On the Way to the Choir ConcertMme Metro
and I were just coming around the corner when a scared-looking sixty-something gentleman came haring around the corner. Behind him came a big, bearded man with wide eyes, stabbing at the air with a closed fist. The older man turned around as they came alongside the building on our right, and put up his arms in a classic defence posture.
The older man was dressed in wool pants, a heavy jacket, and a sweater.
"David," he kept saying "David, stop it. Please stop."
'David' was dressed in black cotton trousers, a bulky black jacket, and a Tilley hat. He said a few nonsense words, but was mainly focussed on battering at the man's upraised arms.
"Grab his arms!" the older man appealed ... to me? To someone.
Me and another passer-by closed in. David didn't struggle against us. He was concentrating on trying to hit the older man. As we backed him up he surged into the old man and bit savagely into his jacketed shoulder. I yelled a warning, but was drowned out by the surprised yelp from the bitten man.
Something about the situation gave me the clue: The older man was his father. David was probably within a decade of my own age.
The three of us pushed David against the wall and held him there. From time to time he surged under our hands, stamping at his father's feet.
"David," I said "You have to calm down."
He looked at me blankly, for a moment I thought he might try to bite me, then David dismissed me and went on stamping. His father cried out as David's knees pistoned into his legs.
After a while, David stopped fighting. He relaxed against the wall.
"Are you gonna let me go?" he demanded.
"Not yet, David." answered his father.
David's mother was using Mme Metro's phone to call the home where David lives. The worker at the home was alone, and couldn't leave his other charges to come collect him.
"David," the father asked him "Are you going to be good if we take you home?"
"I wanna go to your house. I wanna go to your house, dad. I wanna be with you and Mom."
"Well we'll see about that." I could see the old man's face. He was staring into the eyes of this stranger. He looked stricken.
"You gonna let me go? You're choking me."
The father was exhausted. He said nothing, but relaxed. David tensed up, testing the resistance, then subsided again.
"Autism one!" he began declaring loudly, "Autism one!"
"Oh boy. Someone's having one of those days. Sometimes those days come." he said "Autism one."Autism won, today.
Someone had called the police. Two cars arrived. His father went to talk to the police, who kindly agreed to help take David back to the home.
"I wanna go home with you, dad."
"David," said the cop "Is it going to be okay if we give you a ride back home?"
"Okay." said David agreeably "Somedays are tough. Autism one."
I watched the big man get into the back of the police SUV. His father, bravely I thought, got into the back seat with him. I wondered what it might be like to sit in a locked, sealed back seat with a violent stranger.
I thought about the future. David stood taller than me. About six-foot-two. And he weighed about the same. His father was six inches shorter than I and about sixty pounds lighter. And he was about sixty years old--a well-maintained and vigorous-looking sixty from what I could tell. But not getting any younger.
But while we were battling to keep control of his son I had seen his eyes. And I had seen in them a wonder and despair at this powerful, giant stranger. Whom he loves, but cannot understand or communicate effectively with.
One day he and his wife will be eighty. And their son perhaps fifty or sixty. And they won't be able to take him out anymore. Their fragile bones won't hold up if he does this then. I felt sad for them, and for the distance that age will surely put between them.
Yesterday I saw David in his black jacket and Tilley hat, walking the aisles of the local liquor store with a man about his own age. I couldn't see his father anywhere. I hope they get some good time together this Christmas.Autism one.Family zero?