Pilgrimage

I went back there. I went back to that place, that horrible place, where it happened. I wasn’t really sure what I expected once I got there. Some sense of reverence, perhaps, like visiting the grave of a loved one or the site of a terrorist attack. Maybe a flashback, I don’t know, maybe going back there would bring the whole thing back to me in a big, ugly rush. In reality, neither one of those things happened.

Instead, being there just made me remember different things, things I had pretty much forgotten about that night. Instead of remembering their boots against my face, I remembered the smell of mildew and the feeling of being wet and dirty. Instead of hearing them calling me “faggot”, and laughing, I remembered the feeling of rough concrete against my shoulder when I was finally able to get up, and sort of stumbled and fell against the wall. I didn’t stop, though, and I didn’t look down and I didn’t look back. I just kept on walking, right through that plywood door and all the way home, even though I was bleeding and battered and looked exactly like someone who had just had the shit kicked out of them in an abandoned warehouse.

But as I stood in that place now, it was just a place, just a dirty, uncomfortable room and nowhere that I particularly wanted to be. I had kept walking that night, and I wasn’t about to look back now.

***

Paul E. Halley
Pharmacy Technician
Age 51
Provincetown, Massachusetts, United States of America

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