I recently had the pleasure of meeting an interesting fellow, a retired cop I’ll call Ollie.

Ollie is short and stout and wears his pants with the waistband pulled to just above the spot where his gun belt used to reside. In place of the leather gear, uniform, and cop do-dads is an old and well-worn brown belt used to cinch his pants tightly to his midsection. He wears white socks, and black dress shoes shined to a glossy finish.

Most of my new friend’s hair left him some time ago, with the remainder circling the lower portion of his head like a wooly, gray inflatable pool float. Three or four rebellious sprigs of delicate hair, however, clung to the top of his slick sunburned scalp much as we’d expect palm trees on a tiny deserted island would appear to passing sea birds—sprouting up willy-nilly to sway in the breezes.

Ollie’s hands are liver-spotted and and a number of his achy, arthritic joints bring about groans and moans when he stands, sits, walks, or does anything that requires a moving body part. His knees pop and creak and a few of his teeth aren’t original equipment. His eyes are weak and rheumy and their lids droop a bit. Dark bags droop beneath his eyes, hanging there like small, overripe plums.

He’s an educated man who’s well-spoken and enjoys spirited conversation and tale-telling. He’s not politically outspoken, but a bumpersticker on his well-polished car announces which direction he leans.

He has a persistent phlegmy cough and there’s an open pack of non-filtered cigarettes in his shirt pocket. He’s smoked for well over four decades and the yellow-stained flesh between the index and middle fingers of his right hand offer proof of his addiction. He says it helps him to relax, and to forget. He coughs frequently and deeply. Sounds as if his lungs are filled with hot, bubbling oil.

With our howdy-do’s and a glad-to-meet-you behind us, we sat for a while discussing current events. But Ollie tended to drift back to earlier times, the days that seemed to bring him extreme joy and peace. He doesn’t like today’s politically charged atmosphere. He misses the six-o’clock news where broadcasters like Cronkite reported things that actually occurred during the day.

I listened with great interest as Ollie talked about the good old days, when his family used rotary telephones and watched television—sets with thirteen channels on the dial but rarely picked up more than five or six, or maybe seven, and that’s if the night was clear and the roof-mounted antennae was pointed just so. If not, he told me, you’d turn the dial on “the box” and watch and listen as it clicked the antennae into a new, better-suited position. Of course, the antennae almost always went past the optimal spot so you had to “click it’ back a few degrees in the opposite direction to bring Steamboat Willy or Walt Disney into focus.

Ollie told me about earning less than three-dollars an hour, and gas prices were under fifty-cents. Hot dogs at the drug store cost a quarter, fully loaded—coleslaw, mustard, and chili—and ice cream cones were ten cents per scoop. Comic books were also ten cents but rose to twelve, and when they did DC Comics posted a notice explaining to kids that the cost of everything had increased, including the price of soft drinks and those delicious hot dogs.

He reminisced about the days when JFK, MLK, John Lennon, and Elvis died. Jimi and Janis, too. He took me back to Sammy, Frank, and Dean. Martin and Lewis. The Stooges. Streisand and The Supremes. Chuck Berry, The Oak Ridge Boys (to our delight, they’re still going as strong as ever), Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Manson. When FM radio stations first arrived. Buddy Rich and John Bonham. The Cowsills, The Mamas and Papas, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Beatles, The Stones, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and BB’s Blueberry Hill. His first car, using an outhouse, the time before computers and cell phones and “White Only” waiting rooms in the doctor’s office. His stories were of times long ago.

Finally, after many minutes had passed with me not saying a single word, Ollie said, “Man, this really took me back, and I didn’t let you get a word in. Not one.”

“That’s all right, Ollie. I enjoyed listening,” I said.

Ollie stood to leave and as he did his knees popped. Then his brow creased into a deep “V.” He clinched his jaw and I heard the sound of grinding teeth. He placed a hand over his portly gut and used the other to cover his mouth, stifling a burp that inflated both cheeks. “Sorry about that,” he said. “My doctor says I have acid reflux. Can’t eat a thing without belching for the next couple of hours. I’m lactose intolerant too. So don’t get me started on what dairy does to me. I’ll just say this … be glad I had the burritos without cheese. I passed on the sour cream as well.”

He groaned and moaned and grimaced and winced when he reached for his hat, and then more of the same when he straightened his back to once again stand upright.

