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Kratom, the Legal Opium?

Kratom, a tree native to southeast Asia—Thailand and Malaysia—can reach towering heights of 50 feet, or more. Its trunk, when fully grown, is an impressive 15 feet in diameter. Its leaves, well, the chemical compounds in kratom leaves behave like those found in opioids including morphine. This is not your average shade tree.

Users of “Biak-Biak,” as kratom is called in Malaysia, introduce the drug into the body by smoking, chewing, or brewing the leaves into a tea. Interestingly, chewing the leaves produces a milder effect than other means of consumption. And, the effects achieved when chewing the raw leaves is that of a mild stimulant.

Kratom tree

However, when ingesting kratom in higher dosages (extracts, powders, etc) it produces an effect quite similar to that of opium-like narcotic analgesics.

Kratom is a listed as a controlled substance in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma). And, it is listed in Schedule 9, the most highest level, of the Australian National Drugs and Poisons Schedule. It is not, however, illegal in the U.S.

Kratom is legal in the U.S.

The DEA, the same DEA that lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, took a look at kratom and decided to not include it in either of the five drug schedule categories. Shoot, even Robitussin AC, a peach-mint or grape/menthol cough syrup, is on the list of “dangerous” drugs, but not kratom, a substitute for opium.


Schedule I

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:

Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:

Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:

Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:

cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin


 The DEA briefly considered placing kratom in the Schedule 1 category but opted not to due to public outcry from people who claim the drug helps as a treatment for pain, anxiety and drug dependence.

Others say it’s safer than opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

Yeah, well, so is Lyrica, a drug prescribed for fibromyalgia and epilepsy. Lyrica warning labels list minor side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, difficulty concentrating, swollen arms/legs, and weight gain.

Kratom leaf

Possible side effects from using kratom include vomiting, sweating, itching, psychotic episodes, delusions and respiratory depression. The FDA has identified 44 reports of death involving kratom since 2011.

There are a large number of Kratom vendors in the United States. The drug typically enters the U.S. in shipments from Asia and from western European countries. These deliveries slip past U.S. Customs, an agency that confiscates all kratom it locates.

Kratom is sold in various forms, including raw leaves, and extracts, capsules, and powders. Vendors include convenience stores, gas stations, and even delis.

Will the DEA eventually add Kratom to the drug schedule? Will the drug be made illegal? Who knows? In the meantime, though, we can all rest easier knowing our nation’s supply of cough syrup and constipation-inducing Lyrica is kept safely under lock and key.

Madam Zelda’s Top Predictions for 2018

Each year on the last day of December I travel to a secret location where I meet with my friend Madam Zelda to learn her predictions for the coming year. The mysterious clairvoyant is so good at what she does that she’s rarely, if ever, wrong. The woman is uncanny.

So, in keeping with year-end tradition, Madam Zelda did a reading for us this morning and she’s confident 2018 will be fantastic. Here’s a list of her top twenty predictions which, by the way, contains a few from last year since they also pertain to 2018. Believe me, she’s always right … sometimes.

