gray well-worn suite over a not-all-that-fresh white shirt and a beat-up burgundy tie, a bit askew. He had that unmistakable haunted look of a high-ranking overworked executive that I was used to seeing at the Int Base. Unlike the Sea Org top execs, though, he was so red and spastic that an apoplectic fit seemed a certainty in his immediate future. He was also perspiring a bit. We set down in visitors’ chairs in front of his cluttered desk with half a dozen telephones.   
“I don’t have time for any bullshit,” he warned in Russian in a way of introduction. “Don’t even know how you got here. What do you want? You have 30 seconds.” He was talking to me. I translated to Andy.
“No problem, Sir, I have to be somewhere as well,” replied Andy. “We’ll be brief. Church of Scientology International, the Mother Church, is suing your government for $104 million dollars for continued, numerous and flagrant violations of human and religious rights of a US citizen, including beatings, threats and illegal detention. Here is the Notification.” He handed me some papers that I laid on the desk in front of the Deputy Minister as I was translating. His eyes almost popped out of his head.
“104 mi..?” he started, thumbing the Notification and looking around the room wildly.
“That’s all,” Andy said, getting up and turning to leave. “We are done. Thank you very much for your time, Sir.” I got up too.
“No, no, I need to know!” the Deputy Minister protested. “Sit down, please. I assure you, I had no idea!”
I translated. Andy hesitated, looking at his watch as if considering the grievous consequences of this delay here for all his previously arranged engagements.
“Everything is explained here in the Notification you just received.” Andy retorted briskly, still not getting seated.
“Who is the US citizen in question?”
“Him,” said Andy, pointing at me. “Michael Priv.”
“That’s me,” I said in Russian. I was beginning to grasp the width of the margin by which I underestimated this skinny little OSA Int operative.
“You?” The Deputy glared at me. “You are not even an American, you are a Russian! And you don’t even look beaten!”
I unbuttoned my shirt and showed him the bandage.
“Me,” I reiterated. “I can’t chew and have two cracked ribs. No later than yesterday I was punched in the stomach by KGB.” Deputy just stared. “What did you say your name was?” he asked me calmly now.
“I didn’t,” I replied staring straight into his eyes. “You will find all the information in the papers you’d just been served.”
Andy set down meanwhile and with a deep resentful sigh unzipped his leather folder.
          “You have illegally confiscated Mr. Priv’s passport two weeks ago, which constitutes an arrest by international standards. No charges have been filed against the plaintiff, no court orders, no due proceedings, no presence of a US official despite numerous requests. You will find the reports here as well as our formal complaint to the United Nations with a request to form an International Court to look into this matter. Here is a report to Luxemburg, to the European Court of Justice.” Andy gave me typed sheets of paper that I placed in front of the Deputy—still staring at him accusingly.
          “Your state security agents illegally interrogated Mr. Priv on six separate occasions (no idea where he came up with six interrogations), using harsh and illegal interrogation techniques—all in violation of points…  in the spirit of the item… paragraph 3A… your own Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, as well as points… such as the clause… Helsinki Convention… human rights as well as the European Justice Protocol, specifically violating paragraph… Geneva… ratified in Oslo… the Brussels…”
          Andy spoke rather softly and monotonously but somehow menacingly, the very monotony conveying something very sinister, relentless and merciless, like drops of water that cut the stone. Andy was suddenly wielding considerable presence in that large office. As he spoke, he kept handing me typed or Xeroxed sheets of paper, some parts highlighted in yellow. I kept translating and placing the sheets in front of the fat bastard looking straight into his eyes. He kept getting redder and sweatier at first, then calmed down. He kept silent for the most part except an occasional, “I assure you…” He already understood what this was all about. He knew they’d simply have to let me go.
          When Andy was done, he simply got up and walked out with a curt nod to the high official.  I ambled after him.
          Maria was waiting for us in the large reception hall. Andy just walked past her. She got up and fell in step next to him. I was bringing the rear with a bounce in my step. A good size boulder had just been lifted off my shoulders.