Ollie placed the old porkpie on his head, retrieved a scarred wooden cane he’d hooked to the table edge, and after griping a bit about his sciatica, he said, “And then there’s the gout, a past-due hip replacement, two blown knees, rheumatoid arthritis, a hernia, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint degeneration, and I’m allergic to gluten, pet dander, dust, pollen, strawberries, and nuts. My eyesight is in the toilet and I wear a hearing aid when I remember to do so. I’ve had several cancerous moles removed and my sugar’s through the roof. My last colonoscopy showed “something,” hopefully a scrap of peanut or popcorn, and I’m supposed to walk at least a mile each day because the old ticker’s been acting up.”

This pitiful and obviously unhealthy man, my brand new friend, took a deep breath and let it back out in the form of sad sigh accompanied by a slow side-to-side head shake. “And I can’t remember the last time when the wife and I … well, you know. The plumbing is out of order more times than not, so we stopped trying.”

He used one hand to adjust the position of his hat and the other to shake my hand. I again told him how much I enjoyed our conversation and listening to his tales of way back when.

Ollie placed a hand on my shoulder as we walked to his car. Then he stopped and turned to face me. “Someday you’ll understand, and you’ll do the same—tell the story of your own good old days. But you have a ways to go before you reach my age, my friend, so enjoy life while you can and while you’re able,” he said.  His lips split into a toothy (some his and some store-bought) grin. “Yep, one day you’ll be as old as I am and you’ll experience the same troubles.”

I looked on as Ollie groaned and moaned and grunted while sliding and pushing his way into the car seat. He used both hands to lift and pull his left leg into the car. Finally, he switched on the ignition, gave the horn two quick toots, and drove away.

I smiled a smile of my own as he headed off toward the sunset. After all, I was already in elementary school the year Ollie was born. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him.


*This is a true story. The name was changed to protect the “youngster” who was ten-years-old when I was driving my very own car and working a steady job after school and on weekends. My job paid $1.68 per hour and the price of a gallon of gas was $.35. By the way, while Ollie was busy watching Saturday morning cartoons on TV, my after school job back then included installing rooftop TV antennas and those “clicking” boxes used to change their positions.

Things are a bit different today, for me. Because I’m quickly transforming into my own form of Ollie. This became quite apparent last week as I began preparations for our move from California. Everything is heavier than it once was. The floor is at least six inches further away than it used to be and it hurts body parts when I attempt to retrieve things from it. Writing on boxes has somehow smeared and have become blurry. And doggone it, yesterday I hit my wrist with a hammer while repairing part of a fence. The target moved. I swear it did.

Today, I’ll tackle more projects, but as a version of Ollie, not as the Lee I once was. Sigh …

#agingsucks

 

Radar Love

Police officers often hear people say the darndest things, and speeders are no exception to the rule. In fact, they’re often the most creative when spouting off excuses for driving too fast. Here are just a few of the comments made to me during my days working patrol and traffic assignments.

1. “Hey, pal. I’m a police officer. Want to see my shield?”

2. “I was speeding because I really needed to pee. Not anymore, though. Now my seat’s wet and it’s your fault.”

3. “105 in a 55? You’re kidding, right? What about the car that passed me?”

4. “Maybe if I take off my sunglasses you’ll recognize me. I’m pretty big around Nashville.”

5. “Do you know who I am?”

6. “There’s a place for people like you. It’s called hell.”

7. “You’re stopping me for going a little over the speed limit? That’s it? You don’t want to search my car for drugs, or anything? Not that I have any, mind you.”

8. “How many of you little piggies does it take to eat a box of doughnuts?”

9. “Isn’t there something we could do to make this like it never happened?”

10. “I’m not signing this thing. Wait, what happens if I don’t sign. Arrest? So I sign there, right?”

11. “My uncle is the county sheriff in ****, Texas. You can’t give me a ticket. Haven’t you rednecks ever heard of professional courtesy?”

12. “I’m in a hurry because the ship will not wait for me. They have to get back to their planet before morning.”

13. You’re pissing me off.”

Hamilton One 125

 

Never start a story with the weather. I’ve heard this many times over the years. In fact, once, in a moment of desperation and frustration, author J.A. Konrath begged writers to not do this “unspeakable” act.

Elmore Leonard begins his “Don’t-do-it” list with weather.

  1. Never open a book with the weather.
  2. Avoid prologues.
  3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.”
  5. Keep your exclamation points under control!
  6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9. Same for places and things.
  10. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

Elmore Leonard said it’s taboo!

Even our wonderful friend and writing teacher extraordinaire, Les Edgerton, has a few of his own rules regarding opening page blunders. In fact, he generously assembled those in his excellent book, Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers At Page One.

Edgerton’s list of Do-Nots:

  • Opening With a Dream
  • Opening With an Alarm Clock Buzzing
  • Being Unintentionally Funny
  • Too Little Dialogue (first few pages)
  • Opening With Dialogue

For details regarding each of the above points please click here (Writer’s Digest article).

