Friday, May 1, 2015

Fordham students in Mexico, 1967


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WYNMCFW


The novela, “mi nombre es Margarita” is inspired by a series of events involving college students in the summer of 1967, in particular one girl who was captured by an experience, perhaps a vision, that led her to forever give up the joys of youth and love. Her name, you could say, was Margarita.

In the late 1960s Fordham University launched a social service program in Mexico, which grew into the university's present Global Outreach Program. The Mexico Project began with the arrival of a few idealistic students in the village of Potrero not far from Vera Cruz. The town was chosen by Father Medellin, a Fordham professor and native of the town whose family ran the local sugar mill. Over time, their mission became more clearly defined, but in the early years they were often on their own.

The tale is a work of fiction inspired by those events, and the characters are composites of the students who came to Potrero. The students of the Mexico Project were distinctly Catholic and although they were often as opposed to the Viet Nam war as the rest of their generation, it was the teachings of their church that inspired them. They may have tutored in the Bronx ghetto or worked with the homeless in the Bowery, but the S.D.S. had not yet appeared on campus and no one had occupied the president's office. Fordham in 1967 was not Columbia.



The narrator of this story meets Margarita at one of the huge antiwar marches in Manhattan, but most of their fellow students back on campus were still devoted to the ROTC, and dreaming of careers with the CIA or FBI. She and her friends are among the first female students at Fordham, sharing classes with the boys but part of a distinct program then known as Thomas More College. She has recently transferred from Marymount but is restless in the conservative environment of her new school. The tale's narrator falls in love with her at first sight, and together they join the Mexico Project.

At Potrero they discover that their host, Padre Guillermo, believes the boys to be engineering students and sets them to work rebuilding his church. Only when one of its walls has been demolished, with the aid of enthusiastic local men, does it become clear that no one knows what they are doing. The girls, who were expected to act as nurses at the town clinic, have as little idea of what to do.





Margarita, whose mother is Cuban, speaks fluent Spanish and takes charge of organizing English classes, to be taught by the girls. The boys, in the meantime, take on projects requiring less skill, building foundations for new houses and repairing footbridges across the river that divides the town.




And then things begin to change. The narrator discovers what he believes to be the ruins of an ancient city. In the course of exploring a tunnel into what may have been an ancient pyramid, Margarita encounters something that she cannot explain. A local woman tells her that she is a “bruja,” a witch or, to be more precise, a kind of shaman and attributes mysterious healing powers to her. Margarita is drawn back to the ruins, unable to say why, seeking something she cannot name.



In the course of a fierce storm and flood that nearly drowns the town, she disappears, only to be found after a desperate search.  And then she disappears once more.




“mi nombre es Margarita” is available only on Kindle. Click here to purchase or see preview.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nearly forgotten Revolutionary War Battlefields near Herkimer, NY


http://www.lulu.com/shop/nathaniel-benton/a-history-of-herkimer-county/ebook/product-20688196.html


After the British defeat at Saratoga in 1777, and the enemy's retreat from Fort Stanwix, the patriots never again faced a major force in upstate New York, but the war continued as Iroquois and Tory raiders launched bloody hit-and-run raids on the less defended settlements and farmsteads. A regular force of the Continental Army was stationed at Fort Dayton (located near the court house in Herkimer) and conducted patrols into the surrounding country in a search for these raiding parties. In May, 1780 Lieutenant Solomon Woodworth led a company on one such patrol and fell into an ambush. In his 1856 “History of Herkimer County,” Judge Nathaniel Benton describes the battle:

 Having proceeded a few hours on the march, an Indian was discovered who was immediately fired upon, when the rangers found themselves involved in an inextricable ambuscade, and completely surrounded by an Indian force double their own numbers. The conflict that followed was severe and sanguinary, as might well have been expected from the character of the combatants engaged, and a hand to hand fight left but fifteen of the Americans, who escaped to tell the sad fate of their brethren. Some of this party were taken prisoners, but Woodworth and about half of his men were killed on the spot.

This fatal encounter took place about three miles north of Herkimer village, on the east side of the West Canada creek, in a deep ravine, where now may be seen the mound of earth, under rest the remains of the gallant Woodworth and his brave companions. The killed, it appears, were all collected and buried in one common grave, unshrouded and uncoffined, with no monument to tell where rest the brave but unfortunate defenders of American liberty.”




