Sample chapter 15 from "No time to say goodbye"






Toward the end of the summer, one of the other boys from the third floor, Larry Hanson, told me, “They’re gonna have a huge rock concert for three days over in upstate New York, just over the border.” He lowered his voice, leaned closer, and said, “If we hitchhike, we could be there in a couple hours.”
  The concert was in Woodstock, New York and I decided to go although it was a stupid thing to do. We slipped out of the school on Friday morning, just after breakfast. We figured that no one would know we were gone until lights out at eleven o’clock . 
  Using the back roads through the small villages and towns we arrived in New Haven by early afternoon. In those days, New Haven, the home of Yale University, was a hotbed of the counter-culture, anti-Vietnam-War set, and a youth-centered city. The Green, a park in the middle of the city, was occupied by hundreds of young people. Tables gave out information on the anti-war movement, the Black Panthers and the Yippie Party, guitar music, burning incense, and dancing. Several local Episcopalian churches gave out free food: brown rice and apples.
  Hanson and I forgot about Woodstock and stayed on the Green for the rest of the day and into the night, meeting girls and sitting in large circles listening to lectures on racism, injustice, and the war.
 Around midnight we were in the back of a van with a dozen other kids, smoking grass, one joint after the other, until there was so much smoke I couldn’t see the person sitting next to me. I had never smoked a joint before, but after a while I managed to smoke two, and had entered into a detailed conversation with the kid seated next to me about the wonders of the tuna fish sandwich.
  “And then there is the mayonnaise,” I said, and then, after contemplating the wonders of mayonnaise for what might have been either ten seconds or ten minutes, I added, “God! Doesn’t mayonnaise sound just so perfect right now! Man, what a great word—mayonnaise.”
   My speech on the wonders of my favorite condiment probably would have gone on all night, but after a knock on the van’s back door someone opened it, letting out a massive cloud of white smoke into the faces of two New Haven cops. We were all too stoned to run, but I had it in my mind to go find a tuna sandwich and started walking away. 
  “Hey,” a cop yelled at me. “Marco Polo, where you goin’?”
  I snapped out of it and said, “With you?”
  “You bet your ass you are,” he said. “Get in the wagon.”
  We meekly piled into the paddy wagon when it arrived and were brought down to the central police station. When Hanson, who was several years older than I was, learned we were going to be booked as adults and tossed into jail, he told the cops we were minors from St. John’s.
  We were driven across town in a squad car to the juvenile detention center, actually a big house with bars on the windows, set in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Tossed into a locked, completely dark room, I felt around, found the bed, and fell asleep.
  The next morning we were back at St. John’s under room detention. I was allowed out for school and meals, and that was it.
At a series of meetings, none of which I was allowed to attend, the school social worker, the state social worker, Father MacDonald, my teacher, and the prefects asked the question, what was wrong with me? Would I run away from the school? Of course, if they had asked me, I would have told them, but they didn’t ask. They determined that I was suffering from some sort of hostility, and they wrote that in their files, and then they all went back to what they were doing.
   As an additional part of my punishment I was to work as the chapel steward, cleaning the church and preparing the altar. One day, while working in the sacristy, I found a twenty-gallon jug of the cheap wine used in the communion service. I had never tasted wine, so I decided to take a swig, using the chalice as my cup. I liked the sweet taste, finished off the cup, and poured myself another. I liked that, too, and poured myself a third, and then took the bottle and the chalice and my drunken self out to the steps that lea to the altar, sat down, and relaxed. And that was where they found me later that night, sound asleep, empty bottle and sacred chalice in hand.
  A prefect shook me awake and I answered by throwing a punch. More prefects came and more punches were thrown until they overpowered me. I was taken to a hospital to sober up, and the next morning, before breakfast, a state social worker arrived with my belongings packed into brown paper bags. He put me in into a black sedan with the state logo emblazoned on the side doors and I was gone.



 http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/0692361294/
http://amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.


Contact John:
MYWRITERSSITE.BLOGSPOT.COM
JWTUOHY95@GMAIL.COM

Sample chapter 14 from "No time to Say Goodbye"



Chapter Nine
“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.”  Immanuel Kant

