It was nearly dark when they reached Athens and turned off the highway. The mental hospital was a complex of Victorian buildings on a snowy hill overlooking the campus of Ohio University. When they crossed the wide avenue and turned up the narrow, curving road, Danny began to tremble. The two officers led him out of the van and up the steps to the ancient red brick building with its thin white pillars.
They ushered nim directly through the old entrance corridor into the elevator and up to the tnird floor. As the elevator door opened, the policeman said, “You got pretty damned lucky, mister.”
Danny started to hang back, but the officer pushed him through a heavy metal door marked admissions and intensive TREATMENT.
Instead of a prison or hospital, the ward resembled a long lobby of a small residential hotel, with carpeting, chandeliers, drapes and leather chairs. Both walls were lined with doors. The nurses’ station looked like a reception desk.
“Jesus Christ,” said the officer. “A regular resort.”
A large elderly lady stood at the entrance of an office on the right. Her broad, friendly face was framed in black ringlets, as if she’d just had a hair dye and permanent. She smiled when they stepped into the small admissions office and said softly to the policeman, “Can I have your name?”
“I ain’t the one being admitted, lady. ”
“Well,” she said, “I am receiving the patient from you, and I need your name to document who brought the patient in.” The officer grudgingly gave her his name. Danny stood aside awkwardly, stretching his fingers, numb from the tight handcuffs.
Dr. David Caul, who had seen the policeman push Milligan into the office, glared and snapped, “Take those goddamned handcuffs off him!”
The officer fumbled with his key and removed the cuffs. Danny rubbed his wrists and looked at the deep marks on his skin. “Whats gonna happen to me?” he whined.
“What’s your name, young man?” Dr. Caul asked.
The officer who had removed the handcuffs laughed and said, “Jesus Christ!”
Dr. Caul jumped up and slammed the door in his face. He was not surprised that dissociation had taken place. Dr. Harding had told him the fusion seemed fragile at best. His own experience with multiples had taught him that a stressful situation, such as a trial, could cause unfusion. Right now he had to gain Danny’s confidence.
“I’m glad to meet you, Danny,” he said. “How old are you?”
“Where were you bom?”
He shrugged. “I don’t remember. Lancaster, I think.”
Caul thought about it a few minutes and, seeing how exhausted Milligan was, put his pen down. “I think we can let these questions go for another time. Just take it easy tonight. This is Mrs. Katherine Gillott, one of our mental health technicians. She’ll show you your room, and you can put your suitcase away and hang up your jacket.”
When Dr. Caul had left, Mrs. Gillott took him across the lobby to the first room on the left. The door was open.
“My room? That can’t be for me.”
“C’mon, young’un,” Mrs. Gillott said, walking in and opening the window. “You’ve got a nice view of Athens and Ohio University. It’s dark now, but you’ll see it in the morning. Make yourself t’home.”
But when she left him alone, he stayed in the chair outside his room and sat, afraid to move, until one of the other mental health technicians started turning out the lights in the corridor.
He went into his room and sat on the bed, his body trembling, tears in his eyes. He knew that whenever people were nice to you, you had to pay in the long run. There was always a catch.
He lay on the bed, wondering what was going to happen to him. He tried to stay awake, but it had been a long day, and finally he fell asleep.
In the morning of December 5, 1978, Danny opened his eyes and saw the light streaming through the window. He looked out and saw the river and the university buildings on the other side. While he was standing there, someone knocked at the door. It was a rather handsome, mature woman with short hair and wide-set eyes.
“I’m Norma Dishong, your morning case manager. If you’ll come along, I’ll take you around and show you where you get breakfast.”
He followed her as she showed him the TV room, the billiard room, the snack area. Through one set of double doors was a small cafeteria with one long table in the center and four square tables the size of card tables along the walls. At the far end was the serving counter.
“Get yourself a tray and some tableware, and you can help yourself.”
He took a tray and then reached for a fork, but when it came out of the canister and he saw it was a knife, he flung it away. It hit the wall and clattered to the floor. Everyone looked up. “What’s the matter?” Dishong asked.