Now, with that said and with an absolute clear understanding of the rules—NO Weather!—let’s get on with the show … today’s article. And it starts like this …

It was a dark and stormy night in our county. A sideways rain driven by the type of wind gusts that TV weather reporters are seen battling during live shots of hurricanes, the really big ones that send trees toppling and waves crashes onto houses far from the shoreline.

While on patrol I’d noticed a car parked approximately thirty yards off a dirt road next to a river. The vehicle was situated in the clearcut section along a power line. The driver’s door was open and what appeared to be a person was half-in and half-out. The upper portion of the body was the out section, and he or she was getting soaked.

So, in spite of the downpour, thunder, lightning, and the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention (the cop’s sixth sense was in full overdrive), I had to get out to investigate.

I scanned the area carefully, using the spotlight mounted to my car, making certain this wasn’t an ambush, and then stepped outside. After another look around, I plowed forward while the winds drilled raindrops into my face and against my lemon-yellow vinyl raincoat, the one I kept in the trunk of my patrol car just for times like this one. The sound of those oversized drops of water was that of small stones striking at a pace equal to the rat-a-tat-tatty rounds fired from a Chicago typewriter.

As I stated earlier, the storm that night was brutal. It was a fight to walk headfirst into swirling, stinging winds that tugged and pulled and pushed against my rain coat, sending its tails fluttering and flapping, exposing my brown over tan deputy sheriff uniform. It—the uniform—was not waterproof. Not even close.

The ground at the crime scene was extremely muddy and with each step my once shiny brown shoes collected gobs of thick, wet soil until it felt as if gooey bricks were tied to the bottoms of my feet.

These were the deplorable conditions in which I met the crying dead woman.

Raindrops the size of gumdrops pelted the victim’s face, gathering and pooling at the corners of her eyes, eventually spilling out across her cheeks like tiny rivers that followed the contours of her flesh until they poured from her in miniature waterfalls.

It was one-on-one—me and the victim.

Passenger door open.

She’s lying there, bottom half in, top half out.

Her face aimed at the sky.

Rain falling into her open mouth.

Cheap dollar-store tennis shoes and half-socks, the socks her youngest daughter—the seven-year-old—called baby socks.

Her hair, mingled with mud, rainwater, sticks, and leaves.

Power lines crackled and buzzed overhead.

The creamy light from my flashlight showcased her dim gray eyes.

No life,

No recollections,

No dreams.

Not a flicker.

Tire tracks.

Different pattern than the rubber on her Chrysler.

Driver’s window down.

Three rounds—one to the head and two to the torso.

Five empty casings.

Pistol.

Not a revolver.

Half-empty wine bottle.

Cheap.

Not her brand according to the ladies in her church group. “Oh we don’t drink. Neither did she. Except on special occasions. Yep, it must have been something or somebody really special for her to drink that stuff.”

“Was there a somebody special?”

Eyes cast downward.

Blushes all around. “Well … she did stay after Wednesday night preaching a few times. But they were meetings strictly about church business. After all, he is the Reverend. A good man.”

More blushing.

A stammer or two.

A good man.

The rain comes harder, pouring across her cheeks, meandering through her hair.

Droplets hammer her open eyes.

She doesn’t blink.

A dead woman crying.

Footprints.

Two sets.

One walking.

Casually?

A sly, stealthy approach?

The other, long strides.

Running away, possibly.

Zigzagging to the woods.

Bullet lodged in base of a spruce pine.

One round left to find.

Water inside my collar, down my back.

Shivering.

Cloth snagged on jagged tree branch.

Plaid shirt material.

Blood?

Still visible in the rain?

The missing fifth round?

Maglite never fails, even in torrential rain.

Cop’s best friend.

Light catches shoe in underbrush.

Shoe attached to adult male.

Dead.

Bullet in back.

The fifth round.

Coming together nicely.

Church meetings.

Reverend.

Two lovers.

Special wine for special occasion …

A good man.

Sure he is.

~

Morning sunshine.

Tiny face peering from window.

Waiting for Mama?

Police car,

Parks at curb.

Scent of frying bacon in the air.

Door swings open.

Worried husband.

“No, she didn’t come home after church. Called friends and family. Nobody knows.”

Husband, devastated.

Questions unanswered.

Children cry.

“Yes, I have ideas. 

And I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Tire tracks match.

Pistol found.

Preacher hangs head in shame.

Special occasion.

To profess love.

But …

Another man.

Another lover.

Angry.

Jealous.

Handcuffs.

Click.

Click.

Murder.

No bond.

I seal the deal with a single, odd, plant seed found stuck to the killer’s brake pedal.

