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SUNSHINE STATE Events

 

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SUNSHINE STATE RELEASE DAY is next Tuesday May 21, 2019
Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/sunshine-state.html

Previous Posts include:

A Reading of the first 2 chapters: https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/14/criminal-mischief-episode-19-sunshine-state-is-coming/

Who The Heck Is Jake Longly?: https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/who-the-heck-is-jake-longly/

 

Join me for these events:

MJ Magazine Interview with Fran Lewis
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7 a.m. Pacific
https://www.facebook.com/MJMagazineAuthors/

Authors On The air with Pam Stack
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 2 p.m. PDT
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheair

Lit Up! OC: Reading from SUNSHINE STATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7 p.m.
Bardot Bars & Coffee
662 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA
714-486-1342
https://www.facebook.com/litupoc/

SUNSHINE STATE Launch Party Signing
Mystery Ink, Huntington Beach, CA
Saturday, May 25, 2019, 3 p.m.
Mystery Ink Bookstore
8907 Warner Ave. #135
Huntington Beach, CA
714-960-4000
http://www.mysteryink.com

Sisters in Crime, Orange County
“Meeting Mysterious Characters For The First Time”
Sunday, May 26th, 2019, 2 p.m.
Irvine Water District
15500 Sand Canyon Ave
Irvine, CA
http://ocsistersincrime.org

Suspense Radio Interview
Discussion of SUNSHINE STATE
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 9 a.m. Pacific
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine

Book Carnival, Orange, CA
SUNSHINE STATE Signing and Interview by Maddie Margarita
(And it’s Maddie’s Birthday!!!!)
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 2 p.m.
348 S. Tustin Street
Orange, CA
714-538-3210
http://www.annesbookcarnival.com

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #19: SUNSHINE STATE Is Coming

SS 500X766

Criminal Mischief: Episode #19: SUNSHINE STATE Is Coming

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/sunshinestate

SHOW NOTES: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief-notes/19-sunshine-state-is-coming.html

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

SUNSHINE STATE Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/sunshine-state.html

From Publishers Weekly: 

In Lyle’s ingenious third mystery featuring retired major league pitcher Jake Longly (after 2017’s A-List), Jake, who runs a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Ala., is again roped into working for his father Ray’s PI firm. An attorney has contacted Ray on behalf of Billy Wayne Baker, a convicted serial killer. Though Baker pleaded guilty to strangling seven women, he insists that he killed only five of them, and wants that assertion validated. When Jake meets Baker in prison, the murderer refuses to name the other killer, claiming that doing so would lead to accusations that Jake’s inquiries were biased. The investigator’s task is made even harder by Baker’s not even identifying which of the dead women were killed by someone else . (To his credit, Lyle makes this complicated scenario credible.) Along with his girlfriend, Jake travels to Pine Key, Fla., the scene of three of the strangulations, where the couple pretend to be researching a documentary examining the impact of the killings on the small community. The clever plot twists will surprise even genre veterans. This entry is the best in the series so far. 

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-60809-336-6

CHAPTER ONE 

Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks. 

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment. 

Nicole Jamison, my current girlfriend, love interest, whatever she was, I wasn’t sure yet, had laughed. Rude, but she does love getting her shots in. Besides, she just might’ve agreed with him. Mostly. Not in bed, mind you. I’m freaking Godzilla in the sack. Really, I am. I think she would agree. In fact, just last night, if I remember correctly, there was tequila involved, she invoked God a couple of times. Or it could’ve been my echo. Lord knows I called on Him a couple of times. 

Okay, I added the zilla part. So, sue me. No, wait, don’t. The best attorney in town, Walter Horton, is married to my ex-wife, Tammy the Insane. He’d already done a colonoscopy on my wallet. Probably wouldn’t hesitate to encore that performance. pastedGraphic.png 

So, let’s just say Nicole and I have fun. 

Regardless, she and Ray conspired to enroll us in martial arts classes. Actually, some craziness based on Krav Maga and several other disciplines mixed into a soup of pain, mayhem, and considerable bodily harm. Taught by an ex-Mossad guy that Ray knew from back in the day. Ben Levitsky. Six-two, lean and muscular, the body fat of a distance runner, and no nonsense. No wonder he and Ray got along. 

Ray Longly. My father. Owner of Longly Investigations. An outfit that, depending on your definition, employs Nicole. Speaking of employing, Ray has used every trick in his considerable bag of mischief to drag me into his business. But, I prefer Captain Rocky’s, my just dive-y enough bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores. I’d much rather hang out there with Pancake, who really does work for Ray. He also thinks I should sign on with Ray. Not going to happen. At least, not officially. 

Seems like despite this resolve, I repeatedly get dragged into Ray’s world. And end up throwing baseballs at hitmen, or whacking alligators with baseball bats, stuff like that. 

Captain Rocky’s is much safer.

Back to Krav Maga. It’s a system of combat that is aggressive and can be lethal in the right hands—and feet—or whatever might be handy. Ben Levitsky ended his career with Mossad nearly ten years ago. I suspected he had done things that weren’t nice, or legal, or even Kosher. Now, he owned a studio in Orange Beach where he dispensed his knowledge to folks of all ages and skill levels. Nicole and I had already taken a gazillion lessons. Actually, three a week for four weeks, but my hands felt like a gazillion. They ached and making a fist was a process not an event. No way this was a healthy pursuit. I mean, I could hardly wrap my fist around a beer. 

Nicole felt otherwise. She loved it. Her hands were fine. Fact is, all of her was fine. But that’s another story. 

We had completed our morning session of bag punching and kicking and spinning and thrusting and had downed a couple of breakfast burritos my cooks had whipped up for us, when I sat down at an umbrella-shaded table on the deck at Captain Rocky’s with Carla Martinez, my manager. The one who really ran the joint. She had a stack of stuff for me to go over, checks and papers to sign, invoices and orders to review, inventory lists that blurred my vision. Paper work is not my thing. 

It was August and the daily temp, which was projected to reach well into the nineties, had begun to climb. I had already downed two glasses of sweet tea and was working on a third. 

Nicole opted for a walk on the beach. In a red string bikini. Not enough material to wad a shotgun. An exhibitionist’s dream. Which was another of her outstanding qualities. All that exposed flesh garnered a lot of attention. As she disappeared up the beach, every male head turned in her direction. Most of the women, too. She even brought a touch football game to a halt. Now, as she walked back our way, I saw she had attracted a couple of followers. Two old dudes with metal detectors. I don’t think their focus was on finding coins any longer. Pervs. 

