The job was fantastic. Everything you wanted and more. Excitement, fulfillment, serving mankind, and action that produces an adrenaline rush like no other. But, along with following your dreams sometimes comes a price. And sometimes that price is quite steep.

Yes, becoming a cop was everything you’d always wanted out of life. And, you’d lucked out when you married the perfect partner, had two beautiful children, purchased a nice home with a not-so-bad mortgage and two fairly new vehicles—a mini-van for hauling the kids to ballgames, scouting events, and family vacations, and a sporty little convertible for weekend fun.

Adding to the perfect lifestyle was an always-by-your-side speckled dog named Jake who the kids forced you to rescue from a local shelter. Work was going great, too, and you’d finally reached the five-year, unofficial, no-longer-a-rookie status. Along with that milestone came a permanent dayshift assignment.

No more graveyards. No more of the Sandman tugging at your eyelids while patrolling dark side streets and alleys. No more trying to sleep with bright sunlight burning its way into your bedroom.

Yes! More awake time at home with the family. Normal meals and meal times. No more Denny’s Lumberjack Slams with a side of hash browns at 4 a.m., or the cold, not-quite-finshed-because-of-the-shooting, three piece, once-extra crispy meals from the Colonel.

Things were definitely looking good.

Better still, you felt good. Well-rested. You’d finally watched your favorite TV show at its actual air time, not as a recording after everyone else has seen and talked about it for days.

You felt so good, actually, that you’d volunteered for extra-duty. Running a little radar on your off time would be an easy assignment, and the extra money would come in handy during the holidays. Besides, little Sally Sue needed braces and Jimmie Joe had already been dropping hints about attending a Boy Scout summer camp.

A few hours each week. How bad could it be?

Your supervisor liked what she saw. You’re a hard-worker. A real go-getter. She wrote a glowing letter recommending you for the Emergency Response Team (ERT). You interviewed and before you knew it you’re on the team. Training was only twice a week, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, your days off. Well, there’s the bi-monthly night training exercises, and the team competitions.

You didn’t get called out all that often—two, three times a month at the most? The last time, though, you were gone for two days, but that really wan’t too bad. Well, maybe you could’ve cut back on the radar assignment. But, the money was nice. After the holidays. Yes, that’s it. You’d promised to cut back after the holidays.

The hostage situation was a tense one. Took 14 hours before the sniper finally popped one in the guy’s T-Zone. That piece of crap never had a chance to think about pulling the trigger before his lights went out. At least his victim came out okay. She’d probably be scarred for life, but she’d live. Might spend a few days with a shrink, but she’d live.

Man, that sniper was good, huh? Blew that guy’s brains all over the wall. Sat him down in a hurry, too. Now that’s what a bloodstain pattern is supposed to look like. TV directors should see this stuff.

To celebrate a job well done the team went to a bar for a few drinks and to unwind. You made it home at 3 a.m., drunk. Your wife and kids were fast asleep. There’s a piece of cake on the counter. The chocolate frosting had dried and hardened just a bit around the edges.

Damn, you forgot your kid’s birthday party.

You couldn”t sleep. Brains and blood. That’s all you saw when you closed your eyes.

Brains and blood.

You knew she was awake and could smell the cheap whiskey, cigarette smoke, and drugstore perfume.

Hadn’t smoked in ten years. When had you started, again?

Whose perfume?

Didn’t matter.

Brains and blood … that’s what was on your mind.

You’d stared at the ceiling, knowing that in two hours the clock would ring. Would the Jack odor be gone by then?

Brains and blood, that’s what kept your eyes open and your mind spinning.

The buzzer sounded and you showered and dressed. Skipped breakfast because your gut felt sour and no matter how many times you brushed your teeth, you felt as if your breath reeked of dirty ashtrays and stale booze.

A domestic he-said-she-said, a lost kid, and an overnight B&E at a midtown mom and pop grocery store. Your head pounded. Pearl-size beads of sweat ran down your back, following your spine until they dipped below your waistband. You dreaded the overtime radar detail. Two more months. Only two more months and the holidays would be over.

A drug raid at 10 p.m. A good bust, too. Two kilos and some stolen guns. What’s a couple of beers to unwind? Sure, you’d go.

It was 3 a.m., again, a few hours after switching from beer to hard liquor, when you’d fumbled with your keys, trying to find the lock on the front door. This, after parking your car askew in the driveway with the driver’s side tire on the lawn and leaving the car door wide open, an act you’d very much regret when trying to start the car the next day.

Passed out on the couch. Late for work, again. Forty-minutes late, actually, due to a head-splitting hangover and a dead car battery. A written warning.

A week later you’re late again, but this time the sergeant smelled the alcohol on your breath. Suspended. Ten days.

Your wife went shopping with her friends. You stayed home with the kids. She came home late. Really late. The stores closed hours ago. No shopping bags and you could’ve sworn she’d been wearing panty hose when she left.

Back at work. Another shooting. This time you fired a few rounds at the guy. He ran. You chased. He turned and fired, so you popped off a couple of rounds in return. He dropped, bleeding and twitching on the pavement.

The kid died. He’d turned thirteen just four days before you killed him.

Suspended pending an investigation.

The department shrink prescribed a couple of meds to help you sleep.

The media hounded you relentlessly. Published your name and address along with a photo of your home.

Another paper published your department and academy records, including the one where your  scores on the firing range were darn near perfect. You’d meant to kill him, they’d said. Your skills were that good. Sure, you knew better, but …

Brains and blood.

