May He bless you with understanding of this truth...
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are,
and the things which shall be hereafter...
Chapters Fifty-Six - Sixty
Monday, December 11, 2006
All told, I've been legally dead three times throughout my life. I can only offer a couple of answers, either He's not through with me yet...or God doesn't want me and hell's afraid I might take over.
Throughout my career, I've had various jobs pertaining to missions with Omega Agency. One of the more memorable, not good, just memorable, was connected with racism.
The job took place in Mississippi, in the late 1970s. I was to 'get close' to a certain family, especially the oldest brother. I was told these guys were pure evil and that the regular law enforcement agencies couldn't get anywhere near them.
This family was into major drug smuggling, prostitution, white slavery, bootlegging and much more. I've often wondered why Omega put me on this mission. Truly it had nothing to do with what Omega was all about. But, there I was in the woods of Mississippi.
The major part of the civil rights movement was over and things were settling down...somewhat. I was placed into a job with the Catholic church in this tiny town of five thousand people. It put me smack into the middle of the entire community, white folks and black folks. I was in the middle of both sides. Things were very calm in the town when I first arrived. Or so it seemed.
My first trip to the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store was an eye-opener, for sure. I went in to get a pack of cigarettes. I've always been brought up to respect my elders…period.
I got on line behind two older black ladies. They already had their groceries on the conveyor belt and were waiting their turn. I was holding four packs of cigarettes in my hand. The two black ladies leaned against the back of the checkout counter behind them and just stood there looking at me. The cashier was just standing there looking at me. Had I grown a second head or what?
The cashier then asked me, "What are you waiting for?" My reply was that the two ladies were on line first. The cashier huffed and asked me where I was from. I told her I was new in town and just arrived from New Mexico yesterday. Her reply was nonchalant, yet a little snippy. She informed me that wherever I was from, 'round here the niggers wait and the white folk always go first.
Reality SLAPPED me upside the head like a Mack truck. Make that TWO Mack trucks.
The two black ladies just glanced at me with a look that asked me to please don't say anything, and to please hurry up. I kept my mouth shut, paid for my cigarettes and got out of there. If I'd taken my blood pressure at that time, it would have blown the blood pressure machine. I was not brought up that way, especially when it concerns any elders.
I was working and living out of a group home run by the local Catholic church for boys who got into trouble and were taken from their families by the State of Mississippi. It was a regular house, not an institution-type building. It had a front, back and both side yards with green grass, flowers, shrubs and trees. One thing about Mississippi, it's GREEN. Mississippi is a beautiful state. The Magnolia trees give off a great fragrance and the people are very nice. Well...most of them are, anyway.
Our neighbors right behind our house were an old black couple. Very nice people. Helpful with the boys and with those of us who ran the house. Ellie was the woman, Hartley was her husband. They were probably in their seventies. I've been in the south before, many times, so I knew some of the ways in southern culture. I called Ellie, Miss Ellie and Hartley, Mr. Hartley. I was instantly corrected and asked not to do that, it wasn't proper, I was told.
I asked what wasn't proper about respecting my elders. Ellie told me that if we were overheard by the wrong people, me giving them respect, they could be in trouble, big trouble. I said that was ridiculous. They agreed, but this is Mississippi, they told me. Ellie's additional comeback was, "in Mississippi, a nigger's a nigger."
Reality once again SLAPPED me upside the head. I said I thought the civil-rights fight was calming down and things were getting better. Hartley laughed and said, "They just know how to keep it quiet better, that's all." Ellie said, "Racism is alive and well and still a way of life down here."
During my time on this mission, I would come to find that these experiences were mild, very mild.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I worked the group home, worked with the local Catholic church and priest, started meeting townspeople of all races. I made a friend of the local Justice of the Peace/Coroner. I'll call him 'Jim' (real names have been changed to protect the guilty).
I must remind you that these missions are 'covert.' This means that what I do, where I do it, or with whom I do it, I MUST go along as if I support their beliefs and ideas. This keeps the intel flowing and me alive.
You train to be a spy, you want to stay a spy. A live one. A productive one relaying intel, important intel. Throughout my career, I have done some very dirty and strange things. Things that would never have crossed my mind, and still don't. When I look back at my career many times tears well up in me.
So, I became friendly with Jim and his wife. We slowly became very good friends. I was welcome in his home anytime. Jim never closed the front door, just the screen door. I would holler his name and walk in the house like I was family. Jim and his wife never minded one bit, in fact they encouraged it.
