November 10, 2015
I have been living a lie, to some extent. And I want to come clean. I pray you will not judge me. There are some things about my early life that I am not proud of. If you don’t continue to read “The Genehouse Chronicles,” I understand.
My family moved from Belleville to Alton when I was in the eighth grade. In the past, I have said that we moved because my dad was changing careers. But that isn’t true. The police records in various unnamed towns tell a different story.
I was a juvenile delinquent. (I’m already feeling better!) When I was eleven, I carried a hunting knife on my person. It was stuffed down the back of my pants. I tore up a lot of tighty whiteys that way, but it was worth it. I also carried a pocket knife in my right shoe.
I was starring in the school play at the time, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” about an Ozark family. John Wayne played the character in the movies. There was a gunfight scene, in which my character was to shoot a man. The director had a starter’s pistol offstage, for sound effect.
Anyway, I go so involved in my character’s rage that I tossed my fake gun, pulled my hunting knife from my crack and pocket knife from my costume boots, and charged at the other poor kid. I stabbed him repeatedly. He lived, but not for my lack of trying.
Oh yes, I attacked my mother every Wednesday, spaghetti day in the Baldwin household. I tried strangling her with pasta strands, but it didn’t hold very well.
I was expelled from school. The family left the Belleville ghetto we lived in and moved on to Alton, to the poor section called “North Alton,” (so it was dubbed, by local rich people). As any Alton High classmate can tell you, I assaulted three teachers, broke a football player’s arm (shout out to T. S.), patted multiple girls on the fanny (sorry, Janet, Ellen, Barb, Carla, Claudia, Stephanie, Gail, Emily, Miss Heil), shoplifted flower arrangements from Lammers Floral, stole hamburgers from Burger Chef and continued attempting to strangle my mom with pasta strands.
How did all of this get hushed up? My father knew the police chief. The chief, bless him, got me in touch with his old friend, General William Westmoreland. The good general Skyped me and said all I needed was some manning up. He offered me a scholarship to West Point, but I told him, Billy West, I’m gonna make my mark as a writer.
And I did. My book, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Pyramids” relates the story of Joseph overseeing the building of the pyramids, to be used as storage for grain. And there is my new book: “Climate Okay You’re Okay.” In my short story, “The Oregon Shooter: That Bastard,” my character, Gentile Ben, a slow-talker, steps in front of the victims, pulls out his .45 and blows the perp to Hell.
Just as I would have done, now that I have my conceal carry permit and put my piece in the back of my pants just like I did with the hunting knife. There is gun oil on my tighty whiteys, but hey, a stain is a stain.
I feel so much better now. Do you?
Can you forgive me?