Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My name is A. Jenkins Parker.  If you are reading this I am most likely dead.  I had long ago resolved to refrain from exposing the cover-up until I had all of the answers.  At this writing, I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to about the conspiracy I am about to describe.  Still, I feel time is running out and someone must be told as much as we do know.  

I just hope I can persuade you to believe my story.  I have no concrete evidence.  When the proof emerges it may be entirely too late.  Truth is my only weapon.  Here it is.

In 1970 I was serving as a Mormon Missionary in the Philippines.  I was stationed in a little town called Batangas on the southern coast of Luzon.  My companion was Elder Howlett.  It was an enjoyable place to serve.  One day in the public market we encountered an American expat named George McFarland.  George stood out in the crowd.  He was 6 foot 4 inches tall and wore white trousers and a white shirt.  His head was shaded by a white straw hat.  He looked to be in his mid-forties.  He had enormous rounded shoulders.  He was cheerful enough, but there was something of Atlas about him.  We conversed for a few minutes.  He was excited to see fellow "Joes" in town.  He informed us that he lived at a cannery across the bay.  We could see it from where we stood.  He pointed out the cluster of white buildings in the distance.  George invited us to dinner the following Friday.  We accepted.  Barangay was in our area and we had not worked over there.  We considered it a good excuse to knock on a few doors in a new barrio.

We arrived at the cannery at the appointed hour and George met us at the gate and let us in.  We were stunned at the size and newness of the compound.  While dinner was preparing George took us on a quick tour.  There was the large cannery itself.  George even pushed a few buttons and set the whole thing in motion.  Conveyors, labelers, sardine tins all in perfect working order.  He showed us the warehouse and shipping facilities.  The wharves were impressive and the ice plant was capable of making three tons of ice shavings each hour.  The ice was for the seiners to keep the catch cold.  Everything was in perfect order but there was no smell of fish.  There were no laborers.  The place was a clean, tidy, brand new, ghost town. 

We finished the tour and moved to George's home.  A lovely, white bungalow on stilts perched on the hillside above the plant.  It had a wrap around covered and screened veranda.  As we approached we noticed the hillside was covered in squash plants.  George cussed Concepcion, his house girl, for consuming the squash blossoms preventing him from ever enjoying the squash.  "These Filipinos can't see beyond their stubby noses," he complained. 

"So many are starving and malnourished amid so much abundance."

Over a lovely supper of chicken adobo, George told us the story of the plant.  Somebody on a bar stool in Washington DC had decided that since the Philippines was the third largest consumer of sardines in the world, they ought to have their own sardine cannery.  A good project for American Foreign Aid, it was decided.  Some Bureaucrat got a promotion for his genius and the Philippines got a multi-million dollar, state of the art cannery, complete with 25 seiners with which to harvest the bounty of the sea.  The cannery was assembled under George's direction over the course of three years.  Hundreds of local laborers and dozens of American technicians and engineers created something really quite remarkable in a land still quite backward.  Upon completion the plant was inaugurated with a grand ceremony and the seiners, manned with competent crews sailed away, never to return.  "What?" we asked!  We had not misheard; they never came back.  "You see," George explained, "There aren't any sardines in the Pacific."  Sardines come from Spain and Portugal and are imported to the Philippines because they have none of their own.  Sounds a lot like an American Bureaucratic fiasco doesn't it?  George had been assigned to watchdog the place until such time as the US Government decided what to do with their multimillion dollar boo boo.  We enjoyed our meal, chatted a bit and left.

We went knocking on doors for the remainder of the evening in the village of Barangay.  We found a few homes that warmly welcomed us in.  One family, the Valero's, invited us back.  The following Tuesday, we returned to Barangay to teach a first discussion to Pedro Valero and his wife Loline and their children.  They had a lovely daughter named Dalisay who really caught my eye.  I can admit now that I had a crush on her.  She was so pretty.  I never told anyone of those feelings though.  I didn't even dare mention my infatuation aloud in my prayers.  I believed then and still do, that Satan won't use a weakness he doesn't know about.  I don't think he can read our minds, so I was determined not to give him a clue.  No dreamy stare, no raised eyebrow, no flirtation, nothing the Devil could use against me.  I'd been a missionary long enough to know that we were vulnerable enough without giving the adversary any ammo to dart us with.  The concealment of my affection was made easier by the fact that Dalisay was mute.  I remember we inquired about that and were told that she had been loquacious as a child, but she had suffered some trauma the previous year and had not spoken since. Dalisay was 19.

Over the course of the next couple of months we taught the Valero's, they joined the church and were baptized the week before my transfer to Cebu.  I didn't have any contact with the Valero's again until the fall of 1973 when I returned to the Philippines as a sailor in the US Navy.  I was a Yeoman stationed aboard the USS Enterprise on a WEST-PAC tour of Vietnam combat duty.  We were involved in operation Linebacker I and were on line all summer.  Early in the fall I was due for some leave and managed to take two weeks in the Philippines.  I was flown in to Clark Air Force Base.  I left the base alone, wearing civvies, on September 17th.  I spent Sunday in Makati and attended church at the Buendia Chapel and in Marikina where I had been Branch President the previous year.  It was great to touch bases with old friends.  On Monday I made my way to Batangas.  I was scared to death.  I had no idea if Dalisay had any interest in me, but my affection for her had only increased in the two odd years since I'd seen her.  First I stopped at Fernandez's in Batangas and arranged to spend a few nights with them.  They were an older couple I'd married and then baptized while serving in the area.  We had such a fine, happy reunion I didn't go on to Barangay until Tuesday.  The Valero's weren't expecting me, but they gladly dropped everything and made me feel more than welcome.  It was awkward, but somehow I managed to get Dalisay to go for a walk with me along the bay.  The little kids started to tag along, but Sister Valero must have caught them and turned them back.  It was an interesting walk.  I talked too much.  Dalisay said nothing.  I didn't dare tell her of my affection for her, but I felt it - stronger than ever.  I managed to see her every day until Friday, when I had to leave.  I left with nothing resolved.  No declaration of love.  No kind of commitment, except a promise to write.  We wrote.  I liked that better.  On paper Dalisay was still loquacious.  I discovered a humorous, bubbly, bright and intelligent personality.  She wrote so conversationally, as if she knew my reaction to everything she said and responded accordingly.

In mid-November I fell down a ladder in a companionway on-board ship and was flown to Subic Bay where I was treated for a badly broken ankle.  My ankle was set in a large plaster cast and, so I wouldn't have to hobble around the Enterprise on crutches, I was given a TDY assignment in the Admin Office in Sangley Point Naval Base in Cavite City.  It was a Monday to Friday office job and afforded me four months in relatively close proximity to Batangas and Barangay.  I spent almost every weekend down there; attending church in Batangas every Sunday.  Dalisay and I grew closer and closer and by February I had proposed.  Pedro and Loline were elated!  Dalisay still never spoke, but we learned to communicate quite effectively with her sign language and a little guess work on my part.  She didn't have to say anything when I asked her to be my wife; her answer was in her countenance.  She radiated love and joy.

I returned to the Enterprise in March.  The carrier had left the line and gone to Bremerton, Washington to be refitted for the F-14 Tomcat.  I caught up with her there.  It was so tough to be across the Pacific from Dalisay, but our love never faltered and we corresponded regularly.  I had made Yeoman 3rd Class and my enlistment was due to expire in six months.  Ed Smith, a Personnelman in my outfit had put the heat on, trying to persuade me to re-enlist.  I had no intention of doing so. I didn't want to spend any more time away from Dalisay than I had to.  She and I had determined not to marry until I was no longer at sea.  I wanted us to be together when she came to the States.  There was no point in bringing her here to be alone.  Petty Officer Smith wouldn't let up.  He about drove me crazy with his insistent urgings.  I did a little research and created an impossible task for Ed.  I told him that there was one condition under which I would consider re-enlisting.  I told him that there was a Yeoman 2nd Class position coming available at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and that I would consider that position.  I knew that it would require a ridiculously early promotion, a Top Secret clearance and I insisted upon a four year accompanied tour to ensure my family could be with me.  Ed, shut up and went to work.  I never imagined Ed would get it for me.  Four months later Ed walked into my office and smugly dropped my orders on my desk.  He'd arranged everything I'd asked for plus a 45 day transfer package that included leave and liberty for making the move.  It was all I need to set a date and get married.

My parents graciously paid to bring the entire Valero Family to Utah.  We were married in the Salt Lake Temple on October 13, 1973; right after the Valero Family was sealed together for time and all eternity.  As Dalisay knelt and took hands across the altar, her eyes filled with tears and she spoke her first words to me, "I'll love you forever."  I have never heard a sweeter sound!  It was the best day of my life!  We saw Dalisay's family off to the Philippines after a wonderful week together at my parent's home.  Then we honeymooned our way to Belgium where I reported for duty on November 1st.  I was attached to Admiral William A. Belto, Commander, US Naval Forces Atlantic.  The first weeks were chaotic.  Alexander Hague became Supreme Allied Commander Europe on the 15th and everything seemed focused on that.  I was Admiral Belto's personal secretary and followed him everywhere, taking notes, taking orders, typing reports and keeping files.  It was overwhelming.  I couldn't believe I had reenlisted for such a difficult task.  I hardly saw Dalisay for a month.  Every night I came home overwhelmed, exhausted and with work to accomplish before morning.  Most nights I didn't leave the office until nine or ten.  After General Hague got settled in, things became more routine and my hours much more reasonable.  The transition was especially tough on Dalisay.  She was a stranger in a strange land and, were it not for Betty Sowards, a member of our ward and an Army officer's wife; she'd have hardly made it.  Betty befriended Dalisay at church and included her in everything.  Dalisay still wasn't speaking much, except to me, but Betty didn't seem to even notice.

After things settled down, Dalisay and I settled down to learning more about one another.  Our conversations had been so one sided until recently and all I wanted to do was hear her voice, drink in the lilt of it.  In the spring we were invited to a retreat for military members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  General Authorities would be there.  The church had some clout, few if any, who wanted to go, were denied Liberty for the occasion.  We boarded a train for Bremen and rode through the night.  We had a small compartment to ourselves.  Neither of us could sleep so we talked through the night.  For the first time, I learned of the trauma that brought so many months of silence to my sweetheart.

