The Sonderman Constellation
He played so furiously he tilted the machine just as he was running up the score for a free game. Then he began to tilt it on purpose. Then he picked it up and tilted it before he had even shot a ball.
Looking back at me he hammered the glass with his fist breaking it into smithereens. The trick box was open! Looking back at me from time to time he carefully and with great satisfaction removed each fragment. He cleared the inside of all debris carefully and lovingly as I stood back watching in astounded silence.
He took a shoe box down from a shelf and carefully placed the glass shards within which he then carefully marked and stored on the shelf as though they were valuable. I’m sure they represented important pieces 0f his psyche. The symbolism was so clear I almost burst out laughing. By this time Sonderman was sweating, his facial features distorted in anguish. As he smashed the machine around he cast strange exalted glances back at me as though he were saying he would soon be free like me.
He had opened the box but it was still tilted which conflicted with his desires. His solution was ready at hand, he removed the tilt mechanism also placing it carefully in the box of glass shards while he carefully wrote in capital letters: Tilt Mechanism on the bottom of the box.
Then he proceeded to just hack that topless box to pieces. He caved the sides in; ripped the legs from the box. I didn’t know what Little thought but I was absolutely dismayed. I had no idea what I had been called to witness. Perhaps Sonderman was trying to declare his freedom from restraint and his independence from his father. I can only speculate that I was called in to witness because I could do what Sonderman couldn’t. Perhaps he really felt inferior to me and was now demonstrating that he was, in fact, now equal to or even better than me.
The psychology is self-evident. The scene occurred in Sonderman’s basement. The basement is appropriately the domain of the father. It might also be said to represent the subconscious. What exactly was the response Old S hoped to elicit from his son by putting the box in his subconscious? Thus the placement of the pinball machine, or box, in the basement or subconscious undoubtedly activated Sonderman’s feeling of frustration. He seemed to be incapable of resentment toward his father so he directed it at me as a father surrogate.
Like the rest of the house the basement hadn’t been cleaned since the Flood. The dirt and grit was really old. Things were just strewn across the floor. There didn’t appear to be any reason why anything had been kept. Perhaps an old Sod like Mr. Sonderman put all his own tilt mechanisms down there. Viewing this and having just witnessed the ‘asset to the class” remarkable performance I was at a loss to explain his feeling of superiority. I said some sharp things to that effect. Sonderman, his performance ended, ordered me out of the basement perhaps meaning his subconscious.
When Old S found the wreckage which Sonderman left conspicuously in the middle of the floor he demanded an explanation from his son. I’m sure that if Sonderman had understood what he had done he would have explained it but since he had been in the control of his subconscious he was at a loss for words. Or, perhap, I had been invited to be his Fall Guy. He blamed it on me.
If he had accepted the responsibility it is possible that he might have freed himself from his father’s domination but by passing the buck to me he negated the effect of his whole performance and returned to vassalage.
He said I had snuck into the house through the side door while he and Little the Inseparable were out and I did it out of jealousy. He didn’t explain how he knew I did it or how he knew that I entered through the side door since he wasn’t there but doting fathers will believe anything from their sons.
Shortly after this display of attempted independence from his father’s fixation I organized the neighborhood expedition out to the wetlands. Perhaps I somehow contradicted what Sonderman meant to say by the destruction of the pinball machine by doing so. At any rate the train trestle incident followed shortly.
The planning of the train incident was perfect of its kind while the execution was flawless. There was only one uncontrolled variable and that was me. Unlike the incident in Miss Ryman’s class in which the Hirshes were able to control all the variables I remained the sole uncontrollable element. Even then the incident was so masterfully executed that except for what must be considered exceptional resourcefulness on my part this plan would have succeeded. Let’s give credit where credit is due, they were good.
The number of persons who would have obtained satisfaction was astounding. The male Hirshes, the Sondermans, the Engineer, the female Hirshes in the caboose and many others who were awaiting the news. I was expertly managed, having been gotten there without any hint of wrongdoing, marshalled onto the trestle against my own inclination and kept there until the train burst upon me. Not a hand was laid on me, no KKK or Mafia stuff, yet all the ‘witnesses’ were there and all could tell the same story which was, moreover, within a hair of the truth. The young ‘uns could have been most proud of their governors expert Law and Order ruse. The instruction and hands on training they received was magnificent for them. Such a brilliant opportunity may occur only once in a lifetime.
Operations such as the trestle incident prove the value of family training over the loose wild ways of orphans and kids from broken homes. They or we actually are given to chaotic acts of revenge. We give way to emotional excesses slicing people up needlessly or shooting and stabbing them to death leaving the bodies lying around as evidence. Where is the discipline? Where is the self-control? Is it any wonder that our prisons are filled with such excrescences? Once again, credit where credit is due.
In my own handling, after they’d scraped the rails to collect enough of me to call remains these would have been neatly disposed of and I would have been forgotten as never having existed. My death might even have been salutary; some good might have come from it. Perhaps my death might have caused an uproar over unmarked railway crossings causing them to be made safe. Maybe they would have named the crossing and trestle after me. Laid out flowers there on the anniversary every year. There’s some kind of immortality in that isn’t there?
Law and Order methods are clearly superior to chaotic methods. This is nowhere more apparent than in the war that has been going on between the North and South since the founding of the country. The South could and should take lessons from the North. Down there they just, or used to anyway, lynch anyone they didn’t like and leave the bodies hanging from trees for everyone to see. Where’s that at? They even wrote a song about it called ‘Strange Fruit.’ Strange indeed, kind of the seedless variety. Come on Southern Guys, this is very untidy.
The South has a a very strong caste system. At the bottom are Blacks and Poor White Trash.
Anyone consistently maltreated like the Blacks and Poor White Trash might get rebellious so they have to be taught lessons from time to time to remind them of their place. Thus it is necessary to sacrifice a few hundred a year so the remaining learn from their example.
Now, the ‘best’ White people obviously thought that hanging from trees with hands symbolically tied behind backs was the most effective method.
Here is where they could learn something from the Law and Order people up North. The ways of the South might be better described as Willful rather than Chaotic, after all their killings are sanctioned by popular opinion. Law and Order is superior to either method. Consider this, wouldn’t it have been better if maybe several hundred Blacks and Poor White Trash just mysteriously disappeared every year. You know, in kind of the same way that Daddy Warbucks used the Asp and Punjab to make people disappear. You see, Daddy Warbucks was a real American but the Asp and Punjab were some kind of foreigners who did his dirty work for him. Get it? Displace the responsibility. Did you ever wonder how Daddy Warbucks got away with that? I used to, all the time. Law and Order.
The victims could be chosen at random so as not to show favoritism or discrimination. Why fudge around, just get those troublemakers out of there. Then once a year they could have the Unknown Dead Darky and Poor White Trash Commemorative Day with the eternal flame, nice touch, where they all stood around the tomb all pious and contrite weeping with their Black Brothers by their side and the Poor White Trash standing off at a distance. Thus the crimes against the Blacks would be consolidated with the crimes against the Whites and no discrimination on the basis of color would be evident. That’s what I call good planning.
No, I’m sure that Law and Order is why the North has always won the war.
As perfectly planned as the operation against me was, it failed. Failure is no light matter. There are always psychological consequences to failure, don’t kid yourself. The plan had been so beautifully made that closure occurred in the minds of the Hirshes before the fact. They had visualized my murder to a successful conclusion. This vision was breached by my survival causing a malaise in their psyches. I was a walking rebuke to them. This breach necessitated a further validation to discharge the unexpended energy.
Sonderman’s childish solution had been to implicate me in the attempted burning of his father’s chemical plant. He couldn’t do it himself so he tried to enlist me. You see, I would have been just as directed as he was. While this ploy had technically succeeded this proved psychologically unsatisfactory. He needed more ample justification.
