The Human Circus

More bad behavior unfolds as Joe McGinniss revisits a small New England town and discovers an absorbing true tale of crime and justice.

  1. Chapter 1: The Two-Minute Micturition

    Sometimes you have to roll the dice.

    At 1:10 a.m. on November 10, 2010, Brian Walsh, a forty-eight-year-old married father of three, was driving home to Belchertown, Massachusetts, in eastern Hampshire County, after attending a shift supervisors’ meeting at the Monsanto plant in Springfield, where he’d worked for more than ten years.

    As Walsh’s battered and rusted red pickup truck passed through the neighboring community of Granby, a local police officer on routine patrol noticed the vehicle drift left across the double yellow line on the two-lane road, then veer so far to the right that its wheels kicked up a cloud of dust from the unpaved shoulder.

    The officer followed Walsh for a quarter-mile, then pulled him over. He asked Walsh for his wdriver’s license. Walsh handed him an ATM card. He asked Walsh for his registration. Walsh handed him a receipt from NAPA Auto Parts. He asked Walsh if he’d been drinking. Walsh said he’d had two beers. At 1:15 a.m., he asked Walsh to tell him what time it was without looking at the clock on the dashboard of the truck. Walsh said it was 4:30. He asked Walsh to recite the alphabet from A to Z. Walsh got as far as P, then backtracked. “L, K, N, O, P,” Walsh said. Then he stopped and tried reciting it to himself.

    At that point, the officer had Walsh get out of the truck and try to walk a straight line. Walsh could not. The officer placed him under arrest. A second Granby patrol car took him to headquarters, where he called his wife and s...

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