Oscar, startled, immediately jumped up and scurried off. My Love hadn't seen the exchange, and was just asking why our son suddenly abandoned the computer, especially since he was still logged into one of his gaming websites. I, on the other hand, was standing up, outraged at how my son was being treated.
As I stood, I explained what had happened. My Love demanded the man take the unoccupied computer beside him, and offered to take over Oscar's so she could log him out of his websites. We didn't know this guy from Adam and weren't willing to give some stranger access to my son's personal information.
I sat back down, angry but placated, and My Love sat down next to the rude gentleman. It is important to point out that she brought a composition book with her, full of notes for her new book. (You've seen them before: cheap, black-and-white marble pattern; a dime a dozen.) When she settled in to her seat, she saw the composition book setting in front of the older man. Since Oscar had asked to borrow it to make notes, she figured he'd left it there.
Saying "Here, I'll move that for you," she picked up the composition book. Unfortunately, the old man had brought his own, identical-looking composition book with him. The old man yanked it out of her hand, stood up and began repeatedly punching her in the arm, screaming "You don't touch things that aren't yours!"
He had her cornered and stood well over six feet. Despite his age he was thickly-built and very strong. My Love is a scrapper, but she stands 5'2" and was pushed into a corner, facing the wrong way and unable to defend herself. I shoved the man out of the way and pulled her free. At that point, I thought he had been smacking her with the notebook, since he had it gripped in the fist used to strike my wife. In the seconds it took me to respond, he had hit her about ten times.
At this point My Love yelled that she was being attacked and told the librarian to call the police. The
The Chief of Police arrived about 10 minutes later, took our statements, then went inside. He came out a mere three minutes later and explained that the man who had assaulted my wife was "just Old Doc", a well-known citizen of the town. Old Doc was "not all there anymore" and "isn't in control of himself". I asked why he was allowed to roam free, then, for which the officer replied "That's not our job." After speaking with Old Doc, the Chief determined that he had overracted, and said he'd told him "that wasn't the proper response in the situation." He then suggested we not re-enter the library, as Old Doc was still agitated.
That's right WE were kicked out of the library for the crime of being assaulted. But, that's okay, it was just Old Doc. Chief Useless was then appalled when we said we wanted to press charges. "It's just Old Doc!" he argued. Throughout the process of taking our statements and taking pictures of my wife's arm, he tried three times to talk us out of pressing charges.
We would soon find out why.
After nearly four hours in the ER (because My Love's blood pressure was around 120/95 and refused to come down), we went home and waited.
Finally, about three weeks after the incident, we called the County Attorney, who assured us the information was coming in the mail. He seemed surprised to hear from us at all. It was another two weeks before one of the Oberlin police officers showed up at our door with summons to court, giving us barely a week's notice. While there, the nice officer pointed out that our tags were expired, something we'd missed in all the excitement.
Cue ominous music.
Our attendance wasn't necessary, as it was a preliminary hearing to determine if there was a case. I wanted to attend, but we were waiting for our tags in the mail, and it was becoming painfully obvious that the Oberlin police were following us.
Several times one of their cruisers could be seen circling our block in the days before and weeks after the prelim. Bear in mind that our sleepy little town hasn't even SEEN an officer on its streets in over four years, as nothing ever happens here. At one point, all four of us were in the front yard picking berries off the tree (My Love makes delicious, sugar-free desserts from them for me). A cruiser which had been circling the block for over two hours parked at the intersection and proceeded to watch us intently for 20 minutes. Twice he called over our neighbors to ask questions about us.
We called the county sheriff to complain about this and were told he was in town investigating someone else. Right...
Just before this incident, while we were shopping in Oberlin, My Love stopped by the library, after first making sure Old Doc's van wasn't there. The library has a shelf in the front entryway filled with discarded materials, books, movies, etc. Note that she did not enter the library proper. After two minutes of browsing, a librarian (not the one from the day of the incident) came out and demanded that my wife leave. She started shrieking that she was the horrible bitch responsible for suing poor Old Doc. When my wife tried to explain, the librarian answered that my asshole teenaged son wouldn't move his legs out of the way so poor Old Doc could sit down. (My son is 12, he's also 5'10" with wide shoulders; people often mistake him for 16-17 years old.) When My Love protested, the librarian said she was baned from the library and that the police would arrest her for trespassing if she didn't leave.
Incidents like this began happening all over town, including a few stray ones in our town. Apparently, Old Doc had been a respected doctor and surgeon in the area for many years. This, somehow, made it acceptable for him to assault women and verbally abuse children, because people were outraged we were pressing charges. Our intention was never to hurt the old man, but for there to be a record of this incident. Because, I highly doubt it was an isolated incident. Next time it could be an elderly woman he used an "improper response" on. Or a child. This man, who is "not all there", is allowed to drive freely despite his lowered mental faculties. We felt that there should at least be a record of what happened, perhaps an assessment of his mental state and even community service. He lives with his wife and daughter; someone should be looking out for him.
But, apparently WE are the villains in this piece. Even after the car was registered, we found ourselves being followed by the local police and ended up selling it so our vehicle wasn't easily recognized. Certain businesses in Oberlin are no longer welcome for us. Some people do not speak to us. Understand that we have never been in trouble with the law in Kansas once since moving here, and don't have criminal records at all. We're quiet people. Now we are pariahs, guilty of a terrible crime: We stood up to an abuser. We tried to take Old Doc to court.
The trial was a week ago. How did it turn out? We didn't go. After speaking with the County Attorney on the phone, (you know, the man supposedly on our side) I realized he, like the police, were on Old Doc's side. When I asked what would happen if we did not appear at the trial, he responded "That's a good idea," before telling me anything. Realizing we would be vilified, and that Oscar -who is only twelve and Autistic- would likely be harassed on the stand, we chickened out.
Old Doc gets away with it. I believe people should face justice for the things they do wrong. But, my family comes first, and I'm tired of people judging us for doing the right thing. I can't sit back and watch my sweet son, who already fears abuse from bullies and has been bullied by authority figures before, gets torn apart by some old bastard's lawyer.
No matter what happened at the trial, we would have lost. Had good Old Doc had to face the music for assaulting a woman a foot shorter than him, I don't doubt the police harassment would have doubled and perhaps the whole town would have been shut off from us.
I have Old Doc's name, address and telephone number. But I do nothing with them but look at them and seethe. Because I care about my family, I let a crazy old man wander free on the streets, until he loses his grip on reality again and does something maybe far worse than beat up a woman he's never met before.
This was the last straw. I've tried to hold my head high and stay strong through all this. But my faith in people has finally died on the vine. I can't trust the police, librarians, business owners, anybody. It's just my family and me. I'm 41 years old, but inside I'm an old man, growling at strangers who come to close to my family.
So: Fuck you Old Doc. I'd love to publish your name all over the internet. But, for now, I'm bigger than that. Maybe, someday, I'll be like you: a bitter, spiteful old man. Hell, I'm halfway there now.