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ANOTHER STORY BY DON NOYES MORE HERE

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TONY

By: Dr. Don Noyes-More Ph.D.

For Every Lost Boy

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Image: Gary Larsen

Fifteen is a very difficult time for most boys. All of a sudden you’re a new person in life. You are a young sculptor with clay, creating.

Tony had a mop top of black hair. He was slender, tall, and Italian. Tony wandered. He never seemed to have just one home. Dinner time was his favorite time to knock at the door. We would set a dinner plate for him. He seemed to just belong.

Tony and I were friends. Yet I really can’t even remember a complete conversation with him, I’m sure we had them but that was not part of how Tony communicated with people. He communicated by placing himself in your life and you had to learn the rules. His talking was done in short phrases always followed by a shy smile. He had no problem showing up on a Friday night at 1 AM knocking at my bedroom window. I’d open the window and help pull him through and the next thing would be “Well, here I am!”

“Where have you been?” I’d ask.

“Around, thought I’d get stoned but no money.” Tony was one of only a few persons I knew that even spoke about drugs much less took drugs. I never saw him actually do “it” but I saw him pretty messed up at parties. He never danced or got loud he just would sit there staring into space. It wasn’t an experience I wanted to share with him. My friend Jeannie thought he was “way out.” “Tony’s a stoner,” Jeannie would tell people. I suppose he was, but it didn’t seem to enter much into our friendship. He kept it away from me.

One day Tony was missing from school. That night I called his house, his Uncle Mario answered and said Tony was in a detention home. “Tony got tossed into a detention home?” I thought to myself in total disbelief! This was not the sort of thing that happened in our community. I tried to pry answers as to why Tony got tossed into what I thought of as jail.

Uncle Mario just kept saying, “What the hell good are kids?”

Nice guy. I had no idea why Tony was there nor did any friends of ours. He was just there. Later Tony told me it was due to hitting his dad. His dad called the police on him. Over the six months he was in the home, I was the only one to write him. He wrote backwith, “I’m doing good, hope it’s going good with you. School here stinks,” and things like that. He always signed his notes, “Love you, Tony.” He thought of me as family but at the time I really didn’t fully understand the feelings behind his words. To me he was just, “Crazy Tony.” But he was special to me. Tony finally returned home, returning to his large extended Italian family.

His grandparents and other family members lived with his family in a sprawling white, two story house. A family compound of sorts. His grandpa had a putting green in the backyard and could be seen there any day with a large cigar in mouth puffing and putting away. His grandfather had a real way with English. “Hey, fuckin’ shutta you mouth. I’m putting you bastard!” Tony hated that putting green and sabotaged it twice that I knew of. His dad beat him pretty badly once for putting a thin layer of petroleum jelly over the surface of the putting green. Tony had a creative mind.

One night after being beat by his father, Tony came over to my house. He was just standing below the window hitting it with his hand. I pulled him up into the room. He had welts all over his back and bruises on his arms. He sat on my couch, sitting with tears in his eyes. “You’re my only friend, Donnie!” he said through tears. He stayed the night sleeping curled up next to me.

A week later about 1 AM I heard a knocking on my window and knew who it was – Tony. I pulled him through the window but this time he had a duffel bag in hand.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the duffel bag?
“I’m cutting out and wanted to see if you’d come.”
“I don’t want to run away. How you gonna live?” I answered. Tony said, “I have two hundred dollars on me, that’ll keep me 
until I get a job. I took it from my savings. I’m get’in outta here.” There was no reasoning with him. “Stay tonight. You can leave tomorrow,” I said, thinking he would change his mind by morning. Tomorrow would be better. We climbed into bed together and he started crying hard. He rolled over and put his arm around me and his head on my shoulder. I said nothing. I understood.

He kissed me on the cheek. I brushed his hair from his face and said, “It’s gonna be OK, honest.” We slept like that for the rest of the night.

The morning was overcast and chilly for Los Angeles. Tony got dressed. “I’ll send you a ticket to visit when I get a job.”

“Where you going?” I asked.
“I da’no, someplace, maybe Frisco or New York.” He walked 
over to me and hugged me. “I love you Donnie.” He climbed out the window and said: “See ya!” I watched as he lit a cigarette and walked out the back yard, duffel bag over his shoulder.

Three months later I got a postcard from New York City, “Having a great time. Coming home to visit. See you then, Tony.”

I remember wondering about what his parents must think of all this. “Don’t they care? How could he be in New York?” This was all confusing.

One Friday a few weeks later I was home when the phone rang. It was Tony. “I’m home. I’ll come by tonight.” I waited up late – no Tony. Then about three in the morning I heard a stumbling outside my window. I looked out. It was Tony taking a piss on the side of the house. There he was, all smiles looking up at me. I held my hand out and helped pull him up though the window like always. From the look on his face and his odd speech I could tell that he was really messed up. Once in my room he started rambling on about New York and all these people he met there. I realized Tony was very stoned. After a half hour of lurid stories about life in New York City I put him into bed and we slept.

I woke up the next morning with Tony’s head on my shoulder. Once he woke, he was up with a shot. Tony thought it funny to push me on the floor. A pillow fight ensued and bed covers, sheets, and clothes were flying everywhere. My stepmom came in and yelled at us to “Shut up!” We finally took a shower and got dressed. I was ready for breakfast but Tony was moving on for the day.

“Why don’t ya stay for breakfast?”

“Naw, I’ll see ya later,” he said. “Life’s a blast, really bitch’in!” he said with a smile. “See ya later Donnie,” he said as he messed my hair up again. He walked out the front door pulling on his brown leather jacket. This was one of the few times he walked out the front door. At the time it seemed odd.

I waited that night for the sound of Tony outside the window. It didn’t come. I finally fell asleep with the light on just in case he showed up. I waited all the next day. It was going to be Tony’s birthday in a day, and I wanted to be with him. Maybe we would go party at the beach with friends. I called his parents house the next night. There was no answer. I thought “God, he’s still out getting laid and stoned.” I called the following day many times and finally got his Uncle Mario. He told me that Tony had died from an overdose of Seconal pills the night before. He died one day before his sixteenth birthday. I didn’t go to the funeral. His friends were not invited. I sat for days in my bedroom waiting for the sound of Tony at my window, leaving the light on at night so he knew I was there, waiting.

I still have two of Tony’s letters, postcards, and also a note he stuck in the sill of my window one morning, “Donnie, came by with Jim – you weren’t here, you going out tonight? Tony.” I read the letters, notes, and cards every few years.

“Can you help me remember how to smile Make it somehow all worthwhile
How did I ever get so jaded
Life’s mystery seems so faded”

Runaway Train Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union 

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