Trouble In Paradise 

They Say You Write What You Know

Wednesday, Feb 25 1998

Page 3 of 6

One night me and my girl were drinking boilermakers and taking reds, and a locally famous sometime pro wrestler and all-the-time asshole came strolling into the joint we were frequenting at the time. A bar that had generous shots, cheap hot dogs and a good jukebox.

One thing led to another, and both being loaded and so on, the second or third time the young lady I was with told the maniac to buzz off I felt like I had to get involved, whether it was a stupid move or not. This guy scared the shit outta me. He was huge and way aggressive, had a big mean mouth to go with his oversize and mean everything else, and was rawjawing the whole bar before zeroing in on me and my girl. All 140 pounds of my poorly groomed leather-jacketed ass got in his face. His first shot took out my front teeth, I don't know if it was the second or third that broke my nose, and sometime after that he kicked me in the face good enough to split the skin from my eye to my temple. I remember rolling into a ball so he couldn't kick my head all the way off.

When he tired of putting the boots to me I was coughing up blood and looking up at him from the beer- and blood-soaked floor just in time to catch his mouthful of spit in my face.

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There was a Budweiser longneck lying on the floor, a and whether I grabbed it or it teleported into my hand I got no idea, but I do know that one second I was on the floor and the next I had his shirt bunched in one hand and the bottle in my other. When it hit him in the forehead the bottle broke off, leaving the neck and long slivers of razor-sharp glass in my hand. It felt like something ripped in my brain, like lightning was dancing behind my eyes, like my whole nervous system shorted out. I shoved the broken bottle into his face, and we both started screaming as my hand and the bottle went to work. The pain and fear and humiliation had combined to send me all the way over the edge. The guy's face before and after the amateur plastic surgery still haunts me.

The cops came and ambulanced us both to Mass. General for our injuries. I got charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, etc., and cuffed to my hospital bed. After my arraignment I ended up in Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane for observation. It was not a nice place. I'd spent some time at and finally escaped the Indiana Youth Center, one of the last juvenile facilities in this great nation of ours to use corporal punishment, but Bridgewater was something else. The huge brick-and-granite wall that surrounded it seemed older than time.

My first day in population, a guy was sitting and rocking back and forth in the day room, mumbling to himself and struggling to rip off the football helmet that had been tied to his head. I had my back to the wall, just watching my fellow nuts. Some were dangerous guys, killers. Some were alkies and dope fiends. Some of 'em were just motherfuckin' crazy, looney tunes. I was trying to figure out who was who when the guy that was rockin' and mumblin' succeeded in getting the football helmet off. Stood up and howled triumphantly, spiked the helmet into the floor, then lowered his head and ran full tilt into the brick wall. Boo-ya, just like goddamn Humpty Dumpty. Brains and blood all over the place.

Nobody even broke stride - card games continued, chess pieces were moved, sentences finished. I kept my back to the wall and watched the body twitch.

The lights of L.A. were like magic - I fell in love before the plane landed. It was Oz waiting to fall into the sea, the Sunset Strip, dope and broads and exotic cars, a land of limitless fucking opportunity.

They said go west young man, and I did. Hitting the Whisky and the Rainbow, slippin' and slidin', trippin' and glidin', life was a ball and a gas, livin' in free fall right up to the crash. Ate it on my Harley, crushed my right leg from the knee down.

Life became a drag. I had no dough and no way to make any. If you can't spell or count too well it's tough to get employment other than of the manual type. Sadly, not many people want to hire a crippled guy to carry shit or dig holes. And if you can't run, stealing is not a good idea. I was full-on homeless, crashing where I could, shoplifting when I got so hungry I didn't care if I got busted or not. And lonely like a motherfucker - for some reason when you're on the bottom people feel no need to socialize with you. One day I picked up a newspaper. Read the Help Wanteds to pass time, not because I thought I'd find anything. Saw an ad. It said: "If you can talk on the phone you can make big bucks."

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