Re: James Swartz--my original written account
Date: September 08, 2019 05:46AM
Here is the next segment:
Not spiritual at all
Summer ended and my school began. I had less time to join in the morning satsangs and this depressed me immensely. I stopped living my mom’s place. I roamed the streets, stayed with friends, and slept in Frank’s stairwell or in his flat. Sometimes I crashed at Rama’s or in the flat below, where the kind and generous women let me sleep on their couch. I started to cut classes to attended Rama’s satsangs. I cut so many classes I fell behind in my work and struggled to keep up in school. Eventually, I dropped out. My determination to be with Rama was fierce and all pervasive. It was a love no one could understand and our spiritual family, it seemed to me, set us apart from the rest of the people in the world who couldn’t wake up from their dream—couldn’t realize their God-self.
There were days I simply couldn’t remember where I was or who I was with, it was a blur, and I was trying to survive on very little money. Jessica was gearing up to go to Canada, then overseas on a strip teasing tour. Marlene had been training her. There was a lot of talk about how much money could be made and what to do next. I became increasingly desperate to have a home. I continued to be enamoured with Jessica, and our spiritual family—I wanted to belong. I asked Sunny Jim when I would start training for a strip tour. He told me I had to be eighteen years at least; he didn’t want any trouble with the law. Nonetheless he helped me decide on a stage name: Pepper. Because I was hot and spicy. He told me I could be like that brand-new star Madonna. He told me he could make me a star one day if I wanted that. Cliché—but true.
In early Autumn, Jessica and Marlene went to Canada, and Sunny Jim accompanied them to start the strip tour. Joseph stayed at the flat. There was extra room, and I was allowed to live in the tiny room behind the kitchen in the back. Joseph and I enjoyed a new sense of freedom, we were alone to do as we pleased, without being told what to do. I spent time with Frank and our dance friends, and Joseph partied and enjoyed his gay lifestyle that Rama forced him to give up. We all celebrated, had dinner parties, and had a good time. I felt a bit left out, because I was the only girl tagging along in a gay-man’s world. I loved them, and they loved me, but I was the little runaway girl—an appendage to their group.
Frank revealed to me his secret. He had been hustling down on Polk street at night. Though he had a job in a deli, near the opera house, it wasn’t enough money to pay for rent and food. Frank showed me how he worked the street, how to stand, how to look over his shoulder, and what look to give in order to get a pickup. This was a strange world to me. It wasn’t my world. I felt sad for Frank, it seemed like he was getting involved with people who didn’t care about him.
“…and you think you’re any different?” Frank responded. “You think Joseph’s guru cares about you? How’s stripping any better? I don’t think stripping is spiritual…not spiritual at all.”
Frank was right. But at that time, I couldn’t hear him, or even understand what he was saying, or how it related to me. My mind was completely controlled by Rama.
Sunny Jim returned from Canada, leaving Jessica and Marlene to work. He became angry at Joseph and called him a “dirty fag”. Rama told Joseph he had to clean up his life or get out. For a while Joseph attempted to comply. He wanted to please his guru. They had arguments. After a couple of weeks, Rama kicked Joseph out of the flat on California street, because Joseph wouldn’t give up his gay lifestyle. Joseph left and, for a time, embraced his chosen life. Frank disappeared into his new scene.
When Joseph left, I was alone with Rama, and that was when my worst nightmare began. Here is my most vivid recollection.
Do you still see?
We sat in the satsang parlor, me on the couch and he on his chair. He made us tea and we were to sit and talk a while. It seemed a long time passed by, as Rama told me stories and let me ask questions. He looked deeply into my eyes and told me that we had known each other in our past lives—many, many lives we had had together. I started to see his aura. He asked me if I could see his previous lives while looking into his eyes. I said no. I felt nervous. He told me to look into his eyes and allow my vision to blur so I could see all the light coming through his being. I was taught how to do this—I obeyed.
