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Haymakers: Part III

HAYMAKERS: PART III

Published by Will Berkeley

Copyright 2015 Will Berkeley

 

 

 

Chapter

 

So I am in the last stand Townie bar with my little family of offenses. We’ve successfully carried that forward a generation to tweak whatever is left of Old Hingham. All I needed were a couple of old time friends in that Townie bar and we could have had a good old fashioned brawl out in the parking lot. Get the blue lights on us.

Gumball time!

One of my old friends is particularly unreformed.

The Redheaded Devil himself.

The insane thing is he is retired. He dropped his bad boy act on the world and walked away winners. My wife was thankful that he wasn’t with us. He is forever moving back and forth from Zimbabwe. Causing ungodly troubles on two entire continents. The New York Police has to brace itself for his movements out of John F. Kennedy Airport. He is hauling major offenses. Paperwork is order, gents. Department of the Interior. I got my Zimbabwe passport if you want a peek at that too. I shaved a year off on that. I figure I am at least a year younger over there in my house in Bulawayo. Out in the bush? Mister Berkeley grants himself two! Shut up. I am at least two years younger in Zimbabwe in the bush

Who moves to Zimbabwe? The Redheaded Devil himself. Got a tag along too. Guess who? Most of Africa is just too fancy for him. Me to. Zimbabwe fits the bill though. That’s where he is during this scuffle. My wife is thankful for Zimbabwe for the first time in her life.

When I got the old time stares.

The Redheaded Devil would have walked right over and taken those grim looks right up with The Townies. What’s your problem? Hasn’t Berkeley paid enough? He’s Honorary Class of Hingham High 1989 these days.

That is this kind of a funny story. It will tell you the character of my defenders. I went to the twenty-fifth reunion of the Hingham High Class of 1989. Apparently it’s viewed favorably that I did not graduate from Hingham High Class of 1989 and it is the wrong class to begin with. I was point of fact fired from Hingham High Class of 1988. I actually pointed this flaw out on a thread and I was vehemently criticized. One gentleman noted that he was expelled. Who did I think I was not attending?

The Hingham High Class of 1988 had chased me out. No argument there! The Hingham High Class of 1989 had most certainly not. Whoa, whoa, guy! You back right up. They trotted out all kinds of physical evidence. Crime scene level evidence that I had patronized a few prominent female institutions over the years. I only dated her for like two (2) years! You cannot possibly claim that I was around town that much! So I went. It was actually really fun. Still married to Kelly! We finally got real married after our Hollywood shack job. The Booster needed married parents. Not bad, right?

Even my wife knew everybody! Kelly and I have only been attending weddings for Hingham people for like twenty years. Everybody is divorced these days! Revisiting the old haunts. Not us. I could be persuaded. You look good, girl. Stop looking at me that way. You are just too much. I will be in a trailer down The Gulch come sunset if I do not get out of here.

I was honored to be a non-graduate of the wrong class of one of the three high schools that I attended. They even took my wife in too. We like her better than you!

Congratulations Kelly Berkeley. You are Honorary Hingham High Class of 1989 too! I wish I dated her back in the old days. What a body! Just kidding. Don’t throw those wicked hostile eyes at me. You are decades off the Tae Kwon Do circuit. The Fat Man is dead too, right?

Hingham High Class of 1989 was hands down my favorite high school.

I didn’t even have to show up. And my window of error is one year. I’m the Hingham High Class of 1988 which was the one with all the bad juju. But what’s really weird is they do not want me. I am officially and irretrievably expelled out. I am fine with that too. I do not deserve to ever be recognized by the Hingham High Class of 1988. I will never accept anything from them.

However.

Hingham High Class of 1989 claimed me. They want the demon. My other two high schools could learn from this. You include the whole universe into your reunion scheme. Vacuum up whatever bad pennies you can get. Drive the spaceship right through God’s hand.

You have to give it a rest. Or we’ll rest it for you.

That would be The Redheaded Devil speaking on my behalf.

My other old friend if he were in Ye Old Mill Grille when I got the hometown stare down. That’s what he’d be saying too.

Don’t take any gruff from that Sweaty.

That’s this really big local insult. We call our archrivals in Weymouth.

Sweaty.

You wouldn’t stand for that if you were a head like us growing up. Heads were the greasers. I worked on cars all the time. I loved it. We wear that greaser moniker proudly. Hey, at least we can fix stuff. Proud to be a dirtball. You Hoodsie Cups, the classic New England ice-cream treat, can only break stuff. Powder puff. Go grow a beard along with a pair. Move to Weymouth and then come back to us. Or get banished down Hull like Berkeley. We really do not care what town you are from. You sure as hell can be a Sweaty from Hingham. And a Hoodsie from Hull. Hey, it’s even possible to be a Cohop which is Cohasset cop from Weymouth. One big happy family. It just depends on if you can fix stuff. Marsh Vegas? Well, you can just forget that. Whatever happens there stays there. You go Dux if you want squealers. Scituate is tuff. The South Shore is a lot of fun. We are an entire country. Some of us have even lived in all the towns. A select few have been kicked out of several. Hull is overreacting. I have been banished from every bar. Personally I think it’s unfair. I didn’t even start a fight in the biker bar. That was Leddy. Why should I pay for the Parrot too? It’s not my fault that they did not have ice. All Leddy did was ask if they lost the recipe for ice? How is that inciting? Dive bars are way too uppity these days.

But my third friend if he were at Ye Old Mill Grille in this fictional construct would be the only one sitting there that had actually graduated from Hingham High School. La-di-da. A regular French man. That’s your Leddy. Real high class.

The Redheaded Devil and I were fired.

We’re Honorary Members though.

The powers that be have blessed us in. It’s really weird when you think about it though. I’ve got to be one of the worst people of my generation to go after in this town. There are only a few guys that are more dangerous than me and I jungled up with them somewhere in my journey through three high schools. It became this unholy thing.

I’d be sitting there at a party and somebody would ask me to leave. I’m like no problem. I’m used to get kicked out of places. It’s like that boss that won’t promote you. I just keep getting fired and climbing higher. It’s the only way for a guy like me to get promoted. I have to be fired! I want it to happen too.

I want to get into this bed up on Main Street anyway. I have a girlfriend in a house. Major progress, I know. I sleep in it too. After lights out before sunrise customer. Get in and get out unbeknownst. Mom and Dad don’t care for me so I stay out of their way. You should too.

A scheduled mission is on the books. That’s the only reason I am not throwing down right now. I don’t care about my retirement contract. Paperwork don’t mean nothing to me. I still can’t speak right. Why should I think right? Even her parents know that I am scurrying around that house like a mouse. Even they are like. Hey, the prisoner has majorly improved. His is in arguably one of the Nation’s most prominent all boy’s school. So what if it is a prison?

I won’t question the expulsion from the party. I have improved that much! I also don’t want to screw up my schedule. I am a regular for that house. This flower power girlfriend will absolutely dump me for fighting. She is just a plain old fashioned hippie. I have made major progress here people. However I will admit my old hometown problems are still a little bit fiery. Hey, I could move on this whole house if I wanted. I actually already have a draft written. Maybe I should do it?

Wait a second!

I’m just trying to keep the peace these days. I don’t even have to fight for girls these days. They come incoming peacefully. Flower Power. I might still kick a can out in the woods. Who knows? That is something that you just don’t want to know. Maybe The Fat Man lives. Karate Castle is still up Turkey Hill. Logic dictates that The Fat Man is up there lurking around. I have heard rumors.

Then this kid with massive hands would shove me down into my seat. One of those Italian kids out of the Gulch. One of my old dirtball pals. Harley Davidson dirtball type. We used to swim The Weir in March.

It ain’t that cold.

You got your own built in wetsuit. You’re so big. Look at me. I’m like a skeleton here.

You certainly don’t fight like one.

You get driven into that by earning black belt.

How many you got now?

I might have earned a few. You learn a few moves.

Yeah right.

Brutal cold water will always remain a test.

You want to really do this, Mister Berkeley?

I’m just jumping in with no hesitation.

Then I jump off the bridge down at Hingham District Court.

The kid jumps into The Weir right after me.

You’re staying. You aren’t leaving no party over my dead body. That’s it. Case closed. That’s what the kid from The Gulch says. He has maybe ten friends just like him. They all move at the same time because they are probably sharing just one mind. They might not be the fastest crew of fighters. Or the brightest. But you can practice fighting them on stumps. Go ahead and try to pull that one out of the ground. I can take them one by one. But not even I can battle those stumps all at once without the benefit of weapons. There are too many of them.

Mister Berkeley ain’t getting kicked out. He didn’t start nothing. At least not yet. I reinstate him into the town. Mister Berkeley’s banishment is done. You come to me if you got a problem. I will solve it. His fists are maybe only twice as big as my own. They are about the size of the average person’s head. They had a magnetic way of connecting with them too. I used to hard pad up with the cage helmet and let a few of these very monsters throw at me with no caution back in the day. Four was my sparing limit. I would pay money to see anybody of any fight caliber take on five of them. And that was only the first string. Five more to go. Plenty of traditional boxing in that ten man and one brain operation. Solid sparing partners. Plenty of them too. Happy to go all day with you. No problem. Major Italian stallions with that horn necklace hanging around their necks. It’s to ward off bad luck. I’d say it works too.

The only remotely positive thing that came out of Jimmy’s death was my reinstatement in the town. I’d been all but expelled. Moved to Hull. And shipped off to boarding school. I was fine with the situation but there was a ton of hostility still following me around. How the hell am I going to get a decent girlfriend down in Hull? I am only on my third high school. I got no girls in my final school. I am in a male prison camp up in North Korea! You got to at least allow the prisoner to socialize a little bit around holiday time down in South Korea. Girls don’t hate me in this town. The Flower Power ones are deeply amused by me. Some of them actually love me. We are just monsters too. I even have a hippie girlfriend that will dump me without hesitation if I fight. It’s just a few notable jerk guys that won’t let it go. They don’t even ride Harleys! All the bikers think I am terrific. We drink homemade wine and talk handguns. Ride motorcycles with no helmets in the woods. We share a deep interest in old fashioned New England hick culture. Rock n roll woods. We like harbor island parties too. We actually don’t get along well. We get along great! There is not one bad idea that we do not embrace.

Only a niche minority of the town truly has it out for me. A small handful of guys. Maybe one hand. I broke at least one finger off of that hand Fat Man style. The remaining four? I can take them all! I don’t even need any help. I have sworn before God to maim them if they come after me again. They know I will do it too. They know how psycho religious I am. Even I am like you have to clean up your spiritual situation. It’s unholy. But then again. The stalemate is solid. That psycho Jesus position is perfect. Plenty of preachers approve. You have to work from where you are at, Mister Berkeley. You start in a pretty bad place, no offense. Hey, none taken I asked for your help. You don’t have to pull any punches. I know how bad I am. Without religion? I am in prison. Your science argument works great for you. I have to have God in my life even in my admittedly disturbing way.

I don’t want any new trouble. Period. End of discussion. But if those four come back one more time. There will be blood. Lots of it. I have told them all personally in front of their parents and the authorities. Not one person does not believe me. I have even threatened the boy’s fathers too. Coming for you too, dude. Send your son after me. Just try me. I will nail him to a cross. You know you are dealing with a major fighter when he says that. He will do it too. Most righteously. I have prayed upon it.

 

Chapter

Then my really dear old friend, Jimmy, gets killed in a car crash. The Second Prep School on The Trail of Tears does not want me to go. This is the second prison type boarding school. I’ve upped my game to that level. I had to stay back a year to do it. But so what? It’s not like I care what year I graduate at this point. I am still in High School which is a miracle. I am also not in prison. Another miracle. Praise Jesus! Hallelujah too.

They’ve all but broken the horse with cross country running, detention and AP Physics. Saturday classes. No girls. They’re a distraction for you. What you take as a given is a recipe for disaster, Mister Berkeley. Guns, booze and the woods! Since when has that ever been a problem?

I don’t just think driving my late model Dodge Aspen four wheeling around The Town Forest is a good idea. I think it’s a great idea! Now we tackle Baker Hill, gentleman. The Town Forest is under the Ass Pins belt. That’s the name of my Dodge Aspen. Caution on cursing fully lifted. I pin it in the Ass Pin. In The Town Forest, of course. Road sodas for everybody. Kool cigarette for the driver. Let the prisoner roll out all his profanity. He is going to drive that car off-road like a skateboard. Do grinds off stumps. You have to Kool those nerves with a Kool cigarette? Of course! I can’t be driving too handed. I am Master level swords. Plus I want to put my arm around my honey.

All my opinions are strong and wrong. Belmont Hill School is on to me though. They’ve seen the mud covered Dodge Aspen post river crossing. Plenty of four wheeling around Belmont Hill School. My Belmont Hill School pals think four wheeling a late model seventies sedan is a great idea too. We get busted all the time. Hey, there was traffic coming back from Walden Pond. We took a shortcut. So what if it is through the woods? Take it up with Henry David Thoreau!

The Headmaster is a coarse man to deal with on that and every other level. Dude, why do you care if I am driving a car through the woods? Four wheeling through Walden Woods in a station wagon is pure awesome. We traded vehicles because the station wagon can hold more cross country runners. Put the whole team in there. I bought that Chevy Caprice Country Estate for this express purpose.

He just reflexively punished me for no good reason. Can I go to prom at Sacred Heart? He just says no. Catholicism does not work for you. Catholic school girls never work out for you. I bet she is Irish too. That’s a double no for you. I accept your decision. They are so inviting in their uniforms. All the ways that they roll up and so on. Wear skimpy racy panty hose.

Now I use the window door. They have a small overnight boarding dormitory at Belmont Hill School for the worst offenders. The convicts that are not permitted conjugal visits. The second story door which is a bathroom window is always available for the night owl. Up and over the roof. Then carefully drop off the fire escape. You ninja is expert level.

I want to go pay my respects.

My friend from down The Gulch is dead.

I am back getting The Heisman from The Headmaster of Belmont Hill School. Permission denied! When will the prisoner learn? Permission is denied reflexively. Before the petition is even petitioned. It is a foregone conclusion the answer to the question is no because the question will not be considered. Prisoners do not ask good questions.

I cannot attend a wake? What! Why?

He’s like it’s in the afternoon. You’re in boarding school. Hence no. For the love of God, man. It’s my dead friend. Then he tosses me in detention for like a month. You can’t swear at me. I swear at you. That’s what he says to me.

I swear at you!

I used a little choice profanity. And now I am freaking freaked. Detention for the rest of the semester.

Well, then don’t be a piece of anatomy. That earned me another semester of detention. So I got a whole year of detention for cursing. But he did let me go. You make a compelling case and I like your profanity. Even he knew he was a human sewer pipe in his soul. But look at the materials that he was working with. The school is just packed with savages like me. My horrible attitude is not even noteworthy.

You better be top fifteen in cross country this year, Mister Berkeley. I run five on our team. There are sixteen teams in the league. Don’t be a wimp. I’m letting you see your dead friend. You will get me that title.

Don’t top runners get you the title?

Absolutely not, you fool. It’s the caboose. We need the whole team across the line to kill the competition. All five of you. I thought you had been stripped of several black belts for being a badass. You certainly don’t act like it. That’s this whole other disconnect about life. It’s not as presented. I am Jackson 5 at Belmont Hill School. Here we go again. Tae Kwon Do fool takes up running. Must stay most Jackson.

Belmont Hill School honored my savagery. Or rather my savagery was to be deployed to honor Belmont Hill School.

Finally I am Jackie!

But I am Jackie at Belmont Hill School on the cross country team. I run five for the team but I must come in top fifteen in our league. If I pull that off it means that I will theoretically leave only eleven spots for the other fifteen number one runners in our entire league. I should be running number one for twelve schools. I should be fronting my own band in twelve schools in the sixteen school league! That’s not how Belmont Hill School works. I run Jackie at Belmont Hill School. I must run out of my shoes to do it which I do.

Jackson 5 is a cross country running outfit these days.

And Jackie is the most chased Jackson 5 ever.

Some days he beats Tito and Germaine.

Marlon and Michael?

He cannot touch.

But to say that the entire Independent School league wants to stake him to the ground.

Is a major understatement.

Dude, you run five at Belmont Hill School.

What are you doing?

I know.

I have major heat on my back.

My college recommendations will be outstanding on that alone.

I am the most dreaded five to possibly run ever in The Independent School League.

 

Chapter

So I’m standing there in line at the wake crying beyond belief. I’ve two semesters of detention ahead of me to get back here to do it. Looks like I am going to blow apart the SAT’s now. Along with crush the competition in cross country. What else have I got to do all Fall? This wake will cost me unholy. But I do not care. You can keep my social life because what’s left of it might as well not exist. My journey up has taken my life right out from under me.

I will do my homework twice over all semester because I have no life apart from the priorities of The Belmont Hill School. The good news? I am a complete psycho. I do not suffer from depression. You just yoke that animal and throw him into the jungle. I am fine. I cannot locate a care.

I am always in trouble at Belmont Hill School. That’s my base condition. Every Saturday I had detention. That was my routine. Running was my only freedom. I was tasked with running faster there. I may still be the most decorated martial artists on the East Coast. I might even still be The Fat Man when I can schedule it. That will be nice come college admission time. But I need to up the grades. And down the running time. You earned an extra year of high school to do it too. Hey, you shouldn’t have been doing martial arts since before kindergarten. You missed a lot. Now we make it up, tuff guy. You would like that I argue? I am absolutely fine with the fact that I am a complete idiot. Why else work so hard at fixing it?

Running five at Belmont Hill School and being top fifteen with all A’s? SAT’s through the roof? You row crew? And do public health work in Latin America. I see you speak Spanish fluently now?

Anything else?

I am on the debate team. Glee club. I sing tenor. I play trumpet and drums. I won the photography award. I can paint pretty decent. My sculpture portfolio is probably better.

Anything else?

Sometimes they let me polar bear swim. Or I just drive the car off into the forest to everyone’s horror. They can’t do anything if I do not drink.

How many black belts?

It says right there that I got them reinstated.

But only for my applications. I am still stripped. Banned for life, bro. They are closing in on my like a wounded hyena up in the woods too. Karate Castle has been slated for demolition. Bick pulled a string. And the Trustees of the Reservation are chomping for a woods fight. They want my land for their trust. But I do not say that.

Three black belts and one black sash.

All the cars have been called in to make me officially go away.

We say nothing about boxing, kickboxing or weapons.

I see you did Judo, Mister Berkeley.

Yes sir.

I hate to brag. But I am quite good at it, Mister Berkeley.

I am sure, Mister Admissions Officer.

 

Chapter

 

But all the bad stuff that keeps happening to me pretty much ends on a high note. I’d be up Turkey Hill running from the cops. I was thinking this is awesome! I’m all but expelled. Hooray! I get to go to boarding school. Freaking cop. What he’s going to do? That’s my only problem? I can easily solve that.

The town line is right past that tree and after that I am officially a criminal of Cohasset. I keep trucking into Norwell shortly thereafter. I was unflappable. Hey, I know people in Plymouth. Plenty of decent drinking streams between me and them. I will not die. I had a very consistent set of moves.

You don’t want me doing my dirt in Hingham woods? I heartily agree. I don’t have any rap sheet in Cohasset. That town has one cop. Their woods is just as good. I even got a backup Karate Castle. There are two abandoned Army Bases within easy reach. I actually like the fallback abandoned Army Base even better.

Karate Castle II is so deep in the woods I think the Federal Government can no longer locate it. I have difficulty mapping it myself. There are no paths to get there. You climb a stupid high barbed wire fence. God only knows what unholy The Freaking Feds were doing down that fence. It’s at the absolute end of Hingham’s most desolate road. Then you bushwhack the rest of the way in. It’s a forest of pure thorns.

I love it back there. Nobody dares follow me. Not even The Redheaded Devil himself. I have an actual thorn suit. Made it myself. And that is my personal Karate Castle. I aim to keep it that way. No Karate hippies allowed.

They will pull out all the thorn bushes. Then I will have a Karate hippie problem. The perverts will walk in after that. It’s us versus the perverts up in the woods. Who do you think wins on that score? Not even I can beat the Karate hippies back. They are merciless.

Even detention at Belmont Hill School. Well, it beats detention down Hull High. God Almighty forbid if I get expelled from Belmont Hill School and have to go there. I’ll just have to run away. Good thing I have an entire Army Base on ice out in the wood. That’s how your insane Irish person would call it. Out the wood. It’s not the woods. It’s the wood.

I will go live in Karate Castle II in the wood. Or get a camper for Wompatuck State Park for heaven’s sake. Even getting expelled from Belmont Hill School this late in the game seemed possible. Three high schools can easily become four. Perhaps I just keep staying back a year forever. The oldest man in Hull High School ever! Or I rotate into Shaolin Monk Temple. And I can never drink alcohol again ever! We will figure something out. I am giving myself major pep talks all the time. When you lower the armor? What do I think of myself?

I am in major trouble all the time. One false step and I am a man falling to the ground from the high wire. I am fine with that though. Because I am a complete psycho! Which is good. Otherwise I’d be a dead man. Or flat out depressed. Thankfully I just do swords when it gets to that.

But Jimmy’s death just didn’t seem right.

It felt like the universe had done something truly awful. I’m way past inconsolable in that line at the wake. I just can’t figure out why this has happened. My narrative is really clear. I do this and that happens. I told The Headmaster off and now I’ve got two semesters of detention ahead of me. I beat up all these kids. Then I really acted up. Then I got what I wanted. It just turned out to be really bad. My big wish of boarding school? It is a horrible punishment. Now I have five years of high school. I earned myself another year. Girls have to be scheduled around prisoner release time. I have to hope there is somebody out there getting dumped around holiday time. I am nowhere near as good at anything as I was even at Tae Kwon Do! Frankly I was barely a champion fighter. My real excellence is weapons which not even the world of marital arts wants to support. Think about it. I am doing swords. Not even my former Shaolin Monk fully approves. The world has moved on.

Maybe when I go off to the Ivy League things will straighten out. At least they won’t beat me if I disagree. And I can have girls in my room. Maybe I won’t have to room with some Irish Catholic psycho like me. Hooray! My life witness at Belmont Hill School is a fright by even my standards. Who do you think showed me where the second floor door was in our dormitory? But Jimmy’s death is truly tragic because he had such a beautiful soul.

There are a couple of old time psychos that don’t think I belong at the wake.

They’re giving the old hometown hostile looks. Making fun of the fact that I’m crying. I’m in some Prep School outfit because I just got sprung. Like I can control what I wear. I’m in the blue blazer because of you! Prison orange is next if I’m not careful. But this would not be a good time to start with me. I got no friends. Of course I came to cry. Why else make the journey?

The last fight was more than what you have to offer today and I walked away winners. I broke one of your fighter’s too. You only got four now. That’s nothing!

So I’m standing my ground. Monsters cry. That’s what they do. They have so much bottled up that they just burst. Everybody knows that. They’re not well-developed on the inside. Just the outside. You tap on the inside? You get the outside which is outsize! That’s where we close the gap on our stunted emotional development. They don’t call us prodigies. They call us prodigy athletes, psycho! I may not be your practiced martial artist of yore. But boarding school has trained me up to a whole new level. I have hands down never been stronger in my entire life.

I warmup on Tae Kwon Do before I lift an ungodly amount of weights. Then I crank out ten miles stupid fast. This is not my routine. Belmont Hill School dictates everything to me. I am punished with martial arts. Go out in that field and give me an hour of that stuff. No slacking. I can tell by now. That’s only the beginning of detention. Then we hit the track. The books shortly thereafter. Maybe Saturday I get to go home. Maybe the prisoner has to stay. Just one prisoner on campus for the entire weekend! Plenty of Professor to punish him.

I’m standing there in line with my tears and all my black belts under my blue blazer because they have been reinstated them on my college application for show time. I’ve already worked out several drafts of my self-defense. I even have a draft where I start it. I’ll take them around the corner. Kick the holy hell out of them, jump the line to pay my respects and then get arrested. Call my mom from the can. The first draft is perfect. One punch per customer. Maybe I kick a little bit. I could stand throwing a massive elbow. But no knees to the face. It’s just too much.

I can’t even go to a freaking funeral in this town without a fight. Freaking Headmaster will probably take my bed away. He’s going to be delighted with my arrest. That’s another disconnect. I will be promoted to a whole new level of punishment at Belmont Hill School. They will demand that I run for class President.

I’ll have to sleep on the floor in the gym for the rest of the semester. Belmont Hill School knows how to operate. The Headmaster will delight in the fact that now I have given him his cross country title on a platter. He will demand the Head of the Charles next. He will make special arrangements to keep me over Saturday night forever. I am supposed to go to Hull on Saturday night. Why don’t we just keep him an extra night? He is coming back Sunday early morning for cross country. He can do half of Sunday afternoon in Chapel. The other half in detention. We maybe drive him out to Walden Woods in the morning. Make him swim across it before cross country practice. He polar bear swims. What’s the big deal? We expel him if he doesn’t cooperate. We know Hull High is his ender. He doesn’t even like his Saturday nights down there with no car. Blowing the dog off the chain in winter. He can’t even thumb to a decent bar. We took his fake ID. It was easy. We just threw his entire room. We cleaned out those two savages. Nailed their bathroom window door shut too. So what if they die in a fire? Better that than a car wreck.

Maybe I can get the cross country title for the Headmaster. He will write me glowing recommendations across The Ivy League. I don’t even know why I am crying over this dead kid. I should have never come. I am not welcome. I loved this kid. He loved me. Nobody wants me here but probably him. He is dead. That sucks. But I should just split before I start fighting. This town is dead to me. Thanks Jimmy for helping me realize it. I am truly sorry that I went up in life. And you truly went down. I need to go before I do anything stupid. Which I will do. We both know that. Right, Jimmy? No more tears. Buck up!

Then the guys out of The Gulch get a good look at me. Hey, there is Mister Berkeley being a complete psycho. At least he stays consistent. They come over and start hugging me. The dirtballs out of The Gulch console me. That’s how I got reinstated. In their heart of hearts they know that I am one of them. My life just upended with too much violence and now I’m destine for greatness. They feel sorry for me though. Because they can see that I have lost everything. I have to start all over again. But they’re going to let me.

 

Chapter

 

About the only good thing that I can see about becoming a famous writer is that my responses to everything will be largely wrong. There was this prom photograph that was circulating around. All the boys were African American. All the girls were Caucasian. I looked at the photograph and had the wrong response. I was like where are all the long haired boys? Haven’t we got one of those? Rasta represent! I loved that so-called primitive look growing up. Then I looked at the girls? Not a single art girl? You have to have at least one of them flipping the bird. What the hell has prom come to? I need to see some totally tasteless attire too. A few costumes that gloriously mock the institution. Or at least give me one hippie with nothing on under her peasant dress to make everyone faint. A statuesque body under there and she’s doing it on purpose to mock all the pretty girls. The dress is paper thin. Flower Power represent! One of those totally beautiful and frightening creatures. Do you want to touch my breasts? Even I have to admit that they are outstanding.

I need the t-shirt tie too. Where my dork at? He’s got to go out on top at Prom because he’s off to greatness after the misery of high school. Start his own business or write novels like me and blow everyone away. A couple of old fashioned bad beards and mustaches. No maintenance at all. My hair was not dreaded. It was matted. People would say you should stop trying for dreadlocks with that long hair look. I am not trying at all. That is my look. Girls sometimes graciously comb it out. I myself do not.

Where my flood pants at? Come on! I didn’t delve into the race of the participants which was the going rate because it’s a complete fallacy as any intellectual knows.

You start digging around that family tree and up pops whatever you think you aren’t. That fellow on the cross is just yesterday in terms of human history. Hey, I am a big fan. Settle down.