Here goes …

  1. Someone accidentally plays a Kayne West song in reverse and hears the star say admit, “I can’t sing. Not a word. Not a note. Nope, can’t carry a tune, not even in a bucket.”
  2. Universities rush to create safe spaces for students traumatized by what they’ve seen and heard in other safe spaces (yes, coloring books, Play Dough, and tiny ponies can be extremely scary).
  3. The Dictionary Police meet and officially ban the words, Bigly, Electoral College, Candidate, Fake News, Swamp, Email, Russia, Comey, Hacking, Polling, Weiner, Trump, Hillary, and “War On …” (War on Drugs, War on Christmas, etc.).
  4. The U.S. wisely eliminates all elections. Future spots are to be filled by the winners of Rock, Paper, Scissors competitions. All decisions will be final. No recounts, lawsuits, or hacking attempts allowed. NO campaigning!!
  5. The Electoral College closes its doors and the entire campus is razed to make room for a trendy new Filibuster hamburger joint.
  6. California will do something stupid.
  7. The news media is shocked to learn that news is something that actually happens, not the fantasy or agenda that lives inside the minds of some “reporters.”
  8. Doctors discover a cure for social media.
  9. Rumor has it that someone could/might actually perform a country song at the 2017 Country Music Awards. This one is a stretch and probably will not happen.
  10. Amazon’s Alexa is set to become the first all-electronic mayor of a major U.S. city. She’s definitely qualified because her standard answer to tough questions is, “Hmm, I can’t seem to find the answer to your question.”
  11. A criminal will break the law and someone will be shocked that he did, and that someone will start a movement to ban whatever it was the criminal did even though there are 2 Tatrilliongazillion laws already on the books that … here it comes … already forbid the act.
  12. The Oscars will present an award to someone no one in the entire world has ever heard of.
  13. Airlines will develop a means to tow utility trailers for those who prefer to travel with with even less frills than those afforded to passengers in coach (think hogs in the rear of semi trucks/trailers on their way to market).
  14. Congress debuts a TV comedy show titled “Deaf” Comedy Jam.
  15. Statues across the country begin to shout back at the folks who yell at them.
  16. For the first time ever the Postal Service delivers an un-crushed package.
  17. The North Koreans sweep gold at the 2018 Olympics.
  18. The winner of the Super Bowl depends entirely upon which team has enough standing members to play (It’s difficult to run while on your knees).
  19. HGTV launches series of new shows featuring more people doing the same things as the people who already do those things.
  20. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy. Expect the largest and most thrilling event we’ve ever produced. And, the 2018 Guest of Honor is … well, a secret for now. 🙂 Details coming soon. Very soon!

*This post is ENTIRELY a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor. Please do not try to read between the lines because there’s absolutely nothing there. Also, please … no comments about race, politics, cops, religion, etc. Let’s end the year with a smile. Goodness knows, I need one.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson: Button-Zinging At The Piggly Wiggly

You’ve had a long night answering call after call—he-saids, she-saids, chasing a Peeping Tom through back yards and alleys, a couple of drunks arguing over a near-empty bottle of Ripple, kids spray-painting stop signs, and the guy who insisted he was Jesus and attempted to prove it by damning you to hell a few dozen times after you refused to give him ten dollars.

Yep, a looonnnggg night and it was only half over when Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson, Jr. decided to join forces with his good friend Jack Daniels to blacken both his wife’s eyes. Well, Erlene, the wife, wasn’t about to stand for that so she poked ‘ol Peanut in the gut a couple of times with a dull kitchen knife. Didn’t break the skin, mind you, but the act was just enough to send Peanut off the deep end. Oh, he was plenty mad about it, yellin’ and screamin’ and stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, and kicking at Porkchop, the family’s three-legged dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, knew to stay six or seven dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.

After about ten minutes of plate, bowl, and pot-and-pan-throwing, one of the kids, a snot-nosed, freckle-faced boy of around ten or so, picked up the cordless and punched the speed dial button for 911.

And that’s where you, Officer Save M. All, show up. And Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the driveway, huffing and puffing like an old-time, coal-fired locomotive engine.

Now here’s where things could get a little dicey so it’s best to run down the checklist before diving right in. You know, size him up. Is Peanut armed this time? Is he really going to attack? Or, is all that chest-thumping and Tarzan-yelling just a show for the neighbors? Well, you’d better find out in a hurry because he’s starting to spin like the Tasmanian Devil.

So how can you tell if this guy means business, or not?  Well, there are a few telltale signs that could help you evaluate the situation, and, since weapons and other items that are capable of puncturing your flesh, bones, and organs should be your first concern, here are some common indicators that Peanut is carrying a hidden gun or knife.

1. It’s 97 degrees outside and Peanut, standing smack-dab in the center of the intersection at 9th and Main, is wearing his heavily-insulated, knee-length, blood-stained orange hunting coat. Yes, Einstein, he’s probably wearing it to hide a sawed-off shotgun, the one Daddy gave him for Christmas when he was three.

2. The tail of his flannel shirt is out, but one side is riding higher than the other. A great sign that he’s wearing a weapon on the “high side.”

3. Even wearing a shirt tail on the outside is a sign that he might be carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign known to bad guys, which means they might recognize you as an undercover officer.