Here's, briefly, what she told me.  When the cannery was being built in Barangay there was a lot of excitement in town.  Jobs for everyone seemed likely.  Mostly, though, they required skilled labor and the local folk had none of the required skills.  The contractors brought lots of heavy equipment and specialized tools and laborers.  There was little call for common, unskilled labor.  Disappointment turned to bitterness.  There were a few disturbances but the Philippine Constabulary quickly put them to an end.  One of the first buildings in the compound to be completed was a health clinic.  Ostensibly, it was to screen and maintain the health of the labor force, especially the food handlers.  Promises were made that locals would be hired to work in the cannery.  Then one day bulletins were posted all over the Province.  The clinic was looking for young women between the ages of 16 and 20 for an ongoing medical study to be conducted at the clinic.  Participation was strictly voluntary, but participants would be expected to visit the clinic weekly and would be given $5.00 US, in cash, each time they came in for tests.  That made it pretty much involuntary.  Few families would not be hugely benefited by $5.00 additional income per week.  Many didn't make that much in a month!  Dalisay told me that on the appointed day, young women were lined up for nearly a mile outside the clinic.  Some were rejected due to some health condition or other.  They only wanted to study healthy women.  Dalisay passed the first screening.  She was given an appointment to return in two weeks for a complete and thorough physical examination.  She had never had more than a cursory examination at the free clinic each year, as she commenced school and got whatever inoculations or booster shots she needed.

It was embarrassing to be so thoroughly poked and prodded by a strange American doctor.  The doctor, she remembered was cold, clinical and never spoke a word to her.  An attending nurse asked a few questions and she and the doctor conferred privately once or twice during the ordeal, but she never heard the doctor's voice.  The exam took most of a morning and Dalisay was surprised to be given $20.00 for her troubles on that day.  She was told she should always report to the clinic and 10:30 on Thursday mornings.  She felt lucky to live so close.  Most of the girls came to their appointments on buses from around the Province.  While the weekly check up took only a few minutes, the girls on the buses were tied up most of the day.  She could leave and usually be back home in half an hour.  This routine continued for some months.  Usually the checkup included little more than taking her temperature, blood pressure and a cursory consideration of her general health, was she sick, did she have a cold, etc.  Then one week they asked her to come in every day at 10:30.  She was thrilled to be able to collect $5.00 a day!  This continued for a week and a half and then came the fateful, confusing day when, without any consultation she was put to sleep on the examination table and when she awoke it was 4:30 in the afternoon.  No one would tell her what had transpired but she was given $20.00 in cash and sent on her way.  Bewildered she walked home feeling fine, a little sore in her female parts, but hardly noticeable.  This whole routine happened once again a couple of months later.  Her family was doing better than ever before, financially.  And though she felt violated, she had no evidence of misconduct and desperately wanted to continue helping her family.  They were still living frugally, but her father began to have hopes of purchasing a Carabao (water buffalo) to help cultivate and increase his productivity on their little rice farm.  Dalisay had dreams of college.  She was a good student but college had previously been beyond her wildest dreams.

Then the whole world crashed in around her.  She missed her menstrual period.  She was still going in for weekly checkups and the next visit to the clinic confirmed that she was pregnant.  She couldn't be pregnant! She’d never been with a man!  She was devastated.  Her checkups were doubled to twice a week and her stipend was increased to $10.00 for each visit!  $20.00 a week!  Soon her father had his Carabao, there was a good bit of money saved in the bank, but college seemed out of the question, she'd be having an illegitimate child for which she couldn't account.  The nuns at school didn't believe her when she proclaimed her innocence.  She became a pariah.  No one but her family would have anything to do with her.  Even there, living was full of tension and angst.  Pedro and Loline claimed to believe her, but did they really?  No one is that naive.  Dalisay was certain in her heart that the doctor had raped her while sedated on the examination table.  Shyly, she even hinted as much to the nurse at the clinic, who scolded and threatened her.  She wanted to stop going to the clinic all together, but the increase in pay and her family's need overrode her desire.  She resigned herself to her circumstances, withdrew from school (it was her senior year), and her social life, and reclusively hunkered down for the long eight months to follow.  She mostly kept herself busy sewing and creating a layette for the baby.  Surely, when it was born and had pale skin and blue eyes, people would believe her then.  She laid claim to half of their savings from clinic money so she'd have means to care for and hopefully educate the baby she'd probably be raising alone.  She drew deeper and deeper inside herself as the pregnancy passed.

Two weeks before her due date, the nurse at the clinic asked Dalisay to pack a few things and spend the remainder of her pregnancy residing at the clinic where they could keep a closer eye on her.  While it was offered as a suggestion, it was suggested in such a tone that Dalisay knew that no, was not an option.  These people wielded a lot of power, emotionally, financially.  Dominatingly, they got their way.  She could not even imagine what they were up to but she felt she had no other choice but to go along.  Besides, she was offered $50.00 a day until the baby arrived!  How could she even consider turning that kind of money down, when soon she'd be on her own, with an infant to care for?  Her parents stopped by every day and each day the Valeros took Dalisay's $50.00 and deposited it in the bank.

On the ninth day, residing in the clinic, Dalisay went into labor.  She called for her mother and the nurse claimed to have sent for her, but her mother never came.  When the contractions became frequent and she began to dilate the nurse came in and gave her a shot.  Soon she fell asleep.  When she awoke she was lying in a bed in her room in the clinic.  She lay there for some time.  No one came.  She was sore and longed to see her baby.  With a bit of difficulty she got out of bed and stepped out the door.  No one was there.  No one was anywhere!  In a daze she stumbled from room to room, all were equipped and furnished as before, but no one was to be found anywhere.  She stepped outside and when the door swung shut it latched and locked behind her.  Dalisay collapsed to the ground in confusion, shock and despair.  Passersby came to her aid and helped her get home.  She never uttered another word until years later at our wedding.  Pedro and Loline were frantic.  They went to the authorities, petitioned politicians, attempted to tell their story to the press all to no avail.  They couldn't even get local officials to acknowledge that the clinic had ever been open for business.  The party line was that the clinic had yet to open, which was when the cannery did.

It took Dalisay most of the night to relate her tale of sorrow and confusion.  We both shed tears and held each other close.  There was no question in my mind that the story was true.  I'd seen the clinic with my own eyes when George McFarland had given us the cannery tour.  I remember thinking it odd that this remote clinic should be so ultra-modern, especially when considering the purpose for which it ostensibly was built.  To me Dalisay's tale was appalling but somehow, plausible.  We'd already heard horror stories of the government using human guinea pigs for experiments we couldn't even imagine.  Downwinders in Utah were even then trying to bring to light the results of nuclear testing in Nevada and were even comparing our government's atrocities to those of Nazi Germany.  I was furious and wanted to get right at the business of exposing Dalisay's gross mistreatment.  She on the other hand felt such pursuits would be futile at best and dangerous at worst.  She just wanted to leave it in the past and go on with our wonderful, promising lives.  Eventually, I agreed and gradually settled down and let it be.  Deep in my heart I knew she was right, there was really nothing we could do.  The government was too big, too powerful and too conscious of its image to ever come clean on something that mattered only to us.

We were really enjoying our life in Belgium.  It seemed like one long honeymoon.  I was enjoying my job as well.  Admiral Belto had high expectations of me, but not impossible ones.  I worked hard and we became friends.  It was awkward at first.  He, a high ranking Admiral and me, a lowly enlisted man, were such unlikely friends.  When he first began taking me into his confidence, I just didn't know how to react.  Publicly, I was expected, of course, to use precise and respectful military decorum, but privately we were eventually on a first name basis.  He became my mentor, grandfather figure; he treated me like a son.  Oh how he doted over Dalisay.  I was away from home a lot.  I traveled with the Admiral just about everywhere he went, but he made certain to have me home for the weekend and as many evenings was possible.  I took notes at his meetings, wrote and maintained his correspondence, managed his schedule, poured his coffee and shined his shoes.

In June of 1975 Admiral Belto and I were attending meetings in Paris.  They were highly sensitive, mostly relating to Cold War strategy and posturing.  There was a lot of tension.  Several high ranking officials attended from the various NATO member states.  One morning we met privately with a couple of American diplomats.  They were extremely agitated.  Both were older gentlemen and I was never given their names.  Their conversation was terse, tense and cryptic.  Something NATO was planning seems to have been jeopardizing an operation they called Taal.  The Admiral seemed fully aware of that to which they referred and worked hard at allaying their fears.  I was just there to take notes for the Admiral.  A few days later when I was transcribing the notes, I buzzed his office to inquire as to the spelling of Taal.  When he told me, I was a bit surprised.  That spelling was the same as a volcano in the Philippines not far from Batangas.  Innocently, I asked if it referred to that volcano.  His answer was abrupt an uncharacteristically sharp, "NO!"

I didn't think much of Operation Taal for a few weeks.  Then one day I was sitting beside Dalisay watching a scientific documentary on BBC.  The program was discussing various advances in the science of fertility and in vitro fertilization.  We'd been married for 18 months at that point and, so far, Dalisay had not become pregnant.  This had been a big disappointment to both of us.  We'd even taken a few of the beginning steps to determine if there were problems with my fertility.  We already knew she could get pregnant.  The program seemed hopeful that, various strategies were developing that might ensure that children would yet grace our lives.  Part of the program included a look at work being done about a procedure we'd never heard of, something called cloning.  They interviewed a number of scientists, some of whom were skeptics, but a few of whom seemed very optimistic that one day soon we might clone lower animal forms in anticipation of the eventuality that they might actually create a duplicate copy of a human being.  We were intrigued, to say the least.  Not to mention a bit skeptical. I remember wondering if God would grant a Spirit Child to inhabit such a body. I must have glanced away from the set, when I heard Dalisay gasp.  "What?" I asked.  "Look!" she shouted pointing to the screen.  "See that man in the laboratory standing in the background?"  My jaw dropped, it was one of the officials who were so anxious about operation Taal.  But, "How could Dalisay know him?" I wondered.  With tears in her eyes she declared, "That is the doctor from the clinic!  I know it!  It's him!"  I sat back on the sofa, stunned.  Could it be a coincidence that the doctor from the clinic in Barangay was also associated with a top secret operation called after a nearby mountain?  Was Dalisay a participant in - a victim of, Operation Taal?  Could this man tell us what happened to her baby?  Is the child still living?  Could we see him?  Claim him?  Did Admiral Belto know about Dalisay's connection?  Is that why I got this unexpected position?  Is that why he's befriended me?  Dotes over Dalisay?  Is he watch-dogging us?  Or somehow feeling guilty?  Making it up to us?  Suddenly, I was scared.

