"Damn it, Jeff! I don't care that your wife is a raving lunatic, you can't be going off like that and whacking her leg off with a chainsaw!"
"Awww come on Sheriff, you know that the crazy ones are always the most fun in bed. Besides, for the about the twentieth time now, I did not cut off her leg with a chainsaw. I used my belt knife!"
Confused? Well so was I. My darling bride of just two years had become pissed at me once again and decided to tackle, on her own, a job that I had refused too do and had seriously done herself quite a mischief. I had done nothing other than to help save her life but darned if anyone one else was quite seeing it that way.
I wasn't annoyed with the Sheriff; he was just doing his job. Besides we were old buddies and teammates together at Ohio State, still watched football together most weekends in season and bowled together on Wednesday nights. I had no doubt I'd get a fair shake from him, but it was the County Attorney that was pressing his buttons now.
I shut my eyes for a second and counted to ten and gave my story another go.
It seems all silly now but the start of the biggest row we had ever had in our marriage began when I wouldn't throw away my old, well-broken-in, large Igloo ice cooler. You've got to understand that, in my work as a large animal veterinarian, you just can't have too many ice chests kicking around. Frankly I have days that I've wished I had a few more sitting around in the garage. But my wife Leanne didn't quite see it that way ... but then again nowadays we didn't see eye to eye on much of anything anymore.
Leanne and I dated during our last two years together at Ohio State while I was finishing my Vet degree and she was completing her B.A. in Literature. She was always the one pushing our relationship onwards ... I don't even remember actually proposing to her! We were great together in bed (the crazy ones really are more fun in bed), but the rest of the time we, frankly, really struggled to be able to communicate at all with one another. I'm fun loving and extremely laid back, while she's 'just a tad' high strung and excitable ... and extremely high maintenance, financially and emotionally. We kept staying together for the high-octane wild sex and hoped that it would be enough to keep us together.
Frankly I have no clue how or why we ended up getting married after graduation, but I'm pretty sure it was her idea — and I'm equally sure that we both regret it now. The word 'divorce' was starting to enter into my thoughts more than occasionally and as far as I was concerned, the timing now couldn't have been better. I'd had more than enough of her shit. The Igloo incident was pretty much just the frosting on the cake.
Once I started my first vet job and bought our house in the wilds of Ohio I thought we had our clear and separate empires well delineated. She was currently a stay at home housewife (she considered secretary work and teaching quite beneath her and an insult to her intelligence) and I let her have absolute rule over everything inside the house. In return I was supposed to have free reign over our barn and the converted garage that is my home office. In other words she promised to keep her hands entirely off of my work related areas. In practice, however, Leanne's empire of control continued to remorselessly expand outwards. Hence, the previous Tuesday evening, I came home late from my practice to find that she had been cleaning my work areas again, and my largest (and favorite) ice cooler was now sitting out by the County farm road curb to await our monthly trash pickup on Friday morning.
I was dead-beat tired — it was spring calving season and I was working very long and erratic hours. Without a doubt this was my busiest time of year (and potentially the most lucrative). The last thing in the world I needed was more trouble at home this particular week. I picked up my Igloo, dusted it off and put it right back into my office and didn't give it another thought. Odds were that I would need it sometime this week anyway.
The very next evening, Wednesday, I again arrived home even later (it was almost Thursday) to find that, once again, my best big cooler was sitting out in the trash. I ground my molars a bit and retrieved it and carefully hid it behind a hay pile in the barn this time. As Leanne had already gone to bed (no supper waiting for me either) I resolved to keep my powder dry and fight it out with her once and for all later this weekend. It may sound like a small thing to you, but we had rules ... she was supposed to stay out of my things, or at least not move anything when she went snooping around trying to catch me at something. I didn't have any secrets to hide — I just needed to know that my tools and other materials would be right where they were supposed to be in case I needed anything in the middle of the night for an emergency call.