I can reasonably plow past the Vikings in my instance. I knock down all of England on the Berkeley name alone. After that it’s just a grab bag back to the beginning of time.

We climbed out of the swamp or we didn’t. You pick. Me? I go with what Bob Marley said. You were ever since. You can’t get out of that.

You were ever since.

But brother man, Principle? Singling out well dressed young people for ridicule? That was another of my inappropriate responses. Isn’t that refreshing to see respectable young people? I wasn’t one of those growing up. I was a creature out of the witchy woods of New England which is what made me a success. I’ve got a whole book cooking on that front. You’re reading.

It’s actually this pretty complicated artistic process. You keep revolving around various events in an effort to understand them better. Fiction can delve deeper into the imagination than anything I know. I’m demonstrating how to do it.

 

Chapter

 

I was not some well turned out respectable person growing up. One of the most elite boy’s schools in the entire country loved me for that. We probably put more boys into Harvard than any school in the world. Cross Country running isn’t cruel enough for you, Mister Berkeley? You like to run with no shoes? And jump in Walden Pond in November? You will exit Walden Pond to taunt the coach? Hmm. Then they’d think about it. How about crew, AP Physics and detention? I hate AP Physics. That’s why we persist in insisting upon it in your instance. It’s the only subject that we’ve found so far that makes you truly wince. You do math begrudgingly but you refuse to cave in. Physics? We have you.

We have you trapped like a wounded animal with A.P. Physics, Mister Berkeley. Maybe we’ll beat good old fashioned Episcopal religion into you in Chapel. I don’t like you as a Catholic. You refuse to be confirmed so it’s time to move on.

We’ll turn you into an Episcopal mystical. That’s about right for you. Armed and mystical. A brutal British officer. South America seems about right for you. Let’s see if we can make that happen. I know that you sneak off and ride horses. You seem to have a penchant for Spanish. We know you are cooking up a plot to escape to South America. We can help you.

Public health work in Latin America would be pretty easy for you. Brown University went for me because I was up in the sticks of Paraguay. That came after Mexico. But since I am writing an imaginative story I can present Paraguay and Mexico as one event. Fiction gives you license to lie. Hopefully the lie gets you to the truth. And we all know math is for losers. You add how you want in fiction though.

You don’t jump into some river on the Bolivian border and think this is pure awesome! If you are a civilized person. I’m sitting there with a candle, reading Crime and Punishment and thinking Paraguay is great! It’s like the woods behind my house took over the entire world. And there are no cops. There is actually no authority whatsoever. Hooray! Honkies in Paradise Paraguay Edition! Now you look at the Southern Cross? It’s absolutely astonishing because there is no power for hundreds of miles in every direction. Paraguay is wicked! I will cry when it is time to go.

 

 

Chapter

 

But back to my inappropriate responses to the prom photograph. Time to revolve back for deeper understanding. I’m playing my experience of high school against theirs. There were more responses. I’d probably throw the whole lot of well turned out kids into detention. For no reason at all. I have become my old Headmaster.

You need to study up for college. Nothing wrong with higher performance. You’re all good looking enough to succeed in this life. Clearly, you’ve found attractive mates. Perhaps even effortlessly. You’ve successfully jumped the racial divide in America. I applaud.

However.

Hopping over it isn’t all there is too it, sadly. I’ve climbed over it many times myself but it seemingly won’t go down. Off to detention for no reason at all.

I just want to see you better prepared for college. Study up. That’s all.

Write me twenty thousand words on racism in America.

Feel free to go global or seriously long format.

I want to know what you think.

Anyone that can hit 150,000 words like me.

I will let out of detention.

Then off to prom with your beer and what have you. Like I can monitor that. I’d be a fright as a Principle. So you’re Kool to be skinny? Or marijuana to calm your nerves? You like your beer like me, I see? Major cheap suds. How’s mandatory track team grab you? Bet you could eat anything if I really train you up. Kick back with your bingos after you were top five in the state. Crank down a few tall boys. Hell, I will buy. Then we go national. I have heard something called The Olympics exists. Shall we take a crack at that? Nobody gave me a shot at that.

That was one of the glorious things about Belmont Hill School. I was a group condition. It’s time for you wimps to go running. Somebody go wake up that Mister Berkeley and get that wimp dressed. I don’t care if he has mononucleosis. That’s a made up medical condition. Tell him he’s got to wear shoes today because we’re going to tie all of you together with a rope. I will have you all in the top fifteen in our league. I have set my mind to it. And there is no stopping me now. My Headmaster was my Nana now.

He couldn’t give two hoots if I had a girlfriend. Her race was totally irrelevant because I wasn’t getting to prom. Detention was my date. Then off to Brown University. You see how I swung that around?

 

Chapter

 

I’m just thinking if you were an alien from Mars and you came down for Thanksgiving Feast what would I serve you? I’ve got one shot to transfer all my hard earned New England knowledge over to you. What would I do? I’d take you up Turkey Hill. Make you a big old bonfire. Nice wet wood. Smoking to holy hell.

I would hand you a Mountain Dew and some Doritos. Throw a wet tarp over your back if you were chilly.

What do you think? The soul of New England. Now if I hadn’t lost you. You hadn’t skedaddled back to the relative comfort of The Red Waste. My Martian from Mars? You’d probably be ready for some strong drink. This is not the New England that is advertised. Where are the pilgrims at? Did the Indians get off in the end? How can this savage be what qualifies as a Yankee these days?

True story. I was sitting in a local bar and I was like good grief! What are the locals up to now? They were having Captain Morgan Rum in their pumpkin beers! These are strong beers to begin with down at Hingham Beer Works. And they’re 22 ounces! I was like you cannot do that. People from down here cannot handle that. We will all be roaring down route 3A at a hundred miles an hour after two of those. The gumball chasing us. If you do the math? It is eight beers and four shots. The beers are double alcohol to begin with.

The bartender shrugged. We got one with vanilla vodka. Top sellers. So we load you up on what the locals think is a local beverage. Rum and pumpkin beer together in a 22 ounce glass. Double alcohol. Double shots. Or vanilla vodka and pumpkin beer. We do that too. Now it’s time for a traditional New England supper at The Ocean Kai.

I have this little theory that there was a Chinese bartender here to greet The Mayflower. How else can you explain our diehard commitment to Chinese food? It’s stitched into the fabric of our nation. There is no other explanation. That Chinese bartender hooked us on day one. The Mayflower pulled up. And our Chinese bartender was standing there on these shores. Jimmy from The Ocean Kai was like Mai Tai? Everybody bum rushed off that boat. The Pu-Pu Platter Pilgrims got hammered on Headhunters after plowing through Scorpion Bowl before hitting the Mai Tai. We drank the whole left side of the menu. A few Fog Cutters before The Navy Grog. Now you go Painkiller.

Then we ducked into the teepee with the local citizenry. I know that I would have. Long voyage. And I used to duck behind enemy lines delightfully back in the old fashioned Tae Kwon Do days. That’s where I got my penchant for life. The Pu-Pu Platter Pilgrims! Bunch of Zombie drinking Headhunters. A little Singapore Sling off the side. Then you go Long Island Ice Tea. We can’t all be New York. You shrug and go Kool.

So my alien is swimming in a soup of MSG and Mai Tai. Hey, he had every drink on the menu! Now he is back to the beginning. Maybe a local takes him outside for a traditional New England cigarette like a Parliament in between Keno and karaoke bouts. P Funk time! Everybody outside! Jimmy don’t let us smoke in this dump. No more. He said.

At this point the alien is not my problem. He’s one of us now. There is no point in trying to police him because clearly we cannot police ourselves.

We’re ground zero on this whole experiment of a country. People wonder at the deplorable state of it sometimes. We don’t. Sometimes we are on the business end of making it worse. But we are super generous of soul.

We’d give our alien an honorary degree to a high school that he didn’t attend. It’s not like any educators ever got through to us. Or we mangled up our educations so bad that now it’s useless. Group wisdom declares rum and pumpkin beer are great together. Double alcohol. Twice as much in the 22 ounce glass! Now you are talking. How could we possibly find fault with an alien from Mars? And he’s one of us now. He is smoking a P Funk outside The Kai, guy.

 

Chapter

 

I threw up last night over writing. What I’m doing now is called telegraphing. I’m not presenting the story in a conventional order. I haven’t throw up over imaginative writing since my horror novel got rejected. That was the first time that I got the Hunter Thompson Heisman.

Your voice is too close Hunter S. Thompson’s voice.

I was like in a world of zombie crush romances?

So I wrote a young adult novel and that tanked too.

Too close to Hunter S. Thompson again, dude.

When will you learn?

I thought that the book before this one was going to be different.

I thought I would draw the fire of the Catholic Church.

I didn’t think I was a good fit for another Hunter S. Thompson Heisman. I also pegged myself for a lawsuit from Bob Marley’s estate. He does a little walk on in my last novel because I am deep into mysticism. Folded in Aztec gods. I shrug them off like they are nothing. Couple of enchanted snakes, so what? I need them to go after the Catholic Church.

I actually recently stared it down. The Catholic Church.

I gave it the stare of death.

It was The Day of the Dead. Big surprise. I’m a customer.

I was in the Atlantic taking a little polar bear swim in November. Down my dirtball beach. That’s this thing that I like to do in real life that everyone seems to delight in. I swim year round in the ocean. Down my dirtball beach. Nice and refreshing. Hey, I don’t need fancy. Everybody applauds.

My fictional doppelganger within this work of fiction might have to polar bear swim too. Perhaps we could learn something about that. Something that not even I know. Writing teaches you things that you do not even know yourself.

You ask why?

I polar bear swim because you cannot hang on to your problems whatever they are while you are polar bear swimming in the North Atlantic in winter. You have to release it. Whatever your problem. Or in my case problems.

You must release.

Or die.

And it feels great. I was feeling great. I was like everything is awesome!

I am polar bear swimming the North Atlantic in November!

I cannot wait until February!

Now that is a brutal month.

I don’t know exactly how it popped into my head but I was thinking about the old days.

So I’m like.

Maybe I put a couple of ocean stones on this kid’s grave. He’s a real long time dead. Time to get out the ocean. Dammit. It’s wicked stormy anyway. The point of the polar bear is to have fun. I am not trying to kill myself here. Now I get out. I have something to do.

Periodically Jimmy weighs on my soul because his death was timed around my re-instatement into the town. The handful of lunatics that won’t let it go aside. I’m willing to admit these days that I drew plenty of fire on purpose.

Of course!

It takes some doing to get five guys to jump you and walk away winners. You actually have to train for years as a martial artist for that. And that deadpan look that you give the cops is practiced too. You’re ready for The Superintend of School too. You’ve got some practiced profanity to say to him.

Bunch of guys forgave me though. They were like Mister Berkeley paid his debt to society. He’s on his third high school. And he stayed back a year. Poor guy is on a tour of exile. We let him socialize around holiday time because they got him in some all boy’s prison up North Korea.

The poor guy is getting all A’s because he’s got no life of his own. That’s how roughly they treated me. The guy is on target to destroy the SAT’s. We had him pegged for a greaser. What a disappointment. A motorcycle? You can forget it. He lost car privileges. Got no wheels. None. Poor loser has to thumb. They took all his money too. Even I pick him up. He beat the absolute hell out of me. But he asked for my forgiveness. So I forgive him.

Why we don’t have a world class outlaw motorcycle club is because of him!

He was on target to become our President.

Take me five minutes to swing through the graveyard.

That’s what I was thinking.

I was working on this novel in my head too.

Take the story from the top.

Now you tell it all out of order.

I like that.

I can think that long format.

What seems like a complete jumble?

That’s order for me.

I can think across an entire novel that I am writing.

It’s all from martial arts.

I learned how to do that through fighting.

Nobody writes like me.

You know why?

They did not learn how to think through martial arts.

Martial arts was my education until I got to the real stuff.

Time to tell this story.

My warrior journey.

I bet you a nickel Mister Berkeley has his regrets.

Of course I do.

They just aren’t what you think they are.

Sometimes I can’t even hazard what my life options truly were.

Was I fated for this or that?

I just do not know.

I do know that Jimmy died.

I know that for sure.

I was thinking about how joyful we were when we were little kids. Before the world ripped that away from us. He went into the ground. I went up in life. It does not seem right. How does God pick?

I was doing this while I was in the Atlantic in November. I got some sort of polar bear swim blow back? Now that is not right.

Typically you leave your problem in the sea. Not this time. I was at this real dirtball beach in November! And now I’m thinking about some dead kid on The Day of the Dead. Looks like we’re going to have to roll with it. At least I am mechanized these days. I don’t have to thumb. Literarily smoke the marijuana peace pipe with my old enemies when they pick me up thumbing. I don’t even like marijuana. Can’t we just skip the ritual? I’m sorry for my part in that scuffle. Thanks for picking me up though. I got no privileges these days. Lost everything to be perfectly honest with you. How are you doing these days?

I try real hard not to be a psycho.

Me too.

Maybe we could hang out.

Doing it right now.

 

 

Chapter

 

Sometimes the shortness of life bothers me. It’s like dealing with that gangster His Shortness. That’s what we called all the monster’s gangster boyfriends. His Shortness. It did not matter his size. His Shortness has arrived.

But here is something I can actually do with my short little life. Honor my dead friend. It is magical thinking but I do think his death is what reinstated me in the town. I don’t think that he died for me. You can forget that. He died because of a confluence of bad road design, rain and improper car construction.

His death is on Detroit and The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Highway Department.

Maybe God deployed his rain.

They fixed the road after his death.

Why did I get reinstated then? None of this had anything to do with me. I agree.

People saw me ball my face off at the wake. I was horrifically punished to show up for that funeral. Permission to leave the campus was denied to the prisoner. I flipped out. It’s my freaking dead friend. You know how few of those that I have? I can’t be losing a single one. It was Hull High here we go. Expel me. I hate crew and blue blazers. Freaking Yankee broads with their flat chests. I hate all of you. None of this is as advertised.

The Headmaster was like I like your profanity Mister Berkeley. You’ll be in detention until the summer. I am personally going to instruct you in the fine art of fiction writing. I think you have a flair for it. But you can go see your dead friend. Those Yankee pricks knew what to do with me. I’ll grant them that. I was not a new experience for them.

 

 

Chapter

 

I’m up the graveyard with my two pagan stones for my dead friend’s grave. Garden of stone. One stone for me. And one stone for him. This is modern day. This actually happened. Saint Paul’s Cemetery. Guess what rolls up? A freaking priest. He’s one of those half man ones.

We’d sit there in the L Street Bathhouse in South Boston in February in between dips in the Atlantic Ocean. I was an L Street Brownie which is a world famous polar bear swim club before I broke off to found my own splinter group. It’s me and my seagull down the dirtball beach these days. Polar bear swimming under our own flag. We ain’t got one.

The firefighters sometimes pull up to watch me go in. We ain’t pulling you out, Mister Berkeley. They speak that old time New England talk to me. They’re firefighters down Hull. You ain’t saving nobody. That’s what I say. You go in for me? I pull you out, dude.

We’re having a good old time. Back in the locker room of the L Street Bathhouse. It’s kind of this mythical place to begin with. People always recollect. Oh yeah guy. Back in the day I was down the L. Hey, it’s still here. Mister Berkeley sitting in it.

It might as well not exist though. The L Street Brownies have this pretty storied reputation in the polar bear swim department. We’re the unicorns of polar bear swimming actually. All horns. And all but extinct too. Now in walks a priest into the sauna. What kind of reception do you think that dude? What he getting?

You would think a human turd on two legs walked in the door. We’re all Irish Catholic men with wives and children. Most of us out of the Church of our own accord. Some of us are even gay. But we’re all dudes. Through and through. Old time New England dicks. Hard ones too.

I’m sitting there reading the local tabloid in the sauna for everybody! It’s this beacon of hope for me and the fellas. The stories in it are just awful. I figure our problems are nothing when I read the misery people are going through locally and around the world. I take most of what’s in that tabloid for truth too.

The Irish are a gullible bunch, fellas. Take our rainbow with the pot of gold under it. The way I see it, gents.

Those Leprechaun are armed.

How else to explain their continued possession of the gold?

You think I am fun in the sauna?

You better believe it.

You strip down too.

To hang out with me.

You know it, dude.

Imaginative leaps are fun. I don’t take issue with the imaginary piece, you see? I launch off. Then I keep trucking like the Grateful Dead. Chips cashed in. We’re all laughing about my armed Leprechaun theory. Now in walks the priest.

We’re all from under the Irish rainbow.

Know what I mean?

People take issue with Francis Bacon. Irish-born figurative painter? I am talking about his drunken Pope pictures. He painted those intoxicated. People criticize him freely even in death.

He was gay!

He painted drunk!

His boyfriend was a criminal!

All I can muster is.

Really?

The guy was totally normal.

We love him in here.

We actually celebrate him.

Why do you want to impose your views on us?

That’s our attitude towards the priest. Mister Berkeley was just getting going on the Leprechaun. We want to see what he can do with them under our rainbow. I bet he’s got some horrifying ideas about their sexual proclivities. I am cleared to launch on your most horrifying pornography ever.

I thought we made it clear that priests are not welcome here. Half of us are gay. The other half are probably going. Or went. We do not care. We are rude beyond belief. We delight in it too. We think Francis Bacon rules! And what I will also note is that there are heroic gay married men in here that have adopted children that nobody else wants. You might get a punch in the collar if you say anything about the legal rights of the married gay parents of these adopted children. I would not even consider treading on the lawful rights of those children. That will really poke the bear. That’s actually how you bait him.

What’s the matter with you, dude?

Did God just put you here to punish us?

Are we really that bad?

Look how great we all get along in here.

We have settled all our differences.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

No clothes?

No problem.

Whatever!

We have all heartily agreed that you’re the problem along with your Pope.

 

 

Chapter

 

The Padre has got the stones to roll down the window in his freaking Lincoln and see what I’m doing. Now he climbs out? What are you doing, dude? You realize I wanted to beat a priest at a very young age?

I’m back up in Saint Paul’s cemetery for my Day of the Dead festivities. I’m the loneliest L Street Brownie in America right now. I have no backup. No sauna. No fellas. No tabloid newspaper to hide behind. And now I got a priest?

I’ll give that to the priests. They’ve all got courage. I got this Vietnam War t-shirt on. Forget Nam Never! I’ve got the surfer man dress on too. The musty towel around my waist. A pair of flip flops. This is my religious attire because I am animist as far as I can tell these days. God made it all. I will worship that. Nothing stands between me and my God. I am also freezing which I view favorably. I am not hot.

So I explain my whole religious situation to him. I cover the fact that I am actively working on getting excommunicated from the Holy Roman Catholic Church on my current novel which is set in Mexico over The Day of the Dead. My characters look for God on a drug fueled spiritual misadventure. That’s all. I do it to explore the surrealistic possibilities of fiction. I could care less about drugs. But I am searching for God. That is real.

I’m putting my pagan stones down and so on. I had a spiritual journey that included Latin America. My friend did not. I wish to invite him along with me today. He can rotate back with me through my warrior journey which is intrinsically spiritual.

The priest all but faints.

But he kind of recovers and says we need you back in the church. He trots out Pope Francis and all that.

I just scoff.

The Pope that Francis Bacon painted.

Full stop.

That’s my Pope.

What a reformer!

I was done with the Holy Roman Catholic Church before my friend was dead. I point to the year on the gravestone.

And there is no hierarchy to God.

I am living proof.

 

Chapter

 

My fatal middle-age flaw was sitting in a 1971 Chevy Nova. I didn’t think that I had that gross muscle car gene. I thought my greaser days were concluded. But I was wrong.

It’s always some scraggly white guy under the wheel of a muscle car. Harley Davidson dirtball type. I thought I had the greaser tagged and bagged a great long while ago. Dumped him out in the woods like a dead deer. But I don’t. I’m staring down that greasy animal again.

That’s my cross.

My friend from the old days has a 1971 Chevy Nova that is factory brown. This is a composite character again. I’ve found it necessary to reverse the formula in this instance. I have to make my friend two fictional characters because he’s one person. He’s one person in real life. But he is outsize enough that he becomes two fictional characters. I also have to cloak him inside a fiction because he’s what you’d call an outlaw.

Everybody goes for the fire apple red muscle car. That’s what he says to. Not me. I’m brown like you’re old school.

Old school? What are you talking about?

Brown University. You got that. I got a 1971 Chevy Nova factory brown.

Stop it, Paul.

Sit in my Brown University.

Stop it, Paul.

Just sit in my 1971 Chevy Nova. Factory brown, brother. Time to travel back in time, Mister Berkeley. Back to when you were a badass.

He’s queued me up for my magic carpet ride back in time in the 1971 Chevy Nova with homemade wine. It’s some red wine that he has personally made. I’m pretty sold on it. It’s some sort of Italian grape that sounds like the Argentinean word for awesome which it is. He has made cases of it.

Paul is one of my old dirtball pals from down The Gulch. Good old fashioned trailer stock. People don’t know that about the old hometown. We have a really wonderful double wide side of town. I used to date freely down there. It was a judgment free zone. My offenses were all viewed favorably. Fighting is a wholesome activity. Good exercise. Hunting deer? That’s fresh air right there. Drinking in the woods? No problem. At least he’s not sitting in the trailer filling an ashtray. Feeling sorry for himself. Mister Berkeley is actually pretty smart and awesome. You should date my sister. She has huge cans. I already tried. That’s Paul and me back in the day.

Well, try again. She’s too stuck up. Always in the mirror.

She is gorgeous.

So what. She is trailer trash.

She is gorgeous.

You figure out how to get in the family. Don’t say I didn’t try. Kristen get over here and sit on Mister Berkeley’s lap. This jerk is going places. I am telling you! Best ride of your whole damn life. No matter how you slice it.

 

Chapter

My old time friend which is a fictional character to protect the criminally inclined. He has offered me marijuana which I’ve declined. Now if he was a real person he would say. Berkeley you want a bingo? I can drop the Mister when I’m down The Gulch which is pretty cool too.

A bingo would be a water bong hit.

I grow it myself. It’s stupid strong. That’s what he says.

I say I can’t go for that. No can do.

Suit yourself.

He pops down a couple of bong hits. You want a few pills.

He has a shelf of pills. You need a straightener? I got coke.

I’m an upstanding member of the community these days, Paul. I’ll name him Paul after our local Parish Saint Paul’s Church which housed a pedophile for a while growing up. He was murdered in prison righteously. He got the shank he deserved. That’s nothing though compared to real local talk. What do I say to the pill and coke offer?

I can’t be freaked, Paul.

That’s the fictional name that I’ll give him because I want my alien from The Red Waste to meet him too. Paul the Apostle. Although he wasn’t one of the original Twelve Apostles. But he did teach Christianity to the First Century World.

The soul of New England.

What do you think of Paul? Quite the colorful character, I know.

I am PTA all the way, Paul. These days. No more self-fashioned IRA with the bombs and guns up in the woods. Skinny dipping with your sister in The Weir River.

He scoffs. You go active at a moment’s notice. Somebody touches a hair on that kid of yours head. This town will burn. What’s his nickname?

Booster Boo.

Righteous.

He goes by it fulltime.

That’s a name for an outlaw. You put that on your colors. I’m still Pig in the motorcycle club. What are you going to do?

You’re the Madonna of Hogs.

Harley Davidson and swine.

However you want to fashion it.

You got that right.

That’s a fine name for The President of an outlaw motorcycle club we both agree.

Pig.

It fits on the colors nicely too. Three letters. And it tells the world everything you need to know. Meet Pig. He’s a motorcycle outlaw. Questions anyone?

He rides a Hog.

You still fighting, Mister Berkeley?

Now Pig is being a punk.

Tell me the truth. It’s just us girls here. You should have been me. I would have been your Sargent at Arms. We used to just call you Big because of your reputation. Between Big and Pig we could have owned the outlaw coast.

Probably.

I shrug.

I bet you have a little confessing to do. You could confess your sins to me.

Pig the Priest.

I can see you sizing me up too. You’re still as malevolent as they come. I do business with seriously scary people. They are not nearly as menacing as you. Sitting there relaxing in my outlaw motorcycle clubhouse. Surrounded by keys of coke. I can still see it. You could take me down in two seconds flat. You already picked out your weapons.

That’s Pig.

The bastard!

Fess up, Big.

 

Chapter

 

This guy was smoking a joint down at the Barrel for breakfast just today.

That’s the dirtball beach.

Nantasket Beach, Hull, MA.

The Barrel.

Nice. That’s what Pig says.

What were you doing?

I swim year round.

Of course you do. Just like you used to do in The Weir River. Get all the girls out of their clothes.

I still swim that too.

So what’s the problem here?

I was thinking about informing the bum about the progress that has come to the marijuana smoker over the past three decades. I don’t smoke marijuana anymore but I’ve educated myself about the advancements for writing purposes.

You should smoke it. It would be good for you. Calm your nerves.

Shut up, Pig.

Tell your story. Don’t mind me. I’m only The President of my outlaw motorcycle club, whatever dude. You’re just sitting in my clubhouse! Surrounded by a mountain of coke. Threatening me with your eyes. Why God took you away from me remains a mystery.

Teach the outlaw a lesson in humility.

Pig laughs.

I haven’t had many of those.

My main character on my last book is deep into drugs, Pig.

Sounds great.

I think it’s kind of interesting to write about. But I think drugs are a waste of time in real life. I write about them for the spiritual possibilities.

So this guy getting high down the Barrel? Pig asks. He’s getting on your tits because you’re PTA these days? I can’t imagine the religious piece of drugs bothering you.

I have to address the Keystone Light that’s he’s drinking too. It’s maybe 8:00 AM.

It’s Natty Light, dude. That’s what Pig says. Why you have to be different?

You stupid or something? That’s what I say. I don’t know what it is about you Hull dudes. I lived down here for punishment for a decade. You can’t even drink and do drugs in public the right way. It’s too early for this shit.

How’s he like that?

Not at all.

You don’t care?

Not at all.

You’re ready to go?

Of course.

He casing you? Trying to steal your car or something?

I can’t take it swimming with me.

I ride down there with you next time. Watch your towel.

This morning I told the bum not to touch my shit when I go in the water.

Hull doesn’t have homeless. They’re bums. I should know because I’m one of them.

I break your arm, I said. My keys are in my truck. Wallet in it.

You dared him to steal from you?

I know you live right around the corner. I seen you walk out your house over to the package store. That’s called a code switch. I kick your door down. What I tell people that fuck with me is I’m only a former professional Tae Kwon Do fighter. One hit. Lights out.

People think that only people from the hood have multiple dialects. Down here all the white dudes from the old days have their own little way of talking. I worked hard to clean it up and go off to Brown University. Get rid of that horrific grammar along with the fighting. But it’s nothing to switch back even in middle-age.

What the bum say?

He was like take it easy.

What you say?

You take it easy.

That all?

I fuck you up next time you come over here for breakfast beer and cigarettes. Stay off my beach! One hit. Lights out.

That all?

Fuck off Bayside! Surfers, swimmers and family over here these days. You’re all done over here. Come back and I bash your head off the seawall.

Hull is Bayside and Oceanside. I just took the Oceanside through threat of violence in middle-age for family life. I’ll do it again too.

Pig roars in laughter.

I knew it. You still got it. You’ll kick down my door someday soon.

I’m a demand side customer, you know that.

You never cared much for the supply side.

Like I can control that.

You’re right.

You should take a serious look at retirement, Paul.

Get out before I get put out?

Drugs are a bigger epidemic down here than they were growing up. I figure the young bucks will dime you out. That’s why you get out. People aren’t going to change. Look at me. I fought my way all the way up to The Ivy League. I’m still on that fight.