    A lot happened to us. Paulie, chased by some Puerto Rican boys, fell from a high ledge near the Baldwin Street School and landed on pile of broken beer bottles, cutting the left side of his throat several inches across. He managed to walk out onto Baldwin Street and stood in the road with blood gushing out of his neck and flagged down a lady in a car who took him to Saint Mary’s Hospital. Broken legs and slashed necks and the dead sleeping babies happened because we were poor and because our parents were ignorant and overwhelmed from being poor, and we were always poor, all of the time, and we were always in trouble because of it.
  The winter before the cops came to bang down our door, my mother almost burned herself to death and that, too, was caused by poverty and ignorance. They had turned off the heat in the house, so my mother sent Paulie and Bridget to walk across town to take the baby up to my Aunt Maureen’s house to stay warm, but it was a long walk across town and there was no money for a bus and they didn’t want to go.
 “Youse gotta go,” my mother yelled. “If there’s another dead baby in this house, it will be the end of us all. We won’t be together anymore, the cops will come and put me in jail and the welfare people will get youse and toss you into big schools.”
  My mother told Paulie and Bridget that Aunt Maureen would take the baby for sure but she might not take them in too, so they should see if she’d give them the money for the bus back. If she wouldn’t, they should ask Uncle Bobby, a tile man who drank too much wine; he’d help us. And she pushed Paulie and Bridget out the door into the cold and the wind, that awful biting wind that rushes down from Canada or up from the ocean, and it slaps your face no matter what winter it is.
  We were lucky we had Maureen, my mother’s youngest sister. You don’t usually have relatives when you’re poor. Either they can’t afford you or you can’t afford them. Of the fifteen aunts and uncles we had, only Maureen talked to us. All the others stayed clear of us because we borrowed money, or asked them to take one of us in. My father’s family, a cold and humorless bunch, were the worst. They didn’t want us coming around to their houses because we were loud, crass, and vulgar and because eventually we beat up their children and stole their toys, hiding them under our shirts, because we didn’t have any, and even their dogs left when we came around.
  With Paulie and Bridget gone with the baby, Denny and I crawled into bed and squeezed up against each other to stay warm and watched the flame from the four burners on the gas stove in the kitchen that were supposed to keep us warm, but didn’t.
  We watched our mother talk to herself, again, which meant she was drunk, again, and we saw her lean unsteadily forward into the flame to light another unfiltered Pall Mall cigarette. Her hair fell into the fire. A strand from her tattered overcoat followed and both went up in flames, slowly at first, and then ignited her entire body in a matter of seconds. She screamed in terror and pain, her hair burning, and she screamed and called for dear God and tried to pull off the coat that was on fire too.
  Denny and I leaped from bed, knocked her to the ground, rolled on top of her, beat down the flames and threw beer on her, and hit the flames over and over again until they went out. It was over in a minute, but most of her red hair was burned off and her coat was scorched to her back. I ran out to the hallway and screamed and screamed until the neighbors came. A few minutes later, we saw the red and blue lights from the ambulance and cop cars. She was going to the hospital, no heat in the apartment, the cops would take us away to the orphanage run by the welfare people, and we’d be beaten to death or something. I took Denny into the bedroom and helped him on with his shoes and jacket and we slipped out the window and made our way down across town to Aunt Maureen’s house. We got away that time.

  The fire, like Jimmy’s death, Paulie’s fall, and Denny’s accident, all made the newspapers. Waterbury, despite its size, is really just another small New England factory town, a family town where those sorts of things don’t go unnoticed. Nor did they. The cops had us in the back seat of a squad car, and from that moment, we would no longer be a family.

Sample chapter 13 from "No time to say goodbye"




Chapter Eight


. . .and our few good times will be rare because we have the critical sense and are not easy to fool with laughter  -Charles Bukowski