“I—I’m afraid of knives. I don’t like ’em.”
She retrieved the knife, then pulled a fork for him and put it on his tray. “Go ahead,” she said, “get something to eat.” After breakfast she greeted him as he walked by the nurses’ station. “By the way, if you want to go for a walk through the building, just sign that piece of paper up on the wall there so that we’ll know you’re off the ward.”
He stared at her, dumfounded. “You mean I can go out of here?” ^
“This is an open ward. As long as you stay in the hospital, you’re free to come and go as you please. Eventually, when Dr. Caul feels you’re ready, you’ll be able to sign yourself out of the building to walk on the grounds.”
He looked at her in astonishment. “The grounds? But there are no walls or fences?”
She smiled. “That’s right. This is a hospital, not a prison.”
* * *
That afternoon Dr. Caul dropped in to visit Billy in his room. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine, but I didn’t think you let people like me come and go without being watched the way they watched me at Harding Hospital.”
“That was before your trial,” Caul said. “There’s one thing I want you to remember. You’ve had your day in court, and you were found not guilty. To us you’re not a criminal. No matter what you did in the past, or whatever anyone else inside you did, that’s over with. This is a new life. What you do here, how you progress, how you accept things—how you work with Billy, and bring yourself together in terms of yourself—that’s what’s going to make you get well. You’ve got to want to get well. Nobody here is going to look down on you.”
Later that day the Columbus Dispatch, carrying the story of Milligan’s transfer to Athens, summarized the case, including the evidence presented in court of Chalmer Milligan’s alleged abuses of his wife and children. It also published a sworn statement submitted to the Dispatch by Chalmer Milligan and his attorney:
I, Chalmer J. Milligan, married the mother of William Stanley Milligan in October of 1963. I adopted William, along with his brother and sister shortly thereafter.
William has accused me of threatening, abusing and sodomizing him, particularly over the period of the year when he was 8 or 9 years old. This accusation is completely false. Furthermore, none of the psychiatrists or psychologists, who examined William for the report prepared for Judge Flowers, interviewed me prior to that document’s preparation and release.
There is no doubt in my mind that William has lied repeatedly and extensively to those who have been examining him. During my 10 years of marriage to his mother, William was a habitual liar. I feel that William is continuing a pattern of lying which he established many years ago.
The accusations by William and their subsequent publication by numerous newspapers and magazines have caused me extreme embarrassment, mental anguish and suffering. I make this statement in order to set the record straight and clear my good name.
One morning a week after Milligans arrival, Dr. Caul stopped by again. “I thought you and I ought to begin your therapy today. Lets go to my office.”
Danny followed him, frightened. Caul pointed to a comfortable chair and sat across from him, clasping his hands across his potbelly.
“I want you to understand that I know a great deal about you from your case files. Its pretty damned thick. Now we’re going to do something like Dr. Wilbur did. I’ve talked to her, and I know she made you relax and she was able to talk to Arthur and Ragen and the others. That’s what we’re going to do.”
“How? I can’t make ’em come.”
“You just settle back comfortably and listen to my voice. I’m sure Arthur will understand that Dr. Wilbur and I are friends. She suggested that you be sent here for treatment because she has confidence in me, and I hope you’ll have confidence in me and I hope you’ll have confidence in me too.
Danny squirmed in his seat, then sat back and relaxed, eyes drifting from side to side. Seconds later he looked up, suddenly alert.
“Yes, Dr. Caul,” he said, placing his fingertips together, “I appreciate the fact that Dr. Wilbur recommended you. You will have my full cooperation.”
Caul had expected the Englishman, so he wasn’t startled by the change. He’d seen too many multiples to be taken by surprise at the emergence of an alter ego.
“’Ahem … ah … yes. And would you please tell me your name? For the record.”
“I’m Arthur. You wanted to speak with me.”
“Yes, Arthur. Of course I knew who it was, by your distinctive British accent, but I’m sure you realize it’s necessary for me not to make assumptions about—”
“I don’t have the accent, Dr. Caul. You do.”
