I was born in 1969. In the Bronx. We were poor. Mom was a sex worker and she got pregnant because a condom broke. Luckily it was my father who used that condom! Anybody else would probably be long gone in a few minutes after an experience like this. But not my Dad! He was a good man. Well sort of. He was a moonshiner but apart from that, I have only good memories of him.
Mom wanted an abortion because she didn’t know how to continue making money with a child. But dad stepped up and said: NO! I’m gonna take care of you and my child!
My dad protected me even before I was born!
Mom told me he was happy about getting a child and when he proposed she said yes. A few months later I was born.
We didn’t have much money back then and the Bronx was a tough neighbourhood. We lived in Wakefield. On Gunther Ave and I soon became an integrated part of the streets. Everything outside our door was a crime in some sense. I didn’t go out playing with my friends. We went out to steal from the grocer or break into people’s homes and find stuff we could sell.
I was involved in a lot of burglaries, a lot of fights, and some car stuff. You know… Relocating cars and finding new owners for them. Even though I wasn’t a model citizen my dad always supported me. He was always there for me until he died in 1978.
But in 1987 I was caught. Actually, I was arrested quite a few times before that, but this time I was 18 and my rap sheet was getting long as my arm. I was placed in Brooklyn Detention Center for a month while the police made my case. They prepared an indictment that would put me behind bars for maybe ten years. But the judge wanted it different. And if it hadn’t been for him, his name is Ernest C. Rhodes, I probably would have been killed in prison or died in the streets after getting released like many of my friends. Gotten shot or something. Ernest had seen me walk in and out of the jail many times so he kinda knew who I was.
He gave me a choice. 10 years in the slammer or the army.
And it was very easy actually. I volunteered for the army in 1987. I was there for two years until I joined Special Forces and was stationed in Kenya for a year. I got shot to pieces more than once, but something didn’t want me to die. When I came home I joined The Seals for a few years. Usually, you get deployed somewhere after finishing your training, but I got a position as a CQCI because of my martial arts training and my streetfighting skills.
After that, I became a freelancer. Or a merc. I fought meaningless wars, mostly in poor countries. Africa and Central America. That’s where I picked up my closest friends. Garcia is one of them.
I often find myself thinking about why Ernest did what he did and I send my deepest and warmest regards because he had the insight to know what was good for me and for giving me a second chance, which ultimately led me to be part of a very important quest in Albania, that made me friends and a family for life.
Thank you Ernest for ‘waking’ me up to the wisdom, that only I am responsible for my life and my actions!