Dr Pangloss is an updated version of the character in Candide, combined with my friend, Alison. The idea is to have him dealing with several modern jobs that must try the most optimistic of people. I should credit Bry for, at least in part, giving me the idea – though she naturally bears no responsibility for my botching the concept.
Dr Pangloss is waiting in his office, as yet another troubled young man, Dean Simmons, is ushered sullenly in to meet him.
Convinced that Dean’s hostile manner was simply a manifestation of nerves and awkwardness, Pangloss beamed at him and bade him feel at home. Then he shuffled through his papers and found the information relating to this offender. Grievious bodily harm with intent, and possession of an offensive weapon. Apparently he’d threatened some fifteen year old kid with a knife, punched him to the ground and then kicked him repeatedly to the head when he was down there.
“So, Mr Simmonds, can I call you Dean?”
“Dean, I see you pleaded not guilty, so I assume that you didn’t do it and are the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice.”
Dean seemed to briefly consider this, then shook his head decisively.
“Nah, I done it all right, I was just hoping there might be, like, a few morons in the jury I could fool.”
“Ah, OK. Well, it’s posive that you accept your guilt, is that indicative that you feel some remorse for it?”
“No way, given the chance I’d do the little fucker again.”
Pangloss smiled to himself, surely this was just bravado, and the man’s true feelings would surface soon.
“I guess he must have done something pretty bad to provoke you, to incur such hostility?”
“Damn right, he did. The fucker looked at me funny. Had to teach the cunt some respect.”
“By ‘looked at you funny’ you must mean that you were afraid he was going to attack you?”
“Not really, just didn’t like the look of him. He looked a bit foreign.”
“Hmm, but where you drunk, maybe, at the time? Something that would make you more aggressive?”
“Nah, I was a bit pissed off cos I hadn’t had me any smack for a while, but that was it.”
While it was proving more difficult than Pangloss had anticipated to get through the tough outer shell to Dean’s inner goodness, he was not disheartened. He knew that the very act of talking through his actions and motivations would be cathartic for Dean and that it would eventual result in an appropriate level of regret and remorse and his ultimate rehabilitation.
“Ok, let’s move on and look at the incident itself. How many times did you punch the victim.”
“Good, good. Because you didn’t want to hurt him unnecessarily, presumably.”
“No, cos it only took one punch to floor him. I reckon it was cos the dozy twat wasn’t watching.”
“Oh. Right. So then he was on the ground and that’s when you started kicking him.”
“Was this because you were worried he might get back up and attack you?”
“Nah, the cunt was out for the count. I was taking the chance to fuck him up while he couldn’t touch me.”
“Yes, well, hmm. But you did show admirable restraint in not using your knife. Obviously you didn’t want to … ahem … ‘fuck him up’ … too badly.”
“Well, I didn’t want to mess up my knife, like. Bloodstains are, you know, a fuckin’ nightmare to clean up. Course if the bastard had put up a fight, like, I’d have sliced him up like bacon.”
“I see. I’d suggest you don’t tell the judge that! Anyway, that’s enough information about the offence. Let’s look at what alternatives there might be to going to jail. Community based sentence are often very effective at addressing offending behaviour as well as making a positive contribution to society. Are your parents prepared to take you back into a loving family home?”
“Like fuck. They’ve split up.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. But perhaps you could stay with your father, he can be a strong, positive role model for you.”
“No fuckin’ chance mate. We don’t get on.”
“It’s true that it’s sometimes a difficult relationship. Are there problems because he tries to set you boundaries, to give you a proper sense of discipline?”
“No, it’s cos the fucking bastard beat the crap out of me every time he got drunk since I was seven.”
“In that case, what about your mother. I’m sure she can offer you a caring, supportive environment.”
“My mum’s too busy as a prossie to care about me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true, and in any case at least she must be earning a steady income through that.”
“I don’t see a fucking penny of it, she spends it all on crack.”
“I see. But at least you can stay in the house, even if she’s not around much.”
“Nah, I torched the bloody house, like. She was pissin’ me off, so I burnt it down.”
“How unfortunate that a moment of rage should have such devastating results, just because the fire brigade couldn’t get there in time.”
“It wasn’t un-fuckin-fortunate mate. It was cos I got my mate to call the station and direct the engine to the other side of town.”
“That showed admirable conncern for the safety of the firefighters, not wanting them to risk injury dealing with your fire.”
Yeah, whatever, anyway when they did arrive me and my gang chucked rocks to make sure the place burned proper, like.”
“You say ‘your gang’, are they your friends then?”
“Well, I don’t like them much, but I need some muscle to make sure no-one else sells drugs in my territory.”
“You mean, you want to keep drug dealers out of the area? That’s very sensible and completely understandable given what’s happened to your mum and your own addiction.”
“Don’t want the competition, do I?”
“I guess not. Ok, so it looks like we can’t fight an alternative place for you to stay other than in jail. But that’s not too bad, you can use the opportunity to get clean of heroin.”
“No fucking way, man, can’t face that. I know there’s plenty of drugs in the nick, thank fuck. Plus loads of my mates are there already so I’ll be fine.”
Dr Pangloss let out a relieved sigh. He’d known all along that things would work out for the best for this lad.