by Steven Fishman
1: Raw Meat Off The Street
My philosophy of life had been a very simple one.
God gets pleasure in Heaven only when we have pleasure on Earth.
Every time I reaped the harvest of a lady of the night, I thought of how much I was helping my Creator, who was just sitting up there, watching us from afar. How bored me must be, not to be able to participate in the joys of the human heart in close proximity to human flesh. Thinking about the Lord during lovemaking brought him in, and made him feel a lot better. The greatest sin there was, I believed, was to overlook God. If I were good to him, perhaps he might provide a glimpse into what truth is, and why we are really here on Earth.
It was a Saturday night in Spring of 1974, and there was the sound of passionate sterility in the air. Much the same as I did every weekend, I was cruising the forgotten downtown area of Fort Lauderdale for prostitutes. I had just come from the Greyhound Terminal several blocks north of Broward Boulevard, waiting to see if there were any new runaways coming off the 8:45 bus from Daytona. No one who came off the bus interested me.
I had a compulsion for some cough drops, so I went to Cunningham Drugs, on the corner of Federal Highway and Broward Boulevard, and bought some Pine Brothers Cherry, and on the way out of the store, an attractive 20 years old with the smell of enthusiasm stopped me to show me a book.
It was Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health, written by L. Ron Hubbard. It did not impress me as much as her legs did. I was used to handling salesmen that came into the door of my father's shoe store, trying to sell us shoes that they could not sell to anyone else.
"Why should I buy this book?", I asked.
"Because the book is about you!", she answered.
I asked her for her name. It was Barbara.
"What does this book have to do with me?", I inquired.
"It deals with the part of you that makes you fail", she said.
"Who is failing?", I laughed. "I own a very successful shoe store in Pompano Beach!"
Evaluating my answer carefully, Barbara then asked me, "How are you doing with your current relationship?"
I thought to myself, "How the hell did she know I was out here picking up hookers?"
So I bought the book for $4.00, and gave her my home address in Pompano Beach for her mailing list. I still had $25.00 in my pocket to find my date for the night.
The book sat in my library, in size place, next to a pocket edition on raising parakeets that I got from the Paperback Book Club. I did not read it until five years later.
In the next few weeks I received a great deal of mail from The Dianetics Center of Fort Lauderdale. They asked me to come down to their offices to take a free personality test. I threw it all in the garbage.
"Some bait and switch ripoff!", I thought.
Why didn't I read the book?
I had glanced at it, before filing it in the cabinet. It looked boring and irrelevant. I never had any trouble falling asleep, and I didn't have to read before closing my eyes for the night.
My father did not like the fact that I was running around with prostitutes. He would register his objection by running personal advertisements in the Sun Sentinel Newspaper.
In March of 1975 a girl named Diana Young called and spoke to me on the telephone for over five hours, but she refused to make a date. The following day she called again, and conversed with me for six and one- half hours. But similarly, she would not even give me her telephone number. Her voice felt very pleasant to me, and I wanted to meet her. But I was annoyed with the mystery of it all. Two days later, when she phoned again, I told her that if I could not take her out on a date, she should not bother calling me back again.
She compromised, and told me to meet her in a small park near the Lauderhill Mall, on Friday night, at 7:30 P.M. This annoyed me, but I was intensely curious, and although I was apprehensive about being alone in a dark place and not knowing who to expect, I went there, and at 7:45 P.M., a tiny 3 foot 9 inch girl in a wheelchair came rumbling along the disarrayed grass to meet me. That was Diana. She was a Thalidomide baby, a dwarf, or "little person" as she called herself, and was a victim of a dangerous drug that pregnant women had unwittingly taken in the late fifties.
I knew at once why she had been so reluctant to meet me. She had told me that she had an "unusual build", but she had refused to elaborate.
But she was very friendly and reassuring, and said that she had invited some friends over to her house that evening, including some other man who had answered her personal ad.
She even hinted that some of the girls that she invited over were over five feet tall. So I went back to the house with her, and I played honky tonk music on her piano for her during the next hour, and met her father Richard, a pharmacist whom she called "Rufus", who was very kind and good to her, inasmuch as her real mother had abandoned her at birth.
Later in the evening her friends began to arrive. There was her closest acquaintance Gail Gaber, a jolly, plump girl who went to the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, claiming to be a "white witch", and loved drawing pictures of rabbits all over the wall. She had decorated Diana's room with all sorts of bunnies and hares. Gail had brought a girlfriend of hers from the art school, a very attractive streaky- blonde street-wise sarcastic but extremely naive girl with braces, wearing a wide light blue hat and a denim jacket with the name "Metra" sewn on it. I was immediately interested in her. She had an aroma of crunchy feathers in a grey mist, and because I could not tell whether this was perfume or sweat, it of course stimulated me.
Some other friends came later. A very profound blind boy with a keen interest in poetry, philosophy and clairvoyance named Mark Damien Fox was driven over to visit Diana. There was a guy named Roland who knew Gail and the others, and afterward a very awkward man about thirty drove up in his Jaguar, extremely overdressed in a white silk ruffled jump suit. This must have been Diana's date from the newspaper ad, we all thought, and it was. He was a very successful and independent professional photographer who also had his own trucking business, and owned several other classic cars, including an old 1953 Packard. He lived in an expensive condominium known as the Fairways Riviera in Hallandale with his daddy, and his name was Steve Goldberg.
We all went out that evening for dessert at a Denny's Restaurant, located on the corner of State Road 84 and State Road 441 in Southwest Fort Lauderdale, next to the La Quinta Motor Inn. How nostalgic it is to remember that. Both of those places were torn down since that time to make way for the new Interstate 595.
I found Metra very interesting, but she seemed to enjoy ignoring me. She refused to tell me her last name, and was not about to give me her telephone number. But at an opportune time, after I found out that she enjoyed drawing frogs, I asked her if she had any samples of her artwork to show me, and as strategy would have it, she showed me some of her sketches that she had in her handbag, and one small photo of a frog that she had in her wallet, which made visible her name and address on an identification card. Her name was not actually Metra at all, although that is what she liked to call herself. It was Lillian Beth Tollin, and she was 19 years old, living alone in her father's condominium in Inverrary.
I also exchanged telephone numbers with Gail Gaber and Steve Goldberg. They were to become my best friends.
When I called Metra the next day, she thought it was so clever that I had tricked her into seeing her vital statistics, that she agreed to go out with me.
