Friday, November 29, 2013

Graham Quartet - Part 16

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans!
Did any of you rush off this morning to get that door-buster from that one shop before they were gone? Are you planning on heading out to the stores for some frantic, crazy Black Friday shopping? Or are you doing your shopping online? I probably won't buy anything today and I certainly won't head out to the stores, though I have gone to JoAnns many years to add one extra thing to our Christmas village. This year I didn't need to since our village is already quite full and some friends were getting rid of their village so I purchased their "Music Shop" earlier.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and didn't eat too much. :) We had our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, so my brother and his family could have Thanksgiving with my sis-in-law's family. My grandparents are down and we had four generations around the table. Yesterday was a quiet day at home. My sister, Grandpa and I went for an hour walk in the afternoon and enjoyed the lovely day.

Today is going to be busy. My grandparents are still here and Grandpa, Mom and S are going to head over later this morning to help my brother pull orders for Light of Faith's Black Friday sales. Dad is going to be trying to get my brother's vehicle fixed and Grandma and I will be here. I'll be "undecorating" this morning. Then Mom is going to bring the kiddos over and things will be lively! Grandparents will leave early afternoon and we'll send the kiddos home for naps. Then late afternoon we'll all head over to help pull more orders. (So if you ordered from Light of Faith today, I might pull your order. But don't worry, I won't tell everyone what you got. :) )

I was only able to get two nights of writing in and I worked on the Graham Quartet. Boy, is this story getting exciting! I know I won't be able to write again until next week, but I'm really hoping to get a lot written next week.
Speaking of next week, Sunday is the first day of December and that means that Christmas is coming! It also means that I should have something posted on my blog everyday in the month until Christmas. You never know what I might have up. It may be a craft, it may be a story, a song, a Christmas book review, anything. So I hope you'll be coming by each day to see what's up.

But, before we get to the story, I wanted to let you know that  . . .

"TRIPLE CREEK RANCH - UNBROKEN" Book one in the Triple Creek Ranch series, is now available! You can order it on my "Rebekah's Books" page and get a special 25% off! Also, starting tomorrow, three of my books "The Unexpected Request," "Pirates of Rocky Crag Bay" and "The Lower Lights" are going to be on sale on Amazon. Tomorrow will be the best deal. :) I hope you can take advantage of these sales and enjoy some new books to read!

And now I'll give you what you've been waiting for all week:

    Elsa nodded emphatically. “Positive. Mr. Decktrah told me those crates were going to Martin Vanderbilt and he wondered if he was related to the Vanderbilts who were so rich. This isn’t the first time Mr. Vanderbilt has gotten shipments from the furniture factory either.” And she repeated nearly word for word her conversation with the station master.
    Drawing a long, deep breath as though he had scarcely dared to breathe before, Guy Fox leaned back in his chair and stretched his legs out, wincing slightly as his injured leg moved. “I knew they’d be moving fast,” he muttered.
    “Should Selena and I tell you what we found out, sir?” Matt asked as the silence lengthened.
    “What?” Guy jerked himself erect. “You have information too? Then out with it?” His voice was quick.
    “Selena and I went to the hardware and while I was picking something up for Dad, I overheard Mr. Hinken tell someone that I didn’t know, that Siam would soon be up and running again and the other man replied, ‘Good ‘cause we can’t pass ‘em off here. Too risky.’ Then Mr. Hinken told him to shut up. He sounded rather nervous too, I thought.”
    “Did he see you?” Guy asked.
    “Mr. Hinken? No, I don’t think so. I couldn’t see him. He was in the next aisle, but I recognized his voice and saw him through a hole in a box that was sitting on the shelf. Then Selena picked up something the stranger dropped after he left the store.”
    “Did you follow him?” Guy asked.
    Matt shrugged. “It was hard not to, as we were leaving about the same time he was. Show Guy what you picked up, Selena.”
    Without a word Selena handed a folded piece of paper to Guy.
    Guy glanced searchingly at Matt before he unfolded the paper and looked down at it. If the FBI agent was surprised, his face showed no sign. “Has anyone read this paper?” he asked quietly.
    “Just the two of us.”
    “Are you sure that man dropped it?”
    Selena nodded. “He was pulling gloves from his pocket and I saw the paper fall. I didn’t say anything because it looked like trash, and I was going to just pick it up and throw it away—”
    “I saw it fall too,” Matt interrupted, “and had her open it. That’s when we thought you should see it.”
    For a minute Guy sat in thought. At last he spoke. “Elsa, Tim, I might as well tell you that this looks like a small part of a Communist propaganda paper.”
    Tim’s eyes grew large. “What is Communist propaganda doing here? Where did it come from? Who is the man?”
    “Hang on, Tim,” it was Guy’s voice that interrupted Tim’s flow of questions. “Matt, Selena, do either of you have any idea who the man is?” he looked from Matt to Selena.
    They both shook their heads.
    “Would you recognize him if you saw him again?”
    Glancing over at his younger sister, Matt hesitated a moment. “I think we could. I didn’t get a good look at him when he was talking with Mr. Hinken, but Selena saw him a little later and we both saw the back of him when he left.”
    Guy looked at the paper in silence.
    “Matt,” Elsa said softly, “it’s starting to grow dark.”
    At that Guy looked up quickly. “You’re right. You four should head home. Thanks for coming out. None of you have any evidence on you about what you learned today, do you?”
    “No, we gave it all to you.”
    “Good. You have a flashlight?”
    Matt nodded and pulled one from his pocket.
    “Then head directly back to your house. Don’t talk about what you saw or heard today. Don’t even breathe a word about it on the way home. Understand?” When the Quartet nodded, he went on in lower tones, “I’m not quite sure where everything you found fits in, but I think things are really starting to move and I want your promise that you will be extra careful from now on? Will you promise?”
    Four brown heads nodded solemnly.
    Sighing, the FBI agent nodded. “Okay, then get out of here.”

    The Quartet had gathered in their corner of the library after supper was over and the kitchen cleaned up. They had been a little late, but their parents had waited for them and asked no questions. Mr. Graham had told his wife, “I’m not sure what all is going on, but I think the fewer people who know, the better. Matt knows I’m here if they need to talk, but right now I’m going to just trust them. He and Elsa have good, sensible heads on their shoulders and I don’t think we need to worry. Guy doesn’t seem like one who would risk the lives of some children to get what he’s after.”
    For several minutes the four Graham siblings sat in silent thought. At last Matt spoke up. “Well, what are we going to do tomorrow?”
    “You three still have school, remember?” Elsa remarked. “Tomorrow is only Thursday.”
    “I know. I meant after school. We can’t just hang around the same places everyday or someone is going to notice.”
    “Yeah, probably the wrong people too.” Tim had lowered his voice to a whisper. “And they’ll tell Aaron Burr and he’ll come and—” he made a motion with his finger across his throat.
    Selena shivered.
    “Stop it, Tim,” Matt ordered sternly. “This is not a joke. If we start talking and thinking like that, we won’t be any help to Guy because we’ll scare ourselves silly.”
    Tim dropped his head. A rebuke like that from his brother always sobered him up, for he admired Matt and looked up to him. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I guess I wasn’t thinking.”
    Matt reached over and squeezed his brother’s arm. “All right.”
    Softly Selena said, “We could just go directly to the seat of the trouble and see if we can get a tour of the furniture factory.”