Speaking of focus.

“Are you listening to me?” Carla asked.

“Sure.”

“What did I just say?”

“That we needed to order more ribs and chicken.”

She smiled. “And here I thought you were daydreaming again. 

Glad to know you can multitask.”

“I can. I’m a multitasking freak.” 

“You’re a freak, all right.” She smiled. 

Like Nicole, Carla enjoyed giving me a ration. Come to think if it, so did Ray and Pancake. 

She twisted in her chair and looked up the beach. The direction of my gaze. Where Nicole was leaving a trail of footprints near the waterline. “I should’ve known.” 

I smiled. “Never get tired of that view.”

“You’re obsessed.”

“Sort of.”

“Definitely. But she is beautiful. If I swung that way, I’d do her.” I shook my head. She laughed and turned back toward me. 

“No worry there though. I do like my dudes.”

“That you do.”

“Well,” Carla said, “you can put all your awesome multitasking talent away, because that’s all I have.” She stood and gathered up the papers, stuffing them into a folder. “What’s on your agenda today?” 

“This. I think I’m done.”

“It’s ten o’clock in the morning.”

“Long day.” I smiled.

She gave me a look I’d seen all too often. The one that said I was incorrigible.

“Don’t strain anything,” she said. “I’ve got work to do.”

Like I said, she really runs the place.

She started to walk away but stopped. “Oh, I forgot. Pancake called a little while ago. Wanted to know if you guys were here. Said he’d drop by.” 

“Any idea what’s on his mind?”

“No one knows what’s on his mind. What little he has.”

That was true. Not that Pancake was dumb. Far from it. One of the smartest people I’ve ever known. But, for lack of a better word, he’s quirky. And that’s being kind.

Carla continued. “I asked but he said he wanted to see your face when he told you.” 

That didn’t sound good.

“Guess you’ll know soon.” She laughed and headed toward the bar.

Nicole climbed the stairs to the deck and walked my way. And what a walk. Runway perfect. The murmuring of the late breakfast crowd dropped to near silence and gazes followed every stride and sway. 

She slipped on the flimsy coverlet she had left hanging over one of the chairs and sat. “Did you get your homework done?”

“I did.”

“Good boy.”

Boy? I expected her to pull out some treats and pat my head. A reward for a job well done. She didn’t.

That’s when Pancake arrived. All six feet-five and 280 lumbering pounds of him. His red hair looked wind blown. His left cheek sported what looked like road rash. 

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Three Wild Turkeys and a bicycle.”

No further explanation offered. I tried to picture him on a bicycle. 

Sure, he and I had terrorized the neighborhood on our bikes as kids, but he outgrew the tensile strength of a Schwinn before we reached high school. The only thing that could safely transport him now was his massive dually pick-up. Apparently, a bicycle couldn’t. 

“Did you smear on any antibiotic ointment?” Nicole asked. 

“Rubbed some dirt on it.” He smiled. “That’ll do.” Worked when we were kids, so why not?

“Ray’s headed this way,” he said. 

“Really?” I asked. “Why?” 

Ray avoided Captain Rocky’s like it was a toxic waste site. Something must be up. 

“He has a job for you guys,” Pancake said.

“I don’t work for Ray.”

“I do,” Nicole said. “What is it?”

Pancake laughed. “You’re gonna love it.”

“What?” I asked, not really wanting to know, even as a niggle of curiosity rose. Or was it dread? Whenever Pancake said something like “you’re going to love it” or “wait till you hear this” or “here, hold my beer and watch this,” what followed was never predictable, and often led to chaos and mayhem. 

“I think I’ll let Ray handle it. Wouldn’t want to spoil it for him.” 

“That bad?” Nicole asked.

Pancake nodded. “Oh yeah. We’ve done a bunch of crazy shit, but this’ll beat all.”

“Cool,” Nicole said.

No, probably not close to cool.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Fifteen minutes later, Ray arrived. He took a seat. Didn’t say a word. Carla plopped down a cold can of Mountain Dew in front of him. Ray and Mountain Dew had a close relationship. Almost pathological. I think he drank a dozen a day.

“Anything else?” Carla asked.

“This’ll do,” Ray finally spoke. “Thanks.”

“Give me a wave if you change your mind.” She headed back inside. 

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Got something I want you two to check out.”

“I don’t work for you,” I said.

He shrugged. “Nicole does. And you’ll pretty much follow her wherever she goes.”

I had no response for that. Mainly because it was true.

“So, what do you have for us, boss?” Nicole asked.

Boss?

“Damnedest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Ray said.

Pancake laughed. “All that and a passel of howler monkeys.” 

“The suspense is killing me,” I said.

“Me, too,” added Nicole.

I guess I neglected to add enough sarcasm to my question. For her. Not for Ray. He gave me a look before continuing. 

“I got a call from an attorney over in Jacksonville,” Ray said. “He wants us to sit down with his client and see if we can help.”

“With what?” I asked, immediately regretting it. I had no idea why I was engaging in this. Better to stay in the foxhole and hope Ray blows over.

“Prove he only killed five people instead of seven.”

“What?” Nicole said.

Ray took a big slug of Dew. “You know the name Billy Wayne Baker?”

Nicole looked at him, then me.

“Sounds familiar,” I said.

“A convicted serial killer,” Ray said.

I nodded, his history starting to take root in my head. “I do remember him. Vaguely. Murdered some folks over in Florida.”

“That’s him. Seven victims. Doing multiple life sentences.”

“Not the death penalty?” I asked.

“Part of the bargain. He confessed to all the killings. Saved the state a bunch of money. Got seven life sentences. No parole, of course.” 

“He’s the client?” Nicole asked.

“Sure is.”

“How does a lifer have the money to pay you?” I asked.

“He doesn’t. But according to his attorney—guy named Winston McCracken—there’s a benefactor who’s paying the freight.”

Nothing about that sounded right. “Serial killers now have benefactors?”

Another slug of Dew. “Apparently Billy Wayne does.”

“Who is it?” Nicole asked. “The money man?”

“Don’t know. That’s part of the deal. He stays completely anonymous.”

I couldn’t quite wrap my head around that. A serial killer, who confessed, now wants to back track, and he found someone to pony up the cash to re-open the investigation. Who the hell would do that? And why?

“That makes no sense,” I said. “He wants us to prove he didn’t kill two of the people he confessed to killing? What? Five life sentences is better than seven?”