Now, for the signs that Peanut is about to attempt to stomp your butt into the mud …

1. For some unknown reason, many offenders/would-be attackers seem to feel the need to rip off their shirts prior to delivering the first blow. So, when a drunk starts ripping cloth and zinging buttons across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, well, that might be a good time to reach for the pepper spray because he’s subtly announced his intentions. The standard shirt-ripping ritual is usually accompanied by lots of top-of-the-lung screaming and yelling, especially nasty comments about your wife and mother. Nasty comments about the family dog are optional.

2. Another clue that Peanut is about “go for it” is when he starts glancing at a particular spot on your body, like your throat, stomach, or even a knee. Instantly, you should go on alert for a possible strike to that area. Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce.

New Picture

3. Peanut constantly glances to a spot behind you, or to a place off to your right just out of your line of sight. Watch out, because his partner may be approaching for a rear ambush. And, his partner just might be Mrs. Peanut. Yes, even though her “loving husband” had just moments ago beat the ever-loving snot out of her she’ll often defend her man until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end sometimes results in a funeral … hers.

These quick glances are also good indicators that Peanut has a hidden weapon nearby. For example, you’ve stopped Peanut for drunk driving and he’s constantly glancing toward the glove compartment. Well, there’s a good chance that a weapon or other illegal items are concealed there.

4. The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home – You arrive on scene and you approach Peanut, who is standing still, staring off into space. His jaw is clenched and he’s sweating profusely, even though you’re both standing in two feet of freshly-fallen New England snow (New England snow, to me, is the coldest snow on the planet). He doesn’t respond to you in any way, but you see the anger rising. Face is growing redder by the second. Veins poking out on his forehead. Eyes bulging. Yeah, you get the idea. Believe me, it is time to take a step back and start pulling every tool you’ve got on your duty belt because this guy’s getting ready to blow. Silence is definitely not golden in this case.

5. Peanut might be a “I’m not going to look at you” kind of personality. This is another indicator that an assault may be on the way. If he’s staring at place on the ground, refusing to listen and obey your verbal commands, then be prepared for an attack. At the very least, be prepared for a battle when the time comes to snap on the cuffs.

I guess a good rule of thumb is to always assume the worst, hope for the best.

On a Red Eye, Because I Can’t Fix Cancer

It’s just after 1 a.m. and I’m sitting on a plane heading to North Carolina where I, as a father, will be forced to hand over the safety and well-being of my daughter, Ellen, to a surgeon I’ve never met. I understand a robot will also have a “hand” in this operation.

All her life, I’ve tried my best to handle the woes, small and large, that came her way. From bee stings, scrapes and scratches, to sports injuries and dumb luck and more. I’ve tried to be there. Fix things. That’s my job.

This time, I’ve failed her when she needs me the most. I can’t fix cancer. I would if I could. I would also, without reservation or hesitation, change places with her. Can’t do that, either.

Again, I’m stuck and at the mercy of a surgeon and her robot, neither of whom I have yet to meet.


Ellen and I touch base at least once each day, by phone, Skype, and sometimes via social media. Our chats last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. There’s typically no rhyme or reason or purpose for our conversations other than to share a bit of dad/daughter time.


As I mentioned, I’m on a red eye flight to the East Coast and the plane is graveyard quiet, and dark. Not a single light other than the glow emitting from my laptop. The constant buzz of the engines has worked its magic on most of the passengers, Denene included, who are snoozing away while my mind is darting in a zillion directions.

One of those side avenues leads me down a path where a ton of thank-yous are in order. Many of you sent gifts and cards and messages to Ellen and she was surprised and thrilled to see so many wonderful things show up on her doorstep and in her mailbox. I can’t begin to express how much this has meant to her, and me.

At a time in your life when you sort of feel as if you’re facing “it” alone, well, it’s heartwarming to have so many good friends show so much kindness and generosity.


Okay, the captain has just turned on the fasten seat belt sign, and rightfully so because I feel as if I’m attempting to type while inside a child’s bounce house at a birthday party for 100 youngsters.


