LAKE WORTH — A burglar early this morning clambered over a backyard fence on a quiet block on the city's west side. He picked the wrong house.
He made it maybe a couple of steps before Rettt the dog, a mixture of Rottweiler and Doberman pinscher, charged, tearing the intruder's shirt from his back in a growling, ferocious attack.
This gave homeowner Robert E. Thompson, 91, time to jump out of bed, grab his gun, a .38-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, and to phone the police.
Then he went out back to let the guy know how he felt about home invaders. He raised the gun and shouted out in the darkness. He thought there might be three or four of them. He didn't care.
"The funny part was I didn't have any clothes on," said Thompson, a World War II veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart during combat tours in Europe. "I was standing out there with a .38 in my hand, and I was stark naked."
Already terrified of the dog, the burglar, who looked to be no older than 20, took a step toward the nude 91-year-old, and that was it for Thompson.
"I fired a warning shot," he said, and the burglar froze. "I wasn't going to let the guy get within six or eight feet of me. He spoke only Spanish, and I couldn't understand anything he was saying. I think he was more scared than I was, really."
And so they stayed that way, the hapless young burglar, who appeared, authorities said later, to be very drunk, and the naked old homeowner, his head cool, his revolver leveled, until Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies showed up.
Thompson would've made it out of the whole ordeal completely unscathed if, when the deputies told him to drop the gun, it hadn't accidentally gone off, sending a tiny bullet fragment ricocheting off the concrete pool deck and into Thompson's right shin.
He barely felt it, but the deputies called paramedics and insisted he get checked out at Delray Medical Center. He was back home by midday, recounting the incident.
The burglar, who identified himself as Jose Pasqual, 26, of no fixed address was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on a burglary charge.
"I have a real bad feeling about these guys. I don't tolerate them. I would've shot him if he kept coming," Thompson said. "You've got to protect yourself."
Now a few thoughts come to mind: First, when the police tell you to drop a gun, it's generally acceptable to slowly and safely set it on the ground. That way it doesn't go off, or bounce over to where the criminal could get it...or go off.
Next, I took pride in the thought that America still has some men left who haven't forgotten what it is to be a man. Then I had to wonder what would have happened if, instead of a veteran and a real man who was unafraid to take care of his business, it would have been a liberal in that home. So Lagniappe and I had a few beers and discussed it, and we came up with this list:
What a Liberal male would have done:
1. Wake up to sound of barking fluff dog and breaking glass.
2. Look around for his wife or someone else that he could send to investigate the strange noise.
3. Get dressed, to include robe and slippers--probably slippers with some animal faces on them.
4. Yell at fluff dog to be quiet, lest the neighbors become miffed.
5. Apologize to fluff dog for hurting his feelings.
6. Briefly regret putting up those "Gun-Free home" window stickers that he got from Sarah Brady's group in return for that generous donation last year.
7. Turn on outside lights...then remember the environment and turn them back off again.
8. Upon observing intruder trying to enter home, lose control of bowels and crap on floor.
9. Drop to knees and offer intruder anything that he wants--money, jewelry, a brie sandwich...
10. Blame self for contributing to societal problems that caused this intruder to turn to a life of crime.
11. Not even call the police until his insurance company says that they won't pay for the damage and losses without a police report.
12. Fraudulently claim that the eight intruders took over $3,000,000 worth of property.
13. Hold press conference blaming police for not responding quickly enough.
14. Sue police.
15. Use money from insurance claim and lawsuit settlement to move to gated neighborhood with private security force and no minority residents.
16. Write another check to Sarah Brady's group.
PS... I can't help but notice that the criminal here had no fixed address and speaks no English. Is this one of the people that Obama wants to legalize so that he'll be eligible for free health care?