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Chapter 7: Backgrounds

Commissioner Torres told me to develop background information on the leaders of this project, so I put it right back on him and said he had to be first. My ironclad logic overcame whatever objections he had, so I set up my equipment and took this interview:

July Eason: “Tell me who you are, what you are doing on this project, and what your qualifications are.”

Commissioner Leo Torres: “My name is Leo Torres and I’m assigned to head up the Amarillo Project. I don’t have any technical qualifications. I think I was chosen for the project because I have a background with the revolutionary leadership and they more or less trust me.

‘There is a certain staffing shortage in this revolution. The main thing they need is people that they trust, and there just aren’t that many. There are important assignments going on all over the world. Some of them require some technical experience, but I’d guess that most of them require ability in diplomacy. I don’t have either one, but here I am.”

July Eason: “What was your role in the revolution?”

Commissioner Leo Torres: “I guess you might say I was a “hanger on,” but I started earlier than a lot of people. I became active when most of today’s exalted revolutionary leaders were considered no more than street gangs. I had a lot of experience with streets and with gangs, and, apparently, I fell in with the right people. That’s it. That’s plenty about me, now you go and interview the Board members as I asked you.”

Background Charles Lohgren

July Eason: “Tell me who you are, what you are doing on this project, and what your qualifications are.”

Charles Lohgren: “Charles Lohgren. I am Vice President in charge of Logistics. If you have already interviewed all the others, then I can explain what I am charged with: it’s everything that somebody else isn’t already doing.

‘In other words, I run the place. Somebody does security and somebody does medical work – I do everything else. If the place catches on fire, that’s me. If somebody needs an outhouse built, that’s me. If a fence goes down, or a fence goes up, or if food and water are needed, or if people drop dead, that’s all me.

‘You asked about my qualifications. I have a BBA and an MBA from OU, Oklahoma University. I’ve never run anything like this project, but neither has anybody else. My experience was in business where there was a clear goal, making money. When I got this job, I hadn’t worked at all in over three years. I was qualified, there just weren’t any jobs.”
July Eason: “What was your role in the revolution?”

“Do you mean my role in making the revolution? I didn’t have one. I was just running around and trying to survive. I didn’t think there was a revolution underway. Everything I could see was just chaos and waste. Maybe if I had known something was up, I might have been able to make it more efficient, but I guess we’ll never know because I never even thought about it.

‘After we began to realize that different people were in charge, I guess I had my opinions. I thought most of what they did was pretty sloppy. Hell, I still think that. On the other hand, though, they were faced with tasks that no one has ever done before.

‘We weren’t just failing as an economy and as a society. We were dying from it, dying right and left, so today I’m willing to give the revolutionary leadership some kind of a passing grade because I no longer think we’re going to drown or suffocate from the soup we live in, and, economically, I no longer think we’ll all perish in the last battle over the last crust of bread.

‘Looking back, I wish I had been more help. I hope that’s all you need, and if it is I’ll end on a pleasant note: I want to do a good job on this present crazy project because it makes me feel something I’ve never felt, or never been allowed to feel, in my life before. I feel like I’m doing some little part of something worth doing.”

Background Dr Susan Willamette

July Eason: “Tell me who you are, what you are doing on this project, and what your qualifications are.”

Dr Susan Willamette: “Do you have authority to do this?”

July Eason: “Orders from Torres. I’m asking all of you the same questions.”

Dr Susan Willamette: “They already have all of my information. I had to tell them everything before I could get this job. I guess you didn’t know so I’ll tell you. I am Dr Susan Willamette and I have my medical degree from Baylor. I took the degree several years ago, but I never practiced until now.

‘I got the job because they needed someone with a medical degree. I think it might have been some kind of a “cover” for them, because it’s obvious that people are going to be dying out here, and maybe they just needed somebody to blame. Whether they know it or not, I could keep everybody alive, given the materials we need and assuming that these dopeheads actually want to stay alive. I’m actually quite qualified. Is that enough?”

July Eason: “What was your role in the revolution?”

Dr Susan Willamette: “I told you, they already know all about me. I wasn’t in the revolution at all, in fact its more accurate to say that I was in the counter-revolution, or in the part of the population that didn’t want anything to do with a revolution. Just like everybody else, I was living in total crap with crappy prospects, but I figured my degree would, sooner or later, put me in a position to live a lot better than most people, so I wasn’t looking for any major changes.

‘To the extent that I did anything political at all, I was a member of TAMA, the Texas version of the American Medical Society. We were a split off group that more or less openly opposed the revolution. Most of our activity wasn’t really activity, it consisted of holding secret meetings where we said we were planning political activities and “sharpening our ideology,” but they were actually just discussion groups. In fact, they weren’t even discussion groups; “gripe sessions” would be a better way to explain it.

‘I don’t think any of us were actually practicing medicine. Some doctors, I’m told, were out working for free because there was so much misery all around. But TAMA wasn’t. Looking back, I can’t think of a single thing we did, either pro- or anti- the revolution. We were just waiting it out.