Ray balled one fist and then opened it, spreading his fingers, examining them. “All I know is what McCracken said. That’s why I want you to check it out.”

The situations Ray had dragged me into in the past were quirkily weird. Or was it weirdly quirky? Same difference, I suspect. Ray had roped me into things like staking out the adulterous Barbara Plummer. Who, of course, did get murdered right under my nose. Okay, maybe not my best day. Or trying to figure out how Hollywood, A-List actor Kirk Ford woke up with the co-ed niece of a New Orleans mobster dead in his bed. Those were indeed quirky and odd, but I had to admit this was something else entirely.

“I am intrigued,” I said.

“I see a screenplay in there somewhere,” Nicole added.

I shook my head. “Of course, you do.”

She slugged my arm. My already sore arm from all that Krav 

Maga crap. Not to mention that my hands were too tender to hit anything. Apparently, not so for Nicole.

“Besides keeping Jake in line, what’s the plan?” she asked.

“Me? In line?”

“No small task.” She ruffled my hair.

“I can’t help you with that,” Ray said. “Lord knows I’ve tried. But on the case, the first order of business would be a sit down with McCracken. See what’s what. He said he could get you in to see Billy Wayne.”

“Who is where?” I asked.

“Union Correctional Institute. Over near Raiford.”

“We’re on it,” Nicole said.

Of course, we are.

“When?” I asked.

“Tomorrow afternoon. His office in Jacksonville.” 

“Short notice,” I said.

“What? You got something else to do?”

I was sure I did but I couldn’t think of a single thing.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Writing

 

Who the Heck is Jake Longly?

Two weeks from today Jake Longly #3, SUNSHINE STATE, comes out. So, who the heck is Jake Longly?

Jake is the protagonist of my series of comedic thrillers. DEEP SIX and A-LIST will be followed by SUNSHINE STATE, coming May 21, 2019, and RIGGED in April 2020. Jake’s an ex-professional baseball player. Pitcher for the Texas Rangers with an overpowering fastball. Until his rotator cuff injury ended his career. Then he purchased Captain Rocky’s, a bar/restaurant on the sand in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

His major life goals now are running his bar and chasing bikinis. Worthy goals for Jake. His father Ray feels otherwise. Ray has some murky background in the US military world of black ops and now runs a P.I. firm in Gulf Shores. He can’t understand why Jake won’t work for him and is constantly trying to drag Jake into his world. Jake’s refusal creates tension, to say the least.

From SUNSHINE STATE:

Here’s the deal. Ray thinks I’m a wimp. Has for years. The best I can remember it began around the time I left major league baseball. For several years, I pitched for the Texas Rangers. Could really bring the heat. A hundred miles an hour. Zip, pop. Loved that sound. Loved that the catcher would often shake his hand out after snagging one of my fastballs. That was me. Jake Longly, baseball stud. Everybody said so. Even the ESPN folks.

Not so Ray. He never actually used the word wimp. Pussy. That’s the one he preferred. Four weeks ago being his most recent assessment.

SS 500X766

 

Jake has an ex-wife. who he affectionately calls Tammy The Insane. 

From DEEP SIX:

It was precisely 12:12 a.m. when the window shattered. A crack-crunch, an eardrum concussing pop, and a spray of glass shards. It didn’t explode by itself, mind you, but rather courtesy of a cavity-backed, perimeter-weighted two-hundred-dollar five iron. A Callaway. I recognized it because it was mine. Or at least it had been.

I knew the exact time because the flying glass yanked me from sleep, my forward-slumped head aligned squarely with the dashboard clock. Took a couple of seconds to gain any sort of perspective on what had happened. 

Of course, sleep wasn’t part of the job. Watching the house two doors down and across the street was. In my defense, nothing had moved in the house, or even along the street that snaked through the high-dollar neighborhood, for at least a couple of hours. But sitting in the dark, behind the wheel of my car, boredom did what boredom does. Knocking back the better portion of the bottle of Knob Creek hadn’t helped either. Stakeouts were mind numbing and a little more numbing of the mind couldn’t be all bad. Right?

“Jake, what the hell are you doing?” the reason for the glass explosion screeched through the jagged hole. 

This wasn’t just any window. It was vintage, the reason it shattered rather than simply spider-webbing. The original passenger window of my otherwise spotless 1965 Mustang. Burgundy with black pony interior, now littered with glass shards. Going to be a bitch to find a replacement.

Speaking of bitches, I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day. 

She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.

Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.

But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

Like now.

 

DS PB 500X750

 

Jake has a girlfriend. Nicole Jamison. Insanely beautiful, but no bubble-headed bleach blonde. Not even close. Smart, clever, tough, and she doesn’t suffer fools well. They met the same night Tammy The Insane shattered Jake’s Mustang window.

From DEEP SIX:

After the ever-pleasant Tammy and the all-business Officer Blake Cooper vacated the premises, I surveyed the damage to my car. The shattered windows were essentially irreplaceable. Seems Ford doesn’t make windows for fifty-year-old cars. The nerve of them. I began knocking away the toothy window remnants from the frames and picking up the larger pieces from the seats, dropping them on the floorboard. The floor mats were expendable, the Pony interior not. 

As if to prove that any situation could go from bad to worse, the wind kicked up, dragging with it the smell of rain. Out over the Gulf a bank of dark clouds, tops silvered by the moonlight, innards flashing bright white with lightning, marched toward shore.

Just great. Twenty miles from home, no right-side windows. Didn’t bode well for my Pony interior.

Headlights washed over me, and I looked up the street. Now what? Did Cooper have more to say? Maybe he called it in and his boss gave him the green light to haul my ass down town. To tweak Ray if nothing else.

I raised one hand to shield my eyes from the headlamp glare. The car, a shiny new red SL Mercedes, rolled to a stop. The deeply-tinted window slid down, revealing a young woman. Her straight blond hair hung like silk curtains to her shoulders and framed a face that could grace the cover of Vogue. Definitely not what I expected.

“That was interesting,” she said.

“You saw that, huh?”

She laughed. Soft, almost musical. “Hard to miss a woman beating the hell out of a classic Mustang with a golf club.”

I looked back up the street, from where she had come. “You live around here I take it?”

She brushed a wayward strand of her from her face. “Just back around the bend.”

“You on a beer run or something?”

Another soft laugh. “Heading out to see a friend.”

“A little late, isn’t it?”

