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    W_L
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True As It Can Be - 12. Chapter 12

Monday morning was unlike the weekend in several ways. I had to wake up early at 6 AM in order to prepare myself for a fully loaded day. Brad held me in my sleep, but unlike Sunday morning, he wasn’t holding me in a tight embrace. There was a bit of give from his grip. I don’t know if he woke up with my phone alarm or not, but I whispered my apology and a short explanation to him before leaving the room. A quick shower and change of clothes followed without any preamble or early morning conversation with Chip in a new Pokémon themed outfit. I had to leave early in the morning for my work-study job at 7 AM, so I had no time for breakfast with the rest of Keller Hall. I grabbed a yogurt from the student dining hall on my way to the location of my work-study job, the University library.

I had to work from 7 AM-12 PM every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the library, I spent most of the time picking up and repositioning books left at reading tables of the library. I have a little book cart, where I gather books every 2 hours after classes begin across the massive 3 floors of our library. It usually took 20 minutes for me do a round, then another 30 minutes to sort and file the books away back to their native shelves. It’s a mindless activity that pays $10.00/Hour. I liked the job, since it gave me access to much needed money, a lot of free time to study, and first access to our university’s limited supplies of free supplemental books required for various courses. Beyond standard textbooks and question books, many professors assigned us “optional” readings within their courses. Though technically not required for the course, if you do not read or cite from these “optional” books like a treatise on consumer history in Victorian England, a book by Freud on dream interpretation, or a collection of letters written by Emily Dickenson, then you would be lucky to get a 2.7 on your course GPA or a B-. Not bad to most college kids, but if you are on a scholarship with a minimum requirement to maintain 3.0 GPA across all your classes, then you run into trouble. Buying reading material was always an option, but I couldn’t spare the extra money needed to keep up with all these books. Getting access to books and photocopying them during my small windows of opportunity was the next best thing.

My week was very predictable. On Monday, I had a full day of 2-hour long classes, starting at 12:50 PM until 6:50 PM at night. English Literature, American History, and Calculus. Tuesday is slightly better with my day ending at 4:50 PM, since I only had Introductory Psychology and Economics. I have no classes on Wednesday, so my day is free after 12 PM. I would pay for my freedom on Thursdays though, because I had 4 classes on that day starting at 10:50 AM and ending in 6:50 PM, consisting of English Literature, American History, Calculus, and Introductory Psychology. Fridays were my most loose weekday with just Economics. It was pretty standard for a 1st semester Freshman with a normal 15 credit course load.

However, that was my life before Thursday night’s assault by Gary Gaston and my introduction to the residents of Keller Hall, along with my new boyfriend Brad Brooks. I was tempted to bring my new StrikeLight with me, since I would be returning late, but Mrs. Potter had told me it would take a day before the permit form that she helped me submit yesterday could be approved and confirmed by the local police department even at an expedited speed. She told me to check in with her after I leave my last class and if I encounter Gary Gaston at all throughout the day. It didn’t take too long for the latter to occur as Gary Gaston popped up in the library around 10 AM, he had his entourage of backbencher friends around him. He gave me a lustful leer as I passed by him and quickly shifted to another section of the library filled with patrons.

I text Mrs. Potter: Gary is in the library with me

Mrs. Potter: Min is heading to the library for a book, I’ll send him

Me: He’s got friends with him, not sure if it’s a good idea

Mrs. Potter: Francis is almost done with his class as well, there’s a small braille collection in the library as I recall

Me: Maybe, I can avoid him

Mrs. Potter did not respond to my worries. I did not want my new friends to be harmed. Though, they’re both strong former athletes; Francis is blind and Min is in a wheelchair. It would be selfish of me to ask for their aid. I was optimistic despite all the machinations of Gary Gaston that perhaps being made unconscious at an overpriced department store would scare him off.

Sadly, my luck is never that great. Gary Gaston approached me with his friends. He had several books in his hands.

He smirks at me. He and his friends obnoxiously lay down dozens of books in my cart, “For your collection, Beau,” he said this as if I were collecting for the Salvation army or something, “I hope you enjoyed your weekend at Lot 24601. Interesting company you are keeping, nowadays.”

