Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unfortunate Ruminations Of The Day


One man was a quiet political activist, the other a convicted rapist. Connection? They both are alleged to have committed murder. My reason for writing this? I knew both of them.

This sort of thing always comes as a bolt from the blue. You’re sitting there reading headlines. You read one that mentions a killing, in some place or another with which you are familiar, and you say to yourself, “I know so-and-so from there. Let me read a bit further.” And then you come to the part where names are mentioned.

At first, you don’t quite believe it. You’re like everyone else, used to news stories NOT being about someone you know. You stare at the name in print. Then you read on, gathering details and dispelling doubts. Finally, you accept that you know someone who has been charged with murder.

In the one instance, that of the convicted rapist, I always felt that the person was a bit unstable. I knew that he had done time, although I didn’t know the reason. I was a fast-pitch softball teammate of his, a decade ago, and I saw how he comported himself on the field; always with a chip on his shoulder, a disdain for his rival's talent (often accompanied by a sneering verbalization concerning same), and a hair-trigger temper. I had seen him involved in a fist fight with another teammate, following a playoff game defeat; I had stepped into it and had been the one who wrapped arms around the guy while someone else stopped the other participant from continuing. That he had been a prisoner wasn’t important, in the context of sports, any more than someone else being a school teacher or a lawyer. We rarely delve into personal background, being more concerned with the bottom line of whether or not a player can perform the tasks at hand. More than one good teammate of mine, over the years, has spent a while behind bars. I've never asked any of them why they were there. I always figure that's his business. If he wants to tell me about it, he will. This man had casually mentioned his incarceration, in an off-hand way, and usually accompanied it with a joke of some sort. I only found out about it having been a rape conviction while reading the story about the alleged murder. All things considered, my hearing that he may have killed someone was as shocking as any other news of a murder, but not more so. It was not entirely surprising to me to see his name in print as someone alleged to have committed a violent act.
  
On the other hand, the news that my second acquaintance is said to have killed his young son, and then turned the gun on himself, has had an effect similar to a punch in the gut. I wouldn’t have expected to hear such news in a million years of Sundays. I shared good laughs with this man years ago, broke bread with him more than once, and thought of him kindly. His passion was politics, and the two of us had met while I served on a political committee. He was unfailingly kind to me and I owed him a debt. He encouraged my writing talent many years ago, asking me to write and edit a monthly newsletter concerning political activities. I did so for about a year. That confidence of his, in me, was a great boost toward my now being a paid writer. The last time I had correspondence with him, he was absolutely gushing about being a father. The profile picture on his Facebook page shows him walking down a street holding his little son’s hand. The news that he killed his son, and then himself, was inconceivable. There it was in print, though, and no denying its existence.

Point? I don’t know that I have one. I would never have thought I'd find reason to mention these two men in the same breath, until now. That I find myself doing so...

God bless us all.


20 comments:

OldAFSarge said...

Sometimes the story itself is the point. As a good writer, you just put it out there and let your readers discern their own point from it. This, to me, is one of those "There, but for the Grace of God..." stories.

And Suldog, you're an awesome writer.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

I don't think I can add anything to what the Sarge says.
Your eloquence is truly a gift and you have a broad range.

Sandi McBride said...

This really hit home with me...the hardest thing I ever did while on the job was locking up a beloved relative and then having to call his family to tell them where he was and why he wouldn't be coming home...when the act of violence is cdv your shock doubles because you would never believe he was abusing his wife and children...he just did not seem the type...it just proves that we never know people the way their families may know them. Things like this make me glad to be retired...I am no longer privy to people I know and love's inner dark secrets...

Pearl said...

I just discovered that a man I once loved was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

Sometimes, we don't know WHAT to do with the information we have...

Pearl

sandyland said...

oh dear..I am reeling and so sad about the ballplayer killed.....what a waster all 4

Jenny Woolf said...