I looked at Dalisay.  She was silently staring into space.  Tears were streaming down her cheeks.  I tried to express my knowledge of the man to my sweet, vulnerable wife and quickly discovered that she was in no condition to talk about it at the moment.  In fact the initial shock and dismay didn't leave her for weeks.  She didn't go mute or anything, but it was clear she didn't want to discuss the matter, at all.  Finally, late one night, lying in the darkness of our bedroom I heard her sigh.  "You recognized him too, didn't you!" she asked accusingly. "How could you possibly know him?"  It was such a relief to both of us when I was finally able to explain what I knew.  We turned the puzzle around and around in our minds trying to make some sense of what we'd heard and seen.  Obviously, our mysterious doctor had been conducting fertility experiments in Barangay.  Clearly, Dalisay had been a guinea pig.  It was obvious that the US Government and the military were involved.  Lots of money.  Lots of secrecy.  We had the bitter sense that we were of no more consequence or concern to them than some unfortunate lab rat.

My relationship with Admiral Belto changed.  I didn't want it to.  I tried to disguise my feelings.  I knew I no longer trusted him.  I knew I didn't dare ask any further about Operation Taal.  I suspected we might even be in danger if they knew Dalisay and I had made as much connection as we had.  The Admiral noticed my discomfort and more than once asked me what was wrong.  I always declared I had no idea what he was talking about, but our comfort level had been breached and we never were quite the friends we'd once been.

A week or so after Dalisay and I talked, the admiral flew to the States to take a week of personal leave.  It was unscheduled.  Ordinarily, we paired our time off so he wouldn't have to use someone else in my absence or because otherwise, I'd be left without a major portion of my job to occupy my time.  This event, being unplanned though, left me alone and I saw it as a window of opportunity.  I still had access to his files and I spent every free moment that week, combing through his service record to see if I could discover his connection to the doctor.  It wasn't hard to discover that he had been connected with Bethesda Naval Hospital at the time Dalisay was being seen at the clinic.  The record showed he was there in an "advisory" capacity.  At a hospital?  This is a man who began his career flying fighters off carrier decks and had been connected with combat operations his entire career.  No evaluations, commendations, specifics of any kind would give me a clue as to what he was doing during that six months assignment.  There was nothing to tell me who the doctor is.  The TV documentary offered transcripts of their programs and I sent for that.  After a seven week wait the transcript finally arrived.  Dalisay and I poured over it.  They included no photos so it was hard to determine what portion of the transcript was associated with the scene in which the doctor had appeared.  We remembered he was in the background of an interview though and were pretty sure we'd identified who they were interviewing; a Doctor Alan White of Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore.

The Admiral came back and I was kept busy for the next month or so with trips to Geneva, Ramstein, Paris, London and Geneva again.  Nothing of Operation Taal ever came up in a meeting again. I'd nosed around some, but couldn't find a way to identify who Dr. White's colleague, who stood in his lab, might have been.

We stayed in Belgium for three and half years.  Then, Admiral Belto was reassigned to the Pentagon and he took me with him.  I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer.  The Admiral was assigned a Lieutenant to be his personal assistant and I was demoted to gopher.  This was no surprise.  He had no business having an enlisted man doing that job anyway.  I was flattered that he wanted to keep me close.  I had a notion that he had ulterior motives.  Being naive as I was I actually thought I had merited the favors the Navy had bestowed upon me.  Instead, I would eventually discover that my life and Dalisay's had been carefully monitored since it was discovered that we had married.  The Taal conspirators were not about to have any loose ends turning up to surprise them.

I went about my business running errands for the Admiral. We enjoyed being back in the States.  We found a little house in Woodbridge, Virginia, enjoyed a fine, friendly Church Ward of mostly Utah expats and thought life was grand.  My job was a piece of cake.  Almost always 8 to 5.  The commute was hectic, but I enjoyed the time to listen to talks and scriptures on tape while in the car.  Virginia may have been the best time of our lives so far.  We had few pressures, good friends, lots to see and do and plenty of time, and finally money, to do it.  Dalisay had taken college courses by correspondence in Belgium and finished up her degree on campus at George Town University plus her student teaching during our first year in Virginia. She began teaching Kindergarten the following year at a school only blocks from our home.  I took leave every summer during July, when she was out of school and we always spent our Julys with family either in Utah or the Philippines.  I had reenlisted for six years to accompany Admiral Belto to the Pentagon.  At five and a half Admiral Belto retired, leaving me to be reassigned for the remainder of that hitch.  I was reassigned to be a Boot Camp Company Commander at Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago.  That was a mixed bag.  I'd been away from typical Yeoman duties for nearly nine years.  My training was severely lacking in a rapidly evolving field.  There was no way I could be assigned as a Chief of an office of personnel who knew their jobs far better than I.  I think NAVPERS, knowing this, could think of nothing else to do with me.  The Navy, knowing my intentions to leave active duty, classified my assignment TDY (Temporary Duty) with no allowance for a move or for Dalisay to accompany me.  Dalisay and I decided that was for the best and that she'd stay in Virginia for those six months.  I embarked on the most miserable six months of my life.

I don't have the kind of personality required to drive a company of recruits through basic training.  After six weeks of intensive training in recruit training methods I got my first company.  I tried to be the tough, hard-nosed drill instructor I was expected to be, but my recruits saw right through it.  I missed Dalisay terribly.  It helped that being a Company Commander was almost a 24/7 job, especially at first, but I was a fish out of water and my company knew it.  My company nearly failed to complete the course and I, with the first poor performance evaluations of my career, was reassigned once again.  I had declared my intention to leave the Navy, so I was assigned to small barracks where I baby-sat Boot Camp washouts while they were processed out of the service.  I actually had a good time at that.  None of us wanted to be there, washouts all.  The kids knew it and so did I.  Still, I felt like such a failure.  I was leaving the Navy six years short of retirement with no prospects for my future.  I was counting the days until Dalisay and I could be reunited.  We'd decided it was prudent to stay in Virginia, at least for the short term, where at least she had a job.  I was scheduled to be released from active duty on 3 February 1985.  It would be an honorable discharge, but somehow, the final few months of my service career had really taken the wind out of my sails.  On January 15th, my mother died.  I took funeral leave and rendezvoused with Dalisay in Utah.  We arrived back in Chicago with just three days left on my enlistment.  All I had to do was some processing and I'd be a civilian for the first time in fourteen years.

My wife and I walked into the Duty office at Great Lakes on January 31st to report back from leave.  When I presented myself, we were asked to sit in the hall.  We sat there for over an hour wondering what was going on.  Finally, a Petty Officer with a Shore Patrol arm band approached us and politely asked if we would follow him.  He loaded us in a jeep and drove across the base to the base commander's headquarters.  We were again seated in a hallway and waited nearly another hour.  Finally, we were escorted into the base commander's office.  Admiral Walters greeted us warmly and invited us to sit down.  He explained that during my absence he'd been contacted by NAVPERS with a special request.  Someone somewhere had pulled a few strings and had found a duty assignment the Navy hoped would be attractive enough to persuade me to reenlist for another and final six year hitch.  Admiral Walters then presented me with orders to Makati, Philippines.  We were utterly shocked.  I protested with my awareness that the US had abandoned her bases in the Philippines and that I thought we had no more presence there.  The Admiral explained that as the Navy had hundreds of Filipinos who'd served on active duty in the US Navy, mostly as Stewards, many of whom had retired and were drawing pensions and had other benefits that need attention, the Navy had set up an office near Manila to process and expedite the fair and proper distribution of those benefits to those retirees who made their home back in the islands.  Dalisay and I looked at one another and in a glance, knew we would accept.  We were given six weeks to settle our affairs and report for duty in the P.I.  I suspected I knew who the puppeteers were in all of this.

We packed our things and sent them on their way, and putting our house up for sale, we flew to Utah to spend a few days with my Dad.  He was utterly bereft at Mom’s passing.  I'd never seen him so low.  We had a couple of weeks to spend with him and decided to load him in his car and drive to Star Valley, Wyoming, where he grew up, for a visit with old friends and family and to spend a little time tending to Mom's grave.  While we were there, during a lunch break in Afton, we stumbled onto an old high school sweetheart of his.  She was a widow and to make a long story short, they took up where they left off and before Dalisay and I had flown out to her homeland, Dad and Elva were engaged to be married.  It comforted me greatly to see him getting settled and happy, before our departure.

I love the Philippines.  Sure, the nation has its problems, its political unrest, its vast pockets of poverty, its stinky skunge ditches and polluted rivers and cities.  But it also has its splendor, refinement, magnificent beauty and the people.  Oh, the people.  The sweetest, warmest, most unpretentious people on earth live in those blessed islands.  Foremost among them, Pedro and Loline Valero, my in-laws.  I'm never happier than when I am in their home.  Dalisay and I quickly found a little apartment in Pasig, not far from Makati, in which to dwell and also, built a house in the field next to her parents.  We'd spend the week in the City.  But every weekend we were in Barangay.  I was the administrator of the office in Makati and the only American.  I had an adequate staff of competent people, who knew far more than I about the routine and method of accomplishing our task.  Essentially, all I had to do was be liaison between the VA, the Navy and the retirees.  The day to day work was done for me.  We developed into an efficient machine and within months whittled our jobs down to a four-day work week.  We had no one to report to, except our clients and we were adept at seeing to their needs, so life, once again, became grand.

