1985 was the year that Alma Gorman got out of the Indiana State Women’s Prison, and my sister got into the popular crowd.
Callie was 13 that year, and I was 10. But because I’d been an early reader and leap-frogged the first grade, we both attended Grove Junior High––she as an eighth grader with chin-length yellow curls and a chest as flat as a dinner plate; me as the youngest sixth grader in school history. Each morning as we jostled one another in our tiny bathroom, Callie would scowl at me in the mirror––at my lopsided ponytail and the baby fat that still clung to my midriff and arms. She thought it was an outrage that I walked the same halls as her.
Then again, I wasn’t too keen on it either.
That August, on the first day of school, I’d been a jangle of nerves. I was worried that sixth grade would in fact be too hard for me, that I’d never remember my locker combination or learn to navigate the labyrinthine building. So when Callie and I finally boarded the bus at the mouth of our cul-de-sac, I had naturally wanted to sit next to her. I watched as she loped down the aisle to the last row and flung herself into the left-hand seat. But when I tried to join her, Callie lifted a flat hand to a point about 10 inches above the seat back. “Sorry,” she said with a vicious little smile. “You have to be at least this tall to enter.”
When I tried to join her, Callie lifted a flat hand to a point about 10 inches above the seat back. “Sorry,” she said with a vicious little smile. “You have to be at least this tall to enter.”
Though the bus was only half full, laughter seemed to split the air like a sonic boom.
In a way, it was Callie’s very public disdain of me that first got her noticed by the popular girls. She had a mouth like a razor and was always quick with a snipe whenever she happened to catch scent of me. She started calling me B.G., which originally stood for Baby Genius, but quickly evolved into other barbs, like Buzz-kill Girl and Bitch Go-home. And although she’s never admitted it, I know she was behind a raid on my gym locker that resulted in my underpants––plain white cotton with a small hole near the waistband––being tacked to a bulletin board in the lunchroom. What I quickly realized was this: The nastier Callie was to me, the more welcome she was among the people who mattered.
Twenty years before I entered the sixth grade, an Indianapolis couple named Lamm left their teenage daughter in the care of a neighbor. Ruth Ann and Virgil Lamm had a marriage that ran hot and cold, and in the summer of 1965, they had just reconciled after a long separation. As part of their “fresh start,” they had purchased a carnival concession that they intended to work together, traveling from town to town. The only impediment to this plan was their 15-year-old daughter, Betsy, whom they were reluctant to take out of school. When Ruth Ann mentioned this fact to a friend, the other woman offered to introduce Ruth Ann to a neighbor––a single mother who sometimes took on boarders.
Alma Gorman was 37 in 1965, but looked 10 years older; a string of pregnancies and miscarriages had stretched her body out of shape like an old sweater. She smoked heavily and had thin graying hair, which she pinned into a tight coil at the back of her neck. Divorced with four children, Alma kept her family afloat by working part-time at a drugstore and renting out a bedroom in her gray frame house for $20 a week. Ruth Ann would later say that she’d been impressed by the tidiness of the Gorman home––its shiny wood floors and dust-free shelves––as well as the quiet obedience of the younger children. But what ultimately made up her mind was that Randy, Alma’s oldest child, was a freshman at Betsy’s high school––it would make the whole arrangement awfully convenient.
Betsy Lamm lived with the Gormans from early August to late November of 1965––just under four months. During that time, she was beaten, scalded, branded and starved. She was kept mostly nude on a bare mattress in the Gorman’s cinder-block cellar. Her torturers included Randy, a rotating cast of kids from the neighborhood, and most often, Alma herself.
Here’s another thing that happened in 1985: Our mother got a new job.
For most of our lives, she’d supported us by answering angry customer calls at a tele-service center about 30 minutes from our home. She worked primarily in the morning and early afternoons, and our next-door neighbor, a grandmotherly woman named Mrs. Donovan, would come over, watch us eat our Rice Crispies, and make sure we got off to school. I liked Mrs. Donovan––she had a helmet of perfectly sculpted white hair and always smelled of rose water. She gave frequent and forceful hugs (which I enjoyed and Callie loathed); she fussed over my stellar report cards and the speed at which I tore through library books. She called me the sharpest little tack she’d ever seen. We got along famously.
