Sex on a Grave, and Stolen Bones

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An assignment working homicide cases is, without a doubt,  a first class ticket to the bizarre and all things macabre.

Cops who investigate murders for a living see it all, from poisonings to gunshot wounds to decapitation by sword. Even today, for example, headlines feature a man who used a crossbow to kill another man, and another killed a guy by beating him to death with a tire iron (tire irons are often used as weapons, by the way).

Killers are sometimes outright creative. I’ve seen people stabbed with a sharpening steel from a kitchen knife block, suffocated with a plastic grocery bag, and even one poor soul who was deliberately pushed in front of a very fast passenger train. The latter did not end well at all. Well, neither did the others, but the train…

Once in a while a killer blames his dastardly deeds on some unseen force, such as voices in his head, or as in a case I once worked, the killer blamed what he’d done—used an ax to hack his sister-in-law- to death—on aliens from Mars.

So yes, I’ve seen a few oddities over the years, including:

I knocked on Miss Evelyn’s front door, and while waiting for someone to answer I had a look around the front porch. Nothing unusual…a one-gallon vegetable can filled with sand and topped with a handful of cigarette butts, an old wooden rocking chair, five flower pots with each containing the remnants of some sort of plant—all dead, dried up, and crispy—, a well-worn, green cloth sofa, and a portable radio that was missing a knob.

As always, smack-dab in the center of the front door were three fairly fresh chicken feet that were tied together with a piece of twine and dangling from a rusty thumbtack. Nothing odd at all…for Miss Evelyn. I knocked again. Nothing had changed in all the years I’d gone there. Not a thing.

I’d met Miss Evelyn after arresting a man for burglary and, while searching his pockets for weapons and other illegal items, I discovered a small flannel pouch tucked inside his wallet. I figured the contents could possibly be drugs, probably marijuana or hash, or something of that nature, so I asked the kid to level with me so I’d know what to expect.

I was surprised to hear him say that what I held in my hand was not was I’d suspected. Instead, he said, it was his “medicine bag,” a ground up mixture of chicken bones, tobacco, human hair, and herbs. Its purpose was to keep him safe.

He’d gotten the bag from Miss Evelyn, the local root doctor. Since this was a totally new experience for me I decided to pay this so-called root doctor a visit. And, long story shortened a bit, Miss Evelyn “knew all and saw all” and she soon became one of my most reliable informants. Her customer base was massive and many were criminals, so…

A young man, Miss Evelyn’s nephew, answered the door and led me to the kitchen where his aunt stood at the head of the table, hard at work assembling her latest batch of medicine bags and other concoctions. A large black kettle was at full boil on the wood stove. I didn’t ask.

Miss Evelyn wore her usual attire, a blue bandana tied over her hair, a faded pink and blue housedress that was three sizes too big, and black pumps. If I’d had to guess I’d say she weighed in the neighborhood of just under a hundred pounds. As always, her face was wet with sweat and her fingernails were bitten to the quick. When she smiled it became instantly obvious that dentists were not a part of her clientele, nor had she ever been a patient of theirs. Her breath smelled like a rotten animal carcass. She was quirky, to say the least, and she was one of the nicest people I’d ever met.

I’d gone there that particular night to see if Evelyn could offer any insight about two bodies that had been dug up in a local cemetery. The vaults had been damaged and the caskets broken open. The grave-robbers took the same thing from each coffin…the bones from the lower right arms and hands.

She said she’d heard about a couple who used human bones as part of their religious rituals. Before exhuming remains, though, they had sex atop the grave sites.

The man and woman visited Miss Evelyn to ask if she knew where they could get heir hands on a fresh corpse because they needed the blood prior to embalming. Well, Evelyn was having no parts of their nonsense and sent them on their way. And that was the purpose of my visit. Miss Evelyn called me the second the grave robbers left her house.

I finally caught up with the couple when I discovered their car parked near a funeral home. They were planning to break in to steal someone’s dearly departed loved one. Fortunately, we stopped them before they committed the act.

So, writers, bizarre and macabre crime does not always come in the form of murder. Nor are the macabre criminals always the odd characters who reside at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the house with the permanent thundercloud floating above it.

This particular couple, the grave robbers, were as normal as your neighbors. Both were professional people with public jobs. They lived in a typical neighborhood and drove a normal car. However, the contents of their trunk was a bit different than most—shovels, picks, tools for prying open caskets, and a few human and animal bones scattered about. Other than that…as normal as you and I. Well…

 

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Twenty Excuses That Make Cops Say, “Hmm….”

