The sound of motorcycles revving in the driveway meant that Uncle Dan was home, and with him came the entourage. One by one they pulled in, taking their place in Dan’s court. He’d sit in his King Louie throne in the living room, and maybe his pet owl would be perched above him, sleeping in the day, unperturbed by Uncle Dan’s loud and boisterous storytelling, his laugh that sounded like a pack of wild hyenas yipping all at once. Or was that just the pack of wolves he kept in the backyard?
He’d tell stories from the movie set, and the motorcycle boys would hang on his every word, endure his sharp criticisms and sarcasm, and the nicknames he’d pegged them with: Bullet, Tall Boy, Rags. To stay in his orbit was to defer to him, and no matter how tough and intimidating they may have appeared, they did defer. Not because he threatened. He never had to prove his brute strength. He only had to cast a “look” your way.
It wasn’t that they, or I, were afraid of him. We only feared not being in his orbit. To try to understand this is to try to understand the universe. He was the sun around which the rest of us orbited. And he was the black hole, sucking us all in, until we’d disappeared to ourselves.
He was the sun.
He was the king.
He was our savior and he was our destruction.
How many times had you crept into their rooms at night and pressed your face against them to hear the soft hiss of...