Snapshot #7: The Colonel

Notice: some content may be triggering, and no information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. Please see my Disclaimers.

There’s so much that I need to express about my first meeting with Dr. A and the subsequent and related visits, so this is a long chapter. But even though what I have written here isn’t even the half, here is where I’ve decided to start.

Navigating the Desert

From where we lived in Southern California, the desert stretched out around us, mostly to our east. I remember two notable trips into that dry terrain. There were probably more with Mother and Tom (and certainly there were more with my programmers), but there are two specific trips that I remember very well.

As usual, I’m not entirely certain of the timeline. And it’s not like I can go and ask  someone who would know, such as my mother.

say, Mommy Dearest

(that was the nickname she chose to give to herself and how she referred to herself all throughout my life, even into adulthood, insisting we call her “Mommy Dearest,” too; it was her idea of a “joke,” and served as an attempt to publicly and privately minimize the pain of the abuse she put us through)

about those trips into the desert. which came first: the trip to the ‘castle’ in the desert where children had been tortured and kept in cages, or the trip to the military base where we met my mind-control programmer?

Nonetheless, there were two notable trips with my family into the Mohave Desert, and I’m as sure as I can be that on the second trip with my family, we were headed east, into Death Valley. The awful things I witnessed there (possibly on that particular family trip… but it’s more likely during a subsequent visit with my programmers) is something that I’m not sure how to describe without becoming obscene. So although I’ll likely write about a few things at a later time, I probably won’t detail too much about it.

But on the first trip, Mother and Tom took me to the military base. My brother wasn’t with us that time.

On both trips, however, we stopped at the same diner, a place called “Outpost Cafe,” and I remember on the second trip (the one into Death Valley), I was especially looking forward to eating there because I wanted Boysenberry syrup on my pancakes, the same as what I had had the first time we visited there. But when I ordered my pancakes that second time, the waitress told me that they were all out of Boysenberry syrup, and I was sorely disappointed at having to settle for something that I considered to be less tasty and less regional.

(It’s kinda funny, in an odd way, to realize that “buying regionally” as much as is possible, and “homegrown/homemade,” have always been important values to me. In spite of every attempt to squelch my personality and basic personal preferences — something every individual naturally has, regardless of age — there were values that, for whatever reason, I personally held dear as a child, and it’s a nice feeling knowing that those are things that still stick with me today. In a small but important way, it validates ME, as an individual, who is allowed to have my personal preferences, hold my own values, and be my own person, separate from my parents. I don’t suppose this would matter to a lot of people, but maybe those who have gone through ongoing and childhood-robbing abuse can understand just how important it is for every instance of validation as an autonomous human being.

Anyway, moving on…. 🙂 )

As we drove through the dusty region on that second trip, we came to a point in the highway where Death Valley stretched out to our immediate right (an easterly course, with respect to the direction we were traveling), and Tom started raving excitedly, going on and on about how many people had died of thirst right there in the very desert we were traversing. The picture he happily painted with such macabre detail was horribly gruesome, and after I started asking tons of questions whose unsatisfactory answers only led to more questions

do we have any water with us? why don’t we have water? can we stop and buy some water? did you bring snacks? why didn’t you bring snacks? what happens if we run out of gas and we have no water to drink or food to eat? do we have enough gas in our car? do we have extra gas in case we run out? why don’t we have extra gas? what happens if we run out of gas? are there gas stations in the desert? who is going to go get gas for our car if we run out? how are you going to go get gas? are you going to walk to the gas station or hitchhike? or are you going to borrow gas from someone who passes by? what if no one passes by? what if you die of thirst while walking to the gas station? what if you are hitchhiking to the gas station and someone kills you when you are hitchhiking? what happens to us then? why are we here in the desert if we could die here?

Mother finally asked him to change the subject. “You’re scaring the children,” she said.

But I could see the dusty reflection of her face in the window and she was smiling. I felt angry that something as serious as dying of thirst in the desert was being seen as a joke, and I leaned forward in earnest. “But you said that the people died in the desert because they weren’t prepared. Are we prepared?”

Mother finally snapped at me, looking at me sideways from the front seat: “We aren’t going to die! Don’t be so dramatic. Stop asking questions!” She turned to look out the window again, and I could see that her glass reflection had no smile for me then.

I fell back in my seat and reached over to my brother to comfort him, whispering in his ear to not be scared because we weren’t going to die. But he acted as if he weren’t very concerned and shrugged me off, excitedly asking Tom if there were skulls that could still be found in the desert sands.

I stopped listening at that point, feeling lonely in my realization that I was the only one with fears about traveling through the desert. I also felt incensed that I was being accused of being “dramatic.” I wasn’t sure then what was meant by that statement ringing in my ears

don’t be so dramatic!

but it sounded like a bad thing, and it was clear that my fears — fears that were only stirred up because of Mother and Tom — were being rudely dismissed as foolish and unnecessary.

But as the subject was closed, there was nothing I could do except lean back in the seat and watch the desert sands and scrubby flora scroll by, quietly begging God to not let us die in the desert that day.

But that was the second trip.

