There was this one fellow whom I used to have to deal with every so often who lived in my patrol area. When he was sober, he was a decent, hardworking guy. But when he drank, he became a raging idiot ready to take on the world.

The problem was, he liked to drink and drink a lot. And that always seemed to land him in trouble in some form or fashion.

And his job when he worked? He was a woodsman, which meant he was in very good physical condition and quite capable when he started fighting.

Before I transferred in 1982 to the Waldo County area, law enforcement personnel had many run-ins with this fella. This guy had one eye and he occasionally wore a patch. Sometimes he did not. Either way, he looked, and sometimes was, menacing.

One particular night he held off a small army of cops by standing on a porch, swinging a lead pipe back and forth. He dared any cop to come get him and threatened to make a lead pipe hat for anyone who dared to try.

Even though it took a while, eventually the man some referred to as “One-eye” was lugged to jail to sober up and realize his wayward ways.

My friend and cohort Warden John Ford had filled me in on this particular event and many other dealings with this guy. Of course, when discussing him, we always tried to figure out the best way to deal with One-eye so no one would get hurt or killed.

When it was a matter of life and death, or getting seriously hurt, I did what I had to do to save my own life and that of others when trying to bring a horrible situation to an end.

John advised me that if I found myself dealing with this guy one-on-one and things were going south in a hurry, the best way to remedy the problem was simple.

Just poke his good eye out.

I always kept that in the back of my mind, just in case.

Well, it didn’t take long after getting transferred to the area before I started having dealings with this guy. And every time I did, alcohol was involved.

Most of the time, other people were around and I found it fairly easy to deal with him or he cooperated with me. I thought that maybe I was developing a rapport with him, wherein I could trust that no ill will would happen between us.

That confidence was short-lived.

One late night on routine patrol, I came across a vehicle weaving all over the road. The driver certainly needed to be stopped and checked to make sure there was no problem.

I made the traffic stop and approached the operator, who was alone in the vehicle. It was One-eye. And he was pie-eyed.

When I asked for his license and registration, I thought things were going along pretty smoothly. He got out of his vehicle and got inside my cruiser. But when the line of questioning got around to his drinking that particular evening, I could tell things were starting to sour pretty quickly.

He flat out said that I was not taking him to jail nor was I even going to arrest him for drunk driving.

Standing my ground, I told him I had no choice but to arrest him for OUI. We bantered back and forth for a while, but I could tell it was going poorly and I knew I was going to have my hands full real quick. Backup was at least a half-hour away, and I was going to have to deal with him on my own.

Then old One-eye made his move. He grabbed the door handle, opened the door and told me he was leaving.

“Not without me,” I said as I grabbed him around the neck. He took me out the passenger door with him, which put us in the ditch.

I held on for dear life and was not going to let go. I figured the closer I could keep him against me, the safer I was. We struggled together for a while, each holding our own, but I had no idea how long this could keep going.

I gasped at him that he had one chance to knock this off and go peacefully.

“Or what,” he gasped.

“You know that good eye you have,” I inquired.

“Yep!”

“Well, you’re about to lose it,” I warned him.

“You wouldn’t do that,” he cried.

“You really want to find out?” I asked.

“No!”

And with that, he relaxed and gave up, letting me handcuff him and take him to jail.

On the way to jail, he became jovial and we had a fun conversation. Before getting to lockup, though, I knew he had to ask and he did, “You wouldn’t really take my good eye out, would you?”

“I hope we never have to find that out,” I told him.

Over the years, I never again had any serious problems with the man with one eye; he once helped me with some good criminal information. But I sure was glad I never again had to face him alone, when he was drunk, on an old, back road.

Just another quiet evening in the life.

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police Trooper. The 28-year veteran lives in Unity. The award-winning columnist may be reached at menick@uninet.net.