Although the mound -if there was one- marking the final resting place of these heroes has vanished, a monument was erected in 1959 on Smith Road north of Shells Bush Road (County Route 94), on the left when traveling north. (Milo Smith lived on this road and made a hobby of carving circus figures. His replicas of the Sautelle Circus Boats, which traveled from town to town of the Erie Canal, are exhibited at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts)

Note: Although Benton believed that the slain were buried near where they fell, it appears that Lt. Woodworth and Sgt. Phelps were buried at Mayfield. This site also describes his earlier heroism in that area.


map courtesy of Herkimer County Historical Society
 
Another tragic and nearly forgotten battle took place a year later at a blockhouse built by the Schell family a few miles away. The site was near the present-day Shells Bush Road which intersects Route 169 between Little Falls and Middleville. Johann Christian Schell was a veteran of the battle at Oriskany and clearly a man of exceptional courage. Benton describes his response to the raiders:


    “On the 6th of August, 1781 a German settlement called Shell's Bush, three or four miles north of Fort Dayton, was visited by a party of these formidable asserters of the rights of the crown. Donald McDonald, a Scotch refugee from Johnstown, with a party of about sixty Indians and Tories, with whom was Empie and Cassleman, two famous traitors, the latter being the same man who was with the party that attacked Rheimensnyder's bush in April, 1780, made their appearance in the Shell settlement in the afternoon of the above day, when most of the inhabitants had retired to Fort Dayton, for protection. Some indications of this hostile movement must have been previously discovered, or the inhabitants would not have sought the protection of the fort. There was, however, one man, John Christian Shell, the husband of a brave and resolute wife, and the father of six sons, who determined to brave out the storm, let come what would. He had a strong blockhouse on his farm, well constructed for purposes of defense against marauding parties of Tories and Indians; and he resolved to fight rather than run. The first story of logs had no openings except a doorway or entrance, well protected by a massive door, and loopholes through which the besieged could fire upon their assailants. The floor of the second story projected over the lower part of the building, and had apertures in the projecting floor, affording ample means of annoying the enemy who might approach the building to fire it or break open the door below. Shell had a good supply of arms and ammunition to stand an ordinary siege. When the enemy made their appearance, Shell and his sons were in the field at work, but his two youngest, being twins only eight years old, were so far off he could not save them when he retired to his blockhouse, and they were taken and carried to Canada. Having gained his castle and secured the entrance, Shell and his little garrison were resolute and alert, and kept up a spirited fight from two o'clock until dark. Some of the incidents are worthy of particular notice. Shell's wife was active in loading the pieces fired by her husband and four sons. McDonald several times attempted to set fire to the building, but failed. His men were several times compelled to retreat, in consequence of the galling fire received from the party in the blockhouse, McDonald made an effort to force the door with a crowbar, but was wounded in the leg while so engaged, and none of his party being near enough to rescue him, Shell did not hesitate a moment to unbar the door and drag the wounded Tory leader into his fortress. This capture not only secured Shell against being burnt out by the enemy, but afforded an ample supply of ammunition to the little garrison, whose stock was becoming rather short. To save his life, McDonald gave up his cartridges to be used against his followers. A short respite took place between the belligerents, but the enemy returned and made a vigorous effort to take the blockhouse by assault. They came up to the walls and thrust the muzzles of their pieces through the loopholes, when Madam Shell by a blow upon five of them with an axe, rendered them useless; this being followed by several deliberate shots from the little garrison, compelled the assailants to retire to a respectful distance. Just at dark, Shell practiced a little stratagem which induced the enemy to suppose that troops were approaching from Fort Dayton, whereupon they fled to the woods, taking with them Shell's two little sons. After providing for the Tory commander in the best manner they could, the family started for the fort, which they reached in safety. Some of McDonald's Indians visited him, after the family went away, but finding he could not be removed, they left him to the mercy of the Americans, with the message to Shell that the welfare of his little boys depended on the treatment bestowed on McDonald. The wounded prisoner was taken to the fort the next day, when his leg was amputated. The enemy's loss on the ground was quite severe, eleven killed and six wounded. The little boys, on their return after the war, stated that nine out of twelve wounded which the enemy started with, died before they reached Canada.

