Opening The Black Box: Part Two

It's like a relief to me—the adult—to have said ‘yes' and flipped this latch or whatever the hell it is. And now I just want to get it over with. But what if it never gets over with? What if we simply go round and round in circles? We walk to *wherever* with the dog, the sun and the sky. Thank God for that blue sky. While we walk there's a feeling of circling; but it's no merry-go-round. It's like a slow G force that's switched from centrifugal (dragging me away) to centripetal: pulling me deeper into the recesses of a five-almost-six year old boy labyrinth, some of it familiar and some not. Familiar comes first. Right now we're all sitting under a big tree in the hostel yard, spectators at a show. And there's Clown Boy, almost adult: talking in his hoarse, pleading tone—half to himself and half to us—like he's channelling something that's been bashed and bullied since the day he was born. And here we all are, mesmerised while he plays around with a rope, which dangles from a high branch: a hangman's noose on the end of it. ‘Come on,' he says, holding the noose up. ‘Give it a try.' No one moves. This is a new game to me. ‘Scardy cats are ya?' A girl walks out, puts her head through and then walks back to her place, looking pleased with herself. We all wait for 'who's next'. The Clown Boy cajoles, daring us like a carnival barker. I don't like this game. I'm out of here. But where to? The other end of the hostel yard? Definitely not the dormitory: stay outside for as long as possible. And here we are again—on another day—at the outside toilets: a crowd of these big teenagers yelling and laughing at some new show. Clown Boy's voice at full throat, talking up another game. And me, wondering what on earth is happening, pushing through the crammed bodies—at what must be waist height to them. And there's Clown Boy baiting the crowd in his high screechy voice: a girl standing there all pink, naked and alone like an exhibit as if some sale is going on. And me stunned, like I've been punched in the face. That's the girl who tells me she's my mother, who tries to protect me. Got to be a joke really. But I dunno, maybe not. And me pushing my way back through the crowd to find another place to be. And here I am—forty five years later—an adult on my way back home from *wherever* overflowing with old memories, which are somehow sharper than ever—real—oozing sweat and body heat. Things with hooks all over them, dredging up long forgotten details: names, faces, conversations. And now a never before memory, a bathroom late at night that I—must—not—remember. And while I walk, the day accelerating with blinding speed and grinding to a halt at night—under a bright moon. The sound of the river in my ears, the textured bark of a tree on my hand, the earth herself under bare feet: drawing the poison of that bathroom out, making me new again, bringing me hope. ‘You are beautiful and you are deeply loved,' the words come from nowhere and everywhere. And I lose it: angry, laughing, sobbing all at once. An embarrassed, filthy piece of human skin and flesh that's been #*%!d My skin crawling while the trees, the moon and the river look on patiently.

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