In less then two weeks I shall reach the young age of fifty-five – five point five decades of wandering through the mist of life. Of strolling over and beyond the mountains of experiences and existence within the realms of these so-called ‘modern’ times.
In many ways I am glad that my lives have been so hard. They started on October fifth, 1957 when I was born a ‘blue’ baby under a blue moon to parents too young to comprehend what my path through life would entail.
For those who are in the know, these were days of confusion. Rock and roll had just been born, most males were either emulating Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or James Dean. My father was a Cash man. My mother was James Dean.
I did not stand a chance.
At six months my mother decided that because I resembled ‘Al Capone’ I was going to be too hard to handle and thus abandoned me. With my older siblings in tow she gathered all that she could and escaped my father and I to the wilds of Regent Park, Toronto.
I can only imagine the look upon my father’s face when he discovered me alone in a completely empty house. He would try his best to raise me, but, he would fail. The blame was not upon him. It laid in the confounds of an accelerated society – the times were changing and with him being but a mere youth himself, failure was eminent.
The next ten years of my life are lost to me. Blanked out by the violence and loneliness of the many relatives and foster homes I was to be shuffled from.
I turned ten years old in 1967 – Canada’s Centennial Year . Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan were set fixtures on the radio. Drugs had begun their evil creep into the “norm”. Free love and hippies were emerging into the shocked society of Catholics and country bumpkins.
I was doomed.
I discovered heroin at this tender age – or did it discover me? I knew how to mix a hit and shoot up before I knew how to get an erection. Add a little LSD to this mix and “Shakie Dann Verner” was birthed.
The city was doomed – he was loose.
By twelve I was dancing on the streets to the rhythm of CCR’s “Down On The Corner”. Willy and the Poor Boys weren’t really there – it was just a mind hallucination. My friends were beyond my years. Most in their twenties. All wearing vests with patches of Coats of Arms – pledging alliance to Anarchy and her brother Chaos. Shake was oblivious to the fact that these ‘older’ friends were using him as a tool to achieve the ends of their means.
One day I bought a few guns – with bullets to match.
Society was doomed.
Aerosmith should have wrote a song entitled “Shakie Has A Gun” (the whole worlds come undone).
Southern New Brunswick was doomed.
The Provincial Jail reserved a cell for my weekly visits. The room service was fantastic – free shampoo for my knee length hair, hand soap for my dangerous hands. Toilet paper for my obnoxious ass and in one corner of my room – a bed!!!! Didn’t have them in King Square park!
As my dependency grew in volume so did my violence. Mother Heroin had no concept of her cost. My neighbors did – as their belongings began to disappear – as their wallets were emptied by a John Lennon look-a-like terrorist.
I hurt people. Never hurt an animal, though. One good thing in the life of a misguided bikers patsy. The older dudes knew I was vulnerable, a tool for their amusement. Get Shake to shoot them – get Shake to beat them – get Shake to rob them.
And Shake did.
And one day in 1972 Judge Harrigan said, “Shake, I have a better home for you.” And I cried. The new hotel had strict rules, apparently I could not leave for years. Till I was no longer a threat to their society. Till I had learned that dancing with the devil was something I should not do. BUT, was I dancing with him or was Lucifer dancing with me?
Shake was doomed.
Shake noticed that none of his friends were there with him or offering up support.
To shorten the tale be it suffice to say that Shake stayed back home and Dann moved to Toronto.
For a few years Shake would surface from time to time and scare Dann straight again. (He still shows up occasionally). Dann had a few close calls – knocked a police officer out for calling my friend the “N” word, a few bar fights that never should have happened.
BUT, a hard life is what I was best at. Survival of the sickest ? The fittest? The loneliest? Nah, it was just survival.
!981 came along bringing children into Dann’s realm. Dann changed. The city changed. The world changed. Dann worked, Dann played and Dann discovered that love was more then just an illusion.
The hardships never stopped.
Dann was not doomed.
Dann struggled with his demons and those of the people in his realm. Dann still struggles. Dann has it very hard.
Dann still has children.
Dann does what he must to assure his children, his friends, his neighbours and people in general do not have to live the hard life he has.
At fifty-five Dann has a deceased child who would have been forty years old now, a full grown son of 31, another who is 22 and a special gift of one nine year old son. Dann is joyed by this.
Dann’s sons have it hard.
Dann’s sons are not doomed.
Dann has suffered many trials and tribulations – seven times dead – twice divorced from unfaithful drug addicted ladies. Knocked down by injuries at forty-two. Two times wrestled with The Big C. A walking relapse many times to the world of chemical addictions.
Everyday has pressures, everyday has hardship, everyday Dann appreciates the rising of the sun and the settling of the moon.
Dann’s not doomed.
Dann gets lonely. To quote Jedi Mind Tricks, “To live alone one must be an animal or a God”.
Dann is one of God’s animals.
Dann thanks the Creators daily that they chose him to walk the paths he has. Dann would rather it was him then some other poor soul.
“SOMETIMES IT IS HARD NOT TO BE HARD”