Do you think they should visit the furniture factory?
Why or why not?
Do you think you know what's going on?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SCA - Class 12

SCA - Class 12

    Welcome back to our 12th and final class of the SCA. I’m glad you could join me once again as we finish up our adventures with the Sheriff’s Department.

    Arriving at class, Sgt. Davis asked us to fill out our evaluation sheets and turn them in. Since Dad and I had done that before we left home, we just pulled them out and handed them over. Sgt. Davis was impressed. After some talk about touring the new building just off the square on Monday, and the Christmas party/our graduation on the 13th, Sgt. Davis turned the class over to Detective Chris Carriger.
    Det. Carriger gave a really quick introduction about himself and then handed out our “call sheets” for the “crime” we were going to investigate. “This is based on a real story,” he told us as he passed the papers out. “After we work a crime scene, we don’t know for sure what happened. We have theories, and maybe some of the stuff we found isn’t important, but once we leave the crime scene and then discover that maybe that piece of trash was evidence that we needed, we can’t go back and get it. You just don’t know what you are going to need, what might be evidence and what isn’t until it’s been tested. And you don’t find out what happened until later when everything is done and the crime solved. After you have worked the crime scene, I’ll tell you what happened. And if you find evidence and bring it to me, I may have more information for you because we don’t just have guys dusting for fingerprints, taking pictures or collecting evidence, we have guys out talking to people, following up leads and getting information from other sources.”
    He then read the “call sheet” to us:

Date: 11/21/13
Time: 1706
Location: (The address of the building where we would be working.)

Summary of Events: Deputy S attempts to pull over a car with no license plates. During the traffic stop the Deputy notified dispatch of three occupants. After several minutes passed, a status check was conducted with Deputy S with no response. Cpl. C was near the area and went to check on Deputy S. Deputy S was found wounded, and evidence of a gun fight was immediately evident. Deputy S is unconscious but alive and has been transported to the hospital for treatment. No suspects were located at the scene.

Your Objective: Process the scene for clues to identify potential suspects in this crime and help determine what occurred.

    That all sounded quite interesting and I think everyone was ready to get on with it. But first Sgt. Davis wanted to give us a tour of the current Sheriff’s Office since they would soon be moving to new and larger quarters. We had heard several times from different members of the department how crowded they were and it sure was true.
    Then we went back outside into the cold, misty weather and drove our vehicles to the old barn-like building where the “crime scene” was located.
    “If we were called out to a crime,” Det. Carriger told us, “on a night like this, we’d have to work it in this weather, but since we have this light, dry place that is warmer than outside, we’ll do it in here.”
    We were first told that since Det. Carriger was running low on tape to mark off the scene, we just had to pretend it was there. He then asked if we had picked a class leader to be in charge of the scene. No, we hadn’t. Sgt. Davis quickly fixed that by asking who came to class last. The one chosen was great for the job. Next we had to get a photographer. Those two then proceeded to enter the “marked off crime scene” and take pictures while the rest of us waited.
    “This how a normal crime scene is worked,” we were told. “The patrol officer who arrived first is in charge until the first detective arrives. Then he is in charge until his supervisor arrives. But, if the Sheriff arrives and wants to go and look at the scene, we may have to tell him we aren’t ready.”
    “Often we’ll have someone with a video camera who has videoed the scene and we’ll show that to the Sheriff,” Det. Carriger added.
    Once the photographer was done, our leader divided us into two groups of five each and assigned the first group to process the first car, which belonged to the bad guys, and the rest of us to the patrolman’s car. I was assigned to the patrol car with the other two girls, Dad, and one other man. We had to pretend we all had gloves on.
    It was quite interesting carefully walking around and taking notes, discovering things and marking them. We discovered 11 empty shells from a 9 mm gun. (Deputy S had a 9 mm gun, but we didn’t know how many rounds were still in his gun because Cpl. C had his gun in his car at the hospital.) We found some shattered glass, an instruction sheet for a radio that was written in Spanish, tire tracks, part of a pair of scissors, and a file card with five fast food restaurants written on them with their phone numbers. The other lady detectives and I were tossing around ideas of why that might be there. The numbers were all from one city and those restaurants were all within a 2 mile radius. Could this just be an unimportant piece of trash? Was it a list of restaurants the bad guys were going to rob? A getaway route? Was one of them a meeting place? “You know,” I mentioned, “all these places are going to have surveillance cameras. Perhaps the car went to one of these places today before they came here?” We mentioned our find and the surveillance cameras to our leader. Det. Carriger listened in silence and then asked, “So, what are you going to do about it?”
    Our leader said he’d send some people to check out those restaurants.
    We checked the officer’s car for any sign of having food from one of those places, but nothing. We were pretty much done, and after our leader told us we could collect the evidence, we picked up the cartridges. Det. Carriger told us that was all that needed picked up. He then told the guys on the other car that they had missed one piece of evidence that tied the suspect to the crime in the car. The three of us girls went over to help. Since there were already several people looking in the car, I couldn’t see in there much. Det. Carriger was talking to someone about cars and mentioned that his girl friend hated riding in a car he had because her hair always got stuck in the headrest. Almost at once several of our lights went to the headrests and we discovered a collection of hair. We had found the missing evidence!
    “You guys are the first class that has found that so quickly,” Det. Carriger told us. “I tell that story each time and no one seems to notice.”
    Then he tells us what happened. “Bad guy one lives a few blocks down the road, right beside a car lot. That morning he steals the car and takes the plates off because he thinks someone might have seen him. He and his buddies drive to a house and go in to rob it. What they didn’t know was that the man worked night shift and was there asleep. They end up killing the man and had just driven away when the Deputy S pulls them over. Deputy S begins to approach the car, the doors open and he sees guns. He quickly retreats towards his car for protection and gun fire is exchanged. Backseat bad guy jumps out of the car and runs away. Passenger bad guy fires two rounds and then takes off. Bad guy one, the driver, fires from the driver’s side and then runs around and shoots from the passenger side. The officer’s car has about 70 holes in it. Deputy S takes one round in his shoulder, several in his vest and then one in his neck which just misses his jugular and damages his spinal cord. He keeps firing even when he is down. This all takes place in about 27 seconds. It turns out,” Det. Carriger told us, “that the deputy didn’t remember much of the fight. He knew he had to keep firing and and the next thing he knew he was waking up in the hospital. He ended up being paralyzed from mid chest down, but until he died of cancer several years later, he went back to work with the Sheriff’s department doing other things.”
    “What happened to the bad guys?” one member of class asked.
    “Bad guy one, who stole the car and did most of the shooting, was executed. The other two testified against him and received life sentences.”
    “How did they find the guys?”
    “They had the cell phone (There must have been a cell phone in the car.) and were able to track several calls and found the guy’s house. That’s where the other two were hiding. One of them talked, the other didn’t. About a week later the first guy was caught.”
    It was only a little after 8:00, but we were finished with the crime scene, and after talking a little while with Sgt. Davis, Dad and I headed for home.

