The Reich Stuff
I keep seeing this throwback Thursday shit — or whatever it is — on Facebook. Since I ignore all of my Facebook friends (isn’t it supposed to be all about me, anyway?), I haven’t really tuned into whatever the fuck you’re supposed to do until now.
The inspiration hit me a week ago. The GS front page hasn’t seen an update since May largely because I’ve been completely consumed in writing my memoir — an intimate study of my fucked up family, their fucked up business, and my fucked up life, as well as all the deplorable things I’ve done. What better way to embrace this throw-up Thursday thing than to post excerpts of said memoir in progress!
So…here’s a GS-edited version of that time I hired heavily-armed anti-government neo-Nazis to print and distribute The Boble.
I first wrote the Boble in high school as a sort of lark that got slightly out of hand because all my friends were highly unstable fucks. In late 1992, I started to receive letters from a stranger in New York who sent me cash in exchange for printed and signed copies. This inspired me to go ahead and start a publishing company, because that’s the first thing everyone should think of doing when they get $10 for their high school slash fiction, right?
At college, in deeply rural West Virginia where people go to die, I asked my adviser if he knew of a place where I could get chapbooks printed and he grinned widely and nodded.
“You want Shirley and Matt.” He wrote their names and a phone number down on a scrap of paper and slid it across his desk. Before he let go of it, he said, “Don’t share this number with anyone.”
I called Shirley and Matt from the dorm room’s payphone. The phone rang seven times and, when Matt picked it up, the first thing he said, shouting, was:
“How did you get this number?!”
I told him my professor gave it to me.
Matt was silent for a few heartbeats, then he sighed. “Are you good?”
“Yes. Are. You. Good?”
“Is it time?”
“I was told that you could help me print some chapbooks that I — “
“Oh! Yes! Of course!” Matt laughed, and then rattled off directions and told me to spin by for dinner.
Shirley and Matt’s printing press was located 40 minutes away from my college, deep in the woods outside of Parsons, WV. I piled into my rattling minivan and headed out to meet them. You couldn’t see anything of their property from the road other than the start of a gravel driveway, a rusted metal gate free-standing across it emblazoned with a large sign that read “Trespassers will be summarily executed.” There was no mailbox, no address, no sign of life.
A bald man in khakis emerged from the forest as soon as I pulled to a stop at the head of the gravel road. His neck and arms sported curlicue tattoos, and I spotted the SS lightning bolts on his neck as well as the thick arm of what I presumed was a swastika. He stepped up to my driver side window, standing slightly back and sideways like a cop.
“Nacho?” He asked.
“Yep,” I stammered back.
I showed him my driver’s license. He nodded and walked around to the back of the car, writing down my plate number in a little book, then he came back to the window and handed my license back. Without a word, he went to the gate and hauled it open. I caught a glimpse of a shoulder holster under his camouflage jacket.
At this point, I should have probably started to second guess my desire for a cheap and reliable book printer, but a publisher takes whatever charity he can get, right?
The gravel road turned a couple times, working deep into the woods before finally opening up into a clearing with five large buildings and a courtyard in the middle. One building was a proper farmhouse, and the others looked like World War II-style POW barracks from some old movie. Several women and children wandered around, chickens ran aimlessly through the yard, and two German Shepherds chained to a rusted-out pick-up truck by the main house barked themselves stupid as I sat in my car wondering what I’d wandered into.
A man walked out of the house. He was tall, barrel-chested, and sported a long, white beard. An SS tattoo was blazed on one of his bare arms, and the other arm was a sleeve tattoo with the same curlicues as the guy at the gate. He walked up to the passenger side window and knocked twice. I rolled it down and nervously introduced myself. In reply he just nodded and said, “Welcome to Free Mill Creek.” This was Matt.
Shirley was much less imposing. She made me lemonade and talked about the nobility of the Indians who once “ran free through these hills.” She walked me through their printing press, in one of the big sheds behind the main house, and told me what they were capable of doing. Tattooed workers with shaved heads all labored away on various pamphlets, none of them looking up at us. Behind the shed, Shirley showed me her “shrine” – a pile of rocks, with various herbs planted around it. Medicine wheels, feathers, and bird skulls dangled above the rocks, suspended from a grid of chicken-wire stretched over several tent poles.
“When the Indians were here,” she said, kneeling and laying a hand on the pile of rocks, “they would worship right here. Free Mill Creek is built on a ley line – do you know what that is?”
According to Shirley, a mystical alignment ran through West Virginia, a “track of power” that crossed right beneath our feet at Free Mill Creek. It was because of this alignment that people had been coming to West Virginia even before the Indians. The Templars had come here to hide their treasure, the Vikings came here and built stone huts and left cryptic runes, and others had been here – “ancient builders” – who developed several local caves into “temples to forgotten gods.”
“The Indians were merely the caretakers of this tradition,” Shirley told me, “and now it’s up to us here at Free Mill Creek to preserve this tradition and protect it from the government.”
I nodded politely, spoke when spoken to, and listened attentively. I wanted to hurry up and get down to business. I had books to sell!
Back in the house, with more lemonade, I outlined Purple Publications to Shirley. The first thing they would print would be a professional version of The Boble, and we spent an afternoon pouring over paper and layout options.
Within four days, Shirley delivered the first official print run of The Boble to my dorm room, and I gave her a new assignment – the first three chapbooks for my press, Purple Publications, collecting all of the writing and poetry I had collected from friends as well as the stories that I had been writing about the sheer lunacy of my co-workers and customers at my lunatic customer service job.
When the next letter from New York with Boble orders came, I sent her a lengthy reply detailing the three new chapbooks, and explaining the sudden change in the Boble’s quality. I said that I’d like to raise the prices slightly.
The reply came a month later – pre-ordering ten copies of each of the chapbooks and, as always, more copies of The Boble. The agreed price was $7.50 for each item. Nearly $300 in flattened bills from New York City. A King’s ransom that, in one swoop, paid off the printing fees at Free Mill Creek.
As Purple Publications “boomed” (from the perspective of a starving college student paying his own way through life), my relationship with Shirley and Matt also grew. I visited them only twice more, afraid of the compound, but Shirley seemed happy to deliver the chapbooks to my dorm. She would sit with me and drink coffee, using my oversized dorm fridge as a table, and she told me that what I was doing was very important.
“The Boble is going to change the world,” she said. “We’ve all been reading it, and we think it needs to get out there.” She outlined a distribution plan, which Free Mill Creek would undertake, and I shrugged my acceptance and told them that I usually get $7.50 per sale from some stranger in New York.
She offered a trade – sales of The Boble would pay for printing the chapbooks, and they would give me 50% of the profits earned after that.
Perfect! I shook on it.
Up until 1994, steady royalty checks came in from the Nazis. Then, stupidly, I decided to change my life. My maternal grandfather sat me down and told me that writing was for faggots and I’d do much better if I shut down Purple Publications and focus on my work (note that I was, at the point, working 130 hours a week at four jobs).
Stunned and wounded by my extraordinarily fucked up childhood, I complied. I never really learned to ignore my family, even though every single one of them really should have probably been locked up and euthanized.
I sent a snippy letter to the stranger in New York, ending two years of steady payments, and I told Free Mill Creek to stop distributing the Boble. They did not respond, and the cash from both sources stopped coming.
Probably the single biggest thing from my past that I still regret today…
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