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Fourth Week with Craig Clevenger

November 29, 2012

I just turned in my final assignment for the class with Craig Clevenger on The assignment was to showcase everything we had learned. This was an amazing class and well worth the $400 price. I went for full blown warped on this entry.

Energy Is Real

“Here you go. One report on one severely fucked up kid.” I lay my documents on John’s desk.

John ignores the report. “I wish you wouldn’t talk like that.”

I roll my eyes. “Oh, boy. Here we go again.”

“I’m serious Michael. When you say negative things like ‘severely fucked up kid’ you put that negative energy out there to be picked up by other children in the facility.”

“Christ!” I throw my hands in the air. “What happened to you? You became supervisor and now you’re Mr. Positive Energy. It’s like I can’t even talk to you anymore without being lectured.”

“It has nothing to do with me being supervisor. Energy is real. It can do a person well or destroy a person in one shot.” John begins to read my report.

“You know what? I’m not even going to respond.” I take a seat and grab a jelly bean from John’s candy dish.

John props the papers up against his computer screen to type up key points of my report. While he’s typing, I help myself to more candy. “OK, so let me make sure I got everything here,” John says. I toss a peanut butter cup in my mouth and John glares at me. “Last one, Michael. Those are for the kids when they come to see me.”

I swallow the gob of sugar. “Whatever, man.”

“A passing motorist called the police after seeing Trevor sitting on the side of the 96. The police asked where he lived and he pointed to the forest.” John leans his head out from behind his computer screen to get my attention. “The 96 is surrounded by forest. You know which way he pointed?”

“All I know is that they found him about 20 miles south of Happy Camp Airport.”

“That means nothing to me. I don’t spend all of my free time in the woods like you.”

I blow an annoyed breath through my lips. “Shit, I don’t know. 50 to 60 miles south of the California/Oregon border?”

“See. You do know.” John types in the information. “So, the kid’s name is Trevor Williams, he says he’s ten years old, both his parents are deceased, and his father died last month.” John stops typing and looks at me. “Right?”

“So far, yeah.”

John continues to review my report. “Resident appears fed but of poor hygiene. Unclean condition, dirty clothes, and matted hair. Doesn’t read or write. Says he never went to school. Doesn’t eat meat and will only use a wooden fork to eat. Becomes anxious when he sees a knife or metal fork.” John looks at me again. “Is he a vegetarian?”

“When I asked the kid if he was a vegetarian, his response was, ‘What’s a vegetarian?’”

John shrugs. “Ah, OK, here we go. The part the police are eager to know more about. You wrote, ‘I asked Trevor if someone had come to remove his father’s body and he said no. Trevor also produced a key and said it was what he used to leave the house.’ Do you have the key?” I wriggle the key out of my pocket and place it on John’s desk. He picks up the key and lowers his glasses. “This isn’t a house key.”

“I know. It looks like a key to a padlock.”

John puts the key down, “It sure does,” and types a few more words. “Well, that about does it.”

I stand up, ready to leave. “We done here?”

John holds his palm up to me. “Not quite. I’m going to have you go with the boy and the police to find that house since you worked with him. Plus, you’re the only outdoorsman around here.”

The next morning me, Trevor, the town Sherriff, and the two officers who originally picked Trevor up, all caravan to the spot on the 96 where Trevor was found. I had assumed Trevor took a hiking trail to get out to the road. I was wrong. Trevor had followed a deer trail to the road. In other words, there were no trails to the house.

In a single file line, with Trevor in the middle, we follow the narrow trail. Branches and thorns scrape everyone from the chest up except Trevor. His ten year-old body walks through the deer shaped tunnel in the brush with ease. After three hours of dense forest, the shack Trevor called home is in the near distance.

Trevor stops walking. “This is as far as I will go.”

“Oh, come on now.” The sheriff gently pushes Trevor’s back to move him forward. “Nobody’s going to hurt you.”

Trevor digs his feet into the soil. “No! No! Please, no!” His eyes well up with tears.

I put my arm around Trevor and pull him near. “You guys go on and check it out. I’ll stay here with Trevor.” The three men leave and I give Trevor an apple. We stand in silence as he eats. When he’s done, I poor some water on his hands to wash the juice off.

Drying his hands on his pants, Trevor says, “Bad things are in there.”

I kneel down to get at eye level with Trevor. “They know your father’s body is in there. It’s OK.”

Trevor leans into me, eye to eye. “No, Michael, bad things.”

One of the officers comes running towards us. When he arrives, his shirt is soiled and he reeks of vomit. The sheriff and other officer aren’t far behind him.

I take a few steps away from the rancid officer. “What’s going on over there?”

The officer spits repeatedly. “Go see for yourself.”

Trevor grabs my leg. “Don’t go, Michael.”

I peel Trevor’s hands off of me. “I’ll be right back. You have the police here with you. They have guns. They can protect you better than I ever can.”

Trevor looks the officers over and relaxes. “OK.” I start to leave in a light trot.

“Hold on, Michael.” The sheriff stops me and gives his best attempt to walk fast. “I’m going with you but not inside.” As we approach the home, a putrid stench increases with each step we take. The sheriff stops in front of the house and wraps a handkerchief around his nose and mouth. “I’ll wait for you here.”

Inside, the house is alive with the buzz of flies and the foul odor of decomposition is overwhelming. Trevor’s dead father sits against a wall. The flesh and muscle on his forearm has been cut and scraped away. Next to him, on the floor, is a plate with rotten meat covered in maggots, along with a knife and fork. On the other side of the corpse, a heavy iron chain is tied around a vertical, wooden beam. At the end of the chain is a pair of shackles with an open padlock. Energy is indeed real.

I stagger out of the ramshackle home through its open back door. Even though I’m outside, I can’t escape the rot in the air. That’s when I realize a shed in the back is also emitting a horrible odor. When I open the shed’s door, a wave of death engulfs me. A withered and half-eaten woman hangs from hooks. Flies, maggots, and ants feast on what’s left of her. Behind her are three children and an infant dangling from a cross beam. They’re stripped of flesh and muscle except for their hands, head, and feet in various states of decomposition.

I no longer work for Child Protective Services. I collect a disability check and live at my mother’s house. I won’t go in the kitchen so my mom has to make me meals. She’s a great cook so I’ll eat anything she makes me as long as there is no meat in it and I can eat it with a wooden fork. Energy really can destroy a person in one shot.

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