DIVINE CHILD
Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

I walked to the pop cooler and grabbed two Cokes as well. As I stood in line to pay, I looked through the store window at Cherish, who was fiddling with the radio. How do you know about these things? I closed my eyes for a second, and I was sitting in the con- vent basement with Sister John Christian. She knew that I was suffering because of the sexual abuse from Larry the Monster and emotional abuse and neglect from my parents, and told me that if I came to understand myself, I would be able to help other people. Then the timeline jumped up to the previous year. I’d come across an article on sexually abused children. Experts quoted statistics stating that children who are molested often become molesters themselves, just as children raised by alcoholics are at risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. The cycle of abuse often continued from generation to generation. If that was true, I was destined to molest a child while I was drunk. Back in the present, I felt insulted by it all. I paid for the pop and towels and returned to the car.

THE RAIN WAS LETTING UP as I pulled in front of the house where Cherish lived. She leaned closer for a hug.
“Jimmy, I’m afraid. Are we going to jail?”
“everyone but us.” “What should I do? Should I come to work tomorrow?” No! Yes! No! “That’s a decision I can’t make for you.” “But what do you think?”
“Nick knows I have feelings for you. He’s trying to use them to manipulate me, so it’s important that he keeps on thinking that way.”
“Do you want me to come to work tomorrow, Jimmy? Please tell me.”
I took a deep breath and heard what I just said.
“Cherish, I want you around all the time. I don’t want you to leave right now. Naturally, I want to see you tomorrow, but you have to quit. Don’t show up for work tomorrow.” She whispered in my ear. “I want to be with you, too. Let’s run as far away from here as possible.” I pulled away.
“I’m not running anymore. Here is where I make a stand. Now in you go. I’ll be in touch.” I watched her climb the steps, then stop and search for her key. When she turned and waved, I had a feeling of grace. I had just done the right thing. I want to be with you, too! I whispered, knowing I’d never see her again. I should have quit Nick then and there, but then I remembered the rest of the reason I was staying. After all my years hang- ing around with small-time hoods, I was scared I couldn’t could keep a legitimate job. The wave of bliss crashed into a pool of fear and loss. Cherish was gone from my life.

SUMMER 1964 | CHAPTER 21

 

CHERISH DIDN’T SHOW UP for work the next day. even though I knew better, I phoned her a couple of times.
She didn’t return my calls.
It felt like my parents rejecting me all over again. In a rush of self-destructive panic, I went on a three-day bender.
Nick couldn’t help himself, either. He boosted his advertising and added more off-site phone lines. The business was now exclusively bogus. Apartment hopefuls forked over a hundred dollars each for a telephone number that was completely bogus. After getting the run-around with fake landlord names and busy phone lines, they’d finally notice the “no refunds” clause in the contract and give up.
It lasted for months, but finally we burned the wrong person, someone who knew someone important. Suddenly news crews from all the major Chicago Tv stations were doing stand-ups in the street outside the office. It didn’t take long for Michael Benedetto, chief of litigation for the state attorney general’s Con- sumer Fraud Division, to get the injunctions he needed to shut us down.
Nick saw it coming, but he was addicted to the scam by now. He had remembered my offhand comment about Washington having an ideal business climate for his type of operation, so he started to raise capital to finance the move. Fat Petey would order merchandise by phone, take delivery in the front, and Nick would sell everything out the back door.

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