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Any cop will tell you that just when they think they’ve heard it all, well, along comes another excuse that tops all the rest. Here’s how some people justified their illegal activities. All I can say is, “Hmm…

1. “Why am I driving naked, Officer? Well…all my clothes are dirty so I was going to my friend’s house to borrow something to wear to work. And I was speeding because it’s cold and the heat’s not working. No seat belt? You noticed that, huh? Can’t wear the things because the material causes my skin to break out. Why is there a gun on the seat? Isn’t that obvious, sir? I don’t have any pockets available at the moment. Duh… I thought you guys were supposed to be trained observers.”

2. “Please don’t give me a ticket. I didn’t slow down for the red light because I just got new brakes on my car—they were expensive, too—and I didn’t want to wear them out already. Geez, you being a cop and all, I thought you’d understand that sort of thing. Don’t they teach you about this stuff in the police academy? A little common sense. That’s all I’m asking for here.”

3. “I had to steal that stuff, Officer. How else was I going to get enough money to pay my court fees and child support? I certainly didn’t want to go to jail.”

4. “Because I had to go to the bathroom. That’s why I was driving 95 in a 55. You don’t believe me, then look.” The wet spot on her jeans verified her claim. She still received the ticket.

5. “I threw a football and it landed on the roof of that store, officer. Honest. And when I climbed up there to get it I fell through that hole you see. The bag of burglary tools? I guess they were already up there. Must’ve fallen through when I did.”

6. “It’s not my car. That’s why I was driving so fast. The pedals are different, or something.”

7. “What? No way! I’ve got you this time. You can’t give me a speeding ticket because I don’t have a driver’s license. Joke’s on you, officer.”

8. “I must’ve fallen asleep inside the store just before they closed. The safe? No, I wasn’t trying to steal it. The door was locked so I used it to break the glass so I could get out, not in. See, I’m claustrophobic. No way I could stay in that place all night. The money. That’s mine. I had it when I went in the store. Yep, all $2,000. Every penny of it. No, I’m between jobs right now.  No, I don’t have an address. Well, not exactly. Yeah, the Union Mission over on 123rd. But only until I get a place of my own.”

9. “Yes, I have a doctor’s note, just not with me. Right, it authorizes me to NOT wear a seat belt because it pinches the skin around my nipple rings.”

10. “I was driving that fast, officer, because I’d had WAY too much to drink and I wanted to get home before I got sick. You wouldn’t want me to puke in your car, right?”

11. “I didn’t mean to shoot him, officer. I was aiming for someone else.”

12. “She’s my wife and I’ll beat her if I want to. Ain’t no law against that, now is there?”

13. “‘Cause he needed killin’. That’ why I done it.”

14. “I stole her TV because she didn’t give me none of her tax refund money.”

15. “How did I cut my hand? Not by breaking the window at the auto parts store. Oh, you didn’t mention that place, did you? I guess you got me.”

16. “I couldn’t have made those obscene phone calls because I don’t own a phone. The one in my pocket? That’s my sister’s phone and she don’t allow me to use it.

17. “I didn’t rob this store because I didn’t know it was here until I got here.”

18. “I was speeding because the needle was on E and I was trying to get to a store in a hurry before I ran out of gas.”

19. “Yeah, I robbed him. He stole my dope so I took his money.”

20. “He was already dead when I killed him.”

And that’s only twenty. The list is practically endless.

  • Bonus response. “No, I weren’t peeping in her window. My pants? I was taking a shortcut through the lady’s yard and they fell down, so I took ’em off. I was next to her window ’cause I wanted to ask her if she had a belt I borrow.”

 

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Ollie the Old Man

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting an interesting fellow, a man I’ll call Ollie.

Ollie is short and stout and wears his pants with the waistband pulled to just above his portly belly where he cinches them tightly with an old and well-worn brown belt. He wears white socks, and black dress shoes shined to a glossy finish.

Most of my new friend’s hair left him some time ago, with the remainder circling the lower portion of his head like a wooly, gray inflatable pool float. Three or four rebellious sprigs of delicate hair, however, clung to the top of his slick sunburned scalp much as we’d expect palm trees on a tiny deserted island would appear to passing sea birds—sprouting up willy-nilly to sway in the breezes.

Ollie’s hands are liver-spotted and his achy and arthritic joints bring about groans and moans when he stands, sits, walks, or does anything that requires a moving body part. His knees pop and creak and a few of his teeth aren’t original equipment. His eyes are weak and rheumy and their lids droop a bit. Dark bags beneath his eyes hang there like pieces of overripe fruit.

He’s an educated man who’s well-spoken and enjoys spirited conversation and tale-telling.

He has a persistent phlegmy cough. There’s an open pack of non-filtered cigarettes in his shirt pocket.

With our howdy-do’s and a glad-to-meet-you behind us, we sat for a while discussing current events. But Ollie tended to drift back to earlier times, the days that seemed to bring him extreme joy and peace.