          “Wow!” I slapped Andy on the back. “Are you a lawyer, Andy?”
          “No, I am not. I am a school teacher by education but I am a Sea Org member just like you. I did the entire line-up of LRH courses for my post.  Stay home, Michael. They will bring you your passport and most likely kick you out of the country right away.”
“Are you sure he bought your bluff?”
“What bluff? Every single thing I said was true. We filed complaints and called for investigations, just as you translated. Some of your KGB buddies are going to get hurt as a result of this. Hey, by the way, you mentioned you had some money problems?”
          “Yeah, why? You said you had no money for me.”
          “That’s right. Don’t know what to say. You’ll have to get out of here in a hurry. Ask Birthe or something. She was very active on all this. She kept an eye on you and put the case together.”
Kept an eye? How was she doing that exactly, I wondered. Birthe Heldt was in charge of OSA Russia. I thought she’d dropped me like a hot potato when I got in trouble but apparently she didn’t. Good old Birthe.
“I didn’t realize she was even remotely interested.”
“Oh, yea, she was. She worked on almost nothing else. Most of our data is from her.”
           I spent the rest of the day at home, packing, giving last minute instructions to my guys and saying goodbye.
          Around 6 p.m. a courier arrived with my passport and an official OVIR letter stating that my visa was extended till 6 a.m. the following morning and ordering me to leave the country before that deadline or face the consequences of all my immigration violations.
          Gennady drove me to Sheremetyevo International airport. We hugged. We went through a lot together in the two years. Lots of sleepless nights, triumphs and upsets. Lots of fun. We both knew that I wasn’t coming back this time. I gave Gennady all the money I had left.
          I arrived just in time for the 9 p.m. Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. The name tag on the young and attractive Russian Lufthansa employee at the counter stated “Tatiana Riabina.” Tatiana scrutinized my long-expired AMEX ticket and informed me that I did not, in fact, have a ticket. Tell me something I didn’t know! As there was a long line of passengers behind me, I just acted surprised, thanked her and walked to the side. The plane was leaving in over an hour, there was still time. The crowd dissipated by the time there was only about 30 minutes left. I approached Tatiana again.
          “Tatiana, get me on that plane. I must get on it or I am finished.” I gave her my letter from OVIR. “There is no other Lufthansa plane out till tomorrow noon and I have no money.”
          “I can’t,” she replied. “I’d lose my job.”
          “No, you won’t. An honest mistake. I ran up to you at the last moment.”
          “No, I am sorry.”
          “Hey, listen, I could go to any of those German bitches and get a ‘No’ for an answer. But I came to you because I believed you’d help me. You wouldn’t want a man to go to jail just because his ticket expired? It’s a racket anyway with these AMEX tickets. I paid money for a two-way ticket but only flew one-way. Now the ticket ‘expired.’ Did my money expire too? No. Is anybody going to reimburse me for the unused part of the ticket? No. Come on, Tatiana, have a heart.”
          “Well, alright. Fine. I’ll give you the boarding pass, you’ll make it to Frankfurt and then what? They’ll never let you on the plane to Los Angeles with this ticket. You know Germans! You’ll be stuck in Frankfurt.”
          “That’s much better than being stuck here, trust me.”
          “Okay, then, here you go. Good luck. Hurry up now. You have to look stressed out and you should be, you are already late.”
          “Call the plane and ask them to hold it for me, I am on my way! And thanks, all the best to you. You are a good soul.”
          “Okay, go, go!” Tatiana’s sharp features melted in a nice smile.
          I ran with my garment bag and a small suitcase the entire 100-mile obstacle course to the plane. I flew through security checkpoints and customs straight to the boarding gate in about 40 minutes, drenched in sweat. They held the plane for me.
          The two-hour flight to Frankfurt was largely uneventful, except that I stocked up on peanuts. In response to my attempts to get extra peanuts from the German flight attendant, I got one extra packet. I reiterated politely that when I asked for “more” peanuts, I meant “MORE.” She brought half a dozen little baggies. I asked for MORE. She shrugged in disdain and brought me another handful. Stingy little German. If they had Russian flight attendants at Lufthansa, I’d probably get a couple of 40-pound cases, easy.
