I sat in my shop, more or less leaning on the bench, kind of staring at the mess, and the equipment, not really getting anything done…
I had just gotten off the phone with one of my best friends from high school. The guy that was the best man at my wedding, and has been there for me through thick and thin… And I’d like to think I have been likewise… But the news last night was a bit much to take. I am pretty sure I sounded like a fool on the phone, but what can you say?
This friend was one of the guys I was in high school wood shop with. I remember the Oak kitchen table he built way back when, out of white oak and oak veneer ply. It was gorgeous.
This friend lived across the street from me back in my home town through Junior High and High School, to say the least, we knew the family, and we knew his dad was a violent man. Never fully able to blend back in with society after coming back from Vietnam.
There was a history there, going back as long as I can remember, of violence, death threats etc… That led to the divorce of this friends parents, and several slap on the wrist prison terms (less than a year at a time) for the father. To say the city, county, and state had to have a dedicated file cabinet or two just for his files is probably an understatement. There is NO WAY that they can claim they didn’t see this coming. We all did…
About 10 years ago, the dad in question threatened a small town grocery store checker with a kitchen knife, and was interred into the state mental hospital, and granted 100% disability for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Now I am no psychotherapist or qualified to make a medical judgement in any way, shape or form, but my spider senses detect pure Barbara Streisand on that one… The history of violent behavior, and run ins with the law for things like assault and battery predate his military service.
Now my friend, when he found his dad was to be released from the state mental hospital earlier this yearl, well he had gotten married, and had children of his own during the time his father was in the mental hospital, had a mortgage on a nice home, had a nice car for his wife, and was driving his dream car. He was living the middle class dream. Well to protect his family, has walked away from that mortgage, that home, those cars, etc… and is now in hiding.
His younger brother has literally tried disappearing into the woods, living in a small trailer, and working cash jobs so he can “stay off the grid” to stay away from Psycho dad…. His sister has married, and moved quite far away, and remains out of sight for good reason… While still in high school, this same younger brother, after taking a particularly vicious beating from the hands of his father had been arrested, tried, and acquitted of attempting to solicit murder to finally rid the family of the long standing violence of this man. I am NOT saying that choice was right, but you must understand, the police, the courts, the state did NOTHING to stop this man from physically, and mentally abusing his family for DECADES. This was the desperate act, of a desperate young man that got tired of pleading for help and being ignored by those with power and authority.
So now that the history of fear and violence has been laid out for you…
Toward late July, my friend’s dad came back into town, and assaulted his ex wife, my friend’s mom (one of countless arrests for this…), he was arrested, and she went into hiding… The local police QUICKLY released him from jail.
Then two weeks later
An elderly woman, wheelchair bound, and stricken with Parkinsons disease, the best friend of my best friend’s mother was found dead in her apartment in my home town. Bludgeoned to death with a ball peen hammer. She was found by a cable repairman who had actually been let into the wrong apartment by the apartment management. Police have tied blood, DNA, and fingerprint evidence to my friends father. Including the murder weapon. He has been arraigned on charges of aggravated murder.
I know this has to bring a LOT of emotional baggage up for my friend and his family. I am not sure how I can be the most supportive friend I can be. Should I express my anger at the city police that repeatedly failed to protect the citizens? The courts? The State? The Veterans Administration?
As much shock as has been expressed to the incompetent news media in that small town, nobody that knows the family is shocked at all. Disgusted that the state would let such a known violent man back out of the mental hospital,
So now, here I sit, the next day, not really able to work, or think of much at all, I want to cry for that old woman’s family, but I cannot. I am simply too angry to cry… I am tired of my home town, well actually, my home state coming off looking like Hazard County when it comes to law enforcement, and protection of the citizens. What’s worse is that I am almost afraid I might recieve a subpeona to appear before a court halfway across the country. I would LOVE to cooperate with the state and get this man off the streets, and away from where he can do any harm, but I have no faith that the particular state is actually compentent to do the right thing… Decades of experience tell me that.
I wish that he lived closer, not that I want to be any closer to his maniac dad than I am, but rather, offer up some shop time for him to get his mind on something other than that situation…
Thanks for understanding folks, I just needed to vent. I hope and pray I didn’t violate any LJ rules. Wasn’t my intention. Just sometimes you need to vent you know?
-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com