Brother Odd by Dean Koontz
You might think that watching them struggle through various kinds of rehab would be heartbreaking, considering that they are often destined to die young. But there is no heartbreak here. Their small triumphs thrill them as much as winning a marathon might thrill you. They know moments of unadulterated joy, they know wonder, and they have hope. Their spirits won’t be chained. In my months among them, I have never heard one child complain.As medical science has advanced, such institutions as St. Bart’s have fewer kids damaged by severe cerebral palsy, by toxoplasmosis, by well-understood chromosomal abnormalities. Their beds are taken these days by the offspring of women who preferred not to give up cocaine or ecstasy, or hallucinogens, for nine boring months, who played dice with the devil. Other children here were badly beaten-skulls cracked, brains damaged-by their drunken fathers, by their mothers’ meth-rotted boyfriends.With so many new cells and lightless pits required, Hell must be going through a construction boom these days.Some will accuse me of being judgmental. Thank you. And proud of it. You wreck a kid’s life, I have no pity for you.Maybe my lack of compassion for these abusers of children- and other failures of mine-means I won’t see Stormy on the Other Side, that the fire I face will be consuming rather than purifying. But at least if I wind up in that palpable dark where having no cable TV is the least of the inconveniences, I will have the pleasure of seeking you out if you have beaten a child. I will know just what to do with you, and I will have all of eternity to do it.