Crime Time In The Sticks


June 19, 1994|By DAVE BARRY

Americans are terrified by crime. We're afraid to leave our own homes. Even the criminals are afraid to go out. More and more, in urban areas, they're being forced to mug people by fax. ("Fax me your money right now, or I'm going to fax you a picture of a knife.")

But you cannot escape crime by moving to a rural area. You will merely be trading one kind of crime (robbery and murder) for another (illegally dumped livestock carcasses). Consider the following news item, sent in by alert reader James Ross, from the March 29, 1994, issue of the Chickasha (Okla.) Daily Express. This is the top story on the front page. The headline and first paragraph, which I swear I am not making up, are as follows:

Rotting Pig Found in Ditch

"Verden -- Responding to a tip from an employee, Verden farmer Bill McVey found a rotting pig in a ditch two miles north of town."

Some people have all the luck. Twenty years in the news business, and I never once received a tip concerning the location of a rotting pig. I believe it's only a matter of time before this Oklahoma story gets turned into a made-for-TV movie, starring Burt Reynolds as the farmer, Tony Danza as the employee and (Tastelessness alert: Do not read the remainder of this sentence. Thank you.) Ernest Borgnine as the pig.

According to the Daily Express story, farmer McVey reported the pig to the authorities, who were looking into it, so to speak. Because you cannot, legally, just leave a dead pig in a ditch. Even in Oklahoma. You must dispose of your deceased livestock properly. There are companies that will take care of this for you, as referenced in the last paragraph of the Daily Express story, which states, and I am still not making this up:

"As for proper disposal of large dead animals, McVey contracts with Used Cow Dealer."

That's correct: "Used Cow Dealer." If that is not one of the all-time great business names, then I am Ernest Borgnine.

I was unable to contact Used Cow Dealer directly, but I did call the Daily Express and speak to the author of the rotting-pig story, Michael Levin. He also confirmed that there really is such a company as Used Cow Dealer.

"They'll come out and pick up your dead cows," he said.

If you, or anybody you know, works for this company, please get in touch with me. I want to find out what techniques are used by professionals to remove large dead livestock, because I believe these techniques might help me get my 13-year-old son out of bed on school mornings. The most powerful force in the universe is not the one that holds the nucleus of the atom together; it's the force that develops between my son and his bed overnight. By morning, he and the bed have bonded into a single biological entity. Sometimes he has to go to school with his bed still attached to his body.

Speaking of beds, I have here another news item concerning the rural crime wave, sent in by Dawn Kiechle, from the April 10 issue of the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times:

"Theresa -- State police and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies were called at 8:03 p.m. Saturday to a report of a man shooting his bed with a shotgun in his house. A radio dispatch said the man then dragged his bed out in the yard and shot it again."

Obviously we should not judge this case until we have heard both sides, the man's and the bed's. But my initial reaction is to side with the man. Sometimes you have no choice but to shoot furniture. For years my family has been stalked by a hideous, old, mucus-colored armchair that we bought at an auction for 25 cents long ago when we could not afford human furniture. Each time we moved, we'd tell ourselves we were going to get rid of this chair, but each time we got to our new house the chair would be there, squatting in a corner, chuckling softly. It was a Stephen King chair.

Finally, on our last move, I put the chair out by the curb with a bunch of other stuff; scavengers took everything else, but they left the chair. As we drove away, I could feel it staring at us. We haven't seen it at our new house yet, but I know it's out there somewhere, watching, waiting; and I know that, some night, I may have to exercise my right to defend my home, as clearly stated in the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution ("It's OK to shoot a chair"). Sometimes, in the fight against crime, you have to take matters into your own hands. And then, in accordance with the law, you have to call Used Chair Dealer.

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