A prolonged bout with isolation and God-forgive-mes brought hollow chrome to his temple. Which is to say: people talk. I never met him; only read about his capture and those two boys. He’d found himself in others’ jaws around town plenty: bottom lips flinging front-tooth gristle, spitting foul and his name. And when he was released after two-months because of lost paperwork or whatever-the-case? Ho-oly hell. We were all a raindrop away from rope and torches.
He sunk somewhere beneath town after that. Nobody ever saw him, nobody heard of him. Rumors floated every-which-way, though turns out he did change his name. The two boys, bless their hearts, did well-enough for themselves despite it all. People around town set up a fund for them, collected a nice sum for psychiatric assistance since his guilt paid no settlements. They both go to private high schools, separate—I suppose it can be tough keeping friends with eyes who’ve seen like your own.
I guess he never got too far. Police found him in an old Buick pulled over in the shadows of State St. Lots of people say that’s where he snatched them up, just a block from Columbus Elementary, but it ain’t true. Everyone who knows the story knows he was a child-therapist; well, he wasn’t, but he was illegally practicing as one. Both boys were patients he skipped town with one day. Simple as that. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to, lots of planning involved. Thankful he never sat breathing on State St. I guess.
Kind of creepy. A guy like him slept under our beds and bathed in our spit for over a decade. Where’d he live? Where’d he get his groceries? Who looked after him? Not a soul around here couldn’t tell you what he looked like. After the boys came home, a whole campaign lit up in his name: town hall meetings, YMCA parent-teacher hysterics, school assemblies, buddy systems. If just one of his hairs peeked from a sewer-grate, somebody’d notice. He stirred quite a many into a boil, and when they spilled over…hoooo. You’d think half the damn town participated in ugliness the way most carried on the fear. Just goes to show: when the bad’s ugly, the good’ll stomp it dead if it’ll make them appear better.
Inside Hector’s Cafe, nasty chatter echoes off of innocent wallpaper for all to hear.
“Frankly I’m glad he’s dead.”
“Just wish I got the chance to pull that trigger.”
Never quite understood bringing the dead back to life just to kill them again. The most painful way to go, to me, is with afterward-silence. Like he never had an effect. Then again, can’t blame ’em for gettin’ last kicks in before he’s underground for good. Helluva thing for a person to do. Can’t imagine what’s dredged up in those poor boys.
I stopped picking up the townie paper years ago so I didn’t have a clue he’d done himself. I wasn’t kept far behind without it; Hector’s was center stage for these kinda offhand meetings. They swooped in with the cold and talked dry-mouthed gossip in line. A seat at Hector’s counter was good enough as reading any daily paper without worrying why people get paid to write 2-hour opinions. From a murky reflection I can see all those printed words network around the cafe anyhow. No need bothering two senses with one type of nonsense.
“…going by the name of Geoffrey Fields before he did us all a favor. What kind of name is that to take? Especially when you got the choice of any damn-name you could think! Thinking about going on over there tonight and askin’ someone about it myself.”
“You hear he’s bein’ laid down in Franklin’s Memorial over on Stationary Drive? Oughta just burn him and send him express to hell.”
“What kind of funeral home offers a pedophile their venue?”
“The same as any that takes money, I’m guessin’.”
Good to hear a laugh between the rambles. Their thoughts linger behind long after they bring in the cold on their way out. Has to be the longest Geoffrey’s been on the surface since. Shit, who would turn out for a pedophile’s wake? Somebody, I’m guessin’, to make it worth the money it takes to display him. What with the flowers and niceties and all that. Franklin’s on Stationary. Shouldn’t be thinking about him at all. Wonder what time? Only damned thing a newspapers good for.