Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Death Threats And Pitchforks

Murder Trial Ends With A Not Entirely Unexpected Verdict; Accused Vows Blood Vengeance

Calgary (CP) What has been described as the Trial Of The Century (the latest of them if you keep track as they pass by) has come to a conclusion in a provincial courthouse in Calgary. Once a famous mystery author and then outed as the alleged most prolific serial killer in history, there is nothing alleged anymore about the defendant. Instead a guilty verdict has been reached in the case of the Crown v Fletcher. Jessica Fletcher has been found guilty on all charges in what may be the first of many trials to come, depending on whether or not prosecutors in other jurisdictions decide to go ahead with cases against her.

In a dramatic trial that spanned weeks and featured testimony from forensics experts, multiple law enforcement personnel (including the legendary Mountie who finally brought her in), witnesses, and those testifying to the character of the defendant, as well as emotional outbursts from the defendant, the case captivated not only a nation, but the world. Fans of the author, whose decades of writing murder mysteries caught hold with a substantial readership, seem in denial about the verdict, brought down by a jury with two days of deliberation.

“It just can’t be,” Hugo Cavendish, President of the Free Our Jessica Society told reporters outside the courthouse, tears in his eyes as he absorbed the verdict, along with hundreds of other members of the group, as well as members of the Jessica Fletcher Fan Club.  “Our Jessica is the kindest, most loving grandma figure you could possibly imagine, not an evil serial killer. She’s been framed. Framed, I tell you! So what are we going to do about it?” he called out to his associates.

“Burn down the courthouse!” everyone cried out in unison.

“Hell yeah!” Cavendish replied.

And so with that, hundreds of Fletcherites tried to storm the courthouse, toting pitchforks and torches they’d bought at a pop-up pitchfork and torch stand that had sprung up in the park across the street. Local police, anticipating trouble, pushed them back and broke up the riot, making multiple arrests, including that of Harry Walden, the pitchfork and torch stand operator. While being booked as an accessory to a riot, Walden was heard to say, “All I was doing was identifying a niche market and selling to it. Who needs a permit to do that?”

Inside the courthouse, the verdict came down after a high stakes legal duel between the Crown attorney and the defense attorney, Joni Mitchell (not that Joni Mitchell). When the guilty verdict was announced, Jessica Fletcher rose to her feet and started screaming at the jury. The sight of an elderly woman, at first glance looking like the proverbial kindly granny, spouting every curse word under the sun, is still something that takes getting used to. And then she turned into the audience as court security officers closed in on her, and glared at the man who had finally ended her murder spree.

Inspector Lars Ulrich, the cranky but legendary Mountie, testified in the trial about the investigation into the Fletcher case and the larger issues- cases in other jurisdictions, the infamous diary keeping records of thousands of murders, and other elements of the saga. Ulrich seemed to be the focal point for Fletcher’s rage on a regular basis, and it wasn’t any different this time. She focused in on him, and seethed. “I will rip your heart out and eat it while it’s still beating, Ulrich! Do you hear me??? I will have your head on a pike and feast on your bone marrow!”

The Inspector, often given to saving the world and knocking out entertainment reporters who mistake him for The Other Lars Ulrich, is not known for smiling. And yet on occasion he does. Such was the case in court, where he smirked at Fletcher and gave her a bit of a wave as she was removed from court, ranting and raging.

Sentencing is scheduled for August. The convicted murderer has been returned to custody where she’s been since her arrest, in a high security facility. The Crown will be pushing hard to have her designated as a dangerous offender for an indefinite sentence, and is otherwise determined to have her sentenced to serve time consecutively on each count.  Joni Mitchell has not yet said what her strategy will be for the sentencing phase. Leaving the courthouse, the young attorney knocked out an entertainment reporter who mistook her for the singer of the same name.

“I don’t understand,” Grady Fletcher, the nephew of the convicted, told reporters outside the courthouse. “I’ve known Aunt Jessica all my life. I still can’t believe that she would have done all the things she’s been accused of. All those people. It just can’t be.” In the opinion of this reporter, it is quite possible that Grady Fletcher might not be the sharpest knife in the block.

