Ok. This is not funny. Except that it is. In a dark, cop-humor kind of way.
Dispatches to wildlife areas are not always about poaching. Sometimes people get lost. Other times people are cooking meth. There are times when someone is stranded in a boat. Sometimes people go off-roading. And there are times when someone tries to commit suicide.
In this state, much to my chagrin, people can camp in a wildlife area without paying. They may not even be hiking, birdwatching, hunting or fishing. They may be homeless. Or they may be on the Sex Offender Registry and "unable" to find somewhere "safe" to live. So, they (and I am generalizing here of course...don't mean to profile or anything) take there belongings to a parking lot in the wildlife area, pitch a camp and light a bonfire. Then they start drinking Busch Light. Why Busch? I don't know. All I know is the last time I drove through the biggest wildlife area in my territory I counted the boxes of thirty three empty cases of Busch Light strewn along the roadway.
Last night, just as I was getting Towhead into bed (he is fully recovered by the way), I received a call from dispatch, "Can you go out to "Big Castle" (the wildlife area with a fake name)? We received a 911 call that someone tried to commit suicide with an Off can in a parking lot across from the boat ramp. We have an ambulance en route, but the deputy wants you to respond."
"What do you mean, with an Off Can?"
"Like with a can of Off."
As usual, the dispatcher was less than helpful. The only Off cans I knew about were of the insect repellent variety. So I went.
The parking lot was strewn with junk (including some Busch boxes!). A dirty green tent was pitched near the back of the lot and a campfire was smoldering in a makeshift ring in the middle. A middle aged woman was sitting in a lawn chair smoking a cigarette. Tied to a tree was a little black and white dog.
The deputy and I approached her and asked what had happened. Long story short- she and her sex offender registered son were "staying for while" at the wildlife area while they looked for a suitable (legal) place for them to reside, where they were outside the required distances from schools, daycares etc. She started complaining, "This is the only place we can live. We figured we couldn't bother anyone out here." I begged to differ.
Anyway, she and her son had a little drunken spat. In the end, her son was forced to pull the guilt card on his poor old mom, by raising the can of Off insect repellent high into the air and proclaiming something along the lines of, "You made me do this Mom!" Then he tossed the can of Off into the fire and leaned over fire- arms spread-eagled, hoping to bear the brunt of the explosion in his face, ultimately causing his own tragic death.
Except it didn't work.
Turns out Off insect repellent (or at least the 3/4 spent can he tried to use) didn't carry the bang he longed for. It poofed in his face causing some burns. But he didn't quite get the drama he was shooting for. Nothing along the lines that would cause him to go down in history as the martyred sex offender son of a drunken, abusive mother.
The deputy gave the mother a ride to the hospital in his squad car. The mess in the parking lot was left for me. They never did come back to claim the dog, or their belongings. The dog went to the animal shelter where it was hopefully paired up with better home, and the dirty green tent and all its contents went into the dumpster.
Lesson one can gain from this story? Not much, except that Off cans in fire do not make effective tools for suicide. All you get is a burned face and maybe, if you are lucky, life-long repellency from mosquito bites.