Bingo!

I could definitely place him at the scene.

Prison.

Life.

No parole.

Today, there’s no rain in California. Not a drop.

But the lack of moisture falling from the skies doesn’t stop me thinking of the crying dead woman and her kids, her loving husband and, of course, baby socks.

Special occasion?

Good man?

Yeah, right.

The world’s filled with good men … and battered, hurt, and dead women who cry in rain.


Les Edgerton has a brand new book coming out in november 2018. I have an advance copy and it’s a killer! So today, I’m officially issuing a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for Adrenaline Junkie.

In the meantime, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Hooked!


*Top photo – Writers’ Police Academy – Shallow grave investigations

Two gang members, Pooky and Slasher, decided to seek a bit of revenge against a rival gang member named Ragu, a behemoth creature who they swore was Bigfoot disguised as a human. The root of the plot kicked off when the man disrespected the pair of tough guys at the town’s 4th of July picnic. It seems that Ragu’s melting ice cream cone dropped a clump of chocolate ripple smack dab on Slasher’s brand new firehouse red Chuck Taylors, staining the uppers a color that strangely reminded Pooky of pistachio, his favorite flavor.

Since Ragu weighed just north of 265 with none of those pounds being of the porker variety. Nope. All muscle. So they came up with an end-around. They’d kill Ragu’s father, the thin and wiry, hatchet-faced accountant who worked at Petey Perkins’ Hardware store next to the Piggly Wiggly out on Rte. 1.

After a couple of days of planning and surveillance, the wannabe murderers decided to smother the Ichabod Crane lookalike while he slept. And they’d use his own pillow as the murder weapon. Everyone knew the old beanpole suffered from a serious hacking and wheezing case of emphysema, the direct result of puffing away at cigarettes, one behind the other, for the past forty years or so. No one, especially that goofball police chief, Pooky’d said, would ever connect them to the killing.

Exactly three days later, at precisely 2:12 a.m., Slasher and Pooky slipped through a window and into the home of Ragu and his father. It was dark, warm, and humid. Slasher’s Hannah Montana t-shirt was wet with sweat and clung to his flesh like a surfer’s wetsuit. Pooky on the other hand, was the cool one. But only so because he was too stupid to know that murder was, at the very least, a heart-pounder of epic proportion. So basically dumb, not cool. However, in spite of not perspiring, when happy, Pooky’s feet took on the combined stench of sour milk and burnt asparagus. This was one of those nights.

The two tiptoed through the dining room and then a hallway that led to the stairs. Up they went. They’d watched the place at night and had learned the location of the old man’s bedroom and that’s where they were headed, down the upstairs hall and to the right.

Two minutes later they were standing in the dark beside the accountant’s bed. Thirty seconds after that, with Pooky on one end and Slasher on the other, they shoved the spare pillow over the face of Ragu, Sr. Two minutes passed without so much as a peep or a wiggle from their victim. Slasher eased up his end of the pillow. In the nearly dark room, with only a sliver of creamy moonlight smeared across his forehead, the guy looked absolutely dead, so Slasher released his grip on his end of the pillow and Pooky tossed it on the floor.

The dead was done. Revenge was sweet.

Four hours later, the rail-thin accountant awakened from his sleep and slipped the nasal mask from his nose. The other end of its flexible plastic hose was attached to the CPAP machine sitting on the nightstand beside his bed. He reached to switch of the machine that pumps forced air from the room into his nose, sort of like a scuba diving apparatus for people who snore horribly and often stop breathing in short bursts while sleeping.

While reaching for the switch he saw an overturned bottle of Trazadone, the powerful sleeping medication prescribed his doctor. He’d had insomnia since he was a kid. Nowadays he wins that battle by having two shots of orange-flavored vodka and a sleeping pill one hour before hitting the sack. At the end of that hour he’d best be in the bed because for the next several hours he’d be almost comatose. Lights out. An earthquake wouldn’t wake him.

So each night, there he lay, on his back with a constant supply of fresh air zooming into his lungs. Therefore, the actions of Slasher and Pooky were entirely in vain, and they were wholeheartedly surprised to see their “murder” victim greeting them with a cheery “Good morning!” when they entered the hardware store to purchase more ammunition for their Daisy BB guns. That’d planned to go shoot a few cans down by the creek after school. But, after seeing a very healthy and living and breathing dad of Ragu, they decided to come up with a plan B. So off they went, riding their bikes toward a setting sun.

So, I suppose the moral to this super-silly tale is to always be certain the victim in your tales is not wearing a CPAP mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives when the villain strikes.

Hmmm … mask, drunk, and on powerful sedatives. And I promised to never mention politics and politicians on this site.

