by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
During 1980, when I purchased my first personal computer, I began keeping a journal of events on our North Carolina farm. These items included such things as major weather events, when buildings were started and finished, animal births, vaccination dates and worming dates. The practice continued in North Carolina and then again in Virginia as I obtained computers that were more and more sophisticated. After meeting Vivi on December 15, 1990, I began putting in cryptic comments that chronicled our growing love. Then when the rogue military attacks began on our farm, I began writing detailed descriptions of every fact I knew, as taught me by the US Navy. The purpose was to detect the enemy’s identity and tactics, plus any possible weaknesses. The last entry in the farm journal was April 7, 1993.
The Epilogues differ somewhat from the twelve chapters of “The French Courtesan” in that it also includes information obtained after the fact from a retired US Army general, Roger Kennedy, Director of the National Park Service; covert FBI agent Susan Karlson and most recently, Vivi herself. The result is that years 1993 through 1996 appear more like remake of the book, Dr. Zvivago by Boris Pasternak. Several times, Vivi and I were in close proximity, but didn’t know it.
A long time friend of mine is a retired US Army Brigadier General, living in Orange County, Virginia. We will call him Ben. His specialties are Counter-insurgency and Special Ops. As a young lieutenant, he was assigned in the early 1990s to the National Security Council (NSC), to thwart plans by traitors within and outside the federal government to seize Washington, DC and install a fascist dictatorship. Most of the people, he worked with were either murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. Most of the traitors are still around and went unpunished. However, the sacrifices made by his team and civilian patriots weakened the Beast sufficiently so that no insurrection occurred.
Ben won his battle ribbons and rapid rise in rank while fighting in the incessant wars of the Middle East, which so far have continued in the first two decades of the Twenty-first century. He estimates that at least 1200 journalists, Federal law enforcement officers and civilians were murdered by the fascists in 1991, 1992 and early 1993. He said that there may have been many more civilian leaders killed, but like my situation, were recorded as being killed while committing a crime or in accidents.
The fascists were shocked when Bill Clinton was elected president. Blatant high profile murders stopped when Janet Reno replaced William Barr as US Attorney General, but thousands of civilians were put on a list of those who might opposed a fascist coup-de-etats. Ben really has no clue as to how many people on that list have been recorded as natural deaths, suicides or accidents, when they were actually murdered.
To me, the most astounding statistic that Ben quotes is that between the years 2000 and 2003, over 1500 US Army and US Navy officers and senior non-commission officers either were murdered, died under suspicious circumstances or disappeared. Their “crime” was belief in a Constitutional democracy. Indeed, that is is situation today. The most stalwart defenders of our democracy are proudly wearing the uniforms of the United States Armed Forces. Today’s generals and admirals are some of the best educated and wisest leaders in our nation . . . and they still refuse to betray their Homeland.
The War Against Satan Continues
March 14, 1995 – It was a busy day at work and I didn’t feel like cooking in the little kitchenette of my rental rondette at the Sunnybrook Stables on Roswell Road between Marietta and Roswell, GA. I walked about a block to a neighborhood restaurant to let someone cook for me.
I was just beginning to eat, when a lovely Jewish-American lady in her early thirties asked if someone was using the other chair. I said no, expecting her to grab the chair. Instead, she sat and down and ordered a meal from the waitress. She was very intelligent, articulate and quite feminine.
The conversation was typical of a first date, not someone filling an empty space on a table. At the end of our meals, she asked if she could come by some night to my rondette to visit with me. I said yes, while I was thinking, “The 1990s . . . don’t you love these new aggressive American females?” We will call her Barbara.
I assumed that she would telephone me first, but she didn’t. Just after it had turned pitch dark outside, a couple of nights later, there was a soft knock. It was Barbara. First thing she said was, “I would have called, but the Cobb County Police have your phone tapped.” I responded, “I wouldn’t doubt it. Under this new commission chairman, it’s like working for the Third Reich. Looking for a way to get out of there . . . but how did you know?” She didn’t answer.
Barbara asked if she could smoke. I said, “No problem.” She sat down on the couch beside me. Thought it was interesting that she smoked the same brand of cigarettes as Vivi and Susan. What really floored me, though, was the first question she asked me, “Have you met someone that you like since you moved from Virginia?” I told her that for a long time, I really was not in an emotional state to find someone else, because I was still grieving for a lost love for someone I met after I got tired of my wife repeatedly asking a divorce.