Pills helped, some.

And Jack Daniels.

She was out shopping, again. This time she wore her “going out” makeup and the tight skirt and top she once wore on the night of an anniversary. The one she called her “you can’t resist this” outfit. She was right, too, because those legs went on for days.

More Jack Daniels and a pill or two or three. Lost count.

She came home drunk at 3 a.m., smelling of Jack Daniels, cigarette smoke, and cheap aftershave.

You’re awake, staring at the ceiling, knowing the clock is set to go off in three hours. She’s snoring gently. You smelled the Jack with each tiny exhale. The aftershave burned your nostrils.

Two more pills. No, make it four.

Then a trip to the garage, in your pajamas. Barefoot.

The concrete felt cool on the soles of your feet.

An owl hooted outside, somewhere far in the distance.

A cricket chirped from behind the old, rusty furnace.

Boxes filled with old clothing meant for Goodwill sat against the block wall where they’d been for a couple of years.

Moonlight wormed its way through a narrow window next to the ceiling. It painted a milky line that reached from the center of the floor to a tall stool next to a dusty table saw.

You slid the stool next to the workbench where you’d mended countless toys, appliances, and fixed the heels on her favorite shoes. You stood still for moment, taking in the surroundings—your tools, the kids’ old bikes, a couple of rickety sawhorses your father used when he was young, the water softener equipment, and a trunk filled with years of memories.

Then you sat on the wooden stool top, resting the balls of your feet on the bottom rung, and glanced down at the off-duty weapon in your hand, your favorite pistol. Never missed a single target with it.

You couldn’t remember taking out of the dresser drawer, though.

Didn’t matter now.

It would be over in a second.

You opened your mouth and placed the barrel inside, tasting bitter gun oil.

The metal was cool against your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Familiar. Comforting in a peculiar sort of way.

A lone tear trickled down your cheek.

Brains and blood …


In 2016, 108 police officers died as a result of suicide. That’s more than the total officers killed by gunfire and traffic accidents combined in the same year.

  • One officer completed suicide every 81 hours.
  • For every one police suicide, almost 1,000 officers continue to work while suffering the painful symptoms of PTSD.

*Source – Officer.com 


The blue line flag above was painted by author J.D. Allen and presented to me as a gift at the 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. For those of you who don’t know, JD was one of the organizers of the first Writers’ Police Academy held in North Carolina. Thank you, JD. You’re a wonderful friend.

You can learn more about JD Allen and her books by visiting her web page at JDAllenbooks.com

 

 

Have you hear the rumor? You know the one, that some people are simply not wired to be cops.Shocking, isn’t it?

There, I’ve said it. And and I’m not spreading gossip because, sadly, it’s true.

Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you that it takes a special kind of person to successfully wear a gun and badge, and to live and work in a manner that coincides with their sworn oath.

Sure, “law dawgs” come in all shapes, sizes, skin colors, and from varying backgrounds. But there was one officer who, for numerous reasons, shouldn’t have made it past the interview stage, let alone advance to actually working the streets. This pint-sized, woefully inadequate cop was quickly nicknamed “The Little Cop Who Couldn’t.”

Before I delve into the tale of the cop who had to sit on a pillow to see above the steering wheel in their patrol car, we need to assign a name to the officer—a gender-neutral name to protect the identity of the thumbnail version of a real police officer. By doing so, it’ll allow you to paint your own mental picture of him/her. The name I choose is Pat (could go either way with this one – remember Pat on SNL?).

The story goes something like this…

Pat was a unique police officer who stood at a towering 4’10” tall, with shoes on. Not a single supply company stocked police uniforms in toddler sizes, so Pat’s clothing had to be specially made and ordered from a company located in a remote corner of None Such County.

Even then, with None Such’s finest clothing maker assigned to the task, a good bit of onsite tailoring was required, snipping here and stitching there, to insure a proper fit. To provide a better picture of the size of this person, had someone bronzed Pat’s Bates work footwear they’d have looked a lot like “baby’s first shoes.”

During basic training, one of the practical exercises for the class was to direct traffic at a busy city intersection. Trainees were required to be in full uniform for the exercise, including hats. Well, they just don’t make police hats that small, so Pat borrowed one from a fellow classmate.

The hat was the thing that sent the rest the class over the edge. The minuscule officer looked like a kid playing dress-up in adult clothing.

Not the actual Pat.

We each took a turn in the intersection, stopping traffic  to permit left turns, right turns, and allowing cars to travel forward. We repeated the process until our instructor felt comfortable with our ability to control traffic flow.

Then it was Pat’s turn. So the recruit in the intersection, a full-sized officer, successfully stopped traffic in all four directions to allow Pat to assume the position in the middle of the street.

Then, with arms outstretched and a short blast from a whistle, Pat then sharply and crisply motioned for one lane of traffic to move forward. And, for a brief moment, all was going well until Pat gave the whistle another tweet to stop the oncoming traffic and then turned to the left to start the next lane of traffic moving. Well, Pat’s cantaloupe-size head turned left, rotating inside the big-man-size cap. But, instead of moving in sync with the turning head, the too-large hat remained facing forward. The entire class erupted in laughter, as did many of the drivers who were absolutely confused about what they should do next.