Once again Sonderman called to me from the middle of the intersection beneath the streetlight my parents had paid for. He wanted me to come over and join himself and Little in a game. My Tom Sawyer phase was wearing thin. Sonderman hadn’t cooperated to bring my fantasy to fruition. I suppose the train incident hurt me emotionally. I suppose it could be romanticized and told in a hilarious nostalgic way but I didn’t feel it that way then and I don’t feel it that way now. Then I was sullenly resentful, now I angrily denounce them as murderers.
I was apprehensive now of anything Sonderman wanted to do. I was now chary of him. But I still hoped we could be friends so I went over. Sonderman and Little were actually under psychological stresses probably as great and maybe even more so than mine. This thing with Sonderman’s father was serious stuff. So too was the burden of his mother. Neither Sonderman or I knew but he was frantically resentful of her treatment of his family. Just as he had used the pinball machine to punish his father his ulterior motive now was to use me to punish his mother. Thus in each instance he killed two birds with one stone, Father and me, Mother and me. His method was to destroy her old threadbare oriental rug and lay it off on me. He succeeded very well in a Law and Order way. See, I told you that training was useful.
The game was this, Little was always avidly interested in science. He had recently come up against the conundrum: What happens when an immovable object comes up against an irresistible force? The game they divised consisted of one participant playing the immovable object while the other was the irresistible force. I suggested rolling the rug up because no foothold was possible on the grit, but that was vetoed. My objection that we would ‘ruin’ the carpet was waved aside.
By driving hard the Irresistible Force was always able to push the Immovable Object from one side of the carpet to the other. I had warned Sonderman that the result of digging our toes into the carpet would be huge gaping holes. That was, of course, what he wanted. Sonderman gazed at the holes contentedly and said his mother would never notice with a little laugh out of the corner of his mouth. I had to laugh out loud. Sonderman just waved me out the door with a dreamy satisfied look on his face. I had served my intended purpose.
When Mrs. Sonderman came home the first thing she noticed was the rug. The two them dumped it all off on me. They had gotten their mother good. I don’t know how Mrs. Sonderman rationalized my having done it but she banned me from the house for all time. See how well Sonderman learned the lesson back there on the trestle?
I assumed from the rug incident that our relationship was over. My imitation of Tom and Penrod was a thing of the past.
As failed evil is a serious rebuke and as he needed closure Hirsh himself was afflicted with unexpiated guilt. Whereas Sonderman’s childish expiation was relatively easy Hirsh required stronger satisfaction. The trestle incident was only one of a very long series of attempts to either destroy my self-respect or kill me. He desperately needed to have me debased and ineffective or dead. In this phase of his pursuit he was using the Sondermans as Fall Guys.
In order to identify the next two locations in the Sonderman Constellation I am going to have to complicate the story a little by introducing some material that may seem extraneous but will prove to be essential. So stick with me.
Sonderman and I associated only sporadically in the summer so I roamed around looking for people to meet. I met a boy by the name of Shardel Wilson. I can’t remember how. I was always roaming great distances (read ten or fifteen blocks) in the neighborhood trying to make my Tom Sawyer fantasy a reality.
Shardel’s mother had recently been divorced. She was a very attractive, vivacious woman. She is still the subject of some of my erotic fantasies. She had been happily married for the thirteen years of Shardel’s life. He was her only child.
She had allowed her head to be turned by the compliments of lustful men. They had convinced her that some great future lay in wait for her if only she divorced her husband. Perhaps some enemy was trying to screw her husband. If so, they did. It’s always done through the woman.
She immediately exchanged a prestigious address and social life for a cheap second floor apartment in a nondescript neighborhood and the evil attention of several sexual predators passing as respectable men who passed her around. At the time I met her she did not seem to have yet learned the consquences of her actions. She still seemed to think these men were going to do something wonderful for her. She was beginning to show some anxiety though.
Shard’s life had been shattered. At thirteen, a most delicate age, he had the social security of a prosperous home substituted by the insecurity of a broken home. This is quite serious business because children from orphanages and broken homes are shunned and prejudged as troublemakers and actual criminals. Shardel Wilson had taken quite a fall. I knew how far better than he did. As will be seen he acted out this fall symbolically.
I watched his distress. I felt a great deal of sympathy for him as I was from a background much more distressed than his; but he was a new recruit, I was a veteran. I thought I could help him; guide him over the rough spots.
Since the trestle and rug inidents I had moved away from the Sondermans but as I tried to move away they began to dog my steps. He says I copied him. Rather than copy him by sitting on my porch looking out at a silent street I had searched out Shardel. I went to visit him every day. Sitting on their porch Sonderman and Little watched me walk by on the other side of the street. Slowly Sonderman figured out that I had someplace to go. If I did and if I enjoyed it he wanted to destroy it. That’s how I copied him.
By nature I was inclusive rather than exclusive so I probably would have needed little persuasion to introduce him to Shardel. But he wanted to bring that evil twit Little with him. I hated Little and resented his always incuding himself where he had no right to be. He not only always tagged along but acted like he had a right to be there. As a junior he tried to be an equal.
They put the screws to me to find out where I was going everyday. I knew what the result would be so I tried to put them off. This proved impossible for me to do, so I had to take them along to introduce them to Shardel. Sonderman alone wouldn’t have been so bad but that damned Little.
Sonderman and Little seemed to show a great interest in Shardel. Shard had been somewhat distant with me because he was a new declasse who recognized another. The Sondermans represented to him the social class he had just come from so he immediately clasped unto them as a return to his past. As he was subseqently always to do Sonderman went right to work turning Wilson against me. Given Wilson’s insecurity as the new product of a broken home Sonderman succeeded quickly.
I met Shardel at the period of his most extreme reaction from having been ejected from the Garden. He seemed to recognize his mother’s shame, which made her a laughing stock among the women of the town and it oppressed him badly. He interpreted the disruption of his home as a form of death. Thus he constantly feigned death or injury. He was excellent at it.
Once we were up in his mother’s apartment. Shardel was very stressed. This apartment of hers formed part of my dreamscapes ever since even to the extent of my having extremely realistic sexual intercourse with her in her bed in my dreams. She was a very attractive woman. I still occasionally have intercourse with her in my dreams. Shard’s mother was really a gorgeous woman. Oh god, I go on, forgive me. This was only a one room apartment. Her bed was in an alcove in the front wall with curtains. Shardel slept on a couch opposite. Sometimes when his mother entertained men behind the curtains he turned his face to the wall and wept.
There is no forgiving the fatuity of his mother.
The entry was down a half dozen steps. Shardel had perfected the most extraordinary prat fall down those steps you have ever seen. No slapstick comedian could have done it better. He was so good he made you want to imitate him. I tried and was sorry for it.
He was also very adept at feigning a heart attack. It was his favorite. He would persist too, until someone began to call an ambulance, then he would pop up born again. His pain didn’t go away and he wasn’t reborn, but the magical import of his act was clear.
The heart attack routine was funny the first couple times but I quickly grasped the game; I hadn’t been in the orphanage for nothing. As I could see the Sondermans edging me out I lost all sympathy with Shardel. The Sondermans, from a different background than mine, were not so quick to catch on. The last time I saw Shardel try it I refused to believe him but even after having seen it several times the Sondermans were convinced. They ran upstairs to the phone for an ambulance.
After that Shardel renounced me in favor of the Sondermans so I ceased visiting him. Just before I left the Sondermans began calling him Char like it was short for Charlotte and he was a girl. I found that ominous. As Sonderman had forced me out of the picture he had achieved his goal losing interest in Wilson. Soon he was back at his post on his front porch a vague smile of satisfaction on his lips.
As the ninth grade began our relations were quite cold. I resented the Wilson episode more than anything. A barrier arose between us; we seldom spoke. However Hirsh was still working on a means to expiate his guilt. He came up with a plan to sodomize me. Perhaps his plan also included murder afterwards but we’ll never know for sure. In his desperation he was sliding to the left of Law and Order. According to strict Law and Order tenets he shouldn’t lay hands on me but he was becoming increasingly frustrated.
