He was subdued now, sitting in a hard wooden armchair, alone in the room, his foot methodically kicking at the door in front of him making a dull thud as it hit the door, then a soft scraping noise as the sole of his runner slid down to the floor, over and over. Nobody could hear him anyway. How long had he been in this room now? It was four, maybe five hours, paying his penance, but he snickered, "It was worth it" he thought. "Next one will be even better Father", he promised himself. The stink of incense stored in the cupboard saturated the room. Archie hated the smell; it reeked like an electrical fire; Frankincense that they burned at every Sunday service. It was their undertaking to strip him of his culture and replace it with their sacraments. He wondered how many more hours he would spend in this room before he finally turned 18 and fled.
Boredom setting in, he dragged the heavy chair across the room so it straddled under the stained glass window at the top of the wall, a foot below the ceiling. The middle pane was clear glass that he could peer through. The room was the semblance of a prison cell - cut off from the world outside by a heavy door firmly latched shut, the lighting was dim and it despaired of loneliness and gloom and radiated a musky smell; he referred to it as retribution 101. He'd been here before. The dusty old oak desk was covered with papers, books and the Holy Bible. He hopped up on the chair and peeked out the tiny clear window into the courtyard. His buddies were out there laughing and wrestling with each other on their afternoon break. He should be out there with them except he got caught again.
Marty was kicking stones in the gravel laneway that made up the perimeter of the round lush green courtyard. The boys went out there every afternoon for a short break; it was their diminutive avoidance before they had to go back indoors and submit to the harsh regimentation of the residential school. They were laughing and jeering about his recent stunt. "Did you see the look on the Father's face? Arch nailed it. It was hilarious!" Marty laughed so hard Archie could hear him inside.
"Yeah, the old bastard deserved it", Sebastian agreed, looking up at Archie peeking out the window and giving him a thumbs-up. "I don't know anybody else who has spent as much time in the penalty box as Archie has." The boys all laughed and waved at Archie.
Father O'Brien was an evil foul man and Archie despised him. Most of them hated the man and none of them ever wanted to be the chosen alter boy to tend to his afternoon tea ritual. Archie literally vibrated with anger and his stomach retched at the thought of it. Sister Mary didn't ring bells on the top of the directory either. She knew what the Father was doing but she preferred not to acknowledge it. That made her as despicable as Father O'Brien in his meagre opinion. Bless you Sister Mary for you have sinned, and you have never made a confession.
Maybe Archie had sinned too but he was able to justify it to himself. His sins were simply comprised of pranks on the Father that the boys often chattered and hooted about when they were outside on their brief reprieves. Like the time Archie left some plastic dog shit on the Father's chair in his office and Father called maintenance to clean up the disgusting mess. Even the maintenance man had a chuckle over that one; it actually looked real, real enough to outrage the Father. Or the time Archie taped the receiver button down on his telephone. When the Father tried repeatedly to answer the phone, he finally lost his patience and slammed the phone down so hard it knocked a glass vase off the desk smashing into pieces all over the floor. The boys were down the hall listening to him, busting a gut laughing.
The abuse had scarred Archie over the years and it still continued. He was only seven years old when he was brutally ripped from his mother's arms and taken away from his home by authorities to be forced into the residential school. He remembered screaming and crying, trying to hang onto her while they pried him out of her arms. She was crying too when they thrust him into the police cruiser. He cried for days and nights, and he still cried when he was alone, seven years later, now 14 years old and still living in the hell they enforced on him. He had only had seven visits from his parents since he had been there - once a year. They were only permitted three visits per year but the trip was too onerous for them, and they were also in survival mode at this time in their lives
He became bitter and retaliatory and refused to comply or accept the constraints and beliefs they imposed on him. All the time he spent in the penalty box, as his buddies had labelled the room, only contributed to his contentious behaviour. It gave him time to think about his next prank. And prank he would.
The big red brick structure was always a flurry of activity. Nuns were always rushing around with their habits flowing behind them, glancing at the children and whispering to each other, the maintenance crew always cleaning and polishing statues and floors until they shone, and the Father would make appearances here and there scoping out the daily activities. Archie loathed when he saw the Father in the hallways. He knew that he was picking his next victim. Whenever he passed by him he never made eye contact with him, he always looked down to the floor and tried to slither past, holding his breath and hoping he would not be the chosen one. If ever there were a time when he prayed it was these moments when he prayed that it would not be him. On this particular day he was not so lucky. He knew he was going to be the Father's prey; his gut feeling told him. He wanted to throw up.
"Archie, my boy, where are you rushing to in such a hurry? Slow down son, I want to speak with you a moment, young man", the Father moved into Archie's pathway to block him from getting past, his religious garments made his demeanour feel so gigantic as he towered over Archie. His connotation of the words 'my boy' repulsed Archie. "I need to see you this afternoon in my drawing-room at 2:00 o'clock, my son, for my tea time. Don't be late" the Father warned. Archie wanted to vomit; there was no avoiding the abhorrent man. He knew what was going to happen this afternoon in the drawing-room. "But today Father, things will turn out different than usual", he thought to himself trying to stay composed. "Yes sir" he dryly replied. He needed to get to his dorm room right away.