You got that right. Not even I want to fuck with you. But you don’t fuck with nobody neither until they get in between you and your family. It’s not too late for the two of us girls neither. My sister just got divorced. She still got the best cans on The South Shore. You think about it.

 

Chapter

 

Pig has tried to sell me a hot Honda to lighten the tone. He has tried to divorce me and marry me to his sister. We both know this friendship cannot work now. But we’ll do a few booty calls for fond memories. Maybe he will get out of the outlaw life. He looks good for it these days. A 13th Century Mongol King in repose. Time to just smoke around town on one of his many classic Harleys. Maybe even fly his outlaw colors if he gets all the way out.

That Honda you don’t even need a helmet. That’s what I say. It’s been in his garage since the 1990’s. He has three garages on his property. Each one stuffed with felons. It’s hard to figure out which one is the actual Outlaw Motorcycle Clubhouse. Maybe he fields three of teams.

Who could possibly know about that Honda? You could ride it up Turkey Hill. Who cares that it’s a street bike. There is nobody up there anymore. Kids are soft today.

I go up there all the time. I say.

You still doing Tae Kwon Do up there?

A little bit.

We’ve talked handguns a little bit too. I sold all mine when my son was born. I used to have a license to carry a handgun in The City of Boston.

Getting a lawful permit to carry a concealed handgun used to be a pretty simple affair. You needed to have an interview, a background check, fingerprints, your DNA was collected and then you went out to Moon Island with The Boston Police Department for a range test.

The gun that they provided had duct tape on the ass. It lived in a coffee can when it wasn’t doing examinations. It was a nice old time .38 pistol so I was right at home. I lit up that target. I expected a slightly more ceremonious welcome seeing as the arrival was like climbing Mount Everest. No matter.

I completed my test in about thirty seconds. I emptied the gun into the target. Dumped the shells on the ground. And tossed the gun back into the coffee can at my feet. I actually threw it.

My attitude was not kindly disposed towards the police if that’s not clear back then. Not exactly your law and order type. I had spent a good portion of my youth running from them. So I wasn’t about to start embracing them now. Freaking cops!

The Boston Police also made every effort possible to thwart me from getting a lawful handgun permit. I guess that’s your version of The Constitution. Not that I give a shit.

Don’t worry about the purchase of the firearm though. I already solved that. You can’t light up a target like me without practice. I can shoot left handed too. Wait a second. I did that for my test. That’s not my good hand that just scored for you.

I can do that cowboy stuff from horseback too. You got a horse around here? I learned that in South America. Perhaps you have heard of it before. It’s like America. Only South. I lived and went to school down there. Packed a .38 for a little bit too. Hammerless. A real little guy. But I put in loads that took it up to the .357 level.

Or we go out on a boat and I peg seagulls in a swell. Do you know how hard that is to do? Everything is moving. You have to anticipate everything, yes. But it is geometry too. You do vectors with a pistol, waves and thermals. Makes the horse in America South Edition look like nothing. I had a pistol in France too. I forgot about Honkies in South Central France. That Walther PPK was badass. I loved that. I have mummified guns soaked in oil buried all over the planet. You never know when you might need one.

Then I waited I don’t know how long to get my license. I just sat in my mailbox and tried not to get shot. I am already armed on several continents. I forgot that this was just a paperwork mission.

I forgot that I had to produce bank statements and show that I carried a lot of cash for my job. I also carried high ticket items so that helped too. I haul Royal Russian Crown Sable around like the House of Romanov, bros in blue. I personally deliver that. It’s only worth alarming three times. Then we insure it. Just one of coat!

Sometimes I drive around a whole van load of them just to get it over with. I put a guy in the back armored truck style. He only has a tiny shotgun. I figure an assault rifle is overkill. I only want him to shoot the guy trying to get in. Then it’s pedal to the metal. I will make no apologies. You figure out why he’s on the ground and my customers are in their coats. There is just rock salt in those shotgun loads. That’s nothing, dude. I would have killed them if I wanted to.

Now that handgun on your lawful person here in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You had to be extremely careful where you took it. If you stepped on certain properties where it was unlawful and got caught you were getting charged. If your gun was stolen and commissioned in a crime then you’d get charged too. So you better keep that handgun under lock and key when it’s not on your person. As my NRA instructor said to me.

You have to be a fool to own a gun.

Muzzle loaders are probably okay.

Primitive firearms.

That’s what I said.

Let me clarify.

Handguns and you are out of your mind!

That’s what my NRA instructor said to me.

I just shrugged.

I’ve lead a dangerous life.

He went off.

All your life numbers just changed. You’re more likely to kill yourself. Kill your family. Or get killed by your own gun. That didn’t dissuade me. I didn’t want to get killed by people with unlawful ones trying to rob me. Go get your own Royal Russian Crown sable. I’ll let you have the other fur coats with little more than a spirited fistfight. I maybe pick up a cobblestone and throw it at you if you tear something off a manikin on Newbury Street while I run after you. I will catch you too. My managers are hauling ass right behind me. We all go after runners. We want the word to get around that we will not only chase you. We will kick your ass.

You should probably license all of us too.

Packing heat is as apple pie as the morning commute.

That’s your fur gangster.

Pimp hat cocked to the right.

 

 

Chapter

I’m no longer a gun owner or an NRA member. Children are what reconfigures that equation and not feeling threatened all the time. The fur business is thankfully deep in the rearview. Socializing with outlaws has to be carefully coordinated too.

But I was down this little country lane with my wife and child in bed. Two gentlemen knocked on the door. True story. This is not the realm of fiction. So I got out of bed. I was curious. Kind of late to call upon the white man. I’m just here house sitting in between places. I don’t feel threatened at all. I’m merely a middle-aged white man.

Read loser.

I can’t get published to save my life. I am plowing everything that I have into a career as a professional writer from my soul to my life savings though. Don’t let the appearances deceive you. I am going to pull this off. It’s only statistically harder than becoming a professional athlete by a factor of at least one thousand. Think about it. How many pro athletes are there across all sports?

Now how many living fictional writers can you name?

Really first rate one?

That list is getting small.

What do I have going for me?

I am a brutal white man still.

Now I am merely middle-aged and a writer too boot.

The odds are stupid against me.

However.

White middle aged losers are super dangerous.

Hooray!

We are probably the most dangerous people on the entire planet.

We’ll take a look at you.

If you want to knock on our door down some country lane in a borrowed home.

We will entertain you.

 

Chapter

 

I am in bed with wife and child and currently homeless. However the guy that was under the wheel of that car that was screwing down the highway to the Grateful Dead in the prior scene saved my ass once again. Give it up for The Redheaded Devil!

You can live in my mother’s house while she is in Florida. Don’t pick up the phone or tell her when she comes back next summer. The old broad will never know.

The house itself is absolutely hilarious because it’s got that stuck in time thing going on. It has these electric drapes that would make Nancy Reagan weep. The whole room including the bed clothes are the same pattern as the wallpaper. I am buried in toile wallpaper. You can get lost in there if you drink too much. Confuse the drapes for the comforter. One of them has a motor! Lights out and God bless The Redheaded Devil, himself! I’d be homeless without him.

We used to laugh so hard going to bed because his mother didn’t even know we were there. I got my dog too. Keep watch on my son in his crib. He’s not even two years old! Nothing wrong with a Jack Russell Terrier at the foot of the bed at this point. Somebody should watch over this family. Clearly, I am dropping the ball. Head of household? I am a complete disgrace.

Why not load up the house with all my charges? Maybe my Jack Russell Terrier can take over my job. He is male.

I am questioning if I am. Not doing the best job as The Head of Household right now. I know we’re not supposed to talk in sexist terms. I am merely paraphrasing what a lesbian friend said to me. She basically told me to man up. Get your shit together, dude.

Jeez, I wish I had a home of my own though. Maybe I can find something that I can afford after this evening. If I get through it. Let’s see what’s at the door. Down the end of the country lane all by yourself. Shall we see who is at the door?

How you doing, fellas? Kind of late for ding, dong and ditch. You know what I was reaching for? That phantom handgun. It was gone.

I did have two good old fashioned kitchen knives that were going through the two of them if I opened the door. Never too late to deploy dual wielding self-defense. Seeing as I have wife and child in the other room. Maybe I can make my dual wielding case to the Judge. I merely wanted to silence the dual wielding self-defense critics. I can actually self-defend better with a weapon in each hand. Look at my work! I butchered these two guys.

Now The Jack Russell Terrier is out of bed.

He is only fourteen but he wants to tear these would attackers to shreds.

And they left. I tapped the butts of knives on the glass between us. I was planning on wielding those bad boys martial arts style. The dull end of the blade against my forearm so I could run those blades right across their masks. I was curious to see the faces under the ski masks. There was nothing more between us than a floor to ceiling window that was some sort of ill-advised Yankee wall. Must have come into fashion after the Indians. Now we can show off with our wall of glass!

It’s like this fellas. You back down that driveway. Or I open this door. And this knife goes through both of you. I wish I were kidding when I say that I will kill you. You just knocked on a multiply decorated black belt door.

Stare of death.

You pick.

There is no question that I would have pointed that gun right at them. Clicked the hammer right back. Maybe even caused permanent hearing damage with a warning shot right through that wall of glass. Time to call Giant Glass!

You do not do that. You do not roll up on the middle-aged white loser in his borrowed house down a country lane in your ski mask.

That’s the other side of my story.

Not built for Hollywood that.

 

Chapter

I don’t need to be convinced that guns are evil. I concluded that long before I even got my lawful permit. But you try backing down two would be masked robbers with your finger. Maybe they are rapists too. Could be murders too. Who knows?

Score one for the middle-aged white loser with his butcher block full of knives.

Why do you guys bother knocking?

You derive sexual pleasure out of scaring the shit out of people?

You maybe stood a chance if you quietly snuck in.

The Jack Russell is a pretty deep sleeper like me.

I actually picked out the two biggest knives out of the block without a single thought. Not exactly swords but the weapons the martial artist do not make.

Let the world abide.

He had no fear of deployment.

That had been beaten out of Mister Berkeley about when he started to stand in Kung Fu.

Many sashes ago.

Go back down the driveway before you climb hearse.

Most horror show.

Up Plymouth County ye author go.

Premeditated murder?

Yup.

I stand before you and God as my Judge.

Not touching my wife and kid.

They left though.

And I called the cops.

PTA all the way!

Hooray!

 

Chapter

 

Paul took the other approach in life. Pig as we called him. He took a pass on the way up in life. He’s what you would call an outlaw as I have said. The President of his little local outlaw motorcycle club. Maybe not the biggest or the best in The United States of America. Not even in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But it’s the poor craftsman that blames his tools.

Pig likes his tiny little crew. Way under the radar, bro. We don’t even go to rallies. You think I want to announce us? Colors are for private affairs. We don’t ride together except for funerals.

We don’t even fly colors for that. We do not exist. We even retired our name because another outfit took it up. Looks good on you. Have at it in Australia, bros.

We settled on our outlaw names. Nothing else. You could join us. We’re totally safe these days. I’ll even give you a Harley. You already got the nickname. Big on his Harley. What say you, Mister Berkeley? Hell, I’ll even make you President. I am sick of hauling coke on the lobster boat. Why can’t I just pull pots?

Even I am shaking my head at his laundry list of felons. You’re in middle age, dude. You sound like my wife. That’s what he says to me.

I’m not going to have her bail me out no more now that you’re back in town. I only get charged for little stuff like drinking and driving. Smoking pot in Stop and Shop. I have to get stoned while looking at the shopping list.

Paul. Just stop it.

Get in my 1971 Chevy Nova and shut up.

Now you are talking sensibly.

I climb in the 1971 Chevy Nova factory brown.

Paul’s Brown University.

He slams the car door on me. The door goes thwack. Serious old time Detroit City steel, baby. How do you like the bench seat? I can take that girl that Jack Nicholson wants to kill in The Shining out in it, Shelly. She’s about right. She can smoke cigarettes in it. The lighter works. I use it all the time. I smoke joints and drive that car around stupid fast. I feel like a million bucks. I can’t dust the cops though. Cops today got no sense of humor. Not like our cop. Used to be only three of them in town. And only one counted. Now we got twelve Marines or whatever they are.

My cocaine hauls in the lobster boat are not even noteworthy. I don’t even know why I am a drug dealer anymore. I don’t need the money. I’m like The Redheaded Devil with the stock market. He just keeps making millions that don’t count. You see him anymore?

All the time.

He won’t take my calls.

You’re too badass for him these days.

What keeps him busy?

He tinkers around in the garden.

Always had a green thumb.

Greener than ever.

I heard he has a warehouse full of marijuana.

Nope.

Dealing is pure habit of repetition for me. I’m thinking about buying a cigarette boat and moving to South Florida. The three of us could drink rum in Cuba whenever we wanted. I am stupid loaded. Give him my regards. Tell him that I am reformed. Or at least working on it.

I say just stop it now. You’re killing me. We don’t talk like that anymore. He says I do. That car screws. That’s classic local talk. It means that car is fast and badass. You should get a brown 1971 Chevy Nova too. You’ll be a dink and insist on 1970. The year of your birth. I know you. You’re Hingham High Class of 1989 now. That’s settled. Just face it. You were born in 1971 not 1970. That was God’s error. We fixed it.

This car is stupid badass. I want a 1971 Chevy Nova too.

We could race down route 3A. Rile up the cops like the old days. Pull The Redheaded Devil out of retirement too. Get him out of his garden. That guy always could grow stupid reefer. Pure science that guy.

I can already see the blue lights out the back window. Feel the bracelets clicking shut. I have to get out of here. You’re a bad influence on me, Pig.

I hate cops.

That’s what he says.

Well, you’re an outlaw for god sake. It’s just in your nature to hate them.

I’m not as bad as you, Big. That’s his parting shot. I’m the outlaw though. You’re not. Life is weird. God delivers up a lot of surprises.

I could not agree more.

I’d probably leave my alien up there with Paul for old time New England instruction. The alien would be blowing down 3A on a hot Honda with no helmet before sunset. Gumball in full tilt boogie. Have a new name like Al on his colors.

Meet Al the Alien, fellas. He’s from the red planet. He can screw on a hot Honda. We like him for a chopper with a hand shifter too. Suicide shifter that bro. Most horror show.

 

Chapter

 

There is a species of white man on the South Shore that is called Walking Man. He walks everywhere. We have a few of them in this very town. I’ve explained this concept to my son. He calls them Walking Man too. Daddy that a Walking Man, right? I say, yes, Booster that is a Walking Man. You are right. Where he going? Probably nowhere Booster. He’s just out walking.

However.

Walking Man is not to be confused with the species of white man called Nowhere Man. He is a mechanized white man of The South Shore of Boston. Generally speaking he’s a van customer. You tend to see Nowhere Man in parking lots. That’s his habitat. Sometimes he is merely informing himself of current events via second hand newspapers scrounged out of recycle bins. More typically he is smoking various substances and drinking alcohol from out of the discount bin at the liquor store. We call it the package store like it will deliver you somewhere. It will deliver you Nowhere Man.

His vehicle is his bar. Or it’s his home. He’s parked for the night. Why shouldn’t he enjoy his house? Nowhere Man is a left coast creature. However we brought in a few as decoys in the 1960’s. And they’ve stayed Canadian geese style. The soul of New England. I would point out both species of white man to my alien from Mars. I have showed you Big and Pig. Now I show you The Walking Man and The Nowhere Man. Not what you would expect New England to field. I know. But there is more.

 

Chapter

 

I think the origins of the fabled New England accent is baby talk. I’m a huge proponent of there has to be a reason for everything. Often times it’s unpopular and unreasonable. My theory of language will be no different. I’ve observed the New England accent in my 3 year old son and his peers. He doesn’t say his nickname, Booster.

He says Boosta!

I say what do you want to eat?

Nothin!

Kelly and I do not talk this way. Or at least we strive not to. My parents were of the same mind. New England accents are a sign of intellectual laziness. You need to deploy your library card with a little more force. Education is free in this country. We accept no idiots in the family tree any longer. We are no longer shanty Irish. Or brutal British. We aspire higher. Will we get to God’s table? We shall see.

However growing up I had a horrific accent. I don’t blame anyone. I think my educators and parents tried but the undercurrent from my peers was just too strong. We didn’t speak standardized English when our parents weren’t around.

We eased back on the stick and spoke our unadorned lingo of pure profanity and grammatical horrors. I didn’t have a very strong New England accent in the enunciation department. What that means is it would be very strong to you if you are not from here. It would be nothing remarkable if you were from here. That guy talks pretty good. What a lucky guy. We thought everything revolved around luck.

Some of my friends were ten times less lucky than me when they opened their mouths. Even I would throw up my hands. You should just quit talking. Keep a cigarette in your mouth at all times. You’re some hopeless Mass hole that cannot be fixed. Better luck in your next lifetime. A Mass hole is a jerk from Massachusetts. We used to roll out linguistic tricks like they were nothing. We all had dozens of nicknames from the benign to the profane.

I was Big.

I was Bigger.

Then I was Biggest.

Big Swill when I was drinking.

Whip when I was flying around.

Frank when I was lying around.

And Beans when I was all done.

Or dating a lesbian.

She is less.

And he is bean.

Put it together.

You get lesbian.

That’s Mister Berkeley and his two girlfriends.

How did he get two?

Don’t front, bro.

He dated one on the breakup.

The other come back.

Now you got a tricycle.

Berserker. B jerk.

I was even Wilbur when I softened.

We delighted in studying our New England accents too.

Mister Berkeley’s accent is so freaking Hingham!

It’s a tie between him and Croup for best Hingham accent.

Croup is a cough but it was also a girl.

Mister Berkeley and Croup are a dead heat for worst Hingham accents in the entire town!

We could distinguish the nuances town by town. My accent was world class in the grammar department though. There were few kids that could roll out the triple and quadruple negatives like me. Entire spoken word novels of disorder. Educators were too modern in the 1970’s to call out horrific grammar. They just thought I was creative. Don’t stamp that creativity out! Introduce him to The Beatles. And Beat Poetry. Mister Berkeley is artistic! Listen to him speak. That’s creativity right there. We are decades away from dyslexia in the witchy woods of New England. It might touch other shores more promptly. Not down here where America started. We cling to the old ideas.

We don’t want to put out that nice little language fire. Or they just had it themselves. Just put away your grammar books. It’s a waste of time for people like us. We can’t learn it. And I did a pretty good job hiding it as I went up the educational ladder. Until one fine day, a merit scholar at the University of Massachusetts getting an MA in English, Brown University with 22 English classes in the rear view and my adviser called me out.

I can’t believe how bad your grammar is. How did you get through Brown University? And how did you trick us into giving you a scholarship.

I was like you’re the one that offered it to me. If you recollect I came down here to apply for one fiction writing class and you offered me a job teaching based on my writing sample. Disastrous grammar is an asset for the fiction writer.

Writers would give their eye teeth to casually smash the English language the way that I do it. Look. I just did it. A normal person would not say the way that I do it. They would say the way that I do.

You also understand that this is quasi-racist talk. I am point of fact an actual species of human. The White Man from the South Shore of Boston. Better or not. This is the top of the house from down there. Not everyone lives their entire lives in the Metro West bubble. It was quite an achievement to even go to Prep School. Never mind Brown University. You could not even grasp the violence of my childhood. I was point of fact a professional Tae Kwon Do fighter in the employee of Billy Blanks. Not a lot of Ivy League customers came out of that.

So if we’ve got a little residual accent. What are you going to do?

You wouldn’t say something disparaging to an African American that had a little leftover accent in spite of onerous education, now would you? Now what about an African American former professional boxer that actually went to the Ivy League?

Your list is getting a little short, right?

That just shut her up.

The truth was that I code switched down to great effect in my papers. Jake Barnes’ Balls in a Bucket. That would be the title of my essay on The Sun Also Rises. Who that dude think he is? Then I’d maybe imitate Hemingway a little bit and just keep going. I got the A minus begrudgingly at Brown University. Who unhooked the rope on this unholy monster? I volunteer down Donald Price Medium Security Prison when I want to teach inmates how to write!

Sometimes I blew the socks off the Professor at Brown University and got an A plus like when I smashed up A Clockwork Orange and a lesser known work The Horse’s Mouth. Rarely did I get the total rewrite. It was Brown University after all. They were looking for mad talent. One professor actually wanted to know my whole story. She was very kind after that. It’s not that it wasn’t scattered all the way across the campus. I was not even notable. But it is very nice when somebody takes the time to care.

You better become a really famous writer for us. We are Brown University. We don’t want our graduates being midlist writers. We want Pulitzer Prize winning authors. We want to clean up around award time.

The point again is the way up can be all wrong.

But I wanted out of that way of talking. I wanted to improve myself and the possibilities of my life. Today the journey is the other way. Kids want to talk street. Which is another distinction. We didn’t talk street. We talked woods. We were truly children of the woods of New England.

The witchy woods of New England.

I want to honor that.

 

 

Chapter

 

Apparently the French Canadians in the family tree weren’t the hicks from the sticks as my father has characterized them. I was pretty disappointed to learn this. I’d all but written them off in my mind. They were Northern Ireland. Hooray. British citizens. Boo! That moved to Quebec and learned French. Damn it, they were urban Quebecois? Then they went to Prince Edward Island like Jackson Pollack went to East Hampton before rolling into Medford, MA.

My father had them pegged as raccoon hat customers. A bunch of trashy trappers. I was thinking that’s where I got the woods gene from. But even grandma Berkeley was first generation North American and she was a French speaking British citizen to boot which explains her horrific worldview.

You can’t take a Northern Ireland British citizen and pass her through Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Medford, MA without pissing her off. They should have just left her up in Northern Ireland where she belonged. She was one of those wicked tough old ladies. When people in the family comment on me. It’s something to the effect of he gets it all from Grandma Berkeley. She was a fright.

When WWII rolled around she took what she called a man’s job welding at Quincy Shipyard. And she wanted at the Nazi’s. They needed to be crushed. It’s hard to imagine any person that hard in today’s world.

Grandma Berkeley probably put my grandfather up to the Navy. He was really old to enlist but he had essential steam engineering skills. You take care of the Pacific. I’ve got Europe. But my strong British background is really beginning to piss me off.

I’ve been digging for something really bad to dump at my father’s feet. Guess what? You’re descended from Irish rebels. How long must we sing this song, dad? It’s my mother’s side that is Irish. Not my father’s. But I want him to be Irish like the rest of us.

Hey, pal. Too bad. You’re not British. You’re Irish just like the rest of us. Only you’re a rebel. Let me treat you to a shamrock tattoo. I think if I rip the Berkeley family apart I might find something good. But there are over a million members in the family tree. I don’t think they can even count all the branches. The Berkeley family is absolutely massive. It’s no good being like your fourteenth cousin removed was a priest! You’re a man of the cloth. My dad will just say we got a Berkeley that allegedly murdered the King of England which is pretty cool.

He got off too!

We rowed in during Viking times with William the Conqueror.

That’s pretty cool too.

That’s what I want to honor for the Yankees that criticized me for being too Irish growing up.

We had to atone for being too British!

 

Chapter

 

People make a big celebration of that whole New England thing. Hey, look at that jerk with no teeth, the dirty New England Patriots jacket and the horrific accent to boot. Go Pats! I bet he has lots of inane sports knowledge. Too bad he couldn’t discover Wall Street with his mathematical mind. Instead he gets a barstool and the Red Sox. That’s your real New England. Right there. A barstool and inane sports knowledge. Watching the Red Sox and cranking white Russians at The Ocean Kai. Hey, Jimmy turn up the volume.

I am actively waging war against that world. I’ve been doing it my whole life. Because if I let up my guard for one second then I’m sitting at the bar at The Ocean Kai with the losers with a mouth full of broken teeth. You ain’t got no tooth. What happened to you, dude? You back doing Tae Kwon Do? That’s what some of my old friends around here would say to me. I am saddled up at The Kai. Mai Tai right in front of me. I’d be like nah dude they just break easy because puberty was clocked in Tae Kwon Do. Screwed me for life. Small price to pay to get ahead.

That’s what Mass Eye and Ear said after they pulled me out of the MRI tube. Thought I had the cancer. Then they say I just need a bone marrow transplant. Oh is that all? Then they were like scratch that after they did another MRI. It’s just permanent nerve damage in your jaw from too many punches. Chin up, pal. We watch it for a few years. Surgeon say I got bad anatomy. Me and all the dudes with jaw cancer. I walked out. Them not so much. Sucks he said. I said.

Whatever.

That’s what I could have easily been.

I still am too. I guess. If you scratch the veneer off those capped teeth.

Nothing but posts for fake teeth.

You want to see the warrior get his ass kicked?

How do you do it?

You make his animal sick.

His animal is him.

You make Mister Berkeley sick.

Very, very sick.

Hey, Harvard Medical prophesized health problems on this warrior journey.

 

Chapter

 

You cannot irrefutably damage your endocrine system in puberty without paying the piper. I never questioned that I screwed up my endocrine system let the record note. I actually could tell that I was doing it. Steaming car windows was just the beginning. I used to sweat unholy in bed. I still do. Mister Berkeley shouts in his sleep. That is dream warrior.

I have always had perplexing medical conditions. This one just happens to be the first life threatening one.

The warrior has ulcerative colitis.

And it is bad.

Now that we are here.

How does that badass get better?

The badass has a bad rectum.

It fits.

What’s your score on that card, Mister Berkeley?

I think it was the hug that cured me. I was getting nuclear medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. I was in this super high level ulcerative colitis study. It was this real honor to get into that study. This is the science argument right here. How science trumps Faith on the warrior journey.

My doctor liked me for dying. That’s what he believed. At least that’s what I accused him of. He put me on a toxic dose of medicine. You’re supposed to go like nine pills a day max! The science argument, right?

My guy begged to differ. We went twelve. How you doing in there, Mister Berkeley? I’m a little tight. I will say that. I could go up to fifteen pills a day but no higher than that. I will take your suggestion under advisement Doctor Berkeley. You should let me do the doctoring. But I like to play one after five o’clock in my own house when I get cooking on red wine. You realize I am totally mood disordered from a lifetime of toxic athleticism?

And I am actually a pretty decent social scientist after wine time. Maybe a cigar and I walk you through my theories. You cannot smoke cigars anymore! Trust me. I cannot pass brandy by these teeth without a riot. I am a tepid cup of water these days. I cannot even workout. The good news is your psycho is not prone to depression. I merely sulk. It’s a new sensation for me. I am generally speaking always happy! Even at the point of eviction from the human race. That’s what ulcerative colitis has reduced me to! I sulk fulltime. Other less notable parts of my animal are failing too. Apparently all my rear wheels in my jaw have blown out. I have Massachusetts Eye and Ear level dental problems now. My colon is not the only walking wounded on this warrior journey. We have several notable systemic collapses.

Doctors would look at my chart and be like whoa! My numbers were off the charts. You weigh one hundred and sixty pounds at six foot two? Fifty pounds I have lost. All of it muscle. I would be a monster from power lifting but I do too much running, biking and cycling. At least I used to. That’s why this doctor liked me for his study. Why do I have to be grouped in with the dying? I’m going to make it. I am a triathlete. And I have been through much worse. He liked me for that reason too.

You have probably the best attitude that I have ever seen in my personal or professional life. You do not care that you are sick. You are not even remotely afraid that you might die.

That’s your problem. Not mine. Your job is to fix it.

The Science Argument.

The warrior is circling the drain bigtime, bros.

Bigtime!

 

Chapter

I think my horrific New England attitude did have an assist. All my religiosity, superstitions and stupidity. I would have been dead without them. I would have never been cured without them. I would have spent too much time learning about my odds which were horrendous. I would have learned how toxic my medicine was. I would have learned all kinds of scientific realities. And I would have never gotten better. Not on your life. Or mine in this instance.

