Friday  December 22, 2006

By Tim Bohn

Photo  2006 Phebe Pierson. All Rights Reserved
A school in Bayou La Battre, Louisiana, April 2006
A reminder that not everyone will be having a Happy New Year
(Here are some suggestions for donations to Katrina and Veteran's organizations)

Photo  2006 
            Glenn Petrizelli. All Rights Reserved
A full grown Chestnut tree turned upside down by the tornado in Westchester County, N.Y., June 2006
A further reminder that it can happen ANYWHERE.

Today's journal entry, Wrylys with Maddog by Tim Bohn, is a companion piece to the most recent one I wrote, Ride Along. While Tim is hardly a stranger to these pages, this is the first journal entry he has contributed. We hope to feature more of Tim's writing in 2007.

Ride Along chronicled Joseph Pierson's evening in a patrol car with Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy, Frank Longoria. As Joseph rode with Frank, Tim rode with Sergeant Mark Davison. Here, then, is Tim's take on Saturday night in Liberty County.

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The Thin Blue Line. Liberty County, Texas. A darkening 6:00 PM.

Our hero, TIM, for his first-ever police "ride-along" has been assigned to accompany Sheriff's DEPUTY SERGEANT MARK "MADDOG" DAVISON.

Tim and Maddog are preparing for their night with a hearty pasta dinner. They are joined by civilian Joseph Pierson and Patrol DEPUTY FRANK LONGORIA.

If I live to write a Cypress Films blog entry about tonight, I think I'll write it in the form of dialogue exchanges. I'll use lots of wrylys...

             (under his breath)
Wrylys are directions for line-readings--cheap substitutes for actual character development.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA
You don't even have a notepad.

I'll just reconstruct my experience without notes - some stuff may be recovered memories... some stuff might be from old "Adam-12" episodes. It's called "fictionalized memoir style."

You're the expert.

Tim takes a tiny sip of his giant ice tea - he doesn't know if or when he'll be able to pee again tonight.



Maddog unlocks the Ford Explorer cruiser, stretches his massive neck and settles into the driver's seat. His cowboy type Sheriff's hat stays firmly on his head.

Is there a protocol for me staying in the car or, you know, getting out when we're on a call?

You'll pretty much figure it out.



First Call - report of dangerous Wild Dogs. Maddog and Tim pull in to the driveway of an abandoned looking trailer. (Many of the area's occupied homes are "abandoned looking.")

Maddog hits his search-beam: no sign of mutts. Deputy Longoria and Joe pull up behind.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (O.C.)
             (over the radio)
What'd the neighbor say?

             (thumbing his mic)
These folks left their huge dogs behind and they're starving and running around terrorizing the neighborhood.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (RADIO)
Someone'll just shoot 'em sooner or later.

Isn't there animal control?

No. We tell people to do what they got to do to protect themselves.

He swings the cruiser door open and begins to step out, Maglight aimed carefully forward. Just as he stands, there's a very loud, very frightening and almost metallic "ROOOOOFF!!"

Maddog LEVITATES back into his seat and SLAMS the door shut. He and Tim crane their necks looking for the monster dog. Then, almost as loudly as before...

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (O.C.)
             (over his P.A. loudspeaker)

Maddog wipes his forehead, grinning. The radio squawks.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (RADIO) (CONT'D)
Did you see that thing?

Joe and Frank are guffawing in their cruiser. Maddog smiles.

I'm gonna let Frank believe he scared me - good for morale.

The offenders finally appear: a huge ROTTWEILER and a slightly less huge PITBULL. Far from "starving," they look like they recently felled and ate a stray cow.

They are, however, starving for affection. They romp up to Maddog's open window, tails wagging merrily and mouths smiling widely. They cavort and whimper for some petting.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (RADIO)
You gonna get out?


                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (RADIO)
They look rabid?

Nope. They look bored and lonely.

The radio crackles and Dispatch relays a call for assistance on a nearby road.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA (RADIO)
We're gone. See you later.

Longoria pulls out of the driveway, hits the gas and speeds away. Maddog grunts, puts the Ford in gear, and exits the driveway in the opposite direction.