Barbara gave a surprising response, “Well, I am sure that she would understand that you need companionship, even if you are not in love with the new woman in your life.”
She then asked, “Where are you dogs, goats and sheep now?” I quickly figured out that this evening was not what I thought it was going to be. I asked how she knew about the dogs, goats and sheep. She didn’t answer. I had told her very little about my past, because I so embarrassed about losing everything I loved, but not being able yet to get rid of the thing I had grown to hate . . . my estranged wife. Well, being poisoned by your wife does tend to eliminate emotional ties. (See later epilogue.)
I then told her that the sheep had disappeared while we were separated. In late 1992 and 1993, I had sold off most of the goats, except the very best. My realtor told me that she had taken our two female dogs to the county animal center with instructions to euthanize them immediately, even though they were in their prime. The realtor then called to tell me that she was trying to find someone to shoot the goats and my male dog in front of the house, so no one would buy the property. At that point, a friend of my mother’s family offered to haul the goats and my dog back to his farm, which was next door to where we used to hold our family reunions in Dewey Rose, GA. At the time, she was living with a guy near Dulles Airport, so that was easily accomplished.
Not too long after she finished her cigarette, Barbara stood up and walked to the center of the room and looked quite serious. I would swear that she had a glow around her body. Holding a posture like someone making an announcement to a crowd, she stated in a somewhat different tone of voice, “Richard, it is important that you leave the city as soon as possible. You need to move to the country, where you can more clearly see who is around you. If you don’t move, they will kill you. It is very dangerous for you to stay here.”
I asked her, “Who is they?” She didn’t answer and with few other words expended, walked out of the rondette, never to be seen again. Was she a friend of FBI agent Susan Karlson? Was Barbara an FBI agent herself? Was she an angel or extraterrestrial? Did an angel or extraterrestrial take possession of a human body? I will never fully understand that strange experience, but my mind moved back in time to the events of August 1992.
August 2, 1992 – My wife arrived back at the Toms Brook Farm pretending to be sweet, but obviously very angry. In July 1996 I would read her diary and learn that she was livid with anger because the witches had not come through with their promises. There were no audio tapes and photographs that she thought she could use get “everything” in a divorce. Of course, all I would have had to do was present the judge with far more professional, notarized evidence from a detective agency in January 1991, that would have negated anything she presented.
The Anti-wife had been monitoring our checking accounts from a First Union Bank branch in Georgia. Because she had been draining down the accounts with big restaurant and bar tabs, yet saw no checks paid for utilities and very little for food, she expected to find me in desperate shape with no electricity or telephone and very little food. Instead, the refrigerator and pantry were filled to the brim with the best of edibles, including some bottles of French wine! Vivi had been paying for these items. I told her that I had sold a lot of cheese to retail customers and thus paid cash for most of the expenses.
After being gone for six weeks, she was not the least bit interested in physical nurturing. Instead, she stayed up late, going through the check books, trying to figure out why all the bills were paid.
The next day, our anniversary, I reminded her that had demanded that we draw up divorce papers when she returned. She denied saying it, so I played the tape from my “James Bond” recorder on a standard tape recorder. Then she got really angry and demanded that we put the farm up for sale before talking divorce. I told her that was crazy. In her absence, our cheese sales had exploded and I had several new architecture projects. I didn’t tell her that it was Vivi’s presence at cheese marketing calls that made the difference. She never knew about Vivi or Susan, because she assumed that no highly desirable woman would be interested in me.
I then asked her about signing the Open Marriage Agreement. She asked me why that would even be necessary because obviously I was incapable of finding any woman that would have me. She was back at the farm for a little less than two weeks then drove off to Northwest Georgia to start a job with a school system there. It paid more than her school in Virginia.
I decided that this situation could work just as well. I would put the farm up for sale then file for divorce unilaterally. No matter what my wife said in court, it would be obvious to the judge that she had deserted me . . . since she had spent the summer in Atlanta prior to me filing.
