Mon, 12 Jun 2000
D Benway <>
X-MANSON [2/5]


2 Westchester (1969) / Cape Citadel (1970)

D Benway


She is halfway into the first bag of chips when the documentary comes back on. Her hands reach in mechanically, one at a time, slowly turning shiny with grease and becoming speckled with salt grains. She dips each chip into the thick, latex-paint-like dip. She empties a half pound tub of it in under 15 minutes.

[Shot of prosperous looking middle-aged couple in a rather upscale suburban living room furnished entirely out of the 1976 Sears Catalogue]

[Caption: John and Elaine Grey, Bethpage NY]

JG: We thought we were doing the best for our daughter.

EG: He said he could help her and he did.

JG: We thought she was never going to wake up again.

Int: When did she go into a coma?

JG: September 25, 1969

Int: That would have been three weeks after Charles Xavier opened his school. Did you know him then?

EG: Not until he came to see my daughter in the hospital. He told me that he was a psychiatrist.

JG: I believed him. He did wake her up. Damn it, she was my daughter. I did everything I could for her. I knew it was the right thing at the time. I knew it, I couldn't help myself.

[Shot of a younger woman, in a small but comfortable apartment]

[Caption: Sarah Grey, Social Worker, Hoboken NJ]

SG: Mom and Dad never had a clue. They meant well, but they had no idea what she was going through. She went for self-medication, like most 'paths do. I was covering for her from the age of twelve.

Int: How so?

SG: Doing her homework, keeping Mom and Dad away when she was high, making excuses for her when no-one had any idea where she was.

Int: Did she ever run away from home?

SG: Four or five times. Never got far, though.

Int: Were you with her when she went into a coma?

SG: Yeah. She blacked out in the mall. I thought she'd been drinking, but I couldn't wake her up. That really scared me.

[Shot: The Greys]

EG: Our daughter never touched drugs or alcohol. Never.

JG: She was a good girl.

EG: She thrived at the School.

Int: Did you visit her there?

JG: Once or twice.

Int: She was a boarder there.

JG: We thought it was best.

Int: You never felt the need to visit more often?.

EG: No, I imagine because of what he did to our minds.

[Shot of Sarah Grey]

SG: He didn't have to do anything to their minds. They were so far in denial they were seeing pyramids. As long as they talked on the phone once a week and she said everything was OK, they were happy.

Int: Did you go to the School?

SG: Every week.

Int: What did you think of it?

SG: Guess I thought it was kind of neat, compared to Bethpage High. I mean, they had no timetable, they could study what they wanted to, they had all kinds of neat stuff like a VCR. We used to watch movies on tape, back when that was new.

Int: Was she happy there?

SG: Oh yeah. She could mindspeak with me. I could feel how happy she was. Or at least how happy she wanted me to think she was. She was read/write.

Int: So you suspected she wasn't happy?

SG: Instinct said she wasn't. Never could put my finger on why.

Int: What about the other kids?

SG: I liked Bobby Drake, he was fun. Hank McCoy was a pompous ass. One of those people who's all happy but their eyes never smile, you know? Worthington was a prick.

Int: What about Scott Summers?

SG: She introduced him to me as her boyfriend. He never said a word. Shy as hell. Don't think he said more than ten words to me ever.

Int: Were they in love?

SG: I think so. She seemed happiest when he was near.

Int: What about Charles Xavier?

SG: Hardly ever saw him. He would tutor them all individually. She usually had me over on days when he wasn't there.

Int: But when you did see him?

SG: He creeped me out.

Int: Did you tell your parents?

SG: Why? They wouldn't have listened.

Int: When did you stop visiting the School?

SG: After I went away to college.

Int: Mills College?

SG: Yes.

Int: Why so far?

SG: I wanted to go to a women's college. They accepted me on a partial scholarship. Had to work 20 hours a week to get through. It was brutal.

Int: Did you apply to Smith? Weren't there other ones nearer?

SG: Well, yeah, but they didn't give me- Oh shit.

Int: You wanted to be closer.

SG: That fucker. That absolute fucker. Yeah I wanted to be closer. It didn't even occur to me that he could fuck with that. That fucker must have mind-raped everyone.

[Shot of a man and woman whose faces are porcine beyond the point of parody in a living room that is a canonical example of kitsch. The purple lampshades in the background have the letters FF embroidered into them in gold thread.]