          As expected, I got stuck in Frankfurt with my AMEX, for two full days and three nights.
          “Sir, you do not have a ticket,” a pretty Lufthansa employee informed me with a smile. “You need to buy a ticket to Los Angeles. Would you like me to find a ticket for you?” she slid behind her computer expectantly.
          “Strange. I had no problem boarding the plane in Moscow.”
          “I am not sure how that happened, Sir, but I see that this ticket had expired a long time ago. Would you like to buy a ticket to Los Angeles?”
          “No, that wouldn’t be necessary. Could I see the manager?”
          “Herr Manager is not going to help you. You need a ticket.”
          “I’m asking you for the last time to see Herr Manager.”
          “Of course, Sir, I will call him here immediately.” She punched a few buttons on the phone in front of her.
          Herr Manager was a friendly, slim guy in his 40’s with a neat haircut and spit-polished uniform shoes.
          “I am a frequent flyer and a religious worker,” I announced very loudly, my voice ringing with indignation, “I have a ticket. See? Right here! Why am I not allowed to board the plane?”
          “Sir, this ticket expired three months ago. You need a new ticket, that’s all.”
          “Like hell! You expect me to pay again?!”
          “This is an AMEX ticket, it expired,” the Manager kept working on me politely.
          “Yeah, but my money didn’t expire, did it? H-m? I paid to fly both ways but I only flew one way! What kind of a racket are you running here at Lufthansa?! Crooks!” I yelled.
          “Sir, please don’t get upset. There is nothing I can do, I am sorry.”
          He just turned around and left, probably expecting me to go away. I wish I could!
          Lufthansa operated three flights a day to LA. Before every flight I went through a similar routine with Herr Manager. By the end of the second day we were already on first-name basis.
Otto, the Manager, was a new father of a baby boy and very proud of that. He had a happy family life and a promising career with a major international airline. I was presently running away from the KGB frying pan in an attempt to jump back into the Int Base fire. Otherwise, we had a lot in common.
          “Michael!” He’d greet me. “I thought you left us!”
          “I can’t, Otto, I have no money and no place to go. I need to get on this plane!”
          “Of course you do! I’d love to put you on this plane but you do not, I repeat, DO NOT, have a ticket! It expired!”
          “Yeah, right! And my money expired with it? No! My money didn’t expire!”
          “We went over this many times, Michael, I can’t let you board the plane!”
          “And how do you think your son would feel about his father turning away a frequent flyer? You should be ashamed of yourself! I’m a religious worker! Are you a religious worker? “Cause not! When was the last time you went to die Kirche? You goddamn heretic! You’ll burn in Hell for this! What would Jesus do?!” I never gave a rat’s ass about Jesus, but I distinctly remembered a slogan “Jesus saves.” I needed a miracle.     
          The seats at Frankfurt airport must be the most uncomfortable seats in the known universe, totally unsuitable for sleeping. The food situation left a lot to be desired, too. I am not a huge peanuts fan in any case.
          On my third morning at Frankfurt airport I noticed a guy tossing half a sandwich and a not-quite-empty coffee cup into the trash can. I fished out the sandwich from the trash can, my ears burning with humiliation. A part of the sandwich was soaked in coffee and there was a blob of chewing gum stuck to it now. I peeled off the chewing gum and ate the sandwich right then and there. Germans know how to make good sandwiches.
          The idea that “everybody is watching you” is an erroneous idea based entirely on an ego-centric notion that anybody gives a shit. Nobody is ever watching you and even if anybody sees you, they are not paying attention. Nothing they see, which is not pertinent to their immediate problems in life, registers. Right? Well, this time Herr Manager Otto saw me going through the garbage can. Embarrassments never cease.   
          “Michael, give me your ticket,” I suddenly heard next to me just as I was licking some stray coffee-drenched mayo from my fingertips.
