2002 by Paddy Esselaar
The tears came and
he sobbed with her, sobbed for innocence lost, for years
of confusion, loneliness and guilt. Gradually she regained control and
hysteria was replaced by icy anger.
"I must phone Alan." He was disquieted.
"Why? It can't change anything."
"It can prevent other boys from abuse. I NEED to tell him what I
think of him and Ann must also be told."
"Are you going to make a scene, Mom? I don't want the whole world
to know our private affairs." She was too angry to notice the fear in his
"I am going to phone the Smiths now and I am going to speak to
Alan." Peter jumped to his feet.
"Wait, Mom. I never told you so that .."
"Why did you tell me Peter?" she interrupted. "What did you expect
me to do? Smile and say what an interesting story? I don't want to wait.
I want to talk to that bastard now. I want to tell him exactly how I feel
about him and our so-called friendship." She stopped. The bitter gall
rising in her throat made her feel she would vomit.
"I can't listen." Peter got up and walked to the door. "I'm going
out." She stared at the door he'd closed. Where was he going at this hour
of the night? She lifted the telephone. Ann answered.
"Ann, I need to talk to Alan urgently."
"Hold on. He's right here. We're in bed." She heard Ann's voice
whispering. "Lynn on the line. There's some problem. She says she has to
talk to you urgently." Then she heard Alan's voice.
"Hello Lynn. What's the trouble?"
"You're the trouble Alan," she said bitterly. "Peter's told me what
has been going on behind my back."
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't act innocent," she cried, "when you've been molesting my
child for years? Does your wife have any idea of your underhand behaviour?
It's loathsome, Alan, repugnant to think of. How could you abuse a guest in
your house, and a child at that? The thought revolts me. You should be
publicly whipped. It's illegal you know. I can have you charged with
assault and abuse of a minor."
"Mrs Powers," his voice was icy, "have you taken leave of your
"No," she burst out wrathfully, "and don't put on that
self-righteous tone. I'll get you, you bastard. I may have been naive and
trusting but you'll pay, I promise you, you'll pay." She slammed the phone
She got into bed but
there was little chance of sleep. She lay there, anger
growing like a cancer in her gut. Peter came in at three a.m. Where had he
been? Was there more to the story than she'd been told? He was twenty
now. He and Alan had been having sexual relations for nearly seven years.
Could Alan have influenced him towards homosexuality? She knew so little.
Why had he waited until now to tell her? She tossed and turned as questions
bombarded her brain. She tried to recall those holidays. Why had she never
noticed what was going on? What kind of mother was she? The tears slid
down her cheeks.
Over the following
couple of weeks she clung to Father Tim, her parish
priest. He suggested Peter be tested for HIV-Aids. He suggested that she
and Peter go for counselling and gave her the names of therapists he could
recommend. Peter flatly refused. There was nothing wrong with him. He'd
been the victim, in case she had forgotten. When she probed he became
"I am not gay, Mom," he shouted indignantly. "You're trying to
rationalise your guilt on to me."
"I do feel I failed you," she admitted, "but I want to understand.
That's why I am asking."
"Well you can stop asking because I am NOT queer."
"I believe you, Peter, but I'd still like you to go for counselling.
Besides, you must go for an HIV test. The sooner we put our minds at rest
on that score the better." He demurred but she stood firm. Eventually
Father Tim persuaded him.
The first test came
back negative but a second test had to be scheduled
three months later to confirm the result. Peter began to see Father Tim on
a fairly regular basis but still denied homosexual leanings. Lynn could not
rid herself of the premonition of evil. She spoke to Ann but Ann refused to
consider Alan's possible guilt.
"I believe my husband, Lynn. This is a fabrication of Peter's to
get your attention. I also have my loyalties. Must I believe a child
rather than the man I have lived with intimately for twenty years? Alan
swears there is no truth whatsoever in Peter's allegations."
"You have known me for longer Ann. We have been friends for nearly
forty years. Are you throwing away that friendship?" There was silence on
the line. Lynn waited, her heart beating uncomfortably.
"I have to choose my husband and family, Lynn. I'm sorry." Lynn
put the phone down without another word. The hate she felt for Alan
The doctor contacted
her with the result of the second HIV test. Peter was
positive. Peter went white when she told him.
"Am I going to die?"
