Beginning when the 4 boys entered into a kart race w/ neighboring challengers. At this age, trash talk from one another is common. The people of Hell's Kitchen, NY, would place bets on anything. This race was no exception. To the working of the neighborhood, gambling was a time honored tradition. Their cart was a 2ND favorite. All of the betting took place outside of Fat Mancho's candy store. Even though they lost the race, they took the hit on the chin. These 4 boys were unseparable, happy and content within their closed off world of Hell's Kitchen, NY. The West Side streets of Manhattan was their private playground. They were young w/ the city as their oyster. In the summer months, the boys played games that ran the gamut of inner-city pastimes in the early 1960s. Music consisted of GREATNESS: Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin & Frankie Valli. This was a time where you know everyone in the neighborhood & felt like family ens consed in their world. Doing for others without expected payment. Even on the street, kids were looked out for in the neighborhood instead of "keeping to your own". Friendships were as important as neighborhood loyalty. Your friends gave you an identity and a sense of belonging. Most kids were lucky if they had 1 friend to count on; Lorenzo had 3. He wasn't tough enough to be in a gang nor care for their behavior of confrontation. It was a world made for these boys, who became friends over a lunch. After word spread of 3 wrestlers eating at a local Holiday Inn, the 4 boys walked through the restaurant and approached the wrestlers table. They spent an hour in each others company. walking out w/ ringside seats to the event and ticket booth prior. Even though Lorenzo was the youngest of their group, he was treated as an equal. After having so much in common, age didn't/wasn't an issue. Lorenzo was truly accepted & felt it when they gave him a nickname:Shakespeare; because he was never without a book. All of the boys were each an only child from a troubled marriage.
The boys' fathers had their own troubles seen by their son's that would shape & mold them throughout time. Michael Sullivan was the REAList of all of them. He was suspicious of others intentions and never trusting one at their word. Michael kept the group grounded. He was big brother and maintained a degree of maturity. He was the first to have a steady girlfriend: Carol Martinez. He kept older explosive boys at bay. A leader was his born place. Tommy Marchano's father was away in prison serving a 7-yr sentence for armed robbery. He wrote to his dad nightly before bed. If Michael was the brains of the group, Tommy was the soul. His street name was Butter. He was shy and shunned ANY sort of attention. While Michael seemed older, Tommy seemed far younger. Swift mouth similar to a smartass. He had a natural ability to build things.
John Reilly was raised by his mother alone after his father, a petty hood, shot & killed in a foiled armoured truck heist in New Jersey less than a week after his son was born. John knew NOTHING of hers. Earning his discipline from the hands of his mothers suitors. He never spoke of the abuse he suffered from them; but his friends KNEW! Despite the age, John was nicknamed the Count, due to his fascination w/ The Count Of Monte Cristo, which was Lorenzo's favorite book. John was innocently surrounded by unpreventable violence. He would love to draw and spend afternoons working it. He was also a born mimic. Concealing his home life w/ jokes.
Together, the 4 of them found in one another the solace & security they couldn't find elsewhere. They had each other & lived for each other. The Catholic Church played a large part of their lives. Sacred Heart was the center of the neighborhood. A neutral meeting ground held in the highest respect. Lorenzo & his friends attended Sacred Heart Grammar School. Lorenzo was taught "beyond the blackboard" lessons that opened his eyes to a world outside of Hell's Kitchen, NY. Father Robert Carillo, A.K.A. Father Bobby was in charge of the alter boys, taught 5TH grade & used basketball games as a chance to talk to students. He was the only one there to help if EVER a problem arose. He introduced them to the art of the written word. Selecting books/stories by authors they could identify with. They were also a great escape from their home lives. Father Bobby was raised in Hell's Kitchen and KNEW what these boys faced. Other clergy were not that caring. Sticking to a parental approved corporal punishment.
Lorenzo & his friends served as alter boys, working a regular schedule of Sunday and occasional weekend masses + neighborhood funerals. There were different occasional times when John & Lorenzo would go to the empty church just to get away from society & noise. They were the only 2 in the group who had any notion of ever joining the priesthood. A guaranteed ticket out of the neighborhood. They were intrigued w/ the powers a priest was given. The best part was sitting in a booth listening to others confess their sins. Like being privy to a secret diary. Confession was better than any book or movie because it was REAL. During confession hours (3-5p on Saturdays), there was NO BETTER place to be:John & Lorenzo were in the church every Saturday. While John Reilly was nervous of what others confess, Lorenzo seen it as listening and trying not to laugh. Somewhat of a heavy load for John to hear at times. At times, it was hearing the sins of those they KNEW throughout Hell's Kitchen. Much to the shock, one woman in confession KNEW it was the boys. She had to talk to somebody.
Father Bobby was one who TRULY looked out for the boys. ANYTHING mischievous they thought to do; he'd already done before. He advised, but never preached. He KNEW the boys took his opinion into consideration. Word spread and Father Bobby questioned the library incident. Offering him a better way to get the library job done. Father Bobby informed Lorenzo of his (Lorenzo's) help distributing library books w/ him thanks to his mom. His mom wants her son to be a priest. ALL Father Bobby wanted/wished for the boys was that they stay out of trouble.
It was the summer of 1964. Hot and sticky summer. After laying out on a towel and peeking in on a nude lady, the discussion turned to virginity stories. As young boys do. Since Michael was the oldest of the group, he had the most sexual experience at the time which consisted of kissing girls. He was the first of them to attend a party where the female ratio outweighed the boys. This was an age where a girl's smile at them was seen as a SUCCESS! They sought their romantic escapades elsewhere, often in the company of Carol Martinez, 12, who was part of the group and one of the guys. She was also Michael's study. She read books, worked after school in a bakery and kept to herself. She was raised by her father after her mother died in childbirth. Carol ignored the pleas of the girl groups to join their ranks. Aside from her father, Carol wasn't close to any family members. The mothers of the neighborhood were fond of her, the fathers looked out for her and the boys kept their distance. Except for these boys. She was aware of the strengths & weaknesses of these boys. Their flourishments & drawbacks.
John was asthmatic and quick to panic when caught in closed quarters or at a disadvantage. He couldn't eat dairy due to digestion. SEVERE headaches that lead to drowsiness. Even though he had a heart condition, it never stopped him. The group was aware of John's health problems and took them into consideration when going on an outing. While everyone else was out there w/ their relationships, the boys were more private & gentleman-ly in their actions. Ride horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, taking turns holding Carol's hand. Walk through the park late at night eating ice cream & telling Carol stupid jokes. If she laughed, they got a kiss. She was tough to get a laugh from, but John would always get her laughing. The boys & Carol could BE EACH OTHER w/ their guards down in each other's presence. The boys were well schooled in revenge in Hell's Kitchen. It offered graduate workshops in correcting wrongs. Any form of betrayal had to be confronted and settled. Your standing in the neighborhood depended on how quickly & in what manner the reprisals occurred. If no retribution, you were branded a scarlet letter.
Fat Mancho was the meanest man in Hell's Kitchen. That was what he was loved for. He owned a candy store. In the back room, Fat Mancho ran a number of operations, keeping a quarter of EVERYTHING he made. Although owning a multitude of different properties, he collected monthly assistance checks. Although in his 30s, his physique made him look older. Although Fat Mancho hated everyone he met, for some reason, he tolerated the boys. They were harmless and out for nothing but a good time. He would poke & joke fun at his urging. The boys knew him all of their lives. and felt he trusted them. They never stole from him or deceived him in any way. NEVER asking for money or cause him any trouble. They genuinely liked each other's company.
This was at a time when you could trust your neighbor with your unlocked house. What shocked them w/ a BIG surprise was finding Sister Carolyn Saunders at/in Michael's apartment during a minor pit stop.
Father Robert Carillo, Father Bobby, was the son of a longshoreman who was just as comfortable sitting on a bar stool as he was in mass. Being raised in Hell's Kitchen, he toyed w/ a life of petty crime before finding the seminary. Leaving for it at age 15. For Lorenzo and the boys, Father Bobby wasn't like a priest at all. He was a friend. A friend who happened to be a priest. The boys and Father Bobby had ALOT in common: comics, sports & more. Despite the criminal bend of the neighborhood, the church exerted considerable influence and its leaders were visible to the community. The clergy KNEW the rules of Hell's Kitchen. They KNEW Parents DID WHAT THEY HAD TO DO for their families to SURVIVE! Father Bobby cared for the boys in a significant way and as much as they were capable of loving an outsider. They loved him for that care. He KNEW of the boys' lives and tried to incorporate guidance along w/ their piqued interest.
Lorenzo & his friends were united in TRUST! NEVER questioning each others loyalty. Their friendship was a tactic of survival. They never needed to leave the compounds of Hell's Kitchen. They lived inside the entertainment they enjoyed. It was during those uninhibited moments of pretend play that they were allowed the luxury of childhood. Despite their ages, too much had been seen already. Not so much as a plan, more of a destination. The way things go. These boys would not become their surroundings. Lorenzo & the boys were thieves who stole more for fun than profit. Taking what would be "needed", but couldn't afford to buy. They hit candy stores for comics, toy stores for games & supermarkets for gum. Keeping their escapades from their parents. There was an order to life in Hell's Kitchen, one that remained undisturbed by crime, murder & madness. Money was tight, but the boys followed neighborhood rules. Time spent in the company of made men led to a desire to flex their own criminal muscles. On the streets of Hell's Kitchen, the more street fights you encountered, the better name you build for yourself. As the boys grew older, the violence around them intensified.
