Mental Games

Williamsburg

The boys spent the week after their trip to Kings Dominion making plans for Christmas break.  Adam kept busy writing up a list of the stores, businesses and organizations he wanted his parents to hit up for donations this year.  That way he would know which ones to call in advance, so he could prepare them to give when his parents went to collect.  Adam had Mike make out a similar list that Mike's parents would use, so Adam could contact those the Bermans were going to solicit as well.  Even though neither set of parents realized what Adam was up to, he would plant the seed to ensure that each group contacted would give something. 

The following weekend, Mike, Adam and Adam’s parents stayed at home and did a few simple things together.  They had a cookout, played miniature golf and went to see a movie, so it was a calm and relaxing time with each other.  They also discussed what they were going to do the following weekend as well and eventually agreed that Mike’s suggestion sounded like fun. 

“You really do have a thing for historical sites, don’t you?” Adam teased, once they were alone. 

“I do,” Mike agreed.  “I think it’s important, as well as interesting, to be able to see places of historical significance, so we can relate to what it was like then.  I feel it helps people better appreciate the process our nation has gone through in order to get to this point and sharpens their focus on where the country should be headed next.” 

Adam couldn’t argue with what Mike had just said, so they sat down and began to plan what they might do once they got there.  They were only going to spend one day at the location, well not exactly a full day either, seeing they would spend some of the time driving there first.  Since they wouldn’t have very long to do this, Mike made a list of everything he wanted to see.  Together, he and Adam did the research online and determined exactly where each place was within the site and which order would be most efficient to see them in. 

On the morning they were going to leave, the boys got up early, had a big breakfast and loaded everything they were taking with them into the car.  As George drove them to their destination, Rita turned toward the backseat and posed a question. 

“Mike, I can tell that it really means a lot to you to visit Williamsburg, but what exactly is it you hope to gain from this trip?” she wanted to know.  She wasn’t being demeaning or criticizing his choice, but was merely attempting to better understand why he wanted to go there. 

“I guess I want to do this because going to Williamsburg is like visiting a living museum.  What I mean is, going there will be as close as I will ever get to traveling back in time to the period just before and during the birth of our country.  Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia back then and it was where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech to the House of Burgesses.  A whole lot of the important people from history either served in the Virginia government, conducted business in Williamsburg or were guests there at one time or another.  Think about it: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Patrick Henry, James Madison and James Monroe all came from Virginia and probably were in Williamsburg for extended periods of time.  Even the Marquis de Lafayette stayed there for a while.” 

“I guess when you put it like that, it certainly does sound exciting,” Rita agreed. 

“Not only does much of Williamsburg still appear as it might have back in the 1700s, but the people that work there also dress up in period costumes," Mike explained.  "They even spend part of their day performing many of the same trades and services that would have been necessary during that period.  It means we will actually see what it might have been like to have visited there during that time, even though we'll be dressed differently and still have our cell phones in our pockets.” 

“I think I’m now looking forward to this trip even more than when I first agreed to do this,” George added.  “You would definitely make one hell of a salesman.” 

“Isn’t that what lawyers do in a way,” Adam countered.  “Aren’t they just trying to sell their version of a story to the jurors and have them buy into their point of view?” 

“I never thought about it in quite those terms before,” George confessed, “but now that you mention it, that makes perfect sense.  In that case, I’d agree that Mike has chosen the right profession.” 

Once they arrived at Williamsburg and parked the car, the four of them began walking toward the first attraction they planned to visit.  Along the way, they passed a bus that was unloading.  It was obvious that it must be some sort of tour group, since the passengers all appeared to be oriental and most weren’t speaking English. 

“The bus says Berea College on the side, so I’d be willing to bet the group from the Berea International Theological Seminary in South Korea,” Rita acknowledged.  “Berea College often sponsors groups from there and then takes them on tours.  They probably stopped here on the way to Washington.” 

“And how would you know this?” Adam asked his mother. 

