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Thursday, October 31, 2013

SCA - Class 9

Sorry this is late. Our phone line got knocked out in a storm Monday night and it's still not back up. We had to go some where else to use the internet this morning.

SCA - Class 9

    Thank you for joining me for yet another class of the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy as we learn about Child Abuse and Cyber Crimes.

    Arriving at class about 6:20, we took our usual seats in the middle row and were soon handed our printout for the first half of class. Two other members joined the eight of us already there, but we were missing several of the usual members. Sgt. Davis said that since we had a lot to cover, we’d go ahead and get started. “Before, we’ve done this evening in two classes, but we decided to combine it this time and see how it goes.”
    Detective Tim Williams introduced himself and mentioned that he had been working in Child Investigations for quite a long time but had just traded places with Detective Ed Bailey who was working Cyber Crimes. So, both the instructors for the evening were teaching what they had done for years and not what they were doing currently.
    “Child abuse has been going on for most of recorded history. It’s in the Bible when the firstborns were burned to a god and when Pharaoh ordered the firstborns killed, and it has continued,” Det. Williams began. “One reason child abuse has been around for so long is that for centuries people viewed wives and children as not much more than property.”
    In the state of Missouri, do you know who has the authority to remove a child from a home? No, it’s not Child Division. (I think that is a branch or form of Family Services.) It is only law enforcement, a judge or medical person (such as in the case of an ambulance finding an injured child in a ditch and not knowing where they came from or who they are). Most people don’t know that. Not even those working in Child Division. “Every officer in this sheriff’s department knows now,” Det. Williams said, “because I’ve hammered it into them.”
    The removal of a child from a home is only the last resort and if the child’s safety is unsure. And, as a rule, if one child is removed, all the children are removed, unless they are 17. “Legally we can’t remove a child if he or she is 17. So, as much as we may hate to leave that one child in a home, we can’t remove them.”
    Some things Det. Williams talked about for why they might remove a child were if the infant was born testing positive for meth. “In my opinion all positive drug tests of an infant should be cause for instant removal,” he told us, “because the mother was already under the influence of drugs before the child was born, so what makes anyone think that she’ll give it up when she takes her child home?” Another reason is “failure to thrive.”
    A lot of people get scared when a child has a large bruise, but in Jasper County, Det. Williams told us, “I keep an open mind when it comes to bruises because, let’s face it, all kids get bruises or break their bones. It just happens. Especially if a child is learning to walk and is still young, they are going to get more bruises than an older child who is more coordinated. Sometimes bruises are caused by the medication the child is on. If the parents can’t tell me where a bruise or injury came from, or change their story about how it happened, say that a sibling must have done it or the babysitter, those things raise red flags.” They will also look for signs or marks of abuse. (One guy who had actually broken his baby’s ribs by shaking the child and squeezing too tight told one story of what happened, but Det. Williams told him the facts didn’t fit. So, what does the guy do? He says, “Well, let me try this one.” And proceeds to tell a new story which also didn’t fit the facts. Finally, after about six different stories, he finally told the truth.)
    When an officer or detective is interviewing a child for abuse, whether physical or sexual, he has to be very careful not to ask leading questions, but to let the child tell what happened, if anything. “We have many cases where one parent is trying to get custody of a child, so they pretend that the other parent is abusing the child. “Usually when we’re talking to the child,” Det. Williams said, “we’ll ask him some questions and he’ll say, ‘I don’t know.’ Then after a little longer we’ll find that someone told the child to say that he’d been abused. ‘Who told you to say that?’ ‘I’m not supposed to tell.’ Then we ask, ‘What aren’t you supposed to tell?’ and the child tells us everything.” (And the parent gets in trouble.)
    We had a little more about child abuse and a little about the Children’s Center that we have in the county. “They are so great,” we were told. “They’ll let us in any time day or night. In other counties it may take a few days before they can get a child there and by then any evidence on the child would be mostly gone.”