In the summer of 1966, Lorenzo and his friends were as consumed by sports as they were by books & movies. They followed every pro-sport w/ religious fervor and adolescent passion, except for golf & tennis. They were rabid New York Rangers fans. Their favorite player was Earl Ingerfield, a player who connected w/ his fans and interacted w/ them. Materials donated were used for street yard games. Boxing was also a favorite w/ Joey Archer being a local hero. They followed horse racing more out of habit than interest. In Hell's Kitchen, the track was sacred ground. The most beloved sport of all was baseball. Flipping trading cards, memorizing stats, following the exploits of their favorites of The New York Yankees as though they were their own families. They were their team. Ones who may have lost, but had the heart of a winner. Just like them. Teenage chatter discussing teams, cards & favorite players. Next came the idea to go swimming. They spent the rest of the day on the waters.
After defending a mentally challenged boy, Joey, against a burly man who was uncaring & horrible to him, it was seen righting something they KNEW was wrong. Their lives were about protecting themselves and their turf. It was about protecting and stepping up. Michael as always the leader. During the worldly events of the '60s, the boys had their own events that changed them:
- Tommy's dad was stabbed in Attica prison
- Michael's mother died of cancer
- Carol had an uncle who was fatally shot
- John suffered a punctured lung from the abuse from his mother's boyfriend
It was the summer of 1967. Temps were at a HIGH 98* the day their lives were FOREVER altered. Along w/ the turmoil came change throughout the nation. The boys spent their morning in the cool shadow of a 2ND floor poolroom. They had less than $2.00 between them in their pockets. They were hungry and hot-dogs were a way to go. Method of payment was either a "dine-and-dash" or a "5-finger-discount". Their scam was simple. Picked it up from an Irish crew on 48TH Street who used it every summer.
Lorenzo was to walk up to the hot-dog cart and make his choice. The vendor would hand him the hot-dog and watch as he ran off without paying. This gave the vendor 2 choices; cut his losses or track them down. If he chased them, that included abandoning his post. Then the boys could feast in his absence. The vendor worked the far corner of 51ST St. & 10TH Ave., standing close to his post. The boys never paid any attention to the man that was the vendor. NEVER paying attention to the work it took to earn his pay. NOT even the hard work of a business. ALL they seen was a FREE lunch.
The vendor was warily looking over his shoulder. After asking & receiving a napkin, the vendor had hesitation for an instant. They both sensed a wrong was about to happen. When he handed over the hot dog, Lorenzo took it from him and ran. After months of heavy frustration, the vendor broke any reasonable point and gave a chase. While Lorenzo ran w/ the hot dog still in hand, Michael, John & Tommy were on their 2ND, taking advantage of the missing vendor. Michael got the idea to push the cart a couple of blocks away, thinking it would be a nice surprise for the vendor not to find it. The vendor tired at 52ND St. & 12TH Ave. Lorenzo seen the vendor from across the street staring at him. He was beat but not beaten. The vendor could've gone on hate alone. Lorenzo decided to run against a pier choosing to head back to neighborhood safety. He figured the guys had their fill of food. They paused for a breath. Lorenzo stopped and seen the vendor in the same position as him. If he got to the cart fast enough, Lorenzo might get a hot dog like his friends.
Michael, John & Tommy were at the corner of 50TH St. & 9TH Ave. tired from pushing the cart down a block. They stopped for a little break awaiting Lorenzo. He stopped at the light at 51ST St. & 10TH. looking for his friends. The vendor was running out of steam. Lorenzo continued to run. The vendor still on his heel. Lorenzo seen the cart was being pushed towards another street. The vendor seen them too. Lorenzo ran catching up w/ his friends. The deal was to only take hot dogs, NOT the cart. It was Michael's idea to push it towards the subway station. The plan was to hold the cart on the edge of the stairwell, lean it downward and wait for the vendor. They were to let go the minute the vendor grabbed the handles & leave the scene as he struggled to get the cart onto the sidewalk. All it took was a minute that FOREVER changed their lives. Michael held the cart the longest. John & Tommy were at grips. Lorenzo held both hands to the base of the umbrella stand. The vendor was a few feet behind them. Michael urged for them to let go.
Watching the cart go down the stairs. The noise was LOUD w/ cars colliding. EVERYTHING from the cart went EVERYWHERE! The umbrella stand split against the base of the stair wall. Next came a sound no one expected to hear: crunching sound of bone against wood. A sound Lorenzo has NEVER forgotten.
The vendor was chewing 2 pieces of Juicy Fruit gum and digging into his pockets for enough loose change to buy the latest edition of The Daily News when the cart landed on him, barreling him at chest level. He tried to stop the cart which was in full runaway power. The cart was a destructive muscle destroying everything in it's crossing, including James Caldwell. Together, both cart & man came to rest as one, slamming against a white subway wall. The cart went landing crumbling, wheels off in opposite directions, handles splintered, pieces of ice and boiling water landing on top of James' hand. The silence after the crash was as numbing as the noise during it.
The boys couldn't do anything but remain frozen where they were. Michael had fear all over his face. John & Tommy didn't move. They were trembling and unnerved to pass out. Everyone stood wondering: What did these boys do? Realizing they may have just killed a man.
That same afternoon, the boys were detained for immediate custody w/ a juvenile arrest warrant. They were charged with a series of crimes: reckless endangerment; assault in the first, possession of a dangerous instrument; assault w/ intent; misdemeanor assault and petty theft. They were also tagged as youthful offenders. While James Caldwell lay in critical condition, they boys were reprimanded to the custody of their parents. From then on, it was like they were in a different world. EVERYTHING including their home lives were different. After being the ones looking into the guys getting busted, they were the guilty ones now. ALL of the boys faced their own consequences in their individual homes.
Over the next several days, Hell's Kitchen, even w/ it's past, seemed like a neighborhood in shock. It wasn't the crime, but more of the ones that committed it. The boys showed different than the common in Hell's Kitchen. 2 weeks later, when it was time for court, they knew James Caldwell was going to make it out alive. They got the news from Father Bobby, who counseled the families involved. During this time, the boys were to not have ANY contact w/ one another. Father Bobby visited the boys daily, bringing them comic books and words of encouragement. Even though their crime did NOT go beyond the neighborhood, they couldn't help but feel like public enemies. EVERYONE & their families felt the gossip heat. Lorenzo only left the apartment on 3 occasions: The first 2 were to go to church with his mom. The 3RD was to see King Benny. He advised Lorenzo on what would go on within the proceedings.
Lorenzo's father assured his son all would go well. This "infraction" would not go beyond the neighborhood. All would be good and it would be a lesson learned. His dad tried to explain that it would be like going to camp. The only way to not fall apart was for Lorenzo to focus on himself. He was 2 months shy of his 13TH birthday. The most they would do would be a year minimum. Lorenzo may get a few months more tackled on since he initiated the action; but may get less time since last on the scene. Michael stated it was his idea. The lawyer stated the idea didn't matter as much as the idea. Father Bobby asked for more information from the lawyer. Informing Father Bobby they would be sent to The Wilkenson Home For Boys. He knew what that place was like. Lorenzo looked over his shoulder for a quick glance at members of James Caldwell's family sitting behind the prosecutor's table. Caldwell was home recuperating. He would never again gain full use of his left leg and suffer from dizziness & numbness in his other limbs for the rest of his life. Each of the boys had written him a note, delivered by Father Bobby, telling of the Caldwell family their sincere apologies. Each note went unanswered.
Before the judge handed down the sentence, he wanted the boys to understand the severity of the crime. The judge rendered the boys what Mr. Caldwell would FOREVER suffer from this incident. It was 9:40A when the judge began to hand down a sentence one boy at a time. ALL 4 boys were sentenced to a period of no more than 1 year to The Wilkenson Home For Boys. If it wasn't for the intervention of Father Bobby, who spoke in glowing terms on their behalf, the sentence would've been MUCH TOUGHER. The judge had his doubts. Hopefully, time will set to prove him wrong. Lorenzo, being the youngest, was sentenced to serve no more than 1 year and no less than 6 months at The Wilkenson Home For Boys.
No less than an hour after their arrival at Wilkenson's that panic began to set in. To fight the panic, Lorenzo tried to envision life in Hell's Kitchen prior to the hot dog cart. He was terrified to move. It was dark and dank. Lorenzo was hungry. He hated to be alone, to be without food or books to read. Forced to stare at a locked door from the outside. The first guard Lorenzo met inside Wilkenson was Sean Nokes, who was 25-yrs-old. Holding a black baton in both hands. His first words to Lorenzo were for Lorenzo to "Toss his clothes on the floor." Ordering him to undress right there. A smile cracked the side of Sean Nokes' face. Informing Lorenzo that EVERYTHING would be done w/ someone looking. Probably Nokes the most. After completely undressing down to his briefs and looking back at Nokes, who was in military stature. The only clothes they could wear were to be state issued. Nokes wanted Lorenzo to stand there COMPLETELY naked. After dropping all of his clothes beside him, naked & embarrassed, Nokes instructed for Lorenzo to get dressed. An assembly was due in 15 minutes for other boys to meet.
