Chapter 10: Adam
Coordinated Health Outreach Team
Regarding: Case 046
Please open new file Case 046 and add this to your records.
I have scheduled an Intake Meeting on this case for Monday, January 12 at 3pm. If you are unable to attend, please let me know.
Janet Dawson, PhD RN
Suicide Note: Case 046
This is a 17-year-old white male high school student with no previous attempts who died in a one-car accident.
Dear Mom and Dad -
I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you. I've been hurt too much. They made a fool of me. They never even liked my songs. They only kept me in the band for my drum machine. Now Ben has a fancy new keyboard with its own drum machine. Everything was OK till John ruined it for me. I thought Ben and Rob were my friends, but they betrayed me. I thought Kathy was my true love, but she betrayed me, too. Even Walter is gone. There is no reason for me to be alive. I don't have any good ideas except this one. I'm going to end this pain and suffering once and for all. Don't blame yourselves. If anyone asks you, Why did Adam do this terrible deed? you can tell them, Because of John Francis Christ.
And I'm not kidding.
Kathy, Adam's erstwhile girlfriend, had a New Year's Eve party for thirty or forty of her closest friends, and their closest friends, and a few miscellaneous associates. Her parents had conveniently gone to Aspen for the holiday and left Kathy in charge of their luxurious home and extensive liquor cabinet. In other words, a typical Eagle Hills party, at least until John and Bill arrived.
John and Bill crunched up Kathy's icy stairs. Kim looked tiny between them. Late-model cars and upscale pickup trucks choked the impeccable suburban street. Tasteful minilights in white and blue reflected from the hoods of Audis, Hondas, and minivans of all shapes and colors. But Bill's was the only car actually parked on a lawn. John cradled a mysterious bundle in his arms. Bill held Kim's elbow protectively with one hand and raised his bullhorn with the other. It emitted a piercing feedback shriek. "TURN YOUR RADIO DOWN," it roared. The neighborhood did not respond, and the massive oak doors stared implacably back at the three revellers. Four houses up the street, a festive wreath rustled off another set of oak doors and landed plumply in a snowy hedge.
"This looks like a rockin' party," Kim remarked in her habitual monotone. She twitched her platinum hair out of her almond eyes.
John shifted his burden slightly and pressed the doorbell. Meanwhile, Bill threw open the double doors. A blast of smoke, music, bright light, warm air and potpourri enveloped the trio. John flourished his prize, the bust of Leonard Beebe, district school superintendent, which had until recently sat in a glass case in the high school lobby, flanked by lists of National Merit Scholars and tennis trophies. "Behold the lamb of God!" he announced. Bill and Kim took up flanking positions, and they cut a wedge through the milling party-goers.
A brief hush ensued, followed immediately by drunken cheers, whispers, giggles and catcalls. The bullhorn erupted with another blast of feedback. "MAKE WAY! MAKE WAY FOR THE HEAD OF OUR FEARLESS DICKHEAD! MAKE WAY! BOW DOWN! PUT YOUR NOSES ON THE FLOOR AND YOUR ASSES IN THE AIR! FOR I BRING YOU TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY THAT SHALL BE KNOWN TO ALL PEOPLE!"
"You there, girl," Bill added in his normal voice. "Hie yourself to thence kitchen forthwith and bring us three beverages. Make haste, wench! Meanwhilst, we shall deposit this holy relic such that it may preside over these festivities, and pass its benediction upon our merriment. Forsooth."
The girl scampered away. John led a rapidly growing procession around the house, bust held high over his head. Bill followed on his heels, bellowing announcements and gibberish. Kim meandered in and out of the cavalcade. She scanned the crowd restlessly with a dissatisfied expression.
The gladsome throng wound into the kitchen. Bill raised the bullhorn again. "ALL WHO BELIEVE IN THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS, THIS IS OUR NIGHT! THIS MAY BE OUR LAST NIGHT, SO PAY TRIBUTE TO THIS CHUNK OF ROCK!"
Bill's kitchen minion chose this moment to approach with the requested beverages. "Thank you," said Bill. "I quaff this in the name of St. Leonard of Lemur." He drank. "Perfect. Warm, flat beer in a gigantic plastic cup. Isn't this really what living is all about? Here's lookin' at you, kid." He raised his glass in a toast to Kim. Kim looked the other way and set her untasted glass on the counter. She edged toward the door and disappeared into the hall. Bill followed hastily.
John meanwhile set the superintendent's statue reverently in the middle of the kitchen table. He raised his hands above his head in a victory salute. "Hey, man," he inquired of the bust. "What's happening?"
