Friday, June 08, 2012

Brain? Don't Need No Stinkin' Brain!

Some drunken buffoon tried taking a kitten into a Port Charlotte topless bar one night this week. 

I suppose Bob Lages thought that once inside the “gentleman’s establishment” he would be the hit of the tit party with his cute feline and that there would be no end to the various “pussy” jokes.  Perhaps the 47-year-old also imagined that he might even get lucky with one of the pole dancing skanks and “get some” later, gratis.  Well, this space cadet tried not once or twice, but thrice, to enter the bootie bar and was refused each and every time. So, what then does a red-blooded 'Merican do when his rights are being trampled and there are those (bouncers) who would deny him his konstitushunal freedom to take a cat in a boobie bar and those who would disrespect his human dignity by frog marching him to the door and telling him to “beat it”?  Why, a real red, white and blue 'Merican would call 911, natch.   

The cavalry soon arrived and instead of kicking in the door and forcing the strip club to admit this poor, but proud & patriotic peon they called him a cab in hopes of getting rid of the sot.  Not only did Bob refuse the cab but so bruised was his inherent dignity that he called 911 again, this time to demand that more cops come to arrest the cops that had already come (I know it don’t make no sense but nothing else about this retard makes sense either).  Already pretty sore that Bob had abused the 911 system not once, but twice, miffed that he would spit on their samaritan-like attempts to help him out with the cab, Clancy and Muldoon decided to take the drunken fool to the city holding tank.

When Bob refused to go quietly and began cussing and fighting the cops, either Clancy or Muldoon--I forget which--whipped out his Buck Rogers Ray Gun and gave Bob’s butt two remedial jolts of volts for his consideration--one for his human rights bun and one for his human dignity bun.

Throughout all this the kitten came out in tact and was delivered safely to the animal shelter.

It’s hurricane season now and we islanders have been experiencing two weeks of tropical depressions—rain, surf, sauna, sultry.  No prob for island humans but apparently it’s been pretty crummy on the island animals.  Dozens of coons, possums, armadillos, as well as at least two gopher tortoises, have been killed on the beach road in the past fourteen days. Today on my bike ride, I even saw a dead iguana, my first.  Truly, ‘tis been a fatal fortnight for our wildlife.  Cars are the Great Satan of the animal world.

Cop in the Coop—Must be some serious levels of lead in the water down at nearby Fort Myers.  Just last week I reported on an internet sting along our county line which swept up over thirty pedos.  I also mentioned how incredible such an event was, given the fact that the “To Catch A Predator Traveling Road Show” was here a few years ago netting kiddie fiddlers by the score, on national TV, no less.  Now, alas, it would seem that one of the dogs assigned to guard the chicken coop is, in fact, a genuine weasel. 

A former sergeant with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is in jail now after his computer was confiscated.  On said PC was dozens of child porn files.  

We talk about addictions and when we do it is usually about noxious crap like meth or crack.  But what about this addiction?  Truly, the mania of grown men to sex little children is a compulsion so strong that, just like the chemical drugs, it is almost useless to resist.  If not, why else would an otherwise good and intelligent man who had put in 30 years protecting our backsides simply risk everything to satisfy a sexual whim?  No, this beastly epidemic is truly a disease.  Does that mean I am advocating understanding and forgiveness?  Nope!  Frying in hot grease is still my recommended punishment for what these people do; but we must try to find a cure.  This crap is getting worse and more common, not the opposite.  Castration is a good start.  Then, perhaps, brain surgery to remove the diseased part.  Whatever we are doing now just ain't working . . .say what?. . .  JUST AIN'T WORKIN'!!!!


When Sturgeons Fly --Way up upon the Suwanee River, north of Tampa, 32-year-old Brianne Megargel, her hub and the couple's ten-year-old son were just gliding along in their small boat, enjoying the lazy clear water and the sheets of Spanish Moss hanging from the oaks.  The last thing on earth the fam expected was the thing that did happen.  WHAM!  A seventy-pound sturgeon not only picked that moment to make a spectacular leap into the air but he picked Brianne’s head to land on. The woman was knocked out cold and pitched head first into the river.  Fortunately, Ms. Meg’s husband was quick to respond and while the little boy handled the boat dad fetched mom back to safety before she sank.   

