A shrine so bright
Hidden in plain sight
Caught in your fight
Object of your spite
Locked Out Locked In M.S. 1991
So having spent the day of my brother’s funeral at school because I was ordered to be there by my father. And having missed the chance to say one last good bye to the only true person I looked up to and respected because my father blamed me for the accident that took Herod’s life, I was not prepared for what happened when I got home that Friday evening.
On the walk home from school I was wallowing in my own self pity, I couldn’t even look up at the house on Berry Street as I walked past it. I think, but don’t remember clearly, being teased by a few sixth formers from school, it was something that had increased in the days since Herod’s death, almost as if Herod had some how stopped the older boys from doing it when he was around. How I got home that day without being run over or causing an accident I guess is a testament to how resilient the human body and brain really is and how it can operate on its own form of autopilot safely.
As I stepped in the driveway of our house I could see our car parked up near the garage but no others. I knew there was no wake planned for Herod because father had pretty much barred anyone else but himself and our mother from the funeral, but I guess I still expected to see someone there. Stepping up onto the front porch, then stepping up to the front door a wave of emotion hit me and hit me hard and I broke down in tears. I sobbed and sobbed hard with tears flowing down my face like they had never flowed before.
“Get inside the house now and stop that infernal bloody crying!” My father said as he opened the front door of the house having obviously seen me arrive through the front window. Before I even had a chance to move he added. “We don’t need the damn neighbours seeing you standing on the front step babbling!”
I knew he was serious, I knew there was no possible reason in the world I could come up with for ignoring him and I knew that if I did not move quickly I would find myself being dragged inside by the collar and more than likely punished for my disobedience. I shuffled my way up the step twisting and turning my body so as not to touch my father with either my body or my school bag, but I was still too slow and before I knew what was happening I felt my father’s hand on my neck shoving me into the hallway. I stumbled without falling down, only because my school bag caught on my father’s hand as he pulled it away from my neck. After regaining my footing I walked off down the hallway but was stopped by my father’s voice within two footsteps.
“Not down there! You no longer have any business down there.”
I stopped, turned and looked at my father. He was standing at the front door, it was still open, and he was pointing through the lounge room suggesting that was the direction I was to be heading. Not willing to risk his wrath again I headed off in the direction he was pointing. I was only three steps into the lounge room when I realised what it was my father had done, just not the full extent of what he had done. I stepped through the lounge and headed for the door that lead into the dinning room, the more steps I took the more that was revealed to me.
The dinning table had been shifted across the room closer to the kitchen, leaving barely enough space to pull the chairs out far enough to be sat on. Beside the table in the gap created by moving it across the room was my bed, there was not even enough space for a beside table between the two items of furniture.
“From now on this will be your bedroom.” My father’s voice boomed from behind me having shut the door and followed me through the lounge. “You are no longer permitted to be in the other room. Should you be caught you will be punished. Do you understand me boy?” I nodded my head but I should have known it was not enough. “Let me here you say it then. Do you understand me?” As if to emphasise his words I felt his hand smack me upside the back of the head.
“Yes, I understand, sir.” I responded knowing what was expected of me.
“Good. Just you remember that!”
When I said that I didn’t realise the full extent of what my father had done it was the truth because I could only see how he’d remodelled the dinning room to accommodate my bedroom. The full extent of what he had done did not come out, to me at least, until the following day when my father decided he needed to visit the cemetery to ensure the groundskeepers had done the job he expected of them with Herod’s grave. Of course he took my mother, whether she wanted to go or not, and of course he refused my presence on the trip, it was hardly surprising given I was not allowed to join them the previous day.
What being left behind did mean for me was that I was alone long enough to look inside the bedroom I had been kicked out of. I guess in some ways I shouldn’t have been that surprised by what my father had done, but as soon as I walked into the room I realised that every trace of me had been removed and scattered through out the house and what remained was a shrine to Herod.
There was all manner of things on display from photographs, to awards, to medals, his bed was made and without a crease, the room was tidy without a trace of dust, the curtains drawn and the light globe had even been replaced with a red globe from our party lights string mounted on the back veranda. I could not believe the effort my father had gone to and how quickly he’d managed to achieve what looked like a months work.
But perhaps the biggest shock of all was reading the wooden sign he’d had made up, which must have been made well before it was used, with the name Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth III, carved into it. The name was of course mine, despite my father’s wishes, yet he’d chosen to stand it next to a large photo of Herod which until the day before had stood above the mantle piece in the lounge room.