Lucinda: Mistress to the Mob

Official website of the in-work novel…..

CHAPTER THIRTY

 

Hallway Reflections

             What had I done, indeed? 

“Oh my God! They’re going to kill him!” I thought as I watched the scene in a high school hallway in rural Chicago, spring 1977.

             The 5-foot-6-inch, 100 pound, 16-year-old boy was encircled by about a dozen guys intent on one thing: seeing to it the small boy in the middle of their circle didn’t leave in the same condition in which he arrived.

             “Now you’re mine,” Big Carlos, the leader of this mob, laughed to his prey. He stood almost a foot taller than his victim. His long, scraggly black hair hung to his shoulders, touching the faded green Army jacket, which presided over a Foghat tee-shirt. He also sported faded blue jeans and leather boots and a teenage starter moustache.

             The skinny kid was scared, his heart beat with the rhythm of a ceremonial tribal tom-tom; he did his best not to show it. He had been in tough spots before and always managed to escape; this time didn’t look so promising. Thinking quickly, he realized it was a no-win situation. If they should fight and he somehow had the upper hand, the others would jump in and help their leader. On the other hand if he took his beating directly from the chief, he would still be hurt: or worse.

             “Last time these guys waited for him, they had knives,” I recalled. “If they’re armed this time….”

             “I’m the one who started this whole mess,” I reasoned. “I’m the one who created the situation; and all for my own purposes. Now he’s gonna get killed and I’ll be in a worse place. I’m starting to understand why Sammy felt so guilty.”

             How did he wind up here? How did this whole chaos ever begin?

             That car crash seems so long ago. All the confusion I felt after the wreck. Not knowing where I was and why: then feeling the need to reconcile. All that led to my decision to reincarnate; and then the surprise of finding him there, instead of me. I’ve tried to help him, but he’s so stubborn. He just keeps doing the wrong things. Just like Sammy and Tommy after the crash, he doesn’t listen; he keeps getting himself into trouble. It only took him 16 years to accomplish what I did in 32; to entice a mob to kill him. How am I supposed to use him to fix my mess when he keeps making bigger problems? I’ll have to start from the beginning if they murder him. “Somebody needs to help!”

             The kid faced his foe directly and put his hands behind his back. “Okay. Do what you’ve gotta do,” he stated. “I’m not even gonna hit you back.”

 

When he was born my first reaction was anger. I felt as if I had been tricked; the old bait-and-switch. Opposed to finding myself mesmerized by his life, I simply went away. Seething as I traversed the universe, I spent years trying to figure my next move.

             A part of the equation I didn’t understand was why the poor kid, through no fault of his own, had to carry some of my bad baggage. Though consciously he had no recollection of me, his subconscious knew all. In fact, he even had an inner desire to repent; he didn’t know what to repent of, just that he should.

             He was a very bright child, who during his pre-school years surprised and amazed the adults in his world. He taught himself to read by the age of two and displayed an uncanny memory for all kinds of details. He memorized the license plate numbers, as well as makes and models of the cars of his entire family, the neighborhood where they lived, and his parents’ friends; this was before attending formal school.

             Almost from birth he had a strange love and fascination for automobiles. There was virtually no car he didn’t love, but the fifties and sixties Chevrolets were his favorites. He also displayed a bizarre preoccupation with wrecked cars. There was a nearby bridge that crossed a railroad track; it sat high enough to offer a view of a junk yard. He loved crossing that bridge to see how many of the wrecked cars he could spot.

A sister and brother followed him into the family. He was in Kindergarten when baby brother came along, meaning there were three children born in the space of six years.

             His parents were both professionals, which was an oddity, and that status afforded him financial comforts; never to an extreme, but in no way ever a concern over the next meal or having decent clothes. However, their constant moving greatly affected him. One of those moves took him to the Chicago area, which was where I picked him up again.

             By their 1971 move to Illinois, my anger had begun to subside. Though I still wasn’t certain what to do, I found myself observing as he began creating reasons for repentance. Around the time of his pubescence, in 1972, something snapped and he began to rebel against everything. At first it was just normal teenage rebellion, but some of my baggage is that he is one of those all-or-nothing personalities; so, he was unable to check his rebellion at mundane adolescent behaviors; he took it to a fault.

             It was also during this period that he obtained a strange affinity for the bank robber John Dillinger; reading every book he could about the infamous criminal. He even formed a small gang when he was 12. He, of course, was the leader; fashioning himself after his new-found hero. They robbed a neighborhood carnival (but were caught and had to return the money), and devised plans to rob a bank. In the end, the bank plans fell through.

             Despite his small stature, he also loved athletics. Not naturally gifted, so Pete Rose became one of his idols. He patterned his play after Charlie Hustle, no matter what the sport. All-out on every play; and some accused him of playing dirty.

             The chip on his shoulder, along with an-often smart mouth, led him into numerous dangerous situations. At the age of fourteen he was beaten with a chain. Between his fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays he was at one time stabbed and another occasion shot in the leg.

Alcohol and drug abuse played a role: he knew no drink he didn’t like, and would try any drug that didn’t involve needles. (He saw a friend miss a vein while shooting up and could never get the stomach for the hypodermic after that.) Also, by the time of this hallway confrontation, he had been sexually active with so many girls he lost count: amazing considering he hadn’t had a steady girlfriend.

             Seventh through tenth grades found his school career less than distinguished. That stretch began with not-so-good marks in the seventh grade, followed by being an above-average student in the eighth. Ninth grade found him to be average, but in the tenth, by the time of this incident….well, he was barely passing anything.

 

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