by Blake Dawson* <>

From the Preface to Chapter 1:

If you like to read this kind of story but are concerned about possible legal implications, work to change the law! If you don’t, why are you here?

*Blake Dawson is the person the otherwise anonymous author would be if “trading places” became magically possible.

Chapter 18: Fr. Brian

Sixth grade was becoming a real drag. I was desperate to find somebody who would take me into his adult world and provide a counterbalance to my endless burdens of responsibility to the kids around me who generally drove me shitless. But I had also become very aware of the rising tide of media hostility aimed at any adults who were found to have ever got sexually involved with kids, so I had become very reluctant to even dropping hints as to what I might be after.

One of the fringe benefits of me growing up “too fast” was that soon after reaching double figures, I had already made choices and commitments to myself about tobacco, alcohol, drugs and petty crime. I figured that between sex, cricket, beaches, mind games and just running free, that I would have enough challenges to stay out of trouble without getting into things that I couldn’t see the point of. And seeing as I didn’t recognise anybody as being “my peers” I was not the least bothered by peer pressure. The one pressure point I had less control over was my own behaviour towards other people—although fortunately this never spilt over onto the small handful of people who I really cared about.

What I became was a callous manipulator of anybody who was prepared to be led and who amused myself by seeing how much I could do with them. When my targets were the ever available kids from school, sex rarely made the agenda except for the odd bout of gymnastics. And when they occasionally were much older kids or young adults, I found I was being cautious in the extreme lest they get frightened off. The manipulator was all part of a mind set that had me fixing the world in ever more complicated and conspiratorial day dreams. By August much of my free time was spent walking our local streets and parks and brooding my schemes.

Passing the local Catholic church one afternoon, I almost collided with the priest who must have stepped through his doorway equally preoccupied. Having excused ourselves and lingering just a moment, I was overwhelmed by the need to play what I thought might be a trump card: “Hey, Father, I don’t suppose you could spare a few minutes to show me what all you priests do with your altar boys?” If he had been going anywhere that at least stopped him in his tracks: “I think you’ve been taking too much notice of the TV.” “Aw, c’mon, we all know that more than 99% never get reported because the boys love it just as much as you do, so, by my arithmetic, that would keep every priest in Sydney pretty busy to account for those that have made the news lately.” “More likely the other extreme. Since the first cases got so much attention, the 99% decided to get in for their share of the limelight.” “Bullshit. Anyway, I didn’t ask for a debate about statistics. I just want to do what we both enjoy.”

He realised I wasn’t pulling his leg although I was keen to do something similar to something nearby. I am sure he also realised that he could have sex with me without any risk, and without even the breach of faith which was the key attack used against clergy who got involved with their own flock. “Look Blake,” my notoriety had obviously spread further than I expected, “it is simply not true that more than a tiny percentage of priests give in to such temptations, and I certainly will never become one of that handful because to me it is not even temptation.” “More bullshit. Either you fuck my arse or you’re not a real priest at all.”

He did not respond, so I pressed on. “Ok. Where’s it going to be? Your place or mine?” “No. No. No.” “Fake. Fake. Fake.” “Blake just listen. If I could tell you to go away I would, but I cannot ever tell another person that they are not welcome here, not even a person as misguided as you.” “So that’s your problem. You haven’t had me since the cradle to screw my mind full of all your bloody church’s guilt trips, so you don’t think you’ll be able to cope with having sex with somebody who would treat you as a partner.” “I live by my vows without regret, but I think even my vows allow me to wish that you had not come past here this afternoon.”

By now I was totally pissed off, and had given up caring what I said, yet still had confidence that nothing I said to him would ever be used against me, I continued: “So now you are making me walk all the way over to the next parish. And what do I tell the priest there?” I asked rhetorically and decided it was time to show that I too know who is who in the local community: “Father Brian sent me. Or would it be better if I went straight to the Cardinal?” “Maybe you should just go home and think this all out again. I had heard that you were wild, but I had not heard you were bad, so maybe we can just put this conversation behind us and get on with the rest of our lives.” “Sex can be wild and it certainly isn’t bad, no matter what your kind preach and don’t practice.”

I finally stormed off, initially even more frustrated and angry, but eventually just a little pleased that I actually had confronted some of the shit that I felt was screwing my life.

The very next Sunday I had really reached the point of not having anything I could be bothered going out to do and was at least letting my subconscious start to prepare for what I saw as the imminent ordeal of moving when our door bell rang. Mum and I tied our race to answer it and found Graham and Rhonda Andrews and their daughters just a little relieved that the ‘Sold’ sign did not mean that they had come to the wrong place, nor that we were moving away from the area: “Just a few blocks up to a place which will give us a bit more space.” They were promptly ushered into what was already a bit more space than we were used to seeing as mum was way ahead of me with packing.

With the small talk, drinks and nibbles out of the way, Graham revealed that the reason behind their unannounced visit was that he had been asked and was keen to coach our Under 12s, but, seeing as I was already captain, he wanted to make sure it was ok with me before he accepted. I felt I had got to know all of them well enough over the past few months that I was already excited by the prospect: “But, before your appointment is finalised Garth must be offered the job again. I know he won’t accept, but even if he would, he would still be entitled to be asked.” I explained about the stuff up with the Kendalls two years earlier which I was happy to claim as the reason they were no longer around, and said that there were obviously a few people in the club who were ever ready to criticise but never to learn to do the right thing themselves. I even went as far as to threaten that if Garth was not asked first that it would be time for me to look around for another club: “He was prepared to take on a job he was not looking for when nobody else wanted to know us, and the only people who have ever recognised him were us kids. But it’s not your job. It’s their job. And they had better get it right this time.” Graham was confident he had the ear of those responsible, and said he would not officially accept the job until he had heard from me that I had heard from Garth that he had been asked, which just left me with the job of making sure Garth had not managed to put me completely out of his mind over the previous few weeks.

Small talk resumed and my spirits lifted, I offered to take the girls out for some fresh air and a bit of healthy exertion: “Do you mind if they come back tom boys?” Rhonda didn’t and they nearly did after I had seduced them (not that way) with a few of the nearby boy spaces I knew so well. Even the wheels of cricket administration can sometimes be accelerated. Garth called early the following week and sounded even happier than when we had last caught up, while freely admitting that he now knew enough of his limitations to say “Thanks, but no thanks.” I also made a date to visit him at his holiday house close to the start of the season so I could bounce a few things off him. I rang Graham as arranged within 30 seconds and could not wait for practice to start, all of which combined to get me through our house shift in the best frame of mind I had during my otherwise bleak second half of 1992.