          I gave my hopeless ticket to Otto. He scribbled something on it with a Sharpie and handed it back to me.
          “Michael,” said Herr Manager by the name Otto with a lot of gravity, “as I said before, you DO NOT have a ticket. However, you have this note from me now. You don’t need a boarding pass. Just present this note to the attendant at the gate. Good luck!”
          “Thanks, Otto, I knew you’d come through. Kiss the Frau and little Jorgen for me!”
          “Yes, thank you. Good luck, Michael! Stay away from the KGB. Settle down, man, family life is good!”
          “Sure thing, Herr Manager, right away!”
          I presented my “ticket” with a note scribbled all over it to the attendant.
          “Wow, Herr… hm… Priv! Do you know Herr Manager personally?”
          “Oh, yeah, we go way back,” I waved her off, trudging through the gate with my garment bag. I suddenly felt really weak.
          “Must be from the Goethe University, because he is pretty new here.”
          “That’s right, Fraulain, Goethe University. Can I go in now?”
          “In just a second, Sir, we are waiting for the Senior Flight Attendant.
          Oh, no. Why? Back to sleeping at the airport?
          A good-looking, slightly older stewardess, supposedly the Senior Flight Attendant, all smiles, introduced herself as Brigitte. She ushered me straight into the 1st Class.
          “Danke,” I said and I meant it. Otto, you bleeding-heart sissy, you shouldn’t have!
           “My pleasure, Herr Priv! Have you and Herr Manager been friends for a long time?”
          “Oh, yes! Otto and I go way back. We went through Goethe together. Those were the days! Wait till I tell you how he saved a puppy from a burning building! Did you ever notice that scar on his left cheek?”
          “Mine Gott! I had no idea!” Brigitte stared at me with huge eyes. I suddenly caught a glimpse of what she must have looked like when she was a little girl. Super-cute.
“He is a remarkable man. And he is such a sweet man and an excellent organizer!”
          I cut her off before she had an orgasm, “Yeap, that’s our Otto all right! Brigitte, I am going to catch some sleep now. Please do not disturb me for any reason except full meals, will you?”
          “Definitely, Sir, but… No movies? No hors d'oeuvres? No snacks? No drinks? We have a wonderful selection of…”
          “No. Maybe later.”
          “Not even a glass of champagne?”
          “Well, alright, just one glass of champagne.”
          The champagne was tarp as hell but refreshing. I’m not a connoisseur, I like my bubbly sweet.
          A couple of hours of refreshing sleep were followed by a superb lunch, chased by some more sleep and then an excellent stake dinner with some red wine, which, in turn was closely followed by a lot more refreshing sleep. Leaving the plane, I gave Brigitte a nice pan that one of my destitute patients paid me with for her auditing in Moscow. It was a nice, elegant pan. Brigitte loved it, she said. 
          Needless to say, I arrived to LA well-rested and refreshed. The two-year long Russian adventure was over—good and bad—all water under the bridge. I was very satisfied with the results of my missions there, and not just because I survived, but mostly because I left behind an operational Sea Org outpost and a Translations Unit, a ton of translated materials, 16 thriving orgs, several Applied Scholastics schools, a Narconon center for rehabilitation of druggies and four management colleges that taught administrative technology, developed by LRH. And I liked Walter, the Commanding Officer there. Former USSR was in very capable hands. That felt good. I also stood up to the KGB thugs. That felt good, too. And, of course, there was Elena.
          It would seem that I had lost all those things forever and so my joy was completely misplaced. I knew better. Nothing was lost. Everything remained in place just where I left it and I knew exactly where that was. I simply moved away from it all, moved toward the future, toward more adventures, accomplishments, sweet victories and bitter defeats.  
          Bring it on!

Chapter Ten

          The joyous reunion with my TU friends and Tanya Alexander did not go quite as I expected. In fact, we skipped it altogether. Upon my arrival to the Base, I was immediately escorted by Security to our own jail, called the OGH, and placed on hard physical labor under 24-hour watch.
