Crime of Necessity?
Our reporter, Brent Green was not on assignment when he was trapped in a booth between two titans of local law enforcement at a local coffee shop. The debate is recorded here. Larry
What if I told you the number one problem on area Golf Courses over the last two years is number one? No, that's not a misprint, nor a conundrum. Number one is the number one problem. At least, it is if you look at police blotters over that time period. Yes, I'm talking about Golfers going number one - relieving themselves and their bladders - in semiprivate spots just off the official playing areas of our County's well-manicured Golfing facilities.
After receiving an anonymous tip, this reporter checked both the Persimmon Pines Police log and the Traylor County Sheriff Department's yellowed scratchpad of semiofficial entries. The result seems to indicate that both complaints and arrests for public urination on and around Golf properties is on the rise.
Persimmon Pines Police Chief Candy Stazniack says there's a problem. "Whipping it out in public is against several Town ordinances I can think of right off the top of my head," she said recently over coffee at Uruguay Cafe -- the new hot spot in Town recently opened by former undocumented Golf Course workers.
We had been discussing the issue for an hour as Isnelda Orchestrada, topped off our coffee cups - again. The Chief continued. "I've heard all the excuses, too." I could see the fire in Stazniack's eyes as she faced down vivid memories. "Some guys tell you their bladder's small - their prostate's enlarged - they've got some kind of kidney problem." She snorted and took another sip of coffee. "I don't want to get crude here. But, I understand that goin' pee pee is normal. We all do it. Right?" I nodded, but not too quickly -- so as not to put too much pressure on my coffee-filled bladder. "But, Brent, the problem is the Law don't make exceptions for guys who wanna find relief within eyeshot of some defenseless 80 year-old woman with a pair of binoculars. So, when the call comes in. Somebody's gotta hit the siren and lights and rundown whoever's floppin' that bad boy out in public. You know?"
Just then, Traylor County Sheriff Orville Wilburite walked in, spotted us in the booth and strolled over. "Brent...Chief. What's up?" I explained our discussion of the recent increase in reports of public urination on and around Golf Courses. The Sheriff pushed in beside me and motioned to Isnelda to bring over a cup of coffee.
"Yeah...big problem." Isnelda topped off my cup as she filled the Sheriff's. "But, I gotta admit, I got sympathy for guys who get caught two holes short of the next restroom."
The Chief cut in. "But, Sheriff. Face it. You don't see women squattin' behind a bush just off the tee."
It was the Chief who broke the awkward silence as she pulled a notepad out of her breast pocket and began reading. "Sheriff, we both know you have eye witnesses and even photographic evidence of public urination activity on our local courses." She closed her notepad and looked directly at Wilburite.
The "informal" meeting was taking a different tone. Wilburite looked at Stazniack and took a long draw from a steaming cup of coffee that would have seared the lips of less experienced men. Steam puffed from his mouth as he put down his coffee. "So, this is about your 'Pee Posse,' huh Chief?"
The Chief turned up her volume. "Most of this activity seems to happen on your watch, Orville."
"That's only because three of your four 'ladies' live in My County - and the one who lives in your jurisdiction has cataracts."
"They know what they've seen. And, so do I."
I was, obviously, caught in the middle of a long-standing disagreement between these two area law enforcement giants. I looked to Sheriff Wilburite for an explanation.
He shook his head and sighed. "I've chased down a lot of leads - listened to old ladies talk about just exactly where they saw some guy with a Golf club slinking behind a bush - or leanin' against a tree in a suspicious manner. But, I've never actually caught anybody in the act."
Chief Stazniack seemed to have heard this all before. Her face turned crimson as she leaned forward - talking in staccato bursts like an illegally modified semiautomatic. "You know who they are, Orville. You got witnesses. Good ones. They'll testify in Court."
The Sheriff exhaled a long, deep coffee-breath. "They ain't witnesses. They’re vigilantes. You recruited ‘em for your dirty little job, Chief.”
"I know who they are." Stazniack turned to me, pleading her case, "They've all called my office, too. I've tried to get officers out to the scene while the offense is still being committed but, we always seem to get there after the fly is up."
I nodded...appearing to understand the problem.
"It's very involved getting DNA evidence off tree bark and poison ivy. Last time we got a sample to the State Lab, it turned out to be dog wee."
Sheriff Wilburite leaned forward earnestly. "The only hard evidence I've ever gotten is from Crustacea Sputz. She's the only one with a telephoto lens on her camera. But, her hands shake too much for the pictures to let us see beyond a shadow of a doubt who the 'pee-patrator' is."
I couldn't help it. I snickered. If two of us found the Sheriff's word play humorous, there was one who didn't. "You can't poo-poo that evidence," said Stazniack.
The Sheriff kept smiling. "I'm not, Chief. With good police work, you should never 'poo-poo' something that's 'pee-pee.'"
Stazniack stood up and pounded her fist on the table. It landed hard enough to stop the snickering and knock the spoon out of my cup - flipping coffee on my t-shirt. She pointed at me. "That's why I sent you the anonymous note!" Then, she leveled both barrels at the Sheriff. "You're not doing anything about this problem.” The Chief squirted out of the booth and stood.
Isnelda strolled over. "More coffee?" The Chief waved at Stazniack’s cup. "Yeah! To the top. Him, too.” My bladder felt like the over-full, steaming cup in front of me. The Chief rearranged her mace, taser, cuffs and handgun and sat down again. "Well?"
Wilburite removed his hat; a sign of truce. "Candy, it's the same four women - all in their 80s - who have binoculars and a morbid curiosity about who’s peeing in the woods where no one can see them."
Chief Stazniack banged her forehead on the table in disgust. "Don't you see? That's why I bought them all binoculars and cell phones."
"So, based on an 80 year-old's shaky hands on 60 power binoculars - you drove your City Patrol Car into the County - my jurisdiction - where you ran down a Twosome on the 13th fairway at Hooking Hills?"
Stazniack took a sip of coffee to give herself time to ponder her answer. "They fit the description."
"What was the 'description?'"
"Two guys in a Golf cart wearing short sleeve shirts, shorts and baseball hats."
The Sheriff put his hat back on. Not a good sign. Who was on the defensive now? I wasn't sure. But, the Chief's tone changed. She put down her coffee cup. "I already paid the Golf Course for the cart. And, the guys who were in it jumped clear before I sideswiped 'em." The Chief thought a little more and added, "And, I took the police report on the whole thing - then buried it - so, it never made it into the press." There was a long pause as the three of us searched for the words that would bring this meeting to a close.
A tear trickled from Stazniack's good eye. "My witnesses want some legal action. They deserve it. We all do. The community needs closure - of all zippers on public property."
The Sheriff patted his counterpart's hand. "What you really want is for them four to stop callin' you. And, you think a few arrests is gonna do it."
The lack of a response seemed to satisfy Wilburite. He adjusted his sunglasses as he stood. "You shouldn't have given 'em binoculars, Candy. You created a monster." The Sheriff put a dollar on the table for Isnelda, started whistling a happy tune and walked out the door.
Chief Stazniack and I sat silently for a second. She took a sip of coffee, then tried to look me in the eye. But, I was sliding out of the booth and heading for the restroom at a gallop. She yelled after me: “I buried the report. There’s no way you’re gonna get the names of the guys I ran down!”
At least I think that’s how the sentence ended. Her last few words were obliterated by the squeak of the closing restroom door.
Editor's note: If you were one of the two men who were nearly killed by Chief Stazniack, please contact the Editor. Ed.
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."