With many witnesses, I wasn’t worried about his intimidation, “Yes, I have made new friends.”

I try to move away from him, but he continue to buzz around me, peppering commentary, “You know that building was left vacant by the campus for decades. I wonder how it could have been brought up to code within the last few months. Maybe, it’s unsafe for student occupants, especially with their various disability issues. I would hate to think your new friends like Francis Lumens, Paki Featherworth, Warren Garcia, or Min Takato could be living in an unsafe environment. While Nurse Angela Potter must be very good to take care of everyone there, I doubt she can truly accommodate everyone’s needs.”

I know Gary is making a threat right now and trying to show off that he’s done research about Keller Hall’s residents to intimidate me. However, I can also tell he's fishing for information, since he doesn’t know about Cook or Brad. My mind quickly considers what Gary could have found out about Keller Hall through his various resources. His family’s connection included board member-level access, so they could request details about school operations and student rolls. He already admitted to having my biometric data on Saturday, which sadly is just the tip of the iceberg to what information he could have had. However, Brad’s family would have likely made sure he was insulated from prying eyes, especially against Gary Gaston. Even if there was no proof, Brad’s parents wouldn’t have left their vulnerable son, so close to his potential attacker. Cook’s presence would be omitted as a medical doctor and psychological specialist on campus to assist Brad with controversial Methadone treatments and various therapeutic techniques.

I had to keep Brad’s secret, but Gary is planning something. So, I answer him carefully with measured words.

“I think we are doing quite well for ourselves.”

Gary smile widens and he replies in a faux jovial tone, “Oh Beau, sounds like things are working out well for you. I think the administration would want nothing, but the best accommodations for you and your friends. It’s sad that you and your friends must live in squalid conditions. There is plenty of space available on campus for development. With a little money and time, we could make the University great again.”

I can feel my blood curdling at his words and the implications. I held back my tongue though.

“Thank you for your concern, Gary. I did not know you would feel so strongly about living spaces.”

Gary places his arm around my back in a seemingly friendly gesture, though I want to jump out of my own skin with his touch, “Oh, I always care about my fellow classmates’ wellbeing. It’s why the Board has passed a new resolution with money provided by me to revamp the housing situation. Places like Lot 24601 will be replaced soon with exclusive dorm housing. There will be housing for students with disability, racial backgrounds, and unique circumstances. There will be no need for them to come out for anything except food and classes as they can be with their own kind. People can keep to their own lanes. That includes creating a LGBT exclusive living space, perhaps even a private residence for you, where you can be free to be yourself,” he whispers in my ear, “You can be the slutty bitch I know you’ve always wanted to be for my cock.”

My discomfort grows as I am shocked by his pronouncement, “What?”

Gary continues gleefully, “The Board has also passed another measure regarding a student run university watch, which I will lead. The Student Watch will be providing much needed manpower to safeguard the campus from petty crimes and to keep folks safe in their own dorms. We are also the only students on campus starting at midnight, who can possess Taser-styled deterrents, the campus will announce a zero-tolerance policy for possession by students going forward. I hope that will make you feel better about walking at night. No one will tase you unconscious and have their way with you.”

Gary is a monster; he’s warped various concepts into something perverse for his personal tastes. I’ve heard about similar arrangements at other universities, where they gather up students in exclusive dormitories and isolate them, including the openly LGBT kids. However, these measures were meant to prevent homophobia and other incidents at those campuses, along with allowing people within those dorms open access without restrictions. There are also universities with student watch groups usually started after a sexual assault incident to prevent similar things from happening. These measures are meant to help make living together easier.

Instead, what Gary has envisioned is more akin to the ghetto-system used to segregate people from one another in a large urban setting with a police presence to maintain it. At first, this concept was considered a progressive measure to eliminate social strife, but over time, these measures have created massive social inequity as resources never reached many of these areas and opportunities for those living in these areas were limited. Various civil rights’ experts have denounced these kinds of plans over the years, because they are the worst kind of socially engineered prisons. Most people think ghettos only affect impoverish Black and Latino Americans, but it’s far more expansive than that. LGBT kids have heard the name “Stonewall” pass around, but the roots of the riot came from this same kind of bullshit. It’s a form of structured bigotry, falsely claiming to provide a safe space for minority races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, or gender identities, while creating institutional racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, and transphobia in its wake.