Our mom’s new position was as a junior sales rep for Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis, and she was sure it would be the best thing that had ever happened to us. In addition to being one of the area’s biggest employers, Lilly was known for its high wages and good health benefits. She started work in the spring and, by the fall, was gearing up for her first big sales junket––a six-city trip that would last nearly two weeks. At first, our mother had planned on sending us next door to Mrs. Donovan’s while she was away, but Callie begged and wheedled, saying it would be better if we stayed with Jess Warner, an eighth-grade cheerleader who’d recently elevated Callie to her inner circle. It would be less trouble for Mrs. Warner, the argument went, because she already drove Jess to school every day and picked her up from cheerleading practice––there’d be no extra running around as there would be for Mrs. Donovan.
Our mom’s new position was as a junior sales rep for Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis, and she was sure it would be the best thing that had ever happened to us.
Personally, I hated this plan. And not just because I liked Mrs. Donovan and would have happily submitted to two weeks of her doting. No, what really worried me was that the constant hectoring I endured at school would now follow me home. Once we stepped off the school bus, Callie typically ignored me; without an audience, she simply had no reason to bare her fangs. But with Jess constantly at her side, I was certain that would change.
In fact, I was so worried about the possibility of staying with the Warners that I tried––for the first and last time––to talk to my mother about Callie. I found her in the kitchen, still in her work clothes––dark blue polyester skirt, cheap pinstriped blouse. She was shoeless and there was an incipient run in the heel of her flesh-colored stockings. My mother was still pretty then, tall and slender with shoulder-length hair she dyed a striking copper red. She had rolled up the sleeves of her blouse and was dicing leftover lamb for a stew she made out of odds and ends, the leavings of other meals. There was a high vinyl seat at the end of the counter where I often did my homework; I climbed onto it and drew up my knees.
“Here,” she said handing me a potato and paring knife, “make yourself useful.”
I took the potato and stared at it, turning it over in my hands.
“Mom,” I said without looking up, “you’re not really going to send us to stay with Jess Warner, are you?”
She opened a cupboard, peered into it, then opened another just above my head. “Have you seen the salt?”
“Because I don’t really like Jess. I don’t really like any of Callie’s friends.”
“Oh, here it is.” She poured a small mound into her hand, then dumped it into the pot sitting at her elbow.
“They’re kind of mean to me. Callie, too.”
“Hmmm?” she said absently breaking apart a celery stalk. She laid a piece on the cutting board and began chopping vigorously.
It had always made me a little dizzy to watch my mother wield a knife; she worked in fast, powerful strokes that could have easily taken off a finger.
“I said Callie’s mean to me when she’s with her friends. The other day—”
“Oh honey,” she said without looking up, “it’s not easy on her, you being so far ahead in school. It reminds her how much she struggles.” She paused to scoop the celery from the cutting board. “She doesn’t mean anything by it.” Then, glancing at the potato still resting in my hands, she said: “Good grief, Claire, how long does it take to peel one potato?”
Even if my mother had heard me, it wouldn’t have made much difference.
I learned later that Callie had enlisted Jess to pester her own mother about the two-week visit. In fact, both women were lobbied so mercilessly that, finally, they decided to meet for coffee. Both were single moms––a rare condition in our small, conservative suburb––and they developed, as outsiders often do, a fast affinity. Details were soon hammered out, and in late November, just as our mother was boarding a plane for Virginia, Callie and I were moving into Mrs. Warner’s spare bedroom.
At the time of her death, Betsy Lamm had the following injuries: over 100 cigarette and match burns, large swathes of missing skin, innumerable bruises; her bottom lip was nearly severed from being repeatedly bitten. The word “WHORE” in large block letters had been burned into the flesh of Betsy’s stomach. This was apparently an inspiration of Alma’s; she’d used the end of a wire coat hanger heated in a gas burner of the stove.
Early in Betsy’s stay with the Gormans, when she could still come and go with relative ease, she would often disappear in the hours after school, returning to the house well after dark. Alma believed this was evidence of promiscuity on Betsy’s part, that her unaccounted-for hours were spent “slutting around.” In fact, the Lamms later testified, Betsy was simply given to wandering. For much of her adolescence, she’d roamed the neighborhood alone or sat in the park humming to herself and doodling in a notebook. The prosecutor asserted that Alma had inflicted the brand and many of the other injuries to punish Betsy for her “heathenish” ways.
