Considering how welcoming they are, however, I’m inclined to resist the urge to assume the worst—and anyway, I don’t particularly want to know the specifics of any of their crimes.
Society has already exacted its debt, is my thinking.
You could say they’re lucky to be here, even if it is four miles from anything resembling a town, not much of a resemblance at that, and the "city" (really more of a village) being just a lonely former barracks built by U. A couple of dozen older Jamaicans still live here, too, but the sex offenders arrived six and a half years ago when Pat Powers, an offender himself, came and claimed the place in the name of Jesus Christ.
They live in this exile, of course, because there is nothing lower than their kind.
There are several married couples and a few with kids. But one day Officer Cox shows up unannounced, barges in, and wags her finger at all the Winnie the Pooh dolls and the pictures of Rose’s children, who, per terms and conditions of probation, Rose was barred from seeing, and she goes: I want all this shit out of here or you’re gettin’ violated. Over breakfast, Ted tells me that if I want, I can sit in on an intake call, which is a conference call they’re having with a possible new resident.
They’ve even got one stay-at-home dad who’s a registered predator. Ted and Rose themselves got married three years ago, in September, just after Ted was re-released for a probation violation. Rose says how her probation officer, Officer Cox, wouldn’t let her go on a honeymoon. The man’s getting released from prison in a month, and he’ll need somewhere to live.
Jay Kirk reports on life in an American community—yes, that's definitely the right word—like no other I suppose in this case I am the offender.
I apologized profusely for showing up early and offered to find a motel for the night, but one of the guys, Ted, said it wasn’t a problem, not at all, we’re happy to have you, we’ll fix you up in our guest room. He did it very formal, like: Rose, who isn’t the only woman in the village but who is the only registered female sex offender.
I apologized some more to Rose, who has faded green tattoos on her fleshy arms and the oblique demeanor of a log-truck dispatcher, but she shrugged and made a joke that I was welcome so long as I didn’t snore. Glenn was going to live there rent-free when he got out, but the statute for the city of Palm Beach Gardens says sex offenders can’t live within 2,500 feet of anywhere minors might conceivably convene.
Rose is still in her nightie on the couch where I left her last night, playing a game on her cell phone with a mini stylus, feet on the glass coffee table between a vase of white roses and a burning vanilla candle.
When she pours me a mug of coffee, I comment on the huge letters eat hanging on the kitchen wall.