We dated for five months. She was as affectionate as rust, and never kissed me during all of that time, and so it was platonic, very much a true romance. I did not need her for sex. There were a good deal many prostitutes still around for those nights that I did not waste talking to Metra. She was too pure and perfect for me to try to compromise, and I finally decided that she was indeed the girl I had to marry.
She had no interest in me other than to relieve her boredom. She was very much taken up with David Bowie. She would have married him in a minute, if she could figure out how she could ever meet him. Our mutual friends Gail and Diana warned me that Metra was truly complete with the lack of emotion and an infinite void of feeling, and that she would destroy me if her transparency were ever threatened.
But the more people tried to dissuade me, the more determined I became, and as I learned more about her, I found out that she had a bad relationship with her parents, who were deeply in love with each other, were amused with golf, and who absolutely hated their daughter.
The only person whom Metra truly ever loved in her entire life was her grandfather, Abe, who had died three years before. She had not gotten over the grief at all.
Metra did have a sketchy relationship with one Dennis Navarra, a garbageman from New Jersey, but it turned sour.
Consumed with a total lack of attention toward me as well, I was forced to come up with some very desperate measures to maintain her interest.
The solution was my personal computer, a Hewlett-Packard 9830A 2-K machine which I called "Casey", serving as my diary, as well as the inanimate mirror of all my unknown goals and purposes.
I had bought the machine in 1973, at a time when no one had personal computers. I once asked the general service representative of Hewlett-Packard, whose name was Joe Brusnighan, why the company did not mass-market these machines for use by the general public.
"It would never sell", he said.
So very much a novelty, Metra soon found it fascinating that she could communicate with her dead grandfather, Abraham Bachrach, if she came to my apartment in Pompano Beach every day.
Every morning when I awakened, I would diligently program into the computer the exact things which I anticipated that Metra would want to know from "Pop Pop Abe", as she called him. We often would discuss it the night before, and I had a general idea what she needed to talk to her grandfather about.
The computer had a "wait" command, and I could randomly delay the printing of the data for up to thirty minutes, thus conveying the impression that the message was coming from Abe's soul, or spirit.
At the time I stupidly thought the concept of past lives was pure science fiction, and I had no notion of how real the idea truly was in fact. But Metra always knew that she had lived before, although she only had vague mental image pictures of where and when and who.
Thus, the idea of "Pop Pop Abe" coming through the computer did not exceed her reality that far, because she always understood that he would someday communicate with her.
I provided a spiritual support system for her. Abe took an interest in everything that Metra did, and loved her every action, and of course promised her that one day he would return to life as her firstborn son, whose name would be Michael, since she liked that name.
Metra quickly became obsessed with the messages, and she would be careful not to "overload the machine", which became a euphemism for the moment that all of the data that I had stored previously into the system was printed out for her.
To add realism to the drama, I often openly criticized her for something, only to be "chastised" by "Pop Pop Abe" later in a computer printout, who unquestioningly agreed with Metra, and told her that I was dead wrong and that she was totally right.
But coupled with these pearls of infinite wisdom and judgment, were the subtle hints to her of how pleased Abe was with me as a boyfriend, and how much hope he had that it would develop into the "real thing."
I cannot take the credit for all of the positive suggestions. There was Dr. Uwe Walter Geertz, a psychologist and very close friend, who I had been seeing professionally, on and off since 1968, when I was terrified of being drafted into the Vietnam War.
Dr. Geertz was exceedingly interested in "behavior modification", and thought that it was such a fascinating experiment that I was conducting on Metra, and was intensely curious whether or not my efforts would lead to a happy marriage as an eventual conclusion.
He was so enthralled with the uniqueness of what I was doing to Metra that he offered me the opportunity to be the guest speaker at his Abnormal Psychology Class at Florida Atlantic University, where I revealed to his graduate students what I had been doing with the computer, and all of the successes that I had been having in developing the relationship.
With all of that, he told me that I should always be very kind, compassionate and empathetic toward her, so that I would not "tip the scales" and be too overtly manipulative. I tried to take his advice as best as I could, although my frustration at my inability to get her to respond sexually turned me into an occasionally sadistic menace, throwing her into situations which were deliberately aimed at upsetting her.
"If only she would respond to me!", I screamed to myself.
But it was of little avail. She simply never loved me.
As strange as it may seem to you, her inability did not destroy the relationship. Neither, at that time, did the onslaught of phony messages that were delivered to her by "Pop Pop Abe" through the computer. The crisis was far worse than that.
Metra was a slob!
For her engagement present, I bought Metra a miniature female grey schnauzer named Rainbow, and it soon came to pass that my fiancee was far too bored to walk the dog regularly. They both lived together in her parents' condominium called Environ, in Inverrary, an upscale part of Lauderhill, Florida.
Metra's parents, Ellis and Jeanette, were never there. They lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and gave her a sizeable allowance of two hundred dollars per week in spending money if she would just stay away from them, keep out of their lives, and leave them alone.
Her apartment soon began to reek from doggie diarrhea, and a haphazard effort at paper training resulted in torn bits of the Jewish Journal all over the designer furniture, laden with an artistic fantasy of semi- moist canine excretion. The puppy would also delight in destroying toilet tissue and stringing it all over the place. Some would have given the blue-blood mongrel away, but in retrospect, Metra had courage. Never fully trained, she kept the dog for thirteen years until it recently died.
But in her feeble attempt to domesticate the animal, she came up with the expedient idea of walking the dog on the roof of the building, until the building president, a Mr. Harry Rothkopf, started a nasty proceeding to evict the dog from the complex. Consenting to the decree, the dog never left the apartment from that day forward until the debacle was discovered by Metra's father, which was long after I broke off my engagement with her and decided not to marry her.
Metra was collared along with Rainbow, and shipped back to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, under closer supervision of her now less permissive parents.
I, however, was very ambivalent about ending the unconsummated affair. Despite the filth and the frigidity, Metra was the most meaningful object that I had ever loved. But worse than losing her was my embarrassment at admitting defeat to Dr. Geertz that my efforts at behavior modification did not truly yield a positive result.
Steve Goldberg, my friend from the dwarf party, was delighted that I broke up with Metra. They never liked each other at all. He felt that she was not worth bothering with because of her coldness, and she thought he was a sex degenerate. Of course, they were both right.
