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▶  More from Harm City Guest Authors Tao of Tony Rooster
Teddy and The Skirt Man
By Tony Cox

I read The Outsiders one rainy day in third grade, cover to cover. I decided after reading it, that the kids on my street, 201st, just HAD to form a gang. We would be greasers, of course, and we would call ourselves the ALLEY CATS. There were 6 of us. Our hang out was the alley between 200th and 201st. The kids on 200th street were our sworn enemies, whether they knew it or not. We called them the Bulldogs. They had no idea who the Bulldogs were, or why we always attacked them.

One of our gang had a father who was a cabinet maker and didn’t mind us messing around in his garage/wood shop. We made crossbows, slingshots, clubs, all manner of weapons out of the scrap wood in there. Imagine a bunch of 9 year olds having nail gun fights and using table saws. I can’t believe there were never any horrific accidents.

There was a very small patch of woods at the end of our street which we also claimed as our territory. We’d dig holes and put pungi sticks pointing out, carefully covered up with thin branches and leaves. We’d run trip wires of fishing line that would cause a sapling to snap back, with a chunk of 2x4 covered in nails tied to the end of it. Trip wires that would cause heavy stuff to fall out of trees.... I can’t even remember all the traps we used to make. Half the time we’d forget where they were and get hurt by our own traps.

Our goal was always to have a rumble, but being the only gang around made that impossible. The kids on 200th didn’t even know what a rumble was.

Late at night when the parents were passed out, we’d all meet in the alley at midnight, and throw rocks at cars that went by. People would stop and get out to chase us if we were lucky, that’s what we were after, the adrenaline rush. We’d run like hell, knowing all the gaps in the fences and where to jump over, we practiced it, this was our terrain. We outran the cops a bunch....

One time a young drunk caught up to us, we were yelling at him as we ran, calling him a faggot, telling him he’d never catch us. We ran to one of the gang’s house and locked ourselves inside, scared shitless. Our bikes had been left in the front yard earlier, and this dude just started destroying them, he was in a full on rage. I forgot about the seventh member of the gang. Teddy. A giant Saint Bernard dog that followed us everywhere. Anyway, Teddy came around the corner of the house and started attacking this guy, had his leg bleeding, bit him in the crotch, the arm, dude finally retreated.

Old Mr. DeFreese down the block had a pack of mean dogs, wild and fierce. His house looked like a junkyard, always full of old cars and tweakers. One of them mean dogs went after my friend, and Teddy protected him. The 2 dogs were fighting and I saw the other dog bite Teddy above the paw, near the wrist, if dogs have wrists. The blood came out like a drinking fountain, he got the artery. We walked Teddy home and he died a couple hours later. That was the first time any of us saw death up close.

Around this time was when I first became aware of transgender rights.

My ma and her husband practically lived at the tavern down the street when they weren’t at work. One of the regulars there was a guy called The Skirt Man. This dude was like six foot five, he used to play defensive end for the San Diego Chargers, had long brown hair, and matching beard, and wore blouses and miniskirts with high heels on the end of his hairy-ass legs.

My ma used to always tell me “If you see the skirt man walking down the street, don’t say anything to him!”

He sold and used cocaine, and was known to possess a violent temper. He would beat the shit out of anyone who said anything to him about his appearance, or implied he was in some way a fag. One guy who owed him money from a coke deal was found dead in the dumpster behind the bar. All the barflies were pretty much scared of this psychopath.

The other kids parents didn’t go to the tavern, and never bothered warning them about The Skirt Man. Whenever we saw him walking down the street, I had to hold my friends back from yelling something disrespectful at him. They didn’t quite believe me, but could still tell he was a scary dude, and never did say anything.

Every time I hear some bleeding heart talk about the poor oppressed transgender community in America, my mind goes back to The Skirt Man, and I feel a genuine twinge of transphobia.

Son of a Lesser God



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