The Wilkenson Home For Boys held 375 youthful offenders housed in 5 separate units. From the outside, Wilkenson looked like a semblance of a private school. 100 guards were on-hand to monitor the inmates. For some of the guards, their position was just a stepping stone to a role in higher law enforcement. A 2-yr gig at Wilkenson's always looked good on a resume. The faculty was run by a warden and his 2 assistants. The warden was more concerned w/ appearances than ACTUAL daily life at Wilkenson's. The guards were in charge of the day-to-day operations. Beginning w/ 6AM wake-up series directing them to their next station.
All of the boys were assigned to the second tier of Group C held in the smallest dept. of the building. Showering was every 3 days and they were given clean clothes every Friday morning. Portable radios or any type of recording devices were not permitted. TV was only permitted for the guards. FORCED movie time was once a month. There were 4 guards assigned to each floor w/ Nokes as group leader. The 3 men working w/ Nokes were named Ferguson, Styler & Addison. After 3 days at Wilkenson's, it felt like 3 months. There was always a sense of impending danger. The boys couldn't envision their lives in such a way. As bad as it was for Lorenzo, John was worse. The tight quarters increased his claustrophobia & worsened his asthma. He wasn't eating and could barely intake what was served, reducing his liquid intake to water from the fountains. His skin was pale, his nose was runny and he was always frightened. It didn't take long for Nokes' presence to be felt.
Nokes was one of those men who enjoyed the power he held and looked to cause trouble at every turn. He talked & acted tough, especially around the inmates. Without back-up, Nokes wouldn't amount to much. Due to being physically worn and unable o compete again in playing another round of basketball, Nokes, inches behind Lorenzo, severely hit him HARD on his lower back w/ his baton, forcing Lorenzo to one knee. The second shot landed across his back. Quickly followed by a third that wad hard enough to crack bone. Lorenzo was down on both knees, gasping for breath. John tried to stand up for him. When he was recuperating in his cell, John tried to console him w/ ease and covered his legs w/ a blanket. Dawning on them, the abuse HAS happened BEFORE! Hitting Lorenzo about what Father Bobby was trying to tell them before they left. EVERYONE in Hell's Kitchen tried to warn them. Never envisioning what they would face. Things would NEVER be fine again. After being in his cell, one of his guards beat against John's back, rear & legs w/ his baton. The 5TH blow put John into unconsciousness. Still NO stopping w/ the baton. After 12 more blows. That was only the end of the 3RD day at Wilkenson's.
While other inmates fell victim to their societal pressures, Lorenzo & his friends were there out of pure stupidity. It was the guards function to break through alliances and eliminate any barrier to their own power. Lorenzo and his friends tried to stick together. That was one reason they were singled out by the guards in their block. Nokes & Styler in particular. They/the boys were an easier problem to solve than other surrounding groups. The other groups may be hard, even dangerous, for Nokes & his crew to battle. Lorenzo & his friends, from the beginning, were regarded as ones who could be toyed with. With other inmates, the guards drew a line and waited for that line to be crossed before they attacked. For Lorenzo & his friends, there was no line. Nokes & his crew could attack at any moment for any reason. In their regard, there was no rules. In the morning of Lorenzo's 13TH birthday, their first month at Wilkenson's had passed without incident. The noise inside the prison was initially the hardest adjustment. The classes at Wilkenson's were, at least, mediocre. English & History were still Lorenzo's favorites. They welcomed the homework. It gave them SOMETHING to do in their cells besides stare.
Ever since John & Lorenzo were beat, they have kept their distance from Nokes & their cohorts. They withstood the barrage of verbal abuse, ignored their nudges, slaps & taunts. It was their safest play. Their only play. They stood at ATTENTION! Michael had walked w/ his head down, hands at his sides, powerless to help his friends whom he's ALWAYS protected. They didn't know what Nokes had in store for them. They KNEW not to expect any birthday celebrations of ANY kind. They KNEW one thing to expect within their time of the walls of Wilkenson's: the unimaginable.
One-by-one Addison, Styler & Nokes jointly began with the sexual abuse. First with Nokes wanting oral sex. Lorenzo has NEVER spoken about this to his friends. To this day, no clear picture of the abuse at The Wilkenson Home For Boys has surfaced his mind; burying it as DEEP as it could go; with occasional resurfaces in softer moments in life. Lasting for a second; but long enough to send a chill. Lorenzo sees bare hands slap skin, pants torn and shirts ripped apart. He remembers hot breath and strong legs forced around him. He remembers EVERY MOMENT. He is alone & crying out against the pain, the shame and the empty feeling the abuse of a body leaves in the mind. What Lorenzo remembers most was that it was his 13TH birthday and the end of his childhood.
They have been in Wilkenson's for 2 months. 10 months of their sentence remained. All they had left was spirit strength. That was left to go. Lorenzo was hitting his breaking point. Thinking his life might end within those walls. He slept less than 2 hours a night and ate no more food than necessary. Closing himself off to what he cared about. John & Michael were in the worst. Michael was worn and his movements were slow and tentative. ALL he had left was pride and concern for his friend's safety. John was originally sick to begin with. The constant rapes & beatings, combined w/ the lack of food worsened his condition. Most of his time was spent in infirmary. He was losing his sharp edge of humor that kept him.
Each of the guards chose each of the boys as a regular target, each as a personal pet. Calling on Lorenzo to run his errands and even had Lorenzo wash his car. His hate and abuse knew NO bounds. Telling Lorenzo that he should appreciate having grown up in New York City and ble to see what they could NEVER afford to see. Lorenzo should be "lucky" to have "a friend like him" in a place like Wilkenson's. Ferguson had it in for John, his very presence set off the guards explosive temper. Kicking John as he walked by or hit him on the back of the head w/ his baton. The abuse would be rougher, results showing the next morning when John walked the yard w/ swollen eyes & puffy lips.
Ferguson had a villain's heart and enjoyed whipping the weakest member of the pack. The easiest target that Ferguson found was John Reilly. Styler claimed Tommy as his personal property. Forcing him to carry his free weights around the yard and left a pair of shoes outside his cell every night to be shined by morning. He slapped & verbally abused him at will. He never let a day pass without attacking him in some form.
While Nokes abused them all, he took his greatest pleasure from beating Michael. He seen it as a match between 2 group leaders and made sure the rest of the guys were AWARE of his numerous assaults. He relished the cruelty he showered on Michael, forcing him to wipe up puddles of urine and wash the soiled clothes of other inmates. He ordered him to run laps aound the playground track late into the night and then wake him up before the morning bell. He would slap and kick him randomly from behind while he walked the lunch line. All meant to make Nokes leave them alone. Through it all, Michael never spoke a word. All 4 guards used sex as just one more vicious tool in their arsenal. The repeated rapes were not just the ultimate form of humiliation, but the strongest method of control the guards could wield. Even a rape threat kept them frightened them all the time. They weren't the first group that Nokes & his crew treated w/ in humility, also not the only ones to abuse inmates to run lapse around the playground track late into the night as well as waking him up before the morning bell. He would slap & kick Lorenzo randomly, trip him from behind as he walked the lunch line. All meant to get a reaction, but he never spoke a word. No one spoke of the abuse and no one reported it. Guards who never spoke up were in fear of career jeopardy. Other staff were as well. Not many in town would worry/waste time of juvenile offenders. They seemed to have little time/patience for the concern of these boys.
Lorenzo stopped walking and stood looking around the fields, inmates playing football. This was a chance for the inmates/the boys to get a sense of payback. During a break, Lorenzo left Michael to finish his walk and headed to the library. John found his ripped pages of The Count Of Monte Cristo. Lorenzo read & re-read the book as a sign of hope. Lorenzo put the book down and said a prayer. Waiting for the day they could walk out of Wilkenson's.
On rotating mornings, visitors were allowed into Wilkenson's for a maximum of 1 hour. Only 1 visitor per inmate was permitted. Lorenzo had written to his parents asking for them NOT to visit/come. He couldn't see the look on their faces. It was TOO HARD after all that has happened. Becoming TOO MUCH for everyone. Michael did the same w/ his family. Tommy's mother could never get it together to visit, satisfied w/ the occasional letter. John's mother came up once a month, distraught to notice her son's skeletal condition. NO ONE could stop Father Bobby from coming up. News of his Saturday arrival was always presented w/ a storm warning, delivered by Nokes to keep things on a happy note. Nokes warned them not to tell Father Bobby. If they did, reprisals would be severe. The boys belonged to him and no one could be of any help.
His face was tense and his eyes looked straight at Lorenzo as he walked towards him. He KNEW by the look on their faces, something wasn't right. Lorenzo didn't speak much. He wanted to say so much but knew he couldn't. He was afraid of what Nokes & his crew would do. He was too afraid and ashamed. He figured Father Bobby could see through it all. He suggested that Father Bobby not come to visit anymore. He relayed some points from his past that these boys would survive. Lorenzo fought off the urge not to cry, grateful there was one person who cared. He knew that if he could get out of Wilkenson's in one piece, he had a chance to live w/ what happened. He may be able his life in steps w/ painful memories. They had to find the same strength that Father Bobby did. Lorenzo never felt as close to anyone as he felt to him at that moment. He soon departed soon after.