I've shared many a meal with Jim and his wife. I was invited to cook-outs, birthday parties, anniversaries, holiday dinners and more. I was becoming part of the family. Jim introduced me around to his friends. Many of whom were powerful people in this tiny town, but many of whom had connections with some of the most powerful people in the State of Mississippi, which included connections to the federal level of government officials. Jim was just the right man to get me close to the people I needed to get close to.
After a couple months passed in our new friendship, Jim started introducing me to some of his powerful, connected 'farmer-type' friends. Okay, here we go. These actually were the people I needed to know, at least, I hoped it would be them.
Jim invited me to an all-guy cookout on a farm just south of the town. When we arrived, I was shocked. The farm was huge. Nice buildings stood everywhere, the barn appeared brand new and very large. Some of the other outbuildings were new and different sizes. The home itself was amazing. It was a huge, very old southern plantation-type house. I found out later it was an historical home, on the official registry, no less.
Jim drove up the mile-long driveway, stopped at the front of the house where an older black man opened our doors and parked Jim's car in a lot off to the side of the house. We went into the house where we were met by another older black man who escorted us to the patio area. If you like to cookout, you'd love this patio. The grill was approximately twelve feet long, set in stone. There were two large smokers near the end of the patio. There was, of course, a bar--a full bar with two older black men tending it. There were older black men as waiters running all over and tending to the needs of all their boss' guests. I instantly thought of Tara, you know, of Gone With The Wind fame. I was expecting to hear Rhett Butler say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give damn," any second now.
There were probably twenty nice-sized round tables, complete with table cloths and linen napkins, and chairs all around the patio area. This place was perfection and would have fit nicely into one of the better home and garden magazines. I'm surprised this place never made it to the old television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
The first person Jim introduced me to was the man who was standing near the grill, surrounded by a lot of other men who seemed to be 'kissing up' to this guy. His name was Sam Clanton, again, changed to protect the guilty.
He seemed very nice. Educated, well-spoken, well dressed, confident demeanor, and an air of authority, and yet very much the good ol' boy. Jim introduced me as Robert DeAngelo, the name I used on many covert missions and the name Jim and the town knew me as. We shook hands. He had a very good handshake: confident, authoritative and a handshake that said, "I'm the one in charge in these parts." We hit it off instantly.
In fact, just seconds after Sam and I started talking, I notice the crowd gathered around Sam, when Jim and I first walked over, was gone. They scattered around the patio, mainly around the bar. By the way, this town was in a 'dry' county, no booze sold anywhere nearby. Sam and I were alone at the grill. Me loving to cookout, started helping Sam cook the meats. There were huge steaks, ribs, thick pork chops, hot dogs and hamburgers cooking away on the massive grill. Remember, this is an all-guys night out thing.
After some innocuous small talk, Sam asked what kind of name is DeAngelo? I told him it was Italian. Right away he asked where I 'hailed' from. I told him New Mexico. No, he said, I mean originally. Oh, damn, I thought to myself, be careful with this. I told him New York, Long Island to be exact. I also threw in that old adage, a great place to be from. Sam belly-laughed at that one and everyone else turned to see what Sam was laughing about. What they saw was Sam slapping me on the back and grabbing me by my shoulder and shaking it in a friendly gesture.
Later, while seated at Sam's table, I became the unofficial guest of honor. We talked about New York and the east coast. Sam stated it was too crowded for him up in those parts and that he preferred the country life. I agreed with him. I told him that's exactly why I took the job I did, to get away from all the crazy people in the northeast. Again, Sam belly-laughed, as did everyone else who was within earshot seated at all the different tables. Gee, was everyone eavesdropping on our conversation? You'd better believe they were.
Sam finally got around to it. He asked how, as a New Yorker, I felt about all the black folk. Playing my part, I told him I didn't care for it one bit. In fact, I got a little daring and asked him why he had so many niggers working his home. He chuckled, and said we do need to keep them busy or else they'll have too much time to think and start acting all huffy and want their rights and freedoms. He continued by saying that we need to keep our niggers under our noses and monitor them at all times. Can't let this civil rights stuff get too far out of line. We all laughed at that and I agreed with him that it might just be a good idea and I'll remember those words.
After dinner, we walked off the patio about one hundred feet. There were tables arrayed with shotguns, shells, Jack Daniels and beer. Sam told me he had the 'nigger boys' set up the clay pigeons and we would do some skeet shooting. I enjoyed the skeet shooting, but had to 'pull' some of my shots and missed many of my clay pigeons on purpose. Sam laughed, and said to me, I'll just have to teach you to shoot. I guess being raised a Yankee hinders one's ability to fire a weapon. I told him how right he was.
