Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review-"Burning Bed"

Here’s a review of “Burning Bed” by Faith McNulty. It’s an old story, a movie was made of it with Farrah Fawcett famously playing abused Francine Hughes.

I’d never, under normal circumstances, agree that setting a sleeping man on fire is the right thing to do, much less that the perpetrator should go free for such a heinous act.

In this case, we must make an exception. Because Mickey Hughes really needed to die.

Pic of the Day

”Burning Bed” by Faith McNulty-Some Folks Need Killing

Amazon Link for this book HERE

Mickey Hughes really did deserve to die. I’m not sure his wife, Francine, did it the right way, of course, because pouring accelerant around a sleeping man as he snored in bed then lighting it afire seems rather, eh, premeditated.

Francine Hughes could have, on any occasion, simply taken a gun, if she had one, and shot Mickey dead on the thousands of times he decided to beat her silly, often choking her to near death as one more lucky time, she managed to get away.

Had Francine killed Mickey in this fashion she wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble with the law cause that bed thing really isn’t good PR. Although, like I said, Mickey needed killing real bad. Francine did the world a favor. The world is a way better place without Mickey Hughes in it.

Let’s get a few factoids out of the way here. First, Francine DIVORCED Mickey Hughes as she was told to do by the various welfare, law enforcement and legal folk who advised her as she beseeched any and all for help to escape this crazed man.

Second, Francine owned the house in which Mickey lived. She couldn’t get him to move out even though she went to every gubmint agency available desperately seeking help, none of which came from those paid to give it.

Not in a million years would I ever condone what Francine did to Mickey Hughes and yon readers, if not getting the chance to actually read the book of this review, surely saw the movie made famous by Farrah Fawcett who played Francine on screen.

Francine was not a tough soldier, let us not pretend here. She was a very nice lady, uneducated, very passive. She had four kids. She was a good mother and a good wife.

Mickey Hughes, he knew just who to abuse. He never abused his kids cause you can go to jail for abusing children. He only abused his poor dog and his wife cause they were there just for Mickey to abuse and eventually murder.

Mickey Hughes left his dog outside in the freezing weather as she was giving birth. The pups were being born frozen solid. One puppy got caught in the adult dog’s birth canal but oh no, Mickey would not let the dog inside of the warm house. Francine pulled the puppy out of the dog, she and the children filled her dog house with warm clothes and hay. Still the dog froze solid overnight because…well Mickey Hughes liked to abuse females of all kind.

The only reason the dog was pregnant to begin with was that when she went into heat and Francine tried to bring her inside, well Mickey was having none of this. He chained the female dog, in heat, outside and all of the male dogs had at her, as is their wont. The female dog howled and screamed at the horror from which she could not escape but Mickey Hughes would not allow her inside the house because…well who knows why? This guy needed to die.

In due course he would have killed Francine, there was no doubt. God knows what was wrong with Mickey Hughes but again, he was smart enough to know who he could mistreat and who he couldn’t. He regularly treated Francine like crap, spilling meals he didn’t like on the floor, making her get on hands and knees and clean it up, throwing it back down again once she cleaned it, laughing, hitting her, mocking her.

Like I said, he needed to die.

Normally I’d be on a high horse shouting that this woman should have gotten help, she should have gotten out, that surely there was someone who would help her. She was divorced from this guy, it was HER house.

Except Francine spent days, endless, endless days, going from gubmint bureaucracy to gubmint bureaucracy, begging for help. She just wanted Mickey Hughes to go away. Francine and her four children had nowhere to go. Mickey’s parents, who must be so proud of this fine boy they raised, lived next door and this was, or course, very unfortunate, the result of an early marriage decision that could not be undone when it was realized the horror of that mistake.

Francine Hughes was a weak woman, yes. But she wasn’t a bad person. She didn’t deserve what fate befell her. She tried, she really did. The law enforcement people came, they shushed Mickey up or took him away to jail if need be. They knew about him. The welfare people knew about him. The legal people knew about him. Mickey’s parents knew about him.

So when Francine took that keg of gasoline and poured it around Mickey’s bed when he burned all of her school books that she was using to get a GED diploma…well yeah, it wasn’t the right way to go about doing what needed to be done.

Mickey Hughes needed killing. Francine could have killed Mickey plenty, hundreds, thousands of times, with full justification and no prosecutorial danger. There were many times that Mickey almost killed her.

The prosecutor, well hey, prosecutors have jobs too. We can’t have women pouring gasoline around husbands’ beds and setting the sleeping men afire. I understand this.

The prosecutor could have maybe thrown a manslaughter charge, maybe a second degree murder charge out there. The prosecutor here decided Francine needed the death penalty.

Four kids the woman had, four kids who would not have a mother for the rest of their lives. The world was a better place without Mickey Hughes. It wasn’t a wise course to seek first degree murder charges on Francine Hughes.

The jury saw it as an unwise choice as well.

Juries are composed of folks like us, ordinary types, filled to the brim with common sense. We can spot a system that failed and the system failed Francine Hughes.

The author does a wonderful job of documenting how the system failed Francine time and time again. Mickey’s descent to increasing sadism is also documented, Francine’s story as told by her, simple and straightforward. I didn’t see the movie but I ponder that this is the sort of thing that isn’t normally handled well by the movie.

Francine finally got some help from the system. Her attorney, Aryon Greydanus, put up a temporary insanity defense. Said defense usually results in a lifetime behind bars somewhere. Greydanus found a way to give Francine a chance at life anew via a good presentation of defense experts, a wonderful challenge to the prosecutor, who really had a client to prosecute who had the sympathy of the world, and a jury that decided that the best justice here was to let Francine go home and raise her kids in the peace she should have had while alive.

The jury did that and it was the right thing to do. Cause Mickey Hughes needed to die.

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