(?) IV ACT IV SCENE IV
Two warders brought him to the governor’s office and stood one at each side of him in front of the broad desk. The governor made a sign and the prison officers left silently without a backward glance at the seventeen year old who stared insolently at the two men.
“This is the one doctor. A bad case if ever I saw one. Record from the age of seven. Shop breaking, larceny, robbery with violence, an old lady of eighty, attempted criminal assault, at fourteen mind you, graduating to abduction and rape at seventeen”.
The boy sniggered and the governor broke of and snapped “Silence”. The calm grey eyes of the doctor fixed themselves on the truculent face of ‘Johnny O’ and without relaxing his gaze, spoke to the official
“And I can have him?”
“Certainly, and good riddance, I hate littering a perfectly good gaol with kids. The judge ordered prison, this one fancies himself too tough for a reform school. Still he did specify psychiatric treatment where possible; and that’s where you come in. It’s most unusual, though, to release a prisoner in charge of a civilian. Still my instructions were explicit.” he turned to the prisoner. “You, Smith are being given into the custody of Doctor Lizard here, you will go where he takes you, but remember, you are just as much in prison as if you were here, and attempt at escape with meet with the full penalties, that’s all, you will find your civilian clothes in that from there, change and be ready to leave in ten minutes.
The car moved swiftly along the country road. The boy was the first to speak.
“Where are ya takin me. I don’t need no treatment, I ain’t a flaming ratbag”. He looked very young and wan, his pale prison face contrasting strangely with his bright bodgie clothing.
“Would you prefer I took you back to the goal”.
The boy was silent.
“Not for now” said the doctor and spun the car into a bush track. The house, when they reached it was brick built and solid.
“Get out Johnny, and I’ll show you your new home.
The doctor took his arm in a friendly fashion, the boy instinctively tried to shake loose, the grip tightened like steel.
“Gently, Johnny, Gently, you’re going to be my guest for quite a time. You may as well make the best of it. Come on and I’ll show you your room.”
Apart from the bars on the window and the strength of the door and its lock, it was a very pleasant room, gaily decorated, the neat single bed covered with a bright bed spread.
“Make yourself at home, son, I’ll bring you in a meal when I’ve rustled something up. You’ll find the usual conveniences behind that curtain, we’re real modern here, no trips down the garden. In fact this room was built for you, or fellows like you, you’re its first guest. So look after it!”
So look after it! The scene that met the doctor’s eyes next morning was one of utter destruction. The curtains were torn down, the yellow walls were smeared with filth, the crockery from the evening meal lay shattered on the floor. Johnny looked sullenly at the floor and waited for the outburst. None came. After a few minutes silence he looked defiantly into the patient grey eyes and snarled.
“I never asked to come here did I, I’m not mad, I don’t need any stinkin doctor.”
The Doctor said nothing.
“Bloody lizard” mumbled the boy.
“The name was a disadvantage at school but it taught me one thing” said Lizard. “How to fight, now that’s an idea. You like smashing things, how about smashing me? Come on, they tell me you’re a great one for fighting Old Ladies. Are you scared?” he asked as the boy’s eyes flickered from place to place seeking some escape. “Come on Johnny, I’ll lend you a cosh if you like, or a knife, how about a nice Knife. Come on Chicken, fight your way out.”
The boy, goaded beyond endurance, hurled himself at the man. Without appearing to more, or even to resist the rush the doctor hurled him to the ground.
“Get up Johnny”, he ordered, “Maybe I was lucky that time, Maybe you’re a bit out of practice.
The boy rose slowly to his feet. Without appearing to look at Lizard he mumbled something and without warning lashed out with his knee at the doctor’s groin. The man swayed slightly to one side cupping Johnny’s knee in his left hand, then almost languidly he kicked his other leg from under him. Johnny crashed to the floor once again.
“You’ll have to do better than that, lad. We’ve heard of that one”. Taking a leather bound cosh from his pocket, he threw it to the boy as he lay on the floor. He was on his feet in an instant. His confidence restored by the wicked weight in this hand, he took a vicious swipe at Lizard’s head. This time he remained on his feet, but the paralyzing lock on his arm caused him to cry out.
“Better drop it, boy, or I’ll break your arm! Not that it with matter much. I’m a fully qualified doctor and I’ll set it for you. All paid for by the state, it will be as good as new in a few weeks”.
Weeping with rage and pain, the boy did as he was told.
“That’s better Johnny, Now about this mess, I think it would be a good idea if you did a little tidying up. Of course, it means you will have to do without the refinements of civilized life for a while. No Curtains. Meals from a plastic dish” and with a glance at the bed, “no pyjamas and torn blankets. You may as well use what is left of the pyjamas to swab down the walls. The place will stink otherwise, and you’ve got to live in it, not me. I’ll come back in two hours, and I expect to find a great improvement.”
On his return, a clumsy attempt had been made to tidy the room. The doctor noted it but refrained from commenting.
