With no hesitation. Tim Clausen went to the chair at the far end
of the table. Gil Moon and Bobby Crisp walked on either side,
though the boy did indeed wear a tightly-cinched straitjacket. He
sat down, the fluorescents blooming in the round lenses of his
glasses, and smiled at his visitors. It was a friendly smile,
with not a hint of menace. "Hi," he said.
"Hello, Tim," Dr. Cawthorn replied. "I'd like you
to meet Dr. Jack Shannon and Miss Kay Douglas. They're here to
talk to you."
"Of course they are. Nice to meet you."
Kay was still stunned by the pictures. She couldn't bear to look
at the third one, and she found it hard to look into the boy's
face, as well. She had read the case file, knew his description
and that he'd just turned seventeen, but the combination of the
photographs and Timothy Clausen's smiling, beatific face was
almost more than she could take. She pushed the pictures away and
sat with her hands tightly clenched in her lap, damning Foster
for not preparing her more thoroughly. This is the second test,
she realized. He wants to find out if I'm made of ice or crap.
"I like your hair," Tim Clausen said to her. "The
"Thank you," she managed, and shifted in her chair. The
boy's eyes were black and steady, two bits of coal in a pale face
marked here and there with the eruptions of acne. His hair was
light brown and had been cropped almost to the scalp. Beneath his
eyes were the violet hollows of either fatigue or madness.
Jack had been examining the boy as well. Tim Clausen was a small
boy for his age, and his head was oddly shaped, the cranium
bulging slightly; he seemed to hold his neck rigid, as if he
feared he couldn't balance the weight of his head. The boy looked
at each of them in turn—long, cool appraisals. He did not
"You can leave him with us," Cawthorn said to the two
attendants, and they moved out of the conference room and closed
the door. "Tim, how're you feeling today?"
His smile broadened. "Almost free."
"I mean physically. Any aches or pains, any
"No sir. I'm feeling just fine."
"Good." He took a minute to look through the notes
he'd written. "Do you know why you're here?"
"Sure." A pause.
"Would you like to tell us?"
"No," he replied. "I'm tired of answering
questions. Dr. Cawthorn. I'd like to ask some. Can I?"
"What kind of questions?"
Tim's attention drifted to Kay. "I want to know things
about these people. The lady first. Who are you?"
She glanced at Cawthorn, and he nodded that she should comply.
Jack had gathered the photographs back and was studying them, but
listening intently. "As Dr. Cawthorn said, my name is Kay
Douglas. I'm representing you with the public defender's
"No, no!" Tim interrupted, with an expression of
impatience. "Who are you? Like: are you married? Divorced?
Have any kids? What religion are you? What's your favorite
"Uh . . . well ... no, I'm not married." Divorced, yes,
but she wasn't about to tell him that. "No children.
I'm—" This is ridiculous! she thought. Why should she
be telling private things to this boy? He was waiting for her to
continue, his eyes impassive. "I'm Catholic," she went
on. "I guess my favorite color's green."
"Any boyfriends? You live alone?"
"I'm afraid I don't see what this has to do
"It's not fun to answer questions, is it?" Tim asked.
"Not fun at all. Well, if you want me to answer your
questions you'll have to answer mine first. You live alone, I
think. Probably dating a couple of guys. Maybe sleeping with
them, too." Kay couldn't control her blush, and Tim laughed.
"I'm right, huh? Knew I was! Are you a good Catholic or a
"Tim?" Cawthorn's voice was gentle but firm. "I
think you're overstepping a little bit now. We all want to get
this over as soon as possible, don't we?"
"Now you." Tim ignored Cawthorn, his eyes aimed at
Jack. "What's your story?"
Jack put aside a photograph that showed gory fingerpaintings on
the kitchen wall of the Clausen house. "I've been married
for fourteen years, my wife and I have two sons, I'm a Methodist
and my favorite color is dark blue. I have no extramarital
lovers, I'm a basketball fan and I like Chinese food. Anything
Tim hesitated. "Yes. Do you believe in God?'
"I believe . . . there's a supreme being, yes. How about
"Oh, I believe in a supreme being. Sure thing. Do you like
the taste of blood?"
Jack made sure he kept his face emotionless. "Not
"My supreme being does," Tim said. "He likes it a
lot." He rocked back and forth a few times, and the
straitjacket fabric rustled. His heavy head wobbled on his stalky
neck. "Okay. Just wanted to find out who my interrogators
"May I?" Jack inquired, and Cawthorn motioned for him
to go ahead. "Tim, what I'm trying to determine, with the
help of Miss Douglas and the public defender's office, is your
mental state on the night of October 12th, between the hours of
ten and eleven. Do you know what incident I'm referring to?"