Oh well.

Front door,

Hanging askew.

One rusted hinge.

Wedge of sunlight,

Smeared across plank flooring.

Beretta in hand.

Push door with flashlight.

Won’t budge.

“I heard a shot but I was too scared to look. Is he in there?”

“Stay back, please.”

Standing to side of doorway.

Breathing heavy.

“Frank?”

Silence.

Sweat trickles from lower back into waistband.

Heart pounding.

“Frank. I’m here to help. You okay?”

Nothing.

Flies buzzing,

Darting in and out.

Deep breath.

Quick peek.

Maglight low.

Minimum target.

Blood spatter.

Lots of it.

Tissue on ceiling.

Sitting on floor.

Shotgun in lap, upright.

“Frank, you okay?”

Useless words.

“Is Daddy all right?”

“Go back in the house. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Hand over mouth, sobbing. “Okay.”

Squeeze through door.

Flashlight aimed toward ceiling,

Casts dim light throughout.

Holster weapon.

Not needed.

Friends since high school.

Twenty years, or more.

No face.

“Why, Frank? Great kids. Great wife. Nice house. Good job. Wonderful life.”

Deafening silence.

Radio crackles.

“Send M.E. and paramedics. No particular order.”

Doesn’t matter.

Chest moves.

A wet breath, from somewhere.

Finger twitches slightly.

“Frank?”

Another jerky, unbelievable breath.

“Hold on Frank. Help’s on the way!”

Frantically grab radio.

“Tell paramedics to hurry. Victim is alive. Repeat. Victim is alive.”

Sit in floor,

Holding Frank’s hand.

Sirens getting closer.

“Hey Frank. Remember when we …”


 

He’s here,

Again.

Scratching.

Clawing.

Digging,

At the inside of my skull.

Eyes wide open, now.

Leave me alone,

Please!

Fingernails raking against bone,

And thoughts and emotions.

Chipping away,

Until they’re no more.

My memories, feelings,

And the ability to care.

All gone.

Dark.

Moon.

A sliver of creamy light,

Smeared across a plank floor.

Clock tick-tocking, incessantly.

Tick, tick, tick.

Night sounds.

Refrigerator whirs.

Air conditioner hums.

Tick, tick, tick.

Owl hoots.

Cricket chirps.

Tick, tick, tick.

Then quiet.

Deafening and relentless,

Horrifying silence.

So still.

Dead air.

A scream!

From inside?

Him, or me?

He’s there.

In front of me.

Behind me.

Over there.

No, over there.

Laughing.

That maniacal laughter.

Bullets.

Blood.

Bullets.

Twitching.

Quivering.

Like a dying animal.

Flowers.

Roses.

Prayers.

Damp soil,

Freshly turned.

Tears.

Sadness.

It’s okay,

You did your job.

Easy for them to say.

He shot first,

They add.

Seriously, it’s okay.

But it’s not.

Never is.

Anxiety.

Fear.

Depression.

Insomnia.

Can’t sleep.

He’s here.

Again.

Why every night?

I only killed him once,

But I die every single day.

So no, it’s not okay.

Seriously, it’s not …

It’s not okay, and it won’t be until there’s a means to release the demon.

*     *     *

* If you are in a crisis please seek help. You cannot do this alone. Call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, talk to your doctor, or call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).

Dreams and even nightmares are often great fodder for a story or scene. Sometimes, though, those nocturnal fantasies are absolutely bizarre and offer no help whatsoever. Not even a tiny twist for an ending.

The image above—a questionable murder, to say the least—is a perfect example of the gaggle of “punctual” characters who, for some reason, show up in my mind from time to time. However, these guys come to me while my eyes are open and I’m wide-freakin-awake. Yep, my brain is a weird one. So are the things found inside, such as …

The renowned 100-yard Em Dash

The em dash is perhaps the most versatile of all punctuation marks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha’ gonna do ’bout the puppies?

Colon owners consider semi-colons as mixed breeds, therefore they prefer to keep the two apart. This is to prevent an unfortunate encounter that could result in large litters of periods and commas.

Unfortunate encounters produce large litters of periods and commas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have your ellipses glasses?

Punctuation marks have been known (in my mind) to join together to wreak havoc on the weather.

Periods, in teams of three, attack the sun.

 
 
 
 

Braces for Junior

Braces are also known as curly brackets “{ }”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotation Marks have places to go!

Commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks in American English; dashes, colons, and semicolons almost always go outside the quotation marks; question marks and exclamation marks sometimes go inside, sometimes stay outside. ~ Grammerly

 

Stop Shouting

In my mind, everyone gets to speak, and to ask questions, without being shouted down. Everyone …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too many questions …

 

Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes of this blog. Yes, this site has tons of moving parts that require many creative minds and many hands to turn the dials, push the buttons, and flip the switches. So without further ado …

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins is in charge of our patrol division. It is he who offers details of traffic stops, responses to various types of calls, training information, etc. His teams also provide security in and around our property.

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins

Our two sharp-dressed cops provide backup during all dangerous situations that may occur during the writing of blog articles.

Sharp-dressed cops

Our in-the-field reporter, Frank “Fake News” Robertson.

Frank “Fake News” Robertson

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken” Davis handles all calls involving runaway animals, cases of animal abuse, chicken theft, and more.

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken Choker” Davis

Third Shift Watch Commander, Lt. L. Arge Rat.

Lt. L. Arge Rat

Larry “The Knife” Johnson, a master of disguise, plays the parts of a few bad guys on the site.

Larry “The Knife” Johnson

Paulie “The Painter” appeared as himself.

Paul the Painter

Bad Breath Bill played himself during an article about edged weapons. Larry “The Knife” Johnson joined him in the post.

Bad Breath Bill

Major Mechanical serves as Chief Deputy.

Major Mechanical

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy, a regular on the site, teamed up to teach us about crime-fighting robots.

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy

We were also thrilled when Rosie stopped by to offer her thoughts and ideas.

Rosie the Maid

The Man in the Moon supervises the entire Graveyard Shift.

Man in the Moon

For some reason, and we don’t know why, this weasel pops in from time to time.

Weasel popping

Today, nothing and no one are safe from scandal. These two, for example, have been at it for quite a while now. We’ve threatened to fire them but they cannot seem to control their emotions.

The “pucker factor” sometimes causes strange reactions.

Harry “Hot Sauce” McGee is our resident expert on non-lethal weapons.

Delivering the “Hot Sauce.”

“The Hand” appears throughout the site. Here we see him demonstrating the proper procedure for “drawing” a gun.

“Drawing” a service weapon

As a precaution, we routinely sweep the site for things that go boom, and other hazards. Here we see Beauregard the Bomb Dog doing what he does best.

Beauregard the Bomb Dog

To teach us about Rigor and Livor, the Mortis Twins, we brought in world-renowned death expert Frank N. Stein.

Frank N. Stein

Our aquatics experts, Dewey D. Duck and Ronnie Raft.

Dewey D. Duck (upper right) and Ronnie Raft (lower left, bottom, sides, and rear).

Dewey’s 1st cousin, “Three-Eye” is our resident surveillance expert.

Three-Eye

Guarding us around the clock is Police K-9 Sha-Key. Never felt safer in my life.

K-9 Sha-Key

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom are on-hand to detail the effects of bioterrorism.

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom

Skeeter teaches us about bloodstain patterns.

World-renowned bloodstain pattern expert, Skeeter Simpson.

Of course, to maintain the buildings and grounds of the Graveyard Shift compound, we employ top professionals that include horticulture expert Gilly Goat and master carpenter Harry “The Frown” Hammer.

Gilly Goat

Harry “The Frown” Hammer

Crime Scene Expert, Grant Greenfly, knows the finest details. He’s like a, well, fly on the wall.

Crime Scene Expert Grant Greenfly

Sergeant Sam Stinkfeet is a real pro at evidence collection and preservation.

Sergent Sam Stinkfeet

Hematology expert O. Positive, along with a rare visit by renowned scientist B. Negative, provided much-needed information about blood evidence.

Hematology experts

Officer survival expert Fred Fish taught us of the dangers associated with tunnel vision.

Fred Fish

The “Yelling Woman,” played by Laura Largelungs, is featured throughout the site as the person/witness who’s screaming nonstop … at crime scenes, he-said/she-saids, domestic calls, at, well, everywhere. She/he is the person who “loses it” no matter the situation. And they never fail to get in the way at every step.

Laura Largelungs screams, “Help, poleeeece!”

Larry Lipzipper – Miranda expert.

You have the right to remain silent. Use it!

The part of the villain is played by actor Carl Cockroach.

The Villain, played by Carl Cockroach

Prison information provided by Calvin Convict.

Calvin Convict

Weak Walter often describes the thought processes and actions of criminal suspects who enjoy fighting the police, but aren’t very good at it.

Weak Walter says, “They sometimes decide to fight wearing nothing but …”

Our staff of law experts led by by Judge I. Have Notorso, are always on standby to weed through legal issues.

Judge I. Have Notorso

Howard Hacker, our cyber crimes expert, is on standby to answer all questions.

