Part II: The Girl
Part III: The Father
Part IV: Back at the Office
Part V: Interlude
I had always made it a point to use my drive home from work as a way of leaving work at work. I'd crank the radio and sing away while swearing at the other drivers to release any residual tension and stress of the day. But not that night. My head was reeling, not from what happened with Becky, but the response from the people back at the office. The Sheriff's had the guns, so what danger could I be in now?
As soon as I could shake off thinking about that, my thoughts returned to Becky. She appeared to be quite the freak of nature, and that had to be tough for any kid, even with the best of a home life. But, take the very large size and unattractive features coupled with extremely bad living situation, and there's no telling when or where her developmental train derailed. Besides home life, there's always peer influences shaping the personality and sense of self, but I had no idea yet how that might be going for her.
By the time I turned in my driveway, I had concluded that, for now at least, Becky was in a safe place, a place that would assess her mental status, and she was out of her father's reach. I slept like a rock that night.
In the morning, again using the drive to work to leave home at home and plan out my course of action, I decided that I would explore more of Becky's current life, find out why she was with her father, get with her mother, and visit with Becky at the MH home. I had also decided that the way to interact with Becky was by using a person-centered approach; meaning I would let her talk and reflect my understanding of what she said back without leading her in any way. I had to build and solidify her trust in me in order to help her.
When I got to the office, I called over to the MH home to announce that I was coming right over to visit with Becky. I was a bit puzzled when I got "Oh, good!" as a response. So, I headed out. It took about 20 minutes to drive there, and I was pleased to find it a very large and pleasant house in a good neighborhood, not a half block from a park.
One of the workers answered the door when I knocked, and another joined us as soon as I came in. The only thing I did was introduce myself, and the two women started filling me in.
Becky was brought there by the Sheriff as planned, and as soon as the officer left, she became defiant and unmanageable. She refused to bathe and change her clothes and she stunk to high heaven. She ate a huge meal one of the workers prepared for her specially since the usual meal had already been served. After she ate, they tried again to get her to shower and change, but she refused, this time slamming her hand down and using threatening body postures. Because she stank so bad, they would not let her sleep in a bed in a room shared with another kid, so they set her up with blankets and pillows to sleep on the couch in the living room.
When I had called, she was just finishing breakfast. By the time I got there, she was gone. Her father had come to pick her up, and since it was a non secure facility and Becky was once again using threatening postures, they let her go. The workers had called my office, but I had already left.
When I got back to the office, my supervisor had tracked down Becky's mother, and I was to call her at work. Linda was called to the phone and she told me that Becky was back at her place. She gave me the address and agreed to meet with me there when she got home from work.
Though I was not happy about not having a mental health assessment done, at least Becky wouldn't be going back to that horrible, disgusting trailer with that creep of a father. Surely the mother's place had to be better than that. Right?
The address given to me was a two story, two apartment home, rentals, and the building looked decent from the outside. Most of the homes on that particular side of town were built back in 1940s and 50s for the Polish and Italian immigrants, and they were built well. That was back in the days of true plaster walls and ceilings and real hardwood floors and woodworking. I parked in the driveway and walked toward the back of the building to the second floor apartment's entrance.
Sniff. Sniff sniff. Oh no. Again, the ripe and raunchy smell of rot met my nose before I got halfway down the side of the house. Where could it be coming from in town? As soon as I opened the door to the stairway up, that question was answered as the stench hit me in the face hard. A pathway up the center of stairs cut through hundreds of piles of dog shit, garbage, rotting food and spills of all sorts. How in the world could all this be in a stairway?
I knocked on the door at the top of the stairs and opened it when I heard "come in." The door opened to a kitchen, with the stove straight ahead. It used to be white. Now it was covered in grime, piled high with pots and pans still with food, old and rotted, in them. The counter tops were covered, the sink piled halfway up to the ceiling with dirty dishes. On the floor were countless Hefty trash bags overflowing their contents onto the floor. Pizza boxes with one or two shriveled pieces of pizza left in them, plates with goo and silverware stuck to them. It was gross, and it stunk the same as the trailer. A path led through the mess to the next room that looked much the same, only with a couch and a chair in it.
Linda stood at the sink, a woman in her early 40s, long stringy hair, coke-bottle glasses, my height and thin except for a huge set of hips. When she turned to look at me through those glasses, both her of eyes moved rapidly back and forth and never stopped. I don't know what she could see with her eyes flying like that. She never made any excuse for the mess.
Once again, a surprise. Linda was pleasant, spoke well and seemed educated. She told me that she and her husband were separated and she had a job that made enough to pay for rent. She was strongly affiliated with a man called Randall Terry, leader of a militant, violent right-to-life group, that she referred to as family. One of her sons volunteered for a local food bank that sent home food with him that helped out quite a bit. When she talked about Becky, she said the girl had been thrown out of the school and the alternative school for fighting and had given her so many problems at home that she let her go live with her father. Linda thanked me for getting Becky back home with her. She had been in that trailer by herself for three weeks. The father's job was so far away that he only came home one or two nights during the week and weekends. She knew there was no electricity, heat or running water to that trailer.
My hopes for Becky died right then and there. It was going to take a lot of work to straighten this mess out. When I got back to the office, I was greeted with many a wrinkled nose. I stunk. I gave my boss a rundown of what I had found and called it a night.
Well, folks. Reliving this story as I have been to write it, this is where I gave a very heavy sigh, almost of defeat. A few more interesting things happened, and I think I might be able to wrap it up in one more post. Do you think you can handle that? Maybe I should be asking myself if I can handle it!
One more time, to be continued...