I was sixteen years old when I completed my Army basic training at Fort
Gordon, Georgia, and decided to take my leave in Jacksonville, Florida,
where I had been raised in a orphanage, before being sent to Fort
Wainwright, located in Fairbanks Alaska.
As I arrived at the Trailways bus station, I noted the many
prostitutes and bums standing around on the street, which was not
unusual to me. Some of them I had seen hundreds of times because I
myself had lived on these same streets for several years before being
placed into the Army by juvenile a court order. I guess I came back to
the streets of Jacksonville to show everyone living on the street that I
had finally become somebody. I threw my duffle bag over my shoulder and
started walking towards Forsythe Street.
Since I had no family, I decided to
see if I could find someone that I knew from the times when I had lived
on the street. I continued to walk to Forsythe. About that time several
sailors walking behind me started making joke about my uniform.
I quickly turned into a coffee shop and ordered a soda. After I was sure
that they had gone, I decided to go back
outside and tell these burley looking navy guys just where to get off.
But to my surprise, I must have scared them off because they were no
where to be found.
I continued to walk down towards town and decided to stop in at a
Army/Navy surplus store. I emerged about a half an hour later with
almost every medal known to man-kind, not to mention my
white spats and my white pistol-belt. I was one sharp looking dude.
I finally reached Forsythe Street. I was walking by the Florida Theatre
when I noticed those same three navy guys giving this dwarf guy, on a
mechanics board. They had pushed him off the side walk and
were laughing at him. As I passed, I could see that the little dwarf had
no legs and his hands did not have many fingers and what was there was
calloused from pushing himself around by his hands.
I had seen this little man many times before, when I lived on the street, but I had
never spoken to him because he looked to scary to me. I did not have enough
nerve to say anything to the sailors so I just walked on
by. The further I got from them the more I hurt inside.
Finally I could not take it any more so I turned around and headed back towards them.
The sailors were already crossing the street when I arrived. I noticed
that they had jammed a single dollar bill in the little dwarf's mouth.
I stood before him, looking down, and did not know what to say. I
reached out into the street and got his mechanics chair and helped him
get back onto it. I told him that I would buy him something to eat if he
He told me that he was, so I took out my wallet and handed
him a twenty dollar bill. That was a lot of money for me because I only
received $68.00 a month in army pay. As I turned to leave he yelled at
me to stop, I turned around and he asked me if he could buy me dinner.
We ordered 10 hamburgers a piece, and a fry. We talked for about
an hour and I told him that I had been raised in an orphanage on the
Southside. He told me that he also did not have any parents and that
he had lived in an institution for about ten years. After we had eaten
our meal I paid for his hamburgers so that he could save his $20.00.
Then he asked me to wait while he went to get something important.
About 30 minutes later he finally returned and
handed me a large envelope and asked me not to open it until he was
gone. I shook his deformed hand and then watched as the little man
rolled himself, with his hands, back down the street towards the Florida
Theatre. I folded the envelope and stuck it in my back pocket and left
As I stepped out into the street there they were. These same three
burley looking sailors, who immediately started shoving me around and
finally pushed me against the glass window. Just about that time, several
military policemen drove up and asked what was going on. The three
sailors just walked away laughing. The MPs got out of their vehicle,
walked around me several times and then one of them asked me, "Just what
damn service are you in?" "The French Foreign Legion", yelled one of the
three sailors. They laughed and continued walking off.
I was handcuffed and taken to the Naval Air Station at Mayport where I was
stripped of my metals, white pistol-belt and white spats, then locked in
a small cell. Several hours later I was told that my leave had been
cancelled and I was immediately taken to the Jacksonville International
Airport and placed aboard a flight to Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
I sat in my airline seat when I happened to remember the envelope that the
little dwarf guy had given me. I opened it and
found ten one-hundred-dollar bills, a note and a page from a magazine.
The note read "I said I would take you out to dinner". On the dirty old
wrinkled magazine page was a large picture of a man and a woman,
standing next to a fancy six horse drawn carriage, behind them stood a
castle. The headline read "Scottish Royalty Dies, deformed infant found
and placed into institution". At the bottom of the magazine page was
written, "A large steak would be nice. That's what I eat everyday, my