The first notable car trip with Mother and Tom (my brother wasn’t with us during that first trip) that I remember through that particular section of the California desert was less memorable, except for the visit to Outpost Cafe. But it’s when we went to meet the man who I call “Dr. A,” and although the trip itself wasn’t very remarkable, I remember the visit very well.

Anticipation and Expectation

Dr. A, as I’ve previously mentioned, was a close associate of Baldy, and was another one my mind-control programmers as a child. I usually refer to him as my “main programmer,” because his style of programming and the projects I was subsequently involved in because of him were a lot more involved than with Pam (the woman I called the “Good Witch“).

Certainly Pam’s work with me was integral to those projects as well, but for different reasons that will likely become clear as I continue sharing about my childhood.

I have to pause here and mention how I hate talking about mind-control programming using such average-sounding, nearly clinical terms, such as: “style of programming,” “projects,” and “work.” It very nearly makes it sound as if the trauma those people put me through wasn’t such a big deal after all, and it makes me feel sick to my stomach….

So I hope I don’t come across as being blasé about it all. I’m not. It’s just… I’m not sure how else to describe it! Different programmers have different styles, they program for specific reasons and for specific projects, and… well, it’s absolutely disgusting, but from my experience, their attitude is such that they consider what they do to be “all in a days work.”

I also don’t necessarily like referring to trauma-based mind control (TBMC) as “programming,” because it makes it sound as if humans are merely living, complex computers, and this is one lie that is perpetuated, in my opinion, by the phrase itself: “mind-control programming.” But… it’s the word that most people are familiar with, and it does have a certain amount of truth to it. After all, mind control could be thought of as a type of programming.

However, since human beings are not computers, I usually prefer the term “brainwashing” or “indoctrination.”

On the other hand, when people hear the term “brainwashing,” I daresay the majority of them think of the type of indoctrination that occurs within many religious settings, and so the downside of using this term is that it doesn’t always adequately portray the intensity of what is commonly known as “mind control programming.”

All three words, however — programming, brainwashing, and indoctrination — are describing the same process of how one person or group of persons attempt to control another individual or group of individuals, to one degree or another. The intensity of trauma that is perpetrated upon the person within the context of such a mind-control process depends upon the situation, but there most certainly is trauma, no matter to what degree. And for the purposes of healing, it doesn’t matter the intensity; the trauma must be dealt with, regardless.

Anyway, moving on….

Aside from my pancake breakfast in the diner at the fork in the road, I don’t remember much of the drive to Dr. A’s office with Mother and Tom all those many years ago, but I do remember snippets of conversations concerning the visit. The conversations centered mostly around the fact that we were going to see a Very Important Man and that I was to be a Very Good Girl so that I would impress the Very Important Man.

There is a sense that both my mother and Tom were very anxious to meet the Very Important Man, and this sense followed not only through our trip there, but also during our interactions with him during that meeting. There was the feeling of tense anticipation. Of the requirement to not disappoint. Of pride.

I don’t recall this pride being verbalized, necessarily, aside from the subtext of the requirement to be a “Very Good Girl because we were going to meet a Very Important Man,” but it was the small things throughout the day. Nearly imperceptible things. But for me — someone who, at that time, was used to testing the air to feel if it was safe to breathe or not — it was a very palpable feeling.

Small things.

the way that Mother held herself with barely-controlled indignation as the uniformed men searched our car at the entrance, as if the search was an unnecessary inconvenience that was being operated by incompetent fools who didn’t understand our importance

the way Tom casually adjusted one of his ankles over the other leg and confidently puffed out his chest as we sat in the waiting room; the way he bit off his hangnails and casually, nearly defiantly, spat them on the floor, as if he were marking his territory with his dead flesh

the unnecessary fussing over my dress and hair as my mother played the well-rehearsed part of “proud parent,” a part that had her vibrating with controlled tension as she did what she could to set the stage to impress

the way Dr. A bent down to address me — “this must be the girl” — and how the air in the room seemed to expand with the silent exhalation of my mother’s breath

the furtive glance, and the tense, nearly hopeful smile that my mother gave to me in Dr. A’s office as he was looking over my papers

Nearly imperceptible things.


Before we entered into the base, we had to stop at what I thought of as a child as being the “guard station.” I didn’t know the military term for it (and I still don’t know), but since it was an area where we had to stop before we were allowed entrance, and since there were a lot of military men around, some of who I thought were acting as guards, I decided to call it a “guard station.”

(For many reasons, I have a very strong suspicion as to which military base we were at; however, I’m not 100% comfortable sharing the name publicly at this time, if ever.)

While we waited in the hot sun, I sat on one of the benches and engaged myself in one of my favorite activities (aside from reading, of course): I people-watched.

Some of the men milling about were waiting on the benches in the stifling desert air, like me, but instead of regular “street” clothes, they were wearing the typical multi-colored green camouflage with matching camo caps.

I sat on a bench near one of them, noticing his dark boots that seemed to be nearly dust-free, and I wondered how he kept his boots so clean with so much dust and dirt everywhere. I thought about asking him, but before I had the chance, he was summoned by another man in uniform, and he got up and left.

I continued to sit on the bench, swinging my legs back and forth, watching.