    As soon as Det. Williams finished (He really had to rush through the last part.), Detective Ed Bailey came up. He introduced himself and told us that he’d been working in Cyber Crimes and Internet Safety for many years. “In fact, I worked for 6 years and posed as a 13-year-old girl online and put 87 men behind bars during that time.”
    He asked the class if anyone wasn’t on facebook. Dad and I raised our hands. (He told us later that we were the only smart ones in class.) He also asked if anyone didn’t have an iPhone or a smartphone. Again, Dad and I raised our hands. “You guys are behind the times,” Det. Bailey laughed. His next question was who had wireless Internet at home. Everyone did. “Does anyone not have it password protected?” One guy raised his hand. There was a little debate between the the detective and our classmate about whether or not Det. Bailey could get into his server. (I’m sure he could.)
    You know, back “a long time ago” people had to have face to face conversations with someone or talk on the phone where there wasn’t much privacy and a limited amount of time. (What if someone else needed to make a phone call?) Now, however, everyone has a phone (even young children) and you can talk as long as you’d like wherever you like. And texting? Well, back then it was done by typing a letter out on a typewriter, putting the paper in an envelope, sticking a stamp on and dropping it in the mail. Three days later your friend receives it, reads it, types a reply and mails it back to you. Now? Well, you certainly don’t have to take the time to mail something and usually the answer comes in a few seconds. And nowadays there are even “Text & Learn” toys for 4+! (Thanks, but I’d rather children learned how to communicate with real words to real people and learn to spell real words! I mean, does it not bug you when you are trying to have a real conversation with someone and they keep pulling out their phone and sending off text messages and reading the ones that just came in?) And now they have “smart phones” for 6-36 month olds!
    I could give you a bunch of statistics about what percentage of children and teens give what information on the internet and what percentage of parents don’t supervise their children's’ internet activities at all and those who don’t do much after they are 14, but I think you’d all skip it. So, I’ll just tell you things. (If you want to know those things, just ask.)
    If you have any kind of profile online, set it to private or be very careful what information you put on it. Your first name is fine and even a last name isn’t bad, but where you live, the school you attend, how old you are and what your personal e-mail address is are not wise. Also, NEVER include your cell phone number! (If you have one.) And don’t tell others what your password is! (You’d probably be amazed at how many young people do that.)
    Do you have your picture up on your profile? What is in the background? What is in the background of other pictures you may have posted? You may not think there is anything, but go look again. If whatever is behind you has any calendar of where you might be, any colors of what restaurant you were in or a sports game where you were at (if you were in your home town), someone could find you that you don’t want to find you. (Believe me, there are bad guys out there who are really smart and willing to make an effort to find just the victim they want.) Det. Bailey showed us how much information he discovered on several facebook pages where the person thought they weren’t sharing much. It doesn’t have to be much and it can be so spread out that you may not notice it, but predators will. And remember, once you put something on the internet, it’s there forever.
    And a few more words of advice, never accept “friends” on facebook or other social media sites that you do not know personally. They may not be who they say they are.
    “I was going to go do a presentation at a high school,” Det. Bailey told us, “and a few days before I went, I created a facebook account for a fictional person. I made him a high school student who had just moved into the area and was attending the high school I would be visiting. (He showed us the page.) The guy wasn’t sure if he liked it there or not and asked for some friends. Within five minutes of putting this profile up, I had three people accept his friend request. By the time I went to the school, I had over 400 ‘friends’. (And remember, not one of those kids had ever met the guy they “friended.” (Is that what you call it?)) Two minutes before I went into the classroom, I had the profile picture of the “kid” changed to a sheriff’s badge. When I got up to talk, I told all the kids in the room to pull this kid’s profile up.
    “See, not everyone is who they say they are even when they have pictures up. Remember, I was a ‘13-year-old girl’ for six years.”
    If your parents are supervising your internet access, be thankful and never think that you are safe because it’s never happened to you before. If anyone on the internet starts to talk to you about things you know aren’t appropriate, even as a joke, tell your parents or an adult you trust at once!
    Det. Bailey told us that X-Boxes were also dangerous and those using them make easier targets for the predators since you play games with strangers all around the world and listen to them through headphones and no one else can hear. “There are many cases where a child was playing an X-Box and suddenly they just got up, walked outside and disappeared,” he told us, “because the person they were playing with told the child to meet him down the street and they’d go have fun.”
    Another word of advice, stay away from social networking sites such as chat rooms because you do not know who the real person is you are chatting with. They may be who they say they are, but many times they are not.
    There was so much more that was covered in class, but it would take much too long to tell you everything. Did you know that one picture of child pornography is worth 5 years in prison and one video is worth 77 pictures? (You can do the math.) Did you know that one picture on facebook of you and your dad with just a little bit of a car showing, can give a predator enough information to find your dad and follow him home from work? Did you realize that in today’s world, a guy doesn’t have to work up enough courage to walk up to a girl and ask her out? All he has to do is send a text. Did you know that seven-year-olds are now going around with a personal cell phone, taking pictures, videos and sending text messages? I could go on, but I won’t.
    If you are interested in learning more about internet safety, visit www.netsmartz.org or www.wiredsafety.org And remember, once you put something online, it’s there forever!

    Thanks for coming with me to class; stay safe online. Join me again, not next week, but the week following as we have our first class about Criminal Investigations. It should be fun! Until then, this is Rebekah.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Horse Called Danger - Part 2

Good Morning FFFs!
Boy, oh boy, could I get on a soapbox after class last night! But I think I'd better wait and get my report written and then let you all read it. I will say this though, remember that once you put something on the internet, it's there forever! You may delete it, but you don't know who else had done something with it and spread it around. And, everything you delete can be recovered. So be careful.

This week wasn't quite as busy and crazy as last week, but I still had plenty to do. The kiddos came over Friday morning and we had them until around 2:30 on Sunday. It was fun and Doodle Bug gave us a few good laughs. One night he and his brothers were sitting on Grammy's bed waiting for Pickle Puss to finish getting a bath. Doodle Bug was playing with a stuffed dog and he turned to S and asked, "Dis his nose?"
S replied, "Yes, that's his nose. You have a nose too."
He thinks a minute and then says, "Dis his tail?"
S: "Yes, that's his tail."
A moment later, Doodle Bug reaches behind him and feels. Then he says thoughtfully, "Unt (I don't) have a tail." :D

I tutored a new student on Thursday, taught writing classes on Wednesday, attended the SCA last night and tonight we're going over to celebrate Funny Boy's 4th birthday! (How can he be four all ready?) I also worked with my best friend to get the cover for TCR-1 done. :) Now I'm working on the inside! It's very exciting.

Thank you so much for voting on what story I should write. I would like to start TCR-3, but I have to have an empty file on NEO first. :) So, I'm trying to finish up a Christmas story which I started last year but never finished. I also have about 300 words of a Dr. Morgan written that I need to make into 1,000 words. There are so many stories that I'd love to write, but I either can't think of what comes next, or I don't have the time to really get back into the story (such is the case with the Graham Quartet), or I don't have room or something!