I listened with great interest as Ollie talked about the good old days, when his family used rotary telephones and watched television when thirteen channels were on the dial but the set only picked up five or six, and maybe seven, and that’s if the night was clear and the roof-mounted antennae was pointed just so. If not, he told me, you’d turn the dial on “the box” and watch and listen as it clicked the antennae into a new, better-suited position. Of course, the antennae almost always went past the optimal spot so you had to “click it’ back a few degrees in the opposite direction to bring Steamboat Willy or Walt Disney into focus.

Ollie told me about earning less than three-dollars an hour, and gas prices were under fifty-cents. Hot dogs at the drug store cost a quarter, fully loaded—coleslaw, mustard, and chili—and ice cream cones were ten cents per scoop. Comic books were also ten cents but rose to twelve, and when they did DC Comics posted a notice explaining to kids that the cost of everything had increased, including the price of soft drinks and those delicious hot dogs.

He reminisced about the days when JFK, MLK, John Lennon, and Elvis died. Jimi and Janis, too. He took me back to Sammy, Frank, and Dean. Martin and Lewis. The Stooges. Streisand and The Supremes. Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Manson. When FM radio stations first arrived. Buddy Rich and John Bonham. The Cowsills, The Mamas and Papas, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Beatles, The Stones, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Blueberry Hill. His first car, using the outhouse, the time before computers and cell phones and “White Only” waiting rooms in the doctor’s office.

Finally, after many minutes had passed, with me not saying a single word, Ollie said, “Man, this really took me back, and I didn’t let you get a word in. Not one.”

“That’s all right, Ollie. I enjoyed listening,” I said.

Ollie stood to leave and as he did his knees popped. Then his brow creased into a deep “V” and he clinched his jaw. He placed a hand over his beachball-size gut and used the other to cover his mouth, stifling a burp that inflated both cheeks. “Sorry about that,” he said. “My doctor says I have acid reflux. Can’t eat a thing without belching for the next couple of hours. I’m lactose intolerant too. So don’t get me started on what dairy does to me. I’ll just say this…be glad I had the burritos without cheese. I passed on the sour cream as well.”

He groaned and moaned and grimaced and winced when he reached for his hat, and then more of the same when he straightened his back to once again stand upright.

Ollie placed the old porkpie on his head and after griping a bit about his sciatica, he said, “And then there’s the gout, a past-due hip replacement, two blown knees, rheumatoid arthritis, a hernia, high blood pressure, joint degeneration, I’m allergic to gluten, pet dander, dust, pollen, strawberries, and nuts. My eyesight is in the toilet and I wear a hearing aid when I remember to do so. I’ve had several cancerous moles removed and my sugar’s through the roof. My last colonoscopy showed “something” and I’m supposed to walk at least a mile each day because the old ticker’s been acting up.”

This pitiful and obviously unhealthy man, my brand new friend, took a deep breath and let it back out in the form of sad sigh accompanied by a slow side-to-side head shake. “And I can’t remember the last time when the wife and I…well, you know. The plumbing is out of order more times than not, so we stopped trying.”

He used one hand to adjust the position of his hat and the other to shake my hand. I again told him how much I enjoyed our conversation and listening to his tales of way back when.

Ollie placed a hand on my shoulder as we walked to his car. Then he stopped and turned to face me. “Someday you’ll understand, and you’ll do the same—tell the story of your own good old days. But you have a ways to go before you reach my age, so enjoy life while you can and while you’re able to,” he said.  His lips split into a toothy (some his and some store-bought) grin. “Yep, one day you’ll be as old as I am and you’ll experience the same troubles.”

I looked on as Ollie groaned and moaned and grunted while sliding and pushing his way into the car seat. Finally, he switched on the ignition, gave the horn two quick toots, and drove away.

I smiled a smile of my own as he headed off toward the sunset. After all, I was already in elementary school the year Ollie was born. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him.

*This is a true story. The name was changed to protect the “youngster” who was merely ten-years-old when I was driving my very own car and working a steady job after school and on weekends. My job paid $1.68 per hour and the price of a gallon of gas was $.35. By the way, while Ollie was busy watching cartoons on TV, my after school job back then included installing rooftop TV antennas and those “clicking” boxes used to change their positions.

 

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The Future of Policing: Fuzzy Bunnies and Hashtags

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My name is Officer I.C. Nothing. The year is 2025 and I work patrol in Scaredtown, Ca. I was sworn in back in the fall of 2020 and attended the police academy soon thereafter. Part of our academy studies included a brief history of policing, and let me tell you the things we learned were eye-opening to say the least. The biggest shocker was that officers actually carried real guns back in earlier times. They were also required to exercise, learn defensive tactics and handcuffing techniques, and how to drive during something called a pursuit. I ask you, how cavemanish was that?

Our academy training is much different. We spend the majority of our time learning about things that offend people and how to avoid doing those things. After all, they pay our salaries, play golf with our bosses, and they definitely know their rights and the laws far better than we do. I understand that’s been the case for a long, long time.