I will get better because I will it. That’s exactly how I will do it. I will myself to be better. I cannot possibly die over this.

I am a warrior.

And think about it. If you time traveled back and watched me lick four notorious bullies. The fifth was a runner. You cannot forget that. Then watched me suit up for arrest as a ninja. And then said that kid is on his journey to Brown University. You would have said freaking forget it. Even the most devout Christian would have looked at me and lifted the no cussing ban. You can freaking forget it!

I took the same approach to my deplorable health. I didn’t even care that I got something like eight root canals. That part of my immune system collapse was not even notable. Shut up about the teeth and do them. Several can root canals failed many times. I literarily had to get a Japanese dentist with off the books moves. I paid attention to my ulcerative colitis though. I was in this major high level study so it was hard to ignore.

Warrior here for study! I am available for house calls. Pick up sorry warriors by carpool on my way here. You’re looking good, girl. Not as deathly as last week. I am getting worse myself. The numbers do not lie. My card is going in reverse.

I watched plenty of people die in my study. I am the only one that walked out cured. A champion again! I don’t take any medication anymore. I don’t believe that people died because they lacked faith. I don’t believe that they died because they lacked courage.

They died because their immune systems failed for a whole variety of reasons.

A very small factor was they were possessed with too much reality. My faith saved me. It will kill me someday too. That stake can easily be put to flames.

I beat ulcerative colitis too.

Warrior journey.

 

Chapter

Anyway back to the hug that cured me. It’s called magical thinking. But in this instance I believed it. Also this is not a composite fictional story. This is real story to offset some of the lies. Or it’s a blatant fabrication designed to throw you off the trail of the soul of New England. That’s what we are chasing if you didn’t notice. Fighting was just the vehicle. The way up to the heavens if you will. Warrior journey perhaps is connected.

So I was sitting there in Massachusetts General Hospital in the hallway in my holy boxers. Screw the Johnny. I am hot. You know that hardened medical customer? Everything has been stripped of him including his dignity. But he’s just going to keep on rocking in the free world. This guy is witchy woods of New England. He cannot even locate the embarrassment that the world expects of him. He’s too skinny these days to give much of a care. Fat people are for that. Lucky to have all that extra padding. Not me!

Mister Berkeley does have that very distinct dying of AIDS look. People are wont to point that out. His rough crew? They throw that around quite lightly. Try to avoid touching him too. Let me tell you that when you are personally rocking that look. That is not a very nice thing to say. How about heap a little praise. You look better this week. We all know it’s a lie. Then give him a hug. He cannot make you sick. You will help his soul which is getting real skinny too.

Again we theorize that this collapse or the conditions surrounding it are based in extreme martial arts training in puberty. The animal has finally quit. Mister Berkeley point of fact is one punch away from lights out. Let the record stand that it was triathlete training that is the culprit. No matter the martial arts origins. Warriors come in all endeavors. In my instance just three. Running, biking and swimming. I might lift a few weights these days too. I have also been caught doing swords in the backyard in Dorchester recently. I was bored! You can’t expect me not to do weapons training periodically. I cannot produce paperwork to yield two swords officers. I do have a License to Carry along with handguns upstairs. We may actually view everything upstairs, of course.

Doctors are like do you mind if the interns take a look at you? Any of them single? I’m going to get dumped over this disease. I don’t blame my fiancé. I hate sick people. Particularly when it’s me. She should dump me. You can’t take a dying man on a Honeymoon. You pawn the ring and start over! We’re Hollywood married. A real shack job. A kid is coming too. What are you going to do? I want her to have a husband. I just don’t know if it will be me.

Then about eighteen interns start touching me. Mind if we pull down your boxers? Nobody else asks permission at this point. Go ahead. My colon is your colon by the reckoning of Massachusetts General Hospital. It’s not a stretch to view it as the item that runs my entire life. I am point of fact a jerk. I am no longer a person. I am a jerk. A very sick one at that too. I can’t even be a happy healthy jerk. Wouldn’t that be lovely!

 

Chapter

 

They are lining up around the block to study me now. The warrior as patient! They are asking me what I think about this and that. Scribbling everything down. You know what? I just want to put this all behind me. Ulcerative colitis is a pain in the ass! They laugh. I am serious. There is more to life than ass jokes and being a sick one at that. I do not want to be the subject of a ass study anymore. How can we achieve that? I will participate fully and honestly in every study but you have to cure me. I will wake up in the night and take my pills if that is what you want. I will warrior to the max. You just have to commit to getting me off this journey. I won’t even bother you with the dental problems. The broken nose that has to get fixed again. The hand operations from a youth of major punching. I got all that covered. I am in Physical Therapy twice a week for the next year over my Achilles. I can come here no less than twice a week. I am ready to train fulltime at The Massachusetts General Hospital. I will even do your bull mental health studies. I will fail every mental test out there. I already know that.

Now we’re doing the nuclear medicine to rule out Crohn’s. Lots of doctors are keeping tabs until the nuclear doctor goes nuclear. I have that many doctors now. Martial arts is paying off huge in middle age! My nuclear doctor kicks everybody out of her practice except me. I am proving to be a tough case. We can’t see other people right now. We have to focus on our relationship.

Chapter

 

My hair was falling out in clumps in the shower. All the color had fallen out of it. It was actually the original Doctor Death who suggested that I dye my hair for the first time. I truly have no hair color anymore. He was like you need a win in the self-esteem department. Get yourself to a hairdresser. You look terrible. I will write you scripts for voodoo hair pills. That should grow you back some of your holes. I have to escalate you up to nuclear medicine. You’ll probably go bald. Skip the hair pills for now.

Nuclear medicine!

We can fix this. Hang in there with me. I think I am getting close. Any estimated time of arrival on when you can get my immune system out of complete collapse? I’m barely hanging on here. Hard to say, Mister Berkeley, but I think you should go back to working out. That’s what we suspect threw you immune system into spiral in the first place.

Correction.

That is precisely what wrecked.

I was road cycling in the rain when I felt it completely go down. Then I went down. Pavement city.

I thought I was dying.

Ambulance ride me.

I finally got one!

Perhaps working out can fix it too.

It will either cure or kill me. I work out like an animal. I figured as much. That’s why I want you to resume it. You need it for your psychological condition which is pretty low by even the standards of my study. Let’s try it out. Perhaps after the nuclear medicine. I might be able to lower your dose. We have to escalate first. Prepare yourself.

I’ll go animal with the working out starting tomorrow. I would just as soon be dead than be like this. Maybe the heavy bag will kill me. A guy can hope.

I don’t get many patients with your level of scarring. Do you mind telling me where they came from?

Tae Kwon Do. I was ranked on the East Coast.

I won’t even bother asking your number.

This doctor is pretty awesome.

Thank you for literarily saving my life Doctor Kuo. I could have easily died in some Argentinean hospital if my timing were off. Rural Paraguay would have killed me.

 

Chapter

 

I am sitting there in Massachusetts General Hospital in the hall in my boxers. I had a ton of practice at that. You know that hardened medical customer that I mentioned? You train to get up to that level too.

Everything has been stripped of the patient including his dignity. But he’s just going to rock on old time New England.

Warrior journey.

The soul of New England!

I am out in the hallway at Massachusetts General Hospital again and again. I am doing swords in my mind while sitting there. Then this woman doctor comes out dressed in essentially a Tae Kwon Do self-defense suit. Her medicine is that dangerous. She has to ninja up to do it. We’re on a medical mission. Figure out what is wrong with Mister Berkeley. It is your turn to call him, sister. Nobody else can. Not even you actually. That’s why we keep toeing up.

She has been performing x-rays on me all morning. You drink two glasses of some sort of Styrofoam type substance. It travels down into your small intestine so the doctor can see what is going on. Marvin Gaye style. What’s going on with Mister Berkeley?

We are all clear on the fact that I have very bad Ulcerative Colitis. We have what I view as a minor laundry list after that. Some dental and bone problem. We cut a few things out of the animal. The right hand needs a little special surgery. We maybe get some ranked surgeon for that.

However.

We’re curious to see if I have Crohn’s Disease too. That could be major. I have one debilitating disease which is pretty bad. It has produced study level results. I go two black belts. It just might be lights out. It depends on how rapidly my body is deteriorating. And responding to drugs. Some people are totally fine with the two major diseases. All my doctors are concerned about me. I am not responding well to drugs which is why I am on a toxic dose.

I am not even sick! That is the infuriating piece. People come back from so much worse. It’s just that everything is collapsing in tandem. I am a dose of the flu away from dying. Something that would be innocuous in another person will solve me. That’s how bad my immune system is right now.

I am in an entire other inconclusive study about where the source of the blood is up my nose when I cough. We’re trying to figure out if that’s spinal fluid or mucous coming out of my nose too. The spinal tap which is the definitive solution is viewed as too dangerous. Then I go to the podiatrists or the dentist. My immune system is as tender as a butterfly.

I have major problems that I will not even entertain. I will get to the ophthalmologist over the aversion to light after I talk to my psychiatrist in sunglasses. I am not even sick here, people! That’s what is so infuriating. People with cancer are doing way better than me. My shrink tells me not to make comparisons. You are a very sick person. That just makes me madder. I am not that sick! At least I try to tell myself that. It’s not working. My weight continues to drop. We fight fly weight. That’s what I am thinking.

I am also pretty close to flat out offing myself. Why let God do it? That’s the flipside of the science argument. I could easily solve this for all parties involved from God to Science to me. Lights out!

But it’s time for another peek inside me with the x-ray machine. Have a little faith there, brother. We didn’t travel you this far. I am absolutely convinced that this is period medicine by now. Something along the lines of cupping. My doctor has to touch me to get a good look inside me. So back up on the table. Her hands are somehow connected to the x-ray contraption.

She unties the Johnny which I put on while waiting because I got cold. Now that is scary. I am cold. I must be dying! I am never cold. And she pulls off my boxers. It’s downright chilly now. She strips me but I dress myself after. I don’t know why this is the routine. I could easily pull off my own underwear but she seems to like to do it.

It happened out of sheer frustration for the first time. The doctor was gently working around the boxer situation for a few passes until she got really pissed off about her inability to see my small intestines clearly. That thing retreated in puberty too. It got sick of getting hit, I theorize.

She pulled my boxers off quite harshly the first time. She then apologized. She said you have been quite difficult to diagnose. Your anatomy is really different. My apologies. I said not needed. I understand that you are on a mission.

It’s back to Tae Kwon Do shower days too. Only we got no water. This is actually a little more embarrassing. It’s one thing to be nude in your full glory. Gold medals hanging around your neck for all purposes. It’s another thing when you are terribly sick. I want to slink off into the witchy woods of New England to die alone. Maybe the coyotes will eat me. Probably too skinny and diseased to eat.

My doctor knows all my discomforts because we’ve been doing this all morning. My small intestines are proving difficult to glimpse in all their compacted glory. I always get that diagnosis. Your anatomy is really different. I am only surprised that my heart didn’t move to the other side of my chest.

The nuclear medicine just isn’t glowing as bright as we would like. Some people are just harder to view. We finally get the view that we want. We just had to keep circling back to see what we wanted to just like trying to understand your life. You keep fall back fighting even if it used to go against your soul. You fight as you fall back now.

It is your soul.

She says I am not supposed to do this.

I say what?

I don’t have my boxers back on yet.

She says stand up and give me a huge hug right now, Mister Berkeley.

This isn’t a weird thing.

I have patients waiting for me.

We have to be quick with the hug.

I say that’s too bad.

You do not have Crohn’s disease.

A lot of people have both. My animal at this moment could not psychically accommodate it. We are losing entire rows of teeth here, people. Brain fluid is possibly flowing out the nose along with blood. We cannot have the small colon fall too. There isn’t much left on the scale to give any way you slice it.

Tear drop like that trash Indian on the side of the highway.

I am back on my warrior journey.

That hug is what cured me.

I hugged a Tae Kwon Do self-defense dummy.

Think about it.

A doctor hard padded up like a Tae Kwon Do fool!

I never see that doctor again.

I don’t even know her name.

She was out of my life before I even put my boxers back on.

That’s the science argument right there.

A warrior is cured!

Or at least he is out of spiral.

That’s a win.

 

Chapter

 

I am about to go live. Isaac owns Stax! That’s the kind of shit that we would throw around effortlessly. Growing up. Isaac Hayes was about two decades from a revival. His time on the world stage was concluded. But not for us. Isaac was about to go live. We going uptown chump. You downtown bum. Maybe the other way around Sly.

Sentences were made to be snapped. Motown. 100%. To the max! No mercy there. You put on Hot Buttered Soul as a prelude to the Jackson 5 or we will punch you right in the head. You can’t fight to The Beatles. Maybe the late stuff. Karate hippies will listen to Don’t Let Me Down. John Lennon in Yoko’s fur coat on that rooftop. That is fat. I will fight to that.

I would sit there with my three high school transcripts on the table for the entire Ivy League. They all wanted me. Only look at the last one, I caution the committee. I have retired from professional Tae Kwon Do fighting. I am a safe bet these days.

However.

That was this huge word in our lives. We clarified all our misgivings.

I am unclear on the dimensions of Ivy League life but I think that it would be good for me.

I am off the charts insane.

Flat down.

100%.

However.

Motown is my selling point these days.

The whole Berkeley collage has done it to me. There are reasons. They are just unreasonable. The clan Berkeley. Not even I can shrug off my deadly DNA.

We invented England when we sailed on it as Vikings. It has been all downhill from there. I am late in the game. William Francis Berkeley. There have been millions of us. I am not even remotely remarkable. I harp on that in this very novel because who did those Hingham Yankees think they were?

I am more Yankee than all of you.

You are late in the game too.

Ghetto Yankees.

But not as late as me.

I am William Francis Berkeley the Whatever.

We don’t even know how many I am Berkeley clan.

But I am more than a thousand years.

Then we jump way back.

Yankees are a joke as my Nana prophesized.

However.

The Royal Governor posts are all concluded. We haven’t killed a King in way too long. People like me clipping Prince Charles? I cannot be bothered. I hate England. Ireland is even worse. I like the witchy woods of New England. That is where I am most sane.

We haven’t got a decent war right now so I do Tae Kwon Do to pass the time. I descend on my hometown bullies if I grow weary. Religious leaders think highly of me. Pounding bad kids is viewed as constructive for the community. I have my own Karate Castle.

Everyone except me is African American in my real community, Eire Pennsylvania. They have taken me in. Thankfully. I am very grateful. Isaac lets me live in his shed. The monster is live!

Isaac ultimately put a stop to all the Honkies in Paradise too. He is a decorated Vietnam War veteran. An officer. We are quick to point out. We are all deeply patriotic. We are right wing beyond belief because we figure any money that we give our government will be used against us. We are left wing to the point of insanity if you try to take away anyone’s liberties. We will burn down an entire town if you do not give us all equality. We hate cops. Love soldiers.

We hardly understand the American national narrative. But we are all firm products of it. I am William Francis Berkeley. The God knows what. We put The Third on the birth certificate until we concluded that we had missed by somewhere between three and a thousand.

The first recorded Berkeley rowed into England on a Viking ship. He was probably steering we figure. During the Norman Conquest! We do not know his real last name. He swiped The Berkeley family name off the Castle. Probably murdered the original. The latest installment might be tearing up the entire East Coast as a decorated martial artist but he does not own Stax!

Isaac owns that! That joke is true too. Isaac is loaded. He isn’t Joe Berkeley, Senior loaded. He is not even Jay Kakas loaded. He is maybe like my old pal growing up now loaded.

He is Jack Harvey loaded.

People wonder at that to this day. How could you all afford so much Tae Kwon Do? Driving up and down the East Coast without any sponsorship? You were gymnast without the benefit of the Soviet Union.

We had Jesus.

There is only one!

We were crooks. Every last one of us. But we were not criminals. We were sinned. But we had a moral compass. It was constantly spinning.

Jay would say to me. I need you in the store. I can’t sell furs fast enough. We have people waiting in chairs on the first floor. Five floors of furs upstairs. A former mansion on Boston’s best street. Actually two mansions that we combined. Boston Brahmins lived too small. We had to buy out two. Then we needed the concrete block monster, The Vault. We needed a bigger boat for our fur shark!

I am up in bed with my African American girlfriend with dreadlocks. We are under a mountain of fur like the mushroom cloud has gone off. Motown on the stereo even if it is dawn. That record has been repeating all night. I need a scotch. I am going to drink one too as prelude to an absolutely terrifying animalistic workout in the backyard with my beloved. The fur business can wait. God gave us chairs for impatient fur customers.

Jay is not even remotely concerned with the situation. Tie your hair back. He is talking to me. I have a mop of it. I do not have dreadlocks. I have mattes of hair. I do not work on it. It works its own magic.

Jennifer looks fine. You are both selling fur coats today. Or you are out of my house. God has spoken. Even the monster knows we cannot get out of it.

I have to sell coats again?

You are good at it, my monster.

We will be one drink millionaires tonight.

That’s what we used to call ourselves.

One drink millionaires.

Jay would pay us from off his gangster roll. If we had really exceeded expectations perhaps we would take a trip into the walk in safe. I quite like going in there.

I am pissed though. I am always pissed. I cannot stress that enough. I am forever pissed. I hate my girlfriend. And she hates me. We all hate the fur business. Even the King himself. That’s what we called Jay. The King. Then we had the Duke which was my Nana. She was a Duke. Mary was my mother. We didn’t call her anything else. She was like Madonna. Meet my mother, Mary. You give her a firm handshake or we take your ass outside and kick it. We have manners around here. They are all terrible. We don’t put up with losers and punks either. You better at least be willing to earn a gangster roll. I don’t even need you to know how to do it. I got that covered.

I have paper routes that I have farmed out. You don’t charge anybody on the list for the whole year. You have to float that yourself. Town Fathers. I have everybody. Christmas rolls around. It is not Happy Holidays. It is Merry Christmas. Even for the Yankees. They understand the Wisdom of Jesus. He makes it rain around holiday time. I have to collect all my tips.

I am a doorman at a nightclub. We put Paula Abdul up on that stage like it is nothing. Thousands of people pass through on Saturday night when our only attraction is break dancing. I am on that crew. When I am not watching the till. That is my job. My honey. That’s just some Karate hippie that is a math nerd like me. We count the till. The owners are on too much coke. Cocaine is their count.

We split half a brick a piece per week on top of our cash salary which is hearty. Me and my honey. We have to cook the books in that joint. A thousand dollars is what we work with. That is our base figure. I need half a brick at least. My honey gets half a brick too.

The cocaine guys are fine with that. Any of my crew goes on cocaine and we are out of here. After I kick all of your asses, of course. Pull the cops down on all of us.

Scotch is our limit.

Honor systems are met.

My painting crew is super disappointing to me. I have to cut them loose. That business is just way too complicated. And houses in New England hate paint. It is in their very Yankee disposition to repel paint.

I can sell fur coats if I want my life to be full of complaints. My big scam is real estate. I like to sell buildings. Buy them super cheap too. Make all your money on the way in. The exit is stretch. As in Julio get the stretch. I just sold another building.

I learned that from Joe Berkeley, Senior. Lends me one of his six lawyers from off the Potomac like that is nothing. Isaac is an accountant. He has his own firm. It is called Stax!

Everyone wants to go into business with me because I am a maniac.

Life is not how it is presented.

 

Chapter

We share an interest in Jesus. That always seems to come up. People like to comment right to my face on why I have an African American girl on my arm. I am like. You know what? I am completely exasperated on this subject. I have looked at it myself to such a level that I am unholy pissed. You realize that you are speaking to the two most highly decorated martial artists on the entire eastern seaboard? We not only can kick your ass. We can buy your ass too. Flat down. Isaac has enough coin to ship your whole family back to Africa in cargo. Then we scale up from there. My stepmother who cannot even get in this story is The Wolf of Wall Street. The Du Pont family is what she deals with. We are the monsters. Every last one of us. My Nana thinks the inferior races should put all the superior races into the ground. Flat down.

Have I not made myself clear?

However the monsters are actively working on finding less notable mates for the bums of skid row, Eire Pennsylvania up to Ronald Reagan on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We will sit there and discuss it at great length in Honkies in Paradise. Only two honkies are permitted up there these days. No more fighting anymore. Outlawed!

Our life journeys must not be dictated by race in these United States of America. There must be more to life than the color of your skin. And fighting! Fighting seems pretty well rolled in our instance. The limits that the intersection of the two presents and so on. We take it out back and start kicking your black or white ass right now. Doesn’t matter to us. We are used to this. We don’t care that we outlawed it. Outlaws can’t outlaw nothing!

However you cannot send us into outer space for the pride of The Nation. What are our space heroes doing? They stepped out on a spacewalk. To kick each other’s asses. They are trying to cut off the oxygen hoses to each other! Not exactly the face we wish to present to the world. So much for the space heroes. Reel them back in from their spacewalk. And put them in the space shoe. Give them some gory books to read while they cool off.

Then my girlfriend is like. Everything we say begins with the word like. A dreadlock or two has to be brushed aside.

We would make wicked mulattos.

We say it as if it is an auto. You can drive around in that mulatto.

Of course. That goes without saying. Gorgeous babies. Ad campaigns for Cadillac will be built around us. Get the white man back into his righteous vehicle.

 

Chapter

William the watermelon baby.

Excuse me, Jennifer. I think I just misheard you.

I saw how you were looking at that bitch!

Jealously arise. Fists are produced. This relationship presents very distinct limits. You cannot settle your differences with your significant other in the ring. Outside of it is even worse. The police come on what are called domestic problems. Actually this time we are merely training. The last time we were in fact drunk and engaging in what you call domestic violence. We just call it being a Karate hippie. We are not doing that right now. I understand it is hard for law enforcement along with the neighbors to distinguish. What about you only come if we call? Hands up? Is this really necessary? We were just training this time! C’mon!

You have to promise me that you will not hit your next boyfriend, my monster. We’re sitting in the back of the cruiser. Why not? No man will marry a woman that can kick his ass except me. You fight like the Devil to keep it from happening. I could say the same about you. Hence the cuffed and stuffed situation right now. You can do it in self-defense, of course. But you cannot go on the warpath. You understand that? I don’t really see the difference. It gets blurry in the back of the cruiser with the gumball flaring.

I love you, my monster.

I love you too. But we do not work.

We’ll always have each other though, right?

Of course.

We’ll just never be ex-wife and ex-husband.

Some other sucker gets that honorific.

Time to call Isaac!

He will bail us out most righteously!

He is a proud colored man.

Only he got two tar babies.

He will kill us.

 

Chapter

Isaac and I were incredibly close friends. He put me up Honkies in Paradise, Eire Edition. That’s how the honky went to paradise. Up in Isaac’s shed. Lights out and off to bed, cracker. I loved it.

A proud colored man was a plantation holder just like the white man. He had things on his property that he was not even remotely familiar with. Out buildings that nobody entered. He let me have one for a bit. I blew it, of course, in true Honkies in Paradise, Eire Edition. That cracker cannot cope.

Nope.

Isaac kicked all the Karate hippies off his land including their King. We deserved it. I was so busy sinning out back to such a level that even I was embarrassed. I had moved the moonshine business from out of Maine to fund the operation. It was the only thing that people viewed favorably about my Honkies in Paradise, Eire Edition. Karate King can shine!

That liquor is smooth. I always wanted cherry. But we changed it up with grapes and whatnot. A little cranberry around the holidays. Watermelon for the summer. Orange for the eye opener crew. It had nothing to do with race. Everybody shined on that shine. A buck a jar. Isaac had cases of it in his cellar. Maw-maw has a regular order. It wasn’t even my behavior that was noteworthy. Everybody had pretty much written me off. Maybe he can maybe teach martial arts to the most advanced pupils and live in the attic of some appallingly brutal martial arts studio. Or he hermit up Isaac. I liked the later idea better.

Something was going on downtown. Isaac needed to talk. What now? Can’t you see I am busy? I am putting the finishing touches on my astonishingly scary martial arts. Even I get the shivers when I do it. Get the honky down here in the main house. Honkies in Paradise can wait. There is more to life than fist fighting and moonshine. Nobody will ever go in for your invented martial art except you.

Uptown now!

Shut down Honkies for now!

Isaac is pissed!

Coming right down.

Right quick.

What is the problem, Mister Gates?

You use his real name when he is this pissed?

You better believe it.

 

Chapter

My monster was up to her dirt. She had this gangster boyfriend. People didn’t think gangsters were a threat back then. Because they were not.

There really was no thug life to speak of outside of sports life. Sports life used to claim all the thugs. That’s all changed. But back in the day?

All the really scary white and black guys were playing football. Then you get your basket ballers. Boxing might give you some serious pause. Although there weren’t too many boxers that were that good period. Or at least there were not that many that were not either champions or punch drunk. You wouldn’t bother with the former or the later. They have purses or none. Old ladies all of them.

You’d take a look at track and field. Then The United States Army. Eventually you might peer at Tae Kwon Do. Your very village. Now I am saying if you are purely looking for a fight. Everything else worthwhile is pretty much closed for business. All those scary boys have plans that do not include scrapping with you.

The violence was only notable because it was so niche and off-the-charts. I am speaking about my sport, Tae Kwon Do. They have fighting and weapons arts? Why was this hidden from me? All these Praying Mantis people are just wicked. Although my football coach would kill me if he saw me with a sword!

Now come all the short dudes that can’t jump. The bullies up North. They are in the same shameful bucket. Can’t do sports like the rest of us. They turn two-bit hood for the exercise.

They aren’t even proper gangsters though. Pimp hat cocked to the right like my step-pappy. Cadillac full of cash.

The street gangster back in the day were two-bit gangsters.

Every last one of them.

Do you want to know where the grownup gangsters came from back in the day?

They came out of sports life.

After sports life.

Jay could do more pushups than any two bit hood even in middle-age. He could show up at Marvelous Marvin’s Cape Cod hideout for a workout. Jay could not fight a bout but you could easily walk him through a stiff workout. He could join the champ in spirited combat boot run down the horn of Cape Cod. Then he’d suggest a big lunch in Chatham complete with scotch. Leave the bill open because he’d love to stay. But he had to work. You fellas enjoy yourselves. Or hop in the Cadillac and make a few bucks. I need handsome men selling furs. Boxers are always welcome! Then he would pin that Cadillac all the way back to Boston. Weaving across all the lanes because he was in a hurry.

He was only a fur gangster too.

What distinguished all of us athletes from the two-bit hoods back in the day?

Cross around the neck.

Superstitious athletes every last one of us.

Every last darn one of us!

 

Chapter

We are sinned too. Every last one of us. You were not getting in with us if you weren’t. We’re going to work out like animals. Plow down scotch. Then we need money. How you expect us to pay for all this? But we have Jesus! Back then we did have honor. You could question its quality. You could question its abundance. Saying we had none? That’s for two-bit hoods with no honor. This is back in the day before the modern age of shorty the gangster. It’s all changed. Back then it was pretty much based on height. You can’t make it in Tae Kwon Do?

You can’t make it anywhere kid.

You are two-bit hood.

But give it time, bro.

Two decades from now your time as a gangster will come too.

 

Chapter

So my monster has a first wave shorty gangster. A shameful old time two-bit gangster. Not the modern kind. I feel wicked sorry for this little dude. He didn’t figure out how to be like Tito. Tito on Jackson 5 is a wicked short dude. But is he a handful? Tito is major short dude. Absolutely brutal short dude.

Tae Kwon Do village is a really bad place. I am the President of it. I am also The Karate King which doesn’t sound like much but it’s major. I kick serious ass in the woods. Huge African American boys delight in watching me do it! All the ballers got my back.