Now I'll let you read the next part of this story. And remember, this really happened. The names and places have been changed, but it's based on a true story. Enjoy!

A Horse Called Danger - Part 2

    Since I was older, Uncle George treated me almost like one of his few hired hands. I rode out to check some fence line at least three times a week, went along in the pickup to feed the cattle, helped train some of the horses, and ate more of Aunt Julia’s good cooking then any other person on the ranch. Grandma said I was growing. I suppose I was but I never stopped long enough to really think about it much. Every night I tumbled into bed and never knew what happened after my head hit the pillow until I was awakened in the morning.
    During that summer I rode several horses, but there were two that were my favorites and I rode them every chance I got. One was a nut brown gelding named Sea Hawk and the other was Dandy Boy.
    It wasn’t until the latter part of summer that things happened. Mom and Dad were expected back in a few weeks, and I was looking forward to riding with Dad. I knew he’d be on Dandy Boy and figured I’d ride Sea Hawk. In my mind there wasn’t much difference between them except that Dandy Boy was a little faster and acted, well, like a dandy. I told Uncle once that the horse should have a mirror hung up in his stall so he could admire himself each day.
    One afternoon Uncle George and I had ridden out to check on a smaller group of cattle not far from the neighboring ranch line. This time Uncle George was riding Dandy Boy and I was on Sea Hawk. We stopped for lunch by an old blackened stump and gave the horses a breather since it was a warm day. Uncle was standing near that old tree stump looking across the vast grazing land. “Yep,” he said in answer to a question as Dandy came up. “I always carry my pistol when I’m out on the range. Never know when it might be needed.”
    Dandy Boy began rubbing his head against Uncle as though telling him it was time to move on. Suddenly the sound of a gun shot startled me and I turned in time to see Uncle gasp, take a staggering step and then fall. Dandy Boy and Sea Hawk pranced and whinnied nervously, especially Dandy Boy who kept near Uncle George.
    Rushing to the side of my uncle I saw blood staining his right pant leg! What had happened? Quickly I tried to push Dandy’s head away and it was then that I realized what had happened. In rubbing against him, Dandy had managed to catch part of his bridle on the trigger of Uncle’s gun. Quickly, but with shaking hands, I managed to free the bridle and the horse instantly backed away. I did the best I could to stop the flow of blood, but it was soon evident that Uncle needed more help than I could give.
    “Art,” Uncle whispered from a pain filled face, “take your belt off and fasten it around my leg above the wound.”
    I did as I was told, and leaving Uncle George holding on to one end of the belt to keep it tight, I mounted Sea Hawk and tore off for the neighboring ranch. Although I had to ride around their fence, it was still closer than going home. Besides, the phone line at the ranch hadn’t been working all day and I wasn’t sure if the repair man had come out and fixed it yet. I was praying the whole time I rode, let me assure you, because I’d never seen anyone shot before and that had me scared.
    Reining up before the barn where I could see some of the men, I sprang off Sea Hawk as they gathered about me, and gasped, “The horse shot him! He’s got to get help!”
    They must have thought I was crazy and I’ll admit it does sound crazy.
    “Hey, what’s this?” Mr. Gardner asked, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Take a deep breath, Son, and calm down. Now try again. Who’s shot and who did it?”
    I was shaking from shock, but I tried again. “Uncle George,” I gasped out. “He’s in the pasture near your fence line by the old, black tree stump.”
    “I know where that is,” one of the men said quickly, and Mr. Gardner nodded.
    “But who shot him?”
    “His horse!”
    At that Mr. Gardner put a hand on my forehead. I knew he thought I must be sick.
    “I’m telling the truth,” I insisted, breathing hard. “Please, you’ve just got to help him! He’s bleeding a lot.” I was nearly in tears and, though I doubted they believed that bit about a horse shooting anyone, they saddled up quickly, for they knew something had happened. Mr. Gardner hurried to call for an ambulance.
    Before they rode off, they assured me they would find my uncle, and I clambered up on Sea Hawk again to ride for home and tell Aunt Julia about the accident since the phone line was still down.
    As I neared the the ranch, I urged my horse faster and faster. The shock of everything had made me lose my usual confidence. All I wanted right then was for someone to tell me Uncle would be all right and to forget the sight of all that blood. Flying up the lane, I galloped straight across the nicely kept lawn to the kitchen door screaming, “Aunt Julia!”
    Ivy and Aunt Julia hurried out onto the porch. When they saw Sea Hawk on the grass, Aunt Julia exclaimed, “MacArthur Lee Washington Stuart! What are you doing riding a horse onto my lawn?” She had told me several years before that if she ever saw me riding a horse onto her nicely kept lawn, she’d take a switch to me, but at that point I didn’t care or even remember that threat.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SCA - Class 8

SCA - Class 8

    Hello everyone, welcome back and thanks for joining me! This has to be one of the most interesting classes in the SCA, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But let’s get started.

    Driving out to the Carthage range, I noticed that the moon was nearly full; it was large and low on the horizon, a pale light in the still bright evening sky. When Dad and I arrived, we pulled on our jackets and walked over to where a few of our classmates were standing, talking with the sheriff and a few deputies. This time Sgt. Davis was there. After the rest of the class arrived, we were each handed earplugs and given our instructions. We had to stay behind the parked car unless we were shooting. There were two deputies with assault rifles, AR-15s, on one side of the range while Sheriff Kaiser was on the other with a different gun.