My friend Steve enjoyed driving through the streets of Hollywood, Florida completely nude, exposing himself to girls walking along the street. He had several altercations with the local police stemming from complaints relating to those incidents. But beyond his exhibitionism, he intensely enjoyed being humiliated and beaten by women, being handcuffed and locked in small boxes or closets, and above all, had a foot fetish, whereby he enjoyed masturbating himself while he licked the feet of any young girl who would have him, provided that the feet in question were sufficiently dirty.
Those qualities notwithstanding, Steve was a very good friend to me during my engagement, because I found him to be an excellent source of available prostitutes, many of whom were far more attractive, evidently more intelligent, and often more reasonably priced than the girls that I had been used to meeting previously in the street.
It often puzzled me why Steve Goldberg and Metra were so hostile toward each other. They had one special habit in common. It was difficult to determine who lived like a more squalid pig than the other. In all fairness to Metra, Steve Goldberg was indeed worse.
He never threw anything away. His apartment deteriorated after his father Harry married a Baptist named Ola and moved out. If Steve received a letter in the mail, after he read it, he would throw it on the floor. He was a photographer, and so the carpet was laden with negatives, pictures, and portfolios, while his bathroom was gutted with stains of acid wash, with avant-garde splashes of rotting developer fluid on the peeling wallpaper. Steve was quite proud of his jar of old fingernail clippings that spanned twenty years. He was reluctant to discard food until the smell became unbearable, and his open refrigerator eclipsed the dawn of the dead.
In the thirteen years I knew him, things got worse, not better. During 1980, we had a mild hurricane in South Florida, named David. Eight years later, the masking tape from that storm were still to be found, wrapped to his windows and sliding patio door, the glue having entered a state of decay from seasons past.
Compounding the felony of embarrassment was Steve's incessant paranoia. He nearly had a coronary each time the pest control service knocked on his door, unannounced, to spray his apartment, as was the policy of the condominium building. He never let the man in, and the roaches and palmetto bugs enjoyed a safe haven there. Apartment 826 of 200 Diplomat Parkway, Hallandale, Florida was the final sanctuary for vermin and insect plague.
It was amidst this turmoil and uncertainty in my life, caused by the unsettling of a tragic romance, that my compassionate father ran yet another personal ad in the Sun Sentinel for me.
"You need a new girlfriend to help you forget your old one", he would say reassuringly.
So, in the winter of 1976, I was besieged with opportunities to meet forlorn young ladies seemingly interested in marriage. And I had no scarcity of dates from this campaign, either.
There was Religious Rebecca from Miami Beach who objected to the fact that my underwear was from unkosher cloth not blessed by the local Lubovitcher Rabbi. Afterward there was Ceil, a fencing teacher who enjoyed practicing on me without the guard tips at the end of the swords. I gave her name to Steve Goldberg. I was intrigued by a girl named Chavorah, an Israeli who would have given herself completely over to me if I had join the Young Communists of South Miami, which I refused to do. And then there was Bracha Glansberg, whose wrath I invited because I was not committed enough in remembering the holocaust. She was a militant member of the Jewish Defense League.
After these harrowing experiences, I was very content to settle into a quiet relationship with a normal girl from East McNab Road in Pompano Beach by the name of Carol Wynn.
Carol was about five feet one, with very impressive synthetically organized unnaturally blonde hair, and outside of a slightly chipped tooth, made an outstanding appearance. She was very sensual, and beyond the use of a very greasy oil on her skin, Carol was nevertheless suitable enough as a girlfriend.
She had no obsessive habits that I knew about, and was not inhibited or manic depressive like all of the other girls, and she was even very neat and particular about her apartment, which belonged to her parents in Brooklyn, and like in Metra's situation, were never there. She had an older sister who was married and lived on Galt Ocean Mile, and in most respects, her life seemed very uncomplicated.
She didn't work, and when she did, her jobs were nondescript and totally meaningless. She spent the bulk of her time, according to her own words, in "self-improvement." She took courses at a place curiously called a "Mission", although she was a Reformed Jew. Very quickly after I was embroiled in the relationship, I found out that what Carol Wynn was studying was something called Scientology.
She had recently purchased over a dozen books, all by L. Ron Hubbard, who I knew nothing about, other than the fact that he had written the book Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health, which I owned but had never bothered to read.
At her insistence, I glanced through her collection of what I considered to be cult scam propaganda. She had copies of the books Self Analysis, The Problems Of Work, The Dynamics Of Life, The Fundamentals Of Thought, The History Of Man and a few others dealing with the life and work of the author Hubbard, who she affectionately referred to as "Ron." I assumed she knew him very well, and that he worked closely with her at the Mission of Fort Lauderdale, where she took her courses. At that time I had not the slightest idea how widespread the Scientology Organizations were.
Although I resented the fact that Ron's name usually would come up during sex, our relationship was far more productive than the bizarre one-sided nightmare I had previously entered into with Metra.
At one point I thought that she was having an affair with L. Ron Hubbard, and I became justifiably jealous, until I realized that Ron was at his retreat called "Flag" in Clearwater, Florida, and that he posed no threat to me as another lover.
Nevertheless I found it difficult to comprehend the hold that Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard had over Carol. It seemed that she held Ron in godlike esteem, and she attributed her feelings to the great benefits that he had given to mankind. Somehow I did not understand or appreciate her zest for what I perceived to be a self-proclaimed and grandiose superman.
It was always my conviction that man was basically selfish and rotten, and that the only way to make man better was to improve his sex life.
Carol said that a lot of my thinking was "highly aberrated", and the result of my association with psychiatrists and psychologists all of my life, since those "off-beat practices" do not work, and actually kill people.
I did not understand the rigidity of her accusations upon mental health practitioners, although I recalled that when I was fourteen, I went to a thoroughly incompetently sadistic psychiatrist named Dr. Melvyn Shulman of Bayside, New York, who was a thousandfold more aggravating and upsetting than the deluge of pipe smoke which he used to deliberately blow in my face. I hated him with a passion, and I made no apologies for having told him repeatedly to drop dead.
I have a psychiatrist in my family, a Dr. Daniel Lipshutz, formerly of New York City and recently of Riverdale, who recommended the lunatic Dr. Shulman to my parents when they were going through their divorce. My Uncle Dan has both the personality and the face of a crucified toad. It was far easier to communicate to the dead than to talk to him about anything.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed Dr. Geertz, who was jovial, and a much more skilled diagnostician than the wicked Dr. Shulman that had treated me before him.
