Saturday, June 25, 2011



"Let's have a gay night," he said.

"A gay night?"

Of course, we didn't know what he meant. I was eight and my cousin, T, was nine. We were staying the night with our great aunt and our other cousin, 19, L, who lived with her. L was very handsome, and he could almost dunk a basketball, which went a long way with us. He also seemed to like hanging out with us. Earlier, T and I (who grew up in the same house) had been playing army with him in our back yard. L was tall, lean, dark-skinned. Looking back on it thirty years later, I'm surprised, a bit upset that I remember him as being so attractive.

"A gay night," he said. "We all do it. It makes us men. First, let's show our dicks to each other."

This is where coherency ends.

What I remember are flashes--bits and pieces. Some of it, I didn't remember until a few years ago when T and I talked about it for the first time.

T and I were nervous. We laughed a lot. We finally all pulled our dicks out. L's was hard as a rock, huge it seemed to me, surrounded by pubic hair. T's was just naturally big. Mine wasn't. So it, of course, became the butt of jokes for the night. It didn't help that I was fat. A little plump pig, which L seemed to actually like. After we'd pulled our cocks out and talked about them for a bit, L invited us downstairs. Our great-aunt had one of those old-fashioned exercise machines down there. Like this:

"Let's take turns putting our dicks on it and turning it on," L said. So we did. Somehow this is the worst part of it. Has always been the worst part of it. Thinking back, which I try not to do, it's a monster in the basement. Dirty and stained. I knew even then that this was the turning point. There would be no going back after the monster. I even thought about stopping it then. Other than this, we mostly just went to church together. L would sit beside us, smacking green apple gum, and asking as quietly if he could which girls in church we might fuck if we had the chance. We thought that was really cool. He'd even ask us about his sister, who I had some sort of weird, 8 year old crush on.

It got worse, of course. It was all about what we would do to him. Would we touch his balls. Would we take his dick in our mouth. I did. Hating it and liking it at the same time. I honestly can't remember what T did. I'm sure it was much the same.

When I titled this "Brutal," I expected it to be brutal. That is, other than a surreal poem I wrote and published in the late 90s, this is the only thing I've ever written about this. The poem dealt in symbolism and shit like that. Otherwise, I told myself, if I ever have the guts to write about it, it's going to be brutal. It's going to be honest and detailed. The details, however, are like an impressionist painting. Parts of it, like the monster, are painfully vivid. L's white, white teeth. His beautiful body. The rest is images, textures, feelings. Feelings of guilt and desire all mixed up in one. The taste of his cock and how I remember it being both hard and somehow soft at the same time--the way the skin of it followed my movements.

Whenever I would think about writing this, I'd think there's a book in it. There's not. There are just these images. Whatever else there might have been would be about the aftermath, and I've written about that over and over again.

The next morning, I woke up naked on the living room floor. L had uncovered me to show his sister. She was laughing at how fat I was. T was already ready for church. We didn't see L much after that. He decided we weren't really that cool to hang out with anymore. I guess we felt the same. The next time I remember seeing him was at my brother's funeral. He was still handsome. He had rented me a movie, "Better Off Dead."

There's a lot to say about my brother and how, even though he knew nothing about this, he should have done something about it, but not here. The next time I heard about L, he had died in motorcycle accident. Leadwood kills a lot of people. I was happy he was dead. I'm not sure I am anymore.

For all of his talk about a gay night, L wasn't gay. Sometimes I am. And though I consider myself to have the most bleeding heart I've ever known, child molesters still make me scream out for the death penalty. That, however, is neither here nor there. That's just me still trying to defend myself for not stopping this. For not saying no to the monster.

When I was young, and I would feel like, or people would think, I was a really fucked up person, they would think maybe it was because my brother had died when I was thirteen. I'd let them. But it wasn't. It was this. This.

T and I were very, very drunk and in our 30s, at a bar, when I finally said something about it.

"You know why were so fucked up?" I asked.

"L," he said.

I nodded.

"The thing I most remembered," he said, "was L fucking you in the ass."

I hadn't remembered.

"You screamed like a pig," T said.

I remembered then. I remembered everything. Hands and knees and pain.


  1. If only every writer I knew — on Facebook alone — would write openly about the childhood sexual abuse they survived, as you so bravely, openly and honestly have…just maybe the stigma, for males, would be lessened and something — anything — would be done to prevent it.

    Then again, as a female, I'm yet to publicly, openly and honestly address the subject in my writing, so who am I to say anything about anything? Other than: you're phenomenal, and stronger than leagues — legions of survivors.

  2. Brutal, strong stuff, is right. Don't let anyone tell you different.

  3. This is heart wrenching, incredible reading. I want to applaud your courage and tell you that every reader sees the power that you bring to this moment in the read. It is not just the sentiment of the words (the only thing you can see) it is the recognition of a man, a soul, a declaration filled with so much courage, you call forth the courage in the reader.
    The bulk of humanity brings to their reading their desire to empathise, to unite with the writer. You take us to a dark place and we find pride exists against all odds, we are strong against all foes and our shared humanity can feel, suffer and be strong together.
    thank you so much for your words.

  4. I am in awe of you. Seriously. You are the mouthpiece for many, many people. You have no idea. Aside from the brutality of the topic, your writing is brilliant. I am not a writer, so I don't know how to properly critique, but I *felt* that piece.

  5. Sadly even though this writing should be a cleansing, these things always haunt us. The half remembered details so tricky to recall so hard to define will always be there and will show up when you least want to remember. They do indeed fuck us up but these moments are not what define us. What we do afterwards is what defines us. Still love you.

  6. It's not only courageous writing, it's a strong, pure voice.
    You've opened up a vein and purged the poison.