    “The gun the sheriff has,” Sgt. Davis told us, “is a Thompson machine gun from WWII. It didn’t work when we got it, but someone had the right piece and we can now shoot it.”

Dad and Sheriff Kaiser



    The first three volunteers went forward, got their ammo and prepared for some shooting. Dad was one of the first to go. It looked rather fun. Sgt. Davis told me I was next, so I headed over to Sgt. Karraker. (He had been one of our instructors in the last class and, I found out later, is one of the snipers on SWAT.) He asked if I had ever shot a rifle before and after I told him no, he gave me a few basic instructions. It was pretty easy. I shot once, flipped the switch once, and fired twice. Then I moved the switch once more to fully automatic and as long as I held the trigger, it fired. That was rather fun and fast. I can see why the guys like going to the range and shooting.
Sheriff Kaiser giving me instructions about the Thompson

    Stepping back, I pulled out my camera and started taking some pictures. Then Sheriff Kaiser pointed at me and beckoned. It was my turn to shoot the Thompson. When I reached him he said with a grin, “I saw you lurking back there and I wasn’t about to let you leave without getting to shoot this gun.”
It sure was fun!

    I was delighted. There were no fancy switches on this gun, you just loaded it and shot, and as long as there were bullets in the chamber and your finger was pulling the trigger, it kept firing. I loved it! There didn’t seem to be as much “kick” to the Thompson as there was to the AR-15. And just knowing that it had been a part of history made it even better because I love history. I think that was probably the highlight of my evening right there, though the rest of class was fun, exciting and informative.




    Once everyone had gotten to shoot the guns, we moved back to the parked cars and prepared to watch three of the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) guys prepare to storm one of the targets. (Poor target, it didn’t even have a rubber-band gun to defend itself. :) )

Don't you just love his "outfit"?
Sgt. Karraker donned his “grass skirt” and disappeared behind the cars, since he is a sniper, while the other guys explained what they were going to do.

They were “stacked” and took turns firing. Because one of the guys was shorter, he was in front with the other two guys standing like you might see geese flying, in a wedge. These would fire over his shoulders. The reason they take turns firing is because the force of the gun being fired forces the middle man’s head in the opposite direction and if the guns on both sides were fired at the same time, the guy in the middle wouldn’t be able to shoot his gun because his head would be bobbing back and forth. First the right man fires, then the middle and then the left.
Storming the target!

    It didn’t take long to “storm” the target. Then, while we waited for the other members of the SWAT team to arrive, we were shown some things and there was talk about guns. The way they rattled off numbers and letters sounded like they knew what they were talking about, but it was all Greek to me. Sgt. Karraker was letting class members hold and sight his sniper rifle and one of the older members of the class brought it over to me and said, “I think you should get to see how heavy this is. Now, I don’t expect you to try and sight it ‘cause it is heavy, but—” and he handed me the gun. It was heavy! A little later Sgt. Karraker brought out his very expensive night vision lens. He can just snap it on to his rifle and things look like day. He passed it around. Wow, that was quite something. Since it was growing dark, the difference between seeing the targets with only my eyes and looking at them through the lens was night and day difference. Literally. One member of class said he wanted to use the lens to go coon hunting.
    By this time the moon was higher in the sky and it was growing rather chilly. Sgt. Davis said we just needed a good fire and to roast some s’mores. I think most members of class agreed. The other SWAT team guys arrived along with two others who were going to be playing the parts of “bad guys” a little later. We were told that one of them had agreed to be tazed for us! “These guys are great,” one of the SWAT team said. “They let us rough them up, gas ‘em, taze ‘em, all kinds of things.”
Tazing in action

    When they were ready, Sgt. Davis told us to pull out our cameras and phones and take pictures of the tazing. When he looked around a moment later, he gave a half chuckle and said, “Wow, this is going to be all over the internet!” Nearly every person had some device out for recording the event. We were just following instructions.
What the tazer shoots




    When someone is tazed, they are shot with two little things with tiny barbs like fish hooks in them. There is some sort of wire that runs from them back to the tazer and if the person (think bad guy) starts acting up once the five seconds are done, the officer can give him another five seconds.

    Next we were shown the vest that the guys wear. Boy, is it heavy! I wouldn’t be able to carry that thing for any length of time. There is a handle on the back of the vest and we were told that it’s there so that if any of the guys go down, he can be pulled out of danger by one of the other men. Whoever designed those vests was pretty smart to think of that. One thing I thought was interesting was that the SWAT team members don’t carry regular handcuffs. Instead they carry large zip-ties. “SWAT’s job is to go in and once they have every person neutralized (in handcuffs in one place), they let the detectives take over and SWAT leaves,” we were told. “But if you had to leave your $50.00 handcuffs on someone, you may not get them back. So, it’s easier to use zip-ties. Then, if the detectives decide that someone is okay, they can just cut the ties and set them free. Zip-ties are also a whole lot lighter and you can carry more.”

