Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well, Boys and Girls, it’s time for an update on the life of me. Don’t panic, this will not be a report on what I had for breakfast or that I finally found that special dress for the prom. I haven’t been that busy. My partner in this escapade, the magnificent Ulva, and I have been working on the website however, updating it with new information and adding another book or two, as well as changing the cover on DEER RUN TRAIL. This website has consumed so much of our time we haven’t been able to play Rugby for weeks. (God, she’s tough in a scrum) 

Anyway...The second in the TRAIL series of books, THE NODAWAY TRAIL, will be out soon. I invite you to visit the website and look things over. I’d invite you for lunch, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t vacuumed in days. 

Yours in literary literariness,


Monday, June 25, 2012


           An attorney I know once said to me, and I’ll paraphrase, “It’s good to know the law. It’s better to know the judge.” When I was a rookie police officer, I had the rather idealistic belief that the law was fair… and I was, for the most part, correct. Those who are trusted with the administration of the law can be, at best, as stupid as the rest of us. At worst? Oh my.

            One summer evening in the late 1960’s a man named Elazier Adkins took it upon himself to beat his wife and four-year-old daughter with an automobile radio antenna. Hearing the curses and screams, a neighbor phoned the police. Alone in my squad car, and only a block or two from the scene, I was assigned the call, another two-man unit was dispatched as back-up. When I arrived in front of the house, I could hear the screams and shouting from my position in the street. Deciding not to wait for assistance, I entered the open front door, stepped over the form of a four-year-old child where she lay sobbing on the floor, and moved across the room to where Mr. Adkins was striking his wife as she writhed on the couch. As he drew back his arm to continue the beating, I advised him that he was under arrest and attempted to disarm him. A large man, he then attempted to strike me, and the battle was joined. My back-up arrived as Mr. Adkins and I fell out his front door, rolled across the narrow porch, down three steps, and into his small front yard.

            As is all too usual in domestic violence cases, Mrs. Adkins, screaming for help only moments before, declined to sign a complaint against her husband. I did not. I charged Mister Adkins with disorderly conduct, (his shouting and cursing could be heard all over the street) public intoxication, (he was drunk when we battled our way to the sidewalk, a public place) resisting arrest, aggravated battery, (he got a lick or two on me with the antenna) and interfering with the lawful execution of duties by a sworn officer of the court. I would have charged him with shoplifting and cattle rustling if I could have. He was beating a woman and a child. Shortly thereafter I was summoned to testify at his preliminary hearing. My case was sound. I had witnesses to the screams for help and the subsequent struggle, photos of my injuries, a breathalizer to confirm intoxication, Mr. Adkins statement admitting guilt, and a signed Miranda rights waiver. More than enough to warrant him being held for trial.

            There was a heavy rainstorm in progress outside the courtroom that day as the evidence was presented to the judge, sheets of water sluicing down the windows on a dark and blustery morning. The judge, regal in his long black robes, distinguished in stately spectacles and graying sideburns, his stern visage dominating the courtroom as he weighed all the statements, charges, and depositions carefully. He questioned Mr. Adkins and my back-up officers thoroughly, then turned to me.

            “Officer Lewis,” he said, “you suffered injury at the hands of Mr. Adkins, did you not?”

            “Yes, your Honor.”

            “And you suffered these injuries as he fought with you while resisting arrest, correct?”

            “That’s correct, your Honor.”

            “You entered his residence as a response to seeing Mr. Adkins in the process of beating one LaVina Adkins, his wife, with an automobile radio antenna?”

            “Yessir, I did.”

            “You heard his curses and her screams while outside the home?”


            “And the door was open, was it not?”

            “The front door was standing open, your Honor.”

            “Officer, were you invited into the home?”


            “Did you hear Mrs. Adkins calling for help?”

            “I heard Mrs. Adkins screaming for help, your Honor.”

             He leaned back in his chair and carefully deliberated as he watched the heavy rainfall through the large windows behind the bench, his templed fingers against his chin, obviously in deep contemplation. At some length he turned again to me.

            “Officer Lewis,” he said, “I have just one more question.”

            “Yessir,” I replied.

            “Officer,” he said, indicating the view through the windows, “how much rain do you suppose falls on a city this size, during an hour in a rainstorm of such magnitude?”

            A bit confused by the question, I replied: “I don’t have any idea, your Honor.”

            “Neither do I,” he said. “Complaints are dismissed.” He then stood up and walked out of the courtroom.

