The Men of Honor of Unity House – Chapter 9

A novel. 

To read prior chapters:

Day Two, 12:45 p.m.

 Two more come home, and the Men of Honor concept takes shape

A bespeckled young man stood out in the dust holding two boys in each hand, and all of them were wrapped in green garbage bags.  At first I didn’t recognize Deon and Naleef, and why they didn’t just walk in the house on their own I didn’t know.  We motioned to the main door in front of the house, and the stranger led our guys in that direction.  We all met at the door.

 The gentleman spoke rhetorically.  “I’ve brought your charges home.  I trust I have the right place?”

 “Yes, you do,” I answered.  “Who are you?  Would you like to come in?”

 “No, thank you.  My name is Roger Alsde.  I’m an eighth grade teacher at Grafton Street Middle School.  I’ve been asked to return Deon and Naleef.  I must be going; I don’t want to risk any more exposure to the radiation.” 

Hearing that word everyone pulled back from the door.  Radiation is so hard to remember, it’s so invisible, but once someone mentions it, there is nothing else to think of.

 “Right,” I said.  “Thanks for bringing them home.  Good luck to you.  We hear on the Internet that the radiation is still high; you’re okay for a few minutes right now, but not much more for a while.”

“Yes,” said Roger Alsde, “that’s what I understand also.  I live on South Street so I was able to bring your young men home.  Goodbye.” 

With that he turned and left.

 “Thanks,” I called out.  But, I don’t know if you have a home to go to.  South Street is close to the top of the hill.

 I couldn’t figure out why the return of Naleef and Deon seemed so strange.  At the time I thought that they didn’t come inside spontaneously because Alsde’s steely grip made them numb, but I learned a year later from Naleef that he was afraid we wouldn’t want him back.  He said that he felt unclean from all the dust and that we would just kick him out for being too contaminated. 

 One never know what is going on in these guys’ minds sometimes.

 TT and Terry helped Deon and Naleef out of their plastic radiation suits and then led them to the showers.

 When they returned the guys gravitated into the Commons room to jive with Deon, who returned to his old hyper self as soon as Terry released her grip on his now scrubbed hand.  He immediately regaled his house brothers with stories of how he terrorized an entire school for twenty-four hours. 

 “Running through the halls as the Z-Man at 2:00 am,” I heard Deon claim, and then interpreting the rest of his message we learned that after the teachers captured Deon they locked him up in the principal’s office.  Deon then entertained himself for the remainder of the night by rifling open the principal’s desk, finding the keys to all the cabinets and dumping over three-thousand files into a big pile in the middle of the principal’s office.

 “I’m glad that teacher brought them back, and just didn’t duck tape Deon to a tree somewhere.”

 “Yeah,” said Terry.  “Alsde must have been elected to bring them here and as a reward he gets to go home, if the honor doesn’t kill him.”

 “Yeah, funny choice, eh?”

 “Grafton Street must’ve been hell last, we’ve got them.”

 “Yeah, got any ideas?” I said.

 “Yeah, keep Deon busy and pray a lot.  Maybe Ramtha could show up and baby sit our darlings for a few hours.  I sure wouldn’t mind a little help from an ascended master or two.” 

 I smiled.  It was the first time I had ever been teased about Ramtha instead of ridiculed.  It felt good.

 Wearing our red berets, we all broke up into little groups to take care of house business.  Tiny T organized a vacuuming crew to protect the house, first wrapping plastic around the bag to minimize the dust entering the atmosphere.  Bill and Kevin A. went to the kitchen for clean-up.  Terry went to my computer, which was still our only link to the outside world, and started sending emails to the executive board, her husband, Captain Ambretti of the Worcester City PD, and anybody else she could think of, letting them know our situation and asking when help might be coming our way.

 I went to Terry’s computer and started writing the Honor Code for the Men of Honor, what the guys would read to qualify for receiving their yellow scarf.  Fortunately, TT and I had already discussed things this far.  We had to get this thing off the ground while the guys were still motivated.

 The Men of Honor of Unity House


 This is the Code of Honor for Unity House, Worcester, Massachusetts.  All men of Unity House who have read this code and agree to live by it are considered Men of Honor and are entitled to wear their red beret and yellow scarf.  Any breach of the Code will require the individual to refrain from wearing his beret and scarf until he acknowledges his transgression and re-commits to this Code.  The Men of Honor will meet weekly to discuss changes and additions to this Code, and to discuss with their Brothers of Honor their experiences in living the Code.  All Men of Honor in good standing will be invited to a Men of Honor banquet, held monthly at a location of our mutual choosing.

