Saturday, October 12, 2013
"My Life of Crime"
First of all I should say that I had forgotten these events for the entirety of my adult life. It's memory as so much else was triggered by a dream.
"Once Upon a Time..."
I was breaking, and entering. Well not "breaking", but most certainly entering. Back in the old days getting into a house was as easy as opening a window,...which I did.
When I was a little boy I used to "enter" other peoples homes. As with all crime this was motivated by want. I "wanted" to know how other people lived what their stuff looked like what weird things they were doing.
Also if they had candy.
I wasn't poor..well not 'very' poor. Anyway I didn't get a lot of treats. So sweets were part of the temptation. One house I explored turned out to be a Fort Knox of the stuff! However I didn't take any. In fact I never took anything on these adventures. That wasn't the point.
I was on the prowl for more 'serious' game.
I was an "Other", and I was searching for other Others. Mind you I could never have explained any of this to my folks or the cops. I didn't yet have the intellectual bullshit, and double talk for that.
To the adventure.
I chose my homes almost randomly. Hey I was a ten year old kid not a for real cat burglar. The treasure I sought was intangible. The only vague precaution was making sure the houses were empty.
This was the early 1960's so most everyone had some kind of job. So the whole neighborhood was fair game. Block after block of doll houses to explore.
I left the homes of friends alone. The houses of strangers was where the real adventure was. The unfamiliar the mysterious. Places of different light touch, and smells. Every structure a new world discovered.
Oh the moral obliviousness of the very young or as J.M. Barrie put's it at the end of "Peter Pan".
"When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless."
Yep that was me alright. You too so cut me some slack in this story. In these secret adventures I saw myself as one of the wandering explorers of old. Peary at the North Pole or Amundsen in the Antarctic. Oh dreams dreams, and fantasies.
To the Heart of the Matter.
Family albums. After a time my hunts focused on these. The photos told me in quick detail what I needed to know about who lived in whatever house I was "visiting". The who what, but sadly never the why of these lives I was searching through.
The albums I found were generally stored in the same place in house after house. The bedroom closet or close by. So there I would sit on a stranger's bed studying their histories looking for my tribe.
Again I couldn't begin to explain to anyone what or why I was doing this. It was an instinctual exploration for un-namable things that I needed. That I was in desperate "want" of.
The pictures. I was surprised at how similar they all were. Grandma auntie babies somebody in the Army the beach, and birthday parties.
These albums were all just like mine.
However on occasion there 'was' a surprise. One time I unknowingly entered the house of a nudist family. I started through their album, and, "...!!!!!!"
Good bleeping grief! I literally at that point in my life had Never! seen the like! There they all was...auntie mom, and dad, and all the kids Nekkid as hell!!
These folks was "Other" alright, but not the Other I was looking for,...I think.
Yeah there were a few of these. One time I was quietly moving through this kitchen. Kitchen windows of that era, my usual port entry, might as well have had "Welcome" mats in front of them.
Anyway I'm doing my rounds when I see an old lady sleeping on the couch in the living room. To kids old folks look dead when they're asleep. Which is what I thought she was,...till she moved.
I back stepped to the window I came through.
In another I'm on my way to the bedroom to peek through their family album when I hear the front door open.
I'm going to Juvie Hall.
I'm going to the Chair.
I'm going to a firing Squad.
I'm going to be forced at gun point to eat my greens for the rest of my life.
My heart is pounding through my Mighty Mouse t-shirt. My lunch is coming out'a my nose, and I wanna wet myself.
Some lady, and her kid just came home, and is headed for the kitchen with it's open window which I just came through.
This is rapidly turning into a nightmare version of "Mayberry RFD". One where Deputy Barney Fife in Klan robes kicks the living crap out of a junior negro perp in the holding cell.
Hey I was ten, but I knew the real world score.
Looking back my only hope was that the lady was a Liberal Sociology Professor who would understand my quest, and ask Deputy Fife not to kill me.
More likely she was married to a corrupt Teamster with a drinking, and violence problem.
My odds didn't look good.
My heart pounding lunch coming out'a my nose, and ex-Pepsi running down my legs.
I quickly hid behind an old 1930's screen room divider.
They was all the rage once...Google them.
Well,...they walked right past me.
Oh the perceived safety of the home. No one expects danger or ten year old boys hiding behind old furniture. They went to the kitchen, and I went to the front door left, and ran for my life.
To this day that boy must be telling his grand kids about the time he, and their great grandma surprised a deranged killer in their house.
Of such are family legends born.
After this earth shattering event I laid low for a time. However being a kid, and stupid though full of grace, and innocence. I went out again. Several times in fact. I think I "visited" 10 or 12 homes during my life of somewhat disturbed, but sincere explorations.
In all these visitations I never found my other "Others".
I would have recognized them. I didn't know precisely what I was looking for, but I would have known them when I found them. I don't know what I would have done if I had though.
I hadn't thought that far ahead. ...ask to be adopted?
Well these outings ended on an interesting note. I did one more visit. This time it was in the Oort Cloud of my neighborhood. You know that the part of your 'hood that borders the unknown regions. The place if you were there alone you'd be lost.
So this one was different. It was a very old frame house. Before this it was all regular Brooklyn Brown Stones like my own home. This one was perhaps a surviving farm house. The borough was partly farms till the turn of the 20th century.
No kitchen window this time. I entered through the back door which was unlocked. It was like stepping into a sepia print. The light was dim, and amber. Peeling wall paper. Pictures on the wall of people dressed as folks did long long ago.
Dust, years of it covering dark furniture. There was no one home. No one had been home maybe since before I was born. The house wasn't abandoned not in the 21st century sense.
It was owned...one could tell, but not lived in.
It was also cold in that place. I had a chilled tingley feeling standing in there. Much as I, and a friend from school had when we stumbled on an old grave yard in Prospect Park.
When Fredrick Olmsted graded, and arraigned the Park he left certain historical sites intact. A certain Colonial graveyard being one of them. I knew nothing about it.
Most still don't, but we stumbled into it. Stumbled in, and got the same feeling I had in that old house, "...Leave". Today I'd say it was spirits. That or what some researchers now think are impressions left on physical objects by persons during extreme emotional events.
They say this explains what traditionally are thought to be ghosts.
Anyway the Spirits were saying "Don't Disturb". I didn't. I left. So ended my short life of Crime. No as I say I never did find a family of Anarchist Beatnik Weirdos to adopt me. However several years later....
'But that's another story for another time.
*(As with all of my personal stories they're guaranteed to be more or less mostly true. In this case I did indeed "visit" peoples homes when I was ten years old. The events described did happen,...mostly.
I changed a few details to makes things run smoother, and be somewhat funnier. Otherwise this is what happened. Think of this as a Docudrama.)
Maybe I'll pitch my very odd life story as a series to HBO.