Thinking Man’s Action 02bycpete©
Great Thanks to the always awesome mikothebaby for her editing magic, and patience with grammar, spelling and punctuation. Her valiant attempts to make my stories readable are much appreciated. As Always, any and all errors are mine, and mine alone.
From Thinking of Action Part 1
The dogs were now snarling and started advancing on the child who was standing up with his back to the dogs, reaching up toward the railing and wailing pitifully.
I grabbed the mesh metal trash can and threw it over the railing, aiming for the lead dog. The trash can missed the animals, smashing down in-between the crying toddler and the pack.
This scattered the dogs for a minute, but they regrouped, beginning their snarling advance on the little boy again.
"Where the hell are the damn zoo people?" Ileana spat, spinning around and looking past the bridge.
The lead dog was mere feet away from the boy now.
"FUCK IT" I thought, hoisting myself onto the railing edge.
Ileana grabbed my pant leg. "What THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOUR ARE DOING?"
I shook off her grip. "No time to think Ileana. Time for Action."
With that, I vaulted over the railing.
Ileana was swearing like a Drill Sargent as I fell toward the sound of a child's scream and snarling dogs.
When I was little, my Mom, in her mantra of no violent movies, rented us the VHS tape of Mary Poppins to watch. While my brother and I did not enjoy the song and dance numbers, we were enthralled with how Mary Poppins was able to float from the sky just using her umbrella. The next day my brother and I stole my Dad's best umbrellas and climbed out the attic window of our two story home, onto the roof of the house.
We both jumped at the same time. As you can guess, we did not float gently to earth like the Julie Andrews character. Dad's umbrellas promptly turned inside out, leaving us as aerodynamic as dropped anvils in a Road Runner cartoon. My brother got the worst of it breaking his leg. I felt like my legs were broken, and was limping around on badly twisted ankles for weeks.
When I landed in the African Painted Dog exhibit, that was exactly what it felt like. As not only did I drop over 10 feet onto the only non-grassy area in the whole place, but as I fell forward onto my hands and knees, I came face to muzzle with the lead dog.
We stared at each other for fraction of a second before he lunged forward, snapping at my face. I whipped my head sideways, and he only caught a piece of my ear. I pushed back onto my haunches, crossing my arms in front of my face to protect from another bite.
I heard a sharp yelp from the lead dog, and saw it back away. Suddenly, a sneaker struck the lead dog in his haunches, extracting another cry while backing him off some more.
I looked up to see Ileana now heave her purse with both hands at the dog closest to me. "BACK OFF YOU MUTTS!" she screamed, shaking her fist. Turning to the crowd, Ileana yelled. "Come on you Assholes! Give him some cover!"
A moment later the air was filled with an aerial bombardment of shoes, juice boxes, and baby bottles. I even saw a couple of cell phones and a stroller come crashing down as the crowd took Ileana's cue.
The dog pack scattered under the assault. This gave me a chance to get to my feet and reach the crying toddler. The pain in my ankle slowed me down as I scooped up the kid into my arms, and made for what looked like a door. The terrified child promptly bit me twice, as I tried to make my way past the spotted canines.
Unfortunately, the crowd ran out of things to throw and dogs began circling me like...well like a pack of wild dogs.
African Painted dogs, commonly take down large animals on the sub Saharan plains. Thus they evaded my kicks easily, and were taking bigger and bigger chunks out of me, one even jumping up to latch onto my collar ripping my shirt in half. I was spinning around, and managed to protect the screaming toddler from getting bit, while not letting any of the dogs latch onto me too deeply.
"I'd give my left leg for a big stick!" I thought, kicking wildly at the snapping horde.
Then like a prayer answered from heaven, a big stick dropped right in front of me. Well not a big stick exactly, but close enough. It was a leg; Ileana's left leg to be precise. She had unstrapped her prosthesis and thrown it down to me to us as a weapon.
I shifted the child to my left arm, who promptly bit me again, and grabbed Ileana's fake leg off the ground. Both swinging and stabbing away with my new "stick", I was able to clear a path and make headway toward a door I hoped would get us out of this dog pound.
After a few hits, the dogs were staying out of the range of the Ileana limb, only getting in a quick nibble off me. Using my new earned "legroom" I fought my way to the door, and pulled on the handle.
Naturally it was locked.
"Where the hell are the zoo people?" I shouted up to the crowd.