Annually, The Wilkenson Home For Boys sponsored a touch football game between Thanksgiving & Christmas. The point of it was NOT about football, it was about breaking down an inmate. The body itself was treated like a tackle dummy. Even though the boys KNEW of the unfair hand at their disposal, it was a game where inmates could tact a little volatile revenge on the guards that have already abused them. The inmates team was chosen the Monday before the game. The guards assembled their team MUCH in advance; 4x a week w/ full advantage of the field. It wasn't meant to be a fair/equal match. Nokes was captain of the guards team. The boys KNEW they were chosen for the inmates team. The guards were on their case for days. Prepping them for what would be another beating. The point of practice was really for the guards. The guards chose by crime who would be BEST beneficial for their team. An inmate w/ a longer sentence informed Michael of the way things go on the field during a game. Putting up w/ the abuse during the week. On the Saturday football game, it was a chance to HIT BACK! Make the guards feel what the inmates do, if only for a couple of hours.
The game pressed on, but not without HARD ABUSE coming from both sides. The guards were at their usual violence, but the boys returned it back during the game. Bloody & bruised, the game had violent fighting. Guards, in uniform, armed w/ Mace cans, swinging batons were running onto the play area. Taking HARD hits, the boys celebrated their win, if only for a moment. The guards may have lost. The boys may celebrate, but they would pay for a good game. After the game, Lorenzo was brought down to "the hole" immediately after the game, dragged down by Ferguson and a heavy-set guard. Throwing him face forward to the cold cement floor, watching as he crawled about, lifting himself up. Laughing and mocking Lorenzo's movements as he struggled. Bolting the door from the outside. NO Bed. NO Toilet. NO noise. NO food, only water and fresh air. ONLY darkness and large hungry rats. Surviving through the dust and blood that came from the football wounds. Spending the first day sleepless and moving his legs from side-to-side to avoid rats. His hours were filled w/ terror. ANY noise sent fear through his body. His clothes were drenched w/ sweat. face wet to the touch and hair matted. Hands & feet numb from the cold.
Lorenzo could not distinguish morning to night. Dawn to dusk. Darkness that promised no rescue. The guards had not brought any food or water. The stench of bodily fluids was overwhelming. The usual length of time spent in isolation was a week, never more than 2. No one came out of it the same. It had only been a matter of hours when Lorenzo began to think about death. Light forced him to shield his eyes. Hearing footsteps approach as a large shadow hovered near. Nokes delivered a large bowl of oatmeal. Sliding the bowl to the center of the room then closer to him w/ the edge of his shoe. Tasted like shit! Next thing you know, Nokes pissed into the bowl of food. "It should go down easier. Enjoy your meal." The minute he heard the lock turn and bolt shut down. He rushed eating his first meal in the hole w/ a rat inches from his face. Lorenzo's clothes were soiled and his body empty of feeling. Losing any sense of time & place. Rats crawled up & down his back and legs, feasting on his scabs & cuts. One of Lorenzo's eyes wouldn't open; swollen to the touch. His lips were swollen & dry. Steady pain from his neck to the base of his spine. Remembering life that was in Hell's Kitchen seeking refuge.
Lorenzo was released from the hole after 2 weeks and sent to the prison infirmary receiving care. To the right of him was Michael in the bed next to his. His left arm and right leg were in soft casts, face puffy & bruised. The rest of his body bandaged heavily as Lorenzo's. Rizzo was dead due to being beat until there wasn't anything left to beat. 2 Days later, Nokes returned standing between their beds. "Warning them it would be fun having them back, especially at night." Michael motioned for Nokes to just kill him now in a normal, calm & clear tone of voice. Kill all of them. Nokes threatened that what happened to Rizzo could happen to them. Michael warned him of meeting up again in the future. Outside of Wilkenson's. Warning Nokes to think about it.
It was the winter of 1968. Lorenzo was mopping the floor of the 3RD tier of C Block only a week out of infirmary. EVERYTHING still ached from his injuries. He would rest against the iron railing, his legs weak from days in the hole. While things may seem quiet in the serene quietness of Wilkenson's, peace was NOT MEANT to hold. The prison was on the verge of a riot. Rizzo was right. After the football game, guards retaliated by canceling all inmate privileges. Late night beatings & abuse accelerated to the point where NO inmate was safe. What was minor in the past was now the most severe. The inmates were stirred by Rizzo's death. Make shift weapons - zip guns, sharpened spoons stuck into wooden bases, mattress coils twisted into brass knuckles - now appeared in every cell block. They still obeyed order, but their faces were masked by defiance.
To Nokes and the other guards, no matter how it is, the boys/inmates were the ones in bad position. Inmates were the ones to do wrong, not the guards. To them, the boys belonged in there. Even though Marlboro had the answers, his livelihood depended on his paycheck every 2 weeks. He just knew what he knew. Afterward, he had to get back to work.
A number of the inmates, as tough as they acted during the day, would cry themselves to sleep at night. Cries bled through the cell walls like pleas. Other cries of fear and loneliness, painful anguish, raw cries that begged for escape, for a freedom that never came. Ferguson came to Lorenzo's cell announcing he had just had his way w/ one of the other boys. Now he wanted Lorenzo, whom he tried to plead him off. Ferguson spilled cold beer onto him running down. Lorenzo PLEADED for nothing to happen. John was standing in the doorway w/ a makeshift knife in his hand hiding himself. Holding the knife into his hand as Ferguson was coming. He lifted his head and grabbed both of Lorenzo's cheeks w/ a maniacal smile on his face. Ferguson felt the edge of the knife before hearing John's voice.
Lorenzo grabbed the baton, jumped to his feet and grabbed w/ both hands. Lorenzo seen past Ferguson at John and seen something in his eyes that had never been there before. Lorenzo advised John NOT to cut Ferguson. WATCH ME! John threatened to go through w/ it for all of what the boys have gone through. Lorenzo shoved the FAT end of the baton into Ferguson's stomach. John moved the knife away and stepped back, holding the sharp edge of the blade in the palm of his hand. In so many ways, John was NO LONGER the boy they knew and grew up with. NO MORE! John was now ready to kill a man and NOT give another thought. If there was a report, EVERYTHING would be OUT IN THE OPEN! BEST to let go for everyone! John was no longer the boy who cried at the end of sad movies. First one to forget THIS dies.
The boys seen a release date within their near future.For Michael, it was the end of June. The other boys were doing the FULL year. NOT an hour less. Johnny DID NOT want anyone to know what happened and the abuse at Wilkenson's. What happened here, stays here. NOT ANYONE from back home was to know; NOT Father Bobby, King Benny, Fat Mancho. NO ONE! Not even their mothers. Decision was FINAL! Live w/ it, but DON'T talk about it. They feared what life would be like on the outside. Something meaningless on the outside will HAVE a deeper meaning or outlook after being at Wilkenson's.
As with every other social situation at Wilkenson's, mealtime offered limited opportunities to make friends. Leaving the inmates no choice but to stick to their original alliances. Safer to stay within your own group. Lorenzo was standing 4TH in line, a few feet behind Michael. None of them seen the inmate on Michael's left stand and begin to move out of his row. An inmate began to start trouble through the line. Michael brushed him which pissed off the inmate. A fight ensued thanks to the inmate. Leaving him NO CHOICE but to defend himself. The inmate had done time in the hole for his part in a gang rape and a week in a straight-jacket after taking a bit out of a guards neck. They both fell to the floor; Michael & the inmate. The fight had food ALL OVER the floor. With a fight comes a close crowd formed fueling the rush for the kill. Giving commentary for one to kill the other. The shrill sound of a police whistle brought the shouts to an end.
When Nokes came through to break it up, he had a can of Mace in one hand and a baton in the other. The boys were covered head-to-knee in food and blood. Nokes thought the boys haven't learned anything. After ordering the outsiders to head back to their lunches and one was sent back to his cell, Nokes had asked if the boys had gotten any lunch. Michael wasn't hungry after that. Nokes didn't care. They were ORDERED to eat. When Nokes said to get lunch, he didn't mean a fresh new tray. What was on the floor spilled from the altercation was enough to go around for everyone. NOTHING ELSE COULD'VE BEEN MORE CRUEL! There was NO END to Nokes' horror & torment. FORCING the boys to eat the food where it was on the floor. After hesitating for a minute, Nokes got them down to their knees to finish their lunch. With other inmates watching, Nokes could've killed them right there on the floor and no one would've noticed/said a word. Eating their lunch DIRECTLY off the floor.
Nokes walked behind them as they ate, smiling and winking at other inmates, stepping on the food they were FORCED to eat, as well as spit on it. They were down on their elbows, rubbing against the gravy that spread on the ground. Michael's face was still bleeding and swollen. Nokes seen it as though the boys were "listening and cooperating". At 1:00P, the other boys had a finished lunch. Before things worsened, Marlboro stepped in. Nokes, no less than 5 inches from Marlboro, warned him NOT to get involved. Was Nokes sure he WANTED to fuck w/ Marlboro who had HIGHER ranking? Nokes continued to stare him down w/ eyes locked in. The boys continued on the floor beat down. Marlboro stood his ground. Nokes HAD TO back down and get out of the way. Marlboro helped Michael to his feet. Ordering for the boys on their way. They've seen enough to last until supper time. Taking care of the rest. Since someone stepped in and stood up for them, the boys KNEW they would pay for it from Nokes later. Something they would NEVER erase from their minds.