“He’s a bartender. Doesn’t close up until one. But he’s not nearly as interesting as this.”

“Bet he’d be happy to hear that.”

She shrugged. “He’d get over it.”

I reeled in my first response—that a woman as beautiful as her probably didn’t have to worry too much about pissing him off. No one would put her on the road for being late. Instead, I smiled.

“So what was that about?” she asked.

“My ex. She’s insane.”

“Obviously.”

“I’m Jake,”

“Nicole.” 

She extended a hand out the window, and I shook it. Soft skin, firm grip. The first drops of rain peppered my face.

“You better get that beauty under cover.”

“My thoughts exactly. Problem is, cover is about twenty miles away.”

She hesitated, examining me as if trying to decide something. “Or just up the road. My place. You can stick it in the garage until this blows over.” 

“What about your friend?”

“Sean the bartender? Like I said, this is much more interesting.” 

She smiled. Perfect teeth. Perfect smile. Just perfect. Down boy.

“Glad I could brighten your evening,” I said,

“A girl’s got to find fun where she can.”

“You have an odd definition of fun.”

“I hear that a lot.”

Jake has a best friend—-Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers. Big doesn’t cover it. His hair is red and his ability to take in massive amounts of food legendary. Most people think he got his nickname from his ability to demolish a stack of pancakes, which of course he could, but as a star offensive lineman in his youth, he was famous for pancake blocks—-those that flatten the opponent. Pancake works for Ray. He possesses crazy computer skills but also knows how to handle almost any confrontation.

From A-LIST:

Jimmy Walker, aka Rag Man, was a piece of work. A piece of something anyway. The alley he did business from, as Doucet had said, was wedged between the fire station and an industrial-looking building that had seen better days. The sidewalk was veined with cracks and the alley narrow and littered with refuse. As we reached the alley entrance, we saw him. Thin, black, baggy pants, a New Orleans Saints jersey, three-sizes too large, almost reaching his knees, cigarette hanging from his lips, slouching against the building. He looked up from the phone he was working with his thumbs and came off the wall, moving toward us. He didn’t seem alarmed. Probably thought we were customers.

“Good day gentlemen,” he said, smiling. A true salesman. Probably would do well with aluminum siding. Or as a midway barker.

We introduced ourselves, Ray saying we were P.I.s and needed to ask a few questions to which Rag Man said, ““I don’t got to talk to you.” His head swiveled up and down the street. Like he didn’t want to be seen talking to us. 

“No, you don’t,” I said. “But we’d appreciate it.”

“Go appreciate something else,” he said. 

“It’s about your business,” Ray said.

“I ain’t got no business.” Another glance up the street. “I suggest you move along. Get out of my face. Might not be healthy for you white boys to hang around here. Know what I’m saying?”

I love watching Pancake work. It’s a true work of art. Mostly he’s a gentle giant, wouldn’t hurt anyone. Even go out of his way to avoid trouble. Then there were times he did stuff that made you stare in disbelief. Even if you’d seen it before.

This time, he simply grabbed Rag Man’s arm and tossed him into the alley. Just like that. Like a kid having a tantrum and tossing a doll across the room. Rag Man rolled and bounced a couple of times but to his credit quickly scrambled to his feet. Pancake was on him. He poked his chest with a finger. “No, I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Hey dude, you can’t do that.”

“I’m just getting started.” Pancake palmed his chest, pressing him against the wall.

AL 500X750

 

Despite Jake’s resolve, he is repeatedly dragged into Ray’s world. Mostly by Nicole, who. like Pancake, works for Ray. Jake was never sure exactly how that happened but she even has a laminated card to prove it. 

Jump on board and enter Jake’s world. Lot’s of crime, craziness, and fun. DEEP SIX and A-LIST are out and available in all the usual formats. Get caught up with Jake, Nicole, Ray, and Pancake before SUNSHINE STATE is released in two weeks,  May 21, 2019.

DEEP SIX Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/deep-six/

A-LIST Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/a-list.html

SUNSHINE STATE Details: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/sunshine-state.html

Jake #4 RIGGED will be available next April

Rigged 500X766

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2019 in Writing

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #18: Gunshot To The Chest

XRay Chest Bullet

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #18: Gunshot To The Chest

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/gswtochest

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

SHOW NOTES: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief-notes/18-gunshot-to-the-chest.html

Gunshot wounds (GSWs) come in many flavors and those to the chest can be particularly dicey. Yet, a chest GSW can be a minor flesh wound, a major traumatic event with significant damage, or deadly. If you have a character who suffers such an injury, this podcast is for you.

Here are a few interesting questions about chest GSWs:

Could a Person Survive a Gunshot to the Chest in the 1880s?

Q: My scenario is set in 1880. A man in his early 20s is shot in the back by a rifle. He loses a lot of blood and is found a couple of hours later unconscious. Could he survive and if so how long would it take him it recuperate? Also, would it be possible to bring him to consciousness long enough for another man to get him into a buggy. Is any part of this scenario possible?

A: Everything about your scenario works. A gunshot wound (GSW) to the chest can kill in minutes, hours, days, or not at all. The victim would be in pain and may cough and sputter and may even cough up some blood. He could probably walk or crawl and maybe even fight and run if necessary. Painful, but possible. He would likely be consciousness so could even help get himself into the wagon.

If all goes well, he should be better and gingerly up and around in a week or two. He would be fully recovered in 6 to 8 weeks.

After surviving the initial GSW, the greatest risk to his life would a secondary wound infection. Since no antibiotics were available at that time, the death rate was very high—40 to 80 percent—for wound infections. But, if he did not develop an infection, he would heal up completely.

How Is A Gunshot To The Chest Treated?

Q: I have a few questions regarding a gunshot wound that my poor character will be sustaining later on in my story. Supposing it’s a fairly small caliber bullet (typical handgun fare, not buckshot or anything) and it hits near the heart without puncturing anything important, how long might his recovery time be? He’s a strong, kinda-healthy guy in his thirties, although he drinks a fair amount and used to smoke. He’ll be rushed to a high-quality hospital immediately and receive the best care throughout recovery…what’s his outlook? When will he be allowed to go home, if all goes well? How long before he’s healed to normal?  When will it be safe for him to walk around, drive, have sex, etc.?