Our instructor rushed out into the ensuing traffic jam to straighten out the mess and calm the drivers who used their car horns to blast their displeasure. Pat, in a moment of self-induced blindness because the hat had slipped even further down the face, totally blocking any hope of seeing, well, anything. Unfortunately, during the melee Pat dropped the whistle onto the pavement and when attempting to retrieve it, lost the hat. Of course the swift evening wind gusts sent it rolling into the lines of moving cars and trucks.

Pat once responded to a shoplifting call—an 11-year-old girl swiped a candy bar from a local K-Mart—and just as Pat was about to enter the store the little kid ran outside. Pat grabbed the little darlin’ who then pushed Pat down to the pavement. Pat got up and grabbed the 70-ish-pound kid and it was on.

According to bystanders, who, by the way, called 911 to report an officer needing assistance, said the child was absolutely beating the tar out of Pat. One witness told responding officers that Pat closely resembled one of those blow-up clown punching bags that pops back upright after each blow.

Then there was the time when Pat’s fellow officers had responded to a large fight outside a local bar. The dispatcher cautioned that weapons were involved and that several people were already injured and down. Pat was in the middle of answering a domestic he-said/she-said when the call came in.

When officers responding to the brawl saw the massive crowd they immediately called for backup, which, at that point, meant calling in sheriff’s deputies and state troopers since every available officer, except Pat, was already on the scene. The fight was a tough battle and officers and bad guys were basically going at it, toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow. Officers were outnumbered 4-to-1, at least.

And then they heard it … a lone siren wailing and yelping in the distance, like the sound of a ship’s horn mournfully floating across vast salt water marshes at low tide. Soon, intermittent flashes of blue light began to reflect from brick storefronts and plate glass windows. And then, out of the darkness appeared Pat’s patrol car, bearing down on the parking lot and the fight that was well underway.

File:London Polizei-Einsatz.gif

Pat didn’t bother stopping at the curb. Instead, the teeny-tiny officer who, if you recall, had to sit on a pillow to see over the steering wheel (no, I’m not kidding), pulled the car directly into the parking lot beside the action, flung open the car door, and stepped out. Well, sort of.

Pat’s pistol somehow had become entangled in the seat belt, which sort of reeled Pat back into the car like a Yo-Yo on the upswing. Pat’s Maglite hit the pavement, coming apart and spilling batteries in all sorts of directions. The pillow fell out of the car and slid beneath the vehicle. And the hat … Pat had donned the cop/bus driver hat, which, of course remained motionless while Pat’s head spun around like a lighthouse beacon as he/she surveyed the scene.

Suddenly, as if a magic spell had been cast, the fight stopped, with everyone turning to watch “The Pat Show” unfold. Even the bad guys chuckled at the ridiculousness before them—Pat on hands and knees retrieving lost gear and, of course, the pillow. But, at least the fight was over.

By the way, Pat’s hands were so small that the department had to purchase a pistol that’s a bit smaller than standard cop issue. However, Pat’s index finger was still too short to reach the trigger. So he/she learned to shoot using his/her middle finger when firing the sidearm. Didn’t matter, because Pat failed to shoot a satisfactory score during the first annual weapons qualification.

So, I guess the true test of becoming a police officer is not how strong the desire or how big the heart, it’s how well the head fits the hat. And, of course, you must be “this tall” to drive a police car.

 

You, Cap’n Rufus “Tater” Jenkins of the Cornsqueezins’ County Sheriff’s Office, 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 Strawberry Hill, 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 for a hamburger he promised to repay on Tuesday.

Cap’n Rufus “Tater” Jenkins

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 nonsense 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, a yellin’ and screamin’ and a stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, and kicking at Porkchop, the family’s adopted and long ago retired police dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, was a nervous wreck and knew to stay six or seven dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.

Porkchop, having seen his better days, religiously adheres to the seven dog-dish rule of thumb.

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

That’s where you show up with lights and siren blazing and blaring to all get out. And Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the dirt and weed-infested driveway, huffing and puffing like an old-time, coal-fired locomotive engine. In each hand, a backyard chicken he’d been choking in preparation of the Sunday noon meal.

Peanut is well-known in his town as a backyard chicken-choker.

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 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, or the cousin visiting from the big city who’s standing off to the side of the trailer, is carrying a hidden gun or knife. Some are obvious, while others … not so much.

The first is a clear indicator.

Cousin Jimmy Buck from Swamp Holler, West Virginia

Signs the Suspect May Be Carrying a Weapon

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.

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.

They sometimes decide to rip off their shirts before engaging in battle. Other times, if the mood to fight strikes ’em just right, they’ll throw punches while wearing nothing but …

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 because Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce. Watch the eyes, for sure, but more importantly watch the hands.

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.

The Spud family

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.

Sometimes “the worst” happens when Mrs. Peanut becomes fed up with her abusive husband. Next thing you know she’s living in Swamp Holler with Cousin Jimmy Buck in his new doublewide.

Crime headlines these days sometimes cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to lock up, like a cheap virus-infected computer. My body treats today’s barrage of click-bait headlines like the often and instantly-denied foreign organs introduced into the bodies of transplant recipients—immediate and total rejection. My brain, the leader of the shut-down attempts, does so because today’s crimes, simply put, just aren’t what they used to be.

Honestly, I sometimes find myself longing for the good old days when most crimes, including the vilest of all—murder—were easy to solve, and catching many of the bad guys was as easy as shooting fish in a well-stocked galvanized metal washtub, the kind we took baths in at grandma’s house.