Vivi and Aimee could fly over on September 1. We could start living together openly, either in Alexandria or on the farm, the day after I filed for Marital Separation and Divorce. The Separation did not require a judge’s approval, if no children were involved. Vivi could place an offer for the farm that would be presented in the marital settlement in court.
August 27, 1992: I woke up on the morning with a smile on my face and giving thanks to God. It was a beautiful day with birds chirping, clear blue skies and Indian Summer temperatures. God had answered all our prayers. My estranged wife had a good paying teaching position in Dalton, GA. She soon would be handed the divorce that she had been demanding for five years . . . along with a check for $160,000 and a notice that all our debts were paid. More importantly, my beloved Vivi would be in my arms forever in only five days. She could move into the house as soon as the anti-wife signed a Separation Agreement . . . which would be accompanied by the promise of a big check. Anti-wife had succeeded in her dream of “cashing out on the marriage.”
About 9:00 AM in the morning, the queens of our goat herd began snorting and starring in a southeastward direction. After the first month of night time attacks they had also done this when ninja nerds were nearby at night. Soon the three dogs were also barking in that direction. I put on my camouflage clothes and grabbed my binoculars and a rifle.
I sneaked over to that section of our farm and was shocked to see four Virginia State Police Cars, one Virginia Bureau of Investigation car and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s car. Most of the men were wearing SWAT squad uniforms. They were carrying assault rifles, a submachine gun and shotgun.
I put down my rifle so they would have no cause to shoot me and crept closer. Then didn’t see me. The best I could determine is that they were waiting for a truck to radio them that he was near the farm with the replacement rear door for my Toyota truck. That didn’t make any sense at all.
I crept back to the house, changed back into my farming clothes and tried to figure out what was going on. Soon the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there was an African-American man in shorts, wearing a Polynesian style shirt. He said that he was lost and needed directions, but with his hands he was signaling me to come outside. Guess someone had bugged my house yet again.
Once we were in the front yard, he pulled out a US Marshall’s badge. He said, “Did you know that there are some Virginia state cops back there next to the woods, who are planning to kill you in few minutes. Call your auto repair shop and tell them not to bring the door out here.” I did that and then returned to the front yard.
The US Marshall continued. “They put cocaine inside the truck door. They were planning to rush up and riddle your body with bullets, claiming that you pointed a rifle at them. They then were going to plant a large amount cocaine and diet pills (meth) in the house and bales of marijuana in the barn. The Commonwealth’s Attorney then would announce that his office in cooperation with the Northwest Virginia Drug Task Force had busted the center of drug running operations in the Shenandoah Valley.”
“They planned to seize the property, sell the animals for slaughter then give the farm back to your wife, because she had informed on you then fled out of fear for her life to Georgia. The way we found out about their plans was that in advance they had called the TV networks and invited them to come to the aftermath of one of the most important drug raids ever carried out in Virginia. Several people in NBC, who were friends of Katie Couric, had been out to your farm and so frantically called for help in the Justice Department. It was the intent of the Republican Party to use your body and devastated farm as part of President Bush’s re-election campaign this fall.”
“Mr. Thornton, do you know why you are alive today? Someone high up knew that you had that pretty French girl and her daughter here this summer. If they killed her too, there would be an international scandal. If they didn’t kill her, she was such an important person that the world would listen, when she told the truth of the situation. She saved your life!”
So, in what was superficially a blatant act of immorality by Vivi saved my life, just like what was superficially was a blatant act of immorality by me on the night of December 15, 1990, which saved Vivi’s life.
The US Marshall continued, “Mr. Thornton, you need to move out of Virginia as quickly as possible. I can’t emphasize that enough. We have people embedded here, but they might not catch a plot quick enough next time.”
As soon as he left, I raced into the house to send an instant message to Vivi to pass on what had happened to Bob and Sara. There was an instant message from Vivi waiting for me. She had finished packing and obtained an E-2 Visa. It is a United States visa option for business owners that wish to start a company in the United States that they want to develop and direct the operations of. She could live indefinitely in Virginia without giving up her French citizenship and her lucrative covert work for the French government. Vivi planned to fly to Washington, DC on September 1 and drive out to the farm the next day. Her personal belongings and clothing were being shipped by a air freight to my farm.