A: In your story, what happens to your shooting victim depends upon what injuries he received. A gunshot wound (GSW to docs and cops) can be a minor flesh wound or can be immediately deadly or anywhere in between. It all depends on the caliber and speed of the bullet and the exact structures it hits. A shot to the heart may kill instantly or not. The victim could die in a few minutes or survive for days or could recover completely with proper medical care and surgery. It’s highly variable but ask any surgeon or ER doctor and they will tell you that it’s hard to kill someone with a gun. Even with a shot or two to the chest.

A small caliber and slow speed bullet—such as those fired by .22 and .25 caliber weapons—are less likely to kill than are heavier loads and higher velocity bullets such as .38, .357, or .45 caliber bullets, particularly if they are propelled by a magnum load—such as a .357 magnum or a .44 magnum. Also, the type of bullet makes a difference. Jacketed or coated bullets penetrate more while hollow point or soft lead bullets penetrate less but do more wide-spread damage as the bullet deforms on impact.

All that is nice but the bottom line is that whatever happens, happens. That is, a small, slow bullet may kill and a large, fast one may not. Any bullet may simply embed in the chest wall or strike a rib and never enter the chest. Or it could enter the heart and kill quickly. Or it could puncture a lung. The victim here would cough some blood, be very short of breath, and could die from bleeding into the lungs—basically drowning in their own blood. Or the lung could collapse and again cause pain and shortness of breath. But we have two lungs and unless the GSWs are to both lungs and both lungs collapse the person would be able to breathe, speak, even run away, call for help, or fight off the attacker. Whatever happens, happens.

This is good for fiction writers. It means you can craft your scene any way you want and it will work. He could suffer a simple flesh wound and have pain, shortness or breathe, and be very angry. He could have a lung injury and have the above symptoms plus be very short of breathe and cough blood.  If the bleeding was severe or if both lungs were injured he could become very weak, dizzy, and slip into shock. Here his blood pressure would be very low and with the injury to his lungs the oxygen content of his blood would dip to very low levels and he would lose consciousness as you want. This could happen in a very few minutes or an hour later, depending upon the rapidity of blood loss and the degree of injury to the lungs.

Once rescued, the paramedics would probably place an endotracheal (ET) tube into his lungs to help with breathing, start an IV to giver IV fluids, and transport him to the hospital immediately. He would then be seen by a trauma surgeon or chest surgeon and immediately undergo surgery to remove the bullets (if possible) and to repair the damaged lung or whatever else was injured. He could recover quickly without complications and go home in a week, rest there for a couple of weeks, return to part-time work for a few weeks and be full speed by 3 to 4 months. Or he could have one of any number of complications and die. Or be permanently disabled, etc. It all depends upon the nature of Injuries, the treatment, and luck.

What Does a Close-range Gun Shot to the Chest Look Like?

Q: I have a question regarding gunshot wounds. In my latest mystery, a man and a woman, my heroine, struggle for a gun. It goes off, hitting the man in the chest. I want the man to live, but be temporarily incapacitated and need hospital care, so if the chest isn’t the best location, other suggestions are welcome. What would the gunshot wound likely look like before and after the man’s shirt was removed? Would there be a lot of bleeding where my heroine would take his shirt off and stuff it over the wound?

A: A gunshot wound (GSW) to the chest would work well. For it to be quickly fatal, the bullet would have to damage the heart or the aorta or another major blood vessel, such as the main pulmonary (lung) arteries. Under these circumstances, bleeding into the chest, the lungs,  and around the heart would likely be extensive and death could be almost instantaneous or in a very few minutes. He could survive even these injuries, but this would require quick and aggressive treatment, including emergent surgery, and a pile of luck.

If the bullet entered the lung, the victim could die from severe bleeding into the lung and basically drowning in his own blood. Or not. He could survive such an injury and would then require surgery to remove the bullet, control the bleeding within the lung, and repair the lung itself. This would require a couple of hours of surgery, a week in the hospital, and a couple of months to recover fully.

The bullet could simply embed in the chest wall and never enter the chest cavity. It could bounce off the sternum (breast bone) or a rib and deflect out of the chest, into the soft tissues of the chest wall, or downward into the abdomen. Once a bullet strikes bone, it can be deflected in almost any direction. Sometimes full-body X-rays are required to find the bullet. If the bullet simply embedded beneath his skin or against a rib or the sternum, he would require a minor surgical procedure to remove the bullet and debride (clean-up) the wound. He would be hospitalized for only 2 to 3 days and would go home on antibiotics and basic wound care.

Close-range, but not direct muzzle contact, wounds typically have a small central entry wound, a black halo called an abrasion collar, and often an area of charring around the wound. The charring comes from the hot gases that exit the barrel with the bullet. In addition, there is often tattooing, which is a speckled pattern around the entry wound. This is from the soot and unburned powder that follows the bullet out of the muzzle and embeds (tattoos) into the skin. The spread of this pattern depends upon how close the muzzle is to the entry point, If it over about 3 feet, then no tattooing or charring will occur.

In your scenario, the victim’s shirt would likely collect the soot and heat so that it would be charred and “tattooed,” rather than the victim’s skin. So, the shirt would show an entry hole, charring, and blood. Once the victim’s shirt was removed, the entry wound likely be a simple hole without any charring or tattooing, since the shirt would have collected this material and absorbed most of the heat. The wound could bleed a lot, a little, or almost none. It depends upon how many of the blood vessels that course through the skin and muscles are damaged.

Yes, her initial efforts should be the application of pressure over the wound to control bleeding until the paramedics arrive.

For more fun questions check out my Q&A books:

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FORENSICS and FICTION: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/forensics–fiction.html

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MORE FORENSICS and FICTION: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/more-forensics-and-fiction.html

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MURDER AND MAYHEM: http://www.dplylemd.com/book-details/murder-and-mayhem.html

 

Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #17: DNA and Twins

DNA Replication

 

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/criminal-mischief-episode-17-dna-and-identical-twins

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

SHOW NOTES:

For years it was felt that the DNA of identical twins was indeed identical. Since they come from a single fertilized egg, this would seem intuitive. But, nature likes to throw curve balls—and the occasional slider. After that first division of the fertilized, and after the two daughter cells go their way toward producing identical humans, things change. And therein lies the genetic differences between two “identical” twins.