I felt my strength waning.
"OPEN the FUCKING DOOR!" I yelled, feeling weak, as holding up the kid and keeping the dogs at bay was becoming impossible.
Backing away from yet another snarling set of fangs, I almost tripped over the mesh metal trash can laying on its side. I tried to keep the trash can between me and the dogs, but the mutts were everywhere.
"I need a flamethrower," I thought glancing up, but this time no flamethrower dropped from the heavens.
Then it hit me "Flamethower..flames..fire..fire extinguisher! Where is the fire extinguisher!"
I quickly looked around and saw the regulation fire extinguisher by the door, but not before one of the pack gave me a gouge for my inattention.
Stooping low, I heaved Ileana's leg like a big throwing star at the nearest group of canines, this backed them up, giving me enough time to set the toddler on the ground and slam the metal mesh trash can upside-down over him. This encased the boy in a small metal enclosure. In one step, I yanked the fire extinguisher from the wall, and pulled the pin.
I felt multiple sets of sharp teeth sink into my back, and stumbled to the ground. I tried to roll over while squeezing the two handles together.
"Come on Fido! Let's PARTY!" I yelled, turning the nozzle on them and unleashing the spray.
Luckily the fire extinguisher was the kind that gave out the big white cloud. The pack scattered in all directions, running away as fast as politicians from election day promises.
Rolling over, I crawled in front of the metal trash can protecting the kid. No longer able to stand, I pulled myself to a sitting position with my back against the trashcan, guarding the screaming child. I pointed the fire extinguisher nozzle outward. I must have had a cut on my forehead, because my vision was blurring with sweat or blood.
Spraying the extinguisher in small spurts, in random directions, I muttered. "Come on Rover! Don't wanna play fetch anymore?"
Suddenly the door behind me burst open, it seemed like a million people dressed in padded suits just appeared around me like magic. Some were dragging firehouses and spraying them all around like water cannons.
Last thing I remember was one of the clowns in a padded suit stepping on my foot.
"Act like a man of thinking, think like a man of action...you...Dumbass." I pondered before passing out.
I awoke in a hospital bed, and started coughing. Ileana was sitting in a chair with a laptop. She put the laptop down, than gripped the chair sides to push herself up. It was the first time I had seen Ileana with only one leg. She hopped over to the dresser, pouring me a glass of water.
As I drank, Ileana spoke. "You look like shit. How do you feel?"
"I feel like shit...dog shit." I replied. "How is the kid?"
Ileana shrugged. "He is fine, but really shook up. I gotta call his folks, they have been coming by here every thirty minutes. They made me promise to let them know when you are awake." She started punching buttons on her smart phone, and then put it to her ear.
"Hello? Yes it's me Ileana. I wanted to let you know the Dumb Ass Dog Whisper is awake." There was a pause. "Okay, No problem."
Ileana dropped the phone in her pocket before turning to me. "I have to tell you Bill, that was without a doubt, the single, most monumental, unbelievable, major league, spectacular act of stupidity I have ever seen. Who did you think you were? Dr. God Damn Doolittle? Going to talk to the fucking animals?"
She was talking tough, but I felt she was just letting off steam from the tension.
Ileana ran a hand through her fiery mane. "You were so bloody when they put you in the ambulance, I thought for sure you were dead."
I tried to give her my best grin. "Maybe I was dead. I just got better."
I saw her softening. "Besides Ileana when I die, I want to go like my Grandfather did. Peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like the passengers in his car."
Ileana stared back at me trying to keep a straight face. "I bet you wish you hadn't thrown away my gun now Bill? I could have done a hell of a lot more than just throw shoes at those pups."
I sat up in bed, and gave her a smile. "Hell Ileana, you with a gun scares me more than those damn dogs. You forget, I have seen you in action, you probably would have shot both me and the kid."
I made a pretend pistol with my fingers. "Now if it had been 'Dead Eye Jane' and her hand on the trigger, it would be a different story."
Ileana gave an exaggerated look of shock. "I knew it! You're lusting after that little one eyed blond pixie bimbo."
I tried to shrug. "Yeah, me and every other straight male on campus."
Ileana smiled at me, so I knew we were alright. "Don't forget the 'not' straight women either. Sadly I know Jane likes to play only with your team. Pity, such a waste."