The woman was air lifted to a medical center where her condition is. . . . Well, I am happy to report she won’t be entering my list of Really Bad Ways to Go, i.e., “killed by a hit and swim fish.”

Below is the most recent installment of my new book, Toledo Blade—The True Story of the Abduction, Rape and Murder of a Cop’s Daughter.  I apologize for some of the formatting problems.

Child of the South Wind

y name is Oma . . . Oma May Byrd.  I’m from Clay County, Kentucky, near Lexington.  I’m from a family of fourteen.  I moved down here seven years ago.  My husband passed away, 47 years-old.  Massive heart attack.  It’s been twelve years this November.  Never sick a day in his life, worked all the time, construction.  We had our own business, Byrd Construction.  Rough, but that’s the way it goes.  I work at Publix here in North Port, in the deli.  Been there six years.  Love it.  I live here with my daughter, Dana Lewis, my grandson, Austin, and son-in-law, Bryan.
Mike King moved in next door about six months or so after I came here.  See, it was smooth, smooth sailin’ for a while.  No problems.  He could be just as nice as could be.  Austin and Matthew played.  They played good together.  They was the same age, or about.  Mike even took them boys to “Toys R Us” once.
Danielle was here too.  See, Danielle--that was supposedly the wife, girlfriend, whatever--Danielle was Matthew’s mom.  Danielle and my daughter had words; they got into it standin’ right out there in the road.  I said, “If y’uns are gonna fight, you get in the road.  I don’t want to hear it.”  I think Danielle cut at her or somethin’ in the vehicle.  Tried to cut her off the road.  And my daughter said, “I’ll whoop you, bitch.”  And I said, “Well, lay it on it!  If that makes you feel better, well, lay it on it!” 
And once all that happened, and they stood out there and talked for I bet you two hours in the road and before they left talking to each other, Dana came back up here and said, “You know, she might not be too bad.  But she ain’t got no sense livin’ with that.”  Supposedly, Danielle had told Dana, “Mike sometimes flies off.”
But what really done him in I think was when Danielle left him.    She just up and left.  And left that little boy in that school right over there.  So Mike would come home . . .  Mike worked everyday, I’ll give him credit.  And as far as we know, he was a good dad.  He treated Matthew good.  Made him go to school.  But you know, the way we was taught, be good to your neighbors and, we just felt sorry for him.  I mean, the little boy, and him by himself.  Austin, a lot of nights, he would go across the yard with them two plates of food in his hands.

