Silence And Tears: Page 104 Of My Spiral Notebook

“Help me, please!”

“Yes, he has a gun. My shotgun…”

“Please, he’s all I have.”

“He’s seventeen.”

“Yes, it’s loaded.”

“Please, do something!”

“In the living room, sitting on the floor.”

“The far wall, next to the sofa.”

“Wait here. We’ll work it out.”


“He’s all I have…”

A turn of the doorknob.

Gentle push against wood.

Warm air brushes my cheek.


Soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.



A step inside.


Soft sobbing.


Turn the corner.

“Mark, it’s me.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Let’s talk for a minute.”

“Go away.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Maybe I do.”

Another step.

Shotgun barrel beneath quivering chin.

Back against wall.

Shells scattered on floor.


Another step.

Eyes turn toward me.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting, in silence.

Finger trembling against steel trigger.

“Want to talk about it?”

Silence and tears.


“You know how he is.”

“Yes…I do.”

“He was my boss for a long time.”

“How’d you stand it?”

“I couldn’t, at first.”

“But I understood it was hard for him, too.”

“When your mom died.”

“But I miss her.”

“He does, too, Mark.”

“You need each other.”

“He hates me.”

“No, he misses his wife.”

“I want her to come home.”

“Mark, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

I hold out my hand.

A slow surrender.

A hug.

A long hug.

Emotions spill.

Sky opens.

A flood.

An earthquake.

Torrential rains.





A long, gut-wrenching hug.

Storm slowly subsides.

“You ready?”

A nod.

A walk outside.

Father and son together.

Silence and tears.

A family again.

For two short weeks.

No chance to talk.

Not that time.

A father’s silence and tears.

“He was a good son.”

“He missed his mom.”

“I tried, I really did.”

“I know you did.”

“I was a good father.”

“Yes you were.”

“The best.”

A faraway look.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.


Silence and tears.

“Want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“You know, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“I’m here for you, you know.”

“And I’ve got all day.”

“A lifetime, actually.”

“Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever you need.”

Silence and tears.”

Two weeks…

Four weeks…


Never-ending silence.

No more tears…

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

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11 College Campuses with Major ‘Occupy’ Movements

Occupy Wall Street has been going on for months now, and although reactions to the movement are mixed, there are protest locations numbering somewhere near 1,000. Within that number are several college campuses that boast major Occupy movements, whether there’s a presence on campus, or simply very active students involved in their local Occupy chapter. There’s even an Occupy Colleges movement, formed to protest college tuition hikes amid staggering student loan debt. Like Occupy Wall Street, Occupy movements on college campuses have been met with mixed reactions, some finding great support in university administration, and others fighting an uphill battle. Read on, and we’ll take a look at the beliefs, incidents, and status of 11 college Occupy movements going on today.

1. Occupy Duke: On the Duke University campus, students are getting involved in social activism. And although there is a local Occupy movement, Occupy Durham, students at Duke have decided to strike out on their own, citing issues with the Occupy Durham group, as well as a need to focus on problems within the university. Occupy Duke has created a peaceful camp on campus, offering a space to “create a platform for discussion.” Occupy Duke member Anastasia Karklina shares, “A lot of students here are from different economic backgrounds, and this is a self expression, a way to protest and express the way you’re discontent with the way things are, so I don’t see it as occupying yourself or occupying a privileged institution.” Faculty on campus at Duke have been primarily supportive, and have formed a group, calling themselves “Faculty in Solidarity.” Duke administrators have permitted an indefinite campout, and the dean of students has praised the movement’s high level of commitment. Occupy Duke tries to have at least one faculty or staff member present at all times, and Occupy Duke member Maria Arias indicated that having a faculty member on hand helps students to better understand the arguments being made by Occupy Duke and the larger Occupy movement. “It’s a good cause, well worth supporting,” Professor of Literature Kenneth Surin said.

2. UC Berkeley: UC Berkeley’s Occupy camp has made the news recently, with an incident between protesters and police on Nov. 9. Berkeley’s Occupy demonstrators attempted to establish an encampment on campus, but it was dismantled, and protesters were pulled off the steps of the administration building, some with the use of batons. Previously, the university administration indicated that protesters could stay around the clock for a week, provided that the camp didn’t have any signs of people living there, such as tents and stoves. The protesters did not comply, and set up an Occupy Cal tent site. The resulting incident that followed as police attempted to dismantle the site has sparked a debate over whether the police reaction was acceptable, or went too far. Still, the incident and fervor that has been sparked only goes to show that Berkeley has a strong Occupy movement that is not going away any time soon.