The man whose dogged determination ended the killing spree of history’s most prolific serial killer had his own take on things. Inspector Lars Ulrich emerged from court to a flurry of questions from actual reporters, each of whom understood full well that he was not that Lars Ulrich. “Justice has been done,” he said, satisfied with the verdict. When asked if he felt any trepidation about Fletcher’s repeated threats to his life, the Inspector shook his head. “Given what I’ve taken on and taken down on numerous occasions, threats coming from a psychotic mass murdering granny don’t even come close to making me nervous.”

“Lars! Lars!” the voice came from the back of the crowd of reporters. Someone started pushing his way through the crowd. “Skip Blaine, Access Hollywood. Will Metallica have any involvement in the inevitable feature film about the Fletcher case? Like doing the soundtrack?”

Ulrich glared at him as the real reporters gave the Inspector a whole lot of clearance space, getting out of the way and putting distance between themselves and Blaine. “I am not that Lars Ulrich,” he told Blaine in a low, dangerous voice, clenching his fists.

Blaine seemed confused- a frequent issue for entertainment reporters. Then he started laughing. “Oh, Lars, you’re so funny! No, seriously, will you guys be doing the soundtrack?”

Three seconds later Blaine was briefly flying through the air, hit in the nose by a left hook punch from the Inspector. The flight ended with Tanner crashing onto the marble floor twenty feet away from Ulrich, who started forward, his eyes full of purpose and rage. Blaine scrambled away, with the Inspector fast on his heels.

Later reports had it that Blaine ended up in a hospital in Calgary, decked out in a body cast, groaning endlessly for someone to end the agony. “Red serge causes pain!”

The convicted felon has been reported to be screaming nearly non stop in her cell. Guards are keeping their distance during the rage episodes that are only briefly halted so that Fletcher can take in a breath. And then the screamfests continue again. “Seven hours since we got the old battleaxe back in here after the verdict came down,” one of them told this reporter anonymously. “And she won’t shut up. Keeps screaming about bone marrow and drinking his blood and all that sort of thing. Strictly speaking, as far as I’m concerned, Jessica Fletcher is not exactly the most stable of convicted murderers, if you know what I mean.”

This reporter, hearing the distant yelling, was started by a rather vivid rant down the hall that featured the words “grind his skull to a fine powder and have it in my afternoon tea!” In the opinion of this reporter, Jessica Fletcher is, to put it mildly, batshit crazy.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Judge Of Constant Sorrow

Former Morning Anchor Sentenced To Stunning Verdict In Scandal

San Francisco (AP) The college admissions scandal has rocked the nation, exposing multiple parents and academic institutions in a web of bribery, over-parenting, and high expectations for dimwitted children. Multiple charges have been brought against college officials in more than one institute of higher learning. The same has applied to parents who have resorted to bribery to get their children into an elite school as opposed to the state college they might be more suited to. And those children have been dropping out, humiliated by the insinuation that their parents think they were never that bright to begin with.

And now it’s been driven home in a big way locally speaking. Rebecca Katsopolis (Aunt Becky to her nieces) was until recently the co-anchor for Wake Up, San Francisco with her brother-in-law Danny Tanner. Married to second tier musician Jesse Katsopolis, now facing charges of his own, Katsopolis was a well liked anchor who bore an uncanny resemblance to Lori Loughlin, an actress also charged in the scandal. She was charged with bribery and fraud after paying a USC official three million dollars to have her sons Nicholas and Alex admitted three years ago as rugby players on a scholarship- despite never playing a game or even attending a practice or having the slightest interest in the sport.

USC assistant rugby coach Tony Tasker, having had recently been fired after his own arrest in the matter, pleaded guilty in exchange for giving up information on people who had paid him to smooth the way for their children. Among those caught up in the matter was Katsopolis. “It was all on paper,” Tasker said in a statement of facts during his own sentencing. “It didn’t matter that the boys weren’t actually rugby players or that they had no talent or that they were, frankly, brain addled idiots. I just had to say they were. And talk the professors into taking it easy on their grades.” The Katsopolis boys have abruptly dropped out of USC, humiliated by the experience of finding out that their parents think they’re stupid, and reportedly have changed their names.