            In retrospect, I wish I had said 8million, 792 thousand, 431 gallons. Perhaps then Elazier Adkins would have been tried, convicted, and sentenced to jail time. Perhaps he would not have returned to his home very early the next morning. Perhaps his wife would still be alive. Perhaps his daughter would have seen her fifth birthday.


One never knows, do one?

Thursday, June 14, 2012


  You Want Bear?

            He is a Cherokee Indian, a kind, quiet man, and he and I are friends. I’ll call him John, for if I were to use his real name, he would be embarrassed. Over the years, Laura and I have attended sweat lodges with him, participated in pipe ceremonies, and come to appreciate his humble dedication to his belief system. We enjoy our differences and our sameness a great deal.

            A few years ago, my wife and I traveled to northern Arkansas to attend a black powder Rendezvous. A Rendezvous is a gathering of Buckskinners, modern day Mountain Men, practitioners of primitive arts. In many ways, these men and women are a step apart from the rest of us, spending some of their time amid the trappings and values of the early nineteenth century. At Rendezvous, competitions are held in marksmanship, knife, axe, and tomahawk throwing, fire starting, and other disciplines necessary to life in the wilderness from times long past. Much is as it was, the camp ground full of Baker tents, lean-to’s, and the occasional tipi. Traders hawk their wares of Green River knives and Hudson’s Bay blankets, skins and weapons are bought and sold, beadwork is bartered, and marvelous costumes and authentic clothing abound. It is a slice of the past, with different social rules and regulations than our current society, an etiquette and ambience that presents the visitor with a sense of history surpassing what may be gleaned from books. Many Rendezvous are closed to the general public for a few days of their duration, so the participants can practice their lifestyle and skills in peace from gawkers and tourists.

            On this particular day the grounds were open to all comers, and it was crowded, Reeboks more common than moccasins, shorts outnumbering breechclouts. We strolled through the camp, watching the visitors watch us, and enjoying their gaping. After searching for a short time, we found John and his wife sitting on bear skin robes in front of their lodge. John’s lodge is a sixteen-foot tipi of Sioux/Cherokee design, one of the most versatile shelters ever created by man, a true pine and canvass cathedral. We joined them in front of the lodge, as John surreptitiously ignited a fire with a carefully concealed Bic lighter. Feeding the blaze carefully, he soon had a small cooking fire ready. His wife entered the tipi and returned with an iron pot containing two cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. We sat back, jawing, and watched the parade of tourists peer at us. John and his wife were in buckskins and Indian garb, Laura and I in kettle-cloth clothing appropriate to the period, and we were all armed with knife, tomahawk, or both. Picturesque we were, fascinating to passers-by.

            Rules of etiquette demand a cooking fire not be approached by strangers without permission. It is no more acceptable than an outsider entering your kitchen. The rules of etiquette also state that anyone at your fire, or “in the kitchen” must be offered something to eat, if food is ready. Soon after the Dinty Moore stew had begun to bubble, a couple stopped and stared at us. They appeared to be in their early forties, were excessively white, and dressed in matching outfits of madras shorts, sport shirts, and jogging shoes. Fresh from Rotary and the Junior League, with a Taurus wagon in the dusty parking lot, they seemed fascinated that real Native Americans and Mountain Persons were available for easy inspection. They watched us from a distance for a while, then gathered their courage and walked directly to the fire.

            “What’s in the pot?” the man asked, smiling at us. John put on his best impression of Jay Silverheels’ Tonto, and replied.


            “Bear?”  the man squeaked.

            “Huh!” John replied. “Bear. You want to eat?” This was unanticipated, and the visitor hesitated a bit. To his credit, he plunged ahead.

            “Ah…sure! Thanks. I’d love to try some bear.”

            John’s wife produced a wooden bowl and iron spoon from inside the lodge and ladled some stew into the vessel. She passed it to our guest. The fellow took a small bite of the Dinty Moore, chewed, swallowed, and grinned.

            “This is good!” he beamed, then shoveled in a big spoonful, and continued. “Bear…wow! C’mon, this is really bear?”

            “Huh!” replied John, never cracking a smile. “That his name when we kill him. That Bear…him one good dog.”

            The visitor regarded John for a moment as this new bit of information soaked in, then shot Dinty Moore Beef Stew all over the fire and my moccasins. He scurried away, wheezing and coughing, as his wife skittered along beside him, attempting to wipe the stew off his shirt and shorts. The four of us collapsed in mild hysterics.

            Was our treatment of this obviously nice man wrong? Probably, but certainly small enough revenge. I think Jay Silverheels would have been proud.