Sheriff couldn't believe his eyes. He hadn't intended to go to this mass and if it wasn't for the craic the night before, he would have been at an earlier one. His heart was pounding, his mind racing when there on the altar he saw Brother John, the man who had tormented him over 30 years earlier.
This can't be happening, can it really be him?. How did he ever become a priest? thought Sheriff. Memories came flooding back of that terrifying incident so long ago. He couldn't concentrate on the mass. Turning his head from the altar didn't help. There was no escape.
For a long time, Brother John had been trying to force him to play football.
" You'll play football if it's the last thing you do, I can promise you that, when you go out for the break play football with the rest of the lads if not run around the field 10 ten times" he said. During the break some of the boys taunted Sheriff saying, you better play football or he'll kill you.
In his mind's eye, Sheriff could see himself standing alone in front of the class, trembling, not knowing what was going to happen next?. He had felt Brother John's anger before on many occasions. Brother John had a violent streak in him. Sheriff had seen him beat the same boys day in and day out and all for what?, nothing, just because they had found it difficult to learn.
Nothing had prepared Sheriff for what happened when he returned to the class.
" Well Sheriff did you play football? Brother John roared at the top of his voice."
" No Brother "
" Why " he said menacingly.
" I didn't want to, Brother "
" Did you run around the field? "
" I did a few laps but some of the lads began laughing, why should I put up with that? "
"There was a long silence. Brother John stared at him for what seemed an eternity.
" Dance! " he bellowed with a sadistic grin on his face.
" Why?,Brother. "
" I'll show you why? "
Sheriff felt the full force of his strap. The pain was excruciating.
" Dance! " he bellowed again, much to the amusment of the class. Brother John had worked himself into a mad frenzy. It was as if the Devil himself had taken over and was about to devour him.
" Dance! Dance!! Dance!!! he roared, like a mad dog showering Sheriff's face with spittle. Sheriff felt ashamed and humiliated, although he had nothing to be ashamed of. He managed to escape from Brother John's clutches, grabbed his schoolbag and ran home, returning a week later only to be further humiliated by the greeting, how's my little girl today? "
Now 38 years later Sheriff finds himself reliving that terrible incident, when his innocence was shattered by that brute on the altar. Brother John, ( the priest ), is now giving a sermon, the theme of which is, " every person is a treasure ". How dare you! was I not a treasure when you were abusing me?. Do I have to sit here and listen to your crap?. Look at you now as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth.
They say the leopard never changes his spots. Brother John changed one collar for another but to Sheriff he is still the same, a well fed bully boy.
Sheriff thought of something Jesus once said; suffer little children to come unto me, for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sheriff is now a 51-year old man, no longer the child he was then and never again will he dance for Brother John.