MONSTERS IN HER MIDST

my daughter lives in a city with 75 registered sex offenders

in a house

with an expensive security system

in a bed

three feet away from the window

surrounded by motion detectors.

 

Paranoia is an integral part of parenting

 

if she ever asks me why,

I’ll tell her when the Little Red Riding Hood

got to her grandmother’s house

the Wolf had already murdered her grandmother

and was wearing her clothes

 

the moral of the story being:

you’re not safe in your own house

 

and even your own family can turn monstrous.

 

in 1991 Polly Klaas was kidnapped

from her own slumber party

by a man who’d been out on his third strike just long enough

to rape and strangle an 11 year old girl with a rag

he wiped his windshield with.

 

my daughter lives 30 minutes south

of where Polly was dumped

bruised and battered in the wilderness

 

and I tell her:

there’s wolves in the woods

even if you can’t hear them howl

 

smiles can hide secrets past sickness

 

mommy and daddy are the only two people she can trust

and if she doesn’t believe me,

I’ll tell her a grim fairy tale for grownups

about a man and a wolf

who came to her front door once.

 

the wolf

was named Curtis Dean Anderson,

he was a crippled taxi driver and pedophiliac family friend

of Xiana Fairchild a 7 year old girl

he murdered with a hacksaw then waited months

until he chained an 8 year olds leg to his stick shift

and raped her repeatedly while he took Polaroid’s

of her in lingerie and lipstick.

she escaped when he was shopping

for a body bag across the street

when he confessed he said he’d been raping children

since he was a child

and had simply gotten careless.

 

the man

was named Mark Klaas, Polly’s father,

a man whose eyes were numbed

beyond anything I could ever know

he came to my front door with the FBI

and an army of abduction experts

in the media blitz of 1999 with the dying hopes to find

Xiana Fairchild a dyslexic 7 year old Vallejo girl

who lived three doors down my hall

with parents who’d given her nothing

but nicotine stained fingers in her panties

and glass dick to eat that Christmas

 

to Mark, she was just another statistic

to me, she was the neighborhood girl

who’d ask to play with my daughter every day

until a family friend decapitated her grinning head

and left her for maggots in the mountains of Santa Cruz

 

I opened the same front door for both men

with my daughter in my arms

 

one man

who was forced to listen to morticians argue

that his daughter’s body was too decomposed

to determine how many times

a rapist left his wreckage inside her

 

and another man

who masturbated to hair stripped vaginas

and dismembered body parts

 

and I still have nightmares

of a little girl’s last night on earth

alone in the woods

with a wolf with a stabbing erection

electrical tape and a serrated knife

showing her repeatedly

 

what her pookie’s worth

 

so don’t ask me

why I don’t trust anyone again

 

I hold my daughter’s hand across the middle of the street

and watch the hands of every stranger she meets

I memorize every new face in her mother’s boyfriend collection

with barely hidden malice knowing I’d strangle him

if my daughter’s body ever became a prison

in which she was serving time

 

the children on the back of the milk carton change every day

and I see Mark Klaas on Nightline

grimly recounting another case

of cigarette torture

and box cutter castration

on primetime

 

and I turn off the T.V

latch the windows

lock the doors

read my daughter a fairy tale

then I give her a goodnight kiss

 

there’s horror past fiction

but for her innocence to survive

she can’t ever know

 

how many monsters live in her midst.