Bill’s Story Chapter One

“If we buy a piano, will you take piano lessons with me?” asked Billy’s mom, Shirley Webb when he was seven.

“Yes!” Billy answered without hesitation and so began what was to become a lifetime career.

Shirley quit her lessons after less than a year, but Bill continued going every week and practicing every day. He would practice so hard, it was not uncommon to hear him bang the keys several times in frustration. His mother would finally shout from the kitchen, “Billy, why don’t you go outside and play for a while?” But he wouldn’t. He kept at it until he conquered the stubborn musical passage.

Billy played fast and hard pouring all his feelings out on the piano. His piano teachers would say, “Slow down. It’ll be easier to learn the notes.” But he couldn’t slow down. He was a dynamo even at seven.

All through grade school, Billy rarely missed a lesson and often bicycled over three miles down Milwaukee sidewalks to get there.

In third grade, Billy planned an after school bicycle trip to Kiddietown, a small amusement park near the largest shopping center in the country, Capital Court, with Rosemary. He was so excited as they bicycled to his house to get some money for the rides. No one was home when he got there, but he looked at the kitchen clock and suddenly remembered it was piano lesson day! He ran outside to the awaiting Rosemary, gave her half the money and told her she would have to go to Kiddietown by herself. He pedaled his little twenty inch bicycle from his home at 73rd and Hampton all the way to Ochs House of Music at 42nd and Fond Du Lac. He never knew what Rosemary did that day because she never talked to him again! Alas, a love lost, yet a love gained.

When the age of reason came – this would be early adolescence when a child begins to understand abstract reasoning and thinks he has it all figured out – Billy became Bill and was transplanted from his public school life and friends into a private, college preparatory school called Country Day. He became depressed and quit piano lessons in despair and loneliness. One small yet significant incident describes the change that came over him, and the beginnings of the spiritual connection that eventually became his spiritual path in life.

“At age fourteen, I was transplanted to in a nouveaux-riche subdivision called Lac Du Cours in Mequon, WI. Alienated from friends and old neighborhoods, I began to explore the surrounding woods, lake and swamp alone. I had a peculiar fascination for the swamp as its’ deep woods center was said to be inaccessible which provided just the challenge my lonely rebellious soul needed.

“On a cold overcast autumn Saturday, I found myself hopping from tree root to tree trunk toward the center. After a few minutes, I looked up into the sunless sky and realized I had lost my sense of direction. I tried to look back from where I came, but all the trees, standing above the brackish water on their little mounds of soft moss looked alike. Panic set in as I looked wildly in all directions even the sky for some familiar.

“I remembered moss grew on the north side of trees, but all the tree trunks looked to be covered in moss on all sides. Gloomy hangings of who knows what surrounded me and seemed to get thicker. On the move again, I jumped from mound to mound the mounds getting smaller and the water more prevalent. I leaped too wide an expanse and slipped off the next mound. In water just below my knees, and with arms flailing, I struggled to step to the next mound with no success. My feet were stuck and the more I struggled, the deeper I seemed to go.

“The water rose above my knees and this supposedly brave adventurer began to scream in panic. In the flash of a moment, I felt a great pressure on my shoulders as if something or someone was trying to push me down into the muck. Terror shot through my body like a shiver of iced lightening and I screamed, “No! No! No!” In that same instant, I felt light as a feather, and with renewed energy gave my leg a big hoist. It broke loose almost effortlessly and I stepped onto the soft moist ground.

“I turned around in time to see an indefinable shadow of some sort whisk away across the swamp. I turned away in fear and my eyes immediately fell upon a signpost through the trees ahead. I followed it easily back to the street.

“I never returned to the swamp. Even in winter when it and the lake froze over I only skated near the edge. I soon forgot the incident until years later when I wondered whether I had escaped an attempt by something evil to do me in or if the foreboding I felt was actually an angel that motivated me to gain my freedom.”

The next fourteen years became an age of dark pressure pushing Bill down deeper and deeper into darkness until he finally jumped out into the light.