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Child Abuse Investigators! Knock On Any Door!

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, one of our offices received a child abuse report indicating that a father was exposing himself to his own children. It came in coded for an immediate investigation. Apparently the child of a neighbor had just seen him do it! The unit supervisor assigned the case to one of his best who happened to be in the office and she headed out, pronto.

In my humble opinion this investigator was one of our best. She was experienced, although still on the good side of thirty, and unlike some of our people, she was fearless. She walked tall with the confidence of an assistant judo instructor, which she was, and the nerves of a sky diver, a past time she enjoyed as often as she could, like some would treasure a walk in the park.

She was gone for a fairly long time, and her supervisor began to worry about her. When she returned she had a wild story to tell. After knocking on the door of the house in question, she was let in the front door, only to spy a man stretched out on a couch with his penis fully erect sticking out of a pair of pajamas. He hurried to cover same with a white sock as soon as he could. Two rather young kids were in the same room, rather casually watching TV.

Much later, she would tell me directly, along with a gang of my staff, always ready for a good story, that she couldn’t stop staring at the sock. She said the room was rather dark, but the sock gleamed like the torch held high by the Statue of Liberty. It was the elephant in the room and for a moment or two she could not take her eyes off of it. She recovered quickly enough to express her outrage in no uncertain terms. The kids were sent off to their rooms and then she lit into both parents like they had just committed bloody murder! She was seconds away from calling the cops when she finally learned what was going on.

This happened years ago, before the days of Viagra, Cialis and the rest. Who knew? Our investigator had happened upon a man who had had an erection for more than four hours. He was in intense pain and could not stand anything touching his penis, let alone stuff it into his pants! Apparently even using the sock was extremely painful. Yep, he had the condition before most of us even knew there was such a condition. Our gal got in touch with a doctor, found out that the man needed immediate medical care and arranged to get him an ambulance. Apparently if left untreated, there can be grave tissue damage and, at times, sterility.

When you go out on a child abuse investigation, you never know what you will encounter. It could be Momma answering the door stark naked, or it could be a drunk ready to kick your butt. You have nothing but a card, a notepad and a pen. You have to handle it and do it right, or a kid may get hurt. In my opinion, the good investigators who knock on doors, not knowing what they may find, are heroes. If nothing else, put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to do it?

Back From The Mountains

I had occasion today to relive one of my favorite pranks. The adult daughter of a couple we have known for years has written friends of her parents, including my wife and I, for pictures and other reminders of their mother in days gone by. The mother is soon to celebrate one of those landmark birthdays and they want to have some fun as a family remembering the good times over the years. As my wife was gathering some pictures, I thought of something I had a hand in, an evil scheme that popped out of my brain and screamed for immediate attention.

My wife and I were working with a local Hospice organization with hundreds of other volunteers in preparation for their huge annual garage sale, their biggest money making event of the year. The woman in question brought by a jacket and asked us to take it to the sale. She just happened to say something about it that caught my ear. She said that it was her husband’s favorite and he had worn it for years. She didn’t like the coat and complained that it was showing signs of age. By secreting the coat out of the closet and donating it to Hospice, she could get rid of it without him noticing. She even schemed to cover her tracks. When he came to miss it, she would tell him that he must have left it somewhere, in a restaurant, perhaps.

I’m sorry, but we men take enough abuse from wives and work. I couldn’t believe that she would do that to her man. Toss out his FAVORITE sport jacket! So I came up with a plan to get it back to him. It was easy, really. I devised a letter from the hospice organization in our area rejecting the donation. My phony letter head was spot on! The recipients were upset! They found our friends’ address in a letter in a pocket and decided to vent their disgust!  The jacket had been rejected because of its sorry condition. More to the point, people who would donate an article of clothing that should just be discarded ought to be ashamed. The shoppers who attended the sale were looking for bargains and would be offended by trash! I signed the letter, Randy Bottoms, just for a final flourish!

We put the coat and letter in a box and mailed it to her. She called my wife a few days later fuming! How dare that organization treat her that way! After all, the coat was not THAT bad. Further, she was going down to the main office to give that Bottoms character a piece of her mind!  In the end, my wife had to set her straight. Of course, she blamed me.

It has probably been fifteen years since this gem went down. To tell you the truth, I’m still looking over my shoulder a bit. You never know when she may get her revenge.

I’m On Drugs!

In a matter of days, I have gone from healthy to totally wasted. I am now a shell of the man I used to be. I’m on drugs!