One of the things I've learned living and visiting the south taught me that I was slowly being accepted. Sam hadn't once called me a 'damned Yankee'. A good sign.
The night went along nicely. Sam had hired some belly dancers from down in Jackson, Mississippi, to dance for the boys. Of course, with all those drunk men at the party, things became very risqué. Also, as you might have guessed, these girls were not just belly dancers. Don’t forget, Sam was into prostitution. This was one of his ways of keeping these God-fearing, Southern Baptists under his control. In a town of five thousand, in rural Mississippi, church was a main part of life. They were mostly southern Baptist, some Catholic, some Lutheran and some Methodist. There were no Jewish, Muslim or any other religion besides Christian in these parts. These men were supposed to be good, God-fearing men. At least, their wives thought so. The blacks in the town all knew the truth. They worked for these people. They lived in their homes, worked in their businesses and so on. In fact, a lot of the intel we received came from exactly those black men. Those who worked for the likes of Sam Clanton and his family.
The night out started at five o'clock and ended after midnight. Jim and I were the last guests to leave the cookout. On the drive home, Jim asked me what I thought of Sam. I told him Sam seemed nice enough. Well, in fact, what I told Jim was that I really like ol' Sam, he's a good guy. We talked about the night. Jim offered tips about shooting skeet and said Sam really loves skeet shooting. We talked about the steaks Sam had cooked, they were his own cattle, Jim added. I also noticed a car following us from just after leaving Sam's house. The car didn't have any lights on and stayed far enough back, but I have a trained eye and picked them up easily.
It took us about forty-five minutes to get home. Why, I don’t know, it wasn't that long getting there. It might have been just the talking and Jim was driving slower than when we first drove out there. I guess it was all the booze in him. The tail was still following us. Nothing ever happened with this tail, I guess they just kept an eye on me.
Monday, December 11, 2006
I saw Sam a few times in town. At Jim's office, Jim's home, on the streets, and twice Sam took me to lunch. It was just general talk, nothing earth-shaking or even important. Of course, though, the restaurant we had lunch in, as all the restaurants in that town, had two sections. The main section for the whites and in the back, a smaller section for the blacks. Each section even had different waiters. The main section had white waiters, the black section, black waiters. Ahhhh, racism, alive and well.
Another thing I neglected to mention about me is that I was a power-lifter in my youth. I weighed in at three hundred fifty-one pounds, with six percent body fat. I also did steroids three time a week. Back then, who knew? I actually got them from my doctor...legally, I might add.
One day at lunch with Sam and Jim, Sam mentioned my size. He asked me if I ever did any 'work' for the Italian families back home. He mentioned that a man my size would be a great asset. Here it comes, I thought, the setup. I just said to him, I'll let you answer that one. He got the message loud and clear.
About a week later, Jim's wife was out shopping and was 'harassed' by a large black man while she was shopping. She told Jim that the black man touched her, nothing sexual, just touched her. In those days, a man never touched another man's wife, let alone a black man. She also told Jim that she saw the man hanging around their house during the day while Jim was at work. Of course, never had such an incident happened. That would never happen in this town. The blacks know the consequences. It was the setup.
Jim told Sam about the 'incident.' Of course, Sam told Jim he would take care of it. One afternoon, while Sam was in town we had lunch. Sam retold the story to me about Jim's wife. Coincidentally, just as Sam finished telling me about the 'incident', Jim joined us for lunch. I guess I was believed to be a stupid Yankee. This lunch took place about two weeks after the 'incident.' The police could not locate the black man in question. In a town of only five thousand people? Rrrright!
So, with the police not being able to find this man, Sam decided the 'boys' needed to find him. Well, to my surprise, I was one of the boys, along with Jim and Sam and small group of Sam's brothers. WOW! Call me Colombo! I found the guy that fit the description of this black man. How's that for great police work? Remember, this is the setup.
I found him in what was referred to as a 'nigger bar' just north of town. Amazingly, three of us walked into that bar filled with maybe a hundred black men, drinking and carrying on. Not one of the men in the bar even looked at us. NOT ONE! I saw the guy who fit the description and he was dragged from the bar.
Please remember, I am undercover on a covert mission and must establish my cover. Sometimes a person may needlessly get hurt to help save many others.
Fortunately, things worked out, I guess. Because these people, Sam and crew, feel "all niggers look alike", and they never really knew this man around town. As it turned out, the FBI had inserted this man into a local black family and he was my target.
