Unable to mourn
Unable to grieve
Unable to even say goodbye
You could not forgive
You could not forget
I was a prisoner inside your head
Prisoner. M.S. 1991
A coroner’s report arrived at our home the following Monday, a mere five days after the accident that killed my brother, it was delivered by a police officer and a police therapist, both of whom seemed genuinely respectful of what my mother and father were going through. I guess they were also respectful of what I was going through too but as my father would not let me speak, even when I was spoken to directly it was hard to judge.
As I walked down the hallway, having been ordered to my bedroom when I did try to reply to a question, I heard the police therapist tell my parents that a child psychologist could be recommend if they felt it was needed. My father’s response came nearly as quickly as his fists had struck me in the days before and in no uncertain terms he told both police officers that such help was not what I needed, what I needed was discipline. I heard nothing more on the situation.
Of course I was not shown the coroner’s report, I had to sneak a look at it several days later well after my parents had gone to bed and I felt safe walking around the house. However for me the report held nothing new or interesting. There was all sorts of medical terms that explained things like organ failure or broken bones, or other such damage that a fifteen year old didn’t need to know, but the cause of death and the way in which it happened was nothing I didn’t already know. In fact it was nothing that the visions I saw every time I closed my eyes didn’t show, nothing that the nightmares I had each time I fell asleep didn’t picture.
It was a different time back in 1985 and because Herod was killed by a driver breaking more road rules than he was obeying there was no funeral until the body was released, by the coroner, to the family. It only took the coroner three working days to hand down his findings and although my father accepted that Herod was hit by a car the majority of the blame in his mind still rested with me.
With the body released and my father actively trying to avoid everything else in his life he moved quickly and organised the funeral for the following Friday. There was no consultation, not even with my mother, just father getting on with business.
His refusal to invite Herod’s friends to the funeral was barely surprising, he rarely acknowledged his own friends by the time Herod and I reached our teenage years, why should he have acknowledged friends of his son. The few family members left who still spoke to us, mainly due to Mum calling them, also did not get an invite to the funeral and even if that was all forgivable in some strange way the one thing that was not forgivable was his refusal to invite me. That’s right even I was barred from saying one last goodbye to my brother and not only was I barred from the funeral I was sent to school on the day of the funeral as if it was just another day.
With no other choice, unless that choice was to enrage my father, I headed off to school at my normal time on that Friday of the funeral. I walked to school, as usual along Berry St, school bag slumped over my right shoulder and my gait had more of a shuffle than a step, if I was a cartoon I’d have had one of those dark rain clouds hanging over my head as I walked.
I wasn’t in tears when I approached number seventy six Berry St, I think I had run out of tears by then, but I was running on empty and my emotions were still on some kind of roller coaster that didn’t seem to have an end. I don’t consciously remember making the decision to stop out the front of the house but that was what I found myself doing.
I stood at the hole in the fence, it still hadn’t been repaired but the police tape had been removed the day after the accident, looking at the house. The damage to the house was being repaired, there was struts holding the roof up and scaffolding surrounded the damaged area for the workmen to use, it was almost as if they were erasing all signs of my brother. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t expect the home owners to simply leave the damage as a reminder of what happened, but I still couldn’t help the feelings I did have.
I was standing out the front of the house completely lost in thoughts that to this day I still can not clearly remember. What I do remember is that no one approached me, I guess if they saw me they ignored me, I don’t really know, all I do know is that I stood there for what turned out to be nearly forty minutes when my trance like state was broken.
“What in the names of Hades are you doing here boy! Get your fucking arse to school. NOW!”
I turned suddenly, looked towards the sound of the voice and saw my father sitting in the driver’s seat of the family car, leaning past my mother who was sitting in the passenger seat, yelling through the open window. Whether my father would have gotten out of the car and punished me on that street I don’t know, but I also didn’t risk it.
Apparently my walking towards the school wasn’t enough for my father because each time I twisted my neck I could see the family car cruising slowly behind me making sure I was headed in the right direction. The car stayed behind me until I walked in the school gate, only thirty minutes later than the bell, at which time I heard the sound of an engine revving and saw over my right shoulder the car picking up speed and moving away quickly.
I didn’t get in trouble for being late to school, in fact I believe Principal Caruthers was surprised to see me, as I suppose most people there where. However that surprise was nothing compared to the surprise that confronted me as I walked in the door at home that evening.