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Friday, January 25, 2008

A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

I would call it a case of personal mistaken identity, as in “you are not who you think you are.” Curtis Hamilton, age 26, was a civilian employee of the Atlanta Police Department (motto, “Pride, Productivity, Professionalism and Participation”) and had been accepted for training at their police academy. As is done with all new recruits, Curtis was subjected to an ID search through the Georgia Information Net and the FBI Identity Search. And that was when his photo popped up, with a fur parka hood tightly bound around his head. The photo was taken at 11:03 AM on January 25, 2007, as he robbed the Wachovia Bank branch on Concord Pike, in Wilmington, Delaware. Curtis had told the teller he had a gun and left behind a package he claimed was a bomb. It was not. But Curtis’ new career in law enforcement was a real bomb, and he is now being extradited back to Delaware to face a 1st degree robbery charge. Perhaps next time Curtis should try a little more professionalism and a little less participation.
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And speaking of bombs, last week a janitor found a suspicious package in the parking garage of an apartment building in Goteborg, Sweden. When he put his ear near it, the package seemed to be faintly humming and vibrating. He called the cops and they called in the bomb squad. Such discoveries were once a reasonably common occurrence for a city known for anarchist street brawls and Death Metal music; a dull ugly industrial port town of half a million people at the mouth of the Gota River. It’s the kind of town where Swedish efficiency meets a high suicide rate, and it would have been no surprise if someone wanted to blow up one of the mass produced apartment complexes that house workers for the Volvo or Hasselblad plants. But in this case there was no bomb. What was vibrating in the package was… a vibrator. And now that I think about it, there are some very lovely parts of Goteborg, with the wide canals and that death metal music can be very enchanting, at times, and then there is that whole healthy Swedish attitude toward sexual freedom. Still a police spokesman said that they don’t expect anyone to claim the abandoned vibrator. Perhaps there are some needy poor Swedish sex addicts who could us one? It will need new batteries. But it has been used just once; by a bomb squad.
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It’s not often that a farmhand gets swallowed up by his work, but it happened in Australia recently. Normally Zac Fitzgerald along with Jason Green cares for and feeds the huge unpredictable “salties” for the entertainment of tourists at Marrakai Station Crocodile Farm, about 75 miles west of Darwin. They call them farmhands because to call them croc-hands would invite derision. Anyway, at about 5pm two of these experienced “farmers” were searching the salt water marshes from a boat and a small helicopter, and collecting eggs from nests of the notoriously bad tempered wild saltwater crocs. The eggs are collected to restock the farms with a diverse gene pool.
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It takes two to do the collecting because while one worker grabs the eggs the second watches for the momma “saltie”. But in this case, just as Jason was finishing a nest, momma managed to sneak past Zac and clamp her jaws down on Jason’s arm and began “…crushing about very violently”. Zac immediately pulled his pistol and fired. Unfortunately before the bullet hit the croc (if it hit the croc) it hit Jason first. The croc let go either because of the noise or the bullet, and Jason was immediately flown to the Royal Darwin Hospital. A Hospital spokesperson tactfully described his wounds this way; “His elbow is completely shattered…and he’s got a bite from a crocodile.”
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Jason will require a second surgery to repair the damage to his elbow. But in typical Aussie fashion he told his boss, “I don’t think I’ll be at work for a couple of days.” And then, in regards to his deadeye mate, Zac, Jason wryly observed, “Thank God he’s a good shot” When “farmer” Nick Burns returned to the scene of the great egg snatch he found the momma “saltie”, as happy and healthy as a reptile can be, squatting atop her nest and hissing her disdain at the hovering humans. Burns explained, “She was…alive and well and looking us straight in the eye.” And she was also apparently uninjured by any gun shots.
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Not so lucky was the owner of Arthur, a chocolate Labrador retriever, who was evidently fed up with his master’s annoying habit of letting the brave dog dive into ice cold water, swim hundreds of yards, grab a dead duck or goose, drag it back to dry land and then suffering the insult when the human claimed the carcass for himself, as if he had had been the hunter, and not the dog.. As Texas police reconstructed the crime scene, the human owner, 46 year old Parry Alvin Price, had just placed yet another dead goose fetched by Arthur into the back of his pickup, next to his loaded shotgun, along with Arthur, when, suddenly Parry was cut down by a shot gun blast right through the closed tailgate. Parry later died from blood loss at a Houston hospital. And nobody suspected the innocent enthusiastic doggie until some cat lover noticed that Arthur’s paw prints were all over the trigger guard. Bad doggy, Arthur, bad dog!

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