LINKS:

One Twin Committed the Crime—but Which One?: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/science/twins-dna-crime-paternity.html

The Claim: Identical Twins Have Identical DNA: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/health/11real.html

The Genetic Relationship Between Identical Twins: https://www.verywellfamily.com/identical-twins-and-dna-2447117

Identical Twins’ Genes Are Not Identical: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/identical-twins-genes-are-not-identical/

Rare Australian Twins Are “Semi-Identical,: Sharing 89 Percent of Their DNA: https://www.inverse.com/article/53633-semi-identical-twins-share-78-percent-of-dna

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode #16: Arsenic: An Historical and Modern Poison

Arsenic

Criminal Mischief: Episode #16: Arsenic: An Historical and Modern Poison

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/criminal-mischief-episode-15-arsenic-an-historical-and-modern-poison

SHOW NOTES: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief-notes/16-arsenic-an-historical.html

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

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From HOWDUNNIT:FORENSICS

Toxicology is a relatively new science that stands on the shoulders of its predecessors: anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and medicine. Our knowledge in these sciences had to reach a certain level of sophistication before toxicology could become a reality. It slowly evolved over more than two hundred years of testing, starting with tests for arsenic. 

Arsenic had been a common poison for centuries, but there was no way to prove that arsenic was the culprit in a suspicious death. Scientist had to isolate and then identify arsenic trioxide—the most common toxic form of arsenic— in the human body before arsenic poisoning became a provable cause of death. The steps that led to a reliable test for arsenic are indicative of how many toxicological procedures developed. 

1775: Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742–1786) showed that chlorine water would convert arsenic into arsenic acid. He then added metallic zinc and heated the mixture to release arsine gas. When this gas contacted a cold vessel, arsenic would collect on the vessel’s surface. 

1787: Johann Metzger (1739–1805) showed that if arsenic were heated with charcoal, a shiny, black “arsenic mirror” would form on the charcoal’s surface. 

1806: Valentine Rose discovered that arsenic could be uncovered in the human body. If the stomach contents of victims of arsenic poisoning are treated with potassium carbonate, calcium oxide, and nitric acid, arsenic trioxide results. This could then be tested and confirmed by Metzger’s test. 

1813: French chemist Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila (1787–1853) developed a method for isolating arsenic from dog tissues. He also published the first toxicological text, Traité des poisons (Treatise on Poison), which helped establish toxicology as a true science. 

1821: Sevillas used similar techniques to find arsenic in the stomach and urine of individuals who had been poisoned. This is marked as the beginning of the field of forensic toxicology. 

1836: Dr. Alfred Swaine Taylor (1806–1880) developed the first test for arsenic in human tissue. He taught chemistry at Grey’s Medical School in England and is credited with establishing the field of forensic toxicology as a medical specialty. 

1836: James Marsh (1794–1846) developed an easier and more sensitive version of Metzger’s original test, in which the “arsenic mirror” was collected on a plate of glass or porcelain. The Marsh test became the standard, and its principles were the basis of the more modern method known as the Reinsch test, which we will look at later in this chapter. 

As you can see, each step in developing a useful testing procedure for arsenic stands on what discoveries came before. That’s the way science works. Step by step, investigators use what others have discovered to discover even more. 

Acute vs. Chronic Poisoning 

At times the toxicologist is asked to determine whether a poisoning is acute or chronic. A good example is arsenic, which can kill if given in a single large dose or if given in repeated smaller doses over weeks or months. In either case, the blood level could be high. But the determination of whether the poisoning was acute or chronic may be extremely important. If acute, the suspect list may be long. If chronic, the suspect list would include only those who had long-term contact with the victim, such as a family member, a caretaker, or a family cook. 

So, how does the toxicologist make this determination? 

In acute arsenic poisoning, the ME would expect to find high levels of arsenic in the stomach and the blood, as well as evidence of corrosion and bleeding in the stomach and intestines, as these are commonly seen in acute arsenic ingestion. If he found little or no arsenic in the stomach and no evidence of acute injury in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but high arsenic levels in the blood and tissues, he might suspect that the poisoning was chronic in nature. Here, an analysis of the victim’s hair can be invaluable. 

Hair analysis for arsenic (and several other toxins) can reveal exposure to arsenic and also give a timeline of the exposure. The reason this is possible is that arsenic is deposited in the cells of the hair follicles in proportion to the blood level of the arsenic at the time the cell was produced. 

In hair growth, the cells of the hair’s follicle undergo change, lose their nuclei, and are incorporated into the growing hair shaft. New follicular cells are produced to replace them and this cycle continues throughout life. Follicular cells produced while the blood levels of arsenic are high contain the poison, and as they are incorporated into the hair shaft the arsenic is, too. On the other hand, any follicular cells that appeared while the arsenic levels were low contain little or no arsenic. 

In general, hair grows about a half inch per month. This means that the toxicologist can cut the hair into short segments, measure the arsenic level in each, and reveal a timeline for arsenic exposure in the victim. 

Let’s suppose that a wife, who prepares all the family meals, slowly poisoned her husband with arsenic. She began by adding small amounts of the poison to his food in February and continued until his death in July. In May he was hospitalized with gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting, and weight loss (all symptoms of arsenic poisoning). No diagnosis was made, but since he was doing better after ten days in the hospital, he was sent home. Such a circumstance is not unusual since these types of gastrointestinal symptoms are common and arsenic poisoning is rare. Physicians rarely think of it and test for it. After returning home, the unfortunate husband once again fell ill and finally died. 

As part of the autopsy procedure, the toxicologist might test the victim’s hair for toxins, and if he did, he would find the arsenic. He could then section and test the hair to determine the arsenic level essentially month by month. If the victim’s hair was three inches long, the half inch closest to the scalp would represent July, the next half inch June, the next May, and so on until the last half inch would reflect his exposure to arsenic in February, the month his poisoning began. Arsenic levels are expressed in parts per million (ppm).

An analysis might reveal a pattern like that seen in Figure 11-1. 

IMAGE in HOWDUNNIT: FORENSICS

 The toxicologist would look at this timeline of exposure and likely determine that the exposure occurred in the victim’s home. The police would then have a few questions for the wife and would likely obtain a search warrant to look for arsenic within the home. 

LINKS: 

Arsenic Poisoning (2007): CA Poison Control: https://calpoison.org/news/arsenic-poisoning-2007

Arsenic Poisoning Cases Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenic_poisoning_cases

Arsenic” a Murderous History: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~toxmetal/arsenic/history.html

Facts About Arsenic: LiveScience: https://www.livescience.com/29522-arsenic.html

Poison: Who Killed Napolean?: https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/poison-what-killed-napoleon

Victorian Poisoners: https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Victorian-Poisoners/

12 Female Poisoners Who Killed With Arsenic: http://mentalfloss.com/article/72351/12-female-poisoners-who-killed-arsenic

 

 

Criminal Mischief: Episode 15: Introducing Characters

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Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: Episode #15: Introducing Characters

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/authorsontheair/criminal-mischief-episode-15-introducing-characters

PAST SHOWS: http://www.dplylemd.com/criminal-mischief.html

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same is true for your fictional characters. So, make them vivid and memorial. How do you do this? There are many ways. Let’s explore a few of them.

