Over the past week, several things have occurred that I wish to discuss with you, the reasonably sober reader.  

An inspired man would hunker down at his desk all day and write separate columns for each of these important matters. 

I am not that man. I’m more of a bird shot kind of guy, frankly, and will now try to unload all of my thoughts in one soon-to-be-bloated column that you will read because … well, what else have you got going on that’s so darn important? 

I was welcomed back from Halloween vacation on Wednesday by reports that a viral video was flying around showing some punk twirling a cat around by the tail in downtown Lewiston. 

It wasn’t the twirling so much that made that video hard to watch. It was the way, at the end of the clip, that the cat is seen being slammed down onto the cold pavement with all the force said punk could muster. It is during that brief but terrible segment where the viewer finds his hands tightening into fists. 

Welcome back to work, this video said to me. Here is an act of horrific human cruelty to remind you that the world is full of dangerous and degenerate people and your own backyard is not safe from them. 

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That video clip darkened my mood and I was not even yet an hour back on the clock. Those grim thoughts would have persisted all day long, too, had it not been for the other side of the animal abuse equation which states: For every fiend capable of torturing an animal in this manner, there are a couple thousand who will rise up to destroy him. 

It’s a lesson all punks, active and aspiring, should learn before they are out of the sixth grade. Do not mess with animals, chump. You can get away with all sorts of criminal shenanigans, but the moment you cross the line into abuse of animals — or children or the elderly — you might as well go live in a deep, dark basement somewhere because the rest of us will be out with our torches and pitchforks. 

I don’t have a whole lot of faith that the court system will adequately punish the teen seen abusing the cat in that heinous video clip. But I have faith that the public that surrounds him will never forget, and they will never let him forget, either. 

Faith restored. Moving on. 

A day later came news that an 89-year-old woman had been mauled by a potentially rabid fox. This kind of thing isn’t good for the mood, either, as you go about imagining your own gram gram enduring such a savage and terrifying ordeal of hot fangs and swinging claws. So depressing. So unfair. 

And then I heard the rest of the story and started to feel better. 

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The rest of the story: The 89-year-old lady didn’t exactly lay down and submit to the mangy creature. She got her hands around the creature’s throat and went toe-to-toe with the beast to limit the damage. 

“At 89, she still has a lot of fight in her and did everything she could to choke the damn thing,” said her daughter. 

What’s more, the woman’s neighbor’s came quickly to her aid, with one of them producing some kind of metal cudgel and beating the animal about the face and head until it gave up the fight and scampered off. 

A note to punk foxes: Don’t mess with older folks. Their generation was a lot tougher than ours and they will give as good as they get. 

That lady survived and I’m moving on. 

First thing Friday, I got wind of a police chase that started when some wily fugitive blasted through a garage door to escape a police tactical team that had surrounded him at a home in Sabattus. What followed was an all-day hunt for one Diego Martinez, a local man with a long history of escapes from police. 

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We’re talking about a dude who once jumped into a lake and swam to an island to get away from them; a man who once recorded driving at 130 mph to evade police just down the road a sneeze in Wales; a renegade who once led police on a two-day manhunt along the Appalachian Trail. 

“Quicker than Roadrunner and knows how to ghost,” said one lady who knows him well. “That’s Diego.” 

That night, as I was just about to retire to the drum set for the night, I heard rumblings that Diego was on the move again. Sheriff’s deputies were chasing him through Poland and into Oxford and some real Dukes of Hazzard-style drama was underway. 

Diego soon crashed the car in Oxford and, bloodied, immediately ran off to commandeer his third vehicle of the day, which he used continue the chase into Norway — where he crashed one more time. 

Around 2 o’clock Saturday morning, I got a report that Diego had been captured, but that report was greatly exaggerated. Like he has so many times before, the seasoned fugitive had vanished like mist into the backdrop, and for the rest of the weekend, he remained a ghost. 

Diego’s exploits were avidly followed on social media, where a small segment of the population began to treat him as a kind of folk hero — it’s not every day, after all, that you see someone slither out of a net cast by police teams particularly trained to make sure such things can’t happen. It’s not every day you see an outlaw persevere over and over against such overwhelming odds against him. 

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But we all know how this goes. All it takes is one innocent bystander injured in a crash; one kid who steps out into the road at the wrong time as the desperado comes blasting through; one desperate house break-in that escalates to a home invasion. A single innocent person getting sucked into the fray will quickly transform a bandit’s image from legend to reviled villain. And in pursuits that have grown as desperate as Diego’s, it has a feel of inevitability. 

T’would be a touch of class if he were to give himself up before any of that happens. 

I wanted to talk to you about all the people who have written to tell me they wish to adopt the cat, now known as Harlow, from last week’s infuriating twirling affair. It’s touching and all, but as far as I know, I have not been named Harlow’s custodian. 

I wanted to talk to you about news that the Sun Journal will be moving out of 104 Park St. after about a jillion years there, and I WILL talk to you about that before long. But now there are reports of mass overdoses in Lewiston, rumblings about a mystery substance going around and the always lively rumors of Diego Martinez’s current whereabouts.  

Another week has begun and I’m starting to think my Halloween vacation is really over.

Ear to the scanner and eyes on the street, Mark LaFlamme is the crime reporter for the Sun Journal, and can be reached at [email protected]

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