He’s likely dead now since it was 36 years ago and I’d reckon him in his late 60’s/early 70’s then. I was 19, home from college. I was visiting as a favor to my mom. He’d been bugging her for months for me to stop over when I came home. He started giving me money when I was in high school; $5.00 here, $10.00 there, when our paths crossed. I didn’t make much of it.
My dad died when I was 13. I thought he was being kind.
“I’d kill a motherfucker over you!” he declared after I’d been sitting on the couch a while. “I’m sure that won’t be necessary,” I replied, surprising myself at my calm. Pornographic material covered the coffee table. Not the high glossy Playboy magazines I’d snuck into the house when I lived at home. Rather it was some particularly raunchy, grainy black and white depictions of beastiality. Women in pointy coned bras whipping each other. Orgies.
I was surprised but not overly concerned for my safety. He scooted into the kitchen for cookies and koolaid. The juxtaposition threw me a bit. I passed on the koolaid. I may have taken a bite of a cookie.
Took me a minute but I put it together. “I have to go,” I said calmly, “I have a date.” Which was true. I’d timed the whole thing to give myself an excuse to leave, not knowing that I’d really need to leave.
He made pretext of “showing me something” in his bedroom before he’d unlock the deadbolt. The key was in his pocket. I firmly refused.
He tried to play coy. Cheerfully declaring that I wouldn’t be able to leave until he was “satisfied.” I calmly but firmly informed him that “if he didn’t open that goddam door, I’d put a chair through his front window” to leave. He actually looked hurt as he unlocked the front door. “When are you coming back?” he called as I walked down the porch steps.
I never saw him again. I now wish I’d reported him. But he had some standing in the community and I didn’t want trouble and I had some vague notion of not wanting to embarrass him further.
But what of his next “guest?” Perhaps someone who was not as confident as I was or as physically imposing. I towered over him. What if the next person was intimidated by the old man’s position in the community?
I put the whole episode behind me and moved on. But I’m reminded now as so many people come out to tell their stories of encounters with sexual predators that he could have tried it again. And that he could have been successful.
And that if he did harm someone, I’m complicit.