The Fallen Angels of the East End Vol. 3: The Cronies Chorus – Jackson Cole Jr.

SUMMER, 1989



They fucked up. Plain and simple. The support staff unleashing the group-home crew out in the community unsupervised after only knowing each other for a weekend— two days, forty-eight hours, two thousand eight hundred and eighty minutes of intense rapport building and sad, sick, stories of abuse, torture, and abandonment— wound up being the worst thing they could have done. The staff was unaware they were directly behind the desperate terror.


        The crew took the train to the old deserted Kings Point Psychiatric Hospital. Broke through the boarded doors, picked up bags of garbage lying on the floor and started a fire, running around it yelling, howling, picking up pieces of burning garbage and throwing it at each other, chasing one another down the claustrophobic halls, impalpable dust, broken shards of glass, pieces of wood under their feet, kicking up debris and burning garbage around the halls until one of the doors opened and a safety guard screamed to get the fuck outta there ya little bastards as a few sprayed graffiti on the walls and yelled back, FUCK YOU! and bounced down the stairs gleefully, screaming to the darkness of the building. Someone yelled, WahhhhLterrrrrr! 19 West Meadow Lane-Buffalo-Town-NY— Walter Stein!  Yeah, stop sprayin’ paint all over the walls, ya Jew! Bambi said from under the handkerchief worn over his mouth. WahhhhLterrrrrr! He smacked his blackthorn walking stick on the iron banister, making it ring out like a gong.  Nah, that’s your mother’s address, ya scumbag! Felix yelled back to them. And they snorted and grunted and kicked dirt at the guard. He chased them down another set of iron stairs into a dark room, windows barred and boarded. Creaks of sunlight spilling in with the dust and debris and the guard stopped in the middle of the room, when the door shut behind him. He felt the circle of bodies close around him. His head lowered staring at the floor watching it darken as the sweat fell from his forehead.  He could not see their faces, only shapes of different sized bodies moving… soft… QUIET… feeling the power they had over him, knowing the guard had no gun, only mace, a baton and maybe a walkie-talkie. The shuffling feet, the crumbled newspapers and empty bottles, the thick dust, crud, and rat-shit crusted along the floors scraped dryly under their feet. 
        All right, all’s I needs ya’s to do is to go back the same way ya came, and get off the property because you guys is trespassing, okay? Bobby stepped forward, a sliver of dusty sunlight hitting his hawk-face diagonally, and took a rotted board with a nail and hurled it at the guard smashing his face and making it bleed and JR threw an empty bottle at him and it shattered over his knee cap, he groaned and fell over, the shuffling feet marching around him, kicking and stamping on his hands, spitting and screaming, and Felix ripped a rotted board off the window and hit him in the back of the head with it, and screamed he hopes he burns like the garbage they set afire, while Bambi slashed the man’s knees with the blackthorn walking stick, and the other kids ran out of there, going in different directions, hopping fences, cutting through bushes, and met back up near the train tracks, arm thrown around each other’s shoulders in camaraderie, laughing, smoking, balancing on the center rail, shouting into the hot summer air. 


