Think about it, what’s the first descriptive phrase interviewed people state about the latest mass shooter/serial killer/cult leader, “He was a bit of a loner, very quiet.” What? Well, that’s not right. Charles Manson has been described as “charismatic” and a “social butterfly.” Some loners would never be able to take a group of followers to the great beyond if it meant they had to organize a party first. Mix all that the Kool-Aid, give a speech, nope.
I’m a self-described loner, and I would. At a remote office several years ago, my frazzled boss and I, her faithful monkey, had traveled several hours to the tiny town of Omak. She was the new GM, and the townfolk were less than impressed. Since I am from a small mountain community and familiar with hunters of all kinds, she had tasked me with keeping a certain male tax pro from leaving the meeting before she could get him to commit to another tax season. He was a valued employee, a Mennonite, and a hunting enthusiast.
Every year he was allowed to take an extended week during the tax season for the yearly hunt. I danced as fast as I could for about twenty minutes, but his gaze began wandering towards the glass office door and the gathering darkness beyond. It was getting to be that time. In response to his bored, forced question, “What exactly do you do in this job?” I said, surprising myself as much as him, that my career goal was to be a cult leader.
He blinked, arms crossed, legs stretched out towards me and defensively crossed at the ankle, and said slowly, “Re-ally?” He paused, decided to see where this would go, and added, “So, you want to start a cult?”
“Oh, no,” I said, dismissive of his blatant ignorance of all things cultish, “I don’t want to put in all that effort. I’d have to look for members, recruit, have meetings, entice and enthrall, maybe put on an outfit, dance in an airport.” The Hare Krishna reference sailed over his head.
“Too much work. No, I want to take over an abandoned, already-formed cult.”
He stared silently, unmoving.
“A fixer-upper, if you will.”
More staring. All I cared about was that his butt was still in a hard plastic seat, and the GM was working her way toward us.
I continued. Time to wrap this up.
“There are plenty of (air quotes) “spiritual leaders” that just don’t have what it takes to maintain a good cult. They start out OK, get a small group, set up a doctrine, preach and impress, but let a small number of followers start acting all disgruntled, muttering dangerous independent thoughts, and they cut and run.”
“You want to run a cult?” This guy might know asset depreciation, but his conversational skills sucked.
“Yes,” I stared at him in what I hoped was an intimidating junior cult leader manner and asked, “You know of any around here?” He started, still staring. The boy never blinked. “I mean, I’d be good to them. All their needs would be met, housing, food, a community of peaceful living.”
“And what would they give you?”
I shrugged; the boss lady was a mere fifteen feet away, eying me.
“All their worldly goods and undying devotion. Just like here.” I stood, boss lady slid into my vacant seat.
“Have a good hunt,” I said brightly as I moved away.
“You too,” he responded slowly, “You too.”