    I hope you have enjoyed these first hand reports from the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. If you are interested in attending a class like this, check with your local Sheriff’s department and see if they are offering one. This has been Rebekah, reporting in person from the scene of action. Thanks for joining me.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Graham Quartet - Part 15

Hello Friday Fiction Fans!
How has your week gone? Mine went out the door, through the windows or somewhere and I haven't been able to find much of it. :) In other words, it went by very quickly! (Why wouldn't it ever go by quickly when I was young and couldn't wait until Christmas or my birthday?)

It seemed as though my writing has been hit and miss this week without really knowing what I was doing. I did get both of Priscilla de Silvosa's "letters" for South Carolina written and the first one is posted on Travels of Priscilla. So, feel free to stop by and see what Priscilla (or Cilla as her friends are calling her) is up to. I worked a little on the Graham Quartet, but didn't get much done. Monday and Tuesday were the only evenings I really had to write. Hopefully this week will be more productive . . . wait, this coming week is Thanksgiving. I might not get much done. But I'll try!

Update on TCR-1, my mom still hasn't been able to finish proofing it yet, but when she does, I don't think it will take very long to make the needed corrections and upload a new interior. You can pray that it'll get finished quickly.

But I know some of you have been waiting for this next part of the Graham Quartet. If anyone has any ideas for more stories about the Graham Quartet, let me know. Perhaps some day I'll write another one.

Graham Quartet - Part 15

    “Say hello to your parents.”
    “I will.” And Elsa smiled at the older man as he hurried inside the station. “Hmm,” she mused to herself, sauntering slowly down the platform. “Vanderbilt and the furniture factory. Last January. I wonder . . .”

    When the Quartet met over an hour later at the car, everyone was excited, even Selena. “You’ll never guess what I found out!” Tim blurted as soon as the doors were shut. “And I think Guy should know about it right away.”
    “Well, Selena and I have some things to report as well,” Matt returned quickly.
    “So have I.” Elsa started the car as she spoke and pulled away from the curb.
    “Don’t you and Tim have the same info?”
    Elsa shook her head. “No, Tim was talking and helping with the load from the factory, and I was talking to the station master.”
    Matt whistled. “Well, I know that Guy said not to come everyday and we were there just this morning, but--”
    “I think we should go tonight,” Elsa remarked and Selena agreed.
    “But we have to stop at home first because I need to check something,” Tim spoke hastily, glancing up from something he was doodling on a piece of paper, as though afraid his sister might drive straight to the cabin.
    “Of course we have to stop at home first, Tim,” Matt reassured his younger brother. “Mom and Dad would worry if we didn’t.”
    Turning into their long driveway a few minutes later, Selena, Tim and Matt began gathering up their schoolbooks and the few bags of groceries Elsa had bought.
    “How soon do you think we can go, Matt?”
    “I don’t know. I’ll check with Dad. Tim, how long is it going to take you to do whatever you need to do?”
    Tim shrugged. “I don’t know. Not long.”

    “Hurry up, Tim!” Matt called ten minutes later. “We only have two hours.” Matt and the girls were standing at the door with their coats on.
    “Just a minute,” Tim’s voice sounded from the library. Then came the sound of hurrying footsteps, and Tim dashed down the hall with a book and a scrap of paper. “I’ll be right there,” he called to his waiting siblings. “Mom! I don’t know how to use this book . . .” his voice faded away.
    In another minute Tim joined them excitedly and jerked on his coat. “Come on!” he urged, snatching up his hat.
    “We’ve just been waiting for you.”
    The evening air was brisk and cold, the snow perfect for easy cross country skiing and the Quartet soon had their skis strapped on. It would be faster to go on skis then on snowshoes and they didn’t have a lot of daylight left.
    “I think we shouldn’t try to hide or anything this time,” Selena said quietly.
    Elsa nodded. “We’re in too much of a hurry.”
    “Well, Dad wanted me to check on something at the cabin,” Matt put in, “so why don’t we head in that direction.”
    With a grin, Tim called out, “Race you there!”
    There were shouts and calls as the Graham Quartet made their way across the snowy ground, through the woods and down into the valley as quickly as they could ski. By the time the cabin was reached they were all panting and gasping for breath, their cheeks red from the cold.
    Matt gave the signal knock and Guy opened the cabin door to let them in.
    “Back again so soon?” he asked in surprise. “What’s going on?” His mouth smiled, but his eyes were serious.
    “We hung around town after school and discovered some things we thought you should know about,” Matt replied, breathing heavily. He was the only one of the quartet who was able to speak, for the others were still gulping air into their lungs while trying to take off their coats.
    “Did you race all the way here?” Guy asked, setting chairs out as Matt began to build a fire.
    Heads nodded and in another minute the quartet were gathered about a blazing fire with Guy. He let them get settled and, once their breathing returned to normal, he said quietly, “All right, someone had better start telling me what’s going on. Tim, you look ready to burst. Out with it.”
    Reaching into his pocket, Tim pulled out a scrap of paper with a small flower-looking design drawn on it. “I was helping load a bunch of crates from the furniture factory this afternoon when Elsa and I were at the depot and I noticed this little mark on two certain crates. They were much smaller than what I drew and they were in a corner, so they weren’t very noticeable. But do you know what that is?” He glanced around, and before anyone could say anything, he blurted out, “It’s an aster!”
    “Are you sure?” Guy asked quickly, looking up from the drawing to the excited face of the boy.
    Tim nodded his head emphatically. “I had Mom help me look it up as soon as we got home. And Mom knows flowers,” he added.
    Guy nodded absentmindedly. “Two crates had this mark? You’re sure none of the others did?”
    “Well, they had already loaded one before I arrived, but none of the others had the mark.”
    Guy wanted to know the size and shape of the crates, who was loading them, where they were being shipped and what had been said. Tim told everything he knew. When he was finished, Guy sat for a few minutes staring into the dancing flames in deep thought. Then, shaking his head he spoke. “Who’s talking next?”
    “Elsa should be,” Matt suggested, “since she and Tim both went to the depot.”
    “I didn’t find out much,” Elsa began, “but I know who the crates are going to. It’s someone named Martin Vanderbilt.”
    “Martin Vanderbilt?” Guy sat up suddenly, his whole face alert and his keen eyes never leaving Elsa’s face. “You’re sure about that name?”

What do you think is going to happen?
Is there really something to what Tim and Elsa have discovered?
Who is Martin Vanderbilt?
Any questions, suggestions or ideas?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SCA - Class 11

SCA - Class 11

    Welcome back! I’m glad you could join me once again for class 11 of the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy.