There was no cooler out by the trash late Thursday night. The barn had been definitely ransacked, but she hadn't found it. Leanne saw the snug look on my face and glared daggers at me. She stomped off to bed without a word, and without fixing any dinner for me again
Getting home the following night, it was early Saturday morning this time, I was knackered beyond words when I got home, but awoke with a jolt when I discovered that my Igloo was now sitting out on the front porch with the firewood axe theatrically chopped right into the center of the lid. My wife was standing next to it looking intensely pleased with herself. I could tell with a quick look into the barn that a tornado must have pass through it. Leanne had literally moved everything not nailed into the ground to find where I had hidden away the ice chest. She was so insanely stubborn that she just couldn't let the matter rest ... and she also had to have the last word in any fight, no matter how petty.
The axe did indeed look tempting ... but I resisted the urge go "Jack Nicholson" and use it on her. I had other urgent plans instead and we launched right into the first round of World War Three.
"You had no right to keep hauling back that old stinky ice chest you keep dead animals and icky bloody body parts in. It was awful and disgusting! If you absolutely have to have an ice chest go get a nice clean modern one that you can keep non filthy!" I hate it when she starts off the fight. It puts me on the defensive right from the start and makes it nearly impossible to win — not that I've ever won a fight with her anyway.
"You had absolutely no right to go into my office and my barn work areas and take my personal veterinary tools and make an arbitrary decision to dispose of my property. I do not treat your clothes, linens or anything else that is yours with that contempt. Besides, that old cooler was spotlessly clean inside and had many good years of life left in it. Buying a new one this size would cost me nearly $100 and I might even have to go to the Sam's in Cleveland to get one this large ... if they even make these anymore." It was a good start, keeping the debate on the moral high ground ... but ultimately pointless. Leanne might be able to spell the word 'logic' but it was a very alien concept to her.
Discussion soon turned into shouting. It invariably did. Leanne was definitely a firm believer in the theory that whatever your argument lacks in soundness you can make up for it with loudness, and she did so with a vengeance. If Leanne has a worst personality trait, it is that she gets "looped" on things from time to time. She's more than a bit obsessive-compulsive and once gets an idea into her head, it's nearly impossible to change it. In one of these phases (which have been coming far too frequently lately) she's like a broken record or old auto-reverse cassette deck, playing the same bit of sound over and over and over again. She stays completely fixated upon that one single small point until it gets resolved — indefinitely. Days or weeks, it just doesn't seem to matter to her.
Leanne was most definitely looping now; just rehashing her point that she was furious that I hadn't allowed her to throw it out when it so obviously had to be done. Accordingly, I was disrespecting her by not permitting her to have free reign anywhere and that I must respect her wishes (cough command cough) that the Igloo MUST go!
Fat chance. It was a good thing that our nearest neighbor was nearly a mile away because the going got pretty loud for awhile. We didn't come to blows and miraculously the "D" word was never used (I could not take control of the conversation long enough to bring it up) but I did let her know in no uncertain terms that I was tired of her psychotic ravings and had no intention of speaking with her again about anything until she stopped looping about that damned ice chest!
She let me know in uncertain terms she was sick of living in "Green Acres" surrounded by country bumpkins and that she was even more sick of me and didn't need or want me around if I couldn't respect her wishes.
"Fine by me!" I let her know and covered my ears so she couldn't get another word in edgewise. Well, she did keep ranting, but it didn't count since I obviously couldn't hear it.
With that I stomped off into the barn to sleep. I have got a fairly comfortable cot and a blanket out there, and the cool temperature inside the barn was far warmer than the arctic chill that my wife would radiate in our bedroom. I went right to sleep until I was woken up by the loud sound of the barn door slamming sometime, obscenely early in the morning. I didn't think too much about it and was nearly back asleep again when the sound of my chainsaw starting up woke me up just about completely. If I wasn't 100% awake already, the bloody curdling scream I heard just a few moments later finished the job. I leaped out of my cot and ran outside into the barnyard.
