Thursday, October 22, 2009

an old man has a fist fight.

This is a PRE SEC tale of Tokie and I, happened about 10 years ago before i started doing the sunglasses and cane business. It really isn't too pretty a story, but I suppose I ought to tell it if the coast is clear.

All I will say is this: It involves a smart ass 17 YO punk kid, a cat, $10, some missing teeth, and a lesson taught regarding cruelty to animals.

The $10 wasn't paper money.

FWIW, the atty visit is family business.OK this is well before Tokie became the Seeing Eye Cat and shot to stardom at This was when he was just another nobody cat that had been rescued by Mrs. Pic.

Shortly after the little guy came into my life, we found out he was sick. He was eating like a horse, but not gaining any appreciable weight. A trip to the vet and blood work told us he had a thyroid problem. We took him to Cleveland Clinic for radioactive iodine therapy; the offshoot being a visit from the Atomic Energy commission, thanks to Neighbor Bob putting a Nuclear Waste sticker on the trash cans which is another tale of laughter in itself. Oh, well. Someone remind me to tell that tale of woe and governmental stupidity. If it hadn’t been so funny, I swear I’d have shot Neighbor Bob.

Anyway, the little guy got better and would walk with me on a leash and I often took him on my rounds.

Work was going OK; except my vessel had been sold out from under me and I had to go through the madness of the bid process to find another permanent job. I never lost any work, though. I worked relief where they sent me, but I was truly a gypsy. I never knew how long I would be, or on what boat, so instead of using the company supplied bedding, I brought my own in the form of a lightweight sleeping bag. The sleeping bag started getting a little funky, so it was wash time.

Everyone knows that the average washing machine is a little too small for sleeping bags, so it was Laundromat time.

I had gotten off the day previously and still had the sleeping bag in a backpack. I decided to get that job taken care of. I put Tokie on his leash and we hopped into the pickup and off we went to the bank to get some scratch. We entered and the teller smiled, but did not boot us out. Banks are hit or miss over some things, and although this was not a case of Tokie being in his more famous role of a Seeing Eye cat, it did look a little odd. The teller was amused, so the bank let us slide.

I got myself fifty bucks walking money, two twenties paper, and ten bucks silver for the Laundromat. The paper went into my jeans pocket, and I dropped the roll of quarters into the patch pocket of my barn coat. I noticed the quarters were in a new style roll of some kind of plastic shit and scowled until I remembered I had my rope knife in my pocket.

We got to the strip mall where the Laundromat was and I got out of the pickup with Tokie on his leash. He balked a little at first, but started walking alongside me. I had parked some distance away from the laundry.

We wandered up to the start of the sidewalk and started down the strip, sassing by one of the stores. Someone looked at the sight of a cat on a leash and looked amused. We walked on.

A big teenager came toward us, head on from the other direction, and I gave him a passing glance. When he got closer, I looked a little closer. He was about seventeen or so. On an even closer inspection, I realized he was one of those ‘overdeveloped’ kids.

Most of us have had a kid like that with us in school. I know I did, his name was Larry. Larry was taller than the rest of us, and had probably started shaving at about ten or so, daily at about eleven and by the time he joined Scouts, he probably had the 5 O’clock shadow by two in the afternoon.

Larry was a pretty good kid, really. He was sort of a gentle giant. However, some of these overdeveloped kids either from teasing or whatever can turn into bullies. Something told me the kid in front of me had shaken down more than one of his schoolmates for their lunch money.

I hoped he didn’t have a penchant for animal cruelty. I wasn’t going to stand for that for an instant. We faced each other and made our passing arrangements. One whistle. We would pass each other portside to portside, and I veered off to my right to facilitate a save passage. Tokie was hipped up on my portside.

This was my first mistake. I should have held out for a two whistle passing situation, and put Tokie against the building, where he would have been a little safer. The kid held course and speed, but I was still a bit wary. Instinct.

At the last minute, I jerked the little guy out of the way of a mean spirited ‘accidental’ kick.

My temper flared and I called the oversized yard ape a few of the things I heard in basic training and started in on his parentage, birth and legitimacy. Instantly, I knew I had my hands full, so I opened the door to the floral shop, tossed Tokie inside, leash and all, shouted for someone to hold on to him, closed the door, dropped my pack and faced the oversized orangutan.

I wasn’t going to start anything, but I wasn’t going to give an inch over this kind of shit. Not from snot nosed kid like this, or anyone else, for that matter. There was no excuse for this and I wasn’t going to put up with it.