Thus one day after school Sonderman and Little were waiting for me under the streetlight as I came home. They were all smiles and compliments. I was alert but since I wanted Sonderman’s friendship my suspicions wavered.
They wanted to know if I wanted to go swimming at the Y. I explained that I thought you had to be a member and I didn’t belong. They said they did have a YMCA membership and they could get me in on a pass so that was no objection.
I was reluctant to trust them besides I thought they were talking about some future time but, no, they were talking about right then.
I made a quick decision with both feet firm. I said I would get my suit and be right with them. They said a suit wasn’t necessary. Only boys used the pool so that suits were not only not necessary but the rules forbade their use.
As homos go where the boys are I suppose the Y must have had a homosexual reputation from its founding. I know there were a lot of jokes made about the Y and homosexuality at the time. As I had no sexual experience I had no idea what homosexuality was except that you didn’t want to be one. I had been told that it meant boys who liked boys. As physical sexual conceptions were beyond me this definition made little sense to me. Heck, I liked boys, how could you have friends without liking boys.
The Y was down on Melmoth Street. As we pushed open the doors I expected to see scenes of I knew not what. There seemed to be nothing to fear. There were even some girls our age walking around as the Y was actually the center of a social scene. I guess you’ll also find the girls where the boys are so you can take your pick. My god, it’s probably even more wide open than that.
The pool was in the basement well below the surface almost as far down as the Goodge St. Station. There was a steel staircase riveted to a brick wall and it seemed like we descended to the infernal depths. Finally we descended to the showers and locker room. I always hated locker rooms. You sexually liberated types can say what you will about the joys of homosexuality but locker rooms always had that musty faggy atmosphere about them. They didn’t warn you not to bend over to pick up your soap for nothing. The smart ones had ropes on their soap.
As the Field was unknown to me my understanding of what was happening was quite different from what was really going on. I didn’t know that I was there to be sodomized and possibly drowned. In an effort to soften me up Little and Sonderman began complimenting the size and shape of my penis all but touching it as they pointed to it with apparent awe. Even if my ‘equipment’ was that good I didn’t go around complimenting boys about their dongs and I didn’t feel comfortable having mine eulogized over by two guys who had never had a good word for me.
I was unaware that Hirsh had engaged the pool for the duration of our visit so I was disappointed to find no one else in the pool. Just imagine sitting in this seventy-five foot high dressing room.
As we entered the pool area, the queery poolkeeper, Parker Cleftpied, stood before us. He was one of the baggy pants queers. Wore his clothes unkempt and baggy to prevent identification. He admired all our penises a lot but he didn’t single out mine. Maybe such admiration was de riguer at the the Y. He backed before us as we entered eyes fixed on our tiny little boy items salivating at each step. He explained the use of the pool then vanished through a door on the other side.
There he joined Hirsh who was giddily waiting for the sex show he had planned for himself. I only know they planned to screw me for sure but it is quite possible they intended to hold me under. If so Hirsh was disappointed on both counts. Like Clementine I am no swimmer; I take little pleasure in water, ‘living’ or otherwise. I don’t even think I went in the water. Parker Cleftpied and the Sondermans made me uncomfortable so I said something like since we were the only ones there I was going to leave. Rather than being angry I couldn’t believe how solicitous the Sondermans were; you’d have thought I was their favorite girl.
I dismissed the whole episode from my mind.
A week later they invited me back. Acting on the notion that enough people hadn’t been there they also invited their next door neighbor, Wink Costello. He had been let in on the situation, also coached, which means that Mr. Costello, the school principal, knew what was going on.
The scene was the same. The old pervert, Parker Cleftpied, eyeing us hungrily as he disappeared through his door to join Hirsh, The addition of Wink did make a difference. The atmosphere was more relaxed.
They all went and dove off the springboard at the deep end. I don’t ever get in the pool that way. I don’t like water over my head. I use the steps at the shallow end. As this was a competition pool there were no steps; there was no shallow end. I slid off the edge into the deep water. The trio called me down into the deep end. I don’t like swimming; my only stroke was and is the dog paddle; even then I detested that. I hauled myself hand over hand along the edge. As I did I noticed the door through which the pervert had disappeared open a few inches. He was watching which aroused my disgust. I began to be apprehensive.
I no sooner got to the deepend than I was surrounded by the trio. Costello was on my left, Little on my right and Sonderman directly behind me. Sonderman wrapped his arm around my neck to steady himself then I felt his prick against my ass tentatively as though to ask my permission. I realized my danger as Little began describing what they were going to do. Gangbang my ass. I realized my danger. I tried to heave myself up out of the pool. Sonderman pulled me back down from behind while Little and Costello pulled me down from the shoulders.
There comes a time when one fear overrides another. They could keep me from rising but they couldn’t keep me from diving so disregarding my fear of being under water I thrust down, pushing my feet against the side of the pool I propelled myself between Wink and Sonderman out into the middle of the pool.
My move surprised them. As I surfaced I told them to leave me alone or I would drown myself in the middle of the pool. They hesitated so I dog paddled to the other side of the pool, got out, dressed and left.
Hirsh was disappointed again. As soon as my attention had been diverted by Sonderman’s grabbing me around the neck the two old perverts had come out to get a better look. I only had a vague sight of this man in black but subconciously I understood, or I couldn’t be telling you now.
Hirsh was driven frantic by this latest failure. The need for closure was compelling him to riskier moves. They tried again a couple weeks later. This time, as well as myself, Wink, Little and Sonderman, ‘Char’ Wilson was remembered and brought along.
The inclusion of Shardel was especially cruel. Hirsh was a vicious man. Among the men Shardel’s mother had been passed to was our man Hirsh. So he had screwed Shardel’s mother. And as a matter of fact he had screwed mine. In high school years he had made a move on my mother which she had repulsed. Enraged that a low class immigrant Polack ‘broad’ would reject him Hirsh bided his time, ruined her marriage, and then broke her down in the wreckage of her life. Hirsh always said he got his way no matter what.
Perhaps this attitude which included his partner in crime, Old Sonderman, was the cause of their being so disliked.
Having scewed the women he wished to complete the degradation of their lives by screwing their sons. Not daring enough to make the attempt himself he used his teenage surrogates.
I can’t explain why I went again. Certainly their intentions were clear to me. Maybe I thought that by wearing my black trunks my ass would be covered. Otherwise all I can say is I needed to have friends, I was young, a kid. We use a different logic at that age. As I had my black trunks on old pervert Parker Cleftpied wouldn’t let me into the pool area. Hirsh must have loved that but, rules are rules. I didn’t care but I didn’t feel like walking home alone either so I was dawdling in the locker room when Wink excitedly burst in with a terrified look on his face. He excitedly exclaimed that Shardel Wilson had drowned. He wanted me to come quickly. Well, they weren’t going to get me with that one again. It didn’t occur to me then that they had surrounded Shardel, attempted to screw him, and then drowned him in a reflex action for what they had planned for me. I don’t know that that’s true but it is possible. I assumed the Shardel was playing dead again. So, with a smile and laugh I stepped into the pool area in my black trunks.
Shardel was floating face down, arms outspread, in the middle of the pool. Sonderman and Little were holding on to the edge of the pool under the diving board staring at Shardel with terrified expressions. Must have been the spot they cornholed him. I just thought it was a good act; nice variation. I stood there for a full minute laughing and joking waiting for Shardel to blow out his breath and emerge with a laugh. He didn’t do it. I laughed and joked for another minute; they weren’t going to catch me out.
Shardel still didn’t move. Slowly it dawned on me that he was indeed dead. His breath had already been blown out. Immediately I intuited what had happened. Sonderman had screwed Wilson; Shardel had committed suicide from shame. I gave Costello, who was standing by, an accusing look. He thrust his hands out in front of him wagging them as though to push the accusation away.
The Sondermans remained at the end of the pool with their free hands covering the lower half of their faces blowing out through their noses. Their eyes were wide with terror at the unexpected consequence of their action while their minds reeled, vainly trying to find a way to undo the deed.
