Children of the Secret Described by Andrew Vachss



We both turned back to the window. Scotty had his hands on his hips and was shouting something at Immaculata. Suddenly he struck out; his little fist pounded on her shoulder. Max didn't move.

"It's okay," Lily said. "It's probably a re-enactment."

I looked a question at her. "When the child relives the experience… some of them find it easier than talking about it at first. Or maybe he's already past it … maybe he told the secret… they have so much anger."

"So why's he hitting on Immaculata?"

"We encourage them to do it. At first. Then they progress to the self-defense classes. It all has to come out - first the secrets, then the anger."

"The secret is what happened to them - what people did to them?"

"No. That's what they call the 'bad stuff' or the 'scary stuff.' The secret is that the offender told them never to tell anybody about what happened. They usually make it so that if the child tells, something horrible will happen."

"To the kid?"

"Usually not. To their parent, or a puppy… even to some character on TV the child loves."

"The kid believes it?" I asked. When I was Scotty's age, I didn't believe anything.

"Of course. The offender is all-powerful. He can do anything. And the secret is helped by the guilt too."

"Why should a kid feel guilty if somebody did that to him?"

"Because they like some of it… it arouses new feelings in them. And, for some of them, they believe the person who is doing these things actually loves them. A parent will tell a child that if the secret come out the parent may go to jail… and it will be the child's fault. You see?"

"Yeah, they make the kid take the weight."



There's a special curse reserved for Children of the Secret. We decide to survive, to pay whatever that costs. Some of us turn dangerous, but that's not the real curse. The real curse is friendly fire - when your hate turns your aim wild and you cut down anyone who tries to be on your side.



1. Prison wasn't so bad that time. Bad enough that I wasn't going back, though. I put away the guns then. No burglaries either. Dope's too risky. I came from the same place as the hookers did, so I didn't want to be a pimp. Never minded doing some work on one, though, and I had a little business built up doing that until I shot one of them and he lived. I wasn't trying to wound him, and I guess he knew it, so he ran straight to the Law. A mobbed-up guy got me a pass on that one, and I paid him back by looking into something for him.

Turned out I was good at it: nosing around, working the edges of the angles, finding things out, keeping my mouth shut.

Then I discovered the freaks. Not "discovered," I guess - they were the ones who raised me. Them and the f***ing State. I hate them both. All of us do. Children of the Secret, that's who we are. If we ever voted as a bloc, we'd elect the whole stinking Congress.

And if you ever put our hate together, this Earth would shudder and spasm until it shattered like a spun-glass teardrop under a sledgehammer.

2. For some reason I didn't quite understand but still trusted - maybe some tiny tug at the tip of the hyper-vigilance that comes standard with all Children of the Secret - I shaved real close the next morning.



1. A lot of gay guys I'd met over the years said that they started with being molested. I was ignorant enough to think that was the root until I met Vincent. His family was the real thing - loving and warm and supportive. He explained to me how being gay was hardwired, present at birth. Genetic. "It's not a 'choice,'" he said, explaining it to me. "It's not a 'preference' either. It's what we are. It's what I am."

Vincent was in what he called the "literary world." I never understood what he did. Or maybe I never paid attention. What I remember most was how he hated … them. Baby-rapers. I was hunting one when we crossed paths, that's when I found out. But he didn't hate them because he was one of us. The Children of the Secret, we're a big tribe, but we're not united. We don't fight under the same flag. Vincent wasn't a draftee in that war; he was a volunteer. He hated them for what they did to children… not what was done to him. That was the kind of man he was.

2. I spoke to the ice-man the way I always do. In my mind. If I told people that Wesley answered, they'd institutionalize me. But regular people don't get it. We have our own language, the Children of the Secret. It's garbled gibberish to anyone else. But that wasn't my link to Wesley. He was my true brother. We had gene-merged in the crucible of the State system for abused and abandoned kids. Even the grave couldn't silence him when I reached out.



"I never make assumptions," I lied. All of us, all the Children of the Secret, we all make assumptions. We assume you're going to hurt us. Use us. Betray our love and violate our trust. We all lie too. You taught us that.



"Children of the Secret. All of us who were raised by f***ing beasts. Like it's a brand we can't shed. But we don't all go the same way. Some of us, we… copy whatever was done to us. Some of us just hurt… ourselves. And some of us, we hunt… them."



1. Like the Children of the Secret, I thought. Alone in their pain, they never know that it's not anything in them that made it happen. Freaks made it happen. There's freaks all over. And when you get down to the bone, where the truth is, one person's pain is always about another person's power.

2. "A newspaper morgue would be better. Or even the AP wire. I'm looking for a --"

"-pattern?" Gem asked, maybe remembering my search for the humans who had tried to kill me. A search that took me all the way back to my childhood stretch in an institution for the insane. To a crazy, god-faced genius who makes a living finding patterns in chaos. And spends his life in a futile quest for the answer all Children of the Secret seek: Why did they do that to me?



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