From The Boys: The Last Of The Hoodlum Days

It was just another morning before noon in my town. I was walking towards home after a crazy night and trying to piece together the events from the day before. Randy pulled up in a white van. His long hair was tied back in a ponytail with a blue bandanna wrapped around his forehead.
Randy’s eyes were bloodshot and red. He was already fueled up after drinking from a bottle of 80 proof cheap whiskey. He was ready for trouble. This was for sure. But then again, so was I.
The music was blaring from the radio. There was a lit Marlboro cigarette hanging from his teeth with a long ash that was slightly bent and curved downward. As Randy pulled up, a cloud of smoke poured from the passenger window. The smell from the smoke proved the end of an obvious smoking session that Randy just finished. 

“Get in,” he said. 
“We’re going for a ride.”

I had no idea where we were going or what would happen. I had no idea what time I would return and no clue what the day had in store. I only knew that nothing would be legal and none of it would be safe.
Safe to say, of course, this meant that I was all in.

See, there was a part of this life that nobody understood. Nothing really mattered. Life was just this given thing. Nothing was real. Youth comes with a plethora of chances and an unlimited amount of tomorrows.
How could anything be real?
We were just kids. We pranced around and acted as if we knew but the truth is we were all just babies. We were little fish that swam around in a small pond of a crazy influence.
None of us really knew what consequences were. Everything was a joke to us. Life was a joke too, only, the punchline didn’t play out the way we thought it would. Least of all me, because I never really knew when it was the right time to laugh or not to.

The summer was finally upon us and in full-swing. It was a warm sunny day in our little suburban town. We were free to live safely in our own ignorance and free to see what damage we could pull off.
The hour was still somewhat early, which meant the town was still quiet. Nothing bad had happened yet. Then again, when it came to Randy and his van, nothing good was about to happen anyway, which is why we loved every minute of it.

Now let’s see, there was Mike and me. There was Fred sometimes and sometimes Pete would come along. Anthony was always around and so was Tommy and Mike L. Then there was Paul whose Italian accent was thick and sometimes difficult to understand when my mind was altered by too many chemicals.

This was us. We were the wild ones in our town. We were also the misunderstood. We were the cause for the neighborhood stories.
We were the local hoodlums, which is the only way to describe us. Yet, at the same time, we were just kids. We were never really a threat. We were opposition defiant and trying to find the perfect mixture of good times and mayhem.
We were the longhaired kids. Some called us burnouts. Some called us the troubled youth. Put simply, we were the affected youth that looked to dare the edge and feel something more than just random, everyday things.
We dared life. We dared the law. We dared the chemistry in our brains. But hey, what else is there to do when you’re young and crazy?
This was us in all our glory.

The stores in town were about to open and we, and by we I mean Randy and myself, were about to be underway to go anywhere as loudly and as fast as possible.
The inside of Randy’s van was not safe or professionally customized. There was the driver’s side seat and the passenger’s seat. There was a make-shift bed in the rear of the van near the back doors. Aside from this, the inside was bare. No rug or carpet or anything customized. I often found myself in the back and knocked around because Randy was anything but a safe driver.

Crazy Eddie double sided blotter art print psychedelic underground ...

My head was still reeling from the night before. I wasn’t sure what I did or where I went. I was half-hungover, half-dazed in a sense, and half-baked from a previous night with something we knew as Crazy Eddie.
Above all things, I was altered and fried from the night before. The saying was absolutely true in this case. I could hardly count on my own fingers, which it was true.
Eddie was absolutely crazy.

I was crazy. And so were the scattered visions I received as a chemical reaction. I could hardly speak an actual sentence. Eddie was crazy, alright. 
Eddie was unreal to say the least but then again, Eddie was not a person. Crazy Eddie was a brand name on a package of angel dust that came from a spot on 116th Street. 

I tried to take a break from the norm and steered away from my usual drugs of choice, which didn’t really work. I scored a bundle (that’s 10 bags to those who don’t know) from that same place on 116th Street. 
This was a weekend I would never remember. I was never quite sure what happened. I was told about it several times.
I woke up with a Kodak picture of me in my back pocket. I looked terrible and high as ever but the weird thing was no one in my group had a camera so no one could tell me where the picture came from.

I was told that I held on to a sink to maintain my balance in the upstairs bathroom at Big Tom’s house.
I gripped the sides of the sink to save myself from falling. Unfortunately, pedestal sinks that attach to the wall are only made to withstand a certain weight. Each time I went to fall, I would steady myself with my grip on the sink. Eventually, the sink broke away from the wall.
The house was filled with people. I know that much. This was a party and I knew that much too.
Big Tom was pissed but all I could do was drool and try to keep from falling down. He was mad but Big Tom also understood. He was cool about this with an attitude of, “Hey, we’ve all been there before.”
Thank God for this because the beating would have been severe.

