Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Fiction for November 14th, 2008

For this week’s Friday Fiction, I’m presenting another chapter from my NaNoWriMo project, “Precocious by Design”. One of the challenges in this story is to work with characters that have a trait that most of us, including myself, find repugnant. There are two pedophiles that play prominent roles in the story – the killer, and the man the victim was supposed to have met on the night she died.

We teach in the Church that God is able to redeem the worst of sinners, and that the blood of Messiah is sufficient for anyone. Like many Christians, I have found myself in the past wondering how God could reach out to someone I found repugnant, and one element in this story is the main character being pressed by God to similarly look at another man, and see him the way that God sees him.

Something Better
From “Precocious by Design”
By Rick Higginson
NaNoWriMo 2008

Chapter 29
Monday afternoon

Lloyd rolled up outside the apartment building, and shifted the car into ‘park’. The complex was nice, and appeared to cater to young professionals before they entered the child-bearing stage of their lives.

He walked by the well-maintained landscaping, with the periodic barbecue grills spaced along the walkways for the residents. Things were quiet in the mid-afternoon, and he guessed the management required a signed agreement to keep the atmosphere that way around the clock.

The block he was looking for was painted in muted sandstone, with a darker contrasting trim. Copious ferns grew in planter boxes along the walls, with flowers bordering the walkways. The small lawns in front of each ground floor apartment were recently mowed, and the grass was vibrant and healthy. It was a nice place to live, and he noted that it did not seem to have any families with children living there.

He knocked on the door and waited, and was just about ready to give up when the door finally opened.

“Lt. Timmons,” Gary Duddeck said from inside the door. “Did you come by to add one more lousy element to this day?”

“Can I come in, Mr. Duddeck?”

He made a helpless gesture and stood aside. “You might as well; if you’re going to make this day any worse, I’m not going to stop you by making you stand outside.”

Lloyd entered, and Gary closed the door behind him. He walked into the living room, and glanced around. The apartment was clean and smartly decorated, laid out in an arrangement that made sense. A red guitar stood on a stand in the corner, next to a stool and music stand. He took a closer look at it. “Do you play?”

“I was barely beaten out of a music scholarship when I graduated high school.” He flopped into a chair. “Another of my failures in life, I guess.”

“How many other students did you beat in the scholarship competition? Seems to me, a close second is nothing to be ashamed of.”

He waved off the suggestion. “It doesn’t matter, does it?”

“Life is all about perspective, Mr. Duddeck. To a single mother down in the welfare housing, you’re rich. To the chief executive of a Fortune 500 corporation, you have nothing,” Lloyd said. “To the kid that just barely beat you, you were not quite good enough. To the other kids that didn’t do as well, you were right up there with the kid who won.”

“What can I do for you, detective, other than giving you someone to spout pretty platitudes to?”

He sat down on the couch, and stretched his arm along the back. “I had a phone call this afternoon from your boss. He wanted to know about Miss Polinichenko, which I thought was rather odd. How did your boss know about her?”

“Let’s just say he got word that I was out with her on Saturday night, and now he’s convinced I was on a date with an eleven year old.”

“Wasn’t that the whole purpose behind contracting a performance from her in the first place?”

“Lt. Timmons, if you just came by to gloat, I’m really not in much mood.”

“Is that why you think I’m here?”

“So far, you haven’t given me reason to believe anything else, have you?” He turned his head to the side and looked at the floor. “Maybe you couldn’t bring me up on any charges, but punishing the pedophile anyway must feel awfully good to you, doesn’t it?”

“Your boss told me you had given him this 'ridiculous story' about Miss Polinichenko being twenty-four years old, and that you had said I could verify it. I think he figured I should know I was being used as a reference by a pervert. I assume you did give him my number?”

“Yeah, I gave him your number. At that point, I decided my job was lost anyway, so at least he should know I wasn’t yanking his chain about Katya.”

“You’re not calling her Katy anymore.”

“She likes being called Katya. It’s what her mother called her.”

“What did you two do Saturday night?”

“We went and bought her an adult dress, and then attended an orchestra concert in the park.”

“And then?”

“I brought her back here, and she sat on the floor while I played my guitar for her.” His voice broke as he continued. “For the first time I could remember in years, detective, I was really happy for a night, because I was enjoying the company of a woman my age that I found attractive, and for whom I didn’t have to pretend to be something else.”

“So you didn’t go out with Katy; you went out with Miss Polinichenko, then?”

He nodded. “I figured out that she was just as tired of always pretending to be something she wasn’t, and we decided to just be ourselves Saturday night.”

“Did you sleep with her?”

He shook his head and laughed. “No, because she said she didn’t feel like it, and I told her it was okay, because real people don’t always feel like it, and she’d already given me the best night of my life.”

Lloyd stood up, and gave the man a gentle touch on the shoulder. “I told your boss that Miss Polinichencko is twenty-four, and that I had verified that information personally on her passport.”

“Thank you.”

