By Blackie Lawless

I come from a place where children are of shadow and isolation. Where broken dreams heal themselves disfigured, in a silent world of desperation. The wasteland of fragile young hearts left to die!

I am Jesse Slane... mine would not die … it would live … and live again!

My father’s name was Robert. I don’t remember much of him because he died when I was six. What memories I did have were blurry but I guess he was fairly average. He gave me a Bible on my 6th birthday. Inside he wrote "To Jesse, love Dad". Many times in my life, when I was lonely or scared, I would take it out and look at his words for comfort. I’'ve wondered a thousand times how my life would have been different if only I could have really had a chance to know him.

My mother's name was Mary. Small children cannot put feelings into words but I always felt very distant from her. My mother had me but I never had her. After my father died she fell apart and began her descent into alcohol, heroin and eventually crack, from which she became hopelessly addicted. For the next year and a half she had a different man almost every night. What little money that was left after my father died was soon smoked and drank away. The monster of her addictions soon found us homeless and living in shelters. Her substance abuse quickly turned to child abuse. I was "chains" of helpless little flesh wrapped tight around her neck. She was quite literally "Of Human Bondage".

Her resentment of being saddled with young child soon turned to anger. She would get high and scream at me: "You are nothing – You will never be Nothing!". As the drugs took their toll she started to believe I was "the Devil". Once she started thinking that way my days were numbered. I guess that’s why she gave me to the place where she thought I might be saved. The place she left me was "The Sisters Of Mercy Boys Home" Even though life with her was hell I begged her not to leave me there. The last thing she said to me was "I will not argue with the Devil!" I was 8 years old… I would only ever see her once again.

29 Ravenswood Court. That was the address of the Orphanage where she abandoned me.The place where It was forever given away.Where I was offered up like the pagan sacrifices of old to her Gods of addiction. She traded the "chains" of me for the freedom of her new slavery.It was an Orphanage run by Catholic nuns, and many times later I would reflect on the "irony" of my mother giving the "Devil" to the "Sisters of Mercy". The Catholics say "give us a child until he is 7 and we will mold him for life". My life with them started at age eight. They are wrong about influencing a child until seven… it goes far beyond that!

The Bible says there are places on Earth that are as "hell"… damned right, and that place was one. It was part of a State operated complex with the Orphanage in one part and a mental Hospital in the other. No one in the Orphanage was ever allowed near the Hospital. But there were rumors that a few of the kids had ended up there. No one ever knew if it was true.

Life there was miserable … for a lot of reasons. It was unlike any place I had experienced. I was terrified. Literally paralyzed with fear. It was like an old prison: it was cold, damp and was made from old bricks with no color. It was dark gray.

It was raining when I first arrived so the lack of sun made the place look even darker. I stood in front of it. It was huge, six levels high and about one hundred meters wide and I could hear strange sounds coming from it like it was alive. The sounds were cries of discipline being administrated. All those cries would live to die another day.

As I was led through the massive front doors I remember I was shaking. I had never seen nuns up close before and the long black dresses and robes with the head-dress looked like something straight from Bram Stoker’s "Dracula". At eight years old all adults look three times bigger than they really are and with those outfits, they had a very militaristic presence, as if they were God himself.

I later understood the visual images were all designed to intimidate. It was something I would use with great effect later in life. "Give us a child until he is seven…." They would be proud… They taught me well!

The first few months were agony. Everything and everyone was strange. It seemed like they were all looking at me all the time with that "Where did you come from" sort of blank stare on their faces. It all scared the hell out of me. I knew absolutely NO ONE!

From the window next to my bed I would stare out into the courtyard and in the middle was an old well that was used before the property had running water. It was referred to as the "Wishing Well" because it was deep and it was rumored that more than one kid had gotten their "wish" by drowning themselves there. For some it was their only way out.