The First Lady is pretty close to my heart even though I hate her. She is also my Karate Queen even though I hate her. But I do not like seeing her shackled up in some little gangster’s tower. This gets me major props in all the athletic circles. Why can’t you date a linebacker? I am deadly serious too. Football players stand there and nod in approval. What’s the matter with a basket baller? Why do you have to traffic in two-bit hoods? Get yourself a real gangster!

She does domestic violence calls with her shorty. That’s the whole freaking problem right there. He pisses her off and she lets him have it. She is the violent offender. Not him. Governor Samuel Pennypacker is pissed! I never thought that I would come down with her. I am unholy pissed. You cannot be beating up your boyfriend. You come up Honkies if you want to throw. What do I have to be Governor Samuel Pennypacker now too?

He is the founder of the Pennsylvania State Police as I have told you. He has been dead since 1916. We have reimagined him as a Maw-maw type character. And she has on her arm none other than Isaac Anderson. The former member of the United States House of Representatives from the great state of Pennsylvania. Deceased since 1838.

We have reimagined him too. He is unholy pissed along with the rest of us. What is our monster doing? She is trafficking in short men that are a disgrace to gangster life? And she is insisting on domestic violence calls on them? This is a nightmare by even our standards which are in decidedly in your face low. I was just pulled away from a spirited woods party with visiting dignitaries such as real athletes and real gangsters of Eire, Pennsylvania. Say what you want about that crazy white boy. He throws fun woods parties. All our welcome! The expectation is a fight. That’s how we party! I am now losing that privilege because of this shorty gangster? I am unholy pissed. You can’t take my entire social life from me! How do you expect me to earn a Karate hippie girlfriend? You earn those with fists! Why don’t you just date a normal psycho out in the woods? Why do you have to be special?

 

Chapter

Apparently there is more at stake. I am talked down by jazz and scotch. I must really listen. Isaac Hayes is speaking the truth!

The last domestic violence incidence concluded with guns and death threats.

Shorty will have to make good on that. Or a Camaro will be leaving town. One of them is leaving.

This being Eire, Pennsylvania.

And my monster is staying.

You got that right, Mister Berkeley.

Not a question in my mind, Isaac. Legion that I do not know. Monster I do know.

You are correct, Mister Berkeley.

Isaac and I have destroyed entire record collections over this while watching its escalation. We killed John Coltrane in its discussion. We went on to destroy Miles Davis. Eric Dolphy was not even put in the ground before Charlie Parker went in right on top of him. I will kill this shorty myself before I let him do anymore damage to your valuable record collection. What he’s done to my Honkies in Paradise? I could kill him.

Isaac and I are sitting there eye to eye. Not even he can come up with a solution. We look at all the chess pieces and all we see is blood. Jay, my stepfather has been consulted. What say the fur gangster?

No fuzz.

That’s it!

We are convinced of that. Nothing else. Governor Pennypacker is making matters worse along with her white boyfriend the other Isaac. The former member of the United States House of Representatives from the great state of Pennsylvania. Isaac Anderson! Deceased since 1838. We do not love the government. We figure every penny that we give them goes towards war. Look what they are doing here!

The proud colored man and the honky in paradise are tapped out. We have consulted with the black boy. My life witness. Michael was useless and got replaced by Otto. So now we need a Negro. We get Otto in on a consult.

Unrequited love.

That’s Otto. He knows all the fight cards.

White boy is in love with her. He will fight His Shortness for her honor. Win the girl back for us all.

That’s what we called the guy late stage.

His Shortness.

Now you are speaking the truth.

I love this girl!

Otto is a genius. Isaac and I are slapping high fives. Then we sit down and we are like whoa! Like any really good lie. Full stop right there. This is true. I love my monster. Everybody on the whole planet which is to say five blocks of Eire Pennsylvania. My parents, my Nana and my big brother.

You two are in love. I have to go sailing.

That’s what Brother Man Joe says.

Just kick the guy’s ass already. Move her in with us. I am never home. I am at regattas. She can have my room. I have two beds. The monster can have either one. She doesn’t even have to live in your dojo.

Kick his ass already.

Chapter

 

Everybody knows we are in love but the two of us. Even His Shortness suspects it. If the message can get through to him. That guy is not Ma Bell. It can get through to all of us! I consider myself pretty stupid. It’s a job requirement for The Karate King. You not only must be stupid. You have to act it. Look what I figured out!

With unholy results, of course.

The sinned will be sinning to their hearts delight tonight. That’s what they do by definition. The sinned man. And now his woman. We’re going to undo The United States of America like it is nothing. That boat is going right back across the Potomac. Only this time it is a Chevy Camaro loaded down with Tae Kwon Do fools.

We are kicking down a door.

For sure.

The monster is live!

 

Chapter

I am so dark after my lifeguard job which I do not attend because I have another business that needs watering. My model mother? Even she has her suspicions. Am I forgetting a charming Native American photographer? Some white girl goes hippie shoot in Taos?

I am not black. I cannot firmly announce that. I am red. People really comment on the color of my skin in summer. Later in life I am mistaken for a South American Native American Indian. It’s an excusable mistake. I have incredibly long hair. I am in Paraguay. I speak an indigenous Native American language when I am not speaking Spanish fluently. I need the indigenous Native American language to conduct my public health work affairs on the border of Bolivia and Paraguay. No offense taken. I have red skin when I work in the sun. It’s been that way my entire life. I dream in Spanish these days. I have no cause to speak English in rural South America. Nobody speaks it. Nobody thinks it. Not even me! I ponder the randomness of race all the time. It’s roulette as far as I can tell. Now that I speak three languages. I think language is roulette too.

Joe Berkeley, Senior does not. Time immemorial that’s what he says. Flat down. Not a single question in his enormous mind. The clan Berkeley has been up to conquest since time immemorial. You think England was the first country that we rowed in on? That takes practice. Royal Governors every last one of us. Virginia? Why hello. That’s our answer to Jamaica. Your great uncles are all buried down there.

That’s why you like wine, women and song. The defense rests. My father will carry on though.

We are Battle Axe People. How else did we take down England during the Norman Conquest? You don’t just wake up with weapon skills. Your fascinating with Tae Kwon Do weapons hails back for ages. You have weapon skills that were honed up in Russia during The Catacomb phase of our development which precedes even our Viking development. After that it is straight back to Africa. With conjugal visits along the way. Ten thousand years at least. Mix in the Irish and The Moors. And we are done. Although at some point I suspect we trekked across Asia. Pure fighting curiosity.

I row the Potomac these days with six lawyers. When you conclude your warrior phase that will be a suitable vocation for you too.

Washington.

All my friends are named like that. We are two decades away from modern names. My girlfriend is Elizabeth Warren Gates. The Fifth! Her whole family sailed in too. Some people up top like her mother. Dad down in cargo. We got it at my family reunions down in Virginia too. I do not go. I do not want to date my cousin. However many times removed. My cousins will definitely be too hot. Too hot!

 

Chapter

That African American girlfriend of yours is a bit of a terror. My father finds her to be a bit of a terror! I am nothing. You shrug off that Berkeley like he is nothing. You are what you would expect. We’ve been coining boys like you since time immemorial.

Elizabeth is mildly stimulating because she is you in a girl’s body. We don’t get that greatness all the time.

You should both go to Harvard Law School. I will pay. Or Isaac will pay. We will fight over the bill like at a restaurant.

We called her dad Isaac Hayes! He is stupid loaded too. Her mother owns Tropicana. Or whatever is left of it. She is Orange Maid at the very least. We have Cannon Fodder pegged as no lower than that.

A nice little white woman with orchards in Florida in the rearview. My father is this frightening white man. He stands there in his big man shoes. Senators do not screw with him. Maybe Presidents. That’s about it. But not even he can account for me. The last Royal Governor is tapped out. But he shrugs us all off. That’s how he stays in power too. You cannot flap Joe Berkeley, Senior. He has six lawyers! He does not get upset. They do.

You have multiple degree black belts. Several different other black belts among you as far as I can fathom. Don’t think for a second that I do not know about Karate and Kung Fu. My accountant paid those bills. I even let gymnastics slide because I knew why you were doing it. Dance lessons. I did not even flinch.

You are not even adults. He is talking about me and my African American girlfriend like you might examine a plant in your hothouse. I would lose the dreadlocks on both of you. He can shrug off dreadlocks! It’s only a good look for Bob Marley with whom I met with Bick. He is a very stimulating person to converse with. I prefer him over John Lennon. The Bick is stuck on him.

You met Bob Marley!

That’s my monster.

I saw him perform at Harvard University.

Why didn’t you take us?

A little bit more than adult beverages were served.

You got high with Bob Marley!

That’s a confidential matter.

My father is the king of the taunting understatement.

He also constantly manipulates the English language like it is his houseman. Which it probably is!

He has never told me about meeting Bob Marley.

However.

I am not even remotely surprised.

Bick does this shit all the time. He has merely enlisted Joe Berkeley, Senior into his fascinating world of barn curiosities. He probably lured Bob Marley in on his motorcycle collection. Or he just did it with musical instruments. Then he walked him through his forest. Showed him a bobcat or two. I won’t bother with showing you the deer, turkey and coyote. Too Republican for you, Bob.

Congress is your limit. Joe Berkeley, Senior is lecturing us over cognac again. He has to be sharp with us because he has somewhere more important to be. This lunch in the best restaurant in Boston must be quick. He has about eight waiters that wait on him at what they call his table.

We can’t have Rastafarians in The White House. The world will devolve back into war. It’s a good idea but it will not play out. We are trying to cut back on assassinations. Valuable world assets have been lost in that. I have to go see the Governor. Don’t let them drink too much, Tony. That’s my father. Leaving us at Locke Ober’s Café with the bill open. The maître-de at Locke Ober’s Café will serve us.

The last Royal Governor. Even he thinks that I am something that you keep out back in a shed. But our time has come in these United States of America. Everyone is convinced. Including me.

Two scotches on the rocks.

That’s what I say to what is now my maître-de at Locke Ober’s.

I don’t care what the hell Joe Berkeley, Senior just said.

You got that right, monster.

We are getting tanked.

 

Chapter

 

Motown is what I think for sure. There is no reservation in my mind that Jackson 5 is a hearty solution for any problem in this life. I Want You Back live in Gary, Indiana. That is the track. After that it is pretty much hazy. I can maybe see the fuzz out the back window of the Cadillac like my former step-pappy. Currently a douche. No chance of fixing that. It’s the life equivalent of me on the cherry moonshine. Results will likely worsen. Fists will be produced. The gumball will fire up. Cops are about the only way that you contain that if that.

Life is never as presented. I am going through one of those celebrated writer phases. An entire novel is pouring out of me Jack Kerouac style. Roll of wallpaper in the typewriter. The whole bit. Write what takes years to accomplish in mere weeks.

It is absolutely terrifying. You do not want this to happen to you. I like the whole coal mine of writing just fine. For me and everybody else. Nice and safe. No accidents. I have been in there my whole life. We punch out at the end of the day. Time clock customers because we are unreliable. You have to measure my whole crew.

But this whole Kerouac thing is disturbing. It’s like a poltergeist has taken over my mind. I slam time events together with no mercy. Math is for losers. So what if my times do not jive. I am writing on a particularly tight schedule. I cannot do nonfiction or memoir because my schedule is too packed for that. I will shove multiple people into one character because I am in an appalling hurry. I have to write this story now. Reality will not configure into any of this because of the furious mania that is driving it. Be thankful that you are not cranking down forty pages at a whack. It looks good on paper but it sucks. Nervous breakdown seems inevitable. We do those effortlessly at this level.

My literary agent asked me how I was holding up.

She is formidable.

Hi Donna!

Getting stuffed in MacLean’s Mental Hospital seems inevitable. She laughed. Now tell me truly.

I am in the Record Room at Hingham Public Library writing like an insane person. That’s the music room at my public library where my reading and writing journey began. I am that guy that everybody is worried about in the library. Totally insane!

I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. Liquor can’t cool me down. It’s just another hindrance to the process of writing. Everything falls into that bucket. Thankfully in my instance it is cooling down to a roaring boil. I can live with 3:00 AM writing calls. Around the clock was too much. But I was pretty scared for a while. Is this what it is like big up in the game? I have seen the far shore of Tae Kwon Do. Writing is truly a terror. A lot of us have mental problems. New England writers have been studied by mental health professionals for going on centuries. I am not a new experience for the world. I figure New England writers with mental disorders is better mapped than Lewis and Clarke. I don’t think Sylvia Plath was crazy. I think she was hot! Born in Boston, Massachusetts. I know that too.

However.

We cannot exist as writers without mental problems but we like them off to the side. Not the center of our lives. Roman Catholic Catholicism like cherry moonshine is a wonderful accompaniment for the gentleman. You don’t make that pocket watch your life. Motown is for that. Pimp hat cocked to the right.

 

Coda

 

Some people seek pardons for what they did as young people later in life. I will not. I would not even accept an apology from my attackers. You need victim restitution. And absolution from God. Leave the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And Governor Pennypacker of the Great State of Pennsylvania out of it. I will not hear it. You are dismissed. Send in Isaac! I need a dress down. I was beginning to feel sorry for myself for a brief second. He will rail me about all my blessings. You have had it way to easy white man. Look at how badass you are. Brothers would kill to be half as psycho as you! You speak the truth, my brother.

I am no victim. I was victimized. Perhaps. Then I became the self-defender. Shortly thereafter I was the attacker. I presented a bit of a moral dilemma for the morally inclined come prosecution time. Jesus around the neck. The sinned man. And he can fight like the Devil. Hmm. Perhaps Bick can rule on this. The rock n roll Yankee might be able to figure out this conundrum after he smokes a bone. We’ll let him have this one.

I have no remorse. None.

My life was irretrievably changed by bullies. The second that I walked into Billy Blanks Tae Kwon Do Academy the direction of my life was forever altered. That compass would continue for years to come. By Brown University I was officially a post office box in Delaware. It was a very fancy post office box too. A very curious few truly tracked me down over that address at Brown University. They could not believe that I was from such a spiffy post office box in Wilmington, Delaware. There was actually a very impressive street address right under it. I am not from there. I actually have yet to grace that very shore. You are correct. That is why the highest reaches of Wilmington society do not know me. I am kept out back in a shed. It is merely a post office box now. I do not exist! I am mere item on the formidable tax return. That post office box number is my actual home. The street address below it? I have yet to frequent it.

I did not have a hometown. I had blown down two more high schools. I had stayed back a year in high school. I was shipped off to two separate homes of my father. Then a final post office box was produced. That was where I lived as far as The United States Government was concerned.

Ireland remained an option too. Citizenship was produced for the inevitable fall into alcoholic decline over there. Artist do not have to pay taxes. Mister Berkeley can go on the dole. One in seven people on the dole in Ireland has never worked a single day in their miserable lives. Mister Berkeley can fight all he wants. Dublin has plenty of public housing projects. Where do you think South Boston got the idea from? He can write and fight all he wants.

He can chase those dirt farmers off his grandfather’s land if he wants too. Bury them out back. Or sell them off to the tinkers. Do forms wasted on whiskey in his ancestral field for the rest of his life. Invent a druid martial art form.

Or Joe Berkeley, Senior will pay for the Ivy League.

It is your choice.

He will cut you off at the knees if you go lower than Navy.

He is open to the idea of The Naval Academy.

That’s about as low as he is willing to go.

He already said no on Army.

That guy is brutal.

I know. Where do you think I get it from?

 

Chapter

My bullies were just being losers in their hometown. It was no longer mine. It was their hometown which I continued to frequent around holiday time if I wasn’t living in my post office box down in Delaware. I used to actually sit there at Brown University and try to figure out where to go around holiday time. I had lots of foreign friends. Sometimes I would just go home with them. France sounds great! We’re going to see mum in Munich first? Even better! I have multiple jobs on campus. I have to stay busy or I will sack South Providence. Let’s go!

I would think wouldn’t it be nice to just have a hometown life. Maybe I would be happier. It seems like such a ludicrous wish. Who wants to be a Townie? I did.

People were astonished at how far I had gone whenever going abroad went snake eyes. I had dual citizenship. I spoke multiple languages fluently. Half a dozen more at the museum ticket level. Have to be able to order hot wine in Munich on the street in the winter when I get lost. Otherwise I might start a fight. I also need pretzels for breakfast in the morning, dude. That old Nazi prick that owns the corner store hates me! I’m going to bounce a liter of beer off that bro’s head before these six months are concluded. I promise you that. Right before I hitchhike to Paris. Hail insults at that prick in German as preamble to punching him out.

I was a world traveler. I would go live in the South of France with the exclusive purpose of writing at a French film director’s house. There are hundreds of hectares for you to terrorize when you are not writing. That’s how Louis Malle would talk to me. I have wild donkeys on that property that I do not even know exist. You can break them and ride them. I was back in Honkies in Paradise France Edition. I’d sometimes go out and do my forms. It delighted French intellectuals to watch me. I did my hallucinatory Tae Kwon Do for fun. What is he doing out in that field? It’s stupid fun to watch. He says he made it himself. He has his own Kung Fu opera. Honkies in Paradise. That’s what he calls it.

And this is what had become my home. I made it myself. Road show was home. Great to be back in the airport security line people. Immigration used to just yank me reflexively. How have you disappeared on us again? Sorry about the expired United States passport, dudes. Just using the Irish one these day. I am broke though. Time to rotate back to these United States for what is called work.

All my parents had made sterling attempts to build me a home over the years. Rooms were decorated. Automobiles that were more appropriate to my growing station in life were produced. It was all hopeless. I am going off to France on my Irish passport. My American one is expired. I probably will not be let back in. I am fine with that. You can keep America. I am done.

 

Chapter

 

The dojo in Hingham and the house attached to it had been sold as part of the larger scheme to put me in boarding school. Can’t fight Townies if you aren’t in town. You see how that works, Mister Berkeley? You have to hitchhike back. You hitchhike? We know your intentions. My new digs were in a peninsula seaside community, Hull, Massachusetts. I was plunked down at the absolute end of it. You have to thumb bigtime to get out of that place. Turkey Hill had been packed up monster style and shipped off. Closed for business. Even the Karate Castle was demolished. They even found the second one!

Delaware looked promising but there were too many small children. A second family had been produced. I was not good nanny material. I was also like some story that had reached its end. The witchy woods of New England was concluded. I was the last witch with matted hair. Barbershop haircuts such as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy were required now. You wanted this. You are out. No looking back. But I really couldn’t help glance all the way back across my life and think.

Why couldn’t I be a Womp?

The Womps are this adult Master’s Lacrosse league in town as I have said. They have all stuck together their entire lives. I do not play lacrosse. I will never play. But I think as a life prescription what they have going on is pretty good. They all live here. They always have. They always will. They will die here too. Sorry fellas. We have to make room for more Womps. You made them. No complaining. Fade on that.

They are coaches. They are fathers. And Town Fathers. They are Bick. Hands down. The top Womp even has a barn. He throws little parties with rock n roll bands and a few kegs off to the side. That was ripped away from me for the better. I would have never climbed that high. Maybe the tree department is what I think if I had stayed. Or I go Big House. That’s probably more likely. I was on a very dangerous path towards killing somebody. That’s precisely why I was tossed from everything. That’s my bottom line. People rightly thought me homicidal. Nobody more than your Mister Billy Blanks himself. Only he could kick me out of the frame. And he did it.

Nobody is more successful now. Than The Redheaded Devil. He is a multimillionaire. Retired. And fully expelled from no less than four high schools.

The Redheaded Devil remains the champion. Undefeated. And unbowed in this town. Every town should have one. It keeps the rest of us honest. The sinned man racks up the trophies even in life.

I am probably truly Jackson 5 in what was once my hometown.

I am not even podium.

Maybe I am Jackie if I am lucky.

 

The End

 

Now the blooper reel and outtakes. I have had to mercilessly attack my very real history to get it right as a work of fiction. I began by telling a memoir. A nonfiction story about what truly happened. Tae Kwon Do was my ticket up in life. It truly did happen.

I was deeply disappointed with the nonfiction results. It absolutely failed to get at the soul of the journey. It was too repetitive. Stories that happened over different time frames needed to be combined. Characters that were too similar needed to be one. You can’t have two different Otto. Even Otto had a life witness. We will make Otto one. He is one and the same person anyway. No matter that one Otto is black. And the other is white. We called them both Otto because they drove the auto!

This is just getting too easy. I go Motown to the max with the writing!

That’s exactly what I would have gotten out of that van if my middle-age self could have time travelled back for suggestions on writing. Of course I would have problems even with writing in middle-age after an appalling amount of instruction up to the Master level. And beyond!

Mister Berkeley may be a multiple degree black belt of writing.

However.

He is a sinned man. That will not change. We will save him now. Pull his bacon out of the fire across the ages.

I would have presented everything to them with astonishing honesty. Now he is talking the truth. He will win his fight now.

I got to thinking about my invented martial arts. How the confines of Tae Kwon Do became unsupportable towards the end. I had to do my hallucinatory Tae Kwon Do that looked weird. Eureka!

I have a license to invent.

But what you seek, my brother, my life witness would caution across the ages is The Truth.

The Truth?

You need to get The Emotional Truth across.

Then he would admonish me in my mind’s eye.

Make us coons proud. That’s what you were back in those days. 100%

I would just grimace at that thought.

Now that’s an unpleasant concept to present to the world.

They need to hear it.

Make us proud.

Even in middle-age.

I am trying to figure out which Jackson 5 that I might be. I want to be Michael on TV in Gary, Indiana 1971. But come on! That’s not happening. I might be able to pull off Jackie in his heyday. But that’s a stretch. What I have determined is that we all can keep it Jackson 5.

We can all keep it Jackson 5.

1971 in Gary Indiana live on the television before it all blew apart.

I Want You Back.

That’s the track.

We all own that.

So my final outtake for the select few that might have actually been there that will actually read this book too.

My real Tae Kwon Do compatriots.

Not their fictional representations which were necessary to get at The Truth!

Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!

Cross around my neck because I am still a superstitious athlete.

Sinned man all the way down the line.

I sincerely hope that Tae Kwon Do propelled you higher in life. I know of enough documented cases to suspect a pattern. We all have the fond memories of it. Even if you are sitting in prison which we all know I had a pretty close brush with.

I have written an imaginative work of fiction that features some very real people. I have taken great liberties with the principles including myself. Fortunately we’re all in the public eye now.

The greatest compliment that I could get is that this imaginative work of fiction is all lies. But it’s totally true too!

This work of fiction is about my Tae Kwon Do days with Billy Blanks.

I was part of a storied Tae Kwon Do Academy that broke apart and sent everybody off into life. The funny thing is that I do not even remotely seek the approval of the legion of successful people which I have used as the basis of this work of fiction myself among them. I want to use all of us including this novel to get at the lesser players. I want some chirpy guy from the old days that is currently sitting in prison.

You were all psychos! That’s why you’re so successful now. I had too much honor. Look at me now in the can!

Screw all of you!

Especially Will Berkeley.

That guy can pound sand.

I been doing Tae Kwon Do in the can going on twenty years. I can take all of you now!

I am way better than all of you!

Mop the floor with Will Berkeley these days.

Shove Billy Blanks in a trash can.

They were something back then.

I will grant them that.

But nobody can hold a candle to me these days.

I am The Tae Kwon Do King!

But I am in the can for life.

I killed some dude by mistake.

We always liked Will Berkeley for that.

He was too smart though.

He hung it up before he killed anybody.

Billy Blanks squashed Will Berkeley.

Big time.

But not me.

I wasn’t as glaring of a mistake as Will Berkeley.

Sucks to be me.

That’s the voice that I am looking for.

We can all cherish the fond memories.

Honor our dead warriors too.

I tip my hat to you all.

Wherever you are on The Great Score Card of Life.

We were all winners and losers alike back in those days. I visited the absolute bottom of the card. And I held the top for one second. I write that for my legion of critics. I will go one better. Hey, I was never even in Tae Kwon Do. I never even heard of it. Are you happy now?

What did I ultimately learn that propelled me up in life from Tae Kwon Do?

Stay Jackson.

100%.

I am in tears writing this.

You will be when you read it.

Warriors do not cry.

I am trying to shove them back up into the monster.

Then I breakdown in a horrible puddle myself.

Otto walks by.

I can call my cards.

Motown to the max!

Then we fist bump.

Hardcore.

See you next weekend.

I love you guys.

 

Fight!

 

You got blood on your face.

You big disgrace.

Waving your banner all over the place.

Almost time.

I was up on the stage in Maine. My very first time. I was a newly minted black belt in Billy Blank’s storied Tae Kwon Do Academy. I went up quickly in his school. I skipped belts.

However.

I had arrived at Billy Blank’s storied Tae Kwon Do Academy with a black belt of my own. It was a disgrace of a Karate academy though. I had been kicked out of it too. Trophies and all. Get out!

I had figured out that they were sit by the fireplace in your black belt Karate customers. They were not the warriors of yore that I was looking for. I was a little disappointed.

I went on a remedying mission as the pissed are prone to do. You can’t beat up The Town Father. And stay in the town. I needed a new town in the martial arts department before I needed a new town that I was living in. Karate town went down first. It also went down after Kung Fu town. I’d been in martial arts since the time that I started walking as I have said. That is real.

My mother found Billy Blank’s Academy. It was her third time finding a place for me to train martial arts. She was getting good at it. Billy laughed when he heard that I was a Karate criminal.

I am one myself, he laughed. You aren’t really a fighter until they kick you out of boxing and ballet class. Gymnastics is a pretty good stop. Wrestling is okay. But Tae Kwon Do takes all of us in at the end of the day. Welcome to my Academy. I am very thrilled to have you to be perfectly honest with you, Mister Berkeley. I am building a very serious Tae Kwon Do travel team right now. I left one behind in Eire, Pennsylvania. They are The Evil Empire. They are exceedingly good. And quite lonely these days. I miss them too.

However.

I am constructing The Nation right now. One brick at a time. You could very well be a cornerstone if you are willing to work incredibly hard.

Sign me up.

My mother said.

Mister Blanks.

He has also been kicked out of Kung Fu.

Do not tell him about Kung Fu!

If he sees all my flower forms?

I am a dead man.

That’s what I was thinking.

Those are the least of his offenses though.

What are you doing to me?

I have just been accepted in!

Now you are going to get me kicked out?

I can do this myself.

I am unholy pissed!

Here we go.

The Town of Hingham has suspended after school sports programs due to budget cuts. I work full-time. His father is in Delaware. My mother is getting too old to manage him. All he does is street fight after school in The Pit. He has it pretty well hidden now so he doesn’t get expelled. But I know he is doing it because he requires stitches with regular frequency. He even has a neighbor that drives him to the doctor on the sly if he gets hurt. I have caught all of them red handed. Where do they think the bill goes to? They try to slide plaster casts right by me! They say it was a sledding accident. They claim to sled without snow. They are not very stealth. He does butterfly stitches on himself. He and his friends glue their wounds shut. We were early proponents of Super Glue for wound care.

Now my mother has Mister Billy Blank’s full attention. He is not looking for Tae Kwon Do pupils. He has plenty of those. He wants warriors for his then side project The Nation. Maybe this kid can be the medic. You bet I can.

We need William here at least four hours a day after school. Transportation can be arranged. His weekends are completely empty. He refuses to go to Church. Saint Paul’s would love to excommunicate him but they can’t take any more bad press. He spends all of his free time when he is not fighting in the woods. Although the woods is pretty synonymous with fighting. He gets grounded but he runs away up into the woods. He has taken over an entire abandoned Army base. We have to get a police officer to track him down. He disappears for days on end. His next stop will be bad boy school.

Billy is very excited now.