        Kings Park was only a 25-minute drive from where they lived in Buffalo Town, but the train got them there in 45. The local train. Hits every goddamn stop from north to south shore. Every bump, every turn, every vibration shooting through the gut with a shivering nausea. Every stop seemed forever and a day especially with no AC in the cars. That heavy humid air and grey odor of methane and body sweat choking out the passengers, made Hell seem like a real place.  They slumped and squirmed and shifted and slid along the sweaty leather seats. Felix kept his head between his knees, letting one frothy loogy drop from his lips after the other. Bambi smoothed his hands over the thorns on the walking stick. His left foot, smaller and wider than the right one, pointed a hard-right angel inward. He worked his hand up the stick, hanging his head a bit lower as the hand ascended, and jammed his pointer up his left nostril.  He picked it, one at a time, and even shaved some of the crust off the inner nostril and stuck it to the back of the seat. The humidity made it stick like a magnet.  He smiled and brought the finger back up to his nose to smell it. Ronnie flinched at the sight and brushed his long blonde hair off his shinning forehead, the tips of his salty hair a darker blonde then the rest. The pointed tips dripping, stung his upper lip. Bambi took a pic out of his back pocket and stuck it through his coarse, wool-like hair, pulling it upward. The bleached frizzed ends splayed, and tiny slants of light peaked through as the sun burned his head. He tilted back, an arm over his eyes. The light seeped through the crease of his arm and closed lids of his eyes. He shuddered, then looked down at his pants, trying to get the light off his face. He focused on the splatters of blood on his jeans, already turning rust brown. Bobby folded his red handkerchief on his lap, perfecting each crease with the side of his hand. The skin over his hand was almost gel-like, translucent, veins appearing closer to the surface, as if they’d burst right through. The damaged skin stretched up his arm, over his left shoulder and neck; powdered spots of white and brown up and over the left side of his face. There were no eyelashes or eyebrows. His waxed lips were flat, and discolored. A dull pink mottled with white blotches. His eyes, two dark holes with cold bright centers like sunlight hitting off the bottom of murky well water. Bobby placed the newly folded handkerchief in his back pocket. The rattling of cars seemed to soothe him. He then shut his eyes and let his body enjoy a few minutes of rest. But not JR. He can’t stop his leg from bobbing up and down. He can’t stop his palm from pressing down on his kneecap and twisting it in. A guy around their age, maybe a little older, passed JR by on his way to the bathroom, just a few feet down from where he sat. The guy checked his beeper as he passed, holding down the clip so the screen glowed. So did JR. He got to his feet and got behind him real quick. The guy lifted the bathroom door handle and sensed his presence behind him. As he turned, JR shoved him in, and he fell hard with dull thump. No one heard it over the rattling of the train and the noise of the cars. 
        Inside, JR slid the lock closed. The guy squirmed, back jammed against the wall, struggling to lunge forward, but trapped helplessly in this space. JR kicked him in the crotch as hard as he could, then pulled out a hunting knife and swung it across the guy’s face, missing the tip of his nose with a sharp whip of the wind and the guy’s eyes crossed and enflamed with fear and JR said, Scream, go on… scream for someone to help ya, ya little faggat. Come on, do it. JR went at him again and grabbed him by the crotch and squeezed and with the knife hand wielded just under his Adam’s apple. Gimme your beeper he said through a locked jaw. Piss spilled from the guy’s jeans and filled JR’s hand with warmth and seeped from the crevices of his clamped hand. Put it in my pocket, he told him. Spit and foam spat out from the guy’s throat as he placed the vibrating beeper into JR’s front pocket of his acid washed jeans. Mommy and daddy with you? Hm? Don’t talk, don’t talk, don’t talk, just nod or shake. He shook his head then nodded, shook again, then nodded again. JR squeezed harder and pushed the knife into his Adam’s apple very slow, barely breaking the skin, but he kept it there, the sharp point steadily pushing. Don’t move. Which car they in? They’re not said the boy quickly. Then why you sayin’ you don’t know for, bitch? I just wanta go home, the boy whimpered and squirmed and made small grunting sounds from his throat, expecting the knife to penetrate his Adam’s apple and cut off his ability to breath while drowning in his own blood, stuck, smashed against the wall, in a tight, hot, space, where the ceiling seemed to push down in slow waves upon him. One last surge of fight-or-flight energy pulsed from his groin, and pulled his legs in and kicked them out, pumping them in furious pulsations. JR fell back and tried to block the kicks from hitting his face, but one foot caught him, and caught him good, jamming his fingers, cracking and popping at the knuckles. JR fought through the windmill of kicks and hit the guy on the temple with the butt of his knife. He hit him again and again, fighting through the kicks, fighting through the pain and swelling around the fingers of his left hand, and smashing him several more times on the temple until the boy’s body convulsed in violent spasms and foam and spit frothed from his mouth, and that awful wet gurgling sound clicked and popped from his throat. JR unlocked the door and left as the conductor announced the stop for Buffalo Town. The boy lying there, twisted and convulsing, his eyes a hardboiled white rolled up, flickering in the humid air, wetted by his own piss and flecked with spats of blood, froth oozing from the corners of his mouth. 
        The crew ran off the train, they heard the mess occurring in the bathroom, they heard the banging and grunting over the rattling of the train and the noise of the cars. They knew and rewarded JR as they jogged further away from the train station. JR yelled and threw his arm around Bambi’s shoulders; Motherfucker broke my finger. Wish I would have grabbed your goddamn club and shoved it up his fucking ass. Right the fuck up until it came out his head. Bambi and Ronnie laughed, and Bobby stayed ahead smiling, and Felix shot a loogy into the air then lit a cigarette and blew the smoke to the breeze, and they walked through meadow, then the factory and the empty lots and junkyards which were not visible through the haze; they could see only the landscapes and the playground. And everything was alive, and warm with dull sunshine. There were many shades of green, lavender, and white from the wildflowers swaying along the edges of the meadow just before the forest, and now that summer was really here it would get hotter, the grass would thicken and the green would deepen, with more thick, heavy green leaves. The long bitter spring was over, and it had been horrible to them, still getting snow in April, then spent the next several weeks watching it melt away from a window, wishing it to be gone. Waiting every day for the large mounds of snow to shrink and from the edges of the lawn until finally there were only small white patches. Then nothing. Waited for the air to thicken and warm and for the sunshine to be bright and plentiful, each day after the next.