Caul stared at him blankly for a moment. “Ah, yes,” he said. “I’m sorry. I hope you won’t mind answering a few questions.” “Not at all. That’s why I’m here, to help in any way I can.” “I would like to review with you the vital facts about the various personalities—”
“People, Dr. Caul. Not ‘personalities.’ As Allen explained to Dr. Harding, when you call us ‘personalities,’ it gives us the impression that you don’t accept the fact that we are real. That would make therapy difficult.”
Caul studied Arthur carefully and decided he didn’t care much for the arrogant snob. “I stand corrected,” he said. “I’d like to know about the people.”
“I will give you as much information as I can.”
Caul questioned and Arthur reviewed the ages, appearances, traits, abilities and reasons for the emergence of the nine people recorded by Dr. Harding.
“Why did the baby come into existence? Christene. What was her role?”
“Companionship for a lonely child.”
“And her temperament?”
“Shy, but she can be set off by fear that Ragen will do something mean or violent. He adores her, and she can usually distract him from some intended violence by going into a tantrum and banging her feet.”
“Why did she remain three?”
Arthur smiled knowingly. “It became important to have someone who knew little or nothing about what was happening. Her not knowing was an important protective device. If William had to hide something, she would come on the spot and draw or play hopscotch or cuddle the little Raggedy Ann doll Adalana made for her. She’s a delightful chilaL I have a particular fondness for her. She’s British, you know.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Oh, yes. She’s Christopher’s sister.”
Caul regarded him a moment. “Arthur; do you know all the others?”
“Have you always known all the others?”
“How did you learn of their existence?”
“By deduction. When I realized I was losing time, I began watching other people closely. I discovered that it was different with them, and I began to brood about it. Then, by asking some questions—both in and outside my head—I discovered the truth. Slowly, over many years, I’ve established contact with all the others.”
“Well, then, I’m glad we’ve met. If I’m to be of any help to Billy—to all of you—I’ll need your assistance.”
“You may call upon me anytime.”
“There is one important question I’d like to ask before you go.”
“Gary Schweickart mentioned something that has since appeared in the press. He said that from the facts of the case, discrepancies among statements made by all of you and the comments of the victims—things like foul language, statements about criminal activities, and the name ‘Phil’—he believed there might be more personalities than the ten already revealed. Would you know anything about that?”
Instead of answering him, Arthurs eyes glazed and his lips began to move. Slowly, imperceptibly, he withdrew. After a few seconds the young man blinked and looked around him. “Oh my God! Not again!”
“Hello,” Caul said. “I’m Dr. Caul. Would you mind giving me your name—for the record?”
“I see. Well, hello, Billy. I’m your doctor. You were sent here and placed under my care.”
Billy put his hand to his head, still slightly dazed. “I was coming out of the courtroom. I went into the van …” He looked quickly at his wrists and then at his clothes.
“What are you remembering, Billy?”
“The cop put the handcuffs on very tight. And then he shoved a hot container of coffee into my hands and slammed the van door. When he started up, I spilled hot coffee all over my new suit. That’s the last thing I—Where’s my suit?”
“It’s in your closet, Billy. We can send it out for dry cleaning. The spots should come out.”
“I feel very strange,” he said.
“Would you try to describe it for me?”
“Like something is missing in my head.”
“No. It’s like before the trial I was more together with all the others, you know? But now it’s like there’s more pieces missing up here.” He tapped his head.
“Well, Billy, maybe in the next few days and weeks we can try to find those pieces and put them back together. ”
“Where am I?’
“This is the Athens Mental Health Center in Athens, Ohio.” He settled back. “That’s what Judge Metcalf said. I remember he said I had to be sent here.”
Sensing that he was dealing now with a partially fused core Billy, the host personality, Caul spoke to him softly, careful to ask neutral questions. It struck him how the change of personality caused a definite facial alteration. Arthurs tight-jawed, pressed-lipped, heavy-lidded gaze that made him appear arrogant had given way to Billy’s wide-eyed, hesitant expression. He seemed weak and vulnerable. In place of Danny’s fear and apprehension, Billy showed bewilderment. Although he answered the questions eagerly, trying to please his doctor, it was clear he didn’t know, or didn’t remember, much of the asked-fbr information.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Caul. Sometimes when you ask me a question I think I’m going to know the answer, but when I reach for it, it’s not there. My Arthur or my Ragen would know. They’re smarter than I am, and they’ve got good memories. But I don’t know where they’ve gone.”
