"THE REVERENTIAL SCAM":
THE HELPING HANDS - HOLIDAY BASKET FUND -
“For hands that help themselves and basket cases that like to give!”
At some point the Bog Beast had mentioned a Reverend who was doing a holiday food fund drive, Helping Hands allegedly legit; and just as my disgust with the Vet's deal was reaching a pitch and I was thinking of contacting this very Reverend if Paul the Transylvanian Succubus didn't stop his whizzy red "Picker's" Nissan by Grateful Bread Coffee Shop's sidewalk where I was having my coffee & NY Times. Leaning into the passenger side window and addressing his bulky head: "Who you picking for these days?" "Washington State Correctional Officers Association" [Intelligent Marketing Solutions, Bob Davis' Old Outfit handled the half of the K.C.P.U. that had split-off into its own union of jail wardens so they could do deals on their own.] and Reverend John's Helping Hands, he's just starting up." Paul showed me their invoices: $ 35.00 & 60.00 & 120.00s. It looked good enough to give the Reverend a call and I told Paul to tell the Reverend that I would do so. Paul was on his way back from a "pick," picking up telemarketers as he went on his merry five per cent of 65 picks a day to support a Romanian orphanage. After checking in once more with the Bog Beast, who gave him far too clean bill of health as he would later admit, I called The Reverend John McNee. "The Bogbeast has nothing but good things to say about you." Well, not quite, but what a quite it turned out to be. The Reverend, instantly advertising his operation, said that "Robin" was on his way to join him - I vaguely remembered a "Robin" from Hector's, a nice gentle fellow it seemed. "Dave" too was going to stop by. The Rev made it sound like a veritable homecoming week of the City of Troy in the offing. And would it ever be! Happy go lucky or unlucky as I also continue to be, that prospect did not unduly faze me, at least as long as homecoming would be devoid of “Rocky” or Wes and a few other folk... I might even start missing “Rocky” if only for comic relief, or his mean intelligence if not his obnoxiousness. “Rocky” kept you on your toes, I was hideously fond of the monster, the monster who always pretended to be friends right after having been monstrous... predictable as only a wound-up dwarf can be, predictable as we all are in our over-determined ways. I, of course, had certain imaginings, fantasies of what this Reverend  might look like, wishful fantasies not unalloyed by real experiences. These fantasies then mingled with recollections of someone likely to be a Reverend who had perhaps shown up once or twice at Hector's where he was reputed to have "sold" some Indian casino the back cover for $ 4 K - and I well knew that fantasies invariably tell you as much about the bogs of your own being than the bog outside it than to lend non-refundable and possibly dangerous credence to them. But there it is: once inside your heart and guts these fantasies exert their gravitational, otolythic pull, things grow around them, and it isn't necessarily a pearl. - My first association was with the idea of a Reverend whom I might have glimpsed at Hector's was The Ghoul, that withered, overly tall, wrinkled-papyrus-paper-thin willow of a Boris Karloff figure who had blown into the office once or twice, and such a, therefore, noticeably fleshy wife, and a son whom he was apprenticing to the trade, The Ghoul whom I had found so frighteningly gentle, a kind of counter reverend for Transylvanian monsters as it were, his mask would have served well for Halloween, he had something to do with the Shriners, where he had met Hector, and worked some deal out of Port Angeles - whence didn't these folks do deals?! Better than being a purse-snatcher anyhow? You wouldn't think so if you knew the story of how Ely the Scam managed to hit an old lady for $ 4,000 in the period of one week in denominations of $ 100 to 500 each, and then turned the 14 taps over to the Bogbeast to hit her once again - at which the Bogbeast, an ex-seminary student with still a bit of heart, found the line inside himself where he said no. Yet the fellow whom I then beheld on first meeting was a shortish, early fortyish yet younger-looking, rotunding, sandy-haired intelligent-faced, twinkle-eyed sharpie, a tonsure would have done nicely, somewhere he fit into some Order in these newest middle ages. I was trying to place him in the Canterbury Tales. Friar who? He was a Governor Wilson type, that kind of innocuousness, his car some cream-colored little Nissan or Toyota was innocuous too, as innocuous on the surface as young police recruits, the German Border Patrol was far more apple-cheeked, or as the naked mole rats who populated Seattle Center during the 4th of July weekend. Baby faces aging