I began to warm and chill
To objects and their fields,
A ragged cup, a twisted mop
The face of Jesus in my soup
Those sinister dinner meals
The meal trolley’s wicked wheels
A hooked bone rising from my food
All things either good or ungood.
Thirty four and a half years ago I was an altar boy in the Anglican Church, and I believed deeply in God.
I had been raised a Catholic, and would later for a long period return that church before repudiating religion entirely and forever, but at that point I was the son of working class people who had been granted the opportunity to attend one of the Brisbane north side’s most prestigious high schools, and shortly after commencing had been encouraged to convert to the school’s Anglican religion and did so.
Each morning from Monday to Friday I would rise at 5.30 am, dress, eat and shower and then walk 10 meters directly across the road from my home at 47 Innes Street, Geebung to the St Mary’s Anglican Church, where I would don a red and white cassock and give service to the lord by assisting the parish priest to serve communion.
The moment the service ended I would board a train and literally run the mile from the station to the school so that I perform the same task assisting the St Paul’s School chaplain in the daily 7.30 am communion service held in the school chapel.
It was no chore. I wanted to become a priest, and I loved being close to God.
Along the way I was sexually abused at the school, first by a teacher named Gregory Robert Knight, and then when I was spinning crazily in a world of hurt and confusion and feeling all all alone I was targeted and groomed by an older student named Gregory Stephen Masters, who held a position of authority as a prefect of the school, and had direct unsupervised access and contact with me as my junior debating coach.
For almost two year I kept my abuse a secret, but one day in 1983 while I was on holiday at Bribie Island with a friend and his family I met a girl my age, and we performed sex acts on each other. During the acts I felt a growing sense of unease and a rising anger that in the moment I didn’t understand, but not long after came to realise was a reflected fury at my failure to fight back against my abusers while frozen with fear.
Seeing that poor young girl lying there on the sand passively allowing me to violate her – that’s how my immature 14 year old mind interpreted it: she thought it was an act of love, but due to the harm I’d suffered I didn’t know what is was and was incapable of feeling it – brought a torrent of inner self-loathing to the surface and so, after I had ejaculated, I stood and hurled verbal abuse at the girl and screamed at her to go away.
She began cry. I picked up jellyfish from the shoreline and threw them at her, shouting ‘go away! go away! go away!’ and eventually she did. It was the lowest act of my lie, and I am deeply ashamed about my actions that day and suffer monstrous guilt and feel hugely remorseful what I did still today.
I tried to block it out of my mind, but the vision of the girl looking at we with tears streaming down her cheeks and such confused pain in her eyes haunted me day and night. Then, about a month later, by chance I bumped into her on a train. She kissed me and told me that she loved me. I broke away, told her I was so, so sorry, and ran.
The next day after the communion service I told the recently appointed school chaplain and priest Tom Treherne, who I deeply admired and with whom I had quickly formed a close bond exactly what I had done.
Treherne asked me why I had acted so appallingly to the girl.
I broke down crying and told him every detail of the sexual abuse that had been perpetrated against me.
He told me that I was lying, simply making up stories to avoid responsibility for my action toward the girl. I assured him that I was telling the truth, begged and pleaded with him to believe me and to help, to save me from what were still ongoing and active horrors being wrought upon me.
Remember, I was fourteen years old. 14 Years and 5 months.
Treherne told me not to tell a soul, insisted on it, saying that if I did I would lose my scholarship and be expelled from the school, and told me to go away and that I was not to serve at communion ever again. I was devastated, so confused and so hurt that the priest who I thought was my friend had so callously dismissed the painful truth that was breaking the young me apart.