SHOW NOTES:

Riding the Rap–Elmore Leonard

Ocala Police picked up Dale Crowe Junior for weaving, two o’clock in the morning, crossing the center line and having a busted tail light. Then while Dale was blowing a point-one-nine they put his name and date of birth into the national crime computer and learned he was a fugitive felon, wanted on a three-year-old charge of Unlawful Flight to Avoid Incarceration. A few days later Raylan Givens, with the Marshals Service, came up from Palm Beach County to take Dale back and the Ocala Police wondered about Raylan.

How come he was a federal officer and Dale Crowe Junior was wanted on a state charge. He told them he was with FAST, the Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, assigned to the Sheriff’s Office in West Palm. And that was pretty much all this Marshall said. They wandered too, since he was alone, how you’d be able to drive and keep an eye on his prisoner. Dale Crowe Junior had been convicted of a third-degree five-year felony, Battery of a Police Officer, and was looking at additional time on the fugitive warrant. Dale Junior might feel he had nothing to lose on this trip so. He was a rangy kid with the build of a college athlete, bigger than this marshal in his blue suit and cowboy boots — the marshal calm though, not appearing to be the least apprehensive. He said the West Palm strike team were shorthanded at the moment, the reason he was alone, but believed he would manage.

The Long Goodbye–Raymond Chandler

When I got home I mixed a stiff one and stood by the open window in the living room and sipped it and listened to the groundswell of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and looked at the glare of the big angry city hanging over the shoulder of the hills through which the boulevard had been cut. Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care. I finished the drink and went to bed.

Trouble Is My Business—Raymond Chandler

(Marlowe meets Harriett Huntress—Chapter 3)

She wore a street dress of pale green wool and a small cockeyed hat that hung on her left ear like a butterfly. Her eyes were wide set and there was thinking room between them. Their color was lapis-lazuli blue and the color of her hair was dusky red, like a fire under control but still dangerous. She was too tall to be cute. She wore plenty of make-up in the right places and the cigarette she was poking at me had a built-on mouthpiece about three inches long. She didn’t look hard, but she looked as if she had heard all the answers and remembered the ones she thought she might be able to use some time.

The Neon Rain—James Lee Burke

My partner was Cletus Purcel. Our desks faced each other in a small room in the old converted fire station on Basin Street. Before the building was a fire station it had been a cotton warehouse, and before the Civil War slaves had been kept in the basement and led up the stairs into a dirt ring that served both as an auction arena and a cockfighting pit. 

Cletus’s face looked like it was made from boiled pigskin, except there were stitch scars across the bridge of his nose and through one eyebrow, where he’d been bashed by a pipe when he was a kid in the Irish Channel. He was a big man, with sandy hair and intelligent green eyes, and he fought to keep his weight down, unsuccessfully, by pumping iron four nights a week in his garage. 

“Do you know a character named Wesley Potts?” I asked. 

“Christ, yes. I went to school with him and his brothers. What a family. It was like having bread mold as your next-door neighbor.” 

“Johnny Massina said this guy’s talking about pulling my plug.” 

“Sounds like bullshit to me. Potts is a gutless lowlife. He runs a dirty movie house on Bourbon. I’ll introduce you to him this afternoon. You’ll really enjoy this guy.”

California Girl-T. Jefferson Parker

Here And Now

I drove past the old SunBlesst packinghouse today. Nothing left of it. Not one stick. Now there’s a bedroom store, pet Emporium and a supermarket. Big and new. Moms and dads and kids everywhere. Pretty people, especially the moms. Young, with time to dream, wake up, and dream again.

I still have a piece of the flooring I tore off the SunBlesst packinghouse back in sixty-eight. When I was young. When I thought that what had happened there should never happen anywhere. When I thought it was up to me to put things right.

I’m made of that place – – the old wood and the rusted conveyors and the pigeons in the eaves and the sunlight slanting through the cracks. Of Janelle Vonn. Of everything that went down, there in October, 1968. Even made of the wind that blew that month, dry and hot off the desert, huffing across Orange County to the sea.

I have a piece of the picket fence from the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza, too. And a piece of rock that came not far from where Mercury 1 lifted off. And one of Charlie Manson’s guitar picks.

But those are different stories.

Queenpin—Megan Abbott

 I want the legs.

That was the first thing that came into my head. The legs were the legs of a 20-year-old Vegas showgirl, a hundred feet long and with just enough curve and give and promise. Sure, there was no hiding the slightly worn hands or the beginning tugs of skin framing the bones in her face. But the legs, they lasted, I tell you. They endured. Two decades her junior, my skinny matchsticks were no competition.

In the casinos, she could pass for thirty. The low lighting, her glossy auburn hair, legs swinging, tapping the bottom rim of the tall bettor stools. At the track, though, she looked her age. Even swathed in oversized sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, bright gloves, she couldn’t outflank the merciless sunshine, the glare off the grandstand. Not that it mattered. She was legend.

I was never sure what she saw in me. You looked like you knew a thing or two, she told me later. But you are ready to learn a lot more.

Miami Purity—Vicki Hendricks

Hank was drunk and he slugged me – – it wasn’t the first time – – and I picked up the radio and caught him across the forehead with it. It was one of those big boom boxes with the cassette player and recorder, but I never figured it would kill him. We were sitting in front of the fan, listing to country music and sipping Jack Daniels – – calling each other “toots” like we both enjoyed – – and all of a sudden the whole world changed. My old man was dead. I didn’t feel like I had anything to do with it. I didn’t make that choice.

I spent a few days in jail till the law decided I wasn’t to blame. It was Hank’s long record got me out. He was known to the cops. Afterwards I went on drinking and missing that son of a bitch like hell. There were several months I don’t know what I was doin. He had a terrible mean streak, but we were good together – – specially when we got our clothes off.