Tim was silent, staring at one of the frosted-glass windows.
Then: "Sure. That's when they came. They trashed the place
"In your statement to Lieutenant Markus of the Birmingham
police department, you indicated 'they' came to your parent's
house, and that 'they'—" He found a photocopy of the
statement in his satchel and read the part he sought:
"Quoting, 'they did the damage. I couldn't do anything to
stop them, not even if I'd wanted to. I didn't. They came and did
the damage and after they were through they went home and I
called the cops because I knew somebody had heard the screaming.'
End quote. Is that correct, Tim?"
"Guess so." He kept staring at a fixed spot on the
window, just past Jack's shoulder. His voice sounded thick.
"Would you tell me who you meant by 'they'?"
Tim shifted again, and the straitjacket rubbed on his backrest. A
scatter of rain pelted the windows. Kay could feel her heart
pounding, and she had her hands folded tightly on the table
"My friends," Tim said quietly. "My best
"I see." He didn't really, but at least this was one
step forward. "Can you tell me their names?"
"Their names," Tim repeated. "You probably
couldn't pronounce them."
"You pronounce them for me, then."
"My friends don't like for just anybody to know their names.
Not their real names, at least. I've made up names for them:
Adolf, Frog and Mother. My best friends."
There was a moment of silence. Cawthorn shuffled his notes and
Jack studied the ceiling and formulated his next question. Kay
beat him to it: "Who are they? I mean . . . where do they
Tim smiled again, as if he welcomed the query. "Hell,"
he said. "That's where they live."
"By Adolf," Jack said, measuring his words, "I
presume you mean Hitler? Is that right?"
"I call him that, but that's not who he is. He's a lot
older. But he took me to a place once, where there were walls and
barbed wire and bodies were getting thrown into furnaces. You
could smell the skin cook, like barbecue on the Fourth of
July." He closed his eyes behind the round-lensed glasses.
"I got a guided tour, see. There were Nazi soldiers all over
the place, just like in the old pictures, and there were chimneys
spouting brown smoke that smelled like hair on fire. A sweet
smell. And there were people playing violins, and other people
digging graves. Adolf speaks German. That's why I call him
Jack looked at one of the photographs. It showed bloody swastikas
on the wall over the disemboweled torso of a little girl. He felt
as if he were sweating on the inside of his skin, the outer
surface cold and clammy. Somehow—without any weapons or
implements that the police could identify—the boy sitting
at the far end of the table had ripped his parents and sister to
pieces. Just torn them apart and thrown the pieces against the
walls in an orgy of violence, then marked the walls with HAIL
SATAN, swastikas, weirdly animalistic faces and obscenities in a
dozen languages, all in fresh blood and inner matter. But what
had he used to pull them apart? Surely human hands weren't
capable of such strength, and on the corpses were deep bite marks
and evidence of claws at work. Eyes had been gouged out, teeth
had been knocked from gaping mouths, ears and noses had been
It was the worst case of pure savagery he'd ever seen. But what
kept knocking against the walls of his mind were those scrawled
obscenities—in German, Danish, Italian, French, Greek,
Spanish and six more languages including Arabic. According to the
boy's school records, he'd made a low 'C' in Latin. That was it.
So where had those languages come from? "Who taught you
Greek, Tim?" Jack asked.
The boy's eyes opened. "I don't know Greek. Frog does."
"Frog. Okay. Tell me about Frog."
"He's . . . ugly. Like a frog. He likes to jump, too."
Tim leaned forward slightly, as if confiding a secret, and though
he sat more than six feet away, Kay found herself recoiling three
or four inches. "Frog's very smart. Probably the smartest
one. And Frog's been everywhere. All around the world.
He knows every language you can think of, and probably some you
don't even know." He sat back, smiling proudly. "Frog's
Jack eased a Flair pen from his shirt pocket and wrote ADOLF and
FROG at the top of the police statement, connecting them to the
word 'they' with an arrow. He could feel the boy watching him.
"How'd you meet your friends, Tim?"
"I called them. They came."
"Called them? How?"
"From the books. The spell books."
Jack nodded thoughtfully. The 'spell books' were a collection of
paperback volumes on demonology the police had found on a shelf
in Tim's room. They were tattered old things the boy said he'd
bought at flea markets and garage sales, the newest one
copyrighted in the '70s. They were by no means 'forbidden'
literature, just probably the kind of books that had sat in
drugstore racks and been spun round a thousand times. "So
Adolf and Frog are demons, is that right?"
"That's one name for them, I guess. There are others."
"Can you tell us exactly when you first called them?"