Cyber crimes expert Howard Hacker

As you can see, The Graveyard Shift is well-staffed by a slew of top experts. Without them we’d be just another blog.

Of course there are many other experts who walk our hallways and occupy the offices of our elaborate compound. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time or space to showcase each of them today. And, there are many more characters experts on the way, and you’ll soon them and some of our regulars in places other than this blog. As they say … STAY TUNED!


By the way, space is available to attend the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of this thrilling hands-on event. You don’t want to miss this one!!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

#2018WPA

 

  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a side effect of “the little blue pill.” It keeps you up all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.

    Wandering Eyes

  7. Spellcheck is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee and whiskey and telling tall tales … and whiskey.
  10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is totally uneventful.
  11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.
  12. If real-life bad guys would simply take the time to read a mystery book they’d know the good guys always win in the end.
  13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.
  14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.
  15. Social media can be like a cancer. No punch line. It truly can be like a cancer.
  16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they get up and go to their day jobs, greeting customers at Weirdmart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Emporium.
  17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know the attack could come at moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs.
  18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

Two drunks and a writer enter a bar during a writers conference. Three drunks come out.

*Have you got a zinger you’d like to share? If so, please do. (no foul language, racism, cop-bashing, politics, etc., please.).

RILEY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A 73-year-old woman was in her kitchen doing what everyone does in their kitchen—cooking, cleaning, eating, washing dishes, hanging out, having coffee, etc. You know, “kitchen things.” Her husband was nearby.

The woman’s husband says he heard a loud “crack” and suddenly his wonderful wife of many years collapsed to the floor. She was dead.

The sharp sound was gunfire. The woman had been shot to death by a neighbor who was target practicing on his property, firing at a dirt berm.

Apparently, at least one of the shooter’s rounds missed its mark and traveled through the air, across his property and then across his neighbor’s land, through their walls, into their kitchen, where it came to rest inside the body of an elderly woman who was doing nothing more than enjoying a day at home with her husband. Now she’s gone, forever.

Police say the shooter is cooperating with authorities.

I bring up this tragedy because, first, it’s horrible, and next it reminds me of an incident that occurred just last year in the state of North Carolina. Onslow County, North Carolina, to be exact, and it involves my daughter, her family, their home, their neighbors, and me, in a roundabout way.

Our daughter’s home was struck by gunfire.

The initial round broke a window and penetrated an interior wall of a laundry room.

Thinking it may have been a freak accident, the window was replaced and all was well … for a short while. Then more sounds of gunfire were heard in the area, and those gunshots sounded extremely close with additional rounds striking the house. One lodged in the wood trim next to the front door.

The front door. The door most often used by my daughter, her husband, and our grandson, Tyler. The round hit less than a foot to the right of where a person would stand when unlocking the door, turning the knob to go inside, or to stand watching as Tyler’s school bus arrived, something Ellen liked to do until cancer arrived and made it too difficult for her to enjoy many of the things she enjoyed.

Ellen, our daughter, called the sheriff’s office to report that someone was shooting at her house. In the meantime, she contacted a next-door neighbor who also discovered rounds lodged in the exterior of their home. Also near the front door.

Here’s how the sheriff’s office responded to someone firing live rounds into the homes of human beings.

Day One

  • Ellen called the sheriff’s office the first day/time at 1552 (if nothing else, the daughter of a police detective knows to keep record of everything). The call lasted 1 minute and 12 seconds. She called back at 1606 because the shooting was still going on in the neighborhood. The second call lasted 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
  • No one responded and the sheriff’s office denied she’d called, in spite of her having the records stored in her phone.

Day Two 

  • No response – shooting continues. More contact with the sheriff’s office. Nothing.

Day Three

  • No response – shooting continues

Day Four

  • Ellen tells me about the incident and the lack of response and concern by the sheriff’s office. I bypassed the folks on the front lines and contacted the county sheriff directly and “politely” urged him to do something about the situation. Last year was election year, by the way. A major contacted me immediately. He said he’d follow up.

This is the point where I totally and absolutely lost it

One official wrote me to say, “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?”

Well, maybe it’s because NO ONE RESPONDED!!

In fairness, I feel sort of confident the official was relying on the “word” of the deputy who reported that he’d handled the incident. But …

Finally, it comes out, sort of …

The deputy who was assigned the original call, four days earlier, told his boss that he’d been too busy that day to actually show up. Instead, he claimed he’d tried several times to call Ellen on the phone, using his cell phone, and that he left messages on her voicemail. There are no such records. They do not exist. No one called.

Next, I was told that the sheriff’s office has records of all calls made by the deputy. However, they could not produce them when I requested them (I knew they didn’t exist).

