The Da Vinci Code and Freemasonry

 

Another life changing event happened to me in 2004 that would open up all sorts of doors of perception in my life.  It all started with reading Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’.   I learned a little about the history of the Knights Templar, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Freemasons. I didn’t know what to make of it as the book was a novel mixed with some factoids, but a lot of fiction. But what was fact and what was fiction? After reading the book, I began to chat about it with random friends of mine that came across my path. I asked questions about the Knights Templar and Freemasons, but nobody seemed to know much outside of the book. One day I went to a nearby Barnes and Noble and saw several books on Masonry in the front vestibule. The topic of masonry gained overnight popularity because of the Da Vinci Code. I bought three of the books called ‘Who’s Afraid of the Freemasons?’, ‘the Hiram Key’, and ‘Symbols of the Freemasons’. I rushed home right away and read through each of them in record speed.

 

I did a little digging and found out they were a secret society that the outside world didn’t know much about. Fourteen of the US Presidents were Freemasons including George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman, LBJ, and Gerald Ford to name a few. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was one as well.  The list of famous Freemasons went on and on. I noticed they used symbolism like the All Seeing Eye on the top of the pyramid on the back of a US dollar, which was adopted by the Freemasons.

 

My curiosity was peaked for the moment, but the book became so confusing with references to wild topics like mysticism and ancient rituals of the Egyptians and Zoroastrians that I had put the books down and return to them at a later date.

 

I also did some researching on the Web, but it seemed like close to all of the information on the Internet was written by anti-masons, typically conspiracy theorists and ignorant haters. I knew there was something more profound behind the façade that was in front of me.

Sodom & Gomorrah

 

In June of 2004, I was working in the Acxiom office when I got a surprise visit from a former team member, Bart, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. He simply is one of the most excellent, solid, kind hearted people that had a magical way about him of making everybody in the room smile. In previous months, we had gotten together several times in Phoenix, Chicago and Little Rock and always found the time to meet up after work for dinner and drinks. We got into deep, healthy conversations about God and spirituality.

 

Bart was in Phoenix from headquarters in Little Rock. We chatted and caught up a while, then I asked him to join me for dinner at my house up in the hills of Scottsdale. I immediately called Mariam to let her know he was coming. After a delicious Mexican dinner, Bart and I retired from the table to the couches in the living room. We had talked about current events and about company politics. The next topic was spirituality.  I had a lot on my mind as I was on the upper slope of a learning curve with all of the Da Vinci Code and Freemasonry material I had been learning. I told him that God was giving me signs from above in the form of strange symbols and coincidences I had been experiencing like the Pyramid Power book incident.

 

He looked at me in amazement and with a certain curiosity and wanted to know more. Mariam was doing the dishes and was in and out of the conversation.  It was evident she was afraid I might say something that would later embarrass me and even jeopardize my job because she couldn’t understand exactly was I had been up to recently.  She had keen intuition.

I said to Bart, “Let me show you something.” Then I walked into the bedroom and returned with my most recent journal. I opened it to a page that had the lyrics to a song written by Jerry Garcia called “Gomorrah” about the Old Testament story of Lot and his wife, Edith, escaping from the God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God commanded Lot to take his wife and family to leave the city and not look back at the brimstone and fire God bestowed upon the cities. Edith turned around and was turned into a pillar of salt.

 

I read the entire lyrics of the song to Bart like a gospel preacher. I put the journal down and said to Bart, “This is a story of a man’s unwavering faith in God. He listened to God. You have to know when God is talking to you.  You have to listen for His signs.”  I was staring at Bart with a fixed gaze.  Then there was a pregnant pause for about three seconds. It was dead silent. Then out of nowhere, the house shook as if there was a minor earthquake. The light flickered ever so gently.

 

Mariam was overhearing the whole conversation.  I looked at her and she had a face of absolute terror on her like she was about to have a nervous breakdown.  Bart was shocked and dumbfounded.  I, on the other hand, took it in stride as sign from God that I need to listen to the signs he put in my way. To this day, I’ll never be able to explain it. The next day Bart actually looked to see if there was any seismic activity in Phoenix when it all went down. There was nothing. I continued my journey living in the mystery of never knowing exactly what happened that night. Bart safely returned back to his hotel room that night.