At some point I woke up from a blackout and was in the hospital. I had vague memories of some asshole buying me drinks, and him on top of me in a musty smelling car. There were flashes of fist and the sound of it against my jaw, but I wasn’t sure whose fist it was – – I could’ve been mixing up another time. The nurse told me I looked like I’d been kicked, beat up so bad I was lucky to be alive. I don’t know why I believed her – – about being lucky – – but after they patched me up and dried me out for a while I was ready to give it a go. Really try to make myself a life, for the very first time. It was a big mistake.

To Kill A Mockingbird—Harper Lee

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about the injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He could’ve cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

When enough years have gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discuss the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began in the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.

I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If Gen. Jackson hadn’t run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn’t? We were far too old to settle an argument with the fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.

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Original Sin—DP Lyle

Lucy Wagner knew exactly when she would hold the heart in her hands, its hard muscle churning against her palm, its moist heat warming her fingers. Knew when its rhythmic twisting would stagger and fall silent as the drugs brought it to a standstill. Frozen in time.

She just didn’t know it would be this heart or under these circumstances.

John Doe changed everything. John Doe couldn’t wait. John Doe bumped her 7:30 elective coronary bypass until later. Probably much later.

Thirty-five minutes earlier, Doe had been found down, face down, on the ER entry ramp at the Remington Medical Center. Purple, breath coming in shallow gasps, pulse barely palpable, and spiraling toward death. Circling the drain in medical slang. The heroic efforts of ER Director Dr. Jeffrey Dukes and his staff, pumping Doe full of fluids and blood, restoring just enough blood pressure to feed Doe’s weak but tenacious spark of life, somehow stabilized him long enough to reach Lucy’s operating table in OR Suite 3.

Now, the scalpel she held in her rock-steady hand hovered near the old man’s flesh. Tinted reddish brown by the hasty pre-op Betadine scrub, the parchment-thin skin and its underlying age-wilted muscles were all that separated the blade from the torn aorta and the massive pool of blood she knew waited within Doe’s abdominal cavity. A cardiovascular surgeon’s worst nightmare. The elderly man had little chance of getting through this alive but absolutely none if Lucy didn’t jump right in. As one of her fellowship mentors at Vanderbilt had been fond of saying, “They’re are times to contemplate and times to slash and grunge.” 

This was slash and grunge time. 

Prayer wouldn’t hurt.

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Deep Six—DP Lyle

It was precisely 12:12 a.m. when the window shattered. A crack-crunch, an eardrum concussing pop, and a spray of glass shards. It didn’t explode by itself, mind you, but rather courtesy of a cavity-backed, perimeter-weighted two-hundred-dollar five iron. A Callaway. I recognized it because it was mine. Or at least it had been.

I knew the exact time because the flying glass yanked me from sleep, my forward-slumped head aligned squarely with the dashboard clock. Took a couple of seconds to gain any sort of perspective on what had happened. 

Of course, sleep wasn’t part of the job. Watching the house two doors down and across the street was. In my defense, nothing had moved in the house, or even along the street that snaked through the high-dollar neighborhood, for at least a couple of hours. But sitting in the dark, behind the wheel of my car, boredom did what boredom does. Knocking back the better portion of the bottle of Knob Creek hadn’t helped either. Stakeouts were mind numbing and a little more numbing of the mind couldn’t be all bad. Right?

“Jake, what the hell are you doing?” the reason for the glass explosion screeched through the jagged hole. 

This wasn’t just any window. It was vintage, the reason it shattered rather than simply spider-webbing. The original passenger window of my otherwise spotless 1965 Mustang. Burgundy with black pony interior, now littered with glass shards. Going to be a bitch to find a replacement.

Speaking of bitches, I recognized the grating voice even before I looked up into the face of my ex. Tammy’s the name; crazy’s the game. I’d lost four good years listening to it. Mostly whining and complaining, sometimes, like now, in a full-on rage. She had a knack for anger. Seemed to need it to get through the day. 

She gripped the five iron with both hands, knuckles paled, cocked up above her shoulder, ready to smash something else. If history offered any lesson it was that she might graduate from the side window to the windshield and so on until she got to me. Tammy didn’t have brakes. Or a reverse gear.

Cute according to everyone, except maybe me, she was a beach-blond with bright blue eyes, a magic smile, and a perfect nose. Some plastic surgeons were gifted. Expensive, but gifted. I knew. I’d paid for the nose.

But cute Tammy had a short fuse. She could go from zero to C4 in a nanosecond.

Like now.

“Funny, I was just fixing to ask you the same thing?” I said.

Still shaking the cobwebs loose and trying to get oriented to person, place, and situation, I managed to get the characters involved sorted out pretty quickly. Staring at a cocked five iron in the hands of your ex-wife will do that. The place came along in short order. Peppermill Road. A loop off Perdido Beach Boulevard that arched through The Point, a megabuck enclave nestled into another expensive enclave known as Perdidio Beach. Very high up the financial food chain, The Point was a row of seven-figure, stilted homes that hung off Peppermill like charms on a bracelet, each facing the Gulf over a wide sugary beach. 

Okay. Two down, one to go.

Person, check. Place, check. It was the situation I struggled with.

“Why are you parked in front of my house?” she asked, chin jutted forward, eyes flashing that anger I knew so well.

Well, there was that.

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Run To Ground–D. P. Lyle

“I can still smell him.” Martha Foster inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

Tim stood just inside the doorway and looked down at his wife. She sat on the edge of their son’s bed, eyes moist, chin trembling, as were the fingers that clutched the navy-blue Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt to her chest. It had been Steven’s favorite. He had slept in it every night the first month, until Martha finally pried it away long enough to run it through the wash.

Behind her, a dozen photos of Steven lay scattered across the blue comforter. A proud Steven in his first baseball uniform. A seven-year-old Steven, grinning, upper left front tooth missing, soft freckles over his nose, buzz-cut hair, a blue swimming ribbon dangling around his neck. A playful Steven, sitting next to Martha at the backyard picnic table, face screwed into a goofy expression, smoke from the Weber BBQ rising behind them. Tim remembered the day he snapped the picture. Labor Day weekend. Just six months before that day. He squeezed back his own tears and swallowed hard.

Martha shifted her weight and twisted toward the photos. She laid the sweatshirt aside and reached out, lightly touching an image of Steven’s face. The trembling of her delicate fingers increased. She said nothing for a moment and then, “I’m taking these.”

Tim walked to where she sat and pulled her to him, her cheek nestling against his chest, her tears soaking through his tee shirt. He kissed the top of her head. 

“He’s gone,” Martha said. “Everything’s gone. Or will be.”

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Criminal Mischief Show, Writing

 
 
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