In the message that I wrote to Vivi, I asked her to tell Bob and Susan that I was driving to their house on Saturday morning to discuss everything. When Susan and I finished the evidence ferrying operation, I had to return the magic US Justice Department telephone. This sudden change of events probably would affect Vivi’s interest in buying my farm.
Vivi obviously was distraught, when she got the message that I had almost been murdered by the Virginia police. She begged me to forget the animals and get a political asylum visa from the French embassy. With her friendship with the ambassador and employment by French national security agency, it should be quickly approved. She said that she would pay for all costs of me moving to France.
During the month of August 1992, our cheese creamery sold over $3000 worth of cheese. That would be about $6000 today. My total architectural income in August and September 1992 vastly exceeded the total annual income I have received in any given year during the 25 years I have earned in Georgia, even though now, the dollar is worth half as much.
Part of the credit must be given to Vivi, especially for the cheese, because Americans tend to view men with beautiful, intelligent women at their side, as “successful.” I picked up six architectural clients at the 1991 US Capitol cheese tasting, when Vivi was at my side . . . but obviously, I did a good job for those clients, because I received more work from them. However, what happened to me from September 1992 forward is a classic example of how evil and mentally ill people can make a mockery of the so-called “free enterprise” system.
August 28, 1992 – On Friday night, the day after the murder attempt, my wife called out of the blue to tell me that she had quit her job in Georgia and was returning to the Toms Brook Farm to teach again at Shenandoah County High School. I asked her how could that be. The school system had replaced her with a recently divorced woman from Richmond. I knew that her replacement had bought a house here, because in late July she called the farm, wanting to have lunch with my wife. The Anti-wife said that the new teacher had just been fired on the grounds that she did not have adequate teaching skills.
August 29, 1992 – When I arrived at Bob and Sara’s house on Saturday morning, I had double bad news. At the end of the fall, I would have start looking for another state, where I could relocate. Worse still, since my wife was arriving at the farm on Sunday August 30, Vivi and her daughter could not move to the farm on September 2. Bob and Sara said that Attorney General William Barr (same man as Trump’s latest AG) had “buried” the reports on the corruption in the Shenandoah Valley. We could expect no arrests unless Democrat Bill Clinton was elected president that fall.
Sara said that she would contact Vivi by telephone and warn her not to move her personal items to my farm. The advantage Sara has is that she could leave messages in French to Vivi’s maid or cook, if Vivi was not at home. As a result, Vivi cancelled her flight to Washington and her deposit on a rental townhouse in Alexandria.
August 30, 1992 – My wife arrived late Sunday afternoon, pretending to have missed me. She soon showed her real agenda by stating that I had to put the farm up for sale immediately and move to Georgia or else she was filing for bankruptcy. I told her that we were by no means insolvent. Despite her best efforts at cleaning out our checking account, both the cheese sales and my architecture practice had thrived in her absence. Then she chanted in a hypnotic state the strangest words . . . “We will only be happy when we have no things.” Astounded, I replied, I thought you wanted a divorce so you could have cash out of the marriage and have more things!” She didn’t respond.
September 7, 1992 – Two friends of mine, Bill Tower and Dave Gibson arrived around 8:00 AM at their plant in Cedar Creek, VA to see four Virginia Commonwealth Health Department cars and one Virginia State Police car parked at the front door. Commonwealth food plant inspectors NEVER came that early to anybody’s plant, because they were based in either Richmond or Roanoke.
The two entrepreneurs had started smoking trout on a commercial scale about the same time that I arrived in Virginia. There was a long tradition of farmers maintaining trout ponds in the mountains that surround the Shenandoah Valley. The farmers let tourists (and this goatherd) fish in their ponds for cash income. Bill and Dave were elevating this marginal agricultural activity into a major agri-business for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1992, their business exploded when the local farmers began raising hybrid salmon trout. They were as large as Atlantic Salmon, but had firmer flesh due to the cold water of Cedar Creek and its tributaries.
When the two guys walked into the plant, they instantly knew something was wrong. There was no humming sound from the many coolers in the facility and there was the unmistakable odor of rotting fish. Someone had cut the copper tubes that carried coolant to the condensers outside the building. All of the fresh and smoked trout in the building had been at room temperature for over a day.