Children in the Orphanage are not quick to warm up to someone new. They've all been hurt too many times by being taken away or having people they loved taken away from them. They also look at anyone new as being competition for them in the adoption game, although by then most of us were already "too old" to have someone who would want us. We all lived together dormitory style. Kids there were no different in that some were weak, some were strong. There were bullies, but they were dealt with differently. They worked for the nuns. If one of the regular kids got out of line the "Sisters" would use their hand picked bullies to apply the "appropriate disciplinary action". That was another way of saying they would take you out and beat the shit out of you! All this so the sisters could keep their squeaky clean image and not get "their hands" dirty. This was the way order was kept by them. All of them except for one … Sister Sadie!

Sister Sadie was God, the Mother Superior, the Supreme Ruler, also known as St. Cruella the "Bitch in charge". She ran the entire place with an iron hand and no one questioned her authority.

She was huge, about six feet two inches and around 250 pounds and looked more like a man than a woman. She would stalk the hallways with powerful sinister presence and she struck true fear in the heart of any kid she would look at. She would walk around always in that black uniform, carrying a silver walking cane with her at all time. It had a large silver cross looming from the top of it.

She looked like a Nazi S.S. General but instead of a riding crop she carried that fucking cane. Any kid that looked at her wrong got it right across the knuckles or the back. Her famous remark always was: "that was for something you did that I did not see or for something you are getting ready to do!" How ironic her initials: Sister Sadie was "S.S".

I did my best to keep a low profile over the first couple of years so I wouldn’t be noticed by anyone, especially her. I was basically a loner. I stayed to myself, I would eat alone, I never was a part of any group activity. I learned to use my imagination and created my own little world, so I would never be lonely. I had a world of imaginary friends that I was the leader of. It was my invisible circus where I was supreme.

I was eleven and was beginning to become highly rebellious and extremely resentful to any authority. The years that I had spent there had really started to turn me into some sort of animal. I was caught stealing from the kitchen by one of the Orphanage night guards. I was taken to my class instructor and when I resisted "penitence for my sins" and refused confession I let it be known: "I was fucking hungry!". Horror came over the Sister’s face and her mouth dropped open. I was considered "insubordinate" and appropriate action would be taken.

I was then taken to the head office and given, kicking and screaming, to the Lord of Discipline: Sister Sadie. Little did I know the real kicking and screaming was just about to begin.

Once a child was considered insubordinate, it was generally thought (by them), that only an "official cleansing" wouldbe necessary to genuinely put a child back on the straight and narrow. The duration of this "cleansing" was different for each child. For some it was short and for some it was long. Mine ended up being a one-year eternity.

She took me to a part of the complex that was a separate building, away from the main housing. My "cleansing" would be administrated three times a week. At night. She held me tight by the back of my neck and marched me through the only door in that God-forsaken place.

As she pushed me through the door, there was a familiar smell from her breath that I had not smelled since the last time I was with my mother. It was alcohol, and for someone who was feeling no pain she knew an awful lot about giving it.

The room was dark and smelled like slow death. She slammed the door and turned on one small red light that gave off very little illumination. The room was about 25 feet by 40 feet and it was all concrete. It had been a holding facility (or jail) a long time ago for the hospital to hold and transfer mentally ill patients. There was one single drain in the middle of the floor that was used to de-louse (body lice) the patients years before. It had huge open beams in the ceiling and on the center beam was an old pulley system, sometimes referred to as a block and tackle. It was made with a steel chain and a large hook on its end for lifting. I was so terrified I could barely breath. She tied my hands behind my back and tied my feet together with old electrical cords. She then made me lay on the floor and took the hook from the block and tackle and hooked it to the cord that held my feet. Then she raised me up in the air, upside down, and left me there for the better part of an hour while she sat at a small table drinking her sacrament wine and quoting scriptures from the Bible. After a while I was about to pass out from the blood rushing to my head and then she started to lower me down saying: "No, you are not going to pass out on me – I want you to see and feel everything that is getting ready to happen to you!" She untied my hands and feet and ordered me to take off every piece of my clothing. When I didn't move fast enough she proceeded to help me. She then tied my feet and hands again and back up in the air I went.

This happened every "cleansing" night but some nights were different. Sometimes while I was hanging she would just beat me. The silver walking cane of hers had a secret. She would unscrew the top that held the silver cross and a long metal rod would slide out. It could be used in a great number of ways. Her favorite was to hold it over a candle and heat it up and beat me with it. The cross would leave burn impressions on me that would last for weeks at a time……ultimately, a lifetime.

