The Boy From The Bronx

Looking back, I can see now that he was exactly the kind of boy that every parent would dread their teenage daughter crossing paths with. But at the age of fourteen it was beyond my ability to recognize all those warning signs. To me, he was just a guy, a guy with a guitar. He had a slightly odd scent lingering in his hair and clothes. I presumed it was those thin cigarettes he smoked. There was a lot about him that I accepted and never questioned simply because I was inexperienced and unawares. People all over the world see the man with the guitar. I have known him since he was a teenager. I knew the boy from the Bronx.

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I still remember the day we met as if it were just last week. I woke up that morning when the door slammed shut. Dad would have left the house hours before to make his way into the city. Mom had already yelled up the stairs to me to get ready for school. Exhausted, I had buried myself under the covers and returned to sleep. As soon as I heard the impact of the front door which seemed to cause a tremor within the whole house, I sat up in alarm. I reached for the alarm clock radio and saw that it was already 9:10am. Damn it!

The sick dread in my stomach was a telltale sign that despite watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off about twenty times I had still not learnt the art of how to dodge those teachers who seemed to want to make me grovel in the dirt and own up to being the lowest lifeform in the galaxy. Like a lamb on it’s way to the slaughter, I put on my clothes for school and gathered my school books into my backpack.

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There were only fifteen minutes left of our History lesson when I entered the classroom. I am sure Mrs McGuire rolled her eyes as I slipped into my seat. She was clearly in mid-flow, energetically describing the Confederate move against Fort Sumpter. I stared down at the text book trying to locate the section her lecture might be based on. It was not long before I was saved by the bell. Of course, there was no way I was going to be allowed out without giving an explanation to Mrs McGuire for my lateness. I was not on great form that day. I used a recycled lie, one that she had heard before. The claim I had turning back home to retrieve homework for another class was not going to fool her.

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I left with a detention letter. I made my way to the science wing so that I would not be late for Physics. Mr Bloomfield was not a teacher to trifle with. I could not bear his glare of disdain. Although it was my least favourite class I always made sure I prioritised with homework assignments as crossing Mr Bloomfield was to be avoided at all costs. His lesson on waves was one of the least dull classes I could remember. Despite that the rest of the class struggled to follow his monotone voice.

As soon as the lunch-bell sounded, I embarked on my pre-meditated plan of escape. There was no way I could be part of the Phys-Ed class that afternoon. I was going to have to avoid another interrogation from the athletics Coach. Some other kids were making their way up towards McDonalds. I headed straight into Claremont Park and to escape the drizzle of rain I wandered towards the gazebo.

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That is where I met him for the very first time. He was unfriendly, irritable, rude and obnoxious. Yet, I was a little fascinated by him and his guitar. His ability to compose a tune in his mind, strum his guitar and find the right chords and take the words I voiced and weave them into lyrics – it mesmerized me. Few people know this, but the first single on their second album “Rebel” was a song he came up with that day we met. He was poking fun at me for skipping school.

That was the first afternoon I spent with him, the first of many. If you had told me that day that this scruffy hostile guy was going provide me with the great escape I was longing for, I would never have imagined it. But he became my closest friend and my only confidant. There came a point when it I knew I could not be without him. I am not sure exactly when or how, but the gradual accumulation and intensifying or feelings and hormones also entwined the both of us so that by the time I left home to travel with him, it was as his partner. My father wanted to lynch him of course. That is how the song “Blue Lights in Bill Rainey Park” came about. Those guitar riffs are electrifying – but I always found the lyrics Dean had penned disturbing. I knew he despised my Dad, but releasing a song to enshrine that hatred was going too far.