I tried to wave Ileana off, but she would not let the 'Jane' comment go.
"Hell I never saw that coming." Ileana paused. "Of course, maybe Jane didn't either...at least from her left side. But hey you might have a chance. You're a big shot hero now, made all the Sunday papers." She hopped over to grab her laptop off the dresser."
"Sunday? Its Sunday Ileana? How long have I been here? Anyone contacted Amy?"
Ileana dropped her laptop on the bed. "It is Sunday afternoon. You have been here since they wheeled you in Saturday. The Docs pumped you full of plasma, gave you a bunch of stitches, plus have you on some wide spectrum antibiotics to prevent the bite infections you picked up from spreading."
"Damn dogs." I muttered.
Ileana started laughing. "The dog bites were not a problem. The Painted African Dogs are one of the zoos big attractions. They have better medical care than you or me. Every one of those pups was up to date on their shots and healthier then both of us. It was the toddler bites that caused the infection. Didn't you ever take any first aid courses as a Boy Scout? Human bites are almost always more dangerous than dog bites."
I rolled my eyes. "My parents wouldn't let us join scouting when I was a kid. They thought it was too paramilitary." I tried to sit up more, but a host of tubes were in both my arms. "I can't blame the little tyke. I was scared shitless, he must have been terrified. Besides no good deed goes unpunished. Speaking of no good deed, anyone get a hold of Amy? Tell her what happened, where I am?"
Ileana made a face. "I gave the hospital staff her contact info. They have been unable to get ahold of her yet, but left lots of messages. Your phone got smashed when you landed in your little paratrooper imitation, so I don't know if she has called you. But let's talk about better things."
With that Ileana turned around her laptop screen to face me. It was a news website that had a picture of me on all fours, face to fang with a snarling Painted African Dog. It must have been when I first landed in the pit. The caption read KIDDIE PIT BULL FIGHT AT ZOO.
I waved my hand. "And this is what is putting newspapers out of business?"
Ileana logged onto another website, this one had me with the boy in my arms being chased by the pack. Accompanying caption. 'DOG-GONE! MAN FLEES TO SAVE CHILD' it read.
"Please stop Ileana, stop." I groaned.
She kept typing. "Just one more. This is my favorite."
This news site had me holding the frightened child in one arm, shirt ripped with blood running down my chest and a cut on my face. I was holding some of the dogs at bay with Ileana's fake leg thrust out like a fencing foil. Below in bold letters it exclaimed 'MAN DE-FEETS CANNINES IN DOG FIGHT!'
"Please no more!" I begged, as Ileana continued pecking on her laptop.
I was rescued by a knock at the door. A well-dressed guy about my age, with an older distinguished gentleman walked into the room. If I had to guess, they were the little boy's father and grandfather.
'Dad' rushed over to my bed. "Sir..." he started.
"Please call me Bill." I interrupted.
The young 'Dad' looked back at 'Grandpa' before continuing. "OK..Bill. I don't know what to say. What you did for my boy is beyond words. You ever, and I mean EVER need anything, and I do mean ANYTHING -from a kidney, to a ride to the airport. We are you first, last and only call. You always have a place at our dinner table."
He tried to shake my hands but the maze of tubes made it difficult. 'Grandpa' stepped forward and squeezed my shoulder.
Addressing his son, he said. "We are forever in this man's debt for what he did for my grandson. I think Bill's actions deserve more than a free meal at Christmas and some savings on cab fare." Turning toward me, "Son...I mean Bill, what do you do?"
I gave them the short version of my school and work, the plans, etc. Leaving out Amy and I's difficulties.
Grandpa listened intently, when I was finished, he rubbed his chin for a second. "I know of your bakery Bill. It is a fine organization, and they will be fortunate to have a man like you in management." He pulled out a business card from a suit coat pocket, and laid it on the dresser next to me. "However Bill, if you ever change your mind, please give me a call. "
He tapped the business card lying on the dresser. "There is always room in the firm for a few good men who know how to think AND act. My door is always open to you."
With that 'Grandpa' spread his hands wide. "We will leave you now to get some rest. I apologize for the absence of my wife and daughter. My wife refuses to leave my grandson, our only grandchild's bedside. My daughter is also resting. She blames herself for what happened and the Doctors had to give her something to help her rest. I hope you will accept an invitation that allows us to express our thanks in a more comfortable setting in the near future."
