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To the Cult Leaders, we were bothersome attic rats.  After months passed, the weather improved and we were allowed to play on the mansion grounds.  Attic Rat became Alley Rat.  We were stinky, dirty and always barefoot – but we were outside!  Always hungry, but much more tolerable having fresh air.

At home the months slowly ticked by.   

My mother was progressing up the Chart of Awareness getting written certifications and praise along the way but she was also expected to damage the Mereta Group. Damage that could not be undone: disband them from existence.  My frail and completely wimpy mom who wouldn’t hurt a flea.

The Mereta Group  was successfully recruiting our town’s wealthiest men and their families.  Their leader, a woman named Bette Jagers, had once been a member of our cult and jettisoned out to create her own group after a past-life indoctrination therapy session.  Law suits had been filed and it was war.  She was accused of stealing our cult’s teachings and, according to our Cult Leaders, she was guilty.  Lawyers were hired to send intimidating “cease and desist” letters mostly just to bully without intending to follow through.

We were a much larger Order with missions spread throughout the United States and Europe.  The Mereta Group was just a seedling in our town, along with any other “splinter groups”,  had to be completely eliminated by order of our Cult Founder.  Any group trying to help mankind, other than ours, was labeled a Squirrel Group.

My sister and I, along with Melissa and Sarah the daughters of a fellow cult couple, were used for demonstrations and media attention when we picketed or protested any Squirrel Groups.

friendly-resturantMeetings with executive Cult Leaders over coffee at Friendly’s always included details about the enemies .  Mom had remained friends with Bette and was feeding intel back to her Handler who, in turn,  reported up the lines to the Continental Liason Offices in New York.

The day was chosen and my sister and I were the unassuming spies to get into the Merata Group’s church so the work could be done.  No one would suspect us and mom would keep them distracted.

We drove the freezing cold dingy dark cloudy day as she gave us our instructions.  We were planting papers.  I was completely confused and told her so.  “This is going to finish my part.” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks and her eyes red and swollen.

I was wide-eyed and more scared than ever now.  Why was she crying?  What part?  Were we going to hurt people?  I loved Bette and her family because they opened their homes and hearts to my sister and I.  They had wealth I’d never seen before and they shared it with us.  We ate out of the dumpsters for God’s sake!

What could I do?

She was serving us up on a platter so she could be accepted.

We arrived and mom turned off the car.  I stared out the window as rain drops hit the glass and slid down making the Christmas light display blurry.  

on-the-road-in-the-gremlinThe cold began to quickly seep into the cab.  Mom turned to us buckled into the back seat and hesitated.  “Are you ok?” She asked and her breath was visible.  I looked back at her confused then at my sister who was bundled up more than me. I didn’t answer but thought, “OK? OK for what?”.  I stared at her and kept my mouth shut.

In the passenger seat were more legal size folders.  They looked just like those I’d seen in the attic a hundred times and filled about an inch deep.  A green stripe on the top corner and spine with the word CLEAR stood out boldly.  “Put this in your jacket and don’t let it fall.” She directed me with a crystal clear low voice.  I unzipped my puffy coat and placed the folder against my chest.  It cut into my neck as I zipped the coat back up.   Mom hunted around on the floor beneath our feet and found a scarf tossing it at me.  I put it around my neck covering the papers that were so obvious.  

“It’s time.  Let’s go.” She said as she opened her door.  Rain sprinkled on her and she looked up letting it cover her face and soak her hair.  She turned around to reach back and lift the seat forward so we could get out.  I held the folder in place with one hand and used the other to grab the handle and lift out then stepped away giving her room to get my sister.  

Together, the three of us turned toward the welcoming entrance surrounded by twinkling strands of Christmas lights and pots filled with red poinsettia.  We scooted up the narrow path to the grand covered front porch.

I caught my mother glancing back at the car, considering her alternatives and hesitating.

The giant front door swung open and like a backdraft, the most delicious smelling food wafted into my face.  Bill, Betty’s husband, stood with a welcoming smile and open arms for hugs.  I froze in place worried my folder would slip from my coat.

My mom stepped in first, tugging on my coat to follow.  I shoved past my sister to beat her in practically knocking her down.  

“I’ll take your coats.  Come in and warm up!” Bill said genuinely concerned as he stared at our appearance which might have resembled wet cold cats.

Bill and Bette had two sons.  Both were much older than me.  Their portraits hung over the fireplace and my only interaction was seeing them leave.  Today they were there and invited us to the basement class room area to play ping pong which I accepted with relief.  I would leave my folder there and hope for the best.

 

Extras!  As I uncover gems from my mother’s belongings I will post them beneath a chapter.  Some may not be relevant to the portion of the story…but they sure are interesting to see.  For me, they are triggering memories.

This is the actual $2 Dollar Bill given to my mother by Mereta and Bill Strandwitz I found in my mother’s belongings.

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