Leanne had never used my chainsaw, or any other chainsaw, before as far as I knew. Mine was a big and fairly powerful one with a definite mind of it's own that doesn't tolerate a light hand. Leanne was none too tall or very physically strong in the upper body and probably could barely lift the darn thing. It's amazing the amount of strength that insane anger can give you though. She had started the damned thing up and had hoisted it to attempt to finish the job on my Igloo that the axe had started last night. She had made the terrible mistake of holding the ice chest steady using her left foot on top so it wouldn't move when she cut into the cooler.
Instead, the chain bounced off of the top of the lid under her weak grasp and found something softer instead to cut into — her left foot just above her ankle.
The wound was bad, and there was an awful lot of blood. It also didn't help that she was now flailing about and screaming like a banshee while in utter shock. I ripped off my belt (it was a good thing I slept still dressed in the barn) and attempted to use it to make a tourniquet around her bleeding leg, but she kept thrashing about and even kicking at me with her remaining good leg. The way her stump was bleeding she was going to bleed out soon if I didn't act. In the end, I had to sit on her to get her still long enough to get the tourniquet on and get my first good look at her wound.
I didn't like what I saw. She had cut cleanly through the entire leg, both the tibia and fibula, and all of the muscle. The only thing even holding her ankle still connected to her leg was about a ¾ inch wide bit of fragile skin. This was very bad. I wasn't an MD but you do learn enough in vet school (especially in the large animal program) to know exactly how and what needs to be done in this situation. Thank goodness it was a weekend and I was still home, if she had done this yesterday there is no doubt she would have bleed out in the state of shock she was in.
I took out my trusty belt knife and bent over to slice off that last bit of skin connecting the amputated limb. Leanne screamed bloody murder and just kept yelling "No! No! No!" But I ignored her — I was pretty sure the handling and treatment of severed limbs wasn't covered in any of her literature classes, even in her extensive reading of the Italian Renaissance poets. She was now going to be very, very glad I still had my ice chest (and still mostly undamaged), because if there was to be any hope of surgical reattachment her lopped off ankle and foot were going to need to be as chilled as I could get it.
I called County 911 to give them the bad news. The worse news was that the nearest unit on call was over 20 minutes away from us, but I did some fast coordinating and got then to plan on meeting us at Taft Grove, the nearest town in between our two locations. With her limb iced down in the chest and with every scrap of ice we had in our freezer, I forced Leanne into the passenger seat of my truck and proceeded to haul ass down the road to meet the EMS techs at Taft. They arrived there about the same time we did, and after giving my wife a quick look-over the two techs gave my first-aid measures their complete and unreserved full approval.
"Damned good work!" One of them even said during our ride to County Hospital. "She should have no problems getting it reattached and working again!" Leanne didn't much see that point of view and kept telling everyone who would listen that it was all my fault and that I had done this to her!
I'm not sure I expected gratitude from her ... Hell! I did expect at least a little gratitude! Even if she wasn't feeling particularly happy there was no cause for telling the EMS techs that I was an attempted chainsaw murderer! Fortunately we had a lot of driving time getting to the hospital for me to explain the true facts and Leanne was mostly in too much shock to argue.
County Hospital emergency receiving took one look at her and scheduled an immediate Life-Flight to a bigger hospital in Cleveland. They didn't have a neurosurgeon on-staff here that could properly reattach her limb but they could at least give her some drugs to knock her out a bit. Her attending physician also concurred with the quality of my first-aid and declared it to be "Perfect — just what was needed to be done".
Two hours later she was in surgery where her foot was reattached, hopefully for a more permanent association. Unfortunately, her semi-insane raving that I had caused and had been responsible for her injury continued. I made statements to every attending doctor and even to a pair of Cleveland Police officers that arrived in her hospital room to take a statement from her. Everyone (except Leanne) was well content with my true account of the facts.