Where Katsopolis got the three million dollars is another matter. While her salary as a morning anchor was more than enough to leave her comfortable, three million dollars is not the sort of loose change one expects to find in the couch of someone of that vocation. Police investigations have cast light on her husband. Jesse Katsopolis never rose up in the world of music as much as he would have liked, and it is alleged that at some point in the last fifteen years, he started a side business that proved to be quite profitable.

“He’s a drug dealer,” a Narcotics detective told this reporter with the proviso of not mentioning their name. “We’ve built up a substantial case and it’s ready to go for prosecution. And if things go as we expect, it means we’ll have cleared one Elvis-haired freak off the streets and done some good for the world. So much the better.” Jesse Katsopolis is presently in pre-trial custody awaiting his own trial for drug dealing and trafficking, extortion, human trafficking, weapons charges, fraud, and jaywalking.

Rebecca Katsopolis seemed resigned to her fate, choosing to plead guilty to the charges and throw herself on the mercy of the court. In which case she ended up with the wrong judge. For it is the reputation of Judge Constance Sorrow, known as The Hangwoman, to go hard on the convicted. A sentence of forty years was handed down on Katsopolis yesterday. She was taken out of court, with an expression of shock and horror on her face. Nieces DJ and Stephanie Tanner, representing the family in court, were in tears. “Aunt Becky! No!” they called out as their aunt was removed from court.

“That’s enough of those histrionics,” Judge Sorrow admonished the two sisters with a cold tone and an even colder glare, silencing both of them. “The only person in my courtroom who gets to throw a tantrum is me! If you had to put up with a name like this, you’d understand that.”

Danny Tanner has been absent this week from his duties at Wake Up, San Francisco. He’s kept largely a low profile since the charges were filed, and hasn’t said a word about it publicly on air. The issue of his co-anchor and sister-in-law being carted off to prison will have to be addressed at some point. The station has stopped featuring Katsopolis’ face on the program’s introductory video. As for the convicted felon herself? She’s been remanded to custody at the Central California Women’s Facility, where she’s already become the cellmate and personal property of Drucilla Carter, the infamous armed robber doing fifty years for a crime spree across the Pacific coast in the late Nineties.

An unnamed guard at the institution told this reporter, “We had a bet running on how long it would take for Katsopolis to break down. I won the pool at five minutes. Yay me!”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Day In The Life Of A Cat

And now it is time for the cat to have her say. Show her the respect that a supreme life form deserves.

6:42 AM. Waking up at home. Slept well. Dreamed of vast fields of catnip.

6:45 AM. A look outside indicates that we’ll have a clear day. We’ve had more than our share of rain.

6:49 AM. Pondering whether or not to go up and yell at my staff to wake up. I decide to be generous and give her an extra ten minutes. She does have that work place to go to today, so it’s not as if she’d be sleeping until seven thirty anyway.

7:02 AM. Movement out on the lawn. Like a big rock, only it’s moving. A closer look indicates that it’s that grouchy snapping turtle that lives in the woods. Maximus The Terrible, as he likes to call himself. And it seems I’ve been noticed. He starts walking over my way.

7:05 AM. Maximus and I exchange pleasantries. Well, if you can call anything said by an ill tempered snapping turtle pleasantries. Fortunately there’s a window screen between us, and I know better than to annoy one of his species. I suggest that he might want to put the fear of Cat into that stupid dog from down the road. He says he’ll take it under advisement.

7:07 AM. Watching Maximus amble away across the lawn towards the woods. Well, it’s always nice to give someone a sense of purpose for their day. 

7:20 AM. Sitting on the back of the couch, gazing out at the vastness of my domain. I keep thinking there’s something I’m forgetting.

7:28 AM. Distant barking from that annoying mutt down the road. Has he ever heard of not barking?

7:38 AM. The staff comes scrambling down the stairs in a rush. Oh, that’s what I forgot. The staff was supposed to be awake by now. And I was supposed to be fed by now. That’s what talking to a snapping turtle will do to you. It totally makes you forget your priorities. Say, staff, have you given any thought to my breakfast? 

