The New Michael
January 22, 2007 by Julius Serpentine

It's play time, kids!

Michael Devlin, an oafish Missouri pizza manager, is accused of kidnapping two children. While one boy, 13-year-old Ben Ownby, was held for less than a week, the other, Shawn Hornbeck, had been missing for four years. How a 6’4”, 300 lb. man was able to hide a young boy for so long is still a mystery, though authorities suspect he may have smuggled Shawn in between sector four and five of his gut.

Devlin made himself available for interviews from the Franklin County jail, but would not discuss his pending court case. With our need to dig deeper into this developing story, Slantmouth was on the scene.

Slantmouth: So, why did you do it?

Michael Devlin: I really can’t talk about anything related to my pending case. But let me tell you, I have no idea how I’m going to explain any of this to my parents.

Slantmouth: You still haven’t talked to your parents? They haven’t tried to contact you?

Devlin: I haven’t worked up the nerve to call them yet. I’m still holding out hope that they don’t find out. We haven’t really spoken much recently. I think they were getting suspicious after the seven-hundredth time I told them Shawn was at my place because I was part of the Big Brother program. It was even harder to explain why we he was showering in my bathroom and sleeping in my bed.

You know, it’s much easier talking to strangers about these things than your own parents.

Slantmouth: How are the accommodations in prison?

Devlin: Well, I’m in solitary confinement. It’s a 10-by-7 foot cell. They won’t let me mingle with the general population because they think I’ll be beat up.

I don’t see why. I didn’t kill anyone. I’m a pretty nice guy once you get to know me. Even kids love me.

Slantmouth: What do you miss most about the outside world?

Devlin: I miss not having a computer. If I weren’t in jail I’d be in front of my computer screen playing ‘Final Fantasy XI’ right now. I play a lot of videogames now, since I had some of my toes amputated because of my diabetes. I can’t really hunt and fish like I used to. The animals get scared away before I brutally shoot them, because they can hear me stumbling along. My 300 lbs. is not nearly as graceful with missing toes.

Games keep me going, though. I like ‘Final Fantasy XI’ because it has a network that can connect to people all over the world, from Europe and Japan. I don’t have a lot of actual friends so I have to take what I can get online. It doesn’t matter to me if we don’t speak the same language. I can feel the warmth of their spirit through my screen. More so when I’m not wearing pants. It’s probably the skin-to-screen contact.

Slantmouth: Why do you not have many friends in real life?

Devlin: I don’t really get out a lot. Almost all of my friends were from the pizza place I managed. I’d worked there since I was sixteen. I’m forty-one now. I was never very good at school, but I could make a completely mediocre pizza any day of the week.

The friends I made when I first started working there were a bit older than me, but we would still hang out. Then, all of a sudden, everyone had to start getting lives. They were getting married and having kids, too busy to play videogames and cards.

I guess you could say I was pretty lonely.

Slantmouth: Yes, it is truly sad when people turn their back on living a prolonged childhood. Would you say that the betrayal of your friends contributed to the kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck?

Devlin: I wouldn’t say kidnapping, but between my friends all leaving, after I thought none of us would ever grow up, and being confined to live indoors because of my toe amputations, I really needed a friend. That’s probably why I forged my special friendship with Shawn. We were like two peas in a pod. We did everything together.

It brought the kind of warmth into my life that ‘Final Fantasy XI’ and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies couldn’t provide. I still have a special place in my heart for Frodo though. Sometimes Shawn would pretend to be Frodo and I would be Samwise Gamgee. We’d reenact the end of the last ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie all the time. It was so much fun.

Slantmouth: Did you think that maybe it would be better to find a nice girl?

Devlin: I’m not really interested in romantic relationships. Frodo…uh, I mean, Shawn was totally with me on that one. Girls are not cool. Not fun to hang out with at all.

The worst thing about prison is that most of the books they have are romance books, with these graphic descriptions of sex. And girls. It’s disgusting.

I don’t know what kind of inmate reads romance novels. I’m kind of glad that I’m the only person in my cell, because if I had to room with some guy who read romance novels I would really feel weird.

Slantmouth: If you had such a good relationship with Hornbeck, why did you feel the need to grab the second boy, Ben Ownby?

Devlin: I’m not really supposed to discuss any of the pending cases, but I felt like the kid needed to be saved. I could see in his big, beautiful eyes that his parents would want him to grow up one day. I wanted to protect him, like Samwise protected Frodo.

Slantmouth: Well, I think we have heard more than enough. Thanks for your time.

Devlin: Yeah. Thanks for talking to me. I haven’t talked to anybody not wearing a baton in a few days.

Hey, do you think there is anyway you could send me a cake with a PSP baked inside or something? Oh, or maybe bake in a young boy who never wants to grow old. That would be great!

Slantmouth has no idea what to make of the strange man we met in that prison. We could only gather that he was a lonely and desperate man. Whatever he is looking for, he is sure to find it inside the stone walls of prison. There is no amusement park or petting zoo there, but at least the relevance of time will never be an issue again.

~Julius Serpentine