Once I was assured that Leanne should make a full physical recovery, I told her where else she could take herself. Pretty much straight to Hell ... but she could start her trip off by picking up her stuff, which I'd even pack for her and put into boxes in the barn for her to pick up later. It was time at long last for the Big "D" Express, no stops, no waiting, no debate, no ticket — no laundry! Goodbye. Good riddance.
I even really meant it; I was the happiest man on that Greyhound Bus heading back towards home and I whistled nearly the whole way. Leanne was not yet done with me however ... not by a long shot.
Monday morning our local town Police Chief paid me a visit at my office saying that he had heard a rumor that I had attempted to murder Leanne. Here we go again ... I gave him an oral statement and said I'd put it on paper and even sign it for him, but he declined. He knew me and he knew Leanne pretty well. I thought that would be the end of it.
Wednesday afternoon, Ralph Loggins, our County Sheriff (and probably my best friend) also came calling to see me while I was checking on some horses for a client at a local ranch. He'd also heard the "interesting news" and needed a statement from me. Fine!
He let me finish up my checkup on the mares that hadn't foaled yet and we drove up to the his nice office in the County seat where I dictated a long and exhaustive statement as to the facts of the truth and signed it with glee. I even asked him for some photocopies of it so I could save time later when the State Police and the FBI showed up at my door to capture the notorious would-be chainsaw killer.
Ralph came by the house early Thursday morning to do a look-over of the 'alleged crime scene' along with an Assistant County Attorney. Both were extremely apologetic but stated they were under orders from higher authority. I gave then a free reign to look where ever they wished on the property and even performed a staged reenactment of the entire event, sans my ice chest which I never saw again once we got to the receiving hospital in Cleveland.
Friday morning Ralph was back again, this time with couple car loads of Deputies that wanted to make another, more thorough, search of the property. I was told that the County Attorney most definitely wanted to speak with me and while I wasn't under arrest and there were no charges against me at present, my presence would be extremely helpful if I'd accompany them back to the County Court House. To my regret, I agreed.
I had nothing to hide — I was innocent of any and all wrong doing in this entire affair, but someone, apparently the County Attorney (CA), felt otherwise. As soon as I heard that she was involved in this mess I should have immediately lawyered up. That woman was even crazier than my soon-to-be ex-wife! She was very definitely the kind of two faced bastard that would piss on you and then tell you that it's raining so enjoy it.
Dana Russell was apparently just your average run of the mill, highly educated (and maybe even brilliant) woman until she was allegedly raped while still in law school. To say this made her angry and bitter would be a vast understatement. No one knows what her politico-socio leanings were before hand but there is no doubt that she was probably the most liberal and man-hating lawyer to ever graduate from Marshall.
Her life's mantra was simple: All men are bad. Plain and direct to the point, no debate allowed and don't confuse me with the facts. In her two plus years as the top lawyer for the County she had never once prosecuted a woman that was under accusation of a crime from just the word of a man. Any man ... any number of men. If a female robber had held up a store in front of twenty male witnesses or more, "Daffy Dana" would decline to prosecute on the grounds of insufficient evidence. If one woman, however, accused any man of wrong doing, despite twenty witnesses that spoke to the contrary — Katy bar the door! Then she couldn't wait to prosecute.
Faced with choosing the near incoherent testimony of a woman half of the County disliked and whose public meltdown performances were quite the stuff of local legend, or the numerous sworn statements of various expert witnesses (all male), Dana clung to Leanne's absurd statements like a drowning person would a life preserver.
I was questioned off and on for just about twenty four hours and when I was finally utterly sick and tired of the game and demanded to either be charged with something or released. So they charged me. Attempted Murder.