“That’s all right, Billy- Your memory will get better, and you’ll discover you know much more than you expect.”
“Dr. Harding said that. He said it would happen when I fused, and it did. But then, after the trial, I came apart. Why?” “I don’t have the answer, Billy. Why do you think it happened?”
Billy shook his head. “All I know is Arthur and Ragen aren’t with me right now, and when they’re not with me, I don’t remember things too good. I missed out a lot on my life because they kept me asleep for a long time. Arthur told me.” “Does Arthur talk to you a lot?”
Billy nodded. “Ever since Dr. George introduced me to him at Harding Hospital. Now Arthur tells me what to do.”
“I think you should listen to Arthur. People with multiple personalities usually have someone inside them who knows all the others and tries to be helpful. We call that an ‘inner self helper’—or ISH for short.”
“Arthur? He’s an ISH?”
“I think so, Billy. He fits the role: intelligent, aware of the others, highly moral—”
“Arthur’s very moral. He’s the one who made up the rules.” “What rules?”
“How to act, what to do, what not to do.”
“Well, I think Arthur will be very helpful in curing you, if he will cooperate with us.”
“I’m sure he will,” Billy said, “because Arthurs always saying how its important for us to get all together and get well so I can become a useful citizen and a contributing member of society. But I don’t know where he’s gone now.”
As they spoke, Caul had the feeling Billy was gaining confidence in him. Caul brought him back to the ward, showed him his room and introduced him once again to his case manager and some of the other people on the ward.
“Norma, this is Billy, ’ Caul said. “He’s new here. We ought to get someone to show him around AIT.”
“Of course, Dr. Caul.”
But when she walked him back to his room, she looked at him steadily. “You know your way around here by now, Billy, so we won’t have to go through that again.”
“What’s AIT?” he asked.
She led him to the main entrance to the ward and opened the heavy door, pointing to the sign: “Admissions and Intensive Treatment. We call it AIT for short.” Then she turned and left.
Billy wondered what he had done to make her so curt with him, but try as he might, he couldn’t figure it out.
When he learned that his sister and mother were coming to visit that evening, he became tense. He had seen Kathy, his sister, at the trial, and as soon as he had gotten over the shock of seeing his fourteen-year-old sister transformed into an attractive twenty-one-year-old woman, he felt comfortable with her. But his mother hadn’t been at the trial, at his own insistence. Though Kathy had assured him that his mother had visited him often at Harding Hospital, and before that at Lebanon prison, he had no recollection of any of it.
The last time he’d seen Mom was when he was sixteen, before they’d put him to sleep. But the image in his mind was from an earlier time: her beautiful face covered with blood, and a big chunk of hair ripped out of her scalp . . . That was the face he remembered, from when he was fourteen.
When they came to AIT, he was shocked to see how his mother had aged. Her face was lined. Her hair, curled into tight dark ringlets, looked like a wig. But the blue eyes and the pouting lips were still beautiful.
She and Kathy reminisced about the past, each trying to outdo the other in recalling moments which had been confusing in his childhood but which they could now explain as having been caused by one of the other personalities.
“I always knew there were two,” his mother said. “I always / said there was my Billy and that other one. I tried to tell them you needed help, but no one would listen to me. I told the doctors and I told that lawyer who plea-bargained you into Lebanon. But no one would listen to me.”
Kathy sat back and glared at her mother. “But someone would have listened if you told them about Chalmer. ”
“I didn’t know,” Dorothy Moore said. “Kathy, as God is my witness, if I’d known what he did to Billy, I’d have cut his heart out. I’d never have taken that knife away from you, Billy.”
Billy frowned. “What knife?”
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” his mother said, smoothing her skirt over her long tanned legs. “You was about fourteen. I found the kitchen knife under your pillow and I asked you about it. You know what you said to me? I think it was the other one who said it. ‘Madam, I thought your husband would be dead by this morning.’ Those was your exact words, as God is my witness.”