into what? Handke thought of them as the truly deracinated. I thought of them as what you got if you fed folks Wonder Bread. You couldn't tell what wondrous results it might have. The Reverend had taken a five year lease, so he said, on his base of operations, a former dentists' set of suites in an unattached ground floor building proximate the corner of 125th Avenue North East and Lake City Way in North Seattle, a one story suite that was set back from the sidewalk by a 10 by 6 foot swatch of lawn. Generally speaking, this was a somewhat strippish area, lots of car dealerships down Lake City Way south of 125th, a Dick's hamburger drive-in, motley shops but then some not that motley of all kinds, but it had been a pleasant enough walk and bus ride up NE 35th Avenue. If I wanted to I could also commute up or down by way of Sandpoint Way and gaze across Lake Washington towards Bellevue and Kirkland. The suite had its shingle missing from the gallows by the sidewalk. Instead, on the inside ledge of the large glass display window facing 125th was a put-up, sun-warped cardboard sign: black on a white background within a 3 by 2 feet day-glow green sheet it said "Help Wanted." - It was a walk-in job, as long as you aren't grossly underage or have too severe a speech impediment you can walk into just about any tele-marketing operation of this badge or scam charitable kind and get a job, that was the weak spot of these operations. After all, it's strictly commission. Except for the occasional hay-hey-numb's day as with the City of Troy's circus deal there are invariably more telephones than mouths to work them. Any voice on a telephone is better than none; any sale makes 75 per cent for the promoter. There is something very democratic there about becoming a fellow thief in that line of work! They didn't care what's my name?, or what's your social security number, you could make all that up out of thin air as you breathed foully along... - Writing about it now, about six months after starting to sort out the experience, I realize how seasoned I myself had become. The front room that went with that window remained unoccupied during my one month stay with Helping Hands/ Holiday Food Baskets, a couple of cartons with those hideous undersea or underground, ground-up, shrill beetle-color imported high-profit margin Toys R Us freebies that Valery, the Reverend's older wife, kept getting for free and meant to stuff into the Holiday baskets on a long caterers table was all that would ever occupy that suspiciously vacant space. On entering a foyer you came to the front desk with the receptionist interceptionist, the Reverend or his wife Valery; that is where the "picks" lay for Paul, and the mail pieces; once you curved your way left past the receptionist's space a corridor led to the rear. However, making a sharp left turn at the side entrance to the front desk led you past the back of the interceptionist to the small office that held the heart of the operation, the computer which held various chiming, gonging and ringing computer games, it was an office protected by a sensor alarm. Both The Reverend and Valery, his second wife - his first he said exotic-gongingly had been a Filipino - spent hours upon hours playing computer games: the drive was just starting off, yet such a grandiose waste of time indicated the stratosphere he wanted to reach. "We don't want to get rich, we just want to make a little money for ourselves," was their line, moderately as compared to admitted whole hog scammers like Hector. Later the Bogbeast would tell me that the Reverend was known to hate to work. Our observations checked out. Like Hector, the Reverend thought he had it figured out how to live off other folks' work, unlike Hector he was both too impotent and lazy to provide them with the wherewithal. Two rooms off to the left of the gangway housed the bathroom and kitchen, the back contained three windowless rooms, ten telephone lines all told. So this was the Vatican. It felt very dead. There were two windowed rooms to the right with three desks each, we interviewed each other in one of the windowed rooms and first talked about “Rocky”. Many times the Rev said he, too, had felt like strangling “Rocky” when they worked together at Bob Davis', as a matter of fact “Rocky” had stopped by already and asked to be allowed to bring his dogs, and for a 35 point cut of the proceeds! The figures weren't' there for “Rocky” to get 35 per cent or Valery, the Reverend's wife, no doubt would have had to put up with “Rocky’s” smell, her chief objection to “Rocky.” If that was all that bothered her she could obviously put up with The Reverend who made a well-washed and deodorized impression. Halitosis - what is the olfactory equivalent of obviously? - wasn't his problem... We