In fact, it wasn’t all that odd for the old-time murderer himself to phone the police, confessing his dastardly deeds to the gum-smacking dispatcher on our end of the line. A guy robbed a liquor store … we all knew who did it because he’d done so over and over again. So we simply hopped into our patrol cars and drove at a leisurely pace to his house to wait for the thug to come home. Sometimes the crook’s wife or mother offered us a glass of iced tea to sip on during the vigil, which usually wasn’t too long.

But enough time passed during our wait to allow us to play with freeze tag or Simon Says with a couple of the crooks’ snotty-nosed kids, or to toss a saliva-soaked rubber ball a couple dozen times to the family’s three-legged, one-eyed dog. You know, I often wonder about the correlation between bad guys and dogs with three legs and one good eye. They do seem to go hand in hand. It’s a mystery that’s never been solved.

Back to the bad burglars back in the day, though. There were a dozen or so of them in each small town, and each had his own style (M.O. for you writers who insist upon using TV terminology). Again, cops most often knew the names of most suspects, sometimes even before the sleuths broke out their handy-dandy Sirchie fingerprint kits (notice how I subtly worked in the name of a Writers’ Police Academy sponsor).

Anyway, a quick glance at crime headlines today never fails to start the all-too-familiar eye-spinning.

Murder, Kidnapping, Shooting Spree Leaves Four Dead, Teen Strangles Neighborhood Girl, Python Kills Small Boys, Cop Beats Man, Man Beats Cop, Parents Charged With Killing Their Kids, and on and on it goes.

Did you know that in 2011 (another headline), There Were Four Arrests Per 100 U.S. Citizens

Four Arrests for Every 100 Citizens

That one definitely stopped my eyes in mid whirl. Could the stat be true? Because, if so, then out of everyone at the WPA—instructors, volunteers, and recruits (attendees), well, we should automatically handcuff a dozen of them right there at the registration table and immediately deliver them to the nearest jail.

Two full Greyhound buses pass by on the highway—4.5 of the passengers inside are destined for incarceration.

The FBI says (in the year 2011) that 1 in 207 of us were arrested for drug crimes. 531 out of 100,000 went to lockup for property crimes. 172 for violent crimes (rape, murder, assault).

Has it always been this way? If not, what are the differences in how crime is handled today as opposed to “back when?”

Let’s take another look at the headlines for a moment and choose just two, and then reminisce to days gone by to learn why there weren’t as many people arrested in those days.

1. Erbie Bowser, Former Dallas Maverick’s ManiAAC’s Dancer Arrested For Killing Four, Wounding Four Others

Okay, for starters, I don’t normally associate murder with men who belong to a troupe whose hobby is to dance at pro basketball games while wearing oversize Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniforms. But, it seems that Bowser was searching for his girlfriend at two separate houses where, for some reason, he killed four people (two of the wounded were innocent young boys—11 and 13).

In the old days, had Mr. Bowser entered my childhood home, ranting and raving about his girlfriend, the entire family would have shown him and his barely-there sparkly costume to the door. Had he resisted, then Pops and Uncle Percy Jenkins, who by the way, always stopped by on Sunday for a fried chicken leg and a heapin’ helpin’ of good old tater salad, would have enhanced their message of “Go away,” with a couple of Louisville Sluggers.

Our three-legged, one-eyed dog might have joined in as well, taking a chomp on the intruder’s rear end.

You see, back in the day, guns weren’t used all that often as a “first-resort” like they are today. Not at all. A fellow would first have to endure, at minimum, a black eye and a roll across a gravel driveway before going back to his pickup to retrieve the Saturday Night Special he kept beneath the tattered cloth seat. And back then everyone knew to get the heck out of Dodge when a man reached under his seat. It was indeed time to scatter.

So “back in the day” wins this round. No one dies. Just black eyes and a whole lot of a**-whuppin’.

2. Man Won’t Face Animal Cruelty Charges For Blowing Up Family Dog

Christopher W. Dillingham of Stevenson, Washington was the proud owner of a fireworks stand. He also used to own a golden retriever. Ah … you already see where this is going. You should be detectives.

But, authorities say they couldn’t charge the man with animal cruelty because the dog died instantaneously (duh …). Instead, the  suspect was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an explosive device.

Dillingham told police that his girlfriend had given him the dog and that she’d “put the devil” in it. Prosecutors considered other charges. I don’t know the outcome, “doggone” it.

But way back when, if a man killed his dog at 4 a.m. it was sort of his business. Neighbors most likely would have assumed the animal was rabid, or something of that nature because people simply didn’t harm Rover or Spot or Rufus. No way. Well, not unless there good reason, and foaming at the mouth was certainly a solid reason to break out the pump shotgun. Even then, the animal was usually afforded a fair chance to run away. After all, it was a part of the family.

But to set off an explosion that early in the morning, when Pops and Uncle Percy had to be at the foundry at 6 for another 12-hour shift in the grueling heat. Well, Mr. Dillingham had better hope there was enough black powder left to immediately send himself to the moon, because two angry foundry workers would be on their way over in their boxers, each carrying a ball bat and a whole lot of mad.

I believe “back when” is again the winner since justice would’ve come immediately in the form of several lumps on the head and a few kicks to the hind parts, courtesy of Pops and Uncle Percy who, by the way, had consumed too much corn liquor after the Sunday lunch, so our mother had him sleep it off in my room, which then forced me to sleep on an ironing board stretched across two rickety chrome-legged kitchen chairs. The grown-ups called it camping. I called it, “Uncle Percy’s too snookered to drive home so I gotta suffer.”

