The city night was filled with the darkness of apathy. A ghetto becalmed in a
turbulent city, driven by greed for power and control. In the distance, the sound
of dogs howling at a bellowing siren could be heard, howling as if crying,
sensing the sadness in the shrieking sound.
On this night, Anthony, a young man of nineteen, realized his destiny. Anthony,
better known as "Tony", grew up about four blocks north of Pearl's Billiards, a
hangout for Anthony and his old high school friends.
Anthony’s family was typical of his neighborhood, a family torn into despair by
the jagged teeth of survival. Anthony's father was force to leave home at an
early age to look for work, preventing him from getting an education, he hadn't
finish the third grade, survival was his driving force, ultimately to crush his
dignity as a man.
Anthony's mother was from a middle class family, always had the necessities of
life, really never felt hardship, that is until she met Anthony's father. He was a
very determined man, willing to work , to do anything . He worked various jobs
from clerk to janitor, always to be dismissed for various reasons. Reasons like,
"I'm sorry but we just can't afford to make your pay", "you know times are hard
and we have to make do the best we can" , or just let go for no reason at all.
Anthony’s father became depressed and began to drink. Anthony's mother was
deeply in love with her husband and would have gone to the end of the earth if
he would have asked. She understood his agony, he was a proud man, driven to
his knees, forced into the escapism of alcohol. She was determined to make
Anthony's life better, good values, education and compassion were stressed to
Anthony was a senior in high school, he loved to read and was very
knowledgeable in most subjects, political science stimulated him the most. He
had read about most of the "isms" associated with government, he seemed to
relate mostly with Karl Marx and socialism.
Anthony's dream was that one day he would become a lawyer, helping his
family free themselves of the ghetto. However, on this night, Anthony's future
became set in stone, for Anthony was there in front of Pearl's Billiards when the
police, the guardians of night, protectors of dreams, beat and killed his father in
a rage of anger, which became a nightmare that changed his life forever.
Anthony ran into the street yelling, "stop! stop! you bastards, stop! What has he
done?" One of the officers, on see Anthony, left the beating of his father and
shouted at Anthony, "Stop right there asshole! or you'll be next." Anthony, only
hearing the screams of his father continued forward, at that moment, he heard a
loud crack and everything went black.
A few moments later Anthony awakened to see his father's crumpled body lying
on the street lifeless, Anthony felt helpless, lost, out of control, he ran and ran,
trying to escape the nightmare that would ultimately become his driving reality.
Anthony ran for hours trying to leave the nightmare behind him, the screams
of his father still reverberating in his head.
"If only I could have been there sooner", he thought." Maybe I could have
explained that he was just an alcoholic and never really hurt anyone, only
himself. How could they just beat him like that?" His father's screams would not
stop, they grew louder and louder, he ran faster and faster, trying to escape the
sounds within his head.
As dawn appeared on the horizon, Anthony found himself wondering aimlessly
through Central Park. Central Park was home for many of the homeless, seeking a
safe retreat from the dangers of the night, or just an escape from the smell of
their perceived failure.
Anthony had always harbored the fear of becoming a homeless person, it seemed
so degrading, as if the life had been sucked from their soul, he was determined
not to become a victim. "A victim", he thought. "Maybe we're all victims, pawns
to be moved as needed, pieces of a puzzle to be arranged, or a tool to be disposed
of after use". "What happens when the pawn refuses to move forward one or
two squares, or the piece of puzzle is the wrong geometrical shape, or when the
tool is the wrong one for the job?" "What happens?", he thought. "Is the system
flexible? Can it tolerate imperfections, nonconformist? What happens?"
Looking around, Anthony could see, smell, feel and even taste what happens,
you become a nobody, dehumanized into a thing, a burden on society, to be
pushed into the ghettos, locked away on reservations or keep in ignorance, ripe
"My father was a victim, pushed into alcoholism, lost to the system. He had the
dreams that all men have, unable to actualize them, he became a victim, a
burden on society in the eyes of the police", he thought. "What could have
happen? Why? Are the police victims also?
Could they be but pawns in the game of capitalism? Used as a force of
manipulation, to direct and control. Are the police victims of frustration?
Striking out at what they believe are the cancers of their sickness. Why? Is there
no compassion left. Why"? Anthony's mind was racing so fast he almost lost
consciousness. He needed to sleep, he felt exhausted. Anthony headed across
town to fifth street, an upper middle class section of the city where Patty lived.
Patty was Anthony's girl friend, they met about six months before at a football
game. Anthony liked Patty from the first time he saw her, her ebony black hair,
emerald green eyes and her full feminine lips that garnished her smile, attracted
him with a magnetic overture of passion.
Patty had moved from Texas just about three months before she had met
Anthony. Her father was transferred to California to manage a munitions
Factory here in the city. Patty was very cautious with Anthony, her father
had warned her about people who where different, and Anthony was different,
his mother was Italian and his father was Irish-American.
He lived in the worst part of the city and spoke with arrogance. Yet, Patty was
attracted to Anthony, she was helplessly in love with him. Anthony found his
way to Patty's home, but was afraid to go to the door, he hadn't met Patty's
father and was sure he would not permit his daughter to see him.
Anthony went to a phone booth and called Patty, her father answered the phone.
"Hello, may I help you?" Anthony was startled to hear Patty's father, he thought
that he would have left for work and almost hung up the phone. With out
thinking, he said, "Hello, I am sorry if I'm calling to early, but it is important
that I speak to Patty". Patty's father being hung over from a party the night
before, didn't bother to interrogate Anthony.
He called up stairs, "Patty, you have a phone call, "who is it?”, "Tony or
something". Patty was very surprised to hear her father utter Tony's name.
"Thanks father, I'll take it up here. Hello, Tony, I'm so surprised, is anything
wrong?" "Patty, I need to talk to you, something terrible has happened and I just
don't know how to deal with it, I can't think straight. Can you meet me
somewhere?" Patty could feel the urgency in his voice. "Tony, my father will be
leaving in about an hour, can you wait until then?" "Yes, I miss you, Patty."
"I miss you too Tony, when you see my father's car leave, come right up, O.K.?"
"I'll be there."
As Tony approached the front door of Patty's house, a police car pull up to the
corner and motioned for Tony to come over to the car. Tony thought about
running, but decided not to. "Can I see some ID kid?" "What's the problem
officer?" "No problem yet, that'll depend on you." "What are you doing here at
this time of the morning?" "Have I broken some law?" Tony responded with some
hostility reflected in his voice as well as his posture. "Is there a problem with
visiting a friend?" "No problem, If that is in fact what your doing."
"Look Officer," Tony snapped, "if I haven't broken any laws then way question
my intentions?" The officer at that point got right in Tony's face and said, "Look
kid, don't get smart with me, you understand?' Tony could only think about
what had happened to his father just hours ago.
He wanted to kill this man, no not the man , just the institution of bigoted
control. An institution of flagrant force and intimidation, used to vent
suppressed anger at their own oppression. Tony's thoughts came violently,
cascading from dark crevices filled with pain and rage. He wanted to reach out,
but could only reach in, for self control. He new the time would come for revenge.
With that realization, Tony calmly looked the officer in the eyes and said, "I
understand, I understand very well." The officer said, "Okay, wait here while I
run your name through the computer”. The officer took Tony's ID and returned
to his car. "What a great instrument of control a computer is", Tony thought.
Human beings reduced to numbers to be processed as need. The officer returned
very quickly, he seemed to have had a mood change.