Worst, I don’t think Gary’s intent is merely based on safety or some misguided philosophical notion for isolating groups to make them conform to a worldview. Based on what I’ve learned about him, I know he is making himself the leader of the new student watch organization purely for power. It’s such a messed-up world we live in, when men like him can just throw their money around to obtain positions of power. Where’s the checks and balances? It’s like asking a fox to guard the chicken coop.

As I unsuccessfully try to dislodge Gary from his embrace of me, I hear a familiar voice, “Hello Beau, do you know where I can find Haiku by Reginald Horace Blyth?”

Gary releases his embrace, so his attention can shift to my friend, rolling towards us in his wheelchair, Gary snorts, “This must be your friend, Min Takato.”

Gary offers Min his hand, slightly above Min’s head to emphasize his disabled status, but Min ignores him, “I am hoping reading the “so-called” classic will assist me in understanding what “Zen” is meant to be. Buddhist esotericism is merely one tradition in Japanese poetry, but Professor Hackett appears to believe it is the whole of our literature.”

I shift my now heavy book cart away from Gary and his gang for Min, “I think I’ve seen the book labelled under philosophy instead of literature, I can show you.”

I was hoping that would be it of my encounter with Gary Gaston. However, before we could leave this horrible man and contemplate what can be done about what he had said to me, Gary and his friends blocked our path.

“What’s the rush Beau? You should introduce your friend to everyone here. I think some of us would like to know him better, after all he is a celebrity in certain circles.”

Min’s face grew sullen, “It is my past, not my present. I am no longer that boy.”

Gary stares at my bewildered expression, then smiles knowingly that I had no clue as to what he was referencing. His expression taunts Min and me with his seemingly benign knowledge.

“Oh, I can’t say I’ve seen your videos or movies. Such a tragedy, being exposed like that along with your boyfriend after graduating high school, then the accident that costs you a baseball career, along with your boyfriend…”

Min interrupts Gary forcefully pleading, “Please no more, you have made your point and disgraced me in front of Beau, what further advantage can you gain by this?”

Gary ignores Min, “Your boyfriend is hanging on a thread between life and death, because of your choices. I just want my friend Beau to know the entire story. You were a baseball prodigy, who resorted to gay porn for money, you were so desperate for money in fact that you pimped out your boyfriend, who was underage to do gay porn with you. After being exposed, you got into an argument with your boyfriend, caused a car accident that ended your baseball career and your boyfriend has been on life support for the last 6 months.”

As those words sunk in, everything about Min’s words concerning Ito Nakamura, his boyfriend, clicked. His depression and guilt over Ito’s failure to respond to his continuous mailings makes sense. I know he comes from a poor background and his family did not support his academic or sports ambitions, because of his sexuality. I knew his boyfriend and him had stayed together, since they came out at 13. He said he had to “work” to support himself throughout his life, since his family had stopped supporting him with his revelation. I never considered what that entailed or how far he had to go.

I remember there was a scandal several years ago about an American MLB, Major League Baseball, player, who also came from Japan. He had starred in a gay porn movie for money with his college friends to support themselves, since they did not come from wealthy backgrounds. Being gifted in a major sport doesn’t provide a full-ride scholarship in other countries as it does in the United States, resorting to prostitution like Min or theft like Paki are ugly realities that no one talks about. That Japanese baseball player played only one season on the professional Cleveland Indians team, but the revelation of his gay porn movie haunted his professional career. He never came out of the closet publicly, nor achieved anything out of the shame he had. Min’s issues are amplified even further with the guilt of that exposure along with the consequences to himself and his boyfriend.

I can’t imagine how bad Min must be feeling, but I can’t let Gary continue to belittle him, “You should stop, Gary. Min doesn’t deserve this.”

The strong voice of Francis from behind me echoes my comment, “No, Min’s past is no one’s concern, just like Gary’s past.”

Gary frowns at the appearance of his old Football center, “Francis, what would you know about gay sex? Perhaps you want to tell them about all the times you volunteer your holes for the team to let off steam.”

