I guess you could say that I came from the wrong side of the tracks. I grew up in a little flea-bitten dive down by the railroad, and had never had any breaks in life.

My Da?, Shit, I never met him. He was some mean ugly mother who had wandered into town and took a fancy to my Ma. It was a short affair and he was gone with the dawn, never to be seen again.

My Ma, well, she was alright, I guess, though she had little time for me once I was big enough to fend for myself. She couldn’t wait to see the back of me. She called me Trouble, and the name stuck.

I grew up in a street gang, and quickly learned how to survive. We got by on intimidation and petty larceny. I was a big gangly youth, all elbows, so I quickly rose in the ranks and became the enforcer. If fate had been kind, one day I could have been top dog, but I was never that lucky.

One day, we were on the prowl, looking for soft touches to make ends meet. We were passing a local deli when the smell of food drove me to rashness. Slipping inside, I grabbed the first thing I could see and started wolfing it down. The pie was delicious, though I nearly choked to death when the owner shouted, “Hey, grab that little theif!”

Snarling, I jumped away and crashed through the door. Soon, I was out in the street, but my homeys had scarpered and I was on my own. I legged it. I could hear the sounds of pursuit, big feet on tarmac, and then I heard a whistle shrieking shrilly as the local police took up the call.

I ran into an alley hoping to hide, but they were hot on my heels. Dashing through the trash cans I made it into the street beyond, hoping to lose them in the traffic.

That was when the delivery truck slammed into me, and that was the end of my freedom.

Battered and bruised, I was lucky to be alive, or maybe not so lucky after all. I found myself in a six by six with bars all around. I called out, demanding release and pleading my innocence, but they ignored me. Eventually, hoarse from shouting, I gave up and settled down on the hard bunk.

Depression set in and it hit me hard. I whined and pleaded whenever they came to bring me food, but was denied my freedom. Soon, I just wanted to lay down and die.

People came occasionally to visit. They were all strangers and looked at me with judgemental eyes, before turning away and dismissing me. I begged them, told them I was sorry and I wouldn’t do it again, but it all fell on deaf ears.

Finally, my wardens came and led me away, to a quiet room away from the other inmates. So this was it, I thought. They are going to execute me now, for the crimes I had committed.

They sedated me with a small injection and laid me down on a cold steel table. Strapping me down, they put a drip into my leg and soon I was slipping into unconsciousness. The bright light overhead pulled me towards heaven and I was gone.

I awoke some time later, with a halo strapped around me head. If this was heaven, I’d been robbed. I was back in a cell, and staggered painfully to my feet. My throat was dry so I drank a little water, before slipping back off to sleep.

I awoke again, and the halo was still there. Time passed and my wardens brought me food and fresh water, but I was passed caring.

Then one day something strange happened. It was the day that they took away my halo. That was the day my life changed.

A family arrived to visit. They were very friendly and kept pointing at me and laughing, but not in a mocking way. Finally, the wardens came and opened the doors of my cell.

I thought about doing a runner, but I was still a little tender and unsure of myself, so I waited to see what was happening. The children squealed and burst into my cell, rushing up and stroking me, petting me, and hugging me like a long lost friend.

It was a strange feeling, but not an unpleasant one. I quickly learned to like it, and my tail wagged joyfully, wanting more. Before I knew it, I was on the end of a lead, and walking away from the prison with my new family. I had indeed gone to heaven.

All it had cost me was a set of balls.

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