Very Bad Thoughts

Derek doesn't like to let his mind wander he's been fighting his thoughts for nearly two decades yet it wanders every day. Usually he can hold off his reflections until he's safely alone in his room with the door shut. That's when the darkness seeps in, sexual arousal triumphs over morality and he can at last be alone with young boys, if only in his head. When it happens, this is where his fantasies take him:

It's a typical Saturday afternoon. Parents and children swarm the mall shopping for running shoes, or pencil boxes, or taking in a movie. The air swirls with chirpy conversation as smells of corn dogs mingle with perfume samples from the department store.

Derek, six-feet-plus and 300 pounds, lurks in the background, watching and waiting under the artificial shade of a potted ficus. His features are soft handsome even and surprisingly unfettered by the extra weight he carries. He looks harmless, like the geeky uncle who prefers chess to Nintendo and answers your science questions in way too much detail. He might as well be invisible.

Not far from where he waits, a mother lingers too long in a dress shop, and her 10-year-old son is bored. Fair-skinned and blue-eyed, the boy is still dressed in his Cub Scout uniform, a red neckerchief carefully tied at his throat.

Derek spots him immediately and feels his pulse and breathing quicken as he identifies his target. He watches the boy with a steadfast gaze, a film reel of scenarios flickering in his head. Dark thoughts of rape and violence superimpose themselves over the boy, who bends down to double-knot his shoes.

The restless youth straightens up, paces and yawns, then announces to his distracted mother that he needs to use the rest room and saunters off to the public facilities down the mall. He pauses for a moment in front of a toy store to examine the window display, proudly straightening the knot on his neckerchief as he catches his reflection in the glass.

Derek is close behind, toying with the length of rope he has stashed in his pocket. The way the fibers feel rough one way and smooth the other under his large fingers arouses him, and he strokes the rope a little faster. He begins to sweat.

Derek closes the distance between them as the boy nears the rest room and follows him inside.

Alone, the brutal ritual begins. Derek grabs the startled child and quickly binds his hands behind his back with the white clothesline he has brought for just this purpose. The boy is afraid, and his fear only adds to Derek's thrill.

The boy begins to cry as Derek tears off his blue Cub Scout pants and white cotton briefs, forcing him to his knees. Derek opens his fly angrily and shoves his penis into the boy's quivering mouth. The boy struggles and gags for a few minutes, but Derek is not yet satisfied. He pulls his penis out of the child's mouth, flips him over onto the cold tile of the rest-room floor and anally rapes him, driving himself in a furious rhythm punctuated by the child's muffled screams.

Other fantasies might be at a school bus stop, or in a movie theater, or at a Little League game. Though the settings change, the end result is always the violent rape of a young boy.

Such reflections of sexually molesting children have assaulted Derek's mind for years, yet these dark urges thoughts that at once arouse and disgust him remain just that.

Derek says he has never acted upon his urges.

He's never raped a boy in a shopping mall, or anywhere else for that matter. But a part of him wants to.

What keeps him from harming children is his own resolve bolstered by a support system of weekly therapy sessions that he fears he will soon be forced to abandon. His money is running out, he says, and as it dwindles, so do his hopes of successfully repressing his urges although he swears he'd sooner put a bullet in his head than perpetuate the cycle.

Pedophilia is a condition Derek likens to cancer, a death sentence imposed on him when he was a 10-year-old Cub Scout, like the boys that inhabit his fantasies. "With [pedophilia] you know how you are going to die," he says, making his hand into a pistol and pulling the imaginary trigger at his temple.

"I mean, really, can you imagine living like this?"

Derek sits at a sidewalk cafe in central Phoenix and talks in hushed tones about the price of living responsibly with pedophilia. It has cost him a small fortune in therapy sessions. It has cost him friends, careers, the possibility of ever having a family.

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Susy Buchanan