Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“You could have prevented Tommy’s death. you left him with your father because you cared more about going out with your friends than keeping him safe from the traffic. you were acting like your parents, not caring about the kids in the family. you killed Tommy. Admit it.”
“It was not my fault. How could I have known?” I whimpered.
“You knew your dad wouldn’t keep an eye on him. you can’t lie to The Dealer. I was there.” Face up on the table sat my prosecutor, judge, and jury. They pictured a life under siege. My hands shook because I wanted desperately to pick up the cards and play them. “Play the cards,” The Dealer urged.
“Pleasure is in the lobby. Go find her. She will help you forget about the pain.” Guilt, rage, pain, and lust dominated my thoughts.
“It was not my fault,” I whispered, but I could tell I was weak- ening.
“Who could’ve known that Tommy would die?”
“you knew. you can’t deceive The Dealer.” I ached for Pleasure. I picked up the card holding the face of my father and tapped it against my forehead.
“How is your father?” I raged at the question but didn’t answer him. “What did the doctor call the gift he gave you? Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?” I nodded.
“The doctor would have given you drugs to calm you. I was hoping you’d make the right choice. He had the solution to all your problems. Medication was the fastest and easiest way to stop the fear and anger. But instead of listening to your expensive shrink, you wanted to talk about some touchie-feelie memory- healing technique you heard about from some Oriental guy—in Mexico, of all places!—just because it built on something Sister John taught you. No wonder the doctor was annoyed! “But you would agree the memory produces the fear and rage. Our mother is breathing whiskey fumes in our nieces’ and nephews’ faces even as we speak.”
My mind was frenzied. I was flashing on the Memory file named MOM and fighting with myself. I picked up the Tommy card and added it to my father’s.
“you know you’re responsible for Tommy’s death,” The Dealer went on. “All you had to do was stay with him. He had such a bright future. you killed him, Jim. Now kill the ones who made you do it. They all deserve it.” I scanned to the file in my mind named TOM_DIES, opened it, and scanned my notes. Then I looked straight into the dealer’s eyes.
“Tommy died so I could live and become who I am.” Next I clicked on the icon of the doctor’s face and scanned my notes about that encounter. He had been so sure of himself. When I questioned him about replacing a traumatizing memory with a new memory, he became impatient, even dismissive.
“The memories of the particular moments you just brought up do influence the way I act,” I told the dealer,
“but how I act, in turn, reinforces the trauma and reproduces and intensifies the fear. It’s a cycle I need to break. It’s time to overwrite these dated files.” The Dealer twitched in anger.
“enough talk! Take these cards and play them.” I sat back in my chair. I could see past The Dealer to the floor below the stage. The mother and father were still up to no good and their children still sat patiently at their feet, waiting for their needs to be noticed. The Dealer followed my gaze.
“What would happen right now if those parents stopped gam- bling and devoted this very moment to their children?” I asked. “Who fucking cares?” The Dealer yawned. I ignored him. “A new memory would be started,” I said, “and when a new experience would be added to the file, it would bring healing to the parents and a bright future for the children. I will name this file GOODGOOD.”
This simple idea freed me. I dropped the cards and found myself in free-fall to a future time and place. I was standing across the street from a white two-story house with a burgundy wrap-around porch. The color balanced perfectly with flowers in hanging pots and a brick sidewalk which curved to the rear yard. In front, a black wrought-iron fence with spear-tipped railings gave the home the appearance of a protected castle. Sister John’s voice whispered softly in my ear.
“Much has been done to you, but much has been given you as well, and much also is expected from you.” My eyes misted. A young boy, blond and fair skinned, held a basketball in one hand and in his other, the chocolate-brown hand of a little girl with wonderfully curly black hair. They were walking up the winding sidewalk from the back yard. The front door opened and Maria walked out on the porch.
“Where’s daddy? Lunch is ready.” The young boy pointed to the backyard.
“He’s cleaning the pool for us.” Maria waved them in slowly. I watched as they climbed the front steps and walked in the door. Sister John’s voice continued:

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