There was a guy in the neighborhood who everyone knew as Albert who lived up the street from me. Albert was what we then called retarded as he had mental as well as physical disabilities. As Albert was in some ways much younger in mind than his biological age(20’s) he would do things that some would consider childlike. One of the things that Albert would like to do is to set up a bunch of those Green plastic army men at the bottom of his yard and he would kneel down and bomb them with dirtballs. Well, one day Johnny Allenbaugh and I were hanging out behind his house in the big alley that faced St. Benedict’s Street across from the churchyard. As we were standing around, David Gorman came walking over and started laughing and said something like “hey watch this”. The next thing we knew he pulled something out of his pocket, lit what looked like a Cherry Bomb fireworks and tossed it over into Albert’s yard. Before we even heard the sound of the explosion, we all took off running over to St. Benedict’s Churchyard laughing as we were running picturing Albert’s Green army men flying in all directions as if they were hit by a ‘bomb’.
We had stopped running as we were about half way into the churchyard still laughing hysterically when around the corner comes Albert swinging a belt and looking like he was ready to use it on all of us. I should explain that Albert had one arm that was useless as it hung by his side, but the other arm was like that of a serious bodybuilder, all muscle. We all took off running down towards Wilkens Avenue ducking down below the wall, hoping that he wouldn’t spot us. Well, unfortunately for me he honed in on my position and started heading straight for me. I broke for my house down Wilkens Avenue towards Brunswick Street with my feet hardly touching the ground. Albert was very fast, but knowing that he was behind me swinging that belt with that huge buckle made me run that much faster. Fortunately, Albert couldn’t negotiate turns very well as I took the corner at Pinky’s bar without slowing down while Albert had to come to an almost complete stop. This allowed me enough time to get to my house on Brunswick St, but to my horror, the storm door was locked.
As Albert started closing in on me, I began to bang on the door furiously and screaming, “mom, let me in, Albert’s going to kill me”. Well after what seemed like an eternity, my mother came to the door just before Albert got there. He started telling my mother what had happened as she tried to calm him down. Fortunately, Albert listened to “Miss Chris” as he called her, and my life was spared from certain painful punishment. I don’t believe Albert remembered much of what happened that day because I ran into him from time to time and he never brought up the matter. Perhaps his memory was very limited and for that, I’m forever grateful.
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