Like every other normal Jewish boy, I had been seeing various psychiatrists ever since I was about eight years old, and the only therapist that I missed more than Dr. Geertz was a hypnotist that I only saw once when I was nine.
His name was Dr. John J. Levbarg, of 211-02 Union Turnpike, in Queens, New York. He had me stare into a beautiful purple light until I was outside my body, in my native state as a spirit, looking down at my sleeping shell, located on his black leather couch. The experience was priceless, and one which I had not forgotten since that day. I had begged my mother and father to take me back to Dr. Levbarg, but they thought that I had been too "influenced" by the session, and preferred the hopelessness of more classically traditional shrinks, all of which, up until Dr. Geertz, I regarded as dismal failures.
So when Carol Wynn lambasted the quacks of mental health, I hesitantly assumed she was performing a public service. But I was not about to heed her repetitious challenge to come with her to the Mission in order to learn more about Dianetics and Scientology.
I did not realize that the deeper Carol became involved with me, the more inquisitive her friends within the Mission would become about our relationship.
Carol kept inviting me to "events", which were either public lectures covering "the anatomy of the human mind", or films about auditing, which she explained was a process of counseling which makes the able more able. She also coaxed me to take a free personality test which would determine my true potential.
I refused to go, insisting that we would have a better time going to a fine restaurant, and to a movie, night club or discotheque, and that Scientology sounded like a subliminal pyramid scheme of some kind, a type of motivational cult, and I was not about to give "them" any money for anything.
What I failed to realize was that my stubbornness was placing a strain on our closeness from her perspective, and she constantly discussed our disagreement over my coming with her to the Mission during sex, when I was the most vulnerable.
I recall one instance when we had a really bad time of it, and she called me a "wog", which made me laugh, since I thought she was shortening the word "pollywog", and was comparing the shape of my sperm to a tadpole. But she was not amused, and she used the word "wog" in a derisive fashion, and I soon found out it was a buzzword for "worthy oriental gentleman", which was a demeaning slur used to indicate a non-Scientologist.
Carol was spending more time with her Mission friends and less time with me, and I began to consider dating other girls. In my frustration, I permitted Steve Goldberg to fix me up with a new hooker he had some success with, but I did not like her, because her elbows were too fat, and her armpits had all of the emotion of vomit.
I finally agreed to meet two of Carol's Mission people at her house, not for a social visit, but because she said that Scientology had a way of increasing my income.
Now this sounded curious, because I had not been expecting to hear a reason as unusual as that. I told Carol that if it involved selling of any kind, even telephone solicitation, that she should not at all bother expecting me to meet with them, because I hated selling shoes, and I was not about to embark on a new career selling Scientology!
But Carol assured me on a stack of talmudic torahs that selling was not vaguely or remotely involved, and that there were "lots of ways to make money in Scientology."
It seemed odd that these two phantoms would want to waste a perfectly good Saturday night talking to me at Carol Wynn's house. It seemed even more disconcerting why Carol preferred this meeting over a nice quiet romantic candlelight dinner, but she insisted upon bringing in Kentucky Fried Chicken, enough for us and for the two mystery guests.
Carol told me to come to her apartment at 8:00 P.M., but I arrived at 7:40, foolishly thinking that I could have some time with her alone before the pitch men arrived. I was wrong. From the content of the conversation, the man, Peter Letterese, an Italian guy about 26 years old with a New York accent, and the woman, Barbara Fawcett, a tall skeletal lady with a sunken face reminiscent of a concentration camp victim who was about a year or two younger than Peter, had both been there for over an hour.
They seemed very congenial, with their cutesy synthesized artificial personalities, and reminded me of animated robots with a hidden depth charge waiting to explode. On the surface, though, they appeared to have all the smiles and glows of a pair of wind-up dolls from Mattel.
Barbara was a bit unusual, talking about the many "perceptics" she was experiencing while eating the chicken. There was some talk about how great life was, and she was an eerie specter of one who might be protesting too much about happiness. As I watched her talk, Barbara reminded me of an actress I once saw in a horror movie, who was telling some children how good her chocolate chip cookies were as they were being poisoned.
Peter, on the other hand, was a confident character with a hint of urgency which was laced with contempt and sarcasm. They both seemed very well suited for each other. It was a fascinating character study, and I was keenly observing their every move, so that I would have something new to tell Dr. Geertz about when I saw him.
I did not know it then, but Peter and Barbara were trying to find my "button", or that area of my individuality which would evoke or elicit a reaction or response.
For a reason unknown to me, Peter drifted the conversation into politics, and we found that we both subscribed to the theory that a select group of world leaders were trying to take over the planet in order to enslave it. I had read a lot about the hysteria relating to the threat of the Rockerfeller family and their well publicized membership in the Trilateralist Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, and I found it very interesting that Peter had so much data on the subject.
The price of silver and gold had exploded to the upside, and there was the oil shortage which was obviously manufactured, and the conspiracy theory made a lot of sense. I told Peter that I believed that the world had run out of oil years before, and that there was nothing left but man-made synthetic fuel, and it was this artificial oil that was being manipulated by the Arabs and the Texas Oil Barons, and he was very intent upon knowing how I had come up with that information.
Actually, I had subscribed to Spotlight, which was a right-wing newspaper out of Washington, D. C., which no Jew in his right mind should have received weekly, because of their lunatic fringe opinions on scapegoating everything to the dismay of what they disparagingly called the "Soviet-Zionist lobby."
But I only liked the scandal sheet because it gave me something to gossip about, not that I believed any of it. I did think that the Rockefeller conspiracy theory was possible, although I knew that the Jews had nothing to do with it. In any event, it certainly perked Peter's interest when I followed what he was talking about.
Peter's viewpoint on this issue, however, was a trifle unusual. He said that during World War Two, both the Americans and the Nazis were being supplied with armaments of aggression from various multinational corporations with overlapping ownership and directors, as if the war was one big game that the Rockefellers and the Krupps were playing both for profit and amusement. He told me that the ITT Corporation owned the telephone lines in both the United States and in Germany, and that Pope Pius XII was calling both Roosevelt and Hitler at the same time, in order to remind them both that they had promised to destroy anything they wanted except the property of the Roman Catholic Church.
