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Chapter 6: John

 

Case 026 Interview 026-02jfc

 

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN



INT: John, good morning. Thank you for agreeing to talk with me today. I don't believe we've met before, although I did see you at Bubblefest yesterday. My name is Dr. Dawson, Janet Dawson. It may be that Bill Harris told you about me....

RES: What?

INT: I said, we have a mutual acquaintance, Bill Harris, and I wondered if he had said anything to you about what we're doing here.

RES: So do I.

INT: Yes. Well. As I explained to Bill, I'm not a medical doctor, not a physician, but a nurse. I'm part of CO-HORT here at Eagle Hills. Are you familiar with the program?

RES: Cohart?

INT: Ahem. The County Board mandated this intervention program because of a perception that the number of suicides and suicide attempts in DuBose County is well above the national average. Our team's purpose is two-fold - to identify the factors that put DuBose County youth at special risk, and to educate high school students so that they can identify and refer those of their peers who seem to be at risk.

RES: We're supposed to turn in our peers? Sounds like fascism. So why am I here? Who thinks I'm going to kill myself? [smiles]

INT: Do you?

RES: Do I what?

INT: Think about killing yourself?

RES: So why am I here?

INT: I wonder if you know of anyone who might have recently tried to hurt himself? It was my understanding that you did. If I'm mistaken, you may of course return to class.

RES: It would depend on what you mean by hurting yourself. People hurt themselves all the time.

INT: Do they?

RES: Yes. Most people hurt themselves by watching TV. Many things we do are dangerous. But we do them because they're fun.

[note that Rob used the word "funny" before he made his attempt]

INT: Do you do dangerous things for fun?

RES: Yes, I do lots of dangerous things for fun. But I'm careful. I'm not stupid.

INT: Tell me about a time when you did a dangerous thing for fun, but did it carefully.

RES: My dad and I went hiking in the Rocky Mountains last summer. When you're hiking above the timber line on a glacier, it's easy to slip and fall, and if you were careless, it could be your death. But it sure is fun.

INT: Yes, that sounds like fun. Do you ever do dangerous things for fun closer to home?

RES: Is jumping out of trees dangerous?

INT: Are they tall trees?

RES: Yes, they're tall.

INT: Do you go up to the top?

RES: It'd be tough to climb to the top of any tree. But when I jump out of this tree, I'm about ten meters above the ground.

INT: Ten meters.... Goodness, that's more than thirty feet - three stories!

RES: It's not like I just jump out of the tree. I mean, I do jump out of it, but I always have a firm grasp on the pulley connected to the monorail I built behind my house.

INT: I don't think I know what a monorail is.

RES: I tied a rope to the large tree (the one I jump out of) and I built a little platform in the tree about ten meters up. The rope runs across the yard, slanting downwards to another tree. It ends up about a meter off the ground. So you climb up the big tree, stand on the platform, and pull the pulley up to you with kite string, grab on tight to the pulley and jump off. The rope stretches quite a bit and I usually hit the ground in the middle of the yard. There's a big dirt skid mark in the middle of my yard where I touch down.

INT: Wow! That does sound like fun, and not too dangerous. What can go wrong?

RES: The rope could break. I could fall off the platform. I could die.

INT: Do you think about dying when you slide down your monorail?

RES: No, I think about the aliens chasing me.

INT: Aliens.... So you like science fiction, too, then?

RES: Yes. Have you ever read any Isaac Asimov?

INT: Not lately. I liked him alot when I was an undergraduate, and even before then. I think I, Robot was one of the first science fiction books I ever read. Do you remember the Three Laws?

RES: There are four laws in I, Robot. You see, at the end of the book, the robot Daniel develops a zeroth law which states that protecting all of humanity is primary to protecting any individual human.

INT: Yes, you're right. I'd forgotten that. It's not surprising, I suppose, since my job here is so connected to protecting and preserving the life of each individual student.

