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My True Crime by Mark Anthony Given


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     No crime is so great as daring to excel.  -Winston Churchill
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            WHAT IF both your parents were drunks and they fought all the time and you bounced in and out of foster homes and juvenile detention and sleeping in a Goodwill Box at night, I swipe a hoagie out of Wegman's in broad daylight.  Does that make me a criminal?  Or does it make me a sociopath because I don't feel bad about it?  How about a thirty-page true crime FBI Rap Sheet with one page nearly all alias?  Does that make me a bad guy?  Do you know where you were forty-three years ago on September 3, 1973 at exactly 9:48 at night?  I do. 

          MY ONE MAN CRIME WAVE stands as a testament, like "Here lies,' or "Kilroy was here!" and a major fuck you to a world where whats wrong for you is right for me.  I remember lying in yet another Salvation Army drop box I had to walk across town to get in and it was eleven thirty at night and drizzling rain and cold and I was looking forward to rolling up nice and warm in some old women's coat or hopefully blankets and clean clothes and nice and dry.  I was just a kid, and it kind of hurt a little to find myself on the side of a road with no place to be and nowhere to go, and yet strangely exciting and defiant like a modern day Tom Sawyer living by my wits. 
             SLEEPING IN A SALVATION ARMY BOX when I was a young runaway I thought was the greatest idea since sliced bread and wondered why more people didn't do it....

            I'll tell you why I figured out pretty quick is you either have to be an industrious little bastard or fucking Houdini.  They weren't made to get out of but, when I started living on the streets of New York I was so small, I broke into a dozen apartments by crawling through the Milk shoot by the back or side doors of many homes in New York... 
       MY VERY FIRST CRIME was a malicious and merciless assault on a lone Hoagie expertly pilfered from a giant big and beautiful Wegman's Grocery which is all over the Northeast and the gold standard in grocery shopping.  These sandwiches were a little dry I must admit.... but curled up in an old throw away blanket laying on top off bags of clothes and shoes and toaster ovens it hit the spot.  Sleep like a Recovery Room knowing nobody would ever find me there and couldn't wait for daylight to dig thru everything to find some cool clothes to put on.    
    BUSTING OUT OF THE BIN every morning before daybreak a brand new boy.

       NOBODY WILL HIRE you when you're that young. Don't bother trying.  There is one place I was able to hold down a semi legitimate job at thirteen years old sleeping in Goodwill boxes and boosting Subs out of groceries... 
                      A NEWSPAPER BOY!  
       I stood on the corner of East Main Street and West Main Street at a major intersection in Downtown Rochester, New York all night long.  Just for a couple of weeks, I couldn't handle it.  If you want to find the epicenter of RNY freak festival, stand on that corner, there will see someone there this very night I have no doubt.  I had people drive up for a paper, they have to reach over the driver seat to hand me the money out the passenger window, I hand them a paper or drop it on the seat. Just that short fifteen twenty-second encounter I met some of the most deprived eyes, drunken binges, butt naked, sex toys, propositions every night.   Most of them were trying to get off by shocking me!   After a dozen times or so it was 'old hat, and I expected it.  Just like when I lived in New Orleans, there are people driving around every night up to no good and usually drunk on their ass.  I needed to be careful because when the Sun goes down, bad things happen.  After seeing one too many crazy bastards sizing me up I went back to pilfering the necessities and doing without the rest of the time.   I felt like one of Rochester's famous criminal bastards would pull a gun on me and order me the car... I would have bolted, by the way, I would not have gotten in a car without physical force.  That's when I had to ratchet it up a notch and started sleeping in the warm basements of swanky apartment buildings on East Avenue.  I'd push a button a talk my way into the place with a lost key or something.  Once I'm in I head for the basement where the laundry facilities and storage bins are.  Almost always a couch or two in storage or somewhere in the laundry room.  Nobody knows everybody in the building.  I'd act like I belonged there and as long as you have clean clothes on and talk like you got some sense, you can blend in.  I'd have three or four places like that to choose from. 

         I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEAD.  When I was a kid, I was so bad, people told me I would be dead by the time I turned twenty-one.  When I was eighteen my friend and his brother robbed a local bank and one of them died on the scene in a shoot out with the police.  The Warlocks Motorcycle Club's headquarters are in Rochester, New York was at the end of my block.   One of them offered me fifty dollars to steal the magneto off another brother's bike sitting in front of the clubhouse.... I still can't believe I done that.  In nineteen seventy-two, I was fifteen and had a black girlfriend named Karen Jones.  She was gorgeous and wore a wig, but when that wig came off.....    
          WE WERE KNOCKING THE BOOTS when that wig came flew off.... I think I was in therapy for years...
         I RAN AWAY from foster care in Florida and hitchhiked to New York when I was twelve or thirteen and I'll never forget the look on my fathers face when I knocked on the door out of the blue after being abandoned in Florida four or five years earlier... Complete shock and surprise and a huge smile...

To be continued...
12:28 PM 1/19/2016

Copyright 2016 by Mark Anthony Given 
All Rights Reserved 
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