July 24, 1968 was Lorenzo's LAST day at Wilkenson's. 2 weeks prior, a 5 member panel of the State Hearing Board determined that a period of 10 months and 24 days was enough penance for his crime. Within their time at Wilkenson's, so much change happened to the boys. Tommy still had the same baby weight and face, but had CHANGED in other ways. His eyes were clouded by a veil of anger. Instead of a place of swagger stood a nervous twitch to his walk. His neck & arms were a road map of cuts and bruises. His left kneecap had been shattered twice. It was the body of a boy who had done a man's prison time. Lorenzo seen the anger briefly melt from Michael's face/eyes. Time was now on Lorenzo's side and there was NOTHING Nokes could do about it.
Lorenzo's cell was clean his last hours as an inmate. Bed MADE and cell cleaned to a shine. All of his prison dressings, except for a toothbrush had been taken away by guards that afternoon. His issued clothing would be replaced the morning of release w/ what he wore when arriving. A sealed envelope containing his release papers rested against his thigh. He walked into Wilkenson a boy. Now Lorenzo wasn't sure what/who he was. Time there DID change him; he just didn't know or in what way. He wasn't as physically ruined as John or as beaten down as Tommy. He wasn't the lit fuse Michael had become. Lorenzo was more controlled, mixed w/ a deep fear. In his time there, Lorenzo was beat, but he wasn't beaten!
Intacted dignity allowed him to walk out Wilkenson's. Seeing how your past was somewhat shapes your future. Mental & physical scars carry w/ you. Lorenzo couldn't sleep due to anxiety for the morning to arrive. Anxious for a life back home without bars. Thinking about the first things to do back home in Hell's Kitchen. Back to familiarity. A way of life to get back to! He never heard the key in the latch; not the snap of the bolt or a door swing open. It was Nokes who had words slurred. He was the first to enter w/ uniform shirt off and empty bourbon in his hand. Speaking to Lorenzo KNOWING what he wanted to happen. Addison was right behind Nokes, just as drunk & sweating. Nokes "wanting to say goodbye. Letting him know how much he'll be missed." Styler came into the cell sober & in uniform, holding John & Tommy by his side. Tommy was crying. They KNEW what was about to happen. Nokes still leading up to what occurred. Michael stayed silent and his ENTIRE body coiled into a large state of HATE! John & Tommy may have lost their hearts. Michael was in danger of losing his humanity. Lorenzo tried to stand up to Nokes that it was OVER! It wasn't over 'til the morning. A "gift" Lorenzo would NEVER forget.
Lorenzo was FORCED to watch as his friends were sexually assaulted then they were coming after him. Addison stood w/ his back against the door and giggled. The boys had nowhere to go or run to. Their screams would go unheeded & ignored. Lorenzo HAD TO watch 3 boys be ripped apart w/ evil intent. Nokes used a belt w/ FORCEFUL slaying across the back. Next was FORCEFUL oral sex Nokes wanted from Lorenzo. Nokes hit him w/ 2 closed fists, his mouth biting his shoulders drawing blood. Blood came in all spurts. A part of ALL of them was left in that room that night. A night NEVER to be removed from memory on 7-24-1968. Lorenzo's LAST night at the Wilkenson's Home For Boys.
In the fall of 1979, EVERYTHING the boys remembered from Hell's Kitchen had changed. Streets were no longer kept up with; now graffiti marred ALOT of the city. Many Irish & Italian tenants left the area; heading to the safer side of Queens, Brooklyn & New Jersey. Replaced w/ various ethnic cultures. The young & rich set about changing the neighborhood's name. Now it was called Clinton. It wasn't what they KNEW growing up. A criminal madhouse lured the streets. NO LONGER part of the old order. Many gangs, the Irish were the deadliest, calling themselves The West Side Boys, controlling the Hell's Kitchen drug trade. Hell's Kitchen was NOT alone in change that affected the streets. Similar cities & neighborhoods throughout the country and world were impacted. During all of these changes, a few faces remained. King Benny still ran a piece of Hell's Kitchen. Ignoring the gun and drug trade, content w/ his usual enterprises. Although older & wiser, he was as dangerous as ever. Time had not changed for Fat Mancho either. Time also allotted him a new wife, a new social security number, one more apartment and another monthly disability check.
The Shamrock Club was unusually crowded for a late night Wednesday. It was a neighborhood institution known to all who lived or worked on the West Side. Catering to an odd assortment of locals. A young couple sat at one of the tables, their backs to the bar, holding hands. Waitresses in their early 20s w/ another customer in the restaurant. A chunky man in his late 30s sat in the last booth. Smoking a cigarette w/ a glass of beer while his meal cooled. The man had long, thick blonde hair that covered his ears. His face was sharp and unlined, blue and distant eyes. The shirt of his uniform was partly hidden by a blue zipped jacket w/ Randall Security patches on both arms. A .357 Magnum revolver was shoved in his gun belt. A small pinky ring on his right hand. Eating the meal he ordered staring at the television of a basketball game. It was 8:50P. 10 minutes later, 2 young men dressed in all black walked in. One was bone-thin w/ dark, curly hair. The 2ND man was heftier, dressed about the same. Having a 1/2 pt of bourbon stuffed in one back pocket and 3 grams of cocaine in a cigarette case in another was on the first guy.
The bartender, as well as, most of the neighborhood KNEW their names. They were the 2 founding members of The West Side Boys. They were also its DEADLIEST. The thinner man had been in/out of jail since a teenager. Having robbed & killed at will or on COMMAND and a suspect in 4 unsolved murders. An alcoholic and a cocaine abuser w/ a fast temper and a faster trigger. He once shot a mechanic for moving ahead of him in a movie line. The 2ND was just equally DEADLY. Committing his first murder at age 17, paid $50.00 in return for it. He drank, drugged and had a wife he NEVER saw living in Queens.
The thinner man downed a shot of Wild Turkey and lit a fresh cigarette. Minor discussion w/ a bartender. Looking around at the surrounding areas near him. Telling the bartender to order 2 men in suits a drink and run it on his tab. Also telling the bartender to tell the suits that Republicans weren't welcome in Hell's Kitchen and that either a political conversion or conversation was in order. A drug deal was to come. SOMETHING was to go down. One set of eyes registering recognition, the other filled with annoyance. They KNEW the man in the booth. He DID NOT KNOW them. At the end of the bar, across from the rear booth, there he was. Both men held onto his look for a minute. The man in the booth asked if he could help them w/ something? The thin man answered while heading back there. Smiling down at the man in the booth, telling him to enjoy his meal.
Lorenzo had to do a 2ND dose of reality of the moment upon them. Nokes looked so much older than he did 27 years ago. The drinking & drugs had taken its toll on him. Lorenzo returned from the men's room and past the man in the back booth. IT WAS Sean Nokes. Taking the seat next to his friend, put a cigarette in his mouth and poured himself a drink refill. Lorenzo and his friend had food ordered. He tried to get his friend to get a of Sean Nokes. After getting a look, his face went blank. They KNEW it was him. They stayed at the bar long enough to release the safeties on their guns. Standing up together and walked to the seat where Nokes was. He asked who they were considering he didn't recognize them. The chubby guy thought, thanks to the past, surely he would be happier to see them. Nokes was wrong. He still didn't know who they were. The thin man took off his gloves and put them in his jacket pocket. They gave Nokes a few minutes to remember who they were while staring at him. It finally hit him. He tried to speak but couldn't.
The boys could see how easily it would be for Nokes to forget. It just wasn't easier for them to forget. Nokes gave them SO MUCH MORE to remember. Nokes passed it off as "Oh, yeah!" It was a long time ago. They were just kids. Now, they weren't kids ANYMORE. Nokes had NO feeling or remorse for what he did to them. All they wanted was what they always have - To watch Nokes DIE! John & Tommy were on their feet, guns in hand. ALL movement seized. Nokes was a 37-yr-old security guard w/ a gambling problem. His LAST meal was a meatloaf. Nokes talked about the past. He seen it as though he toughened little kids like they were. They weren't falling for his shit. The first bullet hit the back of Nokes' head. The second was through his right eye. The third creased his temple. They put a bullet through each of his legs and one into each hand. John stood his ground and put 3 bullets into Nokes' chest. The bartender turned away. Everyone looked into another direction. John & Tommy returned their guns to their holsters, took one look at Nokes and left the pub. Taking their food to go.
Their moments since leaving Wilkenson's had been dated 11 years. After all these years at Wilkenson's, they NEVER spoke of their time there. They remained caring friends, but friendships alter with time. But still friends nonetheless. By the time of Nokes' murder, the friendship had become less intimate, but no less intense. Michael had moved out of Hell's Kitchen at the age of 28, shortly after being released from Wilkenson's. Never again would he have a problem w/ the law. Father Bobby called in a handful to get Michael accepted at a solid Catholic high school in Queens, where he was sent to live w/ his aunt and her husband. Continuing to date Carol Martinez until the middle of his sophomore year. Distance and their personalities cooled their longings. Michael graduated w/ honors from high school and to a local university. Deciding to enroll at a Manhattan law school. By the time of Nokes' shooting, Michael rounded his first 6 months as assistant district attorney. The boys - now - men tried to share a meal once a week. Michael was always the leader of the group and the toughest.Wilkenson's had changed Michael, but it could not change his drive. A target that gave him FOCUS! Keeping his world private. Occasionally visiting Father Bobby , but buried himself in studying the subtle ways the law could be maneuvered.
