Archive for August, 2014

scary3“You just can’t handle me because I’m honest and tell it like it is!”

How many times have you heard that one from the so-called friend or acquaintance who prides themselves on “telling it like it is?” If they’re not saying it, they’re boasting about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Their penchant for blurting out unsolicited opinions about you and/or your life is usually lacking in truth and tact, but that doesn’t stop them. If you don’t like it, they’ll rudely say that you just “can’t handle the truth.” They might call it “brutal honesty,” but they’re only half right … and honesty ain’t got nothin’ to do with it!

Perhaps the biggest pitfall of the Honesty Fallacy is that those who commit it often mistake being honest for telling the truth. Full of themselves, these people sincerely believe that their honest opinion is equivalent to an incontrovertible fact or truth about a person, place, or situation. An honest opinion is still just that – an opinion – so those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy are doing nothing more than playing the part of the proverbial “armchair quarterback.”

Those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy aren’t honest at all, especially with themselves. Ever wonder why these folks are so eager to share their unedited, unfiltered thoughts about you? Is it that they’re trying to help you by cluing you in to some of your flaws? Hardly! These folks are being brutally honest because they want to hurt you, and they’re usually motivated by jealousy or a deep-seated – and often denied – hatred toward you. This brutal honesty of theirs is nothing more than a passive-aggressive way of lashing out at their frenemies in a thinly-veiled, socially-acceptable manner. It’s a game they play with you and they continually up the ante to see just how much further they can push the meanness envelope.

And may the gods help you if you ever snap on these bastions of honesty!

The Honesty Fallacy doesn’t go both ways. Though it might seem to be the irony of ironies, those who revel in being brutally honest are usually extremely sensitive when it comes to things said about them. “You’re just being mean!” they scream, as they struggle to choke back the torrents of tears and baleful sobbing that are sure to follow. Try it and see! You’ll wound them ever so deeply while simultaneously exposing the fact that their so-called brutal honesty was nothing more than their ego overcompensating for their insecurities.

While I typically don’t advocate capriciously harming others, I’ve always seen those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy as bullies, and bullies deserve the retribution that they inspire in their victims. And for those who think that someone can only be a bully if they’re violent, keep in mind that verbal assault is violence too … that’s why it’s called an “assault.”

*Artwork generously donated by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.

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After admitting to all the beatings, fear, and, humiliation, what I’m about to share is actually the most difficult part of this whole story.

There’s no way I can even think about it – much less write it – without crying. Yes … you read that right. I’ve done it many times in my life and for many different reasons. I’m so far beyond fearing being laughed at or shamed, so I have no problem admitting it here for all the world to see. (Quite literally.) While it’s not something I do every day, it is something that happens when I’m overwhelmed with emotions, pain and, most importantly, empathy for others. I was certain that I was going to do it when I sat down and told my wife the entire story of the Fat Boys ordeal, yet I didn’t. I’m only now brought to tears because I look back on all that I’ve been through and think about the future … and what it might mean for my son.

For those who don’t know, my 5-year-old son is Autistic and non-verbal. While he has certain ways of communicating with us when he wants to eat, play, or go swimming, he in effect does not speak. He is a very pure and rather innocent and naïve child who doesn’t have it in him to hurt other people … nor does he have it in him to defend himself if he were forced to do so. Looking back on all the horrible things that have happened to me and how deeply and profoundly they’ve wounded me, I’m utterly terrified at the thought of what affects these or similar incidents would have upon him. Just the simple thought of it brings me to tears, and my eyes are now filled with them as I continue to type this.

Simple acts of schoolyard bullying would likely traumatize my son, as I can only assume he isn’t able to defend himself. I can also assume he has little to no coping mechanisms to help him make sense out getting pushed to the ground and kicked by two brothers at a bus stop. Or being smashed in the head with a loaded book-bag. Or nearly having his nose nearly broken by a bully so jacked up on anabolic steroids that he looked like a less reasonable version of the Incredible Hulk. (All of these happened to me.) And what about the more severe incidents, such as being jumped by a group of people? Or shot in a drive-by? (Again, I’ve suffered both.) How would my son make sense of these atrocities if they happened to him?

Can I tell you that these are the thoughts that race through my mind while I stroke his blond hair as he sleeps in his bed? Dare I mention that tears roll down my face in torrents as I do? Because I can’t help but to worry about these things because I’ve been scarred by SO much in this life, and the memory of it has been permanently burned into my brain. (See my future blog on the “Shame/Pain Matrix.) The thoughts of these things have made me say to my wife, “I don’t care if Johnny lives with us forever; in fact, I hope he does. He doesn’t ever have to leave, as far as I’m concerned.” And let me tell you, I mean it!