  For a while after Jimmy died my mother and father stopped their fighting because they were too wounded to fight, and we lived in peace. Soon, after the pain went away, happiness reigned. On Sundays, if my father’s car worked, we piled in and rode down to the ocean, to a place called Savin Rock, each of us coming home that night exhausted, smelling of sea salt, filled with even more freckles than we left with, and badly burned by the sun, no matter how careful we were to avoid it.
  We took long, aimless rides in the soft beauty that is Connecticut’s countryside. Our father—Bridget and Paulie considered him their father as well—sang in a remarkably good tenor voice. He  sang old Irish songs, which I later learned, were mostly written by imaginative if schmaltzy Jewish composers from Tin Pan Alley in Manhattan. On these long rides through the wealthy rural villages and towns of western Connecticut’s Litchfield County, we would pick out a grand house and by matter of vote, pretend it was ours.
  Knowing nothing of the other side of life, all of us in the car mistakenly assumed that the people who lived in these wonderfully large houses were happy and contented in their world because they had things, and we resented them for it.
  Sometimes, when we spotted an extraordinarily large house—and Litchfield County is drenched with them—my father pulled up the drive way and honked the horn over and over again until some inevitably tall, lean, pale-skinned and annoyed Yankee appeared from inside the house. My father would say, “Never mind,” and drive away, and we would roar with laughter and one of us, or all of us, would turn and give the poor soul the finger, and then we would beg to do it again, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it again, too.
  In those days, those scant precious few good days, I imagined that I felt like those people in the big houses felt all the time because for a moment we were loved and cared for by sober, calm parents who took joy in us. It makes a difference, a big difference when you’re appreciated, when you’re loved. In those moments you don’t care as much about not having anything.
  I could, and did, take on all the weight of poverty because I had no choice, but the toughest part of poverty is loneliness, of being unloved. That is a burden that never lessens and never gets off your back. But now, in these good times, love insulated us, for a while anyway, from all the bile that poverty poured over us.
  In the good times we stopped to swim in freshwater lakes and streams. There were nights at the drive-in movies and dinner at hot dog stands that had play areas for children. My father worked regularly around the valley as a house painter in those times of peace, and new shoes and clothes were bought for us, and we went to school like everyone else. On Friday and Saturday nights we all of us, strolled down to Shaum’s Bar and Grill on Main Street downtown and settled in.
  We never went into the barroom area. That was closed to us. It was open to women, but they couldn’t drink there. In those days, Connecticut still had strict old blue laws. One law prohibited serving women at the bar. Instead, most of the taverns that dotted the city then, especially the older ones, had an adjoining, large room with dark wooden booths where a waiter brought drinks to the ladies. These back rooms usually served food, hearty European ethnic dishes that inevitably included some sort of potato dish.
  The whole place smelled like old stale beer, but in some spots it smelled like old vomit. The glasses were dirty and the tables never cleaned, so hands and elbows stuck on them, and using the toilets was an act of bravery. Late at night, if you looked way in the back, you could see couples in the darkened booths kissing, and sometimes you could see the lady’s hand jerking the guy off beneath the table.
  We spent the night there, feasting on Wise Owl potato chips, free peanuts and ancient boiled eggs served from a jar filled with dubious red water. We downed gallons of sweet white birch beer while watching the black-and-white television perched high up in a corner to protect it from the occasional flying beer mugs tossed during the drunken brawls that erupted.
  Television, even when we had to bend our necks to see it, was a treat for us, because we seldom had a television, or at least seldom had one that worked for any length of time. A new television set in those days—most people had black and white—were large, complicated and expensive luxury items, out of reach of the very poor. In our house, at any given time, we had at least three televisions, one atop the other, the newest used one sitting above the last one that no longer worked.
  When there was nothing on television to hold our attention, which was likely since the whole of television land back then consisted of only three channels, we begged, borrowed, and stole pocket change to play Elvis or Patsy Cline on the jukebox, over and over, while we danced in our own fashion around the room. That was our music: Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and Eddy Arnold. We were, proudly, New England hillbillies.
  By the end of the night, my parents were comfortably drunk, and in the early morning hours they woke us from our deep sleep in those imposing dark oak booths and we walked home. On those nights, those good nights when we were together, all of us, there were smiles instead of screams and laughter in place of curses, and if I were offered the world in place of one of those memories, I wouldn’t take it.
  The good times never lasted more than a few weeks, though, and then everything went back to the way it was. When they were like that, constantly drunk and at each other’s throats, they didn’t care how it affected us. I think the way they looked at their relationship was that it was a trial and we were the results, trial children. They were, as Fitzgerald might have put it, careless people, my parents—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their poverty or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
  It was always the same, never varied. After a few weeks of peace, they started to drink and argue and then fight—physically fight, in brawls that drew blood, during which furniture was tossed across rooms and through windows. My mother drew butcher knives or flung heavy black iron frying pans with incredible accuracy.
  If my father was sober, he would stop fighting when the cops showed up, and they  put him a squad car, drove him to a saloon downtown and let him go if he promised to stay away from the house for the rest of the night. But if he was drunk— and he was drunk a lot—he took a fighter’s stance and then they belted him across the knees with paddy clubs until he fell down and then cuffed him in a claw, a sort of handcuff designed to break the wrist if the person resisted. By the rules of slum life, it was acceptable for the cops to beat him if he resisted, but that’s where it ended. Pulling him into the squad car for an additional working over wasn’t allowed, but sometimes the newer cops tried it. When they did, neighbors slashed the tires on their squad cars or flung heavy objects from their apartment windows and broke the cars’ windshields. The neighbors’ reasoning was that if the cops could give Dad  a beating the cops could give them a beating, or their sons and daughters or husbands and wives, when their day came. And in that neighborhood, everybody had a day, sooner or later.   
  In that decade, the 1960s, there would be many police riots besides ours. The cops would stop the beating but the violence against the squad car brought more cops who went wild; the neighbors fought back, and soon we had a small but respectable neighborhood riot on our hands. Sometimes the older cops, the ones who had been around longer, had the good sense to issue their additional beatings inside the house and away from the prying eyes of neighbors.
  After the drinking and fighting started, my father would disappear, reappear and then leave. The last time he left, in December of 1962, he kept going until he hit Bridgeport, some twenty-five miles away on Long Island Sound, where he lived for the next ten years. Without his union painter’s money, we’d go back on welfare. My mother spent her days in bed and her nights in a bar, and she stopped caring about what happened to us.



http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/0692361294/
http://amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.


Contact John:
MYWRITERSSITE.BLOGSPOT.COM
JWTUOHY95@GMAIL.COM

Sample chapter 12 from "No time to say Goodbye"



