You, Cap’n Rufus “Tater” Jenkins of the Cornsqueezins’ County Sheriff’s Office, had a long night answering call after call—he-saids, she-saids, chasing a Peeping Tom through back yards and alleys, a couple of drunks arguing over a near-empty bottle of Strawberry Hill, kids spray-painting stop signs, and the guy who insisted he was Jesus and attempted to prove it by damning you to hell a few dozen times after you refused to give him ten dollars for a hamburger he promised to repay on Tuesday.
Yep, a looonnnggg night and it was only half over when Jimmy Bob “Peanut” Lawson, Jr. decided to join forces with his good friend Jack Daniels to blacken both his wife’s eyes.
Well, Erlene, the wife, wasn’t about to stand for that nonsense so she poked ‘ol Peanut in the gut a couple of times with a dull kitchen knife. Didn’t break the skin, mind you, but the act was just enough to send Peanut off the deep end. Oh, he was plenty mad about it, a yellin’ and screamin’ and a stompin’ his Doc Martens across the linoleum, and kicking at Porkchop, the family’s adopted and long ago retired police dog. But Porkchop, having been to this freak show one too many times in the past, was a nervous wreck and knew to stay six or seven dog-dish-lengths away from his master’s size twelves.
Porkchop, having seen his better days, religiously adheres to the seven dog-dish rule of thumb.
After about ten minutes of plate, bowl, and pot-and-pan-throwing, one of the kids, a snot-nosed, freckle-faced boy, aptly named Junior Lawson, Jr., of around ten or so years of age, picked up the cordless and punched the speed dial button for 911.
That’s where you show up with lights and siren blazing and blaring to all get out. And Peanut, a Friday night regular, meets you in the dirt and weed-infested driveway, huffing and puffing like an old-time, coal-fired locomotive engine. In each hand, a backyard chicken he’d been choking in preparation of the Sunday noon meal.
Peanut is well-known in his town as a backyard chicken-choker.
Now here’s where things could get a little dicey. So it’s best to run down the checklist before diving right in. You know, size him up. Is Peanut armed this time? Is he really going to attack? Or, is all that chest-thumping and Tarzan-yelling just a show for the neighbors? Well, you’d better find out in a hurry because he’s starting to spin like the Tasmanian Devil.
So how can you tell if this guy means business, or not? Well, there are a few telltale signs that could help you evaluate the situation since weapons and other items that are capable of puncturing your flesh, bones, and organs should be your first concern.
Here are some common indicators that Peanut, or the cousin visiting from the big city who’s standing off to the side of the trailer, is carrying a hidden gun or knife. Some are obvious, while others … not so much.
The first is a clear indicator.
Cousin Jimmy Buck from Swamp Holler, West Virginia
Signs the Suspect May Be Carrying a Weapon
1. It’s 97 degrees outside and Peanut, standing smack-dab in the center of the intersection at 9th and Main, is wearing his heavily-insulated, knee-length, blood-stained orange hunting coat. Yes, Einstein, he’s probably wearing it to hide a sawed-off shotgun, the one Daddy gave him for Christmas when he was three.
2. The tail of his flannel shirt is out, but one side is riding higher than the other. A great sign that he’s wearing a weapon on the “high side.”
3. Even wearing a shirt tail on the outside is a sign that he might be carrying a weapon. Unfortunately, it’s also a sign known to bad guys, which means they might recognize you as an undercover officer.
Signs that Peanut is about to attempt to stomp your butt into the mud
1. For some unknown reason, many offenders/would-be attackers seem to feel the need to rip off their shirts prior to delivering the first blow. So, when a drunk starts ripping cloth and zinging buttons across the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, well, that might be a good time to reach for the pepper spray because he’s subtly announced his intentions.
The standard shirt-ripping ritual is usually accompanied by lots of top-of-the-lung screaming and yelling, especially nasty comments about your wife and mother. Nasty comments about the family dog are optional.
2. Another clue that Peanut is about “go for it” is when he starts glancing at a particular spot on your body, like your throat, stomach, or even a knee. Instantly, you should go on alert for a possible strike to that area because Peanut is announcing his intentions and he’s ready to pounce. Watch the eyes, for sure, but more importantly watch the hands.
3. Peanut constantly glances to a spot behind you, or to a place off to your right just out of your line of sight. Watch out, because his partner may be approaching for a rear ambush. And, his partner just might be Mrs. Peanut. Yes, even though her “loving husband” had just moments ago beat the ever-loving snot out of her she’ll often defend her man until the bitter end. Unfortunately, the end sometimes results in a funeral … hers.
These quick glances are also good indicators that Peanut has a hidden weapon nearby. For example, you’ve stopped Peanut for drunk driving and he’s constantly glancing toward the glove compartment. Well, there’s a good chance that a weapon or other illegal items are concealed there.
The Spud family
4. The Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home – You arrive on scene and you approach Peanut, who is standing still, staring off into space. His jaw is clenched and he’s sweating profusely, even though you’re both standing in two feet of freshly-fallen New England snow (New England snow, to me, is the coldest snow on the planet). He doesn’t respond to you in any way, but you see the anger rising. Face is growing redder by the second. Veins poking out on his forehead. Eyes bulging. Yeah, you get the idea. Believe me, it is time to take a step back and start pulling every tool you’ve got on your duty belt because this guy’s getting ready to blow. Silence is definitely not golden in this case.
5. Peanut might be a “I’m not going to look at you” kind of personality. This is another indicator that an assault may be on the way. If he’s staring at place on the ground, refusing to listen and obey your verbal commands, then be prepared for an attack. At the very least, be prepared for a battle when the time comes to snap on the cuffs.
I guess a good rule of thumb is to always assume the worst, hope for the best.
Sometimes “the worst” happens when Mrs. Peanut becomes fed up with her abusive husband. Next thing you know she’s living in Swamp Holler with Cousin Jimmy Buck in his new doublewide.