The inspectors quickly condemned all products in the building and the policemen put up a red quarantine tape across the service entrance. By 4:30 that afternoon, a food distributing company, owned by the Mafia, in Philadelphia owned the plant and corporation. Bill and Dave were left with nothing.
How the dreams of our “back to nature” generation were destroyed by drug money
This was a tragedy that was repeated over and over again during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Organized crime laundered the income from drug sales to buy up the gourmet food industry, plus many of the most successful gourmet food shops. In regions, where law enforcement agencies were wholesaling cocaine, meth and marijuana to organized crime, they also looked the other way or even participated in criminal acts, which stole businesses away from hard-working entrepreneurs. It was the middle-class entrepreneurs, who were primarily targeted, because they did not have the surplus cash to bribe politicians and the administrators of state agencies.
Typical was the fate of Shenandoah Smoked Trout, Inc. The Mafia went into the gourmet and farmstead food business in the same way that they took over several garbage disposal companies in northern Virginia. Local employees were replaced by members of Mafia families in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. These were all urbanites, who had no clue how to run a farm, trout-raising operation or a fish-smoking plant. The new managers immediately cut the price that they would pay for trout. Most farmers found that they were better off financially not even raising the trout.
Then pot-bellied Mafia thugs from New Jersey and Pennsylvania showed up at the farmers’ front doors to tell the farmers that they were going to sell their farms to them for a pittance of the property value. If they refused, ninja nerds would force them to sell. The smoked trout made by Mafia was increasingly rank, so that Washington restaurants refused to buy it. Then the Mafia-owned restaurants, farther north, refused to buy, so the plant closed down.
September 9, 1992: I was walking back from the dairy after milking the goats, when I saw two vehicles and a truck coming down the driveway. They were a Virginia State Police Car, a Virginia Dairy Inspector’s car and a truck about the size of a Ryder rental truck that one uses for moving. When the dairy inspectors got out of their car, one of them immediately handed me a legal-looking document. It was a “Stop Order” from the Virginia Department of Health. I was forbidden to sell any cheese or make cheese as of that moment because penicillin antibiotic and a high level of coliform bacteria were found in a milk sample taken in mid-August. Furthermore, the inspectors were authorized to seize all cheese in my plant to determine if any individual cheeses contain penicillin.
I had a flying fit because penicillin cannot be used on goats. It is toxic to them. Thirty years ago, it was a antibiotic commonly used with dairy cows, however. I told them that you can’t make cheese from milk contaminated by coliform bacteria or antibiotics because the lactic bacteria cannot grow and the milk won’t coagulate into cheese curds. Their response was the typical BS of them being the experts.
We were a federally-licensed plant so theoretically only the US Department of Agriculture could shut down out plant. I ran inside the house and brought back my USDA Cheese Plant Regulations. At the very beginning, it stated that it was impossible to make cheese contaminated with antibiotics or high levels of coliform bacteria. The two dairy inspectors called their offices in Richmond and then relented on seizing our cheese, but the stop order on sales or manufacture of cheese stood in place . . . with no information concerning when we could go back to making cheese. They drove off.
September 11, 1992 – I received a long letter in the mail from Dr. Clinton V. Turner Sr. Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. I assumed that it was a legal letter describing the reason for Stop Order and conditions for reopening.
No . . . it was an exceedingly complimentary letter about our beautiful farm, immaculate cheese creamery and beautiful wife. Yep . . . Dr. Turner had been the extremely articulate African-American man, who had showed up one Saturday in late June, stating that they were on the Virginia-National Dairy Month tour of Virginia dairy facilities. Fortunately, he did not mention that he had met my beautiful wife in late June, when the Anti-wife was in Atlanta. Turner also never mentioned that he was Commissioner of Agriculture and that he was accompanied by state senators and representatives.
That committee had voted to designate us a “Premium Virginia Agricultural Product” when meant that we would get free national marketing and also some financial assistance. In a subsequent paragraph Dr. Turner ordered 200 pounds of a mixture of all 16 varieties of cheeses for a banquet being held in late September to honor singer and sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. That’s over $800 worth of cheese. Dean moved to Virginia in 1990. Of course, I could not sell his department the cheese because one division of his department had just shut down our plant. I vaguely saw the words Jimmy Dean in the last paragraph, but didn’t read it because I was so angry.
