My story begins as a boy growing up on Long Island, exit 52 off the L.I.E. Most of my time spent hitchhighing (my term for hitchhiking and getting high) I’d get high mostly between rides or with those who would pick me up. It didn’t matter where I was going because I really had no place to go. To put this in perspective, I’d go out hitchhighing and if I didn’t get a ride in one direction, I would cross the street or highway and hitchhigh the other direction. I guess you could say I was lost, just wandering. I was perhaps 11 or 12 when I first started to hitchhigh. I spent my earlier years 5 to 10 trying to figure out who I was and why I was. Understand, I was alone most of these years. I recall only one conversation with my father perhaps it was when I was 4 or 5 when that conversation took place. It was about torn paper currency that I had found and collected on the street curb, on Marie Crescent, the street my parents house was on. Robert my dad, standing by the pool, told me I would never be able to put together the torn pieces to make a whole bill and to discard them. That conversation was the only one I had. I can’t recall ever speaking or seeing him again. He left Barbara my mother and moved to Florida. Barbara was around 34 when Robert left. She struggled to maintain outward appearances through this time and fell short of being able to control five young children, hold down a job and keep a home clean. Barbara fell ill and spent several years trying to get better but after so many blood transfusions ultimately she died at the age of 44. Officially Aplastic Anemia a rare bone marrow disease. My interaction with Barbara was at most times fun and at few times traumatic. I’ll never forget the line she said to me when I was perhaps 6 or 7, she had fixed a wire on the TV and when putting the backboard back on with a screwdriver, I said; you sure your doing it right? Her snarky reply was “I know how to screw and unscrew” My first adult joke ever heard. Another time my brother Andrew and I were grounded but had snuck downstairs, down the basement, up and out the basement window to retrieve some candy from our fort we built. Andrew went to retrieve while I stood in the window box giving directions. At one point I said, GET THE RED ONES. Perhaps they were jelly beans I don’t recall. In the mean time Barbara awoke and was waiting for us at the top of the stairs around the corner. As I was first I turned the corner and she grabbed me, put me in a head lock and whispered, be quiet while holding her hand over my mouth. Then Andrew came around and she immediately grabbed him by the hair and slammed our heads together, I heard the crack! She said what are you guys doing! What red ones are you talking about! Are you taking drugs? I’m sure it was a relief to her when we begged with her and showing her proof that it was only candy. Get upstairs and don’t come down until I tell you she proclaimed. She loved us all. Stephen, Daniel, Andrew, Michael and Melissa, nobody can refute this. I was the youngest of four boys and I knew and know today my siblings about as well as I know you, the reader. So again, understand, I was mostly alone, lost without much guidance as a boy growing up. I had to learn fast, grow up fast and survive and that I did even when I was hitchhighing around.
My parents home. It was two stories, had 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, a wreck room, a basement, a large below ground swimming pool, a corner lot with a front, side and back yard. It was filled with nice furniture, had musical instruments. The basement had communication devices, lots of old phones, an office and laboratory. My father had a BMW in the drive way, back in the 60’s this was rare. Eventually after Robert left, it fell under disrepair. Barbara had no time to clean or fix things as their was no time or money. We fell poor very fast. The house had no hot water, no plumbing nor heating nor garbage pick up. It had wooden floors that appeared as rolling waves of lumber, broken water pipes caused flooding when the water was manually turned on in emergencies then dried and overtime curled them up. The kitchen table was filled with dozens of used jelly jars, peanut butter jars, bread bags and thousands of maggots crawling about. Thick black swarms of flies buzzing around just overhead, feeding off the garbage. I ate out of those jars at times. There was a scary hole in the floor in front of the kitchen sink that appeared to drop to hell. The house had mice and cats and plies of garbage all throughout. Its bathrooms were filled with human waste, shit and pee two and three feet high. One bathroom tub was completely filled with shit. I would get a piece of paper trash, push the top part of the bathroom door open, place the paper to stand on, then squeeze through while stepping up on top of shit and add to the pile. We lived in a toxic dump. I recall curing up behind a couch one frozen winter night to awake and find just inches from my eyes a cat staring at me with her newborn hairless kittens feeding off her nipples. The cat was there because the heat from my breath was the warmest place she could find to give birth. Many times it was warmer outside then inside that house. At some point my guess I was 13, Barbara was in the hospital and I had gone to live with some neighbors, the house burned to the ground, set on fire by someone. The fire department let it burn, they knew there was no reason to put the fire out. The house was abandoned and had seen enough, it was wearing on the community.
