Retro Thursday 5-13-2021

When is it acceptable, if ever, to break the law?

I am not a law-breaker. That doesn’t mean that sometimes, in the darkest recesses of my heart, I don’t want to break the law. There are times the law is ridiculous. There are times when it would be so much easier not to abide by the law, but regardless, I was raised to know right from wrong.

To be totally truthful, I do break a couple minor laws. I drive 5-10 miles over the speed limit, mostly just to keep from being the slowest car on the road. Sometimes, I jay-walk. And, once or twice, I haven’t picked up my dog’s poop during a walk. In my defense, the poop was not on the sidewalk or anybody’s yard. It was in some brush on a strip of undeveloped land. So, I didn’t. Turn me in if you must!

I wouldn’t be a good criminal. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t do well in stressful, strange situations. This isn’t why I don’t break the law, but it helps.

As started above, some laws can be strange. Mostly because these are outdated laws which no longer fit into the reality of the modern world. For instance, in Alaska, it is illegal to wake a sleeping bear to take a photo.  In California, a frog which dies in a frog-jumping competition cannot be legally eaten. In Florida, if you tie an elephant to a parking meter, you must  pay the meter the same as you would for a car.

Silly, right? Definitely. These laws make me wonder about the sanity of some lawmakers in those days of old. How many elephants were wandering around Florida? And if you woke up that sleeping bear in Alaska, you wouldn’t need to worry about being arrested or fined. As for the frog, I guess competition frogs needs to be buried with honors or some such thing. Duty to the nation of Frogs.

These laws are so laughable that if I did have an elephant in Florida, I’d tie him to the parking meter and just walk away. What cop is going to stick a ticket on an elephant?

But, how about breaking serious laws, those laws made to safeguard the health, safety, prosperity and lives of the general populace of any country. Would I kill someone?

Maybe. If I was threatened or my children or family were threatened, I might have to step up and break that law. Stealing? If I was homeless and destitute I might consider stealing food. I might consider sleeping someplace safe but against the law.

As much as my wicked side (and/or characters) like to fantasize about breaking the law, being law-abiding is so deeply ingrained that I never would. As for characters, I do have criminals in my worlds. Most of them are not main characters, but a few are. Deanie O’Conner is a Irish Mob Boss during Prohibition.  I have some young folks who have done some really stupid things. A detective or two who has stepped over the line for the greater good.

My desire as a writer, and my tendency, is to look for and explore the moments which change a person’s life. Make bad people better, or good people bad. What moment was it that Deanie became, not just a ruthless Mob Boss, but a compassionate man, a family man, a man who cared enough about his children to walk away from his former life. Who tried to make things better for his ’employees’ rather than worse.

When would you break the law, if ever? And do you have any criminal characters for whom breaking the law is just a way of life?

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers 1-26-2017

Week of 01-24 through 01-30-2017

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Singledust.

I should have known things would end at a Chinese place. Don’t they always? Regardless, here I was and, having come this far, I decided I might as well go on inside.

The store was dim, filled with whatever smells usually make up those places. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Myrrh? They didn’t sound right, but what do I know?

The minute I stepped in, the proprietor knew who I was and why I was there. Must have been the hat.

“I’ve been waiting.”

Least he didn’t pretend he only spoke Chinese.

“Give back the jewel and I’ll walk out without calling the police.”

He looked at me. I could see the thinking going round in his head.

“No, you will not call the police.”

We both pulled guns at the same time, me from the small of my back, and he from under the counter. For a moment, we both watched the thinking in the others eyes.

“Shall we dance?” I asked. The longer I kept him off-balance, the greater chance I had of leaving with the jewel and no holes in my body.

And that, in my book, was a damned good day.

Daily Post One Word Prompt – Hope


The Midnight Hour, Part 4

He’d stood over a lot of bodies in his life; kids, adults and anything in between. Being a detective in Chicago brought one face to face with the dead on a daily basis. He’d moved here to raise his daughter in a safer place, but was anyplace really safe?  Long as human scuffed in the dirt, folks were going to die.

But like this? Stupid kids. And by kids he meant anybody under twenty-five. Maybe, after tonight, thirty.

Their whole lives in front of them. What a waste.

He knelt by the body, using his pen to look under and around Mark’s neck. Broken hitting the big-ass rock. Why did kids hang around places like this? Drugs, sex? Why didn’t they learn? Only last year, his deputy had fallen down this hill, but he was alive. Just a matter of inches alive, but alive.

Accident or deliberate?

He looked up. Wish I could, wish I might. He’d given up wishing on stars a long time ago.

He’d have to bring in Mary, hoping for a truth he knew didn’t exist. She hung with Mark and that delinquent, Bobby.  Better bring in Bobby, too. He had to put suspicion anywhere it would be with Bobby. The boy was bad, had always been bad. Then again, apples didn’t fall far from the tree. Look at his old man. Beat the shit out of the kid until Bobby got old enough to hit back.

He wasn’t a whitewasher. He was a good cop, a solid cop. He’d never taken a bribe or thrown a case or planted evidence, but if it came down to Bobby or Mary, his baby girl was not going to jail. She wasn’t even going to be involved. She had a life to be ruined.

Damn daughters and their teen-age heart breaks. In love with both boys for different reason. Had them fighting over her. A disaster in the making, but he’d done nothing. It was different in your own house. If his wife had still been alive thing might have been different, but she wasn’t. Her death the only one he could neither solve nor prevent.

He nodded for the Coroner and rose, stepping away from the body. Began the long climb back up the hill as his Deputies searched the top for clues.

Moving to the back of his car, he popped the trunk and pulled back the carpet, holding it up with a shoulder. Reaching into a bag, he pulled out a cigarette butt. He’d started the stash when Mary started dating Bobby Wymith, knowing  – without admitting he’d ever cross that line – he would need it one day.

But could he cross that line? Crossing meant he was a bad cop, or did it?  Was he framing or making sure justice was served?

Dropping the butt into the pocket of his jacket, he moved just beyond the perimeter of the search, listening to the reports. Trash bagged but it would be useless. Scuffed footprints and tire tracks; useless.

He reached into his pocket, fingering the cigarette butt before pulling it out.

Far in the distance, the whine of a siren startled the night. His fingers opened.