Rick glanced down at his notepad, and then looked up at me.
He said, “Samuel Hanes is a convicted child molester; his record goes back to the early 1980’s. His victims involved young boys. I stared blankly at Rick. I was dazed by what he was saying, but wondered why this was not common knowledge before today. He said, “Samuel has served at least seven years behind bars, and has abused over 40 young boys.” He continued, “The authorities were notified that he was in the area and they have been watching him.” “What, I asked? Only watching him; he is Freddy’s constant companion.” Rick continued telling us, “This is a violation of his parole, and he will be taken into custody.”
I was relieved to hear those words, but in the back of my mind I questioned how he was already able to spend all this time with a young boy. Just at that moment it all became vividly clear. He must certainly be a friend of Floyd’s from prison, and that is how he turned up next door. Did Floyd know that he would be taking his son Freddy under his wing? He obviously knew about Samuel’s past, but did he care?
Samuel was a sexual predator of the worst kind; the type of criminal who worked slowly at grooming his vulnerable victims. Samuel knew that with Freddy’s insecurities, unstable home life and his father in prison, he was ‘ripe for the picking’. The odds were stacked against him from the first day he would inescapably meet Samuel. He quickly befriended Freddy, and took his time to win over his trust with kindness, affection, and gifts. In the early 90’s, there were basically no ‘registries’ for sexual offenders, and convicted felons, with a past of abusing children could be released from prison, re-enter society, and become your neighbor, without you ever knowing their past. Under such laws, children would never be safe from such evil predators in search of victims.
I sat Jason down and asked him about Samuel. He said, “He is really nice and always buys things for Freddy. He then added, “Freddy told me that he sleeps in the same bed with Samuel when he stays over.” I knew right then and there, the relationship had grown in an abusive way. Could Christine not see this was happening in her home, or was she in denial?
After our visit from Constable Rick Jonah, we never saw Samuel again.
Life continued on without a sign of Samuel. Christine continued her weekly visits to see Floyd in prison. To her relief, Floyd was granted early parole for ‘good behavior’. She was overjoyed that he was coming home, and she believed that the long lonely months were now behind her. Norah and John would make the trip with her to bring Floyd home. Life as she once knew it would be returning to the ‘way things used to be’.
Floyd was only home for the better part of a week, before his bags were packed and he was out the door. I saw Christine standing on the front porch, visibly shaken and I asked her what was wrong. I was shocked and totally floored with what she told me. Christine took a deep breath and began spilling it all. Her voiced elevated, getting louder and louder, and I could see the blood rushing to her face. She was furious and upset. I said, “What is going on, can you tell me?” Christine’s voice was cracking as the tears rolled down her cheeks. She mustered up the strength to say, “He left us for that bitch Norah!” My mouth dropped open, as I looked at her with disbelief. She continued telling me, “She kicked her husband John out of the house and Floyd is moving in with her!”
My god, I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. It certainly put a new twist on the word ‘friendship’. Norah spent every day with Christine, but obviously there was more to it than she was letting on. Was she visiting Floyd every day because she knew that he would be coming home to her? It was all too much to digest, but Christine was living this awful nightmare. Freddy took it hard, and over the next little while, without Samuel or his father, he seemed to slowly slip back into his shell.
We had spent quite a few years in this house, but we finally purchased our first home. It was time to move on to a bigger family home, and life as always was ever-changing. Jason and Freddy were getting older, finding new friends and interests. Jason’s life and friends revolved around sports, while Freddy chose more ‘street-wise friends’. They still had a bond from their childhood years, but things changed when Freddy began sharing his time between his dad and Norah, and his mother. This didn’t seem to sit well with Freddy and the tension between the families was particularly hard on him. Freddy’s personality seemed to change; he was never really happy anymore. I wondered if he was trying to deal with the relationship he had with Samuel. Freddy had been betrayed by the only two male figures in his life, but for different reasons.
The years flew by and the boys were now in high school. I hadn’t seen Floyd and Norah, or Christine for quite some time, but I heard that she moved to a small apartment with Freddy. Many times I would catch a glimpse of Freddy while I was out running errands. His look had changed drastically. He resorted to dying his hair jet black, cut in a Mohawk style; his black leather coat covered in studs, and chains hanging from his jean pockets. Freddy didn’t grow very tall, and this new look was obviously an expression of who, and what he wanted to be. All Freddy really wanted in life was to fit in. He looked a bit like a lost soul in search of belonging and acceptance.
Jason arrived home from school as usual for lunch, but today was different. He was distraught beyond words. I asked him what was wrong, but Jason was too shaken to talk. Finally, only minutes later, he choked back the tears and blurted out,
“Freddy is dead! He killed himself. His mother found him hanging in the bathroom.”
I was in complete shock, his words cutting through me like a knife. A wave of emotion came over me, as the tears welled up in the corners of my eyes. Deeply saddened, and heart-broken, my thoughts were with Christine right now. I realized that Freddy couldn’t cope with his life. The sexual molestation by Samuel and the betrayal of his father was more than he could handle. Freddy must have been in a very dark and lonely place with no hope for his future. I wiped away my tears and found solace in the fact that Freddy was now at peace with himself.
The sound of the television continued to blare in the background. I found myself sitting on the couch in a dazed state, thinking back on Freddy and the past. His short-lived life taken at such a young age and that proved difficult to comprehend. The broadcaster continued his evening news story, as the camera moved in for a close-up. The monster-like face looking back out through the window of the car was repulsive. I looked down at my finger wrapped in the blood soaked tissue and realized that I needed to bandage it. I stood up from the couch, ready to head for the medicine cabinet when I heard the broadcaster say,
“The authorities were called to an Internet Café in the area, after a man was caught by the staff accessing pornographic videos of young boys.”
“Convicted pedophile, Samuel Hanes is now once again, in police custody.”
Sadly enough, Samuel will not remain locked away forever. He will again be in search of ‘easy prey’. Most of his victims won’t stand a chance, and with little understanding, the innocence of their youth will be stolen away forever.