There’s something I didn’t include in the previous Fat Boys posts, and it’s the proverbial “elephant in the room” that no one has dared discuss. Suffice to say, after the ordeal was over, I promptly stripped my high-tops of their fat, neon laces and replaced them with the original thin, white laces. I then gathered all my hip hop records – Newcleus, RUN-DMC, and the Wild Style soundtrack – and put them in a box, then pushed that box to the darkened corner of a closet in our basement. (They still remain there to this day.) Lastly, I got rid of all my big cardboard boxes that had seen countless backspins, centipedes, and windmills. My friends could continue on their path of being “down,” but this honky had all the hip hop he could handle. My friend “The Dude” said it best when he opined, “Just because you’re interested in something doesn’t mean it’s interested in you.” Truer words were never spoken.

While all that might be good for me, how can I keep my child from making the same mistakes I did? How can I keep him from placing himself in similarly dangerous situations? How can I protect him and keep him safe at all times?

I can’t.

That’s the simple truth. All I can do is try to communicate with him and someday teach him about the foolish things his father did … and that he shouldn’t do under any circumstances. I also cannot neglect or ignore him, because doing so would prevent me from seeing if he were headed down a path that puts him in danger much as his father did throughout his own teenage years. Which brings us to the very obvious elephant in the room … What kind of world will Johnny be living in when he’s older? How will he, with his blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes, be perceived by those who don’t look like him? Will he be accepted? Or will he be nothing more than a symbol of everything they’ve been taught to hate? And if so, will they lash out at him? Hurt him? Try to kill him as others have tried to kill his father?

The sad and utterly terrifying answer to that question is … “yes.”

While some reading this might feel the need to label what I’m saying with the latest buzzword or “ism,” I could care less. I’ve grown numb to all that. Those words get tossed around so carelessly and recklessly these days that they’ve lost their all meaning. But while you’re busy sticking me with your labels, I’ll remind you that I’ve seen your posts. I’ve read you’re hate-filled ravings about everything from Iggy Azalea’s alleged “cultural appropriation” to the crime rates and demographics in major American cities. Everyone’s crying for an “honest discussion” about this topic, yet no one on either side wants to hear the reality of someone else’s perspective. Instead, they just want to deliver a lecture or even a sermon … one that reinforces their narrative, strengthens their prejudices and validates their ignorance, anger, and frustration.

I want no part of that.

So if you’re here for your pound of flesh, you’ve come to the wrong place because I’m going to take it for you. Yes, I admit it. It was me, J.P. Ribner … I’m the one who got hit at the Fat Boys concert. Go ahead and laugh. Tell me what a stupid cracka I was for going somewhere I didn’t belong. Or tell me I should’ve been listening to “our” music. Say whatever the fuck you want because I don’t care anymore. All I care about is my wife, son, and stepsons … and my close circle of family and friends. I just want to do whatever I can to keep myself and all of them safe and try to enjoy everything that this short life has to offer.

To me, this whole thing is rather black-and-white: I don’t have the time or the inclination for anyone’s hate.

“Look out!” Skeeter shouted, but the warning came too late.

“Whump!”

I heard the familiar sound of bone crashing into meat, muscle, and tissue reverberating through my head. Bright burning pain radiated through my retainer bent inside my mouth. Immediately, my school books dropped from my side and went crashing to the black asphalt of the Hamady High School parking lot, and I could see my attacker backing away from me, shouting “C’mon, faggot! Let’s go!” He was serious when he threatened me at lunch; the thought flashed through my head like a lightning bolt. So did another one – I’m gonna kill this mother fucker! Bringing my fists up to my face in a guard, I closed the distance between us.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning …

With the horrors of the Fat Boys incident behind me, I planned to ride out my sophomore year at Hamady High School with no more reminders of that terrifying night. I had discarded my love of hip hop and b-boy persona the way a snake sheds its skin and adopted the cultural affectations of a skateboarder/punk rocker. This brought the usual taunts from the typical sources; but by and large, everything was going relatively fine … until the arrival of a pugnacious young man whom we’ll call the “Golden Mullet.”

