The Bard and Jester

Welcome Readers! Here you will find some real life experiences and musings that I'd like to share with you. So, come on in, if you have the time and I'll do my best to be entertaining... Please click on my sponsors' links!!! Established March 12, 2005.

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Location: New York, United States

I can be a clown, a poet, a fool, a romantic, a diplomat, a all depends upon the timing and circumstance.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Nearly Beaten to Death

William o'Connor's gangbeating
Originally uploaded by vraven.

When I was 15, in the summer of 1983, I was nearly beaten to death by a gang of punks in Prospect Park.

Myself and four other friends were wandering around the park at night, when we heard the music of a Jazz concert playing over at the band shell and decided to check it out. We weren't fans of Jazz, but it was a live show and we were bored and needed a break from our hiking.

On our way there, my friend Gerard kept looking over his shoulder and warning us that a large group of guys were following us. Foolishly forgetting my father's lessons on being wary of trouble, I scoffed at Gerard, called him paranoid, and led us on to our violent fate.

We reached the band shell. Back then it was fenced in and we sat on the grass beside the park's main road, just outside the fence. To either side of us, sat people on blankets watching the show.

A gang of about 15 to 20 guys came out of the darkness across the road and surrounded us.

"You wanna die?" one of them said and accused us of previously threatening one of their friends. The accusation wasn't true, merely just a false pretense to attack us.

The beatings began. My friend Gerard was smart; after getting kicked in his chest, he faked being seriously injured and they left him alone. I kept mouthing off so they'd ignore my friends as much as possible.

I was held against the fence and repeatedly kicked in the face. Then a number of the gang lined up before me. The first lifted my chin up to look into my face and the street light swung into view. Then the fast moving shadow of a fist blocked the light and BANG! a jarring blow that brought dancing stars to my vision and made my head ring. The next guy did the same to me and so on and so on, while live Jazz music played.

I had begged them to stop, through cracked and bleeding lips, but their lust for violence wasn't spent just yet.

None of the concert spectators lounging on their blankets did anything to help and I don't blame them; what could a few do against 15 to 20 mean-spirited punks?

At one point, I remember a fleeting hope as I saw a police car coming along the road towards us. The gang members paused, but the patrol car kept on going and passed away into the night.

The gang finished their punching and kicking and let us go after what must've been at least a half hour. It was difficult to tell just how long the beating lasted; by its end, I was only half-conscious, staggering off like Rocky Balboa in the last round of any one of his fights. I remember, as I walked down the main road towards the park exit and my home, leaning on my friend Gerard, that the vision in my left eye was weird; it had an odd liquid, split-field quality. My face was badly bruised and swollen on the left side--where all the kicks landed--my nose and lips bled and I would sport a serious black eye for some time.

When I got home, my mother cried and my father, angry, didn't ask how I was. Instead he asked, "How many did you drop?"

After that, I was forever different. The experience toughened me up like nothing else. Prior to that night, I had been physically abused for years by bullies, nuns and teachers in Catholic school and now, complied with the beating I took, I developed an intense victim's anger. It galvanized me to stand up to high school bullies like never before. My face learned a to wear a tough, intimidating expression (the "Eye of the Tiger" my mother liked to say) and I developed a serious chip on my shoulder. If you looked at me the wrong way, we'd get into a fight. I wasn't afraid of anyone. After all, what could one guy do to me, no matter how big he was, compared to what 20 guys did to me?

Unfortunately, my anger led me to join the rival gang of the guys who beat me up. With their help, I hunted some of them down, waiting till I could get each of them alone and then give them some violent payback. I didn't get all of them, maybe a third, but I felt some sense of revenge.

I stayed in the gang for a couple of years, out of a false sense of security. This was before rampant drive-by shootings and such, and my gang wasn't anywhere in the league of the major ones in Brooklyn. Most of our gang fights took place in the grassy fields of Prospect Park, not with guns, but with sticks, bats, chains and whatever else violent teens could get their hands on and use as weapons.

It was sort of like Braveheart when I think back on it; two armies charging towards each other, engaging in melee combat...except the Scots and the British armies never had to run from the field of battle when the police showed up.


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