A Tale of Two Towns

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 29, 2009

Each saga puts a lens on one of America's most prolific criminal demographics: one banking on Charlestown's infamous former pastime, the other suggesting that pharmacy heists are the new armored-car jobs. And both tap into the maniacal spirit of the once independent peninsula (Charlestown joined Boston only in 1874). If, as scores of writers have suggested, the Bunker Hill monument is a massive metaphorical phallus, it pumps enough testosterone to keep this whole metropolis on edge.

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TOWER OF POWER: The Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown is a massive metaphorical phallus, pumping enough testosterone to keep all of Boston on edge.
Conquering demons
Four years ago, Hickey assumed that getting tossed 80 feet into the Quincy quarries after a bad OxyContin deal would be the toughest trial of his life. A close second, he thought, would be recovering from the ensuing dislocated hip, separated pelvis, torn bladder and urethra, and seven-day coma he suffered, all while confined to a walker at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton. As it turned out, making an autobiographical film about his crooked past proved to be more challenging than detoxing on cold prison floors.

"This has been an extremely personal adventure," says Hickey, who drafted his screenplay as a student at Bunker Hill Community College soon after his 2004 prison release. "I've worked on movies where the budget was a hundred bucks and a Snickers bar, and I didn't want that to be the case with Oxy-Morons. This movie is about — and dedicated to — the dozens of people I know who have overdosed from heroin and OxyContin. It's too important to shoot on a Handycam, like I was prepared to do at first."

Hickey is a charismatic Italian-Irish Townie with a phenomenal Boston brogue who grew up slinging drugs and scrapping in the projects. A clever but mischievously inclined natural hustler who one friend describes as having been a "straight bandit," the 31 year old was first incarcerated in 2000 after Lynn police caught him with ecstasy and counterfeit cash. Hickey spent the following three years in and out of prison, his illegal behavior escalating into pharmaceutical robbery and distribution. By the time he woke up in Boston Medical Center with 170 stitches in his left leg — a week after his quarry dive — Hickey was a full-blown addict. "That was the last time I ever used drugs," he says. "I didn't even let the doctors give me morphine in the hospital because I was afraid of walking out with the same habit I went in with."

Two months into his rehabilitation from the accident and OxyContin, Hickey was informed that he owed the state six more months. He returned to Middleton — a physically trying environment, but, mentally, a walk in the touristy Charlestown Navy Yard compared with his quest to make Oxy-Morons. This Townie nobody somehow managed to elicit bites from such Tinsel Town hitters as Sopranos star James Gandolfini and director Ed Bianchi, best known for his work on The Wire, Deadwood, and Brotherhood. But after years of waiting patiently, Hickey decided that, if he wanted to make an authentic and didactic Charlestown flick, he couldn't do it with million-dollar marquee names.

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