On the long drive home that night, Bobby realized just how tired he really was; physically, mentally and emotionally. These visits really took it out of him, and this had been another difficult one, an especially difficult one. The thing was, it seemed like anymore they were all like that. He really wasn't sure how much more he could handle. Why did it have to be his mom who was so messed up, and ultimately, his life that was so fucked up? And right away, the guilt set back in.
Once home, he threw his keys on the table in the kitchen, and immediately went for a beer, or rather, two beers. Save him from having to get up so soon. He flipped on the TV, but could find nothing of interest. So he just stared at it, thinking. Before long, he was on his sixth beer, and still thinking. Bobby was always thinking, sometimes a little too much, and now he was feeling very distressed and worked up about the events of the day. Which quickly turned into the events of his life.
He remembered the day they hospitalized Mom with schizophrenia for the first time. He was seven, his brother Joey was twelve, and their father, Joe, was… gone—again. Dad was always gone now, usually on a drunken binge. Most of the time they were actually felt lucky when he stayed away, he was a mean drunk. And when he was home, drunk or sober, Dad just wasn't very pleasant to be around. If he wasn't drunk and beating his wife or kids, he completely ignored them. Well, except for Joey, his older brother. At least he got some attention; Dad had made it clear that Joey, the oldest, was the favorite. If you could call it that. But now, they were taking Mom away, and the boys were going to need someone to take care of them, they were too young to be on their own. They needed a father.
It had all started the night before. Mom wasn't doing very well, she was already agitated. Big Joe was home, but already drunk, and he and Frances had gotten into it. Their bedroom was right next to their sons' room, and they heard everything, they always heard everything: the horrible words they screamed at each other, the hitting, furniture being broken. Young Bobby pictured all this in his mind, he'd seen it all before, and he was frightened. He hated it when they fought, someone usually ended up hurt, and he was afraid Dad would leave forever. His bed was right by the wall to their room, and he put his head under his pillow to try and block out the sound. It wasn't working. Bobby finally climbed down from his bed.
"Where you going?" Joey asked, lying in the twin bed across from Bobby.
"To help Mom."
Joey was up now, too. He grabbed Bobby. "No you're not! Don't you remember what happened last time, Stupid?"
"He hurt her!"
"Well, there ain't nothing you can do," Joey told him. "All you're gonna do is get us both in trouble—"
"I don't care!" Bobby pulled away from him, quickly got to his parents' room, and knocked softly on his parents' door. The shouting coming from the room was so loud they didn't hear him. So Bobby walked in. His mother was on the bed crying, while Joe stood over her, his big hand still balled into a fist. Bobby was already very scared, his dark eyes were bright with fear. "Mom…Dad…are you… fighting…"
Joe turned angrily. "What the hell? Fuck! GET OVER HERE!"
"I don't want you to fight…"
"Oh you don't want…you see this?" Joe yelled at Frances. Frances watched, eyes pleading, and tried to get up, only to be pushed down again by her husband.
"And you!" Joe said, picking Bobby up roughly by his shoulders, "how many times do I have to tell you to keep your GODDAMNED nose out of my BUSINESS?" He shook Bobby violently, then slammed him into the wall, making him cry. He looked back at Frances. "See what you're doing to your son?"
Frances cried for her son, but didn't get up from the bed, afraid of making things worse. She'd learned years ago that interfering only made him more violent. "No Joe! Please!" she begged. She collapsed back onto the bed, unable to protect her child.
Joe knew that not being able to protect her children hurt her worse than any beating, and he reveled in it, so he bashed Bobby into the wall again. "See, Bobby," Joe said cruelly, "your mother doesn't care about you. She can't even be bothered to help you. Frances, you seeing all this?" With that, he hit his youngest son in the mouth, causing Bobby to cry even harder. Frances cried out again, but still didn't do anything.