Chapter Seven


When death comes it will not go away empty. -Irish proverb


At the Salvation Army Christmas dinner, some lady kept asking where our mother or father was.
  “I don’t know,” I answered several times.
  “You don’t know?” she laughed. “Why, how could you not know?”
  She obviously had no children of her own, because anyone with kids knows you never ask a child two questions in the same sentence because it makes them paranoid, and you never laugh at a child’s answers. Above all else, children want to be taken seriously by adults.
  “Where do you think she is, sweetheart?” she asked again.
  I answered truthfully, “She could be back in Brooklyn, but Paulie says she shacked up, probably with a colored guy; I don’t know.”
 She kept asking the same stupid question and I kept giving her the best answers I could and I spoke slowly, too. I’d heard of adults like this, the slow people who talked to the angels, and I figured she was one of them, because how many times can you ask the same question and not understand the same answer?
  The last question she asked me was, “Where do you live, darling?”
“Seventeen Pond Street,” I answered.
  So we had been done in by the stupid lady at the Salvation Army. But everyone in the neighborhood knew about us. They knew that sometimes my mother locked the door to keep my father out and then disappeared herself, down to the taverns, her infants in tow. She’d drink herself into a stupor or simply forget about us and we’d return home to find ourselves locked out. We learned to cover our small fists in a shirt or coat and punch out a windowpane and let ourselves in through a window. But most times we sat patiently and waited for an adult to let us in. Sometimes we’d cry from hunger, frustration, lack of sleep, or all of those things, and, overwhelmed, go to a neighbor’s door and knock and ask for food or a place to nap or simply someplace to be where we weren’t alone. It happened a lot, and then, one day, Jimmy died and it didn’t happen anymore for a while.
  He died from spinal meningitis, a rare disease almost always caused by a bacterial infection from dirt or filth. It cloaks itself as a common cold and that’s what we thought he had, a common cold. He was less than two years old, too young to express himself and describe the other symptoms that accompany the killer, like light and sound sensitivity, confusion and delirium.
  He was a happy baby, Jimmy was. My father called him by his given name, Shamus, his granduncle’s name, old Irish for James. We were all happy that my father’s habit of naming us for past relatives ended there, because his grandfather’s name was Cornelius Aloysius Tuohy and who the hell wants a name like that to lug around, as if things weren’t bad enough already?
  We taught Jimmy to drink beer, to blow out matches, and to dance the Twist in his high chair, the same high chair we all used once, and that’s where he was on that beautiful bright morning when he died: in his high chair. He had a cold. He nodded his head and fell asleep and he never woke up again. We tried to wake him up but he wouldn’t wake up.
  We laughed about it and then my father touched Jimmy’s head and put his ear to his little chest and then pulled him from the high chair. He held him in his arms tightly, tightly, tightly and rocked him back and forth, and he closed his eyes and let out a moan so deep it scared us, and then without a word he ran with Jimmy from the house and across the bridge to Saint Mary’s, but Jimmy was dead in his arms.
  When he came back, he stood in the doorway and told my mother, “He’s dead. My little boy, he’s dead, oh Jesus Mary mother of God,” and she stood and she stared at the empty high chair and then walked into the living room and fell straight down on her knees and it must have hurt because she went down so hard, and we all watched her. Nobody made a sound and she reached up and started to pull out her hair in big red clumps and then she made fists and shook them in front of herself, but there were no words coming out of her and I was scared.
  “My boy is dead,” my father said, directly to her, and he sort of spit the words out. He didn’t yell, he just said it, but in a mean way. Then he walked up to her and bent over to her ear and yelled at her, “My boy is dead.”
  Bridget curled her fingers and started to shake, and then we were all scared because, we figured, Bridget isn’t crazy like they were, but now we thought maybe she’d finally gone crazy too.
  At the hospital, they say that Jimmy died from filth in our house and maybe he did, because Denny’s head was filled with ringworm. Our house, our clothes and all, had that dirty smell, that unique smell of poverty that permanently burns its way into your nostrils and never leaves, so you always recognize it and it’s everywhere in this world, and how awful is that?
  I don’t think it was our dirt that killed him. I think it was the water from the Mad River that killed him. On all of the streets in the Abrigada, our neighborhood, we could see the river, and you could smell it because it was filled with hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals and other waste from the dozens of factories on its trash-strewn banks.
  The factories ran seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day in those days, and poured a combination of the chemicals and industrial waste into the river. Raw sewage and the factory waste made the water turn colors. Sometimes it was a deep unnatural blue, and other days hundreds of islands of orange or yellow drifted along like some sort of grand pollution parade in celebration of industrial arrogance.
  We discovered that we could slip into the openings of the street gutters and land in the big circular cement pipes that opened on to the riverbank. In the summers, we all went down there to cool off, and we took Jimmy with us sometimes, and he played in the water and maybe he drank it—I don’t know; he probably did.
  The wake was held on Willow Street in a funeral parlor that had been the childhood home of the actor Rosalind Russell. It was the finest house we had ever been in and it made us nervous. Paulie even went out back to the parking lot to take a pee because he was too tense to go inside.   My father’s union, the house painters, paid for almost the entire funeral including the tiny bright-white casket we buried poor Jimmy in. It was a closed casket, and I, not fully grasping the meaning of death, was concerned with Jimmy’s loneliness. It troubled me that with the casket closed, as grand a casket as it was, Jimmy wouldn’t know about all the people that had come to see him off, including aunts and uncles and cousins from as far away as Brooklyn and Brockton.
  We had been in the news, and onlookers, perhaps the same ones who drove slowly past our leaning little house on Pond Street so they could stare at us, came as well. All of them brought something, just as tradition called for. There were tables of sandwiches and casseroles and sausages and meatballs with mountains of pastas and cakes. In the back room was another table, covered in a white cloth, made into a makeshift bar with a stock of liquor that would rival any of Waterbury’s taverns.
  I wish Jimmy could have seen Denny, Paulie and I dressed just like him in fire-engine-red sports coats, white shirts, red ties, black pants and two-tone bucks, just like the kind Pat Boone wore on TV.
  The wake started at three that afternoon and went on late into the night. The women, drenched in black dresses that reached their ankles, sat in the front room with my mother and Jimmy’s casket, in chairs that lined the walls, talking in hushed tones or whispering novenas over their rosaries.
  Every now and then one of the women slipped out to the back room where the men gathered in circled chairs, sipping whisky and beers and smoking Chesterfields and L&Ms. They talked about the things they had seen in the war, how the Russians were going to blow us all up, and how “this new guy,” John F. Kennedy, was “wet behind the ears” and didn’t “know his ass from his elbow,” a mental picture I found confusing but funny.
  The visiting women would have a few drinks, a little conversation and return to the main room with my mother. But, as the night wore on, more and more of them staggered down the narrow hall to the back room and didn’t return, and by the end of the evening most of them had to be carried out to their cars so they could drive home. The world was a different place back then.
  At the wake the next day, almost everyone who was there wore sunglasses—not because of the sun, because it was mid-March in Connecticut, but because they were hung over. Since it was a funeral, no one seemed really out of place.
  Jimmy’s Mass was in the same Church he was baptized in two years before. The church, built by and for the city’s Italians, was French Gothic and had a magnificent copper dome with an icon of God, complete with white beard and white robe, in the middle of it. On the side of the main hall were elaborate grottoes filled with lit votive candles. Because it was Lent, something we knew nothing about, the statues were hidden behind plush purple covers.
  “Why they got those things covered?” I asked Paulie, who didn’t know either, but he said, “They must be going out of business.”
  We buried Jimmy between my father’s parents. We were the only ones at the burial, me and Paulie and Denny and Bridget and Maura, and our mother and father. It was a brisk day, and from where we stood in the cemetery we could look down on the whole of the city. Jimmy was lowered into the ground and the very minute that his grave was covered over with dirt, the sun burst out from behind the clouds, the wind stopped, and I watched the grimness that had gripped my mother and father and Bridget over those past weeks slip away. I saw it leave as clearly as I have ever seen anything in my life. It was over. It was time to move along.   Because Jimmy’s death and its cause made the newspapers, for a few days people from other neighborhoods drove by our little leaning house on Pond Street and stared at us. The welfare people and the people from the Salvation Army brought us boxes of clothes and canned food and blankets.
  The nuns came by every morning and every night. They lived nearby in an ancient red-brick convent and we walked by sometimes and saw them strolling across the large manicured lawns, praying their rosaries or sitting in rocking chairs on the expansive Victorian veranda.
  The convent was surrounded by a tall, black wrought-iron fence, and we assumed it had been placed there for their protection, or perhaps for our protection because they had done something wrong, and were under some sort of house arrest that forced them to wear strange clothes.
  The wonderful thing about these nuns was that they always seemed to have some sort of exotic fruit available that appeared, magically, from under their long, flowing sleeves. They walked down to the fence where we stood and handed us oranges, plums, and apricots. It was a treat because in the 1950s and early 1960s fruit was still relatively expensive compared to its cost and abundance today, and we didn’t eat much of it. So the nuns were our friends and they knew our names and it was good to have them in the house.
  The person we weren’t so pleased about was the priest. One day, not long after Jimmy had passed on—that’s what the Waterbury Irish called it, passing on—the priest from the nearby parish came to our house, spoke to my mother, drank tea, and then, without asking, tacked a framed picture of Jesus Christ to our kitchen wall. I guess he assumed that we knew who Jesus Christ was and what Jesus did for a living and who his father was and all, but we didn’t know, and unless Jesus arrived with a week’s worth of groceries instead of a picture, we didn’t care either.
  So while he smiled adoringly at the picture of Jesus and saw the son of God and the savior of mankind, we saw a colorful painting of a guy dressed in different-colored blankets who didn’t look like anyone did in 1960. He had long hair and a beard. We could live with that. What troubled us was that his heart was not only exposed, it was on fire and it had the initials “INRI” tattooed on it. And he was smiling. His heart’s on fire, somebody tattooed it and he’s smiling.
  We stood there and just stared at it until Denny finally asked what was on everyone’s mind: “What the hell happen to dis clown?”
  Denny had a way of unsettling the religious. A few years later when we were in a Catholic elementary school, the nun asked the class if anyone knew any songs about foreign lands. Denny immediately raised his hand and assured the Sister he knew a great song that his father had taught him.
  Would he be kind enough to sing it to the class then? the poor woman asked.  Never stage shy, he leapt to his feet and, standing before his fellow second graders, he belted out his song in fashion that would have made Al Jolson proud:
On the other side of France
Where they don’t wear pants
All the streets are made of glass
you can see the people’s ass