          I didn’t actually mind. Yes, sure, the beds were slept in and smelled, there was no fresh linen. Yes, sure, the place was a dump. Yes, sure, it was a bit annoying, when security would come in at night and shine flashlight in your face to see if you were still there. There were drawbacks to living at OGH. But hey, I was safe! No tanks, no Grumpy and his homicidal clowns, no shooting, no hunger, no living under the same roof with a spy, no fear for my life. I was absolutely safe. And there was no better place in the world to be safe and work outside on the fresh air than at the Int Base in late October and early November! Warm and sunny but not hot, bright blue sky, birds chirping, excellent food, undemanding physical work, rather pleasant and relaxing actually. I was raking the lawns, collecting leafs and twigs, loading them up in a flatbed trailer pulled by a small tractor and delivering it all in the compost pile—all under watch.
          In a couple of days the Master-at-Arms talked to me about my adventures. Our MAA, Gerald, was a black guy, a straight shooter to the core, the kind of a guy who you’d love to have your back behind enemy lines or in a risky business venture. Gerald’s main beef with me was going off Mission Orders, creating a super-flap with the KGB, having sex with Elena and, possibly, selling out to the KGB and becoming their spy. Depending on the outcome of the confessional that I was about to receive, I would either get assigned to the RPF or get expelled from the Sea Org and excommunicated from the Church, the highest punishment in the Church, reserved for those who brought real mayhem onto the Church.
My answer to him was that the confessional would clear my name. I was determined to navigate through it all and get back onto my post in TU.
          The guard watching me was Ron Cook, a middle aged, experienced security guard, very patient and easy-going, whose main duty it was to babysit major Int Base offenders through their confessionals. We’d talk sometimes while I worked. Ron was a nice enough guy, no chip on his shoulder. In our conversations I always stirred clear of any important subjects. We mostly talked about the weather, American history and the new wins of Scientology in the world as I missed all the briefings of the past two years. One thing struck me once in our usual little talk with Ron. I thanked him for being so easy-going and talking to me as life would be really boring otherwise. His reply was that he worked personally with LRH and one thing he learned from LRH was to respect all people.
          “I feel all people have value. Even bums on the street, even somebody like you, let’s say,” Ron elaborated. “Yeah, sure, you are a fuck-up but inherently you have value as a human being.”
          A slap on the face was definitely a component of that open-hearted explanation by a not-too-bright security guard. I received enough auditing and came up enough in my spiritual awareness to not give a flying hoot about a stray insult from a fool. I no longer needed anybody’s confirmation that I was alright or anybody’s permission to be alive or to be myself. What struck me was the level of ignorance of this middle aged man, who spent most of his life on this base. He hadn’t set foot outside the barbed wire since 1968—this base’ barbed wire, the previous bases before this and the confines of the Flag Ship Apollo before that. My direct actions resulted in half a dozen new translators joining Sea Org and arriving to the Base, more than eight million dollars in sales of translated materials for the Church and in hundreds of people discovering Scientology and starting or joining groups—all in a matter of five years in the Sea Org. I could run circles around a scraggy security guard stuck at a job which was not just dumb, but was in fact illegal. A 24-hour watch? What if I wanted to leave? I knew I couldn’t. How was that different from kidnapping? He thought I was nothing? Give me a break.    
          I experienced that again during that time when I was helping as a cleaner in the galley in the evenings. The galley ladies, stuck in a perpetual meal preps and clean-up nightmarish merry-go-round for many years non-stop, were not interested in my stories about Russia or other countries. Our Exec Chef, Carol, kept asking me where those people came from and how could there be any people in various places I described. Shocking. You know, I’d explain about Novosibirsk, a city in Siberia, with a newly established Church and how that came about or a new church in Kazakhstan, for example, and she’d just shake her head and say skeptically, “Nonsense. What’s Novosibirsk? How could there be any people there? Where would they come from? Nobody lives there, it is just a frozen wasteland for thousands of miles.” I would just stand there dumbfounded. Carol and the ladies never left the kitchen for almost 30 years.       
          My confessional auditor was an RTC Investigator by the name Aldona. I liked Aldona, just as I liked most of the people I worked with at Int Base. She was a good, experienced auditor, a virtuoso with an e-meter and a calm, kind girl. I was scared at first—what with Aldona being an RTC investigator and all. She dispelled my fears right away by offering me a banana. There was something comfortable and homey about her. I was very happy for Aldona later when she got married to a great guy Dave Medina from the Motor Pool. 
          The notion that you couldn’t fool the e-meter was a carefully nurtured belief clutched to the bosom of Scientology. It was just as untrue as most commonly held beliefs anywhere. The e-meter reads below awareness level and so theoretically one cannot control the reads. Factually, during a confessional you can either misdirect a read onto some other incident, or you can make sure that the incident you are withholding never reads in the first place by simply being at peace about it, by accepting it as something good as opposed to a “sin” that would have to be dragged out of you during a confessional and for which you would then get punished. By the way, L. Ron Hubbard said that punishing people for their overts (sins) was the greatest sin. He also said elsewhere that punishment should NEVER be used on anybody for anything because people could simply be audited to higher states of beingness, getting cleaner and saner as a part of their journey. I can attest that it is true that the higher you travel up the Bridge, the cleaner and more honest—and happier—you become.    
          The only incident I was hiding from Aldona in that investigation was having sex with Elena as it would land me onto the RPF. I honestly did not consider it a “sin” or an “overt act” as these are called in Scientology. An overt act by definition is a counter-survival action, i.e. detrimental to one’s survival on most of his or her dynamics. As covered elsewhere, there are eight dynamics in total: (1) Self, (2) Sex/Children, (3) Group, (4) Mankind, (5) Plants and Animals, (6) MEST (Matter, Energy, Space and Time—the Physical Universe and all things and phenomena in it), (7) the Spiritual dynamic and (8) Eternity or God. Having sex with Elena was a highly beneficial, survival action on the dynamic of Self, i.e. for me personally (oh, yeah!), on the Sex dynamic (obviously), on the Group dynamic (I was doing a job for my group, the Sea Org and Scientology, furthermore, the KGB tried to bite me but broke a few teeth as a result of my actions and so left us alone), Mankind (Russia and its satellite countries were a part of the mankind) and the Spiritual dynamic as I helped Elena open up some hitherto unknown to her dimensions in her spiritual makeover. That’s five out of the eight dynamics benefited by my action. So in my book, sex with Elena was a highly pro-survival act—definitely not an overt act. For that reason it was never uncovered by the e-meter during my confessional. The accusation that I sold out to the KGB did not pan out on the meter, either, as it simply was not true.
Staying very close to the truth in all other aspects of my missions, I did indeed fudge some facts here and there to present myself in a slightly better light but the basic facts were all there for the Committee of Evidence (an equivalent of a Scientology Court of Law) to sort out.
What were the basic facts? I omitted registering with OVIR, among my other violations of the immigration laws. I had no OSA input on that. None of these immigration law actions were ever a part of my mission orders. No OSA input or back-up. Same on non-payment of taxes or renting an apartment for cash so the landlord never paid taxes. The KGB accusations of demonstrating the e-meter and conducting meetings and actual auditing without authorization all fell into the same category of lack of OSA involvement in my missions. I did what I was supposed to, except I failed to get the needed back-up from OSA.
As a forward-facing operative, i.e. the person working with new public, disseminating, creating and paving the way for new groups and Scientology organizations, it was actually not handy for me to watch my own back very closely. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to get anybody else to watch it for me, either.
The charges that I went off my Mission Orders during my last mission did not stick very well because the last mission was found to be illegally organized and inadequately managed. First of all, I was sent out alone, while all missions are supposed to consist minimally of two people and, secondly, my Mission Ops, Tanya Alexander, was only in touch with me sporadically and superficially instead of hands-on daily guidance as per LRH Sea Org missions policy. With the political situation in Moscow way out of hand and given that the mission I was sent on was an illegal mission improperly run, I was justified in going off my Mission Orders when push came to shove—all in an attempt to meet my mission objectives and to save my own life.