It’s amazing to me how fast one can get into that stuff. After years of working with teens and parents who were using, I never imagined that it would happen to me. I will forever look upon those who can no longer stand tall with an entirely different attitude. I am their brother, father, and grandfather! I am one of them!

It all started with a rock. We are building a garage here in the mountains. My contractor wanted a small retaining wall on one side of the garage entrance. He spotted a boulder on the property and got all excited. “That one would be perfect!” he said. Well, yeah, I thought. One rock and for all practical purposes you had half the wall. The damn thing was huge.

No problem! He had a plan you see. Get the old pickup and roll the rock up into the bed on a couple of boards. We wouldn’t even have to lift it. I thought he meant himself and his helper. Oh, no! He included me!

Men get into trouble a lot from the pressure that comes from companions and friends. I have done many stupid things in my day, because a man just has to, particularly if there is anything like a dare involved. I got shot in the chest with a target arrow one time because one of my buddies wanted to see what would happen. Thank goodness he didn’t draw back all the way. As it was I had a bloody indentation in my chest bone. But hey, I was cool! Do you see, that’s how it works?

So I help with the rock. I’m getting long in the tooth, but my builder is older. He’s about five one and in his mid seventies! I’m six five and strong! How can I say, no? The three of us actually rolled that damn thing up two shaky planks and into the truck! The next morning I could hardly get out of bed.  I walked, if you can call it that, like the Frankenstein monster, arms and legs going every which way. Actually I roared like him too, when the spasms came.

I sought out the drugs.

I’m getting better now. I should be fine in a month or so. So what’s the big deal? I just wanted you guys to know that I’m still the man! That’s right! You’re looking at a stud! I can toss a 275 pound rock into the back of a truck! Don’t mess with me! You understand!

Honey, it’s time for more pills!

A Conversation With An American Citizen

Off and on during the past week or so my wife and I had an opportunity to talk with two men who managed to speak eloquently to a hot topic in this country, namely immigration.

We are having a garage built to augment our mountain home.  Each day for the past twelve days or so, two brothers arrived between 7:00 and 8:00 A.M. to get at it, this after driving over an hour to get here. Almost the entire time they worked unsupervised. Our contractor made no bones about it. They are the best construction workers he has ever seen. And he has used them off and on for over five years. Both can do almost anything that is required and both work tirelessly all day. The quality of their work is excellent! To top it off, they are here legally.

At times other subcontractors arrived with their crews. Yesterday it was the “gutter guys.” The day before came a gang of roofers. The day before that it was the stone masons, and so on.  If you called for a landscaper or someone to do tile, it would be much the same story. Almost all the work here, skilled or not, is being done by Mexicans.

The contractors will tell you in a heartbeat that they would go out of business if these men were not here to work! Why? I have been told by at least four contractors that the local guys say they want to work, but they won’t. By and large the local men are looking for a paycheck but they don’t really have a stomach for hard work! There are exceptions, of course, but I really think that you might have trouble finding a white guy around here shingling in the hot sun, high on a pitched roof.

I talked with one of the brothers; he’s bilingual, you see. He is an American citizen by way of birth. Unfortunately his wife is not. She and his American born children live in Mexico. He is involved in a lengthy and expensive legal process to have her and his kids join him here.  While that drags on, he and his brother do nothing but work, dawn to dusk most days, and send their earnings home.  Their thoughts go with them. Both of these men have young children and they miss them dearly. Like us, they want a better life for their kids. They are not “wetbacks” or drug dealers. They are like the guys who live next door. Tell me! Is this man’s story crazy or what?

I know we will eventually bring sanity to immigration policy. It will come because we need these men, probably more than they need us. Unfortunately, we have a tradition in this country. Although all of us, except the American Indians, stem from some other shore, we must pretend that Mexicans and others who wish to immigrate are not worthy and give them royal hell. Bottom line from here in the mountains of Virginia, if they all up and left tomorrow, we would be running around like Chicken Little screaming that the sky was falling. And I believe rather shortly thereafter, it actually would.

Give Me Some Skin!

I am ensconced with my wife at our cabin in the woods. We love it here. Lately we have had night time lows in the 50’s and highs seldom ever more than 80 degrees. Plus unlike so many other areas of this great nation, we have had plenty of rain. As a result everything is lush and green.

Sadly however, as we drank our coffee out on the deck early this morning, I learned something disturbing that greatly troubles me. My wife has a contagious skin disease. I was probing a spot on my neck and asked her if it might be a tiny tick or something. We get them here but we have encountered none during this stay. Anyway, she looked at it and announced that it was just one of those things. I didn’t know what she meant. So she pointed to a small, raised, brown spot on her hand. It was one of those, she explained.

