Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dicey on the Edge Sometimes

I've been writing about Texas corruption for the last couple of years, and it's got some friends of mine worried that might end up finding myself on the short end of the stick with the local police one of these days because of it. I hope not. I generally like to think that if you're in the open and honest, you'll be too visible to bother with. Smuggle in plain sight, is the phrase. Of course, other people say that's silly: That if you're in the open you're just an easier target.

In either event, twice in the last week things have come up that have sent shivers up my spine a bit. One was that someone I interviewed on one of the corruption stories I wrote has a problem involving her husband. The basics of the story was that recently he was working late, forgot to bring any cash with him, and when he knocked off he called a friend to borrow a few bucks. The friend, according to the woman, said he was at a certain house and so the guy went there. Must have written the address down wrong because the woman who answered the door called the police--it was night and she was scared--and the husband, who already has a record, was charged with "burglary of a habitat". Despite there being no burglary, no break-in, no nothing but a knock on the door. Unfortunately, but tough break of the worst kind in Texas. Burglary of a habitat carries 2-20 on a first offence in this state; with his record it'll be 25-life and this is one time I believe his story.
So the wife calls and asks me to go over to talk to the woman with her, to ask her why she made the charge--the police bullied her, she thinks--and to reconsider it.
And there I am, hair curling, thinking, I'd love to help out here but this is a woman who's husband is in trouble. I'm a journalist who's not on anybody's favorites list here in this state, and she wants me to go to the home of a woman so cowable that she can be talked into leveling burglary charges on a man who knocked on her door at 10 at night. She certainly, by extention, could level charges against us for threatening...so it smelled bad and I had to refuse to go there. Feel sort of chicken but think this one is too likely to land me in hot water in a place where at least some people would love to see me scald.
And then this week I'm getting emails out of the blue from a woman who admits she's been in drug trouble for 30 years and claims she's now being forced to have regular sex with an undercover DEA man under threat of her being charged with a crime she had nothing to do with. Again, this is Texas and not impossible she'd be convicted just on her record.
And this woman suddenly absolutely needs to meet with me. I should come to her house and pick her up in my car as she doesn't have one. Again, I'm thinking, just too easy a set up: There's Gorman in the dope dealer's house, or there's Gorman with a dope dealer in his car and she's holding...and the next thing you know I'm charged with conspiracy, which doesn't have to involve any dope or anything substantial at all.
So I'm going to meet her right now, over at a local coffee shop. Outside, in the sunshine. Don't know if this is a good choice, but she might have a legit story.
But I ain't holding no packages for her, tell you that.

COUPLE OF HOURS LATER: Nothing happened. She didn't show. So much for dicey. More like mushy.


Morgan said...

dont mess with texas... or is texas just messin' with you


the corruption thing is a shame.
I grew up in Alberta, Canada. Similar to Texas in many ways not least of which the 'oily' ways.

Its that old, ignorant, wrinkly grip that seems to have little to no clue of just whats going on in this millennium or of healthy ways to engage life.

Up in northern Alberta is the Boreal Forest, sometimes known as Alberta's Amazon. Yet this is being threatend by the oil and gas industries, logging etc. More shame.

The whole of northen Alberta is exploding with oil. So much so that it has been referred to as "the new Kuwait'

so, in Alberta one can encounter Amazon and Kuwaiti analogs- both vying to live.

Beauty surrounded by corruption.

yet, to my heart and mind,

where this corruption is already dead, indeed it is fossilzed,

The Forest is alive.

and long after the last fossil fueled car crashes into its brick wall, or the last neurotic-actor-judge takes a final bow, the flowers, grasses, leaves and trees will calmy continue to spring forth.

Peter Gorman said...

Yeah. I think we're here for the short term; the planet is here for the long run. Thanks for writing.