 After Danielle left there was a lot of different women, different.  Sometimes they’d stay for weeks at a time.  When he came back from wherever he was at, that girl, Jennifer, had dumped him too, supposedly.  Well, she lived there with him for a long time.
He had went somewhere and bought this above ground pool, which, that would have been fine, but I had said to myself that if I ever lived to see the day I would have an in-ground pool, no matter what.  So, when I moved in here I said, “This is my chance.”  So we put the pool in and he would always say, “I’m getting me one.  It’s gonna be a bigger one.”  It was like he was jealous of what we already had. When we put the fence up, and we didn’t do it for spite, we just done it for privacy, because he was so close, you know, in case we wanted to swim at night, or whatever we wanted to do here.  So, that’s what got everything blowin’ up. 
He would act like, Oh Lord, like he was better than me, or his yard was better than our yard, his house was better than our house.  He was gonna buy a bigger house.  Every time he left here he had to squeal his tires, burn rubber.
I don’t know what was wrong with him.  At times he was as good a neighbor as you could ask for.  He didn’t torment us.  He didn’t raise hell every weekend.  Other times, he was just an asshole.  He throwed eggs at my Cadillac.  He slashed two tires.  I don’t know if he was jealous or what.  I don’t know how to describe how he acted.  He wouldn’t look at us, he’d just move his eyes.  If he was out in the yard, he wouldn’t look at us, he would roll his eyes around at us.
And there was other things that. . . .  My grandson’s birthday party.  All these little kids come, we was out by the pool, all these little kids in the pool, having a good time.  And he goes to that fence and sets there lettin’ his lawnmower run.  The dust a flyin’, just stuff like that.  We had invited them over.
He throwed battery acid on our pool cage.  It was just eat where that battery acid hit them floats, the rubber floats.  Everything was just a mess back there.  And where it had hit the door of the pool cage it was just like spots, where he’d flung it.  We didn’t know that it was him but there ain’t a doubt in my mind that he did it.
That little dog right there.  I was in the hospital.  I had pneumonia.  I got out on a Saturday evening.  That little dog and I went out in the back.  I was sittin’ on the lanai, smokin.’  My little dog, I let him out to go pee.  And he heard Michael in the back, back there where we got the fence up.  My little dog couldn’t a got over there no way.  And he told that little dog, “Shut the fuck up.  I’ll kill that son-of-a-bitch.”  Well, I stood up and I went to the pool cage door and I said, “You lay one hand on my dog, you’ll be the son-of-a-bitch that gets killed.”  Just because he barked!  He was my late husband’s, too.
Dana, she would stand in that yard and cuss him all to pieces, dare him, dare him to come across that yard.  I’ve asked her, “Has he ever done anything to you to make you think that he’s interested in you?”  She said, “That sombitch, I wouldn’t have nothin’ to do with that fat fucker.”  And I kept thinking, he has done something to her, you know, to make her feel this way, because she’s not a mean person.
We’ve got BB holes in the bedroom windows, BB holes in the screen itself.  He broke out some lights.  He went out there and broke ‘em out with a broom handle, a shovel handle, or whatever. We got that on tape.  We had cameras on each end of the house, which that costed us probably $1,000-$1,200.  Okay.  He knew what he was doing.  He wasn’t crazy, he wasn’t dumb.  And after we put all that up, we still couldn’t catch him.  The North Port cops walked up that driveway and told us they didn’t have time to watch a video.  By then, we thought, okay.  We had called them a dozen times.  That was the last time we called North Port.  Every time we had a complaint, we talked to them right out there in that driveway and that last time we said, “What’s it going to take for you all to do something to that son-of-a-bitch?  Are you going to wait till he kills somebody?”
They said, “Well, we’ll go over and talk to him.”
And we’d say, “Okay, wear a path out!  It ain’t a gonna do no good.  Next weekend it’ll be the same thing, you’ll be back out here.”
I thought, “My God, this man is harassing us and there’s nothing we can get done.”
North Port never helped us one day, not one day.  Get this now: One day we called ‘em.  See, they just fly up and down this road, speeders, I mean.  Well, that young’un comes across that street from school every day.  North Port comes out here. They’re out here maybe five minutes and they’ve got a car pulled over.  A ticket.  Then they go, and that’s it.  You see what I’m sayin’?


