Coming this month.
Preface to The Enemy Formula:
“Use the shotgun”, Kerry Riley advised in his thick Oklahoman drawl, “it’s better they be picking shards of glass out of their foreheads for a spell till the Sheriff arrives than to have corpses on your hands.” Kerry preferred that I use my double-barrel, over-under shot gun – “use the heavier buckshot, not that chicken-shit bird shot” – when the Mexican Mafia started surveiling my home in preparation for a drive by shooting. One of their offshoots had tagged my car port with their death sentence – three pitch fork prongs up, with stars above each one, signifying I am soon to arrive in one of three places: jail, the hospital or the morgue. That is how the lead investigator for the San Patricio County District Attorney’s Office interpreted it anyhow. Until I helped deliver some hoods to jail, I would continue to guard my wife’s slumber at night, sitting in our carport with my shotgun across my knee.
The deputy chief of the local police department was puzzled by all this. He wanted to know what I’m doing in South Texas investigating gangs for Riley’s tri-county “conscience of the Coastal Bend” newspaper when I was once an international executive in Los Angeles. I reminded the man that I sort of made it my mission when the Crips nearly killed a six year old girl with a Russian assault rifle during a drive by shooting, and it seemed apparent that local law enforcement, including himself, were too intimidated to do anything effective about it. He smirked as if unaffected by my swipe at his lack of courage and added, “a man with your history could do a lot better than this.” Without acknowledging the implication that he had looked into my past life – I replied, “you may be right on that score”.
I pulled away in my pick up truck, turned up Wyclef Jean’s cover of Knocking on Heaven’s Door and drove into the shadows of another steamy, gulf coast summer night: “I remember playing my guitar in the projects, a product of the environment, pour some liquor for those who passed away.”
“Good question” I thought, “what am doing in a place like this?” I contemplated the answer as I drove an isolated stretch of highway. I’m investigating gangs because they are the bullies in this county – shooting up innocent folk – that’s easy. That’s what I do, that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve got to defend to the death in order to survive. “My dad taught me the American dream, baby, you can be anything you want to be, if I did it, y’all could do it.”
But, the cop’s unasked question nagged me, “how could you be here doing that when you are dead?” If he had looked my name up on the Internet – as he obviously had – a number of sites, including Wikipedia, listed me as deceased. But, I was breathing and creating chaos in San Pat county to boot. That was after the Church of Scientology had effectively pronounced me dead. That’s what happens when you up and leave unannounced, even after twenty-seven years of service. Excommunicated – can’t speak to another living Scientologist, or any professional contact you may have made during that time. Those are the rules and I had agreed to play by the rules. So, yeah, I guess I am dead. “I feel a dark cloud coming over me, so poor, so dark, it feels like I’m knocking on heaven’s door.”
Then I thought about the “why South Texas?” part of the question. Easy. It is the furthest point geographically in the contiguous US from the two main Scientology centers I worked at for almost three decades. There is unlimited space, and plenty of uncorrupted coast line. After nearly a quarter century of fighting Scientology’s legal and public relations battles, all I was looking for was a little peace of mind. And I found where to get it. “Would someone take these guns away from here, take these guns from the street, Lord, I can’t shoot my brothers anymore.”
As I pulled up to my little bungalow on the bay, I admitted to myself that I was certain only about the last answer, why South Texas. Then, the dichotomy hit me – if I came here for peace, what on earth am I doing at war again? I walked out onto the small deck behind the house and lit a menthol. I looked at the moon reflecting off the wind swept water, then at the stars. I felt melancholic, but did not know why. I was contemplating who I really was. I found myself humming Clef’s tune, and singing lightly its final lyrics, “Please put down your heat, Oh Lord, To my brothers that’s on the corner, Oh God, Ay, get out quick or you too will be knocking on heaven’s door.”