Others nights she would sexually abuse me in ways I cannot even speak of … These were images that would haunt me for life.

A year of this torment went on with her threats that if I told anyone I would never be believed. Finally it all became more than I could bear. I went to Sister Ann Marie who was in charge of the medical facility and told her of the horrors I had to endure. She confronted Sister Sadie with my allegations and Sadie then determined I should be placed in the Sanitarium for observation purposes, as I was mentally disturbed and no such "false claims" could be made by any "rational" child. She was Judge, Jury and God all rolled into one and no one there dared question her authority. Before I could be taken away I ran out into the courtyard and with one desperate leap jumped into the "Wishing Well". My "wish" was to leave that place forever.

I never saw Sister Sadie in the flesh ever again. But she would forever be in my thoughts and dreams.

I awoke 3 days later from the coma I was in. The impact of the fall to the bottom of the well knocked me out and I almost drowned. For days after I woke up I began to have visions of who I really was. Revelations of my true destiny and glimpses of who and what I would ultimately become.

I was put in the observation room in a portion of the hospital that was for new patients. I was watched 24 hours a day as the hospital staff was warned (by Sadie) that I was "potentially dangerous, delusional and possibly suicidal". I was kept there for about two months until it was determined I was not a danger to myself. I was then put in a ward for teenagers only. It would be my home for the next two years. The ward I was in was "Asylum # 9"

Asylum # 9 was basically a long rectangular room with 22 beds and bars on the windows. Most of the beds were occupied and some of the occupants were quite colorful. The first guy I met was "Spazmo". His real name was Teddy, he was 16 and had been committed for strangling his grandmother when he was 13. He had red hair and freckles. His brain was fried from all the drugs he had taken before and after he arrived at # 9, which is how he got the nickname "Spazmo". The attendants in the hospital would use Spazmo to test drugs on and sometimes they would get him fucked up just to calm him down. He was harmless when he was high but when he was straight I’d get glimpses of how he got there in the first place. But Spazmo basically worked for another guy there named Billy. William Samuel Sims, a.k.a. "Serial Sam". He was there because like all the rest of us he had been neglected by his parents. He was easy-going, harmless looking, very well educated. He was actually genius level but he was deadly when he was angered. The reason he was in "# 9" was he too had been sexually abused by one of his school teachers when he was still in public school a few years earlier. He got a hold of some methanol alcohol and rat poison and put it in the air filtration system of the teacher’s car. When the ignition was turned the mixture started to burn. He said it was his "own personal – mobile gas chamber". Justice, he said, for the crimes against him. Needles to say the teacher never knew what hit him.

Billy’s parents were ALIVE AND RICH! He had a constant flow of cash, which he used to get the orderlies and attendants to supply him with anything he wanted and all the drugs could be easily had. Because he had money Spazmo worked for him, kind of like his own personal "Renfield", except instead of flies and rats Spazmo got lots of drugs: valium, percodine, codeine and ecstasy…. especially "X". If you think about it, how else could anyone survive in a place like that. It was Hell and the only way you can cope in a place like that is to stay fucked up all the time. There was a lot of pain in that place… more than anyone would ever know… except the ones that were there. I told my story to both of them and they told me that there had been two other kids a few years back that told the same story that I did. One mysteriously died and the other committed suicide by overdosing on a bottle of aspirin. I guess they felt sorry for me because anytime I wanted to get high all I had to do was ask. My two years there were spent in a self-induced ecstasy coma. For two years I would have no pain.

It had been just over two years when we heard that Sister Sadie was found dead. Because of Sister Sadie’s death, Sister Ann Marie was having me sent back to the orphanage. I think she always believed me when I told her what Sister Sadie had done, but was powerless to do anything. Now with Sadie gone she was in charge, so to celebrate we were having a going away party with dual purpose… Sadies’ going away, and myself leaving as well. Because of Billy’s financial influence he always had a separate little room that we used to get high in and we called it the "Red Room of the Rising Sun". It was decorated with old hippie décor with a lot of Middle Eastern and Indian influence. It had tapestry rugs and huge pillows on the floor, some lava lamps and a couple of huge water pipes. Billy’s parents were rich but they were basically old hippies that had sold out their utopian dream for cash. Billy grew up in that environment and loved the old 60’s psychedelic influence. That’s why the "Red Room" looked the way it did. It was the coolest place I had ever seen and we spent most of our time there.