    The next event of the evening was the take down of the bad guys in their truck. The SCA class was divided and half of the members remained on the passenger side of the truck while the other half stationed ourselves near the driver’s side.
Planning

Two men were “stacked” on either side behind the truck, one guy was in the middle.

video

The Take Down
A command was given, a flash-bang was tossed beside the driver’s door and the SWAT team rushed forward. The single man in the middle climbed into the back of the truck while the guys on either side jerked open the truck doors and hauled the men out and onto the grass. It was all over in a matter of seconds, but we were told that even such a short, “simple” operation can take several hours to plan!
The driver is on the ground

    Gathering around the end of the truck, Sgt. Davis had a few things to say. He also had one of the SWAT reserves (There are some guys who like the excitement of SWAT so much that they work other jobs and volunteer their time to respond to SWAT calls.) tell us about and then demonstrate a silencer.
    “There really is no such thing as a silencer,” he told us. “It cuts down on the sound a lot, but it can’t silence the gun. So all those movies and things on TV that you’ve seen, where the gun just makes a whistle or some little click, that’s just Hollywood.” He moved to the range and loaded his rifle. There was a loud pop, but it certainly wasn’t quiet.
    “Shoot one of the other guns,” Sgt. Davis called to him, “so they can see the difference.”
    There is a big difference in noise. “After you’ve been shooting for a while with a silencer on your gun, it starts to feel like a sack of flour is tied to the front and it’s hard to hold it up.”
    Sgt. Karraker came up and told us a little about being a sniper. “The training is really tough,” he said. “But I like it.”
    “Yeah,” Dep. Peavler put in, “that’s cause he doesn’t have the brains to keep inside where it’s warm.”
    Sgt. Karraker grins. “I go out anywhere from several hours to thirty minutes before the entry team arrive. I have to sneak in and hide and then I give the entry team an up-to-date report about the house or building they are going to be going in. I’ll tell them who’s around, who comes and goes, when someone steps outside and anything that might be of help. We have to stay where we are for a long time. Once we were heading to a house and learned that the man who lives next door hates all law enforcement. Well, I snuck in and hid right beside that guy’s porch. He came out and called his cat and even dropped a bag of trash on my back and never knew I was there.”
    Dep. Peavler talked a little next. “We may give the snipers a hard time,” he said, “but we really couldn’t do it without them.”
Dep. Peavler and the sheriff's car!

    There were a few tools that we were shown and then we were done. It was only about 8:30, but we were all pretty cold and there wasn’t anything else planned.

    And this ends our night with SWAT and my favorite part, connecting with history in a real way. Will you be joining me next week as we learn about crimes against children and cyber crimes? I’ll be here waiting. Until then, this is Rebekah.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Horse Called Danger - Part 1

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans!
How are you enjoying the lovely fall weather? It's gotten cooler here and I'm loving getting to wear long sleeves and sweaters. The moon last night was really pretty. Did any of you see it? Since tonight is a full moon, it was large last evening especially when it was on the horizon.

Last evening in class was a lot of fun! I wish you all could have been there. I think my highlight of the night was getting to touch and experience history. :) Perhaps my love of history had something to do with the feeling, but it was just really neat. You'll have to come back on Wednesday to see what I did. :) (Oh, and I took lots of pictures!)

This week was kind of strange as far as writing goes. Since TCR - 2 is written and sent off to my illustrator, I wasn't quite sure what to write. I knew I needed something because I didn't have anything to post. I decided to use a true story I had heard last class from one of the class members and fictionalize it for you. I was hoping to get 1 week, maybe 2, instead I was able to make it long enough for 3 weeks. Then I was debating with myself about what I should write next. Should it be the Graham Quartet or Dr. Morgan or a Thanksgiving story or something else? Well, I think I'll just put a place to vote up on the side bar and you can tell me what you would like. :)

I won't be writing tonight or tomorrow because we are babysitting Pickle Puss, Goofball, Funny Boy and Doodle Bug until Sunday afternoon. It will be fun and who knows what funny things we'll hear them say.

So, here's the first part of the new short story. I hope you enjoy it!

A Horse Called Danger
Part 1

    Let’s gather around the fire, folks. I’ll just add a few more logs. There’s nothing quite like a bonfire on a brisk night out on a ranch, is there? Some of you know me already, but for those of you who don’t, my name is MacArthur Lee Washington Stuart, but most folks call me Art. If it hadn’t been for my Dad putting his foot down, I might have ended up with a dozen general’s names. Dad told Mom that a four star general was high enough in rank, and that no one ought to have to carry more than four names. When I was a boy my friends used to call me General, but I hated it.
    Now, as you folks know, when we cowboys gather around the fire like this, we like to tell stories. Most of the stories are just tall tales, but I’ve got a story for you that’s true. Most people won’t believe it, but nevertheless, I’d like to tell it to you.