Distinguished lines began to blur. The expression on his face distorted and his features began to move and swirl. I noticed different faces of people emerge from his face. I saw a haggard old woman, a young boy, a regal king, a devil, an ordinary man of middle age. I saw lifetimes upon lifetimes. He told me I was doing good—doing fine. Then he told me to lie down on the couch with my face toward him and continue to look into his eyes. I did. He moved the chair and stretched out on pillows, his face toward me, his eyes looked into mine. “Do you still see?” He asked.
I blacked out. For years, that time, between blacking out and waking up in my small bedroom was gone for me, as if someone had taken a big eraser and erased it clean out of existence. But then, years later, in my late forties, a terrible miracle happened, and I remembered.
My body remembered first and then my visual cortex moved into gear and I had solid memories. I had violent seizures along with the memories—which I will describe. He is hovering over me making disgusting sounds. I’m being raped. He makes a yelling sound, then makes grunting sounds. It is violent. He is hurting me. There is a hatred that is emanating from his face. He is hurting me because he hates me, or something about me. His hand is around my throat and I cannot breathe. I feel panic. Inside, I resist but my body is immobilized. Inside of my pelvis, I find a place to hold onto, I pull away, my pelvis twists as I try to get away; this is all I can do, my right hip is pulled back and I grip inside to try and push him away. I am frozen in a twist. He says the word “p*ssy”. He releases my neck. He tells me it’s okay. He tells me this is the greatest love I will ever know…and…and…and… How could it be? So much after that rape is a blur of memories.
How could it be?
Jessica and Marlene returned from the Canadian tour. Everyone settled into the spiritual family home-life and got into routine. Jessica slept for days and days. I wonder now if she too had been drugged. Marlene got back to her old antics of acting like a baby, talking in baby voices, and serving her master Rama. I missed Joseph and Frank.
Before long I noticed that I was hurting bad “down there.” I had no idea what it could be, but it hurt so badly I mentioned it to Jessica and asked her what I should do. She promptly told Sunny Jim the situation. He was angry and unnerved. He stated it was more than likely the “boyfriend” of mine, Frank, and I should get it checked out right away. Jim said I probably had sex with that disgusting homosexual and probably had a disease.
I of course knew it wasn’t a problem of sex with Frank, because he was gay, and he did not have sex with me. Jim told Jessica to take me down to the clinic, not just any clinic, mind you, but the free clinic in the mission district where a lot of “reckless homosexuals” went. Jim said that I had gotten myself into this trouble by sleeping with a homosexual, so I needed to “learn a lesson”, and get treated at a “scummy” place like the free clinic in the mission district.
Looking back on it now, I realize he sent us to that clinic because it was in an area overloaded with people and problems, so if any doctor or nurse had recognized me as a minor they would likely let it go because of the concentration of problem people in the area.
And that’s just what happened. I was overlooked. It was very strange behavior Jim was exhibiting, but Jessica and I were completely under his control and didn’t know any better. Jim gave specific orders, and Jessica took me down to the clinic to find out what was wrong with me. As predicted the place was scummy. A male nurse had me sit on the treatment table. He examined me, checked for pregnancy and diseases. After a long wait we got a diagnosis. The nurse reported I had “sexual trauma in the vagina and anus.”
There were multiple tears and wounds. When Jessica and I left the clinic, I felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat. How could it be? I had not had sex with Frank or anyone. (That I knew of.) I felt utterly devastated and confused. Nothing made sense. “At least you’re not pregnant or have a disease,” Jessica offered. I was wounded. My spiritual family surrounded me and supported me. They let me sleep and took care of me. My nightmare spiralled deeper.
Make a mint
Jessica had rested from the work in Canada. Then, Marlene and Sunny Jim sent her to a military base in Guam to perform. She had a traumatic and terrifying time there, and when she came back, she didn’t want to talk a lot about it. She slept for days, and days.
After she recovered, Jessica and Marlene went back overseas to Taiwan for another stripping tour. I was again alone with Rama. It was a dark time, and I don’t have complete memories of it. I wanted to please my guru, but I was also terrified of him. I lived in a split reality. My mind and emotions clung to the spiritual teacher I thought I had—the one I knew in the beginning. There were things happening to me that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t think or use my brain to help myself. I had a desperate need to please him. I had no outlet for what was happening to me. I had no way to express the pain. How could I? I was a child in the clutches of a vile and evil man.
