Friday, July 09, 2004

A Gesture of Sympathy, Recalled

When my father died nearly three years ago, family friends and neighbors paid their respects by coming by my parent's home, bringing food and notes of sympathy.

One condolence, delivered when I wasn't at the house, came from someone completely unexpected.

Jimmy Broomas was in my second grade class back at James Bowie Elementary School in Baytown.

My dad knew his dad. They both worked at the refinery.

Jimmy delivered the food at our front door early in the morning, on his way to work. He enclosed a handwritten note of condolence that explained the food was from a Greek festival he attended the previous day.

He left his business card that listed his accounting business in Houston.

"Wow, Jimmy Broomas. That was sure nice of him. I haven't seen him in years. I don't think I've even seen him since elementary school. I can't believe he took the trouble to do this," I told my sister.

I wrote him a letter of thanks a week later and mailed it to his accounting firm.

Since he owned his own business, I concluded his life must have turned out OK.

Back in the second grade, it didn't seem that things were going well for Jimmy. He was a nervous sort, and timid. He wore black horn-rimmed glasses.

The most vivid memory, really the only memory, I have of Jimmy Broomas is him sitting at his desk in Mrs. Howell's class with a look of unmitigated terror and humiliation on his face. Below him was a puddle of urine. He had wet his pants, and it wasn't the first time. There he sat, the whole class of 20 or so kids looking at him, some snickering, until the teacher told him to go to the restroom. I guess he had to go home when that happened, but I don't really remember.

The other memory, much more hazy, is of Jimmy's mother. My family went over to their house a few times, I guess because my dad and Jimmy's dad worked together, but all I can recall is that his mother was loud, gregarious and pretty overweight. I don't remember his father at all.

That's it.

There wasn't any reason to remember him, or think of him, until my old man died.

Then, last night, I read a news story about a suspect arrested for indecency with a child. Known to the runaway street kids in the Montrose area of Houston as "Spanky" due to his fondness for sadomasochism, the suspect told police he had been having sex with runaway boys for about 20 years, the newspaper reported. Investigators, who found dope, S&M gear and video equipment at the suspect's apartment, said they were concerned the rough sex play, bought and paid for by the man they arrested, might get out of hand, and that some of the young people were left emotionally traumatized by the experience.

The suspect was arraigned on Friday and identified as James Michael Broomas, 50, of Baytown, the boy I knew in second grade as Jimmy Broomas, who appeared out of nowhere some three years ago to say he was sorry my father died, only to re-appear now in the newspaper.
VIDEO from KHOU-TV, Channel 11

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