By Nichole Giles
October is the season of all things scary. Ghosts, goblins, witches, and monsters of every kind. It is a time of happiness and festivity. For parents, along with the fun comes worry and large dental bills. We worry about contaminated candy, or too much junk, or strangers lurking in alleyways.
It is a parent’s job to worry.
I have a terrible paranoia about kidnappers. Granted, I have a right. My grandfather was kidnapped nearly fifty years ago. I’ve been researching his case for nearly ten months, and have found a lot of great information. I even discovered that one of the men who kidnapped him is alive and living in Arkansas.
I thought it was a prank call today when I answered my phone and the person on the other end said, “This is the monster from the past.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“The monster who kidnapped your grandpa a long time ago,” he said. “I just got your letter, and I wanted to call you right away to tell you how sorry I am for what I done.”
I was in shock. I only sent the letter a few days ago. I wasn’t sure he would even respond. “Oh,” I said dumbly. “I…I’m so glad you called.”
He went on to tell me how greatly his episode with my grandfather affected his life, how much he appreciated what my grandpa taught him, and how haunted he was with his own selfish plans for the man he had planned to kill. He even told me what the weather was like that fateful day.
“I remember everything,” he said. “How could a man forget the act that put him in a federal penitentiary for four years, and on parole for twenty more? I remember every detail.”
Details! That is what I want. I’m dying for details. And the man who called himself a monster has promised them to me. He promised to write it all down, and send me a “book” in the mail. He feels like he owes it to my family.
After hanging up the phone, I wanted to scream and shout my own selfish glee. I’m getting details! I’m getting it straight from the source. What writer wouldn’t be rejoicing?
And then my heart began to throb as I realized the way he thought of himself. He called himself a monster. But he is no monster. He was an eighteen-year-old kid who made a mistake. Now, he is a sixty-seven-year-old man who has been haunted by his actions for fifty years. I couldn’t help but feel sad for him.
He was not lucky enough to have been taught the principals of forgiveness. My family forgave him years ago. I’m sure Heavenly Father forgave him too. It is he who needs to forgive himself. The problem is, he doesn’t know how.
I am left wondering if part of my purpose in this project is to teach him. Maybe by writing this book, by communicating with him, and by showing him that my family truly holds no malice towards him, he will finally be able to forgive himself.
Maybe through this project he will be able to conquer his demons, and never again feel the need to refer to himself as a monster.