SMOKE: Email To Brother Dillon
Originally published: 11 March 2004
I attended a Catholic junior school in Pretoria back in the 80s (82-85), and to say that the place left a strong impression on the rest of my life would be an understatement.
It was run by Irish "brothers" (although there were also lay teachers), and if you think Roald Dahl had it tough - you shoulda tried these guys.
For 20 years now I have dreamed up more fantastic revenge scenarios than you could possibly imagine. As I've got older I've come to realise that pits of cockroaches and molten lead up the Jap's Eye and needles in the eyeballs are fantastic fantasy material, but not necessarily practical for those with JAB (jail-avoidance behaviour).
So I settled for an email to my former junior school principal - Brother Dillon - who over the years has come to represent all that was evil about that period of my life (and I've cc'd it to Roald Dahl for a laff).
My - we've come a long way, haven't we? No more "Sir" or "Brother", no more fawning and acquiescing, no more suppliance or apples on the desk - just a simple "Bro".
Don't blame me - blame the vernacular of the day and the cursed blight of youth cool that is turning our beloved English into a nonsensical language before our very eyes.
Or rather - my beloved English. Being Irish I guess you have your own opinions on that.
I don't know if you remember me, but I don't see how you could forget. Think violin. I'm the kid you couldn't tolerate because I played the violin. The sissy, I believe your term was.
You know - I've often wondered about your obsession with sissies. It was quite marked. And if I think long and hard enough, I get the following picture: frustrated, short, ageing man, can't have a wife as women are evil, spends his life surrounding himself with little boys in tight grey shorts, enjoys caning thin young male buttocks, constantly goes on about sissies...
The reason I'm writing to you is because I want to point out some of your shortcomings to you, just in case - to this day - nobody has. I really wouldn't want you to die without knowing what a complete arsehole you are and in essence I'm helping you, because I'm going to point out a few things that you need to mention in your final confession.
We'll get you to heaven yet, Bro.
I am of the firm belief that you are either a master manipulator or insane or indeed possibly even both. The following true stories will prove my point a thousand times over.
I'll never forget the day you caned Tyrone O'Dea, the head prefect who was in my class in my final year there.
He was a personable enough bloke, but one day you walked into our Afrikaans class without even acknowledging the teacher (she saw you were in the middle of one of your famous mood swings and prudently and respectfully stood quietly next to the blackboard), and from your face - which was red with rage - we knew the shit was hitting the fan.
You called Tyrone up to the front of the class, and asked him - I quote - "Are you a man?" The natural answer to that question would be "No - I'm 12, for chrissakes." But the expected answer was "Yes", and it was the one you got.
Whereupon you proceeded to bend him over, stick his head under the teacher's desk so that he couldn't rear up and then you turned to the rest of us, unclenched your fist so that your thin bamboo cane slid out of the sleeve of your monk robe, and with the white of spittle collected in the compressed corners of the thin gash that is your mouth you turned back and started hitting him.
He got away with eight vicious strokes to the hide, which of course was nowhere near the lofty heights of some of your more extreme caning moments, but it was enough.
You bade him stand up, which he did, then you shook his hand, waited for him to thank you ("Thank you, Brother Dillon"), made sure he wasn't crying (he wasn't) then sent him back to his desk.
You turned back to us and told us that he was indeed a man, and that's why Tyrone O'Dea was the head boy of our school.
You looked around wildly for a few moments, not really seeing us through your mist of rage, then turned abruptly and left, stuffing the cane back up your sleeve as you went.
I'm sorry - but that's loopy.
Or what about the time you stopped teaching us in the middle of our maths class, and pulled out a bag of chocolates. You put the chocolates on the desk (they were round - roughly the size of Nutties or Whispers), then rummaged in the drawer and brought out a large pair of scissors, which you opened and placed on the edge of the desk.
Then - one by one - you called up some of your favourites (all of them boarders, and most of them Irish) to the desk. When a boy you had called got to the desk you would have two chocolates - one in each eye of the scissors - and the boy would have to take the chocolate closest to him and eat it.
Your instruction was for the boys to face the class and really, really savour the chocolate - enjoy it to the max, with as much gloating as possible.
Once a boy had removed one chocolate you would move the other over into the vacant place and take out a new one, which you would place in the other eye.