In the following year Shell and two of his sons, being at work in the field not far from his blockhouse, were fired upon by a party of Indians secreted in a wheat field, and he was dangerously wounded. The sons remained with their father until a party from the fort came to their relief. One of the sons was, however, shot dead and the other wounded, before the guard arrived. John Christian Shell did not long survive his wounds, and thus closed the life of a brave and resolute man and a pure and devout Christian. During the short cessation in the attack on the blockhouse, Shell addressed his Maker in a hymn of deliverance from peril, used by the early German reformers.

The Shellsbush settlement is on what is usually called Gens Purchase, embracing perhaps some portion of the Royal Grant, and it will be observed that the name of Shell, Schel or Shaul does not occur among the patentees of Burnet field, nor is the name found in the list of Palatines remaining in New York, or taken to Livingston Manor, of the first two companies that emigrated. Enough is still known of him to authorize the conclusion that he was a German Lutheran, and he or his ancestors may have come over with the third body of immigrants in 1722, or at a later period. The singularly rude and unharmonious account of Shell's conflict with the Tories and Indians, contained in Campbell's Annals of Tryon county, has contributed very much to keep that event fresh in the recollection of the descendants of his German neighbors.”



The site of Schell's blockhouse was commemorated by a monument erected by the Daughters of the American revolution in 1908. The site is on private land a couple miles east of the intersection of Smith Road and Shells but I am not sure if the monument is still there.



Judge Benton's history is a very rare book but the entire text  may be read at Google Books. In addition I have made available an abridged version at $5.45 in paper and free as an e-book.


Those who are interested in fictional treatments of the Revolutionary War in the Mohawk Valley may be interested in my "Neither Rebel nor Tory," the story of Hanyost Schuyler and his critical role in breaking the siege of Fort Stanwix. Judge Benton, who played such a large role in the development of Little Falls, makes an appearance in my tale of the Underground Railroad, "Greater Love."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Discussion of Alfred Dolge at Little Falls Historical Society


 
 
From the Little Falls Times, April 13, 2015


Cooney to speak on new Alfred Dolge book



LITTLE FALLS – Little Falls native Michael Cooney will be joined by Herkimer County Historical Society Executive Director Susan Perkins for a presentation focused on Cooney's recent book, “Alfred Dolge.”


The presentation will take place at the Little Falls Historical Society's 7 p.m. meeting at the WCA at 534 Garden Street, Little Falls.


Perkins will open the presentation by providing much of the factual background of Dolge's eventful life while Cooney will address some of the reasons for the downfall of Dolge's various business enterprises in late-19th century Dolgeville.


By the 1880s, Dolge had established a complex industrial organization and envisioned a socialist utopia community in the small Herkimer County community that bears his name. However, by 1890, Dolge had fallen into bankruptcy and shortly thereafter moved his family to California.


The Perkins-Cooney presentation will be preceded by a business meeting of the Little Falls Historical Society. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation. All meetings of the Little Falls Historical Society are free and open to the public.



NOTE:



This will be a joint meeting with the Dolgeville-Manheim Historical Society. That group's president Bob Maxwell will also be part of the panel discussion and will be sharing some of the more portable Dolge memorabilia from their museum. As has been the practice for the past several years, the village of Dolgeville will feature a dramatization drawn from its founder's life during the annual Violet Festival, June 13-15, 2015.


The evening's program will be broadcast on the new Little Falls Community Radio.
 
Additional reading from this site:
 
 
 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"The True History of Joseph Smith"



In paperback at Amazon for $18.95

On Amazon Kindle for $2.99

The True History of Joseph Smith is a new novel that celebrates - and closely follows - the career of one of Upstate New York's most famous sons, Joseph Smith of Palmyra. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has long been associated with the state of Utah, its origins lies among the New Englanders who flooded into western New York following the end of the American Revolution.
This historical novel gives voice to Joseph Smith's long-forgotten sister, Sophronia, who tells the story of their shared lives from early childhood to his violent death. She was there when he saw visions in the woods behind his parents' farm and dug for treasure in the hills of western New York. With an almost obsessive love for her brother, she managed to overlook or find excuses for all his adventures with girls – and with the law- in his adolescent years.

When he founded a new religion, she went along with the rest of Joseph's family and followed him as he led them from one Zion to another, from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois. When she finds him seducing a hired girl in a barn, she is stricken speechless – yet when she peeps through a keyhole and witnesses his intimacy with another man's wife, she somehow reconciles his behavior with her faith in her brother. And her faith is not simply in him but in God, whom she experiences through her relationship with Joseph - whatever his obvious flaws and transgressions of accepted moral codes.