The Golden Mullet was more than a bad ‘80s hairstyle, he was also a recent transfer from some god-forsaken shithole such as Beecher, Burton, or the dreaded East Side. As his nickname would suggest, the Golden Mullet sported a puffy mullet with the same shade and thickness as that precious metal, and he had all the affectations of a typical ’80s bully: tight, peg-legged jeans tucked into high-top sneakers, left untied. Up top were the requisite band t-shirts, most often the likes of Motley Crue and Ozzy, with a pack of Marlboro reds rolled up in one sleeve.

He also had “the walk.”

Anyone who was ever tormented by a bully in the ’80s has seen “the walk.” This bizarre pantomime consisted of puffing one’s chest out and squaring the shoulders to make themselves as wide as possible. And it doesn’t stop there. Practitioners would curl their arms out at their sides as if they were a gunslinger in the Wild West, and they also kicked their feet as they walked, causing their heels to clunk hard into the floor as they proceeded down the hallway. All of this was set off with a narrowing of the eyes and tipping the head back so that they were literally looking down upon everyone they passed. Put all of this together and add in the occasional challenge of shouting “What?” or “What’re you lookin’ at?” and you have “the walk.”

Keep in mind, “the walk” wasn’t all fashion – it had function, too. By making themselves as wide as physically possible, the Golden Mullet and other high school bullies increased the odds that they would bump into their fellow students. This, of course, gave them the excuse to beat someone up … because if there’s one thing you don’t do, it’s make contact with this type of bully. Even so much as an accidental brush was provocation to violence because their precious reputations and gigantic egos simply couldn’t allow such a brazen “challenge” to go ignored.

So this is what landed in our neighborhood and took up residence on Mott Avenue. And the Golden Mullet wasn’t alone, either. He quickly fell in with another group of like-minded – and equally fashionable – Motley Crue fans who lived on nearby Doran Avenue, and an impromptu gang was formed. Being new to both the school and our neighborhood, the Golden Mullet no doubt felt the need to prove himself and establish his reputation as a person not to be fucked with. Since my friend and I had already had a minor beef with the aforementioned mulleted metal mavens, the Golden Mullet was eager to take up the challenge of beating up J.P. Ribner.

It was a challenge he relished all too well.

For months, the Golden Mullet threatened me in school. He also stood outside of Double D supermarket one chilly winter’s night and gestured for me to come outside and fight him. The only thing that saved me from having to confront him as I left was the fact that my mother was with me. I can only surmise that since the Golden Mullet was always close with his mother, perhaps he chose not to smash my face in front of mine. I breathed a sigh of relief that he found it in his heart to spare me the humiliation of being pummeled in front of Mommy Dearest.

Though several confrontations between us had been averted, I seemed destined to have to fight this rambunctious stoner, and the plain fact of the matter was, I was afraid. Call me silly, but I foolishly believed all his bluff and bluster of being the toughest guy in the world. I did what I could to avoid his challenges until one day, I could avoid them no more. And would you believe that it all started over a penny?

Walking back from lunch with my friend Skeeter, I saw the Golden Mullet coming at me at a rapid pace. The next thing I know, he makes a motion with his arm like he’s Ron fucking Guidry, and suddenly I’m being pelted in the chest with a handful of change. He said, “Go buy some lunch, faggot!” and the comment was followed by the laughter of his friends. Without even thinking, I quickly bent down, scooped up at least one of the pennies that hit me, and fired it at him, hitting him square in the eye.

Infuriated by the pain and loss of face in front of his friends, the Golden Mullet came chest-to-chest with me. A verbal torrent of threats and insults poured forth from his offensive mouth but I was too heated up to care. A teacher came around the corner and told us both to go back to class, and to be honest, I thought that was the end of it. Clearly, I completely forgot “the rule” – bullies can do whatever they want to me, but I can’t do the same back to them without getting my ass kicked.

Flash forward to 2:45pm, as Skeeter and I are walking home, talking about who knows what. We crossed a small, grassy hill and entered the parking lot proper, walking past a row of Regals and Cutlass Supremes that were jacked up in the back, with fat tires and Cragar rims. Apparently, the Golden Mullet had been hiding behind one of these vehicles, waiting in ambush. As I passed him by, he burst forth toward me and, without my seeing him, hit me in the jaw from behind before jumping back from me and dancing around, taunting me.

This was a HUGE mistake!

