PRISM, Volume 1, Part 8
PRISM, Volume 1, Part 8
Dangerous Dwarf Proudly Presents
George C. Chesbro's
PRISM: A Memoir as Fiction
Volume One: "Dark Engine"

Published by Apache Beach Publications

Click here to purchase Prism

Copyright © 2001 by George C. Chesbro. All rights reserved.
Reprinted here with by permission of the author.

Installment #8

As I head back from the patio to my classroom to try to get something, anything, written down, I ponder the question of whether it is worthwhile to bother writing anything at all about Dora's loony older brother when it is my relationship with Dora, my attraction to her and our disastrous, short-lived marriage, that I need to explore as I try to examine the shafts of light that are my life and my career as a writer as they are refracted through the prism that is my work here this summer at Little Ark. In the end, relating Andy stories would probably reveal much more about Will Nichols and me than about Dora. While it is true that both Will and I sincerely liked Andy, it is also true that we enjoyed the proximity to danger that he represented. Being friends with Andy was like playing with fire, but at a relatively safe distance; we had derived a certain satisfaction from keeping company with a dangerous, insane man and then retreating to our respective safe lives.

If there is any point at all to describing Andy and his behavior, it is probably to demonstrate what a volatile mix of genes our son inherited from Dora and me, layering in him a mysterious seedbed of shadows in which may have grown propensities for his mental illness, anti-social behavior, problems with women, and a predilection for violence. Besides, in the end Andy turned out to be not very clever at all; a three-time loser, he is in prison for life. He was finally sent away, but not before he had infected Alan with his criminality, using him as a mule to transport drugs across the country. That led to Alan's first prison term, and now Alan faces an effective life sentence, denied any possibility of parole for 40 years, after being convicted on 14 counts involving sex with an underage girl, rape, and assault.

More than 35 years ago I fought passionately for custody of Alan, and warned the social workers assigned by the Family Court to the case what would happen if Alan were allowed to stay with his mother. What I predicted has come to pass, but it is unclear whose fault it is; finally everyone, including Alan, must take responsibility for their own behavior, and it is highly arguable that, probably already brain-damaged as a result of a fall engineered by Bertha, Alan's future would have been any brighter if I, with all my demons and time-consuming obsessions, had tried to raise him. What has been clear to me for some time is that the fundamental sin of this episode in my life is mine; I had removed a woman from a milieu in which she was perfectly comfortable and functioned well and tried to make her into a respectable teacher's wife living a suburban, middle-class life she did not understand or relate to at all. The decision to marry Dora had been mine, and the marriage had been doomed from the start.

When I return home, totally exhausted and with precious little in my "prism" journal to show for my first day of gainful employment in eleven years, I pour myself a stiff drink and turn on the news. The lead story concerns an 11-year-old boy who had disappeared while he was out in the afternoon going door-to-door in his neighborhood selling candy and holiday wrapping paper to help raise money for a class trip. Two days later his body had been found in a wooded area near his home. Four days later the police arrested his killer, a 15-year-old boy who had lured the younger boy into his house, sexually assaulted, and then killed, him. The 15-year-old had put the corpse in a garbage bag, hauled it across the street and left it behind some trees.

A week later the police also arrested a 42-year-old pedophile who had sexually abused the 15-year-old on at least seven separate occasions over an eighteen-month period after contacting the boy in a pedophile chat room on the Internet and arranging to meet with him. Before the killing, the parents of the15-year-old, unable to control their son, had taken the boy for counseling. The boy had told the counselor about his contact with the pedophile, and the counselor had called the police. The boy had initially been cooperating with the authorities in efforts to trap the pedophile, but had undergone a sudden change of heart just as the police were set to arrest the man. The boy had subsequently engaged in a series of violent outbursts directed against his parents, prompting the parents to seek relief from the Family Court, telling the judge that their son was out of control and pleading that he be committed to a psychiatric hospital for observation and testing. The court-appointed psychiatrist had reported that he did not see the boy as posing a threat to himself or others, and did not recommend hospitalization. The judge had ordered the thoroughly frightened and distressed parents to take their son home with them.

So the parents did as they were ordered and took their son home, and the boy proceeded to trash the house. The parents took the boy to another psychiatrist, who recommended that the boy be immediately remanded to Little Ark. The boy simply refused to go. The parents went back to Family Court, before the same judge, and asked that their son be declared PINS, or Person in Need of Supervision, so that he could be involuntarily, forcibly if need be, committed to the hospital. Again the judge refused the desperate parents' appeal, citing as his reason the opinion of the first, court-appointed, psychiatrist. Then the judge sternly admonished the boy to stop calling his father names like "cocksucker" and "fucking idiot," and his mother "shithead." The judge warned the boy that he was very tough, and he'd better not see the boy in court again or the boy would be in real trouble. Now the boy should go home and behave himself.


This judge will never see the 15-year-old in his court again, because now the boy is a killer and will be tried as an adult. Now it is the parents of the slain 11-year-old who are calling the judge and the first psychiatrist cocksuckers, fucking idiots, and shitheads, and in my opinion they are absolutely right. In my opinion the Family Court judge and first psychiatrist are also guilty of malfeasance, malpractice, and are accomplices to murder. I am not a psychiatrist, indeed am not even formally trained or certified to do the work I am doing. The sum total of my previous experience with severely disturbed children is perhaps sixty days in the classrooms of Little Ark working as a substitute teacher. But if there is one thing I have learned, that has been branded into my consciousness working with this population, it is that evil begets evil. Damaged goods seek out the weak and vulnerable and produce other damaged goods; Bertha begat Dora and Andy, and Andy begat the drug dealer and addict Alan. Even with my severely limited training and experience, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that any 15-year-old boy who has voluntarily and repeatedly been putting himself into a position to be sexually abused over a period of months is one very sick child and more than likely to be a threat to himself and others. The judgment of one psychiatrist and one judge in this case was way beyond abominable, yet they have not, and will not, suffer any penalty other than scorn and ridicule, and perhaps one day a mention in my "prism" project, if that elusive ghost work ever comes to fruition.

This 15-year-old victim who victimized another had fallen through the cracks of the system, and tragedy had resulted. It had all been predictable, and the tragedy is the result of the breathtaking incompetence of the one psychiatrist and the insensitivity and density of one judge. If the 15-year-old had been sent to Little Ark, as he most certainly should have been, he would probably have been assigned to my class, where he might have had a chance of survival. But he was sent home and told to behave himself, and now an 11-year-old child is dead, and the 15-year-old is broken beyond repair, facing life in prison. Two lives gone.

Identifying and treating severely disturbed children is a high-risk business for all concerned. These children kill.

Read the next installment.

Copyright © 2018, Hunter Goatley. All rights reserved.
Last updated 25-MAR-2018 21:42:44.84.