This Is Not Some Story About a Kid That Got Molested — Gary Smothers

with Featured artwork “Summer Shapes” by Norton Pease

This, this is the memory that awoke in me one night while showering before bed. And let’s just get one thing straight before I go any further—this isn’t some story about a kid that got molested. Because it’s not.

He’d peered down at my little boy body, smaller than all the other kids in my age, smaller than even the kids behind me in the 6th and 5th grades. The icy shards of water hissing at me from the shower head, turning my skin to an even brighter shade of white.

The person I’ll refer to as Greg, says, “A real man, he showers in cold water. Do you and your dad ever shower together? I bet he takes hot showers.” Greg and his bright green eyes that my mother finds so handsome, study the gooseflesh on my low, crossed arms, my right hand covering my tiny manhood.

The shower curtain shushes and Greg and those gorgeous eyes are now beside me staring at my belly as he checks the cold-water knob, smiling a satisfaction when he’s able to crank it a little more to the right. A smile of beautiful teeth beneath his fat mustache. I’d never known, I mean personally known, a man with a mustache.

“Do you have any soap?” I ask, thinking that the sooner I finish showering like a man, the sooner I get to play that Atari system of his.

“Oh, I don’t keep soap here,” he says nonsensically. “Just rub your arms, legs, and your fanny.”

I also never knew anyone who used the words fanny, keister, or bum bum.

I rub myself down as strategically as possible, always landing a hand where his eyes seem drawn to.

And that’s where the memory ends.

You see, this isn’t a story of how I was molested. It’s rather a story of how I may have been molested. It’s pretty fucking hard to even write that: I may have been molested.

It causes my eyes to tear. I don’t like that. I haven’t cried in years, even at the most appropriate of times. Stoicism or something pieced together with years of hard wrought cowardice.

As I write this, I think I’ll get up and make a coffee.

I’m back. Back after surfing You Tube, playing a game on my phone, checking all those brain rotting social media. I searched for Greg on the internet. I wondered that if found him on some pedophile registry if things will become clearer.

Which is, I think, what I want.

What’s on Facebook right this very minute?

After the shower on the night of that memory, I laid in bed, the same bed my father had died in months earlier, my daughter asleep down the hall in the bedroom that had once been mine in those Greg days.

Little league, that’s where I’d met Greg. Stars sewn on our baseball cap. Red stars for homeruns, blue for triples, white for doubles. I had very little stars and envied the hell out of all the other kids and their milky way on a clear night hats. Greg had told me that I’ll get plenty of stars someday.

I loved him for saying that.

I never sat the bench like all those other baseball teams I’d played on. Our team, our handpicked team chosen by Greg, consisted of the reject kids. Kids with dads in prison, well on their way to being like their old men and already experimenting with pot and stealing gum and comic books from the local pharmacy. We were happy to have Greg believe in us and beamed inside when he expressed his appreciation for our hard work and the potential for more in the future, if we stayed the course. He showed his love for us with trips to the local public pool, Dairy Queen afterwards. I was even selected along with three other boys, the core of the team, he’d said, to go to Six Flags and spend the night at the hotel nearby.

My wife asleep beside me, breathing easily. The hum of the refrigerator. My daughter asleep down the hall. Wrinkles in the pillowcase are unforgiving granite creases against my face.

Sleepovers at Greg’s to play Atari, the other boys invited. But not me. I wanted to go over there so bad. And why not me? But eventually I was. Which is where I learned to shower like a man.

Somewhere in this jumbling tectonically active memory, seams of other experiences shoot to the surface. Trips into the city to learn to play golf. There had been another boy we’d always picked up. He reminded me of Elliott from the movie E.T. the Extra Terrestrial and he was pretty good at golf. He lived in a yellow two-story house. But that’s all I remember of that kid. He never felt like a friend, but more like an adversary and somewhere along the fault lines of a mostly forgotten past, the kid had fallen away and vanished.

Greg took me to see the movie Footloose. Three times.

The ceiling holds no promise. My daughter asleep down the hall and the stillness of the house hissing at me, urging, insisting—tear out the front door, scream down the street.

Greg had a fiancé who I seem to remember appearing at some point in his story, in our story. Pale and attractive she was. Freckles. A strange Russian sounding name. They couldn’t have kids; he’d explained to my parents.

“So, this little kiddo, he’s the best we can do. But that’s still pretty good.” His fiancé’s permanent bobbed as she smiled and nodded. He studied me for a reaction, finally asking, “Ain’t that right, big boy?”

He did that a lot, talk me up to my folks. Watch their reaction, and then mine, and then back to them. I sometimes wondered that, maybe in some roundabout way that only adults can understand, if he was asking to adopt me. I realized one night, when he was reminding my parents of his and their good fortune at having this golden child that was me, his hand on my thigh keeping me pressed onto his lap, that he’d just as soon throw me over his shoulder and carry me out the front door like a prisoner than adopt me. And would my parents stop him? Or would they laugh thinking it was all a funny game and he’d bring me back later?

Would I want to be returned?

Was there ever anything for my parents to notice?

Fuck memory.

I creep from my bed and awaken the computer. Key in his name. Again. Nothing. State sex offender registry. Nothing.

I’ve never searched a federal sex-offender registry, just the nearby bordering states.

Maybe. Maybe this is. Something.

What’s going down on Twitter?


Tik Tok.


I decide to try searching Facebook, not for bullshit events from bullshit people’s lives, but for Greg. I follow up on the name matches, but none of these Greg’s are old enough. I calculate how old I thought he was and determine his approximate age. But none of these are my Greg.

My Greg. What the fuck?

That federal registry search lays beneath all my open windows of distraction, laying there like the hidden memories. I minimize, minimize, minimize, minimize, minimize, minimize.

And there it is. A Greg from Texas.

Those eyes, green as they ever were. That age, it may be perfect. That hairy caterpillar mustache. The goddamned theme song for Footloose whispering from some cordoned off secure area of my mind.

I close out the window, stare out at the black of the night. I walk my childhood home like a ghost, pausing at my daughter’s door, my old bedroom, before climbing back into bed with my wife.

No, this isn’t some once I was molested story.

I wonder what’s on television or social media or maybe I need a cup of coffee.


Born and raised in Central Illinois in a hardened mining town that died after the coal mine shut down, and having worked 13 years in a prison has developed a unique, though warped sense of the world that bleeds through in my writing. My fiction and creative non-fiction writing have appeared in: Hippocampus Magazine, Dogwood: Journal of Poetry and Prose, The Binnacle, See Spot Run, and Book of Matches.

Artist Norton Pease's images reflect the theme of "human transformation or interaction with their environment or emotional landscape." He is a Professor of Art and Graphic Design, as well as the Chair of the College of Education, Arts & Sciences, and Nursing at Montana State University-Northern. Find out more at:

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