Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fires Burn Within and Without (Excerpt from 'Looking through the Naked Window - Book 1 of the memoir series)

The premise of how I decided to tell my life story was: What if your life were a made for television weekly drama series? Or, in my case, made-for-cable. As part of a promotion for the book (published in 2006 through Publish America) AND to share a bit of it with my blog audience, I will be running five sets of excerpts/passages from each of the already released books in the series. More will be revealed about the ins and outs of the series as we go along...

That being said, with the premise being what it is, chapters are referred to as 'episodes' and books in the series are referred to as 'seasons.' For example, this passage is from the first book, third chapter...or, in this world, here from episode three in season one... a slice of my life story.

Passages from Episode 3: "Fires Burn Within and Without" from Looking through the Naked Window

Elementary school came and went. I don't know why I was such a mediocre student, but I do recall getting a whipping from my dad every time I got a report card. My dad worked long hours to put me through private school and what did I do? I got C's and D's. The only classes I'd get good grades were English and Theology. So, for the seventh grade they decided to bus me to a Detroit public school, Burbank Middle School to be exact. It worked.

Their thinking, I suppose, was that it would straighten me out if I went to a school where teachers didn't show as much attention; and I wouldn't be spoiled by the comforts of a private school. For the first time in my life, I recall being very afraid. We lived on Camden Street in the Chandler Park area on Detroit's east side. Crime, drugs, low-income living and gangs plagued the neighborhood. Aside from our family and Mr. and Mrs. Mains, our landlords who lived next door, and the Taylor family, who lived at the end of our street, the rest of the block's residents were primarily African-American.

I found myself drawing more into myself, as time went by. I was very shy at that time in my life. I was shy and very observant. I watched the boys on the block - a lot. I would develop crush after crush. Some guys were my age, but most of them were older than me and I would have torrid fantasies about them. A lot of the older guys would tease and taunt me. They'd say I was soft. I looked like a girl. I was a sissy. A fag. Faggot. They'd tell me how they would tame my white ass. How racist a notion, I thought, as I got older and perhaps I grew up silently gay as a result of their suggestions. You could say that I am gay by persuasive deception. Although now, as an adult, I see that I was born gay and am not a product of my environment.

What my environment did provide however, was a healthy dose of fear and an almost lusting sensation and gravitation toward Black men. Remember my very first crush was on an Italian guy. I am an Italian guy, but these numerous unidentified Black males I found myself fantasizing about from a very young age, as I went through puberty and as I approached my adolescence; left me bewildered, curious, confused and frustrated. They were not as unapproachable about such matters as the few White boys I encountered; yet they embodied such a sense of pure masculinity that was both alluring and threatening at the same time. I found that I was often afraid to respond to their advances.


Things escalated when I began going to school with them. Their taunting went way beyond milk money or Mom's bagged lunch. We took that yellow bus and when it was just the kids from my block, it was fine. Little did I know the misery I'd endure when we got to the other bus stop at Courville Street. Or, as I liked to think of it: Whore Kill Street. I was shell-shocked at their indecency and prejudice towards me. I didn't think it could've been any worse than the ridicule I endured on my very own block. I'd never experienced anything like it before. My parents raised us to get along with everyone, not to look at color. I followed that notion, while it took my sister years to get there. They'd make me sit on the bus floor because, of course, like the school's classroom itself, the bus was overcrowded. Yet, I was the only one who seemed to be sitting on the floor of that dirty bus; come rain, snow or shine, everyday - feeling like I didn't have a friend in the world.


Well, I got tired of taking the bus. It was bringing me down. I had five F's, a B+ (from History) and Mr. Preston always gave me an A. My parents were worried I was gonna fail because I was even doing poorly in English class. No gold stars for me. They thought I was doing it on purpose to spite them and the whippings were more and more common, but something had to give. So, I started walking to school.

In the dead of winter, I found my way. I'd lose gloves and hats and my mother finally stopped buying them. Borderline child abuse... Not really. There was this lady I saw at a city bus stop every morning and during one of the coldest spells that winter she noticed I didn't have a hat, gloves or scarf. She stopped me and asked why. I told her what was going on and that actually my parents couldn't afford to keep getting them for me every week. She told me to be sure to stop by the next day. I did and she had them for me. I never got her name, but she was the first of many good Samaritans in my life. She didn't have to notice. Most people wouldn't, but I didn’t lose that scarf or that hat or those gloves - I was set for the rest of the winter.

My sister was the only one who knew about me walking to school and I was mad as a hornet caught in a blizzard when she told my dad. I thought I was gonna get a whipping for being a wuss. Then my father came and had a talk with me. He said he would drive me to school, if he could, but he was at work when I left for school. He didn't tell me not to walk to school. Just that he would prefer if I would take the bus because something "is gonna happen" and before I'd know it I'd regret not taking the school bus. He told me that the time would come when I would get an opportunity to fight for my rightful seat on that bus. He said don't start the fight for it would only come to me, but when it does finish it by taking on the weaker one of the group.


Looking through the Naked Window: The Restoration Chronicles (Volume 1) is available in both Paperback and Kindle Editions for purchase at

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