By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Mouse recalls everything that happened to him on August 13, 1995. He remembers getting off work at the Galaxy Club in Deep Ellum. He remembers getting on his bicycle, only to find one of the tires flat. He remembers hitching a ride to his apartment, opening the door, sleepily trying to bring his bike inside his bedroom.
Mouse also remembers getting stabbed 24 times that night, and he remembers who did it. He knew their faces, felt their knives and broken bottles plunge into his arms and his gut, and saw his blood pooling across his apartment floor.
Mouse remembers who did it because, he claims, the men who stabbed him used to be old running buddies of his back during the late 1980s when he was a white supremacist, one of Deep Ellum's infamous Confederate Hammerskins.
Mouse--his parents named him Paul Steven Millender 27 years ago--sits in a friend's East Dallas home now, more than six months after the incident, but still in recuperation. Sipping black coffee, he recounts everything about that night in detail. He is detached, as if he were recounting a television show. There is distance in his voice, not anger; forgiveness, not revenge.
Up until the stabbing, Millender was known among Deep Ellum regulars only as Mouse, the friendly tattooed guy who watched the doors at such clubs as the Galaxy Club, Trees, and the Orbit Room. For years, he was the walking embodiment of Deep Ellum's seedy, but proud, underside--a punk-rock "scenester" who could always be found walking the streets, checking out the bands, working the doors with a casual, sometimes cynical smile.
He was something of a folk hero in the neighborhood, liked by people he didn't even know. When he was stabbed, those knives and broken bottles struck a nerve in the hard-core Deep Ellum community: While he was recuperating, he received an outpouring of support he would never have expected or even imagined. Virtually every bar and coffee shop displayed a jar filled with change and dollar bills to help pay for Mouse's huge medical expenses; bands held benefit shows almost every weekend for a while, happily turning over their shares of the door takes to help out Mouse.
In truth, few people in Deep Ellum really knew Mouse. They didn't know that in the not-so-distant past, his life was dedicated to hatred. Eight years ago, Mouse was a white-supremacist Confederate Hammerskin, a member of the group of local men and women in their late teens and early 20s who whiled away their time terrorizing Jews, blacks, and gays. He was a bored, lost kid who picked fights and drank himself angry. It was the skinheads who gave Millender his nickname, "Mouse," because with his shaved head, protruding ears, pointed features, and wispy facial hair, he resembled a rodent.
To this day, Mouse says he doesn't regret his past as a hatemonger. But he doesn't look back on it fondly and he's got the jagged scars to remind him why. Eight months after the attack, the entire left side of his body--from his nipple to his hip--is numb because of nerve damage.
Now, he's a Mouse on the run, scampering from one hiding place to another. He doesn't want anyone to know where he is. Like a low-rent Salman Rushdie, he lives in fear of assassins and continually moves to a new place every few nights. He peeks out every so often, usually to venture to his beloved Deep Ellum. But this interview takes place in secret, so frightened is he that certain people might learn his whereabouts.
The men who stabbed him in August are still free. Mouse fears they want to finish the job they began last summer, cutting the life out of their old pal.
The U.S. Justice Department believed it had crushed the Confederate Hammerskins in 1988 and 1989, when virtually the entire group was arrested and several members were sent to federal penitentiaries. But the Hammerskins are still around. They merely crept back into the shadows, out of the government's reach and the media's spotlight. Since the trial that sent five of Mouse's old associates to prison, several Confederate Hammerskins chapters have thrived outside Dallas--in Birmingham, Alabama; Oklahoma City; and Marietta, Georgia. And they're still in Deep Ellum, silently growing in numbers once more, maybe dozens or more: In an organization that keeps no rolls and teaches deception, they don't know themselves.
Mouse is convinced his old comrades came looking for him last year to get even. Friends on the street, where Mouse is a well-connected man, tell him that the Confederate Hammerskins are seeking revenge, convinced Mouse helped send them to prison.
But Mouse swears he is not a rat.
He says court records prove he did not testify against his friends during their federal trials for violating the civil rights of several Dallas citizens whom they harassed and threatened. In an attempt to prove his righteousness to this circle of hatemongers, Mouse has declined to testify against the men arrested on charges of attempting to murder him, forcing prosecutors to release the indicted men. Mouse says he will see to it that the people who slashed and stabbed him never stand trial.