A therapist talks to a boy accused of a heinous crime who makes an unusual claim.
The boy sitting across from me was clearly unhappy to be here; not once in the half hour since I'd entered the room did he raise his eyes off the floor. He didn't appear to me to be the monster that the news media was currently portraying him to be. Instead, what I saw was a scared fourteen year-old kid barely able to grasp the magnitude of what he'd done. His right foot twitched nervously as he sat with his hands tightly clasped in his lap.
I tapped my pencil against the green notebook in my hand and cleared my throat. He barely glanced my way, but said something too quietly for me to make out.
"What was that, Jacoby?" I asked.
"I said, 'Aren't you gonna ask why I did it?'" he said, still barely audible.
"That's not why I'm here." I answered.
He tilted his head toward me and looked at me through his long bangs. "Then why are you here?"
"My job is to try and figure out your state of mind; both now and when the 'incident' happened."
"But you haven't asked me anything yet. You've just been sitting here looking at me like that pedo next door does." His tone wasn't accusatory - he simply stated it as fact.
I raised my eyebrow and said, "I've been observing you. Your behavior. Waiting to see if you'd say anything."
"I guess you're a good shrink then cause you got me to say something first." he said with a shrug.
"Are we competing against each other?" I asked.
He didn't reply, he just stared at the floor while fiddling with his fingers. After a few minutes he raised his head and locked his eyes onto mine. "What if I told you I'm indestructible?"
"You mean no one can hurt you emotionally," I clarified for him.
He rolled his eyes. "No. I mean I'm indestructible. Like Superman. Except I can feel pain."
Now we were getting somewhere. I opened my notebook. "Tell me more," I said.
Fourteen Years Ago
"Will you shut that damn baby up?" Mike shouted from the living room. "I can't hear the game over that shrieking!"
Sara cradled Jacoby in her arms and rocked him gently. "Shhh, Coby, shhh. Let Daddy watch the game in peace please." Jacoby kept screaming as he'd been doing for nearly an hour. Sara glanced at the door behind her but it stayed shut. "What's the matter Coby? Why are you crying?"
Coby didn't answer; his face was nearly purple from crying so loudly. Sara desperately tried to calm the two month-old down; she'd tried feeding him, checked his diaper, rocked him, burped him, did everything she could possibly think of but he refused to quiet down.
The door slammed open, startling Sara. "I TOLD YOU TO SHUT HIM UP!" Mike's face was a gelatinous mass of drunken fury as he reached out and took Coby from Sara.
"NO MIKE!" She reached for their son, but Mike shoved her onto the floor and shook Coby violently.
"SHUT! THE! FUCK! UP!" He screamed into the baby's face.
"MIKE! PLEASE!" Sara sobbed as she pulled herself up from the floor and reached for Coby. Blood spurted as Mike slapped her across the face and split her lip open.
Fully enraged, Mike threw Coby into his crib. Sara cringed as she saw Coby's face slam into the wooden headboard of the crib. Mike stormed out of the room. "You'd better shut that piece of shit up before I shut him up myself!" he said menacingly, slamming the door behind him.
Coby shrieked louder than Sara thought possible for such a tiny infant. She gently picked him up and cradled him in her arms. Stroking the screaming child's head, she examined him for injuries and was surprised she couldn't find any. He appeared untouched.
"You can't possibly remember that," I said.
Jacoby rolled his eyes. "Of course I don't. My mom told me about it when I asked her why he hit me all the time."
The abuse claim again. I'd read his files before taking the case. Apparently the family had been investigated several times by Child Protective Services but they could never find anything to substantiate the allegations of abuse. Doctors who examined Jacoby found no evidence of abuse. No bruises, no broken bones, no trauma. Nothing.
"So he hits you because you interrupted his game when you were a baby."
"He hits me because he's afraid of me," he said.
"But there's no evidence that he's ever laid a finger on you," I said before I could stop myself. That was a mistake.