“You know what I heard,” Billy Simms was saying, “was that she made that girl eat her own puke.”
Billy was a gangly kid with a pimpled forehead and patchy blond fuzz on his lower jaw. He’d been held back a year and chewed with his mouth open, spraying a fine mist of food over me whenever he spoke. I found him revolting, but from 11:20 to noon each day, we were stuck together. That’s because the sixth graders at Grove ate lunch alphabetically, which landed me at a table of S’s––Ray Scarpelli, Stacy Sellers, Lara Simon, Pete Sun and, unfortunately, Billy Simms.
And suddenly it seemed, all Billy could talk about was a story his brother had seen on the evening news.
Lara Simon wrinkled her nose daintily. “That’s totally gross.” She had pale ivory skin and wavy chestnut hair that belonged in a shampoo ad. When she walked, she lifted her chin slightly, giving her an air of haughty sophistication. I had long thought her the prettiest girl in the sixth grade.
“And then,” Billy said, leaning across the table on his elbows, “then, she let her kids piss all over her––even in her mouth.”
The table let out a collective squeal.
At that time, I had only the most theoretical understanding of sex, informed by my mother’s hand-drawn diagrams and a school filmstrip I’d seen the spring before. To my 10-year-old mind, sex sounded not just distasteful, but downright bizarre, and I tried to think about it as little as possible. Yet listening to the story, I felt an unpleasant heat between my legs; against my will, it seemed to leak from the crotch of my corduroys into my legs and arms and neck. I kept my head lowered and my eyes trained on my spaghetti in case it should spread to my face.
Lara tossed a shiny tress over her shoulder. “You shouldn’t talk like that in front of Claire. She’s just a kid.” I frowned, both grateful for and resentful of her protection.
“Why not?” said Stacy Sellers. “It’s all true. Plus, that woman is totally getting out of jail. My uncle knows this guy that works there as, like, a guard or something, and he says it’s a sure thing.”
So far, I hadn’t fully believed any of this; I was old enough to understand how stories warped with repetition. But for some reason, it was Stacy’s comment that strained my credulity the most.
“They wouldn’t let someone like that out of jail,” I said.
Stacy raised an eyebrow, and with it, a purple-shadowed lid. “Claire,” she said, “For someone who’s ‘sposed to be so smart, you don’t know shit.”
“Claire,” she said, “For someone who’s ‘sposed to be so smart, you don’t know shit.”
After school that day, when we arrived at the Warners’ red-brick ranch, the first thing I did was ask to see a newspaper. Mrs. Warner seemed taken aback; apparently she wasn’t used to 10-year-olds with an interest in current events. But she recovered quickly, smiling and saying, “Sure, sweetie. Whatever frosts your cupcakes.”
So while Jess and Callie went to the family room to watch the afternoon soaps, I took the Indianapolis Star upstairs to the extra bedroom. It didn’t take me long to find the story––it was right in the center of the second page. It said the parole board had already voted to release Alma Gorman, but because some procedural nicety hadn’t been followed, the vote had been nullified and would have to be taken again. This was largely assumed to be a formality. But that didn’t stop several victims’ rights groups from protesting outside the prison and circulating petitions opposing the parole. What shocked me most was the article’s enumeration of Alma’s crimes, which included everything Billy had described––right down to the business with the vomit.
I felt woozy. That a grown-up could do the things described in the story seemed to flout some natural law. In my experience, kids––not adults––were the predators; they traveled in packs, circling the halls, sniffing the air for vulnerability as if it were blood. Adults, on the other hand, represented safety and order. They came as intercessors on behalf of rules and fair play. They ensured that kids like me weren’t hunted to extinction.
But Alma…she had species-hopped.
I peered at her photograph, at the concave cheeks; the downward curve of her mouth; the loose, almost fragile jaw. I tried to get a better look at her eyes, pulling the page closer and closer, until the image devolved into dots.
Betsy’s picture disturbed me even more. It was taken about a year before her death. Before her parents had left with their concession trailer, before the Gorman’s cellar. She had freckles and bangs and a reticent, pressed-lip grin. She was pretty, but there was uncertainty beneath her features. It sat close to the skin like a network of veins. I could feel it, rising from the page as if it were heat, mingling with my own self-doubt.