 The nun stopped him before the third verse, which included a rhyme with the word “Ritz.” Although we used God’s name in vain on an hourly basis, we knew nothing of God except that he was invisible, which we liked, in much the same way that we liked watching ghost stories.
  It’s something short of amazing that we knew so little of God, since so many people seemed hell-bent on introducing him to us. They said, all of them, that God loves the poor, which we thought was stupid and figured he must not know any poor people.  They told us that if we didn’t get to know God that we would have to deal with the devil, and they’d give us graphic descriptions of him and we would think how much more fun the devil seemed to be than God. In our lives, the devil made sense.
  It’s also amazing that we knew so little of God, because in Waterbury, the City of Churches, he had outposts all over the city. But no matter how good a tactician the Catholic God was, or how well he has us surrounded, we had no interest in him because we could tell by the way adults spoke about God and church that it wasn’t a happy thing. They never smiled or laughed. Even the nuns, those happy nuns with their magically appearing fruit, lowered their voices and furrowed their brows when they spoke of him, and we figured, who needs this?
  We much preferred the God of the colored people up in the North End, the only people in the city with a church made of wood instead of granite. On Sunday mornings we could hear them sing and shout out to God in what we assumed was something akin to a weekly birthday party. The Puerto Ricans were even more fun than that. They took their statues out on parades once a year so people could tape money to them. Now those religions, we thought, those were our kind of religions.



http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/0692361294/
http://amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.


