Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Speaking of days gone by...

I used to be in a heavy metal band called "Wicked Bitch". We were named after our singer Dim's ex-girlfriend Meghan, who I had known since 7th grade and who was crazy.

Dim's real name was Tim: he was called Dim because he was none to bright. he liked to smoke crack. Meghan had always teetered on insanity but the straw that broke her mind was the crash. A few years before Wicked Bitch was even a gleam in our crackhead singer's eye, Dim got in an accident coming home from a gig in Narragansett Rhode Island. Drunk out of his mind, Dim ended up on the wrong side of the highway and plowed head on into an oncoming car. Five years after the accident, if you rubbed his forhead, you could feel the broken glass forever lodged under his skin.

My mom was nice enough to let us practice in her basement. At 24, Dim was the oldest memberof the band. I was 19 and barely out of high school. Our guitar players and the drummer were seniors. A number of kids from the high school woul hang out in the basement during practice, among them Mark Poland and his girlfirend Shannen Fitzpatrick. They were a few years younger than me. Mark was either a junior or a sophomore, a friend of one of my little sister's friends. He was a skinny 17 year-old metalhead with a blonde mullet. He was soft-spoken and non confrontational. I didn't know him too well, but what i knew of him I liked well enough. He never caused trouble in my mom's house or in my apartment. Shannen was either a freshman or a sophomorme. She was about 15, flatchested and as skinny as her boyfriend. Her hair was jet black and her eyes were icy blue, peering out from a faceful of freckles. I wouldn't have thrown her out of bed. She was my friend Johnny Fitz's cousin, and her dad was a cop. Typical Irish family.

Newport is listed on maps as a city, but really it's a large town. It is hard to think of distances between neighborhoods as miles, yet to measure distance in blocks seems a bit much. Suffice it to say in a neighborhood near mine there was a store called Rosie's, owned (aptly) by an old woman named Rosie. I remember the first girl i ever messed around with lived around the corner from that store. i was thirteen years old with a boner so exicted from the afternoon's activities that it wouldn't go away for hours, handing over a buck or so for a bottle of Dr. Pepper, some Funyuns and Twizzlers to muich on the way home.

One morning Newport woke up to find that Rosie had been robbed. Not only that, but the old lady had been brutally beaten with a cast iron frying pan, after which her throat had been cut before her assailant left her for dead. The cash register had been raided, and someone had tried unsuccessfully to open the safe. Rosie fought for life though, and was barely conscious when she was found and brought to the hospital. Within hours she had recovered enough to identify Mark and Shannen as her assailants. Soon after that, Rosie's niece, a friend of the couple, stepped forward to say that Shannen and Mark had learned that Shannen was pregnant and wanted to get an abortion. The girl told them where Rosie kept the money in th shop and suggested they rob her, but hadn't expected the assault. By this time the police were on the lookout for the couple, but by this time they had fled town in a stolen car. As a search fanned out around the region, more details came out: Mark had done the actual slashing as Shannen egged him on. Some people were saying that the murder side of things had been Shannen's idea, that she had pushed her boyfriend past any osrt of acceptable boundaries. Others said that Mark had snapped. I tended to side with the former: mark had never seemed the violent type to me. Quite the opposite: he was a little guy who, unlike me, attracted littkle to no attention from malicious minded jocks, probably because he took auto classes in the voc-tech department. And Shannen I knew to be a hellraiser.

They were finally caught about a month and a hlaf later somewhere in Indiana or Ohio. their keys had gotten locked in the latest car they had stolen, and the cop who stopped to help them unfortunately ran the plate. The were returned to Rhode Island to face trial, where Mark was given 15 years and Shannen got 18 monthsa in training school.