    I remember very well the summer I met Danger. My little sister, Ivy, and I had gone to spend the summer with Uncle George and Aunt Julia on the ranch. Dad had some business to do over in Europe and Mom wanted to go with him. She’d always wanted to see Paris, though I never could figure out why, and since Ivy was going to be ten and I was thirteen, I guess they figured we’d be all right without them for the summer. Besides, Grandma lived right down the road from the ranch. We might have stayed with her, but she had such a tiny house and only a speck of a yard, so to the ranch we were going. Uncle George is Grandma’s brother and Dad said he used to spend every summer on the ranch with his cousins since Grandpa was a doctor in a large city. We didn’t have any cousins, but we always had fun on the ranch. Usually when we went it was only for a week or two and Mom and Dad were there with us. This was our first time spending the summer out there and I was delighted. There was just something about horses and cattle and western things that appealed to me, and still does. Perhaps that explains why, ten years later, I’m working on a dude ranch here in Montana. But back to the story.
    Mom and Dad flew us out before they left, and Uncle George and Grandma met us at the airport. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I was looking forward to riding the horses and helping with all the work. The difference between city life and ranch life is night and day and the wide open spaces just called me.
    Our adventure started when we left the airport because Dad, Ivy and I had to ride in the back of the old pickup truck with the luggage.
    “I could have brought the car,” Uncle George said, swinging a suitcase over the side to me. “But I figured if I did, someone would have to walk or we’d have to leave the luggage behind.” He winked at me as he spoke, so I wasn’t sure if that was quite true or not.
    When we arrived, Aunt Julia came out to meet us.
    After we unloaded all the luggage, and since it still wasn’t time for supper, Dad suggested we go out and see the horses.
    I had already changed into my jeans and boots, so I snatched up my hat. “Let’s go. You coming, Ivy?” I called. She usually tagged along with me the first few days until she grew tired of “boy things” as she called it.
    “Yes, wait for me! I’ve got to get my boots on!”
    “Doesn’t she always way she has to get her boots on when we’re going out to see the horses, Art?” Dad asked me with a grin.
    It was true. Ivy never wore her boots around the house and always kept them in her room, so whenever she wanted to go out, she had to run to her room and put them on. At least it didn’t take her long and soon we headed out into the fresh air of the ranch. Uncle George came with us.
    As we came up to the the corral fence, Dad asked, “Hey, isn’t that dark horse over there a new one?”
    “Yep,” Uncle George nodded. The horse was a six-year-old stallion. He was really pretty and came over to say hello.
    Ivy and I had climbed up on the fence to see better. “What’s his name?” I asked, rubbing his face as we admired him.
    “Dandy Boy.”
    “He looks like a spirited fellow,” Dad remarked, patting the horse’s neck. “How long have you had him?”
    “About two months,” Uncle George answered. “If you were staying longer, I’d tell you to take him out for a try.”
    Dad grinned. “I’d like to, but—”
    I knew what he meant. His and Mom’s plane left quite early in the morning and they had to get out there in plenty of time and all that stuff. There wouldn’t be any time for me to ride with Dad before he left unless . . . “Hey, Dad,” I suggested eagerly. “Why don’t we ride this evening?” As he began to shake his head doubtfully, I coaxed, “We could go right after supper, couldn’t we? Please!”
    Dad wouldn’t commit to it and seemed doubtful that we’d be able to, but I hoped until the last minute. It didn’t work. I think Dad must have seen how disappointed I was, for he promised that we’d go riding together when they got back, before we went home.

    The days of summer began to pass by. For a while Ivy tagged along after me, but as usual she eventually grew tired of always ending up at the barn or the corrals, so she stayed at the house more and helped Aunt Julia.

What do you think of the start?
Any ideas of what might happen?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

SCA - Class 7

SCA - Class 7

    I’m glad you could join me for this class of the SCA as we do a little shooting.

    Our class this evening was at MSSU (Missouri Southern State University) and was supposed to be in room 125. However, when we arrived, classroom 125 was already in use and an officer said we were to head down to the shooting range. The shooting range at MSSU is in the basement. Since Dad and I were among the first to arrive, we sat around and talked, or listened. Others began arriving shortly afterwards and soon nearly everyone was there.
    Sheriff Kaiser joined us in this class and after a very quick overview of the 10 rules of safe gun handling, we split into two groups.
    Just so you too can know how to safely handle guns, here are the 10 rules.
Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction with your finger off the trigger!
2. Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
3. Don’t rely on your gun’s “safety.”
4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
5. Use correct ammunition.
6. If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care!
7. Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting. (I don’t think this applies to on the job shooting.)
8. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
9. Don’t alter or modify your gun and have guns serviced regularly.
10. Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the firearm you are using.

