Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Monster in Our Midst

The Reds and I have just returned from dropping cookies and a "Welcome Home" note to our newest neighbours. They moved in last week and while I'm ashamed that it's taken me this long to get over, I hope that they'll appreciate the gesture and the friendly overture, nonetheless.

Because this city needs friendly gestures more than any place in the country right now, frozen as we are at the horror unfolding in our courthouse, a monster in our midst.

I live in Belleville, Ontario.

A few blocks from my home, Col. Russell Williams sits - slumps actually, according to a real-time local news feed - as the details of his appalling reign of terror are laid out for all to know. Deflated and silent, the monster behind the military mask awaits his fate while spectators cringe and gasp, repulsed.

As I type this, frantically trying to keep my agonized imaginings in check, reporters and journalists from across the country have gathered here in "The Friendly City" and are rapidly "tweeting" and updating a rapt but shaken public - we are seeing, almost alongside the family and friends of Belleville's lost daughters, the work of a psychopath in all his glory.

Never did I imagine that the monster was this depraved, this appalling, this...evil.

 Living here, on the beautiful Bay of Quinte, it seems that I've allowed myself to forget the unease and uncertainty that plagued this city following Jessica Lloyd's disappearance. I've played down the shock of Williams' capture and let slip from memory my sense of shattered peace that the Soldier had made my city his hunting ground.

But today, like yesterday, I feel compelled to read everything I can about the court proceedings following his "Guilty" pleas. (Close to 100 separate charges. Holy hell, the Devil was a busy boy, indeed.)

I am drawn to the angst and the surreal-ness of this reality while at the same time, I want to turn away and "unknow" everything I never imagined possible. I am left reeling and sickened by a photographic collection of stolen panties - his modelling of them - and can't imagine that I'll sleep well tonight.

Then again, I can't conceive that Jessica's Lloyd's mother will ever sleep again, period. Not without envisioning her daughter's last hours, in the hands of a madman.

Do Marie-France Comeau's parents feel a swelling pride that their beautiful daughter fought so hard and so well for her life? I felt an urge to pump my fist in the air when I read of her attempts to outwit and and outmaneuver the Colonel - her Colonel. Felt doubly saddened when I "remembered" that in the end, she too died at his hand.

*A memory of that same sensation whispers through my mind. I felt the same way almost twenty years ago when the world learned about Paul Bernardo and the terrible things he did to Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey. A few years later, I read a book about the infamous case: for several chapters, it seemed as though Kristen French stood a chance of release, of freedom, of life - until I abruptly remembered that she too, died at the hands of a madman. *

Today, I am back to feeling unsettled and uneasy. Sickened and heartsick at all that I've read and heard. Horrified that this is real and that this monster walked among us and that there are still more heinous truths to be told.

Terrified that there are more just like him, watching, waiting, learning...hunting.

On the other hand, despite these grim thoughts, I long to appease those who might pull their shades tighter still and double-lock their doors in the wake of these dark days. I remind those around me that while evil - clearly - exists, the world is not full of demons and the Russell Williams' of the world are few and far between.

I suppose that dropping a plate of cookies off on a stranger's doorstep may seem foolish and unwelcome in this day and age. Odd and some might say, a bit inappropriate, given the raw feelings that one man has inspired in this city, in particular.

But - especially today - I hope that my new neighbours are touched and delighted with the gesture and that my children absorb the lesson I want them to learn: Strangers are simply friends we haven't met, yet.

I hope.

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
G.K. Chesterton."


  1. I love the quote you have at the end!!!

    Its very very friendly to welcome neighbors with cookies. When we moved in here, 3 of our neighbors had cookies and brownies for us. But I'd still double lock my doors and windows :)

  2. Thanks, Smitha!

    New neighbour Scott did indeed pop over to say thank you. He's lovely and I look forward to meeting the rest of his family at the weekend.

    If nothing else, it may soothe any worries they may have about moving here - despite the tragedy that has befallen this, "The Friendly City", it is still a wonderful place.

  3. I love the idea of the cookies.
    We followed the whole Williams case and the stories of the women before that very closely.
    My Dh's family was from Belleville.
    Still makes me shudder.