I had been wondering for a time why my own skin was deteriorating, particularly on my arms and hands. For some reason the skin on my arms seems to have become rice paper thin, tearing and hemorrhaging at the slightest touch. I can bleed openly or under the skin in volume with the prick of a rose’s thorn. On top of that my hands and face have been popping lately with white and light brown spots. If they grow together anytime soon, I’ll begin to look like a Guernsey cow. I thought it might have something to do with aging, but I am much younger! That kills that argument! No, now I know. I caught this disease from her.

She tried to explain it all away. She said that it was from over exposure to the sun. That made sense in a way, for her, as she grew up in Florida. I guess as a young girl she ran around naked on the farm where she grew up. I confronted her about that, but she denied it. I think she was lying. Even I run around naked once in awhile. Don’t you?

I really don’t know how she got it, but now she has given it to me. I can do nothing about it either.  I have to assume that I am contagious too. Guess I had better warn my adult children. If they are not careful around us, they are likely to look like us very soon!

Five Year Old Sex Slave

My wife and I are in the mountains again and enjoying every minute of it. I was going to take a break from the blog, but a story caught my eye.

A mother of a five year old in Fayetteville, North Carolina, has been charged with selling her five year old daughter to a man to use as a sex slave. He apparently did just that and then killed her. Authorities found her body where he dumped her. He has now been arrested and will likely be charged with a host of crimes including murder.

Due to my background I have heard or seen just about every nasty thing that parents can do to their own, but this one truly makes my blood run cold. I understand that chimps sometimes raid other groups to kill and eat other chimps. That alone is sad. But how is it that we humans can make our species look like totally merciless savages in comparison?

The speculation has already begun. One defense expert predicts that the woman’s defense will be simple, that is, such actions by a mother do not make sense. Therefore you have probable cause for reasonable doubt. I guess we all want to believe that parents will protect their own children by the very nature of being a parent.

Baloney!

Thankfully most do. More than most! Almost all! But parents are capable of horrible crimes against their own children. Believe it. Pay attention out there. I think some good citizens did just that to help the police catch the murderer of this little girl. Unfortunately it was too late for her. Pay attention out there. Be a good neighbor. Maybe a word to the child abuse hotline in your state will come in time.

Looking Out

Years ago my eldest daughter called me with a harrowing story. I wrote it up at that time as I tended to do, to save it. I found it last evening and decided to share it. I apologize for the length, but I’m hoping you will stay with it.

My daughter was driving home with her three year old from a round of errands. She entered her driveway and just happened to look across into her neighbor’s front yard and noticed one of their four sons standing awkwardly by a small dogwood tree. There was something troubling in what she saw so she stopped and looked more closely through the shrubs that bordered their homes. He was not standing. He was hanging.

She slammed on the emergency brake and bolted out of the car screaming for help as she ran. She found the boy blue and lifeless hanging no more than two inches off the ground. Somehow while climbing he had snared himself on a tiny nub on the tree with a string necklace that he had been wearing. She pulled him down, and, like all of us would, racked her brain to recall old CPR lessons learned, and mostly forgotten.  She steeled herself for the emergency procedure which would have to be done through the foam which had gathered at the boy’s mouth. As she started she was pulled off by the boy’s father who had heard her screams. He knew CPR and soon had the boy breathing again. The child was taken to the hospital by ambulance but was able to return home within hours.

My daughter and the boy’s mother talked to each other several times that evening. Each time they cried and cried, two young mothers sharing their brush with the deepest dread of parenthood and the overwhelming relief in avoiding a horrible tragedy that would have been truly devastating.

When we talked, my daughter asked the inevitable question. What would have happened, if? The boy’s mother was out shopping.  The boy’s father was inside with their baby. The other boys were playing in the back yard. Neighbors directly across the street were out in their yard mowing. They could not have heard anything and they had seen nothing. What if she had been preoccupied? What if she had been in too much of a hurry? What if she had simply not glanced over into her neighbor’s yard?

We talked about this at some length. My daughter does not consider herself a hero. She acted instinctively to what she saw. There are religious connotations to near death experiences. Perhaps it was not the little boy’s time. But her last words on the subject ring true as well. There is meaning in this experience in the broader definition of family. My daughter probably just happened to look and immediately understand that something was amiss because she knows and cares for her neighbors. She wasn’t necessarily looking out for them but she WAS looking out.

Bottom line, I believe that my daughter was being a good neighbor. We have all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. I guess it takes good neighbors to protect them too. Keep an eye on your neighborhood. You never know. Maybe it would be a good idea to brush up on that CPR as well.