Francis spoke audibly and loud enough for Gary’s friends nearby to hear, “I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed having a dick up their ass. I don’t think your new friends have seen that picture from our junior year ski trip in the mountains. The one with you naked and streaks of cum line your face and stomach. You didn’t know I took a picture of that, did you?”

Gary’s friend looked at him strangely, while Gary himself burned with anger at Francis, “You better hope that picture never shows up anywhere, Francis.”

Gary angrily stomps away, glaring daggers at us, then his entourage. I noticed a few of them were snickering at their leaders about face, but his glare instantly caused a wave of dread to appear on their face. Gary will be a very powerful person in less than a few hours from now within our campus, he’s not going to take any insubordination from his inner circle.

After Gary had left the library, I could speak freely to my friends, “I’m so sorry for dragging you both into this, especially you Min.”

Min is silent for an uncomfortable period of time, but Francis responds to me, “It’s not your fault. Gary has always been like that. I don’t know what Brad saw in him. He gets off on making other people feel like crap,” he pauses, “Min, are you okay? I can only guess at what that bastard said and what everyone around us now knows about you.”

Min speaks softly, “Daijoubu,” he glances at me, “I wish I was a better nakama for you.”

Neither Francis or I asked for translations to the Japanese words he used. I finished my rounds in the library and found the book about Haiku’s that Min needed. I told them both and Mrs. Potter what Gary had said about the new Board resolutions to change the housing system and establish a student watch, led by Gary Gaston. Min didn’t speak to either of us again during my remaining 2 hours of work at the library. I wish I could find the right things to say to him in English or Japanese or hell even the Xhosa South African language Paki spoke. Language is meant to convey ideas and thoughts, but right now, the idea and thoughts I want to convey have no words associated with them.

Francis and Min had lunch with me at the Student Center, we each got a slice of pizza, a salad, and a lemonade. Gary Gaston was nowhere to be seen, but his presence could be felt with the silence that hung over the 3 of us. I wanted to tell them to leave me and go about their lives, but they didn’t. There were odd stares at Min during lunch, most likely his secret has made its rounds around the campus. I felt awful about it, his past wouldn’t be public knowledge if he didn’t come to my defense.

After lunch, we departed for our individual classes. English literature was a long lecture on the importance of romantic versus realist conflicts in the 19th century on the development of various competing genres between the 2 factions. The professor used the example of Horror fiction being developed by romantics in the 19th century, such as Byron, Shelley, and Polidori to contrast with social realists such as Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, both showcasing issues from different perspectives. We were assigned 6 books over the thanksgiving break to write our final essays on.

In American History, we had reached the final stages of the Cold War and modern American issues. We covered a period of history from 1990’s unquestioned US supremacy around the world to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, creating a fundamental disruptive shift in society and norms. We had to turn in a 10,000-word essay, based on sections of the massive published 9/11 Commission Report. I was assigned screening measures and airport security procedures.

Calculus was the most straightforward class, but it was also the most tedious to solve long equations based on different power scales. It was this same mandatory class last Thursday that utterly exhausted me. I wished high mathematics was not needed in a college curriculum, because there’s very few applications for higher math in most jobs, except finance, computer science, theoretical sciences, and economics. Still, I worked through my boredom and stayed awake for the class.

At 6:55 PM, I left my classroom and texted Mrs. Potter.

Me: I am done with my classes today

Mrs. Potter: Can you wait near the entrance of the math building; he should be there in a few minutes?

Me: Sure

I waited, looking around for Francis, Min, Paki, or Warren, but none of them appeared. Instead, a large bulky figure with an extra-large university Hoodie, tinted eyeglasses, and a black face mask stalked towards me. I knew by the way he carried himself, it was Brad.

He came up to me, checking my body from head to toe, then gently wrapping his fingers around mine, “I wish I was there earlier, Beau.”

I move my body close to him, feeling his warmth, “He doesn’t know you’re here Brad, what if he sees you?”

“Fuck him, I’d rip out his heart if he tries anything with you,” Brad nuzzle his covered face against my cheeks, “You still don’t want to leave here. I can pay for all of us to get out of here, if that’s what you want. There are other universities.”

I smile at my protective boyfriend, “I know you would, but I don’t think we should run away from him. We can’t be scared off by him. Can’t you do something about all the crap he said?”

