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 Mostly because these are outdated laws which no longer fit into the reality of the modern world.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?

Sunday Photo Fiction 1-22-2017


They changed the name of the City Prison to the County Hotel as if the prisoners were there for the pool and free breakfast. There was a free breakfast, but he really didn’t want it. He didn’t want it at all.

The windows scared the shit out of him. Cells, one on top of another and another, each faced by unbreakable two-way glass, allowing those outside, the Freers, to watch the inmates inside. Every action, every secret, every fist-stroke or caress, exposed.

He dropped his head back. You got out of County Hotel one way – dead. Unless a rich Freer bought you; flesh on the market.

What the hell had he done? Why hadn’t he kept his hands to himself?

The policeman, at the wheel, glanced back. “How old are you, son?”


“Stupid shit.”

The car stopped in the long line of vehicles taking prisoners to their new home. A lock clicked, loud in the silence.

He bolted up, wiping away tears.

The policeman met his eyes in the rear-view mirror. “Don’t let me ever see you again, son, you understand?”

A moment passed. A look. A nod.

Pushing the door open, he ran.

And ran and ran and ran…….

JSW Prompt 1-14-2017


“Is there a difference?”

“Well… yes, of course.”

“I beg to differ. If you are acquiring things which don’t belong to you, it stands to reason you are stealing them.”

“Haberdash and humbuggery!”

“Take this TV, for example.”

“What about it?”

“It’s not yours, correct?”

“Well… it is now.”

“But you didn’t buy it in the store? Did you?”

“Humm…not if you are thinking Best Buy or Walmart. Let’s just say I borrowed it from the greater store of the world.”

“The greatest store in the world?”

“Look around you. Think of each house as a mini store with the world as the all-encompassing mall.”

“That’s stealing.”

“Borrowing with intent.”

“But look at all this stuff.”

“Pretty, isn’t it?”

“Pretty, yes, and not yours. So….why?”

“It’s fun.”


“Yeah, you know, enjoyable. Something one likes doing. Pleasurable.”


“Need a microwave?”