Frank was pretty funny, there.
Those guys'll probably get hit by a car before too long.




Is this a David Lynch movie? No - it's 9:00pm on an ordinary fall night, on an average country road. But...

There's a brand new 2006 FORD MUSTANG upside-down in a ditch, its brake lights and headlights half-covered by dirt and weeds but still eerily coloring the night.

There's a blue and gold Varsity LETTER JACKET hanging out of the shattered back window, covered in glass. There's a pile of schoolbooks and notes strewn across the ditch. The lights of an ambulance play over the scene.

The jacket and books belong to two TEENAGE GIRLS. They are incredibly lucky, which is to say they are not dead. They weren't drunk when they left the party - just new drivers speeding in a fast car. Their high school friends have gathered around the ambulance, talking quietly.

The driver's father arrives. He introduces himself to Maddog.

                 LUCKY DAD
             (trying for tough)
Any idea what happened here?

Looks like they hooked a tire off the road and over-corrected.

                 LUCKY DAD
I just gave it to her for her birthday.

Nice car.

The father steps over to the ambulance to take a look at his daughter.

             (peering past the blue lights)
Is that the Trooper who was first on the scene at the fatality head-on collision last night?


Is he still shaken up from that call?

He wouldn't have thought much of last night. After a while you don't really notice or mind much, unless it's a kid or someone you know pretty well. He's a good guy.



Maddog's on the phone with his Mom.

I love you too, Mom.

He hangs up, with zero self-consciousness about a stranger overhearing his familial intimacy. Tim is overwhelmed with respect for Maddog's style of manliness.

Do you have to be a different person when you're working?

Well... my soon-to-be ex-wife thought I worked too much. She wanted me to come home for lunch sometimes. But when I'm at work I have to be in 100% total control of every situation. So it was hard to go home for an hour and turn that off and not act like I was in control of that room.
             (He shakes his head, puts a wad of Copenhagen in his cheek)
I like going to Vegas with my buddies.

Tim nods. He looks at the dip in the center console. Maddog holds the tin out to him.

                 MADDOG (CONT'D)
You want?



Maddog explains how he got his nickname. Suffice to say he earned the name honestly. The telling of the tale is worthy of vintage Spalding Gray. It includes a prison, a dive bar, tequila shots, a brawl, and concludes:

... so the only way for me to get out from the bottom of the pile was to bite the nose of the guy on top of me.
             (Perfectly timed, dry pause)
Which I did.

                 DISPATCH (RADIO)
Be advised suspect vehicle, a brown pickup truck, exited route 105 and is now southbound County 11 at 120 miles an hour.



Tim is gripping his knees and gritting his teeth; his eyes scan left-to-right, right-to-left, as his neck gets tenser and tenser.
This is easier to understand when we pan over to the dashboard and note that Maddog is driving the Ford Explorer at just over 110 MILES PER HOUR.

             (completely mellow)
Good - comin' towards us.

                 DEPUTY JON DEWEY (RADIO)
             (short of breath)
He's off the road, he's into Dirt Hills Park, over.

Is he short of breath like that because he's got adrenaline going from this?

             (still completely mellow)
Oh, yeah, high-speed chase can get you pumped up pretty good.

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God.
             (sneaks a look at the speedometer)
Oh, God, Oh, shit. Does he see that car coming up at the cross? But that guy can hear our siren, right? Oh, God. Did I remember to name my baby on my life insurance policy?



Maddog eases the cruiser through rutted, overgrown dirt trails that are called "roads" in Dirt Hills, Texas. He passes the high-beam across tiny huts and trailers that are called "homes." All is quiet.

                 DEPUTY JON DEWEY (RADIO)
He's still in here. He's between Roadies and the swamp. Brown maybe Chevy pickup.

Every fugly hut has a brown pickup truck or two parked outside.

Where are all the people who live in these places?

             (very sincerely)
In bed asleep, I hope.



An assortment of police vehicles - Sheriff, State Troopers, Liberty Police - surround a dark circa 1975 mobile home.