chatted about the fabled and revered Bob Davis. The Reverend said he had been his right and left hand man, had learned the trade from him, that he himself had started off as a picker, so he knew how to drive, and then it turned out he knew how to give good phone. The Reverend, it sounded, had a lot of experience in this line of work. Had even driven Bob Davis and his furniture van $ 500,000 worth full of stuff down to California... Later, too late, the Bogbeast, when we compared notes, would tell me that Bob Davis had never trusted the Reverend, and that no one at I.M.S. could stand him, for reasons that will become quickly evident, his only friend was the tolerant Bogbeast who couldn’t dislike a piece of scum if he wanted. Among several other matters that the Bog Beast, however, had not failed to mention was that the fabled Bob Davis, an ex-football player who had struck it rich in this line of work already in Canada, had had to "leave the State." That's what the Reverend wanted to be like, treat his solicitors fairly, it all sounded sensible enough, he didn't want to be a dick like Hector Emerson, getting your sales checked off against a computer readout was allegedly more fool proof than Hector's or other folks ways of accounting to and screwing them! - There were a lot of "pros" who were resigned to this way of being in this business, like hookers who have to pay to work at "Sugars." It comes with the turf. The turf of American survivalitis, any old survivalitis for that matter... The Reverend's shop was meant to be “son of Bob Davis,” he and Valery were even going to visit Bob Davis down in Concord, California, over x-mas, where he was pitching cops. "We don't want to get rich, we just want to make a little money for ourselves," was their line, moderately as compared to whole hog scammers like Hector. "And I will see you then on Monday?" His timing was too perfect, I had wanted to think about it during a walk back home, he put-took my words in/out of my mouth just a little too eagerly. He needed bodies to go with his telephones. "Yes, sure." - When trying to recruit the Bogbeast he had been that second too fast, too. Bogbeast and I would make good private investigators. I did not like the windowless back rooms, my bat's ears picked one with my back to the reception desk-office, I would be subjected to a lot of computerized Vegas jingles, the "Reverend" could hear me, but I could also hear him; and I kept the window a crack open. "Smoking office" had been the ad I had seen some weeks ago which referred not only to the fact that you might write "smoking" hot numb's and but also that you could smoke inside the office. This was the office it turned out that went with that ad. The Reverend and Valery both smoked, as did most of these sales folks, but smoking inside the office also keeps the solicitors on the phone ["Get on the phone, make some calls."] and away from congregating and exchanging stories and info in the great outdoors. Two birds with one stone Reverend. A control freak, an operator, sort of cool. - I hated the idea of smoking inside, hadn't done it for years, and kept my consumption, my now fairly mild nicotine habit down to an easily controllable minimum. At the Reverend's it would flourish. Nonetheless, I still took my hourly break outside, to walk off the stupidity of it, to catch a breath and sight of fresh air, the autumn foliage that started to blow about 125th street. Except that The Reverend's name was John, John McNee, where was the Tony as in "Smoking Office" 501 [c] 3 deal. Call Tony." Was there a "Tony" at the Aurora address, or was "Tony" a fiction, or was he perhaps Frankie Bonellie? or his brother? At any event: I realized that I missed part of the background. The first evening was a Sunday evening and I was not overly impressed by the Reverend's own taps, at least not by those sheets he gave me to work [They derived, it turned out, from a closed-down operation run by another scammer, Bob Jensen, and listed no end of other mysteriously acronymed deals: OCC, PCH and not just a variety of HHs for Helping Hands dating back to the early 90s.] I then tried some Cain+Able taps that I had been calling from home once the weekend work at Able Support Services had ceased. That was encouraging, especially the following Monday, evening when I wrote $ 500 chiefly in the denomination of $ 35.00 half basket sales in three hours. A whole basket went for $60.00, but the Rev had also devised medium sized baskets for $ 70.00 and "big" baskets for $ 80.00. "Can we put you down for that?" "How many baskets would you like today, one two three four ten, twenty, one hundred?" Put me down for a hundred hee-haws any day. That Sunday evening the Reverend sat down on the desk next to me and pitched his dynamite pitch. I had