Webster: A one-legged man's threat to kick

Contributing columnistMay 13, 2012 

June Hayes once told me that her and Arlie's favorite Christmas was sitting across from each other at a trailer table and eating a can of Vy-eenies.

I always wondered if he gave her the odd Vy-eenie for a Christmas present. Our frankincense and myrrh, mountain people will continue to eat Vy-eenies even if they rename them "pink slime."

June was from a generation of Damrons, interior Pike Countians, geniuses, inventors, free thinkers and towering intellects, some of whom got well known for it, and some of whom, like June, used it to stay married. She and Arlie shared an IQ nearing 500, and a long marriage during which Arlie populated the town but not by her. I once asked June if it ever bothered her that Arlie had all them children? "Well," she huffed indignantly, "I certainly didn't want him telling me what do!"

Arlie Hayes was a licensed sea captain, a legendary pilot who would fly upside down under bridges and stuff like that, and a whiz at building big metal structures as are so necessary in coal country. He was, also, one-legged.

The story which follows is the story of when Arlie, a one-legged man, was indicted for threatening to kick somebody's ass "all over Pikeville." The passages hereafter come from a Circuit Court motion to dismiss those charges composed by Arlie and June when Arlie was acting as his own attorney. This is written in mountain riddle style, to which some of my readers have already objected.

"The defense moves that this case be dismissed because:

1. The Grand Jury ... did not see the defendant.

2. In order for any crediable (sic) intimidation or threat of any type to exist, it ... must be perceived as being capable of being performed by a reasonable man.

3. That condition is based upon a very sound psychological principle that governs the behavior of men and has been succinctly stated by eminent observers as, "A situation defined as real is real in its consequences." Thus for example, the law recognizes that a man using a toy pistol is guilty of armed robbery as if he had used a real gun.

4. The reverse of that condition is also recognized in the law wherein "A situation defined as unreal is unreal in its consequences." Thus, for example to go up to someone with a toy pistol and to attempt to kill them by pulling the trigger and saying, "Bang, bang," will not injure or kill them and the person using the toy pistol cannot rationally be charged with attempted murder.

5. If an alleged utterance is perceived by a reasonable man as not being capable of being carried out, there is no threat.

6. A one-legged 64-year-old man cannot make a valid threat to a big healthy 30-year-old man to allegedly "kick his ass all over Pike ville." The laws of physics preclude the possibility of its occurrence.

7. A sterile man cannot be guilty of paternity; a mute trying to shout "fire" in a crowded theater will produce only unintelligible grunts rather than panic, and folk wisdom in a proverb renders a verdict on the fate of a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

8. Literally and figuratively, two asinine charges that are patently absurd have been returned against the defendant. We pray that the court dismiss these charges.

Filed this the 12th day of June, 1979, by Arlie E. Hayes, Defendant and acting as his own attorney."

Arlie later died in a plane crash, exactly as everybody had predicted. A sea captain from Cowpen, who did in fact threaten that very kick, and it wouldn't have taken much for him to have tried to defy the proverb.

Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, can be reached at websterlawerencer@bellsouth.net.

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