THE LAWSON’S PEAK BOOKS

Crimes

WAY to go!

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this country, so we bear that in mind as we proceed.

Franklin Police filed charges this week on two persons accused in the murder of two people in early February. While Acadiana Crime Lab continues to process evidence – this ain’t CSI where results come back in the span of a commercial break – the police in Franklin did a lot of good ol’ fashioned gumshoe work and reportedly built a case against a 19- and a 16-year-old and brought charges of two counts of first- degree murder against them.

Mayberry it ain’t.

The last murder in the city was, coincidentally, a double homicide as well, on Third Street four years ago. Franklin police solved that one, too.

In fact, violent crimes in Franklin rarely go unsolved or unpunished. The police department often gets badmouthed, as most police departments do. Their job is not a popular one until you need them.

What I mean to say, is to the officers of the Franklin Police Department and their chief, you have proven – without the need to do so, except to the naysayers – beyond a shadow of a doubt you are professional law enforcement officers, and you have my utmost respect.

——

I am a broken man.

It happens all the time. Men are broken by booze, gambling, women. They are ruined by stock market crashes and fisticuffs. Knife-fights and fast cars. Happens all the time.

Not me. I am far too timid and meek. No, I am ruined by that unbelievable, unconscionable and unfathomable condition of “beyond the back door.”

What am I to do with myself? Oh, given half a chance, I’d abandon all hope and prosperity and become a complete miscreant living in a cabin in the woods next to a stream somewhere. At the drop of a hat, you hear me?

I get so fed up with the way my life goes sometimes. I’m grateful for living, for my life, don’t get me wrong, but if I had my druthers…oh, you know the tune. I’ve sung it over and over again. So why do I keep at it?

Because I’m a broken man. A hopeless addict, a vexed junkie for wildness. As a writer, I’m a pusher on the streets, but rather than trying to get you hooked on cocaine, I’m force-feeding you open air, hills and water.

Yep. I’d gladly throw it all away, here and now, if I could just come up with a system by which I knew I could get by with just my wits and food gathering skills. You think Thoreau was some kinda wild-eyed pre-hippie nut job? Ha. A lightweight. I could make Thoreau look like an ultra-conservative Republican corporate CEO, let me tell you what.

Like Harry Middleton’s grandfather was broken, so am I. Read the following, and you’d think Albert was a newsman with a twice-weekly column in a small town community where people are about to tar and feather him for writing too many dadgum fishing columns:

“Look at the way we live. Take a good, long look. These are the rewards of an outdoor life, son, sad and paltry as they are. Take up the fly rod and the shotgun, and before you know it, you’re an outcast, a social leper, rejected by your family, despised by your neighbors, mistrusted by your community. Unaware that your soul is quite safe, in the best of company, your church will pity you, pray mightily for your redemption from hideous sin. The final question is, should any man turn his back on ambition, profit, security, and a parking place in the city, just to pursue fish?”

Albert jumped up, shook his fist at the ceiling, “And look at Elias Wonder. Yeah, take a gander at that buzzard. Forty years ago he was happy, generous, charitable, tall, dark and handsome. Then he took up the fly rod. Now consider him. Uglier than fresh road kill. Evil-eyed, cantankerous, sullen, mean. An anti-social misfit that causes a groundswell of spleen wherever he goes. Consider him well. Should a man abandon success just to pursue a fish?”

Oh, yeah, I get it. That last sentence, the question that consumes us. Should I fiddle while Rome burns? Follow the piper? Pay the boatman to cross the Styx?

What in the world have I done to myself? My harmless little love of the outdoors has turned into some kind of treacherous monkey on my back. If I had some sort of time machine, and I could go back and tell myself one thing around the time I graduated high school it would be this:

“Forget college. Bugger work. Find a homestead somewhere close to water and go fishing for the rest of your life. If you catch, you eat. Make sure there’s some woods and grasses. If you shoot straight, you eat. You don’t catch or you miss your aim, you starve. How much simpler do you want it, boy?”

No simpler than that, to be sure. But here I am, whining again, and you’d be better off watching Survivor for pure entertainment value. But such is my lot. Such is my fate.

Spring! Where in the devil is spring? This has been the most miserable winter I can ever remember. Fishing, Pat McManus, turns men into philosophers, but it’s nearly impossible to buy good tackle in a philosopher’s pay. Same applies to winter, I guess. Plato, Socrates, Voltaire…all must have been fishermen who did their best work in winter.

“As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler,” said Isaac Walton in The Complete Angler published in 1653 and remains to this day the third best-selling book of all time, behind the Bible and the works of Bill Shakey. I was not born an angler, but I’ll likely die a poor, lying fisherman.

Broken, I tell you. Broken and irreparable.

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