7:40 AM. The staff dashes out the door without so much as seeing to my breakfast. I watch her get into the car and bolt out the driveway. Yes, I get that you’re running late for work, but what about my breakfast? Does that not matter more?

7:42 AM. I have reconciled myself to the fact that the staff isn’t turning around because she’s suddenly remembered that she didn’t feed me. I’ll just have to fend for myself today and be quite cross with her when she gets back tonight.

7:47 AM. An examination of the kitchen determines that the only food out and about is in the form of field rations. In that bowl I didn’t touch yesterday. Because I have frequently told the staff, to no avail, that field rations are not welcome. What to do, what to do….

7:50 AM. After much internal debate, I have started eating some of the field rations. 

8:28 AM. Watching my back yard from a windowsill when I notice movement at the treeline. I tense up in case it’s that idiot hound.

8:30 AM. No, it’s not the hound. It’s Maximus, slowly making his way this way. Though I know they’re capable of going faster than his present pace.

8:34 AM. Maximus informs me that he chased the dog up a tree. No chance to bite the irritating mutt, huh? Oh well, just as well, I mean, who knows what kind of illness you could have contracted doing that. Well, thanks for making the effort anyway. It’s much appreciated. Anytime anyone makes his life difficult is a service to all of us, if you ask me.

9:10 AM. All in all, it’s already been a long morning, what with being deprived of my breakfast and dispatching a snapping turtle to scare the idiot hound. I think a good nap is in order right about now. Because as I always say, you can never have too many naps.

11:23 AM. Waking up from my nap. Taking a big stretch and yawning. Feeling hungry.

11:24 AM. Still half a bowl of field rations. Debating whether or not I should help myself or leave it until I’m on the verge of starvation. Which will probably take place at 3:28 this afternoon.

I can wait.

1:31 PM. Distant barking from down the road interrupts my nap. A glance at the clock confirms this is about the time of day when the mailman is in the area, and of course idiot hounds being the way they are, they have to bark at the mailman.

3:28 PM. Having had lasted as long as I can, I devour the rest of the field rations in the bowl. 

5:17 PM. Glaring at the staff as she comes in the front door, home from work. Was there something you forgot to do today?

5:19 PM. The staff is all apologetic about missing my breakfast, saying she set a speed record on the drive into town and just got into work on time. Yes, well, that doesn’t solve the issue of my missing the breakfast that I prefer. So you had better be in a position to start spoiling me rotten. Because I am quite annoyed with you right now.

6:30 PM. Having dinner with the staff. She has quite sensibly made bacon pancakes and has cut a couple up into nice kitty bite sized pieces for me. This I approve of, staff. 

8:44 PM. Sitting in the living room. Pondering the notion of waking up the staff an hour early tomorrow to make sure she doesn’t sleep through her alarm.

11:26 PM. The staff is off to bed. Be advised, staff, that I won’t be so careless in the morning as I was today in permitting you to sleep in. Expect a crack of dawn cat yodelling to stir you out of your deepest slumber. Just so you know.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Day In The Life Of A Dog

It is time once again for the perspective of the dog and the cat. As always, the dog gets the first say. After all, he is so easily distracted.

6:48 AM. Waking up at home. Yawning and taking a big stretch. Slept well. Dreamed of chasing a raccoon.

6:51 AM. Looking outside. The sun gets up before I do these days. Well, in fairness, I do like getting my sleep. The human’s stopped with the bird feeders now. Something about the bears being out and about. Well, that’s okay, I mean, my barking at a bear would make them run away, right? Of course right.

6:58 AM. Making plans for how I’m going to be spending my day. First of all we’ve got to think of priorities, right? And those include things like breakfast. Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In a four way tie with lunch, snacks, and dinner. And after breakfast comes time for my countryside wanderings. Which, these days, do not include digging into Mrs. Kowalski’s rose garden. Do that one time, and they never let you forget.

7:06 AM. …and don’t forget the all important barking at the mailman part of the day. Because that has to be done. As we all know, mailmen are inherently evil and must be thwarted at every step. What their purpose is in dropping off letters at the boxes every day, I don’t know. No dog has ever been able to figure out that arcane mystery. But surely it’s something nefarious and awful and along the lines of world domination. Because that’s the sort of thing that evil beings like mailmen and squirrels and vets are interested in.

