Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Childhood Tales Of Woohoohoo And The DePauls


I’ve told stories that have all ended pretty decently on my blog, giving an almost idyllic-- though mischievous-- impression of my childhood, a sort of Sawyer/Finn event where close scrapes and near misses and run-ins with the law (that ended in narrow escapes) were all part of a rambunctious period of growing and learning.

And all this is pretty true. The more people I talk to in life, and the more I relate my own growing up to other people‘s childhoods, the more I realize how good I had it in spite of having had to deal with a divorce and some bumps and bruises and living across the street from a soon to be rapist/murderer who beat his younger brother and tortured his dog.

I have numbered a few of my stories for you on this particular snapshot. Number 1 (in red) is my house. The place where I lived. My room was in the right lower corner of the house. That is where I slept as a little tyke. You can clearly see the white driveway leading to the garage from the blackened street. You can’t see its incline, but it was a steep puppy, and too steep to ride a bicycle from bottom to top unless you came at it from the right (uphill side of the road) while pedaling furiously and were able to gather up a lot of speed.

(Note to self and others- Steep driveway is important. Remember. Steep driveway.)

When I lived there, the cul-de-sac behind the house was not there. There was a field there, and a fold in the hills, which created a creek. They started to develop that cul-de-sac when I was in the fifth grade, and the houses all got built just as we were moving away, some even getting tenants that came as we departed. (I have stories that involve mischief with construction sites and heavy equipment, but that can wait).

So red 1 is my house, (they now have a pool!) and blue 2 is Baja Ct. I wrote this story about almost burning down a house at the foot of Baja court, and I labeled that lucky not-burnt house Aqua 5. Three houses to the left of that house, is where my brother’s home-made catapult mysteriously sent an M-80 into someone’s pool room. The rooftop labeled 4 is the one my brother lit with his flaming kite experiment. (My brother was a young terrorist in his youth).

The green line around the block maps out the route taken by my friend G in his underwear while he was pursued by high schoolers in their hotrods. You can see the line terminates in the back of my garage, halfway into the house, right about where my motorcycles’ wheels stopped spinning...

Across the street from me and one house down, I marked the house ominously and appropriately 666. These were the DePaul's. Home of Mike DePaul. The most notorious criminal (that I am aware of) in Santa Rosa’s recent history.

(So yeah, what I am saying, is that the dude who lived almost directly across the street from me, killed someone and raped someone, and we pretty much knew he would do something like that... I mean, we knew he had it in him.)

There were four of them.

Mr. DePaul, who was a contractor. He had greasy hair and smoked Camel non-filters and drove an El Camino with a magnetic sign on the side, that said “DePaul Construction“.

I knew almost nothing about him, except that he was gone early and home late . I met him once or twice on the weekends, but in six years, I mean ONCE OR TWICE.

Then there was his wife. I saw her almost everyday. She was tall. She was blonde. She had big boobs and a small waist. She hated shit on her driveway and she kept her hair in a bun with a high pony tail just like Barbara Eden in “I Dream Of Genie”. I don’t know what else she did, but nine months out of the year for about an hour, she would get in a bikini and drag a hose out onto her front driveway and hose it off. She had one of those nozzles, you know, that went from fan spray to “full force” and a great big green hose. And there was nothing nothing nothing that was going to remain on her little slab of concrete in front of her house. And I mean NOTHING!

When you are a kid and you see behavior like this, you think it is exploitable, but you never question it. Mrs. DePaul was bikini-clad and in the front of her house about four o’clock every afternoon hosing down her driveway with a stream of water chasing a single leaf or a single pebble or... (I have a confession to make) huge dog turds from my backyard. Steve and I noticed this.

Yes. I admit it. My brother Steve and I were responsible for cleaning up our 120 pound German Shepard pooping monstrosity, and one or two of those nuggets occasionally wound up somehow landing on Mrs. De Paul’s prized slab of concrete (call it a victim of wrist-rocket mischief) and were ceremoniously removed with a “full force” blast of garden hose water and that was that. (Steve and I simply saw a void and filled it. We were part of the cosmic miracle. We became the Yang to someone else’s Yin. Does that make sense?)

Then there was Mike and his younger brother Gary. The meat of today’s tale. The two boys who grew up to be ideal prisoners. Ideal in the sense that they are IN THERE and not OUT HERE.

Mike DePaul was convicted of stabbing a man in a fight. As far as I know, he was not convicted of raping a girl and hitting her boyfriend over the head with a boulder. I can’t recall the details, and the details don’t really matter. The girl was raped, the guy was killed, as far as I remember. It happened in a well known park we had, with nice picnic tables and walking and bicycle paths, and a lake stocked with trout and blue gill and danced upon by tiny sailboats in the summertime. The kind of park every kid in town attended a birthday party at. Or fished out of or fed the ducks along side.

No place for a rape and murder combo. Which made it all the more notorious.

And the whole time I was in elementary school, that little bastard lived right across the street from us and one house over.

