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The Freedom Kid

Kid's happy to see me. Shit, that's an understatement. I half expect him to piss on the floor and start barking. But no, he just rushes away from the desk, personal belongings zip-locked in hand. "Piter! Oh, man, I am so fucking glad you could make it!"

"How was it in there, kid?" I ask, offering a mock salute to the booking officer. He looks back at me with an arched eyebrow, and I get the gnawing feeling he and I have run into each other before.

"Oh, y'know, it wasn't so bad," he says, and his eyes say he was scared to death.

"Well, good to know you kept your cool, huh?" He stares down at his red Chucks. "You gotta get used to doing time, if you're gonna last in this business. You get me? Promoters will have you arrested, rivals will have you arrested, and if you're fucking STUPID enough to compete in another Greased motherfucking PENGUIN match, the ASPCA will have your ass arrested." Maybe a little harsh, but I could use a cigarette, and I DID just drive over three hours to bail this kid out. "So long as you never make your way to county, you should do fine."

"Yeah," he says, "yeah, I can see what you mean. I mean, it's like, you see it on TV all the time, but they never show this part, you know?"

I nod, thinking about that time back in Texas when I got arrested for setting somebody on fire in a bar. "Just" Steve Bluder, that babyface fucking self-righteous prick, ended up posting my bail so he could fight me in a steel cage. Some people you just can't figure out. "Yeah, well, at least you had a friend to call, right?"

"Yeah," he says, beaming like the fucking sun.

"I mean," I add hastily, "I take it there was some reason you didn't call your mom, right? Or, or, somebody?"

"Yeah," he repeats, this time a little more dour.

"So, while I'm here, anything else I can do for you? Maybe rescue you from a burning building, evacuate you from a derailed train, or... anything?"

"No, that's... it's okay. You've done a lot for me just by coming here, you know? And I'll, I'll get you back for the bail money, right? Soon."

"Whatever, kid," I drawl. "Catch ya on the flipside."

On the flipside