In a moment Joey was in the room, and into the fray. Before it was all over, Joe had reduced his wife and both sons to tears, all scared to death of him, just the way he liked it. He equated fear with respect, but the only one who wasn't pretending to respect him was Bobby, and only because he was still too young to fully understand. He really did both respect and fear his father at the same time.
Finally Joe took both boys back to their room, and threw Bobby onto his bed as Joey glared at him. Big Joe took a threatening step towards his older son.
"I wanna tell you something. For now on, you're gonna help keep Bobby in line. You're older than he is, and bigger than he is. I think that maybe you can figure out how to do that. He gets outta line, you'll get it every bit as much as him, if not more. And get that goddamned look off your face or I'll knock it off." Then he reeled drunkenly out to the kitchen. It was time for another shot.
After Joe left, Joey told Bobby angrily, " I told you this was gonna happen. I'm not getting in trouble over you!" He got on Bobby's bed and straddled him, grabbing hold of Bobby's tee shirt. "You mess up again I'm gonna bash you! Got it?" Bobby just nodded, and Joey punched him twice in the stomach, hard. "And don't think Mom's gonna help you. You know she never does…" He finally got off of Bobby, and went to lie on his own bed. Bobby rolled over onto his side, clutching his stomach, facing the wall. He didn't want his brother to see him cry, as he wondered sadly what was wrong with him that he was always getting hit, and nobody seemed to love him or care about him very much.
At that time in his life, Bobby was a confused and scared little boy. Mom sometimes had violent schizophrenic outbursts, and even when they weren't violent, her behavior was frightening, something beyond his years to understand. Dad had a gambling and drinking problem and took it out on his family, often bragging to his buddies how he made his wife and kids toe the line. And Joey, just by virtue of being his brother and five years older, took it upon himself to beat up his little brother whenever necessary or just because he could. Bobby had reasons to fear all the members of his family.
Bobby woke up the next morning to shouting outside his bedroom window. Only this time it wasn't Dad. It was Mom, and she was screaming at the neighbors, and throwing whatever she could at them. The neighbors were shouting back, antagonizing her even more. Bobby was very unhappy, his mom was being weird again. He just wanted to put his head under the pillow again and pretend it wasn't happening, pretend he had a normal family. But he got dressed anyway, and went outside.
Finally the police showed up, and she threw objects at them, too. The police had finally overcome Frances and had her restrained. Frances was screaming, crying and spitting at the policeman trying to restrain her. She saw her sons and cried out. "Joey! Bobby! They're hurting me! Help me! Please Bobby, help me!"
Bobby rushed the police. "Leave my mother alone!" He tried to pull the police away from his mom, trying to push and hit at the cops until one of them had to gather Bobby in his arms, and pin his arms to his body. Inappropriately, one of the cops laughed; the little kid was a handful. Bobby struggled, but couldn't move.
Joey was shouting at the police, "My Mom has schizophrenia! She doesn't know what she's doing! Leave her alone!"
"Shit," the policemen holding Bobby said. "Somebody get in a call to Bellevue." A crowd had gathered around their house; another humiliation they'd have to suffer through, something else to be taunted for. They managed to get the family into the house, to wait for the ambulance. Frances was still completely out of it, scaring the hell out of her sons. They had never seen anything like this before. Her episodes were getting worse and worse, this one the worst of all, so far.
While they waited for the ambulance, the policemen tried to find out where the boys' father was. They tried calling the place where he worked, only to be told he hadn't been there in days, and left the police with the message that should they find him, to tell him he was no longer employed with their company.
"Great!" the one policeman said. "What's going to happen to these kids?"
They didn't have long to ponder that question as the ambulance soon arrived. And the action started again. Frances, who had somewhat calmed down, went absolutely crazy as they tried to get her in the ambulance. She bit the police, the drivers, and the ambulance personnel, screaming, crying, and doing whatever she could to escape. The boys were extremely upset, especially Bobby, who only knew the police were taking his mother away.