In this novel Sophronia is not merely a passive observer. She is surprisingly independent for her time and stands up to the men around her, ranging from her father and brothers to her two husbands. Increasingly, she tells Joseph the truth even as she has to confront the evidence of wife after after wife.

In fact, she becomes friends from a number of her brother's wives – while still staying close to Emma, his only legal spouse. When Joseph heads toward his death at the Carthage jail, Sophronia and two of his wives ride after him in a failed rescue attempt.

Those who know early LDS history will find many familiar characters here: Lucy Mack Smith, Hyrum and Don Carlos Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Porter Rockwell, Oliver Cowdery. Less familiar figures like Sally Chase, who gave Joseph his first seer stone, and Prescindia Buell, the plural wife who bore him a son, also have important roles in the novel.
Those who have less, or no, familiarity with the church founded by Smith will also  find much of interest in this tale of 19th century Americans, many of them from our state. These men and women drew on beliefs and practices that were widely shared among the early settlers from England. They shared an abiding faith in personal revelations, an ancient belief in all kinds of folk magic, and an unstoppable enthusiasm for creating a new society and way of life.  

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

A new historical novel of the South Bronx in the 1970s


http://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-cooney/the-great-monroe-high-school-fire/paperback/product-21789356.html
The Great Monroe High School Fire is an historical novel set in an era that many would rather forget, a time barely a generation ago when New York City was beset by an epidemic of crime, drugs and arson. Unlike the 18th and 19th century conflicts whose even minor episodes are celebrated with pride here in our small upstate towns, the City's descent into near anarchy in the 1970s is not noted with any historical markers or monuments in neighborhoods like the South Bronx or Bushwick. Much of the neglect both in the 1970s and today, of course, is about race. But some, I believe, is also because it is hard to find heroes in that era. This book attempts to remedy that lack.


The new novel is based upon a forgotten episode of the violent 1970s, an unsolved arson fire that did major damage to James Monroe High School in the South Bronx. The school was built in 1924 when the expansion of secondary education became a primary means of integrating first and second generation European immigrants into American life. For a time the largest high school in the world, Monroe had become racially segregated by the early 1970s, not by law but in fact. The African American, Caribbean and Latino families who had moved into the Bronx neighborhoods served by the school faced a different world from the Italians, Irish, Germans and Jews who had preceded them. A flood of drugs and a rising crime rate collided with a school system still recovering from the racially divisive strikes of 1967 and 1968. And then came the fires, waves of arson that consumed so many of the old neighborhoods of five story walk-ups, from Vyse Avenue to Kelly Street.

Young men in the Monroe neighborhood thirty years later


The story is told by Giuseppe Sanchez in a mix of Spanish, Italian and street slang combined with a vocabulary he has learned from reading and eavesdropping. (A glossary is provided at the back of the book) The story told by the boy, whose mother is Italian and father Puerto Rican, begins when he goes to Junior High 22 on 167th Street near the Grand Concourse and meets his closest friend, Sapo.



When we got to 22 in sixth grade, the place was like the Bronx Zoo only the animals in the zoo was more civilized. First day, my English teacher Mr. Z opens the door because someone’s knocking and this gidrul spits right in his face. I almost felt sorry for the guy, a young teacher just out of college. I don’t know why he waited two whole months before he walked out of class one morning and just disappeared.

To get back to Sapo. He bumped into me in gym class for nothing so I shoved him into the wall. We each landed a couple of good punches before big fat Mr. Greenfarb came over and sat on us until we quit fighting. We were homeboys from then on.

The two of us had each other’s back and even when the whole Career Guidance crew went after us, we did okay. The CG guys were all at least 15 but too dumb to be sent to high school so they had to stay in one room all day long and weren't allowed to associate with normal kids except when they had to eat. One day in the lunchroom Sapo made some comment about them being retards and they all went after us, knocking over chairs and tables like the maniaticos they were. Sapo and I kept picking up trays of Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots and throwing them until the CGs were slipping and falling all over themselves. This kind of shit was happening every day in that school.