Peter's next after dinner topic was that of I. G. Farben, the German chemical and pharmaceutical firm that manufactured the cyanide known as "Zyklon B" for the Nazi gas chambers, and how that company is one of the most successful businesses in West Germany today, as many Americans have an interest in it, just as they did during the war. He even said that during the time that six million men, women and children perished in concentration camps such as Auschwitz, there were quite a few shareholders in I. G. Farben that were American Jews.
By the time the informative discussion was over, I began to hate all large corporations, which was the precise response which Peter wanted me to experience.
In order to keep the conversation light and airy, and very much "on purpose", Carol, who was becoming overwhelmed by all of the political and economic wrath, reminded Barbara that a different, other Barbara had sold me a copy of DIANETICS a few years before, as I had confessed to her during a weak moment in the middle of an orgasm. But equally disapproving was Carol's comment that I had never read it.
Barbara Fawcett went into this feigned shock as if I had committed some heinous crime by never having read "Book One", as they adoringly referred to the principal work of L. Ron Hubbard.
"I am always reading books about wealth, money and fortune", I stammered, "and since I graduated from college, I have not had much of an interest in philosophy."
I did not know it at the time, but Barbara had found my "button."
It also happened to be their button too.
"It is amazing how much you and Scientology have in common!", Peter laughed. "Scientology is all about making money for you!
"I hate selling", I protested, still certain that the inevitable pitch was coming. "You may like going all over town throwing these fun Kentucky Fried Tupperware Parties for Dianetics, but I am trying desperately to get out of any area of my life that has anything to do with talking another human being into buying something. I hate selling shoes. I would rather stay by myself in the back room of the store and put the inventory away. Organization is far more enjoyable to me than having to deal with the public."
"But that's just the point!", Barbara cheered, standing up momentarily in order to create emphasis. "There are lots of ways for you to make money in Scientology without having to go anywhere near a sales pitch!"
"What do you mean?", I asked.
"Well, there is an entire crew in California making films about Scientology. Carol told me that when you were in grammar school you loved acting out these real mean parts in some elementary school plays."
"That's true. I was Ebenezer Scrooge, and Captain Hook, and the Captain of the Forty Thieves in Ali Baba. I was typecast as an evil person, and I loved it!" I had not realized the extent of how much Carol had told them about things we talked about before, during, and after intercourse. Barbara smiled at me. "Don't you think he would be perfect to play the part of a psychiatrist or a mental health criminal?", she giggled.
"What a natural!", Peter agreed.
"What makes you hate psychiatrists so much?", I said innocently.
"Oh, they're a bunch of nice guys", Peter began. "They give people electric shocks, and sometimes the patients die, but it's okay because the insurance companies pay them their fees anyway. And of course they prescribe lots of heavy drugs, and often the guinea pigs land in a coma, but that's great because they can send in more medical bills for that too! Don't forget that they sleep with their female patients, but the husbands never know because husbands are always impotent. That is a stable datum in Freudian psychiatry. Beyond that, they only tell you that you need to stay knee-deep in analysis for the rest of your life, which I must say is guaranteed to be a lot shorter around the psychiatrists. But, they're really just a bunch of nice guys who bend the rules a little bit."
"You forgot the female psychiatrists that sleep with the male patients!", Barbara quickly observed.
"Equal opportunity!", Peter quipped. "And the funny thing about it, is that they know that what they are doing doesn't work! Twenty percent of the population would be cured of whatever they were suffering from if you poured cold water on them! That's where they get their statistics from. The other eighty percent actually get worse and eventually die from being "treated"."
"But hopefully not until the insurance runs out!", Barbara added.
Carol was nodding her head in total acceptance.
"Getting back to opportunities to make money in Scientology", Peter continued, part of our organization needs qualified people to drive these quacks out of business. We have an organization known as the Guardian's Office that needs people who love to play mean parts in school plays, so they can dramatize to their heart's content in front of these psychotic psychiatrists!"
"I certainly hated the one I went to in New York!", I recalled, thinking about Dr. Melvyn Shulman. "But I got even with that bastard."
"They are all bastards", Barbara pointed out. "Did you know --"
"No, I want to hear about this", Peter interrupted. "What did you do him?"
"Oh, just some stupid revenge thing; nothing important", I answered, not wanting to go into it.
"This is exciting!", Barbara exclaimed, now suddenly as interested as Peter in what I did. "Tell us what happened!"
"For all the hours I sat there wasting my time being mortified by that man, I devised a plot to harass the hell out of him. For ten years I would spend two hours a week in the periodical section of the public library, first at the Queens College library in New York, then at the University of Miami, and then after that at the main library on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, and I would tear out business reply cards from trade journals, like Mortuary Management Magazine, and Highway and Heavy Construction, and I would circle about one hundred items on each response card, and after I sent out at least fifty cards, I would mail them out so that he would get lots of junk mail, and he never knew where it came from!" "Oh my God, that's fantastic!", Barbara shrieked. "I wonder if our people know about that idea! Do they, Peter?"
Peter smirked a challenging grimace of intense curiosity.
"How much mail did this "psych" get every week?", he asked.
"At least five thousand letters", I bragged. "That was my minimum weekly requirement of revenge. If I had more time to kill, maybe seven or eight thousand letters. It really wasn't much of an effort at all."
Peter patted me on the back.
"How would you like a great future working for the Guardian's Office in Scientology?", he beamed.
"Well, is the pay good?", I joked.
"Better than you could imagine in your wildest dreams!", Barbara gloated.
"Not only can you make more money than you would ever need in your life, but you would be doing more good for mankind than you could possibly realize", Peter explained.
"I really don't give a damn about mankind", I said. "Mankind never did shit for me. I would get more of a thrill from getting even with mankind."
"What do you think of getting even with the rotten eggs in order to help free the good ones?", Peter asked, posing a moralistic question.
"I have been doing that all of my life", I answered.
"I think what we have here is the makings of a perfect G. O. Agent!", Barbara announced.
"That's the Guardian's Office", Carol clarified. "Let's not give any M. U.'s to raw meat!"
"What's that?", I asked.
"M. U.'s means misunderstood words. If you go past a word you don't understand, you get all foggy and groggy. Raw meat is any new person off the street who is new to Scientology and first introduced to it. You are raw meat!"
"Are you talking about my sex life?", I asked.
They all laughed.
"I have never heard of circling business reply cards!", Barbara stammered, still soaking up that avenue of justice. "What a perfect handling for SP's!"
