A Bad Actor

The writing group prompt for today was to write a scene, or story about a bad person. I am going to begin my “fiction” stories with the same announcement that is made at the start of the “Law & Order” episodes – based on actual events. The Freddie Wright character is based on someone I worked with. His encounter with Bennie Schultz did actually occur, but under different circumstances.

A Bad Actor

Bill Dieffenbacher would always remember the bad feelings he had when he first met Bennie Schultz.  The FBI had arranged for the Chief to meet secretly with two of their agents and Bennie at a dive hotel just outside of Pittsburgh.  There the agents informed him that Bennie had entered the witness protection program and, for the time being, would be living in a safe house in the town where Dieffenbacher was Chief of Police.  “Why Wrightsville?” asked Dieffenbacher.  The agents both both raised their eyebrows, “It’s a podunk town in the middle of nowhere, a great place to be from”, one answered adding “and you are the only one in your town who knows about this arrangement.  You are personally responsible for his safety”.  The Chief looked at Schultz and noticed he was smirking at him.  Standing 6’6”, with cold gray eyes, shaved head, thick beard and tattoos covering his heavily muscled arms, Shultz was downright menacing.

On the ride back to Wrightsville, the gregarious Schultz bragged about his membership in the neo-Nazi Aryan Brotherhood and that he was to be protected so he could testify against a Los Angeles based drug kingpin in a trial later in the year.  Glancing at his passenger the Chief thought, “ain’t nobody in Wrightsville who comes close to looking like Schultz, he’ll stick out like a sore thumb”.  After leaving Shultz in his safe house,  the Chief could sense his oily repugnance on his skin. He rushed to get home before his wife and kids did so he could shower before greeting them.

It was not long after the arrival of Bennie Shultz in Wrightsville that bad things began to happen.  It started with foul words being scratched onto cars, then spray painted on commercial buildings around town.  Everyone thought it the work of juvenile delinquents.  Despite increasing the frequency of patrols, the town’s 10 person police department could not uncover any culprits, but with the increased police presence, the activity stopped.  After a relatively quiet period, several homes on the outskirts of town were broken into with jewelry and money as the primary target of the thief, or thieves.  Again there were no suspects. People began to buy dogs, big ones.  Chief Dieffenbacher was aware that the timing of these events coincided with the arrival of Bennie Shultz, but Shultz had been keeping a relatively low profile, rarely venturing out, even having his groceries delivered.  It was on one of his visits to check on the Skinhead that the Chief spotted a necklace fitting the description of one of the stolen items on the counter in the kitchen.  Dieffenbacher turned to face Shultz.  Before he could say anything, Schultz taunted the Chief, “And just what do you think you are gonna do about it?  Call the Feds, see what they say.  Show yourself to the door”.

After the encounter with the Chief, Shultz became a very unwelcome presence around town.    He was rude and arrogant to shop keepers, threatening them when they said smoking was not allowed in their stores, then either grinding out his cigarette butts on their polished floors, or flipping them at store employees.  He menaced women, asking them on dates.  If they were with someone else, he would intimidate or berate their significant others.  He began to hang out at the CVS in the center of town, and sometimes the mini-mart next door, insulting and intimidating customers.  He would reserve his most vicious verbal assaults for any customer who was not white.  When the police were called on to react to his behavior, he intimidated and taunted them.  When Chief Dieffenbacher tried to enlist the help of the FBI in reigning in their informant, they were no help and upbraided the Chief for not being able to control Shultz.

If at all possible, the Skinhead’s behavior became even more brazen.  He began to focus his attention on one person in particular, a regular CVS customer and a local farmer named Freddie Wright, a descendant of the town’s founders.   Although not as tall as Schultz, Freddie was a pretty imposing presence himself.  Squarely built, soft spoken and friendly to everyone, he had massive hands.  Shaking hands with him was like sticking your hand inside a Thanksgiving turkey.  Returning home after being severely wounded in the Gulf War, the discovery of large natural gas reserves on his family farm made Freddie a very wealthy man.  This new found wealth did not change Freddie one bit.  Schultz had heard of Freddie’s success, and also learned that in the summer months, he sometimes spent days in a cabin in the woods on his farm versus staying in the main house.  It was on one of these foray’s into the woods that Bennie Shultz decided to make a visit to the farm house.  Returning to the main house from his weekend in the cabin, Freddie discovered the break in.  He was dismayed to discover his Gulf War medals were missing, but oddly, that was all.  His next move was to call the police.

Leaning next to the entry to CVS, chain smoking, Bennie Shultz awaited his prey.  He shifted slightly when Freddie’s old Ford pickup chugged into the parking lot.  As Freddie approached the CVS, Shultz shouted “Hey Hillbilly, you missing anything?”, then laughed.  Freddie looked at him and spied a Purple Heart and Silver Star dangling from his shirt pocket.  Not saying a word, he strode into the pharmacy, the door closing on the taunts and laughs from Shultz.  Speaking to the store clerk, Freddie said “Please call 911, someone is about to get hurt”, then turned back to the door.  Walking out he was confronted with the big shit eating grin of Bennie Shultz.  He planted his massive right fist into the middle of the grin.  The police were the first to arrive at the CVS.  They were content to allow Freddie to continue his work until the ambulance arrived.  After being shoveled into the ambulance,   Mr. Bennie Shultz, Aryan Brotherhood skinhead, was never seen in Wrightsville again.

Ernie Stricsek

The Chatham Writers Group

April 25, 2021

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