[Caption: Francis and Francine Fagan, Omaha Nebraska]

FsF: We didn't have much choice. We had to send him away.

FnF: He kept breaking my things.

FsF: No control over those beam things from his eyes.

FnF: He was a kid. Gawky, you know? Kept falling over his feet, losing the glasses. Damn near took my head off once.

FsF: We tried to send him to Boy's Town, but they didn't take mutants then.

[Shot of a man with short blond hair in a black turtleneck. The room that he's sitting in is spare to the point of being spartan. He looks very, very certain, though of what it is not clear.]

[Caption: Alex Summers, Clergyman, Fullerton CA]

AS: What they mean is that Boy's Town wouldn't take him for free.

Int: I understood that the fee was nominal.

AS: Yeah, it was. They stopped charging it altogether before Scott got sent away, but the Fagans couldn't be bothered to find that out. They sent him to the first place that wouldn't charge them anything. We weren't supposed to be separated.

Int: They were your foster parents?

AS: Keepers. They were our keepers. They even called the place Boy's Farm. They got 500 a month for every orphan boy they kept. We slept in what used to be their barn. All twelve of us, sleeping with our asses to the wall.

Int: You were sent there right after your parents were killed?

AS: No. First we were in the hospital, recovering from the accident. Then they sent us to a psychiatric hospital, then back to a normal hospital. We got a lot of press. Not many kids lose their family when a fully loaded B52 falls on the family car. The workers thought for sure we were going to get taken in by a foster family, because it made such a good story. We went through eight homes before they dumped us at the Lahrs. Seems orphans who're mutants weren't so popular.

[Shot: The Fagans]

FnF: He was such a handsome young man, except for those glasses that made him look like a blind man.

FsF: Too damn shy. Wouldn't say boo to a goose.

FnF: Not like the brother.

FsF: Jesus, he was a handful.

[Shot: Alex Summers]

AS: I did a lot of stupid things. I missed Scott.

Int: Did you talk at all?

AS: I was allowed a ten-minute call once a month. It was hard. Scott didn't say much. Sometimes it would take me half the call to get him to say anything.

Int: Was he happy there?

AS: I didn't think so, not at first, not until he met Jean.

Int: Did you meet Jean?

AS: No. Only ever saw a picture he sent me once in a letter.

Int: Did you try to visit the School?

AS: I tried a couple of times. Kept getting into trouble. Did some time in juvie. Did some hard time. Then I found meaning in my life through Scientology. It saved my life, but by then I'd lost touch with Scott.

Int: Did you ever reach the School?

AS: My work with the Church was more important, for a time, and, after that, he stopped answering my letters. I thought he'd abandoned me, so I didn't bother stopping there, even when I was working for the Church in Manhattan.

[Shot of a corporate female shark in business attire. She has a strange air about her, as if every last part of her from her hair to her toes were made of various different types of plastic.]

[Caption: Ms. Candace Southern, Personal Assistant, New York NY]

CS: Mr. Worthington went to the school in Westchester after he left the Massachusetts Academy. His parents did not feel that the Academy was a suitable environment for their son after that Frost woman took over as headmaster. Mr Worthington found the time that he spent the School For Gifted Youngsters to be the most enlightening, exciting, and wonderful period in his life. He continued to support the School as a loyal alumnus. He believes that much of the media attention directed at the School was of a sensationalistic nature, and that only in the last two years after the death of the Professor did things begin to slide. Mr. Worthington regrets the events that occurred during those last few years, but urges you to seek out other students such as Henry McCoy who had positive experiences during its early days.

Int: Did Mr. Worthington visit the School during those last few years?

CS: This is all Mr. Worthington has to say.

[Shot of a middle-aged, paunchy, balding man with a permanent 5 o'clock shadow who is wearing a bright red sundress. He is sitting on a sofa in a clean, bright apartment decorated with an unusual array of items all bearing rainbows of various forms.]

[Caption: William Drake, San Francisco CA]

WD: I didn't want him to go to that school. I wanted him to come here to live with me and Carmen. It would have been so much better for him. Different isn't bad here. He'd have been a hit at parties with powers like that. We would never have had to go out for ice.

[Shot of a middle-aged woman with big blue hair, wearing a bright blue suit. Her apartment is cold and gray and spare. There are plastic covers on the arms of the sofa on which she sits.]