Carol looked at me again.
"Suppressive Persons", she said. "Anti-social personalities, like psychiatrists, who enjoy making people worse instead of better."
"You simply have to come down to the Mission and take a free personality test and start creating income right away!", Barbara gleefully coaxed, talking like a recording.
"You didn't tell me how I could make money without selling", I reminded Peter. "I know you are not going to pay me thousands of dollars a week to send out postage paid cards from magazines to all of the psychiatrists in Broward County. Or are you?"
"With ideas like you have, you would never have a problem creating income", Peter reassured me.
"Well, I do have problems", I said. "I am building a house in Jacaranda, and I have to close on it in a few months, and I haven't sold my condo yet, and I have a cash flow problem that you wouldn't believe, complete with credit card cash advances, car payments, and everything else."
"Nothing to it!", Barbara screeched.
"Money is nothing more than a consideration", Peter said in the tone of a philosophic academician. "All you have to do is make a postulate, and say 'Let there be money', and then cause some money to be created, and soon enough, you are flooded with cash!"
"Are you for real?", I laughed.
"You can just throw it away!", Barbara said, squinting her eyes and waving her hands madly.
"I don't want to appear ungrateful", I said, "but you both appear slightly crazy. Here you are talking about money as if you can make it out of thin air, and you just think about having it and it pops into your life, but you haven't told me how I actually can do it yet."
"Well!", Peter reacted indignantly. "We haven't found out yet what you are good at! That is why it is so important for you to come in for your free personality test."
"I have been given diagnostic tests all my life by psychiatrists!", I argued. "I have been through it so many times that I can even give you an ink blot of my urine sample."
Barbara asserted herself.
"You're misdirecting him", she barked, stopping Peter in his tracks. "Okay, so we know you like acting out mean parts, and you enjoy handling people when revenge is an extraordinary solution, and you like filling out forms, and --"
"Do you know what I am thinking?", he asked Barbara.
"That guy from New York?", Barbara replied. "The Merrill Lynch thing? Isn't it a little too out-gradient?"
I was trying to understand what she meant, to no avail.
Peter wasn't paying any attention to Barbara, who was trying to talk him out of discussing with me whatever it was he was about to discuss.
Instead, he got up, and told the ladies he wanted to take a walk outside with me alone. I assumed he had some great revelation to tell me about. I was, however, very surprised that he wanted to exclude Carol from the conversation. We walked down the steps from Carol's second floor apartment and began walking around the condominium courtyard, generously lit with massive street lamps, until we reached the beginning of a man-made lake which formed a waterfront boundary around the development, which was known as the Cypress Club.
"Scientology has investments all over the world", he stated, "and quite a large percentage of our holdings are tied up in the stock market. Do you own any stocks?"
"No, but my father does. I have an aunt that likes to buy worthless penny stocks. Once she bought so much of this junky company that built machines which made holes in sheet metal, that she eventually owned the company", I reminisced. "Ultrasonic Precisions, Incorporated is the name of it. I remember one day my Aunt Jeanne and I went to see this great acquisition of hers, and it was located in back of a tire garage in Yonkers, New York. They had one little machine with a dull blade making holes in scrap metal. That was it. She lost nearly a hundred thousand dollars buying that stupid company, thinking it was going to go up. She was so aggravated, she gave it to me for my thirteenth birthday as a Bar Mitzvah present, and I have held onto the name ever since. I even registered it in Florida in 1973, for no reason, because I never did anything with it. I just liked the name, and the fact that she gave it to me, you know, for sentimental reasons, and I thought it sounded impressive. Here I am, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ultrasonic Precisions, Incorporated. I guess it makes me feel important."
"Well, that's just the sort of thing I am thinking about", Peter said. "Companies like that rip innocent investors off, and they lose all of their money, and that is so out-ethics that --"
"So out what?", I asked.
"When one's ethics are out. Unethical. I think you need a Scientology Technical Dictionary, so you can learn the definitions of some of the more important basic words which we use in Scientology", he explained.
"Out-ethics are when ethics are out", he repeated. "You have to have a dictionary!"
Not wanting to buy anything, I got Peter back into his trend of thought.
"Companies collapse every day", I remarked. "It happens all of the time."
"But it is wrong!", Peter shouted. "Very out-ethics. And Scientology is hiring people all the time to protect their investments from corporate raiders and criminals."
"What does Scientology invest in?", I asked.
"Everything!", Peter said. "Real estate, gold, a fleet of yachts to rival any navy, and whatever it takes to expand. You see, one of our main purposes is to get ethics in all over the planet, and you cannot do that without tremendous expansion. We own shares in numerous public corporations that are sold on the major stock exchanges, and we need capable people to watch over these investments to make certain that they don't turn into big losses."
"Well, don't you have stock brokers for all of that?", I glibly speculated.
"Of course, but what I am talking about is getting some of the money back after we have already lost money on bad investments", he clarified.
I looked at him as if he were crazy. Everyone knows that once you buy a stock, and then if it should go down in price, and you sell it at a loss, you can't get any part of the money back which you lost.
"That doesn't make any sense at all!", I argued. "How do you get back money which is gone after the transaction is over and you have incurred a loss?"
"It amazes me how little the 'wog' world knows about economics!", he said sarcastically. Don't you realize that the only reason why the price of a stock goes down is because there is some out-ethics criminal act going on which is causing the price to drop?"
"Like what?", I inquired, trying to understand him.
"Like whatever!", he mumbled vaguely. "An executive embezzles money from the books to buy cocaine from his hypnotist, or the accountants lie about the profits, or the company president hides the losses by juggling the figures around. The world of non-Scientology is a misapplied effort in madness. There are no ethics at all in governments and businesses run by electric shocking psychiatrists and pill pushing pharmaceutical companies. Look at any business failure, and you will find a criminal act backed by an evil purpose."
"Then why the hell do you invest in corrupt businesses?", I asked.
"Someday, the entire economy will be managed by statistics, according to the ethical principles of L. Ron Hubbard", Peter remarked. "It has to come to that, because when the statistics are good, businesses succeed. When the statistics are bad, they fail. As of right now we invest in those opportunities which we feel are closely akin to the goals of Scientology. But there are criminals and suppressives everywhere, and we are continuously being ripped off."