The bumpy ride, though, reminds me of a time long ago when Ellen was still a teen. She I decided to go for a bit of off-road 4-wheel-drive adventure where we hit a super deep muddy hole and nearly overturned my vehicle. Of course, we giggled like two little kids and even thought about making a repeat trip through the bottomless pit but decided to leave well enough alone.


Monday’s coming fast, the time when I’ll have to turn Ellen over to the surgeon. They’ll wheel her down a hallway and back again several hours later. It will not be me who fixes her. Instead, I’ll remain behind with Denene, Tyler (our grandson), and our son-in-law John.

I know, I’ve already handed off my little girl to her husband. Did so many years ago, and he’s a good husband. A good man. And a good father. He, too, would trade places, and he, too, must trust my little girl/his wife, to a stranger.


We, as a family, are fortunate. We have each other, and we have Ellen who, by the way, is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She’s a wonderful daughter, mother to Tyler, and wife to John.

She’s the glue of their family.

And she’s still my little girl. Always will be.


Not so long ago, Denene’s mother was diagnosed with a serious cancer and had major surgery as a result. She started chemo a few days ago.

For days you guys prayed and sent kind words, gifts, books, and messages. Since her surgery and while going through chemo, my mother-in-law has been back to church and even out to dinner with a ladies group. She’s not well, but she’s living life. Thank you all for sticking with us.


And now, we have Ellen who underwent emergency surgery a few days ago and will be back in the surgical unit again on Monday.

If you have any left at all, a couple more prayers would be very much appreciated. And, thank you for understanding that for the next several days, at least, my online activity (blogging, etc.) will be limited. I’ll keep you posted about the surgery, though (on Facebook).

And, I’ll keep you posted on the progress of my little girl. She is, you know … my little girl.


By the way, Ellen and I recreated our off-road adventure the last time I was there for a visit. Denene was at her mother’s tending to her health issues and I was at Ellen’s to take her to begin the first of her cancer tests. Obviously, with Denene two-hours away, there was not an adult present in our vehicle when Ellen and I made the decision to stomp the pedal to the floor and hope we came out on the other side of the mud and deep ruts. An adult would never, not in a million years, approve of what we’d done.

Yes, we still giggled like little kids, even decades later. Of course, driving off-road in a pit of mud while driving a rental vehicle seemed a bit less insane.

Ah, nothing like a bit of quality dad/daughter time … But it was a memory we shared and doggone it, we did it again simply because we could and because, for some reason, it felt like the right thing to do … at the time.

And she’s still my little girl.

 

Priorities: Fire, Red Rubber Balls, and Family

Priority: a thing regarded as having more importance than that of another.

As the Atlas fire, the inferno here in Northern California that destroyed over 50,000 acres, crept closer and closer to our neighborhood, Denene and I were forced to decide what to take with us should we need to evacuate. Clearly, a few of our priorities differed … greatly.

Denene remained fixated on family photos, antique silverware, important papers, clothing, and the like. Me, I went straight for the meat … books. Realizing, of course, I couldn’t take all the reading material lining our shelves, I selected three. Two are antiques that mean quite a bit to me. The third was a signed book with a personal inscription. I have several signed books and they’re each extremely valuable, but this one has special significance.

Next, I carefully wrapped and packed three rocks. Two of the stones came from Mt. St. Helens. The third is a rock featuring a hand-painted image of Barney Fife. My daughter painted it for me.

I selected a small airplane made from tongue depressors and a narrow piece of wood. Tyler, my grandson, made it for me when he was super young. An antique carpenter’s level, Jew’s harp, and an old and quite rusty Ballantine beer opener also found their way into my “go bag.” They belonged to my grandfather. A paperweight my father gave me when I first became a detective, drawing supplies, a hat gifted to me by a friend, an item signed by the Oak Ridge Boys, and my name/desk plates (police) from my old office. Each of those things went straight into my case.

Of course, when the time came to leave our home I also grabbed photos, computers, chargers, cash, and checkbooks. And yes, our entire family of Alexas and Echo tagged along, as did Dead Red Fred who, by the way, was in a huge hurry to leave. All his life he’s had a fear of being melted down and made into a little red rubber ball.

