The Haunted Heaven: Chapter Sixteen: My First Taste of England
By Michael Moriarty
An English-style boarding school, Cranbrook, is where my father first found refuge for me. Of course most of the other "lower school" students like myself were from divorced or troubled families.
Spoiled brat is what I was ... in a way. The spoiled brat in a war zone.
What my parents could not give me was what I needed most: a home with love in it.
That is why I can so identify with the young Winston Churchill and his feeling of abandonment.
Oh, there was love of the so-called "finer things of life" ... but ... except for the finest music of the world, these "finer things" began to look very empty to me.
It just dawns on me that my autobiographical compositions for symphony orchestra reach a very Camus-like, existential point with my two years at Cranbrook Preparatory School. The Sisyphus theme, the arduous climbing of the mountain, demanded first by one's parents and then by the world, really began in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
And it all looked so civilized and Christian.
The King Lear theme, the one sung by The Fool, accompanies the universal theme of ascending some mountain or other.
"Aim High" is the Cranbrook motto.
The secret, which the professors and lower-form "teachers" refused to disclose or couldn't know because of their own ignorance, is an answer to the question, "Who or what is shooting the arrow?"
It has taken me over sixty years to find the answer to that question ... and almost seventy to attain the Haunted Heaven that I am now both writing and composing music from.
Oh, yes, I have belly aches and erratic discomforts that repeatedly remind me of Lear's response to a request to kiss his hand:
"Let me wipe it first!
It smells of mortality!!"
Did I first encounter Shakespeare in the 7th and 8th grades?
However, the very, very English smell of the place began to prepare me for my coming encounters with "Royalty".
Royalty of all kinds.
Playing royalty in Shakespeare ... hmmm ... as an American?
We shall experience that later, along with a lesson in the Far Left English certainty that Shakespeare must have spoken like a commoner.
Hmmm ... well ... we'll see.
As for now?
Here at Cranbrook?
"The love that dare not speak its name!"
"The love that goes to jail."
Somehow, after learning of the murder ... or ... excuse me ... the abortion of my two siblings, somehow being molested by a teacher hardly seemed as criminal.
I didn't enjoy it. The furtive fear in the being of my molester was invading me and fear is not an aphrodisiac, despite what the masochists might say.
Fear in either or any partner turns anyone off except, of course, a molester.
I believe my molester was more frightened than I.
He was to hang around my family for quite some time and, of course, continue molesting me even after I had left Cranbrook.
These comparisons between my infanticidal parents and a child-molester are profoundly important. My father's refusal to recognize the molestation seemed part of his desertion of certain paternal obligations, not the least of which was not to murder my sister or brother, whichever my two dead siblings might have become.
Did I speak of the molestation to anyone?
I rather loved the man.
He was the only affection I had to turn to after my mother had called me "Judas".
Perhaps being a Judas, this man was the only kind of love I was worthy of.
Meanwhile, it is the early 1950's and Dwight Eisenhower is playing golf while he constructs a defense plan against the threats of a Soviet New World Order.
I'm grateful he could remain so calm. I'm certain that he was the perfect President for the perfect moments of the American ideal.
The United States, as the very persuasive author Bill Bryson points out so clearly, was, under Eisenhower, entirely self-sufficient and self-sustaining. America needed nothing from outside herself.
I needed a family ... but ... my family was at war. No wonder the Great American Calm during the Cold War seemed unreal because it was. It was as unreal as the calm I tried to summon in the midst of my family's war.
My mother, of course, was not calm.
Because of her drinking, her suicide attempt, the house burning down and my appearance before the Friend of the Court, she had no choice but to seek help from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Thank God for AA!
You'll learn how AA saved my life in Canada.
Presently I'm attempting to stay on message about my first taste of England in America. Unfortunately the first and most indelible messages were the ever present ghosts of homosexuality in an all-boys preparatory boarding school.
Was a pederast inevitable?
Was he a bad man?
Not at all.
He served bravely in Okinawa in World War II and at no time did he threaten me in any way.
He seduced me.
A lonely 11 year old in the wreckage of divorcing parents, shipped off to a boarding school to "get the child out of the way".
Hmmm...badly in need of love?
A sitting duck!
Having just listened to my musical works-in-progress, I wonder how all this form of sexual instruction by an adult male will eventually effect my musical autobiography.
There are some creative secrets even hidden from the artist himself.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law & Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.