“How’s Challa?” Billy asked, changing the subject.
His mother looked down at the floor.
“Something’s wrong,” Billy said.
“She’s all right,” his mother said.
“I feel something’s wrong.”
“She’s pregnant,” said Kathy. “She’s left her husband and she’s coming back to Ohio to live with Mom until she has the baby.”
Billy passed his hands over his eyes as if to clear away smoke or fog. ‘I knew something was wrong. I felt it. ”
His mother nodded. “You always did have a way of telling tilings. What do they call that?”
“ESP,” said Kathy.
“And you too,” said his mother. “Between the two of you, you always knew things. And you two could always know what was going on in each other’s minds without talking. That always gave me the creeps, I can tell you that.”
They stayed for over an hour, and when they left, Billy lay on his bed and stared out the window at the lights from the city of Athens.
In the days that followed, Billy jogged around the hospital grounds, read, watched TV and had therapy sessions. The Columbus newspapers ran stories about him regularly. People magazine published a long article on his life, and his picture appeared on the cover of Columbus Monthly. Calls began to flood the hospital switchboard from people who had read about or seen pictures of his artwork and wanted to buy his paintings. With Dr. Cauls permission, he sent for art supplies, set an easel up in his room and painted dozens of portraits, still lifes and landscapes.
Billy told Dr. Caul that a lot of people had contacted Judy and Gary about the rights to his life story, and others wanted him to appear on The Phil Donahue Show, Dinah! and 60 Minutes.
“Do you want someone to write about you, Billy?” Caul asked.
“I guess I could use the money. When I get better and go out into society, I’ll need something to support me. Who would give me a job?”
“Aside from the money, how do you think you’d feel about the whole world reading about your life?”
Billy frowned. “I think people should know. It could help them understand what child abuse can lead to.”
“Well, if you really decide you want someone to write your story, you might want to meet a writer I know and trust. He teaches here in Athens, at Ohio University. One of his books was made into a movie. I mention this only so that you can examine all the possibilities.”
“You think a real writer would want to write a book about me?”
“It wouldn’t hurt to meet him and see what he thinks.” “Okay, that’s a good idea. I’d like that.”
That night Billy tried to imagine what it would be like to talk to an author. He tried to visualize the man. Probably be wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe, like Arthur. How good could he be if he had to teach at a university? An author should be someone who lived in New York or Beverly Hills. And why was Dr. Caul recommending him? He had to be careful. Gary had said there could be a lot of money in a book. And a movie. He wondered who would play his part.
He tossed and turned through the night, excited and frightened at the prospect of talking to a real author whose own book had been made into a movie. When he finally fell asleep at dawn, Arthur decided that Billy was incapable of handling the interview with the writer. Allen would have to take the spot. “Why me?” Allen asked.
“You re the manipulator. Who is better qualified to be on the alert and make sure Billy’s not being conned?”
“Always the front man,” grumbled Allen.
“Thats what you’re best at,” Arthur said.
The next day, when Allen met the writer, he was shocked and disappointed. Instead of a tall, glamorous author, he saw a short, thin man with a beard and glasses, wearing a tan corduroy sports coat.
Dr. Caul introduced them, and they went into his office to talk. Allen settled back on the leather settee and lit a cigarette. The writer sat across from him and lit his pipe. Just like Arthur. They chatted for a while and then Allen brought up the subject.
“Dr. Caul said you might be interested in the rights to my story,” Allen said. “What do you think it’s worth?”
The writer smiled and puffed away. “That depends. I’d have to know more about you to be sure there’s a story a publisher might be interested in. Something that goes beyond what’s already been published in the newspapers and Time and Newsweek. –
Caul smiled and laced his fingers across his stomach. “You can be sure of that.”
Allen hunched forward, elbows on his knees. “There is. A lot more. But I’m not giving it away for nothing. My lawyers in Columbus told me that a lot of people are after the rights. A guy came out from Hollywood to make an offer for TV and movie rights, and theres a writer flying in this week with an offer and a contract. ”
“That sounds promising,” the writer said. “With all the publicity you’ve had, I’m sure a lot of people would like to read the story of your life.” ,
Allen nodded and smiled. He decided to check the man out a little further.