The little home at 7912 Latour Avenue was new and neat, but modest and plain.  Except for a single home next door which could have passed for its twin sister—even down to the “For Sale” sign stuck in the yard--there were no other neighbors in sight; just brooding pines and ragged palmettos on all sides.  Like so many other recent dwellings in Florida, this small white house with the large sloping yard sat in one of those haunted sub-divisions that one day just dropped dead in its tracks when the boom went bust.  On every street in this part of North Port Estates there were far more weedy, vacant lots than little green homes and the sight was similar to a kid’s Monopoly board in the early stages of a game.
On the driveway outside this home on Latour, in front of the attached garage, a small car was parked.  Inside the home itself, the living room was a living mess.  Typically toddler.  Toys on the floor, toys on the sofa, toys on the chairs, a child’s gate, scattered colored papers and books on a table, a vacuum cleaner sitting idle in the middle of the floor, a clothes basket filled with dirty duds, rumpled snuggy blankets—sure signs of young lives living happily.
Out the door, out on the screened-in lanai, a slender woman, almost a girl, was hard at work on the task at hand.  In the high chair squirmed a restless two-year old.  Noah was his name and sitting still was still something new to him.  Although he was a good boy, even a patient boy, relatively speaking, a ten minute hair-cut would try the patience of even the best of tots.  From the care that she took, it was apparent that his young mother wanted to do a good job.  If she was impatient or frustrated, not a trace was visible in her face or her voice.  Instead, her words and looks were as sweet and warm as a south wind.
“Mommy’s almost done . . . almost done,” she assured Noah.
Noah had just celebrated his second season on earth a week or so before and as a reward he was going through not only the trial of one of his first hair cuts, but he was also passing through the perplexing mystery of potty training.  Asleep nearby, six-month old Adam still had all that fun well in front of him, plus the unwelcome departure of his mother’s breast.
Even if she could have afforded the luxury of a barber, the young woman wouldn’t have missed this, not for the world.   It was one of those rights of passage into motherhood that she so loved.   The same could be said about day care.  Even could she afford such an extravagance, no way did she give life to these kids simply to turn them over for strangers to raise.  She loved motherhood.  She loved everything about it.  And she was smart enough to know that she should enjoy every precious moment while it lasted for she might never travel this trail again.  The fact that she could save some bucks by cutting her child’s hair or foregoing day care was simply a bonus.
As the wife and mother of a struggling family, she did what she could to save money; she had to.  Times were tough.   She scrimped at the grocery store, the clothing store, the drug store, and every other store, saving much-needed cash for rent, bills and diapers.  Though even in January it could get warm outside, she turned the air conditioning off, like today.  She made her husband’s lunch each day for a pittance of what Burger King would cost.  Things that broke, such as the garage door opener and printer, simply didn’t get fixed.  Her car would have to sit in the rain and any stuff she needed off the computer she would write out in long hand, as she did with two pages of potty training instructions. 
For someone so young, she was surprisingly organized.  She wrote down everything, everything that was important to the family.  Each day she made a list of all the things she needed to do.  Her habit helped each day run, if not smoothly, then smoother.  In the long haul, it saved money and also made life more orderly.  Orderly, that is, for everything but the living room.  She would love to have it all straightened up before Nate got home in an hour or so, and someday she promised herself that she would, but . . . but probably not.  The kids would return it to its normal state in thirty minutes or less, so why bother?
Truly—despite the domestic disorder all about--she was a home maker.  Nate made the money that kept the family fed, but this 21-year-old wife and mother made the family go.
She was a fresh-faced beauty; a pretty young woman whose looks didn’t need much help.  Only rarely did she apply make-up, and it showed.  She glowed.  Clean skinned, clear-eyed--those green eyes could sparkle when she was happy, which was almost always, and her smile was the kind of smile that came only from a heart and soul that one identified immediately as kind, good and genuine.  Despite the birth of two children within two years, she was slim and athletic.  At 5’2” and 110 pounds she appeared slight, a bit frail, but she wasn’t.  She was surprisingly supple and strong.  Long auburn hair, tied in a pony tail, fell down her back over a simple green tank top.  Oversized blue boxers—Nate’s shorts—fit terribly on her slim limbs but they were cool and comfortable and . . . they were his.  Barefoot was her natural state on the rug.  Her adornments were as simple and unostentatious as her attire—two tiny glass earrings, a thin necklace with a heart-shaped pendant made of common metal, a wedding band on her left hand, a cheap little heart-shaped ring on the right. 
Denise Amber Lee was simplicity personified.  She didn’t have many material possessions—nor did she miss them-- but what she possessed she cherished.  Nothing was loved and valued more than her husband, the wiggly little boy in the high chair who was the spitting image of his dad, and the newcomer lying nearby.
She moved around Noah to snip at the other side, a bit of blond hair here, a bit more there.  He was becoming more impatient as each minute passed.   This would be the first of many haircuts, she told herself, and she had to get good at it, and fast.  Her right hand worked quickly, but ever so carefully.  His daddy would be so proud when he got home.  On her right finger was that cheap metal ring, heart-shaped, pretty, but worth nothing.  Worth nothing in dollars, that is, maybe forty bucks.  But the ring meant the world to her and even if she could somehow struggle it off, she wouldn’t.  Even more than the wedding band, that ring was their ring and it was staying on.
He was her first, last, and forever.  That was a given.  And the way it worked out seemed so strange to her.  She was shy and quiet; she was studious, bookish and the opposite of outgoing.  And he was just so out there.  Three years ahead of her, a stud athlete, captain of the baseball team, big, strong, cute, popular, and . . . way beyond her dreams, she thought.  And yet, funny thing: Though neither said a peep to the other throughout high school, Nate had been very aware of Denise’s existence,
It was during her senior year, while 17-year-old Denise was taking courses at the same community college as Nate, that they bumped into each other again.  Luck, fortune, fate—whatever it was, this time around shy Denise would not let the opportunity slip.  Before she hardly knew what she’d said, his word, “Yes,” just rolled when she asked: “You want to go study some time?”
As it turned out, that first date at a local restaurant had little to with studies, or supper.  Denise ordered nothing.  Instead, she feasted her eyes on him.  Nate did eat but what it was only the waitress could say.
“I know it sounds cliché, but we really knew right away,” he said.  “I mean, we were two peas in a pod.”
When Valentine’s Day rolled around a few weeks later, Nate bought her a tiny heart-shaped ring.  It was inexpensive, but it said everything to Denise.  It said that they were a couple; it said that Nate loved her.
After her graduation from high school in 2005, the couple moved to Tampa where they enrolled in a four-year college.  Hardly had they settled in when they realized they were pregnant.  And so, Denise and Nate officially tied the knot and until they could get on their feet they moved in with her parents.  Any disappointment the couple or their parents may have felt from dropping out of school was swiftly offset by the arrival of Noah.  Since there was no way the couple could afford to buy a home, even in a buyer’s market, they settled on the house at Latour Avenue where the rent was reasonable.
From the beginning, the young couple set their sights on a traditional household.  Nate would bring home the dough while Denise would bake it.  That’s the way they both wanted it.  Kids weren’t something to bring into this world only to palm off on parents or baby-sitters; they were something to raise, nurture and love.  Indeed, if ever a woman was born for rearing, Denise was the one.  Motherhood was not something to get through but something to savor
“She got pregnant so young and we had kids so young, we got married so young.  It didn’t matter,” said Nate, “that’s what she wanted.”
 She took the kids to the park, she took the kids to the store, she took the kids to the library, she even took the kids to the mailbox each day.
Denise Amber Lee on “My Space,” Wednesday, August 15, 2007:

