You can also listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry
Manuel “Dog boy” Gonzales came into the world on January 15th, 1928, in Alabaster, Georgia.
His parents both took hard drugs, resulting in a rare condition for their child. He had Acquired hypertrichosis. In layman’s terms, he was very hairy everywhere.
He became a ward of the state when his parents were busted with a large amount of heroin in the car, discovered under Michael’s baby blanket in the back seat. He wasn’t in a booster seat. He was in a box, and the dope was his mattress.
Manuel, renamed Manny by his custodians, was adopted by a couple when he was three years-old. They didn’t mind that he looked like a little werewolf. Both had worked hard to retire in their early 60s, and wanted a child to dote on. But they found that it wasn’t easy to adopt a child at their age.
They never gave up trying. When they saw Manny sitting on the floor playing with a rag doll, their generous hearts melted. The fact that the staff didn’t think he’d ever be adopted, made them want him even more.
Bill and Lucy were unable to have their own children. Manny was a God-send to their way of thinking. His uniqueness touched them and they wanted to protect him from the world. They were thrilled when their application was approved.
As the years went by Bill and Lucy were faced with some harsh realities. No school wanted Manny in its student body. He was too much of a distraction. They took him to parks so he could play with other children, but were dismayed by their treatment of him. The other kids called him Dog boy, and mocked him by barking at him.
Lucy took it upon herself to teach him how to read and write. Bill took Manny on outdoor adventures like fishing and hiking. They did everything they could to make his life as normal as possible.
Still, it was hard on Manny who dreamed of traveling and seeing the world that he only experienced through books thus far. He was an intelligent young man, who at 18-years-old deeply loved his adopted parents, but thirsted for adventure.
One of the many things he wanted to find out was if there were other people like himself. It would help him feel less alone in the world by just knowing that.
The only thing that held him back was his parents age. They were both frail and in their eighties. He could not leave them alone. They meant too much to him. Instead, he made the best of his time with them, helping them get through the rigors of old age.
One night, Manny was awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of gunfire in the house! He sprang from the bed and ran out into the hall in time to see someone come out of his parent’s bedroom and dart into the living room.
For an instant he froze, deciding if he should go to his parent’s room or give chase to the invader. He went after the invader and managed to tackle him as he attempted to go out the wide open back door. Manny, who was strong for his small size, put a choke hold on the stranger, and squeezed with all of his strength!
Minutes sweated by as the life-and-death struggle continued. It finally came to an abrupt end and he released him, pushing his still-warm body away. His heart was still racing from the struggle when he got up and ran back to his parents room.
He saw Bill first. He was lying at the foot of the bed, still clutching half of his maple cane. A pool of blood was forming around his body as Manny looked on in horror. Tears were running down his hairy cheeks as he looked up at the bed. Lucy was propped up against the headboard of the bed staring blankly into space. Blood covered her torso.
He looked around the room and saw that Lucy’s jewelry box was lying on the floor. The closet door was open, and packages were strewn about like the invader was searching for something.
Manny was stunned. He simply didn’t know what to do. Hours passed as he sat on their bed and grieved. It was daylight before he stood up and went back out to the living room. The would-be thief was still lying by the open back door. A pillow case with his pilfered loot lay nearby. The gun flew out of his hand when Manny tackled him. It was resting on the wooden porch outside.
Two days later.
After hours of questioning the police decided Manny was within his rights to kill the intruder. The local newspaper had a field day with the double murder, and Manny killing the murderer. The photo that the newspaper ran wasn’t a very flattering shot of him, but sold newspapers like hotcakes.
He buried his parents in the same cemetery their parents were resting.
Manny could no longer stand living in the small community, and sold the house which his parents had bequeathed him in their will, and set out on the road. He bought a 1941 Ford, packed up his few belongings, and hit the road.
Months later, while he was in Florida, he came across his first Freak Show. As he paid admission the show’s owner came up to him.
“You wouldn’t be looking for a job would you sonny?” he asked, assuming Manny was just a boy because of his small stature.
“Well…” he stammered nervously, “I’m not sure.”
“What? You’re not sure? Then what are you doing here?” he asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Looking. I never been to no freak show,” he admitted.
“You paid your admission ticket…so enjoy. If you want to talk about getting a job afterwards, let me know.”
Manny went inside the tent and walked from attraction to attraction fascinated with what he saw. He wasn’t even aware at first that people were staring at him as much as the so-called freaks.
It was starting to get uncomfortable and he looked around for the exit when he noticed a group of people laughing at something. He warily made his way thought the group to see what they thought was so funny.
He got the biggest surprise of his life when he saw a bearded lady! She had a beautiful flowing beard that went down to her knees. She was telling bawdy jokes to the men gathered there. If she noticed Manny she didn’t acknowledge him and went on with her act until it was closing time.
He was ushered out of the tent with the rest of the crowd.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
The bearded lady and Manny fell in love and got married in a raucous ceremony that featured all of the freaks in the troop. Manny did his part and joined the show where he was featured as the “Dog Boy.”
The irony of his stage name never escaped him.
As It Stands, I believe there’s someone for everyone, no matter how they look.