Contact John:
MYWRITERSSITE.BLOGSPOT.COM
JWTUOHY95@GMAIL.COM


Sample chapter 11 from "No time to say goodbye"



Chapter Six

 What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness. -Joseph Brodsky


    Denny and I wandered through the North Square alone because we wanted to stand outside the Negro music store and listen to Sam Cooke and Chubby Checker on the loudspeaker that played music out into the street.
  Inner-city black culture in the 1960s was distinctly different from white culture in the 1960s. What separated it most was dress. Stylish young black men wore porkpie hats, skin-tight pullover shirts, jet-black pants and black, blue or beige pointed shoes with three-inch heels. “Puerto Rican fence climbers,” we called them.
  At the corners of North Main, Summers and Hill Streets, they would stand—pose, really, outside the R&B Record Shop. Somebody had nailed an ancient loudspeaker over the store’s front door, allowing all that magnificent, pure soul music played inside the shop to pour out on to the dirty streets and wash away the factory-town gloom.
  In the summers we listened from a tiny park across the street from the record shop, waiting for a Sam Cooke record to play and watching the young men sip beer from cans in brown bags.
  Soon flocks of teenage black girls, their hair done beehive-style, came out of the apartment houses from around the neighborhood and flirted with the boys or gathered in intimate circles across the street to whisper and laugh. Sometimes they’d dance. There was a song by Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp called Slow Twistin’. It was a sensual song with erotic lyrics that didn’t have a damned thing to do with dancing.
Baby baby baby baby take it easy
Let's do it right
baby take it easy
Don't cha know we got all night
Cause there's no no twistin'
Like a slow slow twistin' with you

  America twisted to that song and in 1962, everybody in America, from the President on down to us, was doing the Twist, but I knew even then that the colored people, at least in the North End of Waterbury, twisted differently from everyone else.
  When they danced to the Slow Twistin’, man, oh, man. It reeked of sex. And even though I had only a vague notion of sex, watching them slow twist in the North End on a warm summer’s evening as the sun set, bodies twisting in deliberate slow motion without moving their feet, just a slow body wiggle, I knew there was more going on than a dance fad.
  Who needed black-and-white television with bad reception when we had this?
  Eventually a squad car prowled by, and came to a near stop, watched the dancing, and a red-faced Irish cop snarled out the window, “This look like a dance hall to youse? Get outta the goddamn street and behave yourselves.”
  The cops talked to the colored like that back then in Waterbury and they got away with it, too. That was in 1961. Six years later, a new generation of young blacks decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. One night they turned the old Italian North End into a battleground against the cops and their abuse into a race riot that lasted, essentially, two more summers, before it ended.
  One time when we were up at the North End, we found a nickel on the ground and bought us a Drake’s Cake with it. Being older—I was almost seven and Denny was closing in on six—I handled the transaction and divided the spoils.
  Denny complained, loudly, that I gave myself the larger share. “But I’m hungry,” I told him, and he said, “You’re always hungry,” and made a grab for the pastry, but I ran for it, across North Main Street. Denny chased me and was struck by a car and I watched him fly across the road and slam on to the pavement. I heard his head bounce on the road and watched his arms spread out, and saw his eyes roll back of his head. I put my hands over my eyes because it would go away if I did that and it didn’t happen. But it did happen, and his legs were broken, and once again, we went to Saint Mary’s, where the nuns knew us well.
  Every time we went there alone the Sisters sent out one of the janitors to find my mother or my father and bring one of them back to the hospital. The Sisters never called the cops because this was a family matter and all the cops would do is try to break up the family.



http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/0692361294/
http://amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.


Contact John:
MYWRITERSSITE.BLOGSPOT.COM

JWTUOHY95@GMAIL.COM

Sample chapter 10 from "No time to say Goodbye"