By this time Batangas had grown from the Branch I'd presided over as a missionary, to a District of the Church.  Batangas proper had four Branches, Barangay had one and Taal and Lemery each had a Branch as well.  I got to teach Sunday School in the Barangay Branch.  Church services were no longer held in English, but in Tagalog.  My Tagalog was never strong, but it's a sweet and simple language and I picked it up pretty quickly.  Two people could not have been happier.  We still had not been blessed with children.  Extensive tests had revealed that after delivery of her mysterious child, Dalisay had been rendered sterile, through some invasive procedure that was evident internally, but totally unfamiliar to our doctors.  We had resigned ourselves to this and were resolved to color our lives with the crayons that did come in our box.  Aside from the hectic drive between our apartment and home each way each week, our lives were leisurely, enchanted and full of joy.  I didn't think I had a care in the world.

Often on Friday and Saturday mornings, I'd go for a walk in the cool of the morning.  I explored the sea shore and the forest covered hillsides.  I walked along the rice paddy dikes and wandered the cow paths. Greenery, flowers and fruit grow everywhere.  It is truly a paradise, once you're away from the congested cities.  One day I walked past the old cannery.  The gate hung akimbo on its post and I pulled aside some vines and let myself in.  Nature was in the process of reclaiming the place.  The machinery had long since been relocated to someplace else.  Looters had ransacked the rest.  Now weeds and trees and vines were repossessing what had once been theirs.  I explored the place with interest.  With nothing left of value, it appeared to have seldom been seen by human eyes for a decade or so.  What had once been vast stretches of pavement was almost impassable by now.  How quickly things find their natural state.  How hard we have to work to keep it otherwise.  I smiled when I saw full grown squash among wilted leaves beneath the caretaker's old house.  I approached the old clinic building and found part of the roof collapsed, the doors gone, windows broken and the inside fouled with blown leaves and rat feces.  I ventured inside.  I felt a wad of bitterness collect in the pit of my stomach as I walked the corridors of Dalisay's violation.  Who could have done this?  Why?  Someone had scrawled a bitter invective on one wall, and for the first time, I realized that Dalisay had not been the only victim here.  I sensed there had been dozens, maybe more.  "Damn you, Dr. Hobart, may you rot in Hell, strapped in the stirrups of your examination table, with your own speculum shoved up your ass, and may you be forced watch maggots crawl in and out of your stinking guts, forever!"

That was the instant I started looking over my shoulder.  A chill had gone up my spine and my instant reaction was that someone was watching.  I'd been timid about being vocal about all this before.  Obviously Operation Taal has some clout.  Certainly, they want to remain undiscovered.  Clearly, if they knew I even had a name, we could be in danger.  I had no way to be certain Dr. Hobart was our man, but my heart felt very certain and very unsettled.  I fled.

Months passed without incident.  I probably would never know who bitterly scrawled those words on the clinic wall.  Whoever it was knew more than I, but I would never forget the name Dr. Hobart.  Dalisay was happier than I'd ever known her.  I didn't want to spoil that, so I never told her what I'd seen.  Dr. Hobart had traumatized her enough.  I hoped we'd never hear of him again.

Two years after we moved to the Philippines, Victor died unexpectedly in the night.  We were all devastated.  He was serving as Branch President in Barangay at the time.  Members of the church from all over the area attended his funeral.  There wasn't space for everyone in the small local chapel.  Folks were standing at the windows and crowding the foyer.  Loline, though sad, was the picture of faith and testimony.  Her simple faith, that she'd spend eternity at Victor's side comforted all of us.  Loline had been frail for several years as well.  Many expected she'd follow Victor to the grave in months.  She did not.  She was at peace and it radiated from her.  We stayed in the Philippines until I'd served my 20 years with the Navy and in 1993 I retired.  The continuing political unrest in the country had made us sufficiently uncomfortable to cause us to determine to go back to the States.  We were reluctant to do so because we didn't wish to leave Loline alone in Barangay.  Dalisay's sisters were both living in America. Her only brother was currently in Marikina just outside of Manila.  He was serving as the Recorder at the LDS Temple there.  We asked Mom if she'd consider going with us and she surprised us by answering with an enthusiastic, "Yes!"

Dalisay's sisters, Beverly and Grace were living in Riverside and San Diego, California, respectively.  We decided to settle in Escondido, in between.  We purchased a pleasant home with an attached apartment for Mom.  She was so happy to be near all of her girls again.  Her health improved and she remained active well into her 80's.  My father died within weeks of our return.  Though I'd like to have lived near him, Star Valley seemed too remote and cold for our tropically adapted constitutions.  Being retired though, I was able to spend his last weeks by his side.  We had wonderful conversations.  We patched up a few tender spots in our relationship and spoke freely of the meaning of life and death.  To pass the long bed-fast hours, that so thoroughly frustrated him, he told me stories from his life and I shared many from my own adventures.  We'd corresponded reasonably well over the past twenty years but there was so much neither of us had shared.  Every day, every story was a delightful surprise.  We laughed, we cried, we pondered and delved.  When I told my father of Dalisay's tragedy at the hands of Dr. Hobart, Dad was furious.  So much so that I feared it would be the last straw for his congested heart.  A veteran of World War II he was fiercely patriotic.  But he was not blind to the atrocities of government experimentation using human guinea pigs.  Those exposed to nuclear radiation were near to his heart.  I dear cousin of his, Thomas Abernathy, was a Downwinder who suffered an agonizing death.  He was a man whose family has spent years in courts and hearings trying to expose the government's wrong doing.  A family who is still waiting for any form of redress.

He wouldn't speak of the horrors of war, but often alluded to the fact that too often, even then, the government took an “'ends justifies the means" attitude resulting in unspeakable atrocity.  Hearing of Dalisay's plight, in the glare of his personal experience, began to shed light on what might have happened.  "The government is never motivated by scientific advancement as such.  Government is motivated by political and strategic advantage," He told me.  Don't ever assume that Dalisay's sacrifice was for some altruistic kind of good.  "If it looks like a skunk, acts like a skunk and smells like a skunk, IT'S A SKUNK!"  He fumed!

During Dad's final week, his decline began to accelerate.  He was excited about that.  He'd been active his entire life and being bed-fast was torture.  One day I asked him for a Father's Blessing.  He was so weak I had to hold his hands in place upon my head as he pronounced profound and comforting words upon me.  Dalisay was there and can attest to the sacredness of what he gave me.  I will not speak of the details because they are too special to be hung upon the front porch for the world to peruse.  I will say, however, that He promised resolution and meaning to Dalisay's dark burden.

On the day before he died, in his characteristically optimistic fashion Dad asked if there was anything he could do for me.  We all had a good laugh over that.  Too weak to even roll over in bed, what could he possibly do for anyone.  Through all the chuckles, though, I saw a glint of seriousness in his eye.  When Dalisay and my step mother had gone to the kitchen to begin preparing a meal, I took Dad's hand and said, "You're serious aren't you?"

"Dead serious," was his reply.  That should have been cause for more laughs, but his demeanor stifled any humor I might have seen in his morbid choice of words.

I thought for a minute.  We had been comfortable for weeks speaking openly of his death, his imminent reunion with Mom and his parents.  We both had come away from Mom's passing with an unshakable assurance that we'd one day catch up with her on the other side.  Having that confidence, it occurred to me that there may be truth about Dalisay's stolen baby he could discover upon his arrival beyond the veil of tears.  Thinking it quite a facetious request, I asked anyway.

"If you could help me discover from the other-side, some helpful detail about Operation Taal, and if you could find a way to convey that information to me here, would you do it?"


"Depends?  I didn't know your offer had strings."

"Not strings per se.  I just don't want you seeking revenge.  Vengeance belongs to the Lord and you can rest assured he will repay."

"I don't think I have the guts to seek revenge."  I tell him.  "Thomas Abernathy's family has sought nothing more than redress for all these years and still, in spite of overwhelming evidence has got nowhere.  How could I, by myself, even pretend to get revenge in light of that!"

"You couldn't," he affirmed.  "But you could seek out individuals, like this Hobart fellow, and seek to carry out your own justice."

"I wouldn't, you know I wouldn't."

"Yes, you're right, you wouldn't would you."

"But I would like to know the truth.  I'd like to expose the truth.  I'd like to take the wind, whatever it is, out of the sails of their conspiracy.  It is, by its very nature, of evil origin; you and I both know you can't pick good fruit from a corrupt tree."

He thought about it for a long minute, smiled and said, "Son, when my good friend Don died, I mourned of course, but there was some excitement in it too.  He and I had made a pact that whoever died first would come back and tell the other how it was over there.  He never came.  I don't have a clue how things work over there and I might not be permitted to help you with this.  But, if such a thing is at all possible, which means it is according to the will of God, I'll do it."

Not knowing when to stop, I added, "While you're at it, could you look up Martha Beedon and tell her I really need some help finding her parents on the Isle of Man?"

"Who's Martha Beedon?"

"She's an ancestor of ours, who has been eluding me since I started researching Grandma's line back in college."

"That sounds like a request God might prefer to let me help you with.  Consider Martha Beedon, my top priority!"

I couldn't ask for more.  I had no doubt that if he could he would.  I also had, not even the slightest idea if such a thing might be permitted.  I concluded to leave it at that and I never gave it a second thought. A week later we buried my father.  Dalisay and I had obtained a computer not long before Dad got sick.  We had really enjoyed getting hooked up to the internet.  Looking back I can't imagine being patient with the slowness of dial-up and the feeble computer we had.  One of the first enjoyments the World Wide Web offered was on line genealogical research.  While it was nothing, when compared with the data that is offered today; it was really something to be able to visit with people across the globe through email and wait, at most, hours instead of weeks for answers from distant relatives.  It was astonishing back then, to behold the rate of growth in terms of sources and services on the Web.  Incidentally, this was before I'd ever heard of Al Gore.  I listed myself on several Genealogical Bulletin Boards with queries about various lost ancestors.  One of my queries was regarding Martha Beedon.  She'd emigrated from the Isle of Man in the early 1800's.  I had looked off and on for over thirty years for record of her parents and could find none.  When Dalisay and I returned to Escondido from Dad's funeral, my box was filled with weeks of email.  It took a couple of days to go through it all.  Junk mail was rare so early in the Web's public life and though most my mail wasn't that valuable, I had to go through it to be sure.  It took a couple of days.  On the second day I opened an email from someone I'd never heard of.  His name was Robert Beedon.  He'd found my name on a Genealogy Bulletin Board associated with the name of Martha Beedon.  In the note he told me that he owned the Beedon Family Bible and that if I'd give him my physical address he'd forward me copies of all of its pertinent pages.  Scanners weren't commonly available yet.  After a few weeks that package arrived which contained enough information to add three generations to the Beedon Family line? Call it a coincidence if you like, but I thought, "Dad, you're really on the stick!"  Robert Beedon was from Preston, England!

