Books by Brent Meersman

Latest: Rattling the Cage (2021) A Childhood Made Up (2020) Homo Odyssey (2018) Sunset Claws (2017) 80 Gays around the World (2015) Five Lives at Noon (2013) Reports Before Daybreak...

Brent Meersman


If ever you doubted it, you will know when a white man half your age
shouts at you. He does not ask, but barks at you to strip, strip until you are
naked. We are not at war. We are not criminals or mental patients. We are
fathers, grandfathers. We are grown men stripped naked, yelled at, herded
like so many beasts. By white boys. This abattoir. I do not know the other
cattle. Naked alongside strangers, strangers of all types. I shuffle forward.
One of us makes a vulgar joke. He is trying to laugh off our humiliation.
The showers have only ice-cold water. The towel is little bigger than a
dishcloth and stiff as board. A man cannot walk with his head high if he
is clutching a rag to cover his manhood. Medical orderlies in white coats
inspect us, checking the quality of our meat. Quickly! Quickly! Hurry up!
As instructed, I hug their machine, pressing my chest flat against its cold
screen. Run! You must run to the next station. Weighed. Measured. I am
glad I am not turned down for being underweight. I was worried. I have
grown thin. Too many men now can’t get a job, they get thinner, and the
jobs get further away. Pushed. You are pushed on to the next queue.
Fingerprinted. Prodded. I am given a wristband with a number. A man in
a white coat without even looking at my face puts a thermometer in my
mouth. He times it on his wristwatch. He records my temperature. They
don’t look you in the eyes. Some orange tablets are put in my hand. We
are given skirts to tie around our waists. Another joke. Like a foreign land,
here they speak some strange language. I catch a word there and there.

We are herded into a boiling hot room. Half of it is concrete slabs in steps.
I smell urine. A drumbeat starts. We must climb up the stairs and walk down.
Twenty-four steps per minute. The orderly yells at us. Keep time!
We do this for I do not know how long. The sweat has broken out all over my
body. Up and down, you must march up and down the steps.
At last, we can drink water from a hose. I am first and the water is lukewarm.
I want the toilet. No toilet, says the white child.
Up and down, up and down, like donkeys. Keep to the beat, you dog!
The second time we get water. Now they take our temperatures again.
Then back again to the marching on stairs wearing only skirts.
We do this for four hours, every day, for a week, training to be
slaves in our father’s land.

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