Once a boy had eaten a number of chocolates in this way you would send him back to his desk, after inquiring of him how much he had enjoyed it. Then you would call another up, and so on, until the bag of chocolates was empty.
The bell rang, the class ended and that was it.
I guess you must just enjoy seeing little boys savouring and licking and making love to chocolate with their mouths, huh? Sick fuck.
Then there were those cold, cold Pretoria winter mornings, and since we were not allowed to wear blazers or jerseys in class - and all windows had to be wide open - we sat there at 7am, freezing to death.
You knew all about the cold, didn't you? As we bent over our books you would walk silently and ominously around the aisles of the classroom, the cane in your hand tapping gently against your leg ala Hitler, and without warning you would lash out at the unprotected, cold arm of any random victim.
Stick striking cold flesh at 7am in winter is excruciating, but the worst part was not the pain - it was hearing a whack followed by a yelp of pain three or four desks behind you, followed by silence in which you had to sit and wait, not knowing whether it was going to be you next or not.
That's creepy, dude - you obviously had a good handle on mental torture.
On some days you wouldn't have your cane and on those days you would use the flat of your hand in between the shoulder blades, and that stung like buggery. Oops - unfortunate choice of word.
Speaking of canes - many's the time I was invited to your office for punishment, and that office was a sanctum to your insanity.
The procedure was thus: you would ask me (or whichever unfortunate it was) to close the door and stand before your desk, as you sat back gravely in your plush leather chair with the iron studs.
You would always make me wait as you fiddled on the desk, or pretended to read a missive, and you were perfectly aware of the fear which builds up when one is forced to stand to attention in front of one's tormentor.
Eventually you would lean back, steeple your fingers together, and gaze through your rheumy eyes at me, and in those precise, clipped tones you favoured would inform me of my crime.
Once the crime was in the open, and the sentence decided upon, you would order me to go to the wooden panels on the wall which housed your cane closet and tell me to open it.
In the four years I was at your school the contents of that cabinet changed a number of times, but one specific collection I remember was three variations of bamboo cane, a length of hosepipe and one of those hollow pvc pipes. There was also a leather strap.
I would have to choose what I would like to be beaten with, and following the conventional school wisdom that the pvc pipe would sting like hell but not cut the flesh, that was the one I always chose.
Then it would be head under the desk, hike up the blazer, and prepare for your wrath.
You always took your time before the first blow - I would hear the pipe swish in the air as you tested it a few times, much like a golfer getting into his swing, but I think you made me wait for a couple of reasons: firstly the agony of waiting for a blow you can't see, and secondly so that you could get a good, long look at my ass.
Then would come the first blow. The moment it struck was not the painful part - about two or three seconds after the blow the pain would hit in a wave, and my head would involuntarily rear upwards, giving my neck a jolt against the underside of the desk.
You would wait for those two or three seconds, then wait a couple of seconds more to allow the pain to reach maximum, and then the second blow would come, in exactly the same place.
There would be many more blows (usually six minimum), and by the end I would be weeping more in frustration and shock than the pain of it. You took great delight in the tears, didn't you? If there were none it was not unheard of for you to add another six cuts in an attempt to get some.
That was painful, you motherfucker.
Afterwards you would sit down while I attempted to stay on my feet (the nausea was often overwhelming), and once you had recovered your breath and run your finger through your white hair (which was yellow and curly at the nape of the neck from too much hair oil), you would sit back and invite me to thank you.
I would duly do so, because to not do so would result in terrible wrath, but please listen to me these 20 years down the line, and believe me when I tell you that had I the option I would not have thanked you - I would have killed you.
I have no idea how people like you find their way into the religious or educational sectors, but trust me - you belong in neither.
Anyway - hope that's not all too heavy to digest - I know it must come as a bit of a shock, but it's better you have the story straight than for you to believe you've done good work in your time on Earth.
Love to the other Brothers. Paternoster qui es in cadis, sanctificetur este nomen tua.
Luke "Yehudi Menuhin" Tagg
I sent the mail to him, and got the following reply:
needle, noodle, pegstick. filthy by-law mensa tunnel quack. sweaty, sweaty. partisan shitstorm - beloved conchita. coccyx, cock, six, cock. cock. worry not but when glutin should seem transparent then gutter then flutter then murder then crow.
bye, boy. bye. boy. buy - buy boy. mpff.
Guess he was nuts after all.
All Smoked Out,