I wrote a few times regarding my first twelve years. My most recent being “I CRY AT NIGHT”.
Although much of my earliest memories are blurred under the blanket that protects us from the emotional scars left behind by physical or psychological trauma, I have managed to convey my experiences as best as recollection allows.
There where many memories I withheld due to what their re-hashing may have brought forth.
But, that was “Dann” or “Boo Boo” as you surely understand.
I have decided to allow you to understand a synopsis of my “Shakie” years.
“Judge not lest we be judged”.
I have confessed my discretions and transgressions to my Gods and I pay my penance to this very day.
“By 1969, at the age of twelve, I had decided family life was not my cup of tea. Glue sniffing, heroin and every other drug were fun. So were guns and violence.”
So, my newly acquainted eldest brother and I decided to leave the safety of a good home and join the wanderlust of the “Hippie” life.
I was exactly 12 years old and I had no clue of what that decision I made on that cold October the fifth, 1969 would lead to.
Nor, unfortunately, was society.
For that was the birth of “Shakie Goddamn Verner”. The darkest side of my darkest side.
The “me” that many would fear.
The “me” I still fear.
For with his sheepish boyhood grin, his beautiful long hair and those innocent eyes, deception and violence was concealed.
Even though everyone knew but took no action.
I had already been a heroin addict for two years, by then.
My brother and his band of Woodstock soldiers decided I should be there “tester”.
If I lived they could safely get high with no worry.
If I collapsed, a quick dunk in the tub of ice water and CPR always did the trick.
But, heroin was expensive and jail not an option.
Firearms were cheap and most everyone I knew had a Mossberg shotgun or Remington Repeater rifle. I was soon armed and, with the Juvenile Delinquency Act, more or less untouchable.
My first armed robbery was the city’s only fancy Chinese restaurant. Bravely I marched in, raised my sawed off double barrel and blew the chandelier off the ceiling.
I got the day’s take and the payroll.
It bought a week’s worth of China White for my brother and his friends. I even got a bit for myself.
The boys weren’t selfish.
Just as I wasn’t their “patsy”.
After all my “brother” who I was never raised with, he “loved” me.
The monster inside me began to grow.
I began a path in life that no youth my age ever should have strolled. I was doomed to a lifestyle of imprisonment, deception, violence and sadness.
I was unknowingly being used as a vessel or ‘tool’ for the group of much elder souls I claimed as my “friends”.
When in all true reality, I was merely young enough not to suffer dire consequences for my actions. Nor, was I mentally mature enough to understand I was being used to supply a constant drug flow to all our arms.
I can tell you of many days of my youth. Too many for now, though.
I shall tell you of the most traumatic hauntings of my “Shakie” period.
I may or may not have been involved with the explosion at a county jail.
Rumoured to be nothing less than a feeble attempt to deliver a pizza to a solid friend
It is rumored that on that cold Halloween night a group of us may or may not have attended a local pizza parlour.
Earlier, it was alleged that, we had consumed large quantities of LSD, Heroin and, the grandfather of MMDA, MDA.
Suffice to say we were all imagining dragons and monsters from space.
Hallucinogens are twisted little creatures.
We entered the restaurant a motley crew.
A violent hippie, a man we labeled “Gigi, a man of Winter who would become a serial murderer, two groupies of female form and the man who we knew as “MadMan”.
It’s alleged that as the waiter brought forth our Italian pie and so gracefully placed it at the table’s centre, MadMan may or may not have visualized a large troll coming across the table to snatch his balls from their sac.
It’s further alleged that MadMan slew that troll with one mighty slash of his twelve inch Bowie knife. The blood covering us all.
The waiter dropped to the floor as quickly as a hallucination disappears.
We may or may not have gathered this pizza, compete with the serving stand, and, leaving MadMan to explain his actions, fell back to our hideaway on Water Street to devise a drug induced plan of stupidity
So, they claim, next it was decided that knowing MadMan had lost his freedom, the least we could do was deliver him the pizza. The cause of the troll attack.
I am led to believe that I possibly may have knocked upon the jail door and politely demanded that MadMan have his pizza.
MadMan did not receive the pizza.
Urban legend states that next what may have taken place was a group of long haired leaping gnomes returning to the jailhouse with a quantity of CIL dynamite.
Apparently, one stick too many.
They say that the resulting explosion left quite an opening where the entrance once had been.
The main entrance to the County Jail
To best recollection of witnesses, the pizza never returned to Earth and may still to this very day be traveling through the heavens.
And MadMan never returned to society.
Sentence upon sentence for in-house crimes secured a permanent residence at many a super maximum secure penitentiary.
To my knowledge he resides there yet.
I miss MadMan. I do not miss Winter’s. I mourn still for Gigi. The groupies never came back.
I also mourn for childhood lost.
The trail of sadness and debauchery I left in the wake of “Shake” constantly travel the ruts of my mind.