Sonderman, that great natural military leader, wasn’t doing any leading. It was up to me. I went through the door on the other side of the pool in search of Parker Cleftpied. The other door concealed a warren of rooms. The pool was used for high school swim meets so this was where the swimmers dressed. The only way out was back through the pool area. I went from room to room calling for Cleftpied but there was no answer.
There were an amazing number of rooms which I took one by one. When I entered the last room as far from the entry as possible I was baffled. He wasn’t there but he couldn’t have gotten out. Then I spotted another door over in the corner. I pulled it open. It was a mop closet. And there cowering amongst the dirty mops and buckets were the two old queers. Cleftpied and Hirsh were clutching each other shivering and crying.
I was really surprised to find the man in black in there, black suit, tie and all. They refused to come out of the closet so I closed the door and walked back into the pool area.
I don’t know who called them but when I got back to the pool a policeman, the same guy who told me to walk my bike through the intersections, and a couple Y officials were already there. The cop hadn’t stripped to enter the pool area. He was standing there in full uniform. They have that privilege. The Sondermans and Costello were standing before the cop with their little dicks quivering in fear giving their story. Somebody asked where Cleftpied was so I pointed to the other door said he was in the last room in a mop closet with some other guy. They went back and dragged the two old perverts out of the closet.
By then I was back in the locker room. Through the open space to the pool I could see the cop questioning Hirsh. The man in black was in anguish. He was afraid they had him. He had a handkerchief in his hands that he was twisting round and round just beneath his chin. He kept his knees together and alternately kicked a leg up behind him. Somebody was running around asking what he was doing there. That was never explained. The whole thing was hushed up; it never appeared in the paper. Law and Order types have their prerogatives.
They had missed me again. However Shardel Wilson wasn’t coming home except in a box. Although no criminal charges were ever pressed the incident had severe consequences for everyone but me.
Don’t think this added anything to my baggage. As Wilson had thrown me over for the Sondermans I didn’t care what happened to him. Bye, bye Shardel.
I also rejoiced in the discomfiture of Costello, the Sondermans and the man in black. Of course since I didn’t know what this was all about so I was more subdued.
The two Sondermans took a direct hit. They were now murderers. However they consciously reasoned it out, The Shadow knows, their subconcious mind had to accommodate their guilt. Sonderman had to put it in his Daddy’s box; he became more surly and vicious from this date. Little was nearly driven frantic. Old S. laid off the blame for himself to Hirsh and me.
The worst affected was Mrs. Wilson who was now bereft of her only son and comfort as a result of her own folly. She had by now learned her error, realizing that she was only serving as a whore to a number of vicious men. The circle of men who believed they had access to her body was widening daily. I never learned what happened to her but I’m sure it was so bad. She has my compassion.
Hirsh himself was given the fright of his life when he was dragged out of the closet to be questioned by the police. He pulled some strings though, called in some favors, he got through it. He also blamed me not to mention that he now thought I knew what he was doing. He had no idea he was invisible to me. He became frantic to get me at any cost.
To my knowledge Wink Costello suffered no adverse reaction, but then, I didn’t ever know him very well.
The jolliest of the whole lot was old pervert Parker Cleftpied. This was one of the biggest adventures of his sexual career. Delicious was one of the words he used. He thought the whole sex and snuff show that cost Shardel his life was ‘delicious.’ He thought the overwhelming fear he felt clutching onto that divine man in black in the mop closet was too delicious. He thought all those nude little boys when he came out of the closet were delicious. The floating nude dead body of Shardel was delicious. Delicious! He thought it was all delicious. A homosexual’s dream.
He went home had a huge dish of Fettucine Alfredo with his own special white sauce, drank close to a whole bottle Of Jim Beam and then passed out on the floor in delirious bliss. What a perfect day!
At bottom they all blamed me. Rather than examine their own evil intentions they reasoned that if I hadn’t been alive none of this would have happened. Freudian analysis has its limitations. Their argument was irrefutable on that level, of course. Both Hirsh and the Sondermans had not only the three train incidents to expiate but now the failed rape of me and the inadvertent murder of Wilson. My sacrifice was absolutely demanded.
I do not know what soul searching Hirsh and the Sondermans went through but the evidence of this next location in the Constellation indicates they were pushed to the limits of Law and Order. They may even have been over the line. Anxiety was taking its toll.
Mr. Sonderman had been so incensed at the psychological reaction of his sons that he himself took part in the next crime. The whole crew would take direct action, in fact. In their frenzy there would be a transition from strict Law and Order to a form of Southern Willfulness. They were just short of Mafia lawlessness.
Ever fertile of invention Hirsh next set up an attempt at the homecoming game at State. You can trace Hirsh’s deteriorating judgment in his inability to control the variables from true precision on the trestle through the progressive deteriorization of the rape attempts to the farce of the State game. His chances of success were miniscule. The State game was a knee jerk reaction.
Simmering with resentment at his sons’ distress Mr. Sonderman himself came out under the streetlight to call me to him. Old S never spoke to me unless it was unavoidable. I thought he wanted to beat me.
Just as the Old Sod had readily accepted his son’s story that I had smashed up the pinball machine he now transferred the result of the failed swimming escapade to me. I was the culprit. No punishment would be too great for me. He was no longer willing to allow his sons to be the tools of Hirsh but he was willing for his family to be my psychopomps.
Unaware of the evil in his heart I accepted his greeting as he told me that he and the boys were going down to the homecoming game at State. He said he had an extra ticket. He offered to give me the ticket. I said thanks but I didn’t have anyway to get there. Oh no, he said in as affable a manner as he was capable of, he meant that I was to be their guest.
I was breathless at the chance to go to the State game but I was of two minds regarding Sonderman. I knew on a fairly conscious level that Shardel Wilson had only been a surrogate for me; I was the intended victim. Still, my longing for that perfect Tom Sawyer childhood made me hope I could work things out with them. Maybe they were sorry, I mean, I was OK. Surely they would see that soon.
Whatever misgivings I had I threw to the winds. I should have known, I suppose I did know, but so what, this was all I knew; this was the environment in which I lived my life. This was the way it had always been. I knew how to handle it; I was surviving every attempt to injure me. I had no idea where else to go. This was my life. This was the context in which I had to live it. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
I knew that the Sondermans had never done anything but try to injure me but I wanted to go to that State game. I have never been down South to either State or the University. I equated State with the Corbenic Hotel. I didn’t know anyone at the Royal Palms who had ever been to college. I knew that Tuistad and my mother would never take me.
I find it impossible to reconstruct Tuistad and my mother’s relationship to society. They bore grudges against Old S and Hirsh and they picked up information on the grapevine to which I was not privy. The only time they spoke to me was to tell me what to do. My mother didn’t want me to go to State. She had also never wanted me to associate with Sonderman. Whether she had heard something of Mr. S’s intentions on the grapevine or whether it was because of their old grudge against him or whether she was jealous that I would have a good time I am unaware. I attributed her objections to jealousy.
After very serious pleading she said she wouldn’t stop me but I wanted five dollars to eat on the way back as Sonderman said they were going to stop. My mother absolutely refused to let me have a penny. I had never had one red cent from Tuistad and her from the time I left the orphanage. I walked around in such cheap threadbare clothing I was embarrassed. I was dressed better in the Children’s Home for chrissakes. I shouldn’t have been seen in public, really.
I was a good kid. I was more than a good kid. I was more than patient and forebearing. I was a paragon of Christian virtues. I did so much work around the house I should have been allowed five dollars a week let alone this once. I didn’t care whether the Depression was going to come back or not. Now, once, just once in my life I wanted five dollars for something I really wanted to do and she wouldn’t give it to me.
Without the five dollars prudence forbade me to go. I would only risk humiliating myself. But, ask a man dying of thirst not drink brackish water; you won’t get very far.
I knew I could get by without refreshments at the Stadium. I thought I might be able to tap Mr. Sonderman for dinner or at least borrow a minimum amount from Sonderman; he always had money. The temptation of a trip to see a football game at State was too strong. I had to take the risk or never go to a State game ever.
