Park Cottage Theatre
After sitting alone in the Witness Room doing nothing but stare at the pages on the small table for a few minutes he finally looked up at the wall facing him. He wondered if there had been a designer employed to make the room so deliberately bland. There was adequate light to read but it seemed horribly dull to Joseph. Probably deliberate he thought. Joseph didn’t want to be here. Why are there so many mistakes in the transcript? Why was there a problem with the first recording? Hardup had been deliberate in telling him at the end of their first interview there’d be no need to go over the details again until later on. This process was wrought with problems. He wondered if he should make some suggestions; he didn’t want to appear difficult to yet another human being on the face of the earth, there were so many who thought him so already.
The door behind him made an odd sound as it opened, as if the room was a vacuum and stale air from the corridor outside was getting sucked in during the brief opening. The detective dropped a couple of ball point pens onto the table. One of the pens landed ball point first on the transcript leaving a red dot and squiggle as it toppled sideways to rest on the page.
Joseph stared at the little red squiggle. Nicholby pulled his chair out from under the table and sat down facing him, “I’m awfully sorry about that Joseph,” he said in his most sincere tone. Joseph’s tone was as dull as the room itself, blandly he said “I’m not sure what you’re sorry about, is it the pen not working? The mistakes in the transcript? The fact that I’m back here so soon going over stuff I’ve already told you? Are you apologising for all of it?”
“I’m sorry I had to leave you to get a working pen, do you need a little break?” “No, let’s get on with it,” he said, starting to feel as though this day would never end.
“As you wish,” said Nicholby, “Can we continue from where you said here,” as Nicholby pointed at the transcript on the table Joseph noticed the detective had immaculately clean fingernails and it gave him a momentary sense of comfort; if nothing else, Nicholby was clean, he thought.
“You want me to go from where I was saying how Art seemed quite happy with the fact that I complied with his wishes and…?”
“Yes from there, and perhaps if you wouldn’t mind, I’m sorry, if you wouldn’t mind making a red mark next to those mistakes you picked up?”
“They’re not my mistakes,” snapped Joseph. “Yes, yes, I’m sorry about that,” said Nicholby.
JB: Okay. I guess, then the next thing that happened was that I was helping with the bump-in; the bump-in of the show, of the show Camelot, which is to say that I was helping set up stage bits and pieces, paint bits and pieces of props and-
Q.NH: It was just after that incident with Art?
JB: This was definitely after that incident with Art where he, he requested that I suck his penis and I declined but I pulled it for him instead. I’d add that he placed his hand over mine to get me going because I did not know really what it was that he was asking of me. You see I’d had showers with my father so I’d seen a penis before but I hadn’t seen an ejaculation. My own penis and my brother’s are not circumcised, and there was a difference between my penis and his penis, you know? I didn’t have pubic hair at that particular point, and… I suppose I was a relatively late starter when it comes to that sort of thing. I mean, I think I was fourteen ( 14 ) going on fifteen ( 15 ) before I got my pubic hair; I feel pretty strange talking about this to be honest. I did at the times as well. Other boys at school were ahead of me. They talked about it with pride at school, how they had a bush growing and how their underarm hair was growing.
I was pretty well behind. I didn’t like the whole Sports Class thing because I needed glasses and they were always getting knocked off my face. The shower room was a bit of a nightmare for me at school for a whole lot of reasons. I wasn’t used to being naked around a lot of boys without it being sexual by then, so I avoided it as much as I could. I couldn’t wear my glasses in the shower after sport, and I was always worried I would get an erection… that if I got an erection they’d say I was a poofter. This is all after the fact really; after the abuse. It’s difficult to explain. I didn’t know how to deal with it at all. It’s not easy to talk about. I’ve kept it locked away for so long.
But I, I, guess with this next incident from memory in some cases I would get to the theatre earlier than everybody else just because the bus from Hackham the Briscoe’s Bus would drop me in Adelaide and there wouldn’t be another bus for a couple of hours and then it would be too late so I sort of had to hand around a bit. In retrospect I suppose I was bit of, you know, easy target in a way.
