Small man puts up big fight

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It was a beautiful day as it began. In fact, it was a holiday weekend, and I was on patrol near the public launch, or Kibbey Camp on Lay Lake.

I saw some folks that I immediately recognized as a husband and wife trotline fishing team that was over near the bank waving for me to come over. I could see a second boat there. I eased over, and the fisherman asked me if the other man had the authority to ask for their fishing licenses. I then recognized Junior, and over in his boat was the familiar clear glass gallon jug that contained the concoction that has made lots of 140-pound, 5-foot 3-inch men think they were Superman and bulletproof.

I first took control of the jug and its contents, saw that the fisherman was holding his fillet knife loosely in his hand and said, “Now Junior, why are you asking these folks for their license?” I waited for the usual drunk response that would have brought a laugh, but it was not so. Junior looked toward the lady, the fisherman’s hand tightened on his knife, and Junior almost made his last mistake: he uttered, quite loudly, as to what his intentions were!

Swish, the knife passed me, and I was sure it had met its target. But I had my hand on him, and I guessed I pulled him a little off target. I placed Junior under arrest on several charges, and now I was about to make what could be the worst mistake of my young career.

I was very busy, getting calls from everywhere, and now this idiot was going to take me off the lake for half a day to take him to jail. I was towing the boat over to the owner of a fishing camp, a super nice fellow who was built like “Mr. Clean.” Hear this now, Man (that was the fellow’s name, seriously) met me and asked me if there was any way I could release Junior to him, as he was his brother-in-law. He promised he would take him home, sign his bond and added kick his butt to boot. This is absolutely the dumbest thing an enforcement officer could do, right? Right, but I was desperate!

Folks, I said, “come get him.” He waded through all the mud to his boat and reached for Junior as Junior whacked him across the head with his paddle! Man shook that one off, grabbed him in a bear hug, threw him in his pick-up, and Junior went out the other side. That happened several times. I was already regretting my decision as they went back into a bear hug. Man was more than a head taller than Junior, but after about 15 more minutes said, “Come get him,” and went to his knees.

There was nothing else to do but put my hands on him at this point—I have seen this cat in action! I took him by his right wrist and simply asked him to come with me. He did, bringing mud and all kinds of mess on my boat. Then I thought he was going to be sick. I actually told him that if he did, he was going overboard!

I took him over to the next marina and called the Sheriff’s Department, and just as I saw the car coming through the dust, I reached for my friend when, splash, he jumped from the boat! I waited for him to surface. It seemed like forever, and then I heard him bumping the bottom of the boat. I took my very long paddle and kept pushing, and then he popped up on the other side.

This was one time I was glad that we were not allowed to carry handcuffs! Will this nightmare ever end, I wondered as I wished the deputy good luck!