So, on an old-time radio drama whose name I can't identify because it was cut off and replaced with new host segments by somebody trying to ``repackage'' the thing: a rather sad tale about a disturbed loner who takes to poisoning neighborhood dogs. As the story unfolds, he -- spurned by a woman who didn't want to date him -- buys arsenic from the neighborhood pharmacist to poison her dog. And then, every couple of months, when a person who owns a dog looks at him funny, or when a dog growls at him, or the dog just gets in his way, he buys more arsenic and poisons the dog. By the end of the first act he's killed his 12th dog, which happens to belong to the Chief of Police's Son. In case anyone missed his moral tone the killer (I keep missing his name; it was something generic) offers to bury the dog, relieving the distraught son of his woes, if only the killer could stop muttering angry comments at the dog's corpse.
Now that the Chief of Police has personal involvement he actually looks into the streak of dog killings. He finds there's exactly one person in the entire town who buys arsenic often enough to be noticed. This guy's mother (with whom he lives) notes how he's a quiet type, keeps to himself, turns all the money he owns over to her for household expenses except every month or two he keeps a little for himself. The dog killer comes home, finds the Chief of Police, can't explain where he was yesterday afternoon, but hisses an angry and rambling statement about how they (the people and the dogs) are all out to get him and the dogs will suffer for it. Then he grabs a rifle and runs off into the woods. The Chief of Police's comment?
``We've got to stop him before he does something stupid.''
Yes, that would be an excellent goal.
Trivia: The 1818 ``Sheep-Shearing,'' a seminar on farming techniques arranged by Thomas William Coke of Holkham, England, attracted an audience of about 7,000. Source: The Map that Changed the World, Simon Winchester.
Currently Reading: Signor Marconi's Magic Box, Gavin Weightman.