“He then wanted to know how I happened to be acquainted with both of you. I told him the truth; that you were questioned as a witness in a case I am working on, that you had voluntarily assisted with my investigation, and that you were not in any trouble with the law to the best of my knowledge.” He stepped in front of the chair and made eye contact with Duddeck. “I wanted to tell him that I caught you meeting a prostitute that impersonates children for pedophiles. I wanted to tell him I found you disgusting, and that I hoped you would leave my city and never come back. I wanted to tell him if your company has any sense, they’d fire you so fast it would make your eyes water. I wanted to, but I didn’t.”

“Why didn’t you? It’s all true.”

He took his badge holder out of his pocket and set it on the coffee table. “I can’t say what I’m about to tell you as a representative of the Sunny Grove Police Department, but I can say it as Lloyd Timmons, private citizen. I didn’t, because someone else didn’t reveal the whole truth about me when it mattered.”


“Yeah, me; I was a hot-headed soldier, and adding alcohol just made me worse. One night, after a stupid argument, I came this close to knifing another man. The next morning, I stumbled into this rescue mission church, and this bean-pole of a preacher introduced a dirty, stinking, hung-over hell-raiser to God. I had some lapses after that, and he saw most of them, and never once gave up on me.” He stuck his hands in his pockets and looked at the ceiling. “One day, I met his daughter – his one and only, precious little girl – and I fell head over heels in love with her. That scrawny preacher, who I don’t think has ever taken a drink in his life, or ever raised his hand in anger at anyone, didn’t tell his daughter that I wasn’t good enough for her.”

“Did you marry her?”

“Yeah, so now I have a bean-pole preacher for a father-in-law. I asked him before the wedding why he never told her the kind of man I was, and he said that was my job. His job was to listen to God telling him the kind of man I could be, and to help me on the way.” He sniffed. “I don’t know what you’re going through right now, Gary. I don’t know if maybe I’m just reading into you what I saw in myself all those years ago, but I’m going to tell you the same thing that preacher told me. God doesn’t turn His back on us; we turn our back on Him. He’s waiting to show us the potential for good in all of us, no matter how bad we may think we are.”

“I’ve tried religion; it still didn’t make the urges go away.”

“They don’t go away, Gary; I still have the urge to drink. I still have the urge to use my fists instead of my brain. I still have a hot head. God didn’t make those things go away; He gave me the strength and the motivation, instead, to bring them under control. The only thing that changed is that I learned to not allow my urges to rule me; I learned to rule my urges. Potty training a baby doesn’t make the baby quit pooping; it enables the child to control the bathroom urges until the right moment.”

“My urges are a bit different; everyone knows it’s normal for babies to poop. It’s not normal for a man to find children desirable.”

“Answer me honestly, Gary – just between you and me, and it never leaves this room. Were you telling the truth when you told Dr. Germain that you’d never actually indulged those desires on a child?”

“It’s the truth; I never molested any actual children.”

“You’re showing a good start, then; you’re not giving those urges unrestrained control over you.”

“It still doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change what I am, or how the world is going to perceive me.”

“Don’t worry about how the world perceives you; worry instead about how God receives you. I came here to see you today, because whether I wanted to see it or not, God forced me to see the potential for good in you. He made me take the place of my father-in-law, so that I could pass along the same gift that was given to me.”

He started to laugh. “Do you have a daughter you’re going to let a man like me marry?”

“You know, I’ve wondered sometimes what my father-in-law would have said that first Sunday morning, when I came forward in that Rescue Mission, if someone had told him I would marry his daughter. I think, sometimes, God is merciful and doesn’t let us see the future until we’re ready for what He has in store. Let’s just say for now that I’ll give you the same grace that bean-pole preacher gave to me.”

“It all sounds good, but I’m not really sure I’m ready to accept all that just yet.”

“I understand, and I just want to leave you with this – that way you felt with Miss Polinichenko on Saturday night, like you don’t have to pretend or to be anything but precisely what you are?”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“Did it also make you feel like you wanted to be something better?”

“Yeah, it did, but an honest better, not a pretend better.”

“That’s the way I feel before God. He knows me, and I don’t have to pretend to be anything but what I am, but just knowing He cares makes me want to be something better.”


Sara Harricharan said...

Ooooh...I am wanting to read this whole book when you are finished. lol! All these bits and pieces, I want to see it all add up. You're doing so well with this!

Catrina Bradley said...

Wonderful, Rick. One of the most difficult, and eye-opening, books I've ever read was from the POV of a child molester. It must be painful to write from that perspective. The Godly words of wisdom from the detective were my favorite part of this chapter.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Don't we ALL want to be "honest better"?

in talking with my father about salvation, I've often brought up Saul's conversion. My father thinks that since he was an abusive alcoholic and a despicable human being to our family that he is not worthy of receiving Christ. I told him that makes him self-righteous, to think that he knows better what he needs than God does. Then I bring up Paul. Imagine if murdering Christians kept you from a relationship with the Savior. I think not.

All people need the Lord, and He is not willing that ANY should perish, even those who think and do horrific things.

Great "fiction," Rick.

Joanne Sher said...

I am absolutely engaged. Wonderful dialogue and a masterful job of approaching this topic.

Dee Yoder said...

I knew a man like this, and it was difficult to think of how God saw him, and not the way I saw him before God took his sins and made him new...he lives by Grace, everyday. This si going to be an awesome book!