"You still have not explained how you can get money back that you lost", I reiterated. "Nor have you told me what I want to hear about making lots of money in Scientology. All you are doing is rambling on about how crooked the world is. Even though I know that people are basically rotten, I don't have that fatalistic a view. In my shoe store, we accept personal checks, and less than one half of one percent ever bounce, and when they do, we recover ninety percent of the bad checks even at that. Most people are forced to remain honest even though they don't want to be. Our wholesale suppliers always keep their word because if they stick us with inferior merchandise, we will never buy any more shoes from them again. Economics is the force that controls the natural impulse of mankind to cheat one another, because a violation of economic principles is just very bad for business. And I don't subscribe to your conspiratorial theory about psychiatry running the country, and that stock prices fall because of psychiatry, drug companies, or any other reason you gave me. It all sounds so far-fetched."
Peter stopped walking and stood right in front of me, shaking his head in disbelief.
"...And the United States government doesn't have the ability to start an atomic war by pushing a button either!", he roared, as if that had anything to do with hiring me.
"What the devil are you talking about?", I yelled, completely lost.
"Look!", he said, pointing at nothing in order to distract me. "I will give you an example about how Scientology is out there to protect not only our own investments, but the misguided public as well."
Peter just stared at me in amazement, as if I was obviously very stupid, highly gullible or completely victimized by 'wog' propaganda.
"Let us say that you bought 1,000 shares of 'Somatics, Inc.', a company I like to use because they manufacture the electric shock machines used by psychiatrists. You paid $40.00 a share, and it takes a nose dive to $10.00 a share after three months, and you sell it. You have just lost $30.00 a share, multiplied by 1,000 shares, or Thirty Thousand Dollars. Ordinarily, you would just cry a lot, and hope that you offset this loss by your other investments. But it doesn't have to be that way! Scientology does not believe that it is right for you to take a loss like that."
"Fine!", I snapped, losing patience with Peter. "What can you do about it?"
"Well, we first find the evil purpose, and isolate the criminal who is responsible for the decline in the stock price, and we expose his crimes, and then we sue the company together with all of the other shareholders who lost money, and we threaten to take them to court and embarrass the corporate executives, and in order to avoid a lengthy, protracted legal battle, they settle with us, and we get part of our money back", he cheered.
I thought to myself that it would be more diligent to check the company out before investing, to ensure that they were not a fly-by-night outfit. But on the other hand, no one can know in advance if there truly is a dishonest employee who is responsible for causing a scandal which in turn would force the price of the stock down.
"Well, that sounds like a good thing you are doing", I conceded.
"There is only one problem", he gloated, truly happy that I was tracking along with him. "There are so many of these suppressive companies, that it takes an auditorium full of Scotland Yard detectives to find them. We are not just interested in our own investments. It is equally important to Scientology that we maintain the highest ethics presence on the planet, and we isolate evil purposes and criminality wherever and whenever it surfaces!"
I laughed at the immensity of what Peter was saying. "That sounds like a tall order, being the guardian angels of all of those widows and orphans!"
Peter put his arm around my shoulder, causing me to flinch.
"You are just the kind of guy that could help us protect the widows and orphans!", he replied. "After all, you are a man with a sense of justice, because you believed in yourself enough to get even with that slimy psychiatrist in New York, and your solution of sending him mail shows me that you are not only original and courageous, but also brilliant!"
"Why, thank you!", I said, enjoying the flattery.
"You see, Steve", he said, "it is wog law, or the law of insane governments that is evil. Take murder, for example."
"Murder?", I repeated.
"Yeah, murder!", he said again. "Murder is an evil act, but if you had a chance to go back through time to Germany in the 1920s, and murder Adolf Hitler, then murder would no longer be evil, but a necessary action for good."
"I would have done it", I agreed.
"In Scientology, we have an operating policy, which supports the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics. Although it is wrong to commit murder, by killing one person, Hitler, you could have saved the lives of twenty million innocent people. Yet, the law would have sent you to the gas chamber for killing Hitler. Do you see how criminal the law truly is?"
"I never looked at it like that before", I answered, by now absorbed by this dilemma.
"Scientology allows you to look at data and come to realizations about things. We call it a 'cognition' when you are able to do that", Peter revealed. "Do you remember that I was talking about the company who made the cyanide gas for Hitler's gas chambers, I. G. Farben?"
"Your choice for dinner conversation", I regretted. "How could I forget?"
"Good", Peter acknowledged. "Now look at that company, making the deadly lethal gas, and get a mental image picture of Jewish babies choking on the floor of the gas chambers which were made to look like imitation showers, in order to fool the victims."
"That's a horrible thing to look at", I said, trying to erase the cruel picture that Peter just gave me to examine.
"Now keep the scene going in your mind as you see these dead Jewish babies, the victims of I. G. Farben's Zyklon B poison gas, being shoveled into crematoriums like garbage. Can you see that?"
Peter was truly upsetting me.
"I don't like looking at images like that!", I protested.
"I don't either", Peter said without the slightest compassion, guilt, or logic. "Now consider I. G. Farben today, a successful company in West Germany, trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, never having been penalized for its crimes against humanity. Can you get a picture of this gigantic, modern glass building, fifty-five stories tall, a monument to German ingenuity and structural engineering, financed thirty-five years ago by the unforgotten bodies of helpless children? Isn't it a spectacular sight?"
"What are you doing to me?", I asked, unwilling to be a party to more of this torment.
"I'll repeat the question", Peter hounded persistently. "Isn't it a spectacular sight?"
"No, it sure as hell isn't!", I chided, by this time incensed and enraged, as I turned to walk back alone to Carol Wynn's apartment.
Peter stepped in front of my path, holding a small coin in his right hand.
"Look at this penny!", he commanded me. "Would you be able to take this one penny away from I. G. Farben, even though it didn't belong to you?"
"I could take a goddamn million dollars away from I. G. Farben and it wouldn't bother me worth shit!", I snapped back.
"Very good!", Peter responded with an air of militaristic omniscience. "If I. G. Farben's stock price declined from $40.00 per share to $10.00 per share, and if you had the chance to participate in a claim fund and receive one dollar of I. G. Farben's assets which would be used for a good and decent program like Narconon, to help drug addicts overcome their life-threatening addiction, would you be willing to help me get that dollar?"
"Of course I would", I said, finding the question a bit simplistic.
"Even if that one dollar bill didn't belong to you, or to anyone you knew?", he asked cautiously.
