Tom Clyde: Narwhal tusks and freezers in the news
The news the last little while has been so depressing that I’ve been ignoring it. That’s maybe not the most responsible thing to do, but shouting at the TV probably isn’t accomplishing anything. If any of us is looking for courage, statesmanship, or thought from our congressional delegation, we are going to be disappointed. Somehow, out of the din, the two best news stories of the year, maybe the decade, came to my attention.
The first was a terrorist attack in London. Now, there’s nothing funny about a terrorist attack that left two people dead (and, fortunately, the terrorist was also shot and killed). But as details of the attack emerged, it is an image right out of Monty Python.
The terrorist was randomly stabbing and slashing people in a crowded fish market. A spontaneous, heroic group of people went into action. One guy was spraying the terrorist with a fire extinguisher. Another had something else he was trying to subdue the guy with.
The hero of the event was a Polish chef, known only as Lukasz, who flew into action, beating the terrorist into submission with a 5-foot narwhal tusk. I’ve been writing in this space for over 30 years now, and in all that time, there has never been occasion to write these words: He was beaten senseless by a Polish chef wielding a narwhal tusk.
My life is complete.
The heroic Lukasz was at work in a restaurant in historic Fishmonger’s Hall when the attack broke out. Rather than grabbing any of the available kitchen knives or cleavers, Lukasz went big. He snatched the narwhal tusk off the wall, where it had been hanging for decoration, and went into action. He was injured in the fracas, cut rather badly it appears, and is recovering in a London hospital.
That kind of quick thinking and decisive action is always impressive, and I wonder how I would have reacted under the circumstances. Would I have taken the offensive like the guy with the fire extinguisher, or run for my life. I hope I never have to find out.
But I’m certain that, in those chaotic and dangerous moments, I would not have thought to go for the narwhal tusk. It’s not something you think of as the first line of defense.
I wonder if Lukasz had been frying fish there in the Fishmonger’s Hall restaurant for years, bored out of his mind, thinking that someday, under the right circumstances, a guy could use that narwhal tusk as a weapon.
It seems like something that would take some advance planning. What other nautical décor might have been available for weaponry? Surely, in a restaurant that had a narwhal tusk on the wall there also had to be harpoons, nets, oars and other fishing accouterments. But Lukasz chose the narwhal tusk, and the world is a safer place because of it.
The other news story that jumped out was much closer to home. An elderly woman in Tooele passed away in her home, apparently of natural causes.
Jeanne Sourone-Mathers, 75, reportedly died in her sleep in a retirement apartment complex in Tooele. Neighbors called police when they had not seen her for several days. When the police were making a routine check of the apartment, they opened a freezer, and discovered the body of her husband, Paul Edward Mathers. By some accounts, the body may have been in the freezer for as long as 11 years. He was apparently the kind of man nobody seemed to miss. Neighbors had no clear recollections of the last time they saw Mathers.
Tooele police officials said they are awaiting a report from the State Medical Examiner on Mathers’ cause of death, and how long he has been on ice, but added that they “strongly suspect foul play.” At the minimum, it’s a pretty safe bet that he didn’t get into the freezer by himself. His wife has been in a wheelchair for some time, making it unlikely that she stuffed him in there alone.
My guess is that his Social Security checks just kept coming as long as he was in the freezer, and his wife needed the cash. Beyond that, until a cause of death is determined, it’s impossible to know if his wife killed him, or he died naturally. It’s clear that either way, his wife was very bad at making funeral arrangements. There’s so much I want to know. Was the freezer conveniently already in the apartment, or did she buy it just for him? Were there frozen vegetables in there with him? I’m picturing the RC Willey guys dragging the freezer up the stairs, and the woman wondering what kind of tip would be appropriate if she asked them to help stuff the body in it while they’re there.
If only he had a narwhal tusk for defense.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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“It was a good lesson to be reminded of … that things don’t always go as planned, that people you’ve known forever can still surprise you…”