to admire how good he was, scarcely anyone turned him down calling last year's Helping Hands red on yellow invoices, he was pretty silky all right. He could have succeeded at something legitimate like Hoovers. Steak knives. You name it. "This is Reverend John calling," very calm, clean, nothing unctuous except perhaps that willingness, by providing the various telephone codes, to help keep other telemarketers from bothering someone who had mentioned being overly bothered by them. Why were there so few of last year's Helping Hands invoices? Somehow Hector had ended up with them, not that I had ever seen them there amongst his humungous collection of boxes upon boxes of taps; supposedly they had ended up there after my time. They had once been at Bob Davis' office and when Hector, with Sergeant Crowder of the Snohomish Deputy sheriff leading the posse in hot pursuit of Frankie Bonellie, had heisted the Helping Hands taps that originally derived from this fellow Jensen whom the A.G. had told to cease and desist - it was too much: follow the money, follow the “tap”! - Lucky Hector! Having had $ 2,000 stolen by Frankie Bonellie, he ended up, at the end of a one-night chase, with probably a hundred thousand dollars worth of “taps” from two dying operations. Hector had used those taps to sell the end of the Police Circus deal and his subsequent Auburn Lions Club deal, gold taps for sure. It appeared that neither "Tony," the sponsor, nor the Reverend, nor the folks who now ran I.M.S. had it in them to get these taps back from Hector.
That first Sunday evening the Reverend drove me within a mile of home, which is as close as I who like to walk would let him. I asked him about his ordination, he insinuated that he could get me ordained too, if I preferred the moniker Brother Olaf. I see, I thought to myself, I see you growing a tonsure, Reverend John McNee. I mentioned that except for the work involved in being certified by the State of Washington I was a fully trained analyst. There was no reaction, but he couldn't say that he hadn't been warned that the radar ears had been turned on to constant hovering attention. Two hugely overweight "sisters," Sisters Owen and Beck, worked out of the room next to mine. One of them had worked for Ely the Scam and still believed that some of Ely's deals were authentic! Occasionally, for special occasions, Reverend John said he would don a collar. Ordained by mail from California. I got into the spirit of the thing and became Brother Olaf! Oh what fun! No one questioned it. One day you should start making calls calling yourself Beelzebub! Within a week of no Robin ["Oh, he's probably drinking somewhere."] and no Dave ["No idea what's keeping him."] suddenly one afternoon it was home-coming week for telemarketers at the so dead-tooth-dead Helping Hands/ Holiday Basket fund for holiday basket cases... First Ray showed up, "Oh right, yes I met you, the last day I went to see Hector to get paid... Just that one time." Ray had actually lived with Hector. I had caught just a glimpse of him as Hector dragged him in, claiming to have liberated him from somewhere - from selling circus toys it turned out. And if Ray didn't have horror stories to tell about what it was like to live at the City of Troy... domestic violence, the kids already inured to bloody fights 'tween funky Maria and Hector... I called Hector: "He lived with me for free," etc. and the usual profanity. Ray: "I told Hector to his face what I thought of him. And he hated every moment of it." I had enjoyed peppering Hector with the Truth about him, it was the quid pro quo to his dabbling with me as a punching bag. Ray, strong and tall and pockmarked and youngish, claimed not to feel that great about some of the things he'd done, but as compared to Hector... sounded as though he were a self-reforming criminal of some kind. I should mention here, that there was exceedingly bad blood between The Reverend and Hector Emerson. Among the matters that the Bogbeast had told me about the Rev was that the Reverend had worked briefly for Hector, but from home, and that he had made a fabled $ 4,000 sale of some Indian Tribe's casino for a/the back cover - Hector sold the back cover as many times as he could. Bill Able would too, as a matter of fact. "Why publish the frigging badge book! What a waste of money." I had heard about that back cover sale. But when the Reverend had set out on a deal of his own, for – 0f all the people in the world! – for the "crime stoppers," Hector had kept him from getting the deal. I won't say how or why, not quite yet. I'm being usefully coy; otherwise, as you may see, you might not have read on at all. As a matter of fact, it was Hector thinking that the Bogbeast might go work for the Reverend at this "deal" that had made