For instance, there was a theft case in an East Texas town a few years back in which a couple of young men stole some four-wheelers from a business late one night. Police got on the trail quickly and caught one of the perpetrators before dawn.
However, the second 4-wheeler thief rode the stolen machine through rugged forestland and evaded police until late afternoon. He ran out of gas near this country home. Meanwhile, police broadcast a description of the fugitive and the 4-wheeler.
The elderly male resident at the country home, having heard the report on a police scanner greeted the thief with a rifle. Seeing that the gun-wielder was older, the thief turned to walk away at which time the elderly man took aim and said, “I ain’t the PO-leece, I’ll shootchee.”
POLICE WERE summoned and, upon their arrival, the thief said, “Get me out of here! This old fool said he was gonna shoot me!” It was pretty funny seeing a “bad guy” scared to death.
Occasionally, we hear of a would-be victim shooting someone trying to rob or assault him or her. We identify with the intended target of the criminal.
A more specific crime, spousal abuse, prompts many to think of some vigilante justice. Spousal abuse cases aren’t anything to laugh about, but I knew of one early 1950s case where the abusive husband got his comeuppance. It was, on the surface, pretty funny.
John and Jane Doe lived in this small town and had two children, a girl and a boy. Jane was a quiet, unassuming woman who took the children to the local Assembly of God Church every time the doors opened. In addition to doing the housework and raising their son and daughter, Jane took in ironing and sewing to supplement Joe’s meager wages at the local lumberyard.
JOHN WAS a reliable worker, honest and polite to customers and fellow workers. He worked five and one-half days a week and, at quitting time Saturdays at noon, John got paid and promptly went out and got rip-roaring drunk. And, on days when he wasn’t falling-down, pass-out drunk, John went home and beat up his wife.
Jane took it for years and never said much to others. Some of her fellow church members knew, but almost no one interfered in someone else’s marital problems in those days.
Finally, Jane had enough and watched for the right opportunity.
John came home one Saturday night, very drunk. He tried to be his usual abusive self, but he’d had too much whiskey and passed out across the couple’s bed.
Jane quietly closed the door and got her sewing kit. She wrapped the sheet around John and sewed it up. Then, she got a broom handle she’d carefully hidden in a strategic spot and proceeded to beat John all over his body. He awoke, of course, but was unable to defend himself because he couldn’t get out of the sheet. John being drunk played in Jane’s favor in this case.
Some who saw John the next day or two said he was pretty black and blue and most laughed about the worm turning on the drunken wife-beater.
JOHN SOBERED UP for good and got religion. Last I heard, he and Jane had a solid, happy marriage.
About 25 years later, after proudly accepting an invitation to sit on the board of a women and children’s shelter, I thought I’d give a boost to that group so I wrote a column telling John and Jane’s story. I suggested that perhaps a dose of the same medicine was good for any wife-beater.
A woman on that board, the abused wife of a well-known professional athlete, called and explained the grave danger to any woman who tried to physically stop her abuser.
Sometimes what seems like humor and justice combined can be a bed of quicksand for all involved. Everyone can do things to help victims. Just find the right venue and work within the prescribed system.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.