"I remember my first psychedelic experience. It was in January of 1965. We were at Danny's house and Danny had just gotten back from one of his customers. He smelled of sex, shame and something else I couldn't put my finger on. We were all alone in the house. We had fell asleep from harmonizing all day. When I awoke I saw nothing but colors around me. I couldn't recognize a thing. All I heard were voices. After a few hours the drugs when the drugs wore off I saw sugar cubes in front of me I looked at the others and they looked at me. I asked him if we did what I think we did and Danny confirmed it with a smile. Although we were very young we did it with each other and we trusted each other. That's where the inspiration of Psychedelic Firefly came from. Alvin said that it was his first time too and that when they lived in New York was already doing it but he never done to him."
"I started questioning if he had done anything to Alvin sexually and he shivered in disgust and said that he hoped not. Danny said that gay people creeped him out and that if anyone of them liked him he would kick their ass. I told Danny that gay people couldn't help what they liked even if the person was straight. He said that he didn't care and that if they know their straight they should back off and find someone else. Sometimes I wondered about Danny's intelligence and I outright asked him if he was gay. Everyone stopped and looked at me. He said hell no and asked where I got that accusation from. I told him that even though he's prostituting himself he could choose to turn down male clients. Alvin and Deena agreed and Danny said that male clients paid more and weren't attached like women. I said even still you could choose the type of client despite pay. He said since it was for survival he chose male clientele instead."
"We resumed walking with Danny glaring at me. On the thirty-first we celebrated Danny's eleventh birthday. Deena bake a cake, I made dinner and Alvin went home to bring his gifts. He wanted to cry I could sense it and asked him if wanted to cry and he said no. He just ate dinner and opened his presents. He mumble a thank you and we ate dinner with him. We didn't' do any rehearsing for the next two weeks due to loads of homework from Ms. Murphy. That February on the fifth we went on a field trip to the history museum. Deena fought a classmate that pushed her into a glass artifact and the girl thought she was in the wrong. I for one was proud of Deena because she was the sweetest out of the four of us with Alvin being second. That Monday we had to write a one page paper on what we found interesting about the museum. Deena wrote a three page paper drenched in detail."
"I didn't care for history but I took pride in my work. I got an eighty-eight on my report. Throughout the week we wrote songs and rehearsed on Danny's new electric guitar. We had by this time established a close friendship although Danny wouldn't admit until a few years later. At the end of February we rehearsed a song Deena wrote called Flying Nightingale and I sang the lead. I was so into it that I reached a note that I never hit before, it was amazing. I wasn't overdoing it but you could tell I was feeling the lyrics. We sang it in open harmony. I sang lead while the others sang on background vocals. It was the first time I took the lead over Alvin. In March we were assigned to due an individual project on the spring season. I did a poster board and discussed allergies and the events that occurred during that time. We were given a week on it and when I presented Ms. Murphy was blown away. She thought that I would do something more toned down. I figured since it was the last grade before marking period why not end with a spectacular presentation."
"During recess students discussed their plans for spring break. Alvin told us that he and his mother was going to Annapolis, Maryland to visit his paternal grandparents. He said it was so exciting because it will be the first time he met and also he could find out more about his father. I felt that Alvin, Danny and I had a lot in common especially Alvin and Danny. Both Alvin's died while he was an infant and Danny's fathers died before he was born.Deena and I had our fathers despite them being inactive in our lives. Danny said that with or without him we were going to rehearse. I said if we were going to skip over his parts and Deena and I would sing ours. He said he would sing Alvin and his own parts. Alvin innocently asked if he felt comfortable singing his parts since he was a baritone. Danny said it wouldn't hurt to try. Alvin said that he could arrange to fit his range and Danny said he knew that and said that's what he planned on doing from the start."
"Alvin sarcastically said mmhmm and said that if he was going to arrange it to fit his rang why would he chance it and try to sing in his range. Danny told him to shut up and Alvin and I laughed at him. I asked Deena if she was leaving for spring break and she said no but her parents were going to Florida. I asked why they never invite her anywhere and she said because their ashamed of her. We all fell silent and Alvin balled up his fist and looked at Deena angrily. He asked her and she said she didn't know. Danny asked if she ever thought about running away. She said she would never do anything so idiotic because it would be pointless because she would end up back at her parents house. Danny said he did and it worked. Alvin said that you got away on train and what worked for him may not work for her. Despite the harsh treatment Deena received she still loved her parents unconditionally."