The cops are certain that the pickup truck parked in the driveway is the one they've been chasing; they have no idea who's inside the trailer.

Tim stands next to the cruiser with a Maglight in one hand for protection, and his other hand on the door handle.

Eight or ten police officers, all with guns drawn, approach the trailer on the crouch and surround it. It is Maddog who pounds on the door.


He repeats this maybe once. Then the door is opened slightly and, in a flash, in the dark, the police PULL a figure from the door and PIN him to the ground near Tim.

                 DEPUTY JON DEWEY

The pinned perp, a skinny, pimply twenty-something kid, stutters some reply. The OFFICER with his knee in the kid's back stands up, makes a "watch him" gesture to Tim, and returns to the scrum of officers at the trailer door.

Tim, completely shocked and blushingly honored that he has been asked to assist in this scene, sidles over to the prone kid, trying to project a neutral (yet very, very tough) attitude. He spits a stream of tobacco juice on the ground.

             (neutral, yet tough)
Relax. Don't move.

Nice. The cops pull two more MISCREANT TEENAGERS out of the trailer and line all three up on the ground. They are blubbering and scared and obviously idiotic.

                 MISCREANT TEEN ONE
Fuck this shit - we was just asleep and all, man...

                 MISCREANT TEEN TWO
             (to M.T. One)
I love you, man.

                 MISCREANT TEEN THREE
Officers, hey, we're cool, man. Can you loosen these cuffs?

                 MISCREANT TEEN TWO
             (to M.T. Three)
I love you man - be cool - We're gonna get outta this. Yo, officer, can I talk to you? We were just tired, that's all, we just - 

The three stooges are read their rights, but they drunkenly describe a night spent drinking and getting stoned and then choosing to try to outrun a traffic stop.

             (speaking to himself in muffled tones, inexplicably pretending to talk into a small recording device)
The officers from several departments ignore the pathetic blathering of the drunk teen perps, and trade a little gossip. They are in no hurry to drive off and go their separate ways, probably for a few reasons: One, they are letting the stress and adrenaline of the chase and the arrest slowly cool off; Two, they spend most of their nights alone in their individual patrol cars, and the conversation and company is a welcome break from patrolling hundreds of square miles of back country solo, hoping they will be able to handle whatever they come across, or that backup will speed to them in time; And Three, they seem to really like each other. They are genuinely, generously nice to each other. And in fact, come to think of it, every officer I have seen tonight has been incredibly nice to me, and even, I swear, completely respectful of every complainant and detainee. Maddog is a thoughtful, sophisticated, good-hearted guy inside his cruiser and out of it, and I'm proud to be with him tonight. Gotta remember to send him that Leon Russell CD. And send Deputy Longoria that Jim Harrison book. Frank is a really good writer, style a bit like Harrison - solid, manly construction, direct observations, none of this so-post-modernist shit where the kids stick the narrative in footnotes or whatever.
             (to the handcuffed kid who has just rolled over and begged to have his neck scratched)
Relax. No, I don't have a piece of gum.

Finally Maddog loads all three into the back seat of the Explorer. He and Tim get into the front and start the (slower) drive back to Liberty County lock-up.

                 MISCREANT TEEN TWO
             (high as shit, talking at full volume to his buddies)
Okay, they definitely got us for the speeding but they didn't see us drinking, they can't prove it, we'll just say we were sleeping and all when they came in.

Tim leans over in the front seat and speaks quietly:

Is this stuff admiss

Maddog doesn't even say anything wry. He just rolls his eyes and nods his head in weary affirmation. He doesn't speak much on the way back, just radiates authority to the back seat.



The idiot kids are already in a holding cell. Joe and Frank have joined Maddog and Tim in the deputies' office. All four relax and debrief for a minute.

That was a great night - a whole range of interesting action, and nothing too horrible. Plus, that hot EMT is totally into you.

Frank laughs.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA
Go, Maddog.


The DISPATCHER leans into the room.

Hey guys, accident on route 44, partial ejection.

                 DEPUTY LONGORIA
We're on the way.