RES: It's important to realize that the needs of an individual can never outweigh the needs of a whole society.

INT: Are you saying that you feel a duty to protect and preserve society?

RES: Society doesn't need to be protected. Society needs to be destroyed and rebuilt.

INT: Destroy society.... That sounds pretty radical. Do you have a plan for this?

RES: Not yet. But I'm working on it.

INT: You don't sound like a person who's at risk for suicide, then. But I believe you're a friend of Rob's?

RES: Actually, I just met him last weekend at Bubblefest. He's in a band with Ben, and Ben's in a couple of my classes, but I never even talked to him until we were in jail together.

INT: Yes, that's what I wanted to ask you about. You might not know that I'm the person who bailed him out of jail. And that after I took him home -

RES: I know what happened to Rob.

INT: Then you must understand that I feel somewhat responsible, and also a little guilty that I didn't intervene.

RES: Yeah, he was acting really afraid, like he was going to be in alot of trouble. He kept talking about how his parents were going to "disown" him when they found out what happened. And I kept trying to explain to him that NOTHING happened, it was all an accident, a mistake, but he acted like he didn't even hear me.

[knock on the door, which opened before I could get there, revealing four boys wearing black and leather and ragged t-shirts. John brightened considerably]

RES: Come on in, guys. Dr. Dawson, meet the band, Metal Doughnuts. This is Chad, the singer [indicates a tall, thin, scraggly-haired boy with a pronated, atrophied left arm]; Brian, lead guitar [a nice-looking boy with the classic thrash haircut - short on the sides and top, long in back, nicely shaped - and a cigarette behind his ear]; Mike, the drummer [invisible behind a mass of hair (see cousin It)] and Bob the bass player [in another world].

OTHER VOICES: Come on, let's go.

RES: I have to go now. It's been nice chatting with you but duty calls. [John stands up]

INT: Yes, thank you for your help. Perhaps we can finish this another time.

RES: Sure, whatever.



INT: A pleasure to meet you all, Chad, Brian, Mike, ah, Bob? [all leave]

 

 

Date: **********18:09:52 CDT

From: elavil <U70306@ucmvs.uc.edu>

Subject: turtles advancing, send help

To: js@argos.ustan.edu

 

Thank you for your note. I'm sorry to have missed you in Singlenesia. I hope your budget meeting went well.

 

This whole Gland Puppies thing is taking up more and more of my time. I spoke to Rob again, and am convinced that his attempt was nothing more than a cry for attention, and perhaps intended to defuse his parents' anger. In that he was very successful. I have seldom seen a more pampered young man. He appears to have a morbid fear of incurring their disapproval. This is, I suppose, not uncommon in an only child of older parents.

 

I doubt very much that he'll make any further attempts. He found the emergency room experience very distressing. Apparently there was an accident victim in the cubicle next to his. Rob is an inordinately fastidious young man, always washing his hands and smoothing his hair. The sights, sounds and smells of a busy emergency room were quite overwhelming to him. He tells me that the blood and gore were almost more than he could stand.

 

Of course, by today he's managed to rationalize his actions so that he is in no way at fault. He is such a self-righteous little prig. And yet, I care for him, and I care what happens to him. I'm not convinced, despite his protestations, that he is without care himself. He and I have much to work on together.

 

I also spoke to Ben. Note I did not say I spoke WITH Ben. He was there. I was there. I spoke. He spoke. Communication did not occur. His main contribution to the conversation was a negative, sort of nasal "Enh Enh" kind of noise. He said it often. It is a completely unanswerable comment. Once again, Ben made me feel, and look, like a fool. *sigh*

 

And then there's Adam, another member of the band. I spent about an hour with Adam. What a tedious young person he is. He was quite oblivious to Rob's experience. His only concern was that his girlfriend seemed to be paying undue attention to John. In this, I must admit he might be right. And who could blame her? John is indeed a magnetic individual. He is mannered, like Ben, and funny, like Rob. And yet he also has some other quality, one that I can't quite name. I spoke to him also. He was defensive, and yet I believe I made some inroads. More to follow.

