To read prior chapters: https://themountainnewswa.net/category/the-men-of-honor-of-unity-house/
Chapter 8 – Day Two, Noon
TT arrives and the Men of Honor are formed
Kevin P ran out into the dust and embraced Tiny T, who was stepping out of his totally-tricked-out electric purple, chrome-wheeled, spinners flyin’, four-wheel drive extended cab Chevy Suburban, with a plow on the front and snow chains wrapped around each one of his over-sized studded snow tires.
Tiny T was ready for the road.
Tiny T, Unity’s Residential Specialist Extraordinaire, our esteemed swing shift leader, and Sweet-God-Almighty to Worcester’s street kids for over twenty-five years had arrived.
“Yes!” I shouted. Tiny T is here, I murmured and pumped the air with my fist.
Tiny T had once been tiny; in fact, he had once been the skinny runt of his family. So, the ‘tiny’ had once been technically accurate, but a massive growth spurt at sixteen propelled him to six-six and 290 pounds by high school graduation.
The ‘T’ stood for Tecumseh. Tiny T’s mother, a righteous woman from Atlanta, Georgia with a refined sense of history, failed at naming her son anything close to what he or his friends were willing to call him, hence the moniker ‘Tiny T.’ Evermore he has been known to the world as Tiny T, with one slight variation: professionally he was known as TT.
“How are you Little Brother?” TT asked Kevin P, giving him a hug with no thought to policy.
All the guys ran out and TT acknowledged each in turn.
“Little Brother” was the affectionate term for all. Hugs, and knuckle-knocking, thumb twisting hand shakes followed, all deliberate, all energized, all worshipped. The guys’ “Lord God TT,” had arrived.
But, for Terry and me, all we got was “Good Morning.”
“Looks like I came just in time,” Tiny T said, walking in and seeing breakfast on the table.
“Hungry, TT?” Terry asked.
“Always,” replied TT.
“Let’s eat,” I said, as everyone piled around TT’s table.
The guys jabbered as one voice.
“You‘ve should have seen us peel out on Mr. D’s motorcycle, TT,” said Kevin P. “We drove here all the way in first gear. It was tight, man. We were screaming.”
“We ran all through the backyards and through the Catholic Church cemetery to get back here in twenty-three minutes from the High School. We’re nuke busters, TT. We Are SO COOl,” said Mr. Willy-Be-Cool.
TT nodded at each affirmation of coolness the guys shouted at him, while he slowly munched mouthfuls of bacon and eggs. He ate each of four muffins with relish. “Have you guys eaten?”
“Oh, yeah, I’ll eat with ya,” said Kevin P.
“Oh, no, I’m stuffed,” said Kevin A after wolfing down one serving.
“I’m not hungry, but could I have some coffee?” asked Trey.
“I don’t like bacon,” said Willy. The crescendos of totally conflicting attitudes flowed over TT like a New England sun shower in April, ever inspiring and always cool.
After five minutes of total buzz, the guys were spent.
Then, TT spoke. “Little Brothers, there are some boxes in the back of my car. I’d like you to go get them, and bring them in to show Terry and Dave. Trey, here are my keys.”
With that, TT selected the trunk key from his ring of about fifty keys and handed it to Trey like he was giving a sword to his most trusted Knight.
Trey received it in the same manner. Trey and Willy went out in a rush.
“TT, the dust out there is radioactive,” I said.
“Yeah, I know, but we’ll wash it off in a minute.”
“TT, it’s good to see you,” said Terry. “Why did you come in? It’s your day-off, and it’s dangerous out there.”
“Well first, I wanted to see how y’all are doing. Second, I had a delivery. UPS came to my house just before the bomb went off and delivered some boxes I wanted to bring here.”
“How are things out in the world, TT?” I asked.
“How could you get here? From what we can see the roads must be all blocked with debris,” Terry asked.
“How’s Grafton Street. Could you get by?” others shouted.
“Did your house survive okay?”
“Is your family okay?” Terry and I pumped questions at TT, one after another.
“Yeah, they’re okay. I got cousins, and friends of cousins and cousins of cousins at the house. Anybody who lost anybody in Worcester came over to my place yesterday. We’re loaded to the gills.”
“Really?” I replied.
“Oh, yeah, sure. Good ol’ Union Hill saved your bacon and mine. I don’t live that far away, just a block past Rice Square on Massasoit, so I’m only eight blocks away as the crow flies, but it took me over an hour to get here.
“The streets is all tore up and blocked everywhere with all kinds of crap. I had to give up on getting up Dorchester. The hill is just too steep and the dust too slick, and there was torn up houses in the road everywhere. So I doubled back, and came up Heywood just below us, and then cut my own road with the plow through those fancy gardens of the Magdalene Abbey there, below St. Vincent’s.
“From what I could see, St. Vincent’s is all gone, rubble from the hospital is everywhere. I don’t know if any of them Brothers are there in the Abbey, it looked pretty quiet when I drove past them, but the Abbey came through okay. Not great, but okay. Otherwise, it’s a total mess out there.”
“Have you seen the pictures of Worcester?” Terry asked.
“Seen some. My neighbor Willis has a computer that’s working.”
“Yeah, us too, that’s how we saw the pictures and knew what’s going on,” I replied.
“It’s not pretty, is it?” TT said. “How’s things here? Who all made it back?”
“Well, Trey and Willy came back first, and the two K’s took a ride on Don Shanley’s BMW from North High. That’s it,” said Terry.