[Madeline Drake, Perth Amboy NJ]

MD: Carmen? His name's Gilbert Weinstein and he used to be our plumber. I mean, our house was old and I knew it needed work, but I never suspected, not once. Not until I came home early from my sister's in Fort Lee and found them both wearing my old dresses in the guest bedroom. Naturally, I filed for divorce.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: She took me to the cleaners. Got the house, got custody of Bobby and I didn't even get visitation rights. He had to sneak out of the house to call me.

[Shot of M Drake]

MD: What would you expect? The man was a prevert.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: Pervert? Hah! Carmen and I have a stronger relationship than I ever had with that spitting cobra. Fifteen years we've been together. We wanted Bobby to come out for a visit, but she wouldn't let him go.

[Shot of M Drake]

MD: He turned Bobby against me.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: I turned Bobby against her? What about Laszlo, the only het hair stylist on Staten Island?

[Shot of M Drake]

MD: Robert never did get along with Laszlo. He used to make Laszlo upset with all those stupid jokes. Then he told all those lies about Laszlo. It was more than I could put up with.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: He used to phone me up, crying, saying he wanted to run away and come and live with me. In the end, I took her to court.

[Shot of M Drake]

MD: I tried to make a deal with Robert. I told him if he couldn't get along with Laszlo, he'd have to go to a boarding school.

Int: The School For Gifted Youngsters?

MD: Yes, I think that was the one I picked.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: It took years in the courts and every cent I had. By the time that old Laz got arrested for indecency with a farm animal and things started to go my way, Bobby'd been at the school for two years.

[Shot of M Drake]

MD: He was so happy at the school. He never would have run away if his father hadn't been pressuring him to leave.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: He phoned me from the school. He sounded happy, just like he'd sound when his mother was listening in, before the divorce. That's how I knew he knew there was something wrong. When I got the news that he'd run away, I phoned the cops in Salem Centre. They had no leads and never did. I meant to do more to find him, but I just never got around to it. Something always came up, or I'd forget. Forget that I even had a son until the cobra phoned to crap on me for making her son run away. Thought I was going senile.

Int: Your wife believes that he ran away, and that he's still lost.

WD: She still can't accept it. We both got the autopsy reports, and, even in that state, oh God, even in that state I could tell it was my only child.

[Shot of a man in a very cheap suit. He appears to have graduated from high school football to law enforcement a bit too quickly.]

[Caption: Detective Dwight Hammer, Westchester County Police]

DH: Robert Drake's body was one of the six we found in the lake. It'd been in there a good ten years at least. It was wrapped in a canvas tent and chains, then they weighted it down with concrete blocks. The divers missed it, and we only found it when we started dragging the lake.

[Shot of W Drake]

WD: Would living with me have been as bad as that?

[Shot of a very large man in an expensive suit in a lushly appointed office, possibly that of an investment banker but possibly that of a professor who is very good at getting grants. The man is wearing rimless high-fashion European glasses and a look of extreme urgency. Plainly, this interview is keeping him from something very important. He also has unusually large hands.]

[Caption: Henry McCoy, Trofim Lysenko Professor of Genetics at Northwestern University, Chicago IL]

HM: I was at the School For Gifted Youngsters for three of the best years of my life.

Int: You chose to attend?

HM: I had a rough time at my first high school, very rough. It was in the Midwest, where any deformities would make one the object of the most vicious ridicule. At the School, I set myself on the path to understanding that which had made me different.

Int: You worked with Charles Xavier on his genetic experiments?

HM: Charles Xavier had a profound intellect. Everything I am today I owe to him. His breakdown and demise were most unfortunate.

Int: You are aware of the controversy surrounding his background?

HM: Overblown, completely overblown. Xavier had a remarkable mind, one that transcended the petty certifications that we so often use to indicate the size of a mind.

Int: Such as your PhD from Princeton?

HM: Such as that, yes. I am certain that Charles Xavier could have easily attained all that I learned at Princeton in a much shorter time, had he not known it already. He was a most remarkable teacher, and I am but a humble fool by comparison.

Int: Were you close to the other students?

HM: As close as my studies would allow. My program of study was quite intensive, and I spent little time with them. I found their company pleasant, when I had time to indulge in it.

Int: Were they happy at the School?

HM: So far as I knew.

Int: What do you think happened to Robert Drake?

HM: I have no idea. He was still there when I left the School and went up to Princeton.

