Two Preachers came to stay.
My room, the boys room, had two single beds for when friends came to visit. We would play space invaders and prowl the streets at night pretending at ninjas.
They were both named Bruce, the Preachers, and they put their bibles on my desk and hung their suits in my wardrobe.
It was the year I started to smoke cigarettes by myself – in retrospect the first sign of addiction – and I would climb up on the roof of the garden shed and exhale in the breeze.
I think the Bruces knew, and the younger of the two, who had an awesome pushbike, encouraged me to take rides with him along the river.
—To increase your fitness, he would say flicking his blonde comb-over as he flexed while changing a tyre.
I knew this other kid named Colin, we would walk off after church and smoke cigarettes, compare high scores on various videogames and swap dirty jokes.
Colin said, one Sunday afternoon, not to let pushbike Bruce take me camping, —even if your Mother thinks it’s a good idea.
Then I didn’t know what he meant.
Still pretending to not know what he meant when I climbed up onto the garden shed and lit a cigarette one evening. My eyes focused on the not quite shut curtains which concealed my bedroom. Beyond the chink of light that like Sauron’s eye gazed out on the lawn, was Bruce the younger on his knees with Bruce the elder’s cock in his mouth.
I shook my head in disbelief. I had seen an older girl doing this to a boy at the school dance, but then I was not shocked. Refocused my eyes and looked again. Young Bruce had semen on his glasses and running down his cheeks.
I told my mother at breakfast.
Her wedding ring left a tear shaped bruise under my eye.
The following weeks were like God had spilled ink in my mind, I cried blue.
Colin stood towering over me but he was weaker. I didn’t know then that his Father was a convicted rapist, but I did know that he had psychopathic episodes… well I didn’t really comprehend what psychopathic meant, but I had seen his rages.
I hit Colin’s Father in the face with a skateboard one night when I ended up staying over. About 2AM he burst into the room where we were sleeping and proceeded to beat Colin out of his slumber. I gathered my wits and when he came to where I lay I swung my deck at his head as hard as I could. He yelped in pain but his face stayed unmoved, like a Babushka doll.
I told Colin that I had seen the Bruces sucking cock. He looked nervous. His Mother came out with soft drinks and said:
—Have you been camping with young Bruce? Colin went and had a fantastic time.
Young Bruce had a brilliant new electric typewriter that used disposable ribbons. Seeing my bike with flat tyres in the shed he instead lent me the intellectual machine.
When the cartridge expired he said, “just throw it away”. But being a boy I pulled it apart, interested in the continuous stream of unbroken words punched onto the ribbon.
The things written on that ribbon were far too pornographic for my teenage tongue to have spoken. I showed my Mother. She, sickened, motioned to slap me again but then stormed to my bedroom, pulling suits from the wardrobe and pushing bibles off the desk. She found a briefcase under Bruce’s bed and smashed it against the windowsill. Polaroid photographs of young boys and graphic homosexual magazines spilled across the carpet.
Not even looking at me she left the room. I could hear her speaking on the telephone to my Father. Soon he arrived and stood poring over the evidence.
Bruce the Elder walked in, home from converting the neighbourhood.
They told old Bruce what I, and they, had discovered about young Bruce, he looked shocked.
I said, —he’s in on it.
My Mothers wedding ring split my lip.
…* The Bruces was first published in 2009 by The Australian Reader, which has since, unfortunately, met its demise.