Because I remember this so well since the integration of my personality doesn’t mean it was this clear to me at the time. All of this was half remembered, half forgotten and none of it was analyzed. If I had known the State game was a consequence of the swimming incident I wouldn’t have gone– maybe. I didn’t connect the presence of Hirsh at the pool with his involvement there. I didn’t even suspect Sonderman of being involved with him. I only deduced all this when my liberated mind began organizing the Constellation.
I knew I was innocent of destroying the pinball machine and damaging the rug so I thought that, perhaps, Old Sod learned the truth and was trying to make it up to me. I certainly had no idea that Mr. Sonderman wanted vengeance on me because his son had murdered Shardel Wilson.
My memory of the trip downstate is pretty vague except that I was bubbling over with enthusiam. Once we got there I found the college atmosphere a dreamscape. The place was everything a college should be. I walked in open mouthed wonder. The stadium was the biggest thing I had ever seen. The walls seemed to rise and shimmer. There was nothing like it upstate. Downstate was so much richer.
When we entered I started for the first row on the fifty yard line because I just assumed that Old S was so important that that’s where the seats would be. Imagine my surprise when we headed for an end zone and climbed and climbed and climbed. We came closer to the stars than those little cable cars in San Francisco that Tony Bennett sings about. You couldn’t even see the field let alone the players.
I was impolite enough to remark on the poor quality of the seats. I had always been told how superior the Sondermans were; I suppose I half believed it. On that basis I really expected seats front row, fifty. The Old Sod’s reputation suffered serious erosion on that day. Sonderman also sunk in my estimation. Little couldn’t get any lower.
Although disappointed in the Sondermans the quality of the seats didn’t bother me all that much. I didn’t care that much about football anyway. It was just something too much to be there at State.
We were only three rows from the top of the stadium. Boy, we might as well have been in the Goodyear Blimp. The way down to the field was very distant and very steep; a good shove and a guy would tumble a long way before he came to a painful stop. Sonderman made a couple of prepared jokes about how far a guy would tumble or, turning and pointing to the top ledge of the stadium what a long drop and sudden stop could do to a person’s skeletal structure.
I was young and had un undeveloped awareness that people always telegraph their intentions- it’s a psychological necessity- with some such remark. But something in the way he said it reminded me of his remarks on the railroad trestle. I scented danger. Little, the evil little twit, joined in the banter. I didn’t like the way he looked at me when he said that it wasn’t the fall that hurt you; it was the sudden stop. That was too clever for Little by half.
When you’re up that high in the stadium you spend the whole game standing on your seat as everyone if front of you is standing on theirs. I was too short to see over people in front of me so I stood there just kind of looking around.
Suddenly I was bombarded by spitballs and received a hard shove from behind that threw me into the people in front of me. At the same time the Sondermans moved away from me looking out on the crowd as though they didn’t know me. Old S himself totally ignored me. I found this strange at the time; I had never associated him at all with the previous murder attempts. It never occurred to me that he was on the planning board.
When I looked back to where the spitballs had come from I found the entire section had been cleared out. Up on the walkway was the jeering crowd of Hirshes. I was astounded to see so many of them there although then as now the Hirshes had no faces. I couldn’t identify them by name then nor can I now. My psychopomps had gotten me there for Hirsh; they moved a littler further away from me.
The notion, of course, was that I was to become enraged and chase the Hirshes along the top of the stadium. I was supposed to go over the top to my death on a fall to the concrete before the ticket gate. Perhaps I had been tipped off by the jokes of the Sondermans or perhaps this had been going on so long I knew better than to make a rash respnse.
As I dodged the spitballs I came up with two alternatives. In one the Hirshes pretended we were friends and dared me to walk along the ledge on the wall. This would have been consistent with Hirsh’s acro obsession. At Pfeffercorn Island the test was on the ledge above the dam; at the Shield, a train trestle twenty feet above the creek. As I said Hirsh’s mind must have been balanced on the edge of a razor blade. He must have been in constant fear of either staying on or falling off. Perhaps he was using sympathetic magic to save himself through me.
As I imagine it, assuming I had taken the dare, one of the Hirshes would have rushed gainst my legs claiming that he thought I was falling and he was trying to save me as he pushed me over.
Failing that plan, which was positive, the other negative alternative I could visualize was that I rush to the top in anger to pursue the Hirsh spitballers; they close in on me and toss me over in self-defense. The crowd roars at the action on the field; the Hirshes close behind me as though nothing had happened, the body of a thirteen year old boy without identification is found dead on the concrete and nobody saw anything happen. They were all watching the game. The Sondermans didn’t know what had happened to me; first I was there and then I wasn’t. Pretty neat except for all the loose ends.
It was probably just as well for the Hirshes that their plan didn’t work for there would have been two bodies smashed on the concrete one of which wouldn’t have been mine, maybe neither. The Hirshes had been after me for a lot of years. A lot happened that doesn’t figure into the Sonderman Constellation so it hasn’t been told. I had learned the physical laws of push and shove. I knew how to grab hold of the other guy use him for leverage to regain my balance and place him where he intended to place me. I had already chucked one of them off a dock into the water in similar circumstances. Had they won in the stadium it wouldn’t have been a cheap victory. One body could be passed over; two would have to be investigated.
Up to this point Hirsh had been a fairly strict Law and Order man. As psychopomps the Sondermans were removed from the actual entourage. As Old S would no longer let them stooge for Hirsh, Hirsh was reduced to implicating his own people. Further this would have been no apparently accidental death but hand on murder from which he hoped to extricate himself and his. Thus he was well over the line of Law and Order, even that of Southern Willfulness and into the red of Mafia Lawlessness.
Hirsh was a criminal.
I was pelted with spitballs until the people in front of me got angry at being hit in the back. A couple threats from the men toned the Hirshes down. I was so used to the Hirsh tactics I never questioned how they had known I was there nor did it occur to me that they were in league with the Sondermans. That may seem strange but when you don’t want to face the facts that’s how denial works. That was an affect of my mental block.
On the long way down to the field it seemed that the Sondermans resented the fact that I was still there. As they really thought I would have been thrown over the top my presence once again was a reminder of failed evil. As the closure had taken place in their minds before we got there they no longer wanted me along.
I began to wish I had listened to my mother. I was at a loss. Why had they invited me? The anwer only became apparent later when I found the location in the Sonderman Constellation of my memory filed under– Shirts.
They really didn’t know what to do with me when we got back in the car. Old Sod had a couple calls to make so I was given a pretty good tour of the campus area. As it turned out Old S and Hirsh had continued on from Valley High to State so the Sod was on a sentimental journey. He lovingly pointed out various details of his past for his sons’ admiration.
I was made to wait in the car while they made their calls. I have no proof that one of the calls was made for some emergency planning with Hirsh, but it seems pretty obvious one was. Thus even though I wasn’t aware of it I still had plenty of reason for apprehension.
Then we drove down to the campus shopping street where they were to eat. Before the so-called student revolution of the sixties and seventies had destroyed these areas there were wonderful shops reminiscent of the turn of the century. They sold all those wonderful collegiate styles of clothing that the Hippie style drove from the shops before I had a chance to buy them.
Thus we entered this spectacular restaurant. This place was very ahead of the Corbenic which now seemed small town, absolutely Hicksville. The place was designed in Old English style with all that mahogony paneling, green plush, tapestries and all that was de rigeur before the immigrant cultures at war with the Anglos replaced it with pizza parlors and taco stands. Ironically the style survives albeit transformed into the quintessential hamburger stand as McDonald’s replaces all the rathskellars on American campuses.
Now, pay close attention. Here comes the real crux of the matter. This is the reason why. If it seems too trivial then your complaint is not with me but to the nature of the human mind. This is the exact time and place when Sonderman jelled as my Animus. The problem I dwelt on at the time and later was that I didn’t have any money to spend for dinner, but that wasn’t it. Reconstructing the scene now I realize that the money was an inconsequential detail. The real thing was that I had blundered into what was supposed to be my own wake.
