Thinking of you keeps me awake. Dreaming of you keeps me asleep. Being with you keeps me alive.
Late one night, my cat wouldn’t stop scratching and whining at the front door. I kept telling him to leave it, but he insisted I investigate.
I opened the door, a man sat on the steps, one shoe and his crumpled sock on the floor, a needle between his toes.
I told him, “Finish off, then leave,” I was firm but friendly.
He was a drug addict, a shelf-life client of the darkest side of capitalism. I wasn’t going to be mean to him. Just not on my doorstep, please.
I don’t like drug dealers. They create hellish neighbourhoods, and prey on those who are tired and vulnerable.
I will ensure that my environment is safe and secure for me and mine. My home, from the front door extending into the immediate street area — that’s my home. I want to know that when my partner walks out the door, she doesn’t need to look over her shoulder or cross the road to avoid danger.
We moved into a third floor flat in Madrid, where the people live close knit, streets are like hot baking sheets, the locals are warm and mixed.
Shortly after, local drug dealers found a patch by a lamppost outside my home; At first, I observed them like a cat. I could hear them at night, hanging out, talking, laughing, bored.
They would wait for their clients to turn up and buy, the supply being dropped off by taxi — a bag lobbed out of the moving taxi window.
They woke me most evenings. So, I would move to my balcony and silently watch.
I gleaned knowledge of how they operate, whether they had bosses, how intelligent they were, and who they dealt with.
One of them loved practising his martial arts on his two associates. The second, made snide remarks to young women. He was all gold chains, open shirt and slicked back hair. The third dealer was clearly learning the business. He hadn’t fully immersed himself in the dealer mentality, he seemed too open and chummy. He politely greeted me by day, and kept himself in the shadows at night.
After a few weeks of my cat-like activities, I could single out one of the drug dealers as being the stupidest. The martial arts fanatic was good at swinging his feet and arms about, but stringing three words together was a laborious task for him. His chaotic dance, when practising kicks on his two friends, indicated a fuzzy brain.
Like a bird dancing to its mate, he would do his martial arts moves when women passed, he’d flap his arms and legs about like a wounded chicken to impress them. When local men walked pass, he would be still and look along the road to avoid eye contact.
The Romeo with gold chains and slick hair, was vain and overestimated his own prowess. I think just the fact that he dealt drugs for a living made him feel like he was “Lord of the Street”.
His problem was that he had chosen the outside of my home, and inside my environment as his work place.
He was therefore a threat to my security and happiness. I watched and listened, and he didn’t know how well he informed me.
My partner slept soundly at night. The home and our safety was more important than my sleep. If I didn’t take action against these dark shadows, then who would?
Late one night, after about three weeks, I noticed that the street was empty. For the first time, the drugs dealers weren’t in sight. It was hot and balmy, so I stayed on the balcony anyway.
After ten minutes, a car cruised along the street, slow and deliberate, it stopped and started, as if the driver was looking for something. It stopped exactly at the lamppost where the drug dealers hang out.
A man in a leather bomber jacket got out, he had a small torch in his hand which he shone under three cars, he got down on his knees and peered under the car. After he stood up, he walked over to a storm drain and shone his light, he put on a glove and ran his fingers across the drain-grill.
I figured he was a cop, plain clothes drugs squad. He didn’t stay long, it seemed to me that he had some knowledge about the location and wanted to see for himself.
I hoped that would be the end of the drug dealers. Maybe they’d been banged up in a cell and would be kept there for a long time.
The next day, I heard from a neighbour that all three men had been arrested while carrying drugs. But then they’d been released. Apparently, it was only grass in their pockets and the Spanish Policía weren’t interested in the paperwork.
Next day, the drug dealers were back at their lamppost. Hanging out, practising martial arts moves, Gold-Chain-Man eyeing the women as they passed, and the third, the quiet fella, leaning against the wall, on watch.
I felt something had to be done. I’d seen enough, but I didn’t know how to motivate the local Policía to take action.
It was still light, a few people on the street were finishing their tapas and beer. The drug dealers seemed boisterous and overly confident. I figured they had beaten their arrest and felt untouchable.
