One of the weirdest moments in my life happened nearly eight years ago and it taught me something about training, education and how we approach firearms. The thing about training is that you train when you don’t need it, hoping you’ll never need it. But when you do need it, it comes in mighty handy.
I once spent a week in armorer’s classes and one of the LE folks attending asked me what I was working so hard towards. I looked up and him and I said, “Life, motherfucker. What are you here for? Department-mandated recurrent?”
I then made a joke about either donuts or ticket quotas. He gave glared at me and left me alone as I went back to reviewing a parts diagram. At the time, I thought it was a waste of time. In time, I would be proved wrong.
Saturday – March 13, 2010
Beware, the ides of March, the soothsayer said. The soothsayer was right. This is/was not a drill. On Saturday, March 13, 2010 my Blackberry (remember those?) buzzed. The time ws 11:45PM.
FC: Hey babe, what’s shaking?
Karen: I’m having a crisis
Karen dated investment bankers EXCLUSIVELY and lived in Dallas. She had two masters degrees and was halfway to her doctorate at UT Dallas. She worked in finance and had more cars with horses on their hoods than most men will ever dream of. She had a house in NRH with a detached four-car garage. When she filled it, she had four Ben Pearson four-post lifts installed so she could get four more in there.
You could say we got along splendidly the first time we met.
FC: Let me guess, your Ferarri is in the shop again? Oh wait your firm’s private jet has to stop in Halifax to refuel to get to London?
Karen: I’m at my parents’ place. And they’re treating me like crap. I have to get out of here.
She was choking back tears, I could hear her gasping for breath inbetween sentences. She had never called me for help. Ever.
FC: Alright, send the address to me. You have my Blackberry messenger handle right?
Karen: Yeah. I’ll be here. I really need you to get here as soon as you can.
FC: Sit tight. I’m on the way.
I got in my F350 and hauled ass up the highway. She was 25 minutes up the road in the boonies outside Baton Rouge, just past Zachary. I got to her parent’s house just after midnight.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Don’t ever rule up to someone’s house on the bayou unexpected at midnight. That’s an easy way to get yourself shot and there are a lot of hungry gators in them parts. It’s a good way to wind up as gator bait. I called her, but there was no answer. I called her again. I left her a voicemail telling her I was at the end of the driveway by the mailbox.
Next thing I know, I heard the following unmistakable sounds.
(sound of door opening)
Karen: I HATE YOU! YOU ARE THE WORST PARENTS EVER! I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT YOU WOULD TREAT ME THIS WAY! I AM NEVER COMING BACK HERE EVER AGAIN!
(sound of door slamming)
I reached into my center console and pulled out a .357 magnum Smith Model 686 and a bottle of Flintstones chewable vitamins. I had a feeling I’d need one of them that night. I popped a Barney as I realized this wasn’t going to end well. I tucked the .357 into the small of my back as I stepped off the nerf bar.
The next sound I hear is the low guttural drone of two rollaboard suitcases being dragged down a concrete driveway.
This is not good, I thought to myself.
She arrived at the mailbox with excess baggage in more ways than one. Her left hand had the handles of the two suitcases. In her right, she was clutching eight pairs of stripper shoes by the laces/heels with a PowerBook tucked under her arm along with her Birkin bag.
I threw her bags in the back of my truck and helped her into the front seat. I noticed she smells like a Lagavulin distillery and her eyes were more bloodshot than the plate of a pittsburgh style filet served at Ruths Chris I had the night before.
My plan was to get her to IHOP, get some coffee in her down from her problems. Then get her back to her parents’ place. As the fellows in the USMC are fond of saying, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. I was about to find out how right they are.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Karen started crying her eyes out and telling me about the emotional abuse she’s suffered from her parents. She had been adopted and they treated her badly. Her mother then called her and Karen cried and screamed at her on the phone as I pulled onto the highway. She sobbed loudly and told her mom that she was already tried to kill herself once and neither one of them give a sh!t.
Although my 7.3 liters of Navistar-built diesel puts down 500 ft/lbs of torque, it’s no match for the weight of the emotion-filled fifth wheel from hell I had just picked up.
Now, my plan involved being out in public. If I took her to a restaurant or a diner like this, there is a 100% chance someone would call the cops and even though I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to spend the night in jail for appearing to have abused this poor woman.
One thing my friend Paul told me is that there’s only one thing you can do with a hysterical woman. You can’t fix it, but you can calm her down and get her stable and deal with it later. Of all the possible outcomes, that was as good as we were gonna get that night.
As I drove back at exactly the speed limit, the hysterical sobbing and the cries for help continued on the phone all the way back to my ranch. Her battery gave out 15 minutes into the conversation and she threw her phone out the window as I pulled off the highway.
I guess pressing ‘end’ just isn’t enough for some folks.
We were back at Maison du FC. As I open the door, she tried to get out and stumbled nto my arms again. I got her upright next to my truck grabbed her things and we got to my front door where I dumped everything in the foyer. She sat down at my dining room table and started bawling her eyes out.
