End of the Q/By Dennis ErlichFor those readers who never knew cult-talk, I apologize for the following. But since the story is absolutely true and occurred while I still was, as salesmen put it, "under the ether," I will write it as I lived it. If you don't understand the words I use, as the chinaman said, "You betta off!"
I have commented previously that leaving scientology and re- entering society was like landing on a different planet. I had to learn the customs and language of the "natives," adopt their manners [or lack of] and hope there was a place for me to fit in.
But an even greater shock was going to Flag [in Clearwater] when it first opened for business in 1976, to become Sea Org crew in the "Mecca of Technical Perfection."
First of all there was the matter of deceiving the "local wogs" with our shore story. All staff and students were told exactly what lie to tell any Clearwater residents who asked about our presence: we were all religious students on retreat at the new United Churches facility in the Fort Harrison Hotel. Fortunately for us, few of the locals even cared to talk to the staring, stiff, and sullen students and staff. But still, it didn't take long for them to realize we were not who we claimed to be. It became very unfriendly in town.
Meantime, "The Friendliest Place on Earth" was also proving to be something less than that. For me it was more like basic training in concentration camp management. New staff and students were packed like sardines, twelve to a tiny hotel room, in bunk beds four high with barely enough room to squeeze between them. Any time the income fell below half a million dollars a week everyone was assigned to "Rice and Beans." On these numerous occasions, all we were fed was spanish rice and boiled beans. This was all part of showing the new recruit what he was worth. The spiritual pecking order was energetically applied and strictly enforced. Anyone new to Flag began as low man on the scrotum pole.
Flag crew considered all "outer org" students or staff to be DBs [degraded beings.] The fact that I had a wonderful reputation in the field and had run the most successful Internship in the history of the cult, made no difference. When I arrived at Flag I was treated like scum. Everyone was.
Brian Livingston [Class XII] was the Intern Sup and Jeff Walker [Class XII] was Cramming Officer. What a line-up!
Brian, who has since blown the Sea Org and is no longer a scieno, made a habit of getting up on a chair and screaming his lungs out at individual interns. The standard message was that they were squirrels, out-ethics or just plain stupid. His bellowing could be heard all over the tenth floor ballroom of the Fort Harrison and the HCI [Hubbard College of Improvement.] Students would hear him and go silent with terror at the thought of having to confront Brian's wrath when they finally arrived on the internship. But this was just fine with Brian. It made them a more cowed and compliant [than they already were], when eventually he did have to deal with them.
Brian was the "nice" one of the two. Walker was the most feared. He didn't have any completion statistic or bonus to contend with. He had no vested interest in seeing that interns survived his "handling" of them. Thus, he could act like the ruthless little prick he was.
Walker was famous for getting right up inches from your face, poking you in the chest and screaming "PIG SHIT!" when he didn't like your answer to his questions and wanted to show his disgust for you. One intern [who eventually ended up in the galley], reported to cramming on a session she'd done. After Jeff read the errors in the folder, he threw open the 10th floor windows next to his desk [which had no screens], pointed outside and commanded her to jump. She talked about the incident for years afterwards, claiming she barely had enough self-control to withstand his control. This kind of thing was a joke to Jeff. He never failed to show his disdain for people. Usually disgust was the kindest emotion he exhibited when dealing with outer-org interns. They just weren't up to his standard or that of Flag auditors. Those few who survived the indoctrination, gruelling hours, retreads, retrains and the constant shifting politics of being Flag crew were at least treated like they were somebody. Outer org students and interns were not.
Brian and Jeff were the two individuals who trained me when I first arrived on Flag. They were my "models" of how staff were to behave. I won't go into any detail on what it took to survive this indoctrination, win their respect and become a valuable member of the "team." It did, however, take some severe personality readjustment.
While I was still "green" at Flag, having only been there less than a year, I was posted as Jeff Walker's junior: Intern Cramming Officer, FSO [Flag Service Org]. What a thrill! Imagine getting to be trained by the most senior Cramming Officer in the world! It had been my dream before coming to Flag, to be trained in Cramming by Jeff. Here I was! Right under him. Oh, what I would learn!
Well, the arrangement was a lot better for Jeff than it was for me. He got to stop handling those stupid outer-org interns, and I had to start.
He didn't even talk to me for several months, except to grunt his disgust at me and the scum I was handling. I had to fend for myself, which was fine with me because Jeff was [and is] one of the most unpleasant individuals I had ever met and I didn't miss his charming repartee.
Apparently LRH didn't think much of him either, because two months after I was on post as Intern Cramming Officer, Hubbard busted Jeff and posted me in his place as Chief Cramming Officer, Flag. I was totally unprepared for what was to follow. I had to cram every auditor in the HGC including the Class XIIs. Since I was only a class IV, I had to quickly study and check out on all of the material up through Class XII. I had a person posted as my junior to handle the interns, who was even greener than I. What a responsibility! I was now the most senior Cramming Officer in all of Scientology. It was just what I had wanted . . .
I found out what was meant by the saying "Be careful of what you want . . . you just may get it." What a nightmare! The pressure was so great on me that I don't think I said more than a 12 sentences to my wife during my first month on post. At the end of my 18 hour day, I would drag myself to my room, too overwhelmed to speak to or be touched -- a total vegetable.
Then the disaster happened. It was bad enough to have to confront and cram the likes of Brian Livingston [who had since been busted to HGC auditor] and Jeff Walker [who had worked his way back up to the HGC after his LRH bust], but finally the supreme test -- I had to cram the Commodore's own son, Quentin, who was also one of the Class XIIs.