I should have read the last paragraph because I left the letters on the breakfast table. It said that Jimmy Dean thoroughly enjoyed meeting my beautiful French wife in late June. She made him a gourmet French omelet with Shenandoah Chevre goat cheese, Virginia mushrooms and Jimmy Dean sausage. Jimmy had insisted that our cheese be served at the banquet. Fortunately, the anti-wife read a paragraph or so of the second letter then put it down. I then remembered Vivi saying that her breakfast guest had the same name as the sausage, we had in the refrigerator . . . but she had been on the farm only about a week at the time, so I thought that she was referring to just the name “Jimmy.”
Then I realized that Vivi had mentioned a man in his 60s, named Jimmy, who stopped by the farm earlier one Saturday morning, while I was at the vet, getting rabies shots for my dog. The creamery was locked and she was fixing breakfast for Aimee, so she invited him to join Aimee for breakfast. Afterward, he sang a cowboy song for Aimee. He paid her $20 for all the goat cheese that was in our refrigerator.
I immediately called Dr. Turner’s office and told his assistant what had happened. About 15 minutes later Dr. Turner called me to say that a Dairy Science professor had confirmed everything I had said about penicillin and high coliform count milk. Around the middle of the next week, Turner again called me personally to say that their department attorney had pointed out that state laws prohibited an agricultural commissioner from interfering with the work of a food plant inspector. At this point, I began drying up our does (female goats) because it made no sense to spend time obtaining milk that would then be dumped down the drain. I had plenty of architecture work to do.
October 2, 1992: I received a certified letter from Dr. Turner stating that on advice from the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, he had rescinded the Stop Order on the grounds that improper laboratory procedures had been used to justify the Stop Order. In a separate letter in the same envelope, Dr. Turner stated that a lab technician came to his office with a complaint. It seems on the day after the crooked cops were not able to kill me, a Virginia State Police administrator had come to her supervisor’s office and demanded that they find a way to shut down our operation.
The lab technician used highly sensitive test kits from six different manufacturers, costing over $1200 and found no penicillin or pathogenic bacteria. She was then ordered to leave the milk sample container out in the room for a day with the lid off. A seventh test found coliform bacteria and WILD penicillin bacteria growing in the rancid milk . . . of course. BUT – wild penicillin molds are not the same thing legally as penicillin antibiotic being present in milk, taken directly from the dairy animal.
It was too late. We had already shut down milking operations. However, I was able to now sell the remaining cheese to customers.
October 9, 1992: About 1:30 at night, we woke up to the sound of the entire goat and sheep herd galloping down our driveway. A little bit later, we heard the sound of a car ramming into that herd and subsequent screams from the injured animals. Someone had unlocked and moved the locks of three gates that blocked the 800 feet route from the barn to the Back Road. I raced up to the road to see a scene from a horror movie. Dead and dying goats and sheep scattered across the road. A little red car from Milford, Delaware, occupied by a late-twenty-esh couple dressed in black from head to foot, had slammed into the wretched animals. The drivers claimed that they were visiting relatives and gave their address. The car was towed to a repair shop at the The Virginian Truck Stop. Thirty-two goats and sheep were killed or euthanized. The vet charged me $580 ($1160 today) for euthanizing the animals because it was a middle of the night emergency call.
The address given by the couple to deputy turned out to be bogus. The car tag belonged to a wrecked car in a Delaware junk yard. The car disappeared from the repair shop overnight, even though it was not drivable. Diana, my psychologist friend in Wilmington determined that the couple belonged to a family in Milford, who were specialists in killing people for the Mafia with a car.
Late October, 1992: All four of my architecture clients cancelled their contracts at about the same time, but with no real explanation. Suddenly, I was in deep, deep financial trouble. Two of those clients came by the farm on Saturday October 10, with a request to continue my work on their historic houses, but not to contact them by telephone. One of those clients, an employee of FEMA specifically stated that he had been threatened by someone in the Justice department, but since Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate, had won, this would not be a long-term problem.
Early December: From then until the ground froze in early December, I built stone walls and patios for people, to pick up some money. Both architecture projects were finished in December. Both clients paid me in full as Christmas presents.
I made my last batch of cheese ever, in early December when several of my best goats freshened (had kids) early, because I had dried them off in September. The milk was made into high fat Lusignon cheese, which formed in hoops like cheese cake. Sara bought all of the cheeses to give as gifts to her friends.
