The repair man.
He repaired people. He used a little bit of human insight but mostly patience and kindness. He was good at it, so all the bad cases nobody wanted to touch or didn’t quite know how to handle, were referred to him in the end and he patched them up. Mostly, he got the ugly sex crime cases; the wham bam sex attacks, the abused children, the incest survivors and the male rapes. He listened to them and let them talk and as they gradually knew he was listening to them, they relaxed and talked even more.
He loved them, even the ones he didn’t particularly like, and they sensed that. Eventually, after enough sessions, they’d run down and it would be his turn to talk to them.
He’d tell them it was okay. It wasn’t some sort of punishment for something they’d done or someone they were, it was just the breaks. It wasn’t your fault. You were just a kid, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or they were just the wrong family or the thing just happened. What’s important is getting on with the rest of your life. Don’t let them take that from you too.
He started rebuilding them. It was okay to get fucked over but today was the first day of a new start. Trust me, it can be done. That was the thing, they did trust him and believed him when he said there was a way out and so gradually, they began to rebuild their lives. It was a slow process that was going to take them years but they were now back on the path to some sort of decent life with a chance of happiness.
The more they grew to trust him, they more detail they gave him. People who’ve been deeply hurt, always remember the tiny details. Those bastards are chiselled in the immutable granite of their memories forever. He listened through the horror with them and it hurt him more than he ever showed them. Sometimes, it seemed to him, there were two species of humanity on the Earth. There were human beings and something else, a few animals who just happened to look like human beings.
They talked and he listened and it brought back his own memories of abuse as a child.
It had all ended one morning as he ate his corn flakes silently at the kitchen table after a bad night. For the first time, he noticed his mother wouldn’t meet his eyes. He saw it then. The last childhood illusion of innocence was shattered; she’d known all along what was going on and she hadn’t helped him. He left that day for school but it was really for a life on the streets and he never came back to that house nor ever met either of them again.
After a few months of living rough, two kind souls found him half-starved and took him in and raised him as their own without a single legal paper; they just simply lied to anyone who asked about him. They got him back on an even keel and he grew up with what he still thought of as his real family. He still carried their name to this day, because in all the ways that mattered, they were his real parents.
He’d get home and his wife would spot him coming through the door and know straight away it’d been a bad day at the office. It was him but it was just a body walking through the door; the head was somewhere else. The kids would be fed and off to bed early and he’d have been on automatic pilot the whole evening. Over dinner, he’d ask about their day and listen to them attentively and smile but she could tell he was just going through the motions. She’d do the bedtime story those nights.
They’d both go to bed and he’d lie flat on his back like a slab of dead unresponsive meat, eyes wide open looking at nothing in the darkness and she’d cuddle up to him to break him out of whatever horror he was staring at that was on the ceiling, forcefully turning his face towards her with her hand and kiss him; it was okay. It’ll all be okay my darling, okay? You’re home. You’re here. Come back to us.
She always got him out of it, unbent and retrieved him from those images and got him home and he’d finally relax. They’d cuddle up warm and fall asleep together, entwined in each other’s arms. The lovers, their arms round the griefs of the ages.
He’d wake up in the morning and begin to quietly apologise and she’d tell him it was okay. She knew he was a good man. A long time ago, she’d asked him to talk to her, to share what was happening with his patients and he did it for a while because he realised it was important to her that they shared everything in their lives. He realised, long before she did, that it was too hard on her but wisely didn’t stop telling her stuff until she finally intimated to him not to tell her any more. It was better for both of them that way. All the horror stopped at the doorstep of their home and when he occasionally trailed some stuff back, she’d fix it.
He knew that he helped people; that he made a difference but he’d long ago seen a pattern. All he did was mitigate the wreckage of someone else’s life and it wasn’t the victim’s; it was the abuser’s. When you looked at the abuser’s file, his patient was just their latest victim and he knew there were almost certainly others who were never recorded and there were just as certainly going to be more. He was treating symptoms, not causes.
The pattern also showed the successive increase in the magnitude of abuse; they need to work harder and harder to get the same buzz until it sometimes ended in a killing. That had happened once on a case he’d been consulted on and he blamed himself, because he’d seen it coming, though the legal system and gullible good intentions had overruled his recommendation that the person should remain confined indefinitely. All they had to do was behave well, pretend to be responding to treatment and they’d be freed after a few years. His instinct told him that some of them were simply biding their time. They let them out and they eventually harmed or killed someone. After one particularly bad incident, he made his mind up; he would stop the next one himself.
He murdered them.
It was so easy. All it took was a quick jab from behind with a disposable syringe containing a cocktail of drugs. His subject was a heavy drug user and the police, well aware of his history, really didn’t look too hard into his death; good riddance seemed to be their attitude. There was no hue and cry, no massive manhunt, no clever detective dancing around an unsolved murder. The complete lack of guilt and the ease with which he’d got away with it, built up and bothered him to the point where he nearly had a breakdown himself.
He was in the middle of treating a particularly difficult patient, who’d been the victim of savage abuse as a child, when to his horror, he realised he was beginning to confide in them exactly what he’d done. He ended the session immediately but when his patient turned up for the next one, they’d obviously worked out what he’d done and had been thinking about it.
‘Did it feel good?’ they asked him.
‘Yes’ he replied, without thinking about it but finally acknowledging that simple fact. He’d never felt so unburdened in his whole life.
‘Good’ replied his patient, ‘I want to do the next one.’
He though about it. A radically simple idea. Why not?
It became a whole new therapy and the results were spectacularly good. Catharsis. The victims were finally having their moment of payback on their abusers and it liberated them, taking years off their time in therapy. When you balanced out the morality of the thing, it made a simple biblical sense. The abuser was stopped from ruining so many other lives in the future and their killer got their own life back.
When a patient, whom he thought would benefit, ended up in his therapy, he’d supply a name and the means. There was never any connection between the two people, which he knew made it a difficult crime to solve and anyway, he never kept any records of such patients.
He knew that one day, one of them would be caught and the trail would eventually lead back to him. It was just a matter of time but the greater good would have been served.