November 9, 2008

Two Steps Forward

As a child, I lived by the Hope Slough which was fed by the Fraser River. This boggy marsh was play home to many a child, and an escape for masses of teenagers. From one end to the other and on both sides, century old Willow Trees stood rostrum along the banks and I would swing from the long leaves and tease the catskins with my cheeks. I could run through and toss the leaves for hours alone. I would walk the banks of the slough and follow the minnows but now and then, touching its water gave feeling to the “Slough of Despond”. But there the Willows swayed, talking to me with the wisdom of their age.

In the park off the path from the slough, I would climb the large trees and sit in their crooks and dream the day away; dreaming of the future, forgetting the present. Sometimes though, the dominant images of unpleasant absolution would take hold. These images my mind still creates.

I remember Joanne Pederson, though I never knew her personally. In 1983, Joanna was 10 years old. She was my age. Her older sister locked the screen door and would not let Joanne in. Crying, she walked down to the ‘Penny Pincher’ Convenience store to use the phone. The man behind the counter wouldn’t let her use his phone to call her mom to open the door - forcing her to make the call out at the payphone. According to the Cold Case files for the RCMP in Chilliwack, ‘An unidentified male was seen with her in the phone booth. He was described as being a Caucasian male, approximately twenty ( 20 ) to thirty ( 30 ) years old, 5'6" to 5'7" in height, slim to medium build, light to dark hair ( that was below the ears ), clean shaven and wearing a dark jacket.’ Attempts to locate Joanne have been unsuccessful. Joanne’s was the first child abduction case I had ever heard of. My self security was broken into and doubt of the human condition entered my core, though I would never have been able to elucidate these sentiments as a child.

I was never free to walk or roam the banks of the slough, again.

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