3. Seattle Central Community College: One might expect major protest movements to be centered on large universities, but in Seattle, a small community college is providing nighttime shelter to the city’s Occupy protesters, which now number somewhere between 100 and 200 overnight. The protesters, who have been through weeks of tension with Seattle’s city hall and police, agreed to move their tents to Seattle Central Community College, spending their nights on campus and days at protests occurring at Westlake Park. The group has promised not to interfere with academic activities, but the college has already decided they’d like the movement to leave. The college estimates that the demonstration is costing $20,000 a week, with reports of vandalism, and a need for additional security and cleaning crews. Demonstrators say they have no plans to move, while college administrators are researching legal ways to remove them from campus. Still, some in the college are finding a way to make use of the Occupy presence, with some professors hosting classes right in the camp. Professors offered their knowledge and resources, teaching protesters how to get their message across with history lessons, Martin Luther King letters, and more.

4. Boston University: Students from Boston University have been an active part of the Occupy Boston movement. They typically get involved by meeting on campus at Marsh Plaza, and then marching together to join other protesters. On Nov. 8, about 30 students also set up their own overnight encampment at Marsh Plaza as a contingent of Occupy Boston, right next to the statue of Martin Luther King. They vacated the space the following morning, after police officials and the dean of students asked them to leave, citing the lack of a proper permit for protesting in the space. This is not the first bit of trouble BU students have run into with Occupy Boston. In mid-October, about a half dozen BU students were among the 141 Occupy Boston protesters arrested in a police confrontation. Originally, 100 students had marched to join the protest, and the college’s BU Occupies Boston page has more than 500 members.

5. Auburn University: In early October, Occupy Wall Street found its way to Auburn University, as supporters began gathering at Ross Square on campus. The group has had good support even from the beginning, with over 200 people liking the Occupy Auburn Facebook page within its first week of existence, and by mid-October reaching more than 500 people. The group has spent time handing out leaflets at game days, discussing the movement, and gaining interest. The Occupy Auburn movement has been quick to point out that they don’t intend to be freeloaders, rather, they want to spread the wealth for others. On Oct. 28, the group gathered at Toomer’s Corner, displaying signs that shared phrases like, “I have a job and I Occupy Auburn.” Feeling misunderstood, the group wants everyone to know that they’re not looking for a handout, but a level playing field. They’ve encouraged others to engage in local banking and shopping to help discourage corporate greed and bailouts.

6. Brown University: Beginning in early October, Occupy College Hill has been a presence on the Main Green at Brown University. Initially, the group boasted about 60, and that number has held strong. One of the larger events held by the Brown University group was One Night Stand, in which Occupy College Hill and nearby Occupy Providence participants camped out the night before Brown University’s semi-annual meeting of the Corporation. The next morning, they confronted members of the Corporation, and shared discussions about grievances aimed at improving the university through teach-ins. Specifically, Occupy College Hill shared that they are concerned at the university’s lack of support for the Providence community, by not paying property taxes even though the university can afford to do so. Some of the university’s staff and faculty came out to show their support, including the chancellor, dean of the faculty, and associate dean for student life.

7. University of New Mexico: The (Un)Occupy Albuquerque group at the University of New Mexico has already had lots of run-ins in its short life. In late October, the group had several incidents with authorities, including the arrest of a man threatening protesters with a knife, and paramedics called to the area to treat someone who had collapsed, and subsequently died. The university responded by citing a difficulty to determine who exactly was a part of the (Un)Occupy protest. (Un)Occupy Albuquerque held a funeral procession for the First Amendment, citing an apparent violation of their constitutional rights by UNM. The ACLU came to the group’s rescue, and they were issued a new permit after a new agreement was facilitated. In early November, UMN hosted an Occupy Wall Streed/Unoccupy Albuquerque teach-in, focusing on the issues underlying the Occupy Wall Street movement with speakers including UNM faculty, deans, students, community activists, and even New Mexico Senator Tim Keller.

8. Oklahoma State University: At its inception, Occupy OSU identified itself as mainly a “group of people who are not afraid to go to jail,” citing the very real possibility of arrest as a protester in the Occupy movement. But they haven’t let that possibility keep them quiet, with plenty of events that have already happened, and more planned with the intent to air their disagreements about what’s going on at Wall Street. In late October, Occupy OSU joined the Occupy Your Capitol effort, staging a demonstration at the Oklahoma City capitol building. The group has focused its efforts on being a part of larger movements within the state, joining up with Occupy OKC and offering help in the form of supplies and lending their numbers to larger demonstrations. OSU’s occupation plans to take their cause to the Payne County Courthouse in Stillwater to make their movement even more prominently known in Oklahoma.