He is at the point of expulsion. Or past it. He has one Town Father that remains his defender. He is a good boy but he has outgrown the possibilities of what Hingham can offer. You should probably know that too. We are looking at solving this whole situation but we are years away from boarding school. He cannot get in anywhere given his current condition. Not a single good recommendation could be produced right now. He jumped out the window of a really bad reform school during the interview process. He then did some demonstration martial arts on the lawn of the school. They declared him too dangerous to admit. Can you help us fix this?

Mrs. Kakas. I have a side Academy that is specially built for this. Only my most promising pupils are permitted to enter it. Our fees are reasonable. We offer scholarships. I presume you do not need one.

I will gladly pay for an additional pupil if you present him to me personally and I approve him.

It could be a girl, Mrs. Kakas.

Even better, Mister Blanks. I think a girlfriend given where we are would be highly constructive. Perhaps they could go parking instead of fighting. Prom will never happen given the deplorable condition of things. We’re thinking jail is more in the cards than Yale right now.

I see you in all the newspapers.

Billy Blanks is hitting on my mother!

Thank you, Mister Blanks. I work exceedingly hard on my modeling career in spite of its regional nature. Perhaps I work harder given its regional status. I have two sons that are five years apart which pretty much decimated my modeling career. I also run a charm school off to the side.

I should enroll my finest students in it as punishment.

You should, Mister Blanks. You most decidedly should. I will have them all walking with books on their heads to improve their carriage. William stands in stark relief to my charm efforts. He quit enjoys it to. His opening move is leaping out a second story bedroom window.

Mister Billy Blanks throws his first stare of death at me.

It will not be the last.

Billions more will be served.

I don’t think jumping out windows to get away is a good idea. I think it’s great! Nobody has ever followed me.

You have to share all your charm school secrets with me.

I will be content with professional fighting. My husband, Jay Kakas, and I go to the fights all the time. You should come with us. We only sit in the front row. Marvelous Marvin Hagler is a family friend. Even he throws his arms up when he deals with my son. William climbs out the second story window. Jumps off the roof into a tree. Then flees up into the woods by wading across a river. Marvelous Marvin can’t even catch him.

He is afraid to jump into the tree.

And I know it.

The river crossing is just to rub it in his face.

 

Chapter

 

Before I walk out of that door from my interview with Mister Billy Blanks himself. I am pulled off to the side. It is explained to me in no uncertain terms by a very large dreadlocked African American that I am now a possession of Mister Billy Blank’s Tae Kwon Do Academy. I have been bought and sold right into The Nation without even so much as a single punch of an interview. Paperwork has been signed. I am attending The Nation fulltime. What do I think of my slavery? The question is put to me by Otto himself.

I think it’s awesome, dude!

Otto fist bumps me hard.

He explains The Nation’s one rule.

Talk shit and get hit.

I say talk shit.

Otto fist bumps me.

You are legit!

How much Kung Fu?

Too much, dude. Too much.

Otto fist bumps me again.

Karate, Judo, boxing and wrestling?

I got kicked out of all that too.

Otto fist bumps me again.

I am introduced to what will later become Jackson 5. I actually know all of them vaguely from tournaments hosted by my prior Karate and Kung Fu Academies. Some of them I did Judo with. Pretty much all of us got expelled from the same boxing studio. You cannot head ass! We are like get a grip, dude.

Everyone is thrilled that I have been expelled onto their doorstep. They’ve been waiting for the cat to drag in something hearty. It’s about freaking time! Otto then walks me out to the Cadillac where my mother is waiting.

Otto says.

We own you now. You own us too. Better days are ahead for you. I can already tell that you are going to work out. I can call them. I knew the second that you walked in the door. You walk like a freaking Praying Mantis. You are a champion.

That’s what he says to me.

Kung Fu is cool?

Are you kidding me?

I’ve been hiding that my whole life!

You actually want me to trot it out?

Absolutely, dude.

 

Chapter

 

What I will ultimately say is that I am way more Kung Fu than Tae Kwon Do. That’s where I started and that’s where I ended. I can fight, think and write like a freaking Shaolin Monk. That’s my whole journey. Temple to the max! You can keep Tae Kwon Do. Kung Fu to the max!

That’s what you are looking at.

As Curtis Mayfield suggested.

Kung Fu!

More than four thousand years.

That there dis I plan.

I add to the discussion.

Kung Fu!

Humility.

Virtue.

Respect.

Morality.

Trust.

Courage.

Patience.

Endurance.

Will!

U don’t even need to add me to the list. I adds.

Drank in and think I am.

You can keep Kung Fu!

Now come.

Kung Fu Trickery.

We are a go!

 

Chapter

 

I am beaming the entire way home.

I also have to say right here.

Thank you Sifu John C. Loupos of Jade Forest Kung Fu in Cohasset, Massachusetts for kicking me off. You unhooked the monster first. Off the hook I remain on my warrior path. It was truly an astonishing thing to track you down almost forty years after the fact. You can still to this day enroll your monster in Jade Forest. Sifu Loupos is game!

My mother asks me what is wrong with me.

We are back in The Cad-a-Whack.

That’s what we called our Cadillac.

Mister Berkeley in his Cad-a-Whack.

Nice and comfy.

I ride backseat like JFK.

Damn, I wish I had me a Jackie.

What happened to pissed, Mister Berkeley?

I think I just discovered Kung Fu Trickery!

That’s what I am thinking.

Turn the car around and drop me back Billy Blanks.

I am not going home.

My mother obliges.

I have to go back to work. You have to stop interrupting everyone’s success especially your own. I am not a national model but I am actively working on making a difference with my regional fame. I will push it higher in the name of others. Shame the truly powerful into charity in the region. A pretty face, long legs and charm is all you need to do it. This is your last chance, William. I want to make that perfectly clear. I will throw you to the dogs after this. Joe Berkeley, Senior has a deposit down on a military school. That is merely code for a Southern reform school. Given the deplorable state of your recommendations right now. Not even he can get you into a respectable military academy. You have to become at least a respectable fighter. And a mediocre student. You are currently in the tank. Your next stop is the worst that Virginia has to offer. Joe Berkeley, Senior has to call in favors to even get you into that deplorable prison.

Nobody but Mister Blanks will take a Karate student that has beaten his instructor. Particularly if he won. You have no chance against Mister Blanks. I have done my homework here. Mister Blanks is a champion.

He has traveled a very long way up in life like myself. You are lucky to catch him at intermission. Wayward boys and their instruction in Tae Kwon Do? A man of his credentials should charge the moon. The fur business is a simpleton’s art because we have long since killed the animals. He will continue his journey up in life like all of us. I do not include you in my assessment yet. Now get out of the car. Go into that studio. Do not come out until you are no longer a disgrace.

I walk into Billy Blank’s Tae Kwon Do Academy. That is day one. I never fully come out again. I definitely never return home after that. Up is my only direction.

All my homes are smashed. Or will be smashed shortly on this very journey. I am on my warrior journey now. No more reverse if we can avoid it. Which we cannot avoid. But, of course. The sinned man sins by definition.

However.

He is working on it. It will be his life’s work. The work will continue into middle-age if we are keeping score which we most certainly are.

Reality doesn’t always lend itself to wholesome drama.

Two martial arts schools in the rearview before I get to the real one. Three towns too. Hingham was my third town too. There would be many more before my journey was concluded. Hollywood couldn’t suffer all of them.

 

Fight!

 

So there I am up on the stage in Maine for the first time! My first time for a title fight as a black belt? Not at all. Kind of scary? Not at all. I have been here before as a disgrace of a Karate and Kung Fu student until I figured that fraud out.

Now I am a warrior of The Nation.

We are fully up and running. Eire, Pennsylvania is next weekend. We will greet The Evil Empire for the first time in tournament. For now we only have Maine to plunder. And plunder it we have done.

We brought the whole Academy with us for this run. Even part-time students have won. We sometimes called them auditors like in college. Those students audit. The Nation are Professors. We are way past Karate College. I even went to two community colleges. A bunch of us go all the way back to my Kung Fu days. Some even have a little boxing past. We will never admit to that! Boxing sucks. You can’t kick anybody. That’s half the fun right there. We have plenty of pugilist trophies among us. None of them count.

The Nation is #1.

I am not only sure that I can win the entire tournament. I will do it for The Nation. We are #1 before we have even begun. I am blowing steam out of my ears. I am so pissed.

Who is this person that has the audacity to stand before me!

It is not even a question.

I am only sorry that my former Karate instructor is not across from me right now. He is one of those sit in front of the fireplace all warrior in your black belt customers. I have trained so much. I am the fire.

Additional measures have been taken by The Town of Hingham to reduce my school day to a minimum. It cuts fighting in the town to an all-time low. Quieter than before the Indians arrived when they walked in from Russia or whatever.

I am smart enough to teach myself Junior High School out of my own textbooks. Billy will make me sit out in the parking lot for four hour stretches if I do not produce all A’s. Go study up on your parking block. His brutality is just appalling. Nobody questions him though. He is my Nana now. He gets results. Nobody messes with Mister Billy Blanks when it comes to straightening out Mister Berkeley. Mister Billy Blanks can do it. He does it all the time. He knows for a fact that Tae Kwon Do is now the secret to his heart. All you have to do is snap that back. Mister Berkeley will do as you ask.

The Nation is better than military school for three years to come. My journey on the Tae Kwon circuit has only begun. This is tournament final fight number one.

However.

This is the fight to number #1.

It is the first time that I am up on the stage for the final fight as a black belt that is not a disgrace. But I am a well-documented disgrace as the song they always played before the final fight suggested which I would inevitable win. All the lyrics seemed to fit me perfectly even back then on fight number one for fight number one. For now it was just some song that you block out at fighting events. Soon it would be my song. Whether I liked it or not. Queen! Mister Berkeley has a band. It is called Queen!

Kicking your can all over the place.

Shouting in the street.

Going to take on the world someday.

Somebody better put you back in your place.

Not going to happen. That’s what I am thinking up on that stage way back then as I examined the lyrics to the song in my mind out of order. Not even Mister Billy Blanks can do it. He does it. I will grant him that. But I just break out of it eventually. That’s why I became such a Camaro customer. The prisoner acted up again. Put him in the shoe.

How do you like the shoe, Mister Berkeley?

Not breaking me, dude.

That’s what I would say to Mister Billy Blank’s late stage.

He would just laugh.

I’ve concluded the same thing myself. Steve and Otto are putting their heads together though. Scared now?

Yup.

 

Chapter

 

This Maine tournament was our first brush with the Karate hippies. We quite liked them. They liked us. But they could not fight. Back up to Maine for the first fight to number #1. We can’t suffer anymore Camaro time.

Across from me for the title fight. She is my starter monster. She is my starter life witness. She is also white. She is The Nation too.

She is me for all purposes.

I have to beat her fair and square in the title fight tonight to become me. That is one of the conditions of this fight. We are all square on that card too.

The girl in question was over six feet tall. Drop dead gorgeous. I am lucky the fight is not about looks. She could easily win the entire East Coast of Tae Kwon Do. Her body is that of a professional volleyball player of which she will hereafter become.

She could have been Jackson 5 if she had stayed with us. Probably even Michael Jackson himself. She has beaten him on this very night. She might have even shoved the Jackson 5 down a peg. We might have had three monsters on the podium for years to come.

She will not monster. She will not. She cannot.

She was The Nation.

But she will not be the Nation.

Time to change The Nation.

 

Chapter

 

The starter monster will leave after this tournament for the glories of volleyball in boarding school. She just needed to acquire the life skills that Tae Kwon Do offers. She has acquired those very life skills along with good grades and scholarship to boarding school in Andover, Massachusetts. She is going to attend a boarding school that has hosted United States Presidents. Her warrior journey is in completion with the exception that it includes my launch. I must beat her for her to go up in life. I must take up her mantle. I must beat it off her too. Time to kick my starter monster’s ass. That is what qualifies as launch. You got that NASA? Ass beatings are our launch.

The starter monster is built like a rocket too. She is as hard one. She is devoid of breasts. She is what you would call flat. A brutal number #2 pencil of a woman which is precisely the place that all of us want her on the podium tonight including her.

This is an important starter monster feature because I will beat her based on her lack of breasts alone. No problem. Wait a second! How could not having breasts be a fight winner? Later tonight we will hook up because our warrior journey together has concluded. No breasts will not be an impediment to that. It will actually be viewed quite favorably because I am most envious of that chest. I want to inspect it personally before making it my own.

 

Chapter

There is a dreadlocked monster in Eire, Pennsylvania that the winner will fight next weekend. She is the undefeated champion. It will be me. There is no question in my mind. The world remains a mystery to me. Fighting is not.

I am a better warrior. I even know that I will be slogging uphill against the dreadlocked monster in Eire, Pennsylvania for a year to come. At least! I am ecstatic at just the glimmer of hope of knocking her off her block in the next calendar year. Perhaps. That is a pedestal that I may not ever achieve. I think from my current position. But I desperately want the shot. My starter monster does not.

I am in love with this girl. She is in love with me. We both refuse to do anything about it.

We are starter monsters. We are starter life witnesses.

Tonight it will end.

The real game begins next weekend in Eire, Pennsylvania.

Only one of us will carry The Nation to Eire, Pennsylvania.

It will be me.

We both know it too.

How could we possibly know fight outcomes without Otto’s awesome knowledge?

 

Chapter

My starter monster and I are sparing partners. This is a starter life witness program too. We have been working out together since I arrived at Billy Blank’s Academy with my disgraceful black belt from the other joint which I could not even produce because it had been thrown at The Fireplace Master’s head. I am way better at Kung Fu anyway. I have been doing that since I could walk. I do not like to talk about that. Do not even ask. That’s this dirty little secret that even I can no longer explain to you. Kung Fu is my balletic past. That’s about why I am ashamed of it too. I haven’t figured out that moving like a flower will become my deadliest asset.

My starter monster and I were paired up immediately. No matter that the new arrival has been stripped down to a white belt. He will not even accept that for now. He is too pissed for belts. You can keep them. Mister Billy Blanks is fine with that attitude. We don’t need to rank you until the road. You will be nothing belt until you black belt. I am fine with that. Belts have been nothing but a disappointment. I hate them. Kung Fu sashes too. You can keep them!

You do Kung Fu?

Sort of.

Show me!

I show Billy my most flowery forms. Might as well just get it out of the way.

You will apply that to full contact fighting.

Your Kung Fu is sick, dude.

That’s what Otto says.

My Kung Fu is sick?

Are you kidding me, dude?

Otto is like.

Are you kidding me, dude?

You have to teach all of Jackson 5.

That’s what Michaels says.

They aren’t even Jackson 5 yet.

Just five animals that want at my Kung Fu.

I can do all the animals, I mutter. This might take a while.

 

Chapter

 

The sparing session in question that settled our card was my belt black test for Billy Blanks studio. It was an arduous affair as you can imagine. Stretched out over a week of school vacation given my wide open schedule. Evil Empire warriors were invited to attend. Some were old friends from the Karate and Kung Fu days. Great to see old friends fighting under new flags from the old travel days.

We have a monster up here. Let’s have a festival. We timed it around school vacation. I cannot walk the streets. My black belt test must be a week to keep me busy. It is not only acceptable to me. I will be shipped off to Ireland without it. Or sold into fur slavery. I will sleep in the dojo for any odd test chores of the black belt nature. To avoid either fate. Or Billy Blank’s couch will be produced. I will actually just sleep here in the event that the odd Eire, Pennsylvania person turns up underground Camaro in the middle of the night. Plenty of mats to sleep on. I am happy to cook spaghetti at any hour. C’mon in my brother. We had serious love for The Evil Empire. You drove thirteen hours to watch my black belt test? Correction. I drove thirteen hours to make your getting it a major problem. We came up here to throw against you most horror show. Well, you are going to have a sore ass driving back to Eire, Pennsylvania after I kick it. But for now I will feed your face something other than punches. C’mon in my brother. I have tons of food. No booze though. Billy will kill me.

 

Chapter

 

Late in the week my starter monster was produced. We were padded up. This portion of the test would be self-defense. My starter monster would mug me. Standard rules apply.

Nothing really notable happened until my starter monster used my uniform top to spin me into position for a hearty punch to the bread basket. Karate tops are like hospital Johnnies. They are tied together within by strings. They are traditional garb. We wear them to honor the warriors that have come before us. Uniforms are tradition.

This was a terrible blunder in my instance. I was wearing my lucky Karate uniform from my disgraced past. I was wearing my disgraced Karate past for good luck no less! It was not a uniform. It was a disgraced past. It even had patches from my old Fireplace Academy on it!

Athletes are terribly superstitious beasts. We will go an entire season in some reeking uniform if we are on a streak. You cannot wash that! Are you insane! I am on streak!

You look at your fellow teammates in the same way. What are you doing in a new uniform? You will ruin us! Everybody back into your proper seating order in the van! We do not bring bad juju on ourselves on purpose! Are you insane, man?

My starter monster voices her opinion on my fireplace uniform after she has physically ripped the top of it off me. You had to get through my chest pads to do it. I am standing there shirtless now. She has ripped the top right down the middle to make her point. The fight has been stopped for her to do it too. Billy supports her in this effort. I kind of liked that uniform for good luck. But I say nothing. It smells wicked bad too. I liked that too. Maybe I can get to work on a new uniform. Stink it up to holy hell. Maybe in two months I will be happy in it.

The Nation is a new dawn. I should have shown up in brand new parade uniform. No less! This is your black belt test! You are not a secret weapon. We are so proud. We have invited The Evil Empire to come see your black belt test. They have come too. They have driven thirteen hours to see this. Have you no respect? Go put on a pair of shorts right now. Those pants are cursed too. Off with them. Right into the trashcan. Actually take them outside and throw them in the dumpster. We will wait.

I oblige. I go to the coed locker room pissed. I return in full Bruce Lee. The shorts are not even mine. Now I have nothing from my past. I took them right out of the starter monster’s locker. She can go screw.

Are those my shorts?

Yup.

Your disgrace of a uniform.

I threw everything out the window into the dumpster.

Did you score?

Of course.

Billy looks out the window to check my work. My old uniform is in a ball out the window in the dumpster. I would have had to go down there if I missed. Even I know that.

You take off your old cup?

That’s the starter monster checking my thoroughness.

You will have to tear off the shorts to check.

I mean to do it.

The starter monster will try too.

I have nothing to hide. You on the other hand.

The whole school is watching. We have invited The Evil Empire up for the test. They are not even laughing. Perhaps these monster rumors are true.

We all have Karate and Kung Fu pasts. Most of us are familiar with each other from prior Karate Academy incarnations. Some of us have even been teammates before. Or dreaded nemesis on the local circuit. A few of us go all the way back to my Kung Fu beginnings when our parents signed us up for Saturday morning classes round about the time that we learned to walk. Then we hit the road a little bit in grammar school.

I even brushed elbows with the real monster from Eire, Pennsylvania out on the road with my original Karate Academy. She and I go way back but with different Academies. We lost track of each other for a few years. The Nation is not really a new concept. Naming it is what is new. It’s just a new country formed out of individual disgraced states. It’s time to make it all right.

The Nation is #1.

Even The Evil Empire is starting to think that.

Maybe we underground Camaro and join them.

They have Mister Billy Blanks after all.

 

Chapter

The Nation will have individual leadership structure. One of us that we elect freely leads all of us. How can you lead all of us when you behave like such a disgrace?

That’s the starter monster talking during my black belt test.

After she has torn my top off.

After I have put on her shorts.

Do you think this girl is leaving Tae Kwon Do to go to a private school that has hosted United States Presidents? I am years away from her enlightenment. I merely have the fighting skills to take her post. I am three years younger than her! I will take her too. Do not you worry! Legions that I do not know. I do know how to fight individually though.

The rest of The Nation will have to be instructed to me from my individual peers over the next three years. They will teach me wisdom. I have none. I have to throw myself at the feet of The Evil Empire too. They will school me too. Principally the monster.

She is The First Lady of Tae Kwon Do Nation. Who else would The President of Tae Kwon Do Nation look to for help?

Everyone in here is gunning to take your spot at the top. And you haven’t even got it yet.

We all know you will get it including me.

The thing is though.

You don’t deserve it.

You have the fighting skills.

But you lack in every other department.

You’d cry right now if you could.

And you know it.

That’s how much black belt means to you.

And I am shaming it right off you.

You haven’t even got it yet!

This is my starter monster. My starter life witness.

She is leaving The Nation. She has already explained the where and the why. She wants to play a sport that will drive her higher in life. She has found an exceedingly good opportunity in a private school up in Andover, Massachusetts to do just that.

She has one final tournament to go. She wants to see in a tournament setting if I am worthy of carrying her legacy forward. For now I cannot even pass my black belt test with any dignity. I am a disgrace!

The Nation has not even been out on the road! Under its new flag. We’ve all been out there with our old schools. But she is the peer leader of our new school. There is Mister Billy Blanks, the man himself. Then we step down to this girl. This is the undisputed leader of our school. She has come out of the deep Kung Fu archives like myself too. She can ply major Kung Fu just like me.

My starter monster takes it upon herself to remove my offense. Strip me off my disgrace. How could you possibly be our leader when I am gone? Jackson 5 cannot take the monster on. They are not even Jackson 5 yet. They are just five animals.

The monster has come all the way up from Eire, Pennsylvania to watch this early transfer of power herself. You have fought her before yourself. She wasn’t even any good back then. And she wrecked you!

 

Chapter

 

You haven’t got a shot right now, Mister Berkeley.

You have the potential. Even I can see that. You are an unholy savage but you are not that well trained yet. Your mind needs work.

That’s what The Monster says.

The monster is sitting there on the floor cross legged. She is all horror show. A huge pile of dreads. Muscled up like no other girl in these nineteen eighties America. I am wishing I was as badass as her.

At my black belt test!

She is just sitting there.

Killing me!

Billy laughs.

We can wait. That’s what Billy says. You want me train him up some more?

We’re not waiting. The dreadlocked monster says quite casually. He will make a lovely Silver. He and I go back to white belts. We used to duke it out when we were on disgraceful travel teams way back in the day. Wow has he improved. Although I suppose the same could be said about me from my shameful Karate days.

I have not even fought the real monster! Under the new flag! And we have a memorable fighting past from our prior Academies!

That’s also this thing when people ask how we got so unholy in Junior High School.

You have to understand that this is not a new thing. It’s like asking me how I learned how to walk. The two are intertwined.

Mother?

This is what the starter monster says.

Her mother is sitting in a chair in the far corner of the dojo. She is knitting. That’s not what she is doing. That is who she is. She is The Knitting Lady.

You will quit Tae Kwon Do forever after Maine, Rebecca?

That’s all her mother asks?

Rebecca the Pecker Wrecker. That is the name of the starter monster.

Be right back.

That’s all she says. She does not answer her mother’s question? How did she pull that off?

Put your hair up in a helmet. Billy admonishes her. What is she doing? Billy is in on this? What could hair and helmets possibly have to do with this? Why are we not fighting right now? I am pissed. This has to be the lamest black belt test ever. Everybody standup and attack me! That’s what I am thinking. It’s time for a tougher Tae Kwon Do Academy. This one is lame.

 

Chapter

 

Rebecca the Pecker Wrecker goes into the coed locker room. And comes back out in full Bruce Lee herself. Which is to say a pair of shorts. No shirt! Her hair is up in a helmet though. She looks like me for the casual observer. A boy in shorts, a Tae Kwon Do helmet and nothing else. No bra. I didn’t put the chest protector back on. I wasn’t planning on getting hit. I was going to just deal in death blows from here on out. That’s what she says.

This is my black belt test?

You bet.

You don’t even get the honor of tearing off my uniform. That’s a real uniform that has been earned. You will not tear a real uniform off a real black belt from this Academy in defense of your black belt test into this Academy. You have not earned that honor. You have disgraced us with your prior uniform. I am the disgraced leaving too. The perfect fight for your black belt test has been found. We also go all the way back to the Kung Fu days. I’ve had a crush on you since then too. It is game on.

 

Chapter

 

Everybody including Billy is silent. Nobody is even laughing. They all knew it was coming too. They have seen Rebecca test black belts before. I have not. I am not a black belt of this Academy. I was never a candidate for a black belt from this Academy before. This is all new to me. The Fireplace Kung Fu and Karate Academies were never like this.

Nobody in here likes it. But we have learned to tolerate Rebecca around test time. We let her behave this way for the disrespectful.

The Knitting Lady says. She is speaking directly to me!

This is Billy Blank’s dojo!

The Knitting Lady outranks him? Are you kidding me?

I will let her go out in her blaze of glory.

Billy says that. He is talking directly to the knitting lady.

After Maine she is forever expelled.

Lifetime.

I will go out a warrior.

Rebecca is satisfied.

I am not.

The fact that Rebecca is so flat is not helping my courage. You would think it would give me some sort of ego boost? The girl is flat! She is topless. Let’s have a laugh at her expense. Nobody is laughing. Least of all me. I have to square off with that chest?

Her chest is actually more impressive on the man scale than my own. She has better muscle definition. She is a better sculpted warrior man than me. I wish I had that chest. That is the conclusion that she wants me to reach. I reached it. Everyone assembled has. Rebecca may be flat. But she is badass. She is also definitively a girl. I know this because I am definitively a boy.

I am desperately in love with this girl. She is a gorgeous creature. Nobody would snicker that transvestite comment around her because it will not even remotely stick. Rebecca is a flat girl that is flat down beautiful. And she is ripped! Serious little muscles that actually do very big things. Handstand pushups. Lots of them. We call her The Pecker Wrecker for good reason. Peckers have no chance against her. End of discussion.

Guys in the room that have a pattern for voluptuous women are thinking to themselves perhaps I have made a major life mistake. What kind of unholy hayride could Rebecca produce? Even the most heterosexual women are thinking with a few drinks I could be persuaded. She is stupid hot! That six pack is a ridiculous mind trick. That’s a girl? Are you kidding me? And that ass? You can serve drinks off that iron bubble. And she’s long haired and sexy? Get out of here! She moves like a Praying Mantis too because of excessive Kung Fu. Rebecca is too much! I can’t even stand it.

I truly believe that there are men and women that challenge even the most determined heterosexuals among us. We all think about it at least. Rebecca had that power. She just deployed it with her mother’s permission. Billy Blanks even consented. The Pecker Wrecker is live!

Rebecca will be expelled for life from Billy Blanks Academy after Maine for doing it. But he figured let her practice in safety in front of her peers, Tae Kwon Do Master and mother her greatest power. Her ferocious sexuality. And she has had a crush on me since the Kung Fu days too? What have I been missing? That could have been my girlfriend! We could have wrecked the entire town. Never mind the unholy hayrides. Those would have just been a given. We could have torn down every bully in New England with our combined fighting skills. Throw in The Redheaded Devil maybe we take a look at Canada.

Then you are expelled for life girl. I mean it. You can’t be taking off your top in my storied Tae Kwon Do Academy anymore. Half the girls wear sports bras that barely exist. Guys are naked under their uniforms because they don’t know better. I will require proper undergarments on everyone. Offenders will sit outside on Mister Berkeley’s parking block until proper undergarments are produced.

We’re going out on the National stage. That’s why we are called The Nation. That’s was Billy’s assessment. He did expel her for life after Maine. My expulsion was coming too. It was years away. But I had this sensation that this scene got repeated. I am not even a black belt in Billy Blank’s Tae Kwon Do Academy. I could already see the vague outline of expulsion down the line. Get it while it is hot, ladies and gentleman. I am serving up blistering fights for now.

What was I thinking of Rebecca though?

I am thinking Supreme Court or higher. She could be President someday. I have to fight through that for my black belt? Are you kidding me? I want to get engaged right now. I love what are considered real women. Women with curves. For sure. But I will pack it all in for this girl right now.

But I have to.