“I had a friend whose daughter went to Berea College.  It’s in Kentucky,” she answered.  “My friend told me about many of her daughter’s experiences when she went there and one of them was accompanying one of these tour groups.” 

“It must be hard for the Koreans, because they don’t appear to speak much English, if any at all,” Mike pointed out.  “One of the older Korean guys seems to be acting as interpreter, because it looks like he is translating everything their American host is telling them about this place.”

“That’s possible,” Rita agreed.  “I think I remember my friend telling me something like that too.”

As the group of Koreans was moving off in one direction, Mike steered everyone else in another direction, as he guided them toward the hospital.  Once they entered, Adam turned to Mike and spoke. 

“When you first told me we were going to the Public Hospital, I was thinking it was a place where sick people went,” Adam challenged.  “Instead, this is the building where they would have locked up the mentally insane.” 

“Well they are sick too, just in a different way,” Mike replied. 

“But this looks more like a prison than a hospital,” Adam quickly countered, while glancing at a brochure.  “It says there were 24 cells, each with a stout door and a barred window that opened into the corridor.  It also states the only things inside each of the cells were a mattress and a chamber pot, which was their toilet.  There was also an iron ring on one of the walls that the inmate was chained too.  It doesn’t sound like much of a hospital to me.”

“This place was mostly for the dangerously mentally ill,” Mike clarified.  “At the time this was the standard treatment, but if you think this is bad, then I won’t tell you about the other things the patients went through.” 

“You mean it was worse than what I just read?” Adam asked, totally shocked. 

“I’m afraid so,” Mike confirmed.  “Those confined here were also given strong drugs to control them.  The process of bleeding and using blistering ointments were also used to drain the disease from the body.  It was agreed at the time that mental illness was caused by disease, much the same as any other illness.  The patients were also subjected to plunge baths.  That’s where the entire body was rapidly immersed in cold water, but the doctors used other ‘shock’ water treatments as well.  By the end of the 18th century an electro-static machine was installed and used on the patients as well.  The doctors truly believed each of these methods were effective ways to rid the body of the disease that was inflicting their patients.” 

“Damn.  Those sound like the same types of procedures the army and government were using on the terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay Prison.  It’s definitely not something that should be done in a hospital for the mentally ill,” Adam pointed out. 

“I agree, but this era wasn’t a great time to be mentally ill,” Mike concurred.  “Not that any time is good to be mentally ill, since those types of patients have been notoriously mistreated throughout history.” 

After leaving the hospital, the four of them went to see the Wren Building, the colonial gardens, Bruton Parish Church and several period homes next.  Along the way, they passed two boys, about 9 and 7-years-old, who were bickering and pushing each other. 

‘I can tell you two are brothers,’ Adam thought, as they walked past.  ‘I want you to stop fighting with each other or I’ll have your parents end the vacation now and take you home.’ 

This seemed to be enough to get the boys’ attention, since they stopped what they were doing and merely walked beside each other the rest of the time.  As soon as this happened, Adam and the others continued on to their next destination. 

“Well one thing hasn’t changed,” George noted, once they finished the tour of the Governor’s Palace.  “Those in power lived very well and those with the most influence and money had it much better than everyone else.  The rich and powerful had servants and slaves to do much of the work, but the common people had to work very hard just to scrape by.  From what we’ve seen so far, most of the jobs they performed were extremely labor intensive, many even backbreaking, and most people worked from dawn until dusk.” 

“And without any sick time, holidays or vacations either,” Mike pointed out.  “Of course some jobs were seasonal in nature, so people might have worked harder during some months than in others.” 

 

After leaving the Governor’s Palace, they made their way to see the Courthouse next, which was a single-story brick structure.  It was also the place where citizens used to find out the news as the town criers shouted it out. 

“In 1776 the residents of Williamsburg gathered right on this very spot to listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence,” Mike announced.  “Then seven years later, they gathered here again and learned the war with England was over.” 