Chapter Five


If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. -George Bernard Shaw


  I was born in Waterbury on January 6, 1955. Called Little Christmas, or Russian Christmas, January 6 is a holiday in the Eastern Orthodox religion. In fact, we were all holiday people. My mother was born on Valentine’s Day, something my father saw as a cruel but humorous trick of fate. Paulie, named after my mother’s father, was born on Halloween, and Maura was born on Christmas Day and was brought home in a big red stocking. A few years later, on Labor Day, my brother Jimmy was born. I was named after my Father’s uncle, John Sullivan, a Boston railroad conductor. Denny was named for John Sullivan’s brother, Denny Sullivan, a Boston policeman.
  My father was the grandson of austere, hardworking, highly devout, teetotaler Irish immigrants who came to America in the late 1890s from a village in remote western Ireland. My grandfather, Patrick Tuohy, was the exact opposite of his parents, and not by mistake, I should think. He was a two-fisted, quick-tempered, committed labor socialist with a penchant for drink and hard narcotics. He was a carpenter by trade, but rarely worked steadily at his craft, or at anything else for that matter. Patrick was an interesting man who tried his hand at everything from chicken farming to politics. He briefly struck it rich in the early 1930s, when, while on a drunk, he parked his car on a railroad crossing, fell asleep and was struck by a train. He survived, but with severe damage to the brain. He sued and The New Haven Railroad assumed it was their fault and settled for six figures. He moved to Chicago, God only knows why, where he ended up serving a short prison sentence for financial finagling. Busted, he returned to the safety of his Depression-wracked working-class Irish neighborhood in Naugatuck, Connecticut, called Kelley’s Hill, because so many Irish lived there on that patch of hillside. This is where my father and his eight siblings were raised.
  My father was a handsome man with watery, soft blue eyes, who was always fit and trim. Unlike all of us, who were ruddy, he carried a darker complexion. He was the kind of handsome that people defer to. I noticed that when he spoke to women, they curled their hair in their fingers. He looked like a winner. Men held doors for him and cops let him out of speeding tickets because he had that rare ability to be almost instantly liked. People wanted to take care of him. It was fascinating to watch. People who barely knew him would smile at him and pat him on the back. I saw it but I never understood it, because, if the truth be told, he was not a particularly nice person. In fact, he barely tolerated most people, but that didn’t seem to matter when his magic kicked in.
  My father, who was also named John, was a seventh-grade dropout who served in the army in World War II as part of the Connecticut Yankee Division. He detested his father, something he told me many times over the years. He recalled him as a belligerent bully.  
  “He was a no good son of a bitch,” he’d say as we drove along in his paint truck. “Just a no good son of a bitch.”
  I never asked why he was a no good son of a bitch, because as soon as the words left my father’s  mouth, he would look into some mist of yesterday that only he could see, and disappeared into it for a few minutes. However, my father adored his mother, Helen Sullivan of Boston, whom he always described as nothing short of angelic. When she died in 1943, my father was stationed with the Military Police on Fishers Island just off the Connecticut coast. My aunts told me that at his mother’s burial, my father had a complete emotional breakdown.
  “He tried to leap right into the grave ditch with her, Johnny,” my Aunt Maggie, his older sister, told me. “It took all of us to hold him back, and then he just sat down and cried and cried.”
  I am sure it is true, but I cannot, for the life of me, see my father becoming even slightly emotional over anything, least of all the way they described him. He was not a man of great emotion or depth, at least not that I ever saw. Despite his good looks, charms, and instant likability, he was a very shallow man and not very bright.
  “Something in him shut off after she died,” Aunt Maggie whispered to me as she shook her head in that dramatically mournful way that the Irish have when discussing death.
  Maggie insisted on being called Margaret but never was. “Margaret is more high-class,” she said.  A New England spinster, she was a vicious gossip who had an uncanny and unsettling resemblance to the actor Margaret Hamilton who so brilliantly played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. The chin, the mouth, the laugh. Perhaps she was right about my father and something snapping inside of him.
  He left the military police and the safety of Fishers Island behind him, joined the infantry, and lugged a Browning automatic rifle across Europe. He won, in less than a year, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. He killed Nazis by the drove, according to the New York newspaper accounts that I read, but never once, in all of the many times he spoke of the war, did he acknowledge that he had shot anyone at all. Instead, his war stories were told and retold to me through the eyes of a small town New England kid, fascinated, scared and mesmerized by a world gone mad.
  “We used Belgian money for toilet paper,” he said once, at the dinner table, of course. 
 “You know why?” he asked.
  This was not a conversation I wanted to enter into, so I stared at my mashed potatoes and hoped it would go away.
  “You know why?” he asked my mashed potatoes.
  “No, Da. Why was that?” I said, and gave him my complete and full attention.
  He would lean back in his chair, smile that pirate smile of his, and say, “Silk—it was made with silk. Not the whole thing, but a lot of it.”
  He waited for my reply but I figured at that point it was pretty much all I needed to know about Belgian money and toilet paper.
  After several seconds he said, “It was very soft.”
  And then, wrongly assuming we had left the world of Belgian toilet paper behind us, I had started to eat again when he added, “and very wide, too.”
  At the war’s end he returned to Waterbury and worked as a union house painter, the only job he ever knew outside his brief stint as a soldier.
  My mother was born into a working-class family in Harlem, New York. Her mother, Nellie Connelly, was a hard-drinking, rebellious girl who left her native Northern Ireland in the late 1920s to work for an aunt as a chambermaid in a midtown Manhattan boarding house. But Nellie worked there only briefly, under the tyrannical Old World rule of her aunt, before being pulled away by the flashy new world of America. Within a year, she was living in Brooklyn earning her way as a housemaid.
  My mother’s father’s family were Prussian Jews, the Zellners, who arrived in upstate New York in 1832. They made a small but respectable fortune in the dry goods business and later, in the twentieth century, in high-end furniture sales. They were also instrumental in building one of the first synagogues outside New York City, in the city of Elmira, New York, a cutting-edge transportation center that counted Mr. and Mrs. Mark Twain among its summer residents.
  My grandfather, who was born Maxmillian Zellner and died as Paul Selner, but whom everyone knew as Milton, was drafted into World War I and served as one of General George Pershing’s drivers, though he didn’t know how to drive when he volunteered for the job. “I figured, ‘How hard can it be?’” he explained to me. “Nice job, and you never hear about them generals getting shot at.”
