The lessons author Gerard Healy learned growing up in Boston’s neighborhood of Dorchester prepared him well for the life that followed. His parents, teachers, kind neighbors, true friends, and the culture of Dorchester provided Healy with a solid base of values. Trial and error would fill in the gaps.
The stories in Originally from Dorchester narrate the good, the bad, and beauty of life there in the mid-60s. A story of place and time, it chronicles a young boy’s struggle for identity against the competing forces of peer and gang pressure. A predominantly Irish working-class neighborhood, Dorchester held everything including brutal street fighters, true friends, intimidating nuns, and protective neighbors.
Carrying the spirit of adventure with him always, Originally from Dorchester shares the lessons learned from family and friends that Healy has carried with him as he’s roamed far beyond the town’s borders. It explores the complex relationships of adolescent peers, the struggle to break free of intimidating violence, and the saving value of friendship.
Excerpt from the chapter, Path of the Righteous
The boy walked hesitantly toward us. His eyes were on Sully's as we made space for him. When he got about 10 feet away, we spread around, loosely surrounding the two. The park, it seemed, had shrunk to just that circle, with only us on the perimeter and the two about to meet in the middle. I wondered how many others there, like me, were hoping the kid could pull it off. Damn, he should be able to, I thought. He was bigger, stronger, and not too afraid. But with every step from the old man, he had moved slower. We fanned out, widening the circle, everyone getting a ringside view. Sully, who had been so loud moments before, now only stared at the kid. He would not speak again until the fight was over. He raised his fists like a boxer, peered out over them, and then charged directly at the surfer. The kid stood his ground and put his fists and elbows up front, instinctively leaning forward to absorb the rush. Sully's right arm went back during his run and he shot it out toward the kid's face just as they were about to collide. At the same time he threw the punch, he jumped into the air. The punch went off the kid's arms and over his head, the weight of Sully’s body slamming up around the kid's chest. He didn’t hit him where he wanted, but the body slam sent him to the ground. Sully was on top off him now in the dirt, both hands flailing. The kid was grunting and breathing loudly. For about ten seconds, they fought, the kid mostly fending off punches, trying desperately to grab a hold of the arms. He finally succeeded. He managed to pin the arms to Sully’s sides and he was trying to roll on top of him. His left eye was half closed and blood ran from his nose. But, he fought on, not panicking. He arched his body, pulling, and it looked he had a chance, after all. Then his voice let out a shock of pain. "Augghh! He's biting me Dad. He's biting me.” I turned toward the old man, expecting to see him jumping onto Sully. He had moved within the circle, his fists, again, clenched tight. But still he held back. "All right son,” I heard in measured words. “Bite him back. If he's going to bite you, you bite him back.” But Sully had got his right arm free and it was all he needed. His legs had crept around the kid's legs and he was punching him rapidly with his free fist. After taking about four solid shots, the kid managed to roll away. Sully scrambled quickly after him, but overshot his mark as the kid pushed him. Sully took the shove, rolled over, and came up on his feet. The surfer, who should have moved faster, was coughing and shaking his head to get dirt off him. By the time he moved to get up, Sully stood above him. From his sitting position, the kid lurched to the side to jump up. But Sully’s first kick took a leg from under him. Then the kid made another mistake.Instead of rolling around, grabbing for legs, or somehow scrambling to get back to his feet, he started to cover up. His hands went up by the sides of his face and he pulled his knees inward. The next kick caught him in the ribs, then another off his arms into the neck. In between kicks, Sully did an awkward two-step to maintain his balance. His mouth was stretched wide and his eyes bulged as he looked for places to hurt. The kid was covering his sides pretty good, so Sully lifted his leg and stomped down on his chest. "He's kicking me dad," the kid yelled. If it was one of us down there, a friend would have jumped in and tried to end it. Some kids had crowded in close to the old man, and he pushed them back. "Then you kick him son,” he said. “You kick him back." And just how the hell is he supposed to do that? I thought. I couldn’t believe the old man would even say it. Sully kicked the kid one more time somewhere around the neck and the surfer was done. He rolled over, his arms relaxed and his head fell to the side. Sully, though, was still moving. He circled around the kid, in the direction he had rolled after that last kick. As he drew back his leg, I heard myself and two or three others yell, "NO!" No thoughts had been involved in the reaction, just a powerful sense of unfairness. Sully looked up, the area around his eyes crinkled in disbelief. Our eyes locked for about three seconds, till I felt a flush of shame. As his eyes moved to find the others who had yelled, I felt the heat on my face and wondered, why had I blushed?At the time, there was only instinctual shame. In his eyes, I saw that he knew, beyond any doubt, that he was right. The forcefulness of that look stopped me cold, till the blood raced to the skin of my face. It was him, and no one else, that stood there bruised and cut from the effort of fighting a bigger, stronger foe. Who, those eyes asked? Who dared tell him now what he could and couldn’t do? There was righteousness in those eyes. Then he looked down at the kid. He did not rush this time; there was no need. A full second before the act, I felt deadened. I don’t know how the old man managed it, but still he held back. He would not compromise: his son would fight his own fights. Sully soaked in the moment, picked his spot and then kicked that kid dead in the center of his forehead.
Gerard Healy is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in combat operations: Urgent Fury, Grenada; Operation Desert Storm, Iraq; and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq. His awards include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He currently resides in Carrollton, VA, with his wife Sujin.
for Your Publishing Consultation.
© Copyright 2017. Trusted Media Brands, Inc. and Author Solutions, LLC