But, we’re back home now, all safe and sound. I greatly appreciate all the well-wishes and prayers. I also deeply appreciate the outstanding efforts of the firefighters, police, sheriff’s deputies, air support, CHP, National Guard, and others who worked around the clock to save as much property and as many lives as possible.

Priorities

I also thank you for the thoughts and prayers for our daughter who underwent emergency surgery last week. She’s recovering from that procedure but the situation is ongoing, and serious. We appreciate your continued prayers. The same for Denene’s mother. Her situation is ongoing and serious. My brother is scheduled for surgery in a few weeks.

My priorities remain with my family.

“Things,” signed books and rocks and airplanes and yes, even Dead Red Fred, can all be replaced.

#Priorities #SorryDeadRedFred


Priority: a “thing” regarded as having more importance than that of another.

I suppose the level of importance depends upon where and with whom in your mind the “thing” lives.

 

Blood, and it’s MINE!

Busy night.

Long night.

Tired.

Robbery.

Domestic.

Juveniles.

Drunk driver.

Break time.

Coffee,

Sounds good.

Window,

Down.

Night air.

Cool, damp.

Traffic light.

Winking red.

Right turn.

Skinny dog,

In alley, limping.

Wino, in doorway.

Smile, no teeth.

A car.

Two teens,

Nervous glance.

Speed limit.

Exactly.

Glance, in mirror.

Tail lights.

Brake lights.

Signal light.

Left turn.

Gone.

Storm drain.

Steam.

Wispy tendrils,

Melting into black sky.

Radio,

Crackle.

Then …

“Fight-in-progress.”

“Tip-Top Bar.”

“Weapons involved.”

“Knives.”

“10-4,

Enroute.”

Blue lights.

Siren.

Parking lot.

Gravel, crunches.

Siren, stops.

“Hurry, Officer!”

Crowd, circled.

Two men.

Metal, flashes.

Step.

Grab.

Wrist turn-out.

Take-down.

Knife in hand.

Suspect on floor.

Handcuffed.

Blood.

Everywhere.

Mine.

Hospital.

Stitches.

Gun hand …

Again.

Should’ve been a writer.

Much safer.

Life Is Fair

“How could you say that life is fair, knowing this was coming?” she whispered while using a stubby finger to trace the letters of her brother’s name on the marble headstone. He’d just turned fifty-three when the brain tumor took him five days ago. “It’s just not fair, not at all.”

Her dying mother’s final breath and her sister’s pain-filled last days weighed heavily on her mind. Lung cancer. At the end, both were barely more than skin-draped skeletons.

She had never known her father. He’d died when she was still an infant. Doctors said they’d found a mass in his stomach. Inoperable.

A gust of cold December wind caused her to draw her thin sweater tightly to her plump body. A few red and gold maple leaves spun and twirled along the winding asphalt drive, making faint ticking and flicking sounds as they passed.

Another brother, the one closest to her own age, was currently in the care of hospice workers. No chance of survival. If he lived until Friday he’d be lucky. If, that is, being fed through a tube and having a constant flow of morphine running into your veins could be considered lucky.

Speaking of luck, five days ago her own doctor had given her only a few short weeks to live. The one remaining lung had finally let her down, as had the toxic one they’d cut from her body two years before. Never smoked a single cigarette in her life. Not even a puff. How’s that for good fortune?

The night she received the devastating news from the physician, she’d sat, alone, looking through tears at yellowed and tattered photograph albums, wondering how she would make use of her remaining time.

And that’s the moment she’d understood the meaning of her brother’s words.

Life is more than fair.

It’s death that is so unjust.

She stood and brushed the freshly-turned grave dirt from her knees and walked toward her family, vowing to spend her remaining time living and fighting, not dying.


#cancer

For support, click American Cancer Society Support Groups

PTSD and Me: The Monster Who Lives Inside My Head

He’s here,

Again.

The monster inside my head.

Scratching.

Clawing.

Digging,

At my skull.

Eyes wide open.

Leave me alone,

Please!

Dark.

Moonlight.

Clock,

Tick, tick, ticking.

Night sounds.

Refrigerator whirs.

Air conditioner hums.

Tick, tick, tick.

Owl hoots.

Cricket chirps.

Tick, tick, tick.

