Scene 22: New Home

Previously on:

Daisy reports to her commanding officers.

Last lines: “The Comm Ev gives her hope in the process established by The Church. As she walks down the hallway, she forces herself to think rationally and decide on a plan of action. She will need to collect any evidence she can if justice will prevail. Those who show disloyalty, or selfish tendencies, must be punished. By any means possible.”

Back at HCO, Amory has not yet written the Enemy formula, even though she has been alone in the room for two hours. She has no idea what to write and knows that she will never find out who she truly is while sitting in this tiny, windowless room.

She is startled by a new uniform barging through the door. He motions for her to follow him, and she runs to keep up as they find the exit.

As they leave the HCO building, the cool fall air is refreshing to Amory’s lungs. She can tell it’s late in the afternoon because the sun is sinking into the horizon, turning the sky into liquid amber. The thought of night and sleep is a welcomed relief. Her stomach is growling, but her complete exhaustion overrides her hunger. Dreams of rest give her the motivation she needs to keep up with the ethics officer’s fast pace. Amory feels disoriented from being interrogated in a closet all day, but not enough to realize they aren’t going back to her dorm.

“Umh … Sir?” she asks. “Shouldn’t we be going in the other direction?”

“No.”

She follows, knowing it’s best not to ask questions. They head north on Hollywood Blvd., and Amory quickly realizes he’s taking her to the HI, or Hollywood Inn—another old, converted hotel owned by The Church. The building is located at 6523 Hollywood Blvd, just down the street from Hollywood and Highland, right in the heart of the city. For The Church, it’s the perfect place for Amory while she’s on ethics project. She will be isolated from her friends back at the compound but only a short walk to HCO, where she will be spending most of her time.

Amory is relieved at the thought of isolation. It is meant to be a punishment, but she is thankful for the break it will afford her. There will be no expectation to be happy all the time, no pointless small talk, no encounters with people she would rather avoid. Finally an opportunity to be alone with herself.

As they walk down the street, Amory and the ethics officer pass through crowd after crowd of wogs, some gathered outside restaurants, others aimlessly wandering down the blocks as tourists. Amory has walked to the HI from HCO many times before on Church business, but she never paid much attention to the people and businesses along the street. “Keep your head down,” she was always told by her superiors. “Wogs are evil people and you don’t want to interact with them.” So she did. She believed that the sex shops and bars were the manifestations of evil in the outside world. That they, the Scientologists, were better than that. They were saving wogs from their own filth and depravity.

Now, she pays attention. A car cuts over to the sidewalk, trying to squeeze his way around another car. She instinctually jumps away, remembering the many times wogs threw rotten eggs at her and her friends as they walked down the street in their uniforms. She takes a deep breath when she realizes he hasn’t even seen her, too wrapped up in his tiny little world. Horns screech as cars race from one signal to the next. Flashing lights seduce her eyes from one location to another. They walk by a group of high-heeled girls smoking outside a bar. They don’t notice her either. She is still wearing her uniform, but it doesn’t seem to mark her as it once did. This invisibility amongst the chaos of public life gives her a welcomed sense of comfort, and she gazes in childlike wonder at the endless possibilities just beyond her reach.

Her tired legs can’t keep up with the ethics officer, and a short distance grows between them. Her mind wanders, and she begins to imagine a new chapter of her life, now that everything has changed—no post, no dorm, no contact with friends and family. She knows she’ll be doing MEST work, Matter, Energy, Space, Time. Any kind of physical work, as opposed to the spiritual work thetans must focus on, meant to reconnect the spirit and the body. Essentially, it is a fancy term for manual labor. She wonders what they’ll have her do. A few years ago, someone she knew wanted to leave The Church. They made him scrub a dumpster and clean the kitchen grease traps with a toothbrush. Amory doesn’t mind hard work, but that is revolting. Regardless, she won’t have Erika screaming down her throat, a reality that gives her more freedom than she has ever known.