When Old S met with Hirsh on one of those stops he was told to bring me along where I would be properly humiliated. The restaurant was filled with Hirshes. This was to have been their victory celebration after having finally gotten rid of me. I should have been dead and here I was walking in as big as life. I can only guess that they were pretending I was dead as they had left no room for me.
The restaurant was completely full. The maitre d’, one of which I had never seen before, led us to the last available booth. It was one of those huge semicircular booths that curve around forever seating six. I followed after the three others who rushed in ahead of me.
Mr. Sonderman took a seat tightly on the end of the left side. Little clambered in followed by Sonderman who sat tightly on the edge of the right side. Thus they must have planned this on one their two stops. As the booth sat six it had probably been intended for the Sonderman and Hirsh families.
Even though a space nearly as wide as the railroad trestle was vacant in the center they would neither move over nor let me in. I threatened to climb over the table to which they sneeringly replied that they would like to see me make such a fool of myself. Given the choice between that and letting them make a fool of me I should have chosen the former but I didn’t have what it took.
The Old Sod coldly suggested I wait outside. This staggered my mind so much that I must have swept the suggestion aside. This must be where I began to get angry.
In the meantime I was left standing in the middle of the floor. I was amazed to find all the little Hirshes dancing around me hurling insults at me. I couldn’t understand how we had stumbled into a restaurant where they all happened to be. The truth was just too obvious for me to grasp. Damn that mental block.
In desperation I sat on the very edge next to Sonderman facing out into the restaurant clinging on for dear life fearing I would slip off at any moment. What they wanted was to see me standing on the outside in the cold looking in.
So money was not my problem. Even if I had had the five dollars there was no place at this spacious table for me. I don’t know what choice I had but I obtusely refused to understand the true situation. I mean, I was actually begging the Old Sod to buy me a dinner. So I could do what? Eat it on the floor?
His excuse, and I remember it well, was why would he buy dinner for another man’s son? I was staggered by this response. I had no idea of the layers of revenge that were being enacted. I didn’t know that both Hirsh and Mr. Sonderman had grudges against my mother and real father. Back in their high school days my mother had refused to put out for Hirsh which he never forgave and sometime later my father knocked him down. These two Old Sods went way back.
I didn’t know what was behind Old S’s refusal but I was being harassed by the Hirshes who were kicking at my feet trying to knock me off my perch. Sonderman was giving me the same dispassionate stare that the had given me on the trestle. Little was beside himself with excitement. My mind was reeling. In the circumstances things were flying past so fast I didn’t have time to express each and every strand of my emotions; all my retorts tumbled beneath each other unexpressed. My mind was filled with conflicting responses. I might easily have asked the old fraud why he gave another man’s son a free ticket and brought him down to State as a friend of his own sons. Little did I know he would have had a ready answer. If he didn’t think well enough of me to at least help out with a loan of enough money for dinner, why bother? It would have made his own experience more pleasant. Even if he had to wait until I caddied next summer I would have been willing to pay him back double. But then, I had no idea how much he was enjoying himself. His thoughts were back on his high school days when he had developed his grudge against my parents.
Sonderman could have loaned me enough to buy a coke. I mean, where’s that at? But then, I was unaware of the Field. I should have known I was being set up, especially when I was clinging to the edge of the seat watching the Hirshes run around me I noticed the man in black who I had noticed so many times before, most recently in the mop closet after Shardel Wilson’s murder, staring at me ruefully directly opposite me at a one man table by the door, as he chuckled quietly to himself.
Yes, this was Hirsh. I knew then, I intuited that the Sondermans knew who this guy was. Mr. Sonderman in a bald faced lie said that he had never seen the man before in his life. These are the people who thought they were better than me. I could see that he was lieing so I turned to Sonderman for an explanation. He wagged his head no and shrugged his shoulders. Even if our relationship wasn’t as friendly as I wanted he had no right to lie to me like that. My distrust and dislike of him took seed at that moment as his silly face floated up to place itself as my Animus. Strange the seed should take so long to flower.
Hirsh? Where was this guy coming from? What sort of juvenile madness fixated his soul? What great perversion dominated his intellect? What had I done to him? I didn’t do anything to him. What I had done was defend my right against his son. Yes! My crime was that I had refused to accept the place in society assigned by the great Hirsh.
For decades I wondered how my self-assertion had triggered such a maniacal response is this man. Oddly enough I found the answer in the Iliad of Homer which Old S had insisted I read. On my seventh reading a passage finally registered in my consciousness. In it Artemis had talked back to Hera. The old queen became enraged that Artemis would talk back to her superiors. Artemis didn’t know her place. So what it was was a simple temper tantrum on the part of the Old Queen because I had dared to assert my rights against his majesty. He had a queen for a role model. He had a distorted notion of his own importance. He may have been a queen but he wasn’t royal.
The Christian name of Hirsh was David. He had a son my age named Michael. I was in grade school with Michael. The Hirshes were or had been among the wealthiest families in the Valley. David’s grandfather, Baruch, had established the town’s department store. Baruch’s son Solomon had consolidated his father’s success. However the Hirshes had great difficulty adjusting to post-war competitive realities. National chains had reduced their store from one of supremacy to one of hanging on for life. David and Michael would never inherit the commercial temple Baruch and Solomon had built. At the time of this story the Hirshes were rapidly losing their influence. They still had enough to bend an old loser like Mr. Sonderman to their will.
When I was five years old I was in kindergarten with Michael. The Valley was a closed conservative town. A number of people assumed a dignity that was based on nothing apparent. None of them had the class they thought they did but they talked about it enough so that class seemed familiar to them. They thought they knew what it was and that they had it. The Sondermans sitting in their dirty house thought they were the epitome of it. It was sort of like a midget talking about being seven feet tall then bending over to pass through doorways. It just kind of made you laugh but you still had to deal with it.
Anyway because of my mother’s contretemps with Gentleman David Hirsh she had been shown her place which was pretty close to the bottom. She accepted it without a demur. I certainly did not feel bound by my mother’s decision but Hirsh thought I was.
As the son the Valley’s first citizen, for so Hirsh considered himself, Michael was the self-appointed leader of kindergarten class. He was given paramount treatment by others, the teacher and his elite fellows. he was being groomed by his father to be the future ‘first citizen’ of the Valley. As the leader of the ‘best’ kids in the class he had been putting me down all year. Because of his father’s clash with my mother and father I had already been made the actual dunce of the class and would in all likelihood had accpted the role and remained so all my life had not Hirsh inadvertently delivered me from my thralldom.
Because of his treatment I was down, thoroughly dejected and rejected, beaten up pretty good. Then, this was during the War at the time of Stalingrad and the height of the holocaust, a couple Black kids, three to be exact, although one of them was pretty old, were going to be enrolled in class. During the War they brought a lot of Black people up from the South to work in our factories as all the Whites were off fighting the Axis. Hirsh was horrified that his son would come into contact with Black kids. We were all sternly admonished by Michael that in no circumstances were we to play with the Black kids.
I was already in their status. It was forbidden to include me in games. I didn’t need more trouble so I wasn’t going to resist. Then Michael said we weren’t even to speak the them. That seemed unfair, rebellious thoughts began to stir in my head. Now, for some time I had been ordered to be the last kid to leave the classroom for recess so by the time I got outside Michael Hirsh and the gang of the ‘best’ kids had the Black kids sitting on the edge of the sandbox where they were being told to remain throughout recess. Good thing for the Black kids there were no ropes around, we had plenty of trees.
Coming out I walked up just as Michael was shaking his finger in their faces. He had told them to sit on the edge of the sandbox all recess long and not move a finger. I thought that was outrageous. I told him off. Seeking an alliance with the Black kids I offered to fight Michael and all the rest of the ‘best’ kids with them. There was my offence. There was the cause of all the persecution. I defied the son of the great, the mighty, the giant among men, David Hirsh. For this act of defiance in kindergarten David Hirsh had been trying to kill me for eight years. For no offence against him at all that moron Sonderman was helping him. Surprised at my show of resistance Michael swallowed hard then backed away into the security of his gang. That was one of those fatal errors where one surrenders one’s authority forever. The move cost him his leadership but the Black kids left me hanging out to dry. I was all alone out there.