“The idea that those things happened right where we're standing gives me goose bumps,” Rita stated, as her husband and son nodded in agreement with her comment.  

After looking around the building, the four of them went outside again.  As they moved around to the side of the structure, they discovered there were stocks and a pillory located next to the courthouse. 

“I was never sure which was which,” Rita stated, when she saw the devices. 

“The stocks have holes for the ankles, but sometimes they had holes for the wrists too,” Mike explained.  “The one being punished either sat on a bench or on the ground while they were being confined.  I’m sure it wasn’t very comfortable to be in the stocks, especially if the person had to remain there for very long.”

“Why do you keep calling them stocks, instead of a stock?  It’s only a single device, so shouldn’t it have a singular name?” Rita asked, looking puzzled.   

“It is called that because each half, both the top and bottom piece with the semi-circular cutouts in it, is called a stock,” Mike replied.  “Therefore, when they are combined they are referred to as stocks.” 

“Oh I see,” Rita mumbled, when Mike finished his explanation.  “So what makes it different from the other thing?” 

“The other thing is called a pillory,” Mike answered.  “It is usually on a pole and has holes in it for the neck and both wrists.  Once the person is placed in it, the two halves are locked together and the person stays in that position throughout the entire length of the punishment.” 

“It seems that back then public humiliation was a greater deterrent in preventing a person from committing a crime than it is now,” George pointed out  “Too often the humiliation now serves as a badge of honor that the criminal uses to brag about what he did.” 

“Well back then the rest of the community often turned out to taunt, tease, laugh at and jeer the condemned, so there weren’t many left to impress,” Mike offered. 

“I can certainly think of a few people I would like to see locked up in one of these devices,” Adam chimed in.  “I think those people would definitely be humiliated if they were placed in something like this and then laughed at.  If not, I’m sure it would have at least made those they'd harmed feel better, if only for a little while.” 

Adam was thinking about the man at Denny’s that was bothering the waitress, the father at the lake that he’d stopped from beating his son and the stalker he had kept from harassing the girl on campus. 

“Did they really throw rotten food at them too?” Rita wondered.  “Or is that just an old wives’ tale?” 

“No, that was done quite often.  The spectators not only threw rotten food at those being punished,” Mike agreed, “but sometimes they threw other things as well.  That would include mud, the internal organs of slaughtered animals, dead animals and even animal feces.” 

“Ewww, that’s disgusting!” Adam exclaimed, while shivering from the thought. 

“But it often worked as a deterrent, because people didn’t want to go through it a second time,” Mike countered.  “Just remember, this was usually only a punishment for the less severe crimes, so those this was being done to weren’t exactly the hardened criminals.” 

“Oh look!  There letting people actually be placed in them,” Rita pointed out.  “I want to get a picture of each of you in both devices before we leave here.” 

After some coaxing, she convinced each of the boys and her husband to agree and then she snapped photos of them with her cell phone.  Then, they made her do it too and one of them took a snapshot of her in each device as well.  Once they finished doing that, the four of them walked across the street to the Magazine, which was an arsenal building where the weapons and other supplies were stored. 

“I always thought a magazine was just where they kept the guns, gunpowder and ammunition,” George noted, when he saw what was inside. 

“Remember, they used flintlock muskets back then, so they had to keep the flint, shot, bayonets and gunpowder for them in there as well,” Mike replied.  “Those doing the fighting also needed swords and pikes at times, since it took so long to reload the muskets, but they also kept other items in there they might need too.  That’s why you also see tents, canteens, an assortment of tools and cooking utensils stored here as well.” 

“Yes, I guess it does make sense now,” George agreed. 

After leaving that area, they visited the Post Office and several more period homes before ending up at the Raleigh Tavern. 

“Now this is more my type of place,” George teased, when he saw where they were headed.  The others merely smiled and nodded at his little joke. 

