Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
IT’S A BLUNDERFUL LIFE
On a snowy Christmas Eve in rural upstate New York, a despondent man leans over the rail of a metal bridge. Suddenly a police cruiser pulls up. The cop gets out and yells, “Hey George! You all right?”
The man looks up and says, “Now get outta here, Bert, or I’ll hit you again!”
“What the Sam Hill you yellin’ for, George?” the cop says.
“Bert, do you know me?” the man replies softly.
“Know ya? I’ve been looking all over town trying to find you. I saw your car piled into that tree down there and I though maybe— Hey, your mouth’s bleeding.”
“My mouth’s bleeding, Bert!” the man shouts. “My mouth— Zuzu’s petals. There they are! Bert, WHATAYA KNOW ABOUT THAT?!! Merry Christmas!!”
The man thrusts both arms into the air in utter joy, and as he starts to run, the officer wrestles him to the ground and slaps on a pair of handcuffs.
“Bert, what are you doing?!” the man screams. “I’ve got to see Mary!”
“You have the right to remain silent…” the cop recites.
Meanwhile, back at the Bedford Falls Municipal Court House, a hastily-assembled crew of social workers, lawyers, witnesses, and the entire Bailey family are preparing for an emergency custody hearing of the Department of Family Services.
As soon as George is brought into the room a senior social worker begins the hearing by approaching the bench. “We implore this court, your honor, to take action immediately on two fronts: number one, remove these four young victims from a dysfunctional and dangerous situation and put them in foster care.” She then looks directly at George and continues, “And number two, remove this vile man from the streets of Bedford Falls forever!”
The social worker proceeds to list the evidence against George.
“At the age of twenty-two Mr. Bailey crashed the Bedford Falls High School graduation party and started a riot by jumping into the swimming pool.
“Later that evening, he removed the bathrobe of an 18-year-old girl, Ms. Mary Hatch, forcing her to flee into the bushes naked, and then repeatedly harassed her by refusing to give her the bathrobe.
“A few years later he propositioned another young lady, Ms. Violet Bick, right on Main Street. He asked her to spend the night with him on Mt. Bedford, where they would take off their shoes and run barefoot through the grass.
“After Ms. Bick refused his perverted advances, Mr. Bailey went to the Hatch home. He kicked in the front gate of the fence, entered the home, and began arguing with young Ms. Hatch and her mother. At the height of the argument, during a long-distance phone call, no less, Mr. Bailey grabbed Ms. Hatch by the shoulders, screamed in her face, shook her violently, and—as often happens during sexual assaults—suddenly turned his rage into lust and began to kiss and fondle the terrified young woman.
“Which brings us to today,” the social worker says. “This afternoon Mr. Bailey roughed up his uncle Billy by grabbing his shoulders, screaming in his face, and shaking him violently. Apparently Mr. Bailey’s favorite bullying technique.
“Early this evening Mr. Bailey verbally abused a local school teacher, Mrs. Welch, over the phone. He then verbally abused his own wife and children, kicked over a table in the living room, and threw objects against the wall. A next-door neighbor will testify that she clearly heard his wife plead, and I quote, ‘George, why must you torture the children?!’
“That’s not all, your honor,” the social worker explains. “Officer Bert informs me that Mr. Bailey will be charged with a long list of criminal offenses, including public drunkenness; assault and battery, stemming from a barroom brawl this evening; driving under the influence; reckless endangerment; and failure to drive in the proper lane, as he crashed his car into a tree.”
“I’ve heard enough!” the judge declares. “Put those children into foster care immediately, and take Mr. Bailey into custody for criminal arraignment on December 26th at 10 a.m.” He pounds the gavel and announces, “This hearing is concluded.”
George slumps in his chair and moans, “I wish I’d never been born!”
The social worker looks over and sneers, “Yes, George, so do most of the women and children in Bedford Falls.”
As George is dragged away to a jail cell, his younger brother Harry echoes the thoughts of the entire community when he says, “My big brother George: the sickest man in town.”
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