FALL, 1989



        Jonathan crossed the footbridge first and told them he spotted a horseshoe crab at the bottom of the stream. Yeah, those muthafuckas got some long-ass tails, Mackey said. Cassie leaned over the side of the wooden rail and winced away in disgust. They remind me of spiders! Pick it up! Mackey told him. I ain’t touchin’ shit! You pick it up. Alright. We’ll use Cassie as the bait. Cassie elbowed Mackey in the rib and told him to go fuck himself. How ‘bout we turn you over and use you as the bait, with them big ass fishlips of yours, Cassie said. Mackey made a claw out of his hand and went for her breast. Cassie made the same claw and went for his crotch. Go head, bitch, she said. Have a squeeze and you’ll be floatin’ downstream with your little crabby pal and end up in the Bay. Oh! She got balls, this one! Mackey said. Yep, bigger than yours, she told him and faked for his crotch. Mackey flinched away and slid on the muddy planks into the wooden rail. His knee dropped to the planks. Goddamn muthafucka! Aw, don’t cry, dry your eye, Cassie said and laughed. Jonathan laughed and repeated the phrase along with her. Mackey got up, rubbing his knee, limping along the planks. Don’t wanta end up floatin’ in the Bay like that bum did last year, Mackey said. What happened? Cassie said. Some bum dove into the stream and cracked his neck, Jonathan said. He drifted down the stream and they found him out there in the Bay. Some dudes crabbing pulled him up in a net. Yeah, Jacky-boy watched the whole thing from his front window! Mackey said, slapping Jonathan on the back. Well, I didn’t see the whole thing, per se, I just saw the cops an’ shit, and then unloading the body from the boat. Did you see actually see the body? Cassie said. Nah, I was too far away. I couldn’t get close enough. They had that yellow tape up an’ shit. And then the fire department and a bunch more cops showed up. I couldn’t see shit. Cassie looked to Jonathan and fluttered her eyes coquettishly at him, saying, Whoa, that’s really cool. I woulda still tried to get up close, though, she added. Just to see what his face looked like. Or what his skin was like. Like, was he all swollen and puffed-out and rotted sorta, or was he more like freshly dead where they still look like they could be alive. Hmm, I don’t know, Jonathan said. I really couldn’t see—No, I’m just sayin’, I ‘m just talkin’, y’know, thinkin’ out loud?  Don’t burst any brain cells, Mackey said. Shut up retard! She snapped back at him and flung a kick. I’ll chop ‘em off! Mackey said, and swatted her foot away. Cassie laughed gleefully and swung an arm across Jonathan’s shoulders. They walked and talked along the footbridge until they came to the end. They looked out beyond the Great South Bay and talked about how on a clear day one could see Fire Island, but all that was visible was a thin blue line through a thickening haze. Mackey suggested they go behind the bandshell in the park. Mackey led the way and went first while Jonathan waited. Then Mackey said it’s your turn. He kissed her and squeezed her tit, wanting to do so much more but ignorant of what and how. Scared, with a painful hard-on. Then the 3 of them went behind the building together and felt her up until they were sated with what they were doing, but afraid to go any further. So, they started to walk to the bus stop to back to Stanley’s.  Then Jonathan paused and grabbed his side. I don’t think I’m gonna go, he told them. Why now? Mackey said. Because, I feel like shit. My stomach’s all messed up. Somethin’s always messed up with you, Mackey said. Yeah, whatever, I feel like shit, so I’m not goin’. And Mackey turned around, but not without giving him that toothy Mackey sneer first, nodding the head and pulling Cassie toward nowhere up the curb. Jonathan turned around and went on his way. Only a couple of houses down. The big gray house with the tall hard bushes that sat at the edge of the lawn trying to grow as high as they could so they can hide the big sad house with the big sad windows, that crusty balcony that stretched the entire width of the house on the second floor. He took that long walk up his long graveled driveway. Goddamn stones kicking up the sides of his sneakers and digging in the bottom of his foot. 