    Arriving a little early, we joined the few who were already there and waited for the rest of the class to show up. Our instructor was Detective Ed Bailey who also taught the Cyber Crimes class, so we needed no introduction.
    The first part of the class was a quick review about arriving at a crime scene and the first thing you do: Take a picture. If you are taking a picture of footprints or tire tracks, you may get a better picture with different lighting than just your regular flash. You could place a flashlight on the ground and get a side lighting with it. That would make the shadows of the print much clearer. You could also set a five gallon bucket with a small hole in the top for your lens over the track, shine a bright light on the bucket and it will light up the whole thing.
    “Once you have taken pictures of the tracks,” Det. Bailey told us, “you make a plaster cast of it. Usually when we go into a crime scene, after we take pictures, we will make any casts of prints before we move on to other things because the plaster has to dry. So, if we do the tracks first we can just pick them up at the end before we leave and they should be dry enough to lift.”
    He showed us a few casts that had been made from a shoe print and from a tire track. He had two “sandboxes” in the front of the room filled with damp sand. “All right, everyone come up here,” he told us. Most of us had remembered to wear shoes with interesting traction, but some didn’t. First off he made a hand print in the sand. “Because I already have three casts of my shoe,” he laughed, “I guess I should have a hand print. Now, everyone make a print in one of the boxes. It’s easiest to make it along the sides. If you don’t have interesting traction, you can make a hand print.”
    Soon the boxes had footprints and hand prints all along the edges of them. Next Det. Bailey mixed up a bag of plaster. (I can’t remember what the kind was.) “You are going to think this is way too watery when you mix yours up,” he informed us. He had us all feel his bag when he had mixed it up and it sure did feel watery. We watched as he carefully filled his handprint. Then it was our turn.
    We each were given a bag of mix and a regular bottle of water. I thought it was quite fun to squish the bag and mix the plaster up. After I thought it was done, Det. Bailey said I needed a little more water. The next time he checked it he said was perfect. Pouring the mixture into the print was interesting. You don’t just dump it in the middle or you might mess up the track. Instead you should start to pour from the corner and let it fill up the print. You want the cast to be fairly thick so that it won’t break as easily when you remove it.

Dad making his cast

Filling in my print

    Before long the boxes were filled with light colored splotches and we all returned to our seats.
    “Does anyone have any questions?”
    I did. “Do you take prints the same way in the snow?”
    “Almost,” Det. Bailey replied. “If we poured the plaster directly into the snow, it would melt it.” So they first take a can of some aerosol and spray it into the air above the print, letting it fall down gently into the print. That hardens the snow all around it and then they pour in the plaster.
    He told us of another time when he had to get really creative to take a cast of a shoe print. “Some guys broke into this unused building, went up to the second floor, climbed out a window onto the roof of the gun shop next door. Broke in and stole some guns. Well, the old building hadn’t had anyone in it for months, and the dust on the stairs was about an inch thick. Those guys left the most pristine set of footprints I’ve ever seen! The problem was, how do I lift them? We have an electrical device that lifts the dust and sometimes works to lift prints. I tried it, but all it did was lift all the dust and leave a large grey smudge. There had to be another way. So I went out and bought a can of hairspray. Holding the can above the print, I emptied the entire can into the air and let it fall down on to the print. It completely hardened the dust. Then I took a piece of card stock and slid it under the dust and lifted the most perfect footprint.” (I guess hairspray has other uses than making your hair feel like plastic.)
    Det. Bailey finished his short power point. The rest of it was about fingerprints and lifting prints. The first place he will look for fingerprints in a stolen vehicle is the rearview mirror because that’s the first thing everyone does when driving a different car: they adjust the mirror. And, if someone breaks open a door, the first place he’ll check for prints is on the back side of the door because after someone breaks open a door, they’ll reach up and grab it, leaving a nice set of prints.
    Having done a little of that when I attended the Citizen’s Police Academy several years back, I was already familiar with the process. But it was still interesting. Do you know what makes a fingerprint? If you look at your fingers, you’ll notice little ridges. In the valleys between each ridge, fatty acids and particles of dead skin cells gather. When you press your fingers onto a surface such as a window, door, table or even a golf ball, the acids and things in the valleys of your fingers remain on what you touched. So, you actually leave a “negative” of your print. To lift a print, they can use several things but Det. Bailey had us use either the volcanic powder (which is really volcanic ash pulverized into the finest particles you can imagine) or magnetic powder. First you take a picture of the print. “Sometimes we get a better image of the print from the picture than we do when we lift it.” Then you very lightly dust the print with powder. “Sometimes we use neon powder on a dark surface,” Det. Bailey told us, “but the fingerprint guys hate it!” Next, take a piece of clear tape, like packing tape, and put it on top of the print, gently smoothing it with a cork to get any air bubbles out. (If you use your fingers, you’ll leave your prints on it too.) Then carefully lift the tape, place it on a white card and write the case number, date, name of who lifted it, and where it was lifted on the back.
    Did you know that though they have computers to search and match fingerprints, each match has to be checked by a real person? How would you like to spend ten hours a day staring at black and white lines to see if they match? No thanks!
    Det. Bailey can lift fingerprints from all kinds of things. He even lifted one from a small feather once!
    He showed us one other thing that can be used to lift fingerprints or any small impression. It’s pretty much a silicone substance that you mix together and then spread on a dusted fingerprint. That’s how he lifts prints from golf balls. “One time this stuff came in really handy,” he told us. “We were making surprise raids on junk yards looking for stolen cars. At one place we found a bobcat. We couldn’t find the serial number on that thing anywhere! So we had to call up a distributer to find out where in the world those things were. He told us they were under the front, up there, behind that, up this other place and then it would be there. We tried putting a camera up there, but it wouldn’t fit, the mirror didn’t work either and it would take about a week to get all the parts off enough to actually see the thing. That’s when I decided to try this stuff. I mixed it up, reached up there and spread it all over. After it dried, I peeled it off, put some ink on it and pressed it on a paper. We had the numbers. It was perfect. And yes, it had been stolen.”
Two other class members and I fingerprinting
Dusting fingerprints and mixing silicone stuff

    Then it was hands on! We placed our fingerprints on things and then lifted them. Some of us even fingerprinted ourselves and checked them with the different kinds of fingerprints to see what they were: loops, arches, swirls, etc. We mixed the silicone substance and made prints of anything we could think of, including old credit cards, water bottle lids, knife handles and, of course, the golf ball. We tried the volcanic powder and the magnetic powder. It was about 8:30 when we decided we’d played enough and all found our seats again.
    Detective Bailey told us that he really liked interrogating people. “I just like getting people to tell me their deepest darkest secrets,” he admitted with a smile. “I’ve been doing this so long that I can tell when someone is lying. No, I don’t go by all those things that they tell you are signs, like looking in a certain direction or folding their arms, because people are different. My kids all knew I could tell if they were lying and decided it was useless to try and tell me everything was fine in school if it wasn’t. One time I was working a case and had to interrogate this man. I figured it would take a while, so I called my wife to tell her I’d be working late. Well, all the interviews are videoed and played on a screen in another room. And, my wife and son, who was about 6, came in to bring me some supper. They walked into the room and the video was on of the interrogation. My son looks at the screen for a few minutes and then says, ‘That guy doesn’t have a chance.’ And sure enough, a few minutes later I had that guy bawling and confessing everything.”
It was a hand print!