John & Tommy stayed in Hell's Kitchen, finishing some school and continuing to do odd jobs for King Benny. Strong arming players late on loan shark payments and began carrying guns. They NEVER recovered from the abuse of Wilkenson's. Lorenzo & Michael never had it as bad at Wilkenson's as John & Tommy had. By the mid-1970s, John & Tommy helped found the West Side Boys, thugs for hire. As the gang grew, so did their criminal activities. More lethal and lucrative action. Outside of drugs & moving counterfeit cash, they took on contract murders. Their specialty was to dismember the victims bodies and dispose of the pieces. Along the way, John & Tommy were drug & alcohol addicts. Remaining best friends and living 2 floors seperate of the sme complex. Respectful of King Benny, who gave them the time to thrive. Still helping and assisting Fat Mancho. It was like old times they remembered. Like Michael, Lorenzo moved out of Hell's Kitchen soon after his release from Wilkenson's. Father Bobby pulled some strings for Lorenzo, similiar to what he'd done for Michael. By his late teens, Lorenzo was taking night courses at St. John's University in Queens, working a nowhere day job in a Wall Street bank and working w/ a fresh set of demons - his father being a convicted murderer who served 7 years for killing his first wife.
Though Lorenzo never spoke of it, he KNEW Carol held STRONG feelings for Michael. He knew when their relationship ended she had always been w/ John during his periods of sobreiety. Always having a special affection for John, seeing the boy she knew growing up. They accepted each other for who they are. Taking things for what they are after knowing each other for so long. Wilkenson's had not only bonded them all, it touched them all. It turned John & Tommy into hardened criminals, determined not to let anyone have power over them again. Costing Father Bobby countless hours in prayer searching for answers to questions he feared. It turned Fat Mancho hard & cold. Wilkenson's even touched King Benny, piercing the protective nerve he developed when the boys were young. Awakening the demons of his own horrid childhood, spent in worse places than Wilkenson's. It made the hate he carried HEAVIER. None of them could let go of the others. For the first time in years, they all felt alive. This was the first time all 4 had a moment to grab it. Michael was the first to realize it. To figure it out. As was done in The Count Of Monte Cristo, this was the time for them all to get a taste of revenge.
The very second Lorenzo read about the shooting, he KNEW who pulled the triggers. He was proud, but also scared for them all the same. He was happy that when he learned Nokes KNEW WHY he died, but at whose hands. John & Tommy did not remain fugitives for long. They were arrested within 72 hrs. of the shooting, booked and charged w/ 2ND Degree Murder. Police had 4 eyewitnesses to testify and were strangers to Hell's Kitchen. Other patrons stuck to the code of the neighborhood: SAW NOTHING; KNOW NOTHING! John & Tommy were held without bail. They hired a West Side attorney named Danny O' Connor, known for his mouth than his work. They plead NOT guilty and admitted to nothing. The police and the press seen it as another drug related murder.
Michael seen them the day after the arrest for a few minutes. Usual small talk w/ nothing to be said in a visitor's room. Speaking of it without DETAIL orentation. All John said was "One down Shakes". Danny O' Connor was temporary. King Benny was going to move one of his lawyers in when the trial began. O'Connor was ineptly perfect for a win. A fall-down drunk who hasn't won a case for a LONG time. That was why he was perfect for this case. Michael was going to be his boss the next morning to ask for the case against John & Tommy. His plan was going to prosecute John & Tommy in open court. Michael wasn't taking the case to win; he was taking this case to lose.He had a plan in motion. He could only work the legal end. He needed Lorenzo to do the rest. Michael's plan was PAYBACK TIME. Now was their time to get back at them. John & Tommy started it; Loreno & Michael were finishing it. Michael's plan was as simple as it was bold.
At 9:00A, Michael would walk into the office of the Manhattan district attorney asking for the case. It was to prosecute John & Tommy in open court. Michael was to explain that he was from the same neighborhood as the 2 shooters. That he understood the mentality of the area better than anyone else. Other than his plan of action, Michael would admit to no connection to either John or Tommy. There was no need to worry about the link w/ Wilkenson's, Juvenile records were destroyed after 7 years. He would also have someone alter the Sacred Heart School records eliminate ANY evidence of their 1-yr-absence. The D.A. thought he had a perfect open/shut case. Perfect for a young, ambitious attorney like Michael Sullivan. There was ALOT more to this.
Lorenzo knew Michael well enough to know that Nokes wasn't in it for him and freeing John & Tommy wouldn't do. He had to after the other guards & Wilkenson's. The first was Tommy's chief abuser; Adam Styler, now a plainsclothes cop. He was assigned to a narcotics unit in Queens, also involved in dirty dealings. A major coke problem supported by $3,000/month in bribe money. The rest of the folder contained his personal information. The second folder contained Lorenzo's tormentor; Henry Addison, who had worked for the New York City mayor. His sexual habits hadn't changed since Wilkenson's.Still the same activity. Addison belonged to a group of well-heeled pedohiles partying all night w/ boys they bought and usually taped.
The third folder belonged to Ralph Ferguson, the man who helped to give John Reilly a killer's heart. He wasn't a cop; but was expected to be. A clerk working for a social service agency on Long Island. He was married w/ 1 child. His wife taught preschool during the week and they both taught Catholic Sunday School. Sounding as clean as he was boring. EXACTLY how Michael wanted him to be. Ferguson was to be a character witness; talking about his best friend, Sean Nokes. Opening the door to Wilkenson's.
Michael had waited 12 years for this moment, planning for it, KNOWING it would happen. When it did, he would be PREPARED. It was better in court if John & Tommy knew NOTHING of what Michael's plan was. No Jury Tampering. Danny O' Connor was to remain as the defendants attorney. Keeping him sober & alert, since he was going to be deeply involved. Michael would relay the information he needed through a system of messengers and drop boxes. For the plan to succeed, they needed TOTAL secrecy of only people they TRUSTED; King Benny. He would be their weight/muscle. Putting fear into Danny O'Connor's heart to seal his lips; also calling off The West Side Boys. They needed Fat Mancho to turn over some rocks and Carol Martinez to open some more files. After that, Michael would not be available until court. It was a foolproof plan unless it ALL backfired. Michael's way insured John & Tommy would walk & share their victory. Only problem was now the number of witnesses had to come down. No more than 2 total; otherwise people might be nervous. Hopefully, one for their side. One who puts John & Tommy elsewhere at the time of the murder. Someone STRONG ENOUGH in name to believe. A witness they can't touch.
King Benny stood behind the bar of his club drinking coffee, reading the 3 page letter Lorenzo had written and left for him in a sealed envelope. He had ordered for Danny O'Connor to see him. After the order was made, he took one final look at the letter and burned it in the sink. Laughing out loud for the first time in years. Lorenzo went to talk to Fat Mancho, making time to talk. A favor he would UNDERSTAND Mancho turning down. Mancho KNEW what the deal was. No one would expect Mancho to be in their favor. He loved John & Tommy when they were kids; sweet and innocent. NOW they were STONE COLD killers. Mancho wondered if they were ready to throw a life away to be in prison for revenge? Lorenzo thought about what they did EVERY DAY. Something he could NEVER escape. A feeling so NASTY it NEVER goes away. Getting away w/ murder doesn't/won't make you feel better. It would make something a little sweeter to remember. Lorenzo stopped at Carol's w/ a couple of beers. After being invited in, her apartment was clean, orderly, filled w/ books & framed posters of old movies. Just hanging out in Carol's apartment. The only thing she KNEW about the case was what word on the street was, which was John & Tommy were going to be put away and their best friend woul be theone to do it. Wanting Carol's opinion on the situation. She knew Michael better. She thought she did. But she TRULY knew Michael (as well as loved him). Michael taking the case was the bet kind of friend who would throw away whatever he had to just to help his friends. Sticking to the CORE principle of who he is.
Afterward they ate a sandwich, drank a beer, listened to music & relaxed in each other's company. After a moment passed, Lorenzo asked why she stopped dating Michael? Life happened, but she still LOVED him. She was w/ John; as much as anyone CAN BE w/ him. The man she knows wasn't the boy she remembered. She visits him once a week for 1hr. Carol was told NOT to say anything of the work to help them on the outside. The less he knew the better. The reason Lorenzo never asked Carol out was because it was sort of known she was Mikey's girl. After Michael, she may have said yes. Shakes was wrong.
Michael's plan relied HEAVILY on Hell's Kitchen to deliver information and keeping it SILENT! The plan also depended on keeping Michael alive, which meant that word had to get to John & Tommy's crew that he was NOT an open target. Within days of Michael taking the case, the West Side Boys got a visit from King Benny requesting verbal abuse continue towards Michael, but NEVER a death move against him. While the neighborhood, led by King Benny, Fat Mancho & Carol worked their end, Lorenzo received & relayed the information he got from Michael back down the line. They set up a simple line of communication. If Michael was sending, messages were left at work for him to call his nonexistent girlfriend, Gloria. Once Lorenzo received the signal, he would send one of King Benny's men to pick up an envelope no later than noon.