Then quiet.

So quiet.

A scream!

From inside?

Him, or me?

He’s there.

In front of me.

Behind me.

Over there.

No, over there.

Laughing.

Maniacal and hysterical.

Bullets.

Blood.

Bullets.

Twitching.

Quivering.

Like an animal,

Dying.

Flowers.

Roses.

Prayers.

Damp soil.

Tears.

Sadness.

But,

You did your job.

Sure,

Easy for them to say.

He shot first.

So …

Anxiety.

Fear.

Depression.

Insomnia.

Can’t sleep.

He’s here.

Again.

The monster in my mind.

Scratching.

Clawing.

Digging,

At my skull.

Eyes wide open.

Why every night?

I only killed him once.

After the shooting


* If you are in a crisis please seek help. You cannot do this alone. Call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, talk to your doctor, or call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).

Huck-a-Bucking for Beginners: Square-Dancing Gone Wrong

Every department has at least one officer who doesn’t quite beat the same drum as the others. His, or her, rhythm is slightly off. They can’t quite fit in no matter how hard they try. Sure, everyone likes this person, and they don’t really do anything that’s too weird, yet they always seem to do, well dumb stuff.

Enter my friend Franklin and his first experience with, well, this …

The honky-tonk nightclub was situated just outside the city limits. They were open for business on Saturday nights only and the place was so popular it didn’t take long for the gravel parking lot to fill to capacity with souped-up cars and dented and dusty pickup trucks with gun racks mounted in the rear windows.

Male patrons slicked their hair with Brylcreem or Butch Wax and they wore their best jeans, Stetson hats, dinner-plate-size belt buckles, and spit-shined cowboy boots. Many strapped hunting knives to their belts—their handles carved from deer antlers or hunks of wood cut from trees that once stood on family land.

Women curled and teased their hair until it reached heights only before seen by birds, power company linemen, and airline pilots, and then they loaded it with enough Aqua Net to keep it tightly in place for an entire evening of two-stepping and do-si-doing. They slipped into their finest square-dancing dresses and they waited on the front porch for one of those gussied-up farm trucks to pull into the driveway, and when it did … well, “Yipee ki-yay” the night had begun.

This club, the 95 Dance Hall, allowed brown-bagging (bring your own liquor), otherwise known as BYOB—bring your own bottle—because they didn’t have a license to sell alcohol. but they did supply ice and various mixers/chasers. The ice was freshly cracked from 50 lb blocks purchased that afternoon from the local ice and coal business.

Club workers filled galvanized washtubs with the ice and it was free for the taking, with the price of admission. In addition to counter-wiping and keeping a layer of fresh sawdust on the floor (the ground wood made for a better dance surface, so I was told), they refilled the metal containers throughout the evening as the frozen chunks of water melted.

By 10 pm, the 95 Dance Hall was flat-out jumpin’. The band, the Virginia Barn Dance Boys, was in high gear—fiddling, steel-guitaring, banjo-picking, and yodeling to all get out. Dresses twirled. Boot heels clicked and tapped against the wood flooring. Drinks disappeared. Bottles emptied. Then the inevitable happened … somebody winked at somebody’s best girl. The place quickly erupted into a free-for-all. Fists. Chairs. More fists. More chairs. Then, a knife. And then some blood. And then a call to the sheriff’s office. “HELP!”

Now’s when I’ll introduce you to our department’s “one guy.” Remember the description above … doesn’t quite beat the same drum, etc. etc.? Okay, this is Franklin (not his real name). Franklin is a thin black man. He’s quiet. Shy. Rarely speaks. Wears glasses. His uniform, the brown over tan, was always, without fail, neatly pressed with creases sharp enough to cut paper, and shoes so shiny they reflected moonlight on a cloudy night.

Franklin did not like to get his clothes dirty. He freaked out if a speck of mud marred the surface of his shoes. He wore a tie even when it wasn’t required. And he did not, absolutely did not, would not, nor ever would, exceed the speed limit.

Franklin was my friend, a good friend too. But he was a bit quirky.