Adam sat quietly, not far away, in front of Kathy's 42-inch television. Kathy fidgeted beside him, studying her nails, ill at ease among these obvious geeks and losers. All but Kathy were intently watching as Dead Poet's Society began. The room was still. Adam put his arm across Kathy's shoulders. She flinched, but Adam didn't notice.
"Hey, guys," boomed John from the door. "What the hell's going on in here? Are you people MAKING OUT?"
"Shhhhh!!!" the assemblage hissed.
John turned to leave. Kathy murmured, "Wait."
"Kathy! Well! Hello, there, lovely host! Why don't you let me show you to your party? Or are you busy watching this boring movie?"
"No. I'm not busy at all. I'd love to." Kathy slid out from under Adam's arm and took John's extended hand. "Where shall we start?"
John smiled. "Where one normally begins, obv: At the top." They walked hand in hand out of the room.
"They're just good friends," Adam said to no one in particular. "Good friends." He turned back to the screen.
Rob rang the doorbell again. Angela shivered beside him and pulled her collar closer to her ears. They'd been driving through identical upscale subdivisions for half an hour in Rob's underheated Oldsmobile and now Rob was uncertain he had the right house.
"Maybe this isn't the right place...." Rob rang the doorbell a third time and blew on his hands. His breath turned into an icy cloud and settled on his fingers. He stuck his hands in his pockets and looked at his feet.
Angela moved around him and looked in a window. "There!" she said. "There's Jason and Tom! Why don't we just go inside?"
"Are you sure?" Rob hesitated even as Angela pushed the door open. His skepticism was greeted by Bill's bullhorn and a blast of beer fumes.
"COME ON IN, ROB. HELLO, ANGELA. THIS IS ... uh... this is Kim." Kim swung her hair away from her face and smiled impersonally. Bill curved his arm around her shoulders in a comfortable, proprietary gesture.
"Have you seen Ben?" Kim murmured huskily to Rob. Angela walked into the foyer and paused. Rob was still poised uncertainly on the doorstep, held at bay either by Kim's urgent stare or Bill's bullhorn.
"Er. No. No, I haven't, Kim. I thought he was going to some church group party. I was going to go with him, but Angela here didn't know any of those guys. And sometimes they can get a little rowdy. Last time we ended up smashing a bag of potatoes. So we decided to come here. Ear."
At this, Kim darted a poisonous glance at Bill and slipped under his arm, easily accomplished since she only came up to his elbow. She drifted off towards the entertainment center.
"Come on in, Rob! Come on in!" Bill covered the momentary awkwardness by grabbing Rob's coat sleeve and pulling him inside. "Rob's here. Everybody dance now."
Rob sidled into the foyer, head down, but with a little smile on his face. Here he was, with Angela. Jason, Tom, Bill, John, everyone would see them together. He understood that she just wanted to be friends, but still, it was wonderful to be there with her. She was so beautiful. So nice. So innocent. So sexy. "Angela, let me take your coat."
Angela shrugged out of her ski jacket and Rob hung it carefully in the closet. Her perfume clung to the collar, along with a few long black hairs. It made him a little dizzy. She walked into the living room just as John and Kathy reached the stairs.
"Hi, Kathy. Hi, John."
"Hi, Angela. How do you like my new suede boots? Aren't they spectacular?"
"Oh, Kathy, they're darling. Wherever did you get them?"
Rob stood behind Angela, close enough to touch her but carefully avoiding any contact. "Ear," he greeted John.
"Rob. You bastard. You deserve to die."
"I'm going to make a foodball."
This exchange meant nothing to Kathy or Angela, who fussed absently with their hair in the manner of bored women everywhere.
"Adam took me shopping at Watertower Place. You should see what he got me at Victoria's Secret!"
Rob snickered at the mention of Adam's name. "He's a fiend," said Rob.
"He's a RICH fiend, though," said Kathy, "and that's the fiend for me."
"And I'm a SEX fiend," said John. "Let's go upstairs."
Bill took advantage of the distraction to sneak up behind Angela and dip her french braid into his beer glass. "Hey!" she said.
"Hey yourself!" he replied. "Get your hair out of my beer. Rob, this girl put her hair in my beer!"
"The raisin man!" Rob said, and moved between Bill and Angela. "You better watch your ass, Bill!"
"What? Wash my ass? You want me to wash my ass? How can I wash my ass? I'm the man with no butt." As Bill continued to discuss the various aspects and accouterments of his behind, John and Kathy ascended the stairs and disappeared.
"Because I can," said Kim.
"OK, fine. It's not my fault Ben didn't want to come," whined Adam. "You just said he's with the church group. I didn't want to go, Ben did. I don't know why Ben does things. NOBODY knows why Ben does things. Why doesn't Ben eat anything but bread? Why does he say he hates music? Why does he wear a skirt? Who knows? He's just Ben. He does Ben things. Now will you please shut up so I can watch this movie? I'm missing my favorite part, where he dies."