  After the armistice, he elected to stay in Manhattan instead of returning upstate, and landed a job selling men’s suits at Gimbel’s, once the largest department store chain in the country. He’d been interviewed and hired for the position by Mr. Gimbel, the son of the Bavarian immigrant who founded the chain.
  Milton, a short, stocky, swarthy man, met my grandmother, a tall, sallow redhead, at a political luncheon for young adults sponsored by Al Smith. A few weeks later he asked her to marry him, but she refused until he agreed to become a Roman Catholic. He had never practiced Judaism, so he converted without any hesitation. He was baptized at Saints Peter and Paul church in Brooklyn and given the Christian name Paul, after Saint Paul, Saul of Tarsus, the Jewish persecutor of Christian Jews—a bit heavy-handed in the symbolism, I think.
  They had eight children, seven girls and one boy, most of whom lived brief, tragic and violent lives in the slums of Brooklyn. Several drank themselves to death at an early age, as my grandmother did, only ten years after she was married. Eddie, the only son, was murdered in a fight with his daughter’s boyfriend. He was stabbed more than fifty times.
  When my mother was in her early teens, my grandfather forced her to leave school and raise her brother and sisters. Later he farmed her out as a housemaid, and eventually, he raped her.  She carried those emotional scars with her for the rest of her life and several times she tried to kill herself. Toward the end of her life, she was finally diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, a form of mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. The illness may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and it more than probably is genetic.
  She watched television late into the night or simply sat alone in the kitchen sipping tea with milk and piles of sugar. When she did retire for the evening, she rarely slept through the night. Occasionally, when the depression set in, however, she slept for hours and rarely rose from the bed at all.
  Her depression showed itself in dozens of other ways. She always had trouble concentrating, recalling things and making even simple decisions—hence her urge to seek out the opinions of those truly frightening, howl-at-the-moon crazy, God-awful creatures who surrounded us on Pond Street.
  She complained endlessly of headaches, backaches and digestive problems and her appetite could and often did range between binge eating and self-imposed starvation, all of which caused her weight to swing drastically.
  She never held a job. Although this was not unusual for many women of her generation, throughout her life she lived on welfare. She entered the hospital for virtually everything and anything, with the state paying the tab, and more than one unscrupulous doctor scheduled her for surgeries and operations she didn’t need. Eventually, and true to form for people with bipolar disorder, she developed migraines, thyroid illness, obesity, Type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
  Throughout her life, my mother’s fits of mania were breathtaking. At one moment she could be upbeat, positive, happy, and full of life and energy, talking so rapidly about moving out of the slums into a house in the country that it was nearly impossible to follow her thoughts. Then, suddenly and without warning, she flipped to the dark side and slid into a deep and frightening depression that left her overwhelmed with hopelessness.
  Although she often felt sad to the point of numbness, I don’t recall ever, not once, seeing my mother cry, even during her dark moments of depression. However, there were, apparently, constant thoughts of suicide. She made several attempts as a girl and later as a young mother. Talk of death, her own death, was a constant theme with her, no matter what the mood. The comments on death weren’t always negative, especially during her normal intervals. Rather, they were simple, off-handed comments woven into the fabric of everyday conversation.
  The depression didn’t last as long as her uncontrollable fits of temper did. Unlike the upbeat moods or the depressions, we could see the dark moods coming. She became snide and very irritable and then the violence started.
  There was another side to her, of course, as there is another side to all of us. Although almost completely uneducated, she was extremely intelligent, unlike my father. While my father’s humor was plentiful but pedestrian, and his political outlook simplistic and jingoistic, her humor was surprisingly complex, as were her political philosophies.
  By the time I was born, the grinding poverty of her life, the after-effects of her father’s rape which plagued her for many years, and the daily tensions of mothering seven children had overwhelmed her and she cracked. She suffered some sort of mental collapse and never fully recovered from it.
  In the early 1950s, my mother’s younger sister, Maureen, met my uncle Bobby when he was passing through New York on leave from the Army. They married a year later and Bobby, a native of Waterbury, moved his bride to Connecticut. A few years later my mother followed. By then, she already had two children: my eldest sister, Bridget, a redhead like my mother, whose father was a punchy Long Island boxer turned bartender named “Irish Eddie” Boyle; and my tow-headed brother Paul, who was born from a short-lived affair between my mother and a Brooklyn musician named Jimmy Welch, also an Irishman.
  My father met my mother in a downtown tavern in the early 1950s and they moved in together in 1954. They never married. They were solidly lower-class working people, poorly educated and not terribly cognizant of anything outside their world, but decent people. They were both movie-star handsome and they had many fine attributes when they were not drunk or crazy, but otherwise my parents were very different. All these years later, I do not know for the life of me what brought them together.
  My mother was a vivacious, outgoing, beautiful redhead with a thick Brooklyn accent. She was an outspoken, opinionated woman who would be heard and would not be pushed or buffaloed. My father was her exact opposite. He was happy to fit comfortably into the background. His temperament was grounded, much more so than my mother’s was, and he went out of his way to avoid confrontation.
  While my mother had a thirst for learning, respected the educated and held education in high regard, my father was not particularly inquisitive about anything. Nor was he particularly bright, something he recognized and accepted about himself. Like my mother, he was also nearly illiterate, and also like her, he enjoyed a good time far more than he should have and shared her genuine fondness for people.
  In their own way, they were both instantly likable, amiable people, happy to accept the simple things in life and with no desire to rise above their modest places in the world. I don’t believe they were together because they loved one another but rather because they hoped for what could be, and because they probably understood that oftentimes even the tiniest bit of hope can create the birth of love.


http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Say-Goodbye-Memoir/dp/0692361294/
http://amemoirofalifeinfostercare.blogspot.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.


Contact John:
MYWRITERSSITE.BLOGSPOT.COM

JWTUOHY95@GMAIL.COM