“I’d like to read something you’ve written to get an idea of your work. Dr. Caul says one of your books was made into a movie.”
“I’ll send you a copy of the novel,” the writer said. “After you’ve read it, if you’re interested, we can talk about it again.” When the writer left, Dr. Caul suggested that before things went any further, Billy should get a local attorney to look after his interests. Columbus public defenders would no longer be able to represent him.
That week Allen, Arthur and Billy took turns reading the novel the author had sent. When they were finished, Billy said to Arthur, “I think he’s the one who should do the book.”
“I agree,” Arthur said. “The way he gets into the mind of his character is the same way I would like him to tell our story. If anyone is to understand Billy’s problem, it must be told from the inside. The writer will have to stand in Billy’s shoes.” Ragen spoke out: “I disagree. I do not think book should be written.”
“Why not?” Allen asked.
“Let me put it this vay. Billy vill talk to this man and so vill you and the others. You might tell him things for vich I could still be charged—other crimes.”
Arthur thought about it. “We don’t have to tell him those things.” ^
“Besides,” Allen said, “we have an out anytime we want to use it. If things come out in the conversations that could be used against us, Billy can always destroy the book.”
“How is possible?”
“Just deny the whole thing,” Allen said. “I can say I just pretended to have a multiple personality. If I say it’s a fake, no one will buy the book.”
“Who vould believe that?” Ragen said.
Allen shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. What publisher would take a chance on publishing a book if the man it’s about says the whole thing is a lie?”
“Allen has a point,” Arthur said.
“The same holds true for any contracts Billy might sign,” Allen added.
“You mean, pretend he is incompetent to sign it?” Ragen asked.
Allen smiled. “ ‘Not guilty by reason of insanity,’ right? I talked to Gary Schweickart on the phone about it. He said I can always say I was too crazy to sign a contract, that I was pressured by Dr. Caul. That’ll make it null and void.”
Arthur nodded. “Then I think we can safely go ahead and
tell the writer to seek a publisher for the boot. *
“I still do not think it is vise,” Ragen said.
“I believe it is very important,” Arthur said, “that this story be told to the world. Other books have been written about multiple personalities, but never a story like Billy’s. If people can be made to see how these things come about, then we might make a contribution to mental health.”
“And besides,” Allen said, “we’ll make a lot of money.” “That,” said Ragen, “is best and most intelligent argument I have heard today.”
“I thought money would appeal to your nature,” Allen said. “It is one of Ragens more interesting contradictions,” said Arthur. “He’s a dedicated communist who loves money so much he steals it.”
“But you vill agree,” said Ragen, “that I always give vatever is not needed to pay our own bills to the poor and needy.” “So?” laughed Allen. “Maybe we can take a charitable tax deduction.”
On December 19, the city editor of the Athens Messenger telephoned the hospital for an interview with Billy Milligan. Billy and Dr. Caul agreed.
Caul led Billy into the conference room, where he introduced him to city editor Herb Amey, reporter Bob Ekey and photographer Gail Fisher. Caul showed them Billy’s paintings, and Billy answered their questions about his past, the abuse, his attempted suicide, his domination by the other personalities.
“What about the stories of violence?” Amey asked. “How could the community of Athens be assured—if you were allowed to leave the grounds, as so many patients in this open ward do—that you wouldn’t be a threat to them or their children?”
“I think,” said Caul, “the question of violence should be answered not by Billy, but by one of his other personalities.”
He took Billy out of the conference room into his office across the hall and sat him down. “Now, Billy, I think it’s important for you to establish good relations with the media in Athens. The people have to be shown you’re not a danger to them. One of these days you’re going to want to be allowed to go downtown without a supervisor, to buy art supplies or go to a movie or buy a hamburger. These newspapermen are obviously sympathetic. I think we should let them talk to Ragen.”