"I look forward to it." I said.
With that, they left the room. Ileana shook her head. "Okay Bill, I'm gonna bail. The hospital lent me some crutches, but I forgot how much energy these things take out of you. I will see you tomorrow. Oh an FYI, you owe me a pair of shoes."
"You mean one shoe." I said as Ileana gave me the finger.
I lay back in my bed and smiled, the pain meds did their work and Ileana tromped out of the room.
Monday morning was uneventful. I wanted to leave and felt fine. Of course, the morphine drip may have accounted for a good portion of my well-being.
Somewhere in my haze, I was worried where Amy was. My boss, the owner had called earlier. He had seen news coverage and video off of someone's cell phone. He told me he was proud of me and take all the time I need. Ileana tromped in on her crutches at about 10am, after the first class.
As she sat down I asked her. "Ileana, can you do me a favor and go see if you can find Amy?"
"Jesus Christ." Ileana groaned. "It isn't enough I give you the shoes off my feet and my damn leg. Now you want me to fetch your women for you too?"
Speak of the devil and she does appear. Just then Amy blew into the room, still in her bakery work clothes. She launched herself at me on the bed, grabbing me in a bear hug.
"Oh My God Bill, I am so sorry! How are you?" She pulled back to inspect me, then hugged me again. "This is so terrible, I just found out from our boss about what happened. Oh my God, I was horrified to find out that way. I came right from work, didn't even change."
I gave Amy a strange look. "Didn't you get any of the calls or messages from the hospital?"
Amy stood up straight, her face got flushed with anger. "NO, the damn fools at the hospital had the wrong last digit on both our home and cell phone numbers!"
"That is odd," I thought as Amy rattled on about how she and her Mom had baked a couple of the favorite pies I liked. Her coming home late Sunday from her Moms. Thinking I was at work, and this morning believing I had gone straight to class again.
"My GOD Bill." Amy said. "I called your cell like a hundred times, and left you dozens of texts."
I glanced over at Ileana. Ileana suddenly looked up at the ceiling, now I knew who had given the wrong phone number to the hospital staff.
Amy looked over at Ileana. She gave Ileana one of those fake smiles that females give each other when they wish the other would die from an STD.
"Ileana, thank you so much for coming to visit with Bill. No need to stay anymore. I am sure you have lots of places to be."
Ileana just waved her hand. "Class is out now. So no problem. I can hang out with Bill for a while."
Ileana and Amy locked eyes, than a knock at the door broke the stare-down. An older man in a rumpled suit walked into the room. He had "Law Enforcement" written all over him.
After introducing himself as a Metro Detective while doing the ID badge flip, he started talking.
"So sorry to interrupt your recovery. I must tell you it was a real John Wayne-Rambo move you pulled with the kid at the zoo." The detective paused for a moment, and then pointed at Ileana. "But having both of you here saves me a trip. I am looking into a robbery-shooting that happened behind the University Library on Friday."
The Detective pulled out a notebook and pen from his suit coat pocket. We caught a view of a pistol in his shoulder holster. "The ID check in system at the University has you both at the library around the time of the incident. Unfortunately, the system does not log when students depart the library. Can you tell me about what time you two left the library? Do you recall seeing anything out of the ordinary? Hear anything?"
My mind was racing, but the painkillers made thinking hazy.
Ileana jumped right in. "We were at the library about an hour... I think. Than Bill and I went to his house. We were kicking around thoughts about an English term paper due soon."
The Detective was nodding his head and jotting down the information in his small notebook. I glanced up at Amy. Her face was getting red, I saw her jawline clench tight.
The Detective spoke to me without looking up. "You got anything to add?"
I nodded my head before realizing the Detective was not looking at me. I finally found my voice. "Ah...Yeah, that sounds about right."
The Detective flipped his notebook closed before putting it and the pen away in his pocket. "Well thanks for your help. The University is a very low crime area, so I would not be too concerned about this isolated event. In truth, I do not see the department spending a lot of effort on this small time robbery. But the University Provost and Chief are old buddies, so we must cross all our 'Ts' and fill in the blanks. You understand."
I nodded my head again. The Detective looked around at Amy, Ileana and I once more, raising his hand holding a business card before depositing it on the dresser. "If anything else pops to mind, please give me a call." Turning to leave he continued "Appreciate your time, I hope you feel better."