I recorded the information in my Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program and smiled as the lines extended so much further into the past.  Another great web service is available at the LDS Church's Family Search web site.  If you run your line out to a distant name you can have the server create a chart of all the known descendants of that individual.  It is helpful if you want to find cousins in your current generation who may have information on your common ancestor.  I ran such a query on the descendants of Margaret Elliot of New Castle on Tyne, England, in hopes of finding out more about her and her parents.  She was Martha Beedon's Paternal Great Grandmother.  The data came on my screen and I began to follow the chart back toward the present.  Nearing my own generation I found a family name that caught my attention - Hobart!  What if, under the guise of genealogical research, I could discover who Dr. Hobart was?  My mind was swimming with the possibilities!  Had Dad killed two birds with one stone?

The next few weeks were busy with queries and notes of Genealogy Bulletin Boards and dead end answers.  I had to be careful, because people aren't normally very excited about sharing information regarding living relatives.  I had no desire to tip off Dr. Hobart either.   The last thing I needed was for him to discover that I was on his trail.  In fact because of my perception of the danger, I actually gave up a time or two.  I lay away lots of nights debating, wondering what I hoped to gain from any discoveries I might make.  I had already committed to Dad that I wouldn't seek revenge.  While Dalisay felt differently, I felt sure it wouldn't be a great idea for her to reconnect with her, now grown, child.  I guess I made him out to be a monster, but what can you expect of a child raised by a clandestine institution.  Truth is, I had no idea what to expect or what I hoped to accomplish.  I just wanted to know what was going on.  It seemed so hopeless that I would ever crack the shell of secrecy Taal had created around themselves, so I quit trying.

Why is it that when you take your focus off a problem, the answer suddenly comes clear?  An email arrived from one of the people I'd been corresponding with in the Hobart family.  It wasn't addressed to me.  Someone had mistakenly included my address in their CC: list.  It was a forward.  I have grown to hate forwards, but they weren't all that common back at the beginning of the Web.  This forward regarded an award granted one of the family's favorite sons.  Dr. James F. Hobart had graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore and had been granted a research fellowship at the Hoyt Institute of Cellular Biology.  The article did not mention his father's name, but the forwarder had added a short personal note:  "Kyle must be so proud."  It seemed too likely to dismiss, that our man was Dr. Kyle Hobart.  The Johns Hopkins connection and the Hoyt Institute mission were all too close to our scenario.

I conducted a quick Alta Vista search for Dr. Kyle Hobart's name and came up empty.  I searched for Hoyt Institute and did a little better.  Clearly, Hoyt Institute was technologically behind times in terms of having a Web presence.  They had a front page, but no roster of personnel, not even a clear statement of their mission.  There was a contact email address, but I didn't dare inquire directly.

It was Christmas time and Pablo, Dalisay's brother and his wife Fannie were in the States to spend the Holidays.  Loline lived with us in a cute Mother-in-law apartment attached to our home.  We had a guest room, so they based their visit with us.  During dinner conversation we learned that their oldest son, Marco had masterfully completed training in computer programming; he was a prodigy.  He and a friend were starting an IT business and growth was astounding.  Borders were of little consequence on the web.  They were developing a hosting site and were gaining clients and reputation by leaps and bounds.  I wondered if Hoyt Institute might be enticed to develop their web presence if a competent, innovative company made an attractive proposal.  I emailed Marco that night.  He was fully aware of Dalisay's story and I knew he could be trusted with a very sensitive mission to seek answers in that regard.  I asked if he thought it possible to entice Hoyt Institute to use their services.  I suggested that layered, proactive site security would be a must, security through which he might set up an undetectable back door.  Marco emailed back in less than an hour.  He was excited for the challenge and motivated by the cause.  He was sure it could be done.  He announced that he and his partner had recently determined that they needed a front man in the States and had a couple of promising applicants.  Marco was going to fly to the States to interview candidates in just a couple of weeks!  He actually, arrived in at LAX a week before Pablo and Fannie were to return home.  We enjoyed a great week together.  His parents loved showing him around and showing him off to all the stateside family.  Marco was single, handsome and charmed everyone.  Some of the nieces and nephews hadn't seen him in years.

As his parents left for the Philippines, Marco flew to New York.  He would spend two weeks selecting a front man there and establishing an office.  While it was important to have a US presence, Marco was well aware of the advantages of having a business that hosted off shore.  He suspected that this, especially, would be attractive to Hoyt Institute.  Having those things taken care of Marco went to work on a proposal.  Upon its completion his man in New York approached Hoyt Institute with the intent of selling them a fully developed web presence through which, personnel could collaborate from remote locations under a completely secure umbrella.  Rich Migliori was his man.  Tech savvy himself, Rich could sell ice-cubes to Eskimos.  Still, his proposal was initially rejected.  Hoyt was "connected" through the government's version of the web and had been for years.  In the end however, as is often the case, Hoyt concluded that Marco's security was an advantage because it was disconnected from the government system.  His software was more versatile and streamlined and they agreed to a trial run.  They assured Rich that they'd hire the best hackers they could find, to try to breach his system and if they passed they had a contract.  Rich, Marco and Edgar were up for the challenge.  It took them six months to fully develop what they had proposed, but the finished product performed flawlessly.

Their design was brilliant!  To the public the Hoyt Institute web page was attractive, friendly, and informative, while being very discreet.  It was also impenetrable.  The secure layers were nowhere accessible from the publicly viewable pages.  Specific computers could be granted deeper and yet deeper access to files and data, but those computers had to be pre-identified before obscure icons would appear and be activated.  Should you actually get to see the icons and should they actually be active, clicking through on them would then send you through a series of password barriers to the level for which you were pre-approved.  Outside hackers, would have to be working from a pre-approved computer to even be able to attempt an invasion.  Hoyt loved it!  Within weeks the site was up and running and Marco was invisibly inside.  Marco and I had agreed that we would communicate none of his discoveries over the phone or email.  Any significant discoveries must be shared face to face.  We couldn't risk being discovered.  We had predetermined that we would probably obtain any information we needed in a year.  Marco had set up a trial period of one year before finally contract negotiations would be required.  Both parties felt comfortable with the arrangement.  Then, we intended for Marco to bow out of the deal by holding his prices ridiculously high, forcing Hoyt to abandon the project.

Marco made trips to America on five occasions during that year.  He always stopped to visit his Grandmother.  We would go for a hike in the hills and discuss what he'd learned.  It became immediately clear that Hoyt Institute was heavily involved in cloning research and that it was their primary concern.  Dr. Kyle Hobart was a lead researcher.   A photograph confirmed that he was indeed our man.  Dalisay confirmed that he was, most certainly, the man who treated her at the Barangay Clinic in 1972.  There were files and files of research data, but never any reference to the Taal Project.  A year came and went.  Faithful, Marco accompanied Rich Migliori to a conference room at Hoyt where they presented a contract for Hoyt to consider.  He proposed at ten year agreement during which National Web Services, Marco's company, would maintain dynamic oversight and update services of the web site in exchange for $50 million dollars, half up front and the rest in yearly increments.  It was an outlandish request and Hoyt didn't even flinch.  Marco came home with $25 million dollars in his pocket.  When he stopped by to see me on his way home, he was clearly terrified.

"We've got ourselves in way over our heads here Jinx," he told me.

"Don't you think you can keep them happy?"

"I know I can, but I wanted to be out of this mess and completely disconnected from what they're doing at this point.  "Now I'm facilitating their project and I don't believe in what they're doing.  Besides, these are very scary people Jinx.  "If I ever fail them, the consequences will be far worse than getting fired, I can feel it."

"Do you think they have any idea that you are connected with Dalisay?"

"I doubt it but you can bet I've been thoroughly vetted."

"Do they suspect you've been inside their files?"

"No, but they could follow me just to be sure.  I'm just thankful we've never communicated electronically or over the phone.  I think I'm going to have to stop seeing you every trip.  We need to be very very careful."

I agreed.  I loved Marco and would miss seeing him.  Loline would have a hard time understanding too.  She loved "her boy".

As we parted that day Marco handed me a little note book.  It contained instructions and a code.  Briefly, he explained that should information arise that would be important for me to know, he'd encode a message in a letter sent as ordinary correspondence from the Philippines.  The book included the code and a couple of subtle indicators that would tip me that code was present in the letter.  We never spoke again.

A year went by.  Life was good.  No further information from Marco was actually comforting.  Then in August of 1998 I got a letter from Marco.  A smilie at the end of a sentence indicated code.  Frantically, I got out the little book and decoded the message.  "Meet Rich Migliori at Disneyland. Dumbo. 10:15 A.M. August 28.  He'll find you.  Accept his envelope.  Ensure the seal has not been broken."

I memorized the message and burned the letter.  Three days and I'd be getting more information.  I was excited and not a little frightened.  This was clandestine beyond anything I'd expected.  I informed Dalisay that we'd be going to Disneyland in a couple of days.  She thought it a bit silly a couple of 46 year olds alone in Disneyland.  She suggested we take a couple of Beverly's Grand kids, but I didn't dare.  We arrived early and ate breakfast in the Park.  We tried to act casual, but our nerves were raw and it probably showed.  Rich found us a couple of minutes before the appointed hour.  He handed me the envelope.  The seal had not been broken.  I turned to leave and Rich grabbed my arm.

"I have your cell number; I'll hang back and make sure you're not followed.  If you are followed, when you answer the phone my first word will be "Yes" if not "No.  Now go!"

We tried to walk casually and made it to the car without incident.  As we entered the freeway the phone rang.  I answered and heard Rich say, "No possibility it's going to rain today is there?"