Hector, the slave-owner, attack the Bogbeast, the very Bogbeast who had been his Indian scout during the Frankie Bonellie chase. Hector's archaic ways, fun in some way, ultimately would do him in. But the intricacy of those involvements in that world, it was just one step up from the drug trade I concluded somewhere along the way. Richard the scrawny Trader showed up the same afternoon as Ray did, Hector allegedly hadn't paid him on close to 10,000 dollars worth of sales, still he would go back to work for him, made no bones about it, yes, Hector knew where he had gone to work, the fact that he, Richard, had seen the "help wanted" sign as he was driving by was just a joke. No he didn't enter every store that posted a help wanted sign. Richard went off to one of the back rooms. - Bogbeast later told me that Richard sold drugs to kids, that he did what is called "the credit card shuffle," and engaged in the sale of stolen goods with Hector. Since Ray, independently of Richard, said pretty much of the same thing, about Richard and Hector, there was a considerable likelihood of all this being stupidly true. It certainly was old homecoming week, but at least I had a room to myself. Credit card scams, the credit card shuffle, stolen cards for $ 50.00, use them for a week then toss them is how the Bogbeast explained Richard’s modus to me, tires traded right under the nose of K-9 Beethoven, gun sales... but nothing as good as getting a Lusty Lady from Lusty Ladies for a trade-in as Bob Davis had on his 65th birthday! Those were the days of yesteryear, as the LL, dressed in a police uniform, had popped out of the cake one of her tits had allegedly popped out of the uniform. It was life on a village level, simple and crude. Dave... same straightforward professional Dave who had to support a wife and kids... Hector owed him a few bills too. Also Mike Shay, another victim. Later on I heard why Bruce wouldn't work for the reverend. For the time being it was homecoming week alright... with a few new faces thrown in, but basically the same crowd except for a kid named Chris who worked the night room for a couple of weeks, a total coxie - a word I learned from the Reverend... The sisters, too, were "old hands" at Helping Hands type deals, single working mothers. The very blonde ponytail of a cherub struck me as familiar as he took a desk in the room next to mine. Jamie: the once sight of whose cherubic being had imprinted itself on me when he had shown up at Able Support Services I was positive I had seen him before when he showed up at the Reverend's. Jamie had certainly come to work for the right man! - Let me explain: Bogbeast had told me a few things about the Reverend, but as it turned out far too few at the time. Regarding the connection with Jamie, on initially meeting the Reverend I [of course?] did not mention that the Bog Beast had mentioned - here it comes - that everyone knew that "the Reverend" was a convicted child molester. This bit of news had certainly put me on the initial alert but it didn't necessarily make me convict him at once a second time on my own. Who knows what had happened, what had transpired in this country of the permanent sexual witch hunt, if it was the case, if the Reverend had that "in him" [however it had gotten there], if there was anything to the tale, if it wasn't scuttlebutt, the Reverend's character would tell in some fashion, it would drool out of him, slip out, manifest itself in any number of other ways. Whatever it was in the Reverend, if there was anything in him to seduce seductive children, it would manifest itself in his character somewhere down the line. But since I was neither a 12 year old boy or girl, I wasn't too worried about protecting this or that orifice or appendage, I wasn't terribly worried about my own ass, but - as I said - my radar, for once, had been put on "alert" from the get-go, the early warning system was hoveringly attentively awake. And it had detected the first indication of the tempter-seducer-candy-man during our one and only car ride. "I can get you ordained?" Bet you can, Rev. And I can send you to Sing-Sing. - Later the Bogbeast told me that the Reverend had molested his own children! Just as he stole from his own sales people. We are family! The reverend asked for other folks whom I knew who might work for him, Key Kelly... “Rocky”... Bogbeast... Key Kelley, whom they were cursing at Able Support Services pleaded loyalty to the folks who were cursing him for being a drunk and ill. One afternoon the Rev was interviewing someone in back of me, oh so you're a pro I heard him say and then a certain Gary Faye was placed on the desk to my right. It was another case of completely shot teeth. Faye derived from Bob Able's South County Office, Faye was an old hand at this