Some days work sucks.
Not because the boss is riding you, or because you spill your coffee. Some days are worse than that. Some days you swing by the court just to check in and the clerk hands you more than 20 pages of documents. Some days those documents all have to do with one thing — the man who beat a two year old child so badly his intestines leaked fecal matter and nearly half his blood into his abdominal cavity. Some days you have to go back to your desk and read about it, line by line, word by word, so you can explain it to the community.
Those days suck.
That was today. The child is now in his father’s custody, out of reach of his mother’s (hopefully) ex-boyfriend, who, if I was reading the account right, police allege sodomized the two-year-old boy in the woodshed while the mother slept.
My job may have sucked today, but at least I’m not the ER nurse who police interviewed who had the traumatized child put in his arms. At least I’m not the pediatric surgeon who repaired this poor boy’s insides. I can’t say with certainty the man alleged to have punched, burned and raped this small child did it, but someone did. Luckily I only have to read about it in black and white. That poor boy had to live it.
Not much gets to me in this job. It was almost a year ago that the 20-year-old Krista Dittmeyer wound up first missing then dead. That was a tragedy, but the picture prosecutors painted at the arraignment of the three men arrested in connection with her murder left Dittmeyer looking less than angelic. She was a drug dealer, according to the senior assistant Attorney General, which makes her murder far less mysterious. Had she been a 20-year-old drug dealing male, wearing a hoodie and baggy pants, it wouldn’t have garnered much attention. Her child, thankfully, was never injured, even as her mother found herself floating in a pond.
Not this time. This time the mother slept while the child was raped and beaten. That hurts. That weighs on me in a way Dittmeyer never will. This child’s dangerous game was not of his choosing. He didn’t get airlifted to Maine Medical because of risky choices he made. His mother made decisions that contributed to the situation, he did not. He was two. TWO. He learned at two something many of us will never know: what true ugliness looks like. And the fact is he did nothing to deserve it.
I read about this boy this afternoon and I hated my job. I hated the sheets of paper I was holding, the words I was reading and the person who did this to this child. I hated it, and my hatred changed none of it.
Thankfully, I got a reprieve, a breather, from this story. The weekend paper is aimed at tourists, it isn’t the place for stories of toddler rape. I’ll write that story up for Tuesday, when all the tourists have gone home. Hopefully by then I’ll have steeled myself enough to reread the account.
Ugliness is out there. It doesn’t help to shy away from it, but facing it isn’t going to be easy either. Some days it’s OK to hate your job. Sometimes it’s the only sane reaction.