My name is Charles Foehner. 

I would give nearly anything to be quietly enjoying my well-earned retirement with my lovely wife, Jenny, and our rascally pooch Biscuit, but fate has determined otherwise. 

Judging by social media, a lot of folks have heard my story, but in case you haven’t, here we go. It all began with poor planning on my part. I ran out of demon tobacco, and rather than drive, I chose to walk the mile or so to the local store in my neighborhood, once one of the best in Queens, where we have lived for 15 years, but New York ain't what it used to be, safety wise, so I took precautions to ensure my return home in one piece. I can't give details for fear of legal repercussions. I secured my cigarettes (17 bucks a pack!) and walked home, having encountered nobody at all. You see, it was 2 a.m., and Queens is pretty much deserted on a Tuesday night, which suited me perfectly. But pretty much isn't good enough. It only takes one bad encounter to ruin your day, and I got that, in spades. I was confronted violently in my building's driveway, backed into a corner, and given a choice- take a possibly fatal beating or defend myself. I would have gladly run away if I was given the opportunity, but that was not the case. I defended myself, and have never denied that, but what else could I have done? My attacker was half my age and looked high as a kite on some sort of accelerant. I came of age in the late '70's and understood far too well the drug culture and its concomitant effects on behavior. I am no angel, God knows, but I have never acquired the habit of hurting people for fun and profit. All of my crimes were in the nature of personal freedom, not spreading misery to others. I have never drawn a weapon of any kind against another being, human or otherwise, even when confronted with potential violence. I have always been able to evade such through luck or talking my way out of it. I have never had a fight in my life, excepting the kind we all have as children, when you shake hands afterward and usually stay friends. Even the authorities seemed to think it was self-defense. 

The real trouble came when a search of my coop turned up my collection of firearms. If I was in a different state, it wouldn't have much raised anybody's eyebrows, but this is New York City. I had no machine guns, or explosives, or poisons, or anything of that nature. No Nazi flags or any of that nonsense. I'm a proud American, raised by an equally proud WWII sub vet whose brothers fought and bled in Europe to end fascism, like millions of other men and women, many of whom left their bones in foreign lands. My grandfather flew with Rickenbacker in 1918, and one of my ancestors is buried at Gettysburg. We do our duty in my family, and although I have never served, my brother served with the Army for 9 years, until his back was injured. So, between my family tradition and 11 years of Catholic school, I learned to be a decent person. Work for what you want, keep the social compact, and treat others like the humans they are. You know, the golden rule, as hackneyed as that may sound. Now, I find myself facing serious charges that may very well mean I will die behind bars before ever feeling the sun on my face as a free man. 

I have an excellent lawyer, but good lawyers cost a lot. No complaints, the laborer is worthy of his hire. My wife and I were planning to get the out of New York, my lifelong home which no longer seems to like us once we've paid our taxes. But we are not well off. We had planned to buy a modest home in Pennsylvania and rusticate near nature, but that doesn't look likely now. We've paid off a nice chunk of our mortgage, and selling this place would have gotten us there, but the legal fees will eat that and more. We live simply, but we have acquired the habit of eating regularly, and would like to continue to do so. I was not raised to ask for help outside the family, but I can't beggar my sister, brother and friends to enjoy what remains of my life. They would give me their all gladly, but it would barely cover the initial fees, and this is no small case. New York City wants me behind bars, and that's that. Maybe I deserve it, because at the end of the day, I took a man's life, albeit unwillingly, and that's a stain on my soul that I will carry until the end of my days, and beyond. If anyone can find it in their hearts to help us, it would be appreciated more than you'll ever know. If not, that's cool, I understand. We all must look out for ourselves in these times, because nobody else will except your own circle of loved ones. I have received so much positive support, from my neighbors, friends and even the NYPD, who were splendid in their professionalism and whom I have always admired, as is proper when somebody's doing a dirty, essential job that I wouldn't do for all the tea in China. To be honest, I have received more heartfelt hugs in the last week than in my whole 65 years! Good thing, too, because it's hard to keep my chin up when my beloved New York wants to grind me up. I spent only 2 days on Riker's Island, but that convinced me too to never let those bars obscure my life again, God willing, and the “crick” don't rise. Sorry to everybody who read all this to the end for the length, I do go on, as my wife reminds me regularly. Thank God for her. She's with me to the bitter end. I'd be well and truly lost without her love and support these last 18 years. It's a harsh world indeed to face alone.

Thanks for listening, everybody. Be safe out there, keep your head on a swivel, and don't neglect the cardio! Hug your loved ones every day, life's a big old crapshoot, and snake eyes are always just around the corner. Or down the driveway!