And then I heard BOOM, BOOM, BOOM coming down the hall toward me.

That got my attention.

"What the hell is that?" I thought. "Sounds like a big guy."

This huge, black, bald-headed guy came in. He was so big, he had to duck under the doorway to get inside my room. He looked at me, sized up my lifetime of anger and my shower rod, and I could tell that he was not impressed.

"This can be hard, or this can be easy," he said.

That was enough to convince me.

"Easy," I said.

I dropped the shower rod, and it made a pathetic clinking sound when it hit the ground. But their definition of "easy" wasn't exactly the same as mine. They grabbed me and took me upstairs to the psych ward. They put me in a diaper, and they strapped me down in four points. It was the same thing they had done to me back in county jail in '89. I guess I hadn't learned all that much in the meantime. Talk about demoralizing.

"This is a far cry from Willis Jackson," I kept thinking.

For three days, they kept me strapped down like that. It was the worst way to kick drugs. I was super-aware of every inch of my body, and it all felt sick. My skin itched. I was sweaty, and shaking with chills, all at the same time. My mouth was dry. My stomach cramped up, and I had the worst diarrhea right there in my diaper. But there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening, or to clean myself up. The whole time, I couldn't stop thinking how simple it would be to just smoke some crack or shoot some meth and make it stop. That's all it would take to make the bad feelings go away. Not only that, but I'd feel good. I'd feel better than good. I'd feel invincible. When I wasn't thinking about drugs, I was obsessed by thoughts about the girl who had ratted me out, and how I'd like to make her pay for what she'd done. But I was trapped there, and so I had no choice but to get through it.

Excerpted from Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted by Todd Bridges with Sarah Tomlinson. Copyright ?? 2010 by Touchstone. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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