work, we agreed on Bob and Bill Able, he said Bill had made his life impossible, oh so South King County was shut down [I had done a little calling from some insulting taps for Auburn Police Officer's Association], South King County is burnt to a cinder, guess who burnt it down... In no time Faye was calling a lot of women, begging them for money and cursing them violently when they turned him down, I realized at once that I wasn't sitting next to some ordinary American male for whom every woman was a bitch or cunt when women were discussed in male company, but that I was adjacent to a psychotic. Gary Faye complained of headaches, I fed him Iboprufin, he went for walks to walk off his anger, he was on anger-management, he had a wife and five kids whom he couldn't see because of a domestic violence charge. I mentioned all this to the Rev, who pooh-poohed my concern, who knows who hit whom first, they always charge the man. Gary Faye was, as they say, "a pro", he rattled off his pitch in the most guttural lingo, he whimpered a bit like “Rocky” when those whom he was calling were starting to turn him down [and if he hadn't been with “Rocky” at Bob Davis' office!], but, like any real pro in this line of work [that was the secret], he didn't allow the sucker's voice an edge into his spiel, yet he was the crudest "pro" I had encountered, no finesse whatsoever, yet he was selling. Selling was all that counted for the Rev who wouldn't let me move into the front room with the display window that looked out onto 125th Street to alleviate my discomfort. Calling the Bogbeast I inquired whether an experienced hand such as his had ever met Gary Faye." Gary Faye! He's the worst. He's a convicted murderer, Walla Walla. Told me so himself. "At least Gary Faye was trying to manage his anger. I fed him aspirins, whatever painkillers, Advil, that Doctor Wolf carries with him. After every hour of calling, Gary Faye went for a two hour walk to walk off his anger." Gary Faye's pulled some of the wildest stunts," BB continued. "One Thanksgiving, I was calling with him in the South County, he stole all the turkeys and sold them for $ 5 each." - Just what was needed at the Holiday Basket fund and its one ham or turkey each in each basket is what you say on the phone to raise the money for them. "He's taken trade-ins of motel rooms and shacked up with girlfriends for weeks at a time in them until they kicked him out." I suggested to Bogbeast that he call the Reverend to alert him to whom we had amongst us. Didn't bother the Reverend one bit, so he had a confessed murderer with anger management & headaches, was violent to women and, troubled man that he was, tried walking his anger off every hour or so, and might steal the turkeys if they ever materialized. Didn't bother the Reverend one bit, keep a pro on the phone as long as you can, anything for those 75 per cent or more Reverend. I was getting the drift on the Reverend all right, and the drift had a sulphuric smell. Helping Hands turned out to be an on again off again deal. There was a lot of competition from other scammers along the same line of work. There were the Seafare Pirates' telemarketers using the good name of that affiliation, up at Northgate, "call Gary, holiday basket food drive." So D.C. Marketing was doing the Seafare Pirates Holiday Basket drive, and if it didn't happen to be headed by the same Bill Able, of my portrait, whose hoard of taps Don Cain had tossed a little less than a year ago but who was the same Bill Able who had run the Seafare Pirate Deal for Cain+Able some years back - the Seafare Pirates, hadn't I seen the clowns parade down The Ave this past summer during the Vets deal? The incestuous nature of these fundraisers, it knew no end. No daisy chain had ever been like this. How much would these Pirates, if there was anything left over from D.C. Marketing, spend on turkeys? Then there were the King County Correctional Officers' telemarketers, old Intelligent Marketing Solutions. but now called Solutions Plus! [indeed, and so much at mind's tether], there was Diamond Visions [!] and its Northwest Mounties or whatever, but especially there was the Sunshine Foundation's crippled children basket drive, not just baskets but for cripples! it was the old one two, an excellent proposition for Georgette to whimper for. - It was Christmas time and the turkeys in the scam business were doing their kind of jingle bells. The Reverend of too few leads and taps got some taps from the Bogbeast, but, it turned out, didn't pay him for them, pleading poverty... tiding him over with a mere $ 70.00 bucks... while we did handsomely with them, and the Reverend, who had first dibs, no doubt did splendidly. Within one day of working at Helping Hands, if Bob Able & Tom Stumpteeth, didn't show up