It's foggy and forty-eight degrees win West Plains, Missouri, this Christmas morning. The forecast is for rain during the day and a high of sixty-three. If the rain holds off, I will do some much needed cleaning in the chicken coop - while singing Christmas carols!
I drove into town yesterday afternoon to do a few last minute, pre-Christmas chores. Many of the stores and eating places had already closed, allowing their grateful employees time to get home and prepare for the holiday. The weather may have not been as seasonal as some would have liked, but their was a feeling of Christmas in the air nonetheless.
Then I came home and got the evening mail out of the mailbox. As a subscriber to the local newspaper, the West Plains Daily Quill, I have an expectation that a daily dose of local news and opinion will be waiting in my country mailbox five days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays, and Christmas Eve proved to be no exception to that expectation.
At first glance, yesterday's local newspaper was Chrismassy. There was a silhouette runner of Santa and his sleigh racing above the paper's title, and a photo of a nativity scene at a local church that took up about a quarter of the front page. There were also a few real estate ads at the bottom of the front page, and a small teaser about a two-year-old pageant princess.
But beyond those trappings, the news wasn't as holiday fanciful. There was one relatively innocuous story about a local barber who lost a world series bet and, as a consequence, was now obligated to give one of his customers free haircuts for life. File that one under gambling. Then there were four front page stories which were of a much more sinister nature.
The first story, up high next to the picture of the nativity scene, was about a local man who shot and killed his wife at the local McDonald's last October. He also shot at another individual several times before fleeing the scene with his eleven-year-old daughter who had witnessed the murder of her mother. The fellow was released on bail ($250,000) in early December, and yesterday's story reported that he had been re-arrested at the insistence of a Grand Jury which felt that he posed a danger to others.
The story under that was about a 34-year-old woman who had been jailed for sexually trafficking a child under the age of twelve. The report said that the woman had had sex with men for money in front of the child, while her husband had sex with the child.
The story below that was about a forty-two-year-old woman who had been arrested for domestic assault. The allegations were that she has assaulted her significant other with a baseball bat and a hammer.
And the final front page story was of a 39-year-old area man who was charged with "enticement." He had arranged to meet a person he met on the internet (whom he believed to be a fourteen-year-old-girl) for sex. The "girl" turned out to be a cop.
And that was just the front page!
May your Christmas and the entire holiday season be peaceful and joyous, and may you not find yourself on the front page of the West Plains Daily Quill!