FeaturedHistorical Fiction

Wild World

By

Loved it! 😍

An interesting take on the lives of young people after the massacre at kent State university almost exactly 50 years so.

Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the protest era of the early 1970s, a gripping novel of a power, corruption, injustice, courage, and hope—and one tenacious young man whose determination to overturn the system holds unexpected consequences for his own life.

Steve Logan, an idealistic young man who wants to make the world better. Weeks before his graduation from Brown, he’s meets a reform-minded cop from New York City who convinces Steve that to change the system, he has to get involved. Fueled by a strong sense of moral justice, Steve joins the Providence Police Department. Though he’s eager to make a difference, fighting the establishment is overwhelming. His education makes him an outsider, and his honesty makes him a threat to the corrupt and sadistic cops who use the badge for money and power. At home, his college friends think he’s a traitor, and even Roxy, the compassionate med student he loves, has begun to pull away. But Steve isn’t going to give up. He devises a dangerous plan to radically shake up the system and take his enemies down . . . unless they take him out first.

It is hardly a coincidence that Peter Rush has written this story of police brutality and corruption 50 years since the massacre at Kent State University on May 4th 1970 as the story begins with that epic event, and follows the lives of students from Brown University. Rush takes a new look at an event that shook the world.


Steve Logan and his girlfriend Roxy Fisher, share with two others, Cal and Andy – and they are deeply affected by the death of the four Kent State students (nine others were injured) who were protesting President Nixon’s speech on April 3rd 1970 announcing the invasion of Cambodia.  Steve visits the campus and is horrified to find himself being bullied by State police, and Steve can’t believe that one actually held a bayonet to his throat. It is this exposure to police brutality that triggers their various reactions to the draft.


Andy gets his draft notice, Cal joins the Peace Corps to avoid the draft and Steve decides to join the Police Department in Roxy’s home town of Providence after listening to a seminar where one cop said he had chosen to do the ‘right thing’. Steve in his naivety thinks he can follow suit – but can he?


As one of the first college-educated rookies on the Police Force he is given a really hard time. His fellow cops openly gun for him or at best keep their distance. He is given the worst assignments, sent to the roughest locations and even brutally attacked in the locker room. But it is out on patrol he learns the extent of the bribery and corruption taking place. Almost every business in town hands over cash on the quiet and Steve starts keeping records of who bribes who, when and how much.


It doesn’t take long for him to be completely ostracised by his fellow cops – and when he finds himself and his friends in danger he decides to split. He hands over all the accumulated evidence to an fbi contact, tips off a reporter on the local newspaper, and joins the Peace Corps. His efforts are finally vindicated as the story breaks, the crooked cops from the top down are arrested - and he finally gets back to his girlfriend.  

Reviewed by

A journalist in South Africa, I moved to the UK. Assistant Editor of magazines, then into corporate communication. Fellow of IABC
Author of Cry of the Rocks, and two romances. Won SA Writers' Circle book awards twice. Numerous reviews.

Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the protest era of the early 1970s, a gripping novel of a power, corruption, injustice, courage, and hope—and one tenacious young man whose determination to overturn the system holds unexpected consequences for his own life.

Steve Logan, an idealistic young man who wants to make the world better. Weeks before his graduation from Brown, he’s meets a reform-minded cop from New York City who convinces Steve that to change the system, he has to get involved. Fueled by a strong sense of moral justice, Steve joins the Providence Police Department. Though he’s eager to make a difference, fighting the establishment is overwhelming. His education makes him an outsider, and his honesty makes him a threat to the corrupt and sadistic cops who use the badge for money and power. At home, his college friends think he’s a traitor, and even Roxy, the compassionate med student he loves, has begun to pull away. But Steve isn’t going to give up. He devises a dangerous plan to radically shake up the system and take his enemies down . . . unless they take him out first.

