The beating began when he was 7 years old. His father, a drunk, would whack him with the back of his hand. He would scream insults. “You’re no good!””You’re stupid!” He would hit the boy’s sisters, as well. Worst of all, he would hit their mother, his wife, over and over, night after night. He would split her lip. He would smack her forehead until she bled. She never spoke of it. And so the boy never spoke of it. And the shame began to bubble inside him.
The Latest in Dreams deferred
First of three parts
The men keep their coats on. It is cold inside this church. They sit at tables, hungry for food, and listen as a woman tries to rouse them with inspiration.
"I AM" she yells.
"I AM " they yell back.
The lighting is dim. Some men hold their chins in their hands.
"SOMEBODY!" she yells.
"SOMEBODY!" they yell back.
Am I my brother’s keeper? Well, yes, out there on the pitcher’s mound, calming Matthew down, getting him to throw strikes, Mark Lestan was, for all those years, from Little League to senior high, his brother’s keeper.
His hands are bleeding. So are his knees. He picks up the rope and pulls it taut. He has beaten four others and now, across the rope, stands the last of them, a teammate, a younger teammate, no less, a kid he had taught to lift weights, a kid he had always been stronger than. Heck, he had been stronger than all of them — but that was last fall, before it all happened. Before the year from hell.