“Look, there’s a bust of Sir Walter Raleigh,” Rita noted as they passed through the doorway.  “I had a feeling this place had been named for him, but it seems sort of degrading to name a bar after someone who had been knighted.” 

“This was much more than just a bar or a pub,” Mike quickly offered.  “The Inn was also a center of activity for the community.  Besides being a place where you were able to get something to drink, you could also get a meal in the dining room or pass the time by playing dice in the gaming room.  Plays might have also been performed here as well, but there could have been singers and other musicians here too.  In addition to those things, slaves were often auctioned off on the steps out front and the patriots probably even plotted against the British troops while they were in here.  They might have even drawn up their battle plans at one of these tables during the Revolutionary War.” 

That statement caused everyone to begin looking at the tavern a little differently.  They were still thinking about those things when they walked outside a short time later, but their attention was quickly drawn to something else that was happening nearby.  A couple of guys in their late twenties had cornered one of the young men from the Korean group and were aggressively taunting him. 

“Y'all come over here and go to our colleges,” one of his tormentors was saying in a definite southern drawl.  “Then you chinks take the better jobs away from us, just because y'all are good at math and will work for less.”

The young man from Korea obviously didn’t understand what this was about and merely tried to get away.  Even if he spoke some English, he probably couldn’t understand what his tormentors were saying, because both of them had fairly thick southern accents.  When the Korean boy tried to get away from them, the other two began to push him around and were getting more violent as every second passed.  It’s also when the situation suddenly escalated. 

Just as one of the two southerners attempted to shove the young boy again, the Korean grabbed the guy’s arm and flipped him over his hip.  As the southerner lay on the ground stunned, his partner eagerly went after the Korean boy next, in order to protect his friend.  To his dismay, the Korean boy obviously knew some form of martial arts and delivered several punches to the attacker’s body in rapid succession.  This caused the second boy to end up on the ground as well. 

‘Enough!  Stop the fighting,’ Adam mentally commanded.  He was directing his comment toward the two southerners, since he didn’t know if the Korean boy would understand what he was saying.  ‘Just leave him alone and walk away.’

As the Koreans began to leave the area, the other two guys hurriedly scrambled to their feet.  One of them made a sudden move to go after the Korean boy again, but his buddy grabbed his arm and then jerked his head in the opposite direction, to let him know they should just leave.  The southerners then took off and it appeared as if the situation was over. 

“I take it you had something to do with breaking that up,” Mike whispered as the two southerners walked off in the other direction. 

“Maybe, but I’m not sure,” Adam admitted, looking perplexed. 

Mike thought Adam was just being modest again, so he didn’t pursue this comment.  Instead, the two of them continued on with Adam’s parents, as they headed over to see the old Capitol building.  It was a two-story building with a cupola on top. 

“I read online that the House of Burgesses met on the first floor in the east wing,” Mike announced, as they entered the building.  “That was the lower house of the Virginia government and it was where Patrick Henry gave his immortal ‘give me liberty, or give me death’ speech.” 

“Wow, hearing that actually made me shiver, so I want to see where it happened,” Adam agreed. 

After visiting the room where this had taken place, they walked over to the west wing to see The Council Chamber, which was where the upper house of the Virginia government met.  The second floor was merely a collection of rooms where the various committees would meet or private negotiations could be held, so they didn’t bother to go there.

After leaving the Capitol Building, the four of them went to see the last place Mike had on his little list, the Public Gaol or jail.  It was a brick building, but not nearly as large as any of them expected.  The entire structure was only 20 x 30 feet in size (slightly larger than 6 x 9 m) and it only contained two cells.  There was also a place where the jail keeper stayed. 

“So who would have been kept in here?” Adam wondered. 

“This was used for the people waiting to go to trail or those waiting to be branded, whipped or hanged.  Sometimes the jail keeper might have also housed debtors, runaway slaves or the mentally ill as well, at least until the hospital was built.” 

“It looks pretty secure, considering when it was constructed,” George noted after they looked around. 