I’d seen Franklin heading to murders-in-progress with red lights flashing and spinning and siren wailing and screaming, but driving at 45 mph with both hands on the wheel while leaning so close to the steering wheel that it nearly rubbed his chin at every curve and turn (he couldn’t see very well at night was his explanation for leaning close to the windshield).

This particular night there were four of us working the late shift—Franklin, two others, and me—and we were all dispatched to the “fight with weapons call.” Having been to a few of those calls at the nightclub over the years I knew we’d be outnumbered. Therefore, since I’ve never been all that fond of pain, I requested backup from the state police and from a nearby city.

By the time we arrived, the fight had spilled out into the parking lot. So we, three deputies and several backup officers from surrounding jurisdictions, began the task of breaking up the massive brawl, which quickly turned into a “them against us” battle.

Well, we were well into the thick of it when we heard a squalling and yelping siren coming our way. A few seconds later a brown sheriff’s office patrol car rolled slowly into the parking lot with siren and lights still in full “I mean business” mode. It was, of course, Franklin, the fourth member of the night shift.

Seriously, you’ve got to picture this to appreciate it. Fifteen cops and forty or so cowboys going to it in the parking lot. Fists flying, books kicking, handcuffs clicking, batons swinging, clothing torn and dirty, heads bruised from contact with our lead-filled leather saps and wooden nightsticks, faces bruised and jaws stinging from fists covered with brass knuckles. And Franklin, calmly exiting his police car, then smoothing the wrinkles from his pants before slowly walking toward the massive battle.

Suddenly, it was like he, shiny-shoed Franklin, was sucked into a vacuum. In the blink of an eye, he was pulled into the fracas and was doing his best to restrain, arrest, and, well, he was basically doing his best to stop people from hitting him.

We eventually gained control and arrested every fool we could lay our hands on, and those troublemakers were hauled away to jail. Those of us who remained on the scene went inside the dance hall to speak with potential witnesses to a couple of pretty nasty stabbings. Franklin was one of the deputies who accompanied me inside.

We were a motley crew to say the least—clothing dirty, shoes scuffed, blood stains here and there, and cut and bruised and sufficiently battered.

Franklin looked as if he’d been dragged through a hog pen, beaten by club-wielding cave people, and then run through the hand-cranked wringer of his grandmother’s antique washing machine. His glasses sat slightly askew on the bridge of his nose. His upper lip was cut and the lower bruised and swollen.

When we stepped from the darkness into the festive interior of the 95 Dance Hall, the lead guitar player of the Virginia Barn Dance Boys was in the process of calling a square dance. Dancers on the floor dipped and swirled and twirled and ducked and hopped like their lives depended on their actions.

The music was horrible. The fiddle sounded screechy. The drummer’s timing was off. First he was a half beat too fast, then his sticks tapped slightly slower than the rest of group’s caterwauling. The guy on the acoustic guitar apparently had never learned to properly tune his instrument. But the crowd did not care. They were dancing like it was their nine-to-five job. Like the world would end if they didn’t go at it like grizzly bears defending their turf.

Franklin did not move into the club any further than five feet from the front double wooden doors. He simply stood there blinking his eyes as he looked at the spinning and blinking colored lights. At the dancers. The condensation-covered ice tubs that were now half full of water. Franklin looked like a kid at the circus for the first time.

When we finally wrapped up our investigation and were standing outside in the parking lot beside our respective patrol cars, I asked Franklin if he was okay. His battered lips split into a slightly crooked smile before he said, “I’m fine. It’s just that I’ve never seen so many white people at one time in their own environment. And they were Huck-a-Bucking their asses off. Is that how all of you dance when no one else is around? This (he pointed to the club) is just bizarre.”

Franklin shook his head from side to side and turned to walk away, but stopped to look back over his shoulder. He said, “You know I’m going to have nightmares over this, right?” Then he playfully two-stepped back to his car and just before climbing in he raised an arm over his head to give a thumbs-up. He let out a loud, “Yee-Haw!” as he slid into the driver’s seat.

We all stood there in silence, and disbelief that Franklin had displayed some sort of emotion and a bit of humor. It was way out of character for him. We watched Franklin pull out onto the highway where he sped away, at no more than 45 mph, of course. He tooted his horn twice before rounding the curve that took him out of view.