It sat close to the skin like a network of veins. I could feel it, rising from the page as if it were heat, mingling with my own self-doubt.
I let the paper drop to the blue-carpeted floor. All around me were Mrs. Warner’s knickknacks––a shelf of porcelain painted Huskies, a framed water color of an Eskimo woman on a snowy plain, a miniature carved totem with a wolf ’s head at its top. What did I really know about her, after all? My guts began to churn like a washing machine. I lurched into the hall and through the door of the bathroom, just in time for the contents of my stomach to erupt into the toilet bowl. I was so relieved that I hadn’t soiled Mrs. Warner’s floor that I began to cry.
That night, and for the three that followed it, I dreamed of Betsy. Or rather, I dreamed that I was Betsy. But instead of the Gorman’s cellar, I was in the girls’ locker room at school. I was naked and wet, as if I’d just showered after gym class, and I was trying frantically to push the desk of the P.E. teacher, Ms. Harrigan, in front of the locker room’s door. Outside I could hear the baying of wolves. Their claws made a rasping sound against the tile floor as they paced back and forth.
I woke, cold and shivering, my flannel nightgown damp as a bath towel.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one in the house having trouble sleeping. Since her divorce 18 months earlier, Mrs. Warner had suffered terrible insomnia. Several times a week, she took a pill to help her sleep. And that meant her daughter, Jess, was free to do as she liked.
Jess Warner was 13, but looked 17. She had the biggest chest of any girl at Grove, and a boyfriend in high school. It was widely known that she’d been getting her period since the fifth grade. But what impressed me most about Jess was her hair––the way it always looked exactly the same. It was more like a Platonic ideal of hair, a perfect cascade of red corkscrew curls that reached midway down her back. She wore it the way all the cheerleaders did, with the bangs teased up and the sides moussed out, so that they fell away from her ears in two perfect wings.
On the last Saturday we were to spend with the Warners, I woke from a deep sleep to use the bathroom and found Jess and Callie already inside. They were giggling and putting on makeup. It was after 11; I’d already been in bed for an hour. As I stood in the doorway blinking against the overhead light, Callie said, “Shit. She’s up.”
“What’s going on?” I asked drowsily.
“Nothing that has anything to do with you,” Jess said.
Callie was wearing a hot pink sweater I’d never seen before. She turned to the side and examined her profile in the mirror. “You sure this looks OK?” she asked.
What she really wanted to know was whether it drew too much attention to her flat chest––her one great insecurity. In October, she’d sulked for days after learning that the JV football team called her The Great Plains because she was “all flat land.”
Jess turned now and gave my sister an appraising look. With both hands, she stretched the neck of the pink sweater until it slipped over Callie’s left shoulder. “There,” she said. “You’re a fox.”
I watched them for a few more moments, trading little pots of eye shadow and daubing their noses with powder. They showed no signs of finishing.
“I have to pee,” I said finally.
“Go use the one––” Jess stopped short and cocked her head as if listening. She waited a moment, then stepped into the hall.
This time I heard it, too––a knock on one of the windows.
“Hurry up. They’re here,” Jess said to my sister, then darted into her room.
“Callie, who’s here? What’s going on?”
“Nothing. Go back to bed.” She dropped a tube of lip gloss into a drawer, then pushed past me into the hall. I followed her into Jess’ room. There, at the window, were two older boys. Jess was already wearing her coat.
“ARE YOU SNEAKING OUT?”
Callie clapped a hand over my mouth. “Jesus, Claire.”
It was as if a trap door swung open at the base of my stomach. Since I’d learned of Alma Gorman a week earlier, only Callie’s proximity had kept me from running straight to Mrs. Donovan’s. The idea of my sister leaving me now, in the middle of the night, was purely terrifying. I absolutely could not be alone with Mrs. Warner, comatose or otherwise. I grabbed Callie’s forearm with both hands. “You can’t leave!”
I absolutely could not be alone with Mrs. Warner, comatose or otherwise.
She tried to shake me off but I locked my fingers together.
“Don’t be such a fucking baby.”
Jess, in the meantime, had eased open the window. One of the boys—blond and pale with red, flaky skin at his neck––leaned in and kissed her wetly. His friend stamped his feet and pressed his shoulders toward his ears. “C’mon, man. It’s freezing. Besides all the beer’ll be gone soon.”