“And there’s even more you can’t see,” Mike responded.  “I read that the builders buried heavy beams under the floor before the jail was built, to prevent people from tunneling out or tunneling in to release someone else.” 

During their travels, Adam, Mike and Adam’s parents had also taken time to watch many of the period artisans perform their crafts.  This meant that Mike had now seen everything he was interested in and was ready to leave.  As they were making their way from the jail and heading back to the car, Mike and Adam spotted the two southerners they had seen earlier, when they were harassing the Korean boy. 

“Hang on,” Adam announced to his parents as soon as he saw the pair.  “I want to see what those guys are up to.  I have a sick feeling they’re looking for the Korean boy again, so maybe Mike and I can do something to prevent a problem.  Why don’t you two stay here and we’ll meet up with you again in a few minutes, after Mike and I see what they’re planning to do next.” 

Once that had been agreed to, the boys took off and followed the other duo.  Before long the southerners spotted the group of Koreans, but the two hooligans apparently couldn’t locate the specific individual they were looking for without getting closer to the group.  As they moved forward, Adam began to project his thoughts in their direction. 

‘I want you guys looking for the Korean boy to back away and leave him alone,’ Adam advised them.  The pair merely shook their heads, as if shaking off his suggestion, and then kept going.  ‘I said leave him alone!  Turn around and walk away.’ 

Adam wasn’t sure why he wasn’t having an effect on them, but the pair kept moving closer to the group of Koreans.  Eventually the southerners spotted the one they were looking for and walked directly up to him.  When they did, one of them reached behind his back, lifted his shirt slightly and removed the pistol he had stuffed into the waistband of his pants.  As soon as he grasped it, he held it out and pointed it at the Korean boy. 

“Remember me!” he shouted.  “Let’s see y'all try to pull some of that crazy gook shit on us now!” 

As he took a step closer and pointed the gun at the boy’s head, the Korean reacted.  With lightning quickness, the boy reached out and grabbed the pistol with one had, while he used his other hand to grasp the boy’s thumb and bend it backward.  He continued to force the guy’s thumb toward his arm, until he could take the handgun from him.  As that boy screamed out in pain, his friend stepped forward to help out, but as soon as the Korean boy saw this, he lifted the gun and pointed it at him.  This brought the other boy to an abrupt halt. 

The two southerners were shouting at each other now, as well as yelling obscenities and racial slurs at the Korean.  While the boys were screaming at him, sirens could be heard approaching in the distance.  Apparently, someone had called to report this incident and the local authorities were on the way.  A short time later, two police cars pulled up.  The officers jumped out of their vehicles, spotted the gun and drew their weapons in response. 

“Put the gun down!” one of the officers shouted in warning, but the Korean boy obviously didn’t understand or couldn’t hear what they were saying. 

At that point, there was a great deal of commotion in the area, because a lot of people were screaming and there was a great deal of shouting going on.  The two southerners were yelling at both the boy and the cops, while members of the Korean group were crying in fear and shouting as well.  The translator was also yelling at the boy, apparently attempting to inform him what the cops were saying, but the boy didn't respond.  It appeared as if the young man couldn’t comprehend or possibly even hear what the translator was trying to tell him, because there was a lot of other noise that could have drowned the translator's voice out. 

“Do something,” Mike urged. 

“I’m trying, but he doesn’t understand English, so I have to find another way to get through to him,” Adam replied. 

Adam was attempting to project a mental image to the boy and tried to get him to picture putting the pistol down.  Seeing his two attackers were screaming at him, along with the police, the boy didn’t seem to be getting the message.  He was still waving the gun back and forth at his two attackers to keep them at bay, since he apparently thought they were about to come at him again. 

“Drop the weapon now!” one of the officers shouted. 

“He doesn’t speak English,” Adam cried out in response, in an attempt to make the policemen understand. 

Before he could get through to them though, Adam heard a couple of fairly loud bangs.