Friday, December 01, 2006

Remembering "The Mick"
(In Memory of Michael "Mickey" Murray)

Recently, in my teaching job at public schools, they had suspended a 5th grader from regular classes and had me tutor him one-on-one for a week. He was great with me and school officials never told me why he was suspended. However, I found out yesterday, through the grapevine, that he had been suspended for bringing a gun to school. It reminded me of "Mick." If you click on the middle verse, you can get the newspaper accounting -- but "Remembering 'The Mick'" is both my remembrance and "refusing to forget" about a good kid who died far too young.

It was a few years ago
And Mickey was a student
In my CCD class
Confirmation was the occasion
And the old Immaculate Conception
High School Basement
(which doubled as their cafeteria)
Was the location
"Michael's a troublemaker"
Warned one of the other teachers
As I wandered down the staircase
To find that Murray and Company
Had hopped the lunch counter
And were helping themselves
At the soft drink dispenser...
"Ahh ... Mr. O'Toole--
Can I get YOU a drink too?"

Yeah, he goofed off
And didn't exactly do
Many assignments
But there were times
When the text-book messages ended
And the all too true stories
Of my own wayward youth began
That Mickey listened (and understood)
Better than anybody

The years passed
And I didn't see Mick
In Church much
The parish priest didn't talk a lot
About how the High School outcasts
Could become Christ's chosen followers
So you might say Mick took the hint

And like the Piano Man
Decided he "would rather laugh with the sinners
Than cry with the saints"
It was my son who would now see him
In the new York's grand cafeteria
Gary would be goofy with Mickey
at lunch
But declined offers
To after-school parties
Perhaps recalling from his father
How the ballad always ended

But as you've probably heard
Most of Mick's dreams
Did not come true
Because after years
Of running with devils
Mickey would encounter
In the midst of his 18th birthday
Not merely the Devil
But The Devil on Drugs with a Handgun

In this case
Satan was a bad seed
Named Paape
Who interrupted the party
Spun the gun chamber
Pointed It at Murray's temple
And ended Mickey's gamble
"And they say that only the good
die young."

But Billy Joel didn't know
The whole story
Curiosity didn't kill the Catholic
A doped-up convict-coward did
And it was another 70s philosopher
The late Lynyrd Skynyrd
Who better summed up this situation
when he said
That the Saturday Nite Special
"Ain't good for nothing'
'Cept put a man
Six feet in a hole"

In the end
Mickey's road
Despite a few detours
Still finishes in Heaven
But as is the case
For all us sinners
Who didn't quite work
Out our Salvation
Here on earth

Mick will do some time in purgatory
A sort of summer school Confirmation Course
If you will
And since I know his good side
Once again I am his teacher
But this time you are all his fellow students

And since Mick's passing the class
Now depends directly upon your participation
Please listen up

Mickey's saga is proof
That the hand-gun laws
Of our fine land
Are flawed

Something must be done
By everyone

And if we leave tonite
And forget to write
Durbin or Cronin
E-mail Marcucci
Or at least
Ask God's help

If we leave tonite
And do nothing
Then it is now us
Who will be pointing the gun
At Mickey's head (again)
And though tomorrow's headlines
May bear the name
Of Johnny or Jane
Know that Mickey will feel it
Just the same

Do not let my young friend's death be in vain
Let's disarm the devils and prevent future pain
'Til all will rejoice when we recall the refrain

"Remember The Mick"

Tom O'Toole
July 25, 2004

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