Truth and Lies
“Would I lie to you?”
The Colgate smile had slipped around the priests neck thought Tom. There was a hole in the wall where the bookcase had been and Father Murphy was beckoning him through like the Trapdoor Spider, he had watched in the wooden dunny.
On the ship, the children shuffled like packs of cards, thrown around in new combinations over the half-empty decks, between the rails, canteen and cabins, for six weeks. This was the solution to Toms persistent truanting and his Mother’s wayward parenting; a roundup of similar tragic kids from overspill towns, shipping them to Tasmania. There is nowhere to run away to on a ship, and who knew where they were going? Was it a holiday or home? Is there a return ticket? Is it worth learning the other kids names?
As land came into sight, Tom had asked another; “Do you know the way back to England?” The conversation developed as the nerves tingled. “Can I stick with you?” “God it’s hot here”
Thanks to the experience of the company his Mother used to keep, Tom can sense that beneath the skin of conventional behaviour lies the true stuff of men, even priests. His internal radar, suddenly on high alert. Father Murphy casually standing in the gap, one hand already wiping his brow of expectant perspiration, the other unconsciously, furtively hovering around his belt buckle.
Lies depend on the truth you begin with. What is wrongness when everything is wrong? Nothing he has seen so far in this country has any legitimacy. Christian Brothers “caring” for you with stale bread and beatings. There is nowhere to hide because all the best places are being used by them to bury their dirty little secrets.
“Well?” The priests eyebrows lift.
Tom stepped through the gap.