To this day, whenever I see someone square-dancing on TV I immediately think of Franklin’s descriptive term for those specific gyrations and swirls and twirls.

Huck-A-Bucking: a traditional dance where participants spin, twirl, stomp, duck, and bow to their partners while semi-following the instructions yelled out to them by a band leader who’s sometimes referred to as a caller. When mixed with alcoholic beverages, huck-a-bucking can quickly switch from fun to fighting. Although, fighting is sometimes considered fun by avid huck-a-buckers. but not to Franklin, a one of a kind sheriff’s deputy.

Yee-Haw, y’all!

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From A Cop’s Perspective: What You Didn’t See

Officer Idu Thebestican feels as if he faces a no-win situation each day he puts on his uniform, and he stopped by today to tell why he feels that way. Here’s what the officer had to say …

Today I found a lost grandmother. She has Alzheimer’s and wandered off into a wooded area near a rocky and steep ravine. I sat with her and held her hand until her family arrived to take her home. You didn’t see that.

I got pretty banged up while breaking up a nasty fight between two large men. They were angry over a ref’s call at a kid’s soccer game. You didn’t see that.

A convenience store was robbed by two masked men carrying handguns. I caught one of the robbers after a five-block foot pursuit. He fired a shot at me but missed. Luckily I was able to wrestle the gun from his hand. You didn’t see that.

You didn’t see that!

Two cars crashed head-on, killing everyone inside. I helped remove the bodies, including one of a tiny baby. You didn’t see that.

A bloody face and a broken arm on an eight-year-old girl. Her intoxicated father did that to her and I was there in time to stop him from killing his daughter. I took the punches that were intended for her. You didn’t see that.

I was stabbed and cut in the side by a woman trying to stop me from arresting the husband who’d just beaten her until she was black and blue. It took 30 stitches to close the wound. You didn’t see that.

A drunk man was trapped in a burning house. I ran in and pulled him out. Burned my hands and face a bit, but the man survived. You didn’t see that.

I changed a flat tire for two elderly woman who were on their way to Florida. You didn’t see that.

I worked three straight shifts without sleep or meals while trying to catch a guy who’d raped and murdered a teenager. You didn’t see that.

I bought a meal for a homeless man, and then joined him for lunch. He’d served in the military and suffers from severe PTSD. You didn’t see that.

I stopped to throw a few footballs with some young boys. You didn’t see that.

#HeStoleMyPopTart

(click the link above to see Officer Norman at work play)

I adopted a needy family at Christmas time and bought them gifts, and my wife and I delivered a holiday meal to them. You didn’t see that.

But you chose to see me when I responded to 911 call in your neighborhood, with all of your friends standing around, and you closed in on my personal space with your face just inches from mine to shout, “Murderer!” even though I’ve never killed anyone.

You threw rocks at me while I patrolled your street, trying to keep you safe from robbers, burglars, and killers.

You spit on me while I was arresting a guy in your neighborhood. It didn’t matter to you that he’d just committed an armed robbery of an old lady and that he’d roughed her up a bit in the process. To you, though, I was the bad guy. “F*** You! All cops are murderers!” you screamed at me while impressionable little children looked on. Those kids had no way of knowing that I’d never pulled my gun from its holster other than to clean it or qualify at the range.

A police officer a thousand miles away did something to dishonor HIS badge, yet you blame me. Why? I didn’t come to arrest you when I caught your friend climbing in that lady’s bedroom window. I don’t run out to punch a random doctor in the face simply because a physician somewhere in Maine botches a surgery on a cop I don’t know personally. It’s not supposed to work that way in a civilized society. Besides you’ll never catch me defending a cop who knowingly breaks the law.

From A Cop’s Perspective: What You Didn’t See

Here’s what it’s like from my point of view.

When I’m off duty and our kids are on the field playing sports, or we’re both sitting side-by-side at a community picnic and it’s as if we’re best buddies. But the moment I put on the uniform I’m suddenly the enemy. Your enemy. And it’s for no reason—your transformation—other than my clothing and something I didn’t do, that your hatred for me begins to fester and boil over.

Believe me, I don’t change. But you do.

And I see it.