There’s an emotional roller coaster that people have been on since March of this year. That’s when our country was locked down because of the COVID-19 virus. During the first couple of months of the lockdown, the roller coaster took people down into the depths of uncertainty and doubt. Then it seemed as though it was heading toward what appeared to be a light at the end of a tunnel. But last week, the roller coaster took a sharp turn and catapulted toward a new abyss of fear and uncertainty.
In August 1971, I started my freshman year at Limestone High School in Bartonville, Illinois. In May of that year, one of my cousins on the Williams side of the family — I’ll call him Jason — had graduated from Limestone. Jason was an average student, but there was one thing that he accomplished during his high school years that his mom was extremely proud of. During his senior year, his classmates took a vote and named him “the toughest guy in the school.”
On Monday, August 20, 2018, a Catholic priest was physically attacked while he was praying in the sacristy of St Michaels Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville, Indiana. According to the Merrillville police chief, Joseph Petruch, the attacker grabbed Fr. Basil John Hutsko by the neck and “threw him down on the floor and immediately started slamming his head against the floor, both sides, front and back.”
The phone call woke me up in the middle of the night. The exact time was 2:57 a.m. The voice on the other end was from a man I had represented on a previous occasion. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Jake.” When I answered the phone, the first thing I heard was, “Hey Harry. This is Jake. Before I tell you why I’m calling, do you need time to clear your head?” He paused and then said, “Are you alert enough to have a conversation with me?” “Yea, Jake. What’s going on?”
During the 1970s, when I was in high school and then college, there were three popular family singing groups in America: the Partridge Family, the Osmonds, and the Jackson Five. The Partridge Family had a weekly TV show that aired from 1970 to 1974, and two of the Osmond siblings, Donny and Marie, had a weekly TV show that aired from 1976 to 1979. Both shows provided clean, wholesome family entertainment.
One of the villains in the Marvel Comics universe is Venom, an alien organism that seeks out a host and attaches itself to whatever person is closest to it. Venom starts out as a black, tar-like substance that adheres to and then quickly spreads and covers the head and body of the person it has targeted. When Venom has completely enveloped the head and body of the person, it looks like the person is wearing a tight, black, form-fitting, slimy rubber suit.
The year was 1970. I was in the eighth grade at St. Mark’s school in Peoria. I remember the day like it was yesterday. One of my classmates — I’ll call him Paul — brought a Polaroid picture to school to show to his friends. Paul and I were the same age — 13 years old. The person in the picture was the girlfriend of Paul’s older brother. She and Paul’s brother were in high school. She was a student at Academy of Our Lady and Paul’s brother was a student at Spalding Institute.
Last week, I ran into an old client at the Peoria County Courthouse. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him Noah. I represented Noah more than 20 years ago for some serious alcohol-related traffic ticket violations. During the last case that I assisted him with, I told him that it was obvious to everyone who knew him that he had a problem with alcohol. He became angry with me and refused to admit that he had an alcohol problem. After that, he continued to get into trouble with the law, but stopped coming to me for assistance.