Int: Didn't you stay in touch with the others?

HM: I had limited contact with the Professor. Otherwise, I lost touch with them. I certainly wish I had not, knowing now what happened. If only I had known, I might have been able to prevent it.

[Shot of a much less well-appointed office with no windows but plenty of steam pipes. The place is in a state of almost pure chaos, with books and papers piled on every free surface. A middle aged man who obviously runs marathons is staring a little too keenly into the camera.]

[Caption: Sir Bernard Quatermass, RA Fisher Professor of Eugenics at the London School of Hygiene]

BQ: McCoy would sell his own mother to the gypsies to get the Nobel. For that matter, he missed his mother's funeral on account of some experiment he was involved in. Disgusting man. No one with any sense of honour will work with him.

Int: Why is that?

BQ: His early career consisted almost entirely of publishing work weeks or even days ahead of others who had been working on their ideas for decades.

Int: So he had no ideas of his own?

BQ: Oh no, no, no. He did have some very good ideas, completely original ones as far as anyone could tell. He developed the anti-retrovirals that cured that awful venereal disease that the Africans caught from monkeys and that infected all those pederasts in California twenty years back. He has a better understanding of mutant genetics than almost anyone in the field. Of course, he would have, given his connections.

Int: How do you mean?

BQ: His work, and indeed all of our work, depends upon getting large quantities of genetic material in a fresh condition. He's always had and still has the best supplies of it.

Int: This material, it comes from cadavers?

BQ: Cadavers and those on their way to becoming them. It may be something as simple and harmlessly taken as blood, it might be a pituitary gland torn from a technically still-living brain. Brain, kidney, and liver tissue in particular can't be taken ethically until the source has died, and Henry always has had an unusually good supply of brains and kidneys.

Int: You're suggesting that he may have gotten these by illegal means?

BQ: All I'm saying is, he always had tissue, whenever he needed it. If you want a subject for another documentary, try looking at how much cable traffic there is from his lab to China every time they have one of their anti-corruption campaigns.

[Shot of Dwight Hammer]

DH: The autopsy report on Robert Drake showed that he was missing several organs.

Int: Which ones?

DH: Brain, both kidneys, liver. Maybe more, he was down in that muck over ten years, but the coroner was sure that those ones were missing.

Int: Were any of the other bodies found in the lake missing organs?

DH: Some of them. Usually brains. Only one of the bodies was fully intact, the one that they call the Lady of the Lake. Some of the live ones we arrested were missing parts. Summers was missing a kidney and both eyes.

Int: What do you think happened to them?

DH: We know what happened to Summer's eyes, but we don't know what happened to his kidney. Maybe they ate it. Just assumed it was some sort of mutant thing.

Int: Did you vote for the Kelly Amendment?

DH: Way I see it, the founding fathers set everything up assuming we were all equal. There's no call to make some more equal than others.

Int: So you don't feel that mutants need extra protection?

DH: Hell, no. Some of my best friends are mutants, and they never complained.

[Shot of a gaunt, handsome, mesmerizing man on the podium, outside on a windy day. He is wearing a dark suit and horn-rim glasses and has John F Kennedy hair.]

[Caption: Senator John B Kelly]

JK: My fellow Americans, we all have a friend who is a mutant, or know a mutant who is a friend of a friend. If you asked, they may have told you that they were happy with their lot but, if they did, ask yourself how you asked them. Did you ask them how it feels to be hated or feared, or did you ask them in the hope of being assured that this is the best of all possible worlds? My friends, this is not the best of all possible worlds. If it was, we would not have had to pass the ERA or the King Amendment or the Chavez Amendment or the Wounded Knee Amendment or the Milk/Moscone Amendment. Anti-mutant bias is one of the last redoubts for those who would preach public hatred in America, who would feed their pride on the blood of the innocent. I ask you go to the polls one last time and vote for legislators who support the MRA. Then, and only then, will we be able to hope that this may one day be the best of all possible worlds.

[Caption: Erich Lehnsherr, Vienna]

[Lehnsherr is alone, in a different room than the one shown previously. It might be his office in the Hofburg, or his office in the UN HQ in Vienna. Wherever it is, it's the kind of office that people have when they possess a great deal of power. His wife is nowhere in sight.]

EL: Cape Citadel. Terrible business, terrible.

Int: How did you become involved?