Quentin was sent to Cramming by the HGC C/S for failing to get all the reads on a C/S Series 53 when he first assessed it to an FNing list. PC didn't progress, so the C/S ordered him to go back and assess it again. He found the 53 still reading, which indicated that reads had been missed the first time he FNed it. [Those of you who don't understand what this was all about, are, as I said before, better off. Suffice it to say that he'd goofed up on someone paying many hundreds of dollars an hour for his "counselling."]
I was supposed to check his TRs, assessment and metering and see why he messed up. It was a routine cram, but having to do it on LRH's son made it something more.
Quentin, or "Q" as his friends called him, was 22 at the time. He looked 15 and acted 5. He was slight, blonde and effeminate in manner. While he sat if front of me in Cramming, he was constantly zooming his hand through the air between us and making noises simulating, much as a 5 year old would, the sound and motion of an airplane. I had been told that he was infatuated with flying, but I was unprepared for this: he did not stop his motions or noises through the entirety of our conversation.
That conversation was, to the best of my recollection, as follows:
DENNIS: "I see that you got some more reads on the 53 after it had FN'd." [swallowing] "How do you think this happened?"
Q: "I false reported." [still zooming his hand through the air]
DENNIS: "You . . false . . . reported?" [beginning to stutter] "Uh-on the w-worksheets?" [knowing that this was one of the highest crimes an auditor could commit, and would require ethics handling and retraining "from the bottom up"]
Q: "Yea. I false reported that the 53 FNed." [this said as casually as if telling me he ate cereal for breakfast]
DENNIS: "Uh . . . " [struck with the import of the moment]
Q: "I always do."
DENNIS: "You mean . . ."
Q: "I mean I always false report when I have to FN a 53. I disagree with having to do that on pcs. It never does anything for the pc and it costs him hours of auditing. I think it's better to just false report and get on with it."
DENNIS: "?......." [dumbstruck]
Q: "I think a lot of my father's stuff doesn't work. So I false report whenever I need to. Personally, I think my father's crazy."
[By this time, I had turned white and was sure that saliva was dripping out of my now cavernous mouth.]
DENNIS: "Uh . . you know . . . I'm going to have to re- train you . . . don't you?" [hoping, beyond hope that it would be ok with him]
Q: "That's fine." [zoom goes the hand in the air]
DENNIS: ". . .from the bottom up?"
Q: "Ok." [paying little attention now]
DENNIS: "Well . . .[glancing at my watch and praying it was dinnertime]. . it's almost four . . . why don't you come back tomorrow . . . after I've had a chance to go over the folder more carefully, [trying to give any excuse for delaying the ethics routing form and retrain order] . . . then we'll get you started on your retrain." [said under my breath as he got up to leave]
By the time this short conversation was over, I was gasping for air and my heart was pounding so loudly I could barely hear the thought screaming inside my head: "THAT'S LRH'S SON YOU'RE ABOUT TO RETRAIN FROM THE BOTTOM!!!!"
I went running out of the Cramming room looking for the only Class XII friend I had who had not yet blown, Ron Shafran. I found him near the swimming pool and he made me calm down enough to tell him the story. I asked him what I should do and he gave me the type of profound and deeply meaningful answer for which Class XII's were famous. "I d'know. Do what you hafta!" and walked quickly away. [He and his wife Linda left within the year.]
The next day was more or less routine, except for my underlying dread of having to bust the Commodore's son back to the HAS course. I went about my business and didn't notice the day had flown by without Q reporting in, until the late evening. I decided to let it slide.
By the afternoon of the next day, he still hadn't shown. My conscience was beginning to give me pressure. I felt guilty about my relief at his not showing up. Was this some kind of overt I was committing? No doubt! Better get out and do something about it.
By now Quentin's retrain was the talk of the Tech and Qual divisions. I knew most people were betting he'd get off scot- free. He seemed to be in no trouble at all. But I had a job to do and policy to follow. I'd get it done.
I went looking for anybody who might know where Quentin was. Nobody did. Finally, I bumped into one of his few close friends. I believe it was Cathy Cariotoki who finally told me: Quentin had left for the West Coast to enroll [finally] in pilot school to learn how to fly.
I felt cheated. How could he be allowed to just skate out of the ethics trouble he was undoubtedly, but not visibly, in? In the back of my mind the thought: "Get real!! He's the Commodore's son, that's how."
I should have been screaming to the Qual Sec and Senior C/S about Q's out-ethics. But instead I justified my cowardice in allowing him to walk away with his certs not pulled, by saying, "Well, he's probably not going to be auditing, anyway."
I was relieved, ashamed and shocked.
But, then, things had a tendency to move quickly from one emergency to another on Flag. "On with life!" or so I thought.
A couple of weeks later I arrived in the crew dining room for dinner to find the whole place quietly a-buzz with the news: "QUENTIN'S DEAD! NO ONE KNOWS HOW HE DIED. HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN MURDERED!"
At that moment, hand to the Lord, I thought, "Rumor has it that LRH was really pissed at Q. It was a huge loss of face for "the boss" having a gay son. This most recent disgrace -- the false reporting -- was the last straw. I bet he was murdered."
We learned later that he was found in his car in the desert near Las Vegas airport. All the windows were closed and there was a tube from the tail pipe into the car. The car and his person had been stripped of all evidence such as licenses, which would identify the occupant. He was still alive, but unconscious when he was found. Something happened in the hospital and he died two weeks later without regaining consciousness. His death was listed as a "possible suicide." There are obviously a few questions still unanswered about his death.
For instance, we never did find out the cause. Neither did the police.
But, when you think of the kind of life he was facing, with a megalomaniac father who considered him a liability in a grand scheme for world domination, there's one thing we do know about his death:
"HE BETTA OFF!"
Rev. Dennis L Erlich * * the inFormer * *
that person (tm)