Brad considers my question as we pass the student dining hall, “Maybe, the grant contract my foundation has with the university is very airtight and I have asked my lawyers to execute a contractual veto on the changes in housing. However, the terms of the contract will not last indefinitely unless I follow through with several clauses.”

I ask Brad, “Is one of the terms for you to attend classes in person?” I inhale deeply, “Cook told me yesterday that you need to attend classes to continue the contract for everyone to stay at Keller Hall. I don’t want to manipulate you or force you into doing something, even for the right reasons, especially with what Gary is planning.”

Brad scowls, “Yes and you know I don’t want that, Beau. I don’t want to be near that bastard. I know Cook means well and I am glad you aren’t keeping this from me or trying to manipulate me. You get me.”

As we walk along the lighted pathway, without even a passing glance from onlookers, a question came to my mind that Brad never answered me from before, “You knew he would be here, why did you still choose to come to this university?”

Brad stops walking, then points to a bench for us to sit, “I was even worse after what happened to me than I am right now. Catatonic is what I think people called it. The Methadone helped bring me to a balanced mental state, but knowing that Gary was nearby helped motivate my physical and psychological responses according to Cook. I might not be ready to confront him, but by knowing I was so close to him through attending the football games in the private alumni VIP box and passively auditing classes online with video, it sped up my recovery,” Brad sighs, “Messed up isn’t it, my hate and fear of Gary brought me back to life.”

I shake my head, “No, it’s not messed up, but why not just attend classes online like some of the remote kids? You would never have to be in the same class as him, why just audit the classes that Gary is in?”

Brad groans, “Cook sees that as the final stage of my therapy, attending classes in person, being physically present in the same space as Gary. If I cannot do that, then the therapy has failed and the contract with the university would no longer be needed. Cook pioneered a modified confrontation therapy, where sexual assault victims are introduced into environments near the scene or, in some cases, near the potential culprit of their assault to find closure for severe psychological issues,” Brad inhales, “I don’t want to complete the therapy Beau. I just want to take you and run away from here, you’re more than I could have ever asked for from all of this and Cook has earned his paycheck.”

He rubs my back, allowing me to relax as we sit next to each other on the bench. I consider his words and these facts about what it means for him to stay here and what he needs to do.

“Brad, we can’t just run off into the sunset. Gary has way too much power right now and his family’s money is granting him too much access. You know what his plans are for this university, right? It would be a mini-dictatorship.”

Brad nods, “It’s why I want you to leave, most of all Beau. I know the type stuff he would do to you with that kind of power. I can hold him off only so long with what limited influence I can muster.”

I gaze into his sapphire eyes pleading, “Why can’t you beat him Brad? Why can he wield so much power over everyone with his wealth, while you can’t?”

Brad replies to me with resignation in his voice, “I’ve lost my courage Beau, since the big game and what happened at the cabin. Gary didn’t hurt me alone, he found a bunch of my former teammates, who had lost everything in that game to help him. If I spoke about the assault, I would have to implicate all of them as well. I was lucky Francis did not join them, because among all of the people I’ve hurt, he deserved to hurt me the most.”

At that moment, I wanted to weep for Brad, wanted to accept his offer and leave Gary behind us. Before I could speak though, a text message came in my phone from Mrs. Potter.

Mrs. Potter: Come back to Keller Hall quick, Ito Nakamura has passed away

Copyright © 2021 W_L; All Rights Reserved.
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Story Discussion Topic

Well, you guys know my taste in reading is eclectic, so what about my actual writing. True As It Can Be is a story set in the modern world without any magic or fantasy. It's characters are lost, tragic, and very human. I also wanted to add some personal reflection, knowledge, and experience into my writing about things I haven't seen many authors comment on. As I noted in my story's summary page, I was inspired by Beauty and the Beast, heavily on its Disney animated version, but I inve

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Chapter Comments

I am not sure how to respond to this chapter. 

I am feeling it all

😡 at Gary

😭 for Min and Brad

Respect for Francis

Very well written👍

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9 minutes ago, CaJu said:

I am not sure how to respond to this chapter. 