I have no memory of the sink nor do I have any memory of standing against the wall in Big Tom’s house.
I stood, leaning against the wall in what could be described as an “Assumed” position while being frisked by policemen — only, there were no police in sight. 
I was high and my eyes were mainly closed. I turned my head to the right and made a spitting noise. Then I turned my head to the left and made another spitting noise. I did this, back and forth, for a while.
Everyone at the party thought this was funny. I have no idea how long I did this for. I had no idea how I lost some of my skin or why I woke up with unexplained scrapes on my body. 

Either way, Randy found me the next morning. He and I managed to scrape together a few empty packages of Eddie from the night before.
I was 16 years-old and closing in on my 17th birthday.
I had no idea how my life would change. I had no clue of what was in store for me; however, the paranoia, the missing money in my parent’s house, the news of break-ins to the homes in the town, and lifestyle itself were all mounting against me.
I had to constantly come up with excuses for blood on my sheets because of my nosebleeds.
Plus, there was an impending doom of an upcoming arrest that would later change the direction of my life.
I was sick and crazy, tired, but yet hopeful that something might happen to change things for the better.
I was stuck in a habit and skinny like a pale-skinned child from a starving country. I knew something was about to happen. 
I knew something bad was coming my way. But then again, I didn’t care. I didn’t regard the concern. I was too busy trying to find the right mixture. I was in search of the perfect balance between life and death or high and functional. What else is there when you’re young and misguided by ideas that are literally untrue.
I knew that I would eventually be caught or found somewhere, overdosed, with a blue shade to my skin and white film over my lifeless eyes with a blank, last-moment stare. I resigned to the fact that this would most likely be me, and oddly, there was a sad, street-life pride to this.

I knew if it wasn’t me, something like this would happen to one of us. That’s for sure. Something had to happen. We dared the edge, alright. We dared this too much.
There was no question about who we were or what we were doing. We were the kids in the town. We were the kind that fell through the system’s cracks, and somehow, we were the ones that dared the line between life and death with minimal scars. We were willing to try it all. And this day was no different.

Enter Randy’s van. . .
Randy drove away quickly, screeching down the main street with a rumbling sound, growling from a faulty muffler. I tell you this was a different era. These were different times without question. The louder the music the less reality could touch me.
Plus, there was always something in Randy’s van. There was always a missing package that went overlooked and we’d often find it the next day. 

On this trip, however, I found a small vial of crack, which we thought we lost several weeks prior in a town called Uniondale. And there it was: the missing vial.
I looked down at the side of Randy’s seat to find a small clear vial with off-white chunks of a mind-numbing poison. The vial was capped with a blue top and tucked in a crevice at the bottom of the driver’s seat.
It was a good thing Randy hadn’t been pulled over and searched in that time; elsewise, he’d have gone in for sure.
Randy wouldn’t have been taken in for long. However, Randy would have been taken in, nonetheless, and nobody wants to be taken in.
No one wants to take that uncomfortable car ride into the precinct; your wrists are linked together in handcuffs behind the back.
Depending upon the mood of the officer, the cuffs might be clasped tightly and soon to come is a trip before the man with a black robe and the gavel. 
Nobody wanted this. All of our antics were only a means to escape reality. This all started with the idea of having a good time. 

I found the nod a few months before this. The nod was my new thing. I chipped away at a new kind of habit. Not everyone went this way. Mike did. And I did too. Some complained about this. Some of the kids didn’t like the junkie scene. 

But I did.

I thought to myself, “What’s the difference?”
“Who cares, anyway?”

Randy drove and soon enough, day became night. It was just another day. That’s all it was. It was just another day in the suburbs of Long Island where crazy kids can slip into an undetected scene and hide behind a community that claims, “Not in my backyard.”
As for me, this was just another day closer to a change I never thought would see happen.

I knew something was coming. The ride I was on was too wild. There were too many things weighing on me and the local authorities were looking to question me for too many reasons.

We all had something coming our way.
Eventually, the pieces began to fall. One night in late August, I decided to go one way while Mike and Randy decided to go another.
It was this decision that depicted my fate. That night in August, I went behind bars for the first time.

I never thought being arrested would save my life
But it did

By the way,
Sleep well Dorian,
I think about you all the time.

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