Other military personnel strutting about, dressed in baggy, tan-colored uniforms and sporting what looked like a hard helmet of a similar hue as their clothes. They each had a large gun strapped to their person, and were barking out orders as they directed traffic of both people and vehicles. They frightened, yet intrigued me.

Some other uniformed men passed by, dressed in what looked more like dressy suits, entering into the guard house and then exiting a short time later, but the green camo and the tan baggy clothes were what stood out most to me at that time.

While I people-watched, our car was searched by the men in baggy, tan clothes.

I saw a huge airplane parked across the way, and I remember feeling interested in seeing it, but I can’t recall if we took a peek at it or not.

I do recall, however, that my mother grabbed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the cooler she had brought with us, and I sat on the bench, eating unenthusiastically, wishing I were munching on a burger inside the cool air-conditioning of McDonald’s, instead of eating a soggy PB&J outside in the stifling desert air.

Making a New Friend

Eventually, military personnel escorted us to the building where Dr. A’s office was located, and although I don’t remember what the building looked like on the outside, I remember following a military man down a very narrow hall and into a small waiting room that was predominately white.

I don’t know if I would describe the room as being a “clean sparkly bright” white, but aside from the chairs we sat in, there was a lot of white in the room, nonetheless. The walls were white. The ceiling was white. The predominate color of the linoleum floor was white. The cabinets stretching along the wall in front of us were white. White was the dominate color.

The rectangular room wasn’t very big, and was taken up by chairs and a wall of kitchen-style cabinets. The three short rows of seats in the room were situated as follows: one row was along the short wall that stretched to our left as we entered into the room; one row, where we ended up sitting, was placed along the longer wall to our right; and one row was taking up a large portion of the middle of the small room, facing the wall of cabinets.

Most of the white cabinets were floor-to-ceiling height, with a small sink and a tiny counter top breaking up the space in the middle. The cabinets stretched along the length of that wall, and ended where the opening to the hallway began on the other side of the room.

A dark window, situated high, stretched out nearly the entire length of the wall to our right, stopping short of the hallway only because the wall was interrupted by a steel door.

Later, I found out that the door opened up to a flight of metal stairs that led underground into what what looked like a large dungeon, where people were being held captive, in chains, and guarded by uniformed men as well as by demonic creatures that I could only describe then as being nearly “reptile-like” in appearance.

But that day — the day I met the Very Important Man — I knew nothing of what was hiding behind that door.

There were a couple of military men that were with us in that room that day, sitting on the row of chairs along the left wall.

After we settled in our seats, Tom, apparently impressed by the fire-power he had seen thus far, had a whispered conversation with Mother about the guns and made a joke I didn’t understand, nor did I care about. I wasn’t paying attention to the conversation. I was people-watching, studying the guards and their body language. They looked as if they were trying to remain unobtrusive, lounging in the chairs against the adjacent wall, one of them studying the contents of a black binder, appearing to be almost bored if one didn’t pay close attention to their watchful eyes.

I wondered if they were waiting to see the Very Important Man, too; or, given their guns, if they were there to protect us from some unseen threat that may be lurking about; or, I wondered if they were there to get us in trouble if we did a wrong thing.

I couldn’t decide which scenario was more likely. Considering the fact that they didn’t really respond to my smile and short wave, their presence felt more menacing than protective. But when I whispered into my mother’s ear and asked why they were there, she told me that they were “at their job,” and to not worry about it.

That seemed reasonable, so I stopped worrying about it.

Mother, apparently having anticipated a long wait, pulled from her purse a cross-stitching project we had been working on, handing me my portion. I grudgingly took the fabric and threaded the yarn through the needle in preparation for my work. I didn’t like cross-stitching. Mother had been trying to teach me to cross-stitch, and even though the project (four individual letters that spelled out the word “NOEL”) was easy enough, I kept accidentally skipping holes in the fabric, causing my “X’s” to not be perfect. Furthermore, any soft rubbing against my fingertips set my teeth on edge and made me feel jittery and jumpy. So, cross-stitching wasn’t my favorite activity.

But I dutifully worked the needle and thread for a while, mumbling my complaints and frustrations every so often. When the sensation on my fingers got to be too much to bear, I would shake my hands and scrape my fingers roughly against my skirt, trying to ease the jittery in my nerves.

Thankfully, when I finally put the cross-stitch down and asked Mother if I could go sit “over there” (I pointed to the row of seats in front of us), she obliged me. She was probably just as tired as I was of fidgeting and asking for her help every three stitches or so.

I jumped up and took my new seat on the very end of the short row, adjacent to where the military men were seated.  I studied them for a moment. The man farther away from me wasn’t interested in me at all. But I could tell that the one right next to me was very aware of my presence. Even though he was pretending to read the contents of his binder

honestly, who stays that long on one page…?

he was trying too hard to ignore me.

I studied him while he feigned aloofness. He was very handsome, I thought, in a sparse sort of way, but his eyes were the best part about him. They were a brown color — not a dark brown, but a light brown, almost golden. They were kind eyes.

After a couple of minutes, I finally said, “Hi! What’re you reading?”

He didn’t even look up, but mumbled something unintelligible.

I decided to believe that part of his response was probably “hi,” and so I asked him, “Do you have anything I could read?”