I am feeling it all

😡 at Gary

😭 for Min and Brad

Respect for Francis

Very well written👍

Thanks for reading :)

Gary is a piece of 💩

Min and Brad have personal demons to work through, they need lots of :hug:

Paki is rubbing off on Francis (No, not like that :P ), learning to be assertive is hard.

 

 

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Ok folks, we all know just what and who Gary is, one, two or a dozen more chapters dealing with the A-Hole are not needed at this time. Any more only serves to belabor the point and become a distraction.

Speaking for myself...its well past time and Gary needs his comeuppance NOW!!!!

Cabin Fever Reaction GIF

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20 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

Ok folks, we all know just what and who Gary is, one, two or a dozen more chapters dealing with the A-Hole are not needed at this time. Any more only serves to belabor the point and become a distraction.

Speaking for myself...its well past time and Gary needs his comeuppance NOW!!!!

Cabin Fever Reaction GIF

You want some sharp objects with that swift justice :)

Gary is someone Brad has to face

Remember in the Disney version how their version of Gaston formed a mob to go after the Beast, playing on people's emotions and fears of the unknown.

For my version, the idea is vigilante squad formed around Gary. It's a re-interpretation of the classic concepts.

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Wow what a chapter.

Gary is more than evil, he and his family are all manipulative shits and need bringing down.

Brad being out in public is a start, but he needs to confront Gary to help with his rehabilitation. Also so that Gary doesn't wi  with his changes to the University.

 

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52 minutes ago, chris191070 said:

Wow what a chapter.

Gary is more than evil, he and his family are all manipulative shits and need bringing down.

Brad being out in public is a start, but he needs to confront Gary to help with his rehabilitation. Also so that Gary doesn't wi  with his changes to the University.

 

True, Gary and his family don't value human beings.

As for Brad confronting Gary to get better, it's part of the bigger issues.

Last chapter @Geemeedeeasked a really good question on why must Brad attend classes in person? The answer is in this chapter, he has to confront Gary, the manifestation of Brad's hatred and fear.

Also, not sure if people ever wondered what Brad does during his days: He's auditing classes online, so it's not like he isn't participating, he's not ready to commit as an actual student and ultimately, Gary doesn't know about his presence due to him not being on the student rolls.

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On 10/13/2021 at 12:39 PM, W_L said:

“ … he has to confront Gary, the manifestation of Brad's hatred and fear.“

While confrontation makes sense, an aggressive therapy that requires a severely injured man to go among hundreds of students and attend classes while never knowing when the perpetrator of his attack will surface is just cruel. And unreasonable, in my opinion. Brad could confront Gary without appearing on campus. The stares and whispers could be a setback.

Edited by Geemeedee
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W_L

Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, Geemeedee said:

While confrontation makes sense, an aggressive therapy that requires a severely injured man to go among hundreds of students and attend classes while never knowing when the perpetrator of his attack will surface is just cruel. And unreasonable, in my opinion. Brad could confront Gary without appearing on campus. The stares and whispers could be a setback.

That's why it's an unorthodox approach, it's something that if ever used in real world settings would likely not be a psychological standard. A confrontation with a neutral group would help Brad far more than individual confrontation, because what Gary did to him was done under the presence of a group organized by Gary Gaston.

Cook, aka Dr. Evan Hooker, is hybridizing two concepts : Group therapy with positive social interactions through the theoretical presence of the residents of Keller Hall and Attack Therapy, an aggressive form of confrontation therapy where the patient is directly challenged by stimuli.

These 2 things work best in tandem with Brad, because despite his words and behavior to everyone around him, readers learn as the book progress through the patience of Beau's own selfless comfort that Brad is highly empathetic. Part of Brad's current issues and behaviors stem from prolong interaction with Gary Gaston, who is a textbook sociopath.

Interesting note is that Brad being very empathetic, like Gary being a sociopath, work best in group settings rather than alone, when it comes to how he operates seeking approval or emotional support. There's a similarity and difference between them.

Ultimately, I think Cook's therapy probably would have failed without Beau acting as a catalyst to activate his dormant empathetic instincts. Cook set everything up hoping to stimulate Brad's empathetic nature through one of the residents, but outside of Chip's non-sequitur encounters, he never connects with any resident.

Edited by W_L
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