The guy was dragged out of the bar, stuffed into the back of a pickup truck and off we went into the woods. Thankfully, this FBI guy knew his part. He heard me talking and instantly started badmouthing me. Who's the damned Yankee? What’s the matter, you boys need help from the real bad guys? On and on he went. Finally, I grabbed him and hit him in the head. The head's actually good spot because a minor cut will draw a major amount of blood making it 'look good' for the boys.
I beat him for about ten minutes. I tried to not really hurt him too badly as I knew this guy was innocent and that this was all part of the setup. At the time, I didn’t know this guy was FBI. I never kicked him despite the encouragement of the onlookers. I'd stop, turn and look at them, and say I don't need to be some damn pansy and kick him, I'm powerful enough with my hands. Care to try? I asked them, playing the part. I had no takers.
We left the man in the woods, 'unconscious', bleeding and hurting. I later found out that minutes after we left, an FBI team picked this man up and took him to a field hospital the FBI had set up. I also found out this guy was once a professional boxer. He could handle a punch.
Monday, December 11, 2006
On the way back to town, Sam, Jim and their boys were acting like animals. Of course, I never let on to that. They were whooping and hollering. Slapping each other on the backs, especially me--I did the job. As I was doing the job, I was calling this man all sorts of names. I called him a (I'm not sure of the spelling so I'll spell it phonetically) a 'Moolee.' This was a slang term used around my old Italian neighborhood, referring to blacks. These guys loved the word. They never heard it before and kept screwing it up. I tried many times to correct them and Sam just told me to forget it, they were too stupid anyway. Sam was talking about his brothers. These guys were Sam's younger brothers and he, at times, referred to them as 'white niggers.' Sam was a dyed-in-the-wool, self-centered bastard, I found out later. A dangerous, self-centered bastard.
We got to Sam's plantation where there were drinks and food awaiting us. At the table, Sam told me to sit next him. He again talked of the night. He said he was amazed that I could hit a man for a solid ten minutes straight. He's never seen that, he remarked. Sam said that usually a good three to five minute beating worked well enough. Sam laughed and said, "I guess that ol' nigger learned his lesson tonight."
As we ate, everyone started telling black jokes and roaring like hyenas. Sick people, racists. I mean they told these jokes, passed their remarks and generally put down all blacks. And this right in front of the black housekeepers, as if they didn't even exist. Again, I'll tell ya, sick people, these racists are.
This 'get together' was a celebration of sorts. It also helped Sam to start trusting me more. Sam noticed I had some cuts on my hands and called one of his housekeepers, or the butler, to 'fix me up.' This, of course, was a black man. Sam started teasing the black man and told him to clean me up 'real good', he didn’t want any 'nigger blood' getting into my system. It might ruin me, Sam said, then belly-laughed again. All this right in front of the old black man as he was cleaning my wounds. The man was good, he just ignored the remarks as if they were never even said.
As it turned out, this night was good for me. It helped Sam to really trust me and we became friendlier because of it. After that night, I was invited out to Sam's plantation more and more. We ate, we shot skeet, we drank and just had a grand old time. We hunted deer and wild pig on Sam's land. It didn't matter to Sam that hunting season was no where in sight yet. This was Sam Clanton, nobody would ever think of questioning Sam on anything. Sam just did as he pleased.
Sam also invited me to lunch more often. This was Sam's way of telling the townsfolk I was an okay guy and now part of his circle. This was a strange little town. The people became even friendlier toward me, even the blacks of the town. The group home where I worked and lived, was suddenly inundated with home-made goodies, pies, cookies, cakes, special recipes and more. The group home had a black lady cook. Nadine was her name, real name, I might add. Nadine has long passed since those days. Nadine was given food for the boys in the home along with all the goodies. The church never had enough money to fix the group home when things broke or needed repair. Amazingly, all of a sudden, the townsfolk were helping out with that problem. Men from around town came by to fix and repair things, and others even painted the entire outside of the house. Someone donated a brand-new lawn mower and some yard tools to the home. The boys in house did all the yard work. Wow, things had changed since I got here.
One day Jim asked me over for dinner. Of course, I went. I did like Jim, it's a shame he was arrested a year or so later. I got to Jim's house about five ten, for dinner. As I said earlier, Jim never closed his front door. However, Jim was waiting for me at the door when I arrived. He shook my hand, and was just Jim, nice as always. We had dinner. His wife was an excellent cook and could fry up chicken like nobody's business. She made home-made biscuits, white gravy, collard greens, mashed potatoes and her famous fried chicken. A feast, for sure.