He looked up this time and after looking at me for a long moment, he shook his head. “No,” he said, and went back to studying the book he was reading.

I hesitated for a moment, then pointed to a small stack of what appeared to be magazines on the seat between him and the other man. “What about those?”

He looked annoyed and said they weren’t for me.

I didn’t want to risk Mother making me come sit back down with her, so I quickly dropped the subject. “Okay.”

After a couple of minutes studying him some more, this time from my peripheral vision, mostly, so as to not annoy him further, I asked him about his shoes. “Why are they so shiny?”

I’m not sure if what happened next was because he was bored, too, or if it was because I finally wore him down. But he sighed, put his binder/book down, and leaned forward, resting his arms on his legs. “Do you really want to know?”

I nodded.

In spite of a sharp look from his friend that I didn’t understand

if I would have known the phrase back then, I would have described his friend as being “tightly wound”

he pulled a cloth from one of his pockets and proceeded to talk through how he “spit-shined” his boots. It was a topic that seemed to be of great importance to him, nearly to the point of obsession, but I enjoyed listening to him talk.

I can’t remember all what he told me, but I do remember trying to figure out at one point if he was joking or not, when he said that he actually spat on his shoes during the process of shining them.

The information was both fascinating and gross at the same time.

He asked me if I wanted to spit-shine my shoes, too, and I, believing him to be bluffing about the spit part, gave a shoe to him, curious to see if he would spit on my white tennis shoe and make it shine. But he just laughed and said, “Nah… put your shoe back on. I’m just teasing.”

And I figured then that he was joking about spitting on shoes. Yet… I still wondered.

We talked some more about small things I can’t remember — some things about school, I believe it was, and other topics — and then a short while later, I asked if his gun was real. Ignoring a warning from his friend that I didn’t understand until later

are you sure that’s a good idea?

why? are you gonna tell on me? 

nope. just asking if you think that’s a good idea.

he pulled out his gun and held it up, muzzle pointed to the ceiling. “It’s gonna be loud,” he warned, “but don’t be scared, okay?”

I nodded, watching closely. “I won’t.” I remembered my Papa, back in Texas, had lots of guns in glass cabinets, and I wasn’t very afraid of guns. They were like the kitchen knives Mother used sometimes, I thought — you had to use them for the right things and you had to be careful when you used them, but they wouldn’t hurt you if you were careful.

His hands were so quick that I couldn’t see exactly how he did it, but the gun made a loud, sharp noise that echoed in the small room (if I wouldn’t have known better, I would have thought he just fired the gun), and the next thing I knew, he was holding his gun in one hand and a bullet and a fully loaded cartridge clip in the other.

“Hold your hands out,” he said, and holding the handle securely, he rested the weight of the gun in my hands.

I liked how the weight of the cool metal felt in my hand, but the noise of the gun had scared me, even though I had promised to not be scared, so I quickly let go and smiled up at him.

He re-armed his gun and put it back in its holster.

We made some small talk for a few minutes and then I asked if there was a water fountain. I was thirsty.

He got up and took a couple steps towards the counter top, bending down to open a small refrigerator that was full of soda. “How about a soda?”

I jumped up from my seat and nodded eagerly. “Yes, please!”

“Ask your mom first.”

I looked over my shoulder. “Mom, can I—”

“Sure,” she interrupted. “But just one.”

The man allowed me to pick whatever soda I wanted, and I was pleasantly surprised that they had Dr. Pepper. For whatever reason, Dr. Pepper wasn’t popular where we lived, and it was rarely stocked in stores. So, I was thrilled to have a Dr. Pepper.

I quickly gulped it down and asked if I could have another.

Mother didn’t even look up. “No,” she replied quickly, continuing with her cross-stitch.

“But I’m still thirsty!” I whined.

Mother told me to fill the can with water if I were so thirsty, and the man helped by filling the can with water from the sink. Then Mother told me to come sit back down beside her, and I trudged reluctantly to my seat, disappointed that my conversation with my new friend (in my mind as a child, we had become friends) was essentially over.

We continued waiting.

A few times, someone came walking down the hallway towards us, or a person entered the room from the way we had come in, and I looked up expectantly, hoping it was someone coming to get us. But they all disappeared back down the dark hall, and we sat there with the guards, who had been tensely whispering back and forth. It seemed to me that they were arguing in a very quiet way, but I wasn’t sure why they were mad at each other. After a while, it looked as if my new friend was wiping a tear from his eye.

But why would he be crying? Maybe it was sweat. Or maybe he got something in his eye. It didn’t make sense to me that he’d be crying, and I continued to people-watch until Mother poked me sharply on my leg and told me to “stop staring.”

After a few minutes longer and a few more whispered exchanges with the other man, my friend got up, muttering something about dust and allergies, and walked out of the room.

Meeting “Dr. A”

Finally, as my mother was grumbling and making impatient noises and gathering her things as if she was getting ready to leave, a person in another military uniform came from the hall and motioned for us to follow. We walked down a darkened hallway, following the uniform. To my right there was just a blank wall. But to my left, we passed at least two doors, one of which I found out later led to a bathroom that had no doors on the toilet stalls.