December 12, 1992: A man’s body was found on a frozen pasture next to the Back Road early that morning. He had a bullet in his head. The newspaper article said that he had dark hair, a muscular build and was about 6’-3” tall. Hm-m . . . that would be my description, too.
The next day, newspapers announced that the body was identified as a federal counter-insurgency agent, who had moved to Shenandoah County in October 1987 from McMinn County, Tennessee. That’s the same month that I moved from the mountains of western North Carolina! He was the same exact age as me and part Cherokee. That could not be any accident. They intentionally sent someone for covert activity, who could be confused with me. No wonder, so many weird things had happened to me . . . but that would only be part of the story.
December 16, 1992: Sara held a small Christmas party on Wednesday the 16th to honor Vivi’s 30th birthday. Bob and Sara were extremely upset by the murder of their key man in Shenandoah County. They thought that someone inside the Department of Justice had assassinated him. He was at the first phase secret hearings in Georgetown . . . which meant that there was also at least one spy there. They would not tell me which agency that he worked for in the federal government. I suspected that it was the NSC. His mission was “that” secret. If had ever met him, I didn’t know it. Nevertheless, it was very obvious that he had been chosen because he closely resembled me. That I did not like. Sara urged me not to mention the murder to Vivi, because the news would make her extremely upset.
I got to spend most of two days and one night with Vivi. She was especially loving and tender those two days. She told me that she needed to get on with having more children. She was quitting her pop music and movie careers. Would I be upset if she stopped using birth control pills, even though I was still not divorced? She reminded me that there was no stigma in Europe about single rich women having children out of wedlock. I told her that I would rather me be divorced at the time, but understood her desire to get on with the baby-making. I told her would be honored to be the official father of as many children as she wanted . . . since she had the money to pay for their upbringing – LOL.
Bob and Sara’s attorney was at the party in addition to a friend in the National Park Service. (Not Roger Kennedy). The friend in the NPS advised me to apply for taking the Senior Level Civil Service Exams for people, so high in the pecking order that they were appointed either by the White House or the Secretary of that department. I could expect to make two to three times more than my net income as an architect.
The Danby’s attorney advised me to file for a divorce as soon as I was offered a good job with the Federal Government. Divorce papers should be filed prior to me actually starting the job so that my much higher salary would not count toward total marital income.
One of the couples at the party, were members of a family trust that owned a farm near Frederick, Maryland. The house was not livable without substantial electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrading, but the caretaker’s cottage was sound. They told me that I could move my goats and sheep to this farm and could live in the caretaker’s cottage for free, if I paid the utilities and maintained the farm.
January 17, 1993 – “America’s Reunion on the Mall” for Bill Clinton’s Inauguration: My wife and I had a wonderful time when attending a musical extravaganza in advance of the actual inauguration. Virtually, all of the great American rock bands and performers of the previous 20 years were there, plus Elton John and Fleetwood Mac from the UK. A million smiling people, combined with the best rock, soul and folk music, couldn’t help but make people again have hope for the future. I rode the Metro away from the full day of free events, feeling that the bad times were over. Here are some of my photos from that unforgettable day.
America’s Reunion on the Mall
Yes, we had an unforgettable day, but that will never mitigate a string of bad memories that spanned the breadth of our marriage or the fact that she was now in year five of her book, A Woman’s Five Year Guide to Winning at Divorce. Eight months later, an internal medicine doctor in Atlanta would discover that I had been repeatedly exposed to large amounts of arsenic for at least seven years. I remember having all the peculiar symptoms of arsenic poisoning in North Carolina, but it never dawned on my family doctor to check for poisoning.
One note of humor. Linda Ronstadt was scheduled to perform at noon at the Heritage Hall tent. So many people were packed into the back of the tent that it was impossible to get in. I noticed a small opening in the rear left side of the tent, near the stage. I took off to enter the tent that way. Anti-wife stayed in place in the line. Entering the tent that way, put me near the stage.