to pick up the taps of theirs that I had called from home on weekends and one night at the Reverends, and did so as soon as I had called Rich to tell him that I would bring the taps back to him. That put a crimp into the Rev's and my relationship if only because he had lied to them about the other Cain+Able taps, Xeroxes of invoices he had sitting on a desk in a room one over from mine, whence were they? He wouldn't tell me. Someone who had, judging by the dates, been at Cain+Able in fall, 1996. Dan the Hotshot from Hawaii was my guess, perhaps he took them out of the supply room, his desk had been next to its entrance. I had seen them also at Hector's for whom Dan worked. It would have been as good a time to walk as any: the Reverend blamed others for his own thefts, or possession of stolen goods, though what was fair in the night of all those dark cats was difficult to ascertain. It came down to the pure power of the claw, Hector had realized that, but, as compared to the boxer, the Rev let people walk into his office and liberate taps from him. Hector Emerson this was not, the thief maybe, certainly not the one whose every stolen tap was his! Hector wouldn't let go of a tap that he'd stolen, not over his dead body!: "I'm a winner." Sitting where I was I was easily alerted to the manner in which the reverend dealt out taps. First he worked them himself, what was left over is what the sales folk got. As he said, he only made money if he made calls on his own, he only took in 55 per cent on the dollar, which left the $ 60.00 baskets to be paid for from the 45 percent that went to "the sponsor" - whoever that might be; no wonder the Reverend was so eager for you to get "donations" in kind, which would either be assessed at retail value to inflate the figures for what had to be one of the most eminently foolable outfits in the land of the dolts, the Secretary of State, or raffled off to raise funds... to pay for the baskets? Helping Hands certainly had some nice thank you letters from various organizations, Seattle Emergency Housing, The Tullalip Indian Tribe, all sorts of folk who should not have been dependent on such charity in the first place, and not even in a half-way better world than Seattle. These letters made effective sales tools to the only half-benighted when sent by fax. It looked like a lot of legitimacy, these letters were by no means as pathetic as what the American Veteran's Relief fund had to show with its one food basket. But the letters didn't indicate how many baskets, say Emergency Housing had received, they too send a letter, even if they had received just a single one. - Each moment was discrete from the other. The scam, like a chameleon, changed colors each step of the way. Yes, I, too, will help you to get ordained. I began to notice that someone was calling the people I had faxed. It was going to be Wes all over. Later Bogbeast would tell me that already at Bob Davis' the Reverend was known for stealing deals, that no one had liked him there. He loved those 55 per cent all right. Why didn't you tell me? I asked the Bogbeast. “Well, I thought I was his friend.” The Bogbeast, I would take his recommendations cum several granum sale from now on. The Reverend was playing his computer chimes... Still incensed at Hector and hearing that he had cost the Rev of all possible deals his "Crime Stoppers" [!] deal, I had given the Rev my piece on that man's City of Troy; it was always interesting to see how folks reacted. Bill Able seemed to have been exclusively interested in being compared to a handsome ferret and having the kinds of clothes he and his brother wore described as suave - the delineation of implicitly gross, cynical, heinous moral behavior had completely passed the Able rats by. But the what I thought "devastating" description of Hector had registered in some fashion. "It doesn't bother you, Hector?" "I can take it. I'm a man," gutturalled at you on the phone. - Like Maria, whom it bothered that Hector could be so stupidly brutal to "his" men, you couldn't help loving Hector a bit all over again! The warning implicit in the description of Hector did not seem to register on the Rev, or he kept his reverential cool, I'd already heard that he'd sent an anonymous report about Hector to the A.G., but my piece had given him "an idea" - and a Reverend like that with an idea... One day the Bogbeast was coming by, we were going to go to his put-over court hearing for his permanent restraining order against Hector, the one arising from the event where Hector's fury at the possibility of the Bogbeast's going to work for the Reverend's deal had let Hector lose his cool to the extent that the Bogbeast had just cause to call 911, and after first telling Hector to let up, Sergeant Ed Casey and Beethoven had "taken