Can you tell what brand of shoe that is?
What about this one?
    He told a few other things and then had us dig out footprints or handprints. We just popped them out of the sand, brushed them off and slipped them into a paper bag. “Now, let them dry for another 48 hours,” he told us. “Then take them out and hose them off. After that you can put them up on your mantle.” (What if we don’t have a mantle? Or what if we aren’t interested in displaying the print of our shoes? :) )
    We were dismissed and headed for home.

    I hope you enjoyed this class and will be back again for our last class next week, as we take on the roll of a detective and work a crime scene! Until then, this is Rebekah.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Graham Quartet - Part 14

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a rainy morning here, chilly and looking like later fall. Earlier this week most of the leaves were still on the trees in the area, but Monday night the temperatures dropped into the teens and a northern wind blew. The next day most of the leaves had fallen. Now the trees are bare and the ground has a lovely carpet of leaves. Since we have so many trees, my writing students (when they weren't in class) and younger siblings raked a huge pile of leaves in our yard in front of the huge swing and took turns jumping off the swing into the pile. That is always a highlight of fall at our house. And let me tell you, it's a whole lot of fun! :)

There hasn't been much of interest going on this week. I've been working pretty steadily on planning the next few states for Travels of Priscilla, so hopefully there will be new posts up in the next week or so. You've probably already noticed that you get another part of the Graham Quartet story. I've been working on that when I have time to write and am trying to get it finished. You won't be able to read the end until next year though, because there are more parts than just three. And in the month of December you'll get "Christmas Eve at the Back Door." :) Since I've been working hard on the one story, I haven't written any more of Dr. Morgan or of TCR-3.

Speaking of Triple Creek Ranch . . . The proof copy arrived Monday evening and it looks really neat! I can't wait to finish the last few things after it is proof read, and make it available to all you anxious readers who are longing to know what happens! :) If you want a book that is signed, let me know so that I make sure I order enough for each of you. Book 2 is also making good progress. The illustrations have been decided on and I can't wait to see them!

Last night Dad and I had fun at the Sheriff's Citizens' Academy, but I'll wait until Wednesday to tell you about it. :)
(I'm trying to get you in the habit of coming to my blog frequently because in December, I may be posting nearly every day. :) )

And now, without any more distracting information or needless tidbits, here is the next part that you have been waiting for!

Graham Quartet - Part 14

    The following day Matt was the only one who heard anything to report and that was in social studies where Hong Kong was again mentioned, this time by one of the students when Mr. Tompkins asked someone to name some free trade harbors.
    After talking it over, the Quartet decided to get up earlier the next morning and make their report to Guy before leaving for school.
    The trip to the cabin took longer than the time they actually spent there, for Guy only asked a few brief questions and then sent them on their way.
    “Do you think what you heard means anything, Matt?” Tim asked, as the siblings were plodding steadily towards home.
    Matt shrugged. He had no more idea than his younger brother if the talk of Hong Kong in school was important or just school.
    It wasn’t until they were driving to school, Elsa going along to spend the day shopping, that Selena spoke. “If we are wanting to hear about the furniture factory, why don’t we visit the places where those who work there might go.”
    “Where would they go?” Tim asked.
    “Wouldn’t they ship things out?” Matt asked.
    “How about the post office,” offered Elsa.
    “Perhaps they have to pick up supplies at the hardware or the lumber yard,” Selena put in.
    “I know where they hang out,” Tim put in.
    Matt and Selena turned to look at him and even Elsa glanced at him through the mirror. “Where?”
    “At the furniture factory.”
    Rolling his eyes, Matt sighed.
    “But why not, Matt?” Selena urged. “Couldn’t we see if we could take a tour? You remember what that man told Elsa.”
    “But he also said he never got an answer,” Elsa replied.
    The occupants of the car fell silent as Elsa drove into town. “Let’s all think about it and I’ll see if I find out anything when I’m shopping,” Elsa suggested. “Then after school we can check out a few places and figure out what we should do next.”
    To this they all agreed and, grabbing their books, Matt, Tim and Selena climbed out of the car as it stopped before the school.
    Not one of them was particularly interested in attending that day and even Matt found it difficult to keep his mind on his work. There was no more mention of Hong Kong in social studies and Tim wasn’t the only one to give a sigh of relief when the last bell rang and they were dismissed.
    Elsa was waiting for them and soon the Graham Quartet were holding a meeting in the car.
    “I think we’ll have to split up,” Elsa remarked. “That way we can cover two separate places at once.”
    Matt nodded. “I agree. But where should we go?”
    “Look!” Tim pointed. “A truck from the furniture factory. It’s heading towards the depot. I think we should follow it and find out where it’s being shipped.”
    “Maybe not exactly follow it,” Matt put in, “but it might not be a bad idea to see if you and Elsa can discover anything. Selena and I can stop at the hardware store since I remembered Dad needed something. We might also check the post office.”
    “Then let’s get going.”
    Quickly the Quartet scrambled from the car and hurried their separate ways. It wasn’t far to the train depot if you took the shortcut through the alley, and Elsa and Tim were soon there. No sooner had Tim caught sight of the truck pulling up to the dock than he dashed away from his sister and raced up to the men unfastening the back of the truck.
    “Tim!” Elsa called after him. “Don’t get in the way!”
    “Good afternoon, Miss Elsa,” a voice said. “What’s Tim up to now?”
    Elsa turned to see the station master standing beside her. She shrugged. “You know Tim, Mr. Decktrah, he’s always looking for something interesting to watch.”
    The station master laughed. “And no doubt he’ll pepper those poor guys with questions.” Mr. Decktrah shook his head. “By the way, where are Matt and Selena?” He glanced around. “Not sick or kept in at school, I hope.”
    Elsa smiled. “No, Matt had to pick up a few things and Selena went with him. By the way, Mr. Decktrah,” she added, suddenly inspired. “Perhaps you can tell me something that Tim won’t find out talking with those men.”
    “And what’s that?”
    “Oh, I don’t know,” Elsa tried hard to think of something that wouldn’t sound too suspicious. “Where do crates from the furniture factory get shipped? Are they to a store or to people who order them?”
    “Do shipments leave from here regularly like the mail or is it just now and then?”
    “Well,” the older man scratched his head. “It’s funny you should ask that. I’ve been sort of wondering what was going on. I reckon it isn’t anything, but for the past week or so there’s been a regular flurry of shipments every other day or so and before that it was twice a month, except maybe one or two other times.”
    “When were those times?” Elsa asked casually, watching her brother assist in carrying a crate to the waiting boxcar.
    “Oh, I think the last time it was like this was in the summer and then it only lasted for about a week. The first time I noticed so much shipping was last January. I remember because they told me some man named Martin Vanderbilt had just ordered furniture for his new house and wanted it shipped out as soon as the furniture for one room was finished. I wondered at the time if he was related to the Vanderbilts who had all that money some years back.”
    “Martin Vanderbilt,” Elsa murmured thoughtfully. “I’ve heard about the family before, but I don’t know if anyone was named Martin. Where are these crates going?”
    The station master shook his head. “Same man. Don’t know why he didn’t order everything at once. Well, I’d best be getting back to my work.”

