It was a good job for a bad reason. About to start college, I landed a job as a entry level care giver at the State Home and Training School. The patients were mostly very low IQ, now wards of the state for a variety of reasons. The dormitory in which I worked was the wrecking yard for older, mentally handicapped men. It looked very much like a prison of denims except in this prison, you could open the doors because the inhabitants would never find their way out. The care and feeding meant changing diapers and giving baths. The days were spent in a large day-room of cement and steel.
The reason for the fight was Billy Catpigs, think of a man 50 year old that acted and walked like a two year old. His dress of the day was always overalls to his chest with shoulder straps that hooked in front. He terrified visitors as he ‘hip-a-tied’ up to them being friendly and wanting to touch. About 200 pounds, missing teeth, and a large head with scars through his scalp, he wanted to be loved and appreciated, in your face with the balance of the two year old. Always helpful, running off to get a towel or diaper for one of us, only to get lost on the way.
My adversary was straight from the movie ‘Grease’, at least, his hair was. He was 35 going on 17. He carried rolls of pennies to clutch when he threw his next punch. He talked incessantly about his sexual prowess with the women and his success in his bar fights. Bob was complete in his ‘Grease’ dress, tight dark t-shirt, cigarette pack rolled in one sleeve. Six foot, 175 pounds, and not quite as good looking as he thought was.
The time was shift change in the afternoon, his day shift was ending and my swing shift was just beginning.
The location was the cement day room.
The cause was a yo-yo string. Bob had been snapping it much like a towel at the various old men. Billy Catpigs was standing with all of us as usual when Bob snapped him. Billy did not have the capability to even raise his hands in defense. Laughing, Bob snapped him again.
“Quit it Bob.” I said
“Acting a little tough are ya.” Then He snapped me.
I didn’t have a death wish or a second thought, I tackled at the waist and drove him onto the floor. He flailed three or four times with his hands, but with little effect. My head was tight against the side of his chest and my arms were terrified around his waist.
“What in the hell do you think you are doing?”. I said to myself. “He is going to kill you!”
Unable to do anything else, he sat up and grabbed me around the waist. Using brute strength, He threw my waist and body over his head.
My junior high wrestling coach always said, “Off your hips and on your knees.”
After the throw-over and my return to my knees, the rest of me was well tucked into his body, we were essentially in the same positions.
To move this story along, he did it again three more times…
Then, I won by default. Da fault of his cigarette smoking. He was gassed.
“Let me up, I can’t breathe!”
I was so scared that I didn’t.
He was now in full distress, twisting and turning, trying to get up. Finally, a couple of guys undid me from him. He was whipped, not caring who was watching. He was done as a bully at least in this arena.
The last time I saw him, I was leaving with my final check. I saw him leading some of the patients to the chow-hall, He waved.
“You had better wave,” I said to myself . “I will get out of this car and let you fling me around for a while until your COPD kicks in again. I will leave you breathless right there on the sidewalk”.
Thank God for cigarettes…