Father's Day

It's hard to pick up your teeth with broken fingers, boy. That's what he used to tell me when I was little. I think he heard it in a movie but already knew it from experience. It's safe to say that I didn't have a fairy tale childhood. My father was a back alley bare knuckle brawler way before that ultimate fighting stuff became mainstream. The one rule when he fought was the last man standing gets the pot. Most times the other guy was knocked out cold; sometimes the other guy was dead.

Growing up it was just him and me so we were always together. As a child I saw too many terrible things happen behind seedy pubs. A man literally fighting for his life and a few bucks to buy food for his kid. That is real tough to watch. When that man is your father it's a lot worse. What I witnessed scared me half to death but despite that I was doing it myself by the time I was 17. We worked the circuit and made out okay.

Eventually one of the crime families in the area found out about the money that exchanged hands during the matches. The action was too good to pass up so they got involved. Most of us didn't complain because the take for the winner of one of their brawls was better and you were guaranteed to get paid. The down side was you had to agree to fight before you knew who you were up against. If you tried to back out after you gave your word then things would get ugly fast. My dad and I got used to beating up whoever they put in front of us.

I started making half decent money from my bouts but my old man always managed to burn through it. Boy, did he love his booze. Matches were set up over drinks and settled after last call. You could say alcohol was a part of the job. Too much of it made him accept his last fight. He was feeling no pain that night and didn't stop to ask who was setting it up and why the prize was so damn big. I didn't either and I regret that every day.

The prison psychiatrist says it wasn't my fault; he was drunk and violent and I did what I had to do to defend myself. Maybe he knew we would both be dead if we didn't go at it full speed. Or maybe he was worn out after all those years and wanted me to kill him before someone else did. Not knowing is eating me up...especially today. The shrink says this journal will help me get the feelings out so I can work through them. I told him I know a better way.