 

Death of a Dear Friend, Mania Trigger

The funeral of one off my closest friends led to terrible sadness, uncontrollable crying and deep depression. My great friend Robert Conrad McCallister, who I had met in Costa Rica and become best friends with, passed away way too soon in life from a painful case of bone cancer.  He was only 32 years old. He was also a good friend of my two little sisters, who were deeply touched as well by his huge heart. In a short period of time, we went together to Panama, Cuba, Venezuela and Washington D.C., where he was from. He was one of the smartest, funniest, wittiest, and charming people one could have the privilege to know.

 

The day I heard he had died on July 6, 2004, I was at work at Acxiom. I dropped everything I was working on and immediately bought a flight to Washington D.C. I hurried home to pack my bag and rushed to the airport.

The White House Meridian

 

I was extremely manic at the time I arrived. I had symbols from the Da Vinci code and my Masonic research going through my head. Two days prior to the funeral, I was staying at my Thunderbird friend Rob’s apartment with his Vietnamese girlfriend. We went out to dinner and then came back to the studio apartment to crash. Of course I couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to wake them up, so I took my pack of Parliament cigarettes and laptop and went up to the roof for a smoke.  While relaxing on top of the ten story building, I noticed a peculiar geometry in the layout of the city. I noticed I was on 16th Street looking right down at the White House a few blocks away. I noticed the Washington Monument was directly behind that followed by the Thomas Jefferson memorial. Then there was this building between the White House and me that was obviously a monument of some kind, but I didn’t recognize it. I would come to find out the next day.

 

I returned back to Rob’s apartment at about 2:00am and looked on the internet to find out more on the layout of the city. It turns out a Freemason by the name of Pierre Charles L’Enfant laid out the city in the late 18th century encoded with special lay lines and geometric shapes significant particularly to Freemasons.  It turned out I was on the White House Meridian which is a north to south lay line of the city. It is one of four, which ran its course along 16th St. I found that very peculiar that I had discovered that by myself. The lay lines of Paris played a significant role in the final chapter of the Da Vinci Code in that Robert Langdon finds the final resting place of Mary on the Rose lay line, known as Rosslyn Chapel.

In the morning after very little sleep, I was walking from Rob’s place to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car office. I was minding my own business listening to the Grateful Dead on my headphones when all of a sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks.  It was the weirdest thing.  I even asked myself out loud, “Why did I just stop?” I turned my head to the left and there I was standing directly in front of the mysterious building on the meridian that I couldn’t identify the previous night.  It was the House of the Temple of the 33rd degree Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Freemasons. There were two mysterious Egyptian sphinxes in front guarding on each side of the entrance. I couldn’t believe it. It was truly a sign from God. It couldn’t have been just a coincidence. It was the starkest sign from above in a long time.

 

I approached the front door and there was a sign on the inside saying to go to the back of the building and ring the doorbell.  So I marched around and rang the doorbell.  A nice, fine gentleman came to the door and said, “Welcome.  What can I do for you?”  I said, ”I’m not sure.  I was drawn to your building by some cosmic force and thought I’d investigate further.” He asked me if I was a brother mason.  I answered, “No. But I have been just recently researching freemasonry and am curious to know more.” He said, “We’re typically closed today, but I’ll gladly give you the tour.”

 

He led me into the basement and we entered what seemed to be a huge museum of artifacts of American history. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was beyond fascinating. There were too many things in there to include in this book, but suffice to say it all had something to do with prominent Freemasons. The artifact that caught my attention the most was George Washington’s original blue battle uniform.

The building itself was a piece of art with materials brought in from all around the world. It seemed like Greco-Roman architecture utilizing the Golden Ratio in many areas.  I felt I was amidst true greatness. The place was replete with statues and carvings of double headed eagles, which were the official emblems of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The old man snapped a picture of me sitting in the Sovereign Commander’s chair in the inner chambers.