“Before we have lunch. I will outline your treatment. Come with me now and I’ll show you my surgery – well workshop to you. You’ll spend a far part of each day there, so you may as well see it now – Come on” and the doctor turned his back and walked through the open door. In a bound, the boy was upon him, right hand clutching a jagged piece of drinking glass, left arm wrapping round the doctor’s neck from behind. The latter was his mistake. Grasping the convenient arm, the doctor bent forward, throwing Johnny heavily over his shoulder and stamping firmly on the hand holding the glass.
“Really this won’t do. I might injure you one of these times. Our friends in the gaol lent me a pair of these” he said, pulling a pair of handcuffs from his pocket “ I don’t want to use them. Do you think we can do without them?”
The boy, shaken, nodded.
“Well come on then we have wasted enough time as it is” Once again he turned his back and this time the boy followed quietly.
He led the way into a comfortable room. There were dark panelled walls, deep inviting armchairs, a psychiatrist’s couch and a small but business like desk.
“Rest your aching bones on that couch and tell me about yourself”. Johnny lay down and yawned ostentatiously. After half an hour of silence, the psychiatrist sighed and said “Perhaps this bores you. I feared as much! Let’s do something more interesting.
Quicker than a vice squad policeman, he handcuffed the boy and bundled him into the next room. It was very impressive, it was designed to be. Pride of place was taken by an enormous chair from which ran heavy wires. Banks of dials were placed behind the head, invisible to anyone sitting in it, but by no means invisible to Johnny as Lizard thrust him through the door facing it. Portable arc lights stood in the middle of the room. An operating table and a trolly of surgical instruments gleamed with shining efficiency. With a quick thrust Lizard forced Johnny into the chair and strapped him in with broad bands of leather.
Johnny cried out in fear. “What are you doing to me. I ain’t done you no harm. I’ll have the law on you”.
Lizard looked at him calmly. “I am the law, he said “And, you have done a lot of harm to society – I am Society”.
What are you going to do?” The boy’s eyes filled with terror. “Do? Why I am going to kill you!”
“NO!” Johnny Screamed “NO! NO!”
“But Yes Johnny. You are an experiment. Don’t get the whole idea, I’m not a mad scientist, the sort that you read about in your horror comics – you do read horror comics I suppose. But I’m going to kill the Johnny that’s sitting in that chair. The “Johnny O” that this morning has twice tried to kill me! I’m going to take the Johnny that attacked the old lady, the Johnny that brutally raped that young schoolgirl – I am going to smash him into little pieces. I have got a free hand from the government to try the “Newest Psychiatric Techniques” and that means just about anything I can think up. The country has got tired of young thugs like you, they are going to lick this menace if it kills them – and if it kills you too Johnny.
Now stop that screaming and listen. You have one hope – I thought that would stop you – Your hope is this. I am going to kill the old “Johnny O” – Now don’t start again – I am going to kill him and make another John – out of the pieces. It’s not going to be easy it may not be too bad if you cooperate – I don’t know. You are an experiment – a first experiment and I hope for your sake we are going to make a success of it. Now shift or I’ll gag you!
Now the first thing we must do is to show you to yourself. God knows what strange exalted views you have of your own importance. Most low minded little criminals like you are able to rationalize their behaviour. That technical talk Johnny, it means that though you can’t kid me, you’re pretty good at kidding yourself. Come on – let’s have your story! Tell me how misunderstood you are, what bad luck you had”.
The boy remained silent. “I’m waiting Johnny, Tell me about the old lady. No? Well let’s refresh your memory!”
He walked quickly over to the window and pulled down the blind, Johnny heard him fumbling with some equipment behind his head. A slide projector shone its bright square on to the white wall in front of him.
“These are the police photographs” Lizard said conversationally. “They were black and white of course, but I tinted them myself, The blood looks really authentic, but then it should, its real blood, you should know, you got it all over your smart bodgie suit. That’s how they picked you up.
While he was speaking, the blank square become a picture, Johnny swallowed and attempted to turn his head, a grip of iron on his neck kept him looking at the screen.
“Tell me about it Johnny, tell me about it, how much did you hope to get. You got a paltry ten bob, all that suffering for ten bob”.
“I didn’t mean to” mumbled the boy “She should’ve given it to me when I asked, she shouldn’t have shouted”.
“Why should she, Johnny, you don’t’ have to live on a pension. It was her ten bob. Why Johnny O”, why shouldn’t she have shouted, because you were stronger. Wasn’t it WRONG Johnny. Don’t you know it was wrong?”
The boy shut his eyes and didn’t answer.
“Well let’s have a change, I’m not going to pander to your diseased little mind by showing you any pictures of Jeannie. You remember Jeannie, or maybe you weren’t introduced formally that night when you jumped her in the lane. No, no pictures, but she screamed, didn’t she, she screamed even with your hand over her mouth. She screamed until that patrol man pulled you off her. People complain about police brutality, but if I had been that patrolman you would be limping still. Unfortunately you didn’t warm us so that we could record those screams but I’m sure if you think back you will remember them. Maybe you even enjoyed them. Well enjoy this”. He switched on a tape recorder. The scream made even the doctor catch his breath, and he was expecting it, its effect on Johnny was still more pronounced. It was followed by bitter sobbing for about thirty seconds and then it came again. During the next spell of sobbing, the doctor said: “Of course we had to get an actress to supply the scream for us. Jeannie was probably too terrified to put on as good a show. I hope you appreciate the trouble we have taken – listen – here she is again – -!”