What do you think is going on?
Is there something suspicious going on
or is this just a regular shipment?
What would you do if you heard this news?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SCA - Class 10

SCA - Class 10

    Welcome back to the tenth class of Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. I’m glad you didn’t forget since last week we didn’t have class.

    Dad and I arrived about 6:15 and several of the others were already there. We found our seats. (Why is it that everyone usually sits in the same seats?) The last few people arrived and Sgt. Davis handed out papers with information about where and when our graduation was going to be. They decided to have it during the Sheriff’s Office Christmas Party. That should be interesting. He also told us that usually each “graduate” received a certificate and a coin, but this time we are each getting a plaque with the coin imbedded. He also finalized a date for those who want to tour the new Sheriff’s offices.
    Then the class was turned over to Detective Tim Williams. Since he had taught the first half of our last class, he didn’t have to introduce himself to us.
    Our first topic for class was photography. I know, you all thought we were attending a Sheriff’s Academy and learning about what the Sheriff’s department does. Well, one thing they do is take pictures. Of crime scenes. “When you enter a crime scene,” Det. Williams told us, “you are going to change the scene. I don’t care if you don’t pick anything up or touch anything, you are still going to change it. You might track something in on your shoes, or you might track something out. You may accidentally knock something over. So, the very first thing to do is take a picture. Pictures freeze everything in time. You take pictures when you first arrive, before removing any evidence . . . when in doubt, take a picture. They don’t cost anything now that we have digital cameras.”
    Here’s a check list for taking pictures at a crime scene:
Make sure your battery is charged.
Make sure the date and time on the camera are correct.
Clean the lenses.
Make sure the picture is in focus.

    If you should ever happen to be at a crime scene to take pictures, always take an overall picture of what the room or place looks like. Then take pictures of any evidence you find before you touch it! Make sure this picture shows where in the room the item is and how it relates to the other items. Next take a close up picture with a ABFO scale at a 90º angle. An ABFO scale is a small L shaped ruler that has three circles, colors and measuring marks. The purpose of this scale is to show the size of the item and to give you a reference for a 90º angle picture. That’s pretty easy; if the circles look like ovals, it’s not 90º. And if the picture is at a strange angle, the defense attorney is going to try to make an issue of it.
    Also, if any pictures you take are fuzzy, don’t delete them or the defense attorney is going to say that that picture was the one which would prove his client innocent. (It sounds like those defense attorneys will pick on anything!) And if you take a picture of any firearm, make sure you get  both sides and the serial number. Try taking pictures with and without the flash because sometimes tire tracks and other things show up better without the flash.
    When taking pictures of a vehicle, make sure you get all four corners, the license plate, the interior and the VIN plate or tag. (I’m still not quite sure what this is, but I think it stands for Vehicle Identification Number.) A reason for the four corners pictures is so that if you have the vehicle towed away, and the person tries to sue you because you “damaged” the vehicle, you have proof of what it was like before you moved it. Of course the license plate will tell if it was stolen or not.
    And one last thing. Always “bookmark” your pictures after each crime scene. They call it a “case plate.” All it has to be is a picture of a piece of paper with the case number on it. That way if you have to go directly from one scene to another, you won’t later be wondering where the first scene ends and the next begins.
    We moved right along in this class and jumped right into DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid is the building block for each person. Did you know that identical twins, because they came from the same egg, will have the same DNA? But they will each have their own unique set of fingerprints. If you were to take DNA from different cells, such as your blood, your skin, hair etc., it would all be the same. There is also a thing called Mitochondrial DNA which is the same as your mother’s mitochondrial DNA.
    “The purpose of getting DNA is not only to find the right suspect, but also to eliminate others,” Det. Williams told us. “If we had these two,” he points to two front row members of the class, “as suspects and have their DNA, but all the DNA we’ve collected from the crime scene doesn’t match their DNA, we can pretty much eliminate them from the crime.” If you ever go to collect DNA, make sure you are wearing gloves, so that your DNA doesn’t get mixed up with the DNA you are trying to collect. Then you have to change your gloves before you collect more DNA because the first DNA might have gotten on the gloves and you don’t want to contaminate the next sample.
    DNA can also tell you if it was from an animal or a human. “We got a call once,” Det. Williams told us, “saying that there had been a murder on a certain road right by a bridge. Well, we drove out there and found blood all over the street. Immediately we got to work and started searching everywhere for the body. We searched the woods, got the boat out and were even searching the river. Couldn’t find a body anywhere. We had a sample of the blood sent to the lab and when it came back we discovered it was turtle blood. So much for the big crime scene.”
    Did you know that each swabbed sample of DNA is stored in a small box which is then stored in a paper bag which is clearly labeled? “Unlike the CSI shows, we never store evidence in a plastic bag,” Det. Williams told us. “DNA has to be able to breathe or it will end up like a hamburger you put in the fridge that you left too long. It starts to grow mold and eats itself up.”
    I didn’t realize how long it takes DNA samples to be returned from the FBI lab. (Yes, all DNA goes to CODIS-Combined DNA Index System which is run by the FBI.) It usually takes 8-9 months to get the results back. First they have to be sent to the highway patrol collection place, and then, once they feel that they have enough things, one of the officers will transfer everything to Jefferson City and they will send it to the FBI. But fingerprints only take about 3-4 months and can be done here in the county. “That’s why we really like to do fingerprints,” Det. Williams told us. “Not only is it faster, but fingerprinting has been going on a lot longer than DNA collecting and there is a much larger database.
    “But, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office was the first in the state to get a ‘cold hit’ with DNA. Someone had been picked up for something and his DNA was taken. It matched another crime that had happened a year or so before had never been solved. It was a big deal when it happened.”
    There wasn’t much else and only a few minutes after 8:00, Det. Williams told us we were finished unless we had questions or wanted to stick around and talk. No one really did.

    Thank you for joining me again, and I hope you’ll be back next week as we learn about fingerprinting, evidence collection and get some hands on experience in the art of collecting and packaging evidence. Join me then! Until next week, this is Rebekah.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Day in the Life of an Election Judge

Good Morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans!
(Though I'm not sure how many of you actually read this post on Friday. :) )

How has your week been? It's been busy here with this, that and the other.
 Saturday wasn't too busy.
Sunday we had nearly everyone there! It was so delightful to see people. The twins and I talked over Christmas music and picked out three songs to try and I got to play with BabyDoll. :)
On Monday I went to my best friend's house and we created the back cover of TCR-1. I then was able to upload both the cover and the interior. I also heard back from my illustrator about TCR-2. She's hoping to get all the illustrations done by mid-December!
On Tuesday I was gone all day. But you can read all about it in today's story. And after I got home I ordered my proof copy of TCR-1!
Wednesday came and I had to get ready for Writing Classes. (Usually I try to get ready on Monday or Tuesday.) And then I had to teach the classes.
Yesterday I graded papers, worked on a baby quilt for someone, corrected my story to post today and had an SCA class.
Today we clean house and tonight we babysit.