The explosion awakened the monster within.
The monster never slept. The monster was constantly getting Shake in troubles. Both with authorities and with the underworld.
“Shakie Dann Verner” got mean fast. A survival mechanism to compensate for his petite size.
He always carried the sawed off, except on the days he holstered his genuine German Luger. The “hand cannon”.
Judge gave me thirty days observation at the Saint John Provincial Hospital for that one.
I was out a week when I was arrested for possession of one hundred and thirty-two sticks of dynamite while walking through City Hall.
When asked if I had anything to say beforesentence was passed, I answered, “I guess I just wanted to get a bang out of life”.
Judge gave me thirty days observation at the Saint John Provincial Hospital for that one, also.
I was out in five days.
Not often I speak of what insanity I next performed…………
A friend and I were very high and playing “cowboys and Indians”.
He using a real bow, with actual arrows, and I my Lee Enfield WW2 rifle with armour piercing rounds.
The game ended sadly and abruptly.
Judge Harrigan gave me ninety days observation at the Saint John Provincial Hospital for that one.
I was released in two weeks.
All charges squashed under the veil of insanity brought forth by drug addiction.
I should have been sentenced to life.
An eye for an eye, so they say.
But, it was a primitive era. The world was changing – rock had begun to roll – whites were singing the Blues – Blacks were finally “men” and Vietnam was NOT a war.
And not one Court understood drug addiction or the crimes deemed necessary to obtain such.
The severity of my crime sprees became far more violent and reckless.
My ownership of such I never once denied.
I always pled “guilty with an explanation”. I had mastered “explanations”.
But, for some reason no one deemed it necessary to lock me away for the harm I inflicted. I began to get an “untouchable” complex.
Judge Harrigan had a soft spot within his heart for the lonely kid from the South end of Saint John.
He did me nor you any favours.
Life spiralled expediently and darkly upon my obtaining a free Harley Davidson Sportser motorcycle.
The unwilling gift from some rich university student in a certain little town in Massachusetts.
I met a young man named “Mums” and he gave me a real nice “vest”.
Now Shakie was wearing a patch.
Drug induced and brainwashed by the “biker” movies of the day, I began my war on “the man”.
Little did I know I would not win such a war.
Yet, I have emerged a wounded and scarred warrior veteran.
To bring this story back on track let me say that I committed many, many far worse and shameful crimes against humanity and your gods.
And then the evening of my eighteenth birthday it all came crashing down.
I believed the swat team was not police doing their civil duty, but, rather a rival gang invading my home. “OUR” clubhouse.
And I shot and severely wounded a police officer.
A man doing his job. A man who in no way deserved to have half his face misplaced.
A man whom’s face, bloodied and disfigured, is the last thing I see every evening just before my soul allows me to sleep.
For the last fourty-two years now – every night. A constant kick in my testicles for harming a fellow man.
I had finally learned what it was to have a conscience.
And I knew not what to do.
Dorchester Penitentiary was a scary place. I knew so many of the elder inmates and had no worries of survival amongst the scourge of society, for I also held membership to the elite “Club”.
A week after my arrest, as my broken ribs and swollen face were still healing from the numerous beatings by various upset police officers, one of my two common-law spouses gave birth to my first born child.
A handsome little dude named after me.
A handsome young lad brought into this world already carrying the burden of addiction, Downs Syndrome and heart defects.
I never once held nor laid eyes upon my first born.
He would pass away without my knowledge – a secret held back by his mother and prison authorities.
A dark, dark day for my heart.
To this day I have no knowledge of when he passed or how many months or years your god allowed him to suffer.
A severe sentence with no parole passed on to me by my gods.
A sentence I serve to this very day.
The mother sent me pictures of a growing healthy boy for over six years.
Pictures not of my son. Pictures of a neighbours child to fool me into believing all was well.
Her reason for doing so was her false belief that I would never exit the penitentiary.
All who knew me expected me to die in custody either by my own hand or that of an enemy of my state.
But, I was resilient and far too “streetwise” to become a victim to such.
My gods were to be even far more cruel, for a week before my release on Mandatory Supervision, my baby’s mother slit her own throat in fear of what “Shakie” may do to her, for her lies and deception regarding young “Daniel Jr.”.
The poor woman survived but the blood loss left her vegatated. A harsh sentence for a harsh decision.
Sadly, I now had and have to carry this burden as yet another yoke around the neck of my soul. A heavy load for any soul to bear.
As I had said before, I cry at night. Every night.
If only she had attended the Appellant Court. For by mutual agreement it was decided I would NEVER return to the Eastern provinces – never to cross the east border of Quebec. Never to walk the streets of my hometown.
So, her torment was for not. I would never have laid blame on her. I would have held her and cried and then cried more.
I would have known the date he ascended.
But, I do not.
