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creek and straight to them as surely as a siren calling to a mariner. Blackie came with me, tongue hanging out, his tail wagging. Life was great. We were as happy as if we had good sense and someone else’s money. I went up there to look, and Blackie, like any selfrespecting dog, went there to dig in the flower bed. I was watching him do it, probably about to join in, when the door opened and a big man came out and snatched my puppy up by the hind legs and hit him across the back of the head with a pipe, or stick, and then, as if my dog were nothing more than a used condom, tossed him into the creek. Then the man looked at me. I figured I was next and bolted down the hill and across the creek to tell my mother. She had to use the next-door neighbor’s phone, as this was long before everyone had one in their pocket. It seemed no sooner than she walked back home from making her call than my dad arrived like Mr. Death in our old black car. He got out wearing greasy work clothes and told me to stay and started toward the House of Flowers. I didn’t stay. I was devastated. I had been crying so hard my mother said I hiccupped when I breathed. I had to see what was about to happen. Dad went across the creek and to the back door and knocked gently, like a Girl Scout selling cookies. The door opened, and there was the Flower Man. My dad hit him. It was a quick, straight punch and fast as a bee flies. Flower Man went down faster than a duck on a june bug, but without the satisfaction. He was out. He was hit so hard his ancestors in the prehistoric past fell out of a tree. Dad grabbed him by the ankles and slung him through the flowerbed like a dull weed eater, mowed down all those flowers, even made a mess of the dirt. If Flower Man came awake during this process, he didn’t let on. He knew it was best just to let Dad finish. It was a little bit like when a grizzly bear gets you; you just kind of have to go with it. When the flowers were flat, Dad swung the man by his ankles like a discus, and we watched him sail out and into the shallow creek with a sound akin to someone dropping wet laundry on cement. We went down in the creek and found Blackie. He Dad grabbed him by the ankles and slung him through the flowerbed like a dull weed eater, mowed down all those flowers, even made a mess of the dirt. was still alive. Flower Man didn’t move. He lay in the shallow water and was at that moment as much a part of that creek as the gravel at its bottom. Daddy took Blackie home and treated his wound, a good knock on the noggin, and that dog survived until the age of 13. When I was 18, Blackie and I were standing on the edge of the porch watching the sun go down, and Blackie went stiff, flopped over the edge, dead for real this time. Bless my daddy. We had our differences when I was growing up, and we didn’t see eye to eye on many things. But he was my hero from that day after. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t remember what he did that day, and how he made something so dark and dismal turn bright. No one sued. Then, events like that were considered personal. To pull a lawyer into it was not only embarrassing, but just plain sissy. Today we’d be sued for the damage my dog did, the damage my dad did, and emotional distress, not to mention bandages and the laundry bill for the wet and dirty clothes. I know the man loved his flowers. I know my dog did wrong, if not bad. I know I didn’t give a damn at the time and thought about digging there myself. But I was a kid and Blackie was a pup, and if ever there was a little East Texas homespun justice delivered via a fast arm and a hard fist, that was it. Flower Man, not long after that, moved away, slunk off like a carnival that owed bills. A little later we moved as well, shortly after the drive-in was wadded up by a tornado. That’s another story. LI Contributing writer JoeLansdale lives in Nacogdoches. His most recent novel is Vanilla Ride. THEHIGHTOWERREPORT HIDING WORKER INJURIES ACCORDING TO THE LATEST safety reports, workplace injuries are on the decline in our country. Great! Only … it’s untrue. Many burns, cuts, poisonings, and other on-the-job injuries are deliberately hidden from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Last November, the Government Accountability Office found widespread SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 underreporting of injuries by company doctors and other health professionals. Ina survey of 504 medical practitioners, more than half told investigators they had been pressured by bosses to downplay illnesses and injuries. More than onethird said they were asked to provide insufficient treatment to workers so injuries would not have to be reported. More than two-thirds knew of workers who didn’t want bosses to know about injuries because the workers feared they’d be fired. Under OSHA rules, any injury that requires more medical treatment than first aid must be registered in a com pany’s “injury log.” A high injury rate increases the company’s worker compensation costs and can prevent it from qualifying for government contracts. So top executives pressure managers and company doctors to treat serious injuries with bandages instead of stitches. Alsoget thiscorporate injury reports are based on the honor system! From Wall Street to BP, we’ve seen how much honor there is in Corporate World. While OSHA does conduct occasional audits of injury rates, workers are rarely interviewed, leaving it to corporate executives to tell the truth. Of course, executives are not hot to do that. Every workplace can and should be made safe. That won’t happen without honest reporting of conditions, followed by real punishment of violators. JIM HIGHTOWER FIND MORE INFORMATION on Jim Hightower’s work and subscribe to his awardwinning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown at THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19