Other voices chorused, "Yeah, shut up, be quiet, how about you, too, Adam, keep it down."
"Well, I wouldn't have come to this stupid party except Bill told me that YOU told HIM that Ben was coming. I'm not very happy about this," said Kim, and she turned to walk away.
"It isn't MY fault. It isn't even my party. It's my girlfriend's party."
"Are you sure she talked to him? Do you think he might come over later?"
"You'll have to ask Kathy. She was the one who asked him. I haven't seen Ben in a while. He hasn't called me in a couple of weeks. But I'm sure she invited my whole band." Kim had paused in the doorway.
"But do you think Ben might be here later?"
"How should I know? Why don't you ask Kathy?"
"I think Kathy's a little busy right now, Adam," Kim said silkily, and walked into the other room.
"Huh?" Adam was torn between the movie and his desire to investigate Kim's provocative remark. The movie won out, but he found himself distracted, less involved than he wanted to be. After all, he knew what was going to happen in the movie.
Kim walked back into the living room and sat down in a deep leather chair. Her expression left no doubt that she was NOT having a good time. Bill, who had been looking for her, bounced into the room and pounced on the hassock at her feet. "Hi. I'm Crazy Bill Pineapple. Want to have a meaningless relationship based solely on sex?"
Kim didn't respond.
"Well, then. How about we get married and have seven children, one for each day of the week, and then another one named Hamburger? No? WELL, then. How about I chop off your feet and feed them to the wolves that I hear howling outside the door? No? Well, THEN, how about YOU chop off my feet and feed them to me?"
Despite herself, Kim began to smile. Bill picked up her right foot, removed her shoe, and began to massage her toes. "Those are great sox," he said. "I've never seen a pair of sox with toes in them before. At least, not in that shade of purple."
"Yes," said Kim. "I stole them."
"You stole your feet!? Good job, Kim. Would you like to hear a story about sox? This is a true story, now. This is a true story about sox. When I was ten years old, my mom told me I had to clean my sock drawer. Not that it was very dirty or anything. In fact, there wasn't any dirt in there at all. It was a little disorderly, maybe. But it wasn't THAT disorderly. Just a little untidy. And my mom wanted me to clean it. But I was busy crashing my matchbox cars and I didn't straighten it out. So she called the police. She called the POLICE. On ME. My own MOM called the police on ME, HER OWN SON, because I DIDN'T CLEAN OUT MY SOCK DRAWER!!! MY OWN MOTHER WAS GOING TO PUT HER SON IN JAIL BECAUSE HE DIDN'T CLEAN OUT HIS SOCK DRAWER!!!!" By now, Bill's voice had reached parade ground volume.
Kim giggled softly. "You aren't like any of the other guys at this party, are you?"
"Would you like something to drink?" Rob asked Angela.
"Do you suppose there's any Diet Coke?"
"Let's go look in the kitchen."
Kathy's house had a very large kitchen with a round table in front of a bay window. The bust of the superintendent sat magisterially in the middle of the table amidst beer mugs, plastic glasses and ashtrays. Six or seven people surrounded it, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and playing liar's poker. Someone said, "Let's play quarters. I don't have any more dollars," and soon quarters and beer foam were flying through the air. Rob walked over to the refrigerator, trying to stay as far from the beer drinkers as possible. He opened a Diet Coke for Angela, but when he turned to give it to her, he found her in animated conversation at the table with someone he didn't know. "I'm going to go to the bathroom now," he said, putting the pop can in front of her, and he left the room. The Coke can looked strangely childlike among the beer mugs.
"Ear!" Angela looked up expecting Rob. Who was this?
"Hey, John, what's that on your head?" asked a beer drinker.
"My hair," said John.
"Where'd you get that extremely skimpy feminine undergarment on your head, John?" chortled another voice.
"Your mom called," said John laughing to himself. He draped the panties, with the Victoria's Secret label prominently displayed, across Leonard Beebe's plaster forehead. They slipped to a piratical angle, crossing the forehead and obscuring one gimlet eye. The table cheered.
"Assholes," John snarled, and turned to the refrigerator. When he came back to the table, he had a can of Mountain Dew in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other. "Fuck off," he said pleasantly.
"Yeah, nice way to talk, where's Jason, has anybody seen my lighter, I'm out of cigarettes, anybody want to go to 7-11...." And the room was deserted, except for Angela and her Diet Coke.
John took a long pull at his Jack Daniels, got a piece of cold pizza from the kitchen counter, and turned back to Angela.
"You're Angela," he said through a mouthful of pineapple and cheese. "It's always good to tell people who they are. It's easy to forget..."