Straight ahead, at the end of the hall, was another door: the entrance to Dr. A’s office.

One of his offices, anyway. He had at least three offices that I came to know:

  • the tiny office that looked more like a computer lab of some sort that opened off the white programming room in the hospital-like environment
  • the regular looking office that was surrounded by a lot of other offices in the underground military base where the nice secretary was who had a shiny, thick bun at the back of her head that was so black that sometimes it caught the light and reflected blue
  • and the military base where the grungy “office” was, where I first met him with my mother and with Tom (which, if the attached prison was any indication, was also in some sort of underground facility, although I could be wrong)

The individual (I don’t remember if the person was male or female) opened the door and pointed to the chairs that were against the wall to our left. “Please sit. The Colonel will be with you in a moment.”

And we were left alone.

We sat in the chairs and waited some more. I looked around, getting really bored by this time. I had nothing to read, nothing to color, no one to talk to, no one to watch and wonder about. I was just bored. But I felt moderately happy that at least I was in a different room that I could look at, although it wasn’t much to look at, so I wasn’t overly thrilled.

It was a disappointment to me, actually. It seemed to me that a Very Important Man would have a Very Important Office, too, but this office was dark and dingy and dirty. Not necessarily filthy dirty. Just… cobwebby dirty. Like it hadn’t been used or cleaned in ages. It smelled funny, too.

The walls were covered in dark wood paneling, and although the lone, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling was bright, the walls just seemed to soak up all the light, because the room felt dark. If it weren’t for the bench we were sitting on — the covering of which was a faded but still garish color (green and orange, I think) that at one time was probably very stylish — there wouldn’t be much color in the room at all.

There was a steel door in the middle of the opposite wall, across the room, with a small, square window situated high on the door. The glass was very peculiar to me because it had a diamond-shaped pattern on it, and it was tinted so we couldn’t see through it.

(As an adult, I know now that this is what is commonly referred to as a “safety wire glass” window.)

The desk was directly in front of us, situated in the middle of the room, with a chair on one side and two on the other, closest to us. There were no interesting papers or office paraphernalia on it that I could see, save a box of tissue, a large desk calendar, and a name plate on the edge of the desk that simply said “Lt Colonel.” There may have been a initial after the title, but if there was, I’m not entirely sure. I do remember, however, asking my mother how to pronounce those words and what they meant. She may have given a very thorough explanation, but all I really got out of the talk was more about how it meant that he was a Very Important Man and I had to be a Very Good Girl so that I could impress the Very Important Man.

None of which meant much to me, so I sat there and pondered everything for a while.

Bored, I started picking my nose, and Mother slapped my leg and told me to use a tissue from the desk. I felt a slap was a good price to pay for picking my nose, though, because at least it gave me the excuse to temporarily get up and surreptitiously examine the desk a little closer.

There wasn’t anything written on the desk calendar, which I thought was odd, and although I don’t remember what month it was that we we visited the military base (probably sometime late summer or early-to-mid fall, since we were working on our “NOEL” cross-stitch projects) I remember thinking that the calendar wasn’t even set to the right month.

After another long wait on the bench, I started to feel like I had to use the toilet. I asked Mother if I could go potty, but she wasn’t sure where the bathroom was. She got up and opened the door we had entered through, only to find that we were being guarded by a woman in camo, a long gun strapped across her chest.

(As a child, I didn’t automatically think of her as “guarding” us, but in processing everything as an adult, I realize now that’s exactly what she was doing)

Mother promptly shut the door and sat back down on the bench, looking pale. She was clearly shaken, but was trying to hide her emotions.

The guard opened the door again and asked, “Is there a problem?”

Mother retorted, rather sharply, “My daughter has to use the restroom, if that’s all right with you!”

I cringed, feeling the tension.

The female guard didn’t appear to be very bothered by my mother’s tongue, however, and she said something to the effect of, “All you have to do is ask,” and she allowed us out of the room.

“Any idea when he’ll see us?” Mother asked indignantly as we were escorted the short way to the restroom.

“No, ma’am,” the woman replied, expressionless, pointing to the first door to our right. “There’s the restroom.”

Mother expressed her strong displeasure, but it didn’t seem to faze the woman. She just opened the door to the restroom and allowed us entrance.

That bathroom is one of the many “points of origin” of that day, as well as other visits there

(see Snapshot 5 for an explanation of “point of origin”)

and unfortunately, I remember it very well.

There were only about three or four toilet stalls to our right (with no doors and no lids on the toilets), and to our left there was one very tiny sink with a faucet handle that we had to twist and hold in order to keep the water flowing.

Past the toilet stalls and the sink was the open shower area. There was a center aisle, of sorts, running down the center of the area, with about four, maybe five, individual shower stalls on each side, separated only by half-walls that were tiled. So, the whole room was basically wide open.

It felt creepy to me, and I did not want to use that restroom. But we had no choice. It was there or nowhere.

So after lining the seat with sufficient toilet paper, Mother stood in the open toilet stall doorway with her back towards me, legs spread wide so her skirt covered most of the bottom section of the opening, and her arms spread out so the jacket of her light summer suit covered a portion of the middle part of the opening.