"Not if I can help it." Her voice was firm. "You haven't got Aids,
darling, you're HIV positive. It might never develop into Aids, but
meanwhile we have to do everything we can to build up your immunity. We'll
fight it together."
Alone, she felt less confident. The bile rose as she thought of Alan. How
could she concentrate on Peter and pray for his recovery if she was consumed
with hate? She had to see this monster. She dialled the Smiths.
"I have to see Alan. I can't carry on like this." Ann was cold.
"I'll tell him."
Alan phoned two days later, two days of such tension that she was in danger
of losing her job.
"I'll be in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday."
"I want another person present. I'll ask Father Tim and confirm the
time with you."
"Why must we drag in a third party Mrs Powers? Do you need someone
to fight your battles?" His voice was ugly. She ignored him.
"I'll speak to Father."
Peter was furious.
"Why do you have to force a confrontation?"
"You should be present as well," she said slowly. "We need to purge
ourselves of the poison of lies and hate before we can be strong to fight
"I won't see him," his voice was shaking. "I can't believe you're
asking this of me."
Peter would not budge.
He was so tightly strung she yielded. She went to
the meeting with trepidation. Father Tim took control immediately.
"I think we should give Alan the opportunity to state his case.
Everything we have heard so far has come from Peter. It is only fair that
we should give Alan a hearing."
"Is that what this is?" Alan enquired sourly, "A court case with the
accused permitted to speak before sentence is passed?"
"Not at all," Father Tim replied quietly. "There is much pain here.
Lynn has to face her child's possible death. She cannot pray while she is
filled with hate.
"What exactly do you want me to say?" Alan was looking at Lynn with
exasperation. "I deny these allegations. I did not molest anyone. What
more can I say?"
"Then it is Lynn's turn." Father Tim turned to Lynn. "You have
great courage my dear. Say what is in your heart." For a moment Lynn was
silent. Then she looked Alan straight in the face.
"I despise you," she enunciated slowly. "I despise you for your
cowardly denials, for your immorality behind a guise of loving father and
husband, for your posture as a sympathetic friend, for your hypocrisy as a
Christian. Can't you see what you've done? You've abused a child's
innocence. Peter had no father to guide him. You let me believe that you
cared enough to take on that role. You've destroyed my trust. You've
abused my friendship. You have as good as taken my child's life. You've
ruined Ann's and my friendship. You fill me with revulsion and loathing. I
want to destroy you. I want you dead. I want to kill you. I want to
publish what you've done in every newspaper so that you won't have a friend
left. I shudder at the thought of you taking advantage of other
unsuspecting innocents. I want to destroy your relationships. I want to
bring charges against you so that you stand trial before the world as the
pervert that you are ...." Alan was pale as the bitterness poured forth.
She showed no sign of flagging. She used expressions, sentiments, he would
never have attributed to the gentle person he knew. Father Tim bent
forward once or twice as if to stem the flow but she never noticed him.
Suddenly she faltered and abruptly sat down. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Alan moved forward.
"Lynn, I had no idea ..." He put out both hands in supplication.
Something in his expression, (was it naked pain?) propelled her hands
forward against her will. He squeezed them tightly and they stared into
each other's eyes. Alan broke the silence, asking huskily,
"Can you forgive me?" She shook her head.
"Maybe I can pray for grace to forgive you. I never want to see you
again. If Peter dies .." she faltered.
"But Lynn, I had nothing to do with that. I'm not ..." Father Tim
"I think we have done all we can this afternoon. Shall we pray
together?" The three of them bowed their heads. Alan left without another
word. They watched him go. Lynn turned to Father Tim.
"He looks as broken as I feel," she whispered.
This is a true story although the names have been changed. Peter
finally come out of the closet. His family accepts him and he lived with a
partner for 2 years before they broke up. Lynn has remarried but she broke
all ties with Alan and Ann. She has not seen them again although she heard
through a mutual friend that Alan made advances to the friend's son. That
boy had the courage to turn him down. Alan and Ann are still married.
I have a Masters degree in history but I have held a number of different
jobs. I was a trainee marketer at a winery, a ballroom dancing teacher, a
computer programmer, and a high school teacher of maths, history,
arithmetic, English and business economics at various stages of my life. I
currently do the administration for a touring company and am bookkeeper for
my husband's firm of ICT Consultants. I write in my spare time.
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