In late October, I had my sixteenth birthday, and after I accidentally slammed my hand in a car door, I followed my friends’ prodding and started smoking cigarettes. This had become my outlet. Smoking became my little secret and I knew Rama would not approve because he always talked about attaining purity and avoiding addictions.
Rama planned a trip to India, to buy some bronze figurines (Hanuman, Shiva) to sell in his import business (one of his many ventures). He needed someone to take care of the flat on California Street. Joseph was still living on the periphery of our family, and still seeking guidance from Rama. They discussed options for bringing in money. Rama told Joseph to go out on his own, and figure out something clean and good, and ordered Joseph to stop his “dirty, filthy, cornholing boys”. Joseph earnestly searched for work that was “clean”. He began a new small business selling Spirulina, a health supplement. He wanted to please his guru. He wanted liberation.
Jim went to India to buy the stuff for import. He had a plan to sell a lot and “make a mint”. He was always obsessed with the latest venture that might make him wealthy. Jim promised Jessica that she could buy in, if she put money forward, she would cash in on the investment later, after he sold the figurines in the U.S.
Rama left Joseph and me, at the flat on California street. Soon after, Joseph’s lover and another friend moved in. I stayed in the small room behind the kitchen. I’m not sure how I survived during those months. I didn’t have a job. I relied on the generous offerings of food from Joseph and his friends. The trade off was that I had to do the cleaning. The women who lived in the flat beneath ours, helped me with food and some second-hand clothing.
Unfortunately, Frank was fully engaged in unsafe sexual practices at that time. He spent a lot of time with two or three “sugar daddies”, and sometimes he was mistreated. At Christmas, he began to wear expensive jewelry. Our friendship began to wane as he felt that I was clinging to him. I was just the runaway girl, hanging around his scene. We became more separated, but I still stayed in Joseph’s flat, and spent hours roaming around the city on my own. Eventually, Joseph and Frank began a casual affair; one among many other partners they were involved with. I was the odd man out.
Jim called them “crazy”
At the end of January, Jim returned from India with his import stuff. When he saw what Joseph “had been up to”, he told him to “get the fuck out”. Joseph wouldn’t give up his gay life, so he had to leave. I was sad and frightened to see Joseph leave. I felt alone and desperate.
Jim vacated the flat on California street. For a while I was homeless, sometimes staying with Frank, or another friend. Sunny Jim had to sell all his import stuff, and furniture from the antique shop. He set up in a cheap hotel. When I wasn’t with friends, or Frank, I would go to the hotel to see Rama. Sometimes I was hungry, and he would buy me fast food. Things had changed a lot from the first time I met the guru Rama, at a house party full of spiritual seekers. No more satsangs, no more wonderful old stories about Arjuna on the battlefield.
“I’m hungry Rama, can I have some food?”
“C’mon, I’ll take you to McDonalds.”
We sat down at a table, and I bit into my fishwich. For this moment, he seemed kind.
“Now, look at this burger,” he said. “You can see it with your eyes, touch it, taste it…but how do you know that it’s real?”
I didn’t know.
“This burger is material, it exists in the material world, but it’s not real.” He looked into my eyes, “and you’re not real.”
Jessica and Marlene returned from Taiwan. Jessica and Sunny Jim got into a fight. He reneged on his agreement to sell her share of the import stuff. I guess it wasn’t selling very well. Jessica moved back into her parent’s house for a short time, then after she auctioned off her portion of the goods for a loss, he let her back into the family. Sunny Jim and Marlene had a long stay at the motel, while Jessica stayed with her mom. We met regularly at coffee shops and the motel.
Around this time, we were running some errands in the Nob Hill area and a group of people, strangers to me, started pointing and yelling at Jim. It was about six people, they were very angry, and they accused Jim of doing something bad; I don’t know what. I didn’t hear the exact words that were said, but I saw their angry faces and they were pointing at him and yelling. Jim ordered us to the car, and we drove away. “That was weird,” Jessica remarked “what was that all about?” Jim told us it was a group of people he used to know, and some of them had accused him of something he never did. Jim called them “crazy.”
(...more to come)