Tag Archives: Crime

Get Lucky

19 Mar

We have made it through one of those weird holidays that many Americans have adopted because it is a good excuse to get drunk. We have Cinco de Mayo, which I’m not sure is that big of a deal in Mexico. We also have the most recent one – St. Patrick’s Day. I always find it interesting because most Americans are not Catholic and are not of Irish descent. I wonder how many revellers in green actually know who St. Patrick is.

Anyway, this is not a post about holidays of drinking. This is a post about something else that is associated with Ireland. I have always heard the old saying about “the luck of the Irish”, and I have been thinking quite a bit lately about luck. I have always considered my self lucky, and this is not just some useless opinion on my part. There is scientific proof.

Many years ago, some friends and I went to a psychic. Some of us actually believed in fortune-telling, and some of us were going for the fun. We were instructed to only tell the lady our birth date and time. Honestly, we were kind of nervous because she was a local celebrity of sorts. She was a morning personality on the local Rock station that we all listened to.

So, I go into her room with my information, and she plugs it into a computer program that brought up the alignment of the stars at the time of my birth. She studied it for a while before saying that I had the highest quotient of luck of anyone she had ever read. I thought that was cool and somewhat accurate.

I have been very fortunate in many aspects of my life. I won’t bore anyone with details, but I have been able to do the things that I have wanted to do. I have seen the places that I wanted to see. I have had the job that I have always wanted to have.

I only hope that my luck doesn’t run out.

What makes luck? I don’t know. Some people say that we make our own luck. That could be true. Others say that luck just happens sometimes. That could be true, too. Heck, it could be a little of both.

To help keep my luck going, I have decided to list a bunch of “lucky” things.

Lucky Brand Jeans – I wear them, so maybe that will keep the luck flowing.

I don't wear them as well as she does.

I don’t wear them as well as she does.

Luck Be a Lady – Hey, this song was good to Sinatra, so maybe it will be good to me.

The epitome of cool.

The epitome of cool.

Lucky Luciano – He must have been lucky because he is one of the few Mafia guys who died of natural causes.

The Father of Modern Organized Crime

The Father of Modern Organized Crime

Lucky Charms – I have never eaten them. Perhaps I should.

I'm not sure about that guy.

I’m not sure about that guy.

Is that enough luck? I thought about listing Luck, the HBO series, but they killed a couple of horses. I wouldn’t consider that very lucky. There is also this great movie called Lucky Number Slevin that I have seen a thousand times, but almost everyone gets killed. That’s not very lucky, either.

That settles it. I am sticking with the “lucky” things that I mentioned, and I hope everyone that reads this gets lucky.

Blankety Blank

21 Jul

My mind is blank, and I can’t think of anything to write about. I have tried every prompt that comes to mind – checked my documents; clicked through Inspiro; surfed the television guide; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All of that, and my mind is blank.

Let’s see, I woke up this morning and looked at Twitter. As you probably know, it was filled with news of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. I don’t know what to say about that, and whatever I write has probably already been written. Somehow, I feel that the more it and other tragedies are tweeted and televised – the more unreal they become. We read and watch with fascination more than horror. Perhaps, we have become too accustomed to such events, or we have become a “reality show” culture and watch true events the same way.

I didn’t turn on the news. Instead, I watched the Tour de France. Does that make me cold and uncaring? I’m not sure, but I really didn’t want to watch carnage.

After watching some cycling, I took a shower and logged into WordPress. I saw some interesting posts by the people who I follow and read a few. Soon, it was time to head for lunch.

I eat lunch every Friday with my dad, brother and some of our friends. Lunch is always in the backroom of Gondola Restaurant. As a result, we have come to be known as the Gondola Mafia. We talk about local issues, politics, economy, sports. It seems that we cover the same topics every week. In fact, I have been counting how many times I hear the same stories and complaints.

When lunch was over, I returned home and read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a great book that I started yesterday. I should be finished soon and will post about it. It is an amazing story that has impacted everyone reading these words.

I read while I waited for the delivery of a piece of furniture. I needed a new bedside table and got one earlier in the week. The store said it would be between 3:00 and 5:00. I was prepared to wait until 6:00, but they hit the middle at 4:00.

Eventually, I turned on the news and caught up on the events in Colorado. It is a tragedy, and I wish the information providers would show respect and let the police do their jobs instead of trying to be the first to know everything. On top of that, I am probably too cynical, but I am not comfortable watching the two guys running from president falling all over themselves in an attempt to show the country who could be the most sympathetic.

So, that was the extent of my day. Maybe, my mind is blank because I killed too many brain cells with a day full of blankness.

You Gotta Have Faith?