If Lorenzo needed to get word to Michael, he would have someone from the neighborhood pick up an early edition of The New York Times write the word Edmund on the upper right hand corner of the Metro section and drop it in front of his apartment door. Later that day, Michael would pick up his envelope at an Upper East Side P.O. Box. They spent their early weeks digging up information that could be used in court or on the street against the 3 guards. A FULL folder based on EVERYTHING from former guards, employees & inmates willing to speak out on The Wilkenson Home For Boys, including inmates who died in their story. Michael supplied a list of questions & answers he intended to ask in court. Any information the guards or on Wilkenson's was also passed along. All written messages were destroyed. Phone calls came on clear 3RD party lines. NEVER any personal contact in between. Zero margin of error.
Hell's Kitchen thrived under Michael's plan. The underground word had spread through the streets. "Sleepers" was a term used for anyone who had spent time in a juvenile facility. The case was sent to go to trial the first Monday of the New Year. The suits at the bar changed their minds. King Benny doesn't know if he would've been ANY help to them when at Wilkenson's. He wished he would've tried. That was the only time he ever alluded to the fact he KNEW what happened to them there. Even though King Benny had guilt, Lorenzo assured him not to.
In the winter of 1980, court had officially begun. Michael sat at the prosecutor's table. Lorenzo sat in the middle of the 3RD row. Two young men from The West Side Boys sat to his left. Carol, w/ eyes staring straight ahead, to his right, holding Lorenzo's hand. Michael KNEW of the judge's initial take on John & Tommy would be of disdain, a response further fueled by the facts. With the evidence he had, Michael expected the judge to pressure both sides to plea-bargin. The judge asked 3 times privately for both councels for an agreement and refused. John & Tommy stuck to their non-guilty plea and the judge stuck to holding them without bail.
When mentioing the defendants, Michael referred to them by name to establish identities and not as anonymous faces. Insisting if they fear them due to their reputations, they should NOT serve on this jury. Barely looking at each other due to spectators evn noticing or hinting of their relationship. The vision for this case was clear: A guilty verdict for The Wilkenson Home For Boys, Sean Nokes, adam Styler, Henry Addison & Ralph Ferguson. When in court comes the prosecutor's version of the case. Michael sat impassionately through Danny O' Connor's unemotional opening statement, referring to John & Tommy as 2 innocent pawns. O'Connor would try to prove otherwise. They were nowhere near The Shamrock Pub at the time of the murders. No one was impressed by O'Connor's fidgeting throughout his statement. Spectators shook their heads in boredom. Michael began addressing the jury box w/ his opening statement. Three of the women on the jury smiled as did one of the men. Carol was noticing that Michael had the jury in the palm of his hands during his statement.
After the first day of court, Father Bobby felt beat down. He had been in his parish for 20 years at the time. After all that time and seeing young kids pass through, this case took a toll on him. Michael & Lorenzo acknowledged that Father Bobby did what he could. Lorenzo told him EVERYTHING. If Father Bobby was going to be involved, he deserved to know what he was getting into. Father Bobby smelled something was up. They needed a witness. Someone to take the stand placing John & Tommy elsewhere at the time of the murder. NOT lie neccessarily. It's helping 2 of his boys. Still dressed as a priest. Although this wasn't what he mean't when Father Bobby told him to seek him for needed help. They needed a witness. This meant betraying the very core that was Father Bobby. 2 lives should be worth more than a Roman collar. Father Bobby wondered about the lives that were taken. It was in that moment that Lorenzo confessed what was in his heart. The TRUTH was the worth of the life of Sean Nokes. A shock of pain for Father Bobby. Carol was close enough to suspect, but the facts stunned her and took her breath away. Lorenzo told them about The Wilkenson Home For Boys, the tortures, the beatings, the humiliation & rapes. What emotional & endless nights. Telling them EVERYTHING. When he was done, Carol wondered what a good priest would do? Father Bobby now had decision to make.
Michael began questioning a witness, Mrs. Salinas, a patron who was at The Shamrock Pub on the night of the murder. It was her and her company's first time there. Seated at a booth near the door, all but one was taken. They ordered a bottle of red wine w/ their meal. The place wasn't FULL, only a few people scattered around. She didn't notice Sean Nokes at all. She was paying attention to her company. She was sitting in the rear of the pub, not really noticing Sean Nokes. She noticed the defendants coming in due to their loud noise in the process. Not noticing their faces. After she did notice, they were already past her down the aisle. Only part of a profile. She had noticed where Nokes was sitting. She didn't notice/see ANY weapons, but she did hear the shots fired. Afterward, they walked out the door. Then she seen their faces as they walked by. Identifying them in court. After that, it was the defense.
O'Connor redirected his line of questioning to determine exactly how much Mrs. Salinas done & remembered on the night & day in question in EXTENSIVE detail. Questioning whether the intention was set on one or throughout the restaurant? Whether their faces were SEEN in the shooting. Mrs. Salinas looked but didn't SEE! Not TRULY IDENTIFYING them throughout her testimony. It was 6:15A on a Sunday morning. A detective working on Lorenzo's sidewas 28 and a sargent in the Internal Affairs Divison Of The New York City Police Dept. A unit responsible for dealing w/ corrupt cops. One of the detectives, Frank Magcicco, King Benny's nephew, had a thick envelope. Inside was the file Michael had given on former Wilkenson's guard, Adam Styler, plus additional information dug up in the past 3 months by King Benny and Fat Mancho. EVERYTHING was in that folder but a confession. Hopefully, enough for a conviction for Wilksenson's. What else was given was an EXACT MATCH .44 revolver and 3 spent shells. EXACT evidence used by someone else with the evidence matching the victims. To better the evidence was the prints on the gun that came w/ it belonged to Adam Styler.
By the end of the first week, Michael had done every aspect of his duties as assistant district attorney including an EXACT replica made to scale of the crime. He just never put faces on the wax figures of the replica. Blown up crime scene photos of Nokes, a forensic expert detail the make & caliber of the gun that killed him. NEVER an actual weapon to show them. Officers at the scene testified to what they found when they first arrived at The Shamrock Pub on the night of the shooting. Running through the statement that was presented to them. Michael brought on the detectives assigned to the case, 2 veteran cops who combined their statements w/ other information that was gathered. Just NEVER a motive for the murder. With ALL of the evidence he presented, Michael left doubts in the minds of the jury, NO ACTUAL, FACTUAL evidence PLACING John & Tommy THERE & GUILTY. Outside help did their part in this conclusion. Danny O' Connor did his part as well. His sloppy attire & lack of finesse played well w/ the working class jury Michael selected. Coming off like a seasoned pro. Michael was right. Danny O' Connor was perfect.
A half-hour before the close of court on Friday, Michael was prepared to announce the final witness in the prosecution. The judge asked for the witness to be held for the following Monday, as Michael knew he would. If the plan worked, it would be a success for everyone. If it failed, it would fall on Michael. Next came a wondering testimony from Father Bobby.
Lorenzo had been talking to King Benny. He asked him about Henry Addison, who works for the mayor. King Benny went after him w/ a vengenance way beyond mere business. He took Henry and made it personal. King Benny knew Addison was part of a young, well-to-do crowd that paid money for sex w/ young boys. The East Side pimp w/ the street name of Rodeo gave up EVERYTHING. Enough material to cost Addison a cushy job for the city that was handed to him by a friend in the mayor's office. Unlike his friends, Henry Addison didn't have much money. Forcing him to borrow from others for his pleasure. Putting him in debt to those who charged interest. The boys he bought for parties were EXPENSIVE! King Benny's information found out Addison was still in doubt $8,000.
While King Benny was going to collect his debts, he made Michael go home. NO INVOLVEMENT. King Benny KNEW Michael was good & pure. Michael's involvement would jeopardize that. King Benny had gone to see Eddie Robinson, whose little brother died whle in the custody of The Wilkenson Home For Boys. Questioning whether a certain guard in question was there during the kids' stay at Wilkenson's. Eddie Robinson owed it to his little brother to stand up for him and the guilty ones were the deceased from Wilkenson's. Next was the testimony from Ralph Ferguson.
Although 12 years had passed, EVERYTHING about Ralph Ferguson was familiar. A violently sexual encounter was the last time he was seen by them. Michael kept his head down as Ferguson walked by to testify. He & Sean Nokes had remained friends beyond Wilkenson's. Friends close to family. On the surface, Ferguson was a model citizen. A perfect character witness. He was fidgity and nervous on the stand, too nervous to focus on Michael, instead focusing on the jury. John & Tommy sat quietly w/ open contempt. His testimony would show Carol what these boys/men lived through. Through the years, conversation between Nokes & Ferguson was typical, normal stuff. Going into who his best friend, Sean Nokes, was to him. What did he see to make Sean Nokes a "good" man? Giving a "positive" testimony coming from a best friend. He knew of no enemies Sean Nokes had. Ending Michael's testimony.
On the defense, Ferguson first met Nokes as guards at The Wilkenson Home For Boys. Going into details of his job title there. Seeing to it that rules were followed keeping the boys in line, by force if necessary. Testifying that some of the boys may have been hit at times. The judge & Ferguson stared at Michael for an objection. Michael KEPT his eyes on him. Ferguson testified that boys were hit at Wilkenson's after being reassured. Hurt depending on the situation at hand, depending on the guards on the scene.
Discipline may have come w/ the job of a guard, but NOT torture. They were TORTURED. Before responding, Ferguson looked at the jury. Stating the guards DID torture the boys, including Sean Nokes. The courtroom went silent! Carol had tears down her face. Lorenzo was next to her, comforting her. Identifying what TRULY happened at Wilkenson's and the sexual abuse that occurred. Admitting to it under oath. The courtroom went DEAD QUIET! After being objected, the judge wondered where this was going? Ferguson stated that boys were raped at Wilkenson's. By both him & Nokes. On multiple boys more than once. Being there KNOWING your "best friend" was involved in doing this. Ferguson also trusted Nokes w/ his own children. Whether alone or at a function. With that, the prosecution rests its case.