Here’s a third headline, as a bonus.

3. Man Accused Of Attacking Pig To Appear In Court

Benjamin Fullwood of Effingham County Georgia was arrested for attacking and stabbing a pig multiple times. Then, as if the edged weapon attack didn’t do enough damage, he had his two pit bulls repeatedly bite the unarmed porker.

Fullwood told officers that he was afraid Oliver (the pig) might hurt nearby children. Neighbors told the cops they’d witnessed Fullwood chasing after the fleeing and frightened and oinking porker as it ran between rows of rusty mobile homes and jacked-up picked trucks and plastic, pink flamingos.

They told of him “a screamn’ and a hollerin'” and of the pig screeching loud oinkity-oinks and growling grunts.

“Darn-near skeert Bobby Sam’s pet possum plum to death,” said one of the bystanders, a man wearing bibbed overalls and fuzzy lime green bedroom slippers.

Then, they all said in unison, that Fullwood gained on the pig as it rounded the far corner of Jimmy Buck’s pop-up camper, the one with the rebel flag sticker on the trailer-hitch receiver. They went on to say that just when it looked as if Porky (they named it somewhere around three minutes into the action) was going to escape for good, Fullwood launched his wiry, shirtless body high into the air, landing smack dab on the swine’s back where he commenced to trying to slay the animal with his whetstone-honed deer-skinning knife.

Okay, I confess, I embellished a little bit and definitely overwrote it, but the story is true. And it’s timeless and typical. Today or way back when—you attack a pig in the south and you go to jail. And the reason why is obvious. There’s no loyalty among swine.

They’ll squeal on you in a heartbeat.

How many times have we all heard that truth is much more difficult to believe than actual events? Well, let me be the next person in line to confirm that statement.

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, these folks picked up the phone and dialed 911. And yes, I was the unfortunate officer who responded to these “emergency” calls).


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Help me, please!”

“Ma’am, calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

“My house is on fire. I just moved in today and turned on the heat and, and, and, that big metal thing in my living room caught on fire, please huuurrrrryyy! There are flames inside and it’s getting hot! Huuurrrryyy!!! Oh, God, oh God, oh God … MY CAT’S GONNA DIE!”

Okay, so she’s standing there on the front porch with the front door wide open. It’s 20 degrees outside and all she has on is a t-shirt. Nothing but a t-shirt. And she’s crying and screaming and begging me to go inside to rescue her cat, a cat that was trapped inside the inferno.

I step inside.

“See, it’s on fire. Look through that little glass and you can see the flames.”

“Ma’am, that’s your heater. It uses fire to warm your home. It’s perfectly safe.”

That’s when she realized she was wearing nothing “butt” a t-shirt.

I blushed and departed … quickly.


“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I think my house is on fire.”

“You think your house is on fire? Do you see flames or smoke?”

“No, but my wall’s hot. Would you please send someone over to check it out?”

I go to the door, peek inside, and see the gentleman sitting on his couch watching Jeopardy.

I knock.

“Thanks for coming officer. My house may be on fire. The wall is hot. See. Feel right here.”

“Sir, you have a roaring fire going in the fireplace. Naturally, the wall above it may get a little warm.”

“Thank you, officer. That never occurred to me.”


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Please help me! I’ve been locked inside my bedroom for several hours and can’t get out. I’m getting really hungry, too. And I’m pregnant. Please help me!”

I break a glass beside the front door and turn the deadbolt latch (see how easy it would be for burglars. Please use/ install a keyed deadbolt for better security, but remove the key from the lock). I open the front door and go inside. Sure enough, she’s locked inside the master bedroom.

She’s crying.

“I think I’m going to lose my baby because I’m so upset.”

More sobbing.

“Ma’am, did you try turning the little button in the center of the knob?”

Silence.

Click.

“I think I have it now. Thank you for coming by.”


“911, what is your emergency?”

“Yeah, um … could you send a cop over here right away, please. I just moved into this apartment and can’t figure out how to turn up the cold water temperature on my kitchen sink. It’s too cold and the landlord won’t help. He just hangs up on me.”

I politely explain to the gentleman that water temperatures are not a true emergency and that cold water temperatures occur naturally. They are what they are because tap water is piped directly from the city. He responds by telling me that I’m a waste of taxpayer money and that I’m part of the reason the country is going down the toilet, another place where the water temperature is non-adjustable.


Finally, my once or twice monthly 911 call.

“911, what’s your—“

“You gotta send someone over right away. Elvis is back inside my refrigerator and he won’t stop singing. He keeps up that wild racket all night long.”


And, while working in plainclothes, I sometimes heard …

“Are you a cop? Because if you are you have to tell me now that I’ve asked. You’re not, cool. Now we can do business. You say you want two kilos … hey, wait a minute, you can’t arrest me because you lied about being a cop. This isn’t legal.”

Mauricelm-Lei Millere, the founder of AADL – African American Defense League, has once again called for his followers to kill police. This is the same hate-monger who also called for the killing of police officers in the wake of the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

And just 36 hours after posting another call to kill officers, one of his followers, Micah Johnson, murdered five officers and wounded another nine at a Black Lives Matter march in Dallas on July 7, 2016.

Now, in the wake of the 17-year-old who was killed in an officer-involved shooting on June 19, Millere, AADL’s leader who refers to himself as “Minister Mauricelm X,” has once again sent out a demand that even more police officers be killed.

