The overnight train from Oostende to Copenhagen was on the final leg of its journey. In one of its sleeper compartments, a young, bearded musician sat on a wooden bench, his guitar case resting on the bunk above him. He looked fretful and his posture was cramped and uncomfortable. Opposite him an older man was reading a book on dianetics. Looking up from the book, the older man caught the younger man’s eye.
“Are you ok?” The older man asked.
The musician glanced from side to side, pretending that he hadn’t heard.
“I said ‘are you ok?’” the older repeated, putting his book down. This time the musician replied:
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine. Thank you”.
“You don’t seem fine”, the older man said. “Let me introduce myself: my name’s Marcus and I am a doctor of Scientology. Something is troubling you, I can tell: I have met many people in distress. Maybe I could help you?”
The musician shook his head: “No, I don’t think so. I’d rather leave it if that’s alright.”
Marcus carried on: “No, no, I insist. Trust me; I could change your life. Here…” he pulled a wooden box, with a dial at its centre and leads attached at the sides, from under his seat, “…this will help us to identify the problem. Give me your hands.”
Reluctantly, the musician offered up his hands and Marcus attached a wire to each index finger with a small metal clip. The dial on the box started to jump wildly from side to side, accompanied by a shrill beeping noise.
“Oh dear. Oh dear me. This is very serious.” Marcus looked at the musician, concern marking his face. “Your engrams are off the scale.”
“Engrams?” the musician looked nonplussed.
“Yes, engrams. They’re troubles, bad memories, guilt, that kind of thing. The dark parts of yourself that hold you back.”
“I don’t feel particularly held back”, the musician said, detaching himself from the machine.
Marcus put the box away before replying. “Trust me young man. Something is very, very wrong with you. Something that could destroy you. In all my years of practice I’ve never encountered such a serious case. I suggest you tell me this instant just what it is that you’re hiding, before it’s too late.” He looked imploringly at the musician.
“Go on.” Marcus put a reassuring hand on the musician’s forearm.
“I do have a problem. A huge problem in fact. A problem with drugs.”
“Oh dear me!” Marcus cried. “I knew it! I knew it was something big. Are you on drugs at the moment?”
“No, not at the moment. But I do have drugs on me. And I kind of want to take them all.”
Marcus wagged his finger admonishingly. “No you mustn’t do that. On no account must you take all of your drugs. This is a critical point for you and I, with my faith, can help you through it. It’s important at this stage that you make a total and committed change in your outlook. You need to accept that you do not need drugs.”
The musician looked doubtful: “I don’t know. I’m not sure if I can accept that; I’m quite fond of drugs.”
“You must renounce drugs. You must!” Marcus became animated and leapt out his seat. He grasped the musician by the shoulders and shook him:
“If you don’t renounce drugs this instant you will consign yourself to a life of pain and misery. In the name of the great enlightened R.L. Hubbard I implore you!”
As Marcus spoke, a uniformed man walked down the aisle outside the sleeping compartment and glanced inside, before walking on down the train.
“Do you know what?” The musician said, extricating himself from Marcus’ grip, “I think I am ready to give up drugs. You’ve convinced me. “
“Praise be to the Higher Being!” Marcus cried. “I knew you’d come around. Be assured that you’ve taken the first and hardest step. From now on you can look forward to a healthier, happier life.”
“That’s a huge weight off my mind,” the musician said, “I can’t tell you just how good it feels to finally have given up drugs. There’s just one problem…”
“What’s that?” Marcus implored.
“Well my guitar case here is full of drugs and I know full well that, given the opportunity, I’ll end up taking them all. I know I’ve taken the first step, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to trust myself just yet.”
Marcus smiled resolutely: “Well, there’s just one solution boy. You must give your drugs to me, all of them. That way the awful temptation will be removed!”
“You’re sure?” the musician asked. “You’d really do that for me?”
“Of course, I insist.”
“Ok then.” The musician opened his guitar case and started to pass packages to Marcus: baggies, spansules, vials, pills and powders. Marcus gathered the drugs in his lap until he had a small narcotic mountain resting on his legs.
The musician got up and dusted off his hands. “There, I think that’s all of them. I’m eternally indebted to you Marcus. You’re a life saver. Now, I just need to pop to the toilet and then we could maybe talk more about how Scientology can help me?”
Marcus nodded in keen agreement: “Yes, yes that would be wonderful! I’ll show you some of our publications.”
“Cool. I’ll be back in a minute.”
The musician slipped out of the sleeper compartment just as a team of customs officials arrived, led by a huge, fierce looking Alsatian sniffer dog. Marcus looked up at them, confused by the stern looks on their faces.
“What the?” he said, then looked down at the multicoloured pile of drugs that was still in his lap. “Oh.” His face fell. “Wait, I can explain. There was this other man…”
One of the customs men cut him off: “We saw no other man. I’m afraid, sir, that you’re going to have to come with us.”
At Copenhagen station, the musician strolled coolly through the check-in gate and went to meet the rest of his band outside. As he stood in the station carpark, a police car drove slowly past. Inside, Marcus banged his cuffs on the rear passenger seat window:
“Stop! Stop! That’s him! That’s the man I was telling you about!” He gestured frantically towards the musician.
“Can you please shut up?” The policeman in the driver’s seat barked at Marcus. “You are giving me a headache.”
Marcus fell silent and slumped into his seat. The driver glanced at Marcus in the rear view mirror, then looked back to the road.
“Jesus,” he said under his breath, “I hate Scientologists…”