Stalking the Bogeyman

This time last year I was plotting to kill a man. I was going to walk up to him, reintroduce myself and then blow his balls off. I was going to watch him writhe like a poisoned cockroach for a few seconds, then kick him onto his stomach and put three bullets in the back of his head. This time last year I had a gun, and a silencer, and a plan. I had staked out the man's tract home in Broomfield -- the gray, two-story one with the maroon trim and the American flag hanging above the doorstep. I had followed him to and from his job as an electrical engineer. I was confident I would get away with murder, because there was nothing in recent history to connect me to him. Homicide investigators look for motive, and mine was buried 25 years in the past.

The man I was going to kill was the one who raped me in 1978, when I was seven years old.

When I was seven, I had a crush on Princess Leia and wanted to be a member of the rock band Kiss when I grew up. I was in the second grade, and a cop dressed up like a bloodhound wearing a trench coat and calling himself McGruff came to my school and warned us all to watch out for strange men in cars offering candy.

But McGruff didn't say anything about watching out for the son of my mom and dad's best friends. Our families had both moved to Alaska that year. His dad and my dad worked together. He was ten years older than me, and a star athlete at Chugiak High School. He wrestled and played quarterback. The Anchorage Daily News ran a profile of him in the sports section, and my mom cut it out and stuck it on our refrigerator. I looked up to him. I thought he was super-cool.

One night his parents had my parents over for dinner, and he asked me if I wanted to go to his bedroom in the basement and play with his karate stuff. We snuck off together, and once he had me alone, inside his room, the door closed, he got out his karate stuff, throwing stars and nunchuks and a curved sword, and we started playing. He did not play nice. He spun the nunchuks inches from my face and hurled the throwing stars into the wall next to me. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew it was bad, so I started crying, and he told me to shut up and then started chasing me around the room, waving the sword. He put the blade to my throat and backed me into a corner, where I dropped into a crouch and cowered. Then he told me to take off my pants.

The term "child molestation" doesn't begin to describe what happened next. When I think "child molestation," I think inappropriate touching. I think fondling. What happened next wasn't fondling. It wasn't Michael Jackson gently introducing my hand to his magical giraffe, and it wasn't anything like a Catholic priest masturbating an altar boy. I was seven, and it was violent, sick, pedophiliac rape.

He started off by unzipping the fly of his jeans and telling me he'd cut my face with the sword if I didn't do what he wanted, but not to worry, he wouldn't pee in my mouth. He finished with me face down on the bare black-plastic mattress of his waterbed, covering my head with a pillow to muffle my squealing. I had no words for what was happening, no concept of "rape" or "sex." I just knew that I was terrified and in pain.

When he was done with me, when I was pulling up my pants, he said that if I told my parents or his parents or anyone else, that my mom and dad would be very angry with me because I'd done a bad thing. He said they would spank me. He said if I told on him he'd come to my house in the middle of the night and gut me like a salmon.

Then he opened his door. He told me not to go back upstairs right away, and sat me down in front of a TV in the downstairs family room and had me play Atari until my tears dried and I was more presentable.

When I was seven, I no longer believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, but from that night on, I had no such doubts about the Bogeyman.

He only got me that once -- or, at least, only once when I was conscious. There was one night, two or three months later, when my parents were hosting a holiday party, and they took me to his house so he could babysit me and his little sister while his parents were at the party. He put on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and we "played disco," which consisted of all of us getting drunk on straight, warm hard booze while he watched his little sister and me gyrate to "Stayin' Alive," thereby securing my lifelong hatred of the Bee Gees. I don't remember the rest of that night, just waking up the next morning with my first hangover. Six months later, I nearly died after guzzling most of a bottle of peach brandy that I found in my dad's bar.

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse