Gut Rumbles

March 30, 2007

The paperboy

Originally published April 1, 2005

When I delivered newspapers, I killed one dog and beat the living shit out of two others. You didn't see many fences in my neighborhood back in those days, and people let their dogs run wild. Most of the dogs recognized me, because I called them by name when I threw papers in the yard every day. Some of the dogs were trained to fetch the paper and bring it back to the front door.

I always loved watching a dog grab that paper and run it up to the front door. He'd bark and scratch on the door with a paw until the door opened and somebody accepted that paper. The person who took the paper usually gave the dog a treat and said, "Good job!"

I swear that some of those dogs grinned at me and seemed to say, "We've got a good hustle going here! Let's keep it up!"

But some people had bad dogs. After I almost had my leg chewed off the first time I tried to outrun a mean dog on my bicycle, I went high-tech on those fuckers. I cut off 3' of an old shovel handle and I drilled six or seven holes in the thick end. I pounded lead shot unto every one of the holes and then I carved a handle in the botton, drilled a hole through it and ran a leather strap through it. I painted it read and black, Jawja Bulldog colors.

That was a bad-ass weapon. I could sling it over the handlebars of my bicycle, or I could stick it down the back of my pants when I went to collect from a house with a really bad dog in the bushes. I cracked several doggie heads and earned a lot of respect that way. If you crack a dog's head once, he doesn't want a repeat performance. That's a principle difference between wimmen and dogs.

My daddy also gave me a switchblade knife about that time, It was a piece of shit that he bought in the Phillipines when he was a young sailor. It had a cheap blade with the point broken off the end (Dad said that the Navy did that when they found his knife). It had a bamboo handle and a rubber-band-style action on it, but it was a by-god switchblade, about 6" long

I filed a point back on it and improved the action some and put a razor-sharp edge on it. I always carried the knife with me on my paper route. It made me feel manly. My billy-club was much more effective on mean dogs, but I still liked carrying the knife.

I made a big mistake one Saturday morning. I had one house where a BIG, MEAN boxer roamed free and he didn't like my ass one bit. The house was back in the woods off Old Mongomery Road, and the first time I had to bludgeon that dog to keep him from eating me alive, the lady of the house and I had a long conversation. I asked her to keep the dog locked up on collection day and for a while, that's exactly what she did.

I became complacient, left my billy-club dangling from the handlebars of my bicycle and went marching up to the porch to collect the newspaper delivery fee.
I never saw the dog until he came charging out of the bushes at me. I head nothing but a low growl.

I knew that I couldn't outrun him and I was too frightened to yell for help, so I reached into my back pocket and pulled out that switchblade knife. I clicked it open just as the dog lunged at me (I swear I think he was going for my throat) and the dog impaled himself right in the chest, all the way to the hilt of the knife.

He let out a surprised yelp, and fell to the ground. The blade came out of the knife handle and I was left standing there with nothing but the bamboo handle in my fist, and the blade sticking out of a 150-pound dog's chest. I ran like hell back to my bicycle and got away as fast as I could.

The dog died. I must have hit something vital when I stuck him.

I went back to collect the money that woman owed me she she asked if I had killed her dog. I denied it and felt honest in doing so for two reasons. First, that mean dog wasn't supposed to be loose in the yard on collection day. Second, I didn't stab him. He RAN INTO THE KNIFE while attacking me.

I got my newspaper fee but lost the blade from my knife. I tried to make a new one and fix it, but I never could get it to work right, so I finally gave up. I eventually lost my red-and-black billy club, too, and I really wish I still had that today.

I've never told anyone that story until today.

(UPDATE--- on a good collection day, I might end up with $50 in a cigar box in the front basket of my bicycle, and that was a lot of money in those days. I was 12 years old. I didn't ride around unarmed. Some two-legged dogs could hide in the bushes, too.)

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