Before long, they arrive at the HI. It blends in well with the other buildings on the street, an eight-story brick building with white trim. The only thing that marks it is the giant, vertical “SCIENTOLOGY” sign hanging on the front of the building, a billboard advertising services of The Church. The top floor is one location used for the downstats from HCO, so the dormitory is not kept up very well. People in lower conditions do not deserve much in the eyes of The Church. They are the untouchables.

Amory skips up the stairs to the top floor, excited for this new phase in her life. But as soon as she leaves the stairwell, the harsh reality of her new existence hits her with the force of a steel door slammed in her face.

The hallway has exposed concrete floors and walls, the ceiling showing the pipes that service the building. It is cold, dark, and wet. As they walk down the hall to her room, Amory hears the incessant drip … drip … drip … of a leaky pipe overhead. Shallow puddles of water have formed on the ground, and the walls and floor are saturated with years of plumbing leaks and mold. With every step her unease grows. The ethics officer stops at a room about half way down the floor. A chair has been placed outside the door for him to sit watch.

As Amory opens the door, she hears rats scurrying across the ground. She pauses before looking in. Be strong, she tells herself. You can do this. She sees carcasses of dead cockroaches on the ground. A sad cot sits against one wall and a small metal dresser against another. There is one tiny window with bars guarding the outside. She wonders if they’re meant to keep people out or her in.

This is her new house for an indefinite amount of time—it could be months or years, she has no idea. After her initial disgust of the filth, rats, and cockroaches wears off, she tries to imagine the room as her new home. Aside from the ethics office on watch outside, she has the place to herself, which is new. She opens one of the dresser drawers and sees her civvies folded and neatly stored. The clothes remind her that she doesn’t have to wear her uniform now that she’s on ethics project. It is meant to be a punishment, a rejection from the group, but she has always liked her civvies better than her uniform. Whoever packed her things must be a friend, because with her clothes is the book she’s been reading. The familiar items bring a smile to her face.

Officially, she’s now in isolation, banned from having contact with anyone other than her ethics officers, and once she begins auditing, her auditor. She will be living alone, eating alone, working alone, and spending all of her free time alone. Sitting on her cot, though, Amory does not feel like she’s being punished. She savors the freedom of quietness. She picks up her book and begins to read, trying to loose herself in a different reality.

There is no clock in the room, so she has no idea how much time has passed. The night sky and her finished book tell her it’s been hours. She peeks her head into the hallway.

“I need to use the restroom,” she tells the ethics officer, someone new. The previous officer’s shift ended and he has been replaced.

“It’s at the end of the hallway,” he says without even looking up.

As she walks down the hallway, she notices he’s following her. She says, “I can go to the bathroom by myself.” He feels closer than he needs to be, an unwanted shadow she cannot make disappear.

“Not anymore.”

Amory finds the lone toilet for the floor of twenty-five rooms. “Is this it?” She asks, looking around for more alternatives.

“What were you expecting?”

“How many people use this toilet?”

“Depending on how many are here … between fifty and one fifty.”

“People?”

He turns his back and takes a few steps away, apparently trying to give her some privacy. The bathroom looks the same as the rest of the floor. Wet, filthy concrete. A bare light bulb hangs from the middle of the ceiling. With all the Sea Org members, probably close to two thousand in Hollywood alone, they could have at least stuck some linoleum on the floor. But she guesses that’s the point. Treat people like the scum The Church says they are.

Amory hovers over the toilet seat, trying not to touch anything she doesn’t absolutely have to. She tries to look past the superficial filth and think about her higher calling. She has been conditioned to believe that these policies are for the greater good, that they enable The Church to reach its noble goals. However, she can’t understand how forcing loyal soldiers to endure these offensive conditions is for the greater good.

The ethics officer shadows her a little too closely, staying one pace behind her on the way back to the room. The critical time is at the beginning of someone’s isolation. But the last thing she’s thinking about is running. If she could, she would take more pills and end everything, but there is no possibility of that now.

She lies back down on her cot and begins her book again until unconsciousness sweeps her spirit away.

Scenes from the Next:

A flashback to the bed time routine at the Cadet Org.

2 thoughts on “Scene 22: New Home

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