You can consider this a GTKY, a reflection on life, or a public service announcement, it matters little. What matters is the message….
Many, many moons ago, when I was say 17, I had a brother. He was the so-called “troubled child” in the family and growing up little was said in my presence about him. He was 13 years older than me and had spent his fair share of time in and out of the justice system. As a matter of fact, I can’t ever remember him spending an evening at home. Stealing cars, dealing pot, raising hell in the neighborhood, that was his gig. He started to run with the local chapter of Hell's Angels and things, well, let's just say that they didn’t turn out all that well. We finally started to get to know each other though random meetings on the streets of Brooklyn. It was cool.
Picture this. The year is 1976 and yours truly is having the time of his life. My brother was tooling around the neighborhood on an old bike made by the Indian Motorcycle Company that he had lovingly restored. (For any of you motorcycle enthusiasts out there, you know what a big deal that was.). Anyway, he’d be wearing his colors and come roaring up the block and pull up to where me and my friends were hanging out. Sometimes he’d ask me if I wanted to go for a ride and you shoulda seen the look of envy on my friends faces as we took off. Usually the rides didn’t take us that far or go that long, maybe an hour or two at best. When we parted company, I was always given a little gift as a sign of our brotherhood.
I think it was in March of that year, my senior year in high school, that me and some of my friends decided to skip school, hang out at my house, and take advantage of one of my brothers aforementioned gifts. It was about noon and we weren’t there long when a knock came on the door. I just about freaked when I opened the door and there were two uniformed police standing in front of me.
I thought to myself, “Oh shit, I’m so fuckin’ busted”. So many thoughts crossed my mind in that nanosecond that I almost pissed my pants. Jail, school, job, future, parents, you name it, it went flying through my head.
It seems the cops weren’t there for me at all. I’ll try and reconstruct the dialogue as best I can.
Cop: “Your parents home?”
Borgo nervously : “No officer” (I was then and still am now scared shitless of the police)
Cop: ”Where are they?”
Borgo: “At work.”
Cop: “When they gonna be home?”
Borgo: “Around six.”
It’s at this point where I think the cop didn’t know what to do. He told me to stay where I was and went off to consult with his partner. Upon his return…
Cop: "You got a brother named (insert name here)?”
Here’s when the panic really sets in. What the fuck did he do now? Did he get busted? Did he drop his bike and get himself hurt? Is he in jail? How come this shit always happens to me? Damn, damn, damn!
Cop: “He’s dead. You better call your parents.”
Cop: “He killed himself a couple of blocks from here.” You better call your parents.”
Shock. I didn’t know what the fuck to do. I called my sister who lived four states away and told her of the circumstances. Then I called my folks and broke the news. They came home and it was off to the morgue where both my father and I identified the body. A bullet to the head did the trick.
As it turns out, the reason my brother killed himself was over a forgery rap. It seems he had forged a signature on a credit card in order to get gas for his bike. I think the bill was something like $7.00 or some shit like that. It didn’t matter, forgery was a federal offense and given his past record I think he was staring at a five to seven year sentence. He wasn’t going back…
Turns out the son of a bitch was married too. Nobody in my family, not even me, knew it until the day of the funeral. His wife produced the papers and was given the right to dispose of his body as she saw fit. Given my brothers lifestyle, it came as no surprise that he didn’t have a will. The funeral itself was odd to say the least. You had somber family members, friends and neighbors all dressed their Sunday best. Then you had some members of Hells Angels, all of them in their colors, and a bunch of other assorted characters. To say it was weird would be a massive understatement.
So, what became of (insert name here). My brothers wife determined that he would be cremated. This didn’t raise too many hackles in my family until she revealed what she was going to do with the ashes. It seems that his ashes would be dipped in buckets of paint and applied to the motorcycles of those friends that he held so near and dear. Apparently, this was meant to signify that he “would be on the road forever.”
Why do I tell you all of this?
For starters, if there is such a thing as a defining moment in ones life, I think this one belonged to me.
My home life, not the best as it was, turned to shit. My father, a drinker to start with, turned deeper to the bottle. He started to compare me with my brother and it wasn’t long afterwards that he mentioned that he thought that I was “gonna turn out just like him.”. My mother, always quiet, had even less to say. My friends, they tried their best but nobody knew what to do. Me, I was lookin’ for a way out. College, even though I managed a 1200 on the SATs, was out of the question. The funeral costs sucked most of that money away. I had no job either. Life fuckin’ sucked.
A couple of weeks later I marched into a recruiting office and tried to join the Marines. Since I was still only seventeen I had to get my parents permission. Hey, no problem there, I think they were happy to see me go. So happy in fact, that a week after I graduated high school and was off to Parris Island, my father didn’t even bother to get out of bed to wish me luck. I never went back. How I got to where I am today often times seems like a blur.
You’re probably still asking yourself, who cares, why the hell is he telling us this?
Well, I read a lot in the news today about depression and suicide and whenever I do, I can’t help but think of my brother. It’s going on damn near 30 years and I still can’t get it out of my head. Maybe I coulda done something, maybe, maybe maybe. One thing I know for sure, I’ll live with that doubt for as long as I’m around. If my brother was around today, I don’t even know if we’d have that much in common. I would have hoped he’d have changed his ways but I guess a tiger has to wear his stripes. Either way, I hope he found what he was looking for.
I’d leave him with this thought though. Never underestimate the impact you have on your fellow human beings. The life you're fucking with may not be your own. While I think I’m okay these days, I’m always left wondering what might have been.
Good night (insert name here)
Source: Life itself