Anyway this day Leith MARSHAL wanted me to help him with something; someone asked me to go out the back of the theatre to help Leith. I’m pretty sure it was Art who sent me out there. Art was usually my first port of call. I would get to the theatre, find him and then he would give me something to do… this was early on in the whole saga. Art sent me out to help Leith who was up a ladder unscrewing one piece of wood from another piece of wood, something like that. I was there to help but I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to it; he asked me to hand him a screw driver at one stage and I, he was up the ladder and I picked up the screw driver and handed him the screw driver up to him from below and he took it from my hand and then he squeezed one of my fingers, literally took the screw driver and as he was taking it, holding the screw driver in his, in his hand took a hold of one of my fingers and squeezed it, so it wasn’t an accidental brush of the hand it was a deliberate taking of the hand and the squeezing of the finger, which was the first instance of recognition of something that wasn’t being uttered, nothing was actually being said it was just this gesture that he made.
And then a little while after that, for some reason Leith announced that we had to go to an annex of the theatre a, a place where they kept the costumes and some props in Gilles Street in, in the city, so this was happening out the back of the theatre an area where you could park a car at the back of the theatre in Dequetteville Terrace in Kent Town, so anyway we had to get into Leith’s car and drive for about five ( 5 ) minutes to get to Gilles Street which was closer to the city marginally.
And when we got there it was another old bungalow type of house that had been sort of just filled up with old costumes; every room seemed to be chock-a-block with racks and racks and racks and racks of costumes. It was jam packed. There was a bit of barbed wire and some of the windows were boarded up I think, there were grids or something put over the windows so it was kind of like going into a strange haunted house in the middle of nowhere. There was no one on the street it outside that I noticed. Once we were inside this spooky old place it seemed… seemed… anyway I think it was probably a Sunday afternoon or a Sunday early, earlier in the day.
I hadn’t said anything to anyone about what had happened with Art I just sort of thought that it was a some kind of lesson that I didn’t really a hundred percent ( 100 % ) get, but it was kind of interesting and sort of stimulating and sort of fun. He told me, Art told me it was our business. Our secret. If I wanted to work in theatre with him I had to keep these secrets because it was private between us. I understood that. I understood and respected that. I was always told by my parents to respect my elders, so I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t then consequently in love with Art or anything.
So, I’ve just been saying Leith MARSHAL and I were at Gilles Street in this fairly dark and dingy costume storage annexe of the theatre and; Leith told me the that Art had told him that I liked him and I, I agreed and Leith said that there was something that we could do about that and he’d like to fuck me and I didn’t quite know what that meant. I knew fuck was a swear word, like you may tell someone to “Get fucked,” and you’d be in trouble if your mum or dad heard you say it; but not in terms of… He ah… to me it was a swear word that you use that you could get into trouble with. It wasn’t sexual intercourse and the notion of intercourse or sexual intercourse was something that had been described to me by my mother with a book about, you know, teaching your children about puberty or something so it, it… the notion of anything other than the transference of sperm to an egg was the only thing that really stuck, stuck in my mind from that particular conversation because sperm and egg were new to me as well you know these were all new ideas and they weren’t they weren’t ones that I thought about a lot either I wasn’t’ really particularly sexually driven, but had a healthy interest I guess when, when it was sort of put there in front of me and that’s what Leith did on this day he… he suggested that, you know. He could show how much he liked me if I dropped my pants and let him fuck me.
I really was a bit, you know; wasn’t really a hundred percent ( 100 % ) sure what was going on so he wanted me to lay on my stomach and pull, pull my pants down. Now that, that, that reeked of familiarity to me because I’d had a, an operation on my bowel a few years earlier when I was about eight ( 8 ) and; or seven ( 5 ) between the age of seven ( 7 ) and eight ( 10 ).
I had to go to a medical specialist at; round the corner from the Royal Adelaide Children’s Hospital in North Adelaide and the specialist had to feel for, for, for the healing process of stitches that I’d had and the only way he could do that was by inserting his finger into my anus and, and I found that extremely stressful and most discomforting and it caused a considerable amount discomfort and some, some level of trauma for, for me and probably for my mum because she could see that it was you know I wasn’t happy about what was happening but obviously it had to be done.
So when Leith asked me to take my pants down I’d, I’d sort of done this before but in a different context, so, so in a way I, I kind of was a little bit excited; not in a good way. I, I’m not so sure that I was sexually aroused I don’t think I was, but I kind of was expecting that, that something sort of medical was about to take place, and I again it’s only from my history that I can, that I can even say that you know. The, the history of the bowel operation and having had tubes placed up my, my rear end and these sorts of things where there had been some activity down there that, that I, I wasn’t in control of prior to this incident, but it was all quite legitimate medical practice.
to be continued…
I am currently raising funds to create – The Post-Abuse Handbook for Boys – an accessible resource for men going through the process of dealing with childhood abuse in the court system.