The Call Box

The Call Box: The Strange Case of the Poisoned Mushrooms

What follows can only be described as an act committed by me in a moment of weakness. Not done in a mean-spirited manner but only because I had lost control so to speak, and, well, “the devil made me do it.”

By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD

lapd callboxLast year I told you of my best friend and former partner, Richard L. Sullivan 

Aka: Sully. My association with him covered many years and countless mini-adventures, not only with other coppers and the general public but mostly our adversaries. 

 When he and Ed Lutes out-conned the cons trying to sell a very expensive painting, one of the suspects complained to me that Sully f**ked with his head. “Not a complaint,” I replied, “but a compliment.”

 That said, he is to receive credit or blame for my sometimes warped behavior   (see Marilyn Monroe funeral 4/12/17).

What follows can only be described as an act committed by me in a moment of weakness. Not done in a mean-spirited manner but only because I had lost control so to speak, and, well, “the devil made me do it.”



    The Strange Case of the Poisoned Mushrooms


dinner partyMany years after retirement, I was at a dinner party seated across from a young woman probably mid/late 30’s and a psychologist. I’m looking forward to some interesting conversation. Seated to her left is her male companion, a federal agent with the “ATF” (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), with possibly 2-3 years on the job. He is seated directly across from my wife, Susan who is on my right.

The psychologist was employed by the Justice Department and was charged with pre-sentence interviews of white collar defendants.

No names of course, but she has been regaling us with a tale of a recent interviewee and what a terrible life he had endured; how she besieged the court to take this into consideration at time of sentence and on and on and on.

She turned out to be a very nice person but listening to her, she sounded so gullible, my head hurt. At that moment I could feel my internal battle with the devil beginning.

And I was losing. 

I interrupted finally with, “I can certainly identify with your client, however the tragedies he has suffered pale compared to mine. Many years ago, I lost my first wife when she ate poisoned mushrooms.”

Among other things, every officer is a people watcher and a student of “body language.” I watched them both carefully. She was, for the moment at a loss for words. She sat up slightly and mumbled some sort of, “I’m so sorry.” Mr. ATF leaned forward as he was interested in what I had to say. I waited a long moment for affect and continued. “That’s not all. A few years later I lost wife number two the very same way—poisoned mushrooms.

Now having told this tale before, I knew this is where it got really interesting. 

Her mouth became an ‘o’ as she visibly leaned back putting as much distance as possible between us. She did not speak.  Mr. ATF, however, leaned in further and I could almost read his mind as he wondered if his handcuffs were in the car. 

woman falling down stairsBefore she could recover I hit her with the clincher. “And wife number three died of a broken neck when she fell down the stairs.” At this point, the psychologist was losing color and had the deer in headlights look.

I leaned in to really sell it. Mr. ATF, on the other hand, grinned and sat back. She was still semi-frozen when my wife (who is as good a straight man as I could wish) for asked sweetly, “Aren’t you going to ask him how that happened?”    …….a tremulous “how?”

I answered, “Because she wouldn’t eat the g*d damned mushrooms.”

I apologized and asked her if she thought any of her “clients” ever lied to her. 

I think she got the message…

4 replies on “The Call Box: The Strange Case of the Poisoned Mushrooms”

OMG, that was awesome. Sounds like the humor around my house (husband’s a retired federal agent with VA OIG CID, previously USDA OIG CID).

We had a staff Psychologist at work who processed pre-sentence court referrals. She ALWAYS recommended prison. I doubt she even read the file. The word “Non-biased” was NOT in her lexicon. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…the “Ed” in me took over. I removed the inmates picture from the file, and replaced it with a cartoon
depiction of Alfred E. Newman the main character in the Mad Magazine series. I never told her about the switch, obviously, so back to court it went. A few days later
one of the office girls told me she received an angry phone call from a judge in LA
demanding to talk to the person who did the file. All I know is the guilty party left work early that day. Lesson learned: Attention to detail pays dividends. I AM a bad boy.

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