Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Soapbox: The Vile Offender

Brandi Chambless

The secretary looked forward to her Easter weekend with family as she cleared her desk on what is known to Christians around the world as Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter Sunday.

There amidst a stack of documents waiting to be filed, one that had been calling her name for quite some time now, she stumbled across a time-sensitive certified letter that had been buried with new shipments of unopened mail. Upon opening the certified letter, she understood the gravity of the phone call she was about to be forced to make.

The call was to her boss, a psychiatrist, about a court-ordered request to perform a sanity evaluation on a mentally ill individual who had been arrested for a serious offense. The trouble was that time had run out to conduct the evaluation and prepare for court, therefore her error meant that the only business day for him to conduct the evaluation was Good Friday.

She heard the change in his tone of voice after she prefaced her words carefully, using “bad news” as her opening line.

To say that her boss was peeved would be an understatement. He had family plans that included Easter weekend at the beach and some much needed time away. The psychiatrist begrudgingly agreed to do the evaluation as a duty to the court.

It was Good Friday when there at the prison sat the psychiatrist working on his paperwork. That is when he looked up and saw the individual who had just been processed for admission following an arrest, walking through a corridor toward his cell.

The psychiatrist felt something strangely familiar about the individual, as if he had known him somewhere in the past. Before too long, a name surfaced into the psychiatrist’s memory. He remembered something about this man. Subsequently, he asked the head nurse the identity of the man and it was confirmed.

The head nurse referred to the man as a “frequent flyer” meaning that he had been a regular customer of the detention center for previous offenses of manslaughter, armed robbery, rape, assault, and burglary. Despite all these judgments, he had apparently been a free man for a short time prior to being arrested yet again, this time on a drug possession charge.

Be that as it may, upon verification by the nurse, the seasoned psychiatrist admits to what he called a release of “ill humors,” in the words of Socrates, and considered mercilessly confronting this vermin of humanity in an act of vengeance. The catalyst for this response was a remembrance of adolescence when the psychiatrist suffered a most humiliating and brutal experience at the hands of this bully.

What had seemed like a lifetime ago was an assault on the football field meant to inflict pain and suffering. A touchdown pass was caught by the then young teenager named Scott, when this bully retaliated by assaulting him at the point of vulnerability. The teenager, now an adult psychiatrist, never forgot being so defenseless when he was slugged from behind on the back of the head without justifiable provocation.

Unconscious and bleeding on the ground, the concussion this had caused led to several weeks of intermittent symptoms of nausea, headaches, and dizziness. After gathering himself for the next school year, he never gave the incident much thought again, that is until now.

The psychiatrist did what professionals do and put his own feelings aside to do his job, though he felt every bit justified in what could have been a terrible vengeance toward this most vile offender.

When the psychiatrist left the prison gates on a Good Friday afternoon, he felt the tears wash over him as he got into his car. He knew then why that piece of certified mail had sat undetected at the bottom of the heap. It was especially for this day, for this moment.

Initially, the psychiatrist thought that this was about him forgiving the prisoner for what he had done. But, it became evident that the Lord was showing him just how vile he himself was in comparison to the perfection of Christ.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When he paid the price for our sins, it was paid once and for all. The time is now to release all of the prisoners who are chained inside of your memory, even if the prisoner is you.

This is based on a true story by Dr. Z. who willingly shared something he learned along his journey.

Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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