It's hard to believe we've been back from Boston for five days and I don't seem to have accomplished much noteworthy. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? That's not hard to believe at all. I've actually been in a bit of a funky mood this past week and it took me a while -- and the aid of several vivid dreams -- to realize that the whole situation with Michael Devlin in St. Louis has affected me more than I realized. I'm not entirely sure why and, without aid of a good therapist, may never quite understand. It's not like I was friends with the guy. We worked together for a couple of years and then, when Imo's Kirkwood became the social center of my drinking life, he was a constant but peripheral character.
Still, I think it's just that having knowing someone at all who kidnapped two boys -- and is under investigation for another boy's disappearance in 1991 -- brings the TV world of horrendous crime far closer than I'd like. It seems silly to say that it makes me feel vulnerable and a little more fearful in general, but it does.
It's been strange, too, to see my old boss -- Imo's Kirkwood owner Mike Prosperi -- in interviews ranging from Larry King to the New York Times. Prosperi was the best boss I ever had, a truly good guy, committed to his community. It kills me to hear that people -- armed with misinformation from initial media reports -- have targeted the restaurant with everything from phone threats to attempts to throw rocks through the windows.
They seem to blame Prosperi for not knowing what Devlin was capable of and I suppose I understand that they need someone to blame. However, although the media initially reported that Devlin was a registered sex offender in Utah, that was not true. They had him confused with another Michael Devlin. And, as Prosperi has pointed out, Devlin has been working for him since he was 16 years old. Even if he had run a background check on applicants, there was nothing on Devlin's record.
In fact, Prosperi -- who has employed Devlin for 25 years -- was the first to tip Kirkwood police off to his suspicions that Devlin might be worth looking into. Knowing Prosperi, I'm sure it was painful and confusing for him to do that. The Kirkwood police were the ones who determined Devlin was a longshot since he didn't have a criminal record. Then it was coincidence that led them to a parking lot where they spotted Devlin's truck.
I guess what I'm saying is that Prosperi did the right thing, even though I'm sure he couldn't believe his own suspicions about an employee he has trusted for a quarter of a century. And now I hear from friends back in the neighborhood that people are staying away from Imo's Kirkwood, "punishing" the place by withdrawing business. I'm sorry for that. In the simplest terms I can offer up, that's just not fair.
Imo's Kirkwood has been a neighborhood and community favorite for decades. Prosperi has bent over backwards to make it a family favorite, an ongoing tradition. I hate that his business is suffering because of Devlin, who apparently hid his secrets so well even his family had no idea he'd had Shawn Hornbeck living with him for four years.
Unfortunately, there's not much I can do about it from here. But if you're in the St. Louis area and you're reading this, next time you're hankering for a St. Louis style pizza, get it from Imo's Kirkwood. There have already been enough victims of Devlin's sickness. The community should be rallying around this business, not shunning it. Grab a square, would ya?