 

Well, I'd best get back to my domestic responsibilities. Give my regards to the Associate Dean for Research (ha!). And my best also to you.

 

Janet

 

 

Welcome to Singlenesia

"connect <name> <password>" connects you to an existing character.

"WHO" tells you who is logged in to the game (case sensitive).

"QUIT" exits the game and saves your character.

connect elavil CO-HORT

 

WHO Connected Idle Favorite Muppet

Elavil 1s 0s

RiffRaff 45s 2s Beaker

Danke 6m 3m Swedish Chef

Opera_Ghost 14m 12m Scooter

Cassandra 22m 34s Madonna

Crimson 28m 1m Bunsen Honeydew

Scrag-Ho 31m 12m Gonzo the Great

Phineas 40m 2m Fozzy Bear

Zalcor 45m 18s Laslo and his Boomerang Fish

Elroy 45m 9s Wandering aimlessly

10 Players Connected

 

Porch (#7098) A screened porch. There is an old, chintz-covered sofa along the back wall. Several tattered wicker chairs with faded cushions surround a wicker table, where a pitcher of lemonade sweats incitingly. You can smell the gardenias planted along the path from the gate.

 

Zalcor pages, "Hello!"

You page Zalcor with "Hello! Looks like we had a little crash."

Zalcor page, "Yes. Something still not right with the Elroy code. He keeps overflowing his buffer. :("

You page Zalcor with, "Whatever that means. How are you?"

Zalcor pages you with, "Incoming?"

You page Zalcor with, "I would be pleased."

Zalcor has arrived.

Zalcor bows.

Elavil bows to the mighty Zalcor.

Zalcor says, "Stop that! You know how I hate it when you grovel!"

Elavil laughs and hugs Zal.

Zalcor hugs Elavil.

You say, "So, wassup with you, O Great and Powerful Blah?"

Zalcor says, "Just working on the Elroy code. We did another owl last night. I haven't slept since Wednesday."

Elavil looks worried. That can't be good for you. Are you eating well?

Zalcor smiles.

Elavil blushes. I know, I'm TooMuchOfAMother, I can't help myself.

Zalcor @sets Elavil=!Mother

Elavil grins.

Zalcor says, "How have you been? How is that boy whose mother called you at 4am?"

You say, "He's doing OK, I think. Now he's got it all worked out in his head that it was all 'determined,' that he had no choice and it had to happen blah blah blah. *sigh*"

Zalcor says, "I'm glad he's all right. Attempted suicide is never trivial."

You say, "Of course. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to trivialize. I had forgotten. *looks embarrassed*"

Zalcor says, "What did the rest of the band think about what happened?"

You say, "That's hard to say. They seem so self-involved. I did finally meet John."

Zalcor says, "John?"

You say, "John was in jail with Rob. With the cowboy hat? He's very interesting. I spoke to him this afternoon. He's not like the others."

Zalcor says, "In what way?"

You say, "I'm not sure I can explain it. He has more outside interests, for one thing. And he seems somehow more mature."

Zalcor raises an eyebrow.

You say, "What?"

Zalcor says, "Oh, nothing. I just never liked that word. I don't think it means much."

Elavil nods. I agree, I think. I certainly don't like the way my colleagues use 'mature' to mean 'tractable.' No one would ever call John 'tractable.' He's a force of nature. His hobby appears to be jumping out of trees.

Zalcor says, "Excuse me, brb. I need to go help Mondain with a new player. Perhaps when I've finished, we can work on that lemonade pitcher."

You say, "Thank you. I'll just idle and go over my notes until you return. I know newbies can take time. I remember what it was like when I was new. You were very good to me."

Elavil smiles and hugs Zalcor.

Zalcor hugs Elavil. Back soon.

Zalcor has left.



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