EL: It was John Kelly. He was in his first term as Senator. He was a junior member of the Armed Services Committee. It was 1964, I believe.

Int: 1963.

EL: I'm getting old. Kennedy had just been buried and the American Navy had begun their criminal applications of nuclear power and weaponry to the potential destruction of their enemies. In the race to develop the submarines, they made errors. Contractors made mistakes that were not caught. They had had one submarine fall apart six months before they lost contact with the Philadelphia off Norfolk. I was at UN headquarters in New York, negotiating details of the transfer of the headquarters to Vienna when Senator Kelly arrived by helicopter and asked for my help.

Int: Did he pressure you in any way?

EL: He told me that 40 young men were about to be crushed to death by the sea. That gave me very little choice.

Int: Why did you go to the base at Cape Citadel?

EL: It was the closest military installation to the last reported location of the submarine. Also, because there was a plutonium processing installation on the site, they had the equipment necessary to contain any spills of radioactive material from the submarine.

Int: It was also a missile base, wasn't it?

EL: It was. Not a place that I would normally have visited.

Int: How did you get in?

EL: John bluffed our way in. He made a big noise about being on the Armed Services Committee and needing to see the base commander. The Americans were very lax in terms of security in those days. When the base commander found out who I was, he very nearly had a heart attack. My actions curtailing the attacks in the Tonkin Gulf prior to the peace settlement in Hue were well known to the US military, as was my opposition to the placement of nuclear weapons in Europe.

Int: But you convinced the base commander to allow you to help.

EL: It took valuable time, but, yes, we did. They had regained contact with the submarine and I was able to put a field around it to prevent any further structural failure. I was beginning to raise it when we were attacked by masked children dressed as bumblebees.

Int: These were Xavier's students?

EL: I believe so, yes. They went straight for the command post where I was concentrating on the submarine, telling anyone who would listen that I was seizing the submarine for some nefarious purpose. Utterly ridiculous, but then it fit perfectly with the rather paranoid spirit of that time. Many in the military blamed me for 'losing' Viet Nam, and now I was going to further emasculate their great republic, or some such thing. Xavier may have influenced them in some way, but I was fighting almost as certainly the limitations of the military mind.

Int: So some of the garrison attacked the command post?

EL: It was chaos. I was in the command post, besieged by the half of the garrison that wasn't guarding us. I tried to put up a shield around the building, but Xavier's students started attacking psionically and with force beams and with ice. I had to stop lifting and hold the submarine in place while I reinforced our defenses. It was a tremendous strain. We held out for almost an hour until the one with the force beams sliced open a tank containing pressurized liquid hydrazine. The entire fight vanished in a fog of explosive gas and I further reinforced the shield just in time for the explosion. It was too much, even for me. I lost consciousness.

Int: The Philadelphia was lost.

EL: After I passed out, the submarine began to sink again. It disintegrated before I could regain consciousness.

Int: What happened at the base?

EL: An unconfined vapour cloud explosion, a detonation of almost nuclear levels of destruction. I was able to protect those inside the command post, but over 500 of those outside lost their lives and over a thousand more were injured. Of those, some 300 lost limbs and senses. Worse, six of those atomic missiles that the phone company built to defend New York had their propellant explode inside their silos and plutonium was scattered over much of the site. I was able to contain most of it, but it might have even been worse, had one of the attackers not erected a wall of ice between the main fire and the majority of the missiles.

Int: What happened after?

EL: They tried to arrest me, in spite of my assistance and my diplomatic passport. I still had enough of my power to prevent them from taking me away, and I was able to fly to safety. There was a congressional enquiry of course, but the officers at the base came through for us. What surprised John was the anti-mutant backlash that struck after. Although the loss of the Philadelphia was the responsibility of Xavier's assault, the general public blamed the loss upon me, identifying me as a foreign threat, as a contagion. John based the rest of his political career on fighting that hatred. I did what I could, but of course the part that I could play was limited.

Int: Why would have Xavier have gone after you?

EL: I am not certain. I have no idea how he knew I was there, which suggests that he had another goal in mind, though I have no idea what it might have been. To put children at such risk, it chills my heart even now. Once he knew I was there, he might have attacked me in revenge, or to deliberately provoke an anti-mutant response. He doubled the size of the school shortly thereafter, and I cannot imagine that the anti-mutant reaction did not assist his recruitment efforts.