"Hello," said Angela. He scared her, and she wanted to leave, but John was blocking her way and she didn't want to walk past him. She didn't want to do anything that might make him angry. He looked dangerous.
"He had to go to the bathroom. I'm waiting for him."
John laughed. "That bastard," he said. "I know what he's doing in the bathroom. We should take pictures. You wouldn't happen to have a Polaroid camera would you?"
"No." Angela felt nervous and uncomfortable. She didn't know what to say. In her embarrassment, she blurted, "Rob told me about your dad. I was so sorry. I hope he gets well real soon."
Oh, God, she thought. You idiot. Rob told you about a hundred times that John doesn't like to talk about his dad. He never even told Ben and Rob that his dad was sick. What's the matter with you, Angela? Are you stupid or just suicidal? Angela braced herself for an onslaught of abuse.
She was unprepared for what actually happened. Instead of attacking her, John leaned toward her, engulfing her in a cloud of whiskey fumes. John's normally impregnable defenses, loosened no doubt by the Jack Daniels, crumbled before Angela's obvious concern. "Get well? You're the only person who's said that, that he might get well. Everybody else is digging his grave. Even my mom. But that's not what he thinks. And that's not what I think either. He can get well. He can beat this. He wants to. He's strong. He's going to get better, I know it. You should see how hard he works to regain his strength... You should... He's going to..."
This display of vulnerability was not at all what Angela had expected. Was that a tear? Angela stood up, walked over, and kissed John on the cheek. Then she scuttled back to her chair, unable to believe her own boldness.
John gave a strangled sob, gathered up his bottle of Jack Daniels and lurched from the kitchen.
Angela cried a little herself. When Rob came back to the kitchen, he found her wiping her eyes. "What's the matter? What happened? I saw John...?"
"No, it's OK. We were talking about his dad."
"His dad? John doesn't talk about his dad."
"He's a very complicated person, isn't he? I'll bet not very many people know what he's really thinking."
"He's a fiend," said Rob. "Let's go watch TV."
The noise from the living room began to get louder. Angela recognized Bill's voice, and John's, and Adam's. It sounded like an argument. They seemed to be arguing about music, or maybe about the band. She heard John shout, his voice slurring slightly, "'Together' is a piece of shit, Adam. A piece of SHIT. No one wants to put it on the album. And the rest of your stupid love songs suck. All those songs suck. Cover songs suck even worse."
"Now wait a minute," Bill began. "Let's settle down here. John, I think maybe you've had a little bit too much to drink. Maybe you'd like to step outside for a moment."
"Fuck off, Bill."
Rob and Angela walked into the living room just in time to see Adam take a pink guitar out of John's hands and shove it through the wall. John laughed. "No one wants you in the band, Adam. Why do you think nobody called you? We don't need your stupid drum machine. You're just a dork, Adam. You don't have any good ideas. You don't even count as a person. You're an object."
Bill took John by the elbow. "Come on, now, that's no way to talk. Adam is a human being, the same as you. He deserves to be treated like a person, not like an object. You're out of control, John. You don't need to hurt people to make your point. Adam, there's no need for violence and the destruction of other people's property. Let's everybody just cool down, now. John, I think it's time I took you home."
"Fuck off, Bill! Adam, you may have shoved my guitar through a wall, but I think I've penetrated something of yours as well. In fact - " Adam lunged at John, and there might have been violence, but Kathy quickly stepped in front of Adam just as Bill tackled John from behind ("Clipping," said one of the beer drinkers, "that was definitely a clip") and began to drag him away. There was a clunk as the empty Jack Daniels bottle fell from John's hand.
"Adam! What do you think you're doing? He's a guest in my house! First you smashed his guitar - and my wall!"
"It's fine," John mumbled. "Nothing can destroy the pink guitar. Let me up, Bill, I'm fine, too."
Kathy continued undaunted. " - and now you're about to start a fight. What did John do to deserve that? John was right, Adam. You ARE a dork. And you don't have very many good ideas." All the same, the look she flashed at John contained an unmistakable warning.
John fumbled into his leather jacket, with help from Bill. "Yeah," he mumbled. "But you've got great taste in underwear." And he slid back to the floor.
Bill, recognizing the signs, saw trouble on the horizon and rolling in fast. He picked John up by the feet, and began to drag him towards the nearest exit. "Kim!" he called. "Get the door."
When Kim made no move to follow Bill's command, Angela hastened to open the door. She looked down on John with concern. "Is he OK?" she asked.
"Yeah. He'll be fine. I'll just take him home," Bill assured her.
"He deserves to die," Rob pointed out.
Angela rounded on him instantly. "How can you say such a thing?" she demanded. "You're supposed to be his FRIEND. Can't you see he's suffering?"