    Dad and I were in the group that split off and went with Chief Deputy Wilson to the FATS simulator. (In case you are wondering what on earth FATS is, it stands for “Fire Arms Training Scenarios.”) There were seven of us in our group and when we arrived at the room, there were a group of about 10 or so MSSU students gathered about. Chief Deputy Wilson told us that these were some of his students who would be observing.
    Having done the FATS simulator before, when Dad and I participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy a number of years ago, I knew what to expect (except for the exact scenarios). There is a large screen at the far end of the room, and the guns we use have been modified so they cannot shoot live ammo. Instead, these shoot laser beams. After a quick run through of instructions on how to properly hold and load the guns, Chief Dep. Wilson asked who was going to go first.
    No one volunteered. He said he’d go first. In the scenarios you have to first load your gun and then the screen shows things as though you were seeing them happen, and you have to give the commands and take action if necessary. It is all set up so the officer running the scenario can change things depending on what is said.
    Scene One:
    Officer shows up at a house where one guy is beating another guy on the head with a shovel in the garage. Officer orders man to stop, he hesitates, tells him it’s none of his business and raises the shovel again. Officer shoots and the guy is killed. (No, it doesn’t show anything.)
    There was a question asked after that. “Do you ever shoot just to wound?”
    Dep. Wilson shook his head. “No, and there are two reasons for that. One is that usually if a person won’t listen to you when you have a drawn gun in your hand, he won’t pay attention even if you wound him. And also, down the road, he’s probably going to sue for his injuries. Two is, your reason for using deadly force in the first place is to protect others and/or yourself from injury. If the person is going to continue to do whatever he was doing unless he can’t do it, well— It’s also harder to sue if you’re dead.”
    Dad volunteered to do the next scene.
    Scene Two:
    Same as the first only this time the person tells Dad to get out of there since it was none of his business. Dad tells him to put the shovel down. There’s some debate and eventually the guy does listen, drops the shovel and puts his hands up.
    “That was great!” Dep. Wilson said. “You want to do another one?”
    Dad shrugged. “Sure.”
    Dep. Wilson is having fun. “You get to be an officer on a patrol stop.”
    Scene Three:
    Approaching the car, the man has both hands on the steering wheel. (That’s what you should always do if you ever get pulled over. It shows the officer you aren’t a threat right then.) Dad, uh, I mean the officer, asks the man for his driver’s license and insurance card. The man tells Dad he hopes this isn’t going to take long because he is in a hurry and late for work. Then he reaches down between the seats. Dad tells him to put his hands back where he can see them. Man doesn’t listen and instead pulls up a gun, cocks it and tries to fire. Dad is too fast and that’s the end of that guy.
    We had some discussion then about traffic stops. When the sheriff’s department pulls someone over, they will always put their hand on the back of the car they pulled over. One reason is that there will be DNA on the car should something happen to the officer, and two, they want to make sure the trunk is shut all the way and no one is going to get out of it after they pass. Often an officer in a traffic stop will sound stern and even harsh. Just remember that though you may know that you aren’t going to hurt the officer, he doesn’t know that. Every traffic stop is a risk to their life because they don’t know who may be in that car. So, the next time you are tempted to complain or you hear someone complaining, about how an officer talked when he pulled you over, remember that he may have been more nervous than you were!
    Chuck volunteered to take the next scene.
    Scene four:
    Coming up the stairs of some building, the sounds of something crashing can be heard, and upon reaching the upper hall, a man is standing looking into a room. He is holding a hand gun in his right hand. Chuck asks him what he’s doing and the man turns. “Don’t shoot me,” he says, waving a badge of some sort that is hanging from his neck. “I’m police.” Then he raises his gun and fires. Chuck fires as well and the man, unhurt, dashes for cover behind a wall. When he comes out there is an exchange of gunfire and the man falls down dead. (Hmm, somehow I don’t think he was with the police.)
    Scene Five: (Chuck agrees to do another round.)
    It is the kitchen of Chuck’s house. Suddenly he hears someone inside. Turning he goes to the hall in time to see someone quickly slip into the living room. Chuck follows and a man is standing across the room from him. Chuck demands to know what he is doing in his house and tells him to raise his hands. The man says something and pulls out a knife. He begins to wave it and Chuck shoots.
    “So,” Dep. Wilson asks, “why’d you shoot him?”
    “He was in my house waving a knife!”
    Everyone laughs because it was pretty obvious. Even if a person is 20 feet away and has a knife, he is still a threat because it only takes a second or two to cross that space. And wounds from a straight edge can be just as dangerous as a gun shot wound.
    We still had a little time left so Amber volunteered. She had never shot a gun before, so Chief Deputy Wilson showed her how to load the gun and the proper way to hold it.
    Scene six:
    Responding to a call in an office building, the officer gets off the elevator and walks towards an office. Only one person is there standing behind a half wall. He looks up and says, “It’s about time you showed up! What took so long? Look what they did to my desk. You know who I am, I’m Joe Brown.” He puts a hand down. Officer Amber tells him to keep his hands up where she can see them. He brings his hand up but has a gun, both Mr. Brown and Officer Amber fire. Neither hits are effective and the man moves across the room, trying to fire again. Officer Amber pulls the trigger. It’s a direct hit to the head. That’s the end of Mr. Brown.
    Dep. Wilson was really impressed with that head shot and had to go back and watch it. It was quite impressive for a first time shooter! He tells her to do one more since she was so good.
    Scene seven:
    Same as the previous scene only when the elevator door opens, there is Mr. Brown with his gun. It takes a few shots before he is again brought down by the fire of Officer Amber.

    Our time was up so the Chief Deputy took us back to the shooting range where we switched places with the other half of the class. There we were instructed by Sgt. Karraker and Corporal Roy Masters in the proper way to hold and handle hand guns and how to stand properly. Then we each took a turn checking a hand gun to make sure it wasn’t loaded, and activating it as though it was loaded. The sheriff was also there looking on. Next we were each given ten rounds and shown how to load the cartridge. Two of the ladies were given a .22 instead of the .40 that the rest of us had because Amber hadn’t shot before and the other lady was having trouble with the larger gun. The guns we were using were semi-automatic Glocks.
    Then came the most fun of the evening. The shooting. We all had ear protection and were in our own “shooting gallery.” Sgt. Karraker gave us our instructions about when to load, when to take our stance and how many rounds we were to fire. Then, when all was ready he gave the order. “Fire.”
    My first shot was a little low and Sgt. Karraker told me that I was probably holding the gun a little too tightly. It really was a lot of fun even if I wasn’t that great of a shot. I never hit the center and seemed to keep hitting the left more than I wanted, but none of my shots were wild. Sheriff Kaiser asked if Jimmy had taught me to shoot. He was impressed when I told him no, and that the only other time I’d ever shot a gun was when I did the Citizen’s Police Academy several years ago. So, I guess I wasn’t too bad. One lady was really good. She may have had trouble loading the .40 but, boy, could she shoot. Nearly every shot was in the middle!
    We each got to shoot 15 rounds before the evening was over. Everyone took their target home.

