Chapter 20.    Mother and Son

"Have you seen the papers?" Diane asked when Juan came to visit her on Thursday afternoon. The morning papers included reference, not to Ganley Toogood destroying a marriage, but to the bin raiders doing that. Toogood's name was never mentioned, although Groenig and Sinclair were both quoted. It was clear from the reports that the interview with the bin raiders outside the court room had only been a secondary concern. Their critics were the real source of media interest and media misinformation.

Roger's marriage was, however, only a small part of the perverted interest that the media had taken in the case. Diane's case represented something much bigger than Roger's problems. One headline said,


and another said,


"Yeah, I've seen them," said Juan. "We should've known it was going to happen sooner or later. Have the other prisoners seen it?"

"Yeah, but they're taking it surprisingly well. Several have come around asking if the reports are true; but when I explain the facts, they seem to know straight away that I'm telling the truth. The others have warned me about a couple of suck-ups who act just like your typical churchy… believing everything the establishment says, and doing all they can to prove their loyalty to the system. But so far they're just avoiding me, and I'm avoiding them."

"That's good," said Juan. "Anyone with any sense at all will know that the media has distorted things." What Juan was not saying was that he believed the general public did not have much sense at all. Perhaps it was part of God's mercy that, at a time like this, Diane was with others who knew what it was to suffer as social outcasts.

"I'm more worried about Sean," Diane continued. "What're we gonna do now? What if they try to take him away because of this?"

Diane was still struggling with the shock of facing a further month in prison, for she really was in prison now. She had been removed from the remand facility.

Sean was waiting with Roger in a hall outside the visiting room. Juan wanted to be sure that Diane was in a good frame of mind before he brought him in.

"You know we've talked about this possibility before," Juan said. "Either we trust God all the way, or we don't trust him at all. Isn't that right?"

"I trust him," Diane said as a silent tear ran down her face. "But I want to be sure we've done everything that we can do, too."

"Sean has been handling the separation really well so far. I'm proud of him. But you've got to be strong yourself if you want him to be strong. You've got to set a good example. When he comes in, you mustn't let him see you fretting."

"Yes, I'm trying," she said as she wiped the tear away. "It's just the suddenness of it all. I never expected that they would take this as far as they have. It's those damn cult-busters who are doing it."

"I wanted to talk to you about the cult-busters," said Juan. "We're having a bit of a problem with Roger. He's pretty bitter against Ganley. Ganley seems to have played a big part in breaking up their marriage, and that's obviously playing on his mind.

"Roger's so strongly committed to justice that he can't seem to accept what he's suddenly learning about the big bad world. He and I distributed together this morning, and anyone who stopped to talk got an earful of his complaints. It wasn't a very positive testimony. If we're going to help Roger love Ganley, we're going to have to love Ganley ourselves."

Dynamite was the one person in the group who was most like Roger Seeker in her fierce desire for fair play. But she knew the theory.

"You know I wouldn't really want to hurt Ganley or anyone else," she said. "But it's not realistic to think that I wouldn't be at least a little angry with him."

"Go ahead and be angry if you like; but don't sin." Juan was quoting a verse from the Bible. Not "sinning" for the bin raiders meant not wishing bad on the person they were angry with. It was Roger's desire for revenge on Ganley that had caused concern to others in the group. Such a desire could quickly destroy all the excitement and pleasure of Roger's new lifestyle, making him miserable and even jealous of those who were still working in the system.

"No problem," said Diane. "But for now, can we just concentrate on Sean? Do you think I can see him now?"

"I'll bring him in. Just remember that even if he should be taken away from us, we'll make it easier for him if we don't panic. It's not like they just automatically take kids away from parents any time someone goes to jail. A month in here isn't that long; and when you're out, things will soon die down. If we can get past this initial hysteria, we should have no trouble proving that you're a good mother even if someone does put in a complaint."

Sean and Roger then came in for a visit. Roger felt awkward, since he hardly knew Diane. He had not seen her since he had moved in with the community just four days earlier.

"Hi, Sean. How's my little man?" asked Diane as Sean ran over to her and climbed up into her lap. They were sitting around tables in an area where visitors were able to have physical contact with the inmates. Around the area were cameras and guards, always on the lookout for drugs being smuggled in; and Diane would be strip searched at the conclusion of the visit. But for now she just soaked in the luxury of Sean's desperate cuddle. He said very little, but he held her like he was never going to let her go.

Diane made several attempts to start up a conversation with Sean, but he gave only one word answers. What he needed most was just to hold her; he was not interested in conversation with others present.

So the conversation turned to Roger.

"Welcome to the group," said Diane. "How have you been finding things?"

"It's like a whole new world," said Roger. "I had no idea that people in a civilised country like Australia could be so unjust. All the people I used to trust are now my enemies... and just because we're trying to obey Jesus."

"What do you like best about the group?" asked Diane, in an effort to get Roger thinking more positively. He had to think for a moment. "I like having other people around who believe the same as I do," he said. "I used to think that I had a lot in common with my friends in the church; but not one of them has contacted me since I left. They were probably told not to contact me. What a bunch of robots!"

Diane could see that Juan had not been exaggerating Roger's problem. She gave Juan a knowing look, and then started down a different track.

"Are you jealous of them?" she asked, startling Roger with the implied accusation behind such a question.

"Of course not! Why should I be jealous? What do they have that I don't have?"

"That's a good question," said Diane. "Because when I find myself getting angry with someone, it's usually because I'm not happy with what I've got, and I want something that they've got. If I really had something better, I would be more inclined to feel sorry for them."

"I do feel sorry for them," said Roger. "I pity them, with their empty, pointless lives."

Roger was not very convincing. Even his pity was expressed angrily. He realised that Diane was joining the wall of bin raiders who were coming down hard on him about his attitude. That made him retreat from further conversation with her.

Juan could see that Diane's efforts had backfired, and he moved in to divert attention away from Roger.

"What's the food like here?" he asked, for lack of a better question.

"Not bad," said Diane. "Of course it doesn't measure up to frozen pizzas and out-of-date yoghurt from Buy-Rite." And they both had a good laugh. Sean continued to hug Diane, and Roger just shifted uncomfortably in his chair as the couple resumed doing most of the talking.

By the time the hour was up, Sean had loosened up a bit, and he left with very little fuss, assured that he would be able to see Diane again the next day.

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