After the service, I became visible again. Folks asked me if I enjoyed the service, and I had to say yes, I did, because I did get into singing and clapping and all that. XY spoke to me. He told me to wait with XX while he got the car. So I did. But then Righteous came up and said that he and the other confirmees were going to Church’s to get chicken and biscuits. They wanted me to go with them. XX nodded, OK. So I went with Righteous and the other four brothers that were confirmed. We piled into this big old boat of a car, sort of like XY’s LTD, but I think it was a Buick or something, and we took off. Righteous sat in the front. I sat in the back with two other brothers.
If you blow off the Appeals Subcommittee and still don’t get with it, they put you through Instant Social Conversion. That’s where they drug you, tie you down in a chair, and use sonic waves to lobotomize you.
The car pulled into a back alley looking place. Everyone leapt out of the car, except me. I didn’t see any Church’s Chicken anywhere. I thought maybe they had to take a leak or something.
I still didn’t register. Maybe I was still at the church singing and clapping. But then a hand grabbed my arm.
“I said, get the fuck out of the car!”
I was yanked out. Someone slammed the door behind me and then I was pushed up against the car. Two brothers held me, one on either side. One stood in front of me and Righteous stood behind him.
“Did you call your brother a fairy?”
I didn’t say anything. He backhanded me, hard. The two brothers held me up.
“I said, did you call your brother a fairy?”
He backhanded me again.
“Answer me, you little punk!”
He bitch-slapped me this time. I tried to wiggle free, but it couldn’t. Their hands constricted me like a roped tied into a knot designed to get tighter the more you resisted.
Punisher looked hard at me then went at it. He punched me in the gut. The first one winded me, but he kept at it. My eyes watered so it became hard to see anything. And I felt like I was going to pass out. But I did catch the look on Jerome’s face. His very being smiled at me as this dude went off on me.
“Stop it!” I finally said, after he paused.
“What did you say? I can’t hear you!”
Of course you can’t, you asshole, you knocked the wind out of me. I couldn’t talk above a whisper.
“Leave me alone,” I gasped.
He backhanded me and this time the brothers let me fall to the ground. This was it, I thought. I could taste death in my mouth. Vonnegut went through my mind. I wanted for the final blows to snap my spine or kick my head off its shoulders.
Instead, they picked me up again and held me against the car. This time, Jerome, the candy-assed motherfucker, he came up to me. He got real close. I could feel his breath from his nostrils.
“You think you’re something, don’t you?” he whispered.
Then he grunted real loud and kneed me in the groin. I doubled over again, but didn’t fall.
“Just remember, punk, you’re dick’s too short to fuck with God.”
They filed back into the car. This time, I sat in back with just one of them, while the other three filled the front seat. They laughed. They laughed and they laughed. We never did go to Church’s. We just drove around and around, while I felt like I was going to puke, and they laughed and laughed their silly heads off. Then Jerome stuck in a cassette and out came Oh Happy Day, the original recording, the one I loved so much.
“Sing and dance, shit-boy! It’s your favorite song!”
When Jesus washed. . .he washed my sins away. Oh, Happy Day!
I felt like shit, but I wasn’t going to let him take that away from me, too. He took away my dignity, but he wasn’t taking away Oh Happy Day. That was my song. Now I see that they performed it that night on purpose. The whole event had been set up for my benefit. Just like the whole Village conspired to break Number 6. They weren’t breaking this prisoner. Uh-uh. I’m a faggot. Don’t fuck with me.
They dropped us off at our house. Righteous and I got out, and they drove away. I stared as they disappeared down the road. Then Righteous pushed me.
“Get your ass inside, boy,” he said.
I glared at him, and then followed him inside.
The thing that kept me going, as I stumbled up the stairs and into the house, was thinking what would Righteous say to our folks when we got inside without any chicken and biscuits. I got my answer real quick. As soon as the front door opened, I smelled food cooking. They were not waiting for Church’s.
Still, I cut them some slack. I had to. You can’t loose your reality all at once. It’s too much of a shock. Even if your reality is crumbling around you, and nothing you recognize exists any longer, you have to cling, foolishly, to what you know. Anyway, I was in so much physical pain from the beating I sustained, that all I could think about was tending my wounds. I went to the hall bath to run some water against my face.
I’ll never forget this as long as I live. There I was looking at myself in the mirror, splashing water on my cut and bruised and swollen face, and in the mirror I could see the reflection of the chromosomes, standing in the doorway. Their faces drooped with worry. At last, mere chromosomes no more! I thought. They recognized! I turned to face them, but they walked away. They looked at me for a split second, and then vanished. My et tu, Brute moment. It was the only time that night that I cried. I didn’t really boo-hoo, but tears came from my eyes and streaked across my cheeks. They were getting to me. I left the hall bath and left the water running in the sink. I remember hearing it, but not thinking that I needed to turn it off. My mind was slipping away.
I went into my room and took off my shirt. The left elbow had a tear. More blood. I thought this should be bandaged, so I went into the hall again and went into my parents’ room to go into the master bath. This was a big taboo, even for Righteous. But I didn’t care. I was dead to them anyway. Besides, I knew there weren’t any bandages in the hall bath.
As I looked through the drawers in search of the Band-Aids, I saw this folded up brochure on the floor, white with green and black lettering. “We Can Help” was the title. I opened it up and read it.
This was the moment that it all became very clear to me. This was when I figured out that they really were all in it together. And I still believe it, they were all in it together, the chromosomes, Righteous, the church. All the fuckers. They were in it together to break me and do with me what they will. The brochure was for this place in Jamaica, a camp. It’s where folks send kids who they can’t control. My fucking god. They were sending me to The Village!
I didn’t fell nothing at that point. The adrenaline kicked in and the pain vanished. I had to get the fuck out of there. When I went back into my room, I could here them talking quietly in the living room. Jerome was giving them and update. “We tried talking to him, but he just wouldn’t say anything.” Then my mother spoke. She’s a soft-spoken person so it was heard to hear. But in my mind’s state, I could have sworn I heard her say that “they” were coming soon. That was all I needed to know. I went into my room and closed the door.
I threw things into the biggest backpack I had. Clothes. Books. Cassettes. I was about to go, when I remembered Kurt. Kurt. I couldn’t leave without saying something to him. Maybe he’ll want to come with me. I looked for the pager. We both had pagers. His was red, mine was blue. All the kids had pagers back then. I took it out of the desk drawer and it had six new entries that all read the same: 505 and a phone number. 505 looks sort of like “SOS” and that’s what it meant. It was our code for each other.
Kurt had some drama going down for him, too. I opened my bedroom window and threw out my backpack. Then I jumped out. I grabbed my pack and hopped over the back fence. My legs still worked. I was gone. Gone. Gone. I would never see that house or any of the people in it again. Oh Happy Day.
© 2012, gar. All rights reserved.