School Days: Rolling Hills Elementary School it was a bus ride away in Dix Hills. I’m sure one year I missed at least a month or perhaps two before I was caught skipping out. I simply never got to the bus stop and stayed home. It was at this School that I had an experience I’ll never forget. I was a troubled kid to say the least and everyone knew it. Because I refused to change into gym shorts I did not participate in gym. I failed gym every year. One day while I was standing next to the water fountain, just outside the gym, the gym teacher leaned over to get a drink, he got hit in the face with a stream. Someone stuck some gum into one of the two holes and it spayed all over him. I chuckled. The gym teacher, thinking it was me and I set him up, looked around to find know one, took a basketball he was holding and slammed it into my nose and it hurt. My head smacked into the concrete wall. Well that was it! I went ballistic. I started to yell and scream cursing loudly, using the “F” word over and over. I cursed out that teacher repeatedly. He tried to talk to me and calm me down but it had zero effect. I told him to fuck off. I then walked down the hall opened the doors to the Principles offices and cursed everyone of them out including some parents who happen to be there. I was not done, not even close. I proceeded to curse out the entire School. At some point I realized I had nothing to loose. When I tell you the entire School, I mean I owned that School with my tongue like a crazed man with gun and a death wish. Teachers were coming out of their class rooms, staring in shock at the volume of vulgarities I was blasting them with. The Library and Cafeteria emptied. I overheard some say let him be and stay back. I cursed out everyone in that school with the “F” word, everyone heard me, loud and clear. No one in that School did not hear me that day. I then stormed out the doors and walked miles home, through the freeway system in the snow. Nobody tried to stop me. I’m 10! On my mothers grave, I did not put that gum in that fountain. While in Jr High in 7th grade I had one pair of jeans that were to small and the crotch would rip open everyday. At night I would sew them back up the best I could and wear them the next day but every day they would rip again. I sewed those pants up 100 times. For several years I could not take a bath or shower. I would clean up the best I could but during these years I smelled. I got teased a lot and was at times tormented by other kids, it made me angry and it was extremely embarrassing but I could not do much about it. In the morning I would take two soda bottles, heavy glass ones they don’t make anymore, go outside to the water spigot as this was the only water outlet that had a direct line to the main by using it, it would not allow the water to run though the house pipes and flood it. I would fill the bottles bring them inside and over a large pan, pour half of one over my head, use a little soap whatever I could find, soap up then use the other bottle and half to rinse. In the winter the water at times was ice cold. One time I didn’t use enough rinse water and while walking in the rain to school, my hair lathered up and I had to rinse it in the school bathroom after some kid laughed and pointed at my head. When it was warm outside, I take the soap outside and put my head under the spigot bypassing the bottles. I recall sometimes I’d hear and see the other kids on there way to school while I did this hiding behind the trees.
Yeah it was this horror that led me outdoors. I walked around for miles and miles everyday. In sneakers wrapped in duck-tape, when they finally fell off, I stole some new ones from the store or some used ones in a garbage. I stole fruit pies, one under each arm to feed myself. I’d walk around all the time, mile and miles, through summers, winters it didn’t matter the weather, everyday I’d walk alone. I’d walk in rain drenched clothes, frozen fingers, numbed toes, in blizzards hitchhighing around. I’m sure I built up a tolerance to the extreme weather. I someway managed to cop a joint or a small amount of pot to smoke all the time. It sustained me. That goal to get out of that place, find some weed to smoke, share and get lost and try to find out who I was, why I was.
Why is this happening to me? I shouted at heaven with my fist in the air. Why was all this happening to me? It’s too much for a kid at my age! YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ME! DAM IT! I recall one day early evening it was getting dark and after a long day walking around I loathed going back home to that place. I was in Valmont Park and I had had enough. I was mad at God or whatever it was up in the sky that must have had something to do with my plight because I had no control and there was nobody else I could point too that had any thing to do with it. I didn’t get it. None of it made sense and I needed to find a reason to who I was, why I was. I had nobody to yell at so I started screaming at God. I was yelling at the top of my lungs at heaven. Looking up at the early evening sky I could see stars appearing and I thought God must be listening because I’m the loudest person on earth right now. I was livid, red in the face livid and demanded God explain to me what the fuck was going on with me? The conversation ended in me screaming:
“ITS TIME TO MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR MAKER”
I was chemically imbalanced. At some point a body has to give and it was after several years of smoking pot and hash, experiencing mushrooms, acid, coke, heroin mine did. A few weeks before high school graduation I could not tell you what day it was? I lost time and space. I didn’t know if it was Saturday? Tuesday? The nice folks who I lived with called my oldest brother, Stephen and he decided to sign me into an institution. “The Psych Center” Kings Park Psychiatric Center. I wasn’t harmful to anyone but clearly I wasn't all together. I was put on a few drugs to keep me normal whatever that means. The drugs had side effects and on more then one occasion my spine would twist up from my tail bone to my head. My muscles would twist my spin so that my neck and head was spun up and as far to the side as physically possible. It would stay there. It was impossible for me to move it down and around in front. I would grab my head with my hands, move my head back around straight but after a few seconds my head would start to twist up automatically and I could do nothing until the drugs wore off. After a couple of months they let me leave as an out patient. I was still on medication and living in a room for $40 dollars a week in Baldwin. Stephen was also renting a room in the same home perhaps it was under these circumstances they let me leave the center. I was working 18 hour shifts at a gas station. One day Stephen and I were paying the rent and I was trying to put the two twenties into the envelope to slip it under the owners door as we did each week. In front of Stephen I had the envelope in my left hand and the twenties in my right hand and with all my might and my brain power I could not do it. Stephen looked at me and said what the hell? put the money in the envelope. With tears in my eyes I said I can’t Stephen, I want to but I can’t seem to do it. He look at me puzzled and said, Why? I said it’s these fucking drugs. The drugs they have me on are messing up my brain. Stephen realized that I was dead serious and immediately drove me to the out patient doctor’s office, stormed in and told the Dr. my brother is NEVER! going to take these drugs again and we left. The following day, Stephen drove us to a friends house and I free based cocaine for the first time. Not much came of this but it just stands out in my mind today as the point at which I knew that pharmaceuticals are mostly throwing chemical darts at your brain and to avoid them as all costs. I did however start smoking weed again and I’m convinced that it assisted my recovering from the chemical imbalance that I was going through. Childhood over.