"No, not at all," I gratefully replied.

"Good then the picnic is on!"  Rich enthusiastically replied and hung up.

As we drove home Dalisay read Marco's letter to me.

Dear Jinx and Dalisay,

I've been in the States for the past three days, in meetings with Rich.  Things are going well.  Don't worry about us.  We did discover, however, some big information for you.  Six months ago Hoyt requested a deeper layer of security for new data.  We created it for them and recently, they've loaded the entire Taal Project to that layer.  I have studied it thoroughly and discovered what has transpired.

The Barangay Clinic was a cover for Project Taal as you suspected.  They were attempting to clone a human being.  The person they were attempting to clone is only identified as X in any of the data.  Apparently, that identity is closely guarded even among the conspirators.  Anyway, without too much detail here's the story.  The clinic's job was to implant an egg into the womb of a surrogate.  They knew they didn't have adequate technology, but hoped that by sheer numbers they might get lucky.  They seem to have sequentially numbered the attempts, but for some reason have deleted the numbers.  Maybe they're embarrassed at how many attempts it took before they were successful.  The record indicates that they got lucky twice.  Dalisay was the second successful surrogate to keep a fetus.  The first had miscarried early on.  Dalisay carried her baby to term as we know.  Having a healthy baby boy in hand, they closed the clinic and took the baby to Switzerland and later to Massachusetts.  The baby is being raised in a compound, the location of which is not disclosed in the records.  The child has been photographed periodically to record his development.  He is a handsome young man with no Filipino characteristics.  Included is the most recent photograph.  I think you'll find his features familiar.  If he is, who I think he is, we are in way too deep already.  Be careful and good luck.


Dalisay turned up the photograph and gasped.  I didn't place it at first.  When she told me who she thought it to be, I could see the similarities, but remained unconvinced.  I couldn't see how it could possibly be true and I refused to speak his name for fear it might incline me toward belief.  Our ride home was uneventful and once on the road to Escondido, it seemed clear that indeed we were not being followed.  I began to relax.  We drove into the garage and parked the car.  Nothing seemed amiss and we walked in to the unlit kitchen from the garage without the slightest concern.  As we entered the living room, we had the shock of our lives.  Seated comfortably beside Loline on the sofa, engaged in pleasant conversation, sat Admiral Belto!

We had neither seen nor heard from Admiral Belto for nearly ten years!  How could it be that he was seated here in our living room?  I began to inquire as to his health and activities when he interrupted me...

"There isn't time for small talk," he declared.  "We have little time to get you out of here and there isn't time for questions.  They're on to you and your lives are in grave danger.  You must follow my instructions to the letter.  Do you understand?"

"What is this?"

"Just listen!  I have people here; they will interfere with anyone who might follow you.  You must immediately drive up into the Lagunas on route 23, just beyond mile marker 123 is a sharp curve.  As you round that curve you'll find a semi truck parked with ramps down and the door open.  You must drive into that trailer and park your car.  We'll take it from there.  If you are careful to follow instructions, you will have nothing to worry about."


"Just go!  Now!  There'll be plenty of time to talk later. Go!"

We fled to the car and drove; tears of fear and confusion streaming down our cheeks.  Of course Mom went with us.  She sat quietly in the back seat.  Eventually, it occurred to me that she might have more information for us.  She didn't.  Admiral Belto had told her nothing, nothing of any consequence anyway.  We found the semi waiting just as described.  It was a bit frightening to drive up the ramps.  The door closed immediately behind us and quickly the truck began to roll away.  We wondered how long we'd be confined in the darkness.  We sat for hours in the darkness.  Dalisay weeping, Loline consoling and me cursing myself for my foolishness in trying to discover that which might have been well enough left alone, we rolled away into a new life.  Twice it felt as though our trailer was being switched to a new tractor.  We were so confined for thirteen hours.  Finally, we stopped for good.  The door opened and we rolled the car back onto the floor of a large warehouse.  We were ushered to much needed restrooms and then loaded onto a Continental Trailways bus.  Quickly we were back on the road again.  There were about a dozen passengers on board.  They acted as if they were just ordinary bored passengers enduring a long tedious trip.  We suspected however, that each was prepared to protect and defend us.  The bus rolled all day, never stopping for passengers or even to refuel.  We were fed and otherwise well cared for.  One lady opened a picnic basket for us.  Another fellow opened some snacks for us.  A bottle of water was proffered here and cold soda there.  No one spoke of anything of consequence and for all the world, they remained as distant and aloof as any traveling stranger might.

Finally the bus stopped in Hastings, Minnesota.  We all disembarked at a Trailways depot and our fellow travelers scattered as ordinarily as one might expect from any bus.  We were handed luggage (we'd brought none of our own) by the bus driver, who motioned for us to walk to the curb.  There we were met by a driver in a beat up cab.  He loaded us and drove us forty-five minutes to a small farm village called Thayne, in the woods near a lake.  A couple of miles out of town we left the highway at a lane by which stood a realtor's sign marked SOLD.  The cab came to a halt in front of a lovely white farm house with lots of windows and a large wraparound porch.  The cabbie helped us to the door and handed us a key.  We opened the door and stepped inside as the driver slipped away.  There on the sofa sat Admiral Belto.

He smiled and said, "Welcome to your new home Mr. and Mrs. Evenhus."


"You are being hidden away from those who would take your lives.  You have new identities, histories, records and circumstances.  You are now Mr. Ollie and Mrs. Maria Evenhus. You may read your personal journals to learn more of your new lives.  You, Loline will now be Anna Fernandez from Dumaguete, Philippines.  You must never make any attempt to contact anyone from your lives of memory, NEVER!  Their lives are already in jeopardy, contacting them will only compound the treat!  We will do what we can to protect them, but you must never try to reach them."

He went on coldly and succinctly, "Marco has paid with his life, as have his partners."  Dalisay and Loline collapsed in tears.  I couldn't even attempt to comfort them.  My guilt and self disgust, sat in my stomach like a wad of congealed grease.  I couldn't even face them.

Admiral Belto called me out to the back porch.  He pulled up a chair and commanded me to sit.  I sat.  He positioned himself across from me and looking straight into my eyes instructed, "You, sir, have been the biggest fool I can imagine.  I have tried to shield the two of you and keep you safe since before we met.  You did not need to be victims beyond Dalisay's initial loss, but you couldn't leave it alone could you!

"Accuse me will you?"  I cried.  "I'd never have come this far had you not brought me under your magnanimous, self-righteous wing for crying out LOUD!"

"Now, you listen to me!  Do you honestly think I would do this for a total stranger!” he seethed.  I had a debt to pay.  An honor to uphold...."

"What debt is that, and what has it to do with me?"

"I have already said too much.  I just need to impress upon you to settle in here, accept your new lives.  Enjoy them, for heaven's sake!  Forget about this nonsense over which you have no control.  Pursuing this will only cost you and more of your loved ones their lives.  Let - it - be."

"How can I?  How can I ever face Dalisay, having cost her her nephew's life?" I cried through tears of grief and shame.

"You must!"

"Who are these people?  What are they doing?  Why must they ruin our lives with such impunity?"

"LEAVE IT! DO YOU HEAR ME?  Leave it alone!"

I sat in confused, empty silence.

"I must go.  Read your journals.  Learn who you are.  Learn it."

I looked up and he was gone.

I walked numbly into the house and into my new life, one I was not anxious to discover.

Dalisay, or rather, Maria and Anna were still weeping in one another's arms.  I should have lent some comfort of my own, but I felt that I was the cause for their suffering and couldn't bear the duplicitous roles I was now expected to perform.  I muttered some lame sounding apology and eventually wandered out the door.  I drifted aimlessly about the property.  There was a barn, a couple of sheds, some nice corals and a pleasant pasture.  The whole place was surrounded by woods.  I headed there in hopes of hiding.  Hiding my shame, my foolishness, from whom?  From myself?  Dalisay?  God?  Enclosed in the trees I felt safer, concealed.  I wandered for twenty or so minutes before I encountered a fence.  I followed it for a while before it turned perpendicular to my line of travel.  We had a sizable chunk of land here.  I kept following the fence up over a hill and then turned back in the general direction of the house.  Before long I encountered a large pond.  It was beautiful.  It lay against some dark stone ledges and a small stream cascaded over the rim and fell pleasantly into the still water of the pool. Nearby, I sat on a large boulder and wept.  I stayed there until it was nearly dark.  My self recrimination grew old and unsatisfying. I wanted to take action, but action is what had caused this disaster, so what was there left for me to do?

As I approached the house, the smell of lumpia and pancit caught my attention.  I slipped quietly in the back door, hoping to make them aware of my return, but also hoping to avoid dealing with troubles and pain I could barely understand, let alone wrestle with.  The women had composed themselves and had set about making themselves at home.  They'd set a place for me at the table and insisted I join them to eat.  It was my mother-in-law who broke the silence.

"You seem to be blaming yourself, Jenkins,” she said.

"I am," is all I could muster.

"Don't.  You have loved and cared for Maria here.  You have only wanted what was best for her.  You are not the villain here.  Someone else has committed this evil.  We must not let this tear from us the unity and strength we now require more than ever."

"Thank you dear Lol.."

She cut me off.  "I am no longer Loline," she declared, flatly.

I tried again.  "Thank you dear Anna, I appreciate your understanding, but look what I've gotten us into. I've cost Marco and Rich their lives.  How can I ever forgive myself?"

"I repeat," she said, "You are not to blame here and this is not the end of our efforts to expose this conspiracy, this is the beginning.  Something terrible is happening and we are the only ones who can bring it from darkness into the light.  The only way we can validate Marco and Rich's sacrifice, is to finish what they started, even if it costs us our lives!"

"But you heard Admiral Belto..."

"No buts about it.  He may not be a party to this, but he is not entirely forthcoming either.  It is troubling that he even cares about us and disconcerting that he has enough clout to accomplish what he has in the past few days.  He is not innocent here and while he may have a conscience in the matter, it isn't big enough make him do the right thing." 

