Pipe Bombs And Pipe Dreams

Michael Bloom had big plans. He had the pipe, he had the gunpowder, and he had a long list of targets.

"He's being tried for what he thinks, for what he thought he might do. He didn't do anything. But after they get through with him, what do you think he's going to want to do?" she wonders.

What has happened, what continues to happen to her son, troubles her. She feels he will change. "Mike was the youngest of twelve children. He gave us less trouble than any of the others," she says.

The parents claim the prosecutor and the police refuse to believe that Michael had rejected his fascist friends last spring because it does not suit their plans.

Both were very cynical about the typed notes County Attorney Morgan and Detective Shearer read from throughout the hearing.

"It was all a script, all done in advance," noted Michael's dad. "It was all theatrical. This is the only country outside of Russia where the county attorney and all his witnesses can read a script. I'm angry. If I told you what I was thinking, I'd be locked up in jail for the rest of my life."

On top of everything else, the parents are terrified that their son is going to be killed while in jail. Michael has told them that he has been singled out for elimination by the Jewish Defense League, a militant organization his father identifies as "the biggest assassination group in the world."

Finally, it is very late and there is nothing more they wish to say. Before the end of the evening, the parents open Michael's bedroom. It is the room he shared with his older brother, Joe, who also joined the Arizona White Battalion. A pair of Dr. Martens boots, part of the unofficial uniform of a skinhead, rests beneath a set of Funk & Wagnall's Encyclopedia. There are girly magazines and a Bible. With the confiscated materials in a police footlocker, Michael Bloom's room looks quite normal. But there is nothing normal about what has happened here. The evening of the interview, Michael's old classmates are celebrating homecoming at Sunnyslope High. On the side of the mountain that hovers near the gridiron, a giant S blazes brightly as the Vikings kick off. There is a normalcy and an innocence at the game that Michael Bloom and Carl Schall will never see again. Instead of his old bedroom in his parents' home, Michael Bloom now sleeps in a cellblock surrounded by blacks and Mexicans and worried that a Jew will stick a knife between his ribs.

On the same night that the rest of America watched the resumption of the World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants and wondered about the wreckage left in the Bay area by the earthquake, Michael's parents met with a journalist to try to sort out the devastation that has overwhelmed them. In their anger, there is little room for normalcy. Across the Valley, Carl Schall is trying to resume a normal life. But how do you do that when you must pretend to your new friends that your past does not exist? Is it normal to live in fear that someday your old friends might find you?

"I try to get along with everyone these days," was what Carl Schall had said. "Going to that extreme has made me stop and take a look. There are still differences with other people but I try to overlook them."

It is hard for Michael's parents to overlook anything. They remain bitter. Their boy, after all, is still behind bars, buried under $137,000 bail and with no trial date set.

Carl's mother said she and her husband are now taking a stronger hand in trying to shape their son's radical tendencies. But Michael's parents feel that he will grow out of his worst habits on his own. And besides, they say, Michael is not entirely wrong. At the end of the evening, standing in his doorway, Michael Bloom's father acknowledges that things look bad for his boy. He does not seem to believe how it has all turned out. Shaking his head he says, "Things have just gone straight to hell." And then he closes the door.

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