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The Freedom Kid

The seconds turn into minutes. The minutes turn into days. The hours turn into years.

This isn't the existence I was meant for.

This cell is six paces across.

Pace one.

Where is he? I called him, he said he'd help me, but he didn't sound too happy, and what if he just said he'd come to shut me up?

Pace two.

I can't stay here. I can't. I don't want to go through the due processor, turn into so much correctional sausage.

Pace three.

And what about the SSW? Shouldn't they be doing something for me, posting my bail, paying my legal fees, appointing a lawyer, doing SOMETHING to get me out of the trouble I'm in?

Pace four.

Maybe Piter isn't coming. Maybe he forgot, just took a big old drink of vodka and smoked a cigarette and rolled over and went back to sleep. Maybe I wasted my one phone call.

Pace five.

They booked me in that fucking match. I was just doing my job. But it didn't work for the Nuremberg soldiers, and I doubt it'll work for me. Did I really just compare genocide to mishandling a flightless bird?

Pace six.

One of the cops is at my door, and he says, "Looks like this is your lucky day. Somebody posted your bail. Goddamn kids, have no respect for God's creatures."

He hustles me back out of the system.

I take the plastic bag with my personal belongings from the officer at the desk and there he is, right fucking there, plain as day. He's got a five o'clock shadow, bloodshot eyes, and some nasty bruises. He's rocking cut-offs, a Green Lantern T-shirt, and that trademark leather jacket. Before I can stop to think, I'm running toward him. "Piter! Oh, man, I am so fucking glad you could make it!" As I reach him, I fight off the temptation to shake his hand, hug him, invent an elaborate "you got me out of fucking jail you magnificent bastard" secret handshake on the spot.

"How was it in there, kid?" he says, making some sort of hand gesture over my shoulder. Is he throwing up gang signs, or... fuck it. I don't care, I'm just too happy to be out.

"Oh, y'know, it wasn't so bad," I say, and I'm lying, and it's probably clear as day that I am, but you gotta keep up appearances, you know? Can't let people know you became the Freedom Kid because you're just that damn scared of being in chains.

"Well, good to know you kept your cool, huh?" I take a sudden and intense interest in my sneakers, like I can hide how close I was to freaking out. "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." Jesus. I haven't seen him this distressed since Bull took him down at his own PPV. "So long as you never make your way to county, you should do fine." Yeah. Fine. Because I'm totally fine now, right? Because compared to county, this is a walk in the park, only the park is really a bed of red hot nails and the walk is really a crawl.

But "Yeah," I say, so as not to offend him. "Yeah, I can see what you mean." The hell of it is I can see his point. This may seem bad, but this is just scratching the surface. I don't want to see the rest of the iceberg. "I mean, it's like, you see it on TV all the time, but they never show this part, you know?"

"Yeah, well, at least you had a friend to call, right?"

Friend? He's my friend, now? Hero, yes, displaced father figure, sure, but a friend? "Yeah," I say, and I can feel my cheeks and lips contorting that way they so rarely do, not genuinely, at least.

Speaking really quickly, he continues. "I mean, I take it there was some reason you didn't call your mom, right?" The funny thing is, it never even occurred to me to call her. How would I explain it? What could she do for me? What WOULD she do for me? "Or, or, somebody?" I considered calling Gwenivere Jordan, or Jason Nigh, he seems like the nice one of the two, but fuck, man, how often do you get to be rescued by your real life hero?

"Yeah," is all I can think of to say. Yeah. Yeah, Piter. Sure, Piter. There were reasons I called you. I can't go into them. You wouldn't understand, or worse, you'd understand and not care.

"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?" What's he hinting at? Could he really mean...? No, why would he want to train me? He's got his own life, his own schedule, plenty of stuff to do other than try to help me win a fucking match. And with the sarcasm, I have to wonder if he even likes me. I was the only person to show up at that Goddamn autograph signing, I was one of maybe half a dozen people in the fucking arena who believed he could win the King of the Mountain the second time. But what does he need me for, now?

"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." When it comes down to it, he DID drive however long to get here and pay money out of his pocket just to help me out. What more can I expect from a virtual stranger?

"Whatever, kid," he says oh so fucking casually. "Catch ya on the flipside."

And just like that, he leaves the station.

I will not cry.

I sort through my personal belongings and replace them all in their respective pockets.

I won't cry.

Keys in the right hip pocket. Wallet in the right back pocket. Change in the right cargo pocket. Lighter in the left hip pocket.

I will NOT fucking cry.

Everything's in order, and I step outside. He's almost finished his cigarette, and as I peer at him he pitches the butt against the wall of the station. "So you've got a Pay-Per-View match, huh? What are you fucking waiting for? We've got some training to do."

I wish I could bottle this moment and sell it, no, give it away. The world needs more moments like this.