Those of you who enjoy reading Dr. Morgan will be pleased to know that I've written 2 more parts of it. I also wrote the first 1,000 words of Triple Creek Ranch - 3! I'm trying to finish some stories that are already on NEO so that I have room for others. And for those of you who know about Travels of Priscilla and Friends, I've been trying to get that worked on too. If you don't know about it, stop by Travels of Priscilla and look around. There are still openings for several states, so if you'd like to "visit" a state with "Priscilla" just let me know. :) (It's all virtual and all you have to do is visit the web site of where we go and then write a letter to "Miss Smith" about your "visit." :)

A Day in the Life of an Election Judge
(Names have been changed to protect the bored.)

4:05 AM- Beep, beep, beep. The persistent noise slowly penetrated Tillie’s sleep-fogged brain. “Why doesn’t Sue just turn that thing off?” she wondered groggily. Suddenly something inside her seemed to snap to full alert. “Oh! That alarm’s for me!” Tillie quickly sat up and pushed off the covers. It was election morning and in less than an hour she had to be ready to leave for her polling place.
5:15 AM - Arriving at the school where she would be working as a supervisory judge for the day, Tillie sat in her friend’s car until someone let her in the building. Her friend was also working as an election judge in a nearby precinct and had kindly given Tillie a ride. Before long the door was opened by the custodian and Tillie, taking her bag inside, began the process of setting up.
    The other workers arrived, Irene, Park, the newest member of this election team, and then Irish. With all pitching in to help, it didn’t take long to tape signs to the doors and walls, get the iPad turned on and ready, the opti-scan ready and get sworn in.
5:55 AM- Everything was set up and they waited until the polls opened at 6:00.
6:00 AM- The polls are open but no one was waiting. It may be a long day.
6:05 AM- The very first voter of the day arrived! It took only a moment to scan the barcode on the voter card and another for the ballot to be marked and slipped into the machine. Then the voter walked out wearing an “I voted” sticker.
6:15 AM- The cell phone which had been sent with the polling items, so Tillie and the rest of the judges could call the county office if needed, rang. Tillie picked it up. “Hello, this is such-and-such 4.”
    “Oh, I wasn’t trying to call another precinct,” a man’s voice came over the phone. “I thought I was calling the county office. Something must have been programmed wrong.”
    “I guess so. I don’t know if I can help you any, but what did you need?” Tillie asked, trying to be helpful.
    “We were just wondering . . . Did you guys get a ‘Vote Here’ sign or a flag?”
    “No. I just figured that they didn’t think we needed them this time,” Tillie replied.
    “Okay. We just couldn’t find any.”
6:33 AM- The conversation going on mostly between Park and Irish had Tillie feeling amused. She agreed in a way with both sides of the issue, but didn’t want to get caught up in it, so she refrained from saying anything about “animals vs. people.”
6:48 AM- The topic of conversation switched to World War II and Irish did most of the talking. Having been in the military and served overseas at the end of the war, he could tell some interesting stories. Park read. Irene crocheted and Tillie knitted while they listened to Irish talk.
6:53 AM- Voter two arrived! Everyone was delighted.
7:11 AM- The first of the school children arrived. The draft from the opening door was chilly, but Tillie enjoyed greeting the younger ones with a smile.
7:21 AM- Voter three and more children arrived. Brr, that air was cold!
7:23 AM- When the 4th voter arrived, he was rather astonished that there hadn’t been more. All the judges agree that it would have been nice to have had more.
7:43 AM- The 5th voter! Yippee! Still more children came and every time the door opened the poll workers got the really cold air gusting in though it wasn’t that cold outside.
7:52 AM- Two voters came in a row!
8:03 AM- All the children had arrived at school now. There had been seven voters.
8:09 AM- Boy, was it quiet. All the children were in class and Tillie decided to eat her breakfast of . . .
8:13 AM- Wow! There was a sudden rush for the polls. Five people in a row came in.
8:33 AM- Three more voters.
9:29 AM- There were a few lines of very well behaved children waiting in the hall.
9:32 AM- 20th voter.
9:50 AM- The four election judges tried to recall what interesting conversations they have had that morning: Elephants (Did you know that elephants have amazing memories? Or that Irish’s granddaughter now works with elephants?) and the small world we live in. (Irene might have seen Park when she was a baby because Irene went to high school with Park’s aunt.)
10:00 AM- It was time for a special assembly! Even the news made it for the assembly this morning.
10:13 AM- Assembly was over and the children headed back to their classrooms in well behaved lines.
10:30 AM- Park passed out some dark chocolate. A delightful mid-morning snack. “Will it wake me up?” Tillie asked with a yawn.
11:21 AM- It had been quiet and dull. No one had even really been talking. Then #29 came in and voted.
11:27 AM- For the first time since the polls opened, Tillie decided to stand up! It sure feelt good to stand up and stretch.
11:35 AM- Tillie resumed her chair and waited for more voters. Will they have 30 votes before noon? Earlier, before the polls were opened, each of the workers took a guess on how many votes would be cast at their polling place. Irish had guessed 30.
11:53 AM- Voters 30 and 31 came in. Shortly before that, one of the bi-partisan teams had come by for a few minutes.
12:17 PM- Well, it was slow. Lunch was over, the children were back in classrooms and all the election judges wished they could take a nap. “You know,” Tillie laughed, “the one thing they didn’t tell us to bring was pillows.” “That’s right,” Irene agreed. “Perhaps we should just close up for a few hours,” Park joked. “Or we could put a ‘Gone Out. Be back at 4.’ sign on the door,” Tillie suggested.
12:26 PM- Had it only been ten minutes?
1:02 PM- Then the numbers went up to 37 voters. The judges talked about other countries that they had been to and things related to them. Park entertained the others with stories about her trip to Australia and New Zealand. Tillie told a little about her recent trip to Canada, and Irish mentioned Tahiti.
1:18 PM- Talk changed to the Joplin Tornado.
1:44 PM- There had been 40 votes now!
2:15 PM- 42 votes.
2:31 PM- “Can’t I sleep?” Tillie wondered to herself, wishing she could just stretch out and take a nap.
2:42 PM- The children all got a group picture with their new sweatshirts. The election judges couldn’t see the stage in the assembly room, but they watched them going in and coming out.
2:51 PM- The first batch of kids leave for home.
3:14 PM- Most of the children were gone. It was pretty quiet, gloomy and rainy.
3:34 PM- Voter 51 came in. One more vote and Park’s guess would be reached. Only 3 1/2 more hours.
4:15 PM- Voter number 57 had just come and gone.
4:18 PM- Park and Irene played word puzzles on their phones. Boy, was it quiet since all the children had gone! 2 hours 40 minutes left.
4:25 PM- Why won’t the minutes go faster? Irish was talking.
4:49 PM- Wow, seven people arrived. Nice. That’s the most they’ve had at once all day.
4:56 PM- The vote count was now up to 70 votes cast! Irene’s number was passed by ten.
5:16 PM- What to do now? Hurry up time. 73 votes. “You know, Tillie remarked, “if the seconds would go faster, then the minutes would too.” Park wished they could go by the old time. “We could just say they hadn’t changed their clocks yet,” she joked. “Or perhaps we could just put a “Gone Fishing” sign on the door,” Tillie offered.
5:23 PM- One hour and 35 minutes left.
5:33 PM- 77th voter.
5:43 PM- They’ve just had a rush! Now they are up to 83 votes. Tillie’s guess was only two away. “If you guess the number exact, I’ll take you to Vegas,” Irish told Tillie.
5:47 PM- 87 now. Two votes past Tillie’s guess, so no trip to Vegas. She didn’t want to go anyway.
5:55 PM- Only 65 more minutes - tick-tick-tick . . . The four election workers had quite a discussion about working as an election worker, what other polling places they’ve worked at had been like and several things that could be done to improve a day at the polls or the training to be an election worker.
6:33 PM- 100th voter! No one was sure they’d have that many. The voter was pretty pleased to be the 100th one.
6:36 PM- Two more voters.
6:41 PM- Made sure the “book” was filled out. Everyone wanted to be sure to get paid for sitting around counting down the hours until time to leave.
6:48 PM- 12 minutes left! Was anyone else coming? Plans of action for packing up were discussed.
6:51 PM- One more person came in with his two boys. “They told me there was voting at their school,” Dad told the workers. Tillie made sure each of the boys got an “I voted” sticker since they made sure Dad came to vote.
6:58 PM- Two more minutes.
7:00 PM- The polls were closed! Quickly the signs were taken down, pens were collected, ballots removed and the iPad shut down. With everyone working together it only took fifteen minutes to pack up. Another election was over. Irish and Tillie loaded things up to drive to the courthouse. The long day of boredom was nearly done.

