Minnie sat up in her lounge chair. “Mary, I have so many questions about your life in that place, I don’t know how to ask them. Why don’t you just tell me everything you feel like telling me? I’ll just listen, and I promise you I am listening. Not a day went by—well maybe a few—but not very many days went by that I didn’t wonder how you were doing or what you were doing. I used to worry so much about you. I was almost sick with worry. After I had the accident, I stopped worrying. I stopped worrying and started praying.”
“Maybe that’s why things changed.” Mary said. “Just before Christmas I started noticing things. Things started bothering me that I had never had a second thought about before.”
Mary related how there were two standards of behaviour. “Everyone was expected to follow the rules, rigidly. On the other hand there were no rules for Brandon. He could do anything he pleased and that would be perfectly fine. If Brandon asked you to do something, which was normally against the rules, the rule was to obey Brandon. He made us believe he heard directly from God—all the time. He was unquestionable.
“When I was first there, I adored Brandon. He seemed so loving and caring. He made us believe that he would do anything for us.”
“Who is, ‘us’?" Minnie asked.
“Everyone on the compound—there were about 20 of us singles and a few families with little kids. Brandon acted like nothing happened without his design. He made it sound like God depended on him to make sure all was well in the world. He knew everything about everything and God did things just because Brandon proclaimed it.
“He could make you feel like such an ass if you messed up. Then you would be shunned by everyone for a while. If you totally behaved yourself for a while, he would give the signal and suddenly there would be a party to celebrate your return to the fold. Right about then you would vow never to do anything to deserve a shunning ever again. I actually stopped thinking for myself. If Brandon said it was good, it was good. If he said it was bad, it was bad. I stopped trying to figure it out for myself.”