Photo by Chris Nieratko
Dir: Toni English
I was an altar boy for many years and sadly I was never molested. I feel cheated. I put in over half a decade of service and I have nothing exciting to show for it. No heartfelt story of violation, no means to make a quick buck by suing the church. All I have are a ghost story, some wine stealing, and a high-noon showdown with the pastor that left me bleeding in front of the entire congregation. In a way I feel like I have a strong case if I sued on the pretense that I wasn’t sexually assaulted. It’s basically racism. Or segregation. Or bias. Or some shit. My exclusion from the inner alter boy sanctum is a crime in itself, don’t you think? The shitty part is, at 30, it’s too late for me to be inducted into the club, and if I tried to force myself on a priest, it would be me that ended up in jail. So I’m stuck spinning the same old yarns: when I was 4 and my brother was 10 a priest died in my brother’s arms at the end of mass. No bullshit. As they knelt before the altar before exiting the poor guy fell over into mybrother’s little arms and croaked. And I thought it sucked sharing a room with him after he saw Jaws for the first time; the priest dying messed him up for years.
As I got older, in about eighth grade I heard that the ghost of that same priest lived in the basement of the church. So I joined the choir in order to gain access to the church at night and tortured all the other singers with my pre-pubescent, crackly, no-tone singing. There must be some kind of church rule that you can’t kick people out of choir because they let me keep coming back for months. Eventually I gave up on the ghost and the choir and I quit. It was that last night that I saw it, after packing up and shutting the lights off to go home. I asked the organ player if he’d seen the light in the corner of the room. He said he hadn’t and told me that I hadn’t either. It was rather anticlimactic, but that’s my ghost story. Guess you had to be there. Probably the best altar boy story is the one where I threw down the cross at the beginning of mass and screamed “FUCK!” as loud I could. That was like sixth grade and that was my last day as an altar boy. At that point in my life my brother was a long-haired, burnt-out metal-head, thus I was a longhaired metal-head as well. At the beginning of the service, as me and the priest were waiting for the organist to show up so we could walk up to the altar, the priest started yanking my long hair and telling me I need to cut it. I pulled my head back and tried to ignore him but he wouldn’t let up. And I was holding this four-foot-tall gold crucifix in my hands. The thing was solid too.
After three times I told him to leave me alone, instead he grabbed a handful of hair at the roots and pulled me into him and whispered, “You’re going to cut this hair or else.” I snapped my head forward, ripping a clump of hair out of my head, causing me to bash my forehead on the sharp edge of the cross, making me scream “FUCK!” as the blood began to pour from my head. Everyone in the place turned to look, and this is noon mass on Sunday. That’s the big one. The one everyone goes to. Like 300 people staring at me in horror, blood all over my face; I didn’t know what to do, so I threw down the cross in front of everyone, told the priest to fuck himself and walked out and never went back. I know it’s no pedophile shit but it’s still kind of a good one, right? Not as good as the priests fucking schoolgirls or the lesbian-nun scenes in this DVD, I know, but what are you going to do? It’s all I got.
For more Chris Nieratko go to NJSkateshop.com