"Sure. Maybe two years ago. More or less. I wasn't very good
at it at first. They won't come unless you really want them, and
you've got to follow the directions right to the letter. If
you're a hair off, nothing happens. I guess I went through it a
hundred times before Mother came. She was the first one."
"She?" Jack asked. "Adolf and Frog are male, but
Mother is female?"
"Yeah. She's got jugs." Tim's eyes darted to Kay, back
to Jack again. "Mother knows everything. She taught me all
about sex." Another furtive glance at Kay. "Like how a
girl dresses when she wants to get raped. Mother says they all
want it. She took me places, and showed me things. Like one place
where this fat guy brought boys home, and after he was through
with them he set them free because they were all used up, and
then he put them in garbage bags and buried them in his basement
like pirate treasure."
"Set them free?" Jack repeated; his mouth had gotten
very dry. "You mean . . ."
"Set them free from their bodies. With a butcher knife. So
their souls could go to Hell." He looked at Kay, who could
not restrain an inner shudder. She cursed Bob Foster right down
to his shoelaces.
Hallucinations, Jack jotted down. Then: Fixation on Demonology
and Hell. Why? "You said a little while ago, when Dr.
Cawthorn asked you how you were feeling, you felt 'almost free'.
Could you explain that to me?"
"Yeah. Almost free. Part of my soul's already in Hell. I
gave it up on the night when . . . you know. It was a test.
Everybody gets tested. I passed that one. I've got one
more— kind of like an entrance exam, I guess."
"Then all your soul will be in Hell?"
"Right. See, people have the wrong idea about Hell. It's not
what people think. It's ... a homey kind of place. Not a whole
lot different from here. Except it's safer, and you get
protected. I've visited there, and I've met Satan. He was wearing
a letter jacket, and he said he wanted to help me learn how to
play football, and he said he'd always pick me first when it came
to choosing up teams. He said he'd be . . . like a big brother,
and all I had to do was love him." He blinked behind his
glasses. "Love is too hard here. It's easier to love in
Hell, because nobody yells at you and you don't have to be
perfect. Hell is a place without walls." He began to rock
himself again, and the straitjacket's fabric made a shrieking
sound. "It kills me, all this stuff about rock and roll
being Satan's music. He likes Beethoven, listens to it over and
over on a big ghetto blaster. And he's got the kindest eyes you
ever saw, and the sweetest voice. Know what he says? That he
feels so sorry for new life born into this world, because life is
suffering and it's the babies who have to pay for their parents'
sins." His rocking was getting more violent. "It's the
babies who need to be freed most of all. Who need love and
protection, and he'll wrap them in swaddling letter jackets and
hum Beethoven to them and they won't have to cry any more."
"Tim?" Cawthorn was getting alarmed at the boy's
motion. "Settle down, now. There's no need to—"
"YOU WON'T CAGE ME!" Tim shouted, and his pale face
with its encrustment of acne flooded crimson. Veins were beating
at both temples. Kay had almost leaped from her skin, and now she
grasped the edge of the table with white fingers. "Won't
cage me, no sir! Dad tried to cage me! He was scared shitless!
Said he was going to bum my books and get me thinking right
again! Won't cage me! Won't cage me, no sir!" He thrashed
against the straitjacket, a sheen of sweat gleaming on his face.
Cawthorn stood up, started for the door to call in Gil and Bobby.
"Wait!" the boy shouted: a command, full-voiced and
Cawthorn stopped with his hand on the tarnished knob. "Wait.
Please. Okay?" Tim had ceased struggling. His glasses were
hanging from one ear, and with a quick jerk of his head he flung
them off. They skidded along the table and almost into Kay's lap.
"Wait. I'm all right now. Just got a little crazy. See, I
won't be caged. I can't be. Not when part of my soul's already in
Hell." He smiled slickly and wet his lips with his tongue.
"It's time for my entrance exam. That's why they let you
bring me here ... so they could come too."
"Who, Tim?" Jack felt the hairs creeping at the back of
his neck. "Who let us bring you here?"
"My best friends. Frog, Adolf, and Mother. They're here too.
"Right where?" Kay asked.
"I'll show you. Frog says he likes your hair, too. Says he'd
like to feel it." The boy's head wobbled, the veins sticking
out in his neck and throbbing to a savage rhythm. "I'll show
you my best friends. Okay?"
Kay didn't answer. At the door, Cawthorn stood motionless. Jack
sat still, the pen clamped in his hand.
A drop of blood coursed slowly from the comer of Tim's left eye.
It was bright red, and streaked scarlet down his cheek, past his
lip to his chin.
Tim's left eyeball had begun to bulge from its socket.
"Here they come," he whispered, in a strangled voice.
"Ready or not."