I looked at Dalisay and found resolute agreement with her mother.  Any guilt I felt was my own to deal with. These two sweet good women are not holding me responsible.  Instead they are looking to me for courage, leadership and determination.  It is a relief to feel their support, but I am looking to them for the strength of character they seem to require of me.  Dalisay seems to sense this and says, "Honey, I know your heart is full of doubts and misgivings.  You have to get past that.  You must get on your knees and ask God for strength beyond your capacity, and guidance.  I can feel in my heart that this is what He expects of you."

Then, she surprised me by asking, "What should we do now?"

After a long moment I replied, "Let’s eat.  Let’s read our journals.  Let’s establish our new lives.  We need to get ourselves situated here and we can go from there. I'm not sure I'm convinced I'm right, but we do have to begin somewhere."

My journal consisted of four hard bound volumes.  It was written in my own hand, or so very nearly so that I found it hard to believe I hadn't written it.  Dalisay and Loline made similar remarks.  There's no point in confusing you, dear reader, with a change of names.  We worked hard on doing that though and after a lot of practice at home, never slipped in public and began to accept and answer to our new monikers.  After breakfast we each got out our journals.  I got fidgety and walked to the pond to read.  I was amazed to read my new story.  I had become Ollie Evenhus, child of Norwegian immigrants.  I had diplomas and certificates to prove it.  Even a baptismal certificate if you can imagine.  I discovered that I joined the LDS Church during High School and despite the resistance of my Lutheran parents, served a mission for the church in Los Angeles, California.

We were all grateful to discover that we were listed as members of the church.  A copy of the local paper was on the kitchen table when we arrived.  It listed the local Thayne Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We went to Church the following Sunday and introduced ourselves.  The Branch Clerk sent for our records and actually received them.  How is all of this done we wondered.  The Branch consisted of about 25 active members.  They welcomed us with open arms.  We were going to fit in nicely and it was good to connect with a sweet cluster of church members.  In my journal I was retired and living on a nice pension.  In a desk at the house we found a bank account had been set up for us.  We had money already in it and later discovered that $3000.00 is direct deposited to our account twice each month.  There was a car in the garage, also a pickup truck, fishing boat, and small camp trailer.  We find computers set up for each of us.  Interesting, innocuous files are already established in each of them.  A recipe' collection was in Loline's.  Extensive correspondence in Dalisay's and mostly spread sheets for livestock records in mine.  We had no live stock, that is until a truck rolled in about a week after our arrival and unloaded a cow and six horses.  One of the sheds was already stocked with tack.  I was raised horseback and wasted no time saddling up and taking a nice gelding for a ride.  He was so well trained, I don't hesitate to include Dalisay in my next ride.  She had a great time seeing the pond and riding the wooded trails.

It would be so easy to kick back and enjoy the balance of our lives on this little farm in this little town.  It all could be so idyllic and joyful.  All three of us knew, however, that it could not be.  We had a mission of sorts, to figure this thing out and if possible to obstruct its evil intent.

The Thayne Branch of the church was presided over by President Paul Caldwell.  He was a transplant from Utah. He worked in Hastings and lived about half way between the two towns.  He was an executive for a small subsidiary of a large pharmaceutical company.  His work took him out of town frequently.  After a few weeks, I was called to serve as his First Councilor.  Nearly half the time, especially in the Summer I was the acting leader of the Branch. That was nothing to complain about.  There just isn't that much to worry about with such a small group.  We were all well acquainted and everyone looked out for everyone else.  We really grew to love the members of the Thayne Branch.  They received us so warmly.  They all were especially good to Loline.  She became grandmother to all six kids in the Primary. 

We survived our first Minnesota winter.  I got cabin fever pretty bad and by spring I was ready to take on the Federal government single handedly!  One Saturday evening in late March, Jan, President Caldwell's wife came to the house in a state of frantic concern.  She'd expected Paul home from a business trip to New York, sometime in the morning and he had not arrived.  She'd called his office and got no answer.  It wasn't like him to be late without notice.  Something was wrong.  We consoled her as best we could.  We even called the Hastings Hospital to see if he had been admitted there for some reason.  We hadn't.  Sunday came and went and still no word.  Monday morning Dalisay and I took Jan to Hastings to the plant at which we was employed.  We explained our problem and were informed that they had no record of Paul or of his ever having been an employee.  We sped to the police station and explained our predicament.  They were less than helpful.  There was no indication of foul play and was little they could do for us.

Three more days passed and still no word from Paul.  Jan was frantic and inconsolable.  She had dropped Paul off at the plant once when his car had broken down, but because of the sensitive nature of plant production, she had never entered the highly secured building. She began to wonder if Paul had lied to her all these months.  It was unthinkable, but it was also unthinkable that Hastings Chemical had no record of him on their employment roster.  I am an early to bed, early to rise type of guy.  Dalisay and her mother are even more so, that being a cultural standard in the Philippines.  When Paul hadn't shown up by Wednesday though, I was concerned.  I couldn't sleep and finally got out of bed, went to the living room and switched on the TV.  The late news was underway.  Something about an assassination attempt on Senator Teddy Kennedy at the Kennedy compound on Martha's Vineyard.  A man had been observed by security sneaking up to the compound perimeter.  He had been apprehended with a sniper rifle.  They showed him being removed from a patrol car.  It was Paul.  The name they gave in the report was Don Wayment.  He was being held without bail.  Immediately, I called Jan.  No answer.  I rang again in a half hour and still no answer.  I woke up Dalisay to tell with her what I'd seen.  She in tern awakened Loline.  We conferred for a few minutes and decided we'd better to go to the Caldwell's and check on Jan.  We went to the garage and climbed in the car.  We were just about to pull out when a large black SUV pulled into the yard and blocked our departure.  Two gentlemen climbed out and instructed us to get into their vehicle.  We had no choice but to comply.  Desperate for answers we begged for information, but our escorts had nothing to say.  They drove us to Hastings and put us on a small passenger jet which took off immediately.  By dawn we were landing in Billings, Montana where we were placed in one of those fancy horse trailers with living quarters in one end.  We rode all day in the trailer, never once stopping for anything.  The fridge and pantry were well stocked and there was a lavatory on board so we were comfortable enough.  As we looked into one another's eyes, it was clear that we all knew we were headed for yet another new life.  We didn't question the need to be protected.  We just couldn't understand who would wish to protect us and why they would bother.

It was first suggested by Loline that Paul might have been our handler.  It didn't make sense.  How could they have influenced the church to call him to be Branch President? Hadn't he and Jan lived in the area for six months before our arrival?  Had they been planning our departure from Escondido that long?  Who are these people?  Why does Admiral Belto feel obligated to protect us?  What was Paul doing with a sniper rifle in Martha's Vineyard?  Why is Hasting Pharmaceutical denying they ever knew Paul?
Such were the questions that filled our long journey south. 

This time we're set up in a nice brick rambler hidden in a dell outside Anderson, Missouri.  We became Mark and Concepcion Finlinson; both retired Post Office Employees along with Julie's mother Mae Flores.  The place had a nice peach orchard and the fruit was about a week shy of prime picking.  The next day a Mexican gentleman showed up in with a van full of wet backs looking for work.  Our checking account was once again pretty flush so we hired them to pick the fruit.  Up the lane at the front of the property wais a nice little fruit stand.  I spent the week giving it a fresh coat of paint.  By the following Tuesday, we were in business selling fresh peaches on the roadside.  Our first customer was Admiral Belto.  He showed up driving a ten year old pickup, wearing bib overalls and a beat up straw hat.  We had a picnic table set up under a hemlock tree behind the stand.  That's where I next spoke to our undesirable benefactor.  The gals were still at the house.  Loline hadn't been feeling well.  We were worried about her.

"Looks like you're fitting in quite nicely, this time." he mused over a can of Country Time Lemonade.

"This is ridiculous!" was my reply.  "Paul screws up and we're whisked off to another new life over night."


"Don't give me that crap; it's obvious he was our handler in Thayne."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Look Bill, I'm sick of your lies and deceit.  I have a mind to go out there and blow the whistle on this whole deal right now!"

"But you won't.  You don't want any more death in the family."

"Is that a threat?"

"Look kid, you've been under threat for twenty years.  Better men than you have lost their lives keeping you out of harm's way.  I've got people who'd sooner take you out than look at you.  So don't get smart with me."

"Then why don't you just get it over with?"

"I would if I could believe me.  You're a liability all the way and if I was smart I'd have eliminated you a long time ago."

"And you came all this way just to tell me that?"

"No, I came all this way to please my boss!  He doesn't like any loose ends." 

"And what in the hell does your boss care about us?" 

"He's a sentimental old fool who thinks flowers ought to have a chance to bear fruit."

"Tell that to his face you pathetic lackey.  You probably had your rank given to you and right now I think you're ranker than anybody."

"Look, you fool, I didn't create this situation.  I've spent most of my adult life trying to discover and stop it.  I've come so close to success I could taste it and I resent having to waste time and resources babysitting an insignificant little pipsqueak like you." 

"Perhaps you'd like to explain to me just exactly what this situation is."

"You know too much and are hard enough to contain as it is.  There is nothing constructive could come of telling you more."

"I know this much.  Conspiracies thrive on darkness and are foiled in the light of day.  Keeping one more person in ignorance, accomplishes nothing short of strengthening the devilish designs of the enemy."

"Giving you more light does nothing except that it makes you a more obvious and easy target."

"A risk I am willing to take." 

"Not because I told you anything."

He got up, climbed in his truck and drove away.  I never saw him again. 

The Peaches sold well, we settled into our new lives and new Ward.  I was called to serve as the Ward Clerk.  Later that Fall Loline grew ill and within a week had died.  Dalisay was utterly bereft.  She had to bury her mother under a false name, among strangers.  No family was notified or even attended.  We put an obituary in the paper to avoid drawing attention to ourselves.  It was all lies.  The only comfort we drew was the knowledge that she was happily reunited with Pedro.  It was hard to lose her constancy and companionship.  She was such a dear soul.

One evening Dalisay approached me with a notebook in hand.  "Let’s try to make some sense of this shall we?"  She proposed that we tabulate all that we knew about the Taal conspiracy.  We found that we had quite a long list of information that we had gleaned from this experience or that.