Jess detached herself from the blond boy’s face and turned expectantly to Callie. My sister took a step toward the window, but I was still hanging onto her arm and now leaned backward with all my weight. She staggered and almost fell.
“Please, Callie!” At some point I had started to cry and what felt like great gushes of water now coursed down my face. My chest felt suddenly shallow, compressed by something heavy. It was only when Callie had pried my hands away and Jess was climbing through the window that the right words finally came to me.
“I’ll tell,” I said.
Jess froze with one leg over the sill, but Callie spun around, her eyes narrowed. “You little bitch,” she said.
Outside, the blond boy threw up his arms. “Jess, this is so uncool. We gotta go.”
“Well, we can’t. Not ‘til we figure out what to do with Claire.”
“We could lock her up…in a closet or something,” Callie said.
“If she makes enough noise, she might still wake my mom.”
This was when the other boy spoke up. He was tall and skinny with a prominent Adam’s apple and gelled brown hair that rippled back from his forehead. “Bring her with,” he said.
They all looked at him, frowning.
“No, it’ll be fine. Everyone will be outside at the bonfire. We can just stick her in one of the bedrooms. She’ll, like, watch TV or something.”
The friend’s name was Danny; it was his Chevy station wagon that rolled us silently out of the Warner’s black-topped drive. Callie sat in front next to him, with Jess and Josh behind attempting to occupy the same square foot of space. I sat in the trunk. I was still wearing my nightgown, now with a pair of hastily pulled on jeans underneath and my wool coat over the top. I watched out the back window as the Warner’s house disappeared around a turn and their cozy subdivision gave way to country roads choked by darkness.
The party was in back of a large, white farmhouse, itself about 50 yards off the road. As we tumbled out of the Chevy, I could see the orange glow of the bonfire skipping across the dry lawn like a stone over water. The air was thick with wood smoke; when I inhaled, it stung my throat. There was music, something with a squealing guitar, that punctuated the laughter and the snap of the fire. Individual voices occasionally broke the surface of the din, then quickly disappeared. Jess and Josh set off immediately for the back of the house, while Danny and Callie led me through the front door.
“You sure this OK?” I heard Callie ask. There was a nervous quaver in her voice; I wondered if it was for me. We found ourselves in a narrow entry hall, the only light an orange flicker from an unseen window.
“It’s cool. My buddy John lives here,” Danny said. “His folks are out of town.”
Danny put his hands on my shoulders and aimed me toward a wooden staircase. When I didn’t move, he gave me a little push. “That way,” he said. “Upstairs.”
I felt the way forward tentatively, gathering armfuls of air, searching for anything solid. Halfway up, the stairs made a 90-degree turn, and when my fingertips brushed the wall, I jumped as if it wasn’t plaster I’d encountered, but flesh.
“In here,” Danny said, opening a door. “This is Johnny’s room. TV’s on the dresser; bathroom’s down the hall.”
I heard Callie’s boot heels clack toward me, then smelled the Listerine on her breath.
“Keep your runty ass in here,” she hissed, “or I’ll send Alma up to baby sit.”
For a long time, I was too scared to do much of anything––even search for the light switch. I just sat on the floor with my eyes squeezed shut and my coat hugged around my knees. After what seemed like an hour––though it may have only been minutes––this posture became an effort and I relaxed enough to open my eyes and let my arms drop to the floor. Slowly, the details of the room began to carve themselves out of the darkness––a spindle-backed rocking chair piled with clothes, the rabbit ears on top of a television, a tall chest of drawers. I became aware of the light of the bonfire straining at the weave of the curtains. After a few more minutes, I crawled up onto the unmade bed and ducked my head underneath the coarse fabric of the drapes.
Slowly, the details of the room began to carve themselves out of the darkness––a spindle-backed rocking chair piled with clothes, the rabbit ears on top of a television, a tall chest of drawers.
The fire was large, the peaks of the flames almost as tall as the surrounding figures. People stood
in little clumps; a few sat in the empty bed of truck.
