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The Stories Behind the Stories

Monday’s story began, “A search was suspended Sunday night but is expected to resume today for Antonio Angulo, a North Coast resident who has been missing in the Lake Berryessa area since Wednesday, a spokesman for the Napa County Sheriff's Office said Sunday night.”

Antonio Angulo is a resident of Boonville. He and his wife and children live at the Vista Ranch. Nobody knows what happened to him, or if they do know they’re not saying. Angulo is described as a “hard worker” by the people who know him. He is not involved in the drug business. Angulo has no enemies. He works as a landscaper, then he goes home to his wife and children. There is no known reason for him to disappear.

Angulo is 41. He was last seen at Cappell Cove, at Lake Berryessa, Napa County. He was picnicking with family and friends on that last Wednesday he was seen by people who know him. When the picnic was over, Angulo’s absence was noted by his friends and family. They went looking for him, but Angulo was nowhere to be found, hard as he is not to be found at a compact 5’3” and 200 pounds.

A Bureau of Reclamation ranger was told that Angulo was missing. The ranger in turn contacted the Napa County Sheriff's Office. A hundred search and rescue volunteers and 12 trained dogs looked all over the Lake Berryessa area, and found no sign of the missing man.

By Monday, five days after he disappeared, the police and rescue units stopped looking for Antonio Angulo “in an organized way.” Angulo's car, a white, four-door 1991 Buick, is also missing. Police suggest he may be voluntarily missing, but his wife and children on the Vista Ranch in Boonville know their father would not leave them and go away for some other place.

There’s a story behind this story, but we don’t know it yet.

“This is a voice from the dead,” Marc Tosca begins, an opera himself. “It’s been quite a trip.” And so is the combative Mr. Tosca, the gay man who took Mendocino County to federal court for violating his civil rights and won, the first victorious gay civil rights plaintiff in local history. Tosca was arrested by a County Task Force on the say so of a career criminal named James Mallo. Mallo, a one-man crime wave on the rare occasions he’s out of jail, said Tosca had sexually assaulted him, a ludicrous charge on its face, given that Mallo is in his early 30’s and fresh from weight lifting classes in jail and Tosca in his seventh decade and, at the time, half dead from stomach cancer.

The cops had staked out Tosca’s ranch gate in the hills west of Ukiah. Tosca was, you see, wanted for the crime of oral copulation. Mallo had said the old man had forcefully blow jobbed him. The forces of law and order were outraged. “What? Tosca blow jobbed Jim Mallo? We can’t have that.” If Tosca had blown Mallo away with double-ought buck shot Tosca would have deserved a community service award. The charges against the old man were pure bullshit. But when Tosca came puttering to a stop at his gate, the Smear The Queer Gang put a gun to his head, handcuffed him and tossed him in the back seat of a patrol wagon. The cops then turned Tosca’s house upside down looking for more blow job victims. There weren’t any. Mallo was the only one, and he wasn’t one either.

So Tosca sued the bastards and won, a fact deliberately concealed by local media although Tosca’s victory is an important win over a justice system gone temporarily insane with homophobia.

Marc Tosca is also one of many people who marvels at the peculiar goings on in the County Courthouse, Ukiah. He spends a lot of time there, much of it suing lawyers for not properly representing him on various matters.

Let’s put it this way: Lots of Ukiah judges and lawyers and cops are very sad to see Marc Tosca returned to the Mendoland of the living. But even his most determined enemies can’t say the guy isn’t a fighter. Marc Tosca is one tough hombre.

“I’ve been in the hospital for four months; December 3rd to April 6th. I feel like I’m a hundred and three thousand years old. But I’m in remission, whatever that means. Three o’clock tomorrow it could start up again.

I’m making arrangements up here at the ranch for care. I was going to a nursing home, but I can’t handle all those hot pink walls and linoleum floors with chrome chaired lobbies and people talking back and forth.

Right now I’m on Rush Limbaugh’s drug of choice, Oxycontin. I’ve never been a drug person, even recreational drugs. Never been into it. But during these last four months I’ve had more drugs injected into me than all the junkies in this county take in a year.

The pain has been unbelievable. But fortunately I don’t have the pain now. The tumors are dissolved, we hope, but I’ve lost about 50 pounds. I’ve got to force myself to eat. That’s the key to getting well, but I’m old, and man o man with cancer the treatment is worse than the disease. I’ve been in good health through most of my life but I’ve been HIV positive since the year of the flood.

All this started with terrible pain in my stomach. I called my doctor in San Francisco, but that night the pain got so bad that I rushed to emergency in Ukiah. They gave me a $10,000 CAT scan. Fascinating. I had three cancerous tumors in my abdominal cavity the size of grapefruits. The doctor tells me if I don't take the treatment, ‘I'll give you two weeks.’ That's how far gone I was. Ok, I said, I have a couple things to do before I leave. Mendocino needs me!

