The Confession Box

When I was in preschool, when I was bad, they’d put me in a confession box and would tell me to talk to God. They told me to tell him all my secrets. Every day, for some reason or another, I’d get locked inside that box, and they always told me God was on the other side, listening, and forgiving me. They locked me in every time but once. Once day I managed to get out, and since I was a child, I wanted to see God; he was there, he was listening to all my wrongs, all my toddler fuck-ups and failures, and I could see that holy face if I sneaked out of the confession box and opened up the other door.
The day they forgot to lock me in, I got out, and thinking I would see God, opened the door to the other side of the confession box. There was no one in there. I had seen the face of God, and heard his voice, the infinite and never ending silence. Perfect, absolute, and infinite. I became afraid of silence, and everyone’s voice seemed to come at me from a distance.
Since that day, every day of my life, no matter what I say or who I say it to, I feel that no one is listening, that I’m alone, that I’m in island universe shouting in a vacuum where no sound can exist. That’s how I feel, and I grew up without a father that gave a shit, adopted, but was a decent child up until third grade.
I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to be in the olympics. So, every day at recess, my friends and i would practice acrobatics on the playground, frontflips, backflips, cartwheels and halflips, just all sorts of assorted fun.
I was in the top of my class then, considered smart, with a bright future. One day I was coming in from recess with two of my friends around the side of Carver Elementary School in Whitmire, SC, just out of town. There were some rusted jungle gym equipment, a balancing pole, and monkey bars, and a shorter, metal, balancing pole. We were wild in those days, not really knowing how dangerous the things we did really were, and the father didn’t forgive us even though we knew not what we did.
On a whim, I stood upon the balance beam and steadied myself to do a backflip off it. I slipped as I came off the ground and landed head first on the sharp edge of the balance beam. My eyes were knocked out of focus, and I struggled to see. Everything became blurry and I tasted metal in my mouth.
I had this thing as a child, where I always wanted to part my hair down the middle so I’d never have to comb it, to slick it back like the father who adopted me, and when I stood I did the macho thing, I acted as though nothing happened, and tried to slick my hair back. It never did before then, and that was the first thing I noticed as I tried to steady myself. My hair slicked back perfectly, and felt somewhat wet.
My friend Jason Prewitt, and Derek Jeter, were there with me. I stood up uneasily, and almost falling, smiled and tried to shrug it off. I slicked my hair back, and it went back, and Jason’s look changed. He said, “Oh shit, his head is bleeding!”
He took off running. I looked down at my hand and it was covered in blood. I wiped it on my shirt. I ran my hands through my hair again, and it was continuing to gush out of the top of my head.
I ran into the office, following Jason and Derek, and into the office. The stubby office attendent got a pack of ice and told me to hold it to it to stop the bleeding. My grey and purple tazmanian devil shirt. The entire front was red with blood, and the bleeding wouldn’t stop.
My parents were out of town and none of the emergency numbers got anybody on the phone. I was 9 years old and bleeding to death in a small office in a school. I had no more numbers left to call and I was going to die. I didn’t know where my brother was, my best friend, the only person whom I never felt alone around. I remain that way now. The more people I’m around, the more alone I feel, but when I’m around my brother, I don’t fell as an island universe with a vacuum of soundless space between us, And I was dying and I wouldn’t be able to tell him I loved him. And my little sister, that beautiful little ballerina girl, whose pretty face I’d never see again. It all flashed before my eyes.
I remembered preschool, and a young girl, and pulling her pants down. I remembered looking at my girl friend (friend who was a girl) going to the bathroom through the window. I remembered being at the court when I was taken from my biological parents. My real father wasn’t even there. He didn’t care. Off with some other floozy one night fuck like my mother was to him. I tried to picture his face, but couldn’t. I didn’t know what he looked like, and that made me want to cry.
I remembered the day my brother was taken from our biological mother. She was drunk and he was crying by himself in an empty baby pool, with an empty bottle and a television full of static blaring in his screaming face. He was an island universe, his mother was passed out, a night out, a night without her newborn beautiful son we call Kyle, the brother I would never get to see again.
I remembered walking through the woods, by myself behind my step-brother Daniel’s house and seeing the three teenagers killing the dog. They had a small dog tied to a piece of plywood and had a pentagram spraypainted around the dog, and across the dog’s face. My memories begin to tinge white outside fifteen or so feet turns to white. The image changes. The three teenagers come running at me. I’m dressed in camoflauge, and new, to go hunting with my father the morning after. The three grab me and stuff my head under water. They were trying to drown me, and the familiar lapsing in and out and flashing memories began again. As they were coming over me now, and in the water a female’s face, the face to me which looked like an angel, put her finger to her mouth to silence my gargled screams. She looked at me with the sweetest, most angelic look I’ve ever seen. She put her pale fingers to her soft pink lips and I understood.
I stopped struggling and the teen with stringy hair who held me by throat let go. He believed I was dead, and I lived. I climbed out of the woods soaking wet and told my step-brother devil-worshippers tried to drown me and I was saved by an angel. A girl angel. How did she save you? The question was. She told me to shut up, I said. And I wasn’t lying. It could have been a dreamlike hallucination, but I lived. I saw my ballerina and my brother again, my father and my mother Dorothy, who had picked out my soaking wet camoflauge outfit.