‘When we heard announcements that new people were in charge, we opposed them, or at least we talked about opposing them. But when jobs started opening up, the organization fell apart and all of us ran to get in line to try to get work. I got this job just out of plain luck, and I’m living better than I’ve lived since I graduated, but I’m not living nearly as well as I had counted on living. If something better came along, kid, I’d leave here in a heartbeat. The problem with that is that things don’t seem to work that way anymore, so I’m stuck with this insane project. I tell myself every day that I’m glad to have it.”

Background Anthony B McKay

July Eason: “Tell me who you are, what you are doing on this project, and what your qualifications are.”

Anthony B McKay: “I was wondering if you would ever get around to me. Should have started with me. I’m probably the only one around here that has an idea what’s going on. You could say that’s because I’m older than any of the others, but that’s not why. It’s because I’ve been a revolutionary pretty much all my life. I’m pushing eighty. I could have asked for something easier, something a little closer to the city, maybe.

‘My name is Anthony B. McKay. I’m Director of Security for the Amarillo Project. It’s the weirdest job that anybody ever had. I’ve done lots of security jobs. I helped protect demonstrators from cops and demonstrators from other demonstrators. You know why I got picked for those security jobs? It wasn’t because I was bigger or tougher than the other candidates. They picked me because I was older than most of the revolutionaries. They told me, flat out, that an older guy would be more likely to avoid any kind of trouble. They could have picked guys that would win fights, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted somebody who would AVOID fights, and that was me!

‘I never had a gun. Didn’t want one. Never had a club or a pipe either. I had a camera. If I had a chance to head up a security operation and pick a team, I picked mostly women. Our revolution was, is, successful not so much because we beat back the enemy. We won, are winning, because we won the people over. The roughnecks that attacked us were hurt far more by my camera than they ever would have been by a weapon! But back to what you asked me.

‘Usually, security means protecting somebody from some kind of outside threats. But if there are any threats here at all, they come from the people we’re trying to protect!

‘We are assembling what you might call the worst criminals in contemporary society. We’re supposed to get them from jails and from the judiciary system, but so far they’ve just been barging in here on their own. We’re holding out the bait, free dope, and they’re flocking in!

‘Now you might ask what that has to do with what you asked me, about my credentials. What kind of credentials could anybody expect? Warden in a penitentiary? This isn’t a penitentiary. We’re not keeping anybody here against their will. Some kind of military expert? If that’s it, who’s the enemy? Some kind of social worker? That would imply that we’re primarily trying to help somebody, but who around here are we trying to help?

‘The only purpose for this place is to keep these anti-social nutcases from being somewhere else. If they’re here, then they’re not upsetting applecarts somewhere else.  If they all died, no one would miss them. If they all miraculously got rehabilitated and wanted to live as productive members of the new society, I guess we’d be glad, but they wouldn’t be doing anything that the rest of the population isn’t already expected to do, so it wouldn’t be much of a gain.

‘You want my credentials. I’m not trying to get around the question. I’m telling you straight. My credentials are that I agreed to do this job.

‘It’s sure as hell not what I wanted. Did you know I used to be a schoolteacher? I loved it with all my heart. Even after all the schools fell apart, I tried to keep some youngsters together and tried to teach them something they could use. When even that became impossible, I still daydreamed about it. I daydream about it now. You know all that wire they’re bringing in here for fencing? The first thing I thought of was that I could use that wire in a children’s art class. You know, wire sculptures? Kids can learn a lot from bending wires around. Three dimensional art.

‘But that’s not what you asked me about. I didn’t want this job. I wanted to go back to classroom teaching. I still hope someday that this turmoil will end and I can go back to the kids. I still dream about it. I could have had other jobs because I’ve been with this revolution for over fifty years. But, a long time ago, I realized that this revolution was necessary. I realized that if the kids I cared about were going to have any kind of a life, the system we were living under had to be overcome. That’s why I became a revolutionary early on.

‘I quit asking “What do I want to do,” or even “What can I do.” I started asking, “What needs to be done?” I tried to answer that question honestly for all these years.

‘I took this job because nobody else could or would do it. That’s my qualifications.”

July Eason: “What was your role in the revolution?”

“I did whatever needed doing. I did everything. The highest I ever got was temporary leader of a student group in Denton, Texas. I got replaced because I wasn’t a student, but they kept me around as some kind of information source. I did whatever was necessary. If the floors were dirty, I swept them. If the copier needed toner, I stole some. I handed out papers. I sat in. I sat down. I stood up. Whatever was needed, I did it and I’m still doing it now.

‘Kiddo, I want to say this just for your benefit because I know you, as a kid, must be just finding your way: This is the best job I ever had. All of them were. Everything I did to make this revolution succeed was the best job I ever had.”


--July Eason, Project Archivist


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