A middle-aged woman passed them, she stopped, looked at the martial arts expert and gave him a piece of her mouth,“You shouldn’t be here. Get a proper job — or you’ll end up in jail for the rest of your life!”, Spanish mothers worry a lot. Other people’s wayward children need a mother’s voice too.
He insulted her. He told her that she was a fat old bird, and she should mind her own business. Old lady, meddling witch, get lost!
Her face reddened.
She slapped him. A slap? More like a mother’s right-hook straight to the heart of the matter. His cheek glowed, then he backed off and dropped his chin— I watched and hoped it was shame that he felt.
The Spanish Mother said a few more harsh words to all three men, then without rush, set off on her way.
I watched from the balcony, the men exchanged astonished words with each other. Mostly they laughed at their friend for allowing the woman to slap him in the face. There was empty banter of retaliation.
I received a phone call from my partner, she told me that she was in the bar across the street with her parents. They were visiting from New England, and I should join them. I looked out the window and saw her standing outside the bar with her mobile phone.
The drug dealers were close by, hanging around their lamppost.
I put my shoes on and fumbled with shirt buttons. There was a noise outside, shouting followed by a screech. I looked out. My partner and one of the drug dealers were arguing face to face, in the middle of the road.
My wife is a beautiful woman, charming and polite, but deep inside her there is a lioness that’ll face-off a water buffalo and defend her territory with might and courage.
With half tied shoe laces flapping about my feet, my shirt wide open, and one mean intention in my heart, I ran down the three flights of stairs.
The metal doors burst open with a clatter as I entered the street and made a straight line towards the drug dealer.
His hand rose up in front of my wife’s face and his glassy eyes rolled as he moved closer. She slapped his hand away, and I drove myself in between them. She back-away.
I have had plenty of fighting experience in life — boxing, martial arts, street fighting outside pubs in England — but that was all many years ago. I was now middle-aged, a bit slower, and no longer fighting fit.
My heart beat like a drum, and I could feel the tremble in my legs. It’s always the knees that go first — fear and adrenalin, it can freeze you up and make you useless.
My view from the balcony gave me perspective and I could figure these guys out from how they acted and spoke. Now, I realised this one was bigger and broader than I’d thought, but yes, he was stupid; that gave me confidence and an advantage.
If I wrenched my back, and got a bloody nose in sending this man away, then so be it.
The trembling in my knees stopped. I knew I had to act, I turned and looked at my wife who was now in a safe place.
My mind felt sharp and ready. Because I was defending the one I love, and our home, I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t shake and tremble anymore, just the opposite — I felt like a thirty-year-old, solid and agile on my feet, my chin down and forehead tipped, ready to do battle. The spirit had taken me — the flesh better play along too.
The adrenalin rose in me, my shoulders cracked with delight, and my arms felt like power-pumps with hammers at the ends. I assumed the fighting pose and looked my opponent in the eye.
His watery brown eyes caught the sun, and a lock of curly dark hair flopped onto his forehead. His doughy features looked boyish.
Over his shoulder I saw customers from the restaurant had gathered in the street. The middle-aged woman who he’d insulted stood among them, she waved her arms as she explained something.
My wife stood to the side with other neighbours. A young woman among them, who I later discovered was the drug dealer’s girlfriend, shouted insults and Gypsy curses at me. Her curses weren’t convincing, but her mouthiness fired us up.
His two friends shouted encouragement. He raised his hands and took a swing at me. I dodged, but felt his palm brush the top of my head. Like a button had been pressed, my arms came into action and I landed three good hits to his ribs. He backed off. He seemed shocked, an old guy coming at him, and punching hard.
I don’t go looking for fights, nor do I want physical combat, but when it gets this far you have to have the winning attitude — or you’ll end up on the floor with blood all over you, and your opponent will rule the roost.
When you square up to another man, it’s the lonliest place in the world.
Probably my biggest weakness in a fight, is that I believe in the “fair-fight”. Fists up means a fist fight; don’t draw a weapon, nor suddenly change the game to a wrestling match, it’s a fist fight. Unfortunately, the world is an unfair place and drug dealers are as sly as snakes in the grass.