Archie had a connection outside of the residential school, a friend named John, whom he relied on from time to time, especially when he needed supplies that the school didn't provide, supplies such as plastic dog poop or extra-strong laxatives. John was able to provide just such an item to Archie - and little tincture that was a marvellously strong laxative. When John came to visit him outside the fence a couple of weeks ago he was ecstatic with his purchase, he knew he would have a use for it someday. That day had arrived.
On his way to the dreaded tea time, Archie passed Marty in the hallway. "Hey Arch, what's up bud? You don't look so good right now" Marty commented to his friend.
"I'm not so good. The fucking Father nailed me in the hallway earlier. It's my turn today", Archie told Marty, looking down at the floor trying not to cry. He was 14 years old now, he was supposed to be a man by now and men don't cry, but he knew this wasn't what real men do, or what real men tolerated.
Marty knew exactly what Archie was talking about. He too had been sequestered for his share of turns for the Father's afternoon tea ritual. "Shit Archie, that sucks," he said.
Archie was on time for tea time, he knew better than to agitate the Father. He could be a callous unkind man when he was angry and his lenience level was extremely low. He demanded his way was the only way, there was no other way. As was the usual routine, the Father was sitting in his huge recliner chair, slightly reclined, with the Bible opened in his hands, the room dimly lit. When Archie entered the room, Father closed the book and placed it on the side table where Archie would place the silver serving tray with a freshly steeped pot of tea and a plate of biscuits. What the Father failed to see, because Archie had strategically kept his back to the Father while he prepared the pot of tea, was that Archie had dropped the tincture into his tea. One, two, three.... seven drops of it - double the recommended dose and one more drop for vengeance. He wiped his hands off and the smile off of his face, and turned to face the Father with the silver tray in his hand.
"Here you go Father", he placed the tray on the table and poured his cup of tea for him. It was precisely 2:00 p.m. when he handed it to him. He submitted to the Father's requests and left the room at 2:30 p.m. "See you this evening Father," he said as he left the drawing-room.
Father O'Brien stood at the pulpit in front of the boys droning on about something but Archie had zoned out a while ago. He hated the Monday evening Boys Guidance Group classes, another formal procedure that was forced upon them so they could learn to be 'proper white boys' instead of the dirty little Indians they arrived as. As far as he was concerned, it was a total waste of his time; he would never let them strip his culture from him. He knew who he was and who he always would be. Nevertheless, the Father's monotonous voice continued, on and on, when he suddenly stopped speaking mid-sentence with a look of trepidation on his face. The growl and gurgle in his stomach filled the silent room as the boys looked on, and Archie stared at him waiting for it, holding his breath and elbowing Sebastian beside him. He winked at him, "Here it comes" he whispered. Sebastian could feel Archie's body quivering from holding his laughter inside; he could barely contain it. Then Marty caught on and he too vibrated from his effort of silencing his laughter. The Father was frozen in his spot with his butt cheeks squeezed tight ... and then he farted and oh Dear Lord it was a wet one. A really bad wet one. It was more than a fart - he felt it run down his leg. Immediately a brown stain formed around the butt of his pants and the stench that filled the room was disgusting. The embarrassment and humiliation on the Father's face was priceless, uproarious actually. It was the payoff Archie was looking for, recompense and penance wrote across the Father's face. The Father knew they all hated him. Forgive you Father for you have shit your pants. The Father knew intuitively who was responsible for this and he glared at Archie before he turned and stormed out of the room, silently. There was a pandemonium of laughter and clapping throughout the room behind him as he repentantly left with his head bowed, his brown stained pants revealed to everyone. Sebastian slapped Archie on the back in camaraderie, roaring in laughter, "Good one Archie!" All the boys in the room commended Archie. Class abruptly ended.
How many more times he would do this, he wondered to himself. "What will I do next?" Archie waived back to the boys in the courtyard and jumped down off the chair. He sat back down and visualized the prank in his mind again. Yes, it was worth it. This morning hadn't started out that good for him and the day hadn't gotten any better yet, but he still sneered regardless. At 6:00 a.m. this morning Sister Mary was standing at his bedside in his dorm room leaning over him, her oval face was outlined by her Nun's habit and her eyes were dark with anger.
"The Father wants to see you right away Mr Rainwater" she reprimanded him with a cold starchy voice. "He is very angry with you Archibald. You should be ashamed of yourself", she hissed at him.
Blinking awake, he looked into the Sister's eyes. "I know I should be Sister, but I am not" his voice was very cool. "I'll get up and get ready to go and speak to the Father right away. Thank you, Sister." He got himself cleaned up and dressed. He left his dorm room and headed down the hall to report to the Father, yet again.