Without one single thought to the fear I once had, I charged the Golden Mullet and the glorious and chaotic mess of our infamous brawl began. I swung a right hook at him which, in my highly adrenalized state, completely missed his face. Fortunately, because I had some experience in the martial arts, I knew what a backfist was and I simply swung my right fist back and caught him underneath his eye. He went to kick me and I jumped back but not quick enough to dodge his shoe, which came flying off his foot and hit me in the chest.

“Hold on!” he shouted. “Let me get me shoe on.”

I kicked the raggedy high top back at him and told him to hurry up, which he did. We were back at it again and, in all the confusion, he somehow managed to grab my shoulders and take us both to the ground. A little something about me – I’m terrified if fights go to the ground. I wasn’t a skilled wrestler, and being on the ground leaves you practically defenseless if someone’s friends decide to get involved. I did the only thing I could do – I grabbed hold of his mullet with one hand and pulled his head back, then I shoved the index finger of my other hand into his eye and viciously scratched his cornea.

“Lenny! David!” he shrieked, beseeching his fellow members of the Mullet Militia. “Help me! Get him off’a me!”

On the one hand, I was bolstered by the fear in the Golden Mullet’s voice and it made me rip at his eyeball even harder. On the other hand, his friends Lenny and David were standing above me and either or both could’ve easily stomped my head to a pulp. To their credit as gentlemen however, they did no such thing. In fact, I’ll never forget what David, the older of the two, had said.

“You’re the one who wanted to fight him, so fight him!”

Somehow we struggled back to our feet but I maintained an iron grip on his bale-of-hay hair. I quickly circled behind him and put my arms under his arms and got him into a full Nelson, which was tightly secured with now two handfuls of his amazing golden hair. He froze, unable to break free of my hold, and I took full advantage of this by head-butting him in the back of the head seven or eight times, leaving him a bit wobbly.

“Let him go!” someone shouted. “Someone’s comin’!”

Looking over the Golden Mullet’s head, I saw high school principal Lone Wolf McSuede running toward us at full speed. I gave my erstwhile tormentor a hard shove and he whirled around and stared at me for a second, and all the fire that was once inside his eyes seemed extinguished. In that moment, he knew he had been beaten, and I knew it to. We nodded to each other, an impromptu agreement that each would be given safe passage out of there. We successfully evaded McSuede … until he pulled us into the office the next day and gave us both a three-day suspension.

But what does this have to do with what happened at the Fat Boys show, you might be wondering? Ironically, the connection between these two incidents occurred to me last Friday like a bolt out of the blue.

As previously stated, I was terrified of the Golden Mullet. He seemed bigger than me, and he definitely carried himself with more self esteem than I ever had back then. I was shocked that I reacted the way I did – jumping into action without fear – because it seemed so out of character for me. Knowing what I know now about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I can see that his initial punch triggered all the unresolved anger from that incident that I had been carrying around with me, and my anger overrode my fears. It was practically the same punch from the same angle, after all, and I’m convinced that there’s no possible way that a connection between the two can be denied.

His second mistake was backing off after that first punch. Had he just continued hitting me, there was a good chance I might not have ever been able to gather the presence of mind to mount a successful counter-offense. If he had followed through with his surprise attack, there’s a very good chance he could’ve dominated me and even knocked me out. That said, I’m thankful for his mistakes!

You readers will likely be glad to know that the animosities between the Golden Mullet and myself ceased not long after the fight. It was he who came up to me one day and said, “Look, you’re gonna say you won the fight, and I’m gonna say I won; but neither one of us has a problem with each other so let’s just bury the hatchet.” I shook his hand and the two of us continued doing skateboarding tricks in the school’s parking lot, not 20 feet from where we had fought a year or two before.

While this chapter has a happy ending, the imprint of the Fat Boys incident remained in my psyche for many many years to come, which you’ll hear about tomorrow in my fourth and final installment of: Fat Boys are Back … and J.P. is Under Attack!

Fuck the Fat Boys, we wanted out of there!

That was the unanimous consensus reached by Senators M&M, Special K, Duster, and I. The only problem was how. We were trapped inside the lobby of the Capitol Theatre with the man or men who had been smashing me in the back of the head and his likely friend with the gun. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. There was only one thing to do …

We swallowed our male pride and approached a security guard, begging to have our tickets refunded so we could just go home. It was a big move since all of us believed that a man doesn’t bitch out and snitch out; but with odds as high as 50-4, we were willing to let that part of the “man code” become a flexible guideline. Thankfully the security guard – a black man in his thirties – saw the proverbial elephant in the room and quickly refunded our money. He then led us down a long, narrow hallway that ended in a door that opened up into the alley behind the Capitol.