The Committee of Evidence fully absolved me of all charges, except one: operating at risk. As a missioner, the responsibility for obtaining OSA back-up was mine and nobody else’s. Operating at risk carried a mandatory Treason condition assignment penalty, a Sea Org’s equivalent of a slap on the wrist. Leaves one wondering if after everything I went through and the production accomplishments up to yin-yang I truly needed their slap on the wrist. But in choosing between a slap on the wrist and the RPF, the choice was clear. 
For my accomplishments in Russia I was actually awarded a dagger by David Miscavige. A ceremonial Navy dagger was like a badge of merit, reserved for outstanding missioners. I never actually received the dagger because there was no money to buy it for me but the fact that the Chairman of the Board RTC (Religious Technology Center), the highest priest, the undisputed leader of Scientology, thought I deserved one was announced at muster to the entire crew as I was admitted back into the ranks of the Translations Unit International.
I was back on post among my friends in early February of 1994.            
“So, what’s new in TU?” I asked Thomas, enjoying my 2nd cup of coffee. We were all seated around our TU table in the lazily humming dining hall. I loved this place. The décor, approved by COB, of course, was a ski chalet—all expensive tongue-and-groove wood siding, exposed beams, a huge stone fireplace. With the meals sitting capacity of 600, it was large enough for the full Base briefings, staff meetings and occasional base-wide parties.
Being surrounded by freshly showered and spiffy Sea Org members—most of them familiar faces, some new—chatting around breakfast tables, sipping on their coffee or munching on their eggs or bacon and the wonderful smells of MCI did wonders for frayed nerves. All my adventures seemed to move away into obscurity, giving room to just a pleasant breakfast with my friends. My first breakfast back “home.”
We pretty much exhausted the subject of my crazy adventures, that we touched upon lightly for lack of time, and the entire breakfast congregation concurred that I was loony-bin crazy. Thomas, the German, was in a state of complete disbelief that I managed to fly out of Frankfurt with no ticket. Goran kept nodding his shaggy head appreciatively to the news that I met a beautiful KGB translator spy but DID NOT sleep with her. I caught his sly sideway glance.
“Naturally!” He said. “How could you? That would be against the regulations.”
“I just had a confessional done by Aldona, “I reminded him and any other skeptics.
Goran just nodded, staring into his coffee with a smug smile on his haphazardly shaven face. Smart. We all had to pass the IQ test, among other things, to get here. The highest possible IQ score per the test that was used by the Church of Scientology International was 160. The average was 110. The passing score for the Base was 135. The Swede’s IQ was 155, as I remembered from my personnel procurement days when I had access to all kinds of personnel data.
Porzia looked a bit tense and unsettled at the news of the beautiful translator with whom I naturally hadn’t slept. The level of trust between us had always been miniscule. Pablo just laughed easily and slapped me on the shoulder; that was his way. He didn’t care about regulations or anything I did or didn’t do one way or the other. He was just happy to have me back. Thomas was staring at me with a lot of admiration, still shaking his head in disbelief.   
I suddenly noticed lines around Chloe’s mouth. I looked closer at my friends. They all aged a bit. We’ve been together for almost five years. Just a few days prior I was startled to notice plenty of grey on my head and that the male-pattern boldness had firmly settled in, too. Always in a rush, I never saw it coming until it came.
“Hey, you know, no more back translations!” Porzia brightened up. “COB changed the production line!” 
          The TU I found now was a different TU in many ways. First of all, QC through back translations was abolished and Language I/C’s were now entrusted to approve translations. That was a monumental change which opened a floodgate of translations. It was ordered by no one else but the Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center David Miscavige himself. That was a welcome and long overdue change.
The other change was that the TU now operated exclusively and only on so called international event releases. There are 6 major international events.