Fight!

 

Chapter

 

You’ve probably seen it done on television across a broad array of sports. Not just boxing. We gloved up. Chest protection was provided. It would cover up bare chests. Shin guards were put on. Then padded boots. Elbow pads, knee pads and forearm pads. We were going to try to wreck each other. Everyone pad up to the max! I demanded it. Rebecca got her card, right? The prisoner wants his last meal. Pads to the max! I will pull nothing now. Caged helmet too. Train wreck time. You ready?

Good to go.

How did I pull it together?

The athlete must bang his forehead with his own gloved fist. I had to do a few of those. Hit myself real hard through the caged helmet. You wonder. What are those superstitions fools doing now? Knocking on their own blocks because wood is not available? If you have been a practitioner of those self-administered blows yourself. You know.

They clear the cobwebs. They are a quick warrior adjustment. I swear Spartan warriors did them for their last stand. They would have gone down much faster without them. Fist bumps to the head for Sparta! Otherwise nobody will remember that one hundred fought off thousands. Keep fist bumping your head and fighting! We have almost got a memorable sum of dead on the ground. We shall not be forgotten.

I did a couple with my right hand. A few with my left. Got a quick rhythm going. Nice and hard through that caged helmet. Good to go. No more love in that head. Back to pure dread. Threw a few off the books moves. Got the flying arts going. Dove through a little Kung Fu. Hit Karate’s greatest hits. Then I did a little break dancing. Right into the kick boxing. Maybe a few pure boxing moves. Cartwheel into a backflip.

Even back then I was working on my own invented martial art. How else could I defeat my prior Karate instructor? He sucked! His moves too. Karate is for kids. Tae Kwon Do is for adults. It just needs a few Kung Fu adjustments. A couple of cubes of ice in that scotch. Add a little tap water. You are now a go, Sir. Drink up.

Then I launched right at my starter monster. It was self-defense so I was free to deploy the early version of my hallucinatory Tae Kwon Do. She had taken off her shirt as a diversionary move. It had almost worked too. Then professed that she had a crush on me. That was the knockout blow. I could have had that?

Rebecca had almost blown my entire chances at an upward trajectory in life right there. I went straight in for the merciless body blows. This wasn’t about points. It was about beating the other person down onto the ground. Don’t get up!

I beat her harder than I would have normally because she took off her shirt to taunt me with the body that I wanted in every possible way. I wanted her. I wanted her to be me. And I had a crush on her too. Which she shamed me on.

Black belt!

The second time is always better as they say. The first time is pure fumbling with the bra hook. This one had no bra. I was better off without it. The real monster came with one that took me three years to unhook. It was full too when I finally figured out the clasp. It clawed right back on my hand like a stack of cement blocks that I was trying to break. Too much hesitation. That’s your exhibition martial artist right there. A fool deploying his art against valuable building materials. You can make that monster a home. You realize that. She’s not just for hitting. You can hit that the other way too.

I hadn’t really thought about that.

That’s why you’re a Tae Kwon Do fool.

 

Fight!

 

Buddy you’re an old man.

Poor man.

Pleading with your eyes make you some peace.

Almost time.

I am back up on the stage in Maine for the final time. It is a foregone conclusion that I won. I went off on my journey complete with monster.

However.

My first fight against the real monster after I fell in love with her. The one that warrior lore mandates that I lose. You can’t win out in the fields then bring it back indoors the following night and win again now can you? Hollywood cannot support such a thing. Especially if you’re a white boy and your monster is a black dreadlocked monster.

But do you think your monster of yore would wince for even a second?

He is on a storied tear. He will not relinquish.

You can forget it.

My black belt was torn off me undefeated by Mister Billy Blanks himself.

I was banished from Tae Kwon Do for life.

Life is your new occupation. Go up. Do not even think of coming back to us.

People ask what belt I am by the fireplace. I have none. I am not even a white belt because you must train for that in a real martial arts academy. We did not award new arrivals that. You had to earn that.

I am a Honkey in Paradise. That’s all.

My weapons were stolen in a break-in at least a decade ago. A whole steamer trunk of them. I just shrugged. I cannot even use them. I am no longer a black belt. I hope they find good homes after the pawnshop. I run, swim and bicycle these days. I am not even good at that anymore. Health issues have robbed me. I am happy that no break-ins killed me. I am very happy to be out-of-shape and alive. I am not even incarcerated. Hey, I have a wife and child. Now that is solid. Most of my surgeries appear concluded for now. That possible bone marrow transplant to the jaw is absolutely nothing. You beat back total immune system collapse. Maybe a metal jaw will be trill.

You look at the body. You say to yourself looking okay in middle-age, handsome. Not bad. I can see a glimmer of the warrior past. Then you look at the face. What happened here? Are there any weights for that? I have turned into Governor Berkeley. I am a Royal Governor these days. The Governor kind of walks the property and looks around. That’s it. He then drives off in his Chevy sled. Nothing fancy to see here. It’s all rearview if you want to get sporty.

 

Chapter

 

Dirty New England Patriots Jacket vs. Karate Hippie?

 

How is that card in middle age now that we got Mister Berkeley back in Swing Ham?

Any Hingham Hillbilly Haymakers these days on his card?

Plenty of bullies are still floating around.

Those Hingham Hillbilly Haymakers drove me all the way up to The Ivy League. They inspired me to write a novel. And they consistently offer to fight me in traffic in Hingham to this day on the mean streets of Hingham. Now c’mon.

Ye Old Hingham Hillbilly Haymaker has no athletic training. However they have come to believe of themselves as athletes because of strong observation of The New England Patriots. The Hingham Hillbilly Haymaker has no training whatsoever. Trained martial artists do not make fight offers out car windows. They will not accept them anymore either. Humility, Virtue, Faith, etc.

Those are pretty big words for your Karate hippie in middle-age. Your Hingham Hillbilly Haymaker actually has nothing going for him. That’s why he has to roll down his window. It feels like I have been sitting on Main Street in Hingham my whole life. Now I am back. Did I even get out of here on the Tae Kwon Do card? Paris would be a dream right now. I could do swords in Cahors. I am a solid customer for that. Maybe I sell myself on a movie script job. I know a few French film directors.

I should probably get back into Tae Kwon Do. Maybe Kung Fu will produce better results. I don’t want to do Judo. That’s your old time decorated Tae Kwon Do artist thinking in traffic. Hey, you got XM radio. And AC. No bitching, pal. Money in ye old bank account. It’s not much. But it’s a long way from running from the cops up Turkey Hill.

You are living the Swing Ham Dream right now. Get the fight book out the door. And we talk Paris. Although you have already promised the wife Mexico. What Mexicans can’t fly to Paris? We’ll take down the two like we did on the honeymoon. Cabo San Lucas to Cahors. That was a fun trip. Amazing to think that I got married. I can’t believe the blessings that God bestows me in spite of all my difficulties. Although I cried a ton in the parking lot of Children’s hospital when they kept studying my son’s kidneys. I wasn’t even crying for him. It was all the other sick kids. I am so thankful that I am not sitting in Children’s Hospital right now.

Then some guy almost slams into me because he is driving too fast around a snowbank. I’m not in a hurry. Why are you? More traffic ahead brother. Roll down your window!!! Another one. Get out of the car!!! No. I got everything I need in here. That usually sends them sailing.

I was offered to get out my Chevy just the other day.

No.

You go home.

I am point of fact on the telephone with my mother.

You see the headset?

I obey all the laws of God and man these days.

I like to sit in Old Ship Church with my problems.

The Old Ship Church was built in 1681 in Hingham, Massachusetts in the United States. It is the oldest church in continuous ecclesiastical use in the United States and the only remaining 17th century Puritan meeting house in America.

Don’t take it from me.

That’s Wikipedia.

Hey, I bet many a problem has been solved in that dojo.

That’s where I like to duke it out these days.

I am point of fact The Head of a major household.

May not sound like much.

But it’s a lot for me.

We never expected this much success out of Mister Berkeley.

Hey, I ain’t divorced.

Not been arrested in like forever.

The guy wouldn’t let it go though.

Hold on Mother.

Hey, I only used to fight professional. Hillbilly haymaker.

Now you fuck off most righteously.

Lest you get dropped.

All I need is one punch for lights out.

That usually chases off the most determined.

I throw God and fists.

I am not even allowed to curse.

That’s how you know you are dealing with a pro.

If I can sit there and not even flinch when you are yelling at me. What does that tell you, Hingham Hillbilly Haymaker??? The mean streets of Hingham. Watch out!!! I think I will tape a do not disturb sign on my driver door. Closed to fight offers from Hingham Hillbilly Haymakers. I am an Old Ship Church customer these days. Trust me. I know. A Puritan I do not make. I ain’t even Christian anymore. But I am trying. Maybe that’s what make me so Christian. I know that I am not. But I have major life obligations. Being a better person is chief among them. Religious leaders have always been willing to work with me. No Science argument ever helped me. Biology doesn’t sit down with me unless you count the atoms in the preacher. At what point do the two arguments collide? Hey, I am willing to wait. Clearly I need help here.

Man are those Hillbilly Hingham Haymakers going to be pissed when I have my book signing at Ye Old Mill Grille. We will have to change the name back for the evening. Connie at The Ocean Kai will let me do it. Or I go up to South Shore Country Club. Tony will let me bring my own band. The Red Rose in Weymouth would be lovely.

Roll down your window!!! C’mon guy, cut it out.

I might be the biggest Townie ever.

I am the best fighter to come off these mean streets.

Now I am the greatest novelist.

Old Ship Church is what I throw.

Most horror show.

 

Chapter

 

My Hingham Hillbilly Haymakers delivered me up to Tae Kwon Do which got me eventually to The Ivy League. Now I sit in traffic on Main Street incensing these people when I am not writing novels. This book should break the logjam. How professional fighting along with a few Hingham Hillbilly Haymakers sent me right up through life. It may not be much of a deal to some of you that I can write books. But it’s a long way from decking kids in The Pit after school.

Life wasn’t looking too promising even with two black belts. I figured I was going to be a professional Tae Kwon Do fighter and hopefully get out without too many concussions. I wasn’t aware of any Tae Kwon Do scholarships. Not that I could get one because not even Zoo Mass takes a failing student that is deep into street fighting along with the professional bouts. I couldn’t fire up any good recommendations for many years of warrior walk. It’s only been three years that I have been this bad, I would shrug.

About The Tree Department was what I was looking at. Maybe a good war will happen before that. I am a solid customer for that. I really was in an incredibly tough spot. Sure there are worse. Of course. But ruff and tuff up in the witchy woods of New England? Too bad the world has no more use for that. Even a kid in the ghetto with a bus pass has more promising opportunities. Hey, I can tree fight. Now come the swords. Maybe The End of Days will come and hook me up.

The only thing that I was demonstrable good at was fighting. This might be a problem. Even Mister Berkeley will concede that suiting up for fight night. I can’t even count boxing among my blessings. I am a Tae Kwon Do fool. No changing that. And there is zero future in that in the nineteen eighties. Did I mention that I am descending into really dark violence when I am not professional fighting?

Ultra violence.

Yup.

That’s my hobby.

 

 

Fight!

 

You got mud on your face.

You big disgrace.

Kicking your can all over the place.

Almost time.

People make fun of Queen’s astonishing success. They find fault with Eddie Mercury. He died of AIDS!

I just shrug. I would have made him strip. And put him in my bed. Under all those furs. We would not have touched.

Warrior code!

But I would have asked.

What do you think of the soul of New England?

This is how this country was founded. Under a pile of animal skins.

You have a guy like me bumping ugly with some a squaw down Plymouth. One longhouse over? A couple of fellas in there. Getting kind of noisy in the longhouse, gents. I think I detect some heavy breathing! What’s going on in there? I suspect a little homosexual activity. That’s just me. You can call The Pilgrims anyway you like.

Wussies all of them. That’s what I truly think. I’d have joined a vicious Indian tribe in a heartbeat. Thanks for the ride is what I would say to The Pilgrims. I am off to find The Mohawks.

You can keep your shit your pants version of Jesus too.

Mine is a warrior.

How did The Pilgrims even make it here?

Why weren’t we Jamestown, Virginia?

Because the Indians saved us.

I’d probably just have tied the Pilgrims up and crucified them all.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Save us all the trouble of the American Experience.

That’s what I would have done if I were an Indian.

Martyred The Pilgrims.

 

Chapter

 

I am trying to be obnoxious to people that are against homosexuals. I am way fiercer than you. I have no problem with it. I’d have put Eddie Mercury right into my bed without an ounce of hesitation. You should too. You feature him at all your sporting events when you dress up as Pop Warner players but you’re adults. I actually do sports. I do not dress up like a poor imitation of one.

But in the meanwhile homosexual friends and family members will make lovely babysitters. That’s just me laying out my theories to Eddie Mercury in bed back up in my Hingham dojo which does not exist any longer. I have to use fiction to go there. I can take Eddie Mercury though which is pretty cool. I am actually happy that he is gay. I get to drive my point about equality home. Gay people deserve all the same rights as everyone else. Hell, I won’t martyr The Pilgrims.

I was just kidding.

What kind of maniac would suggest such a thing?

And that’s how the quilt of this nation was formed. One piece at a time.

I think Eddie Mercury would have been chuffed to bits.

Up in my bed.

Under the furs.

In my dojo.

Eddie Mercury would have been chuffed to bits.

That’s British slang for to be thrilled.

Sitting under my animal skins in the nude contemplating how this nation was formed.

Lights out and God bless America, Eddie!

Fist bump time.

Give me some extra heat because you were born in Zanzibar, Africa.

Hit me hard, brother!

Then we fist bump.

I cannot really imagine another conclusion. His estate will have to determine because I need their permission.

I hate Queen flat down.

100%.

But not for any of the common reasons. They wrote my life. They preconfigured exactly what was going to happen to me before I did. They wrote an enormously popular song as a soundtrack for my life. Mister Berkeley will need this. That’s why they did it. There will be millions of Mister Berkeley all over the world. Let’s rock them all.

We Will Rock You is terribly powerful which is why I feature it so prominently. Motown might be what I wanted on my warrior journey. But Queen had different designs for me. Who is the most famous person on the planet hands down?

The Queen of England.

She has been on the world stage longer than anybody. Nana swore by her. It is only fitting that my band be Queen. Look at Mister Berkeley’s storied British past. The Berkeley clan invented England when they rowed in after conquering France. Being Vikings wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted to improve their station and be British. And then screw up the entire world with The British Empire.

I only wish my Viking ancestors had sailed a little further south. Africa would have been a better conquest. We could have skipped this whole American experiment. I would have been named something like Rah which is British slang for a young snob. Or it can mean The Sun of God in African culture. You see how close we could have been to a win? Rah Berkeley. That would have been a cool name.

The Vikings just needed to take a crack at Africa. Win, lose or draw. We all walk away winners including the occupants of Pre-Columbian America. Leave it alone. The Mayans and Aztecs are doing just fine with their mathematics and urban design. It’s not like we aren’t a blood sacrifice culture too. Mister Berkeley is a well-documented Battle Axe People. That’s what I am people! I am descended from the battle axe point of fact.

But that’s not the outcome we got.

America got a card.

That’s what Otto would have said. He was right too.

America got a card.

 

Fight!

 

We will rock you.

We will rock you.

Alright.

Almost done.

Do you know who the real warrior is here?

My mother.

Back walking into Billy Blanks Academy she was more than two decades away from walking into The White House. There was an African American President within. He had summonsed women warriors from Boston for honors. They had been doing things around town for decades. Typically it was small.

My mother would be sitting there in Kakas Furs in astonishment. She had just attended a coffee to the effect that there were children in South Boston that did not have proper outer garments for winter. My mother was born there. She was pissed.

In my day it would be acceptable to be cold. It was expected. The Irish were all in the gutter. All of us.

However.

Between Kakas Furs and Burlington Coat Factory we should have already solved this.

We are a disgrace.

Mary.

Even I called her that.

We can’t put poor kids into fur coats. It will cause an even bigger uproar than busing.

They don’t want furs. They want puffy coats. I have spoken to them myself. I went in a public school after I heard of this lack of winter coats myself. They have to be different colors, makes and models too. We can’t put kids in uniforms. We have to do Dorchester and Roxbury too. Cambridge can sort their own hay because they are anti-fur. I will not extend them charity.

My mother begins her march up to The White House in characteristic fashion. She is two full decades away. But she is already on her way.

She telephones The Boston Police. I would like to speak to Detective Martin Walsh. He is someone I grew up with in South Boston. Just tell him it’s Mary. I can wait. I have been waiting my whole life.

The line is connected. The situation is outlined. Detective Martin Walsh shrugs off the whole situation.

How can you clad poverty stricken South Boston for winter? And you want at Dorchester and Roxbury too? You are even talking Mattapan and West Roxbury because you have had time to think? Woman you are mad.

My mother phones The Chief of Police next. Then the Mayor. She launches at The Governor. She has hit everybody beneath him. She is moving on to Congressmen now. The United States Senators from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts have heard she is coming. She has pulled in mentionable community leaders from Morgan Memorial to Boston Gas and Boston Edison. Half of Roxbury has had a jingle. Will Mary Kakas clad these poverty stricken youth with puffy coats?

You bet.

She is only beginning too. Coats were just the opener. Multiple main events stacked up like fight cards for decades to come.

 

Chapter

 

Booster and I have learned that we cannot build a constructive society together. This is not a new lesson. We knew this when I gave him his outlaw nickname. Booster. He earned it by terrorizing the house. I think we’ll do Motocross when he gets older if Polo doesn’t pan out. Or we’ll move to the country and burn down the woods distilling. Oops our moonshine still blew up again. Better luck next time, dude. I’ve written an entire novel about your bad boy. His dangerous collision of interest. I think The Grateful Dead and fighting will go great together! That’s what I used to think. I do swords to Space!

The whole world is worried about the sexually curious boy, the nerd with insufficient science supplies and the musical genius with the cheap trombone and so on. Nobody has ever cared about the psycho boy. That’s where I come in. That psycho needs a better dirt bike for riding through the woods. How do you expect him to do aerials in The Town Forest? He has to have more power. And take a look at the deplorable state of his swords.

My mother began the intellectual inquiry that blossomed into Bad Boy Studies. I will say that. She just kept escalating me through the martial arts world. And the library. It’s fun to read up in the woods! Rifles and Russian novels. I got you a minibike so you don’t have to walk up there. I understand you go seriously deep into the woods these days to avoid trouble. My mother was like. You can have your own Outlaw Academy. You own that, young William.

At least he is seriously smart and badass. This is my mother speaking to her critics which are legion. I never worry about him! I worry about his victims, of course. They just have to leave him alone. I don’t want to talk to him through glass on one of those jail phones. I like Yale much better. That was and still is my mother’s assessment of me.

I never worry about Will. Not a little bit? My wife asks. I am up to something ungodly. My real estate empire has gone Titanic. Business partners would have a hit called out on me if they could pull it off. Nobody understands why we are homeless right now but me. Don’t worry. I will pull this off. Where are you going with that carload of shotguns? Some of them are rifles. I am quick to point out. And a few handguns.

I am selling them to a Federal Arms Dealer. He promised me top dollar. He has a psycho collector just like me in Nevada. He will pay top dollar for rarities. He can get it all across State lines lawfully. Just give me until the end of the week, okay? I am living up to the agreements that I made concerning our son. Any estimated time arrival on a home of our own? Very soon. I am going to pay an attorney a visit. The real estate specifics are too complicated to get into. I will solve him. I mean it. Maybe the guns will get one last airing. I am still licensed to carry concealed. I don’t say that. But God, I wish I could just shoot everybody. So much quicker and cheaper. No wife complaining. And she is right too. How I got to this place in middle-age is just unbelievable. The solution to my current crisis is unloading all my guns so I can close on one house before I lose it because the other that I will sell at great profit is in legal limbo. And I cannot get more credit until the cash cow closes. Cash, credit and friends have all been exhausted. I will be very flush very soon. But right now I need ten thousand dollars in cash. I need it this very afternoon! Good thing I am a heavily armed psycho that can convert valuable guns into that even at extortion prices. I should just buy a ski mask and stick up a bank. I’ve been pondering that since morning coffee. I will sit in a ton less traffic. I get pinched? I lose two real estate deals, one wife, one child and probably my mother too. The Redheaded Devil will visit me in prison though. You should have had me drive getaway. You know I am a very good driver particularly under blue light pressure. What does the PTA to the max cat do?

I sold all my guns. All my other dominos fell into place by the end of the week. I lived up to my agreements concerning my son. No more guns. It’s not that I don’t think you can’t handle them. I know that I can’t. I was seriously weighing the option of sticking up a bank. I contemplate crime all the time in middle-age. It’s like a grocery list in my mind. Or I could beat the holy hell out of this person. We cannot have that!

Mothers these days actually think I am constructive. My son is such a terror. Can you help me? I am like. How many schools? Two. He is not that bad. I only work three (3) schools and up. I’m kind of done with Outlaw Academy though. There is no way that I can tolerate a repeat in the next generation. You realize I went to Brown University, dude. If you want to start a global uprising. I am game. I was a Latin American public health worker at 18 years old. I moved to South America! But just trashing the house is annoying. Go down the garage and trash that while I clean up everything that you broke upstairs. I let you dump four man size buckets of toys. Five is too much. And you broke the door of the dishwasher by jumping on it. I cannot even find the dog. Jack where the hell are you? I might even have a neighbor’s dog in here too. What did I do with that runaway dog that I stopped the dog catcher from hooking? Stacy is in the garage. You have to go upstairs and destroy your room.

I am the last man to seek if you want to know what’s going on in terms of parenting here. I need to listen to Motown in peace up in here. I am half deaf from too many rock concerts. I would not have stayed up writing all night last night if I knew you would refuse to go to daycare. I have not slept in two days.

I do not question letting you stay home because you do not want to listen to your teachers. I understand your entire position. Frankly I think I invented it. But I have to clean up this house before somebody calls the Police. Daddy gets arrested. And you get arrested too, little dude.

I don’t say all that to him. I just tell him we have to sneak the Police. That’s just a generalized term for us being boys. Booster will go up to his room and sneak the Police while I restore some semblance of order to the house.

If I do not crank I Want You Back. I hear nothing. That’s my song for The Booster. Or I go ABC. It’s called Fright Wing Writing. Frankly I think I invented that too.

 

Chapter

 

I’ve got the outlaw off to preschool 2. Booster Boo, my four year old, teaches me a thing or two about how to be a difficult boy. We’ve been home alone dumping the whole house since yesterday. That’s how he plays. Down to the garage to trash that. Even I can’t deal with the garbage patch that you have created on the second floor! The poor dog cannot even reasonably walk. There are six buckets of plastic shit strewn everywhere. I upped the limit to dump the entire house.

Down to the garage, little dude. I have to police up some of this mess. And I want to turn up the stereo and listen to heavy metal now. It is the world’s greatest art metal band so I feel I can do it. I’ve got my own mess to make in the kitchen too. That sink is barely overflowing. Spaghetti for lunch for the Karate hippies. I mean the two of us. I put him in Karate before he was four years old.

Booster has a fireplace Master with his voice as his only weapon. Let’s put the H in hustle little boys. He caught me clocking him. Have you done any martial arts, Mister Berkeley? Not really.

I’ve written an entire novel about my journey up to The Ivy League. I did it through full contact Tae Kwon Do fighting. I was a Karate hippie out in the woods too. I stood tall out there too. I actually invented fight club before it died down for a couple of decades. That’s all. I tell him nothing though.

I heard it’s good for discipline.

It most certainly is.

Except for the prodigies.

But I say nothing.

The guy has twelve gold stripes around his brand new black belt. His girth is fierce too. I didn’t know black belts went up to Sumo Wrestler. I figured you were just forced to cross over into sumo. I’ve fought one of those. We just did it for fun. We set some pretty basic rules. I could literarily use his body to jump over. I think I could have taken him with no rules in a self-defense fight. He had no fat on his ankles. But if I chopped that tree down wrong. I would have crushed myself. The sumo was pure fun. He delighted in my Kung Fu too. I let him push me around plenty just for the pure sensation. It is truly terrifying to feel that kind of human force. You have to remember that I am Praying Mantis type creature. A sumo wrestler feels like a truck made out of meat to me.

I am no less than twenty years older than my son’s Karate Master. He does some bogus five animal Karate that I do not even recognize. But I am happy with my fireplace Master for Booster though. How do I like him for me?

You strip us both down naked and throw us in a cage in Las Vegas this Saturday night. I don’t need to train. You do not worry about me. I have more scars across my chest than he has odds. They would bring out a scale and weigh my right fist. We cannot sanction this bout. That’s not a hand that God made. Something a little more martial produced that. Then they peer at the lightly out-of-shape body. Ulcerative colitis ravaged my physical conditioning. I am no longer your triathlete of yore. Hopefully I can get in reasonable shape for the second half of my life without harming my health. That is the new goal. I merely want to stay alive. It would truly be God’s gift to me to watch my son graduate college. I am late to the parenting game so I will not request marriage. Perhaps I will see that. Now peep the eyes. Malevolent animal still in there. Carefully hidden but no fighter would not see it right away.

Discipline sounds terrific. I hope not too harsh.

Do not worry about that. This is a loving and supportive Karate Academy.

That’s what I like to hear. PTA all the way this guy.

A little fighting down the deep left wing. A couple of tree branches with fire because we’ve broken all our steel swords. The reason why I think it’s so important is that boys are bad business. At least I was. I could terrify you in the woods. And the library. Those were my locations. I was cool on school though.

 

Chapter

 

I didn’t think Central Junior High was good for much. I only come here for the fights. That’s what I told the Principle at the point of expulsion. He kicked me up to The Superintendent of Schools. Why is your office downtown, dude? Schools are midtown. My mom would not pick me up. I had to skateboard downtown here which is illegal for my expulsion during lunch hour. How you know what’s going on up The Pit where I fight? He is like your grammar is horrific. My fighting makes up for it. Then I show him my fists which are massive. I drive those bad boys into a bucket of sand and gravel. That’s my hobby when I am not training martial arts or hunting up Turkey Hill. I was beyond malevolent. My friends are way worse than me. That’s how I would explain myself when pushed. Way worse.

I am a bookish nerd. I do swords. Weapons martial artists are all nerds. The boys down The Gulch think I am Einstein. My Karate hippie pals make even me faint. Fistfights up the woods, Mister Berkeley. That’s how they hook me. We have a bonfire and moonshine. Girls in peasant dresses that have black belts. I am a solid customer for that. But I did not invent that. I am quick to point out. I just took The Karate King Title at fist point. Then I took Karate Castle. I used my Karate Army for that. Scarred the bejesus out of all the squatters up there.

Boys can change. I did. Ship him off to South America for public health work. That kid will love the sticks of Paraguay. That was Belmont Hill School’s idea. After they put me in detention for a year. You’re staying back a year. There is that too. We’re going to get you right up to speed. Cross country running, AP Physics, class six days a week. Detention around the clock. And we have no girls. Sucks to be you, dude. You should have stopped at two (2) high schools. We are way worse than that Southern reform school that everybody keeps threatening you with. We take on Harvard up here. We win too. That’s why The Boston Globe Spotlight Team can’t say anything about us. That’s your old time Belmont Hill School.

Brutal beyond belief. Profane like you would not believe. Stop being a wussy, Mister Berkeley. You can run faster. People sit there in amazement. Are you Belmont Hill School boys really that bad? Yup. Mister Berkeley is not even notable. He is mid fleet here. But we are demanding better performance. Maybe we can get him up a few pegs in the class ranking. You rank all these boys? We delight in publishing the results. Why else would we put that kid in detention for a whole year? We want him to be the top of his class. He wrote some stories about his Karate past and that convinced us. You applaud that? Are you kidding? We think it’s terrific. We wish we had more of him to deploy on our rivals! We are out for blood here at Belmont Hill School. And we get it. That’s precisely what we do. We make it pour.