"He looks pretty numb to me," said Bill, and dragged the slack form out the door. Rob kept his mouth prudently shut, and glared covertly at Angela. Kim slipped between them and shut the door silently behind her.
Bill pulled John determinedly through the snow. John struggled to lift his head as his back plowed a furrow across Kathy's lawn. "I'm fine, you bastard! Let me go! I can walk! You're going to ruin my jacket. Hey, dude, LET ME UP!"
Bill paid no attention, but continued to drag the body to the car. Fortunately, since the car was in the middle of the front lawn, he hadn't far to go.
John struggled to his feet and opened the car door. Before he climbed into the back seat, he turned to the house and lifted his voice to its full volume. "HEY!" he called.
Angela heard him and opened the door.
"EAT MY SHIT YOU BASTARD LEG!!!" he howled, and collapsed in the back seat. Kim looked happier than she had all night.
Angela shut the door. "What an unusual person," she said. Then, after a pause, "I have a taste for a chicken sandwich."
"Let's go get a hamburger," said Rob, and they got their coats. By the time they left, only the mangled front yard showed any sign of John's departure.
Case 046 Interview 046-01kl
INTERVIEW WITH KATHY
INT: <standard introductory information>
RES: Oh god please....
INT: You look like you're having a tough time right now. If you'd like, we can do this another time....
RES: No, let's get this over with. I just want to get this over with.
INT: I was hoping that you'd be able to tell me a little about Adam. I know that his loss was very upsetting. I am wondering if you noticed any changes in him recently, or if he discussed his feelings with you. I am also concerned about you, and will be glad to help you process this very painful experience.
RES: He left a note with his parents, and apparently it was because of this guy I've been seeing. His name is John Christ.
INT: John Christ?
RES: Oh, yes! John. He's wonderful. I'm head over heels in love! You know, if I could talk about John a little bit, he's.... Oh, never mind.
RES: No, really, never mind.
INT: OK. And you think that what happened to Adam is related to John?
RES: Definitely! Adam was always in a deep depression because of his inadequacies. I guess talking about John with him didn't help.
INT: Can you say more about that?
RES: I suppose the most devastating thing, to him at least, were the sexual encounters that John and I had and the fact that I'm pregnant with his child. When he got kicked out of the band, that didn't help either.
INT: You're pregnant with John's child?
RES: Can you believe it? I think congratulations are in order.
INT: Congratulations, then. I hear you saying that you are glad that you got pregnant.
RES: Of course. It's John Christ's child. I would be foolish not to want it. I'm hopelessly in love.
INT: And what does John say?
RES: I'm not going to tell him. My fam is moving to Florida, where I will raise John Jr. as a prophet.
RES: I suppose if you knew John, you'd see what I mean. If this child is half as great as his father is, and if I didn't put him on a pedestal, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life, forever doomed to eternal damnation.
RES: Can we talk about the way this child was conceived? Maybe then you could understand.
INT: In this room, you can talk about whatever you want. But I'm wondering if you think that the way your child was conceived had something to do with what happened to Adam.
RES: Of course it does. I was constantly comparing John and Adam, especially in bed. After a couple of months with Adam, I didn't even want him to touch me any more because of his sexual inadequacies. He was a fumbling idiot. He didn't know what I wanted. I don't think he even knew what he wanted. He thought foreplay was cuddling. I suppose the main reason I stayed with Adam for two years was because I could get anything I wanted from him. He had a lot of money. Adam.
INT: It sounds like you and Adam weren't very happy together.
RES: How could I care for him when he was so pathetic, always whining about the band and how he didn't fit in?
INT: And yet you went out with him for two years. That sounds like he gave you some kind of security.
RES: Like I said, I could get whatever I wanted.
INT: And what did you want?
RES: From whom?
RES: Any material items I could get. All I had to do was act sympathetic and let him touch me with those cold hands and I could get a new outfit or a pair of boots - do you like my boots? - or he would take me anywhere I wanted. Too bad I had to go with him, though.
INT: I see.
RES: Hmmmm. Adam had box seats for Phantom of the Opera this weekend. I can still get the tickets, then I could take John. Unless Adam had them in his pocket or something. Ew. I wonder if I could get John into a suit. I know I could get him out of it....
INT: It sounds like you're really fascinated with John. Maybe you could tell me what it is about him....
RES: What isn't it about John? You should see the way he glides across a room. He always catches everyone's attention. And he should. It's what he deserves. But, well, you probably wouldn't understand. I mean you're old and all...
INT: Ahem... Does he buy you things the way Adam did?
RES: No... He doesn't. He doesn't need to.
INT: And he doesn't have cold hands, either, I'll bet.
RES: No .... Not at all ....
INT: [pause] I hear you saying that John is somehow superior to Adam.
RES: Yes! Adam is completely lacking in the department of excitement.