Bobby ran to his mother. "Mommy, don't go! Please!" He clung to her dress, trying to keep her from going; he was hysterical. "Please don't take my Mom!" And Bobby was crying and begging the police and the ambulance people to please, please, not take his mom away. As the same policeman tried to pull his fingers away from his mother's dress, Frances suddenly turned on her son. She grabbed him by his curly hair so he couldn't get away, then bit him hard on his arm, drawing blood. They literally had to pry her teeth off him, and if Bobby hadn't been screaming already, he was now. Totally lost to reality, she screamed at him, telling him he was a horrible son, a demon child. "I wish you'd never been born! Joey was the only child I ever wanted! I wish you were dead!" Those were her last words to him, before they finally got her sedated. Then they took her off to the hospital.
Bobby and Joey were both shell-shocked. Even Joey never expected his mother to attack her own child, or to tell Bobby she wished he were dead. Usually Joey couldn't care less what happened to his brother, but this time even he felt sorry for Bobby. This was going to affect Bobby for a long time.
The ringing of the phone interrupted Bobby's memories.
"Goren," he answered.
"Bobby? It's Deakins. Sorry to have to pull you out on a Sunday night…"
Arriving at the crime scene, Bobby and Alex braced themselves for this one.
"What've you got?" Alex asked a police officer, already on the scene.
"Two kids. Her sons. I've never seen anything like this. Neighbors said they heard screaming, but never thought anything about it…"
"And why is that?" Bobby said through clenched teeth, barely able to control his anger.
"Said they heard screaming all the time over there. Said both parents beat the kids all the time. Apparently the parents claimed the kids were out of control and deserved it. So the neighbors ignored it."
"Oh God…" Bobby said. He and Alex looked at each other, the same thought running through each of their minds.
"I…I need to see the kids," Bobby said, starting over to them.
It was absolutely sickening, seeing how badly they had been beaten, like someone started on them, and just never let up. For one of the few times in his career in law enforcement, Bobby felt like throwing up. He pushed it back down and continued his examination.
Not long after interviewing some of the bystanders and neighbors, Alex returned, wincing a little at the sight of the children. Bobby stood up.
The officer continued. "They just took the mother away; apparently she's a nut case. Got some kind of problem… schizoid or something, I don't know. Something crazy…"
"Did you say 'schizoid?'" Bobby stared at him, suddenly very light-headed, and turning an awful shade of gray.
"Bobby?" Alex interrupted, already knowing what was wrong. "Are you okay? Bobby?"
"I'm…I'm fine, Eames." But he didn't seem fine.
They walked back to their SUV, and began the short drive back to 1 Police Plaza. Bobby was abnormally quiet, even for him.
Alex glanced at him, concerned. "I'm sorry, Bobby," she said gently. "That one just hit a little too close to home for you, I know—"
Bobby looked at her. "Eames…those kids…shit, Alex! One of those kids could've been me, or my brother, or…" He looked away again, thinking of his parents, and those kids. All the beatings, the bizarre punishments… yet somehow, by the skin of his teeth, he survived. He thought again of his mother, who once tried to shield him from abuse, until she, too, became his abuser. But, he repeated to himself, I survived!
"Y'know," Bobby said, "Guess things could've been a lot worse for me. At least I survived."
And as much as Bobby wanted to believe it, they both knew it was a lie. Bobby may have survived physically, but mentally, he was a tormented soul. He would always be a tortured soul. And Alex worried about him. So she encouraged him.
"Yeah ya did, Bobby. You survived, and you always will. You Are A Survivor. Always remember that. I want you around for a long time."
Bobby finally smiled, a small one, but a smile non-the-less. He understood what Eames was saying, and understood what they meant to each other. "Did I ever tell you that you are the light of my life?" He said it jokingly, but inside, he meant it.
Alex knew it too, and smiled back. "That is one big load of crap, Goren! But…good enough to get you out of one full day of paperwork." And THAT got a big smile out of him, which pleased Alex immensely. Bobby was worth a hell of a lot more than a day's worth of paperwork. To Alex, he was worth life itself. And she would make sure that he did stay around for a long, long time.