Billy sat silently, his lips moving. After a few moments he leaned forward and glared. “Are you crazy, Doc-tor Caul?” Caul caught his breath at the harshness of the voice. “Why do you say that, Ragen?”
“Is wrong to do this. Ve haf struggled to keep Billy awake.” “I wouldn’t have called you out if I hadn’t thought it was important.”
“Is not important. Is exploitation for newspapers. I am against. I am angry.”
“You’re right,” Caul said, eyeing him warily, “but the public has’to be reassured that you’re what the court has said you are.”
“I do not care vat public thinks. I do not vant to be exploited and embarrassed by headlines.”
“But it’s necessary to have good relations with the press in Athens. What the people in this town think is going to have an effect on your therapy and your privileges.”
Ragen thought about it. He sensed that Caul was using him to give weight to his statements to the press, but Caul’s arguments were logical. “You think is right thing?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t.”
“All right,” Ragen said. “I vill talk to reporters.”
Caul led him back to the conference room, and the reporters looked up apprehensively.
“I vill answer questions,” Ragen said.
Startled by the accent, Ekey hesitated. “I—I mean we— were asking . . . We wanted to assure the community that you—that Billy isn’t violent.”
“I vould be violent only if someone vould try to hurt Billy or to harm a female or a child in his presence,” Ragen said. “Only in such case I vould intervene. Let me put it this vay. Vould you allow person to hurt your child? No. You vould protect vife, child or any voman. If someone try hurt Billy, I vould protect. But to attack without provocation is barbaric. I am not barbarian.”
After a few more questions, the reporters asked to speak to Arthur. Caul relayed their request, and they saw Ragen’s hostile expression change as if melting. An instant later it hardened into a haughty, thin-lipped frown. Arthur looked around, preoccupied, took a pipe from his pocket, lit it and blew a long stream of smoke. “This is quite mad,” he said. “What is?” Dr. Caul asked.
“Putting William asleep to bring us out on display. I have been trying my hardest to keep him awake. Its important for him to stay in control. However”—he turned his attention to the reporters—”to answer your question about violence, I can assure the mothers of this community that they do not have to bolt their doors. William is improving. He is gaining logic from me and the ability to express anger from Ragen. We are teaching him and he is consuming us. When William has learned everything we have to teach him, we shall disappear.” The reporters wrote quickly in their note pads.
Caul brought Billy back, and as he came out, he began to choke on the pipe. “God! That junks terrible!” he said, and threw it on the table. “I don’t smoke.”
Answering more questions, Billy said he did not remember anything that had happened from the time Dr. Caul had taken him into the other room. He spoke hesitantly about his aspirations. He hoped to sell some of his paintings and put part of his money into a child-abuse-prevention center.
As the Messenger staff left the room, Caul noticed all three looked quite dazed. “I think,” he said, walking with Billy back to AIT, “we’ve got some more believers.”
Judy Stevenson was busy on a case, so Gary Schweickart Drought the head of the public defender’s office with him to Athens to visit Billy. Gary wanted to know more about the writer who was going to do the book, and about L. Alan Goldsberry, the Athens attorney Billy had hired to handle his civil affairs. They met at eleven o’clock in the conference room, along with Dr. Caul, Billy’s sister and her fiance, Rob. Billy insisted he had come to his own decision, and that he wanted this writer to do the book. Schweickart turned over to Goldsberry a list of publishers, potential writers and a producer who had shown interest in the rights to the story.
After the meeting, Gary went off alone with Billy to chat briefly. “I’ve got another case that’s in the headlines now,” he said. “The twenty-two-caliber killer.”
Billy looked at him very seriously and said, “You’ve got to promise me one thing.”
“If he did it,” Billy said, “don’t defend him.”
Gary smiled. “Coming from you, Billy, that’s really something.”
When Gary left the Athens Mental Health Center, he had mixed feelings, knowing that Billy was in other hands now. It had been an incredible fourteen months, all-demanding, all-consuming.
It had contributed to breaking up his marriage with Jo Anne. The time the case had taken away from his family, and the notoriety it was still causing—the late-night phone calls from people who were blaming him for having successfully defended a rapist—had become an intolerable burden. One of his children had been jumped in school because his dad had defended Milligan.