"Danny said that she was a better person than him and asked how did people love someone that treated them like garbage. Alvin sighed and said that at the end of the day they were family and they have to go home to them not their friends so you learn how to cope with them. Danny just snorted and looked out into the distance with his arms around his knees. Recess ended and we headed back inside for class. The day had gone by and we were released for break. Danny, Deena and I didn't go anywhere and we rehearsed as planned. Danny rearranged the material to fit our voices. Although we were singing acoustically the harmonies were beautiful and Deena and I sang as if Alvin were still there. The following Tuesday morning at Danny's he and I began brawling because he got in my face and said I sounded like a washed up whale. Deena didn't do anything to break us up because she was frightened by the violence."
"I think she also felt that we needed to get our anger out of our systems and physicality was the best solution. After we finished brawling Deena and I left. She asked if we would ever find common ground and I told her that I hoped so. We brawled for most of the week. I found it strange that she would be the peacemaker when it came to fights between us but submitted when it came to Danny's leadership. As I walked to the veranda I thought about Alvin. I hoped that his flight was safe. He came back at seven the next night. He showered and met us at Danny's house. We rehearsed several songs. While doing this Alvin lost his voice. Danny asked him why he stopped and he said he lost his voice. Being the insensitive jerk he was Danny coerced Alvin into continuing. I didn't stand for that and I told Alvin he needed to take a rest. Danny asked me what the hell my problem was. I told him that it was him and he immediately took offense. I told him that maybe Alvin had gotten sick in Annapolis and it messed with his voice. Danny sighed heavily and said he didn't care."
"Deena and I looked at him in disbelief. Danny said and that if we wanted stardom we'd rehearse in any condition. I defiantly told Danny no and that Alvin's health was more important. Danny looked at Deena who looked away from him scaredly. He looked back at me with his arms folded and walked off. I shook my head and walked over to the couch and sat next to Alvin. He looked horrible but he didn't want us to worry about him. I asked him if he needed medicine he shook his head yes. Deena and I walked him home. When we arrived at his house Jason opened the door. We asked if his mother was home and he gave some smartass comment. I gave Alvin to Deena and pushed passed him and Deena aided Alvin inside. Their mother came out of the kitchen and greeted us. We greeted her and she rushed over to get Alvin."
"We told her that his voice sounded terrible when we were singing and that Danny had forced him to keep singing. She thought that was a mean thing to do and took him upstairs to his bedroom. When she was out of earshot I turned to Jason with daggers in my eyes. I told him to never give me smartass comment like that again. He answered back by asking if I kissed my mother with my mouth. I gritted my teeth and told him that wasn't important. He said that it was because in a situation like this I should've been more cordial to him. I told him that his brother was sick and he needed immediate medical attention. He chuckled and said its always been about him and that his mother favors him. I told him that his mother loved them both the same and that she hates his behavior. He shot me down and told me to shut up because I don't live with them. I countered by saying that no I didn't live with them but she talked a great deal about him."
"Jason turned his back and walked out of the house. I knew he didn't believe but it was true. I knew because every time I helped my mom cook she would talk to Alvin's mother about Jason. She said that he could be sweet but it was rare. I just shook my head and turned my attention to Alvin's mother who was coming downstairs. Deena and I took each others hands. Deena asked if he was going to be alright. She said yes and that he needed a few days of rest. Deena closed her eyes and placed her right hand on her chest with relief.I smiled and said thank goodness. She then invited us for dinner. We politely declined and said we needed to head home. She said okay and walked us to the door. She told us to be careful as walked down the sidewalk. We smiled and told her we would and to have a goodnight. As Deena and I were walking we discussed Danny's behavior. Deena said she couldn't believe how he acted today. I said I wasn't shocked because Danny was just naturally a jerk to people friend or not. Deena said that she hopes Danny's personality gets better because he had good friends in his corner that deals with his mean ways."
