In Greek mythology, Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy, had a big problem that eventually drove her to insanity and an early death. Granted the gift of prophecy by Apollo, she had the ability to see the future. She saw the oncoming destruction of Troy and the tragic, preventable deaths of family and friends.
A good thing, right?
Not at all. Apollo became ticked off with her when she rejected his advances and cursed her in the worst possible way. She would keep her vision into the future, but no one would ever believe her.
I understand how poor Cassandra must have felt. I know what’s going to happen in a particular situation yet feel helpless to prevent a little boy from turning into a hardened criminal, maybe going to prison, perhaps paying the ultimate price for a life ill spent.
My mother, as well as her entire neighborhood, is currently being terrorized by a 12 year old who gives them no peace from his acts of vexation and vandalism.
It began years ago, with the child barely out of the toddler stage, going to each house, knocking on the door, asking if anyone had seen his mom, begging cookies, asking if he could come in. My mom and her neighbors showed him kindness, walked him home, and appealed to his parents in vain to pay more attention to the little guy.
As he grew older, he wandered the neighborhood pulling pranks. Stuff like ringing the doorbell and running or throwing rocks into Mom’s fish pond.
Then he became bolder.
The doorbell ringing came in the middle of the night, waking my 94-year-old mother. Then he progressed to pouring something into her pond, killing her little rain frogs in a cruel act which silenced the pleasant chorus of their singing. He ripped her mailbox off the post three times, threw lighted firecrackers onto her porch and under neighbors’ cars.
Once mom walked into her kitchen to find him standing there. Others have had the same experience. Known as “little Chris” by the neighbors, he’s broken the lock on mom’s garage door, torn off the handle of her screen door, and smashed her doorbell. Her next door neighbor stepped out onto his porch one morning to discover a pile of feces awaiting him. Another neighbor saw him running away from his car and found vandalism. Family pets have gone missing, and one elderly neighbor is afraid to let her beloved cat out of the house for fear of something happening to it.
One neighbor says she hears the boy screaming at his mother and once saw him hit her. She adds, “I’m scared of him.” In a supposed accident, he hit a playmate over the head with a baseball bat, causing serious injury.
His latest meanness was discovered when mom received a bill from Gulf Power charging her for current usage as well as overdue charges from the previous month. Then her lawn man told her he hadn’t gotten paid. My mother’s recordkeeping is meticulous as her checkbook will reveal. She had written both bills on the same day and placed the envelopes in the mailbox. Now, she fears putting any out-going bills in the mail. So, I take them straight to the post office. But that doesn’t address the problem of her medicine order and personal mail coming INTO her mailbox.
When harried neighbors approach Dad, he says they just hate children and don’t remember how it was to be young. Mom asserts attention deficit disorder and has taken him out of school, giving him the freedom to roam without supervision.
The police have been summoned countless times by all the neighbors involved. So far, the standard response is “Boys will be boys.” They’ve been faithful about coming when called, but even if they believe what’s happening, there’s nothing they can do. With little proof, except for the occasional glimpse of him running from a bad act, there is no remedy. Not for my elderly mom, not for the neighbors, and not for the boy who is well on his way to an adulthood of trouble. Trouble for others, trouble for himself.
Someday, he’ll be the subject of a tragic news item, and people who knew him as a little boy will say, “I was afraid of this. I saw it coming way back then.”
Well, Cassandra, you’re not alone in your useless gift of prophecy.
Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.