by Sic Jacken
A dark theatre, dimly lit by colored stage lights, begins a night of events that will change my life forever. It was January 28, 1999 at a Delinquent Habits show at the El Rey Theatre in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles, and we [The Psycho Realm], Duke, TRT, Soda, Sporty, Crow, Silent, and myself, were there to show support. We roamed in a satirical wilderness of alcohol, drugs, and freaky women like any typical sickside concert. Like a circus sideshow, drunken women entertained us in a dark corner of the venue. All of us laughing at their soul sacrifice done to spend one night with one of the band. I watched over my little brother, smiling; silhouette holding a glass of burgundy. It is strange how I had the feeling that something was going to happen to him.
Duke used to always say that he was going to meet tragedy in his late twenties like the legends of old music. I think we all felt the same way, which is why we got angry when he talked about it.
The Delinquent Habits roamed the stage, their music orchestrating the sick to get sicker, fade to untamed souls. Our spirits danced the ritual of sin, but our skin remained still. The show was over. We filed slowly out of the theatre, wine shuffling with women under our arms. As we waited for our cars, we stood on the sidewalk and tried to agree on a place to go. Sporty and the crew wanted to head over to a club. I wanted to go hang out somewhere, and Duke wanted to go eat. We ended up splitting the party three ways. I got in my car with my old lady and drove away.
When I got home, my old lady's mother had a scared look on her face. It almost looked disfigured, an emotion's power twisting the face to communicate internal feelings. She said Soda called to say my brother was shot in the face. Fuck! I grabbed the phone from her trembling hands and dialed Soda's pager, adding 911*911. He called right back, his adrenaline flowing, and managed to tell me what happened and where they were at. From what I was told, the scene unfolded itself not long after they got to Tommy's on Rampart. Duke, Soda, Silent, and three girls grabbed some hamburgers and stood along side a wall, eating at the stand. Duke escaped the scene momentarily to release some wine in the restroom. At that time, a fight broke out inthe line to one of the two registers. Security broke it up and instructed the two men who caused it to leave. As they walked away like tough guys, they began looking for the next battle. They turned their negative scope to Soda and Silent.
My brother exited the restroom entering the scene of animosity, words of conflict drowning in the effects of alcohol amounting to confusion. Duke himself was served with insults and words to test him. He walked across the street towards the bigger of the two to find out what the problem was. In the mix of confrontation, the smaller, more frightened of the two, was quick to draw his strap and cock the hammer. My brother looked at the young coward for a second and then ignored him. He turned as if in a trance, automatically, and walked with a blank stare to his destiny. A frozen fraction of a second would have captured the moment. The trigger pulled, a bullet released, a beautiful painting tampered with and turned ill. Neck canvas pierced with lead poison, and the picture we had was forcefully replaced with a snapshot of horror.
The bullet entered through the right side of the neck, severing one of the main arteries. It then forced its way to the lower back of his neck, ending up between the "L" an "O" of his "Los Angeles" tattoo. The impact from the bullet put pressure on the spinal cord. Instantly paralyzed, Duke buckled and fell backwards onto the battlefield pavement. Shock invaded his world. His eyes wide with confusion, his face went through a whirlwind of emotion. The shooter fled the scene.
It is said that you can die of blood loss from a main artery in a matter of seconds, and it doesn't help if you've been drinking all night. Silent reacted quickly in a situation that would have left most stunned stiff. Silent dropped to his knees and applied pressure to the neck wound with both hands. Duke stared at him with a look of despair, shock, and fear. That could leave a bad memory imprint on anybody's mind. Duke wasn't blinking, he wasn't moving, and after a while, Silent reached over to close his eyes. Surprisingly, Duke forced his eyes open, fighting to stay alive. He gave Silent the same look as before. After a few moments of appearing dead, Silent closed Duke's eyes again and a stubborn Duke popped them open again, this time yelling at Silent that he wasn't ready to go. The ambulance arrived and took him away to County Hospital.
Driving at 110 miles per hour, I arrived at the crime scene in no time while praying that my brother wasn't dead. Police cars, detectives, civilians, all in a dreamlike sequence of lights and mood. Ignoring the questions, I saw Duke's jacket on the ground, a river of blood flowing from under it.
The breakdown of my soul caused my body to slump. I asked for my brother and left for the hospital when they told me where he was taken.
The drama in an emergency room is so thick that it crowds the room. The nurse, after finding out who I was, told me to wait by the door so that I could see my brother as they wheeled him out to the operating room. She then handed me a broken chain that I recognized as the one my father had given Duke when he was a child. When I saw him, while taking one painful look at him, I realized that our lives would never be the same. I then called my parents, but when I told my father his son got blasted, he said, "Yeah, I know": A father's intuition. Later I learned that my brother was at their house the day before and as he was leaving, my Dad told my Mom, "Look at him." "What?" said Mom. Dad replied,"Look at him. Something ain't right. Something is going to happen to him." Mom said, "Well, give him a blessing before he leaves." That was all they could do. Duke flatlined for about four minutes when he arrived at the hospital but was slowly walking away form his D.O.A. He came out of surgery swollen, clamps sticking a few inches out of his neck. He was to lay unconscious for about a week. My imagi-nation tells me that he fought the reaper every single minute of lights out.
The doctors did not help to ease a poor family's sor-row. Their words did more damage to hope than the bullet itself. According to science, Duke wasn't going to make it. He had lost too much blood and his chances of recovery were slim. But, once again, he beat the odds.
Now, Duke is undergoing rehabilitation. The struggle to regain control of his body is an uphill battle. The doctors give him the look they would give to a lowlife and don't show much interest. I'm not saying all doctors are like that, but live seen it in more conser-vative ones. They keep bringing up the word 'resources', which is a formal term to point out my parents' financial standing. But when you ask if moneys an issue in a patient's medical outcome, they're quick to say it's not. I should ask if 'resources' play a big part in the whole picture. Regardless of the roadblocks, we proceed with hope and strength in efforts to regain our lives. We refuse to let one worthless action by an equally valued individual defeat us. What puzzles me the most is, if you're such a tough guy, why pull out a gun when you're instigating a fistfight? I guess pistol backup can give anybody big balls, huh, tough guy Save it for the revolution, or for when someone breaks into your home.
Use it to protect your family Otherwise, handle con-flicts with closed fists. That way everyone can get up and walk away. To all those who prayed and never lost hope, my family sends its gratitude and appreciation. Somebody's prayer was heard. To those who hated, thank you for making us stronger. Payback would only perpetuate the devil's cycle of violence and buy me a ticket to hell, so I hope this can serve as an example to those who are interested and open-minded. It serves as a physical example of the message we give with every lyric. Everybody's against us so why should we be against ourselves. I choose to let it be, and give all my energy to helping my brother out.
We're currently working on releasing two new albums this year, the first to be dropped in May Both A War Story' parts 1 and 2 will be on our own label, Sick Symphonies. A large portion of income from music sales, as well as merchandise sales, will be going to Duke's trust fund, which in turn will pay for future surgeries and hospital bills.
For any infor-mation on Psycho Realm or Duke's improvement, log on to our website at www.psychorealm.com
If you wish to make a donation or send a letter, mail to: Sick Symphonies C/O Duke 13502-H Whittier Blvd. #121 Whittier, California 90605