Here’s what he posted on the AADL Facebook page:

“We are on our way to Pittsburgh to apply the laws of an eye for an eye, in self-defense of our younger black brother, who was murdered [hours] earlier! We have no alternative! We must kill the police, that are killing our black children & Families In Self-defense!”

We’re arriving to Pittsburgh to ‘Right This Wrong!’ We are coming to Pittsburgh ‘To Die If Necessary’ in Self-defense But ‘We Demand The Life of The Officer That Killed Our Younger Black Brother or Any Blue Life Will Do!

We Are Seriously Considering Instituting An Annual Purge Against All Racist White Organizations, All Racist White Police, And All Their Ignorant, Conformed, Black Coons / Goons, for the sins / killings that are being committed against our people by such (both foreign and domestic )!” 

 We Will Die To Fulfill This Cause In Self-defense! May Allah Be With Us Until Whatever End!”

The post is no longer visible on the AADL page. However, the page does not lack in messages of hate. For example, a post that seemingly calls for the death of the officer who shot the teen in Pittsburgh last week .

Then there’s this call for another murder preceding by kidnapping or the purpose of killing.

And …

The hate-filled posts go on and on. But it is the current rhetoric about Pittsburgh police that is latest concern. Obviously, this man is far too cowardly to carry out his own threats. Instead, he offers inflammatory rhetoric to his followers hoping they’ll carry out the deeds. He’s a coward hiding behind tough words. Unfortunately, because of this man and his scum-filled mouth, five officers are no longer with their families.

So please be careful out there. Watch your backs and the backs of your fellow officers. Keep your eyes and ears open for ambush attacks, call for backup, and no matter how hot and uncomfortable they are, WEAR YOUR VESTS!!

This man is using Facebook as a means to send out these cries for the murder of police officers, yet the posts remain in place. Facebook is enabling this situation by providing a huge, free platform for him to spout this garbage. The page should be deleted and then the void that’s left would need a thorough cleaning with bleach to rid the internet of his evilness.

*As always, this isn’t meant to be political, racially motivated, or anything similar. It is, however, a hint for you to send a message to Facebook to protest this rot from causing more killings. So feel free to contact Zuckerberg’s team to let them know this sort of thing is not acceptable. In fact, to call for the killing of police officers is disgusting, despicable, and extremely dangerous.

How to send a complaint to Facebook regarding hate speech:

https://www.facebook.com/help/263149623790594

 

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

Ollie is short and stout and wears his pants with the waistband pulled to just above the spot where his gun belt used to reside. In place of the leather gear, uniform, and cop do-dads is an old and well-worn brown belt used to cinch his pants tightly to his midsection. 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 and a number of his achy, 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 droop beneath his eyes, hanging there like small, overripe plums.

He’s an educated man who’s well-spoken and enjoys spirited conversation and tale-telling. He’s not politically outspoken, but a bumpersticker on his well-polished car announces which direction he leans.

He has a persistent phlegmy cough and there’s an open pack of non-filtered cigarettes in his shirt pocket. He’s smoked for well over four decades and the yellow-stained flesh between the index and middle fingers of his right hand offer proof of his addiction. He says it helps him to relax, and to forget. He coughs frequently and deeply. Sounds as if his lungs are filled with hot, bubbling oil.

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. He doesn’t like today’s politically charged atmosphere. He misses the six-o’clock news where broadcasters like Cronkite reported things that actually occurred during the day.

I listened with great interest as Ollie talked about the good old days, when his family used rotary telephones and watched television—sets with thirteen channels on the dial but rarely picked up more than five or six, or 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. Chuck Berry, The Oak Ridge Boys (to our delight, they’re still going as strong as ever), 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, and BB’s Blueberry Hill. His first car, using an outhouse, the time before computers and cell phones and “White Only” waiting rooms in the doctor’s office. His stories were of times long ago.

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.” He clinched his jaw and I heard the sound of grinding teeth. He placed a hand over his portly 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, retrieved a scarred wooden cane he’d hooked to the table edge, 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, sleep apnea, joint degeneration, and 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,” hopefully a scrap of peanut or popcorn, 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, my friend, so enjoy life while you can and while you’re able,” 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. He used both hands to lift and pull his left leg into the car. 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 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 Saturday morning cartoons on TV, my after school job back then included installing rooftop TV antennas and those “clicking” boxes used to change their positions.

Things are a bit different today, for me. Because I’m quickly transforming into my own form of Ollie. This became quite apparent last week as I began preparations for our move from California. Everything is heavier than it once was. The floor is at least six inches further away than it used to be and it hurts body parts when I attempt to retrieve things from it. Writing on boxes has somehow smeared and have become blurry. And doggone it, yesterday I hit my wrist with a hammer while repairing part of a fence. The target moved. I swear it did.

Today, I’ll tackle more projects, but as a version of Ollie, not as the Lee I once was. Sigh …

#agingsucks

 

Radar Love

Police officers often hear people say the darndest things, and speeders are no exception to the rule. In fact, they’re often the most creative when spouting off excuses for driving too fast. Here are just a few of the comments made to me during my days working patrol and traffic assignments.

1. “Hey, pal. I’m a police officer. Want to see my shield?”

2. “I was speeding because I really needed to pee. Not anymore, though. Now my seat’s wet and it’s your fault.”

3. “105 in a 55? You’re kidding, right? What about the car that passed me?”

4. “Maybe if I take off my sunglasses you’ll recognize me. I’m pretty big around Nashville.”