I am so very sorry to read about your friend. The rapist just sounds like a creep, but the man who was your friend does not sound like that. I would suspect his behaviour was caused by a mental storm of some kind. Depression, maybe - not something anyone should be blamed for. Depression can transform normal life into something threatening. He might have thought he was protecting his son from harm, putting him somewhere he could not be hurt further. Then, realising what he had done, killed himself. I had a family member who killed himself, to save, as he thought, others from having to deal with him.



messymimi said...

So much sadness is in this weary world.

The rapist i have sympathy for the child he was, as he was probably abused and taught violence, but not the man he became because once grown, he could have chosen to get help and go a different path.

The other man, well, who knows what sudden mental hurt or illness causes a life to change that way? May he and his son rest in peace.

Michelle H. said...

Shocking news is just that... shocking. How we digest it and use it in our own lives to become a better person is what's important.

Craig said...

Yup. I think that Chesterton once said that Original Sin was the most empirically obvious of all the doctrines of Christianity. . .

A former Little League teammate of mine is behind bars for the rest of his life for killing his wife. And a man who had been a friend of ours, whose kids played with our kids, did time for molesting little girls (not ours, as best we've been able to discern). . .

Buck said...

I can only say that I have never had to digest similar information about those I've known and loved, and I am MOST thankful for that.

Absolut Ruiness said...

Your friend must be going through such a difficult time. I wish he had turned to somebody before taking this extreme step. I wish he had not done it.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Some things are shocking. A friend of my wife and I is now serving a life term in the Oklahoma state pen for first degree murder. The son in law of a cousin killed himself just a few weeks ago. Shocking stuff.

Lil said...

Wow. This might not be the point, but that is one awesome, powerful piece of writing.

Hilary said...

I'm so sorry. I can only imagine the sense of shock and grief you must be feeling. What a jolt to the heart.

Karen said...

So, so, sad :(

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

I have had to deal with something similar recently - the hardest part is that despite overwhelming evidence of the crimes, people that know him are not allowed to see the evidence and continue to think we must have it wrong because he is normal and part of their lives and how on earth could he be all the police are saying that he is without them knowing it. The sad fact is that there are many normal, pleasant people who are capable of lies, deceitful acts, depraved acts and potentially murder that might have no conscience or remorse. Sometimes the mask slips a little and we get a brief flash of something that disturbs us momentarily, but we assume we got it wrong.
We seem to think that monsters should look how we think they should look.
You really don't know people as well as you think you do - even when you live with them.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Wow, I'm not sure there are really any words other than to say I'm truly sorry to read about all of this sadness. And that I'm very, very sorry for your loss.

Shammickite said...

I'm not sure what to say to this. The rapist who is accused of murder should be incarcerated, and kept away from causing more heartbreak and harm, but is it his fault that he did this? Did he have an abused and unhappy childhood and carried this "chip on his shoulder" as you put it on into his adult life? So sad. And the man who killed his son and then himself..... a mental breakdown, a sudden derangement, a descent into hell..... he had a reason, but what an unfathomable tragedy. Makes me want to cry.

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

What an awful discovery. It's a difficult realization that those around us are capable of such deplorable acts. I'm not sure any of us has the mental capacity to accept that each of us could be pushed to the limit and do ..... something ..... that is so violent. Why his son along with himself? I just can't accept it.
The rapist/murderer may have experienced an abusive childhood, but I can't give him a pass as a result. Still, how awful.

Barbara Shallue said...

I remember sitting at work years ago, reading a newspaper article about a veterinarian who had shot his 5-year-old nephew over a land dispute (aiming for his brother-in-law, but that doesn't make it better.) It turned out to be our former veterinarian, the one our puppies loved, who had offered me a job, and who we would travel out of our way to continue seeing even after we moved 20 miles away...until his office closed and we weren't sure where he had moved to. It was a jaw-dropping shock to me that he was capable of this. So I understand a little bit how you felt, although I think from your relationship with the political activist-new father, the punch in your gut must have been way harder. So very, very sad and totally un-understandable. Prayers for his family.