My lawyer (yeah I definitely needed one now), would have found the entire fiasco humorous, except it wasn't funny. The kooky CA was dead serious and so we had to be as well. It was going to take every dime of my savings to rid myself of this ridiculous charge. Plus the only real murder was going to be to my client base afterwards — when you're charged with murder it goes on the front page of the paper but when you're acquitted you're lucky if they post it in the back next to the classified ads. I really needed to prepare an aggressive defense and I'd be lucky afterwards if I didn't lost nearly half of my business clients.
While I remained in jail without bond for nearly a week, my attorney made himself very useful indeed — and almost worth what I was paying him. He collected signed written statements from all of the EMS and hospital medical personnel that saw her that Saturday that the wound was, indeed, accidentally self-inflicted by my soon-to-be ex-wife. Most of the statements also included some measure of praise for my actions that morning that correctly preserved the amputated limb for the successful reattachment later. The enterprising fellow also tracked down my Igloo ice chest, which was still sitting where it had been left in the corner of the operating room. To our delight, the axe damage and a sliding chainsaw scrape mark were very visible.
What more could the daffy bitch want? Don't ask ... but this was enough evidence at least to get me granted bail.
Victory would soon be ours ... assuming that we could ever get a fixed preliminary trial date with the County Judge, a crusty old gentleman that had no use for his County Attorney whatsoever. Daffy Dana, sensing that her case was built upon a single very wobbly card, began to delay and prevaricate until my lawyer filed a motion with the County Judge for her to either accept a trial date to present her case or to immediately drop all charges. She danced a bit, but the Judge had hooked her and we finally got the case in front of a jury.
I was somewhat against the idea of having to waste the extra time of empanelling a jury to be forced to waste their time listening to this madness. I figured the Judge by himself would do a good enough job of evaluating the facts and get us out of the courtroom earlier. My attorney wanted our acquittal to be bullet-proof against any appeals or retrials so I let him talk me into it.
I sure didn't make any friends of my twelve jurors by doing this. Oh, they weren't mad at me per se, but there was a good deal of resentment that they had to waste their time listening to us. On the bright side, it took them less than five minutes of Dana's opening statement against me for the jury to see that their CA was an utter nutcase.
My lawyer took a deep breath and did his absolute best Groucho Marx imitation.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I'm very sorry to have to see you all here today. I wish I was out fishing, and in about half hour you're going to wish that you were having a root canal dental surgery done instead by a talentless amateur. <Prosecution Objection over-ruled>. The facts of this case are simple; some village in Ohio is missing two of its idiots. <louder Prosecution Objection over-ruled>. This case looks like horseshit, smells like horseshit and certainly tastes like horseshit, but don't let that fool you — this case really is horseshit. <yet another louder Prosecution Objection over-ruled>. If the judge is willing we'll all get you out of here by happy hour — and trust me, after you hearing this case you're going to need more than one drink!" <Judge says "Amen">.
An acquittal was never in doubt. Daffy Dana presented her threadbare case against me and filled in the impossible number of gaps with a metric crapload of rumor, innuendo and hearsay. I don't think she ever completed a single sentence of her presentation against me without my lawyer leaping up to object to something ... and being sustained 100% of the time.
My ex, Leanne, didn't help her case much while she was on the stand either. Her initial statement of facts was vague and rambled off-point usually within moments. But when my old Igloo ice chest was put in front of her on the evidence table she absolutely lost it and began to "loop" her rant about how she'd told me to get rid of it and that it must be thrown out because it was dirty, that's why she had to destroy it — it was evil. The whole long tiresome and batshit crazy spiel. If any of those poor jurors listening to her before had even the slightest sympathy for her it was now gone in a flash.
Dana couldn't wait to call a recess but the fatal damage was already done. The Judge was itching to make a summary judgment to dismiss all charges but my attorney was insistent that I receive a complete and full acquittal.
If Leanne looked dreadful while presenting her accusations against me, her behavior during cross-examination was far worse. Her once-severed foot apparently pained her tremendously and her innate kookiness may have been compounded with heavy pain meds. Apparently, she had refused to do the physical therapy necessary to obtain a complete and full recovery and that fact, which was revealed early in our cross-examination, earned the 'poor hapless victim' nothing but scorn from the juror box. But we weren't remotely done with her yet...