Sheriff’s officials again claimed Ellen did not call, asking me, “What is the address? Is your daughter a minor? Who are you calling when you call?”

Keep in mind, the person who asked these questions was the same person I’d spoken with about the issue. The same person who took the information from me—name, address, phone number, nature of complaint— after the sheriff had him contact me. AFTER the deputy said he’d been too busy to respond to the call made by Ellen. After Ellen called several times. After neighbors called.

It was within the same written message to me, the official made the “Not sure why you think we did not respond…..?” statement. Just seconds earlier, remember, he/she claimed Ellen had not called. Why would someone respond to a call that hadn’t happened? Curious, I know. 🙂

But … if there was a record of Ellen calling, why did they not know her name, address, age, the number she called? Puhleeze. I made up better excuses when I didn’t do my homework in elementary school. Anyway …

Convoluted, huh? But wait, it gets better!

Okay, back to the deputy. The major sent him out to speak with the shooters (by this time, everyone knew who was pulling the trigger) but he opted to merely drive by—he didn’t stop—reporting that the activity had ceased—he didn’t hear gunfire as he drove through the area (like people shoot nonstop, without eating, drinking, tending to needs, and /or sleeping, 24/7).

Four days later, the posse arrives

Anyway, the deputy finally showed up at Ellen’s house four days after her initial call to the sheriff’s office. While there, like in a Perry Mason episode, he used a knife to dig the rounds from the house.

He also finally paid a visit to the shooter. I was told that as long as the shooter was 500 feet from the nearest house there was nothing the sheriff’s office could do. They actually said it was okay to fire guns toward an occupied dwelling as long as the shooters were outside of the 500-feet-range.

Fortunately, this shooter used common sense and realized the danger and agreed to not shoot until he erected a dirt berm. Now, after hearing the tragic details from the Michigan shooting, we all know just how safe/unsafe a dirt berm can be. There’s a dead woman and her grieving husband who are proof that these berms are sometimes not safe, especially in a residential area.

I recall a well-known author posting about a similar experience in her super-nice neighborhood, and that guy was firing a fully-automatic weapon.

By the way, on the day the deputy finally spoke with Ellen and then visited the shooter, someone else from the sheriff’s office contacted me to say the matter had been resolved (case closed) several days earlier to everyone’s satisfaction. The message was extremely defensive, taking the side of a deputy without knowing the circumstances at all. No clue, but was quick to discount me, Ellen, and the shooting—case closed. This person was in no way involved in this mess, but she/he saw the correspondence and felt the need to chime in, without knowing a single detail. Not one. Four days after the fact while the situation was still fully in play.

Today, the shooting continues, with a dirt berm in place.

In the midst of all the buck-passing and possible fibbing and defensiveness of a deputy who was possibly a bit less than honest, I wrote this to the sheriff’s office command – “I know it’s none of my business how you conduct the business of your office, but this, trying to cover up after-the-fact, is part of the reason the public distrusts the police. I’ve devoted the past ten years of my life educating the public about police and that we really are the good guys and that they can trust us, and then all it takes is a few words to tear down the little progress we make. My blog alone has reached appr. 4 million people worldwide and it’s a battle each day to present positive information that’ll help build that bridge between the public and the police.”


Note – It’s a crying shame it took so long and to have so many people involved to stop a life-threatening situation. I sincerely appreciate that the top brass within the sheriff’s office handled this for me, but three or four days of someone shooting at your house before a patrol deputy could find time in his schedule to stop a potential death by shooting is, well, it’s beyond me. And why did I have to pull the “I was a cop card” before anything at all was done? Would they have eventually shown up had I not contacted the sheriff to mention I was a former detective who’s investigated more shootings into occupied dwellings than I could possibly begin to count? It’s illegal to do so, by the way.

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that 500 feet is not ample distance to completely prevent injury or death from a high-powered rifle round. Nor is it possible for improperly constructed dirt berms to stop rounds if the berms are too short, too narrow, or too thin. Even rocks or pieces of metal on dirt berms can cause ricochets, or lead to break apart sending shrapnel off in various directions. By the way, shrapnel is a fancy name for smaller projectiles that could also be as deadly as an intact round.

The rounds above each struck a hard surface before coming to rest. The item at the top is ejected brass from a .45.

Commonsense. Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a life. That, and not shooting toward homes.

#proactivepolicingsaveslives

#respondtocalls

#behonest

#shootresponsibly

#irresposibleshootersgiveallothersabadname

#baddeputy

#alwaysknowthepathofyourrounds


Finally, please continue to pray for our daughter, my little girl. She’s very ill.

Again, if you can help, please do. Contact me at lofland32@msn.com for contribution details. Thank you so much!