Thursday, July 24, 2008

Storms


There is nothing quite like a rip-snorter of a thunderstorm to reaffirm one’s place in the natural order of things. Two storm fronts moved through overnight – one at around midnight and the other at around four o’clock. Both were spectacular. The cat headed for parts unknown (under the bed) and the dog slept through it all, curled in a ball at our feet, tucked under the blankets and sheets, safe and secure. I awoke to the crash-bangs, but went back to sleep. There was nothing to do about them, really, and I was too tired to enjoy the show.

Then it was quiet. My first job this morning doesn’t start until ten, so I re-set the alarm and slept an extra hour. Only at half-past seven, when the world was quiet and the wind had stopped, the power went out. Go figure. Laura went to the store next door to make a phone call and came back reporting that the whole island is out. That means something happened up in Trenton or somewhere near the head of the island. This could be a while.

Well, the laptop is charged, and while I don’t have any internet, I do have word processing and movie capabilities. I also have camp coffee. Undaunted by any silly little thing like a lack of electricity, I’m going to have my morning coffee. I opened the windows so we don’t die (besides, it’s hot as hell and the ac is out with the power), dug out the little screw-it-into-the-top-of-a-bottle-of-gas-camping-burner-stove and my camp coffee pot, and set ‘er up on the counter by the sink (full of dishes we can’t do because of the power being out). I took a couple bottles of water, filled it to the line and set the flame on low. It is now bubbling cheerfully as I type. I have no idea when I will have electricity, but I know for sure that in about five minutes I’ll have coffee and that works for me.

We finally got to a phone. Laura reports that the power outage is as far as Bangor. That bodes ill for our situation. This may be a while longer than we previously thought. Coffee is good though. Chewy, but good.

I have had a moral dilemma of sorts lately. I recently discovered that a guy whom I know is a convicted molester is on a listserve that I belong to. He did not announce who he was or that he was registered on the state site. He used his first name only, but he mentioned a thing that was very specific to his town and I put two and two together and came up with a pervert. I did some research and found out that this guy is who I thought he was and then I got creeped out.

See, many years ago I was a rookie newspaper reporter in a small central Maine town. I was insecure as hell, and I wanted desperately to be liked. I wanted to be good at what I did, and I really did not have a clue. I knew this guy tripped some triggers for me, but there was nothing concrete to go with. He ran a comic book store and was always surrounded by kids, boys to be specific. The boys hinted that his interest in them was not pure, but I didn’t want to believe it. In a blunder that has haunted me for years, I tipped him about the rumors and advised him to be careful lest he be accused of something bad.

Only a year later he was arrested and charged with something bad, and then put in prison for over a year for that same something. He molested a boy at his family camp. The boy told someone, and this guy went to jail. Good.

Only I have felt pretty bad for nearly 15 years. The whole situation back then made me incredibly uncomfortable. I did not want to think that a gay man would be a molester. After all, FBI statistics show that over 90 percent of molesters are heterosexual. I did not want to deal with it. I did not want to think that someone I knew could do such a thing.

It was odd. The whole town suspected, but until a boy came forth and made an accusation in court, nobody could do much about it. Everyone watched as boys came and went from his store, wondering at his easy manner with them. Everyone wanted him to be a mentor figure, I think, for him to be a good guy and not the pervert that people feared lurked beneath.

Luckily for me, I was transferred to another bureau before he was arrested. I did not have to cover that story. But it still itched under my skin. It still chafed. It still gave me the creeps. I tipped him. I hold some responsibility. It made me sick.

In the past two days, I have had several conversations with a friend of mine whose opinion I value very highly. He is a gay man, and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. He assured me that any abuse that happened was not my fault, that I got duped and played and that I was probably not the only one who was fooled. That made me feel a lot better.

