The Tricky Part: One Boy's Fall from Trespass into Grace
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Between the ages of twelve and fifteen, Martin Moran had a sexual relationship with an older man, a counselor he'd met at a Catholic boys' camp. Almost thirty years later, at the age of forty-two, he set out to find and face his abuser.
The Tricky Part tells the story of this relationship and its complex effect on the man Moran became. He grew up in an exemplary Irish Catholic family-his great aunt was a cloistered nun; his father, a newspaper reporter. They might have lived in the Denver neighborhood of Virginia Vale, but they belonged to Christ the King, the church and school up the hill. And the lessons Martin absorbed, as a good Catholic boy, were filled with the fraught mysteries of the spirit and the flesh.
Into that world came Bob-a Vietnam vet carving a ranch-camp out of the mountain wilderness, showing the boys under his care how to milk cows, mend barbed wire fence, and raft rivers. He drove a six-wheeled International Harvester truck; he could read the stars like a map. He also noticed a young boy who seemed a little unsure of himself, and he introduced that boy to the secret at the center of bodies.
Told with startling candor and disarming humor, The Tricky Part carries us to the heart of a paradox-that what we think of as damage may be the very thing that gives rise to transformation, even grace.
mom had nailed to the wall—Go placidly amid the noise and haste—to the crucifix hanging just left of the front door. A classic, foot-tall wooden Jesus. “We should take that down,” I said. Dad glanced at me for a second, his shaggy eyebrows taut, each rising to a sharp point—devilishly handsome. “Christ?” “No. The palms,” I said. “They’re dead.” “Burn them.” I looked up at the hairy fronds drooping around Jesus’s neck, dried and yellow like a ratty old scarf. I’d stuck them there myself
nostrils were moist, widening and shrinking with each breath. Bob stood suddenly, pointed the gun, and fired. The shot echoed up and down the canyon. That was it. After checking the animal’s neck again, for a pulse, I supposed, Bob grabbed the gloves from his pocket, put them on, and dragged the small thing to the runoff ditch on the opposite side of the road, leaving a long streak of blood across the tarmac. He spoke to the lady for a moment, touching her arm once with his gloved hand. She
Interstate 25—pied piper Bob, thirteen campers, and Bob’s nineteen-year-old cowgirl-friend, Karen. The wind whipped across the rubber rafts roped to the top of the bus, creating an incessant banging overhead. Bob had his can of Coke propped on the dash. Each time he moved his hand from the wheel for a sip, he’d reach across the aisle to caress Karen’s arm. “If you’re gonna keep speeding, you should switch lanes,” I heard Karen say as she yanked at the brim of her cowboy hat. “I know how the
then, at the stupid grin on his face, at his pink hand slapping at the fly circling his brow. I stared right at him until his smile disappeared, until his hand came to rest. “It’s turning out all wrong,“ I said, my voice clamped in a growl. “What is?” “I am!” He shook his head. “I don’t think so.” “But look at me . . . at us. We are . . .” “We’re not that, I’ve told you! You’re not that.” “How do you know?’ “I know. You’ll see. You’ll grow up and you’ll meet a girl.” A girl . . . a girl
the guitar I bought. It was, at the time, the world to me. I could barely speak. Something so big, that I’d worked so hard for, gone. Vanished. I was numb with anger. I didn’t know what to do. I called Bob. Gently, he calmed me. “God has reasons, plans larger than we could ever know. Look, Marty, you may never understand why. You’ve just got to figure that someone out there needed that bike more than you did.” It was one of the strangest notions I’d ever heard, but, even so, there was