It’s funny how watching something briefly on the local news can trigger unpleasant memories from the past. Some months back I was watching a story on the news involving the late, notorious serial-killer, John Wayne Gacy. And suddenly this brought to mind a deep and inconsolable sadness for the victims’ families. First, the agony of not knowing what happened to their loved one, and then the horrifying discovery that their loved one had been gruesomely murdered.
When I was a child, my overly protective parents lovingly reassured me that there was no such thing as the boogeyman. Nothing sinister was lurking within the dark recesses of my closet. There weren’t any monsters beneath my bed, waiting for me to fall asleep before pouncing on my helpless body during the dead of night. I would nod with false bravado, yet confident in my parent’s comforting words that I would awake to live another day.
Yet for the young victims of this very real monster, the boogeyman had indeed become real. Not some imagined creature with blood-dripping fangs, but all fleshed out before them. That reality, for the victims, went far beyond the common night-time fears, but came barreling down the tracks into the realm of sheer, unspeakable terror.
I shuddered to think what those young men and boys had to suffer through, and then to be buried in a humiliating mass grave beneath this monster’s crawl space. Gacy had promised them things; drugs, liquor. But what they found instead was torture and death.
As parents, we warn our children to be wary of strangers. To never go into someone else’s house unless we are present. But what if the stranger was kindly looking Mr. Smith who lived next door? We all know from the news that evil doesn’t always wear a demonic grin on its face. Sometimes it can be sweet. Or elderly. Or even a clown.