"Where was your husband, the defendant, when the chainsaw cut injured you?"
"In the barn, on a cot asleep. Why? But it was his fault ... etc."
"Ah. So the chainsaw was not in your husbands hands when you had the accident?"
"Well, no ... but it was his fault ... etc."
"Ok, so were you were holding the chainsaw in your hands while your husband was asleep away from you in the barn, not knowing what was happening at that moment?"
"Well, yes, sort of ... But it was his fault ... etc."
"Alright, so what in fact happened then that morning was you were using the chainsaw yourself, alone, with no one near you, in order to destroy your husband's Igloo ice chest, right here - Exhibit A for the defense?"
"Of course! Someone had to destroy it! I tried with the axe but it was too hard — I HAD to use the chainsaw! He should have let me throw it out! It's all his fault!"
"So ... you cut off your own leg with a chainsaw ... but it's your husband's fault?"
"OF COURSE IT WAS HIS FAULT!" She screamed, now standing up in the witness box. "It was just a teeny little cut, just a scratch. I'd have been fine with just a Band-Aid. Then he comes at me with his belt and tries to strangle me and when I wouldn't let him he then took out a huge knife and sawed my whole leg off! He wanted to kill me!"
"Your tiny little cut, was there a lot of blood?"
"Rivers of it — I almost bled to death the doctors said."
"About your husband coming at you with his belt, did he wrap it around your 'little cut' to stop the blood?"
"Well, yes. But..."
"Did the EMS technicians and the hospital doctors say that if your husband hadn't used his little pocket knife (Defense Exhibit B) to cut off the little bit of skin still holding your foot attached that they never could have reattached it. By doing this he saved your foot, according to what they all told you?"
Well, yes. But ... IT'S HIS FAULT — IF HE'D LET ME THROW AWAY THAT GODDAMN CHEST THIS NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!"
The poor jury didn't know what to do. Juror #3 was laughing himself silly in his chair. Juror #4 next to him was cradling her head in her hands trying not to laugh to. Juror #9 in the back row said "Batshit crazy" in a stage whisper that everyone could hear. Jurors #11 & 12 were muttering to themselves, but not quite quietly enough "the bitch must be fucking insane — glad I'm not married to her".
The Judge had had enough. He pointedly asked if my lawyer was done with cross-examination and ordered the jury to go deliberate ... and muttered that if they were gone for longer than five minutes he'd make them sit through the trial all over again.
They came back in two minutes — "Not Guilty". I stuck around for another half hour, as did most of the jury, to hear the old Judge absolutely ream out the County Attorney. Her meltdown was nearly as good as Leanne's. She naturally blamed 'masculine prejudice' for his rulings and she made it completely clear to him the full contempt she held him in. Not too smart — Judges have lot of influence with Bar Review Boards and he made it plain that she was heading to face one, and hopefully receive disbarment.
Alas, she wasn't. But she received a heavy letter of reprimand and the County Commissioner, fed up with her one-ring circus, fired her. We held a party at our favorite local watering hole in celebration. Sheriff Ralph put up the first $200 for the bar bill. The County Judge said he'd match it. The Commissioner (tight wad) put up the next $100 and the entire staff of Assistant County Attorneys said they'd make up any difference that was left over.
I don't think she had a single friend in the entire County. Unfortunately, the ultra-liberal wife of our then sitting President thought that Daffy Dana would make excellent Federal District Judge material for a low level vacant position in Akron. The crazy bitch landed like a cat right on her feet and into a field of clover. Within six months, Dana was nationally known as "Judge Moonbat" ... and it fit her. Her stripes hadn't changed one little bit and if anything she'd become even crazier with her extra judicial power.
I thought we were all well and done rid of her, but it didn't quite work out that way.