Today’s post is quite a different story to our usual posts but nonetheless true and with a message of a tough lesson learnt. Cate Macabe has written the memoirs of a licensed private investigator AJ Jackson and it sounds as if it reads like any good crime novel. They say ‘fact is stranger than fiction!’
The following is a condensed excerpt from
Chapter 9: ‘Know Thyself’ of This New Mountain, a memoir of AJ Jackson as told to Cate Macabe:
“I held Robert Toti’s Subpoena behind my back as I knocked on his door. A stocky, middle-aged man answered my knock. He leaned against the door jam and crossed his arms, eyeing me.
‘Is Robert Toti home?’ I asked.
‘No,’ Robert Toti said, ‘he’s not here.’
It makes my skin boil when people lie to me. His next door neighbor had already verified he was home. So I could come back later B a complete waste of time and gas B or I could call the man’s bluff.
‘Sir, you are Robert Toti.’ I threw the Subpoena at his chest. ‘You’ve been served.’
And time slowed the way it always does in the face of the unexpected and the terrifying.
Toti’s eyes flashed, his jaw tensed. I knew that look. He would tear me apart if he got his hands on me. Shadows rose up behind him. I stepped back. Toti rushed across the threshold, all 200 pounds of him. And with him came his two huge sons. I turned and flew across the dirt yard.
I was a heartbeat ahead of the onslaught when I reached my car and jumped inside.
They were on me then, screaming through the open window, kicking the doors, beating on the hood. I fumbled for the revolver under my front seat. It was wedged too far back to reach. I grabbed the can of pepper gas from the console, held it up to the window. My attackers cringed away. The gas didn’t come out, but the threat of being sprayed bought me enough time to get the windows up and the doors locked.
I raced away and filed a report with the local police department. Then Mr. Toti and his sons filed a Private Criminal Complaint against me. A few months later, I was arraigned in an old stucco courthouse, accused of beating up three men, all nearly twice my size. Judge Sanchez, a tiny, grey-haired man whose shoulders barely extended over the top of his desk, presided over the courtroom.
I told my side of the story while Sanchez sat there doodling on a pair of yellow legal pads, moving lazily from one pad to the other.
After I finished, my attorney leaned close to me. ‘God, AJ,’ he whispered, ‘I hope you have an extra pair of panties and a toothbrush in your purse because this isn’t looking good.’ He chuckled. I was too scared to laugh. You never know what to expect when you go before a judge.
Judge Sanchez continued to doodle away while the Toti boys took their turn speaking to the bench. Soon Sanchez interrupted. Waving a legal pad in the air with one hand, he said, ‘First you say Miss Jackson does this.’ Then he lifted the second legal pad with the other hand and said, ‘Then you say she does this.’ He waved both pads back and forth, crisscrossing them in the air. ‘Miss Jackson can’t be doing all of this at the same time. And, given Miss Jackson’s weight and the combined weight of you three men, I wonder who was really in fear of their life.’
Robert Toti and his sons stared at each other. They had nothing more to say.
The judge dismissed the case.
When it was over, friends and family asked if I would countersue. What was I supposed to get from Mr. Toti? I’d been sent to serve him with a Subpoena requesting proof he was an unemployed truck driver with no income to pay his debts. No, I wouldn’t sue.
Sure, I was scared the day I tossed the Subpoena at Robert Toti, and he and his sons came after me. But I was also angry as all get-out. They could have grabbed me through the window or pulled me from my car. Did they do that? No, they kicked my car doors. Pounded on the hood of my beautiful Firebird. If I had managed to get ahold of the revolver lodged miraculously under the front seat, I would have killed three men that day. And I never would have forgiven myself for it.
I took that gun out of my car and never carried another one on the job.