In the time that I was there I had grown very, very close to Billy and he sort of adopted me like a brother. I guess it was because our backgrounds of abuse were so similar, it was his way of trying to protect me. At the going away party that night the three of us had gotten really high and Billy and I were talking. Spazmo had already passed out on the floor. Billy told me that he wanted me to remember him and I told him that I always would. He then handed me a note and he told me he wanted me to read it because he was going to sleep. As I started to read the note Billy reached over and grabbed my hand and it became clear to me why he wanted me to read the note. The note said "I’m happy for you, that you are finally getting out of this Hell and have a chance at a real life, but for me there is only one way that I am ever going to get out of here. You’ve been the only true friend that I’ve ever had and I’m never gonna have another and I won’t stay here any longer". It was signed, "your forever friend, Billy " I looked up and his eyes were closed and as he was holding my hand I felt him slip away. I found next to him an empty bottle of sleeping pills. He had taken them all. I would never have another friend like him again.

I was sent back to the orphanage the next day. I ran away less than a week later and never looked back… I was 14.

I wandered the streets and was homeless for two years. I slept in old abandoned buildings, drug houses and any place that would give me shelter. There I met castaways of humanity. The lost, the abused and the disposable of society. They were all addicts of some sort. All of us looking to escape the pain. We were all unwanted. What had we done? What crime as infants had we committed, to be brought into this world and be "thrown away" like this?. The Asylum was bad enough but this was a different kind of hell. Many nights I would fall asleep thinking "all I need is someone to love me" and everything would be different. . It was ugly and extremely dangerous. A lot of kids I met had been sexually abused. They prostituted themselves to stay alive and to get money to feed their drug habits. It’s amazing how many kids who are sexually abused as children end up selling their bodies as prostitutes later in life. In some odd way they subconsciously think that whatever happened to them as children must give adults pleasure, so if they continue to allow it to happen they will find love that way. "Give us a child until they are seven and we will set their ways for life…" Damned Right!

I drifted to different towns but it was all pretty much the same wherever I went. Until one day I met someone who would change my life in every way.

It was in a city center, when I saw a group of about a hundred people watching a street performer doing magic. He seemed to have people hypnotized with his illusions. I watched him closely and he was good… very good. He then asked if there was someone that could help him in the next routine. He scanned the crowd, he looked at me and looked away and then came back to me and said: "You Sir. Could you come forward and assist me?". I walked up to him and he handed me a sealed envelope. He asked if we had ever met, which we had not and I said so. He then asked me to ask three people to give me a number, any number. The first person said 10,013. The second gave me 3,020. The third one shouted out 993. The girl I had chosen added up the numbers. As she did, he told me to open the envelope. In it was a single piece of paper with a number… 14,026. The crowd was stunned. I went back into the crowd and he did a few more tricks and when he finished the crowd put money into his open magic case. The crowd slowly moved on and he was packing away his props. As he packed, he had his back to where the crowd had been and could not see me as I slowly approached him. "How did you do it?" I asked. He still had his back to me but I could barely see the side of his face as he smiled and said: "I was looking for someone that would not fight me… I knew you wouldn’t". "Fight you?" I asked. He stood up and said, "My name is Judah Magic". We talked for a long time and he told me he chose me because he could "feel" me and he knew that I wouldn’t not "fight him" mentally. He said it was important never to choose someone who had conflicting vibrations because those people would try to sabotage that part of his act. He said "I knew you could help me and try to put a mental barrier in the flow of the energy taking place". He said he had studied EST, ESP and telepathy, but he also knew that it was a gift he had from his early childhood. He told me "You too could have it… if you really want it… What are you willing to trade"?

I had been interested in those things for a long time. And Judah became my mentor.