INT: And John?
RES: Well, look at him. He's a real Gland Puppy. He's Mr. Adventure. Everytime I'm with him we do something totally different. He can always think of something fun to do. I never know what's going to happen next when I'm with John. How could Adam compare with that?
INT: I'm not sure.
RES: Obviously you don't know John. To know him is to love him.
INT: Actually.... That is.... You've had a lot to say here about love; how you do love John, but apparently you did not love Adam. I wonder if you could tell me what you mean by love, then.
RES: As I said before, you obviously don't know John. And furthermore, you don't know of his sexual greatness. He's a sex artist.
INT: Sex artist?
RES: It's like he's performing to some undulating music all in his head and he knows the rhythm I like best. That is love.
RES: Isn't that love?
INT: I was asking you for your definition. It's not for me to tell you whom you love.
RES: Damn right. The only problem is with other women.
INT: I beg your pardon? Other women?
RES: You should see the way he carries on about them. Actually, I enjoy it. But deep down inside, I know he's such a womanizer and I know that's wrong but I can't help it. I find that extremely attractive. He's so exciting. I wonder what all his other casualties would think if they knew about his problem.
INT: His problem?
RES: You'll have to swear you'll never tell anyone. He'd kill me if anyone found out.
INT: Everything in this office is confidential. You have my word.
RES: You see [giggles] - I don't quite know how to put this. He has this bladder control problem. A few times, well honestly the only times we've fallen asleep together, I've woken up to a warm, wet pool on the bed. And it's probably too forward of me, but I think he has a bedwetting problem.
INT: John is a bedwetter....?
RES: [giggle] I think so. But please don't tell anyone.
INT: Well, um, is there anything else about Adam that you could tell me?
RES: What can I say? There's not much to tell.
INT: Then I'd better let you get back to class. Thanks for helping us out. If you should feel the need to talk to someone, about this, about your pregnancy, or about anything else, please feel free to give me a call.
RES: No prob.
INT: Good day, then.
Research Journal 1/19/
I had always known I had a knack for small group dynamics. In graduate school, I was known for my skill with focus groups. I assumed that this interview would be similar. Plus, I admit, after talking to Kathy, I both yearned to see John again and feared being alone with him. I found myself watching for him in the halls. I felt like a schoolgirl. I suppose my desire to see John blinded me to my recollection of my previous abysmal failures with Ben. It must have been my ambivalence that made my mood so unstable.
Their entrance left little doubt about their attitude towards the interview. All three, (Ben, Rob, John) wore goose decoys tied to their heads. John had on a clown suit. He smiled insincerely at me and lounged arrogantly beside my desk. Rob looked embarrassed, but he had a sign around his neck that said, "I Killed Felix." Ben glowered in a kilt and a pair of black combat boots.
I acknowledge feeling angry and confused. I suppose my distress was visible. I was upset by Kathy's revelations, particularly of John's bedwetting problem. I wonder if he also sets fires and tortures small animals? But no, he can't be a psychopath. He's just misunderstood. I knew I hadn't handled Kathy's interview properly, that my professionalism was becoming compromised, and, most of all, I was concerned about my lack of feeling over Adam's death. I hadn't liked Adam - I had, in fact, bought into the band's social construction and had considered Adam a fool. When I was interviewing him, I recognized his despair but failed to respond to it. I confess I found myself thinking, "He deserves to die." If I had acted more swiftly, more competently, more professionally, I might have prevented Adam's death. Yet, at the same time, I find myself thinking, So what? Who cares? He was just another idiot. These thoughts troubled me considerably, and may have led to a certain sharpness of tone in my opening remarks.
Case 046 Interview 046-02grp
INT: See here now. Two people closely associated with this band have suicided in the past year. Now, although I'm not pointing any fingers, I think you will agree that this is an ominous sequence of events. I want to prevent any future tragedies. Also, I can't help noticing that you don't show much care and concern about the loss of your friend Adam, a member of your band. As I recall, you were equally cold in your responses when Brian died, despite the fact that he left his note on your own pillow, Ben.
BEN: He was a pretty cool dude. I can't believe he's dead! This is horrible! What an atrocity!
JHN: I wet my pants.
ROB: He deserved to die.
INT: Very funny. Very, very funny. You defend yourselves so perfectly from any strong feelings with your wit and your absurdity. Well, I'm not impressed, and I'm not amused either. People think you're alot funnier than you actually are.
BEN: Are you asking me to sleep with you?
INT: Just cram, it, Ben. Nobody is laughing.
ROB and JHN: [laugh]
INT: Ahem. In any case, I am not laughing.
BEN: You do want to sleep with me, don't you? That's why I'm here, isn't it?
