HELLO AMERICA!  Growing up in a small town outside of Philly, life was nothing like the Hollywood, I eventually invaded as a young boy who was set on nothing but winning, no matter what it took.

When reminded by students who read my book how it all began, they stress the many achievements I’ve had and I quickly reveal some of the darker sides, ones that shaped me as an artist and generally, a human being.  I quickly let them know that my father, was an angry, brutal man who was bitter of his inability to achieve his dreams which resulted in his latching on to a bottle of whiskey in order to survive nearly each and every day.  At the top of his alcohol high, that’s when he turned into a man of no feeling and found any excuse to attack my mother or myself but fortunately, he didn’t pounce on my younger sisters and brothers.  Of course, I became an easy victim because when he began beating and terribly bruising my mother I attempted to protect her, and it gave him an excuse to extend the abuse and anger on me, too. So, both my mother and I became victims of his anger, terribly bloodied and emotionally empty.

During my many years attending a college or university, most of my dorm-mates often wondered why I didn’t join in their “beer” or alcohol celebrations.  The reason would have been easy if I had informed them why I have generally turned off alcohol because when I was six years old, I was raped by a man who was called “Big Ben” and my father who was close by, downing a bottle of whiskey and observing every move Ben was making. The more I yelled for help from my father, it seemed the more he gulped down the whiskey. Once I was in the Out-House, I cried out for help and he ignored me, Ben left on the floor bloodied and seriously in pain. When I was finally able to crawl back to our house, my father was nowhere to be found.  I was suffering from pain nearly two weeks physically. I was too ashamed to tell my mother what happened.  Then too, she had just given birth to my youngest brother. To enhance the nightmare, two weeks later, I witnessed Big Ben being stabbed through the heart with a knife.

The scene was locked in my memory, causing me to wet the bed, I began to stutter terribly and I didn’t enjoy anyone hugging or embracing me in any way.  I refused to mix with the other young people at school and this lasted through nearly all of elementary school.  My father’s abuse of my mother became worse, so much so, I was forced to repeat the third grade which meant that my sister and I would graduate at the same time during our early education experience. 

One night during my mother’s last pregnancy, I watched my father throw my mother down a staircase and she nearly lost the baby.  That’s when I decided that something had to be done, otherwise, he would cause her death.  So, I knew where he kept his gun and I waited for him to come home because I also knew that he would be drunk.  He did, and when I checked he was asleep and took the gun and quietly went into his room and stood there.  When all the misery he had caused, flashed in my mind from the day I was born, I raised my hand to pull the trigger and suddenly felt a firm hand on my arm.  It was my mother who said quietly but firmly, “Don’t Sonny, you’d regret it down the road, believe me. Give me the gun.”

When releasing the trigger, giving the gun to my mother, tears streamed down my face.  Our eyes locked and she quietly ordered me to go to bed and not think of anything like this again. I did and it was never mentioned as she insisted. 

Michael St. John