My dilemma now is a little complicated. I know this guy is out there. He has done nothing to get himself thrown off the list. It is a list for adults, and trolling for sex is prohibited. He has done nothing untoward. I am still creeped out by the thought of him being around. My gut tells me he’s still dangerous. I’d love to see him gone. Hell, I’d love to see him… well, never mind. Let’s just say he’s not on my list to get a holiday card. But it is not my place to kick anybody off, nor do I have that kind of authority. I am not sure I ought to expose him, either. What purpose would it serve? What good would come of it? According to the law, he has paid his debt to society through jail time and fines, and he carries the scarlet letter stigma of a permanent place on the state sex offender website. What business is it of mine to further punish him if the state says he’s paid in full? Perhaps he has changed his ways. Perhaps he got help and is no longer a threat to society. I don’t buy it for a minute. But it is possible, I suppose.

For now I wait and watch. I am not in control of the situation. It is neither my job nor my responsibility to take action here. But it is uncomfortable to know that he is in the room, as it were. It colors what I say and what I do. And I don’t like it.

6 comments:

Laura D. on MDI said...

13 years is a long damned time to beat yourself up over a rookie mistake. There is nothing that you can do now that is going to make, it any different. At this point in time, yes it is more then a little creepy knowing he is in our midst, however he hasn't done anything wrong. If it were a situation like one P.K. at the movies, then you would be obligated to do something. Right now stand clear and hold your nose if you must, you have done all you can by letting N.L. know what is going on.

Jen said...

Well, you can always exercise that age-old (uh...) listserv right and block him so you never have to see his emails again. However, with that kind of situation, sometimes I think it's better to know where someone is.

That sex offender website is something, huh? I looked a few years ago and found out an offender lived in the building next to where Daughter and I were staying. At first I was creeped out, but then I decided that it was good--I knew the guy was there, and it made me as careful as I should always be. Plus, I knew where to look.

It wasn't that long ago that you and I would be listed as sex offenders because of our orientation. I of course don't condone molestation or anything like that, but a person could conceivably be listed as an offender for urinating in public, committing sodomy in certain states, etc.

I know this is a special situation, and this guy really is a creep, but in general I think that things like the sex offender website create hysteria and demonstrate the sex-phobic nature of our little corner of the world. Most sex offenses aren't stranger situations anyway... it's someone in the family or friend circle.

Hmm... it appears I have mixed thoughts about this whole thing. :)

MRMacrum said...

Interesting post. Interesting dilemma. But like you say, outing him will serve no purpose.

I had some advice. Matter of fact 2 pieces of advice written here. Deleted both because frankly neither one seemed to even reach the level of mediocre.

I guess you need to come to grips with your own discomfort. Your relationship with him is tainted now that's for sure.

I have my own misgivings about the sex offender list in the first place. Many of them on it, I would love to see in the ground. But since the lists do not differentiate between true perverts and some who were caught up in a system that sets arbitrary lines in the sand, I wonder just what good it really does except to punish people twice.

The murder spree a couple of years ago by the Canuck who killed list people in Maine is a good example. At least one of the victims was not what I would have called a true sex offender.

Like Jen, I have mixed feelings about all this.

Dawn on MDI said...

Thanks for the thoughts all. Macrum, please don't use that racist term again when posting here. Some of my heritage is French Canadian and it is quite offensive. Thanks.

MRMacrum said...

Dawn - Done. I did not mean to offend.

Elizabeth said...

Dawn, I have known you a long time, and have always know you to live your life with dignity and intention. You made a mistake years ago, let it go. Laura is right, nothing you do now will make it different. Mrmacrum also stated an important fact about the sex offender registry. There needs to be a huge distinction made between preditors and willy wavers. I do break it down a bit much but my work with corrections and reentry has shed a lot of light on this for me.

The past is gone, your responsibility lies to the present. Be on your toes. You are not in charge of the actions of others, but do not make yourself responsible for him now. He is in control of (or not in control of) his own behavior.

Sit back, watch, report as needed. Be you. Always be true to your own morals.

Lib.