Friday, May 17, 2013

The Ghastly Ghost

Even after his sickening murder-suicide, Josh Powell, continues to thrust himself, zombie-like, into our lives.  Like a reoccurring rash or chronic back pain, Powell's repugnant visage seems to make a return every 6 months or so.

Most recently, he infected the sleepy community of Salem, Oregon.  After a tip from the father of Susan Cox-Powell, the West Valley City Police, packed their bags and made the 13 hours trip to the Pacific Northwest, to root through another open field, poke their heads into more deep, dark craggy holes, and jam their glove covered hands into thistle, thorny rose bushes, and spiky weeds.
Officers didn't find anything, so they slung their backpacks onto another uncomfortable bed, in another nameless motel, and stuffed it carelessly with dob kits, hiking boots and undershirts, then made the 800 mile drive back home to West Valley.  

You likely know the excruciating tale of Susan, Josh, Chuck, Steven and the boys.  Missing woman, suspected husband, brave dad, perverted father, murdered children and fiery suicide.

The last time Josh made an unwelcome appearance was Super Bowl Sunday.  My girlfriend Amanda, who is now my wife and I where prepping snacks for a party when my boss, Jen Dahl called, "Josh Powell killed his children and himself by burning down his house, can you go to Washington?"   After I shook my head, and closed my mouth, I packed a bag for Sea-Tac.

In the airport, as I waited for my plane to depart, I caught a glimpse of  a nondescript play run by the New England Patriots, before hoisting my briefcase onto my shoulder and bouncing around in a line as people scanned their smart phones, talked about Tom Brady, and whispered with hands over mouths about Powell, "he killed his kids too?!"

Before that it was his father's arrest on voyeurism charges, then his dad's weird obsession with Susan, and the interviews,  and the child custody hearings.  

Every 6 months, the chinless Powell, with his spotty goatee and pouting, moist eyes, would saunter into our proverbial eye sight, like an unwelcome house guest, bowling into the living room in nothing but a terry cloth robe, eating the last piece of pizza.

The response to a Powell resurrection is always, exasperatedly, methodically the same.  I have about 10 names in my phone's contact list, under the heading "Powell."  When Josh makes news, the first call is always to Chuck Cox, Susan's father, then to Josh's sister, then the police department.  If you can't get any answers there, your last resort is Cox family attorney Anne Bremner.    Whenever a new Powell revelation pops up, reporters rush down the same worn, and tired path, and usually find the exact same worn and tired answers.  

The Salem lead didn't unveil Susan's whereabouts, so Josh, and the tale of the awfulness he brought to the world is put to bed.  Eventually, we will hear from him again.  I don't know for what or why, but when we do, everyone: reporters, police, Susan's family, will pull themselves out of bed, drag themselves off the sofa, dig their thumbs into their clinched eyes, take a deep breath, and start the tired task of digging in a wheat field or calling Chuck Cox for comment.  

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