The ruptured blisters on my feet made it painful to walk on the scorching pavement of the Orlando city streets. The blazing sun and humidity of summer stole my breath and sapped what little energy I had left.
My stomach ached from the hunger pains of not eating a solid meal in weeks. The bounty of fat I once carried was gone, exposing my ribs. Parasites lived on my flesh. The open sores from their bites hurt my skin.
I barely had enough strength to escape the unsympathetic restaurant owners who hurled rocks at me as I rummaged through their dumpsters.
I had been on-the-run for weeks but I was ready to give up. I had avoided capture but I was tired of living on the streets. I couldn’t run anymore. I surrendered. The cops had their fugitive. I went willingly into the back of the paddy-wagon.
Sitting behind his own set of bars was a dirty, smelly son of a gun. I guessed I wasn’t the only pick up of the day. His rancid breath oozed from behind his broken teeth.
He’s got to have one bad infection festering in there.
He caught me staring at him and he pulled his lips back, “What the hell are you looking at?”
I said nothing and looked away.
Two uniformed cops took us out of the van and brought us into the concrete building.
As they walked us down a long hallway, the other inmates verbally assaulted us. They scared me as their spit landed on me. They pounded on their cell doors. I kept my head down and just walked.
All the cells were full, some of them were doubled and tripled up with lawbreakers. They dumped me in the same cell as my rotting tooth van mate.
I figured we were going to be in there for some time, so I asked, “What’ya in for?”
Apparently, he didn’t want to hear any more questions. He ducked his head, barreled into my legs, and took me down with the swiftness of an Olympic wrestler. Before I could gather my wits, he bit my ear like a ravaged Mike Tyson to Evander Holyfield. I was trying to figure out what the hell was happening as the bastard kept assaulting me. I had no strength to fight but I had to protect myself. Otherwise, the smelly brute quite literally would have killed me.
I don’t know where it came from but my adrenaline surged in a fight or flight response. I certainly didn’t have the option to flee. I was stuck in a prison cell with this idiot. I had to fight!
My advantage was my size. I outweighed, by at least 40 pounds, the man with the Bonaparte Complex. You know what I’m talking about. Everyone has met someone like him. The little pip-squeak guy who thinks he’s as big as King Kong. All attitude.
I found the strength to stand and towered over Bonaparte. I saw my blood on his face but I saw fear in his eyes. I cornered him. He had nowhere to go. I was going to kill him, if I had to.
Living on the street made me harsh to showing emotions, compassion, and sympathy. I had become a thug, capable of killing someone, if it meant my survival.
Bonaparte must have realized the gravity of his situation. He saw my restrained rage and he submitted. He rolled over and exposed his belly, all four legs in the air, like a wimpy Jack Russel Terrier he was.
The conflict was over.
I went to the opposite corner of our cell and passed out. I knew Bonaparte would not pull another stupid stunt. I don’t know how long I slept on the cold concrete floor. However, the air in the prison cell was cool, crisp, and refreshing. I wasn’t sleeping on jagged rocks or getting kicked by wandering drunks either. I slept well, for the first time in weeks.
An officer came through a door and into the hallway. He said, “Oh man! What happened to the Samoyed?”
A second officer replied, “Looks like the big one got the short end of the straw. Got his ear split right in two. Damn dogs might kill each other. Better get that Sammy out of there before the rescue group comes to get him.”
What? Split in two? No wonder my ear hurts so damn much. Wait a minute, what rescue group? Where am I going now?
The first officer said, “I think he’s fine. It’ll give him character. We’ll let the rescue people figure out what to do with him.”
Character? I don’t need character. I need you to get me out of here. And fix my ear!
I ended up in a cell a few doors down from Bonaparte. A sort of solitary confinement I guess you would call it. I slept some more before the hallway door opening woke me up.
Officer # 2 spoke while walking down the hall.
“No history on him. Been trying like hell to get him for a while now. Finally got ‘em yesterday afternoon. Got his ass kicked by this Russell over here. He should be alright. Do what you want with him. He’s all yours now.”
This guy’s got a heart of stone. I didn’t choose this life, alright mister. I was just trying to survive.
I didn’t hate the guy. After all, he saved my life. I’m sure it ain’t easy doing what he does for a living. I had no idea where this woman was taking me but it had to better than this jail.
As I passed Bonaparte’s cell, I gave him a look.
“Good luck to ya man. Hope you get outta here soon too.”
I didn’t hate him either.
Life is too short to hold grudges…