Giuseppe, who prefers to be called Joey, and his friend Sapo come into conflict with the principal at 22 and respond by turning to hooky playing and graffiti. When Joey and his mother are forced to move to the Little Italy neighborhood on Arthur Avenue, the two friends lose touch but reunite a couple years later at Monroe. After a stint at Spofford juvenile detention center, Sapo is now into dealing marijuana. Joey becomes a willing recruit, if only to impress Siobhan, a Fordham College student who has befriended him.
Graffiti began to be recognized as an art form in
the 1970s and is still flourishing near Monroe


Siobhan, like many Fordham students then and now, is Irish-American and far better off than anyone Joey knows. His infatuation with her, however, fades when he realizes she is only interested in him for the marijuana he can provide. (It should be noted that in more recent decades, Fordham has reached out to include far more students from Joey's economic class and has played a major role in training teachers for City schools. And unlike NYU, Fordham never abandoned the Bronx.)


Although Sapo continues to draw Joey into dangerous situations, including a botched drug deal in which both are nearly killed, he is very different from his peers in several ways. One is the fascination with reading which he owes to his mother:



I remember one time she was washing the dishes and I was drying them. “And if you make sure you have good habits, your whole life will be better.”

Like what kind of good habits, Mom?”

Reading is the best habit you can have.”

But you always say you’re too tired to read.”

That’s because I have to work. If your father had been a good man instead of a disgraziato, I would have had time to read. And I don’t mean just trashy love stories but serious books. I could have gotten my diploma and maybe take night classes.”

Not too long after that conversation she came home lugging a cardboard box. “You know old Mr. Feldman who died? His wife gave me some of his books that she thought you might like.”

And you know what? I really did like them. Mr. Feldman must have saved every book he ever read because a lot of them were kids’ stories from fifty years ago. There were all these stories of a boy inventor named Tom Swift. Some of his inventions were not exactly new any more, like his Amazing Motorcycle or his Fantastic Camera. But some of the stuff, like a flying submarine, still hasn’t been invented. Mr. Feldman also must have liked war stories when he was a kid because there was a whole stack of books about these two boys who were having adventures in World War One. They had sword fights with Germans and all kind of things that probably never happened but even so, the stories were way more interesting than TV.”

Another major influence on Joey is his English teacher, Miss Bonsecour, whose interest in the boy strikes many as inappropriate. She not only gives him books but takes him to the Metropolitan Museum. When she is targeted for removal by a new principal, a series of events is set in motion, culminating in the arson attack on the school, an attack which was completely ignored by the City's media and political elites at the time.

For Joey the fire had a larger meaning:

I’d read in the Monroe library how the old Library of Alexandria was burned down back in Roman times. The ancient scrolls that contained all the knowledge in the world were destroyed and people became incredibly ignorant. And that's when the Dark Ages began.”

The book is aimed at both young adult and adult readers, and is suitable for high school students. (Language is a bit R-rated.)

The Great Monroe High School Fire can be purchased in paperback at either Amazon.com or Lulu.com for $9.95. The kindle version is $2.99.
https://www.createspace.com/4982438
http://www.amazon.com/Great-Monroe-High-School-Fire-ebook/dp/B00NA5SEGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409922114&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Great+Monroe+High+School+Fire
Also, for those who wish not to patronize Amazon, The Great Monroe High School Fire is  available in paperback at Lulu.com for $9.95
(Monroe was finally closed in 1994. The building now houses several small schools for different age children and appeared to be quite successful during a recent visit. Those interested in educational reform in the Monroe neighborhood during recent years may want to take a look at Five Years at Fannie Lou, available for 99 cents on kindle. The short book focuses on portfolio-centered assessment at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, a successful new small high school not far from the scenes of the novel. The district, it should be noted is still among the poorest in the US.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Good Catholic Girl




http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GY8UJP8



Inspired by actual events, “A Good Catholic Girl” is set in the Bronx of a half century ago and is available only on Kindle. The story is told by seventeen year old Paul Hanlon who befriends a newcomer to St. Finbarr’s, a small co-ed Catholic high school in the Norwood neighborhood:

 
Back then Catholic high schools in the Bronx were strictly boys-only, girls-only.  The girls wore plaid skirts and went to a nice place like Mount St. Ursula where nuns inspired them to continue their education at nice Catholic colleges like Marymount.  As to boys, they met them at well-chaperoned mixers where they drank Pepsi out of paper cups, nibbled on Lorna Doones and waited to be asked to dance. And despite what people always said, the nuns did not say “Leave room for the Holy Ghost” when couples were dancing too close. They were romantics, those nuns. They believed in love.