Judah was an intense sort of a guy. He wasn't very big but he was aggressive. Not in a physical way, but mentally. Judah had an aura about him. It was an energy that you could sense and feel. He was one of those people that had an amazing presence and people were afraid of him because of it. He too was homeless and had been orphaned at an early age, so we had an instant bond. There was a magnetic attraction between us and we became inseparable.

We got high a lot together and talked about life, religion and people. We would drop acid and get into in depth conversations about the concept of Heaven and Hell and the Good and Evil in all people. We both knew that most people could be manipulated in some way. Some more than others. We both knew that the world would kill you if you let it. We decided we would kill the world… together!

The two of us drifted from town to town over the next year. In that time I began spending a lot of time reading about metaphysics and the occult. I always knew I had unusual strong abilities of perception and was working hard to develop my physic skills. Ever since I was fished out of the "Wishing Well" all those years ago and I had all those visions I knew I could see into people. Most of them I could see right through.

Over time my personality and presence became stronger than Judah’s and wherever we went people were drawn to me. The student had become the Master. We began to} ‘recruit’ individuals we would meet to become part of our group. I looked for people that were strong but without direction, angry but fragile. Kids that never knew love but were looking for a "reason to exist". I would be that reason. I always liked the idea of a "clockwork orange" but my goals were much higher. I wanted the World to know my name. It started out basically as a "gang". The first one brought in was Robbie Taylor a.k.a. "Rockin’ Robbie". He was followed some weeks later by JoJo Stone and then "Mad Max" Morrison. I named him "3-M" for short. All of them were thieves, all hustlers of some kind and all had talented to achieve greatness but they did not believe in themselves. I was their leader now and gave them new names and I would refer to them as my "disciples" so it would reinforce their belief in me. With a title like that and with mind control and drugs… they would do anything I told them to. They believed I had the power to heal and that I could read their thoughts.

There were two girls that were brought into our "brotherhood" to become part of our "family". Lucy and Mary were like all the rest of us: childhood runaways, teenage prostitutes, thieves and beggars… all begging for love and a place to belong. I referred to them as my raging ‘angels’. They would do anything to please. They would steal food and cook for us. They would clean our clothes and would bring in other girls from time to time for our pagan celebrations. These "celebrations" were usually on Saturdays and I would speak to them all about love and freedom of the mind. Hallucinogenics (LSD and Ecstasy) were an important part of these "celebrations" and during the course of them, ritualistic orgies would take place. In these orgies one girl would be chosen as a sacrifice. Not to be sacrificed mortally but sexually and of their own will. Everyone would take them at some time in the evening. These were always done in an open field deep in the county side at night.

It was during one of these celebrations that I was conspicuously absent. When I appeared to them I had a small dove that was dead. The celebrations stopped as I blew my breath into the dove’s nostrils. The bird then rose up and flew away. They sat as I took a knife and slowly carved the word "God" into my forehead. Lucy and Mary licked the blood from my face as I had sex with them. The others fell on their knees and began to worship me as the new Messiah. The last face I saw that night was Judah’s… smiling at me.

We traveled around like gypsies from place to place. Any place where there were people that would listen to me speak, street corners, parks and any place where I could perform such "miracles" and make new converts. We eventually grew to a travelling revival of several hundred and took our own covered tent that could hold a thousand people and I could preach about love and "celebration" and freedom of the mind. I would cure people of disease and illness by faith healing. As time went by the covered tent was replaced by arenas and films of me were being sold on videos and DVD’s, and Judah was my right hand man. The World loved me… but now we were big business.

The magnitude of the phenomena of our ministry became truly frightening when I would get small glimpses of myself and what I was doing to those around me. Specially Judah. Had I been put on this Earth to do what I was doing? Was I God? Was I a piece of God (in the sense that we are all part of God)? Am I a prophet? Am I a messenger from God? Was I just a man with my own message born out of no love? Am I evil? Am I "The Great Deceiver"? or does God even know I exist?

These were all a vicious circle of questions that had become living torture. My soul in balance, my soul in perpetual transition, my soul the prize in the eternal war of two masters.