All during the case he had wondered how many of his other clients were being cheated out of the time and effort that he and Judy couldn’t give them because Billy Milligan had been so complicated and had taken priority. As Judy had put it, “The fear that you might be slighting someone else makes you work ten times as hard so you won’t short-change the others. Our homes and families paid the price.”
Gary looked up at the huge, ugly Victorian building as he got into the car, and he nodded. Now Billy Milligan was someone else’s care and responsibility.
Billy awoke on December 23, nervous at the thought of talking to the writer. There was so little he could actually remember of his early years, just bits and pieces, the things he had picked up from others. How could he tell the writer the story of his
After breakfast, he walked to the end of the lobby, filled a second cup of coffee from the urn and sat in an armchair to wait for him. Last week his new lawyer, Alan Goldsberry, represented him on the book, and they had signed contracts with the writer and the publisher. That had been hard enough. But now panic was setting in.
“Billy, you have a visitor.” Norma Dishong’s voice startled him, and he jumped up, splashing coffee on his jeans. He saw the writer coming through the door of the ward, down the steps into the corridor. God, what had he gotten himself into?
“Hi,” the writer said, smiling. “Ready to start?”
Billy led the way to his room, then watched as the slight, bearded writer unpacked his tape recorder, notebook, pencils, pipe and tobacco, and settled back in a chair. “Lets make it a practice to start each session with your name. For the record, who am I talking to?”
“Okay. Now, when you first met me in Dr. Cauls office, he mentioned something about ‘the spot,’ and you said you didn’t know me well enough to tell me about it. How about now?” Billy looked down, embarrassed. “That wasn’t me you met that first day. I’d have been too shy to talk to you.”
“Oh? Who was it?”
The writer frowned and puffed at his pipe thoughtfully. “Okay,” he said, making a note in his memo book. “Can you tell me about the spot?”
“I learned about it, as I learned about most other things in my life, at Harding Hospital when I was partially fused. That was Arthurs explanation to the younger ones about being in the real world.’
“What does the spot look like? What do you actually see?” “It’s a big white spot shining on the floor. Everybody is standing around it or lying on their beds near it in the dark, some watching, others sleeping or busy with their own interests. But whoever steps on the spot holds the consciousness.” “Do all your personalities respond to the name ‘Billy’ when spoken to?”
“When I was asleep and outsiders were calling for Billy, my people started answering to the name. As Dr. Wilbur explained to me once, the others do everything they can to conceal the fact that they’re a multiple. The truth about me came out only by mistake when David got scared and told Dorothy Turner.”
“Do you know when your people first came into existence?” He nodded and leaned back to think. “Christene came when I was very little. I don’t remember when. Most of the others came when I was about eight, going on nine. When Chalmer . . . when Daddy Chal …”
His speech grew halting.
“If it bothers you to talk about it, don’t. ”
“That’s all right,” he said. “The doctors say its important for me to get it out of my system.”
He closed his eyes. “I remember it was the week after April Fool’s Day. I was in fourth grade. He took me down to the farm to help him get the garden ready for planting. He took me into the bam and tied me to the Rototiller. Then . . . then . . Tears came into his eyes, his voice thickened, became hesitant, boyish.
“Maybe you shouldn’t—”
“He beat me,” he said, rubbing his wrists. “He started the motor, and I thought it was going to pull me in and rip me apart with the blades. He said if I told my mother, he’d bury me in the bam, and then he’d tell my mother I ran away because I hated her.”
Tears ran down Billy’s cheeks as he spoke. “The next time it happened, I just closed my eyes and went away. I know now, from the things Dr George helped me remember at Harding Hospital, that it was Danny who was tied to the motor, ana then David came at that time to accept the pain.”
The writer found himself trembling with anger. “God, it’s amazing you survived at all.”
“I realize now,” Billy whispered, “that when the police came to get me in Channingway, I wasn’t really arrested. I was rescued. I’m sorry people had to be hurt before it happened, but I feel God finally smiled down at me after twenty-two years.”