Hutchins State Jail, Dallas, Texas, 2000.
‘Hey, you! You are going to get the shot! That is for sure. They would be doing right by God. They say you are a padre killer? What are you doing going around slashing priests, eh?,’ the grimy Mexican inmate questioned Robert Smith.
‘Them poor padres ain’t done nothing to you. You are just a Jesus hater. You will pay for your sins!,’ the inmate continued. ‘They are going to speed up the case and you are going to Hell!’
Robert Smith simply looked on. His eyes glazed over.
‘What did this fellow know about him?,’ he thought. He was simply ranting, just the way half the inmates happened to be doing. They were mostly convicts who were serving life sentences. Two were on death row.
Robert advanced menacingly towards the Mexican. He struck the fellow hard on the chin.
‘Go away, I won’t say anything no more!,’ exclaimed the inmate. Satisfied that he had managed to shut him up, Robert pushed away the plate of cold food, sat on his narrow bed and reminisced.
Abita Springs, Louisiana, 1970.
A sunny Sunday in this little town of New Orleans. The sleepy little community was getting ready for Mass. The Smith family was doing the same.
‘Ramona, Bobby do hurry!,’ called out Mrs. Smith. There was a hustle bustle and finally twelve year old Ramona was dressed and ready to leave. But where was Bobby? The ten year old boy was yet in his pyjamas.
‘I am not feeling too good, Mum,’ complained Bobby. ‘It would be better if I could just stay at home.’
‘Nonsense,’ said Mrs. Smith, quickly running a hand over his forehead to check for a fever. ‘We will have no such thing. Remember, you are an altar boy. The community is waiting for you. And what would good Father Murray say about this absence of yours? You are breaking a Commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy. Come on now. We are waiting in the car. Get dressed quickly!,’ she ordered.
An involuntary shiver escaped Bobby. His mother failed to notice it. This sweet little town of Abita Springs, comprised hardworking folk, whose life revolved around the Church. Almost everyone knew each other and it had been this way for many years. The children went to school during the week and attended Sunday School on Sunday, where they were taught good values and to emulate the life of Christ.
Additionally some children were in the children’s choir while others were Altar servers, like Bobby, who assisted the priests during Masses. Life was pretty simple and the community members did nothing to upset the social fabric.
Bobby unwillingly dressed for Sunday Mass.
But somewhere he was hurting. Physically as well as mentally. Why didn’t his parents realise it? He had tried dropping hints to his father, but the devout man chose to overlook his son’s plight.
‘Do not speak in this manner. You are young!,’ he had chided Bobby. Bobby had relented but the harassment continued.
He was being teased and touched by thirty year old Father Murray. At first he thought he was mistaken. Whether he was at altar server practise or at Sunday school, the priest never missed a chance to grope him.
This had been going on for six months now. Others were oblivious to it. But last week had been the worst. He had summoned Bobby up to his room, on the pretext of helping him carry a stack of books. Once in the room he closed the door.
‘Bobby, come look at this magazine,’ he said. When Bobby came over to him he had stuck his hands into Bobby’s underwear. Bobby had never seen such a magazine before this. But what was Father Murray doing to him? He had gotten up, and was naked from the waist down. He was rubbing himself vigorously on Bobby. The boy was in shock. ‘Quiet!,’ said Fr. Murray. ‘Don’t tell a soul. No one would believe you anyway.’
The priest was right. No one believed little Bobby. And the priest continued with his abuse. He molested the boy on several other occasions. Finally Bobby mustered up the courage and explained to his parents in detail as to what was happening. The parents never called the police. They spoke to the parish priest and Father Murray disappeared from Abita Springs!
Life went on but Bobby had been broken. He stopped attending the altar servers meetings and eventually stopped going to Church when he was 16. His parents knew he was hurting but they never helped him. Neither did they seek some help for him.
He grew up and moved away to Houston, Texas where he started his own fabric business. He lost touch with his parents but was in touch with his sister Ramona. She was married, lived in Texas itself along with her husband and her adorable, eight year old twin sons. She yet followed the devout Catholic life. Robert never married. His life was filled with various women but his relationships never lasted beyond a year.
Thanksgiving Dinner, Dallas, Texas. 1999
Robert was sitting down to dinner along with his sister Ramona, her husband Tim and the twins, Daniel and Drayton. Robert was a doting uncle who always made time for his nephews. He occasionally stayed over on weekends, much to the delight of the twins. They adored their uncle Bobby.
Today Daniel seemed distant. He was listlessly pushing the peas with his fork and he wasn’t his usual, lively self. At bedtime, Robert decided to tuck the twins in. He picked up a story book but then asked Daniel, ‘Is everything ok? Is there something bothering you?,’
The little boy shook his head. Robert kissed his forehead and moved to tuck Drayton in when Daniel held his hand.
‘I don’t like him! I…I don’t like that Father!,’ Daniel cried.
The world stood still for a minute. Robert broke into a cold sweat. Then he was filled with rage. His demons reappeared.
‘Which Father? Did you tell your parents?’
‘They will not believe me. They will say I am a bad boy.’
‘What happened?,’ Robert asked, hugging Daniel. The 8 year old wept into his shoulder. ‘He..he…touches me. He kisses me. And one day after Choir practise I was alone. He threw me on a bench and…hurt…me! His name is Father Murray.’
A dam burst inside Robert. He wept tears of rage but he consoled his nephew. He waited till the boys slept. Then he left the house without letting anyone know.
For the next three months Robert conducted research on paedophile priests. He found out glaring injustices meted out to the victims. All the victims were boys under the age of 13. The errant priests were simply transferred and the matters were hushed up by the Catholic church. There was a case in 1985, wherein the same priest was accused of eleven counts of molestation.
‘This is the reason Father Murray was free to do as he pleased. He targeted me and twenty nine years later he sexually assaulted Daniel!,’ Robert said to himself. He spat on the ground and vowed right then that he would avenge his nephew.
He discovered that even the Vatican had tried to hush up the cases.
In one case The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas paid $30.9 million to twelve victims of one priest, as settlement.
Robert Smith had made up his mind. He was not going to let Father Murray get away with it. In addition he had found out about a certain Father Parker, who was accused of rape and molestation of little boys as well.
He started stalking Father Murray. He gathered information about his daily schedule and surreptitiously followed him on his early morning jogs. It was during one such jog that he managed to confront Father Murray. He stepped across his path and startled the priest.
‘Who are you?,’ panted Father Murray.
‘I am the Angel of Death!,’ so saying Robert slashed his jugular vein and left him to bleed to death.
Father Parker belonged to a town close to Texas and here too Robert followed the priest clandestinely. He succeeded in stabbing and killing this priest while he was returning home from a house visit, late one night.
Robert Smith was arrested six months later in connection with both the crimes. They were deemed as cold blooded murders and the trial was on. Robert was not remorseful. He was content he had rid the world of at least two wicked men.
This is a work of fiction that centres around true events that took place in America. The events of an Archdiocese in Boston became a national scandal -Wikipedia
Patriarchal views of society assume that a boy will outgrow any sexual abuse meted out to him. This is incorrect. The person is scarred for life-Google.
Robert aka Bobby.
The shot: death by lethal injection.
Phot By: Aimee Vogelsang
This is an entry for Greenhorns-3, #Metamorphosis, an Exclusive Writing event for the Feathers club members of room8 by ArtoonsInn.
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