The Night Child,
“So what do you think would help her?” I said, to change the subject. “I mean, what would put an end to all this?”
“Discipline,” her dad shot back. “Knock some sense into her. I don’t mean physically,” he added in haste. “But she’s got to have more supervision. I’m obviously not the guy to do it.”
“She gets away with murder,” Elaine put in. “He does everything for that girl.”
“She didn’t just wave that knife at me,” her father repeated, with conviction. “She came at me hard. I grabbed a piece of wood and blocked it. Otherwise I’d have been done for.” “And there was no warning?” “None at all. Well, she’d been getting in trouble a lot, but she’d never come after me before.” “Scared the heck out of me,” the girlfriend confirmed. We crossed the gorge. In the dark, it was like skimming over a vast pool of ink. “What does her therapist say?” “Not much, unfortunately. She’s about at the end of her rope, too.” “Tabby is on medications?” “Three or four different ones. They don’t seem to be helping.” I glanced over at him. He was silent now, maybe hoping to catch a few winks. He looked tired beyond mere exhaustion. Tired in the spirit. I read the signs: this was a man who had given up. It was in his voice, his posture. Like Job, he lived between afflictions.
When we arrived at the hospital, Tabby was already in the admitting office, all smiles now, peppering the clerk with questions about Billy and Sally and Jevon and her other little friends from the hospital. “Most of those went home, honey,” the clerk said. “People don’t stay long here.”
It took 30 minutes to do the paperwork. When the orderly came to take her upstairs, she hopped right into the wheelchair. She was shouting at her dad to bring her this, bring her that, no hostility now, just a selfish, demanding child. The clerk and the orderly exchanged disapproving looks that said, Hasn’t anybody taught her some manners? I figured the doctors would give her sedatives to keep her asleep far into tomorrow.
It was a quiet ride back, except for when I asked the girl’s father if she’d be returning home after the hospital.
“I don’t see how she can. My daughter tried to kill me, sir. I don’t know how to make that right.” I didn’t either. When I left them, we shook hands. “You’re doing the Lord’s work, sir,” he told me.
I drove off, wishing the Lord would do more of it. Chandler Scott McMillin moved to Santa Fe five years ago from Washington, D.C., and was director of an emotional trauma treatment center in Santa Fe. He has co-authored seven books on addiction.