9. Humboldt State: Occupy Humboldt has found lots of support on campus, with several weeks of occupation at HSU on the Humboldt State Quad, and perhaps most interestingly, formal support from the Associated Students of Humboldt State University. On Oct. 17, a resolution from the Associated Students expressed support for the presence of Occupy Humboldt on campus, recognizing the constitutional rights of the occupiers, and calling on campus administration to allow occupiers to sleep and camp at the site. The camp on the HSU Quad has several tents, each with a purpose, including a library, first aid station, and sleeping quarters. The university has seemed to remain benign, and as of late October, reported seeing no need to confront participants or force them away. In fact, one HSU student and Occupy Humboldt organizer reports that the police have even been supportive.

10. Occupy UCLA: On Nov. 9, Occupy UCLA made a huge stir when 11 students sat at the middle of Wilshire Boulevard, shutting down the street for two and a half hours. The students were arrested, but all were bailed out. In all, 200 protesters were there to make their voices heard. These particular students were protesting as part of ReFund California, protesting tuition hikes and service cuts at public universities in California. Previously, Occupy UCLA had pitched tents on campus at Bruin Plaza, but the campout was short-lived due to missing permits. Interestingly enough, the campus has also been home to another Occupy movement, Occupy UCLA Athletics, a group that has voiced its disenchantment with the UCLA football program.

11. Occupy ISU: At Iowa State University, more than 200 people turned out to protest as part of the Occupy movement. The group has plans to make a difference at the state level, with the hope that a smaller movement can have a larger impact if applied at the right level. The Occupy ISU students made their voices heard by walking out of classes together and brandishing signs in solidarity, moving from the campus out onto the community streets. The students highlighted problems with school debt, and inability to find jobs after graduation, with one protester in particular wearing a box that shared, “My Student Debt is Boxing Me In.” Other students shared their problems, highlighting the plight of so many: working multiple jobs with a full course load and struggling to pay tuition and rent. The group has more events planned, and has worked together with the local Occupy Ames group.

* Today’s article is courtesy of


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Could You Spot A Stolen Car?


How do cops spot stolen cars before they’re even reported as missing? Well, it takes a good eye and knowing the sometimes obvious clues. Here’s a checklist that just might help the hero of your story spot that stolen Infinity on page 76 of your work-in-progress.

1. Car thieves tend to drive stolen cars quite a bit rougher than a car’s owner, and cops keep an eye out for those hard-drivers. And, that aggressive driving provides the probable cause needed to make a traffic stop, which allows for a closer look for other stolen car clues.

2. Car thieves often exhibit an abnormal amount of nervousness when passing or being followed by a police car. They constantly glance in the rear-view mirror, cut their eyes toward the police car without turning their heads, etc.

Patrol is all about observation, so take your time. Drive slowly in the right-hand lane, and watch the cars in front and behind you. Just as the person in front may be nervous, so could the driver behind the patrol car. If they duck out at the first turn after seeing your eyes in the rear-view mirror, well, I’d suggest you turn at the next corner to have a closer look at the car and driver.

3. Car thieves just don’t look right in that car—a mini-van driven by a teenager dressed in heavy gold chains, sideways hat, with gang tattoos on his neck.

4. Markers, such as bumper stickers, rear window stickers, and vanity license plates are great indicators of the car’s driver. If the same kid from above (gang tattoos and gold chains) is seen driving a Buick with a Fraternal Order of Police/RETIRED license plate and National Sheriff’s Association sticker on the rear window, well, chances are he’s not a 60-year-old ex-police officer who’s reverting back to his childhood and, aging extremely well.

5. Vanity license plates have special meanings to car owners, such as the plate that reads ILVMYJAG (I love my Jaguar). If an officer spots that plate on a Honda, there’s a pretty good chance that the plates were switched to prevent detection of the stolen car’s plates. A good thief would try to swap plates with similar cars, but who says all thieves are smart?

6. Troll in areas where crime occurs on a regular basis. After all, crooks tend to hang out with other crooks, not in church parking lots. Stolen cars are often found in areas known for drugs sales and in places such as lower-end motels, bars, and thug hangout spots.

7. Car thieves sometimes have difficulty knowing how to operate many of the features on the stolen car; therefore they may not be able to dim lights, properly adjust the driver’s seat and mirrors, etc. So, if you spot a car traveling with the brights on, emergency flashers flashing, wipers on, doors locking and locking automatically, and the 4′-10″ driver is sitting almost in the backseat while peering through, not over, the steering wheel…those are clues, Sherlock.

8. You’re driving on the interstate and you pass a slow-moving car. You glance over at the driver who is staring straight ahead and gripping the wheel with both hands, pretending to not know a police car is beside him. Then you notice there are no keys in the ignition (when passing on the right side). Another glance reveals a broken steering column and a few multi-colored wires hanging from below the dashboard. Yes, Colombo, it’s probably stolen and you should call in your location, request assistance (backup), and initiate a traffic stop.

