Friday, September 4, 2009

Monster Among

*Written a while ago in an effort to just simmer down about it. But now, it's timely in view of the news from Cali about a decades-long abduction case where a predator roamed free for a lifetime because no one dared violate his "rights."

Nightly, when they were toddlers, I sprayed air freshener disguised as "Heavy Duty, No Fail Monster Extinguisher" in closets and under the bed to terminate those dreaded multi-fanged scuttling creatures of my children’s dreams. I placed small piles of salt in the corners of their bedroom upon the advice of a Filipino friend. The salt, she said,  is house pixie kryptonite so they wouldn't ooze from air conditioner vents to pinch my sleeping children and make their beds jump and vibrate until they came frightened and wide-eyed to my room. I carefully turned their pillow case openings away from the windows so the dark fairies couldn’t crawl in under their ears and imbed wicked stories into their dreamtime.

All this to soothe my children. Monsters are imaginary after all. If they were ever real, Mom would put herself squarely between the fangs of a marauding beast before allowing a monster even near them…I'd give my life for them.

A documented sexual predator with a taste for children resides five doors down on our dead-end street.

Mentally impaired and spawned from Washington State, he lurched to the furthest point on the continent away from the place of his atrocious crime. He peeks out from beneath the thin supervision of a deluded, yet I suspect calculating, couple who have informally “adopted” him. Their story:  They met him at a flea market, heard his sanitized "poor me" version of his crime, and consider him innocent. Their compassionate mission:  They make sure he is receiving his government checks and managing his living expenses properly.

Yes. Ding!  That's correct!  He receives government checks. According to his "caretakers," this is because he cannot make decisions for himself and has the I.Q. of a 10 year old. It’s not rocket science, then, to deduce that he cannot discern right from wrong. He has no filters. In fact, he was adjudicated unfit to stand trial for his offense in Washington due to his so-called impairment.  So we have a man-child sexual predator who doesn't know right from wrong living among us with no boundaries.

And the little girl he physically overcame, stripped and molested in front of her brother in Washington knows that the monster haunting her dreams is real, and somewhere, and free.

The neighborhood knows he is here. I found out when a television crew came to my door in the dark of night, shoved a camera and a flyer with his smiling stoner face at me, and asked how I felt to have a child molester living so near my children. Here was the same smiling stoner face that had been to my door to "get acquainted," to discuss his Jesus-led redemption from drugs and alcohol, to ask to fish from our dock, ask for a glass of water, and I can only assume, to study the potential in my kids.

He spent three months among us without registering with the state Sexual Offender database. They say he tried. That the paperwork was lost. His birth certificate was late. Not his fault. He is not responsible. For this omission, he was finally arrested publicly.  Had I not been accosted by TV reporters hot on a sweeps ratings bonanza,  I would not have known. Unless I had stumbled across his record on the FDLE website I would not have known. A free-range predator would’ve continued his long slow neighborhood stalk of kids within arm’s reach. My kids.

I had a "meeting" with his people. I did not serve tea and cookies. The topic was mine to drive since I called the meeting. I outlined clearly the kinds of things of which a mother is capable should she be provoked sufficiently to defend  her children from harm.  I defined the unpredictable instincts that come into play when, even in the natural world, offspring is threatened by an enemy.  Just wanted to know if they had watched Wild Kingdom lately and had observed the brutal ferocity and lack of remorse a female can bring forth in an adrenalin-fueled blind rage when her young is threatened.  Just askin'...

Now he sits, an obese shirtless trap-door spider at a tumble-down picnic table in the carport day and night smoking. Watching. Watching children going to and fro from four public schools, day care centers, convenience stores, a foster home chock full of tots and public parks that ring his residence like some radiant smorgasbord of opportunities.  Driving in late at night, my headlights sometimes pick up movement in the lane and I realize it is him dressed in dark clothes, barefoot, walking somewhere, cutting though back yards taking shortcuts to his destination. Sometimes he waves.

The property on which he squats is shielded from prying eyes by a preponderance of haphazard shacks and derelict box trailers in varying states of disrepair.  Shiny new locks dangle from the doors on each of them.

There was a public meeting once. Halleluiah, a remedy, someone cares, an official help. Instead, we were told that there are 3500 like the monster living, watching and not capable of reforming in any way, in our greater community. And it is their right to do so.

The remedy: We were given tips to train our children on how to recognize and flee inappropriate advances from an adult.

My children activate the house alarm day and night. They know where the baseball bat is located. They take the dog on bike rides for protection. They joke about “Chester” but look over their shoulders every waking hour for the monster among us. This is no benign Boo Radley leaving gifts in the hole in the oak tree.  There will be no trick or treaters on our street under a festive fall moon.

The monster is real.

1 comment:

  1. God, that's creepy. I'm not even a parent, and I don't even have the desire to be one yet, and I'm seriously squicked out by that.

    Have you considered enrolling your kids in MMA classes, or arming them with small, legally acceptable knives, or running "kick him in the balls poke him in the eyes break his nose and run the fuck away" drills? Maybe that would be verging on paranoid. ;) I dunno. Like I said, I'm not a parent, so I can't fully understand. But wow. Are you really not having Halloween?

    Sex offenders are lame.


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