"I assumed that it didn't belong to anyone but the company itself", I told him.
"How about two dollars?", he posed.
"It wouldn't make a bit of difference", I said.
"Five dollars?", he suggested.
"Make it ten, twenty or fifty goddamn dollars!", I blurted. "Who cares how much it is?"
"How about a hundred dollars ?", asked Peter.
"Fine with me", I smirked, finding the conversation now amusing.
"What about a thousand?"
"Hell if I care", I grinned.
"Now be honest now", he warned. "Could you really take ten thousand dollars away from I. G. Farben? That's ten thousand dollars I am talking about. Enough to buy a halfway decent car."
"I could do it without the slightest hesitation", I added. "After what they did? What difference does the amount make?"
"Listen to me!", Peter admonished, as he started shaking my shoulders madly. "Could you take one hundred thousand dollars out of the treasury of I. G. Farben? Could you do that without batting an eyelash?"
"Peter, I could own their whole fucking company!", I screamed at the top of my lungs, pushing him away.
A neighbor in an adjacent condominium building peered out the window, hearing my foul language pierce through the night air, blending with the smells of overcooked boiled beef and Vicks Vapo-Rub that caught in my throat like a whistling guillotine.
"You are going to make a fortune in Scientology", he prophesied, shaking my hand, and welcoming me aboard as I gaped at him, somewhat stunned.
For the next half hour, Peter explained to me all about what a securities class action lawsuit was. It is a lawsuit brought by a group of shareholders who are dissatisfied with the management of a company, finding some fraud, irregularity, or evidence of a criminal act, which caused the price of the stock to drop and the owners of the stock to lose their money.
Peter gave me a drill to do during the next few days.
He told me to buy a Wall Street Journal, look in the second section where the stock prices were, and find an article in the form of an advertisement about a securities class action lawsuit, and cut it out with a scissor and bring it to him.
I asked him what an advertisement for a securities class action lawsuit would look like.
He said that it would have words like the following...
"For those shareholders who between the dates of February 20, 1968 and October 7, 1969, purchased common shares of the XYZ Company, this notice may affect your rights to recover in a settlement ... etc ..."
I wrote down the information, meticulously indicating all of the data which Peter had taught me. But I did not buy the Wall Street Journal, and I did not call Peter back. I just put the materials in a new file which I labeled 'Scientology', and tucked it away neatly in alphabetical order in a filing cabinet in my den. It remained unnoticed behind another file containing 'Sandpaper' for three years.
Carol made a nuisance of herself asking me endlessly about when I would get back to Peter and Barbara, and reprimanded me for being ungrateful about his offer of help.
In the interim, I received a phone call from Melanie Mullaney, an old girlfriend who had just been released from a mental institution. She was 20 years old, and I had met her seven years ago when I gave her a dime to make a telephone call. She used to hang around the shopping center at Cypress Plaza where the shoe store was located, and I had fallen in love with her when she was thirteen. She let me undress her and kiss her for a pair of $1.99 sandals, and now she was sexually available, having been locked up in an asylum for over a year.
She had an emotional collapse after her stepfather raped her, and then shortly afterward, she tried to seduce her mother's new boyfriend, whose name was Dwayne. But now she was released, and had not had intercourse in over a year. Our rendezvous worked out so well that after making love to her, I never saw or heard from Carol Wynn again.
Years later I learned that Carol had gotten out of Scientology, and became a bottomless dancer under the stage name of 'Pickles', and that she had attempted or committed suicide, but I never verified the information.
Melanie's life at home became increasingly strained, and her mother, a very elegant blonde real estate executive named Sheila, felt that she was a bad influence on her two younger sisters, so Melanie soon moved in with me.
But she was also sleeping with a very good friend of mine, Bruce Grossman, and on one occasion I gave her some spending money, and she turned around and bought Bruce a shirt for his birthday with it, and I became intensely frustrated with her too.
To compound the complexity in my life, Metra began calling me from New Jersey, not because she discovered she loved me or missed me, but because she missed her dead grandfather who was neatly tucked away and put on hold in my computer.
I confided in Metra regarding my problems with Melanie, since the relationship that Metra and I had was as platonic as ever before, and I thoroughly dismissed any ideas of resuming any romantic involvement with her, primarily because it never existed in the first place.
When Metra came down on vacation, I introduced Metra to Melanie, and that was a strategic blunder, because Metra then took it upon herself to acquaint Melanie with one of her own former boyfriends.
Charlie Hysley was a useless bum that never had a job in his life, and lived with his alcoholic father in Haddonfield, New Jersey. When he came to South Florida, he became hooked on street drugs, and took up a career in shoplifting to support his habit.
Melanie immediately fell in love with Charlie, then moved in together, and eventually got married. They had a baby son, Shannon, who Charlie used to put in a dresser drawer to prevent him from crying while he was high on LSD.
When Melanie's mother Sheila found out about it, she took Shannon away from both of them, and legally adopted him. Melanie ran away to Wheeling, West Virginia with another lunatic from the Pompano Harness Track named Kim Foster, who left her there, where later she had two more children with two other men.
She finally was again rescued by her mother, who had moved to Las Vegas, and as before, Sheila adopted the other two children as well. Melanie never obtained a divorce from Charlie, but she never saw him again. She is currently living with a 70 year old man in Las Vegas, having gained 100 pounds and having become quite morose as a 33 year-old relic; very much a victim of life and the reactive mind.
Metra's insatiable quest to gain entrance back into my life in order to re-establish communication with her dead grandfather was formidable.
I finally had met a nice, intelligent, attractive girl who was a registered nurse, by the name of Amy Glanz. She was introduced to me by a friend of the family, and we liked each other right away. Although our first encounter was a double date with another couple we knew, there was promise in our eyes, and we both saw a future of marriage in the relationship.
Interestingly enough, there was nothing wrong or strange about this girl. She was such an ideal choice!
I will never forgive myself for the day that Metra called from New Jersey and told me that she was moving in with me, and that we were soon going to be married. I never proposed to her. She simply insisted upon being my wife. I bought her an engagement ring this time instead of another dog, which I knew was the wrong thing to do. I never called Amy again, which was the saddest mistake of my life.
I hope that Amy is living happily somewhere. I truly know that she and I would have made it. My life would have been completely different.
But alas, I chose the wrong path in the labyrinth of uncertainty, and happiness was not on my itinerary.
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