INT: Just shut up. I'm in charge here. This is my office, this is my project, and I'm seriously considering the possibility that you and your stupid music have caused the deaths of at least two, and perhaps more, students in this school. Not to mention the increased incidence in [looks straight at JHN] pregnancies, substance abuse and symptomatic depression. And as for you, John, if you have a bladder control problem, perhaps I can make you a referral to a competent urologist.
ROB: What do you mean, caused? They had no choice. Or else they did it of their own free will. Either way, we didn't have anything to do with it.
JHN: What's a urologist?
BEN: Maximum babe-osity, dude.
ROB: What do you mean, two people? I mean, I know about Adam, that's really too bad about Adam, we're really sorry about Adam. That's why we're [starts to laugh] ... hahaha ... that's why we're wearing these hats.
INT: Goose decoys?
BEN: Duck hats.
INT: Duck hats?
JHN: They look so real they must be fake.
INT: What about Brian?
BEN: Adam would have wanted it that way.
JHN: That's why we're wearing these hats.
INT: How appropriate.
BEN: Thank you.
INT: You're welcome.
BEN: You're welcome, too. Well, I'm ready to answer all of your questions now.
INT: Sure you are. Sure you are. You're just practicing for one of those little performances of yours. This is all just a big joke to you, isn't it? Anything I try to ask you, you'll just twist in your same, self-serving way. You'll say the silliest thing you can think of. I don't believe you have any feelings at all.
BEN: Start firing. Question #1.
INT: Thank you. Firing seems to be a desirable alternative.
JHN: What do you want?
ROB: She wants to lose desire. We all desire to lose desire. There are no other desires, really, except that one. All desire comes from that.
JHN: Shut up, Rob. You don't know what you're talking about. So just shut up. You're retarded. And by the way, retarded people are really neat. I'm going to cram one up my butt.
BEN: I'm a retarded, watch me go. I like rock music. Hello!
INT: I think we can all agree that Ben is not retarded.
JHN: No, Ben is a ro-butt. Haha.
ROB: [giggles] Here's the church [holds up his hands], here's the steeple. Open the door and kill all the retarded people!
INT: I fail to see the humor in disability.
JHN: That's because you don't know any 'tards! They're pretty hilarious to hang around. Like dogs. They're the happiest people in the world. It would be funny to go up to one and without warning or reason punch it in the face.
ROB: Hey! Yeah! Dogs and retards! Good idea!
INT: John, you can't be serious.... I thought....
BEN: You do like to listen to my tape. Is it rock and roll? I eat poopie. I'm a retarded.
INT: Please hush, Ben. Why did you say that, John?
JHN: Huh? I didn't say it. You said it.
INT: Nonono. We're having a dialogue here. I asked you to explain the humor in mental disability and you...ah...didn't.
BEN: That's because you didn't ask a question. And you're talking to yourself. Why don't you answer the question? After all, there is no dialogue going on here.
INT: I did ask a question and we are having a conversation, which implies that a dialogue is in fact occurring.
BEN: I believe you've just violated a basic law of reason.
INT: What might that mean?
BEN: All conversation is monologue.
ROB: Desire to lose desire. [giggles]
JHN: I wet my pants.
INT: Personally, I don't care one whit about the desire to lose desire, or whether John wets his pants, or whether Ben thinks I want to sleep with him. I would, however, like to get some idea what happened to Adam, since there seems to be some suggestion that being kicked out of the band and losing his girlfriend [glares at JHN] may have precipitated his suicide.
BEN: OK, start firing. Question #1.
INT: Did Ben talk to any of you about his unhappiness, or any intent to hurt himself?
BEN: I'm OK.
INT: I meant Adam. Pardon me, Ben, that was ill mannered. Of course, I meant Adam. Did Adam ever talk to you about feeling unhappy, or say that he was considering suicide?
ROB: Adam never believed that Ben had a twelve inch cock.
INT: Does he?
BEN: Do you want me to strip down now?
INT: No, that won't be necessary, thank you. Perhaps later. I believe that once again we have lost track of our main topic here. Tell me, did you know Adam?
JHN: What are we doing here?
INT: [nods] As I thought. John, perhaps you could tell me about the last time you saw Adam.
JHN: The last time I saw Adam, he smashed my pink guitar through Kathy's wall.
INT: Why did he do that?
JHN: Because I poked his girlfriend. Again.
INT: [nods] He was angry?
ROB: [giggling] Ogod.... Please help me....
JHN: I think he was jealous. I think he wanted me for himself. I think he was a fag.
BEN: He was a fag. We were lovers all last year. Oh. I'm so upset.
ROB: This is so dumb. Oh, god. Help! My head's on fire!
INT: Mmhmm. The theme of homosexual love is another one that continually reappears with you three....
BEN: That's because our minds are as one.