7:12 AM. The human comes downstairs. I start wagging my tail furiously. Good morning, human! Fine day, isn’t it? The sort of day that makes you feel glad to be alive, I think. Now then, have you put any thought into my breakfast? Because I haven’t had a bite to eat since that cookie last night at ten.

7:14 AM. Thumping my tail against the floor with great expectation as the human pours me a big bowl of kibbles. Oh boy oh boy oh boy….

7:15 AM. Licking my chops with satisfaction after wolfing down breakfast in a time that was just three seconds off my all time fastest devouring of breakfast. That was good!

7:17 AM. Inquiring with the human as to if she can let me out for a run.

7:19 AM. Out the door and on my way. See you later, human!

7:28 AM. Running through the back fields, barking my head off, as happy as I can be. 

7:36 AM. Stopping in my tracks in the woods. There’s a big snapping turtle directly ahead of me. And he’s seen me. And he looks annoyed. Well, to be honest, snapping turtles always look annoyed. And cranky. And ill tempered. And whatever other description comes to mind. Wisdom coming from experience, I know they’re faster than they look. And discretion being the better part of valour, I’ll just back up and not annoy him anymore than he already is. See, turtle? I can be a good dog and not start anything. So there’s no need to hiss at me like that and start forward and…. Oh, no, he’s sprinting!

7:37 AM. I have somehow managed to climb up a part of a tree while being chased by that snapper. How, precisely, I don’t know, so I won’t remember how to do it when I’m chasing squirrels. Point is, I’m up here. And I’m not so high up that I can’t just jump down to the ground, because I can. Only not right now. Because that snapping turtle is glaring at me from down there and starting to circle the tree. Can turtles climb trees? I know they sometimes bask on fallen trees in the water.

7:42 AM. Attempting negotiations with the snapper. Look, I was backing away, okay? I am well aware that you snapping turtles have a tough reputation and are not to be trifled with or teased. So I was leaving. There’s no need to make those sorts of threats about biting my leg off. You just go that way, and I’ll go the opposite way, and we’ll call it even, okay?

7:45 AM. Asking the grouchy snapping turtle if that cranky cat from down the road put him up to this. His response is to hiss more at me.

7:49 AM. Jumping out of the tree and breaking out into a sprint. I can hear the grouch starting after me, hissing away like a demon, before stopping. I wonder what made him so irritable. Is there something crawling around in that shell of his besides him?

7:57 AM. Stopping in to see Spike the Magnificent, Tormentor of Squirrels. Hello, Spike!

7:59 AM. I relay to Spike my encounter with the snapping turtle. From the description, Spike says it’s likely Maximus The Terrible, who’s been around for at least twenty years. Well, he certainly wasn’t Maximus the Affable, I can tell you that.

8:31 AM. Returning home. Barking to alert the human to my return. Human! It is I, Loki, Annoyer of Mailmen and Chewer of Slippers! Open the door!

8:33 AM. The human lets me in the back door and I bolt in. If a snapping turtle shows up asking about me, I was in here the whole time, okay?

10:45 AM. Mooching a cookie off the human. Oatmeal! Yummy!

12:18 PM. Using my patented sad eyes look to coax the human into giving me a ham and cheese sandwich. Oh boy!

1:31 PM. Barking my head off at the mailman as he drops off some letters at the mailbox and drives away. Get lost, you vile fiend! And never come back, you hear me? Never come back!

3:56 PM. The human is having her afternoon tea. I’m having an oatmeal cookie that I’ve convinced her to part with. Life is good.

6:38 PM. Dinner with the human. She’s made spaghetti, but has made sure to have a bowl of ground beef for me. Apparently she still thinks that dogs eating spaghetti would be too messy. Come on, human, they did that in Lady and the Tramp, and that wasn’t messy.

8:40 PM. Lying on the living room floor, pondering the great mysteries. Why do they claim turtles are slow, when Maximus The Terrible clearly isn’t?

11:28 PM. The human is off to bed. I, for one, shall be sleeping lightly. In case Maximus The Terrible turns up at the back door in a foul mood.