What do you think?
Do you want to be an Election Judge?
(Busier elections are a lot more fun and crazy.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Horse Called Danger - Part 3

Good Morning FFFs!
Just in case we don't get internet tomorrow morning, I'm getting this post scheduled to post on Thursday morning. A large storm came through Monday night knocking out our phone line and taking our internet away from us. So, we've been without internet since Tuesday morning. It's been strange not being able to do the usual things, but when I'm waiting for an e-mail with something I need for my book, it was hard to wait. :)

But here is the next and final part of
A Horse Called Danger
Part 3

    Nearly falling off Sea Hawk, I exclaimed, “He’s shot! Uncle was shot by Dandy Boy!”
    The two hired men, hearing the commotion, had raced over from the barn. It was quite a story, I know, and almost impossible to believe unless you had been there. At last I gave up trying to convince anyone of what had taken place. Uncle could tell them. If he was all right.
    It was a long wait there at the ranch, not knowing what was happening. At last Mr. Gardner came by in his truck and took us with Aunt Julia to the hospital. He said Uncle George had lost a lot of blood, but he thought he’d be all right.
    Thankfully, he was all right and we brought him home the next day. It wasn’t until Uncle George insisted that it was indeed Dandy Boy who had shot him, that people began to accept the fact that he had been shot by his own horse. After that no one who was wearing a gun went near the horse. It wasn’t that he was mean, just dangerous.

    The days passed by and Dad and Mom were expected in a few days. I could hardly wait. It wasn’t that I was wanting to leave the ranch and go back to the city, but I wanted Dad to see me ride. We had gotten quite a bit of rain and things were muddy. I hoped the sun would have a chance to dry the ground up somewhat before Dad and I were ready to ride. As things turned out, it didn’t matter anyway.
    Since Uncle George wasn’t doing much riding, with him being older and having a wounded leg and all, I was promoted to a real working hand on the ranch. This was greatly to my liking and how proud I felt doing a man’s job. Every day I spent hours in the saddle on either Sea Hawk or Dandy Boy. Yes, I still rode Dandy Boy since Uncle wouldn’t let me pack a gun.
    One sunny day, one I never forgot, I headed off on Dandy Boy to deliver a message to the hands in a back pasture. I was riding at a good, steady pace when we came to a long stretch of muddy ground. In the middle of the mud was a gate I had to go through. Urging Dandy Boy on through the thick mud, I turned him to open the gate. I’m not quite sure what happened then. Maybe I turned him too fast, maybe he stumbled and then slipped. Either way, he slipped and fell. It was so sudden and I was so completely unprepared for it, that I wasn’t able to get my leg out of the way. All I remember is the sense of falling and a sudden, terrible pain in my leg and then blackness.
    When I came to some time later, I couldn’t figure out what had happened or where I was. Until I tried to move. Then the sharp, agonizing pain brought everything back. After several minutes I was able to turn my head slightly, and I could see Dandy Boy calmly grazing nearby still saddled and bridled. I’m not sure how he got there while I remained in the mud, but so it was. I knew my leg must be broken because the pain in it was deep and intense, but I wasn’t sure about anything else. Right then I wished Dad were there. He would know what to do. Then I thought of that ride Dad and I were going to take together. I wondered if we’d be able to. True, I didn’t remember hearing anyone with a broken leg riding a horse, but perhaps, just perhaps I could manage it if someone helped me on the horse. Now just remember, folks, sometimes thirteen-year-old boys can be pretty optimistic.
    I must have lost conciseness again shortly after that because the next thing I remember is hearing voices and feeling the touch of a hand on my face. Opening my eyes I saw one of the hands beside me. He was talking to someone I couldn’t see, probably the other cowhand. “. . . And ride fast! He needs help!” I heard him say.
    Things were rather a blur after that. The cowboy stayed with me, and we talked a little, but I don’t remember much about it. Then the medics came. I thought the pain was bad before, but when they had to move me onto the stretcher, well, I gave a gasp and blacked out again.
    When I next woke up I discovered I was in the hospital and Mom and Dad were beside me. “Dad,” I whispered, “can we go riding tomorrow?”
    Mom gave a gasp, but Dad smiled. “Not tomorrow, Son,” he told me. “You’ve got a leg that was busted in three places. You won’t be riding for a while.”
    When I was at last released from the hospital, Dad drove me to Uncle George and Aunt Julia’s for a few days of rest before we flew home. We were sitting around the living room that first evening and Uncle George turned to Dad. “You still want to ride Danger?”
    Dad shook his head. “Nope, I think I can do without any accidents right now.”
    “Who’s Danger?” I asked. I didn’t think Uncle had gotten any new horses.
    It was Ivy who answered. “That’s what everyone has started calling Dandy Boy.”
    “But he’s not dangerous,” I protested.
    Aunt Julia snorted. “And just what would you call a horse that shoots one rider and breaks another rider’s leg?”
    Though I tried, I couldn’t think of any other name. Well, I never did ride Dandy Boy or Danger again. Two weeks later Uncle sold him. I’m not sure what became of him after that, but I’ve kept my ears open and any time I hear of someone getting hurt by a horse in a strange accident, I figure it’s a good guess that they just might have been riding Danger.

So, what did you think of the story?
You want to ride that horse?
Have you heard any strange stories about horses?