Paul A., 57

Paul A

Tell Me When We Get to the Funny Part.

It took about 10 minutes for the three of you to drag me into the janitor’s office at church. The filthy rag you stuffed in my mouth tasted vile. Strains of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” filtered down through the ceiling. You all laughed while raping me with the handle of a toilet plunger.

The youth pastor found me. With disgust, he told me to get my pants and clean myself up. The bleeding wouldn’t stop, but he made me dress anyway. The senior pastor came. It was agony, yet he forced me to sit on my torn flesh. He laughed, “What sort of pansy cries like this?” In the end, it was clear, say anything, and I would be reported for stealing from the church. 

My parents? Tell them? My father had punched me in the face for being bullied in 8th grade. “Allowing” myself to be sodomized would have enraged him. 

But you weren’t finished. You told your buddies at school about the fun we had.

School, I had survived by being invisible. You made me popular. The laughter spread. Teachers joined in. “So, what’s your favorite thing to have shoved up your ass?” “Hey, how’s that butt-hole of yours doing?” These are my high school memories. I had merely been a loner before this, now—

I survived, though I prayed not to. I was too much of a “coward” to do anything else.  

Do you ever think about that morning? Is it funny? Do you still laugh about it? If your wife or child were left bleeding on a tile floor, would that be hilarious too?

40 years, for 40 years my brain has been relentless in making me relive that morning.

We were just messing around, you know that. Shit happens, get over it.”

I’d love to. However, trauma changes the brain to keep the body safe. Like rabid squirrels, those memories rage around and around in my head, my brain trying to ensure the horror never happens again.

And all the laughter still echoes.

Paul A., Teacher