Monday, March 21, 2005

What lies beneath.

Today, in the pub as I waited for my dad to walk in I got chatting with a man. A mere acquaintance of my father, but an acquaintance nonetheless.

He seemed easy going and relaxed, quite a pleasant a good natured man. He was in his fifties and he had said how he had been a teacher before. As we were talking about schools and so forth, the barmaid realised that she recognised me from school. She was 21, some five years younger than myself, but she remembered me because I had been in the sixth form. (for those of you not from UK, that is where you do your a-levels from the ages of 16-18)

Anyway, this is irrelevant, as what is important is that the man piped up that his step son had also gone to my school.

"How old is he?" I asked.


"Oh, that would mean he was in my year. What is his name?"

And then he told me. For a second I could not remember but then I did. And then I realised that I knew this man before me. But we had never met or never spoken.

But I knew him by his reputation. For this man was the 'step father'.

"Yeah, *** ****** is a quiet lad" he added. There was no sense of pride or emotion.

I lied and said that I did not know him. But I did. And of course his step son was a quiet lad, this man used to curse and beat him so much. I remember escorting this kid to the Head of Years office to that they could call the police because the step dad used to beat him up. That would have an effect on anybody.

But I cannot judge this man, for it is not my place. But in the pub where men are men and must act like men there is little truth. I felt a mild twang of guilt when I realised I had been laughing and joking with this man. I cannot profess to have been good friends with this kid from school. But whilst most people dismissed him as odd I know I was always civil with him. Not as kind and decent as I could have been. And in retrospect as much as I should have been.

But whilst I will not sit in judgement of this man, I do feel that knowing how distraught and upset he used to make his step-son that I could not have anything more to do with him.

It is funny. Once there was a time when this man struck fear and terror into the heart of someone smaller and weaker. But now he is is old and weak. I am the man now, and so too is this man's step son. It is our world.

Looking at this man I feel pity. Pity that he is nothing. Sins may be forgiven, but they are not forgotten.

On a long enough timeline we all have to answer.


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