28 May

There is an old John Wayne movie called El Dorado that I have seen a million times and contains one of my favorite lines. After telling one of his henchmen to stay out of a fight, Nelse McLeod, the bad guy gunfighter, says, “Faith can move mountains, Milt, but it can’t beat a faster draw.” This line kept running through my mind as I read The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo.

This book had been in my Kindle for a while as I decided if I wanted to read it or not. Now that I have read it, I am not sure if I’m glad I did or not. I think it is supposed to be a chronicle of faith and how it can get people through any hardship. From my point of view, it provides an example of the tragedies that can happen if someone has too much faith.

In short, the writer is the daughter of a preacher and his devout wife and takes us through her childhood experiences. However, they are not the experiences that one would find idyllic. Her father was the pastor at a church in a small, rural community in North Carolina. Like many similar communities, it was tight-knit and leery of outsiders. Being a dynamic preacher, her father was able to break through this outsider status and become a beloved figure in the area.

At least, he was beloved to most. Apparently, there was a local “boss” who did not appreciate the new preacher and his growing power. As time passed, the “boss” did everything possible to run the preacher and his young family out of town. It began with disturbances during services, such as making loud noises and slamming the doors. Through the years, it escalated from childishness to danger. Hired lackies made threatening phone calls, mailed threatening letters, shot up the house and, eventually set off dynamite near their home and the church. For years, the family lived in terror as the attacks increased in ferocity. Everyone knew who was behind it, but authorities could not prove it.

Over time, the preacher and his wife strained under the stress. The children, the writer and her brother, spent nights not sleeping or having nightmares. It was a disaster as this family faced the wrath of a man bent on destroying them. Neighbors rallied, journalists wrote and politicians spoke, but no one could understand the nightly fear that this family faced. It is a story that makes the reader wonder about the depths to which some will resort to get their way.

However, it made me wonder about something else as well. The writer continuously praises the faith that her parents had in God. They refused to move because God would protect them. They refused to confront the terrorist because God would find His way into the man’s heart. They would not give up the small church because God wanted them there. Family begged them to move, but God didn’t want them to move.

Look, if someone has faith in a higher power, then that is their right. If someone has enough faith to place themselves in harm’s way for that higher power, then that is fine by me. I don’t understand it, but it is their life. However, I have a real problem when someone uses faith as an excuse to keep someone else in danger. This couple forced their children, who had no choice, to live a terrible childhood, because that’s what God wanted. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. I heard somewhere that God helps those who help themselves. Placing innocents in a dangerous situation because of faith is criminal. In my mind, it is just as criminal as the people setting the dynamite.

In the end, God didn’t come to the rescue. As the family harbored an abused wife, her husband walked into their home and shot both parents. The mother was killed almost instantly, and the father survived physically. He did not, however, survive mentally. After spending time in various institutions, he died of a blood clot.

The writer finishes by describing the strength of her faith and how it got her through. Various reviewers write about how this is such a great testament to faith. I say that it is a testament to stubbornness – a testament to putting your children through Hell while telling them that is the way to Heaven.

On the Run

13 Apr

It’s been an exciting evening in my neck of the woods. I was having a pleasant visit with my parents when one of their farm hands came to the door and announced that there was a fugitive on the loose. However, I don’t believe he was looking for the one-armed man.

The farm hand lives in a barn on a separate piece of land (Don’t worry, it’s a really nice barn.) and got a call that he needed to lock it up because a man and a woman were running from the police. They had abandoned the roads; taken to the woods; and led the cops on a merry chase through briars and thickets and all sorts of sharp objects. According to the farm hand, the officers were cut up with ripped uniforms. They succeeded in catching the woman, but the man was still on the lam.

However, the farm hand did not arrive at the house of my parents with a warning. He had locked the barn; bush-hogged the field; and then realized that he had locked himself out. He needed my dad to drive to the barn and unlock it. Due to the shakiness of the situation, I stayed with my mom in case the David Janssen wannabe showed up.

This is when my friend, who constantly listens to the scanner, called. What? Doesn’t everyone have a friend that constantly listens to a scanner. He is also an official weather watcher for the National Weather Service. Anyway, he calls to find out what’s happening in our part of town, and I report what I know. Then, he fills in that the pair had robbed a beauty supply store, which is exactly the place I would rob. He confirmed that the police chased them through the briars and thickets and all sorts of sharp objects but added that the cops were not too happy about it.

As this is being posted, the woman is in custody, and the man is still on the run. The police are confident that he will be caught soon because he is being slowed by bags full of shampoo, conditioner, two curling irons and a flat-iron.

Looks Like I’m the Imbecile

22 Feb

The following actually happened last night.