The three punches were enough to make him falter and feel insecure. It was coming back to me; there’s more to a fist fight than punches. Put the fear of God into your opponent, see it in his eyes, and don’t give him a chance to recover from it. Keep him in fear — he’ll soon buckle under the pressure.
I couldn’t get the first impression of him out of my mind; he looked like a boy, but he was at least thirty years old. He lacked experience, but faked it with bravado. He was out of his depth in the real world of confrontation.
He made unpleasant quips and remarks to passers by, he mocked middle-aged women, he tried to intimidate my wife on the street and with that he riled me up.
After I hit him, he suddenly side-stepped then got closer to me. Before I could react, he’d wrapped his arm around my neck and pushed me down towards the ground.
He’d fooled me into believing that he was just a frightened boy with curly hair, now I felt the power of a pressing-machine attached to my neck.
I flailed with my arms, trying to get a hit or two in, but my position meant that each attempt skidded past his body.
He twisted and pulled at my neck, it worked, it caused me a lot of pain. I did get a punch in to his belly, but my breath was short and quite honestly, my energy was waning.
I waited for the inevitable; he’d take this opportunity to pummle my face with punches that would be hard to dodge.
I can take hard punches, you train yourself to not react to pain or shock. That way you can think straight in the chaos. Come up with a good plan — like one that would get me out of a headlock and a barrage of blows to the face.
The punching started. He hit my face several times. Hard and fast. I focused on trying to slip my head sideways so he’d miss my nose and eyes, that didn’t work. My ears hurt.
My arms were tired but I hit him anywhere I could. I’d wait till he got tired, or bored, with hitting me. Then it’d all be over, and the drug dealer could rule his roost along my street.
I heard his feet shuffle, he dragged me away from the curbstone in to the middle of the road, then a bit more, then sideways. That’s when I could see another pair of feet close by. My vision was limited to the tarmac road and both our feet.
A pair of red boots with square heels followed our steps as the drug dealer dragged me around the road. He was on the run, taking me with him as he attempted to avoid the red boots.
I twisted my head as far as I could towards the red boots. Then the penny dropped. It was my wife who was chasing him away.
She’s a tough woman. She’s also beautiful, and tender hearted. That day, something tripped the switch and she turned into a Lioness.
It didn’t take much longer before I heard a thudding sound. Three solid thuds. Each time, a red boot came up and skimmed past my face then landed firmly in my opponents guts. He buckled, and twisted, I heard him groan and squeal like a pig being rounded up on the farm.
Gusts of air left his lungs. He coughed a couple of times, but now I could feel his body move as my wife laid into his curved back and sides with her small fists.
He released his grip on me, and in a rage turned, and headed towards on her. I stood up, grabbed at the back of his collar, my hands slipped, I gripped his shirt tail which hung out of his jeans.
I looked over at my wife. Her face as red as her boots, sweat beading on her cheeks, and a grin like a Cheshire cat spreading across her face.
I’d never seen her use violence. Hit anybody, let alone a mean and stupid drug dealer; she seemd to be having fun.
The drug dealer was still dangerous, even though we were all tired, and the fighting didn’t seem to prove anything. I felt like we should all put our hands up and go home.
My wife had other ideas. She stepped in close to the panting and bent body of the drug dealer, grabbed his hair and lifted his head. Then she gave him the hardest thwack on the nose her small fists could give. Small fists or not, blood ran from his face, and as he wiped it off it became clear he’d didn’t want any more.
I was done, tired, and my ribs ached. He just looked beaten with his sullen look. His big brown eyes were dull now, and his locks of dark hair sweat smeared around his pudgy face.
The only person standing upright, grinning, and pleased with herself, was my wife. She’d saved me from a heavy beating.
I’ve never seen my wife behave that way since she kicked the the dealer in the guts, but she won a new respect from me.
I know she could do it again, anytime she’d need to.
Now, our home is free of drug dealers on the street. The cops turned up and arrested all three of them.
The landlord apologised to us personally for not dealing with the matter by informing the police.
We stayed a while, but the pangs of homesickness drew us back to Berlin where we live together with our cats in a peaceful neighbourhood.