Tim pales, and gives Joe a meaningful look.

"Partial ejection?" Sounds good, but we should get going. We have meetings tomorrow, location scouting, you know, stuff like that.

Tough day...



Wherein Tim and Joe visit the Liberty County Jail and see what they (luckily) missed on their ride-alongs. While it is true that idiots and dogs and drunks cause a lot of the mayhem in the world, the jail's inmates remind our hero that there are also plenty of truly hard, violent, dangerous evil-doers out there. Be safe, Maddog and Frank.

Francis & Morning at the Pig Stand

In other news, we note with sadness the passing of the Pig Stands, a slow-food staple of San Antonio and Houston--and a featured location in EvenHand. Here is a link to the Houston Chronicle article from their archives (you must be a registered user to view the article, but it's free). Thanks to Frank Longoria for the heads-up.

There was yet another recent references to the kind of justice that was dispensed so liberally in San Lovisa (for the origins, please see Day 8 of the EvenHand production journal, A Good Plan). Cosmo Inserra reports:

UNION, S.C. - A man who parked illegally in a space reserved for handicapped drivers was sentenced to stand outside the store with a sign telling everyone about his crime.

Ragheem Smith, 29, stood in front of a Bi-Lo grocery store Thursday with a handmade sign that read "I am not handicapped. I just parked there, sorry." Magistrate Jeff Bailey imposed the sentence. "I figured he needed to apologize in a public way," Bailey said.

Smith told Bailey he didn't have the money and couldn't afford the time away from work that a jail sentence would require. He could have been sentenced to 30 days in jail or fined $325.

"That was better than having to pay a lot of money," Smith said of his punishment. "I know I won't do it no more." (Yahoo News)

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Baton Rouge Area Foundation

Here is a suggestion for contributing to the ongoing Hurricane Katrina relief effort: The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which runs the Hurricane Katrina Displaced residents Fund and the Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Recovery Fund.

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America

You have one of those yellow ribbon magnets on the back of your car. Now please do something to meaningfully support the brave men and women in our armed forces. Retired NYPD Detective Bill Burns brought IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN VETERANS of AMERICA to my attention. Please visit their website and join me in making a donation.

IAVA's primary aim is to give American Troops and Veterans of the current conflicts a voice in the public dialogue. The Pentagon's stranglehold on the flow of information coming out of Iraq, combined with the increasing risk to Western journalists posed by the insurgency, has limited the media's ability to report on the war. In addition, because less than 0.5% of the population has served in Iraq, civilians are unlikely to learn about the war from veterans in their communities. Furthermore, the culture of the professional military has left many service members reluctant to speak out. As a result, people do not understand what life is like for our Troops and are generally unaware of the issues that face them. Beyond buying a yellow ribbon, most Americans do not know how to tangibly support the Troops. 

IAVA bridges the gap between the military and the public by connecting American civilians with Veterans and Troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and empowers citizens to support the Troops and become more engaged in our nation's decisions regarding how our military is used and cared for. IAVA highlights the concerns of our soldiers both at home and abroad, including issues like underfunded veterans' programs, the armor shortage, Stop Loss, and the problematic use of private contractors, so that these problems can quickly be remedied.

The 100 Clubs

A longstanding member of the San Antonio 100 Club, I joined the Houston area 100 Club this month, which covers Liberty County as well. Established in Houston, Texas in 1953, The 100 Club is a well-recognized organization within the communities it serves. The 100 Club began when 100 men, each contributing $100, wanted to help the families of Houston Police Officers that were killed in the line of duty.

The effort put forth by these men has developed into a half century of support for law enforcement in not only Harris County, but seventeen surrounding counties Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Liberty, Madison, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller, and Washington counties. In October 2001, The 100 Club reached another milestone in its history by providing benefits to the dependents of Firefighters killed on the line of duty.

The continued growth of The 100 Club is only possible through its members and donations made from the community. Your membership helps The 100 Club continue to support the Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters that protect you.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Joseph Pierson

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Never Forget
Read the 9/11/06 EvenHand Journal entry, "To Never Forget" by Kevin Boyle

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