Imagine my crime. Me, a lowly member of society had insulted the dignity of the mighty Hirsh dynasty by asserting my dignity in the ‘Arsenal of Freedom.’ What a crime.
As the year was at an end they threatened to take revenge on me in First Grade. I moved out of this school district that year to my great relief. I thought I was safe. To my horror, the next spring I was moved back into my old school district just after Hitler put a bullet through his brain. My return at the end of the First Grade surprised them so they had to wait until the second grade to retaliate.
They gave me no peace over summer vacation. I was at my foster home with the Johnsons that summer so I didn’t know anyone as the Hirshes had told everyone it was forbidden to play with me. I was pretty battered and disconsolate as the second grade began. One the first day it was made clear to me that I was to be chastened at recess. Once again I was told to be the last kid out of class. Once out on the playing field of our little school I was enclosed in a semi-circle by Michael Hirsh and the ‘best.’ Michael advised me of my offence in defending the ‘niggers.’ He said I would have to suffer their fate. I would have to be his nigger and niggers never have any rights. From that day on I was stripped of any right. That wasn’t taking much away but probably something.
Michael ordered me to step forward. I did. As I began to raise my foot he ordered me to stop and remain frozen in that position for the duration of recess. It was equivalent to the ‘niggers’ sitting on the edge of the sandbox. To my shame, which ceased being eternal when I discovered this fixation, I complied. However the crime of Michael Hirsh was so severe that he murdered my personality. No small thing. The person I had been died that recess. I lost my identity. My shame was so great that I suppressed the memory so thoroughly that it was encapsulated in my mind as a fixation while I was never able to recognize any of them again. In fact nearly any unpleasant person or situation was immediately voided from my conscious mind to my subconscious thereafter. It was as though what had just happened had never happened. I developed a strange character in which I could talk to someone who had given me a gross insult as though nothing had been said. But the speaker was dead to me; it was as though I were talking to a ghost. I couldn’t remember him even as I talked to him. Hence I can remember events in accurate detail but I cannot recall most people. This psychological fact may be difficult to understand but it is true.
I suppose they expected me to apologize to them and accept further punishment in the assumption of my role as their ‘nigger.’ But the Challenge presented to my as yet unformed Animus was so strong my Response had been psychological suicide. My Animus died. It was impossible for me to even recognize them in class so they continued to persecute me forever after; not only through Junior High and high school but even in my Navy career and possibly to the present day. The legacy lives on.
This second grade incident was my central childhood fixation. When I was able to uncover it at the age of forty-eight layer after layer of subordinated suppressed experience came to light. Many memories were actually more injurious than the central fixation but had been rendered less harmful in relation to it. In addition many layers of Responses had been distorted to conform with my fixation. Nor were the memories stored in chronological order but in layers of importance related to the central fixation. There was a great exhilaration of relief as the fixation was uncovered until my memories began to rearrange themselves into my new reality.
Thus without psychiatric treatment I was one of Dr. Leary’s untreated who got better on ‘their own.’ I found the cure that Tim was unable to discover for himself. Further I was much better off without drugs than Tim was with them. When I say drugs I am sure that you will include only illicit drugs. Don’t limit the topic. Drugs also includes all those prescription items that killed Elvis Presley. Those same legal drugs that you think you need to deal with reality. Drugs are drugs whether illegal LSD or prescription prozac. The nature of drugs doesn’t change because a doctor prescribes them. Don’t kid yourself. They all inhibit the ability of the mind to deal with reality. If you have any throw them away.
As strange as it may seem I have no regrets for my painful resistance to the Hirshes. No matter how much pain I endured or the blight they placed on my later life I was ragged but I was right. They were evil people; the very face of evil. It is every man’s duty to resist evil. My resistance was absolutely justified. I had rather suffer whatever I incurred than to have submitted to their injustice. Law and Order be damned. What price Liberty?
Mentally all subsequent experience was subordinated to that central fixation. The memories existed on two different levels. One was vital and organic. In the other I could examine a clear snapshot of scenes, as it were. They were inorganic, distorted and filed behind my fixations. As layer after layer of repressed memory came to light the image of my Anima, Ange, appeared. Strangely a true understanding of her had been deposited at the very bottom of my mental rubble. Now that my mind had been united and swept clean of the debris of decades the only things remaining were the Angeline Constellation of my Anima and the Sonderman Constellation of my Animus.
My mind filled like the dark vault of heaven with a million stars of memory, took shape for me. It came into focus, like some ancient astronomer here am I arranging patterns in my memories to form the Sonderman Constellation that makes the Animus of my psyche.
As I sat watching Hirsh laugh at me I saw him make a signal to Mr. Sonderman. The food was about to be served. Mr. Sonderman didn’t just suggest I wait outside. I might as well make a clean breast of it no matter how much it hurts. I was put outside. I was not to be allowed in the same room with them while they were eating.
Mr. Sonderman ordered me to wait outside until they finished. With one eye on Hirsh I indignantly refused. Old S then nodded to Sonderman who slid over pushing me off my perch onto the floor. I sprawled out on the floor to the merriment, laughter and pointings of the Hirshes. I started to laugh along with them but then I must have gone into a daze.
Sonderman prepared to resist my regaining the edge at any cost. He was willing to embarrass himself and his family for Hirsh. I felt sorry for him. I could see no utility in fighting for the edge and I couldn’t just stand around in the middle of the floor making a spectacle of myself for the surrounding Hirshes. I bit the bullet retreating outside.
This was late November. I don’t know how many times mothers remind their sons to take jackets because it will get colder at night. Whether I forgot or Sonderman said I wouldn’t need one, possibly a grim joke, a little dark humor, I can’t remember, but I needed one. I walked shivering up and down outside the mahogany stained mullions of the windows of this quality restaurant. Hirsh sitting against the window turned languidly from time to time to unsmilingly observe my pacing back and forth shivering in the cold while he and his sat in the warm good cheer of the restaurant. I bet it wasn’t as warm as that closet at the Y.
How do you explain such a pervert among perverts? If his god was dumping on him, depriving him of his honors, then he richly deserved it. Had either he or his been worthy it wouldn’t have happened. I didn’t deprive his chicken son of his position in kindergarten; Michael deprived himself. All he had to do was fight; he was too cowardly.
And what of Hirsh? So brave and energetic in punishing a mere boy a third his size. So courageous now in using his tools, the Sondermans, to humiliate me. How could anyone respect a man who got into a closet to hide with an old queer. How was he going to hide? Even when he had to face the music he stood like an old fairy twisting his handkerchief, knees together, kicking his legs up backward in knee jerk fashion. What a powerful guy!
The very sight of him disgusted and angered me as I paced up and down in the cold. He angered me. Then a fear passed over my mind. Perhaps they intended to abandon me. They might drive off without me. I was far from home without even a nickel for a collect call back home. Even then Tuistad and my mother probably would have refused the call saying I got myself into the situation so I could get myself out.
I walked back to where the car was parked. I stood with my hand on the door handle so I couldn’t be left. Good thing too.
As I shivered in the cold, resentment of years and years of mistreatment began to well up in me. I hadn’t ever done anything to anybody. I began to become indignant. I was indignant because Hirsh was laughing at me. I was indignant because I had been on the edge of the seat while all the little Hirshes could point at me laughing and mocking my plight. I was really indignant at Sonderman for refusing to make room for me. I was indignant because this guy who I thought was my best friend wouldn’t even loan me a dime for a coke. I was indignant at having been ousted into the cold and getting colder. I was so indignant I learned a lesson; no matter how desperate I might be in the future I would never ask anyone for anything or place myself in their power. I would rather die first. Up everyone’s.