I’d apparently gone into this head first. Just like Pete Rose.
That’s when I realized that I was in a prison without bars.
FC: Karen, you want a drink?
I grabbed a bottle of Buffalo Trace and two glasses. I cracked the seal and poured her one finger and two for myself. She grabbed my glass.
I told her that I too had issues with my father. She asked how I overcame them. I took her by the arm and lead her into my den where I pointed at the bronze urn that contains my father’s cremated remains.
FC: That’s how.
Karen: What are you talking about?
FC: I never overcame anything with him. Jack Daniels killed my father so I didn’t have to.
Karen: I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that question.
FC: It’s okay. You didn’t know.
Karen: How long has he been gone?
FC: Lets see. It’s 2AM. So in about 12 hours, exactly 365 days.
Karen: YOUR DAD DIED AT 2PM?
Karen: ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR?
Karen started to sway and I caught her wrist midair. She looks at me and starts crying uncontrollably again and we hug. I took her back to the dining room table and she asked me to grab her Birkin from the foyer. I headed back to grab it, returning to the table to see she’d poured herself an entire glass of bourbon – neat. A full eight ounces.
If I didn’t stop her, I’d end up taking her to the ER for an activated charcoal intervention. I took the bottle and put it back in the cabinet. She asks me to get her asthma inhaler out of her bag.
I open the bag and found a GLOCK 23. She always had an affinity for .40’s, both the caliber and the beverage vessel.
Just a recap:
She was stinking drunk.
She was angry at her parents.
She’d already claimed to have made at least one attempt at suicide.
Now, I’m not an expert at relationships, but there are a few things I’d picked up over the years. One of them is that you don’t take anything from a woman’s purse without permission. EVER.
I reached into her bag and grazed the extractor/loaded chamber indicator as I fished around for her inhaler. The extractor was flush with the slide. I’m not 100% positive but I did it again on the way back up. The chamber wass clear. I slid the purple hockey puck over to her and she took her medicine. She cried some more and talked some more as she drank some more bourbon. I told her when she sees the bottom of that glass, we’re going to sleep so drink wisely.
She unloaded even more on me and asked me what burned the bridge between my dad and me.
My old philosophy professor, who dressed up as God on the first day of class (!) decided the first impression he would make with us was throwing us a line. He opened his power point and the slide read:
Are we willing to do the right thing for the wrong reasons or the wrong thing for the right reasons?
Years of Catholic school had prepared me for this moment.
Forgive me father, for I am about to sin….
I told her about how terrible my dad was and the times he was insensitive as all hell to my brother and me and treated me like an employee rather than a son. About how he would lie to me over and over again. About how he would promise me things and never deliver.
She began bawling her eyes out hysterically and hyperventilating. Which was exactly what I wanted her to do.
Yes, I lied to her. I manipulated her feelings. And I will admit both those things are wrong.
Considering the circumstances, it was the right thing to do because as she bawled loudly, the sound of her tears masked the sound of me going into her bag removing the loaded magazine from her pistol.
When she turned her head to get more Kleenex from the box that I tactically positioned behind and to her right, she wouldn’t see me pocket the magazine.
She finished her glass and I got her suitcases out of the foyer and took them to the guest bedroom. I rolled both bags in to find that she’d grabbed my bottle of Buffalo Trace again and was drinking it straight from the bottle. You know what? Fuck it. She went to Tulane. She knows how to party.
I make up the bed for her as she took a shower. Even after that, she still reeked of alcohol and poor life decisions. Not all that different than the four years she spent at Tulane.
I tucked her in and I told her we’d deal with everything in the morning. I put a bottle of water and four Advil next to the nightstand.
It was 4:00 a.m. I had company coming later in the day. This sucked.
My alarm went off at 8:00 a.m. My contacts were stuck to my eyes and after a 10 minute long fight, I declare victory. Against all odds, Karen was already awake and sitting at my table with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. And there’s a fifth of stoli on my counter that was not on my counter last night.
I grabbed my Blackberry, called her mother and asked her to drive over here and get this mess out of my house. I has company coming over later in the day and I wanted to make her problem her problem again. When the arrived, they began apologizing, but i wasn’t having any of it.
I told them she needs help and to get her to an inpatient facility or group therapy or something. They took her, her suitcases, her stripper shoes and her laptop. I told them her Blackberry was somewhere in the vicinity of the offramp from US 190.
I headed back to my desk, took the loaded magazine out of my pocket and threw it in a desk drawer.
All things considered, am I proud for lying to her and manipulating her and making her cry (even more)? Absolutely not. However, given the circumstances, I had needed to do something to get that magazine out of her gun. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I like to think that maybe I made a difference. We’ll never really truly know what was banging around in that head of hers.
The good news is Karen made it through that rough patch and she’s doing better now. She has yet to ask for her magazine back.
I’m tempted to have it mounted on a plaque, a testament to the ingenuity of friendship.