How An Old Lady Restored
Peace And Quiet To Her Town
© Copyright 2019 by Kathryn Lynch
Neighbors were shocked and outraged when someone shot the 82 year old man in the head and left him bleeding to death on the floor of his own home. It was generally believed to be the work of street punks since his TV and music system had gone missing at the same time The old man was well known locally for his family had lived for two or three generations in the town. He had raised two sons and a daughter there, outliving his spouse, growing old exchanging pleasantries with the locals. Friends said that he had no enemies and that he was unlikely to badmouth or speak negatively about anyone.
The local paper featured a long story about his tragic death. There was something so unfair and un-karma like when it came to hurting defenseless old folks. The old man had been a Lieutenant in the VietNam War, coming home after six years with greying hair and untold, horrible stories. He went to work at the paper mill, where his steady work ethic and quiet demeanor kept him employed for fifty years. He was the ever present Dad when there were problems at school, or baseball games to be seen and enjoyed. He had been shattered by the death of his wife, though he kept his feelings inside and did not share his grief easily. His adult children had tired of the sleepy town and moved elsewhere, leaving him alone in the family home. The garden shrubs and flowers in the back yard, once his personal pride, were withering now, not because no one cared, but because this callous act had taken their Caretaker.
“Ours was just not that kind of town!”, mused the reporter. After some reflection, he declared that the town had slipped into the swamp of big city mentality where the marginal element took what they wanted no matter what the personal cost to others.
The local county Sheriff and his deputies, though poorly trained, were intensely interested in solving the crime, working long hours to find “justice for a local boy”. The evidence expert who was lent to them by a neighboring big city had located no suspicious dna or fingerprints. If he had found any, the evidence would have taken months to be tested, for there was no crime lab nearby for them to use. They had conducted an extensive search for the murder weapon but it would never be found. The old man's TV and music system was located at the pawn shop. The form consigning it to the pawnbroker listed the names of two men with a local address which had turned out to be a vacant, garbage strewn lot.
Billy Boy and Jake had grown up in an adjacent big city. They had eluded police there, setting their sights on new turf, roaring into town one night, determined to take whatever they chose after neutralizing any resistance. They were regarded by the young as “street punks” and by older people as “thugs.”
In the daytime, they kept a low profile, avoiding the “Working Stiffs”. Their two forays consisted of visiting the pawn shop with stolen goods, and cruising a neighborhood to spot the easy pickings that would be available after dark. When the sun went down, they became brutal, lawless, unfeeling predators, pouncing on the distracted, the unsuspecting, and the defenseless.
On the evening that the old man was killed, his neighbor lady came to his house expecting to share a home cooked meal. Few people realized that they were special friends as they had grown up in a time when personal relationships which enjoyed intimacy, were private. Entering with the key in her possession, she found him on the floor, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound to the head. Lying down next to him, she held him close for a long time, rocking back and forth, moaning in anguish, tears of loss flowing down her face into the pool of blood which had accumulated around his head. On the outside, her clothing and arms were saturated with blood. Inside, a steely resolve crept into the emptiness which pervaded her spirit. These Creeps are “going to PAY”, she concluded. Under the cover of darkness, she slipped back to her own home.
The next week there was another murder. Sammy Dearborn lay, glazed eyes staring at the sun, in front of the High Spirits Bar. He had been in the Bar the night before, drinking until he became obnoxious and unwelcome. He was asked to leave, but all who might have witnessed this denied seeing him outside. Someone saw him, of course, because blood had pooled on the ground from a bullet hole in his head.
Dearborn spent his nights getting drunk and cajoling any woman (married or otherwise) into his bed. During the day he kicked out his companions and prepared for a return trip to the bars. He did not work, content to hustle drinks paid for by lonely women.
The Sheriff,s deputies could find no evidence leading to his killer. In fact, they had little incentive to bust their chops to solve the case of a drunk. The murder investigation soon slowed to a crawl.
Matthew Ricci had come to town to see Big Justin, who was reputed to have meth, coke, heroin, and weed available for a price. Ricci was a meth junkie who paid BJ for drugs with the money he made granting favors for lonely men looking for company near the ocean beach. He was HIV positive, but Ricci needed money, so the favors were not denied. This mutual business arrangement continued until one afternoon when one of the dealer's neighbors called 9-1-1 to report “a foul smell”.
Big Justin lay face down on the sofa in his living room. The blood from the head shot had drained to the floor where it mixed with mounds of white powder forming a repulsive red paste. Ricci seemed almost “balanced” because the bullet which had exorcised the top of his head now matched the lower half of his face which had sunk inward when his teeth had begun the meth-rotting process.
The gun used was the same one used to shoot Dearborn. Deputies speculated that the town's lowlifes were now in danger from an unknown exterminator. In the Station, they privately cheered for this killer. In a public press conference, they hid their cheers and called him the “Thug Buster”.
The local hospital had a big problem in their Emergency Room. Every day drug users paced about the hospital doors dreaming up schemes to convince the young doctors inside that their “pain” needed some medical relief. Some became experts in the symptoms of a terrible fall. Others presented with chest problems—shortness of breath, heart palpitations, unbearable pain. One of the more elaborate fakes involved rolling a gurney outside the hospital, strapping in an addict, and rolling him at a fast pace into the area where the doctors were located. “Pain medication” would be administered by the attending physician in order to calm the “victim” enough for a proper diagnosis.
On this particular afternoon the addict outside was strapped in carefully, but his roller buddies were nowhere to be found. No pain killers had been necessary for a diagnosis as he had been shot in the head, blood pooling on the cement where strangers entering the hospital had tracked in a trail of red prints all the way to the Admissions Desk.
Same gun. Thug Buster had struck again.
The pawnbroker and the neighbor lady had been friends since elementary school. He described Billy Boy and Jake so accurately that she had only to park outside the pawn shop to wait. After they conducted their business, she followed the two of them until they entered a rental in a run down area. She took them by surprise. Jake fell as the bullet smashed into his skull; a spray of blood akin to the discharge generated by a water pistol spewing on his companion. Holding the gun against Billy Boy's sweating and whimpering face, she fired again. Carefully wiping prints, she placed the weapon in the downed man's hand.
On a warm, sunny afternoon, the old man's adult children and some of his close friends assembled in an attorney's office to review the provisions of the old man's Will. Each son received a sum of money and the daughter got title to his car. The family home where the old man had been killed was wanted by no one. It was quietly handed over to the neighbor lady for her to restore the garden, clean up the premises, and post it for sale.
In time the garden was restored, The home was cleaned thoroughly but when it was posted for sale, no prospective buyers wanted a home which had been the scene of a homicide. The neighbor lady became the permanent caretaker, maintaining the home for vacation visits from the old man's children and grandchildren as well as the members of her own family. The property was maintained with funds earned between family visits by bed and breakfast reservations from tourists looking forward to vacations in a quiet town bordering the ocean.
The Sheriff's Department determined that Billy Boy and Jake had been killed by Thug Buster. They surmised that a warlike atmosphere had developed among the lowlifes in the small town. Thug Buster most likely had killed to consolidate power and respect from his peer group of killers, thieves and crooks. Fear had seeped into the town's marginal citizens who supported themselves through illegal activities Many moved away for their own personal safety. As a result, the town was quiet and peaceful now, just as it used to be, in spite of the unsolved murders.
On an evening much as this one, when both the Sheriff and his wife had consumed at least two glasses of wine before a home-cooked meal, the officer's wife admitted to him that Thug Buster, was in fact, her own mom. Her identity has never been revealed,