The joy of having two boys. . . . Today I thought it might be fun to take the boys to the mall . . . by myself.  It started off really well.  Noah and I ate lunch in the food court while Adam slept.  I let Noah go on one of those rides that cost 75 cents.  Then we went to Old Navy.  Noah started getting a little hyper and wouldn't stay with me so I had to hold him and push the stroller at the same time.  At the check out both of them started crying.  Adam was hungry so we went back out to the car where I fed Adam ('cause he's breastfeeding) and Noah played in the car rolling the window down.  Finally we went back in the mall and I let Noah play in the play area so I could get a chance to just sit.  Noah was knocked down twice by older boys running around wild.  Of course then Adam needed changing and I couldn't take my eyes off of Noah or else he'd run out of the play area.  So I put them both on the changing table and changed both their diapers.  Fun, fun. Then we went to JCPenny.  I was trying on sunglasses when Noah tried to run away.  So I had to carry Noah while trying on sunglasses and then Nathan called.  Both of the boys start crying once again so I put Noah down and picked up Adam. Noah thought it would be funny to try to run away again.  So I caught him while holding Adam and put Noah in the stroller.  An old man commented that I must have my hands full and said he checked in the bottom basket of the stroller to make sure I didn't have a third one in there.  LOL, can you imagine if I had three?  So I finally bought my sunglasses and we went home.  Something so simple as going to the mall to buy new sunglasses is a thousand times harder when you have two boys under two.  But it was still fun.  Anytime I get to leave the house is a treat for me.