I'm quite jaded. Done everything I wanted to do, been to every country I wanted to go to. There's one thing: I would have liked to have sat down with Jackie Kennedy and had a conversation with her. She had what I had. It killed her. But I’m back. I’ve got to court Tuesday against one of my former so-called lawyers to get my money back from him. Mendocino County! What a place!

The Fort Bragg Advocate’s lead story in its April 8th issue was titled, “Monday death still under investigation.” It said that Phyllis White, 49, had shot herself to death. Women seldom shoot themselves if they’re suicidal, but the gossip around town was that Phyllis had been depressed for some time and had talked about killing herself. Women take pills, usually, when they want out. Men shoot themselves, and each other, too.

She was found on Monday, April 5th at her home on Taubold Court, an upscale cul de sac on the east side of Fort Bragg. It’s fuzzy here but the police, according to the Advocate, put the time of death at precisely 1:12 pm, as if someone heard the shot and ran directly into the death house. At the same time, the police say they’re investigating Ms. White’s death as “suspicious” and that she was “found by a visiting friend.” This contradictory arrangement of certain facts can translate several different ways: Was Ms. White’s death staged to make it look like she’d committed suicide? Was her body and the position of the weapon not right for a self-inflicted death? Was the “friend” present in Ms. White’s house when she died? Was the friend a friend or someone who might have had a reason to murder Ms. White? How did the police know the time of death unless someone heard the gun shot and knew where it had come from and what it had done?

And who’s Phyllis White?

Phyllis White was a CPA who’d arrived in Mendocino County some time in the early 1980’s with her husband, Bill White. Phyllis was, in the description of a man whose taxes she’d prepared for him, “highly attractive, beautifully dressed brunette from a privileged East Coast upbringing, good schools and so forth. She and her then-husband had supposedly fled Silicon Valley to live the good life on the North Coast. A couple of years later they’d separated, and he got busted for running a major league meth lab that blew up one day. He went away for a stretch of serious state 11-cents-per-hour employment, and she took up with some mountain man types in Albion. I ran into her at the Floodgate Cafe in the mid-90s when crazy Franklin Earle was cooking there and she was unrecognizable.

“I think if you put her life together over the past 15 years, it would be a classic cautionary tale about drugs, money and what happens to too many folks like Phyllis in deepest, darkest Mendonesia.”

Bill White was a generation older than Phyllis. He was in his late 40’s to early 50’s, she was in her mid-30’s. The couple first settled in Elk. They appeared to be quite well-to-do. They’d met at the Atari Corporation, and had lived together in Sunnyvale. Phyllis was the personnel director responsible for screening new employees. Bill either invented “Pong” — the first video game that could be played on a television screen — or was the owner or distributor of the game. He made a lot of money, whatever his role in Pong, and Phyllis, smart and attractive, pulled down a good salary, too.

Bill White apparently left his wife and children for a new life with Phyllis just before they put down in Elk, the little purple village by the sea. Bill and Phyllis told friends in Elk that they were pursuing a lawsuit against Atari over Pong. Or maybe it was against Apple over Pac Man. This kind of talk in the old Oasis, a drop-fall drinking establishment at Elk’s south end, wasn’t to be confused with a 9am deposition. Elk people thought of Bill and Phyllis as yuppies. “Phyllis stayed yuppie, Bill went hippie-native,” an acquaintance recalls.

Bill and Phyllis built a big house on Cameron Road north of Elk, employing many locals to do the work. There was much talk about the Cameron Road place’s implausible grandiosity; it featured a flat Spanish-tiled roof upon which the couple placed their water tank. “We all thought the water tank was going to crush the place with them in it some stormy night,” a neighbor said.

Just after the house was finished, Bill and Phyllis split the blanket. “It was a mean divorce,” one of Phyllis’s friends remembers. “I don’t know what happened to the house. I think they sold it. She started an accounting business in Mendocino that did well for a few years but, the way I heard it, it was caught up some way in Bill’s drug bust and Phyllis closed shop as a result of his problems.”

After Bill and Phyllis divorced, Bill grew his beard and hair very long and began walking around with a Moses-like staff. Bill’s presentation was totally Old Testament, not that he necessarily stood out on the Coast; downtown Mendocino often resembles a casting call for Ben Hur.

Although he came to resemble a street nut, er eccentric, Bill always seemed to have three or four attractive young women with him. He was active in the Jesse Jackson campaign of 1988, and Redwood Summer of 1990. Then he was busted for methamphetamine production and went off to state prison. Nobody seems to know if he’s out. Everybody knows Phyllis is dead.

Few couples have gone to hell faster.

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