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The Mugging Gone Wrong

For many years after my Mom divorced him, Dad captained international tugboats, guiding massive container ships through canals worldwide, including the Suez. When he wasn’t overseas, which was for about nine months of the year, he called Key West, Florida, home. 

          To give you a little backstory before the main event, Captain Mel was a baaaad maaaan. The former Oakland cop in the seventies and Marine sharpshooter could handle himself better than most. I only saw him in action once, and it was impressive as hell! That tale, however, is for a later day.

          One night in April, very late, I get a call from the Key West Police Department. At the time, I served as department chair for the Community College of Baltimore County’s dance department and was up choreographing for a concert. I often did that in the wee hours of the night as the quiet is conducive to my creative process. So I’m awake, and the phone rings. Here is a relatively accurate representation of the call.


          “Hello, may I please speak to Mr. Richards?”

          “This is Officer (who could remember from that far back?) of the Key West Police Department.”

          “Oh. OK. Hi officer. How can I help you?”

          “Sir, are you the son of Melvin Richards?”

          “Uh oh. Yup. What did he do?”

          “Sir, you are listed as his emergency contact, and this is a courtesy call.”

          “Is Dad all right?”

          “Yes, Sir, Mel is doing just fine. We have him in the drunk tank so he can sober up before going home.”

          “Heh, of course. Is that why you called?”

          “Well, Mr. Richards, there’s a little more to it than that.”

          Intrigued yet? It’s about to get good. So here’s what happened.

          It was Spring Break, and Key West was rockin’ with thousands of collegiate guys and gals out to have a good time. Having spent his evening as always at his usual haunt, Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Restaurant, Dad was stumbling drunkenly home. 

          Captain Mel perpetually looked like a scraggly homeless dude at this point in his life, only with a three-thousand dollar Rolex and Birkenstocks. He had long stringy hair that came solely from his noggin’s back and sides, wore twenty-year-old Hawaiian shirts, and ratted-out short shorts. He also walked with a decided limp. Many years previously in the islands, Dad had broken his ankle, and the hospital set it wrong.

          Here’s this scruffy-lookin’ guy, drunk off his ass, weaving his way down the sidewalk, and three douchebag frat boys decided to have a little fun. Boy, did they regret that decision later!

          According to fine Officer WhatsHisName, the dumbasses snuck up on Captain Mel and sucker-punched him, knocking him into some random house’s garden. Dad grabbed a flower pot and proceeded to wreak holy havoc upon his hapless attackers.

          Approximately ten seconds after the initial slug, one frat boy had a crushed kneecap, a second had a shattered wrist, and the smart one was fleeing as fast as he could down the street, crying for Mama. And the entire thing was observed by other partiers heading to their hotel. Dad got off on a blatant case of self-defense and spent the night in jail solely to sober up. Vintage Captain Mel.

          The moral of the story is, ain’t Karma a bitch!

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