"I laughed and said that hopefully he can live to see Good Friday with the kind of mouth he has. We both laughed. I then asked her why she allowed Danny to treat her harshly during rehearsal. She said that since she had the lowest voice out of the four of us background vocals would be best. I called bullshit and said that just because she had a low voice doesn't mean she couldn't resonate a high power when she sang. Deena sighed and said that Danny must have saw something in her musically since she was in the group. I had said that that's true but we were friends before we were a band and that it appeared to me he didn't have much respect for her. She looked at me shocked that I would I say such a thing. She said that she begged to differ and she said that if that was the case then he should've hated me. I told her he knows that I'm going to say something regardless so he tries to stay out of my way. I referenced how earlier in the week how we brawled with one another and things started calming down afterwards."
"Deena made an o motion with her mouth and said that made a lot of sense." I told her I was going to tell Danny what we talked about tomorrow and she said groovy. We reached my street and we hugged each other and parted ways. I walked down my sidewalk and she crossed the street. I walked for a few minutes and when I made it home I saw a car in the driveway. I didn't know who it could've belonged to and walked inside. When I entered the foyer I saw my uncle Albert and his boyfriend Brad. I ran over to him and gave him a big hug. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was fine. I asked Brad the same thing and he said he was never better. I sat in between them and my mother came into the foyer with a tray of tea on it. I greeted her as she placed them on the table. She greeted me back and asked how my day was doing and said fine and vice versa. She said hers was okay and when uncle Albert had came put the icing on the cake."
"Uncle Albert smiled and said that he just drove from Maryland to here. His boyfriend said that he was pissed on the way here because of the way people were driving. My mom laughed and asked how grandma was and he said she's doing okay and that her dementia was progressing a little quicker than before. He said that she thought he was my grandfather. My mom looked sad commenting that she wanted to see her but has to work for the next two months. Uncle Albert said he understood and said that Ellen and the others didn't even come when he was there. My mom suck her teeth and said that she wasn't surprised. Uncle Albert then said that they never come to see her even when she begs and that it shouldn't get to the point where she has to beg. She's your mother for Pete's sake. Its an automatic given that a child is there for their parents. She said that she had a legitimate reason. Brad said he understood but the others were self employed and could take off anytime they wanted to.."
"I was brought out of my thoughts when my mother told us it was dinner time. We all walked to the diningroom and sat at the table. My mother brought out two plates and sat them before Uncle Albert and Brad. She then returned a few moments later with my and her plate. Brad said that he wished my grandfather would've lived to taste my moms cooking. Carol agreed as she poured lemonade in our glasses. When she sat down she blessed the food and we began eating. Brad asked me how my grade were and I said they were fine. I told him that averaged a eight-nine in science, a seventy-five in math, a ninety in reading, a ninety-four in history and and a eighty-one in spelling. He clapped and congratulated me on my current success. I thanked him as I cut into my baked steak. My mother said told them that my friends and I formed a vocal quartet. Uncle Albert looked at me with excitement. He told me that we needed costumes to give him a call. I thanked him and said we would when we hit it big. For the rest of dinner we discussed grandma Valery. They said that my aunt Ellen had planned on placing her in a nursing home but my mom intervened and kept her at Cashmere Hill. After dinner Brad and I washed dishes while my mom uncle Albert talked in the livingroom."
"I asked Brad how he and my uncle met. He blushed and said they met back in 1956 when they were at University of Maryland at Ella Mona. They were in English five and had to work together on a project. Brad said he wasn't as smart as Albert but nonetheless they completed the assignment. After the project they didn't talk for several months until September and Albert was at a birthday party for one of his close friends. Through mutuality they met again and talked. This time they weren't shy to be around each other and became friends. Both of their friends except for the birthday boy was against it for obvious reasons. Despite that they remained friends and entered courtship in April 1957. Around that time Brad met me when I was only two years old. He held me and took a picture with me in his arms. In 1962 they moved to Michigan and wanted to get married a few months later in July of that year. They were denied the right to because of their gender. So after that they returned to Michigan and lived in a one bedroom condominium."