As I left the building, the wonderful, mild mannered man that gave me the tour presented me with his business card. I didn’t bother to look at it until minutes after I left. It read, “C. Fred Kleinknecht, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction.”  It barely fit on the card.  I thought, “Holy shit!  This guy was the former head honcho of the entire organization! I couldn’t wait to Google him once I got back to Rob’s apartment. It turns out that, indeed, he was not only the former head of all Scottish Rite Masons in the South, but in addition, he also was the former Director of NASA’s Apollo Space Program, the same program that launched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. Wow! That blew my mind. I had no idea I was in the presence of excellence. He just seemed to me to be a very nice man. The whole experience was a true discovery moment for me that opened a plethora of doors later in life. 

Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, D.C.

 

I left the House of the Temple and was on another manic mission, this time to the Pentagon to view the renovated structure after the 9/11 plane attack. I wanted to see the charred stone that had a memorial inscription on it. I was manic with a recent bout of insomnia, confused and having trouble with directions as I always did when in this condition. I took a last second wrong turn at a fork in the freeway and mistakenly ended up at the exit for Theodore Roosevelt Island. I thought, “This must be a sign from God.” I had just learned minutes prior Teddy Roosevelt was one of the most famous Scottish Rite Freemasons and happened to be manic depressive.

I parked the car and walked over a footbridge over the Potomac River and into the park. There were all sorts of military personnel exercising in the park. I was thinking that they were there to protect some kind of sort of government secret or maybe a treasure.

 

I continued along a path about a half mile and saw a sign pointing to a “primordial swamp.” I thought, “What the heck?” I walked about a hundred yards from the main path and came to the end of the wooden path. There was a man there taking pictures. He told me he had just seen an eagle. I asked him if he had ever seen a double headed eagle. He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “A what?” I said, “Yeah, I just came from the Freemason temple by the White House and they have all sorts of double headed eagles in there.”  He said, “YOU were at a Masonic temple?!?”  I said, “It’s open to the public.  Just knock on the door and they’ll give you a tour.” I told him more about what was in there and who I had just met with.  He was intrigued and wanted to know more.

I extended my hand and said, “I’m J.P. What’s yours?”  He says, “Sir Joel.”  I asked why the ‘Sir’.  He said he was a Knight of the Holy Sepulcher. I said, “You mean are the guardians of the place where Jesus Christ was buried? Isn’t that a Catholic order?” He responded, “Yes we are directly affiliated with the Pope.” I was left flabbergasted. The whole experience I had in Switzerland started to flash through my head with me dying on the cross in my imagination and being buried at the spot where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher lie.

 

What an incredible coincidence that I am with the Sovereign Commander of the Masons and now with this Catholic knight both in the same day.  The irony I learned from Sir Joel was that the two groups had a very acrimonious relationship going back as far as the Knights Templar. The Catholic Church banned all Masons from the religion. They were considered to have a view of Christ that clashes with the Apostles Creed of the Catholics.

 

The two of us hit it off so well that we spent almost two hours together walking in the park talking mainly about religion and a little politics. He was shocked that I would even consider leaving the church to go to Masonry. He thought it was a disgrace that led to eternal damnation. I told him that I always look at all sides of the story and was simply going to investigate further.

 

At one point we stopped under an overpass and talked at length about the rapture at the end of the Bible and how Jesus was supposed return to the earth. Being a member of the Papal order, he bought the Catholic’s epistemology about Jesus hook, line, and sinker.  I remember him saying that it would happen so fast, people wouldn’t know what he was doing. Once he returned, he would start tapping people on the head and healing them instantly as well as saving them.  Then there would be a day of reckoning.  He then touched on what Heaven was supposed to be like and how a special place was reserved for Catholics.