Paul’s first glimpse of Kathleen Mazzetti is on the 41 bus as it slowly makes its way up Webster Avenue:

 She seemed to be pretty plain, with blue plastic glasses, and she was all bent down, hunched over her bookbag. I watched her for maybe ten or fifteen blocks and she never took her eyes off the floor.  I kept trying to think of a way to catch her eye, maybe smile to make her feel less shy. But by then we had come to the stop for St. F’s, and I followed her off the bus. She walked along as if she knew the way but I don’t know how she could even see where she was going. She kept looking at the sidewalk and never once lifted her head. Poor kid, I thought to myself, she must be scared out of her mind. 

Although Paul wants to make sure that none of his popular friends think there is anything between him and the very shy and isolated new girl, they do become close:

Some mornings I would find a seat next to her on the bus and we’d get to talking about this and that. She had two little sisters and no brothers. One time she asked me if I must be lonely because I was an only child.

I said no, I had lots of friends.

Her mom was Irish and her father was Italian. They didn’t have much money and lived in a one bedroom apartment on Arthur Avenue, the Bronx version of Little Italy. Her father was a janitor at Teddy Roosevelt and when she went there, she hated to see him having to sweep up the mess the kids left in the cafeteria and she’d feel really sorry for him. When I asked her why she left the public high school, she clammed up.

We’d talk about other things, like what kind of music she liked, which was old Mario Lanza records of her mother’s.  And how she’d been taking care of her sisters every afternoon when she got home so her mother could go to her night job in the laundry at St. Barnabas Hospital.

Even though we liked to talk on the bus, I’m embarrassed now to admit that I didn’t want to be seen with her around school.  She just wasn’t that good-looking and I didn’t want anybody to think she was my girlfriend. That’s why I kind of avoided her except when there was an excuse to be together, like on the bus or as lab partners in Chem. 


Just before Christmas vacation, I noticed that Kathleen was starting to look down at her feet all the time, like when she first came to St. Finnbarr’s. I couldn’t even get her to say much of anything on the bus, which was unusual. I wondered if she was mad at me, if I had said something to hurt her feelings. She told me nothing was wrong but I thought she looked scared.
 
Paul soon discovers the source of Kathleen’s fear. An older boy from her neighborhood has long been obsessed with her and that is what drove her to leave Teddy Roosevelt High. And now he has followed her to the tiny North Bronx high school where her parents though she would be safe:

 “I’m afraid,” she told me. “I’m afraid all the time.”

“What can he do? Bullies like him are always punks if somebody stands up to them.”

“My father stood up to him when he came to our house looking for me and Tony punched him in the face.”

“When was this? After you got the order of protection?”

“Last week.” She was looking for a Kleenex in her bookbag.

“Come on, don’t cry,” I told her. “Your father can go to the court now and they’ll put Rovazzi in jail. That’s what an order of protection means. You’re protected by the law now.”

“My father said he won’t go to the police.”

“But why not?”

“He’s afraid Tony’s father will do something even worse if he makes more trouble."

“What’s that punk’s father got to do with it?”

“He’s a big man in our neighborhood. He’s got connections and my father said he could really hurt us, even my little sisters, if we make any trouble for his son.”

“Is he in the Mafia or something?” I tried to make a joke of it. “Who is he? Al Capone?”

“Something like that.”

As her stalker’s behavior becomes more and more threatening and the police refuse to take her fears seriously, Kathleen believes she will be never be safe as long as Tony is alive. At first Paul thinks she must be joking:

“He must know you don’t like him. Why doesn’t he just give up?”

“There’s something wrong with him. He’s not like a normal person.”

“If you can think of anything I can do, you have to tell me.” That’s what I said to her.

“You could kill him.” Kathleen looked up at me, her blue eyes matching her blue plastic glasses. “You could kill him. That’s the only way you could make him stop.”

“You’re kidding, right?”



“Not really” was her answer.  She was a pretty small girl but at that moment she scared me.  After a minute or two, we both laughed and brushed it off as a joke.

“We could find out where he eats and poison his lunch.”

“Or we could tamper with the brakes on the big Oldsmobile his father gave him,” she smiled.

“We could lure him into the subway and push him in front of a train,” I laughed.

Her face suddenly became as serious as anybody’s I ever saw.  “Now that’s a plan that just might work.”

Like I said, she was starting to scare me. She wasn’t kidding about wanting to kill this guy.  And I believed her when she said that was the only way to stop him, especially after what happened that June.




Read the entire story “A Good Catholic Girl” on Kindle for $.99.