Joey is twelve but intellectually he is more like a five year old. He weighs about 230 pounds and wears clothes with cartoon characters stretched tight across his belly. His shorts are all awkwardly too short which seems to draw attention to his socks that are somehow wrong. They're too long, mismatched, dirty, and pulled up unintentionally high. He has a lisp. Sometimes he struts proudly into the room, emphasizing his weight, and tells the group about his mom coming for a visit. When he does, the others do not meet his gaze. They know it is a lie and they have told the same lie. It is not a lie they challenge or call attention to. It is a lie they let sadly lie.
He sits in group. He is maniacally upbeat about his impending "visit." The therapist running the group does check ins. This is where she asks the kids to talk about what's been going on since they last met. The room is tense with Joey's impending anger. No one shares much. They say something about PE or a friend who hurt their feelings. Joey interrupts every story to offer help or to talk about his mom helping him in the same situation. She is an angel to be worshipped as any five year old could tell you. Beautiful, kind, and with the best hugs.
An interruption from a counselor lets Joey know that his mother will not be coming today.
His mother never shows. He rages and tries to be a man about it. He takes it out on the kind ones, in big angry primal lashes. His rage is a child's though. A sadness no one can soothe but a mother. But there's no sympathetic mama. There is a mentally retarded, homeless, drug addict who has whored him out.
His hurt is attached to memories that don't have words. They are before words. Bad smells, bad.
Joey is alone in the world. With an unfortunate physique, unexplained anger, and an IQ that can't keep up with therapy. How long before the twinkle goes out of a twelve year old's eyes?