The Cicadas serenaded me on a steamy, weekend night as I made my way to the pay phone, across from the Checkers burger joint. That was my usual midnight route on those Westside sidewalks. Those routines helped to kill the boredom and stagnation that attacked my restless mind. My brother’s friend John was living in Hermosa Beach, California. I’d been trying to escape Florida, and needed to find a way to the Gold Coast.

I dialed his number, engaged him in a friendly back and forth, and indirectly tried to find my way on his floor. It wasn’t going to happen: we weren’t that close. Afterward, I ambled to Kennedy Avenue, the location of the Tampa Bay Center: a very large mall: probably the largest in the city at that time.

My side of the street was almost entirely dedicated to a series of Hospitals. The domestic black top was quiet, dark, and damp. My earphones drowned out the penetrating silence. I carefully climbed a hilly walkway. Reaching the top, I noticed something odd. At the bottom, it appeared like a small child with a giant head was struggling with a wheelchair. My conscience split down the middle. One side said “turn and run!” while the other side beckoned me closer. Maybe this moon head youth needs your help? You can’t turn back; your poor vision and choice of path set you on this course.

As a creature of ritual, it was already preordained. Our meeting was already in the universal deck of cards. I made my way down the steep sidewalk to the bottom. I noticed the big head youth, throwing his huge, blonde, cranium from side to side. Yet upon closer inspection, it wasn’t a boy, but a full-grown: midget, little person, dwarf or whatever the proper terminology might be. I approached cautiously, thinking maybe it was some sort of trap set by a gang of little people to capture and take me to see the Wizard. I grasped the handles firmly, steadying the wheels. He spun around facing me. The man had a round, baby face, with a wide mouth hanging ajar, while his eyes spun around inside his head.

“Hey man. What going on?” I asked.
He brattled an inaudible sentence that was half slurps and half gasps, while swinging his melon round and round. His body was small and legs barley hung over the seat.

I deduced Sherlock Holmes style that he must’ve escaped from one of the hospitals and it was my duty to guide him back safely. I grabbed the back and pushed.

“Okay. I’m going to take you back. You have to tell me where you came from.”
He pointed his stubby arm forward toward the opposite cement hill. I was fatigued before I moved the chair. He was heavier than expected: it was probably his fleshy dome. I shoved with all my might. The humidity didn’t help as the sweat poured down my forehead in buckets. I attempted idle conversation.

“So where you from?”
“I’m from up there.” He murmured.
I was halfway and felt the wheel chair sliding back.
“What’s your name?”
“I’m the Devil!” he squealed like a large bird.
Cold shivers shot up my spine and fear seized my shoulders.
I was aiding an insane, Satan, baby man!

I pushed, knowing I had to finish this out. I pushed because I was good guy. I pushed because I was half way up a steep hill and didn’t want to get run over.

He continued to laugh in eerie, spastic octaves. I exhaled, wondering to myself: ‘How did this Demon baby man get over this hill?’

I peered down the slope and saw a door swinging open in the back of a building. I used my investigative skills once again, coming to the conclusion that he escaped that building.

That crafty Devil baby man
I maneuvered him down the steep mound. He started convulsion, as if possessed by dark forces. We approached the bottom and I guided him toward the open door. Was I sure this was the building? No. Yet, that was as far as I was willing to go. I motioned him inside,
“Okay man, this is it.”

He threw his head forward as slobber flew from his mouth. I stepped back, watching him wheel himself slowly toward the doorway. What after that, I didn’t know. After reaching the top of the hill, I looked back and he was gone, as though the night had sucked him up. My mind did a summersault, trying to figure out what happened.

He escaped out of a clinic for the insane. He had been drugged but had managed to get himself to the street; yet, not being about to maneuver in the cruel, hot, outside world, he was stuck waiting for a semi-good Samaritan.

I’d done my public service and slide back on my headphones. My troubles were nothing compared to the Devil man baby. He was a prisoner in a wheel chair with a gigantic, wild head. At least I could control mine sometimes. I went the other way, after my own demons called out to me.

  1. johncoyote says:

    Reblogged this on johncoyote and commented:
    A amazing writer. His real life tales and journey take you to better and more interesting places.

  2. johncoyote says:

    A amazing story my friend.

  3. Wow..this is deep, at first it scared me if I’m honest but I like how the story unfolded…very well done! You’ve got a new follower. 🙂

  4. Love this story. Coyote’s reblog introduced me to you. So, happy he did.

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