Postman Pat and his black and white cat,
Early in the morning,
Just as day is dawning,..”
The children’s tape player sang the words through its red and white face. Primary colors for a baby’s room. The tape was a distraction for me, and it covered my cries – but his hand usually sufficed.
People ask, How could a man, a priest? It’s popular to ask, now, those taboo questions. Safety in numbers for those who dare to criticize God’s men.
But that night, so many nights, no safety. No one questioning. Not even the mother. And the father? He was around.
My face hurts now, as I tell you this. Pain in my jaw like after a long session at the dentist. As if it had been stretched wide beyond its comfort. And my throat is tight, golf-ball sized anxiety, so I can’t catch my breath. Give me a minute, here!
It was always hard to breathe during story time.
And now the inevitable pain in my rectum. Even though I am telling you this over 50 years later, the pain memories are so near. They live in my muscles under my skin.
In prison there are similar pains for many of the inmates. But I am separate. Solitary. Suits me just fine! Dangerous, they say, to myself and others. A sociopath by nature, or a victim whose violation of his body caused an irreparable tear in his soul through which all feelings escaped. Which am I? Maybe you don’t believe in souls or God. That’s fine. I’m The Wrath of God … and no one wants to believe in me.
I sought out one of them, one of the owners of those bodies that stole my breath and my sanity. One of the Men in Black. I burned holes in his body where he had torn holes in mine. Pathology or justice? Am I a righteous man or a criminal? It’s up to you to decide, my twelve peers. But let me ask, first, that you take my place for just one night in that child’s bed, just one, and then you can judge me.