Four Dead in Ohio


May 1970

When Steve Logan stepped into the sunlight that Monday, he began to make small decisions that would change his life. he felt a very different vibe on the Brown University campus. The mellow spring weekend had turned to an eerie chill. Students were pouring out of classrooms, not in their normal sleepy stroll but in panic and confusion. The action passed in slow motion chaos as a knot grew in Steve’s stomach. What didn’t he know?

he grabbed a thin, intense kid with black glasses who looked like he was on the path to Faunce house, the student union. “What’s going on?”

“They’re killing kids on campus.” The boy’s acned face was a mix-

ture of fear and incomprehension. he stood perfectly still, looking at the ground.

“What? Where? here?”

“Kent someplace—shooting protesters. It’s on the news.”

Steve released the boy, who ran toward the student center without looking back. Killing kids on campus . . . anti-war demonstrations



had been growing since Nixon had invaded Cambodia but. . . . It had to be a mistake. As Logan sprinted toward his apartment, his long brown hair trailing like a pennant, he thought how Nixon had increased the venom about college protesters. But shooting kids on campus? he stretched his legs, glad for the power he’d built through lacrosse, as the trees flew by—it was one more block. he had to get home to Roxy.

he dug deeper into his training for more speed. This was fucked up. It couldn’t be true. It had to be something else—an assassination or madman with a gun.

Taking two steps at a time up, he flew to the third floor of the wooden New England floor-through. Roxy Fisher, wearing a white peasant blouse, was sitting in the maroon salvaged chair in the living room under a full-wall mural, whose screaming, clashing colors reflected the turmoil Steve felt. her lips were drawn tightly, and small tears were running from her eyes. Steve bent and kissed her on the cheek, wiping her tears with his shirt. his roommates, Cal Metcalf IV, a thin, over-achieving Boston prep-school kid, and Andy Powers, with his blond afro, were sitting on the sagging couch. They were watching Walter Cronkite on a small black-and-white tv on the table next to three empty Narragansett bottles. Steve inhaled deeply to catch his breath as he listened.

Today at Kent State University in Ohio, four students were killed and nine wounded when students attacked the National Guard troops as they were trying to prevent the students from taking over administration buildings. The National Guard said they were in fear of their lives by the mob.

“Shit. Shit! Kids are attacking armed troops? We had a half a million at Woodstock last summer and no violence,” Cal said, his face lined with sweat.

                                                                              

“A million march on Washington to end this fucking war. No violence. A bunch of kids at nowhere U, and the National Guard in full battle gear shoots them down. This is fucked up,” Andy yelled at the television in his Long Island accent.

Roxy rose. “I can’t believe I’m watching this.” She buried herself

in Steve’s chest. “Is this the start of the revolution?”

Steve quietly stroked her head, trying to comprehend the scene

on the television. he watched the Vietnam War—body counts— death on tv every night—it was destroying the country. his father’s generation—the World War II veterans—didn’t understand why his generation hated this war.

Steve tried to explain to his father that there wasn’t a Pearl harbor—the Vietnamese didn’t attack. There were no front lines, no war objectives, just drafting kids as cannon fodder to fight little men in black pajamas. Nixon just expanded the endless war, dividing the country more than ever. And now body counts had come to the college campus. he felt the country had, without warning, begun devouring its young. College students like Steve and his roommates, students who should be making the world a better place.

he felt sick, like when the box on the schoolroom wall had announced President Kennedy was dead. These were just kids, like them, protesting just like them, not thinking of the consequences. Murdered by American troops?

Roxy turned and stared at the tv, small tears still seeping from her eyes. She was so vulnerable. Steve wanted to protect her because she had recently lost her father and sister, and her relationship with her mother was badly frayed. She leaned back against him and he surrounded her shoulders with his arms. he could smell the baby shampoo in her hair. Could he leave her for law school? he felt her quiver in his arms, and he pulled her tighter.

“Roxy, you’re from Ohio. Is that some radical hotbed?” Cal looked

over his glasses at her.


