APRIL 1979: “Fallout Boy” …

Artwork by The Phoenix Collaborative

FALLOUT

“Another rebel runs against the grain. A loner is born. He’s filled with anguish but  deep within he’s dying everyday to find his way. He is lost. So consumed. Can you feel him somewhere in the fallout? He’s someone just like you who’s lost to find the truth. Can you hear him? From the fire he cries out for the answer to be shown as he dares to walk the fallout on his own. So frustrated. He walks the line alone. Courage sets him apart. He is so faithless. All he once embraced he now disowns. He let it go. All the while he still waits. Can you feel him somewhere in the fallout? He’s someone just like you who’s lost to find the truth. Can you hear him? From the fire he cries out for the answer to be shown as he dares to walk the fallout on his own.” ~ Alter Bridge

… and THAT story started something like this:

It was a gloomy and grey Sunday afternoon in mid-April of 1979. My sister and I were two relatively happy kids just playing on the big rock in our front yard – a rock that looked just like a whale laying on its side, but wow have I digressed! My mother was in the house, more than likely preparing our usual Sunday dinner while my father was elsewhere at the moment, presumably at my grandparents’ home which was just a few miles across town having the traditional “Sunday coffee” with all his brothers. The next thing you now he came barreling into our driveway at a screeching, raging halt, engine running, leaving the driver’s door wide open as he ran inside the house only to come running right back out with a lead pipe in his hand, at which point he jumped back into said car and peeled out headed to “somewhere”.

The next thing you know my mother came running out the front door while frantically directing me and my sister and me to hurry and get off of the big rock and into her car, which we of course did without question, at thence we were flying down the street at only God knows how many files fast per hour headed to “somewhere” we weren’t exactly sure, but, from what we could tell we were headed in the direction of my grandparents. Yup, that’s where we were headed alright, as were what appeared to be the entire fleet of Johnston, Rhode Island, police cars, firetrucks and ambulances also headed in that same direction. Yup, that’s where they were going too!

Upon arriving at my grandparents’ plat, we quickly realized that some sort of chaos and commotion had ensued, such that she had to park her car a full block away, jump out of the car and start running towards my grandparents’ house. When we finally made it to their driveway, this is what I remember …

My father and all three of his brothers at fists literally beating each other half to death in my grandparents’ front yard while my Grandpa Ernie was standing in the middle of it all hollering for them to stop and trying desperately to pull them all apart. Meanwhile, there was Ida, inside their house, just behind the screened front door dawning the consummate “Italian grandmother’s kitchen smock” , a smirk upon her face, standing staunchly with her arms crossed over themselves resting on her midsection. My mother was screaming as the police too were trying to bust the fighting apart. And of course, the many nosy neighbors had all come out of their houses and were standing amidst the breaks between all the emergency vehicles just watching it all go down. And me and my sister? We just stood there, watching everything, not at all realizing that life as we’d ever known it had just come to a bloody and battled end.

By the time it was all over, my father and each of his brothers had been separated into their own corners and although I’m not 100% certain of this fact, I do believe that each of them had been apprehended and taken to jail. Well, at least I know my father was. My mother ended up bailing him out that night and the rest is but my “New England history”. Within a short couple of weeks our house went on the market, then it sold, then my parents packed themselves, me, my sister, our two Doberman’s, and what small amount of household belongings they could fit into a very small U-Haul trailer that followed us down the road to “Goodbye Rhode Island … goodbye home … goodbye family … goodbye Grandpa, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, church, school, teachers, friends … GOODBYE EVERYTHING … don’t know where we’re going … or where we’ll end up landing … but truly … We. Are. Done.”

And then? It was done, and all I remember for the next few days was driving. And driving. And driving. And driving. I think the ultimate plan was to keep going towards California, but my mother had family in Plano, Texas at the time, which family we stopped in to rest and reboot from the hauling of it all down the road. So, we stopped in for what were only supposed to be “a couple of days”, and? We never left. Texas was our home now. Like it or not. Love it or leave it. This was the way it was. We’d run away from everything with the very first fallout boy” to proceed the line of “fallouts” that would come … 

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