I sucked it in for a second and decided I was going to play this one to win. Not just the battle, but the war. I was not going to go on the offensive. That would be a case of winning the battle and losing the war. I wasn’t really going to go into a defensive position, either. That could be a losing situation. My plan was to try putting myself into a counter offensive situation. He would start it, and I would finish it. I also knew that I had witnesses. The florist had snagged Tokie’s leash and looked out the door window.

I was a bit out of practice. It had been quite a while since I had been in combat, but I guess I hadn’t really forgotten everything. Of course, to the soldier, combat is pretty clear. Win or lose. This was different. I didn’t want to wind up in jail, either. The kid was, after all, a kid. He was boy in a man’s body. In court, they’d put him in a Buster Brown suit, give him a lollipop and he’d look like a nice little boy some mean old guy brutally assaulted for no good reason. I’d hang.

We exchanged insults, I was soft, and he was very loud. This was another thing in my favor. The witnessing florist couldn’t hear me, but she heard his threats. They were loud, ugly and violent. This was in my favor.

I egged him on quietly another time and he played into my hand. He shoved me.

I hit the wall harder than I had to, for show and bounced off.

“Don’t hit me!” I shrieked in a loud, high pitched panicky voice. He neared me again. I held up my left hand as if to fend him off and he neared me closer. Suddenly, my left hand thrust forward and arrived in his face. My index and middle fingers hit his eyes.

Moe Howard would have been proud of me. All of those episodes of The Stooges I had watched over the year had paid off. I had disabled my opponent with a near perfect Three Stooges two finger shot in the eyes. However, I realized I had screwed up. I had pulled the punch a little too much.

I figured I had only a few seconds before the shit was going to hit the fan and that things were not going to be very nice. My kindness was hurting me badly. I pulled the punch because I wanted to simply temporarily disable him. I didn’t want to detach retinas or do permanent damage.

I figured I had a couple of seconds, and it was time to end the fight here and now. I balled my fist and at the last minute, realized that I was making the same mistake twice. My hand darted into my coat pocket and I grabbed my ten dollars laundry money and stepped to his left side and waited a second for him to move his hand. He moved it out of the way, exposing himself for a good shot and I took it. I hit him as hard as I could, heard a snap and wondered if I had busted a finger like I had years ago.

The kid hit the pavement like he was a sack. His mouth was a bloody mess and I knew it was over, at least the combat part. I also knew I had to boogie on out of the area, and fast.

The door to the florist shop opened and two women walked out. One of the women looked at the kid, then at me.

“That kid has been trouble for months,” she said. “He finally got it.”

The other woman looked at him a bit more carefully.
“Why didn’t you just shoot him?” she asked. She was being sarcastic.

I lifted my coat, exposing a .380 automatic. “I didn’t think that was necessary,” I said. That opened here eyes wide for a second.

“I guess you’re right,” she said. I relaxed a bit. I knew these women would tell the police what happened and put me in a good light. I snagged Tokie and started to leave.

“Leaving?” asked the florist.

“Yeah, I’m an adult and he’s a kid,” I said. “Under those circumstances, I’m going to wind up in jail. If I leave and you two tell the cops what happened, there’s a good chance they won’t come looking for me. They’ll take your word for it.”

“I think you’re right,” said the older woman, thoughtfully.

The younger woman then did a funny thing; she took some flowers out of a vase and poured the water on the kid. He moaned softly. “They do this in the movies,” she said.

I took off.

Three miles down the road, I pulled into a bar with Tokie and downed a fast triple shot of brandy. I was trying to beat the after action shakes, but I was too late. The bartender knew something was wrong, so he ignored Tokie. The shakes started in hard, so I downed another. Then I realized I had slammed about 8 ounces of hard liquor on an empty stomach. I was hosed. Driving home was out.

I asked for the phone and called Neighbor Bob at work. He grabbed an employee and was there in about fifteen minutes. They took my truck home with me in it.

About a week later, I ran into a cop I knew at the 7-11 and he gave me an odd look and asked me a couple vague questions, I gave vague answers. I swear he knew about it.

A month later, I passed by the florist again and she told me that she didn’t think I had anything to worry about; it seemed the cop who showed up knew the kid was a troublemaker, too. She also told me she had overheard the paramedics say it looked like a broken jaw and some missing teeth.

I’m not really proud of this, but it is part of the relationship I had with Tokie, and it belongs with the Seeing Eye cat stories. FWIW, I have changed the places slightly and mentioned no names.

I’ll say this: If Tokie was still alive and this happened today, I swear I’d do it all over again. I can’t stand animal cruelty.

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