A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over forty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.
The Current Cast of Characters:
Paul Howley: age 49
Mal Howley: age 50
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 20
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP: Part #217
The day after Mal’s father’s funeral, we left early in the morning to begin the very long drive from Massachusetts back to Florida. We were traveling about seventy miles per hour along a highway in rural Connecticut when we were passed by five young men on motorcycles. They must have been going at least ninety miles per hour. Mal and I looked at each other and thought, “Crazy kids.”
As the group of motorcycle-rider guys picked up speed and pulled further ahead of us, we saw one of the riders hit something in the road (like a small rock) and he lost control of the bike. His helmet flew off his head (we had noticed as he had passed us that the helmet was unstrapped) as the motorcycle flipped over and over and his body slammed against the wire guardrail along the left side of the highway.
I pulled my car over to the right side breakdown lane, asked Mal to call the police to notify them about the accident, and to give them the mile-marker number that I saw posted on the highway. I got out of my vehicle and ran across the mostly deserted highway to the accident victim. The rider was sitting upright on the road with his leather jacket shifted over his head and his motorcycle was shattered into pieces about fifty feet away. I couldn’t tell if he was alive but I noticed a pool of blood growing on the ground around him. I spoke to him, knowing he most likely couldn’t respond and told him help was on the way.
The victim’s friends hadn’t noticed that he wasn’t still riding behind them as they sped down the highway but by the time the police arrived, one of his friends had returned to the scene. When he saw the large pool of blood on the ground he freaked out. I tried to get him to be quiet, just in case his friend was still alive.
The police officer had already called an ambulance but before it arrived, he tried to remove the motorcyclist’s leather jacket. When he did, the front of the rider’s skull fell off. Clearly, he wasn’t alive.
I stayed there with them until the ambulance arrived. Since there was nothing I could do to help anyone, I returned to my car and we continued our long ride home. Mal and I both talked about how sad this was. The young man probably left his home thinking he was going to have a fun day of riding with his friends. We thought about his parents and the notification by the police about their son’s death that they’d soon get. As I write this story, eighteen years later, I still think about this tragedy.
Next chapter: The Wedding