As I walked out the door of the chapel and the church for the last time in 33 years, and it proved to be a spell broken only when my deep love for my mother meant more than principle, or perhaps was co-joined to it, saw me at St Augustine’s down the road from the track one autumn morning 2 days after she and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary, wishing her farewell but not good-bye as her soul lifted to heaven and the rest of her went downstairs to join 4 generations of the clan in the columbarium walls where they could hear the calls from the track, or from Eagle Farm anyway which is one of the reason that I love the mystical place so deeply
It took me until the Royal Commission to admit or even know it, but as I passed out onto the school lawn some survival mechanism in my brain shoved the rapidly growing and mutating cancerous triple trauma of abuse, denial and rejection into a little black hidden box and slammed the lid tight.
And so for the next three decades I rooted and drank and drugged and punted until I had nothing left to abuse myself with and lived in this netherworld where I had good jobs and partners and group fucks with other women and pathways to politics set but I was only pretending it was me but it wasn’t. How could it be? I didn’t even know who the f*ck I was, I just knew that I could blend into the wall and not be grabbed if I became what others egos wanted me to be, and I created an aggressive armor as well, just in case anyone came close too close and wouldn’t leave, so I could push the bastards away.
I won’t bore you with the details, but somehow I found my soul mate and we made and raised two angels and had a couple of houses until the demons in the little hidden black box stole them away, and I did my best to keep it together and be a good husband and dad and I was too, but fuck I could have been a whole lot better.
All I needed was a priest I adored to listen, and call God or the cops to save me. But he didn’t, because he was pretending too, just like me, but I was a kid and he was a churchman and like the lame healed by Jesus I f*cking needed him, but he wasn’t f*cking there and then he beat me with a metaphorical cane and cost me thirty goddamn years of my like.
And now he’s dead, and my dad is dying, and one good man’s stuck in a maelstrom of totally undeserved agony while a bad, bad man sleeps and in a couple of hours is going to be buried as hero by the church he so terribly betrayed.
I reckon I’ll probably go to the c*nt’s funeral, cos one of my mates has rigged up this rock n’ roll stadium quality amp and the missus my police statement read aloud at 300 watts will sound a lot better than the Nicene Creed parroted by rote by hypocrites who don’t believe,
There may be even be a bit of media there too, you never know, unless of course you organised it and then you do, and I reckon a flash mob caught on a news camera performing Creep in a heavy metal key while dressed in leotards and leg warmers will catch the public attention and allow me the room to get the message across to the punters in telly land about how the church thinks people who speak out against child abuse are attention-seeking low dogs.
They do you know.
Three years of non-stop horror stories about child abuse told to a Royal Commission by human beings who were once kids who the whole world before them, and now are just broken shells who open their eyes each morning and feel disappointed that they’ve survived to see another day.
Vaults full of testimony and evidence proving definitively that the Anglican Church and its leaders were pedophiles, rapists, bashers, blackmailer, liars, lechers, f*ckers and frauds who used the institution set up the great man Jesus to hide behind as they despoiled his name by sticking needles into drugged up little 12 year old boys dicks and coming in their excitement all over the poor petrified child’s face.
And still they’re burying the f*ckers who allowed it to happen, waving incense and saying prayers over the scumbag’s bodies and laughing to each other about victims like me who, because these c*nts have neither brains nor souls, they truly believe humiliate ourselves publicly and cop all manner of potentially suicide inducing crap – I even got called a goddamn murderer in a state wide newspaper – are some who seeking attention rather than hating what f*cking happened to them and wanting to save the world from their fate, and they call us dogs.
Kids, little kids.
We didn’t even have hair on our balls. If we did it wouldn’t have happened. Pedos don’t love you anymore when you hit puberty. They just chuck you away like priests.
The Anglican Church reckons we’re dogs.
Little kids. Innocent kids.
We’re the dogs?
Hope you enjoy hell Treherne.
You did this me and did to us all.
You let the monster Lynch through the f*cking door you cowardly c*nt.
It was you Priest.
Jesus sent you to save us, but you just threw us on the pyre to burn.
May the maggots eat you slowly, and crows peck out your plank-filled eyes.