JHN: Also our bodies are joined together on the astral plane.
INT: I suspected as much. So, John, you had sex with Adam's girlfriend? Actually, Freud would suggest that this indicates you did want to have sex with Adam.
JHN: Not as much as I want to have sex with you.
INT: I believe that's out of the question. That would be entirely inappropriate and unprofessional, and furthermore, I would rather die.
JHN: You might. But that's OK. There are plenty of good and easy pickin's out there just waiting for a guy like me.
INT: Is that right?
JHN: Sure. If I'm in the mood I can get four or five on an average weekend. It does take a little persuasion. But they all come around in the end. You'll see. You want me, too, I can tell.
INT: John. You're not me. You don't know me, you don't know what I want. I, on the other hand, do know you. Probably better than you know yourself. I think your behavior is reprehensible and, over the long term, can bring you to nothing but harm. In addition, you seem to be causing inordinate pain and suffering to those around you. I recommend that you change your ways while you still have time.
JHN: You mean you think I should get a vasectomy?
INT: I think that's an excellent start. But it might be a bit concrete. Why don't you begin by recognizing that you, and others around you, have feelings and emotions, and that those feelings and emotions matter. That humankind is a community. Everything you do affects everyone, and you in turn are affected by everyone else.
BEN: Yeah, John. You ass.
JHN: Can't I merely pretend that I care?
INT: Why are you so afraid of your feelings?
JHN: I'm not afraid of feeling. I like to feel lots of things. I don't understand why you think I'm afraid of my feelings, when you apparently know all about how much I felt Kathy. And how much she enjoys it when I feel her. She told me she told you all about it. All about how I laid her down behind the bar and did it to her all night long.
INT: You sound to me like you're overcompensating a little. Actually, my discussion with Kathy, unlike this one, was focused not on Kathy but on Adam. Kathy, unlike you boys, is able to concentrate on the matter at hand and respond appropriately.
JHN: I'll bet you a million dollars that she told you about the time when we had sex upside down on her front steps and her parents came home in the middle but she wouldn't let me stop. Her parents pretended not to notice and walked around to the back door to avoid a confrontation.
INT: Yes, what a stud animal you are, John, I'm so impressed. It seems to work just fine, doesn't it, your ability to drown your emotions in empty sexual encounters. But I think you use sex in the same way that Ben uses sarcasm and Rob uses absurdity; as a way of hiding from yourself and others.
BEN: I've had enough monologue. Let's put an end to this charade [walks out].
JHN: But Kathy's moving to Florida, so I have to find a new squeeze. Do you know Angela Nenslo?
INT: No, I don't think so.
JHN: She has great tits, just great tits. Plus she's quiet. Those quiet ones are the best. You get 'em going and they moan and cry... All that repressed energy just bursts right out. It's great. Especially if you tie them down. They don't feel like they have to control themselves at all, they just let go and wail. It's amazing....
ROB: I have to go to the bathroom. [stands up, crouching slightly, and hastily shoves his hands in his pockets]
INT: Of course, Rob, go ahead. [Rob leaves. Long pause]
INT: Well, John, now that we're alone, there is something in particular that I wanted to discuss with you. I understand that your father is ill....
JHN: Lots of people are ill.
INT: But only one of them is your father.
JHN: Then if this is your new topic, we should probably focus on the majority, since the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. As you've pointed out.
INT: My current concern is with you, John, and with the way that you're dealing, or not dealing, with your father's serious illness.
JHN: My current concern is with the majority. If you'd like to discuss that, I guess I'd rather be here than wasting my time in Gym.
INT: All right. Many people, then, are ill. Some of them don't get better.
JHN: Some die of old age.
INT: Or of their illnesses.
JHN: "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like a shock of corn cometh in his season."
INT: I beg your pardon?
JHN: Job 5:26. Job was a good man. God just decided to beat the shit out of him....
INT: I didn't know you were a religious person.
JHN: I'm religiously unreligious.
INT: I see. Does that help you deal with difficult situations?
JHN: It helps me avoid becoming a dork.
INT: Did you think Adam was a dork? I.... er... nevermind.
JHN: He was in a church youth group, and seemed to have a good time, from what little I knew about Adam. So he must've been a dork. People who need groups like that to make themselves happy, to cope, are always dorks.
INT: But Ben and Rob and even Bill are also in the youth group. Are they dorks, too, then?
INT: OK. So Adam was a dork?
JHN: And a fag. But who cares. He's dead. Let's talk about people who are alive. They're so much more interesting.
INT: Your dad, for example.
JHN: Or how about your mom?
INT: As it happens, my mom is no longer alive.
JHN: Well, then, I guess we don't have anything to talk about. Even Gym is better than this. [leaves, and leaves the door open as well]