Was I in the Garden of Eden? If so, which one was I?

As in Revelation "out of my mouth came the power to change" Our Ministry of Pagan love was now the idolatry of me.

It was in the midst of our biggest world-wide revival. In Time Square in the middle of New York City. I looked up, and there, on the giant video screen, there I was. My face one thousand times larger than life. Electronically beaming like a great comet blazing through the sky. Lit up like a great fluorescent beacon. There I was. No longer just some cult phenomena the day of illuminated reckoning had come. I was "The Neon God". My message was being broadcasted to television sets around the world. The power of the electronic media is beyond comprehension, especially when you can sell people the idea of love and immortality. It all makes a monstrously powerful drug that dopes the masses, and once you get them hooked you own them for life. It is true that "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Then I was the King of all things corrupt.

It was not so much the message as it was the messenger. It was all in the delivery. It was a simple idea really. Give the masses false hope and in return the masses gave me love…..and power. It was basically drug addicts trading drugs.

I gave all the disciples new names. It had a dual purpose. First to lead them to believe that they were actually more important that they were, but also, to give them the sense that they had been reborn by a new father……me!

I was at the peak of my ministry. It was in one of our nightly celebrations that something caught my eye. With the light of the stage in my eyes where I was, it made it sometimes difficult to see the congregation, but there was an image that was half in the light and half in the darkness that I could not clearly recognize. The image kept pulling my attention in its direction. I stopped speaking and focused on the image. I asked it to come forward and show itself to me. Slowly, three men and a singe woman, naked, come into the light. We had a new follower in our midst. I had not seen her face for nearly 20 years but still I knew her. The last time I saw her face I was hysterical with fear and when I saw it, the same feelings flooded over me all again. The face was my mother's. She had abandoned me all those years ago and now she had come to "claim her son". I was the broken piece of her life. An innocent little heart, torn in two, and left to heal for itself. I never thought I could ever have raw nerve endings exposed again. But they came alive with every scarred pulsation. Was it the sight of seeing her in such a heathenistic state of just seeing her at all that enraged me.

The strange river of opposite emotions, hate and love, repulsion and attraction, wanting to touch her face but erase it forever from my mind. I had been in a safe place for so long but once again she had come and completely destroyed my world. She tried to worm her way back into my life. After the initial shock of seeing her again, I saw her for what she really was…..trash without hope of redemption. Lost on an imaginary highway. She was a pitiful vision of any motherhood. She had been dead in me for years but never more than now. Worship me her God? Oh mama why'd you come? She'd given and taken my life at the same time. I often fantasized how would I react if I ever saw her again, but it's never how you envision it to be. There are few pure emotions in life……Hate.

After she was gone, nothing seemed to matter to me anymore. For a long time I knew I was no son of God. I was no prophet. I was a phony, a con man, a liar who was scared of everything in the world.

I spent weeks trying to make some sort of sense of my life. I called my inner circle of Judah and the disciples together to tell them I was leaving and that I was not the messiah they believed in. I could see the look of disbelief on their faces. All expect for Judah. He had been the only thing propping me up for years to all the world. But now there was a problem. This thing of ours was now big business and once you're in, you're in for life. Their anger with me was great and they nicknamed me "Neon Dion" to voice their contempt for me. A sort of sarcastic mockery to their once exualted leader. There was a problem and the problem was me.

With me no longer willing to act as their puppet head. I posed a great risk to the cult. Exposing myself in anyway would bring down our house of cards. But I should have known Judah was too smart to ever let me get too far ahead of him. Too clever to ever let this Neon empire crumble.

Their unrest is great. They have plotted my death for the whole world to see. They do not believe I have knowledge of it. I do. But it is not fitting that it all ends this way?

Long ago I came down from the mountain where the raging storm had thundered. Unlike the burning bush of Abraham. I received no sign, I asked God,"Do you want me?, The silence was a deafening roar. Then, my path was clear. The great path from the mountain to now. Why then does the eternal conflict still rage in my soul?

I begin my descent of drunken power still tormented with the forever question, the quest of the Holy Trail.

Is there something out there greater than us? Is there a God? I hope so……because I am not him………..