To paraphrase Kool Moe Dee, “I was flying, just like a track star. Dying? Nah. I ran through the back yard.” We leaped into the car and got out of downtown as fast as we could. I wish that the problems of that night ended there, but they didn’t. I think I apologized for insisting we leave, but I believe the guys reassured me that it was the best course of action. What I’m even less sure about is whether or not I asked them not to tell anybody what happened, especially anyone at school.

All I know for sure is what happened on Monday.

It was near the end of the day and no mention of the Fat Boys incident was made by anyone. I thought I was in the clear. Then, as if out of nowhere, Big Randeezy, an older black student, approached M&M while he and I were at our lockers.

“Yo!” he said, in his earth-rumbling baritone. “Who got hit at da Fat Boys?”

I froze.

“Sshhh!” M&M replied.

I saw my friend’s eyes dart in my direction, as if to simultaneously answer Randeezy’s question and end the discussion. Instead, Randeezy turned to me and said, “Was you da one who got hit?”

I saw the uncomfortable look on M&M’s face. I took it to be a guilty look, even though I had no way I could know for sure. I shut my locker and began fast-walking to my class while the tips of my ears felt as if they were on fire, the way they always did when I was seared with intense shame. I remember being certain that M&M told everyone, and even more sure that I’d soon be the laughing stock of Hamady. Ironically, the saga of the Capitol Theatre was never spoken of again at school, but the imprint of what happened manifested itself when I got into a fight with a bully the following year … but that’s all in Part III of this lovely tale. (Stay tuned!)

As to my friendship with M&M and the white boys crew, I quietly disappeared from their lives like a phantom in the mist. But now, I’m not so sure that M&M did anything wrong!

Whenever I made a friend, my mother insidiously planted the seeds of mistrust inside my mind. “They might seem great now,” she’d say, “but they’ll turn on you one day.” As a result of this, the fear of being taken advantage of constantly gnawed at my subconscious, causing me to perceive the slightest misunderstandings as ultimate betrayals. I’d pull the plug any time I thought someone “stabbed me in the back.” I also made poor choices in friends, inevitably fulfilling the prophecies she had made. And when that didn’t happen soon enough, I’d sabotage friendships and relationships when things were “going too well.”

M&M risked committing social suicide every time he hung out with me, but he did it anyway. His gorgeous older sister never looked down on me like the other girls at school did. His older brother – Special K – showed me how to scratch on his twin turntables and let me rock them for as long as I wanted. Even his little brother, Jimmy Jam, played The Dark Tower with me, even though he’d grown bored with that game years before. He gladly put that aside though because he could see that I really wanted to play it. None of these things are the doings of someone who’d stab me in the back!

It’s been 30 years since that crazy night and I’m still healing from its wounds. Now, if M&M is reading this, he finally knows why I pulled away. Perhaps the knowledge can help us build a stronger bridge between us. And if his family is reading this, I only hope they’ll realize that the kindness they showed was not lost upon me, and that I still treasure the times they opened their home and hearts to me. It’s been a long road, but at least we’re all riding off into the sunset together.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 of: The Fat Boys are Back … and J.P. is Under Attack!

“Thud!”

The familiar sound of bone crashing into meat, muscle, and tissue reverberated through my head. I knew what happened before the sensation of pain, bright and burning, radiated through my jaw and into my head. I’d been punched in the head, hard! A sharp, stabbing pain in my jaw followed, making it painful to touch, talk, or move; but I was still standing, and still able to turn to face my attacker …

I should start at the beginning.

Back in those halcyon and seemingly carefree days of 1984 (or ’85), I was one of a few of white boys who became enamored with the hip hop, breakdancing, and graffiti art zeitgeist. Our fellow classmates at Hamady High didn’t make it easy on us – the redneck whites tried shaming us for listening to what they called “n***** music,” while the black dudes eyed us with skepticism and the familiar refrain of “white boys don’t have rhythm.” Still, we soldiered on, and the ritual of backspins on flattened cardboard boxes was a familiar site in many a Mt. Morris Township driveway. I was in the thick of it all, happy to have cultivated a talent and the props that came with it.

