Monday, July 18, 2011


Most children are afraid of the monster under the bed or the boogyman in the closet. Creaking doors in the middle of the night can send a shiver through their bodies. A shuffling heard in the hallway could stop their hearts, if only for a moment.
We have been told growing up that monsters aren’t real. Just a figment of the imagination. Nothing to fear.
Nevertheless, monsters are real. They are in daylight. You can’t see them and yet you can. They exist around us all.
Leiby Kletzky was eight years old. Only eight. He was murdered by a monster. This monster’s name is Levi Aron. The monster strangled and dismembered this young child. A child gone forever. Leiby’s family suffers and a tight knit Brooklyn neighborhood now must look over their shoulders, watching for the monster in their midst. On their streets or in their synagogues. Or at their dinner table.
Aron claims now that he hears voices guiding him to kill. A monster trying to say that imaginary monsters told him to murder this boy. Like all monsters, Aron takes no blame. He wasn’t in control, just the same way that werewolves are taken by the full moon, or Dracula’s need for blood forces him to kill.
Sadly, Aron isn’t the only monster. Having volunteered as a Crime Victim Advocate for many years, I have seen the tragedy that the monsters leave in their wake. Women abused, children molested and babies raped. Evidence of monsters.
I have met a monster in person. In 1998, my sister Kathy’s body was found in the attic of a monster’s home. She had been murdered much in the same way as Leiby Kletzky. This time the monster was a serial killer in upstate NY. I knew this monster. He worked at a school where I taught. I smiled and waved at him as he mopped the floor outside my classroom. I shook his hand. These same hands took her life. Monster’s hands in human form.
As a writer, my hands have the ability to create monsters. I understand the irony of the macabre subject matter of some of my work. My hands, however, can also destroy these monsters. With the stroke of a delete key, I can make them disappear without anyone suffering. Just hit a button.
Monsters exist. Watch for them.
For Kathy.
For Leiby.

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