Stephen Kahn

Maybe Mindi was just making a preemptive strike?

In Bad news on June 15, 2012 at 3:43 am

Maybe Mindi was just defending herself.

I have written at times about a former student of mine, Mindi, who was, I think, convicted of murder. I write with some hesitation because I am getting old, my memory is getting shaky, and although I am pretty sure there are newspaper reports that document what I say, they are so old that they are difficult to find on the World Wide Web and I decided to stop trying to track them down. So I put “allegedly,” and “as as I remember,” and “I think,” and other weasel words just to be on the safe side.

What I remember is that Mindi was an unattractive and indifferent student, who seemed to blossom after she graduated and got married, but then was given a life sentence after she was convicted of murdering her husband in cahoots with a boy friend. After I wrote about her (and apparently found her address) I was told that she had been released, and graduated from college. Then I read a comment by what might have been the brother of her dead husband making vague threats. I wrote to police authorities; her address disappeared from where I had found it on line, and I know nothing more of Mindi’s tale.

I thought about this as I drove by the closed Harbor Pizzeria restaurant today. My postal address lists the small incorporated community of Langley as our home town, but we usually think of the small unincorporated community of Freeland as our home, and that’s where we usually shop. (Geographically, we are about midway between the two tiny hamlets). Little shops and restaurants open and close in both communities fairly frequently Not that long ago, a new pizza shop opened in Freeland. I ate at this restaurant a few times. It served pizza and sandwiches and calzone and typical pizza shop food. It was OK, though not exceptional. The woman who usually served the food seemed pleasant. I assumed she was the owner.

She was recently murdered. Her husband was arrested. From the newspaper story in the local paper, they were both intelligent, professional people with impressive careers in science and computer science.

I am amused because so many of my neighbors on Whidbey Island, like to think of it as a peaceful, Garden of Eden where lots of old Christians and old hippies concentrate on growing carrots and cabbages, raising chickens and goats,  going to church, the gym, and thinking good thoughts and pretending that the world is not full of evil and cruelty, or if it is, it takes place in Afghanistan, or perhaps in Seattle (which has had an outburst of shootings and killings, most recently a person allegedly suffering from mental illness shooting about half a dozen people, ending with himself.

If you are morbid enough to wade through the story I have linked, you will see the crime was apparently impulsive and blundering. Even Mindi could have done better, though she had none of the experience or credentials of the alleged murderer.

As I get older, I go back over many stories and interests of my youth, including Shakespeare. (I am just embarking on watching all the performances of Shakespeare’s plays filmed by the BBC.) Probably the most famous female villains in Shakespeare’s plays are Lady Macbeth and two of King Lear’s three daughters, Goneril and Regan. All of Shakespeare’s major characters are complex and layered (as are human beings in general), so just as we argue and wonder about Lady Macbeth and Goneril and Regan, we will never know the full story of why Mindi murdered her husband (instead of just divorcing him) or why Robert “Al” Baker allegedly murdered his wife Kathie instead of just divorcing her.

Lady Macbeth gets perhaps the juiciest lines, including:

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe topful
Of direst cruelty!

Lear is a subtler play, so it’s hard to convey Goneril’s and Regan’s complex nastiness out of context.

The best brief ones I can provide are:

REGAN:
Hang him instantly.

GONERIL
Pluck out his eyes.

Cover your eyes and watch your neck.

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