Headed Towards Insanity, Cuz I'm From There
In the last few months
I've been asked two questions more than any other.
My friends ask, "Where are you going?"
Sorry, but I can't answer that myself.
There are plans. Scattered ones, but plans nonetheless. Being a nomad, the scene out of my window must be entirely different every year or so.
We shall see, but I will keep in touch.
The second question being, "Where did you come from?"
Strange, but true, as it seems these fingers light fires and slit wrists from worlds away.
I guess my best friend all along has been my keyboard.
Note: I originally wrote, "pen", but I realized that's what an old fuck like me would write, but I digress.
Where did I come from?
How does one become this twisted mass of extremes that is I?
Answer in one word: Hialeah.
A lot of you are left scratching your heads, but south Floridians understand.
With that one word, I can write books upon books, but I'll spare you by dishing out just three little stories.
After years of itinerant living, from leaving Spain in the mid 70s, traveling throughout the UK and Germany, we finally come to the US via NYC, later on to New Jersey, then trying out the West Coast with relatives, only to settle in Hialeah?
Why? Only my father can say, and he ain't talkin'.
In 1978 Hialeah was a one-horse town, but by the early eighties there were a few more horses and a hell of a lot of chickens. It was already a town of Cuban immigrants on the outskirts of Miami, but by time of the Mariel Boatlift it became a hub in the Caribbean trade. Sniff, sniff - if you get my drift. Lots of money made the place kinda boom soon after.
My neighborhood had a lot of kids, which was great, as I wanted to settle, grow roots and finally make some friends. There was Merkiades, we called him Mick. The kid who lived in between us, Rene, known as Moonhead. Frank D., labeled Dumbo. Rey, who always asked to be called Prince (he did look just like him), but no one obliged him. Frank E., who we called Shake because of how he would break-dance. John, who had no nickname because he would kick our ass (his brothers robbed banks), Rigo, the gay boy, Charles, who was called Ten because at only eleven he had a ten inch penis. Grady, yes that was his real name, and no he was not black.
And let's not forget the previously quiet and well-mannered me.
When you get this many preteens together, there can only be mischief and trouble, and we really gave it to the neighborhood.
For instance, the ice cream man hated us. We would always stop him, but sometimes with no money, but a ruse to ride his back dumper all over the 'hood. He would try to complain to our parents, but he would swing by our street when they weren't home. If he did talk to our folks, the next day he received nothing from our piggy banks, but eggs and oranges at 70 miles per hour.
One early evening, it was just Mick and I, and he actually hit the gas to speed away. We chased him down, screaming, "No, we really want to buy something!" He just kept his foot on the gas pedal, screeching away from us. Mick gets upset and throws a soccer ball at the truck right as it's taking a right around a corner. The ball goes under the front, right tire and with the speed it was traveling the ice cream truck flips over onto its side.
We run over as the street fills with a crash, then broken glass, chocolate éclairs, and children's allowances. As the yelling fills the street the neighborhood families all help get the truck back on its wheels, but scold the driver for his speed. We get a free ticket out of jail.
I don't know who really started this next week-long prank, but it was a fun one. I believe it started with a horror movie and the later placement by an unknown party of a cut-and-paste (in the style of a detective movie's ransom note) death threat to Mick. He gets the idea to send me one. It was so poorly done; he taped the newspaper cutout letters with tape, and I don't mean individual letters either, I mean all the letter of a word were loop taped as a whole, so when you folded the page inward the letters came out at you. Plus, he spelled torture, "tortor". Anyhow, after cracking up I gets an idear - I make better ones, only this time it's to me, Frank Dumbo, and Rey (Prince, remember?). This sets off a scare in the neighborhood boys and girls. Then the fun really begins, as each night someone keeps finding a death threat - some placed by Mick and I, others by who knows? Then I went for a twist, by turning up hardcore on Mick and I, but telling Mick it wasn't me who was doing it. The notes described all the horrible things we've done to the neighborhood in the past and how we were going to pay for it all. I finally let Rey in on everything, knowing he and I are the two fastest kids on the block. We set up the kill for Sunday night, as on Sundays Rey is supposed to go to basketball practice. So he dons a werewolf mask and proceeds to harass and chase us with a knife that evening. Six or seven school kids, half scared out of their wits, running around the block screaming bloody murder, yet no one went in for the safety of their homes and parents. After about an hour of the fiend giving us chase, and us after him as well, the idea begins to float around that it's Rey. I catch up to the fellow and let him know. We trade clothes and I get the mask and blade. He goes home and exits in his basketball uniform and a sweat to a group of kids calling for his head. Just as they begin to question him, I appear behind Rey with the knife and all Hell breaks loose. This arouses parents, as porch lights begin to blaze and they exit to find out what on Earth could be happening. To this day, I swear I outran an egg thrown at me. Well, after about a half hour of chase I'm cornered and unmasked (by one in on it - party pooper!) to a dumbfounded crew, who I later have to explain my deviousness to.
This last one admittedly takes place during my early teen years, when I was already well taught in the Hialeahean mindset. I was first placed in a teen's detention center (hey it was the 80s, parents institutionalized their kids then) when I was 13 and released about a month later. I was reinstitutionalized six months later. When released from my second reeducating I went over to Mick's house, my partner in crime and drug buddy. He was out front on a ladder pruning a tree when I approached. I heard he had heard I went away for drugs, so I acted like a junkie; looking around all darty, and scratching my face a bunch, as I asked him if he had anything to cure my ills. He apologizes and says he can't help me. I get louder, saying that he really needs to help me. He says he is sorry and can't help. A year earlier, a friend at school sold me the track team's starter pistol he had stolen with a full load, which I then pulled out of my back pocket and fired two shots at Mick. His face shows me real terror as he grasps his torso feeling for the entry holes as he flies off the ladder. His mother runs out screaming, "Mickey!" As he is plunging towards me, he sees the smile on my face and somehow knows it was all a gag. He proceeds to run at me, and I prepare for a knock in the jaw, but instead he grabs the gun from my hand and says, "Cool. Is that thing real?" He quickly tells his mother to go in the house as I explain what it is. Immediately he rushes out into the middle of the street and fires three shots at an oncoming school bus. The bus swerves in a panic, as girls screech and boys cry for their lives. The bus slams on its breaks about two houses away as Mick holds the gun to his head and fires the last shot. Eyes widen, but he's still standing. Then he waves goodbye to them and walks away, and a roar of laughter breaks out from the bus. Even the driver laughs as she pulls away as if remembering nothing but a good joke.
Yeah, it was Hialeah, so they should be used to things like that.