a powder." - That was also the same event that had made our anxious boxer ask me not to testify in the Bogbeast's favor - something I could scarcely do since I had not been a witness to an event which, however, subsequently, interested me to such sufficient extent that I could reconstruct it to myself from how most of its witnesses had described, at least to the satisfaction of my own conclusion that it was the kind of chaotic occurrence that involved so many points of subjective view that the only blame to be attached to the chaos was to Hector Emerson's archaic nature which believed that his salesmen were his very own physical property. - Whew! - The involutions of the soap opera of the lives of the scam promoters and salesmen of scams was beginning to fit the complicated possibilities of my syntax. Bogbeast, sufficiently courageous to put a restraining order on Hector and to go see the A.G. and check with internal affairs about the powdery Ed Casey and his blue-nosed Beethoven, however had become fearful as soon as Richard-the-Trader had communicated a threat of Hector's to him; also Hector's lawyer was threatening the Bogbeast, a very stupid lawyer who, stupidly, put Bogbeast into an excellent legal position. I tried desperately to pump some courage into the Bogbeast, if the Reverend didn't slyly suggest that he could give me the name and number at the A.G.'s office of the person who was investigating Hector Emerson. I called at once and explained what I was about, she said “and where are you now?” "Helping Hands", and we made a date. The Rev, who had listened in on the conversation, like Hector he was an eavesdropper on his sales folks' telephone lines, was incensed. "Why did you say Helping Hands? "What's wrong with H.H.?" "It's a scam." "Now you tell me!" "Here, take the Holiday Basket pitch..." - He had just had printed it out - "and slip it to them if they ask about Helping Hands." The Bogbeast's car developed difficulties on the way to the King County courthouse at the same rate that his courage waned. Putting the case over for another date and thinking it through more clearly would do no harm. The next morning I was at the A.G.'s office! And what a mutually interesting morning it turned out to be. I gave them the Holiday Basket pitch – but they already knew all about Brother Olaf, Father John and Sisters Beck and Owen and I don't think appreciated the fun of it, or understood that when you were in Rome you had to do as the Romans. They were not particularly interested in Hector or The City of Troy, their main objective seemed to be to focus on these impersonations, to nip at those weak but funny telemarketer heels, for want of a tougher approach; the A.G. did not want John Q. Public to be deceived about who the telemarketer-promoter for the corrupt deal-maker was. Perhaps John Q. Public's deeper fears that, in “Rocky” Screw's words, "life was a scam," could thus be allayed a little longer. That was not much of a weapon, Able Company Support Services, in cahoots with the deal owner, had just perfected the way of beating the A.G. at their own game. The Reverend was shut down within another three weeks, and he blamed me for it and invented the lie that the A.G. had threatened me into supplying them with information and that I'd gone back to them the following week; actually, it turned out, he was running a deal that had been shut down already the year before, “Tony” had been shut down, The Reverend was doing Tony’s shut down deal. He had only himself to blame. The clever, sharp, sometimes funny, thieving, good-talking Reverend's own slyness and vengefulness had fashioned the silken noose by which he had hung himself over and over throughout his entire life. It was during that last week and a half that Gary Faye appeared for a few days and the Reverend wouldn't let me move from my spot. Occasionally City of Troy noises emanated from the back rooms which housed Ray and Richard and Mike Shay and Dave, graduates of that particular finishing school, farting and lip smacking and raspberry sucking sounds, and I remembered, how by compare with this morgue of a deathly and deadly Vatican, "Write Some Numb's Bitch" had at least been rambunctiously alive. One more week and I would have had unraveled the entire connection between the Reverend and his and Tony's operation down to a T... American Advertising Corporation it was listed as in the Secretary of State's Report. It advertised all right
1] Unaffiliated to any church though I may be, and despite no end of Liberace-like hoaxters on TV., the possibility of meeting a genuine reverend, priest or father still elicits certain optimistic, slightly awed expectations and - obviously - not only from this still somewhat pathologically optimistic and preternaturally believing dummy!