Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Unpaid markers, naive mothers, and model trains..... the conclusion

Over the years the boy, now a man, goes back there. Three times all told, standing in the dark, or sitting in his car. The resolve to balance the books, exact some payback, gradually fades until there is just indifference. So he puts it away, and he moves on, because that's what you do, you move on, get over it. Life is just a series of hands, some good, some bad, you play what you get dealt. This story isn't uncommon, it's nothing new. While it's a tough thing to go through, there are countless people whose lives make this one seem like a picnic. Most of those people who have really bad shit happen to them, go on to lead productive lives. Others are slower to catch on and it takes 20 or 30 years, but they get there. And then there are the people who save it up, try to use it as a get out of jail free card, or an Rx to stay, drunk or high. The people who do really horrific shit, and claim they couldn't help it, it was beyond their ability to control. They want everyone to believe that their actions are a direct result of something that happened to them 10, 20, 30 years ago. Bullshit.

The latest example of this can be found in this case. In 1999 Keith Nelson snatched 10 year old Pamela Butler, he strangled the life out of her, because he wanted to, because he could, simple and horrible as that. Nelson got the death penalty, the federal death penalty. That means the process from sentencing to death wont stretch out over 2 or 3 decades, the feds don't play that shit. Nelson contends that his lawyers failed to introduce his mental health history, they didn't adequately investigate his life. In other words, someone may have done something bad to Nelson when he was a kid, and that's why he strangled a little girl, a complete innocent stranger. He couldn't help it, it was beyond his control, not his fault.

In most prisons today there are sexual offender treatment programs. They are kept separate from the general population. They wear different colored clothes from the other inmates, it helps the prison staff keep track of them during movements, keeps them safe. If they take these classes, they usually get a time cut, they are rewarded. The reason sex offenders are often attacked in prison is simple, it isn't because convicts have strong values or morals. It's payback, retribution by proxy, it's because many inmates suffered some form of child abuse, molestation, etc.

In this day and age we have our priorities and perspective all screwed up. We lock up twenty year old low level dope dealers for life. We put people away for life for 3 strikes, even if those 3 strikes are petty crimes, yet the average length of confinement for sex offenders is around 5 years. There is something wrong with a justice system that rewards those who pray on the most vulnerable, yet has no qualms about putting away teenagers who stand on a corner in the inner city, slinging dope to people who actively seek it out. That's why people often take shit in to their own hands, that's why that old man almost got put to sleep permanently.

If you were looking for some big conclusion to this story you are probably disappointed. How much effect that incident, 40 years ago, played in my life is open to debate. I didn't become a criminal because of it, it didn't make me run out and start blowing little boys, or strangling little girls. It happens to a lot of people, I'm not unique. I still drive past the old mans house, he is still alive, must be in his 80's by now. His shades are always drawn, the lawn is manicured, it's just another well kept home sitting on Brookside. I don't regret not following through, I could have gone away for the rest of my life, in the end I think thats all that saved him, it was as close as I've ever come to killing someone, and I came close. In the end, I did what most people do, I moved on, I let it alone. The past rears it's ugly head from time to time, but it doesn't define me and it doesn't rule my life. We all have our scars, nobody escapes this life unscathed.


  1. More evidence (as if anyone needed any) that you are the best blogger in town. Hands down. No contest.

  2. Unfortunately as you imply your story is not unique. The fact that this guy lives on, and in my neighborhood sickens me to the core.

    Hopefully your story will remind people to talk to their kids about this kind of thing.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. I have been reading your blog for nearly a year now. Sometimes it makes me smile and laugh, sometimes it makes me pause and consider the world beyond my life that could be right around the corner. Never have I been so moved as today.

    I believe one of the most important lessons to learn in life is that no one has control over your actions except yourself. But as much as I can say it, to hear someone who has been through truly painful events in life really brings it home. Saying "good job" would do little, as I am a stranger, and the results of life's actions are often their own punishments and rewards.

    Thank you for your wit and writing, and thank you for letting us in.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I know a person I used to call a friend going through troubled time and is blaming instead of accepting. I sent him your link to let him see that he is not the only one that life is not fair to but you have to move on.

    Again thank you. I read your blog everyday. Xavier took the words right out of my mouth.

  5. I get the point, but I still wish it ended with the old man's dick shot off. Like the other commenter pointed out -the old creep still lives in his neighborhood.

  6. MM,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I wish that I could say that I would have done the same thing, but I really can't.

    Stay strong.

  7. old 49/63 residentWednesday, October 29, 2008

    Sad, but this was all over. I know of two kids involved in the same deal.
    The old man has long been dead, but the memory lives forever.

  8. XO is right.

    You are an amazing writer and this was a very moving post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. I, too, have been reading your blog for sometime - I appreciate your words, thoughts, insights, and voice.

    I always enjoy your stories. "Enjoy", however, is the wrong word for this one. Saddened by your experience (and that of so many others) but heartened by your strength and resiliency - things we all need.

    A quote I'll share from 'anonymous' (which means it was probably said by a woman): "A gem cannot be polished without friction."

    As you say, you live through it, deal with it, and move on.

    Thank you for this.

  10. Thanks... harsh, edgy story. It reads as though it is hard to tell, but I know it had to be told. It's all part of the journey. I walked through a different fire than you did, but I know how the hate can eat you alive. It's still hard to walk away, still hard to avoid playing that tape through to the end -- how you wanted to "fix" things. I don't know for certain what happens when we die, but I hope there is a special hell for certain people. You know what I mean.

  11. I can't help but feel the same way about this story as the others do. I hope you realize how amazing we all think you are. I hope it helps in some teensy, tiny way.

  12. this kind of abuse cost me a marriage and ruined my ex wife. It manifested itself in ways not condusive to marriage. Its a real shame, we were a good pair.

    I've taken the physical non sexual abuse and for the most part I've let it go as well, Its just not worth getting caught to put a bullet where it needs to go.

  13. thank you for sharing this and your thoughts about people getting on with their lives; as you know and said, people have different ways they handle what happened to them as children or at other times in their lives and some can move on and do well in spite of the most tragic of circumstances while others flounder all their lives; I'm glad you aren't in that latter category although I also can imagine your life was not an easy one

    it is a shame that that man never have to face the repercussions of his actions; I heard a statistic from someone who would have known that 20% of offenders are caught (and this is a recent statistic within the past few years) back then I'm sure it was a much lesser number


  14. Hey Midtown,

    I can completely relate with every last word.

    Excellent post.