 

Chapter

 

I think UMass Boston is kind of the model. I’m thinking about building my own location in cyberspace to write. I am calling it The Fright Wing. I was a merit scholar in the Graduate English Department at UMass Boston. I never got paid for teaching due to clerical errors. My scholarship was revoked multiply. At some point it all straightened out and I made money. Here is your huge check for graduation. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to send you to the bill collectors on tuition that we granted you as your scholarship. Or treat you so poorly when you complained that we were billing you. And not paying you!

You have only been with us for five years for a Master’s Degree in English. I was waiting for the Ph.D. program to kick in. I figured why not get an MA in Literature, Creative Writing and Composition? There are actually three fields of English inquiry. I could have taken a degree in any of them. Too bad that I have to pick one.

I have two other jobs too. None of them pay. I only took like 30 courses because half of them were terrible. Or I showed up lightly buzzed. Everybody reeks of booze on Thursday evening in my advanced creative writing class. But we all have complete novels to workshop. Why exactly do we have creative writing class on Thursday evening for graduate students? You understand that all of us are completely maxed out emotionally?

We’re getting married and divorced like it is nothing. I got married over the weekend. I am tapped out. I had fifty people in my house in Dorchester yesterday. I am tapped out. I will be fired from my main job in commercial real estate shortly. I know it too. The world economy has collapsed again! Why should Boston real estate be any different? All my former professional peers are all on unemployment. I will be next. Good thing that I like to write because I won’t get hired back. That job is finished.

Time to learn how to write professionally, I suppose.

Have you got a better idea?

 

Chapter

 

No educator ever got through to you before. Why should I be any different? I am sitting there about to get formerly written up for my teaching job.

You know what pupils? You come in here with an essay tomorrow and tell me why you want to learn how to write better? You show up with an essay telling me why. You give your reason. You don’t have a reason. Your reason is no good reason. You tell me about that then.

I am out of here for the delights of brunch in Dorchester. Anybody that has a fake ID can join me. I don’t want to teach you right now. Because you don’t want to learn. I will quit this job if I don’t get at least a few interested students. So what if it is 8:00 in the morning? Nobody else will consent to teaching mandatory freshman composition at this hour. I only take it because I stay up all night writing. I have to work all day at my other job which I am getting fired from. Then I have night class. That’s my violin crying for you. I do not want to lose my house. Or get a divorce. Those are my two issues. I am on major medication for my health. My immune system has collapsed again. It’s no big deal. It is only my immune system.

My boss thought I was an evil hick from New England. A male Flannery O’Connor she would grunt. Not nearly as religious. I would point out. Or as smart! My grammar was horrific even after Brown University. UMass Boston used to be worse. That’s what Judy would say to me when I had exasperated her to the point of private conference. I was like c’mon. I am teaching grammar for free! I would not pay me neither. I cannot blame the paperwork fools at UMB. I go down that office and yell at them all the time. I am actually bringing them Dunkin Donuts now. I can’t fight them no more. I am done. This school is terrible. I blame myself for the reason. Scholarship for me was a huge mistake. I cannot string a sentence together. I will not leave until I figure out how to write better. I want to be Walt Whitman. But look at me. Entire spoken word novels of pure profanity. Which is why you hired me. Why in the name of God did you offer me scholarship? All I wanted to do was take one course in Creative Writing. You like to get up early too. Most of you radicals live up in JP. The fact that I walk in from across the street is pretty cool. I would bring my dog over sometimes. I lost my job. Jack needs to attend class. I used to bring him to work. But I don’t have none right now. I am fired. I have to get paid, graduate and go on unemployment in that order. I am not eligible for unemployment benefits until I am no longer a fulltime student. The world remains beyond my understanding. What else is new? But my health seems to be looking up.

At some point UMB will self-correct and pay you. Or we just turn you lose on the world. Our work is done. Judy was right. She and I were not friends. But I have come to really respect her. This is your song, Judy. That and Everyday People. We both liked Sly. We heartily agreed upon that. Not much else though. Different strokes.

 

Chapter

 

So I’ve heard the rumors. And I like where you are going. There is a local conspiracy afoot to get me back into the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Their opening move is the monks. Abbey. They don’t even know it. That’s the thing that Kelly says.

Will has objections to Catholicism that I do not even understand. I am Catholic myself. Do not battle him on religion. We waged war to get him married in the Church. The priest absolved him of Pre-Cana along with the fact that he refused to be confirmed as a young person. You will lose. He has an actual file in the Catholic Church. He has presented to them plenty.

So what’s the proposal to get me back in the Catholic Church?

They say Bud Light. Feed it to him at Saint Paul’s.

I like where you are going. But you’re going to have to up your game. I need real Belgian beer. I am talking really slick Abbey stuff. Hand it out through the porthole. Those monks brew, dude. Now you got me loaded on serious monk brew. Nice move. But we still got that little problem called hierarchy to God.

No Pope, dude.

As my brother noted when I took my problem of lack of spiritual institution for the Booster to him.

I am not afraid to seek advice. I do it all the time. I need the help.

You can rule out the Catholic Church, dude. First off. You will attack the priest if he tries to advise The Booster. You will want to take him outside and kick his ass. Of course. I will not deny it. Secondly, you need to be able to bring a walking fish into your pew. You cannot be arrested over religion. You are PTA to the max these days. I agree.

Now the list is getting reasonable. Hey, look what I found on my way to church! God digs evolution. Or it’s the other way around. Hey, relax. I can’t have no hierarchy to God. That’s how I actually think when I relax. Slide into my old grammar. Perhaps a church out in the woods. The Church of Turkey Hill. I like rivers.

Hey, God made those.

Along with the Big Bang, I figure.

I used to look at the Southern Cross in Paraguay. Something made that. Maybe I worship stars. But I like a little life advice on Sunday. That might be nice. How to be a better citizen, husband and father. I am down with that.

I like The Bible too.

I have been trying to decipher that since a very young age. Pretty decent stories. They could use a little editing. Clean up the plot holes. Get the cast count down a bit. I could trick it up to the correct level. I am that good of a writer these days. Practical, honest and not a fraud. I flat out tell you that I have to invent to get things right. I really dislike authors that pretend to live in their fiction. I got a telephone number. Maybe I share it with you sometime. I am a real person. I am not a fiction.

Then we look at the horrific problems that my religious writing causes. I have been kicked out Random House multiply. Not many literary agents in New York do not have strong negative opinions of me. I almost have that dialed though. I only write long format religious category.

The right and the left flip out majorly when I write. I put characters on drugs so they can find God. They find him too. Call me crazy. But I am not a Catholic person. My mind is just way to free. I aim to keep it that way, Pope dopes. Nice try. You keep working. Not even The Rastafarians will have me. I am way too animist. Think Turkey Hill and Weir River. God is up in those hills.

 

Chapter

 

I’m thinking a pretty humane way to torture The Taliban would be to make them live in suburbia with me. Here’s your Chevy full of screaming kids, jihad dude. It’s got a wicked note on it too. I picked out a couple of underprivileged kids for you to adopt too. You aren’t racist, right? Because I got the whole rainbow back there, bro. Let’s watch you walk the God walk. Sound okay? You’re right it is. Because I got no problem pulling this Suburban over and throwing down. One hit is all I need.

You think I am terrible? Wait until you see the house that I picked out for all us. That thing is wicked. Bigger than a funeral parlor, bro. I bought hands down the worst house in town. Up my old hill Baker Hill. Nobody will contest me on how bad that house is. It suxs!

You’re going to need your own oil well to feed it. You’ll personally fund BP’s next hoodwink ad campaign. Now down to Hingham District Court to answer for not paying your ex-wife alimony. What you don’t think I can marry and divorce you at will? You’re living The American Dream now, pal. Looking for God up in the hills of Afghanistan with your AK-47 and kief are nothing but a fond memory now. You’ll be looking for God around here, pal. I know all about it.

You do not worry. You will find him. He just isn’t the kindly one that you’re used to. Ours is way more brutal. You know what really sucks, dude? You are living with me in that funeral parlor I bought you. Life as you know it is concluded. You’re my stiff now. My stiff, bro. Sucks, I know. Basement brawls are going to be your only comfort. I will beat you like a donkey every false step that you make. Welcome to suburbia, bro. You are home.

 

Chapter

 

It would be kind of amazing if a Berkeley rose up in this century. Something to the tune of we rowed in during The Norman Conquest. I am selling myself to the Republican Party. Not the fake ones with no titles or horses or money. You want a real psycho from before England was founded? Look no further. Married cousins in the 12th Century and then did seven centuries of war. This would be how we would sell me to the Republican Party.

The British Empire, shrug. That’s was our mistake. We call it brutish. All lower case. We should have sailed on Africa. That would have yielded way better results. Now we sell me to the Democratic Party. Look at him! He did public health work in Paraguay. An old time warrior with a thousand years of war in the rearview. He doesn’t want to start anymore fights! The dude is done! The world would be much better place with a psycho like him in The White House. However as my father says your skills were honed up in Russia during our Catacomb phase. Then straight back to Africa. Rastafarians never work in The White House. Kick him out. He is Fright Wing. To the max!

 

 

 

Closer

 

My mother is walking around the grounds of Logan International Airport. She is in full Mary Kakas regalia. Her makeup is perfect. She is clad in furs to make a Russian Emperor weep. She is walking the grounds of Logan International Airport like an Emperor. It is Edward Lawrence Logan Airport in her mind.

Born in South Boston in 1875 to a military family. Attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University both of which I should have attended in her mind. Belmont Hill School and Brown University will suffice but they do not name airports after your kind. You’re too much of a record scratch for the average person to grasp. You’re too left wing and too right wing. People just get confused. You’ll beat someone up because they are cruel to their children. You are just too much.

My mother has turned into my Nana for all purposes.

My Nana of this story is actually based on Grandma Berkeley.

All my characters are composite.

Maw-maw is not Billy Blanks’ mother. I did shake Billy Blanks’ father’s hand though. That was a memorable handshake. His hand was a massive mitt just like mine. When you shake my hand you are shaking the hand that shook Mister Blanks’ hand. That hand had fifteen children on it. I didn’t spend that much time in Eire. I am convinced that Darnell walked me around. Nobody dared mess with us. I had two pairs off chucks just in case. That’s how I talked. I pack two pair of chucks. I hope somebody messes with us. Why else I got two pair of chucks?

Darnell say you speak worse than Billy.

That’s why people pick on us. We trying though.

Not hard enough.

Yup.

Nobody will believe me.

I promise you that.

People will believe my fictional story is all true.

I will not defend word one of it.

A pack of well-crafted lies that gets at The Truth.

Also I have self-defended enough.

No more.

 

Chapter

 

My mother, Mary, just like Jesus Christ, is absolutely brutal in her assessment of the deplorable state of the world which is what makes her such an astonishing success at charity which is her field in retirement. Her career in retirement which is charity has come to the attention of The Leader of the Free World.

Hey Michelle Obama, what time is Mary coming up Oval? I’m just going to cold kick it live up in my flip flops until she gets here. Maybe Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band will stop by. Dump sand in the Oval. Amusing is how I would describe those hippies. Even Bill Clinton signs up for a cheeseburger in paradise. Anyway I don’t want no kids in school today in New England. None. America was only started in New England. Under a pile of animal skins. But I want Charlie Baker to finish it. It snowed. And I don’t want nobody battling no mother nature. I got two freaking wars going on right now. You folks in New England don’t need to fight no mother nature. I might have to ping The CIA to get a full figure. They start wars up in here that not even I know exist. But hey that’s my America. I am the man at the top in spite of what Michael Moore says. Them snipers are mine. That seems to please even my most vehement critics. I am like you did not even vote for me. I reserve that level of disdain for people that actually believed in me. Dudes from the witchy woods of New England that went to Brown University that still have wicked horrific attitudes like Will Berkeley. That guy is a fright. The Fright Wing? I call it The Freaking Fright Wing!

You can reach me right here. That’s what I say to my critics. Right here, bro. Right here. I do house calls too.

I keep getting lured back into that Michael Moore morass in spite of myself. Isn’t the original unfair fight between God and man? Mix in a woman in The Garden of Eden? Off we go. God comes down hard on us. Kind of had the upper hand up there in his big chair. I can go Science Argument too.

The Big Bang or whatever started us had a pretty good leg up on us. You tell me. But I don’t like no science argument, bro. I don’t want to be no head of family neither but nobody else will do it so I say we’re all Congregationalist now. Tough cookies if you don’t like it. You didn’t step up. And not even I know why I fight Catholicism anymore! I recently figured out my ancestor was appointed to Berkeley Castle by William the Conqueror. If Catholicism was good enough for them? But they did kill Bishops that they didn’t like.

Then I sit there and think about how this country was founded. If you put me on the ground in New England during The War for Independence? I would definitely fallback fight and take pot shots from behind a tree. My actual ancestors were the ones in those red coats though. I am a bit of a late arrival to these shores. But I see the rebel point. What sane person would square off with The British back in the day? We would all sneak around with muskets if we were Patriots. Fade into farmer when the troops showed up which would be my ancestors. I was on the wrong side of that one.

I hear there were musket reports up Turkey Hill. Hey search me, Officer Berkeley. I have a little thing with an apple that I am going to do with you, Mister Farmer. Eventually you lose your temper with those farmer fools because that’s not what they are. They’re snipers!

I do think that I represent the pretty average mind in America. This whole brouhaha over snipers rankles us big time because we casually look at all the sides. Are you out of your mind? I would smoke a fat man like you in a war given half a chance. How could I miss? Bet your grand pappy was a wussy too. I bet you! Anyway that’s just a sample. Maybe I get fired by my literary agent over this book. Maybe I get a new literary agent too. I keep getting better ones every time I get fired.

You tell me.

 

Real Hingham

 

Today is President’s Day. Where would you find Mister Berkeley today in real life back in the day? I am on my third high school in the late eighties. I have stayed back a year. Been moved around a few towns. Issued a whole new passport truly. Now I am flying under the Irish flag officially. The tour of exile for high school?

How is that progressing?

Berkeley been fired by The United States of America. That’s what my friends casually say about me. Hingham High does not want him. Tabor Academy too. Now he do prison camp out Belmont Hill School. I do four high school. Now come a GED.

That’s Kenzo. He is maybe ten times worse than me. That’s all. There is not a lick of grammar on one of us. He is like that guy ain’t even up to my level. He keeps going up in the world. Me? I have to wait for Wall Street! I have been officially moved out of The Town of Hingham founded in 1633. Hey, where would the prisoner be?

Take a peek in New Hingham. That’s what we call it now. There is Old Hingham. And there is New Hingham. I have mapped out New Hingham twenty years ahead of the game. Am I down at Pastor Catherine Kallis’ house? Nope. Now you go look Old Hingham for the prisoner.

Check up The Tavern. This is the Harries household. Cara is a given. But you are not even getting close. Now we swing up Feeney. Joe is like I got no daughter. Will Berkeley took her West Coast. Joe we already come back.

We look up Bordy now. Missus Freeman she don’t want to get out of bed. I hear no Grateful Dead in my house. Too quiet. There is no Mister Berkeley here. Missus McKenna will not even entertain us. You know that Bobby does not live here anymore. He is on his fourth reform school. Scratch that. He was expelled from that too.

We can’t lay hands on a single kid in The Town of Hingham! Go up Holland next. Dan is unholy pissed. I like that Mister Berkeley he will begrudgingly admit. Sadly he is not asleep in this house with my daughter. Thick as thieves those two. They will not respect my bedding chart. Jeannie thinks she can keep Mister Berkeley in her bed because they are not even dating. Even I am afraid to discipline Jeannie for smoking butts now. She has her own personal bodyguard.

Now we go Drohan. Attorney David Drohan will say I only practice law in this town for forty years! There is not a single daughter here. All four are all safe though. I just know it. Go down Hull. Look there. We swing down East Gate Lane on the way out of town. Stop by Rich and Becky. Any Young Life customers? Wrong night. You catch them all here tomorrow night! Swing by Matt Berry. He ain’t home neither. Now we wake up Mister Jack Harvey Senior. I thankfully have four missing children tonight. Check The Hedge. Hoover got a half-pipe in his woods. Doc Hoover say Groovy is grounded but he jumped out his bedroom window when Mister Berkeley’s Jeep come down the driveway. Now go Brad Tripp down the Gulch. Bad Brad and Jane is Getting Serious. Unholy pissed at all of us. But you’re starting to get close. This street has been quiet for hours. Go Ma Gunny’s bar. Mister Berkeley officially live down Hull. Ma Gunny’s bar is his. She says no. First off they are all banned for life. And last night they came back and broke the camel’s back.

That party house down in Hull?

After The Parrot tells you what you already know.

Kicked them out too.

Even the party house is empty!

Note on the door.

We got kicked out of Hull. We’re down Scituate. Bring you.

Band, fire and booze.

We could always stand a few more brews.

We got everything else covered.

Now we go down Scituate to those winter rentals. The ones with the water under them during a storm. We don’t need no power to party. Plenty hot in the house with all these people dancing and dranking. A little smoky but the house is plenty drifty. We got a snow drift right over it right now. How is everybody getting along during a winter blizzard party?

Not a single complaint from out of that house.

Nobody ever fights.

We all get along great!

Having a real good time actually.

Drinking Hurricanes for the blizzard party.

Show our bare bums on the news if the news trucks show up to cover the coastal flooding.

They probably can’t get in.

What’s in is in.

And what’s out is out.

That’s your real Mister Berkeley on his tour of expulsion.

I have very few Townie problems because I still field an Army.

I am also a humble foot soldier too.

I would not bully one of us.

Highly inadvisable.

One of my very good friends famously quipped.

Have you ever had your ass kicked by a hippie?

Karate hippies continued to flourish even after their King was shutdown officially.

They even tore down his Karate Castle.

I actually think the height of the Kingdom came after I put in The Boy King.

Child Kings are pretty savage rulers.

I should know too.

I was one.

A pretty scary one at that.

Ten four.

Mister Berkeley is up Turkey Hill again with his Karate hippies. Rifle reports. Anything else?

 

Chapter

 

My son aged four is a little disappointed because his Karate Master cancelled class today. It’s a little snowy out so the fireplace Master figures he will sit by the fireplace in his black belt with twelve gold stripes. Too scary out! Now I only did toddler Kung Fu. My mother thought Kung Fu for toddlers was great. Sometime in grammar school I added Karate too. Getting a little tired of Kung Fu. Judo is okay but I like flying arts better. I might have gotten kicked out of some of those schools for starting with The Master. Asking too many pointed questions with my feet and fists. I hate that!

It’s a cloudy mess of martial arts schools from which I am banned for no good reason. Then my mother found Billy Blanks. He looks formidable. I was also Steve Anderson’s only Tae Kwon Do pupil. He could only schedule one.

There is a photograph of me the day that I was awarded my black belt. Billy, Steve, mom and me. Only my mother and I are wearing black belts. They awarded her one for getting me to black belt! Billy and Steve could not be bothered with belts that day. Billy is in a sweat suit. Steve is in his USA pants that Gayle made with a t-shirt up top. I am the only one in an official uniform which I am probably itching to take off. I had to have just spared Steve for my finale because we are both barefoot and he is beaming.

I think I passed my test is the point. I used to get my black belt stripped for various offenses after that. So here I am savoring the moment in that photograph. I think it’s my second black belt. I think I got one in Karate before I was stripped of that, chief. Not even I can tell you what Kung Fu sash I had. Had to be black. Why else was I fired? Judo? No clue. Kickboxing? Thankfully my kickboxing studio did not award belts. Wrestling didn’t even consider them. I was just too fat at five percent body fat.

Billy let me be a nothing belt until we needed a belt for fighting on the road. What would Billy have his travel team doing today back in the day if it was a blizzard? You got fighters with way deeper pasts than me. Couple of Golden Gloves. Boxing is boring. You can’t kick anybody in the head! I agree, dude. Once I got way up there in wrestling? I could not stand it. That was my peer group. None of us in uniforms on Saturday in a blizzard. You think we got there somehow in a freaking Camaro? You bet we made it to the studio. There is nothing else to do in a blizzard in New England other than Tae Kwon Do.

You could maybe get a little fresh air though. We might have already tried running outside in combat boots as a team. I might have hitchhiked in a least some of the way by National Guard truck. Thank God for The Army National Guard Post in Hingham. I would have had to cross country ski the whole way like a Finish farmer going to war.

I might be on maybe my fifth full contact fight of the day. Dressed in full Bruce Lee which would be a track suit. All of my bouts I would have won except the ones against the two professional fighters to my right and left in my black belt test photo. We would train all day and into the night. Hopefully I would just sleep on Billy’s couch because Sunday? We were all doing it again! No rest for the wicked. I loved a good Tae Kwon Do blizzard weekend. Maybe just sleep in the school. Nothing wrong with that, dude. Warriors from out-of-state roll up without invitation. Because the invite is always open!

Booster’s Karate Master clocked me watching him. You used to train? I am like! Not like this. Not like this, bro. It was different back in the day. I like what you’re doing though. I don’t want a repeat of my Tae Kwon Do past. I do not say that. It would be like a cat explaining himself to a bird. The bird is like you are an invasive species. You do realize that? The cat says, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t say that. I say. Don’t go too harsh on the kids. I would never do that. Oh good.

Witchy white boy from the woods of New England is retired.

We packed up the monster and The Fat Man.

 

 

 

 

Chapter

However.

Mary Kakas, my mother, has charm. That is her weapon. It is not retired. She is currently deploying it too.

The State Police roll up on her at Logan International Airport. We are firmly post 9/11. And that is precisely why she is wandering down paths that are restricted. She is looking for a location for a Massachusetts 9/11 Memorial at Logan International Airport. She is a board member of that charity just for openers.

The charity Massachusetts 9/11 has started a secondary charity because they have too much money. That is called Massachusetts Military Heroes. It is designed to help wounded warriors from Massachusetts that have come back from the global war effort against terror get whatever type of help is needed. She has a slightly broader agenda these days than coats. Periodically things percolate in Africa. However my mother hangs onto her once derisive status as a regional runway model. I try to stay out of New York and Washington, DC. They do not need me. My charm is needed in Massachusetts, clearly.

Charm which once was derided is now a very brutal weapon. You do not want The Mary Kakas Charm Offensive. She will come after your pocketbook if it is hearty. Charity needs you.

Look around you. Wounded warriors are being ignored. The state of the elderly in Chinatown is really troubling too. We have to do something about that. My schedule is really packed because now I took on The Police Activities League along with Morgan Memorial, Pine Street Inn and Rosie’s Place. I’m on so many charity boards on top of those. That sadly I must cut back. I cannot decide which to cut. Replacements must be found first. These charities are all desperately important.

Do you think the State Trooper knows who my mother is?

You bet.

He puts the lights on in the undercover Explorer to get her attention. He needed a vehicle with two seats up front. The cruisers only have one.

He hits the siren.

My mother gets in the undercover Explorer which is far from stealth. It’s like the Secret Service wearing those wires in their ears. It is in your face stealth on purpose.

Mary is cold. She figures correctly that the arresting officer will have a hot beverage for her. A small coffee is produced. My mother is a fairly diminutive women in the weight department. But the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts is clear on the fact that she punches way over her weight just like I used to do back in the day. Where do you think I got it?

The Kennedy Clan and Mister Mitt Romney are not even notables in the Rolodex. Israeli gangster with billions are more like it. Her charity operation requires copious amounts of cash. Feeding just the clients of Morgan Memorial Thanksgiving dinner is a pretty staggering bill for your average person. That’s the tiniest thing on the radar. But we all show up to serve. The Redheaded Devil and I have served point of fact. I have photographs of us with The Boston Chief of Police. It’s an amazing record scratch.

Mary is happy with her State Trooper though.

Aren’t you the pride of Boston’s finest?

The State Trooper roars in laughter. My mother is teasing him. Boston’s finest is The Boston’s Police Department. State Troopers hate Boston cops. They think they are corrupt which they are. However they do not turn armored car robber or make women take off their clothes on the Massachusetts Turnpike to get out of speeding tickets like State Troopers. State Troopers are badass. I would have loved to rob armored cars with them. Opportunity in the form of Tae Kwon Do just got in the way. We will rob armored cars someday. Isn’t that how the song goes? Criminals and cops love to talk books with me. You got a lot of time on your hands in either profession, I quip. Hoping to get you all as readers someday. Teach guys how to write in the can and on the blue too. Get some good stories out of all of you. Fist bump, bros.

Massachusetts is a bit of mess. But we all love it myself included. We think that red solo cup that you walk around with beer in it makes the drinking in public law disappear. Welcome to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Have a red solo cup for your beer in public. Enjoy the City of Boston. Go Sox!

We are a determined people. The State Trooper is no exception. He looks ready to invade Poland. That is his official uniform. There is a fierce African American under there too. Massachusetts has a storied tradition of decorated warrior African Americans. There are monuments to be viewed on The Boston Common. This State Trooper is no exception.

What do you think?

That’s what he asks my mother. He is asking have you found a spot for The Massachusetts 9/11 Memorial.

Well, the official spot has been located. I am merely checking everyone’s homework. I am seeking more of a path than a location. I want flight personnel from around the globe to pause on their walk from the hotel to the terminal. What I have in my mind is a bench where they will feel free to sit down and gaze upon the memorial. The distance will be comfortable enough from The Memorial to have a cup of coffee. Or just sit. No disrespect. People will feel free to gaze at The Memorial whatever their intent. I want that sense of wonder. That is what I seek.

The Trooper throws the cruiser in drive.

Madam. I have just the place for you.

I do too.

It is right in my heart.

You are the warrior.

You won too.

We all know it.

Particularly the Kakas family which you have eclipsed by putting their notorious now seventh generation name to good charity use. It’s about time we found something to put behind it other than fur coats.

The South Boston debutante conquered them all.

My mother is featured in this prominent Irish American People of Boston book. She is 100% Irish that is this other little secret. Her mother and father are both Irish. They moved back to Ireland with baby Mary too. Then moved back here again. Let’s give Boston a second try, Catherine. That’s my grandfather that I never met. My Nana doesn’t want to go back. She already knows she doesn’t like Boston. Only the most stubborn Irish have returned from Boston. My Nana is one of them. Martin must convince her.

Mary will be a very big deal in Boston later in life. We cannot deprive her of that. Okay fine. My Nana packs up her cardboard suitcase for one more steamship run across the North Atlantic. It’s probably a winter run too because surely that is cheaper. Have to get back to Boston for the blizzards!

 

Boston Irish

 

We delighted in the fact that my mother was page number 75 in this prominent Irish American People of Boston book appropriately titled Boston Irish. Hey, look Mary is on page number 75! We loved that number. We also reveled in the fact that she was on the right side of the book. You cannot beat that. Far more prominent Boston Irish wish they had that real estate! Page number 75. And the right side of the book!

We roared in laughter. Right where you break the spine. Then you look right. That is my mother. Charm to the max! 100%.

Mary Kakas does not work lower than that.

Mister Berkeley might though.

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Special thanks to David J. Gardiner and Bradford Kendall.

Dave designed the covers and Brad contributed the illustrations.

Visit davidjgardiner.com and bradfordkendall.com to see more of their work.

 

A WORD ABOUT THE COVER FONT

Eduardo Recife designed Disgusting Behavior.

Please visit misprintedtype.com to see more.

 

 


Haymakers: Part III

  • Author: Will Berkeley
  • Published: 2015-09-19 13:20:11
  • Words: 50521
Haymakers: Part III Haymakers: Part III