 

We touched on the concept of hell as well.  His best friend with bipolar disorder had jumped off a building to his death a few years prior. According to Catholicism, one went to hell if they committed suicide. My friend went into a deep depression for years following and would scar him for life. I argued how absurd the concept of hell was and that there was no way his friend was burning in hell. I spoke with utmost conviction and felt like I got into his brain a little. I added that it was even more absurd to think that God would send someone with a severe mental illness to hell, if there even was one. From my perspective, it was like God sending someone to hell for dying from cancer.

 

After a wonderful afternoon together, the two of us exchanged numbers and vowed to keep in touch. We were instant buddies.  We had a lot of like qualities in common such as our compassion for humankind and a curiosity to learn more. Mind you I was in the middle of a manic episode, but in a phase where I was still clicking. I wasn’t a danger to anyone nor myself at that point; quite the opposite. I felt connected with the universe.

The Samaritan and the Homeless Man

 

Later that day I was driving aimlessly throughout D.C. and I drove past the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was one of the most beautiful churches I had ever seen, even compared to those in Europe. I had to investigate. The smell of incense was so intense it put me further in a trance.  People of all religions, races and creeds came to visit it and pray for miracles.

Later that night I returned to the rooftop at Rob’s place. I saw an Afro-American man immediately below me at the intersection that kept stumbling into the middle of a busy intersection with a flower pot in his hand. He almost got hit twice by cars. So I raced to the elevator, went to the first floor and rescued the man from the middle of the road. He was obviously a homeless person. He had a military coat on and disheveled clothing.  I asked him if he was alright.  He started rambling incoherently in a rapid pace.

 

I just sensed it right away that this man was mentally ill. He was obviously drunk as well. I was able to make out that he said the flower was for his pastor and that he was going to his house. It was around 11:00pm. It seemed very odd to me, but maybe those were his true intentions. He told me his name was Mr. Holmes. The nametag on his green military coat read, “HOLMES.” He told me he fought in the Vietnam War.  He was at the right age to have done so.

I told him I had a rental car around the corner and that I could take him there. He agreed and came with me. I cranked up the Grateful Dead on the radio and he just about had a seizure. It wasn’t his style apparently. Admittedly, it’s not music for just anyone. I struggled for over an hour trying to find the pastor’s house. We stopped at a convenience store for assistance and to buy him a pack of Newport menthols. He chained smoked them like they were going out of style. We finally made it to the pastor’s house at about 1:00am. He tried to wake the priest up, but he wouldn’t answer the door. I thought to myself, “Now what am I going to do?”

I was able to get out of him that he had a wife that lived not far from there but he’d have to wait till at least the sun came up before he knocked on the door. We had about four to five hours to kill. He put his flower pot back into the car and we went nighttime sightseeing around the city.  We stopped at monuments and parks to smoke Newports and chat. He started making more sense to me at that point. I asked him if he was on any medication. He said, ”That’s a problem. I ran out of my lithium about a week ago and I’m bipolar.” I thought, “No way.” This couldn’t be happening to me, but in a good way. I was being a Good Samaritan and helping out a fellow brother, one with the same illness as me.  He kept calling me his guardian angel from God.  I felt I was actually sent by God to lend him a hand.

As the sun came up, we arrived at his “wife’s” house and she came running out the door saying, “No you don’t. You get your ass out of here, you no good asshole.”  I didn’t know what to do at that point, so I told Mr. Holmes to go back to the car while I talk to this woman. She was cowering as I approached, but then realized I wasn’t there to do her any harm. I asked, “Could you give me one minute of your time.  I have a big problem here.  I don’t know where to take this man.”  She said, “We had a romance years ago and then he went crazy and started to abuse me. I haven’t seen him in years and now he shows up like a drunken bum.  He lives a few miles from here at a VA facility with other veterans.  Go there.”

 

I took him to the veteran’s home and talked to the receptionist. He said Mr. Holmes got kicked out of the facility and thrown on the street a week prior for misbehaving. Apparently he was refusing his meds and went out drinking, which was against the strict house rules.  So I told the man, “Look.  I’m bipolar too and can see that Mr. Holmes is in the middle of an episode (as was I) and that his coherence is deteriorating quickly.” He told me my best bet was to take him to the VA hospital. Mr. Holmes shouted, “Hell no!  They torture me there.  I’m not going.”

