After a few years of police service there is a tendency to grow a very thick skin. Events that happen on a daily basis, and may seem barbarous or unpalatable to the general public become just another job and usually tacked on to a long list of jobs. Being human it affects you on some level but the tendency is to hide it deep – very deep. Of course the emotions come out in some form to bite you on the bum, generally years down the track.
THERE IS JUSTICE or I’M A BELIEVER IN KARMA. When you are stationed in the one town long enough you get to know the regular offenders: the drug users, drink drivers, louts, wife beaters. I know I’ve mentioned in a previous post that this may not be the forum for discussing the psychological aspects of domestic violence. But this event pushed its way up and I feel the need to share. We will call them the Browns, only because their real name is unusual. I won’t give their occupations because it was an odd combination. He was a short thick-set man, very strong with the self-restraint of a two-year old. She was a lovely woman, nurturing and caring.
My first meeting was as a result of her emergency call. We arrived on the scene to find her battered that badly her face was a mass of blood and cuts; naturally he had run away before we arrived. After hours spent taking her statement, seeking medical assistance and looking for him she retracted her complaint. Frustrating but it was her right and a very common occurrence with the vast majority of women in similar situations. My thoughts are that after the fright of the initial attack subsides, the woman sees her ‘secure life’ going down the drain without him. The pain and humiliation goes away, besides isn’t he always sorry afterwards? It must have been my fault, he really loves me. People will convince themselves to stay in a bad relationship rather than face the unknown.
They separated for a while; he tried to break into her house one night but ran away into bushland, evading detection. They seemed to get over their differences and started married life again. About a year later I was sent to a job at an outer suburb, late night of course. I had a probationary constable in his first week on the job with me for the shift. We arrived at the address and parked next to a familiar looking vehicle on the footpath. The house was a typical high-set for the area, built-in underneath for the garage and games room, living area up top, a veranda running the width of the house with a set of about fifteen steps leading up to it. Groans coming from the darkness in the front yard led us to a man writhing on the ground, slipping in and out of consciousness. I knelt down, rolled him over on his side and shone my torch in his face, here was good old Mr Brown. His face covered in bruises and abrasions, his nose, red blue and bleeding was mashed across his face. I left my off-sider there with a warning, “Watch him.”
I climbed the steps with some caution, the front door was closed. Knock, knock – “Police.” It took a little while and the door was opened by a tall, well-built man. The lounge room resembled the aftermath of a savage saloon brawl. And a very shaken Mrs Brown stood amongst it crying hysterically. Lounge chairs were overturned, broken ornaments, a bit of blood splatter here and there, a smashed coffee table. There was a feature wall decorated with Japanese fighting implements and it was obvious some were missing. At this stage Nunchukas weren’t illegal and this fit, obviously upset man had a pair dangling in his hand. I nodded hello to Mrs Brown and asked the obvious question, “What the bloody hell happened here?” It seemed that Mr Brown didn’t want his wife to be happy and she had left him – again.
He obviously didn’t know who his wife was living with and then again being drunk didn’t help either. He had turned up earlier and spent some time yelling abuse from the footpath. After getting up the courage he ran upstairs, smashed his way into the house and began beating his wife. Naturally new boyfriend stepped in and gave him a fierce flogging around the head, mainly with the Nunchukas. Mr Brown fell unconscious to the floor, boyfriend picked him up and hurled him off the veranda where he landed on the lawn. While taking down the details a horrible scream came from the front yard, I looked over to see Brown beating up my off-sider. Back downstairs, subdue him and slap the cuffs on. My mate had a black eye and bloody nose for his efforts, he called for the ambulance while I finished with the boyfriend.
A legal dilemma raised its head here, Mr Brown had committed Burglary with aggravation and boyfriend went above and beyond by hurling an unconscious Brown off the veranda. A quick discussion between the parties and nobody wanted to press charges. I arrested Brown for drink driving and we took him to the hospital. The ambulance officer worked alone and refused to ride in the back with Brown. We had to handcuff Brown with his hands at the front and he kept breaking the restraints holding him to the stretcher. (The equipment was old) Another big decision made, the ambo drove the police car (he loved it) I drove the ambulance and my mate sat on Brown in the back. On arrival at the hospital it was bedlam, Brown screamed and yelled abuse at the staff. The emergency ward sister came out and demanded I take the cuffs off. I refused, Brown had recovered somewhat and was his usual obnoxious self.
A young nurse approached him to check his injuries and he spat a huge gob of blood and snot into her face. I’d had enough, I flicked the end of his broken nose with my forefinger. Sister became indignant, the nurse smiled and Brown offered me out, “Take these cuffs off you bastard and I’ll show you how to fight.” Not wanting to disappoint him I whipped my keys out and grabbed the cuffs. Sister, showing some common sense grabbed the gurney and pulled it away, “He’s my patient now.” She knew his wife and didn’t want anything to happen to him. I’d had enough of the gutless pig. The nurse and my mate dragged me away. Common sense prevailed.
Karma came into my life a week after I resigned from the Police. I was driving to a friend’s place to help her move some belongings and was towing a trailer. A utility sped up on my left, cut me off and stopped suddenly in the middle of an intersection. By the time I’d sorted myself out it was well ahead. I didn’t want any trouble and drove to the next set of lights. Lo and behold there was the Ute. The driver looked in his rear view mirror and undid his seat belt. Not wanting to be in a defenceless position I climbed out. Now I’m not a little bloke and at that stage was still quite fit, I was dressed to work in football shorts and a singlet. I approached the driver’s side and he flung the door open, and who should be driving the Ute? Mr Brown.
The conversation was quite civil and I questioned his parentage, mental faculties and whether or not he could drive. I walked away, he followed, head down fists up he headed towards me screaming abuse. Then he looked up and finally recognised me. His face seemed to melt and he knew he couldn’t back down. Picture this: a Saturday morning at an intersection located next to a large shopping complex. The lights had already gone through two stages and the traffic had banked up behind me. People were getting out of their cars and I noticed a man in a phone box frantically yelling into the phone. This was all on the periphery of my vision, my concern was Brown.
When someone shapes up in a boxing stance you can be sure of one thing, they want to fight. Not wanting to disappoint him I hit him. A beautiful straight left to the eye (I’m a southpaw), the satisfying crunch and the spray of blood from his split eyelid was a joy to behold. He went backwards arms wind-milling and landed on his bum in front of oncoming traffic. Luckily they stopped. Not only was Mr Brown a cowardly, wife-beating drunk, he was an idiot. I walked away and he staggered to his feet and followed. The fight continued at the back of his vehicle, he wore steel capped boots and tried to kneecap me with them. Enough, grabbing him by the front of his shorts and shirt I hefted him up and flung him into the back of the Ute. Returning to my car I got in and drove off. I heard nothing more about it.
Fourteen years later I bumped into his wife, I’m not one for small talk and waded straight in,
Me, “So, did you get rid of that cowardly idiot you were married to?” Her, a picture of indignation, “How dare you talk about my husband like that?” Then she storms off, well there’s no accounting for taste. I can only hope that he changed his ways, though that is unlikely. I know that violence doesn’t solve anything but I like to believe that getting a good thumping gave Mr Brown something to think about. And I think it made up for the nurse being spat on.