The quiet room


  • Author Don Robbins
  • Published June 9, 2021
  • Word count 845

Doc was an adventurous kid. He was mischievous and he liked the girls. The staff at the children’s home where he was a resident did not care for his midnight creeps over to the building where the girls lived. He was living at the children’s home because he left home at 13 due to physical, emotional, and psychological abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care about him. I imagine every kid has their breaking point. Doc worked down in the barn and the pasture taking care of the horses and cows. Taking care of horses and cows is not an easy job. To do it right requires hard work and you must like animals. If you do not like getting woke up at 3 am and going out in the pasture during a winter storm to gather all the animals and take them to the barn, then you certainly would not be fond of this type of work. His counselor assigned him that job to keep him out of trouble. On more than a few occasions, his friend Mary would sneak down to spend some time with him. Other times he would sneak over to meet Dru under the kitchen porch. He got away with it most of the time, but he did get caught once in a while.

The punishment for breaking the rules was getting thrown into the quiet room. The quiet room was just that, a dirty room with a dirty mattress on the floor. There were two rooms. None had a toilet and only one had a window. Doc always got put in the one without windows. Somehow the staff thought being in a room with no windows would break him down. It did not affect him. He spent more time locked up there than any other kid in the two years he spent there.

Most kids walked the straight and narrow because they were terrified of being put into a room with nothing in it, not even a book. It was not uncommon to hear kids screaming to get out. It was not the case with Doc. Being locked up in a room all alone did not bother him at one bit. Doc was one of those kids who lived in his head and needed no company but his own. Time flies when one lives inside their head. You can visit a thousand places, have great adventures, and analyze why people do the things they do to you.

When staff would bring his meals and let him out for the bathroom, they expected to hear him ask to be let out and promise that he would stay out of trouble. He never said a word. He was locked up dozens of times. Not only that, but he never once asked to be let out. It was due to him living in his head.

I think it would be fair to say that a good portion of it came from the mistreatment at the hands of his family. He could never figure out why they singled him out and treated him so badly. He was equally puzzled why his Dad or brother did nothing to stop it. That hurt, that arrow through the heart would not let him be broken. In adulthood, people would say that he was cold-blooded. There may be some truth to that.

The staff thought something was wrong with Doc. They did not believe it was normal for a kid not to be bothered by being locked in a room for days and weeks at a time. They took Doc to a mental hospital for kids for an evaluation. The first thing the doctors did was to put Doc in a courtyard with other kids. They wanted to see how he got along with others. That exercise did not go well. Doc did not play well with others. He had to leave home. He lived on the street, became a criminal to survive, spent over a year locked up in juvenile detention and was a loner. So making new friends was not something he was willing to do.

They took him to a room where they showed him photos of people and asked him to describe what he saw. It was the same thing with inkblots. The answers he gave raised some eyebrows. The final thing he had to do was talk to a shrink. The doctor asked the usual questions. However, he was not expecting the answers Doc gave. They were not wrong answers. Doc just had a different perspective on things. The doctors took Doc’s counselor into a room to discuss the results of the evaluation. Then they headed back to the children’s home.

On the drive back, the counselor told Doc that the doctors at the hospital advised him that there was nothing wrong with him. However, they did mention that he was enigmatic and had a vivid imagination. Doc had no idea what that meant. He did not care. He was thinking about his next midnight creep.

Don Robbins lives in Ewa Beach Hawaii where he tends to his garden and takes care of his dogs.

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