How It All Started

20 Aug

LATE WINTER 2001/EARLY SPRING 2002

SPOKANE, WA

It had been a good day.

I’d gone grocery shopping with Mom, and then we had lunch at Arby’s. He’d asked me to bring him a chicken cordon bleu for lunch. It was one of those days that makes you happy to be alive.

Groceries put away, kettle on for a cup of tea. I figured I’d get online for a while and see if there was anything interesting going on…but before that, I wanted to write. I was working on a short story that I’d been emailing, in excerpts, to a sister-in-law (for lack of a better term) in Ohio. Instead of going to Word and opening it that way, I figured that the quickest and easiest way to pull it up would be through My Documents. I was looking for Chapter Four, folder “annstory”

Yet it wasn’t there.

Everything in the “my documents” quickview on the Windows menu was a .jpg file with vague file names consisting of numbers and a sprinkling of letters.

I opened one.

There stood a pretty blonde, red bikini top, standing by a pool, giving me a come-hither stare.

I opened another.

Same blonde, this time naked on a couch.

Another.

Same girl.And then the last one. I felt the bile rise in my throat as I looked into the saddest eyes I had ever seen. She was blonde, like the others. The difference between her and between the other girls was that she was anywhere between the ages of three and five. And completely naked.

I wanted to throw up but I couldn’t do anything except stare in horror. And then, I started to think about Pete Townsend. About how Pete Townsend had been molested as a kid. About how he’s been caught with child porn on HIS computer. About the big investigation. About how he said that you had to understand the MO of the molester in order to fight back.

My ex-husband was molested when he was a kid.

That was WHY there was this sad-eyed little girl on our computer! He was fighting back! He was a crusader! He was working to make the world a better place, not being some scummy pervert who got off on this sort of thing. He was a hero!

Out of curiosity, I logged onto his Yahoo Messenger and took a look at the message archive to find some more incriminating evidence.All of his Yahoo identities were tied together, so a chat that he’d had with someone under the Lord Wilbur ID would show up when I logged in as him.

“So tell me about your pussy,” he IMs.

“Well,” the girl replies (and I wonder if “she’s” an undercover cop looking to catch him in the act) “it’s…”

“Mmmmmmm tell me more,” he replies.

“I have two sisters,” the girl replies. “The twelve year old’s is getting a little bit of hair on it and the four year old’s is smooth, hairless and soft.”

I went into the kitchen and threw up in the sink.

The IMs continue. It’s a different girl, every time. Or at least a different ID. I’m beginning to feel the bile come up in my throat as I think about it.

So I do something petty. I didn’t think it all the way through, but I don’t regret it. I click “edit profile” on the YM menu and it takes me to a profile page.”Welcome!” Yahoo tells me.

Under the “about me” tab I put in, “I’m a pervert. I love to talk dirty to little girls online and look at porn. I think that my wife doesn’t know, but little do I know that she’s smarter than me! HA HA HA!”

I clicked “save” and grabbed a sheet of paper, taped it to the front door.

“You’re a liar,” I wrote in Sharpie, “and you should be disgusted with yourself. What the hell is wrong with you, you sick freak?!”

I Scotch-taped it to the front door.

And I ate the other chicken cordon bleu sandwich that he had requested I bring home.

Then I laid down in the bedroom, in the dark, and put Suzanne Vega on the CD player and listened to a sad song about an abused little boy that lives on the second floor.

A few hours later, I heard him come in, heard the sound of the heavy footsteps in the hall. A long pause outside the front door.

And then I heard him come in and call my name.

“In the bedroom.”

He walked in and looked down at me sadly.

“When I saw that note,” he said, “I was so scared that you left me and I didn’t want to think of what I would do without you.”

I cannot remember if we discussed the actual problem.I cannot remember if I called him on the naked, sad-eyed little girl.

What I do remember is that he decided the best way to keep himself in check was to install a “web nanny” onto our computer.We ended up getting a nasty virus (he blamed it on the web nanny that he’d downloaded, but the porn that he kept uploading was truthfully the most likely culprit) and had to get the computer fixed by a friend of ours.

And then Mr. Detective showed up at our door two weeks prior to Easter 2002, and nothing was ever the same again.

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