My girlfriend and I had plans to see Ron White, the comedian, tape a television special honoring the troops. Before that, we dropped off her daughter with her dad and stopped by Longhorn Steakhouse for a quick meal. We sat at the bar to insure quick service that we never got. By the time we got the bill, I was itching to get on the road. I hate…Let me make this plain. I hate being late to anything. So, when the bartender returned the check I signed it, and we headed out.

The drive to the show was pleasant, and we arrived to find a full parking lot. People were walking everywhere. That’s when my girlfriend asked why so many people were walking in one direction. Uh, to see the Ron White show. She thought it was the other direction. We parked and walked to the door when I pulled out my wallet to get the tickets. That’s when I discovered that my credit card was still at Longhorn. I always watch out for leaving it behind and have never done that before. Stupid. Stupid. I called the restaurant, and the manager said she locked it away and not to worry. I was worried. I wanted to go get it right then. My girlfriend said that was a dumb idea. So, we stayed, and I didn’t find any of the six comics a bit funny.

After the show, we came home, and I attempted to sleep. But, everything would be ok. I would go to class then head to the restaurant and get my card. However, this morning my girlfriend got up and immediately got on Facebook. I will have to post about Facebook sometime. I know everyone is on it, but I don’t understand why. Anyway, Facebook was filled with news of the stabbing in front of Longhorn – the same Longhorn that my credit card was in. Now, it was part of a crime scene. Around lunch, I took the chance to see if they were open. A crew was cleaning blood off the sidewalk.

Not knowing how long this would last and worried about having the credit card out of my possession for days, I went to the bank and had it cancelled. Good move? I don’t know. I just know that this is a story no one would believe – especially the lady at the bank. When I said I wanted to cancel the card, she asked if it was lost. I said no. I know exactly where it is. It is sitting in a Longhorn Steakhouse that is now a locked-down crime scene. She said she had never heard such a story. I replied that neither had I.

The part that makes me mad is that none of this would be happening if I had just picked up the card and put it in my wallet. I am an imbecile. But, at least I wasn’t stabbed.

Picture This – Holcomb Community Park

31 Jan

Cities all over the country have parks dedicated in the honor of local citizens, and many of them have the same attributes as this one – benches, trees, walking trail and plenty of grass for picnics. Compared to other parks, this one is small, as it sits in a triangle of crossing streets. It is as if the small town of Holcomb, Kansas needed to do something with land that had been cut off from use and thought a small greenway would be a perfect solution.

However, this park does not honor a founding family or a local politician. It is dedicated to the family of Herb and Bonnie Clutter, which was slaughtered when their home was invaded by robbers in 1959. Tragedies such as this happen in cities all over the nation as well, and as years pass those incidents, also tragically, fade from the memories of those communities. In today’s world, we seem to be desensitized to the violence that happens around us. Bridges are named for fallen soldiers, but we hardly think about them as we pass by the signs. There may be other parks honoring murder victims, but they must be few and far between. So, why did the citizens of Holcomb build a park in honor of the Holcomb’s? Because several years after the attack, the murder in rural Kansas became known to people throughout the world.

After reading a newspaper article about the crime. Truman Capote became mesmerized by the story. He convinced Harper Lee, his childhood friend, to travel to Holcomb and investigate the murder. The result was “In Cold Blood”, a book that many believe began the “True Crime” genre. The writing of the book and the book itself have also been the subject of several movies. In my opinion, the work of Capote and his role in the overall story has come to overshadow the actual crime. As I drove around the small town and walked around the park, I did not think of the Holcomb’s or the men who were convicted of their murders. The question that kept running through my mind was:

Truman Capote came here?

The few people I saw stared at my rental car with the Tennessee tags and gave me the “what are you doing here?” look. And, I am sure they are used to a few people stopping by because of the town’s notoriety. I can’t imagine the reaction of the citizens of 1959 Holcomb when Truman Capote – he of the high society and fashionable side of New York City – arrived with his peculiarities. Likewise, I can’t imagine Capote’s thoughts when he arrived in a little town surrounded by nothing but flat plains. A more odd meeting of cultures is difficult to think about.

Despite of the strangeness of it all, or maybe because of it, I suggest a stop by the park to anyone who finds themself in the vicinity of Holcomb. Take a stroll around the walking trail or sit on a bench and take yourself back to 1959. Picture Capote and Lee hanging around town and interviewing people. Think about the reaction of the authorities when the pair walk in and start asking questions. And, imagine the journey that the writers took to dig deeper into a newspaper story. However, do not forget the Clutter family; the crime that struck down parents and two children; and the two other children left to live with the pain and the constant, best-selling reminder of the horror of their lives.