Lorenzo and Fat Mancho talked during a street game of baseball w/ Carol in the background standing against the fence w/ a cup of coffee. Fat Mancho asked how court was coming. They only knew what they seen in court. Michael had a chance to win in court even without a witness. Fat Mancho stated that even if Michael wins this case, every killer on both sides of the river have Michael's card/side in their pockets. The only thing that saves them is a witness that places them elsewhere at the time of the murder. Danny O' Connor pieced together a credible defense for the jury to ponder. Calling to the stand a limited range of John & Tommy's friends & family mostly with sweet eyes and trusting faces. All testifying that they were wild, but NOT killers.
None of them ever seen John or Tommy hold a gun. The waitresses testified they were nice and pleasent. They don't remember anything about a murder. They were in the kitchen of the restaurant. Jerry the bartender testified to serving the defendants 2 drinks and 2 beers on the afternoon of Nokes' death. They sat quietly and were gone in an hour. He was in the back picking up his dinner when the shooting occured. Throughout it all, Michael kept his cross-examinations simple, easily buying into the professional innocence of those on the stand. Dr. George Paltrone, a Bronx general practioner, was called to the stand as an expert witness. In his medical opinion, if Mrs. Salinas drank as much alcohol as she claimed, her testimony had to be deemed less than credible. Imparing her judgment. Witnessing a shooting wouldn't sober her up. Fear doesn't always lead to TRUTH. O'Connor's defense lasted 3 days. Lorenzo was MORE FOCUSED on what Father Bobby decided to do. WIthout his testimony, their best chance was a hung jury. Everyone in their neighborhood seemed aware they had a witness stashed for the defense. NO ONE, not even King Benny, had the word on who it was. Making EVERYONE, including Carol, nervous.
The defense called as their next witness, Father Robert Carillo. He walked into the courtroom w/ the confidence of a fighter walking into a fight. Although being sworn to uphold the truth and with his 20 years in his parish, he has been active within the community. Knowing John & Tommy at a young age. Trying to keep in touch through sports mostly. Going into details of the night in question. Statin he was at Madison Square Garden (MSG). A Knicks V. Hawks basketball game; a game that began at 7:30P, ending at 9-10:30P w/ the Hawks winning. He stated to have been at the game w/ friends; John Reilly & Thomas Marchano, the 2 defendants. Spectators gave a collective cry. Carol put her head down, hands covering her mouth while shaking. Michael took a deep breath and looked at the ceiling. Breaking his oath of truth and honor of the priest to BE THERE for these boys. John had tears in his eyes. Lorenzo was holding a copy of The Count Of Monte Cristo. Testifying his pickup time to meet them was around 6:30P and walking into MSG. Police reports stated that the victim, Sean Nokes, was murdered at 8:25. Father Bobby testified the defendants were still w/ him at the time of the murder.
The defendants were only out of Father Bobby's sight to either go to consessions or to the restrooms. They walked back to the parish after it was over. A windy night only to stop at a newsstand. Parting company at 10:30P. Not stating where they went afterwards. Reassuring that there was NO WAY for them to kill Sean Nokes if they were with him. He wasn't shot by those boys as what was claimed. No further questions from the prosecution. Michael began his questions. Father Bobby stated to have bought the tickets to the game, purchasing them a week prior to the game. Paying for them w/ cash. No one else knew of him going to the game other than the defendants. Inviting them to go the Sunday before. No one seen him buy the tickets. No record of the purchase. Father Bobby was "stating the facts" as a witness and as a priest. They were at the game and why would a priest lie? A priest w/ ticket stubs wouldn't need to be. Pulling out 3 torn tickets and Father Bobby always keeps the stubs. You never know when their needed. Someone might want more than your word. There were no further questions for Father Robert Carillo. Although it was ALL a fabricated lie, whay jury would question a priest?
The next morning was offputting. Still in disbelief that Father Bobby lied for them. Not just standing up for John & Tommy, but making Wilkenson's responsible. Although sorry they ALL had to go through this, they wondered how it would affect Carol on all of this. Lorenzo prayed this trial would free Michael of his demons and allow him to go on with life. Fearing the best & worst for John & Tommy. No matter how hard they tried, they could NEVER rid themselves of The Wilkenson Home For Boys. John, Michael, Lorenzo & Tommy had to live w/ it, now Carol & Father Bobby had to as well. Affecting ALL of them. ALWAYS staying in their lives. Even though Lorenzo & Carol were reflecting on court, it made them think farther back into their past. In January 1980, Michael addressed a jury for the last time in his career.
Addressing the jury box, Michael caught the eye of the oldest member and smiled. They had a decision to make. Who were they to believe? The prosecution or the defense? They needed to go beyond one victim and the 2 defendants and look at the line that connects them. Look at the facts then look at the reason(s) behind them. A decision that should be the right one. A verdict that will fill with truth & justice. It was a Monday morning. The jury had been in deliberations since the previous Thursday. Lorenzo & Michael discuss the "what-ifs" and what they have discussed with deliberations during lunch. Wondering what would happen if it comes back with the wrong verdict? When this trial ends, Michael waits a few weeks and resigns from his firm. Switch to the other side and be a defense attorney. A time for quiet. A spot where you can rest without visions of Wilkenson's that you see. Maybe lucky enough to forget you were there.
It took pieces out of where they were. They did what they had to do to get out. Taking out large pieces they didn't know about. Michael had to walk through the revolving doors of the courthouse to the elevators to face a jury's verdict. The Hell's Kitchen area were keeping themselves occupied until a verdict arrived. After 15 minutes, the jury came back. Arriving back to their positions in the courtroom. Lorenzo was sweating, shaking & praying w/ his head in hands. Carol went w/ Lorenzo who didn't want to enter the courtroom alone. She was there hoping for the best. The jury had reache a verdict. EVERYONE was nervous w/ anticipation waiting.
On the count of murder in the 2ND degree, John Reilly was found NOT guilty. For the same charge for Thomas Marchano, he was found NOT guilty. The courtroom erupted in applause, screams & whistles. Lorenzo stood up hugging Carol. They ALL did it securing a WIN! John & Tommy baskec in their moment of glory. Nothing was heard but the sound of JUSTICE!
In the spring of 1980, a full month had passed since the acquittal. In those few weeks, their lives had reverted back to what the men/boys had been prior to the murder of Sean Nokes. Carol returned to her job in social work. John & Tommy went back to the streets running The West Side Boys. Change for them was too late. King Benny went back to his club and Fat Mancho returned to his bodega. Lorenzo was promoted from clerk to reporter trainee, covering the entertainment beat. Michael was the only one to have significant change in his life. Lorenzo was the first to arrive at a long table & chairs just off the main dining hall at the restaurant back room w/ his back to the wall. Ordering a set of red & white wines. The waiter bumped into John & Tommy on his way out. They both came around the table, squeezing Lorenzo in a tight hug. They didn't know/have any words of how to fucking thank them for what they did.
Lorenzo had "NOTHING" to do with it. It was all Michael's plan. If you were going to prison on a murder rap, who better than a friend to send you? Rejoicing in their victory. Their was nothing more than a small circle of arms and smooshing faces. Confessing they paid off King Benny w/ the buried treasure/payoff. Carol stood in the entryway, laughing & shaking her head. They turned after hearing her voice. They sat around the table, ordered drinks & talked into morning. Everything they could think of to not let go of a moment. Everything but the trial. Carol let loose of ALL of her frustrations. John & Tommy talked about their lives of crime. Michael was at peace w/ his decision to leave the firm and curious where it would take him. Eventually, the alcohol took held and they switched gears, laughing over times prior to Wilkenson's. Reliving the happiness of their childhood.
Sleepers -Walk Like A Man
Over & over recalling their pranks, hellish freedom & foolishness in Hell's Kitchen. The 4 of them huddled in a corner of the room; Lorenzo, Michael, Tommy & John. Snapping their fingers to an imaginary beat. Carol sat back watching them as they began to sing "Walk Like A Man". It was their happy ending. It was the last time they would ever be together again.
Father Robert Carillo is a monsignor of an upstate New York parish, where he still plays basketball everyday. Keeping in touch w/ ALL of his boys and is ALWAYS there when needed. Praying everyday for the boys he lost. Fat Mancho suffered a mild stroke in August 1992, leaving him numb in his right hand and blind in the right eye. He passed the bodega to his nephew, but still collects the profits and still makes bets at the age of 72.
Lorenzo is, at the time of this book, 42 w/ a wife and 2 kids; a son and a daughter. He sometimes feels that the lucky Sleepers are the ones who died. They no longer have to live w/ the memories and are free of their demons/dreams. They always thought they would know each other forever.
In 1996, a legal crime film was based on Lorenzo's book and story with the title of the same name w/ Jason Patric as adult Lorenzo, Brad Pitt as adult Michael, Robert DeNiro as Father Bobby, Billy Crudup as adult Tommy Marchano, Ron Eldard as adult John Reilly, Minnie Driver as Carol Martinez and Kevin Bacon as Sean Nokes.