Mike DePaul was my sister’s age. About four years older than I, and his younger brother Gary was two years older than I, and a year older than my brother Steve. Mike had straight hair that he parted like a mop. It was long and it was cut evenly at the bottom like a bob.

Gary had blonde hair as straight as his brother’s. It too was long, parted like a mop and cut evenly along the bottom.

I am guessing that their mom cut their hair. I mean, who else would cut it like that? The question was, did she do it in her bikini?

These were pudgy, big for their ages, and unattractive boys we are talking about here. They were wearing shit kicker boots (black, with steel toes) and black leather wrist bands and left-over bad-dude hippy crap while the rest of us kids were busy being kids in sneakers and wearing plastic band aids on our booboos.

They had a German Shepard in their backyard that they treated bad enough to make it snarl and bite at everybody and everything through the fence. The inside of their house was clean but sparse, and had a ping pong table and pool table as furniture. They had a backyard swimming pool, but nobody in the neighborhood came over to use it much. I swam there once, and went inside their house once, and I was scared shitless for no real yet unknown reason.

Back then, they were the DePaul’s- the rough and weird people- not the raping murdering clan.

Mike used to beat the crap out of Gary. We used to look down on their front yard and watch as Mike would grab Gary by the hair and steer him around. Mike was just mean, through and through. Gary had a milder temperament, but was like that Shepard in the backyard. You grew snarly and mean because you were beat into it. Mike would hold Gary’s hair and turn him and kick him in the ass for fun. Gary would scream and cuss and spit and take swings at his bigger brother, which made it all the more fun for Mike. At times, I remember feeling sorry for Gary but I never headed over there to help him out. That was Mike DePaul we were talking about. You wanted him to not notice you.

Mike stole my bicycle out of our garage once. My ballsy sister went over and peeked in his garage a few days later, saw the bike, and simply opened the door and took it back. She was one of those sixth grade girls at the time who had grown in huge chunks the last two years. She was thirteen and very tall, with long and skinny legs and braces on her teeth. It was that age where girls were bigger than the boys. Where they started growing boobies and boys were shocked to see and understand this.

A few days later, Mike was in our garage again. He liked my sissy bar and yellow banana seat, apparently. My sister caught him in there and they had words and exchanged pushes and shoves. Mike backed away and retreated backwards down our very steep driveway. My sister saw an opportunity and took it. Mike’s head was sitting like a T-ball on a stick, right at my sister’s knee level. My sister was wearing blue leather boots with vibram soles that she wore for working around horses. She kicked Mike DePaul in the head and he tumbled down the remaining portion of our driveway. We all secretly cheered when we heard about this. It was, after all, Mike DePaul.

My sister would later wonder if this act of hers was why he hated women so?

I said “No. Remember that girl at school who beat the crap out of him in front of everybody?”

She said, “Oh yeah, that’s right.”

Another of those really tall sixth grade girls with boobs and legs. She grabbed Mike by the hair and steered him around. She punched him as if she were trying out punching for the first time. She kicked him as if she had been kicking for a long time. She dug her nails into his face and pulled down shavings of white skin. She pulled out hair. The entire school had gathered and was cheering her on. The teachers let it go on, because they all knew Mike was mean and evil, and evil needed this once in awhile.

For some reason, (maybe because Mike remembered what my sister did to him?) Mike never bothered Steve and I and we rarely crossed paths in my last three years living in that house. Mike was in Junior high, and I think he ganged up and was hanging out in shopping strips and downtown where being “cool” was what you tried to do?

I was in the hills behind the house, mostly, playing army games and Indian games and shooting at stuff and riding motorcycles around the hills and climbing trees and collecting snakes and taunting cops and Mike never ventured there. He was into bumming smokes and shoplifting and more urban acts of evil mischief, I imagine. Which was all fine by me.

And his brother looked like an evil smaller, blonde clone of Mike, and they went of to Juvenile Hall a few times, and their dog was caught by animal control and put down and their mother kept hosing down that damn driveway, and Steve and I kept shooting dog turds over with our sling shots in the twilight hours, and Mike grew to be 6-5 and lifted weights in Juvenile Hall and at home, apparently, and when I was eighteen we all heard about the rape and murder and shuddered to think about who could do such a thing, and through the grapevine of human stories came the knowledge that Mike admitted to doing such a thing while drunk at a bar one night to a guy who would not testify because he was afraid for his life.

The city police became convinced that Mike did it as well, but knew the evidence was too weak to arrest him.

A few years later, they got him for stabbing a guy in a knife fight and the judge gave him everything that he legally could, and as far as I know, Mike sits in San Quentin with a nice view of the Bay.


Anonymous said...

So there you have it.

You know a convicted felon.

I too have a similar story. Which you shall have to read about at my website.

His name was Michael too. Coincidence. I don't believe in them.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Wow! Interesting story...

CapricornCringe said...

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find out what happened to Gary. Go ahead. I'll wait here.

Hammer said...

Friggin weird we both wrote about oak trees. It's freaky.

Great story by the way. Its amazing what us kids lived through.