        Why doncha tell me? C’mon, ma said. Ya always do this, I never can tell witya. 
        Jonathan kept his head down as if an invisible force made it stay there until it decided to let him up. Nuthin’s wrong, I just feel like shit. My stomach’s sick, he told her. Want some pepto? ma asked him. Nah, I just wanta lay down. And Jonathan rolled over on his side, and stayed that way, curled in fetal on his bed. Take ya shoes off! she snapped. Y’know, ya take everywhere ya been outside with ya in this house on the bottom of those shoes. All the bacteria and germs and God knows what-the-fuck-else, she said, digging her finger down the back of his sneakers and flicking them off. There ya go, she said, and scooped them off the floor and took them to the closet. If ya don’t feel like talkin’, maybe later ya will? Come downstairs after dinner when I’m havin’ my tea? Jonathan nodded and let a smile crawl across his cheek. See? I see ya smilin’. Ya gotta look at the good side of things. Ya always lookin at the dark side. How d’ya know I’m lookin’ at the dark side, you in my brain? I just tole ya my stomach hurts. Ya stomach always hurts! That’s ya scapegoat! Natta scapegoat. It’s ya scapegoat! Ya don’t think I don’t know that? C’mon on now, buddy-boy. You came from me; I am inside your head. I know ya exaggerate and make up all these sicknesses when ya depressed about somethin’. Jonathan just lied there. Said nothing. I’ll see ya when I’m havin’ my tea, my little lady, ma said with a faux Irish accent.  Jonathan retracted his body and agreed in slow capitulation. He stared at the wall and smiled and ma left the room and smiled at him, though he didn’t see her, as she closed the door. Natasha laughed and shot that laughter at the classroom ceiling. Jonathan sat beside her signing his name in magic marker on the pant leg of her overalls. The classroom kids laughed, talked closely with one another, lost in their own private conversations, and the teacher let it all happen, smiling himself a wide summer grin. Because, because, because I sometimes felt like throwin’ ya little ass out the window, Jacky-boy! Natasha smacked Jonathan on the back. But why? I’m a nice guy! No— NO you ain’t! Yes I am! And who’s little! I’m almost six-fuckin’-feet! Yeah, in a pair of stilettos! Stand-the-hell-up! Jonathan and Natasha nose-to-nose. My brotha’s are six-four and six-six and I gotchu by about an inch, muthafucka. Kids! Language! Watch the language! I don’t wanna give out any detention slips on the last day, but if ya keep it up— Okay, sorry Mr. Charles! Natasha adjusted her voice back to battle mode. I can pick yo ass up and throw it through the wall like a dart. I’d like to see you try! You testin’ me? Are you testin’ me?! Yeah—what! ARE. YOU. TESTING. ME? Mike parts his shaggy hair from his eyes with a ruler and adjusts one of the many metal-band pins stuck on his denim vest. He’s testin’ ya! Yeah, pick his skinny ass up and suplex him! No wrestle-mania in the class! Don’t worry Mr. Charles, I ain’t gonna drop him…. too hard…. on his head… Jonathan laughed and poked her nose and Natasha scooped him up and lifted him over her head. The class roared with laughter and Mike slapped his knee and Mr. Charles stood up and yelled, In high school the teachers are not gonna stand for this kinda crap, now putim down Natasha. She raised him higher. Only if Gumby here promises to keep his mouth shut for the last ten minutes of ninth grade! The class roared with laugher.  Jonathan’s smile holds in the tears, knowing if he lets go, they won’t stop coming, they won’t stop rolling down his face, and shortly after, he will break out in a hiccup of hysterics. So, he better swallow that water lump and think of something else. Something happy.