I still felt horribly uncomfortable and it took me a while to tinkle, because I was so nervous about someone walking in and seeing me.

After I was done, I stood in the same doorway, stretching Mother’s jacket across the opening to also afford her as much privacy as was possible.

Then we held the faucet open for each other as we rinsed our hands in the tepid water. There was no soap, and there were no towels to dry my hands, so I waved them around frantically, finally just wiping the excess moisture off on my skirt.

I was less than impressed with the “Very Important Man’s” bathroom.

Back in the Colonel’s “office,” we waited longer. I started getting more antsy and it seemed as if Mother and Tom were, too. Mother started making her grumbling noises again, and so I took the opportunity to ask her if I could get up and look around.

It was obvious that she did not want me looking around, but she was tired of waiting, too (and, probably tired of me squirming on the bench), and acquiesced, with the stipulation that I NOT. TOUCH. ANYTHING.

I promised to not touch. Just look.

I walked around slowly, trying to take my time so that I wouldn’t have to sit back down so soon, but there wasn’t much to look at. There were a few filing cabinets — cheap metal ones, four or five drawers tall, with the paint worn off in some spots and dented in other spots — and there were some papers in a box beside the cabinets on the left of the room. Without thinking, I reached down to pick up a piece of paper because it looked like a paper to color on. As my hand touched the paper, however, I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to touch anything, and I pulled back, glancing behind me to see if Mother had seen me.

If she had seen me, however, there was no time to respond, because the door at the back of the room suddenly opened. I whirled around, clasping my hands behind my back, feeling guilty, and saw a uniformed man enter into the room, with a woman (also in military uniform, of course) directly behind him. Before the door was shut, I caught a glimpse of the room they had come from, and it looked very different from the room we were in. That quick look impressed upon me clean cool metal and light tile. The floors weren’t the nasty dark sparse carpet in the room we were in, but a light tile, and I caught a glimpse of the wall to the right, and it looked like it was made of drawers. Metal drawers with silver metal handles.

Maybe filing cabinets, I wondered to myself, but built inside the walls…?

Then the door was closed, and the Very Important Man stood in front of us. He shook Tom’s hand, then Mother’s, and finally bent down to look me in the eyes.

“This must be the girl.” And he smiled and shook my hand, too.

It felt like a very solemn moment, and I felt shy suddenly. But being very curious about the room he and the woman had just come from, I pointed to the door and asked, “Is that where your office is?”

He straightened his back and gave a short laugh. “My office?” He acted as if he were puzzled, but his confusion seemed insincere to me, and he acted the way I’d experienced many adults act towards me at times, as if he were humorously indulging me. “What do you think this is?” He gestured around the room with a wide sweep of his arm. “Doesn’t this look like an office to you?”

I felt insulted at his attitude towards me, but I shrugged and smiled shyly. “Okay,” I acquiesced, carefully watching his eyes. Something was off, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. It seemed he was being untruthful, in a way, but… it didn’t make sense to me.

We were asked to sit in the chairs in front of the desk. I sat in Mother’s lap for a short while until she shooed me off; then I sat in the bench against the wall.

The woman who had followed the Colonel into the room placed a file on the Very Important Man’s desk, and then left.

The Colonel opened the thin file, perusing its contents for a moment.

There was some talk, but I wasn’t really paying attention at that time. I was thinking about the room he had just come from and comparing it with the grungy “office” we were currently occupying. Then, a word caught my attention. Something about “classified.” I knew what that word meant. It meant “secret.”

I sat up in my seat. “Is that where the classified is kept?” And I pointed to the door at the back of the room that was hiding all the shiny metal and clean tile and wall of filing cabinets.

The three adults looked at me. Mother seemed angry, Tom seemed annoyed, but the Very Important Man seemed amused.

But he didn’t directly answer my question. He simply smiled and leaned forward, gathering the papers together and placing them back in the file folder. “Your daughter may be too smart for her own good.”

Then he said something to the effect of: “That’s something to be careful of.”

I’m not entirely sure of his exact words, but even though he acted amused, his response seemed to indicate that he wasn’t too happy with me.

We left shortly thereafter, and Mother seemed upset. Not quite “all the way angry,” but somewhere between “quiet anger” and “disappointment.”

As we left the facility, I turned and silently watched as the military base receded in the distance, the brightly colored “Welcome” sign growing smaller and smaller in the dusty air. The energy in the car was tense, so I stayed quiet. I knew I didn’t do a very good job of impressing the Very Important Man, and I was frustrated and sad, and a little scared at what Mother might say or do to me later. I didn’t want to be punished, but I had no idea what it was I was supposed to have done or said that would have been impressive. No one had told me what to do or to not do!


As it turns out, I didn’t “displease” the Colonel (the man I call Dr. A) at all. I had passed all the “first tests” that the initial meeting had presented.

In processing it all now, as an adult, I see where every move that was made that day was closely monitored. And in knowing what I now know as an adult, I know that individuals in that position — in the position that “Dr. A” was in — who are considering prospects for their projects, everything about their subjects is closely monitored and scrutinized.

Everything was a “test.”


Not necessarily a “question one, question two, question three” test.

But a “let’s see what she does with this situation type of test.