Apart from abandoning him there at that point, I had no choice but to take him there. I had about an hour long drive to convince him that I would go into the hospital with him and that I would make sure he was put in good hands. We went back and forth battling over it and finally I found the hospital. It took me a while in the parking lot to convince him to go in.

The receptionist pulled his name up and called his doctor. Evidently, he had a shady history there. He claimed they had strapped him down, locked him up and even gave him shock treatments in the past. So we got into the doctor’s office and she was this beautiful, frail, blonde doctor that couldn’t have weighed more than 110lbs. I say that because if Mr. Holmes started to create havoc in the room if I wasn’t there, she wouldn’t have been able to subdue him. Mr. Holmes was agitated at this point. He started raising his voice and accusing the doctor of past maltreatment by the security guards in the psych ward. His tone got threatening and there was no other option, but to call the police to help out.

Two huge DC policemen entered the room. One went to talk to Mr. Holmes and the other came to me. I told him I was bipolar like Mr. Holmes and felt that, as a stranger, I would be able to help him out. I would have liked the same to happen to me if I was in trouble. The cop put his arm around my shoulders and said, “You’re a good man for doing this. We’ll take it from here. Are you doing OK?” I said,”Yes” even though my mania was peaking at that moment. They say a major trigger is hanging out with other crazy people. That’s exactly where I was.  To boot, I had stayed up all night without taking my meds.

I watched the police detain Mr. Holmes and he freaked out and started kicking and screaming. They had to tackle him down and had the doctor run to get the sedative Haldol to calm him down. As some nurses were wheeling in a gurney to transport him to the psych ward, I left the room. I went down to the basement of the hospital to the gift shop and bought him several changes of clothes, which I brought to the psych ward. When I arrived, I had to convince the doctors to let me see him to say goodbye.  When I saw him, he was shuffling his feet as if he’d taken Thorazine. He was a total zombie.  He couldn’t recognize me. He wasn’t able to form words and was drooling profusely.  It looked as though he had just gotten a lobotomy.

 

It was traumatizing for me and sad, but I knew I had done the right thing. I told the nurses to put his new clothes in his locker and took off to Rob’s apartment.  I never saw him again.

What a long strange trip that was!!! I was manic the whole time, but managed to stay out of trouble and not get hospitalized myself. I was only one small step saner than Mr. Holmes at all times. It was dangerous at times because you never knew what I might have done next.

Conrad’s Funeral

 

The night prior to the funeral, I finally got some sleep, but not more than a few hours. I had been awake for about seventy–two hours, so my body finally gave in. I woke up, put on my suit, grabbed the map and started my journey to the church in Richmond, Virginia. I was still extremely manic.  I had all the energy in the world.  I hadn’t been taking my meds regularly since I arrived.  I had turned into Mr. Neutron.

 

My mind was so cloudy and confused; I lost my sense of direction. After a paradisiacal ride through the countryside, I stopped off in the town of Richmond to ask for directions to the church. I happened to catch a glimpse of the Jefferson Hotel from afar, the grandest in Richmond.  I thought it was a calling to enter just like the House of the Temple. It was calling me. I loved reading the history of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. So I took a mini tour of the hotel even though I was behind schedule for the funeral and still didn’t know how to get there.

 

Much to my dismay, by the time I made it to the Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, Conrad’s casket was being carried out of the front doors by his family members. His dad was crying uncontrollably, which in turn, made me get a lump in my throat and started to tear up. I traveled all the way to Richmond from Phoenix for the funeral and I missed the whole darn thing. The mania clouded my better judgment yet again.

I followed the funeral procession to Hollywood cemetery to say my final goodbyes. When I entered, I noticed tons of pyramids, obelisks and Masonic symbols on the tombstones. I was bewildered. I thought, “Have these symbols been surrounding me my whole life and I just didn’t notice them? Why is God opening these doors for me at this point in time?”