"So you don't believe me either." A simple statement of fact. He sat back in the chair and crossed his arms over his chest.
"I didn't say that. I read your files and the authorities never found any evidence that he hits you."
"That's because I'm indestructible."
That again. An interesting claim. I figured I should probe further into it.
"So when he hits you he can't hurt you, is what I'm hearing. If he can't hurt you then there really isn't any reason to tell your teachers he's abusing you, right? If he can't hurt you that is," I said, deliberately provoking him.
Jacoby glared at me. "You don't know how to fucking listen. I said I'm indestructible. I didn't say he can't hurt me. He hurts me every day. He hurts me bad."
"I can imagine. You're angry because he hits you even though you can't get hurt. You're angry because you know that your father shouldn't be hitting you like that. You're angry because there's never any evidence of it so nobody believes you. That's how he hurts an indestructible boy."
"You really don't fucking listen. It hurts when he hits me."
Six Years Ago
"JACOBY SHIT-STAIN MEYERS! GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE!" Mike bellowed down the hall.
In his room, eight year-old Coby cringed in fear. He wanted to hide in his closet but he knew that the consequences of that would be severe. Better to face his father now and hope the beating wouldn't be that bad. He crept out of his room and timidly inched his way toward Mike.
"Y-yes daddy?" he asked.
His father didn't say a word to him. His face, beet-red with fury, glared at the boy. Mike pointed at the floor; Coby's eyes slowly followed suit and opened wide with fear.
"I-I didn't leave that there!" he bawled. "Please daddy! Believe me! I didn't leave that there!"
Mike reached down and lifted Coby off the floor by his hair. Coby screamed in pain and clutched at his father's hand, desperately trying to free himself. "I fuckin' spend all day at work tryin' to make enough money to feed your worthless little ass. Then I come home, kick off my shoes, and what fuckin' happens then? I GODDAMN STEP ON ONE OF YOUR FUCKING MATCHBOX CARS! I fuckin' TOLD your ass to keep your toys in your goddamn room where they FUCKIN' BELONG!" He shook Coby violently by the hair each time he raised his voice.
Coby sobbed, "P-PLEASE DADDY! IT WASN'T MEEE!!"
Mike dropped Coby to the floor where he crumpled in a heap, holding his head in pain. "Then who the fuck was it?" he asked menacingly.
Coby, tears streaming from his eyes, looked up and choked out a reply: "I-I dunno."
"THEN IT WAS FUCKIN' YOU, YOU WORTHLESS SON OF A WHORE!" Mike grabbed Coby's arm and jerked him to his feet. "Do you know how much it hurts to step on one of those goddamned cars with bare feet? I'm gonna fuckin' break your arm! See how you like it!"
Mike twisted Coby's arm around the boy's back and jerked it upward as the boy shrieked in agony. He pulled it up as far as physically possible then twisted it around, determined to dislocate it.
"DADDY! STOP!" Coby screamed. Mike didn't stop. Instead he pushed his son to the floor, and stepped on the boy's back as he pulled the arm upward violently, continuing to twist it back and forth until Coby mercifully passed out from the pain.
"My arm was sore for a week after that," Jacoby said as he finished his tale.
"Just sore? Not broken?"
"Nope. Just sore. I've never had a broken bone. I've never even had a bruise."
"Not even a bruise? I find that hard to believe," I said skeptically. That's when he did something astounding.
Without a word, Jacoby leaned forward and set his hand on the table with his fingers splayed. Staring right at me, he grabbed his index finger and jerked it backward until it was flat against the back of his hand. His jaw clenched and tears streamed down his face as the pain coursed through his arm. Then he twisted his finger around the back of his hand in an impossible circle. I heard his joints popping as he did this, but the sound of snapping bone never appeared. After half a minute of this, he released his finger and it slowly curled itself back into its proper position. He then used it to scratch his face, showing me that it still worked.
I stared, transfixed at what he'd just shown me. "You're double jointed," I concluded.
"Nope. I'm indestructible."