Everything was analyzed:

  • how I reacted to waiting a ridiculous amount of time, not once, but twice
  • how I responded to my parents
  • how I responded to authority that weren’t my parents
  • how I responded to strangers
  • how I responded to the unknown
  • how I assessed my environment
  • how I reacted when I knew I was right, yet was being told I was wrong

All that, and much more. Everything was analyzed, because, as I came to find out later, that’s what people like Dr. A do. They analyze and assess and categorize. They “people watch,” in a sense, much like I did as a child, except… on a much grander scale.

And my next visit I had a test, too. Except, that time, although I wasn’t sure why I was being asked questions, it was very clear that I was being tested. It wasn’t a “secret test.”

Tom brought me to that next visit, and although I don’t recall the long drive there (for me as a child, a drive of about two hours was pretty long), but I remember being brought down that darkened hallway, knowing that I was going to “The Colonel’s Office.”

I wasn’t looking forward to being in that dreary office again, nor was I looking forward to what I had anticipated as being a long wait.

But I didn’t wait at all. Tom was left behind while I was brought right in, following a military uniform. I trudged through the doorway to that drab office, expecting to be told to sit on the bench again. Instead, we walked past the desk — marching over the musty carpet and past the dingy file cabinets, like a little duckling waddling after her mamma, I thought — and walked right through the open steel door with the safety-wire glass window, and into the clean metal and tile room behind the door.

I felt rather vindicated as I stood there, looking around the room. ‘I knew it!’ I thought.

Dr. A was there, waiting. He gave me another indulgent smile, but this time I wasn’t as offended. He said something to the effect of: “Well, what do you think?”

“I knew this was your real office,” I smirked, looking around, reverently touching a wire bin of papers.

“One of them.” Then he slapped my hand away from the papers. “Don’t touch anything.”

I pulled away, embarrassed that I had gotten in trouble so quickly.

Eventually, I was seated beside a small desk that was inset into the wall, metal filing cabinets built into the wall on one side, and regular metal cabinets built into the wall on the other.

Another man — skinny, short, and with a large nose — sat at the desk in front of a computer screen and asked my name, address, and phone number, typing out my responses. He sat there for a several minutes longer, typing other information that I wasn’t privy to. I began to get bored, and he told me I could go sit “over there,” indicating the direction with a wave of his hand to a seat beside the large metal table behind him.

I sat there for a long time (a long time for me, anyway), bored, eyes half-closed, day dreaming. Then after a time, I was told to sit back at the desk and answer some questions. Part of the time, I sat with pencil and paper, scribbling answers to the questions, and the man sat beside me. The other part of the time, he asked me some questions and showed me some things, and I responded verbally with answers that he then wrote down on the papers he held.

Looking back, I believe that battery of tests was something like an IQ test. If so, it makes sense why throughout my life, my mother has made many public references to my “high IQ.”

public proclamations, of course, because privately, she constantly reinforced the feeling that I was stupid, particularly when I made a mistake or didn’t understand something, by beating me, punctuating each screamed word with a strike of her fist: “that’s what you get for thinking!”

Growing up, even though she alluded to IQ testing, she never showed any proof of any such testing. And since I didn’t make the connection until recently between the events of that day in Dr. A’s fancy office and IQ tests, I didn’t think I had ever had an IQ test, so my mother’s prideful proclamations

my daughter’s a genius!

that served her public image quite nicely, didn’t make sense to me. I thought she was just playing the part of “proud mamma” bragging how smart her child was. And, yes, she was playing a part. “Proud mamma” served her public image quite nicely.

But now, it makes sense to me why my mother has always said I had a high IQ. She must have been told the results of the testing at some point. I would be shocked if she would have been given paper-proof, though. Her being given proof doesn’t make sense to me.

First, if she would have been given paper-proof, she probably would have whipped it out and showed me and everyone else, which would have led to questions of why I was tested, where the testing took place, etc, and my memories of meeting Dr. A (and, by virtue of a logical correlation, my subsequent interactions with him) would have been validated, by one little bitty piece of paper.

Which leads to the second point: it wouldn’t have made much sense for a civilian to be given paper-proof of an individual being involved in any type of military business, particularly the “classified” nature of the projects that Dr. A was involved in, because… well, because see the first point.

At any rate, I fundamentally despise IQ tests. I don’t usually like references to my IQ. It makes me feel uncomfortable. And anyway, if I had money to waste on betting, I would bet money that my IQ is considerably lower than it was as a child. Time has a tendency to do that. Time and abuse.

And who cares, anyway? Who cares about IQ? I don’t.

I used to, partially because of how my mother raised me. One of the only times she ever praised me was when she bragging (publicly) either about how smart I was or how “beautifully” I sang (so it was said). So, I used to hold “intelligence” in the highest regard.

But now?

Now I prefer kindness over genius, any day. Give me a smart kid, and I’ll ask for a kind one instead. Smart is something you are either born with or not. But kindness… that’s a very special and, in today’s society, an increasingly rare attribute of the heart.

The Bathroom

In the process of working through all of the memories of my life (both non-traumatic and traumatic), I realize now that my evolving values regarding kindness over brilliance is not only rooted in the way my mother raised me, but also very much reinforced by the next set of memories I have of visiting Dr. A at the military base.