5. “Do you know who I am?”

6. “There’s a place for people like you. It’s called hell.”

7. “You’re stopping me for going a little over the speed limit? That’s it? You don’t want to search my car for drugs, or anything? Not that I have any, mind you.”

8. “How many of you little piggies does it take to eat a box of doughnuts?”

9. “Isn’t there something we could do to make this like it never happened?”

10. “I’m not signing this thing. Wait, what happens if I don’t sign. Arrest? So I sign there, right?”

11. “My uncle is the county sheriff in ****, Texas. You can’t give me a ticket. Haven’t you rednecks ever heard of professional courtesy?”

12. “I’m in a hurry because the ship will not wait for me. They have to get back to their planet before morning.”

13. You’re pissing me off.”

Hamilton One 125

 

Never start a story with the weather. I’ve heard this many times over the years. In fact, once, in a moment of desperation and frustration, author J.A. Konrath begged writers to not do this “unspeakable” act.

Elmore Leonard begins his “Don’t-do-it” list with weather.

  1. Never open a book with the weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control!
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Same for places and things.
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Elmore Leonard said it’s taboo!

Even our wonderful friend and writing teacher extraordinaire, Les Edgerton, has a few of his own rules regarding opening page blunders. In fact, he generously assembled those in his excellent book, Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers At Page One.

Edgerton’s list of Do-Nots:

  • Opening With a Dream
  • Opening With an Alarm Clock Buzzing
  • Being Unintentionally Funny
  • Too Little Dialogue (first few pages)
  • Opening With Dialogue

For details regarding each of the above points please click here (Writer’s Digest article).

Now, with that said and with an absolute clear understanding of the rules—NO Weather!—let’s get on with the show … today’s article. And it starts like this …

It was a dark and stormy night in our county. A sideways rain driven by the type of wind gusts that TV weather reporters are seen battling during live shots of hurricanes, the really big ones that send trees toppling and waves crashes onto houses far from the shoreline.

While on patrol I’d noticed a car parked approximately thirty yards off a dirt road next to a river. The vehicle was situated in the clearcut section along a power line. The driver’s door was open and what appeared to be a person was half-in and half-out. The upper portion of the body was the out section, and he or she was getting soaked.

So, in spite of the downpour, thunder, lightning, and the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention (the cop’s sixth sense was in full overdrive), I had to get out to investigate.

I scanned the area carefully, using the spotlight mounted to my car, making certain this wasn’t an ambush, and then stepped outside. After another look around, I plowed forward while the winds drilled raindrops into my face and against my lemon-yellow vinyl raincoat, the one I kept in the trunk of my patrol car just for times like this one. The sound of those oversized drops of water was that of small stones striking at a pace equal to the rat-a-tat-tatty rounds fired from a Chicago typewriter.

As I stated earlier, the storm that night was brutal. It was a fight to walk headfirst into swirling, stinging winds that tugged and pulled and pushed against my rain coat, sending its tails fluttering and flapping, exposing my brown over tan deputy sheriff uniform. It—the uniform—was not waterproof. Not even close.

The ground at the crime scene was extremely muddy and with each step my once shiny brown shoes collected gobs of thick, wet soil until it felt as if gooey bricks were tied to the bottoms of my feet.

These were the deplorable conditions in which I met the crying dead woman.

Raindrops the size of gumdrops pelted the victim’s face, gathering and pooling at the corners of her eyes, eventually spilling out across her cheeks like tiny rivers that followed the contours of her flesh until they poured from her in miniature waterfalls.

It was one-on-one—me and the victim.

Passenger door open.

She’s lying there, bottom half in, top half out.

Her face aimed at the sky.

Rain falling into her open mouth.

Cheap dollar-store tennis shoes and half-socks, the socks her youngest daughter—the seven-year-old—called baby socks.

Her hair, mingled with mud, rainwater, sticks, and leaves.

Power lines crackled and buzzed overhead.

The creamy light from my flashlight showcased her dim gray eyes.

No life,

No recollections,

No dreams.

Not a flicker.

Tire tracks.

Different pattern than the rubber on her Chrysler.

Driver’s window down.

Three rounds—one to the head and two to the torso.

Five empty casings.

Pistol.

Not a revolver.

Half-empty wine bottle.

Cheap.

Not her brand according to the ladies in her church group. “Oh we don’t drink. Neither did she. Except on special occasions. Yep, it must have been something or somebody really special for her to drink that stuff.”

“Was there a somebody special?”

Eyes cast downward.

Blushes all around. “Well … she did stay after Wednesday night preaching a few times. But they were meetings strictly about church business. After all, he is the Reverend. A good man.”

More blushing.

A stammer or two.

A good man.

The rain comes harder, pouring across her cheeks, meandering through her hair.

Droplets hammer her open eyes.

She doesn’t blink.

A dead woman crying.

Footprints.

Two sets.

One walking.

Casually?

A sly, stealthy approach?

The other, long strides.

Running away, possibly.

Zigzagging to the woods.

Bullet lodged in base of a spruce pine.

One round left to find.

Water inside my collar, down my back.

Shivering.

Cloth snagged on jagged tree branch.

Plaid shirt material.

Blood?

Still visible in the rain?

The missing fifth round?

Maglite never fails, even in torrential rain.

Cop’s best friend.

Light catches shoe in underbrush.

Shoe attached to adult male.

Dead.

Bullet in back.

The fifth round.