On the night in question, fellow b-boys M&M, Duster, and Special K asked me to see the Fat Boys at the Capitol Theatre. While I preferred RUN DMC, Newcleus, and the Wild Style soundtrack, I was thrilled that the guys wanted to include me. My pre-teen and teenage years were lonely at best, with few people willing to risk social suicide by hanging out with me after school. I practically jumped into Special K’s car, completely oblivious to the trauma and life-changing events that were about to unfold before me.

So we were standing outside the Capitol, waiting to be let in to the show, when someone sucker-punched me. Turning to confront my attacker, I saw was a sea of various shades of brown skin and what seemed like hundreds of pairs of brown eyes glaring back at me. I’d been in situations where I wasn’t wanted – parties, school functions, etc. – but this was the first time where there was the possibility of dire consequences attached to my “intrusion.” I was outnumbered and painfully aware of how out of place I was. I didn’t belong, and I wanted out!

During all of this, a strange feeling of calm came over me. It’s called “normalcy bias,” and it’s something I wouldn’t learn about until 30 years later. The term refers to the state of calm that overtakes some people during disaster or emergency situations. Rather than going into a blind panic or doing something to save themselves, those afflicted with normalcy bias will calmly sit or stand in place, waiting for help to arrive or the situation to right itself. Sadly, those who are paralyzed by normalcy bias often die … even when safety is one simple decision away.

So there I stood, feet frozen to the sidewalk, not knowing what to do. The irrational part of my mind kept expecting someone, anyone, to come to my rescue. But who? My friends? Security? Prince Markie Dee? I was helpless and alone, afraid to confront my unknown attacker, yet equally terrified to say anything to my friends. I was afraid that my need for safety would’ve ruined everyone’s night. It sounds silly now, but that was my reality then – the legacy of Trauma Central, where my family’s happiness was my responsibility, and their miseries my fault.)

I did the only thing I thought I could do: I scooted a bit closer to my group and continued to stand there, my back to the crowd that no doubt aided and abetted my attacker.

“Thud!”

So one punch to my jaw not enough for him; I was an idiot to think that it would be. Again, the pain radiated throughout my head and again, my mind was flooded with the most powerful feelings of terror and shame … a rather toxic cocktail. I also felt anger, the kind that anyone feels when caught in a helpless and hopeless situation. If there was any good that came out of that second haymaker, it was that it jarred me out of the normalcy bias that had me in its thrall.

No doubt seeing the look of sheer terror upon my face as I scooted closer still, M&M asked, “What’s wrong, Ribner?”

“Someone fuckin’ hit me!” My reply came out in a forced whisper.

“Who?”

“I don’t know.”

M&M quickly told Duster and Special K what was going on, and an impromptu plan was formed. Switching places with M&M, placing my back against the brick wall of the Capitol, while Special K – the oldest and most streetwise of our group – stood facing the crowd and my attacker. As if in response, a young man approached M&M and, after a brief exchange, opened his jacket to give us all a look at the handgun he had in a holster, secured to his side.

“Gimme whatchu got,” he demanded, “and I’ll make sure dey don’t fuck wit chu.”

Wanting to protect me, M&M, Duster, and Special K forked over whatever they had between them and gave it to the stranger while I stood on the periphery. There was a lull in the attacks as we waited for the line to move; but with the adrenaline coursing through my veins and my heart pounding inside my chest, each minute was an eternity. Eventually, the line inched forward a bit, and then a bit more … we kept moving like herded cattle, unable to keep from casting nervous glances over our shoulders as we did.

Suddenly, the double glass doors of the Capitol Theatre opened and the crowd burst forward.We got jostled around in the movement and I found myself beside my friends; there was no one between me and the attacker in the crowd. My heart sank as I knew I was once again in a bad place, but all I could do was keep moving forward and not get separated from my friends.

“Thud!”

Ears ringing and vision blurry, it was clear that the Cheap-Shot Artist wasn’t deterred by the presence of our erstwhile guardian. (As we suspected then and still do now, the two were likely in on it from the beginning … the opportunity to bilk and beat some pussy-ass, cracka-ass, honky, peckerwood muthfuckaz was no doubt too tempting to ignore.)

Within seconds, we were sucked into that huge, gothic structure known as the Capitol and we found ourselves standing elbow-to-elbow with each other – and everyone else who had been in front and behind us – in the lobby. Then, as if on cue, everyone stopped and we were once again standing still. I was fortunate to not have lost my friends, but somewhere in the crowd, my attacker – whose identity was still unknown to me – was nearby. I was trapped, and I knew a decision had to be made …

Here’s Part II …

And Part III …

And finally, Part IV …