New! Another excerpt from the letters-

Bullying and Trying to fit in...

Bullying hadn’t been much of a problem the year before, though maybe I’d been a little friendlier and had just played along with their wedgies and other silly mucking around. But this year I stopped playing along; I didn’t want to be bothered by anything or anyone in the boardinghouse, which resulted in my being targeted by Bevan’s he-she manly group. I went to Mr. Mercer several times, demanding to be removed from the shithole that was the boardinghouse, a demand he said wasn’t up to me to make.

“You are right,” I said. “My parents need to make that decision.” I wanted him to know that my fate was not entirely in his hands.

“You do realize that even if your parents say you can move out, it wouldn’t happen straightaway?” Mr. Mercer said. “I would need to find a place for you to live, which is going to be difficult, and I think you know why. Also, there are problems with the Immigration Department, which I would need to handle.”

“At least tell everyone to leave me alone,” I pleaded. “I just can’t handle much more.”

“Dave, you are going to have to learn to adjust. Boys muck around. It’s the Australian culture.”

“No,” I argued. “When they tricked me into trying Vegemite, that’s mucking around. Lately, they’ve been treating me like prey.”

“You will have to get over it. Come on, when I was young, the boardinghouse wasn’t even this good.”

“The boardinghouse didn’t have a roof back then?” I asked, trying to get under his skin and annoy him.

“That’s enough for today. You are wasting my time. It will be your fault if you don’t try to fit in.”
Mr. Mercer showed me to the door,...



Excerpt from one of the letters...

Instead of looking after the students’ welfare, Bevan tended to think of them as enemies or criminals who needed to be caught. One night, I awoke and felt like taking a dump, so I came out of my room and headed toward the toilet.

Bevan jumped in front of me, out of nowhere. “Why are you up so late?”

“I need to go to the toilet,” I said.

“I don’t believe you. I’ll accompany you.”

As I was about to shit myself, I said, “Whatever. I really need to go now,” and I raced to the toilet.

I didn’t know whether he followed me or turned to something else, but I was taking a dump peacefully, all quiet and by myself in the middle of the night. And then about five minutes later, Bevan shouted, “What are you doing in there?” and banged on the toilet’s door.

“I’m shitting, that’s what,” I yelled in reply.

“Don’t lie, I don’t smell anything.”

I thought, What is wrong with you?

That’s it, the last straw. He truly is an insane person. I wrote two pages of formal complaint that night and went straight to the principal’s office in the morning, explaining Bevan’s behaviors. Mr. Mercer wasn’t available that morning so his wife talked to me instead. Mrs. Mercer said I complained far too much. About the rosters and the school’s policies. I had gone through two roommates in less than a year and now, a new houseparent.

“Dave, you know that I’m a school counselor, right?” Mrs. Mercer said. “And you can tell me anything, but we both know that even if I remove Bevan from the boardinghouse, you still won’t be happy.”

“Maybe, but—”

“I think you might have a mental illness,” she interrupted before I could finish elaborating my thoughts. “Maybe there’s nothing wrong with this school, but you need some form of medication.”

“Really? What kind?”

“There are some antidepressants like Zoloft, but only doctors could prescribe that. Sometimes, a psychiatrist comes to school. I’ll tell you when that happens, OK?”

“OK, so what should I do now? I mean, you should do something about Bevan. He’s crazy,” I pleaded.

“Let’s talk about what’s been bothering you the most about him. I remember the first time you got very upset with him and came to me was when he accidentally saw you do your personal thing in bed.”

“Yeah… I remember that.” I blushed and turned red. “But… just felt weird talking about that.”

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she said in a sympathetic voice. “Is there anything that happened before that made you feel particularly weird about this topic?”

Oh, she’s good! I thought, but I didn’t want to say anything about what Chai did to me because after all, she’s an Adventist and if she knew I’d had gay interactions, I didn’t know what would happen. On the other hand, she seemed very kind, and I thought she might be able to help. Also, since I was trying to start a new life in Perth, I’d better make it good and start to trust someone again. After a long pause and a deep sigh, I said, “Back home, something did happen, I guess.”

“OK, what happened?” she asked in an even more sympathetic voice. It sounded as if she was going to cry. “You can tell me anything. I’ll never tell anyone.”

“There was a guy, my mom’s friend,” I said, followed by another deep sigh. “He and his friends surrounded me, I didn’t have my clothes on, and so on. It felt horrible.”

“That’s awful,” Mrs. Mercer murmured in a shaky voice. “I can see that you are there, when you are telling me this. It must be hard for you to deal with. Have you ever told your parents about this?”

“Yes, of course, I think at least I hinted to my mom about it. But I think I’ve told her.”

“Did you hit her?”

“No, I hinted to her, H-I-N-T.”

“Yeah?” she said with a suspicious tone. “Hint is good. Hitting is not very good.” Then she abruptly changed that subject. “And how do you feel about your sexuality?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m gay because of it, maybe I’m a bisexual.”

“So you’re not sure.”

“Maybe.”

“OK, that’s something we need to work on.” Then she looked at her watch. “Anyway, I have a meeting in about five minutes, and you need to go to class. Let’s talk about this later, all right?”

“Wait,” I said. “What about my problems with Bevan?”

“I’ll do something about it, OK? Now off to class.”

- - -

I went off to class feeling a little better after telling someone about my horrible experiences and receiving some sympathy in return. In the afternoon, I headed back to the dorm as usual, but as I was approaching, I saw Mrs. Mercer, Jan, and Bevan gathered in the front, having a discussion.

“Dave, come join us,” Jan called me from the distance.

I quickly jogged toward them and greeted them with a smile, hoping Bevan was getting kicked out. “Good afternoon, everyone.”

“Mrs. Mercer told me you went to see her today,” Jan said. “And you told her you are having some problems concerning your sexuality.”

“What?” I became speechless.

“It can be difficult, I know,” Bevan added. “But it’s a matter of choice, and that choice would affect you for the rest of your life.”

“I already talked to Dijuva, and he agreed to switch the roster with you,” Jan said. “So, instead of the evening kitchen job, you will get his vacuum chores, which takes like twenty minutes, and you can take the extra time to deal with your undesirable urges.”

“See, Dave?” Mrs. Mercer said. “Everybody is so supportive. Maybe you should start praying to Jesus during that extra time as well.”