Callie was down there somewhere, among the silhouettes. Our mother was even farther off, hundreds of miles and several states away. I wanted her badly. I wanted my house and the room I shared with Callie; I wanted the familiar sound of Johnny Carson drifting in from the living room as I fell asleep; I wanted the shuffle of my mother’s slippers on the linoleum floor. And suddenly I found myself thinking of Betsy. She must have wanted her mother, too. How cold and desperate she must have been in Alma’s cellar. I knew something of that frightened-rabbit feeling, how it felt to want to shut your eyes and disappear, to simply evaporate from the world. Betsy must have thought of her mother often as she lay in that cellar listening to the footfalls on the floor above. I shivered at the thought.
My sister, I knew, was not thinking of our mother––or me, for that matter. She was laughing and flirting, warmed by the firelight, trying to look older than she was. This, I felt, was the worst thing she’d done to me—leaving me unprotected in this strange place. Worse than the names and the snubs at school (which I’d frankly grown used to), worse than making a pennant of my underwear. I hated her…and yet, she was all I had in that moment, so I kept watching for her, kept trying to pick her out among the silhouettes, hoping to be reassured she was nearby. But the movement of the flames tugged on my eyes, and at last, I gave in, staring at the fire until I fell asleep.
The sounds are the next thing I remember.
Animal sounds. Coming from the next room.
I crawled to the edge of the bed and pressed my ear to the wall. I heard panting and grunting. Floorboards creaking. The rasp of fabric on fabric.
In my half-asleep state I couldn’t imagine what was happening. I worried though––I pictured a small cat or bird being torn apart, its body thrashing against a rug. Just then one sound broke away from the rest––it was a kind of gurgle, a cry that didn’t emerge all the way from the throat. I recognized it. It was the sound Callie made during a bad dream.
I crept into the hall. The door to the next room was slightly ajar, and I pressed it lightly, until I could see inside.
The curtains were open and the glow of the bonfire lit the room. Callie was on the floor and there was a dark, male back on top of her. They were angled slightly away from me, his face turned to the far wall. Her jeans were around her ankles and the pink sweater bunched at her neck. The boy was bare from his waist to his knees, where his own pants had settled. A feral grunting rose from deep in his chest. One of his hands covered Callie’s mouth, the other pinned her left arm against the floor.
My mind took in these details separately, as if they were unrelated to each other. I stood in the doorway, waiting for the pieces to fit together in a way that made sense. Then Callie made that noise again. I noticed for the first time that her face was wet and that her eyes were round with alarm. Then they locked onto mine. We stared at each other.
In that moment, there were many things I could have done.
I knew by this point that my sister was not––or no longer––a willing participant in what has happening. I could have run outside for help. I could have picked up the phone and called Mrs. Warner, Mrs. Donovan, the police. I could have screamed, shouted, thrown something. But as I watched my sister squirming in panic– even pain––I did none of these things. I merely put my hand on the cold brass knob and quietly pulled the door to.
Once, when we were in our late 20s, I tried to talk to Callie about what happened that night. She laughed a high nervous laugh and said she would have never taken me along to a party when I was so young. “Honestly, Claire. I don’t know where you get this stuff. You probably dreamed the whole thing. You were always doing that as a kid.”
But I did not dream it. Any more than Betsy dreamed Alma.
Irene Westcott is the winner of The Baltimore Review’s 2007 Creative Nonfiction Competition. Her writing has also appeared in The 2nd Hand, LITnIMAGE, The Blue Earth Review, Pure Francis, The Literary Bohemian and the Bullfight Review. She was nominated for Best of the Net 2010 and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, son and two moody cats.
About “Wolves”: Anyone who lived in central Indiana in 1985 probably remembers the name Gertrude Baniszewski. She’d been tried and convicted 20 years earlier for the murder of one of her neighbors, a 16-year-old girl. When I was in the sixth grade, Baniszewski won parole and suddenly her face –– as well as the details of her crime –– were all over the evening news. It was nightmarish stuff. But as sickening as the case was, what really stuck in my head was a comment I heard at school. A classmate of mine had a younger sister she liked to torment, and she told a group of us (rather proudly) that she’d taken to telling her sister: “Gertrude is coming to baby sit.”
I think this story really started from that single statement –– though as it evolved, I chose to fictionalize certain portions of the crime. (Sadly, however, much of what happens to my character, Betsy, is based in fact). At the end of the day, I guess I just wanted to explore what that moment in time meant for me –– the discovery that people we trust can be just as dangerous as people we fear.