Nate’s day job, jumping fences and dodging dogs as a meter-reader for
Power and Light, kept the bulbs burning but when he could, he picked up much needed moonlight money stocking shelves at Winn-Dixie, umpping little league and playing his trumpet with the local symphony.  In fact, he was scheduled to play with the orchestra tonight after work.
Both sets of parents were extremely proud of their kids.  One quiet way of showing their pride--and helping them out on the sly--was inviting them over to supper at every opportunity.  Last night the young family had dined in nearby Englewood with Nate’s mom and dad, Mark and Peggy Lee.  After the table had been cleared Nate and his dad spread the papers and tried to hammer out a monthly budget the couple could live with.
Although at times it didn’t seem like it, things were getting easier for Nate and Denise.  Together, they were fighting through tough times.  Together they were making it.  Nate had called a few hours earlier this day to touch base and ask Denise if she had remembered to open the windows.  She had.   Actually, the windows and air conditioning were just an excuse.  He had really called just to say, “I love you.”
“I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with her,” said Nate. “And there wasn’t a doubt in my mind, wasn’t a doubt in hers.”
They were more than a couple, a pair, a team; they were parents, parents who somehow managed to fall more deeply in love with each passing day.  Sometimes Nate would catch himself just staring at Denise as she made dinner and thinking to himself how perfect she was.  “I never wanted to be away,” he admitted.  Often, during the day, Nate would place his cell phone in his chest pocket with the speaker on, not so much to talk, but to be “near” Denise throughout the day.  She listened while he made his rounds and he listened while she fed or bathed the kids or read stories to them. 
Because the sprinkles might mess with his cell phone, Nate wasn’t listening in today as Denise snipped a bit more hair.  Noah was more than ready to get down. 

Mommy’s almost finished, just a little more here, just a little more and mommy’s all done. 

Denise looked up for just a moment as the green car drove by her home again.  It was almost an event when any car went by on Latour for there simply were no homes.  You could hear a vehicle way up the street long before you could see it.  This car must be lost, she told herself, since this was the second time it had gone by.  Or maybe it was somebody looking to buy one of the homes.  The color and shape looked a lot like Nate’s car, but it was too early for him and his Dodge didn’t have that black thing on the hood. 
And that was it.  A spray of light hair lay scattered on the lanai floor like fine straw.  She had done it.  She picked Noah up out of his high chair and admired him for a moment.  She had saved some money and she and Noah had done a good job.  He was the very image of his father, she thought to herself. 
If there was extra spring in Denise’s step today, more music in her voice than normal, it was for good reason.  She and Nate thought they might be pregnant, again.
“We had more love than money,” smiled Nate, “but it didn’t faze us.  We knew we were gonna be fine.  We knew we were gonna grow old together.”
But Nate was wrong, terribly wrong.  This day was much like any other day—he at work, she at home—it was much like any other day, with one exception.  Nate would never see Denise alive again.  Denise had five hours left to live.


Next door, at the only other home in this section of Latour Avenue, young Jennifer Eckert was killing time by watching the day time soap, Days of Our Lives.  For the past month, the teenager had been down from New York visiting relatives in North Port and today she was seated on the couch where she could not only watch the program, but also peek out the blinds toward the street.    It was around 2:15 PM and still no boyfriend.  She was beginning to wonder if it was him in the green car who drove around so many times and appeared to be lost.  The car had driven by three, maybe four times now.  If the car came by again, she told herself, she would go out and see.

Shawn vows to find Clair and Chloe comforts him.  Philip professes his love for Belle.  Philip then gravely reveals to Belle that Claire is still missing. 
When Jennifer heard a car approaching she looked through the blinds again.  The same green car with the black thing on front was now going by very slowly.  When she walked outside and down the sidewalk a few steps, the car slowly pulled a short ways into the neighbor’s driveway, then stopped.  The window on the driver’s side was partly rolled down and Jennifer looked to see if it was her new guy.  Instead, she saw an older man with “fluffy” hair and a small beard staring back at her.  Their eyes locked for an instant.  An uneasiness came over the girl; a chill.  Why, she didn’t exactly know.  The stranger’s face was not cold or menacing, just expressionless, like a mask. 
Jennifer turned and came back into the house.  From time to time she glanced out the blind, still looking for her boyfriend, now more late than ever.  To her surprise, the man next door continued to simply sit in the car.  Jennifer Eckert was just a visitor.  She knew nothing of the comings and goings of the neighbors and whatever they did, whoever their friends were, that was their business.
Ten or fifteen minutes later the teenager peeped through the blinds once more to see the green car finally back down the driveway and move off slowly down Latour.  Just as before, the strange-looking man was by himself.  With still no damned boyfriend in sight, young Jennifer Eckert turned back to her soap.

Shawn remembers the Celtic tattoo on Rob’s arm.  Bo and Hope tell Marlena about Belle and Claire.  Marlena asks John for a favor. Bo theorizes that Stefano’s not involved in the kidnapping.