Just as I suspected the Sondermans got in on the other side of the car refusing to open the door for me. Old S started the car to drive away. I shouted for him to let me in but the old pervert shouted back no. I vowed to hang onto the handle and let them drag me down the street until I fell off. I would have too. That was too much for the old bastard; too many witnesses were around. He stopped the car and let me in.
My indignation didn’t let up. I became increasingly intemperate on the way back venting torrents of indignation on Sonderman, Little and their father. Murderers that they were they maintained a facade that I didn’t appreciate what they had done for me. What they had done for me! I couldn’t articulate my rage, I was becoming increasingly tongue tied so I couldn’t accuse them of the attempts at murder and sodomy but my indignation grew apace.
By the time we drove into their driveway we were shouting at each other. As we piled out of the car Sonderman and I were swinging at each other. I don’t remember any blows being landed. I was ordered away as an ingrate while I vowed never to speak to traitors like them again. I was indignant, I meant it.
I would have maintained the attitude but once again Sonderman came to me. Shortly after the game at State Sonderman allowed himself to be used in an attempt to get me thrown off the Door Monitor staff. As the Patrol Boys were an eighth grade perquisite, the Hall and Door Monitors were a ninth grade perquisite.
I knew better but as I was always hungry for honors I applied to be a Hall Monitor. I’d been waiting since seventh grade. Never in my life will I ever be able to imagine anthing more prestigious than being a Hall Monitor. I may as well add that being a ninth grader has always been for me the crown of creation. No other year in life has such significance; not even being a senior in high school or graduating from college. After ninth grade it’s all down hill.
As a Hall Monitor was a shining exemplar for the seventh and eigth graders before we left childhood for what follows I wanted to play that role.
Hall Monitors maintained order in the hallways between classes. They stood in the halls at intervals to prevent students from harassing each other. We must have been an irascible bunch if one judges from the precautions the teachers took.
Being a Hall Monitor was a very prestigious role. The Hirsh group took it as their prerogative. Only they or those they permitted served. All the machinations that went on in the Field were beyond my ken but judging from appearances and results the Hirshes were successful in representing my dismissal from Patrol Boys and my subsequent bizarre behavior as reasons to keep me off the Hall Monitors. In the language of the fifties I was ‘controversial’ which meant untouchable. The fifties hated controversy which is why it is described as conformist.
I was unable to join. That was probably just as well for my own reputation and mental health. Standing in the middle of the hall I would have been an easy target. It wouldn’t have taken them more than a week to create a row that would have served as an excuse to remove me.
There was an alternative. In the morning before classes the entries were staffed by Door Monitors who admitted teachers and Hall Monitors before the doors were thrown open for general admittance. The role was much less prestigious than Hall Monitor. The administration found it difficult to staff it completely. There was always an opening.
I was accepted. I was given a post with three others at the right back doors. The big bank of front doors where the principal entered was the preserve of the ‘in’ Door Monitors, those who had just missed being Hall Monitors or who hoped to replace one during the year. I was never assigned there. My presence was only grudgingly accepted at any of the doors. Nevertheless before the State game things were going acceptably. I was happy and content.
Before the State game the Hirsh Hall Monitors had shown resentment at my opening the door for them. After the State game that resentment increased. First they heaped little indignities on me which I brushed aside but then Louis Schriver made a grand play to discredit me. The ploy was a minor variation on the Patrol Boy ruse.
When a Monitor approached I swung the door open far enough for him to enter then quickly closed it behind him. Wiseguys would occasionally try to outwit the Door Monitor rushing in behind an entrant so there was a minor contest to beat the Monitor. Schriver organized a group of kids, grabbed the door holding it open to allow them all to rush inside. The idea was that I wasn’t capable of performing my job. Schriver made the mistake of doing it in front of the other three Door Monitors who witnessed against him although we were both called on the carpet. Schriver was given a reprimand. I wasn’t thrown off the Door Monitors probably only because there weren’t enough applicants but I was made a ‘floating’ monitor. In other words I wasn’t given a permanent location but filled in whenever someone was sick. I guess they hoped I would take the hint and go away. No such luck.
The Hirshes had to go to Plan B, Sonderman. He allowed himself to be enstooged again.
Sonderman had belittled me for accepting the post of a lowly Door Monitor. I was amazed therefore when a week or so after Schriver made a fool of himself Sonderman enlisted as a Door Monitor.
We hadn’t spoken since we swung on each other getting out of the car. Sonderman was now very stressed. The box his father had put him in plus the guilt of the attempted murder on me and the actual murder of Shardel Wilson had placed a great strain on his psyche. He was much darker and raging continually, much closer to the surface.
When Sonderman joined, the attitude toward me became more vicious. Efforts were instigated to drive me off the corps but I held on tenaciously. I had rights too, even if I was the only one who thought so. I ignored the insults. Matters were brought to a head one morning when I was assigned Sonderman’s door. I was extremely annoyed that Sonderman as a new Monitor was given a permanent post while I, with both seniority and service- I had never missed a day- was kept on only as a floater.
When I was assigned his door that morning I should have known trouble was in store but I couldn’t be aware of the Field. Sonderman began by showing his teeth, trying to get his sullen resentment out. He muttered abusive remarks half under his breath, half uttered as verbal thoughts and half spoken to me. Man, he didn’t have anything to be resentful about; I was the injured party. Don’t think I didn’t know it; my own resentment bubbled up. I said some rather sharp things in his direction.
Our quips became loud insults. I was not consciously aware of the anger I felt toward him because of the trains, Y and State game but I let fly a couple trenchant remarks let loose from deep within my subconscious; they really did the job.
The dark side of Sonderman flipped up like a flag in a taxi. Perhaps he had transferred his hostility toward his father to me; exonerating his father and blaming me. Perhaps he tried to resolve his conflicts by projecting them on me. At any rate an impotent rage foamed up on his lips. He let out an immense bellow of pain.
He didn’t swing at me but he raised his fists close to his chest in a threat, trying to get me to throw the first punch and therefore take the blame as the aggressor. A common ploy of the Law and Order crowd. Amazed I backed up a couple steps. I knew I had more to lose in a fight than he did. I knew he was ‘an asset to the class’ and I wasn’t. I would be blamed and he exonerated. I retreated down the hall before him trying to calm him down, if a man can be calmed by further insults. But, they were clever insults. Law and Order taunts.
It cannot be a coincidence that this happened just as the principal entered. Sonderman must have received a signal from outside that the principal was coming when he began to harangue me.
Just as we drew abreast of the Front Doors Sonderman with his back toward the door punched out at me so that his punches couldn’t be seen from behind. Clearly the intent was to get me to take a couple swings which the principal would see thus making me the aggressor. Sonderman was taking his L&O training much better than that klutz, Schriver.
As the principal who I could see entered we were just shouting at each other. Then we quickly separated and were taken into the principal’s office for a dressing down. I was insulting dismissed from responsibility because as he said, nothing better was expected of me.
I took that very personally because I was a very good kid. I had never caused any trouble. Any careful investigation of the Patrol Boy incident would have shown that none of the fault was mine; heck, they didn’t even investigate it. This was certainly the first time I had been before him. His attitude could only have been the result of malignant gossip; he shouldn’t even have known who I was.
Fortunately I wasn’t dismissed from the corps. Whether because knowledgeable teachers interceded for me or because I was too valuable for never being absent and willing to be a floater, I don’t know. At any rate Sonderman quit since he couldn’t pull the same trick twice without discrediting himself while things settled down for me as the Hirshes gave up that fight.
I have no further memories of Sonderman in the ninth grade. As far as I considered it our friendship was over. Rather than having copied him as he charged it can easily be seen that he either followed my lead or induced me to become interested in what he was doing.
Junior High was over but my troubles with Hirsh and Sonderman were just beginning. Now I had to get through High School. No easy task. That guy Hirsh had resources, man, that guy had resources.
End Chapter III, The Psychodrama.
Go to Chapter IV, The Psychosis