"When we finished the dishes I wiped down the stove and counters and we walked into the livingroom. We saw my mother and uncle going through a family photo book when they were kids. We sat down next to them and saw them. There was one where they were preteens and teens except for my aunt Karen and uncle Ricky and Albert. They were sitting on the porch of their childhood mansion Cashmere Hill. My mother looked upset and so does aunt Ellen. From what my mother told me she and Ellen got into a fight earlier that day and mom beat her up. They were lined up from oldest to youngest. My aunt Ellen was the oldest daughter and child. Then it was Holly, La'Donna, my mother, Karen, Ricky and Albert. I told my mother and uncle Albert that maybe grandma and grandpa wanted at least one picture of them before they killed each other. They both laughed and said they thought so too. But as it turned out we're all alive we're just divided into two teams."
"The next one was a picture of my aunt La'Donna and mother when they were sixteen and fifteen. They were nightclub singers at the Slidestone. I thought they looked so stunning. Mother said one night after they finished performing grandpa and grandma were in the audience and aunt La'Donna started apologizing when she saw them. He let them go and said that if they left without telling them again they wouldn't live to see another day. I laughed because I never thought of aunt La'Donna as the frightening type. My mother said she feared my father not because she was literally afraid but because she knew he meant business when it came to rules and punishment. The next picture we saw was a picture of aunt Ellen, my mother and Karen together. Mother commented that she didn't want to take the picture but grandpa insisted. He always wanted a picture of the oldest, middle and youngest daughters together. She said she only did it because she didn't want to disappoint him. That was one of few pictures of my mother and aunt Ellen and Karen together."
"My uncle Albert said that my aunt Ellen believed that grandpa favored my mother because she could sing and dance while Ellen could only dance. My mother said that grandpa treated them equally. He also gave them nicknames. Ellen was named Apple because she was the oldest. Holly's was Doll because her face reminded her father of porcelain. La'Donna was named Don in short for her name." My mother was named Rebel because she fought a lot. My aunt Karen was named Lyricist because she always wrote poems. Uncle Ricky was named Sport because he excelled in athletics and sports and uncle Albert was named Einstein because of he was an academic prodigy. All of my aunts and uncles liked there names and they acted their names out every day of the week as my uncle Albert claims. The next picture was met with silence. It was a picture of grandma, uncle Albert, aunt La'Donna and my mother surrounding grandpa the day before he died."
"I asked my uncle Albert where aunt Ellen, Holly, Karen and uncle Ricky were at the time. He said they were at a party. I asked what were they doing partying when grandpa was at home dying. My mother said that as Ellen put it daddy got what deserved after all his years of neglecting them and tending to my mother, aunt La'Donna and uncle Albert. He looked a little pale but nonetheless healthy. Grandpa had his arm around grandma. Mother was on his right with her forearm on his left knee, uncle Albert was under his left arm. Lastly aunt La'Donna was on the opposite side of my mother. They all were sad but hid it with smiles. It was just so selfish that my other aunts and uncle weren't there for grandpa when he needed them. They didn't even attend his funeral because grandma threw them out days before. Mother said that grandpa's body wasn't present because he didn't want people to see him in a coffin."
"Uncle Albert and my mother sang at the funeral. It was painful but bearable. Uncle Albert eased the pain by singing optimistically. My mother sang a song called Father Your Still Here. It had a jazzy yet gospel feel to it. Mother hated church and only attended for weddings and funerals if she knew them. For the rest of the album were pictures of my mother alone with my father. My mother pulled the pictures out and ripped them up. None of us questioned her reason for we all knew why and we closed the photo album. At nine that night we bid uncle Albert and Brad a safe drive back to Michigan. When we got back inside I went upstairs took a bath and showered. I hoped Alvin was healing well and everything. That next day we wrote songs and rehearsed.I told Danny what Deena and I had discussed the previous day and Danny just stared at us."
"I told him I wasn't one for talking about someone behind their backs and neither was Deena. He asked if there was something wrong with him. I knew Deena was afraid to vocalize so I told him yes and that he needed to stop being such an asshole to those around him. He just flew off the handle and I cursed him out. After that we began rehearsing but stopped during the first forty-five minutes because Danny said we couldn't hit the notes Alvin could. So we left and went to check on Alvin leaving Danny alone in his funk. When we got there we found out he had strep throat and a fever. His mother was distraught and worried. Deena sat next to her and placed a comforting hand around her shoulder. I rushed upstairs to Alvin's bedroom and saw Jason standing over his bed. I told him to leave the room kindly. He snarkily mouthed the words hell no. I came in and shoved him out of the room. I didn't care if he lived there or not Alvin needed rest. I sat on the right side of Alvin's bed and held his hand."