After dinner, Jim's wife told us to take our coffee into the living room so she could clean up in here. We did as she asked. Ah ha, another setup was on the way, although I didn't realize it at the time. From where we sat in Jim's living room, we could see through the front door, which was open as usual. We made some small talk. Jim talked a little about his day at the office. All the regular 'visiting' chatter. Jim started telling me about the town's local civic organization. It sounded good. They help the poor and needy, even the blacks. They help with food, medicine, medical care and so on. Sounded like the local Lion's Club or something.
We talked more about it. Jim told me they even had a meeting hall, with a kitchen, in which some of the wives cooked food for the meetings, and in a whisper Jim said, we even have a bar.
I told Jim it sounded good. Sounded like a helpful organization that does good for the community. Jim said it was getting a little chilly in here and got up to close the front door. What!? It was summertime in Mississippi, his wife had just fried a whole load of chicken, baked biscuits and such, it felt to me like it was two hundred degrees in the house. I wondered if Jim was getting sick or coming down with something.
Jim walked to the door, closed it and to my surprise, hanging on the back of the door was a robe. It was white, had a hood, and a red cross in a circle, was all I could make out. What I knew instantly, though, it was a Klan robe. The Ku Klux Klan. I never really expected Jim to be part of this. In fact, the Klan never even entered my mind. I was after someone of a different type, or so I thought.
Damn, the KKK, the biggest racists in the world. The sickest racists in the world. The only thing that entered my mind, was DAMN.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Jim sat back down and said nothing. I looked at him, the robe, back at him again. I must have looked stupid to him. I thought to myself, get it together and quickly.
I just came right out with it. I asked Jim if that was a Klan robe. He said it was. He also said the Klan was a good, God-fearing organization. God-fearing? I thought. Again, I just came out with it. I asked him what he meant by God-fearing. Jim started telling me. I did manage to remain in control and cool, calm and collected as we talked.
Jim told me that the Klan were God's warriors and that God chose them to clean up God's mistakes. WHAT? I thought. The God I know doesn't make mistakes, I said to myself. I just let Jim go on. Shortly, his wife joined us in the living room. She too, was a Klan member it turned out. She was part of the woman's side of the Klan. However, she did believe the same thing, that they were cleaning up God's mistakes.
It was Jim's wife (by the way, her name was Susan) who took over the conversation for a while. She was telling me that God made some mistakes in allowing the Jews to survive thousands of years ago. She told me the Jews denied that Jesus Christ was the true saviour. This was God's greatest mistake she told me. Let me just say, Susan was a good-looking young woman, with this southern belle accent and very proper ways. She was a good tool for the Klan. She was also an educated woman, college graduate and all.
I fought with myself to remain calm and cool while she went on. What was really scary wasn't the fact that these 'nice' people were racists, what was really scary was they truly believed they were chosen to correct God's mistakes. A racist is one thing, but give a racist something like this to believe, and they are dangerous, very dangerous.
I'm telling you, I AM GOOD. I fooled them. I remained cool, calm and collected and acted as if I believed them hook-line-and-sinker and wanted to be a part of it all and help God clean up His mistakes. What makes me angry is the fact that I couldn't even be considered for an Oscar for that role.
Instantly these 'nice' people became very scary to me. Reality once again hit me. This time reality dropped an entire planet on my head. Forget those two tiny Mack trucks. This landed hard!
We talked some more about it. I asked them how could I, as a Catholic, become a member of the Ku Klux Klan? I thought Catholics were supposed to be as bad as the Jews and blacks. Jim fielded that question. He said there are times when a person has the right 'make-up' and whatever their religion, can be invited to join, with the correct support, of course.
And of course, who was the correct support? None other than good ol' boy, Sam Clanton. So, this was all Sam's idea. Okay, now what do I do? I asked myself. I've got one heck of a dilemma here, for sure. I believe in God; I believe He is perfect and makes no mistakes, period. Okay, doing this job is one thing, but offending the Creator is something else entirely. What should I do?
I asked Jim and Susan if I could get back to them about this, that I needed to sleep on it. I stayed and had dessert with them, we talked for about an hour and half more before I went home. I had to make it look as if I weren't running away from these crazy people. I still had a job to do and couldn't jeopardize my cover. What I wanted now was to 'contact' Mr. Z and Jona and Sag. I wanted input. I NEEDED input. I couldn't wait to get home. But when I left Jim's, instead of going home, I drove out into the country. I needed to be away from this place to think clearly and think/speak with Jona and Mr. Z and Sag. I desperately needed input...their help with this decision.
I drove about thirty miles north of town. I pulled the car safely off of the road, turned off the ignition. I sat quietly at first and just collected my thoughts. Only then did I contact Mr. Z, Jona and Sag.
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