Monday, August 6, 2012
Today, after a long conversation with someone I consider to be one of the only real men that exist any more, I felt the need to talk about why I do the things I do. And, sorry, but I refuse to apologize for saying good things about people. If you're insecure about that, then get therapy.
This has been the most difficult thing for me to write, albeit no one will care but I. But this was inspired by someone I consider to be a true angel.
I'm not really sure how the chronology should go. So I guess the best thing to do is to do an autopsy, if you will, on it. First, nobody really knows me. The only person, other than my mother, who really knew me was a young man named Chris who was murdered in 2002. I was his friend for - as I see it - not long enough. I talked to his brother this last week. He and I have not spoken about this stuff at all really, but in passing. But then, anyone who knows me knows I can't just talk about the weather.
That was the setup for this, really. But, me being a story teller, I have to draw you in.
In 2011 I was about to move to Orlando, Florida, for what was to turn out to be a journey into living with true psychopaths.
Before I left, I gave to my best friend in the world the most precious thing I had in the world, which was a painting I did in 1991. This painting has a history that I never told him about. This sets up the rest of, I guess, why I'm doing this. I painted this painting with three strips of linen, which came from a favorite shirt of mine. When I turned them over, after I was done, I realized that the coloring on them looked like the coloring on humpback whales. So, I stuck them to the canvas and called the painting Whales.
These simple strips of linen came from a shirt I was wearing at a special time, one I will never forgive myself for. In the late 1989, I was doing what turned out to be the first Upstate New York outreach work to what the overtly politically correct Centers for Disease Control would dispassionately call MSW. Male sex workers. This is what most of us would call hustlers, or male prostitutes. But the work I was doing was in Albany, NY. In that city at that time, the hustlers were mostly boys in their teen years who were being kept by older men for sexual favors for a roof over their heads.
This one boy, Shawn, who was blond haired blue eyed, and the quarterback for his high school football team, was being kept by this defrocked Catholic priest called Father Mother by the creatures in the "community".
Well, in February of 1990. Shawn's older brother agreed to take him home with him. He was coming back from the Army and had scheduled me to pick Shawn up, unfortunately at a late hour. His plane was not to come in until about 11PM. So, Shawn and I hunkered down on one of the doorsteps of an abandoned brownstone, which was very common in Albany at the time if only because no one in their right mind would want to live in that city.
Shawn looked up at me, frozen tears on his face and pleaded with me, "Could you get us some coffee?" I told him his brother was going to be here in moments. He insisted. I said I would do it as long as he promised to stay where he was, and not move, until I got back. There was a Dunkin Donuts just a block away. He agreed.
So, I left to get us a couple of coffees. As I was rounding the corner to go back to the steps we were on, I saw that Father Mother had found him and had Shawn in a headlock. This guy had a 9mm and blew Shawn's brains out and they splattered all over my face and the shirt I was wearing. This creature had followed us.
The very last thing I heard Shawn scream was, "Mommy!"
And the sick bastard that shot him said, "I'm here."
To make a long story short, I sent this man to jail, where he died of AIDS.
But this was all my fault. I should have been there. Just like with Chris, if I had still been there he would not have died.
Everyone needs Superman in there lives, and I should have been it. And I wasn't.
But I was determined that Shawn was to be eternal, so I saved the shirt and painted my best work with it. I will never forget walking back into that Dunkin Donuts and having to wash his blood out of my eyes. To this day, I can't go into one of those places.
But my thing is, I should be able to save people. Especially the ones I love. The ones that are beautiful in my life. The ones I want to make feel joy.
But I guess I can't.
But I should be able to. And that's on me. And will always be on me.
Copyright 2012 by Andrew T. Durham