 

All of us gathered at Conrad’s gravesite. He had a geometrically significant placement of his grave right in the middle of a circle located in the very middle of the cemetery. I thought there was a special significance to honor a special person.

 

The clergyman performed the ritual and they lowered his body into the ground. I was crying uncontrollably like a mother having just lost her child. He was like a brother to me, but the mania exacerbated my sorrow.

 

I was the loudest crier by far and people were coming up to me to console me. Death is a terrible trigger, and this was the ultimate case in point.  Everybody left the cemetery to go to the house of family friends to gather and celebrate Conrad’s life. I stayed behind in the cemetery to pray to say a few prayers and bid goodbye to a wonderful human being, one of God’s great gifts to humanity.

 

The rapid cycle of my mania got crazier and was spinning out of control. After praying, I decided to walk among the gravesites of the deceased to look at all of the Masonic gravesites and others of interest. I remember a tombstone that had fallen over and was stuck face down in the mud. In my freshly pressed new suit, I spent fifteen minutes digging it out with my bare hands, making a new hole in the ground, and repositioning the tombstone properly.  I was a mess.

Knocking at the

White House Door

 

I returned from Richmond to Rob’s apartment on 16th St. in D.C. Again, not being able to sleep, I decided to go for a walkabout in the middle of the night.  I walked a few short blocks towards the White House.

Before getting there, there was a store open 24/7 that had all sorts of DC souvenirs. I saw a slick blue baseball hat with the White House logo on it. It was calling my name. I had to have it. I was also wearing a nice white polo shirt from the Jefferson Hotel gift shop. I thought I looked very presidential and started to feel and act that way. I started thinking in the stream of consciousness of me being President.  There was no doubt in my mind it was going to happen inevitably in 2012.

 

To gain the favor of the public, I thought I had to somehow prove my worthiness to the world. With racing thoughts, I put a scenario together that I thought could gain me admission to the White House that night.

I would make national news by saving humanity from future violence vis-à-vis bridging the gap between the Muslim and Christian worlds.  Whew.  That’s some deep shit.  At this point, I couldn’t tell if I was generating these thoughts myself or whether they were being beamed in my head by God or some external force.  My goal was to single-handedly find Osama bin Laden to broker a peace deal with the U.S.

I projected in my mind taking a plane from Reagan International Airport to Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan within the next few days. At the time, that was where the US forces were concentrating their efforts to find Osama Bin Laden. Upon arrival, I thought I’d seek out at least one key member of the Taliban and tell him that I’m a US citizen with a secret message that could only be whispered into Osama’s ear. The Taliban member would detain me and hopefully take me to a member of Al Qaeda. I figured my ex-boss and former CIA agent, Mr. Campos, could assist me in finding a contact on the ground. He had been involved with carrying out missions to ship donkeys into Afghanistan for U.S. Special Forces to hunt down Bin Laden in the rocky mountainside.

 

Once I found an Al Qaeda operative, I would get his cell to communicate with the other cells higher in the hierarchy to arrange a face-to-face meeting with me and Osama. It felt that if I had the balls to just walk into the face of danger like that, I would be taken seriously and would be led into Osama’s cave, perhaps in Tora Bora. US troops would have no idea I was there. It had been done before by foreign journalists prior to 9/11, although I knew it was a risky proposition given that some of them didn’t make it out alive.

 

I truly thought I was putting an intricate puzzle together to save the world and this all happened in my head within a matter of minutes. I thought that Osama was not the Anti-Christ as some people concluded, but rather a man with a message of peace from the Muslim world, but had to use violence to get the world’s attention. I also thought there was a possibility he didn’t exactly mastermind the whole 9/11 tragedy himself. I felt his aim was to destroy the evil power base of Washington starting with George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz and Carl Rove.

 

I wanted to be the hero and the first to discover his whereabouts; not to take him down, but rather, embrace him with compassion as the man Jesus might have done and pardon him for his intransigent behavior killing thousands of innocent people of the world. I would kill him with my kindness. He would be given a chance to use his power to dismantle Al Qaeda and have the Taliban put their arms down. This was to happen first.

