"The Fighting Cock In The Bathroom"
was back when I was traveling a lot, giving workshops for police
and animal control agencies. I was asked to speak at the Wyoming
Animal Control Officer's Association annual meeting and as I was
POST certified to teach dog and cock fighting investigation, I
was asked to set up some mock scenes for their investigators.
I don't remember the exact town in Wyoming - I went to that state
a lot and frankly the towns kinda blend together. They do all
have one thing in common; they aren't easy to get to. First you
have to fly to my least favorite city (Denver) and then catch
a small, noisy, ill-kept looking plane which will wing you to
your destination pretty much without regard for blizzards, lightning
or Flying Dutchmen.
trip started with me standing in line at the Seattle airport,
six thirty in the morning. There I stood in the check-in line,
Dread the pit bull's leash in my left hand and a 200 crate in
my right hand. Curious passengers wondered what was in the little
crate, and would bend down to peer in, then pull back, a puzzled
or shocked look on their face. They didn't want to say anything,
I guess, for fear of sounding stupid. Other people in line seemed
to notice this, and I could hear the murmur of curious speculation
about what was in the crate. In a few moments there was no question
just what that crate contained. Agincourt, my confiscated champion
fighting cock, let loose with a series of "Good Morning America"
crows that caused the whole line to break up in laughter. You
can forget being inconspicuous at a moment like that. It was kinda
neat, though, the way that one little rooster made so many anxious
travelers smile that morning.
was part of my "evidence" used when setting up mock
investigation sites, and a great old bird. Confiscated during
a raid on a local cock fighter, he was covered in wicked looking
long scars, showing the initiated that he had survived his time
in the pits where he had fought in the long knife. We found Agincourt
in a special breeding pen up close to the house, so it was obvious
he had merit as a fighting bird and had been retired to stud.
Agincourt lived with me (along with 40 other cocks) during the
year they were held as evidence, and at the end of the trial he
stayed on, helping me with my dog and cock fighting investigation
boarded what they were calling a plane. It was the "Geo Metro"
of the plane world, with Dread and Agincourt sitting behind me
in the "baggage" area, which was a curtained off area
in the tail. Both Dread and I hated to fly. Big time. I sat staring
out the window at the dangerously vibrating wing, trying not to
notice the very black burn marks behind the engine. That was when
the migraine struck.
those of you who don't get migraines, let me just say this: when
one hits, you really, honestly, don't care if the world ends.
Matter of fact, it would more likely than not be a mercy if it
did indeed end. You can't think. The pain is frightening in its
intensity. You simply think it can't get worse - and then it does.
You can't tolerate light or sound or movement. Eventually the
pain causes you to wretch. Now this was back before I wised up
and started carrying pain killers. Knowing I was doomed didn't
help - it just made me more tense. On my best of days I would
generally get air sick. This plane trip was in midwinter and incredibly
violent. I thought I was going to die. I think I actually was
willing the plane into the side of a mountain.
the plane finally stopped I swallowed hard several times and contemplated
getting to the hotel without the embarresment of throwing up in
public. Sometimes you have to do the impossibe though, so I staggered
out to collect Dread and Agincourt and meet my ride. I was greeted
by two hearty Wyoming animal control officers. It was snowing
and intensely cold.
way," the burly guy said, leading the way to a huge, old,
diesel Suburban type vehicle. Might I add that I am deathly allergic
to diesel fumes? Three seconds behind a diesel vehicle makes me
ill. I hate diesel vehicles and the inconsiderate sods who drive
them. In I climbed, teeth gritted, and Dread popped up next to
me. He lay with his head in my lap. I clutched his neck. I don't
think he felt much better than I did after that flight.
about the cold ride," the man said cheerfully from the front,
"the heater's broken".
OK." Eyes closed, I was rocking gently, just concentrating
on not wretching. "By any chance, do you have anything back
here I can throw up in if it gets to that?" As I remember,
something was produced. At least, I remember thinking, this will
be quick and the roads in this state are straight. Well, it wasn't
quick. Turns out we were 22 miles from our destination. I swallowed
hard again. Then, the driver lit up a cigarette. I moved the "puke
bucket" into the ready position.
you are as sick as I was, you simply close your eyes, and pray
that all the sound and motion will stop before you die. You can't
talk, you can't think. It just hurts too much. I can't imagine
what those poor folks thought of their guest speaker. I couldn't
even grunt out replies to simple questions. We got to the hotel.
They went in and checked me in. We drove to the door of the room.
mean to be rude - must lie down," I managed. They were very
kind. The man set my bags and crates inside, the woman asked if
there was anything she could do to help - I waved them away.
migraines, the big thing is relaxing, lying in the still and dark.
If you're going to live, that's what will save you. I was frozen,
so I knew lying in the warm bathtub was what I needed to do. First,
however, I had to set up the animals. Dread was fine with a bowl
of water and a hop up onto the bed. Agincourt, when he travels
with me, was generally tied to the TV or dresser with a paper
spread under him, but I was too sick to do this. While I ran my
bath I staggered about, deciding to just place Agincourt on the
tile bathroom floor and give him a bowl of food and water. Looking
for some kind - any kind - of pain killer I ransacked my "ditty
bag", placing all the personal items on the counter. I dimmed
the bathroom lights, climbed into the warm tub and put a hot washcloth
over my face. I took a deep breath and let it out. If I could
lie like this in the quiet and dark for an hour, I MIGHT survive.
winced at the sound of Agie flapping up on the counter. That was
not unusual, chickens like to roost high. There was one last moment
of peace and then WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! BANG! CRASH! WHACK! Agincourt
had seen himself in the mirror and, with his little fighting cock
pea-brain, had realized he was faced off with another fighting
cock. A fight to the death had just commenced.
the strike of a good sized game cock is amazingly powerful - it
can break another cock's wing. You can't imagine the sound it
made and I'm surprised the mirror didn't break. Items on the counter
were being flung everywhere. The sudden noise scared the B-Jesus
out of me, and I sat up quickly, causing my brain to slosh about
in agony. About this time poor Dread, not knowing what was really
going on, decided that I was being killed by the ax-murderer who
had been hiding in the bathroom all along. Usually the quietist
of dogs while traveling, he was lunging against the bathroom door,
actually screaming in his rage at whatever was attacking me in
even I had to laugh at that point. I lay in the dark in that tub
and shook my head through the mind numbing pain. Just sat there
with that cock whacking the mirror, that pit bull jumping against
the door yelling bloody murder, and me sitting in a bathtub some
where in snowy Wyoming wondering if anyone else - anywhere in
the whole world - was having this particular problem at that moment.