I believe it was on yet another visit to Dr. A’s fancy office (although it could have been that same day) when I was brought back into the creepy and undignified bathroom that I remembered so well from my initial visit.

I don’t recall how involved Dr. A was in everything, but he was there, and I have no doubt that the entire event was carefully orchestrated by him. What happened there was absolutely horrifying, so I’m not going to give many details. Besides, even after all this time, I have a hard time sorting out exactly what it was that happened, so I can’t confidently give a play-by-play, even if I were inclined to do so.

I remember being escorted into the bathroom by two military men with the large guns strapped across their chests. Upon entering, it was immediately clear that something was horribly wrong. At the very end of the long bathroom, in the very last shower stall, was a man, handcuffed to the ceiling by a long chain that stretched above him. He was surrounded by three uniformed men (from the looks of their clothing which was partially strewn about, they were not your average soldier, but were of higher rank), and was bloodied and bruised, having been severely beaten. I began struggling, trying to turn around and run away, but the men, half-dragging me, forced me to walk down the center aisle of the showers. As we came closer to the group of men, the captive man lifted his head and looked in our direction. When his eyes made contact with mine, there was a silent moment of horrified communication between us

my friend!

and he began screaming and yanking on his chains. “No!” he howled. “Leave her alone! Leave her alone!

I started crying, not really able to grasp what was going on and why. He was the man I had made friends with — the man with such kind, golden brown eyes that were now bruised and puffed and bleeding.

Then the understanding hit me, bits and pieces of conversation clicking into place in my mind. The strange warning his friend had given him that day

are you sure that’s a good idea?

made sense then, and I realized it was my fault that he was being punished in such a fashion. After all, I had asked him about his shoes and his gun, and he was nice enough to talk to me about it, and if I wouldn’t have talked to him at all, nor he to me, he would not be chained to the ceiling of the bathroom, tortured and battered.

Everything after that is a confusing jumble of noise, lights, and pain, and it doesn’t need to be recalled for the world to see, but at the end of my time there, someone was killed. I’m not sure if it was the little boy that I remember being there, too, or if it was my kind friend. Maybe both. I’m not sure.

And anyway, that’s as much detail as I’ll get into.

Lessons Learned

But the events of that day taught me, as as child, a few very important lessons, which was the entire point, of course.

First, I learned that in that environment, Dr. A had the final word, and everyone was expendable to him. I learned that we were at his mercy, and his mercy was capricious. You never knew what he might do. He might kill you simply to make a point to someone else, or he might let you live for his own entertainment. He had the final word.

Second, I learned about three laws in that military environment: the law of kindness, the law of perfection, and the law of obedience.

True kindness was something that was considered a weakness, and it would be punished. “Kind” was a mask worn when necessary and used as a tool to manipulate others in order to get a desired result; but “kind” was never meant to be a character trait. In fact, in that environment, true kindness was considered a character flaw. And as flaws were not acceptable (the law of perfection), it would be beaten out of a person.

Regarding obedience, it was related to the law of perfection: perfect obedience. I learned that you did what you were told to do, nothing more nothing less. You asked no questions that indicated you were thinking for yourself. You simply obeyed. If you thought for yourself, you kept your thoughts to yourself, and pretended that you weren’t thinking for yourself. I was already learning that at home, so the law of obedience was an easy concept for me to grasp that day.

Third, I learned that any deviance from those three things (the law of kindness, the law of perfection, and the law of obedience) was likely to get you killed, because those blindly (perfectly) obedient men who were abusing us that day had no kindness. In fact, it was very clear that they relished the evil and embraced the darkness.

Perhaps for some of them, early on in their career, it likely began as a survival mechanism, particularly in the type of military environment where one was used to dealing with demonic creatures and tortured children on a daily basis. But as time marched on, the evil they had to pretend to embrace in order to not be killed by that evil, had become them.

Regardless, as hateful as my mother was most of the time, and as full of rage and violence and anger as she was, at least there were moments in time that I could see the person inside that she could be if she let herself. Or, maybe I should say “if she allowed God to change her and heal her.” At least I was able to show kindness around her. She took advantage of my kindness, sure, but she didn’t try to kill me for it. She might try to kill me because of the anger inside of her (there were many times over the years I felt as if she were going to kill me because of her rage), but she wasn’t trying to kill me because of kindness inside of me.

But the men that day? They were trying to kill kindness. Eradicate it. Blot it out with the evil that was pent up inside them. The process of killing kindness operated like a release of toxic gas from a vent valve: they had to allow some of that evil inside them to seep out and kill kindness, otherwise, the pressure caused by the fermenting evil inside them would have exploded and killed them.

And at the end of that ordeal, as I was sitting on the cold, wet tile floor, peering down the center aisle, waiting to be released — waiting to be allowed back home to the normal sorts of abuses that I could at least understand — I made a decision. I would hide the kind when I had to. And since I was taught blind obedience at home and at church, I understood that concept very well, and I would be obedient when I was able. But I would not embrace the evil. Not even to survive. If they killed me, they killed me, but I would never embrace the evil.

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