T H E E R O S I O N O F A M A N
BY Paul William Fassett
You call me weak. Maybe you're right. You all think there's something wrong with me. You always have. Maybe you're right. Even as a kid. Let me finish. Even when I was little.
I said let me finish!
You fucking people... You women wear men down. Chip away at us like a river through a fucking canyon and it's not enough that I'm worn away to dust, you keep taking and taking and you make it look like it's my duty to give.
It started with mom. She did a number on me. That evil bitch of a teacher I had when I was in fourth grade. You remember her? Mom swallowed every stupid thing that woman said about me. She said that she thought I was disabled. She meant retarded. Mom came home and told you three and that was my new nickname. Retard.
Laugh. Go ahead and laugh. It's funny. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. I always second guessed myself. Looked to you and Mom for approval and here I am, still begging for it.
I'm glad she died and don't give me that: "She's your mother." bullshit. An asshole is an asshole, regardless of title.
Remember my Kung Fu teacher? The one with the toupee? Mom made me take a martial art because she was tired of me getting picked on. You remember how you used to fuck with me Sherry? You remember how you would pretend to be sparring with me when I would get home, slap box me and shit. Knock me fucking silly. Embarrass me.
Well we were at the dojo and everyone had left so me and Sifu worked together on my forms because I had a belt test coming. Mom called and asked: "You ready to go?" I thought for a minute. Do I want to go home? Because Sherry is going to start beating on me, Mom is going to lecture me about reading more and the rest of you are just going to gouge away, so I said fuck it. I'll stay.
We worked on my forms, and he stepped down on my thigh so I would get deeper into a horse stance and when I couldn't get any lower he would grab the muscle and say: "Flex." but he didn't need to tell me to flex because I was already tense. Everytime he'd grab me my body would seize up. Soon I relaxed and he relaxed and when he asked me to pull my pants down so he could look at my legs, I didn't think anything of it. When he asked me to take off my underwear, I knew something was wrong but he was strong and I was weak so I didn't disobey. I kept thinking: "Stop thinking so much. This is some kind of test, just go with it."
Before I knew it I was lying on my stomach, trying not to cry, clinching my teeth, imagining I was somewhere warm, that the stabs of pain were an ocean wave washing over my back, that my tears were just spray from the ocean bubbles popping on my face. I learned that night that if you concentrate hard enough you can create pressure in your ears and the world sounds like the ocean, so I concentrated and his grunts went into a tunnel and it was like I was being tossed around inside a wave, unable to breath, suffocating, every tiny breath of air making me more aware of the pain.
I passed out at some point and I just remember being in the car, a gentle reminder and a hand on my knee telling me that no one could know what happened. I bled. I bled for days and you made fun of me for being in the bathroom so long. Said I was jerking off. You had no idea because you never looked! You never asked. You didn't care...
All the guys in my class used to joke about Sifu. They knew what he used to do to other kids. They thought it was funny. Something to joke about in the locker room. I read in the newspaper they arrested him recently and I cried. I cried for an hour, sitting on the floor, clutching the paper, all the while feeling guilty for feeling like that. Because who was I to cry? I let him do it!
Some kid spoke out, against all of his better instincts, against all his fears of ridicule and now the bastard is in jail.
I keep thinking to myself, why didn't I tell you, tell mom? If I told someone, they would have stopped him. Put him away. I let him get away with it, so all those kids he raped, I helped him get away with it by being silent. I was complicit.
You helped him too, by eroding me to an emotional nub, you are just as guilty as I am.