I will never forget the day I arrived in Toronto. Wearing the mismatched suit and carrying the almost empty suitcase donated to me by the Canadian Federal Penitentiary Service.
Such an odd feeling. I ate my final breakfast in prison and by noon I was eating my first lunch as a free man a thousand miles away.
Jets are fast.
Ironically, it was pizza. Not MadMan’s pizza. Just your average pepperoni from “The Big Slice” on Yonge Street.
And I was SCARED, very much so.
I had never been a “citizen” before.
I did vow I would never return to prison.
I finally met my older sister and I was to reside with my brother. My brother who was many years clean and seemed to have totally forgotten about our childhood’s path.
Maybe he agreed to my residing with him from guilt for what he done to me and the subsequent path I walked.
I also finally became acquainted with my biological mother and soon grew to love and respect her.
The first time I met her she was drinking “Green River”. A concoction of ice water and Mennen’s Skin Bracer aftershave.
I flushed it down her toilet and walked two doors over to the Beer Store and purchased her a two-four of good old Molson Canadian.
And Mom smiled.
And her degenerate boyfriend stared at me with hatred and jealousy. To much a coward to speak to me as a man.
I should have snapped his neck that day for my Mother may very well be still alive this day.
But, I didn’t and on June the thirteenth, 1981 Robert George Stevenson shoved a Butchers boning knife into Mom’s breast plate and pulled it downward to her groin.
Distraught and jealous due to Mom throwing him out – of Mom being a working woman of society – of Mom drinking only on Friday/payday nights.
Of Mom finally having genuine reasons to smile.
Mary Florence Gertrude McCrossin Verner suffered beyond comphrension until she ascended on August the first.
Her dying wish and last words to me being I was never to seek revenge and allow him to return me to a prison.
My last words to her being the solemn promise never to lay hands upon the goof.
The Judge gave him but five years of which he did fourteen months.
I served six times that for an attempted murder.
The Canadian Justice System works in mysterious ways.
I had just married my first wife on May the fourteenth of that year.
My Mother and my Father attended.
They actually sat together at the reception. All past doings put aside for the festivities.
The day Stevenson stabbed her, she had just returned home from my apartment after spending a lovely week with my wife and I.
Something she never had the joy of doing with either of my siblings.
They sent her their wedding invitations a week after their weddings.
They had always shunned her as nothing more than a drunken disgrace to be hidden and ignored. The dirty family secret.
They knew her all her life and did little to assist her.
In the year I had to spend with her she easily became sober, obtained employment and smiled her beautiful smile. Often.
And now I cry at night – every single night.
I have two photographs of Mom from my wedding. Two of my most treasured memories.
By October the same year I would be divorced.
To quote my new wife’s words verbatim, “Ever since your Mom got murdered you have been acting funny and I cannot take it. “
My response was passing two subway tokens and a prompt “Goodbye Bitch”.
Funny how I never wonder what became of her.
And I somehow found myself involved with drugs and booze a might too heavily.
I did not return to my previous lifestyle of violence and crime. I had became “a party animal “.
And then I moved to One Vendome Place in the Flemington Park area of Toronto.
I soon teamed up with certain people and within a few months we became the drug lords and most feared of the “Park”.
The drug of the day was Angel Dust – PCP. And for every gram I sold I put two up my nose. People were afraid of Shakie.
I was extremely afraid of me.
And then I met my best female friend’s daughter.
Her mother, Aunt and neighbors, being my best friends, begged me not to date her and to stay away fore she was not a good person at that time.
I fell deeply in love.
She refused my advances until I was to be clean of the dust and drop my gangster ways.
A mother protecting the life of her then six month old son. The son I to this day think of as my own. The son who has never called me “Stepdad”.
Not even now, thirty seven years later.
She gave birth to “our” son on 9/11/90.
A handsome wee boy – my spitting image.
We lived common law until we were to wed on July the sixth, 1996.
On March fifth, 1999 I, unfortunately, had to have my C2, C3, C5 and C6 removed. Replaced by pieces of my hip and many screws and plates.
And my life changed drastically.
I went from earning well over a hundred thousand a year as an electrical contractor to making fourteen thousand a year as a cripple.
My wife of twenty years could not handle the trauma inflicted upon me.
Her remedy in 2002 was to run off with my pot dealer.
I still miss ‘him’.
She came home pregnant and gave birth to her third son on May the thirtieth, 2003.
I cut his cord and proudly assumed the responsibility of being his father and to love him as a son.
Cause as the saying goes, “Any boy can make a baby, but it takes a man to be a father”.
My three sons call me there father.
And I call them son.
My wife, (to whom I am still legally married ), has since gone her own way.
And I, well, I am still a father.
I shall write more of the trials and tribulations of my many lives. Be patient, for as of now I must flush these demons from my mind and hug my dogs till sleep arrives. And my nightly tears will run their path down my cheeks to pool above my heart.