I left the Internet cafe after i wrote my blog this morning and headed to the Parade to get some breakfast. I got there and bought a “quarter peanut butter” (two thick slices of bread with peanut butter spread in between) and a coke. The sun was already hot, especially on the Parade, so i decided to go to the Company Gardens to eat my breakfast in the peace and coolness of the shade of the gardens. I walked and ate. I wasn’t paying much attention to the people i was passing. Only the hungry squirrels and pigeons that jealously looked up at my peanut butter quarter from the ground below. I felt pity for one particular squirrel and pinched off a piece of bread and threw it on the ground before him. He thankfully and desperately grabbed it and ran away. I turned around to watch him scurry away, in the direction i had just came from. And then my eyes fell upon Ben, a seventy year old paedophile that Wise says has been active since he was a kid in town in the 80’s! And i got confirmation, the other day in a conversation with a kid, that Ben is in fact still active to this day. I felt my chest get warm. I decided to try and make close contact.
As he approached i greeted him in a friendly way, like friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time do, “BEN!!”. I saw him reading my face, his brain quickly searching its data base as to where he knew me from. Search is complete. There are no results to display.
“I don’t know you?” he said with question and confusion in his voice, and a strange fear on his face.
I chuckled and began walking with him, “Oh no! This is the first time we have officially met. We have mutual friends.”
He seemed relieved. “Oh! OK. Nice to meet you.”
Not so sure if you would think that if you knew exactly who those friends are, i thought to myself. I looked him in the eyes as i walked and said, “I work with the children that live on the streets here in Cape Town and they say they know you quite well.” My tone was neither friendly nor aggressive; monotone.
He assumed they had not told me the “dirt”. “Oh yes! I always used to look after them. I am not able to now so much anymore because my pension is not as much as i used to get, but i still do things for them when i can.”
Yes, and they do things for you too you sick…, i thought. But i stayed calm. “What exactly do you do for them?”, i calmly inquired.
Becoming very comfortable with my company he said, “Oh you know! i buy them things, give them food like fruit and bread.”
“And hot dogs!” i sarcastically said. He did not pick up on my sarcasm.
“Sure! Sometimes.”. He really does not have a clue. I decided to give him one.
“I hear your relationship with them i quite interesting.” My voice was serious, with an undertone of anger. My jaws were clinched and my eyes were piecing. He made eye contact and then looked away as my eyes shot lazer beams through his. He picked up the pace a little bit and and his breathing became a bit heavier. He was not sure how to respond.
Awkwardly he just says, “Yes.”.
We passed by one of the kids who greeted me and looked in curiosity as to why i was walking with Ben. Ben picked up on it. I greeted the kid and kept walking with Ben. His anxiety increased. I felt a strange pity for him but i was not going to let him off easy. Yes, he is old, seventy to be exact, but all i could think about is the hundreds, if not thousands, of young lives he has destroyed in those seventy years! “Yeah. I have even seen you on TV if i am not mistaken!” Both of us knowing that i am talking about a Special Assignment episode in which a clip of him is showed; walking outside the court when he was on trial for child sex abuse.
“Yes. A couple of times.” It almost seemed as though he was bragging.
Three of the older guys passed by and greeted me with the same looks on their faces as the last kid. They offered to finish off what was left of my peanut butter quarter and coke. I was not entirely finished but was also happy to share. I walked over to them, leaving Ben to walk alone, “I will catch up with you later Ben. I know where you stay!”.