This is a story I’ve been meaning to tell for while concerning two friends, a colleague and their respective crimes.
A friend of mine several years ago became involved in a minor fender-bender accident while leaving a restaurant bar where he had just had a couple of cocktails to warm up for a party he was joining later.
He got out of his vehicle, walked up to the car he had just hit and asked if everyone was okay. He then informed them he was going to walk back to the restaurant to have them call the police.
On the way to the restaurant he pulled a marijuana joint out of his pocket and threw it into the bushes and then walked back up to the bar and ordered a large glass of water without ice. He drank the water down before asking the bartender to call the police to notify them of an accident.
He walked back down the hill to the scene to where he was confronted by angry officers who had already arrived. They immediately demanded to know as to why he had left the scene of the accident.
He calmly informed them that he had merely returned to the restaurant in order to inform them to call the police to report the accident.
They had him take a breathalyzer test while a canine unit arrived to search his vehicle for drugs. He blew an .06, which was legally within bounds given impaired driving was an .08 or greater.
One of the officers was so livid – so sure he was high – that he had him blow again. And he did and the result came back the same; an .06. So my friend walked – or rather drove away – from what could have been a potentially damning situation.
Another friend had been having an ongoing dispute with one of his rural neighbors over his barking dog. A creek separated the backsides of their adjacent properties and the sound of the chained up dog carried through the wooded lots.
My friend was trying to enjoy a quiet happy hour but the constant barking insistently kept harshing his mellow. He called his neighbor and invited to meet him down at the creek where he was going to proceed to kick his ass. His neighbor replied that he’d meet him up on the road in 15 minutes.
My friend finished his drink, stabbed a pistol into the back of his trousers, pulled on a shirt and walked up the driveway to meet his neighbor.
He was surprised to discover that not just was his neighbor at the top of the driveway but there were also two deputy sheriffs waiting there as well.
He calmly presented his case to the law officers all the meanwhile keeping his back out of the glare of the headlights least the silhouette of the pistol become revealed.
After five or ten minutes the situation was temporarily resolved and my friend walked back down the driveway, re-entered his house and resumed a quiet and thankful happy hour mindful of the fact that the undiscovered pistol was his get out jail free card.
Interlude: Okay. I have just presented two stories each of which could have rained hell fire down onto each of those fellows if the true nature of events would have played out negatively. Now by contrast I am going to present another story whereby another fellow – in a generally benign and seemingly innocent situation – made a more costly mistake which served to land him into a serious and forever abiding relationship with the police and court system for the rest of his life.
The man involved in this story was not a friend but was somewhat of a work colleague inasmuch as we happened to work for the same company at the time but in very different capacities. How he happened to end up at my house is a story that I can no longer recall. And what made him confess to what he had done is also unknown.
But this is a true tale reminiscent of John O’Hara’s classic tale, ‘Appointment in Samarra’, where a man – given one poor decision – over the course of three days ruins his entire life.
We had a few beers and as he launched into his confession I all but pleaded with him to stop – who wants to be burdened by the knowledge of another man’s sin? – but he insisted on finishing his story.
He had gone down to Arizona to do some project work at one of the company’s plants there and they wrapped up early on a Friday afternoon so he and the team decided to go celebrate at a local bar over pitchers of beer and pizza.
By the time the party wrapped up it was almost dusk and as he made his way alone across the great expanse of parking lot to his car (everything in Arizona seems to be in strip malls surrounded by huge amounts of asphalted parking space) he realized he had to pee.
The decision was whether to walk all the way back to the mall to use the public toilet or cop a pee out by his car; the parking lot was more or less empty and it was more or less almost dark.
He chose option number two. While peeing next to his car he was startled by a woman who came upon him suddenly and he had enough drink in him to where in his surprise he wheeled around to her fully exposing himself asking her angrily, ‘If she’d seen enough.”
He was subsequently arrested in his hotel room that night. The specific charges I no longer remember but I do remember that he is to be forever registered as a sex offender in his home state of California. The thirty thousand dollars that he and his wife had saved up to buy their first home went into legal fees and costs. And it was only a matter of time before she ended up divorcing him.
What happened to him after that I don’t know. I left the company shortly thereafter and somewhere along the way so did he.
So I ask you gentle reader – where is the justice in the matters concerning these three crimes?
I have my own theories but I leave you to draw your own conclusions.