Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Weekend In The Life.

A Weekend In The Life: A True Story.

Back in the age of the stegosaurus when I was an assistant county attorney I often did the mental health hearings on Friday morning. Usually what would happen was people went off their meds and started acting out, and the ever helpful Craig Busch from the MCSO was there to provide transport to the state mental hospital at Clarinda.

Usually the person being transported would thereby score a lunch at the Northside Cafe courtesy of the county so it was a pretty fair deal all the way around. A good lunch is good medicine for many ailments, I think.

Craig, now retired, is a big brotherly sort with an extensive knowledge of families and their relationships in the county as he has grown up within them and among them. Such knowledge pays dividends when as sometimes happened someone had to be talked out of something that was ill advised at best. One of the other deputies, Gary Davis, attained a sort of fame by talking a man armed with a shotgun down off the outdoor stairway alongside a downtown bar that led up to a few cheap apartments. In so doing he prevented a much greater tragedy from unfolding.

Stories were told about Rex by my mentor Lew, elder statesman of the bar in the county. Rex was the sheriff in the sixties and seventies I think. Rex never wore a uniform, only overalls, work boots, a white tee shirt and a seed cap. In the front pocket of his overalls was a rusty Colt single action revolver that had never been fired in human memory.

Rex never arrested people or swore out warrants. He would simply call and say "This is Rex. Get your ass down to the jail." and that person had time ot have a shower, eat breakfast and turn himself in at the old jail downtown

That's how the stories went about Rex.

One day was different for reasons that will be revealed.

The hearing pretty much followed the script until the guy asked if he could go on Monday morning so as to spend the weekend with his family. As nobody seemed to have any objections it was agreed to.

I got the distinct sense that the guy, a sandy haired fellow in his late twenties, expressed a relaxation of sorts-as if he'd been holding his breath and let it out as something, some course of action out of his suffering had been arrived at.

What we didn't know, couldn't know was that the resolution he'd arrived at in that moment was fatal. Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I can't remember which, he took his father's rifle, walked up into the timber and shot himself to death.

Monday morning was awfully quiet around the courthouse as I busied myself with some menial shuffling of papers and tried to understand what had happened.