I knew what he was.
People called him a monster. A menace. A man who should be castrated and left to die in the pits of hell. They hated him. Rage boiled out from deep within them when he stepped outside. I saw it, felt it, and I could only stare.
My mother and father told me the day he got out that I wasn't allowed anywhere near him. I had to stay away. They told me his story. What he'd done. Afterward I did my own research. It was true. He'd done a disgusting thing. I could see why my parents wanted me to stay away from him. I could see... But I didn't comply.
I'm eighteen-years-old. Considered an adult by state law. Old enough to make my own decisions and take care of myself well enough. But I'm not wise. I know this. But whatever choice I make, I realize that I must accept the consequences or rewards with them. I had to... Because that is what an adult does.
It started at the pool. People were screaming, jeering. They pulled their kids out of the water and wrapped them in their towels and raved at him in disgust. But me... I had just gotten there. All I could do was stare. My towel in my hand as I stood in my black and dark red one piece, staring at the frightened man in the water. No... No he was a child right now. A frightened, sad, child.
A man grabbed my arm when he turned and looked at me. The man tried to yank me away from the edge of the pool where I stood, yelling at the man to leave me alone. I stared into his eyes. He into mine. We said nothing. The chaos around me was muted, as I pulled my arm away from the older man trying to pull me away.
Throwing my towel over my shoulder, I walked around the pool to the deeper ends steps. The remainder of the angry crowd watched me, some yelling my name, telling me to get away from the monster. I didn't listen. I walked around until I was on the man's, now a shivering boy, side of the pool.
He looked up at me, his water goggles perched on his head, as he stiffened. The crowd watched, waiting for me to do something. Waiting for me to hopefully degrade him. How sickening. They were like a bunch of animals waiting for a kill.
I crouched down, putting myself almost eye level with him. Then we stared. I could only look at him with blank eyes. He had done a bad, horrible and disgusting, thing. He was bad. He could never be forgiven for what he'd done. I could see that. I knew that.
But I also believed in second chances for all. I believed he deserved to show that he could, and probably already had, change. So I thought nothing as I outstretched my hand to him. The crowd went silent, gaping and whispering darkly. My hand did not lower as he stared at it, nor did I look away from him. Minutes that seemed like days, ticked by, as I waited for his hand to grasp mine.
Then, finally, he timidly, like a child afraid of coming out of his hiding place, reached up and grabbed mine. The crowd gasped and hissed at me, at him, to get away from each other. I did not listen. He held my hand and I pulled. I pulled him out of the water.
He was older than me. Most likely in his thirties or forties. He shivered and had to tilt his head just slightly to look down at me. He wasn't that much taller than myself. Pulling my towel off my shoulder, I handed it to him. The crowd gawked at my choice to stand so close to him. To allow my hand to still hold his, as he used his free hand to accept my towel.
"You should go home Mr. Ronnie." My voice echoed across the pool yard it seemed, as he wrapped the towel around himself and looked over at his towel, which was by the bigger mob of people. "Leave it. I'll give it to your mom later. You can use mine."
Ronnie stared down at me and looked at the towel I had given him; a black thing with the Batman symbol on it. My favorite beach towel. He shivered sadly, as he clutched the towel tighter around himself and whispered. "T-thank-y-you."
I watched as he walked out the gate entrance to the pool. Nobody stopped him or tried to hit him. They all just backed away and growled at him. I watched and stood in my place until he disappeared. Then I silently turned to his towel and walked over to pick it up.
"You! You helped that monster!" Someone in the crowd yelled to her, earning murmurs and nods from the crowd around her, as I looked down at Ronnie's towel; it had dinosaurs on it. "He's a monster and a sick fucker! He deserves to have his fucking dick chopped off!" The crowd all nodded and looked at me with distaste and disbelief.
"You know what? Why don't you all just shut your fucking mouths." The words left my lips before I could stop myself. My voice was neither loud nor soft as I uttered them; people heard me. Some gaped and some clamped their mouth shut.
"What he did can never be forgiven. I agree with you on that." Everyone watched me as I folded his towel neatly, before draping it over my pale arms. "But the only monsters I see, are you people."
I locked eyes with each of them, making sure I let them know who I was talking about. "What he's done has been punished. He was locked away. He paid for his sin. He paid." Squaring my shoulders, I let out a sigh. "And how many of you have paid for the sins of this life that you've committed? How many of you have forgotten what that man did?" My eyes went to Larry Hedges, the man who had grabbed me and tried to pull me away.
Everyone was silent now. Watching me and glancing at Larry, who was shaking and red faced with anger. "Indecent exposure to a minor. That's what Ronnie did. He went to jail. And the kid? The kid still lives. Sure they're scared and will probably never be the same again. But they'll live." My eyes lock with Larry's, and they narrow slightly. "Shooting a 13-year-old and killing him. That's what you did. You got let off the force, told to take a break. That boy? He's dead. His family suffers. He never got to have a future. Never got to be a father, nor have a real, happy, life."
The crowd looked uncomfortable and pained. Larry looked ready to scream or cry. I couldn't tell and I didn't care. "Ronnie lives with his sin every day. He paid for it and he lives with it through memories and you people tormenting and downing him." My expression dulls, as I shake my head.
"What about you, Mr. Hedges? How have you paid for your sins? How much did you have to suffer for the family that lost their little boy? How much degrading and hate do people hand to you and let you hold on your shoulder til you break down and cry at home, alone?"
Lifting the towel to my shoulder, I make to leave. "Ronnie's not a monster. He's a sick human who made a mistake that haunts him for eternity and beyond." Walking to the exit gate, I look back once more. The crowd stared at me with a deep hate and sadness coming off them in waves. Larry is shaking and watching me with glazed eyes.
Shaking my head, I exit the pool yard and walk with Ronnie's towel on my shoulder, to my car. Mrs. McGorvey should be home. I can bring her towel to her and explain what happened. Then I can leave.
Leave and know that I stood up for a man who's not a monster. Just sick. Just sick like all humans are.
The character that Jackie Earle Haley portrays in this is that of a sex offender with psychological issues. What people like Haley's character do in real life is sick and wrong. But I'm a person who believes in second chances.
Wrong that may be... But it's who I am.
This is my tale on the pool scene in the movie. Hate it. Like it. Whatever. I just wrote it to share and not care what people think about me or it.