“Ryan is still at Worcester North as far as we know,” I added, “and Deon and Naleef are still at the Grafton Street Middle School.”
“Grafton Street’s a mess,” TT said. “My neighbor, Mrs. Mills, had two grand kids from the middle school come home last night. There’s no water and the building got rocked pretty good. There’s only a few teachers and the kids are pretty keyed up, too. I think we better get our guys out of there ASAP.”
“Okay,” I said, “but the reports on the radiation say we can’t go out for another day, and then only for fifteen minutes.
“Hmmm,” grunted TT.
“TT,” Terry asked, “how much dust do you think is penetrating into your vehicle? You said you’ve already spent an hour driving in the dust. Do you think that’s safe, and if so, how much more can you handle? Any? Based on what we heard on the computer about radiation levels, maybe we should take your Suburban and head over to the school.”
“Gee, Terry, you think so?” I asked. “Is it worth a shot?”
”It’s a shot you should take,” said TT. “Deon can cause a lot of trouble, and Naleef can receive a lot of trouble.”
You couldn’t have said it any better, TT, I thought.
“You’re right, TT,” I said. “Terry,” I continued, “we should go up there and get them. Now that TT’s here, one of us can make a run up there. I was just a little concerned about the roads and getting through.”
“Speaking of going out, TT,” said Terry, “Dave and I have been talking about the Men of Honor and Unity Pride. The guys want to go out into the neighborhood and help people. We’ve got food; we’ve got information. Trey went on a smoke hike this morning and saw kids playing in the dust, so there are people out there who don’t know what’s going on, or how to protect themselves.
“We were thinking of forming a Men of Honor group and sending the guys out on fifteen minute forays to see what’s going on in the neighborhood.”
TT listened, smiling as he ate.
“Kind of like the Boy Scouts,” she continued, “but prepped first with the Code of Honor that we’ve talked about. You know, based on the ideas you and Dave have been talking about from the Double-A CW and the Roxbury house.”
TT continued smiling. Then the guys came in.
“What’s in the boxes, TT?” they shouted.
“Open them up and find out.”
One box was twelve inches square and long, about four feet. The other was flat, like a shirt box. The kids tore them open.
Excitement reigned initially, but faded. The long box had a stack of two-dozen red berets. The flat box had a similar number of yellow scarves.
“What are these?” Trey asked.
“Scarves, dude,” said Willy, “we’re gonna be gay pimps in yellow scarves.”
“Oh, no, Little Brother,” said TT, taking a red beret and placing it on his head. “We are Men of Honor full of Worcester Pride. Each of you gets a red beret. The yellow scarves we save for later. They’re special ceremonial scarves we’ll wear to show our committement to the house.”
Miracles do happen, I said over and over and over to myself. I said it out loud one time to Terry.
She too, nodded.
Today of all days for the berets and scarves and TT to show up; the timing was utterly miraculous. And he gets it – the whole Honor and Pride thing!
“Okay, everyone,” TT said, standing. “Everyone gets a beret. There’s all different sizes, so make sure you get the one you want. Once you wear it for more than five minutes it’s yours, ‘cause no other brother’s gonna want to use a hat that’s spent time on your head.”
The four lads picked out their berets, and TT gave Terry and me each one.
“You too, sir,” said TT.
“Er, TT, this is Bill, the SYSCO guy.” I said. “He’s hooked up with us for the duration.”
“Ah, I thought you looked familiar. Usually you make deliveries in the morning, right?”
“I’m on the swing shift. But I thought I recognized you.”
“Glad to meet you; I’m Bill Sowards.”
I never knew Bill’s last name before. It was good to learn it.
“Nice to meet you, Bill. Call me Tiny T or TT.”
“Pull your chairs in a circle,” TT said to the guys.
Terry, Bill and I joined them.
“We’re forming the Men of Honor,” said TT, putting on his beret. We followed. “You and I are now the Men of Honor.”
“But Terry’s a girl,” said Willy.
Oy, veh, what a time for details.
“Yes, Terry is a woman, but not a girl. She is the legal authority here in this house, so, she belongs to the Men of Honor in a special way.”
When TT spoke, the guys always listened. Every word was like a gospel message and I was in awe when he held court; he was truly beautiful to watch.
“The Men of Honor has a code,” TT continued. “A Code of Honor. We will go over that soon. Each of you will pledge to the Code of Honor in order to remain in the Men of Honor. I expect each of you to commit to it.”
“We’re not gonna do anything weird, are we?” asked Kevin A.
“No,” said TT. “I would never ask you to do something weird, or that would go against your dignity. This code will build your dignity. It will build your respect. Your mothers and fathers, and Terry and I, and the rest of the staff will be proud of you for honoring the code.”
“What exactly are we going to do?” asked Trey.
“First, we will establish what the Men of Honor code is,” said TT.
“For instance,” I interjected, “the first code is that the Men of Honor always tell the truth.”
“Yes, that’s right,” said TT. “That’s what Men of Honor do.”
“And they always honor women,” TT continued. “They never talk trash about women, or their friend’s girl friends, or any women they meet. They don’t hit on women or treat them like ho’s. They always treat women with respect; they always act like a gentleman in front of a lady. They never curse or swear.”
Kevin A. looked at me on that one.
I looked back and said with my eyes, ‘I got it.’
Just then we heard a knock on the bay window of the Commons room. Strangely the guys didn’t run to the window, so TT made the transfer of attention. “I see we’ve got company.”
Then, they all dashed to take a look.
© 2011 Bruce A. Smith