Marvellous instruments, these tape recorders. This screaming is on an endless tape, it will go on and on. Just think back Johnny, wouldn’t you scream if you were a schoolgirl and some great hulking youth dragged you to the ground and – well you know what you did better than I, you were there – ah here she is once more –
“Stop it!, turn, it off!”
“Not just yet, I think I’ll just leave you with it for a while, I’ll go and get some food ready, you must be hungry after all your exercise this morning – excuse me.” [INSERT ONE] – presumed missing item here? ………..
………..Johnny appeared to be unconscious except that no one in that state ever had the tension portrayed by the tightly closed eyes and taut muscles of the boy in the chair. As the doctor looked, the scream sounded yet again and Johnny covered even further. Quickly the doctor switched off the machine. The tightly closed lids opened and the swollen eyes fixed themselves on Lizard.
“Are those tears for Jeannie” asked the doctor, “or yourself!”
“Why are you torturing me like this? I never done YOU no harm”
“You have done a lot of people harm, just say that I’m on their side”.
“You’re as bad as me, torturing a bloke, You’re worse, doing it cold blooded!”
“So you admit that you ARE bad. That’s what I wanted to get across to you. Is the lesson learned. Yesterday you laughed when the Governor mentioned rape. Do you feel like laughing now. If so, just laugh – those screams on the tape can go on for days – and nights. There’s an extension speaker in your room Johnny. I can switch this tape through to your room and then go to bed – and to sleep. How much sleep would you get Johnny”.
“No! please! please! I’ve had enough damn you. I did wrong I’m sorry, I’ll say I’m bad, I’ll say I’m wicked, I’ll say anything but please don’t start that thing again, and switch off that blasted picture of the old girl” his voice broke and he started to sob.
“Very well Johnny” said the doctor, his voice strangely gentle
“Let’s help you down from the chair, that’s right. Now come and have some lunch.” [INSERT TWO] – presumed missing item here? ………..
………..They were seated once more in the panelled room, the doctor in one arm chair, Johnny in the other.
“Here, smoke” said the doctor, and threw a packet of a cigarettes and some matches. The boy lit up eagerly and took a long draws. He coughed, “It’s been a long time. Cigarettes are hard to come by in goal!”
Let’s have a little chat Johnny” he raised his hand “No, wait. Firstly you thought you were tough. Now I’ve got to show you, if I haven’t already, that I can be every bit as tough, and if needs be, a damn sight tougher. You accused me this morning of being a sadist, a man that enjoys inflicting pain. If that was true, you’d be right, I would be as bad as you were, I’d be worse because I’d be going against the principles of my profession. I don’t believe it is true. I didn’t enjoy this morning any more than you did.
Remember, I asked you to lay down on that couch and tell me about yourself, you thought it was all a joke and I had to use shock tactics. Believe me Johnny, it wasn’t pleasant but I’d do it again and worse if necessary. Now be a good lad and Get on that couch again, keep your cigarette.
Johnny rose and crossed to the couch, half forgotten prison lore coming back into his memory. Blame it on your home life, they love that, and don’t forget that bit about your old man coming home drunk and shuttin’ you in a cupboard when you was two. We’ll see whose clever, he thought.
“What do you want to know” he asked.
“Start where you like” said Lizard “Anything that comes into your head.
Johnny had been talking for several minutes. The doctor put down the pad on which he had been taking notes.
“Liar!” he said
Johnny broke off, confused.
“Into the other room!” said the doctor quietly I’ll show you how I deal with liars”.
“NO! Don’t!” Johnny cried out.
“In – or I’ll throw you in!”
“Now get into that chair’ “Not again, I can’t stand that screaming again, I’ll tell the truth, honest I will!”
“You certainly will, if I have to fill you full of scopalarine or pentathol, but first we’ll try this chair. You’ve heard of lie detectors, well this is one, you’ll give me the right answers this time or this meter with chalk up your lies, and for each lie I think up a punishment.”
“How did you know doc? The boys said that you fellows went for that tough childhood stuff.”
“I thought as much” said the doctor, smiling despite himself. “It’s this way Johnny, there must be a limit to the number of people in that prison who were shut up in cupboards by drunken fathers. It was old Fingers Bitlings, wasn’t it?” the boy nodded. “He’s told that tale to every psychiatrist in the state, and what’s more, so have one hunched and thirty five others. You were the hundred and thirty sixth. Besides which I have met your parents. Your dad’s a meek little bloke who wouldn’t touch beer if he was dying of thirst. The trouble may be in your childhood but let’s just play it straight. Alright?”