Damon Blackley has a new name and a new family, but his nature remains unchanged. Older and more sophisticated, young Micah will gather his flock in Delphi, Texas. Like the Pied Piper, he will lead them into the pages of history.
"He's been here five years." Doctor Juan Garcia sighed leadenly, and removed his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. "He was never convicted of a crime, and he's a juvenile."
"Is he well?" wondered Cassandra Jones, a caseworker for the Dallas County Department of Child Welfare.
Again, Doctor Garcia exhaled ponderously. "Yes… and no."
Ms. Jones pursed her lips. "What does that mean, Doctor?"
"It means, Ms. Jones, that we cannot treat this particular case. He is as well as he will ever be, but he's always going to be sick."
"Why is that?"
"He has many personality disorders, and I believe he is clinically deviant."
"Then keep him until he's twenty one," returned the caseworker flatly. "This is within the parameters of his judgment."
"Yes, well, ah-" squirmed the doctor. "You see, Ms. Jones, we don't want him, any more. It's time that he… move on." The old man's sunken eyes wrinkled painfully. "We can do nothing more for him, here, and he's sleeping in a bed that could better serve another patient. I mentioned all this in my correspondence."
"I read every word of it, doctor, and I reviewed the boy's case file. According to his standardized test scores, particularly the DSM and the PCL-R, the child appears to be perfectly healthy, psychologically speaking."
Doctor Garcia smiled sardonically. It was not a happy expression. Instead, it indicated his patient tolerance of a fool. "An interesting choice of words, Ms. Jones."
"You used the word 'perfectly'. Take another, more cynical look at the scores. You'll find that 'perfect' is the only word to describe them." Doctor Garcia sighed once more, and replaced his glasses atop his nose. Stooped over his large, cluttered desk, the doctor fished out a specific report. "He performs with the control group within standard deviation on the PCL-R, but his clinical assessments are abysmal. Five years of observation have labeled the boy as narcissistic, hostile, anti-social and aggressive. In short, he exists at the center of his own private universe. The rest of us are merely props."
Without pausing to review the doctor's informal assessment, the caseworker rejoined, "I don't understand your dilemma, Doctor Garcia. Our staff weights the standardized test results heavily, and often disregards the clinical assessments, altogether. If you want to be rid of the boy so badly, why don't you just submit his scores to the juvenile offenders' review board, and have the kid released?"
Doctor Garcia dropped his reports, and squirmed unhappily. "I wish the solution were so simple. You see, unlike the patient in this case, we have a conscience, collective and individual. I have discussed it with the staff, and we all agree. Nobody wants the child here, any longer, but, at the same time, none of us want to just release him into the general population."
"You can make recommendations to the review board, regarding his eventual placement."
The old man shook his head, and rubbed his chest delicately, where it covered his limping heart. "Oh, we will, but recommendations just aren't good enough in this case, I'm afraid."
Ms. Jones sighed. "You can't have it both ways, you know. You can't cast the boy aside, and then attempt to determine where he should go."
Grimacing, he replied, "I had hoped to do just that."
"Why release him, at all? If he's such a challenge, why not confine him in isolation, until he's twenty-one?"
"Please!" retorted the doctor, "your proposal is monstrous, Ms. Jones, because that is precisely what it would create within this child – a monster. He's already dangerous. We believe further isolation will only enhance his narcissism and promote his anti-social tendencies. Instead, we recommend that he be immediately re-socialized in a carefully controlled, yet public, context."
Ms. Jones rolled her eyes, and jotted hurried notes into her case file. "For grins and giggles, let's say that you were, hypothetically, capable of discharging the boy this way. What would you recommend?"
Doctor Garcia shuffled up another report from his desk, this one a single page. "First, we believe he may thrive in a small social group, which means he should be placed in a rural setting, a small country town, perhaps."
Ms. Jones raised her pen to interrupt. "Do you have a list there? Can you support your recommendations with specific logic? Thank you."
"We feel that the rural setting is best for two reasons: first, the boundaries of shame and sanction tend to be rather narrow and clearly defined in such closed communities, and, second, we expect the child to act aggressively, at least in the beginning, and a closed setting will more readily expose his future… transgressions."