It was a healthy project.  It kept our minds off our woes for a while.  Putting it on paper also brought clarity and discovery.  We already suspected that the child Dalisay had borne was supposed to be a clone of John F. Kennedy.  Since our friend Paul had been apprehended at the Kennedy compound on Martha's Vineyard and since we knew that the child had been moved from Switzerland to Massachusetts it became a likely theory that this new JFK was on Martha's Vineyard, the Kennedy's are willing participants, Paul is more likely to have been trying to destroy the clone rather than Teddy Kennedy.  Paul seemed to have been working for or with Admiral Belto.  Admiral Belto was part of an organization that seemed determined to ruin Taal's plans.  Both organizations seemed to have almost unlimited resources.

From the project a list of questions emerged; some of which seemed pretty simple to find answers to.  Here are some of the questions.  Who are Paul and Jan Caldwell?  Who is Don Wayment?  Is Don being tried for attempted murder?  Can we get news of the trial?  Who is Admiral Belto's boss?

We started with the first question, who are Paul and Jan Caldwell.  I went to the Anderson Ward Clerk's office and took a look at the church directory of units and leaders.  Our copy was two years old.  I looked up the Thayne Branch.  It was not to be found.  I figured it was a simple oversight.  I phoned church headquarters and asked if I could be put in touch with the Thayne, Minnesota Branch of the Church.  I was informed that there was no Branch in Thayne; never had been.  Assuming we were looking for a place to congregate with the Saints they informed us that the nearest Branch of the Church was in Hastings. We couldn't believe that the whole Branch had been a charade.  We called Directory Assistance looking for phone numbers of other members of the Thayne Branch.  Not one of them had a current listing.  All of our church experience there had been a fraud.  Quite possibly everyone had been acting.  Was the Sacrament we took there every Sunday, administered to by an unordained actor?  It was then that we realized that we'd never had a single Stake Conference in the nine months we had lived there.  Still, there were High Councilmen who came to speak, were they actors too?  It began to appear that they were.  I sent to Church Headquarters for Paul and Jan Caldwell's membership records.  Word came back from Salt Lake City that no such people were on the Church records.  Then I tried Don Wayment and received his records the following week.  Don was born and raised in Napa, Idaho.  I got on Classmates.com and conducted a search for Don Wayment.  Someone had posted a photo of the class and listed their names beneath.  Sure enough, Don Wayment was indeed our Paul Caldwell.  We had already been amazed at the extent to which "our side" was willing to go to give us new identities.  Now we could see that they were keeping a careful eye on us. Was this the case in Anderson as well?  

Anderson was different.  It was a large Ward.  There were combined youth activities that included youth from as far as Fayetteville, Arkansas on the south and Joplin, Missouri on the north.  The Stake and each of her Wards were all listed in the Church directory.  This brought up whole new questions.  Do we have handlers here?  Who are they?  No one seemed out of the ordinary.  How could we identify them?  It was likely that someone had infiltrated the Ward to keep an eye on us.  We looked around and found a couple who seemed the most unlikely candidates for such a job.  It was Bill and Joyce Semken.  We befriended them.  After a few months of friendship development we approached the Semkens about the possibility of renting their truck and camper for a little trip we'd like to take.  We offered our car in exchange.  Bill and Joyce were generous and eager to share their equipment with us.  We arranged to swing by early one morning to make the swap.  We made every effort to make it seem like nothing was happening in our lives at all.  We didn't speak of a trip to anyone but the Semkens.  We were careful not to tell them where we were going but promised to be back in two weeks.  By sunrise we were past Joplin with no indication we were being followed.  We drove straight to Napa intending to come right back.  We couldn't run the risk of being recognized by anyone in Utah or western Wyoming.  In Napa we spent a day inquiring around about Don Wayment.  We found out that he had gone off to fight in Vietnam right out of High School.  There were rumors that he had joined the CIA after the War, but nobody local had seen him for years and years.  Somebody in Napa had noticed though that Don had been arrested in the Kennedy incident and had been following the story on the news.  The trial was going to begin in Boston the following week.  We jumped in the truck and headed east.  We hoped we might identify other players in this elaborate game coming and going from the court house there.

It felt good to be on the road.  Still, we did keep a wary eye out for someone following us.  We'd apparently slipped them and were finally on our own.  In Boston we rented a car, ditched the camper and arriving early managed parking space in a terrace across the street that afforded us a good view from which to stake out the court house.  With a pair of binoculars we could watch who came and went.  We were concealed behind a pony wall and in the shade of the upper levels of the terrace.  In our foreground sat a nice little shady spot with a park bench.  A large, elderly man came and sat on the bench before us.  I couldn't help noticing his large rounded shoulders.  He looked familiar.  After watching the court house for a couple of hours and occasionally glancing at the man on the bench it dawned on me who he was.

"Dalisay!  That man on the bench there, I'm quite certain he's George McFarland."


"George McFarland, the care taker of the Sardine Cannery in Barangay.  I met him on the day I first met you!"

George just sat there reading a news paper, hour after hour.  In the afternoon a man walked out of the Court House and came to sit on George's bench.  They sat apart from one another and never exchanged words.  The stranger did leave a folded newspaper though.  After about 10 minutes George gathered up the abandoned paper and walked away.  As we watched the building we hoped to see Jan.  We never did.  That evening we bought a newspaper and went to spend the night in the camper.  The paper reported that all the evidence was strong and not in Don's favor.  I determined that I was going to try to get on Don's visitor's list.  I wanted to have a talk with him.  In the morning I went into the court house and claiming to be Don's brother-in-law from Napa, Idaho and requested a visit.  To my surprise, my request was granted.  I was taken to the visiting area where were able to chat through a glass with a couple of telephones.  When he was brought to see me, surprise and a bit of excitement crossed his face.  We picked up the phones.

Don's first words were, "You can't be here!  If they catch you you're dead.  Why are you here anyway?"

"I don't like attending fake churches," was my reply.

"Extreme circumstances require extreme measures."


"What were you doing trying to assassinate JFK?" I asked.

Don was blown away by the question.  "You know that much?  You're in worse trouble than I thought.  We had no idea you've figured so much out."

"I've been careful."

"Coming here is far from careful."

"I've begun to experience an increasing lack of concern for our safety.  I'd rather find out what's going on and try to put a stop to it.

"What makes you think you can do what we and all our resources have been unable to do?"

"I don't know that I can, but I'm determined to try."

"Jinx, this is bigger than any of us.  You can't stop the beast!  Now, get in your car and get out of here.  If you're spotted, you're dead."

I left the building, troubled, afraid and in a hurry.  I met Dalisay and pulled out of the parking terrace as quickly as possible.  I sensed that we had already been discovered and that it wouldn't be long before we'd be history.  My mind was reeling and my heart pounding.  All I could think of was getting the message out.  As we left town across the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge and entered Cambridge we concluded to head for Canada.  Perhaps these operatives would be less free to operate across the border.  I knew that the chances of making it were slim and none.  We reached Peabody without incident, but felt a continued sense of foreboding.  On a curve we spotted an opportunity to pull off off the main road on a small obscure off-ramp that wound up a hill through the trees.  It came onto the main drag in town where Dalisay had a sudden stroke of genius.  

"Pull into that car wash quick.  I pulled into a self service bay.  Dalisay opened her purse and hurriedly scribbled a note and left in on the dash.  Leave the keys she muttered as we climbed out of the car."  

We met at the control box where Dalisay handed me a small screw driver from her purse.

"Quick, remove the rear license plate, I'll be right back!"

I did as directed and was hardly finished when I heard the sound of an engine behind me.  I looked and discovered Dalisay behind the wheel of a small SUV.  Her silent lips said, "Jump in!"  I hesitated thinking this is wrong on so many levels, but at her insistence, responded.  She’d swiped the outfit out of the next bay while the owner was at the change machine.  Sure enough, he’d left the keys behind.  We drove across the border into Portland and pulled over at a little park where, shielded by trees I switched the plates.  We headed north and crossed into Canada at Calais at 5:00 AM.  I had taken the wheel and we didn't stop until we reached St John.  Not sure we were in the clear, but totally exhausted we stopped for the night.  In the morning we took the ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Digby, Nova Scotia and from there drove to North Sydney where we caught a ferry to Newfoundland.  We wanted to get as far from Boston as we could, but I couldn't help thinking it was like running upstairs to the top of a building.  Where would we go from there?  I mentioned it to Dalisay and she smiled and reached into her purse.  To my great surprise she pulled out all of our Ollie and Maria ID!  “I only hope there's still money in our Evenhus account,” she groaned.  We'd crossed into Canada as Mark and ConcepciĆ³n Finlinson and the next day booked a Flight on Air Canada from Gander to Toronto as Ollie and Maria Evenhus.  There we rented a car and drove to the border and crossed into the United States as Jenkins and Dalisay Parker, at Port Huron, Michigan, passports and all.

We've lived in Unionville, Michigan, under our real names ever since.  We've kept a low profile, but seem to be utterly undiscovered.  It was Dalisay's idea that we use our real names, sighting honesty as the best policy.  I guess the geniuses who interfered with our lives have overlooked the obvious, assuming us to be as devious as themselves.

Life has been pleasant enough.  We haven’t contacted our families.  But we have affiliated with the church under our own names and enjoy a quiet life.  We changed the address on my pension checks and they’ve come uninterrupted until yesterday.  That makes me nervous.  We’ve subscribed to LexisNexis and spend our time researching hoping to crack the case.  I am assistant Scout Master in the Bay City East Ward and Dalisay is the Gospel Doctrine Teacher.  She always feels inadequate in her calling and overcompensates (in my opinion) by studying extensively.  Yesterday she came from the kitchen in tears.  When I asked what the matter was she invited me to the kitchen table where she handed me her Bible.  It was opened to the Book of Revelations chapter 13.  With her delicate finger she had me read starting with verse 11.

  11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
  12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
  13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
  14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
  15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
  16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
  17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
  18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Had Don Wayment been literal when he declared the beast to be unstoppable?  Dalisay held my answer in her trembling hand.  It was the hospital bracelet she’d kept as the only tangible memory she had of her stolen child. It was cracked and yellowing. I had seen it often, but never looked at what it said.  I took it, turned it over and read, just three digits, 6…6…6….