Child Killer

Clothes lines in a tenement backyard
The scene of the attempted murder looked much like this

The rock I throw misses the boy’s head and hits the wooden fence behind him with such force that all the tenement mothers thrust their bobby-pinned heads out of their windows. Tenement mothers instinctively know the sound of one child trying to murder another with a rock. I don’t even know who he is. I am seven. I know this because my mother has sent me into the backyard to check on my infant sister who is sleeping in her carriage. I’m seven years older than she so…

I am seven and it is a sunny day in 1957 and I am walking into our tenement’s backyard when I spot a strange little boy sitting next to my sister’s carriage. I can’t tell if he is talking to her or reading to her. But, I know he isn’t harming her. I know it. But, a twisted, heroic, righteous rage rises in me. No Red Devil whispers in my ear. This is all my doing. This is me. Evil Me. This is the first time the Red Mist engulfs me. I know the story of David and Goliath so I know all about smiting someone with a stone. I decide that I will be a tough guy like David or, even better, the local gang leader, Tony Unbatz. Man, will he and his gang be proud of me? They’ll throw me into the air and buy me a frozen Coke. These are my thoughts as I pick up the largest rock I can throw and hurl it at the boy. Rock in the eye – I blind him. Rock in the temple – I kill him. No Guardian Angel stays my hand. But, maybe his Angel is watching because the rock misses his head. Just. He looks at me with shocked, innocent eyes and runs away.

Mugshot of juvenile delinquent in 1957
This coulda been me.

Many nights, as my not-so-innocent eyes close, I see that boy. I hear the rock. I sit up. I shudder. What if? I am too ashamed and ascared to raise this sin at my First Confession or my last or any in between. But, I do seek forgiveness from that boy. I hope he has enjoyed the life that could so easily have been ruined by me. I hope that, like me, he survived Vietnam and AIDS and 9/11. I hope he accepts my apology

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder-memoir by Jack Antonio
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and ebook
And as an eBook here

Elegy For Irish America

Senator Joseph McCarthy
He was on to the commie-scum then and that’s why they hate him to this day.

I don’t cry on 9/11. I cry on 9/12. I cry while watching a news report about people who had escaped the Twin Towers before they collapsed. One survivor says that as he walked down fifty flights of stairs with terrified co-workers, he was amazed to see a line of firemen loaded with equipment walking up. Up! Up to who knew what? “I’ll never forget the faces of those young men,” he says. “They all had blue eyes.” 

That’s when I cry.  

Of course, they all had blue eyes, you dumb fuck. They were New York City firemen. Every real New Yorker knows that New York firemen are Irish. New York cops, too. And, plenty of them died on 9/11. They were Irish kids from the street. Irish kids from the stoop. We went to St. John’s together and served Mass together. We got ascared at horror movies together and played stickball and swapped baseball cards and wrestled on the sidewalk and gave each other fat lips and black eyes. They called me “wop” and I called them “mick.” Their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers had been cops and firemen. They’d sit on the stoop and shake their Irish heads and tell me that we should have unleashed Patton. They’d take a slug from the beer they clutched in their big Irish mitts and teach me that Joe McCarthy was right. They’d warn me about pinko-commie attack that was headed our way. And, they were right! And, I wept like a sonofabitch for their kind.

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder-memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook
And as an eBook here