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I Have A Right To The Streets: A Short Story

Updated on December 13, 2016
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The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


His new home was a deep southern federal prison in a deep southern state. He had been convicted of cruelty to an animal and five counts of attempted homicide. He had been cruel to the animal, if you call chopping its head off "cruel." The justice system had decided that the family that had owned the dog and who lived in the house from whence it came, had been next on His agenda. Their number had been five and so that is how the system arrived at the five counts.

He had not been able to afford an attorney. A public defender was assigned to Him and... well, here He is.

It was 2015 but He could imagine Himself winding up dressed in black and white striped pajamas, working on a chain gang. A little snatch of a song came to Him: "I been working on the railroad, all the live long day..." Was He to be John Henry the steel drivin' man now with His only hope of escape to work Himself until His heart literally exploded in His chest?

He took the bed sheets and meager toiletries they gave Him into His cell. A man had already claimed the bottom bunk. The man was bespectacled and soft-looking, like a harried, middle-aged accountant.

Before even asking His name, the man in the bottom bunk said, "So what're you in for?" Just like they did in the movies.

"Attempted murder."

"Should I be worried?"

"About what?"

"Your temper. You do have an explosive temper, I suppose."

"Not really."

"Why'd you try to kill somebody, then?"

"I didn't."

"Let me guess: You're innocent, right?"

"I killed a dog."

"That's not exactly a small thing, mister. I like dogs, myself."

"So do I. Its just that this dog didn't like me."

The bespectacled man sat up and patted a spot right next to him. "Wanna talk about it?"

He told the bespectacled man His story

What it amounted to was this: He was poor and could not afford a car. No buses ran out in the boondocks where He lived; and it was naturally too expensive to try to take cabs everywhere He wanted to go.

He could have bought a bicycle but He would have had nowhere to put it. He rented a small basement apartment---well, it was more like a room. It could have been worse. At least He had enough room to turn around and stand up without bumping His head on the ceiling. The paper thin walls had inspired His practice of monastic silence whenever He was forced to spend time there.

So He walked and there was this one dog that never ceased to harass Him. He walked by, as He'd had no other choice but to do, and this dog would come racing up to bark at Him. The dog ran hard and was only restrained by a long leash at the last moment.

If He had not been poor, He would not have had to suffer the indignity. He was not there to do anybody harm. He was simply scratching along with His insignificant existence like everybody else---just with a lot less money than other folks.

If He could have avoided the dog, He would have. He was no masochist.

He had heard that dogs were "territorial" and protective. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn't; but in His heart He could not make Himself believe that the dog was really "protecting" anything, since He had never gave any indication that He wanted to even step onto that family's property unbidden. Those people were strangers to Him.

That damn dog barked after Him long after He had passed by. This was a big, muscular dog. One that was liable to do real damage, one day, if that leash ever broke.

He decided that He would simply have to make preparation. He didn't have much in this world but He figured He'd had the right to walk the streets unmolested, if He was minding His own business.

But that damn dog obviously didn't see it that way. It was really those damn people that owned that damn dog, who didn't see it that way. He understood that in their eyes---those damn people---the poor did not even have the right to walk the streets. Their so-called "guard dogs" told them so.

So He saved His money. He put all other priorities, except for eating, on hold. When He finally had enough, He went to the public library and used one of the Internet computers to go online and order a long, thin sword. Such things are easy. And while he thought that he would have to contrive a sort of under the jacket, ratchet, spring-release holder Himself, He saw that such things, ready-made, were also available on the Web.

The weather was turning cooler in November and He took to wearing a long coat. He had His sword, under His coat, attached to His spring-loader ratchet device. With a flick of the wrist, the sword----more like a long blade---would shoot down the inside of His sleeve and be in His hand in half a second.

He was ready for that dog. He was ready for anyone and anything.

One day it happened. The dog never tired of challenging Him, trying to scare Him. He wondered if anybody frequently checked on the strength of the leash, to see that it was still secure.

He got His answer, one day, when the leash---which had been fastened to a tree---snapped and the dog launched, unencumbered right at Him.

He had not been afraid, really. He had never been afraid of dogs. He could have iced the situation by remaining still, looking down and away from the dog so as to not be seen as challenging the alpha male canine in any way. He could have shown His palms, in the universal sign of supplication.

The dog, in all likelihood, would not have attacked. He would have been allowed to slowly slink away, much like his human owners and people of that ilk really desire but dare not say in polite company.

He could have slunk away like a humiliated snake, on his belly. There most likely would have been no harm, no foul.

But He did not feel like taking that exit that day. This time He moved His body aggressively, daring the dog to rise to the challenge and defend himself, his human masters, and their property.

He wanted the dog to leap at Him. The dog did so and the rest is history.

Perhaps someone had seen Him from their window. That's what must have happened. The police came straight to Him at home. He hadn't even had a chance to take off His bloody coat...

The End.


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