"I told him that we needed him because Danny wouldn't let Deena and I sing his part. I told him I cursed out Danny because he didn't feel confident enough in Deena and I's voices which pissed us both off. He didn't stir at all and I just smiled with optimism and told him to get well soon. I looked up to see Deena standing in the doorway. I asked where Alvin's mother was and she walked in and said that she was in her room crying. I nodded my head in understanding and she asked me how Alvin was. I told her he wasn't progressing in the least. She came over and sat on the opposite side and took his hand. We stayed with Alvin until noon and left. We didn't feel like dealing with Danny so we walked down to Jade Monopoly. When we arrived Cody was serving soft drinks. When we got to the bar he jokingly said that Jade Monopoly was a teen bar. I smiled and told him we knew that but didn't care and that we wouldn't cause trouble. I ordered a Harley Coaster which was cola and lemon lime mixed together."
"It originated from my hometown of Harley Beach, Rhode Island. Deena ordered a simple pineapple soda. We each gave him five cents. He took them and went to the kitchen. While Cody got our drinks together I turned and looked out into the dinging area. I saw a boy onstage reciting a poem. From what I could make out it sounded serene with a depressing tinge. When he finished people applauded him and he scurred offstage. I assumed he had stagefright and smiled. I turned back around and Cody came out with our drinks. He said that he doesn't see us around Jade Monopoly much anymore. I said that we were experiencing a few things within our circle. He didn't pry and asked if we still were polishing up on our harmony and I said it was coming along slowly but surly. He then gave his attention to Deena. He asked her if she still had an inferiority complex with her voice. She said yes and felt that Danny had contradicted himself. Cody on asked how so sounding interested."
"Deena explained that Danny told her two years prior that her voice was a key factor to our harmony yet now he wouldn't her sing Alvin's part. Cody said that if Danny appreciated her he would let her sing. He then followed up with asking where Danny and Alvin were. I said that Danny was being a pissy baby and Alvin was sick. He gave his condolences and asked what was wrong with Danny. I told him that I cursed him out because he disrespectfully said that Deena and I couldn't hit the notes that Alvin could. Cody said that he would've done the same thing because not everyone is meant to sing high. We conversed with Cody for the next two hours and headed to Danny's. When he opened the door he still looked angry but let us in. I ignored him and we walked into his livingroom. He didn't even bother to ask how Alvin was doing. He just walked to the kitchen and popped open a soda can. I looked at Deena in disbelief and she just shrugged her shoulders letting me know that Danny was being Danny. We walked into the kitchen and asked him what he had done since we left."
"He said that he played his guitar and worked on songs. He told us whenever Alvin returned that he would tell us how our voices would be arranged. I said that he couldn't work Alvin right away and he said that he was his tenor and that he would work him as he hard as he wanted to. I got angry and told him that I wasn't going to allow him to do that. He told me I could leave the group if I didn't like the way he did things. I told him that I wasn't going anywhere and that he needed to change his ways or he wouldn't have anyone to lean on. He retorted that he didn't care which we all knew was a lie. I said okay and asked if he was still prostituting himself. He said that was none of my business which signaled that he was still doing it. I asked him why he needed a house this huge and its just him living in it. He said it was the only house in the neighborhood that was vacant so he jumped at the opportunity."
"I asked him about his mother and he slammed his fist against the refrigerator. I could feel the tension in the kitchen. I stood there not budging one bit at his flaring temper. Deena on the other hand started walking toward us to make sure a punch wasn't exchanged. He told me to never mention her again. I apologized and told him that if he talked to her maybe things would change. He bitterly said that things would never change with her. Deena walked towards him with open arms to try and calm him down but when shot her a glare she backed away. I told him that if wanted to talk we were there for him and we left. As we walked down the sidewalk Deena asked what that was about and I shrugged my shoulders and said I don't know. She said she never saw him so furious before. I told her we better strap ourselves in because it wouldn't be the last."
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