9. Back to the license plates for a second. Homemade license plates, mud-covered license plates (in many states it’s illegal to cover a plate with anything, including a clear lens), etc., are often signs of deception. An attempt to disguise the fact that the car is stolen. They’re also indicators that the license plates/registration has expired, the person has no car insurance, or doesn’t have valid driver’s license.

10. A broken rear, side window is sometimes a sign that a vehicle is stolen. Thieves break windows to gain access to the interior and they choose the rear ones so they won’t have to sit in the broken glass when they drive away.

So there you have it. Now, how many stolen cars will you spot during your holiday travels? They should be obvious to you now.

*     *     *

The top ten most stolen cars in 2011 are:

10. Chevrolet Tahoe

9. GMC Yukon XL 4WD

8. Hummer H2

7. Nissan Maxima

6. GMC Sierra Crew Cab

5. Infiniti G37 Coupe

4. Chevrolet Avalanche

3. Dodge Charger

2. Chevrolet Silverado

And, finally, the number one favorite of car thieves in 2011 is…

Cadillac Escalade

* Top ten list – Institute of Highway Safety study

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A Stroll Along Savannah’s River Street

A walk along Savannah’s River Street is a modern-day stroll back in time. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the cheers as the S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, pulled away from the port on that May day in 1819. Or, perhaps the sounds of joy are those of General James Edward Oglethorpe and the 120 travelers of the ship “Anne” when, in 1733,  they landed on the bluff soon to be named Georgia, the 13th and final American colony. Savannah was Georgia’s first city. A closer inspection, though, just might reveal hundreds of present-day tourists making their way along the historic waterfront, exploring the 100-year-old cotton warehouses, now converted to shops, restaurants, and boutiques.

Passing under the Talmadge Bridge, the entrance to Savannah’s deep water ports and terminals, is one of the many cargo ships that dock each and every day. This one is making its way back to the open ocean and will, in just a few minutes, pass directly in front of our house.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle and the HMS Bounty, which appeared in the film “Pirates of the Caribbean II” as the Edinburgh Trader, are scheduled to visit Savannah next May for the Tall Ships Challenge 2012. The ship below is currently docked on River Street.

Souvenir shops along the cobblestone street feature items from jewelry and clothing to seashells and…

A block over, on Bay Street, is where you’ll find sights such as this 209 year-old-bell, the oldest in Georgia, that once hung in the cupola of the City Exchange. A watchman rung the bell to signal the close of the business day, and to alert citizens of fire. The bell was imported from Amsterdam.

President George Washington presented this cannon, and others, to the Chatham Artillery (Savannah is in Chatham County), after he visited Savannah in 1791. This cannon was manufactured in Strasburg in 1756

Savannah was once ranked first as a cotton seaport on the Atlantic and second in the entire world. The cotton exchange building, completed in 1887, was the center for that particular commerce. The building now serves as the offices of the Savannah chamber of commerce. The figure you see at the top of the dome is actually a live hawk that flew away just as I snapped the picture..

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the family of this brave officer.

Agent Mariano Rodríguez-Maldonado, 37

Puerto Rico Police Department

November 21, 2011 – Agent Mariano Rodríguez-Maldonado was killed in an automobile crash while responding to a call involving a mental patient who was causing a disturbance at an area business.

Agent Rodríguez-Maldonado is survived by his wife and three children.

*     *     *

* 2011 line of duty deaths – 143 officers

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Almost Home: A Cop’s Thanksgiving

Morning parade
Smiling faces
Squealing children
Marching bands
Families gather
Fire crackles
Turkey legs
Pumpkin pie
Football games
Pistol. Badge. Vest.
Kiss the kids, and please, save a drumstick for me.
I’m almost home.

Family traveling
Smiling faces
Squealing children
Thoughts of
Grandmother’s cooking
Turkey legs
Pumpkin pie
Crackling fire
Football games.
Happy. Love. Joy.

Drunk drivers
Speeding drivers
Texting drivers
Careless drivers
Aggressive drivers
Sleepy drivers
Depressed drivers
Distracted drivers
Reckless drivers
Road rage
A horrible collision.
An entire family, gone.

Tangled metal.
Three little ones.
Mother and father, too.
I don’t know.
A couple hours, at least.
Yes, save a drumstick.
Hug our kids.
Tell them I love them.
I’ll be there soon.
Those poor children, though...
They’ll never go home again.

10-4, send the coroner.

Yes, five victims.

Tell her there’s no rush.

I’ll be standing by.

There’s nothing else I can do for them.

Those poor children.

They were almost home.

Almost home…

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