They laughed about the angel in the water. Then I went to my friend Dawn’s house, my first friend … the friend who played with me while I was still in diapers in my sandbox. Her grandmother asked me what happened. I told her that devil worshippers tried to drown me and an angel saved me. She believed me. She wanted me to call her about it because she was on her way to pick up Dawn. She gave me her phone number. She put my clothes in the wash and told me to wait on the machine to ding and get dressed so my mama wouldn’t get mad at me. She told me that God listens. I decided not to tell her about the confession box with the God who wasn’t there.
I thought of her as I sat there bleeding to death and remembered her number. I called for the stumpy secratary to get try to get her on the phone. I gave her the number and she answered on the first ring. She was there within 15 minutes with an ambulance. They took me up town and had my mother on her way there. I was hallucinating. A stone was rolling at me, like a pendulum, and I felt as though I was at a war; I heard gunshots and people screaming, the swooshing of the rock as it came up to my nose. They injected me with what would haunt me for half a decade in my laters year, my mistress, my scurge and love affair, morphine. To this day, I’m on and off and struggling with addiction. Life itself for some people is painful to the point where only morphine is strong enough to drown the scrambled screaming voices as they pop up and crackle and disappear, reappear on the other side of the mind and shout across to the other ear, debate after debate, that never ends unless God’s own medicine turns that torrid river into a calm palm. That’s what happened when the injection hit me in the ambulance. Everything began to glow. The people in the abulance, two people, were blurry. I faded in and out. They got me into the operating room.
The doctor was a friend of the family. He went deer hunting with my uncle and was famous for having trained coon dogs, and famous for being the doctor to his dogs. I knew him. He had me on the table. He prepared a needle and gave me a piece of toilet paper to bite down on.
I grabbed his hand as it inched toward my head. Have you ever done this before? I asked. He had a surprised kind of did a child about to bleed to death ask this sort of question? He told me he’d done it several times on his coon dogs. My mother was there now, and my life again began to fade in and out.
I remembered sitting in the bathtub, maybe two or so, the image is clear; I was sitting in the front of the tub and she was shucking corn into a silver pot. Every time I put my head under water for more than a few seconds, she panicked; she dropped her sheers and panicked. As soon as she saw me laugh again, she smiled. She had to leave work to be there. She worked as a loom fixer in a local mill. Midnight shift, six days a week, twelve hours a day, and she stood there stressed, deep wrinkles on her face. The white roots to her grey hair stood out as I looked back to her as I came back into consciousness.
She had the aura of the angel in the water; she too had saved me from the orphanage and taken me in, as she did my brother, my number two, my defendent, my one of a kind first words were ‘god damn’ brother. She saved us; she was another angel who saved me from different waters. She stood there watching the doctor stick a long needle into my head.
I asked him if I could go to another hospital. He told me I’d die. I didn’t want more needles in my head. They gave me another shot of morphine and proceeded to give me seven shots of cortizone into the top of my head. The sound of the needle hitting my skull dinged inside my ears. My brain had began functioning differently. It was as if a levee between sections had been broken by my severe head trauma and concussion. All the thoughts from each hemisphere functioned as one. My mind was never the same. It was a nexus point that led me to the fucked up and humorous tragedy that has been the life of this silly bastard. And that’s what I am. The insult that used to make me cry … because it was true. I was a lottery ticket without the matching fruits, tossed in a bin to be saved by an angel with grey hair. They put thirty seven stitches across the head and wheeled me into the car. The brightness of the world was up one hundred fold. After that day, the hallucinations began. The insanity. The art. The writing. My mind had been disassembled and had been cobbled back together in a way not like it had been. It was as though I had been limited before, by one thought process at a time. After that, I could create independent threads of thought as others co-existed. It drove me mad. But I always wondered … was it madness when I saw the angel in the water? If so, then madness saved my life. A manifest delusion saved me from a group of dog killers; if that’s not as good as an angel, like the one who drove me home, home to see my brother in the floor playing nintendo, my ballerina sister in her dancing shoes, then there’s nothing as good.
I saw her dance the weekend after I split my head. The nutcracker. My brother sat beside me, and as long as he was there, I wasn’t alone. When he left, I was, even in crowds; a barrier had been built, a blurry mirror between me and otherwise dim figures that randomly wandered by me. One thing was for certain, it altered my mind in a manner that led to all these words, all 100% to the point I’d offer a polygraph with a copy of this novel to forswear the truth of all contained, it turned me into the bastard, the bastard out to prove the fruit matched on the lottery ticket. That I was not that word, bastard, that true word that made me cry. How many children are spoken to by angels? Insane ones? Perhaps. Certainly an interesting little fucker from a psychological perspective, and it is through these writings, my other love, my morphine in document format, that keeps the weight of all the god damn threads from keeping my life subdued by the volume of the head that careless fall created. Shh, the angel in the water said, and shh I will for now.
One thing is certain: the story I plan on telling you is going to the very limit of the absurd, then reinventing another limit to it, and then going to it. That much I can promise. There are strange men with strange heads out there with strange, strange, fucked up lives. They don’t have to be famous, or run some funny blog, to tell a story. Everybody has a portrait in their head of the person that they are, and in these, my memoirs, that is what I attempt to draw: as is my motto–without pride, without shame.

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