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Chapter 15: Trial

Reverend Gormley, he calls himself a Bishop, showed up this morning. He said he was the “person in authority” with whom I had been demanding to speak.

I’m grateful to my two friendly guards, Tom and Dick, for getting the word through. Somebody seems to think that me and my little recording devices are going to help the Amarillo mob with whatever they are trying to do. Gormley said I could record the rest of the proceedings as long as I stayed neutral in it. I told him I had always been neutral about the project and would continue to be. He said the project is over, but that it suited him to let me record its aftereffects.

I think that what Gormley is trying to do is legitimize his mob. What I think he’s really concerned about is military intervention. We may not have a very strong revolutionary government and I doubt that there’s much of an army, but we do have one and I seriously doubt that they are going to let one of their projects be burned to the ground and their employees executed without doing something.

Now, since the staff seems to be on trial, and since I am staff, does that mean that I am on trial too? I guess I’ll have to wait and see on that. For the time being, anyway, I am allowed to record the goings-on.

They have a truck. I hadn’t ridden in an automobile since they were banned by the revolution. They used their truck to transport Tom, Dick, me and a minimum amount of equipment over to a big administrative building in Amarillo. At one time, it was probably air conditioned, but it’s really super hot now. It must have been 10-15 miles over to here, bouncing around in the back of an illegal truck.

What they are calling a trial doesn’t seem like the ones I’ve seen in movies. There doesn’t seem to be a jury. There are just a lot of people standing and sitting around while Commissioner Torres, Jane Early, Dr Johns, and the project staff sit in the front of the room and listen to charges from the mob.

I have all this recorded but it is repetitious and long and doesn’t help make sense of everything.

It is orderly and orchestrated in a way: people with complaints take turns making accusations and demanding explanations. They say that various addicts from our project have painted on their walls and public places. They have urinated in public. They have exposed themselves in public. They have used vile language in public. They insult the local women. They sleep where they aren’t supposed to. One of them died and nobody knew what to do with the body. That last one probably seems pretty incredible to the citizenry, but it happened all the time over in our project. We had a team that just disposed of them on the spot.

I have a feeling that this is all just a formality. They seem to be trying to hurry through it, but they want to say that there was some kind of fair and legal process before they do whatever it is that they set out to do in the first place. The hurry is probably because there’s army near, if there really is army near.

The staff doesn’t have anything to say. I guess Commissioner Torres doesn’t want them to speak. As to the long list of sins against Amarillo that the addicts perpetrated, he just admits them. I don’t know how much they would add up to if this were a civil suit and people were asking for damages. I doubt it would be very much. The addicts may have been antisocial critters, but they weren’t really capable of much beyond petty theft and minor vandalism. Nobody accused them of setting fires, even though they may have done so carelessly. I would think that the incendiary activities of the Amarillo mob might make them think twice before accusing anybody else of arson. They burned down our entire project!

When one of the complainants started getting personal with Commissioner Torres (she called him a river-rat) Jane Early spoke up. It’s the second time she’s surprised me. Here is what she said:

“You have no business impugning Commissioner Torres! He’s been nothing but civil to all of you and to everyone concerned. Whether you like or dislike his project, you can’t take it away from him that he worked hard on it. And he worked hard to be fair to everyone concerned, whether they were upstanding citizens, dope addicts, or his own staff. And whether you like or dislike the revolutionary government that sent him, you can’t blame Commissioner Torres. He is doing the best he can and you just don’t have a right!”

Torres sat quietly through all that, both sides of it.

Another little piece of “testimony” ought to make this record. Dr Anson Johns is sitting with the prisoners, but he disassociated himself with them pretty strongly. He said:

“I am Dr. Anson Jones. I am neither part of this project nor part of the government that caused it. I have argued since the beginning that revolutionary activities will never resolve the problems of mankind. Whatever altruism and social responsibility humanity may incline toward is largely driven out of us by the societies in which we live. Only by reaching backward into our most basic selves, free of the trauma of our environments, can we become the building blocks of a new society. I believe that Commissioner Torres and his handlers are sincere in their efforts, but their ambitions are doomed from the start. That is why I have endeavored to continue using the latest science to help people rebuild from the ground up. I was never a part of this drug rehabilitation project and I join you in condemning it as a failure. I only ask to be allowed to rebuild my own equipment and continue working in a direction that will finally redeem mankind from a hell of our making. Won’t you let me and my assistant continue this work?”

I doubt that very many people understood him, and I could tell for certain that they didn’t sympathize. I had a feeling that the Commissioner was just waiting for the next lull, then he was going to make some kind of a statement.


--July Eason, Project Archivist

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