When I was at Pilot I worked with a guy named Rich. Talking to Rich was a lot of fun because he was so outrageously full of shit. He knew everyone, he’d been everywhere, he’d done everything. Or if he hadn’t, his uncle had. According to Rich, his Uncle pretty much ran the entire world. Knowing Rich for a few years, I collected quite a few of his stories, and now I want to share them with all (five) of you. It is with great pride that I now present . . .
Tales of Rich the Liar
No. 1: “Star Wars Ships”
I was standing with Rich on the sidewalk outside Subway while he smoked a cigarette. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but he started talking about his Uncle Roger, a 6’7” multi-millionaire U.S. Army General who owned several underground military bases, including Site R, located in Fairview Mountain right outside my hometown, Clear Spring. (That much of the story is true – Site R is a real place, a huge subterranean government facility that was a local legend for years, and has recently been publicly documented by Time Magazine. Rich’s uncle doesn’t own it, but it’s there. It was the “undisclosed location” that sheltered Dick Cheney after the attacks on 9/11/2001. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Vice President of the United States was hiding from terrorists a few miles from my mother and father’s house. But I digress.) The conversation led to Rich singing the praises of his extraordinary uncle, as they all inevitably did. Rich casually mentioned that his uncle had been to outer space.
“He’s been on the space shuttle,” Rich told me. “He’s gone up there twice.” He further enlightened me: “All the top generals have to go up at least once.” Then Rich educated me about the state of the American space program. He told me, “There’s four space shuttles. We keep two here in the United States, in Texas, and we keep two up in Canada.”
I was a devoted and unrepentant space geek when I was a kid, so I know a little something about the space program. For starters, for almost the last fifty years the only organization in America launching people into space has been NASA, and NASA is a 100% civilian operation, no military involvement, no launching generals into orbit – which makes no fucking sense anyway. Another thing: there are only three space shuttles – Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour – and they’re all kept in Florida. Why NASA would want to keep two shuttles in Canada is beyond me, but somehow it made perfect sense to Rich.
He told me where it was all going, too. “First, we’re gonna finish the space station,” he told me, as though he was planning on welding together the final sections of the ISS himself, “then we’re gonna build moon bases on Mars.” I asked him what the time table was for these moon bases on Mars, and he told me “five to ten years.”
“Then you know what comes next?” he asked me, smiling as he lit up another cigarette. “Star Wars ships,” he said with unqualified earnestness. “Once we build them, and we can travel the speed of light, we can visit all the other places in the universe, anywhere we want to go.”
A few months after Rich quit Pilot the last time, Jimmy and I talked to a guy who knew him from the fire company in Fairplay. Whenever Rich heard an ambulance call go out over his scanner, he would lie down in the road and hope the ambulance would hit him, so he could sue the fire company. What I’m saying is, don’t pack for the trip to Mars just yet.