 The Code of Honor of Unity House:

The Men of Honor Pledge to:

 1.  Honor themselves and always hold themselves in respect.

2.  Honor their Brothers of Unity House.

3.  Respect Unity House and treat it as their home.

4.  Honor all people and never speak to another so that it hurts their feelings or makes them feel small.

5.  Respect all women.

6.  Refrain from physical and verbal violence to another person.

7.  Be trustworthy.  Men of Honor do not steal or cheat.

8.  Be honest.  Men of Honor do not lie.  They always tell the whole truth.

9.  Seek the highest good in all situations.

10.  Honor Mother Earth.  Men of Honor do not throw trash on the ground, leave untidiness in their rooms, the house, or in the vehicles of Unity House.

11.  Build a relationship to Divine Spirit, such as is their custom and personal inclination.  Men of Honor respect all faiths.

12.  Refrain from drugs and do not abuse alcohol.

13.  Keep a sense of humor.

14.  Strive to assist others in the world and make a difference in the community.

15.  Be fair at all times and seek the greatest good for all, even if that means sacrifice on the part of the individual.

 I wonder if they can handle all this?  I thought when I proof-read the code, then recalled TJ Doyle’s mantra: If you don’t set the goals where you really want them, you have no chance of ever achieving them.

 I also composed flyers that the guys could hand out in a door-to-door canvas, which seemed like the first thing we would do.  Five minutes today, ten or fifteen tomorrow and after that, well, we’d make it up as we went along.


 We are members of the Men of Honor of Unity House, 2699 Marion Ave. Worcester, Massachusetts.  We live in the big stone house at the end of Marion Ave, a residence for the foster care of young men.  We wear our red berets and yellow scarves to symbolize our participation in this Honor Society.

 We are going door-to-door throughout the Union Hill district to see if anyone needs help.  Worcester was hit by a nuclear bomb on Tuesday as part of a terrorist attack on our city and country.

 The dust you see on the ground is radioactive.  Officials say you should not be outdoors in the dust for more than five minutes today, Wednesday, October 16th.  You can slowly build up your time outdoors, so that in two weeks, Tuesday, October 29th, you can spend an hour or two outdoors with no adverse health effects.

 We will not be able to resume normal outdoor activity for 28 days, or until Tuesday, November 12th.  If and when you go outside and get dust on yourself, you can safely wash it off in a shower with normal soap and water.

 We have food, water, and shelter if you need any assistance.  Let us know by placing a towel or flag of some kind on your front door.  We will be by to check every day.

 You can call us at 832-6248, or email us at Dave@unity

 If you have any questions please contact: Terry Muscolli, Program Director of Unity House, or Dave Stein, Life Skills Counselor, or Tecumseh Sherman, Residential Specialist.

I showed the two documents to Terry.

 “Looks good, Dave.  Looks real good, especially the Men of Honor code.  I like it.”

“But the flyer,” she continued.  “We’re letting ourselves in for a mess of trouble if we get really needy people, or wackos.  How are we going to care for really sick people?  We’ve got our hands full with our own guys.”

 “I know, but helping others is how we can best help our guys.  It’ll keep them busy and give them a great sense of pride.”

 “If it works.”

 “True.  If it works.  If it doesn’t, we’ll just have to adjust.  I’m prepared to withdraw our offer of assistance if we can’t handle it.  I’ve got no problem with that.”

 Terry just grunted.  She could see so many scenarios that weren’t pretty.  But my vision was so clear.  I knew we had to do this.

 “Terry, we’ll take it slow; one step at a time.  Five minutes today, ten tomorrow.  The dust will be our friend, and give us leverage if the guys go nuts with this.  We can work our way into this.  If we have to be here for twenty-eight days….” I didn’t finish.

 “Oh, don’t even mention that.  I can’t even think about that,” Terry interjected.

 “Yeah, I know, it’s a big chunk of time to wrap your mind around.  But we have no idea what kind of help we’re gonna get.  Even if a guy in a big, white toxic suit showed up today, what would it change?  Our guys have no place to go.  The best we can do is keep them as busy and as sane as possible.  We’re gonna need staff in here soon to help us.  Who on our staff is gonna risk death by radiation for nine dollars an hour?  Who?  Really?  Do you think the executive board is gonna show up with fresh baked apple pies, saying ‘Hi guys, how ya doin’?’”

 Terry broke out laughing.

 I chuckled myself, picturing the executive director and her assistant actually showing up to work with these guys.

 “I’d love to see their behavioral plans in action,” I said. “Ya know the ones they’re always busting my chops to develop.  I’d love to see theirs for Deon, let’s say for being the Z-Man of Grafton Street last night.” 

 Terry roared.  “Me, too,” Terry said through her laughter, “although Adam Peronski was a pretty decent social worker in his day, and he’s on the Board.”

 “He’s eighty-something, Terry,” I said.

 “Yeah, but he’s got the touch.  Even at eighty-three he still has a little gas left in his tank.”  Terry paused, “Okay, Dave,” she said while handing the papers back to me.  “The Men of Honor are in action.  But we take it slow, one step at a time.  Got it?”

 “Got it.”

 ©  2011 Bruce A. Smith

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