Shortly, thereafter, a plumpish Latin American woman came through the opening and stood to my left. I asked her if she knew when Linda Ronstadt was going to perform. She told me that probably Ronstadt would be joining the band in a few minutes. A Mexican-American band was now on the stage. I mentioned to the lady that I had always been in love with Linda. At Georgia Tech, her poster was on the wall of my fraternity dorm room next to my bed . . . and I had attended her most famous concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta in December 1977, just before moving to Asheville, NC. I added that four years earlier, when Tickborne Encephalitis knocked out much of my memory, I used “Linda Ronstadt” as the key words to reconnect my neurons to my memory banks.
The Latin American lady then asked me my name. I said, “I’m Richard . . . Richard Thornton.” She turned around to face me and said, “Hey, I am Linda . . . Linda Ronstadt. I will blow you a kiss, when I go on stage in a minute or so. That will give you some bragging rights!”
January-Late March-1993: During this period, I dismantled and packed all of the items in the cheese creamery, plus everything that we didn’t use day to day in the house. I dearly loved the farm on Toms Brook. I had put so much hard work into making it a bit of paradise, but yet another dangerous event made it clear that I couldn’t stay there.
February 12, 1993: I was driving back from a project site near Strasburg to our farm, when two young men in the back of a pickup in front of me appeared to push a sofa from the truck bed onto US Hwy. 11. In this part of the highway there were bifurcated one-way lanes. (see map) I steered my truck onto the road shoulder, which was at least 10 feet wide.
After the boys put the sofa back on to their truck bed, I was about to turn back onto the traffic lanes, when I saw a massive, red, 1960 Cadillac Eldorado barreling southward on the Valley turnpike. The driver veered into the left-hand land then curved right, pointing this red beast directly toward my door. I thought I was about to be in heaven. In fact, to this day I still have a vivid image in my head of the right battering ram being six inches from my left elbow. My immediate thought in that split second was, “So this is what it is like to die.”
Well no, physics came into play and also quite possibly one of Susan Karlson’s angels. The Cadillac so massively out-weighed my Toyota truck that the truck behaved like a soccer ball. The truck was kicked with me in it about 25 feet into the yard. Since then, I have read that this type of accident is T.H.E. most likely way to die instantly of a broken neck, but I was only sore . . . no significant injuries. The only damage to the truck was a shredded driver’s side door. I slide out the passenger side’s door and walked up to the front door of the house. Very few people had cellular phones back then. I asked the lady to call the Virginia Highway Patrol. We also didn’t have any such thing as 911 service back then. She refused to do this and instead called the sheriff’s department, which did not have jurisdiction here because US 11 was a federal highway.
The deputy arrived all smiles about 7 minutes later. The first thing he said was, “Where’s the body?” A large tree and the crowd of onlookers blocked the view of my truck and me. The crowd pointed to me on the other side of the tree. When the deputy saw me, his face turned red. He spontaneously squatted and beat the ground with his fists, spewing forth at least a dozen “expletives deleted.”
When some of his composure returned, he radioed the Sheriff’s Department, “The damn bastard is alive . . . not a scratch on him, what do I do? There is a crowd here so I can’t shoot him.” I don’t know why he thought that I couldn’t hear him. When he got off the radio, he walked over to me and handed me a ticket for “obstruction of traffic.” He claimed that witnesses, plus the driver of the Cadillac stated that I had stopped my pickup suddenly in the right-hand lane of the road.
Say what? My pickup had been parked completely off the road on the shoulder and the Cadillac changed lanes at an angle to strike me. Just as in the intentional “accident” that occurred a little over a two years earlier, when a red car struck me, while I was parked at the end of my driveway, I was charged with the accident. However, also this time around, I had my Polaroid camera with me.
The Cadillac had left tire marks on the paving as it swerved to strike my car. My tires had dug ruts in the gravel of the shoulder, when it was knocked into a front yard. I obtained an aerial photo from the local agricultural extension agent to document the actual positions of the vehicles.
Again, the Commonwealth’s Attorney was acting as prosecutor in a minor traffic fine case that normally would not have any prosecuting attorney. Again, the deputy got caught in a web of lies and again the CA moved for a five-minute recess in which the deputy “was called to a car accident” and again the case was dismissed. The only difference this time was that my new auto insurance company gladly paid for replacing the door in accident that could have resulted in catastrophic damage and my death.
Fleetwood Mac at the American Reunion – January 1993