“Baloney with mustard on rye is radical. Why not Berkeley or Columbia?” She turned her head to Steve, and he could feel her rising sadness. he wanted to go back to yesterday, to Spring Weekend with Judy Collins singing on the green and Roxy’s head in his lap. It was all so peaceful. how had the country come to this? The Vietnam War was wrong, and protesting was now punishable by death.

“Shut up,” Cal snapped. “Let’s hear the rest.”

The students were unarmed, and observers said they posed no direct threat to the Guardsmen. It is reported that two of the dead were students on their way to class, who were not part of any demonstration. Two male and two female students were killed. Over sixty rounds of ammunition were fired at the unarmed students. Officials are questioning why the Guardsmen were issued live ammunition and who gave the order to fire.

The students were protesting President Nixon’s speech on April 30th, announcing the invasion of Cambodia by u.s. forces, further widening the war in Southeast Asia. Governor James Rhodes justified the shooting, calling the protesters,

“un-American, bent on destroying higher education in Ohio.”

The television replayed tear gas and troops with fixed bayonets marching across the campus as students scattered in every direction. Steve imagined Cal fleeing in fear as the bullets cracked and Andy gasping for air as the tear gas cut off his oxygen. And he was pulling Roxy to safety while she wanted to confront the troops. It happened at Kent State to kids just like them. It could have been in Providence or any other college town. The country would not be the same—it couldn’t go back. But where was forward?

Andy paced in a circle, his mustache flexing as he tightened his jaw and his blond afro seeming to grow. Finally, he pulled up and Four Dead in Ohio 5

spat out, “They trained a generation of killers of women and children in Vietnam. Now it’s come home. Maybe they will napalm this place and put us all out of our misery.” The longest hairs of his handlebar mustache quivered as he spoke.

Students around the nation are calling for strikes on campus in solidarity with the students killed at Kent State.

Andy stood with his thick arm raised and shouted at the televi-

sion, “That’s right! We’ve got to shut it down!” Cal jumped to his feet, fist raised.

“I’m so afraid. What’s going to happen next?” Roxy’s body tensed. Steve felt cold at the anger in the room. Was all he had been taught about America wrong? These were executions like in some Third World dictatorship. he always believed in the heroes, the good guys with white hats. Too many Westerns and war movies? No, he knew his history, and this was bullshit—just plain wrong. Was this the beginning of the revolution? Kids against kids—young against the old? But what would he do? he stroked Roxy’s shoulder. her moist eyes were set with determination, and he moved a strand of her dark hair from her face to behind her ear. Who were they? he had thought of politics in the abstract, like most people. But this time, it was very real to him and her. They weren’t going to be spectators as the country went up in flames.

“We can’t just watch this on tv,” Roxy said. “Are you going to stay with me?” her green eyes danced under her raised eyebrows. he squeezed

her hand. “Yes.”

Cal and Andy were chanting at the tube, “Shut it down! Shut it

down! Shut it down!”

Roxy pulled Steve’s arms to her chest. These deaths had changed the stakes. he wasn’t afraid but confused. Yesterday, life had been perfect. He wanted to take her away to live in a cabin in the woods or on some commune. But that wasn’t going to happen. he wasn’t going to run; he had to live up to his expectations. Life had seemed sorted out, with graduation only weeks away and law school. Now she wanted him to stay. So he was without a plan or a defined goal, questioning everything he thought he knew.

What was today about? Assassinations, riots, Black Panthers, peace marches, and Woodstock. Graduation at the end of the month had been the goal, but now he didn’t know what would come next.

“Yes,” he said trying to imagine some heroic gesture. “We can

do anything.”

Roxy smiled her liquid warmth, and he pulled her tightly to his chest, not wanting to ever let her go. What he was watching was wrong, he knew that, but what could he do to make it right? They turned and joined the chant. “Shut it down! Shut it down!” What would he, could he do? 

About the author

Peter S. Rush is a graduate of Brown University and masters in creative writing from University of Florida. He was a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, Peace Corps volunteer and a police office. He is the author of the awarding winning novel Wild World. Visit www.petersrush.com view profile

Published on September 01, 2020

Published by

90000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by

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