We trained to avoid high crime areas and placing ourselves in situations where criminals are typically located. Sensitivity training and safe space development are also part of our studies. We learned effective and delicate letter writing (more on this below) and how to use our happy voices when answering the phone. Here a list of other required academy courses.

  1. How to Make Celebrities and Politicians Hate You More Than They already Do
  2. Looking the Other Way 101
  3. Absorbing Punches and Kicks
  4. Smiling While Bleeding
  5. Rock Dodging
  6. You’re on Your Own
  7. The Law According to Facebook
  8. Method Acting – Improving Your On-Camera Persona
  9. History of Hashtags
  10. Target Shooting – Poses and Stances to Improve a Criminal’s Chances of Hitting You

Today, the only people who carry firearms are criminals. In fact, we abandoned all weapons and uses of force many years ago. Actually, I can’t remember the last time any of us put our hands on anyone for any reason. The Supreme Court put a stop to that nonsense, ruling it unconstitutional for law enforcement officers to touch or intimidate private citizens (we’re called law suggestion officers now, by the way). That ruling stemmed from a case involving a group of college students who filed a lawsuit against a department in California after a campus police officer approached and attempted to shake the hand of the president of the Association of Student Safe Spaces. The highly controversial incident took place following a meeting where it was decided that students would no longer be required to attend classes, study, or gain knowledge of any type to receive diplomas. It was deemed that learning new things and information about the present and past are highly offensive.

According to witnesses, the student president recoiled in horror after seeing the officer’s outstretched hand. His attorneys, Stickem, Gougem, and Sue’em, convinced the court that their client, Mr. I. Wanna Trophy, Jr., was the victim of an atrocious and violent act and that the officer’s inappropriate attempt to use his right hand to contact the hand of Mr. Trophy caused immediate and lifelong mental anguish to each of the students present at the meeting. In short, they each honestly believed they were going to die right then and there.

Well, this was the snowball that started the avalanche of similar lawsuits all across the country. As a result of Trophy v. Everybody Passes University (EPU) of California, law enforcement officers were immediately stripped of all weapons, patches, guns, pepper sprays, handcuffs, and any other objects that could be seen as offensive or harmful to the feelings of citizens. Aggressive police K-9’s were taken out of service and were replaced by adorable puppies and kittens. Some agencies opted for fuzzy bunnies and Silkie guinea pigs.

Patrol cars were replaced with passenger vans to allow members of police review boards to ride along at all times. It’s mandatory that members of those boards be from the groups #ihatecops, #policearescum, and #Fthepo-po.

Our main function is to stand outside of meeting places (we’re not allowed to go inside) and say, “There, there. It’ll be okay,” when people file out after listening to speakers talk about the latest things that should deeply offend them. I saw a brochure at my last assignment that listed a few of the recent things that offend.

  1. Foot race. It’s hurtful to hear someone address the race of your feet.
  2. College orientation. You do not have to listen to rules and regulations. Besides, it’s your choice as to whether or not you want to be oriented.
  3. Happy Meals. No one has the right to tell you that your meal is happy. If you want a sad meal, then so be it.
  4. The month of May. Yes, you MAY do whatever you want. Calendars should never be in a position to tell you when to do anything.
  5. Lines painted on the highway. They’re too divisive. People should be allowed to drive on whichever side of the road they choose.
  6. Air. People should keep their own air in their own personal space. It’s scary when your air comes into my space.
  7. People who are offended by offended people. Yes, they are offensive.

In addition to “There, There” duty we are sometimes required to interact with dangerous criminals. However, the law states that we must conduct all business of this nature by email, and the first step is to send a nice, friendly message such as this one I sent to a man who used a can of peas to bludgeon his wife and three neighbors.

Dear Mr. Brainbasher,

The Scaredtown Police Department humbly and respectfully sends this message to advise you that we recently learned of the beating death of your loving wife of 25 years, and your good friends the Cuposugar family. We sincerely hope this letter does not offend you, but we are required by law to ask that you not kill anyone in the future. You’ve exceeded your limit with this one incident; therefore, should a second murder occur we will have no choice but to send you another letter, which may be slightly more strongly-worded, depending upon the circumstances. In the meantime, please watch for a package from us that should arrive within the next five business days. It’s a new puppy. We hope you enjoy your new buddy. His name is Didntdoit. Like you, he’s a good boy.

Sincerely, 

Your friend, Officer I. C. Nothing

So, that about sums up policing in the year 2025. Please stay safe, and I apologize if this article offended you. I’m also sorry if my apology was offensive.

Have a good day, if you want to. If not, we could send you an official puppy, kitten, bunny, or guinea pig. By the way, they’re trained to be neutral so as to not hurt your feelings.

Finally, here’s a song we adopted as our official training academy theme song. I think these guys were on to something…

 

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