I will never forget the first time I saw Elan. It looked like a trailer park. Here are a couple real photos:
Everything looked worn down and dilapidated, which it was. I wish I could show you real photos of the inside, because the outside facade was nothing compared to the conditions inside. I guess when all you care about is profit, you learn to accept this kind of poverty as standard procedure. I mean, who cares right? It’s not like the staff members or owners had to live there, only the children. And since the entire point of Elan was punishment and psychological torment, why not allow the living conditions to degrade?
The creator of Elan, Joe Ricci, was a multi-millionaire by the age of 30. He made so much money from Elan that he was able to buy Scarborough Downs: the largest horse-racing/gambling establishment in Maine.
Yet nobody seemed concerned that a man claiming to want to save people’s lives by creating a supposed “rehab” center also happened to own the biggest legal gambling racket in the state. Make’s sense. Those two establishments relate like toothpaste and orange juice.
So while his gambling operation basically printed money, and while Elan brought in 50 thousand per resident, nobody could be bothered to improve the living conditions of the kids locked away in the middle of the Maine forest. Understand that and you will start to get an idea about the kind of evil and greed that created Elan in the first place.
Believe me, if you had seen the place with your own eyes you would have also tried to run, immediately. It wasn’t just the look, it was Elan’s presence. Its aura had darkness and pain imprinted into it. You got the kind of vibe’s you would get from an abandoned 19th century lunatic asylum. Some primal part of your animal brain knew that this wasn’t a good place and started setting off alarm bells.
Elan was also bizarre beyond words. This started right from the moment you were ripped from the goon-van. Two very different people met you. An adult and a child. I can immediately remember thinking how strange that was. Why was this person in their 40’s with a kid who looked 14 or 15? What kind of bizarre environment was this where these two very different people were meeting me as equals? Because it was very clear that both were in positions of authority.
As I would soon learn, children actually ran Elan. So this child was just as much in charge of my “intake process” as the adult staff member, maybe even more so. The adults in Elan became Gods, so the children in the highest ranks basically took on the role of adults. This was a very strange thing to encounter right at the beginning. A child giving orders, with a face and tone of voice hardened by rising through the brutal Elan program structure. Elan wasn’t the kind of place to give everyone a participation trophy, to reach the top you had to earn it. And to earn it, you needed a kill or be killed attitude. Every 1 person to reach the top of that Elan pyramid got there by hardening their heart to the 20 crushed beneath its weight.
As I mentioned before, anyone with a functional brain who encountered this new world was going to immediately run, like the first Natives encountering the first Spanish Conquistadors. It was simply too much to take in at once and the undertones were too foreboding.
Of course, Elan knew this. Which is why they had men posted in the woods 24 hours a day, hunters from Maine who grew up tracking. The kind of men who hunted black bears for fun. Men of the woods who were paid handsomely to not ask questions and to fulfill their mission: nobody gets away.
And nobody did.