 

My future value to Osama was to become President and replace any remnants of Bush’s cabinet with one that reflects more balanced interests of the Christians, Jewish, Hindi and Muslim religions. Ideally, the US government would act more on a secular level but promote a one-world spirituality.

 

Together with him I wanted to walk out of a cave with him and be filmed by the world media in an undisclosed location giving a message of peace and actually have Osama ask for forgiveness of the United States, whether it would be accepted or not. Al Qaeda would cease its campaign of terror and lay their arms down if they got indemnification. I would gain the world’s attention as the international man of mystery. You could say that, Mr. Neutron, the Most Dangerous Man in the World, would come into more fame and power. That idea was nuts and totally unreasonable, but it was what I came up with. I really could have bought that flight to Pakistan and who knows what I would have done once I got there. Most likely, I would have been thrown in jail and the key thrown away.

In the short few blocks between the gift shop where I bought my new hat and the White House to where I was walking, I concocted this cockamamie plot. Without any conscious control of my actions, I went to the front gate of the White House where two Secret Service agents greeted me. It must have been around midnight. I said calmly and with conviction, “Good Evening, sirs. I was wondering if I could have a few minutes with President Bush. It’s urgent, important and has to do with the national security of the country.” I wanted to explain to him first about my plan. One of them responded, “The President is sleeping right now.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow morning during business hours.”

 

I responded, “But sir, you don’t understand.”  He said, ”You can tell me the message and I’ll be sure to get it to him tomorrow.” Without hesitating, the following words came out of my mouth. “I know the exact location where to find Osama bin Laden and can lead Bush to him.” He said, “Sir, please allow me to see your identification.” I proudly took out my driver’s license and handed it to him. He said, “Wait here for a few minutes.” Obviously, he was checking with whatever authorities to check my background. I thought I was squeaky clean, but perhaps they had records of my mental hospital visits.

 

The agent returned to the gate and opened the door. I thought he was either going to arrest me or at least search me. Instead, he gave back my license and said, “Sir. Please go home and get some rest. Come back tomorrow if you still think you know where Bin Laden is.” He snickered with his fellow agent and dismissed me as an emotionally disturbed individual.  He wasn’t wrong.

 

I decided it was time to go back to Rob’s apartment. Deep down, I was dead serious about the plan. That night I even priced flights to Afghanistan on the Internet. I would have actually attempted to carry it out, although I had trepidation because of the Daniel Pearl incident.  He was a journalist caught by the Taliban, tortured and beheaded while still alive. That was one of the very few fears I had in life; torture and beheading. One of the main reasons was that he was Jewish. I wasn’t. I would have been considered an agnostic at the time.  Even so, I got a grip on my mania and didn’t buy the ticket.  Rob didn’t quite know what I was up to, much less his girlfriend, but he knew I was up to no good. He finally raised his voice at one point and said, “Dude, go to sleep finally. Would you?” So I did… with one eye open of course.

Presidential Party

 

The next day Rob and I met with about five friends from Thunderbird at my friend Mel’s brother’s house in the outskirts of the city. I was still wearing my new favorite White House hat and Jefferson shirt along with some khaki slacks and some slick shades. I tried to play it cool with my friends at the start of the party and joked around lightly how I was feeling “Presidential”. Then, I remember going into the garage and taking a monstrous bong hit. Then the filter came off and I started talking about how I had a specific roadmap to the White House. The others were so stoned that they gave me encouragement. I couldn’t discern their sincerity because of our collective altered state.  We carried on with buffoonery for hours.

 

Although manic, I didn’t let them know anything about the previous night with my plot to go to Afghanistan.  That was a secret between only me and God.  Nobody was to know my plans until I was on the international news safe at home with my wife watching Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour break the story.

 

I had a flight out back to Phoenix that night, but I lost track of time in my self-induced stoned and drunken stupor. That was the first time in my life I had ever missed my flight. My wife was pissed. She could tell I was messed up.   It was a wake up call.  She said, “Get your shit together or else”.

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