Coming together nicely.

Church meetings.

Reverend.

Two lovers.

Special wine for special occasion …

A good man.

Sure he is.

~

Morning sunshine.

Tiny face peering from window.

Waiting for Mama?

Police car,

Parks at curb.

Scent of frying bacon in the air.

Door swings open.

Worried husband.

“No, she didn’t come home after church. Called friends and family. Nobody knows.”

Husband, devastated.

Questions unanswered.

Children cry.

“Yes, I have ideas. 

And I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Tire tracks match.

Pistol found.

Preacher hangs head in shame.

Special occasion.

To profess love.

But …

Another man.

Another lover.

Angry.

Jealous.

Handcuffs.

Click.

Click.

Murder.

No bond.

I seal the deal with a single, odd, plant seed found stuck to the killer’s brake pedal.

Bingo!

I could definitely place him at the scene.

Prison.

Life.

No parole.

Today, there’s no rain in California. Not a drop.

But the lack of moisture falling from the skies doesn’t stop me thinking of the crying dead woman and her kids, her loving husband and, of course, baby socks.

Special occasion?

Good man?

Yeah, right.

The world’s filled with good men … and battered, hurt, and dead women who cry in rain.


Les Edgerton has a brand new book coming out in november 2018. I have an advance copy and it’s a killer! So today, I’m officially issuing a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for Adrenaline Junkie.

In the meantime, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Hooked!


*Top photo – Writers’ Police Academy – Shallow grave investigations

Two gang members, Pooky and Slasher, decided to seek a bit of revenge against a rival gang member named Ragu, a behemoth creature who they swore was Bigfoot disguised as a human. The root of the plot kicked off when the man disrespected the pair of tough guys at the town’s 4th of July picnic. It seems that Ragu’s melting ice cream cone dropped a clump of chocolate ripple smack dab on Slasher’s brand new firehouse red Chuck Taylors, staining the uppers a color that strangely reminded Pooky of pistachio, his favorite flavor.

Since Ragu weighed just north of 265 with none of those pounds being of the porker variety. Nope. All muscle. So they came up with an end-around. They’d kill Ragu’s father, the thin and wiry, hatchet-faced accountant who worked at Petey Perkins’ Hardware store next to the Piggly Wiggly out on Rte. 1.

After a couple of days of planning and surveillance, the wannabe murderers decided to smother the Ichabod Crane lookalike while he slept. And they’d use his own pillow as the murder weapon. Everyone knew the old beanpole suffered from a serious hacking and wheezing case of emphysema, the direct result of puffing away at cigarettes, one behind the other, for the past forty years or so. No one, especially that goofball police chief, Pooky’d said, would ever connect them to the killing.

Exactly three days later, at precisely 2:12 a.m., Slasher and Pooky slipped through a window and into the home of Ragu and his father. It was dark, warm, and humid. Slasher’s Hannah Montana t-shirt was wet with sweat and clung to his flesh like a surfer’s wetsuit. Pooky on the other hand, was the cool one. But only so because he was too stupid to know that murder was, at the very least, a heart-pounder of epic proportion. So basically dumb, not cool. However, in spite of not perspiring, when happy, Pooky’s feet took on the combined stench of sour milk and burnt asparagus. This was one of those nights.

The two tiptoed through the dining room and then a hallway that led to the stairs. Up they went. They’d watched the place at night and had learned the location of the old man’s bedroom and that’s where they were headed, down the upstairs hall and to the right.

Two minutes later they were standing in the dark beside the accountant’s bed. Thirty seconds after that, with Pooky on one end and Slasher on the other, they shoved the spare pillow over the face of Ragu, Sr. Two minutes passed without so much as a peep or a wiggle from their victim. Slasher eased up his end of the pillow. In the nearly dark room, with only a sliver of creamy moonlight smeared across his forehead, the guy looked absolutely dead, so Slasher released his grip on his end of the pillow and Pooky tossed it on the floor.

The dead was done. Revenge was sweet.

Four hours later, the rail-thin accountant awakened from his sleep and slipped the nasal mask from his nose. The other end of its flexible plastic hose was attached to the CPAP machine sitting on the nightstand beside his bed. He reached to switch of the machine that pumps forced air from the room into his nose, sort of like a scuba diving apparatus for people who snore horribly and often stop breathing in short bursts while sleeping.

While reaching for the switch he saw an overturned bottle of Trazadone, the powerful sleeping medication prescribed his doctor. He’d had insomnia since he was a kid. Nowadays he wins that battle by having two shots of orange-flavored vodka and a sleeping pill one hour before hitting the sack. At the end of that hour he’d best be in the bed because for the next several hours he’d be almost comatose. Lights out. An earthquake wouldn’t wake him.

So each night, there he lay, on his back with a constant supply of fresh air zooming into his lungs. Therefore, the actions of Slasher and Pooky were entirely in vain, and they were wholeheartedly surprised to see their “murder” victim greeting them with a cheery “Good morning!” when they entered the hardware store to purchase more ammunition for their Daisy BB guns. That’d planned to go shoot a few cans down by the creek after school. But, after seeing a very healthy and living and breathing dad of Ragu, they decided to come up with a plan B. So off they went, riding their bikes toward a setting sun.

So, I suppose the moral to this super-silly tale is to always be certain the victim in your tales is not wearing a CPAP mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives when the villain strikes.

Hmmm … mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives. And I promised to never mention politics and politicians on this site.

Oh well.