My Target


    And that brings our seventh SCA class to an end. Thank you for joining me and I hope you’ll come back next week as we head to the Carthage range to learn about SWAT and even shoot some of their big guns! Until then, this is Rebekah, your own reporter from the scene of action.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dr. Morgan - Part 15

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans,
It's another lovely fall morning. The trees haven't started changing colors yet, but we've had a few chilly mornings and days.

Here's a quick overview of my week. (Was your week anything like it?)
Saturday: We headed out about 7:15 in the morning to set up for Farm Girl Fest. It was rainy and chilly. And it rained and grew colder. It was in the 40s most of the morning with rain off and on. Since everyone had tents and were outside, we all commiserated with each other during the let ups. It did clear up after 1:00.
Sunday: Headed out to Red Oak II about 9:30. We set most of our booth up and then waited for church to start. Because they were running late and then sang for a while, we had to leave just before they started the message. We didn't have to fight rain, just wind and strong gusts at that. But at least the day was sunny.
On Monday I got some things done in the morning, then visited with my Best Friend from Canada who came down with her husband for a visit. We went out for ice cream that evening. It was delightful to be together again. I also worked on TCR-2
Tuesday came and I prepared for Writing Classes. Since some of my students were having trouble writing sentences that started with an "ing" word, I decided to work on that. Here's a challenge for you: How many words that end in "ing" can you think of to start this sentence:

____________ the door open, I dashed into the kitchen.

Wednesday: Writing Classes. By the way, we came up with over 30 different words to start that sentence. How many did you get?
Yesterday: In the morning I graded papers and in the afternoon I went and played "tennis" with my best friends and their family and another friend. It was fun even if we never played an actual game. We were just hitting the balls and doing a lot of chasing them.

Last night I shot a gun for the second time in my life! For those of you interested, it was a .40 semi-automatic. I wouldn't say I was a great shot, but I wasn't too bad either. The sheriff was impressed when he found out it was only my second time to shoot.

All right, now on to writing things. :) As I'm sure you noticed, you are getting another part of Dr. Morgan today. And just for your info, this is the last part I have written, so please, send me comments, thoughts, ideas, questions and help get my brain ready to write more.
I was going to post another Graham Quartet; however, there have been some new developments with this story which require a bit more research before I can write the rest of it with confidence.
I'm not at all sure what I'll be posting next week since I haven't written anything. Anyone have any ideas for a short story for me? Right now I'm open to any and all suggestions for something to write. So think about it and let me know. Just don't think too long or it will be next Friday! :)

Enjoy!

Part 15

    A lamp was glowing on the rustic table beside the bed. The room itself was papered in a light blue print while the quilt on the bed was a deep blue. A chest of drawers stood beside a closet door and a chair was in a position to enjoy a charming view from the window when the curtains were opened.
    A few moments later, Amy lay between the white sheets with warm blankets pulled over her.
    “Good night, Dear,” Mrs. Morgan said softly, turning out the light. “God give you sweet dreams.”
    In the dark, Amy drew a deep breath and relaxed. The room had a home smell to it, not a sterile hospital smell. Slipping one hand to the top of her covers, she reached out and felt again the soft fabric of the quilt. “And it’s blue,’ she whispered to herself with a smile. Noticing a faint light, Amy turned her head and saw a tiny crack in the curtains. “Moonlight. I wonder if it’s full.” That was the last conscious thought Amy had before falling into a deep, peaceful sleep.

    Sitting in his small room in his boarding house in town, Justin replaced the phone and sighed. He couldn’t get Amy out of his mind. His father’s call had relieved his mind somewhat, but still he wondered.
    “Dad thought she looked a bit frightened before they started singing,” Justin mused. “He didn’t know if it was the fire or the thought of the singing, but after the songs started she relaxed. What a puzzle! How can we trace someone whose name is a common as hers is? Fire? Singing? What was she doing in the mountains to begin with?” Sighing again in frustration at the multitude of questions that were now racing through his brain, Justin sprang up and began to pace his limited floor space. “What if she wakes up during the night?” Realizing for the first time that should Amy awaken during the night there would be no nurse to answer her call, Justin halted beside his small desk.
    A quick phone call up to the Morgan cabin reassured him that Amy would be checked on several times during the night.
    “Relax, Son,” Mr. Morgan told him. “Your mother and I have had sick people in the house before. I think we can handle one who can’t remember. She was quite tired, and I think she’ll sleep through the night just fine.”
    “You’ll call if anything happens, right?”
    A chuckle came over the phone line. “Justin Morgan, quit fussing. You know we’ll call you. Now get some rest and let us do the same.”
    “Sorry, Dad. It’s just—”
    “I know, but we can talk tomorrow, okay?”
    “Okay. Good-night.”
    For several long minutes Justin remained standing with his hand on the phone.
    “There’s got to be some way we can find something out.” He resumed his pacing. “It’s as though we had a puzzle without all the pieces. No, we have all the pieces only they are locked up where no one can get at them. I wonder if we’ll ever know who they are and why they came.
    Something Adam had said before came back to his mind. “Since God brought them to our house, it must have been for a reason.”
    Somehow the thought calmed him and sent him to his knees where he spent a long time praying, for Amy, for himself and his family as they sought to help her, for Danny and Jenny and also for whatever families were somewhere searching for their missing loved ones.

    A faint light was coming into the room when Amy opened her eyes. For a moment she couldn’t figure out where she was. A feeling of panic began to well up inside of her until she heard a dog barking and smelled the delicious smell of pancakes.
    Fifteen minutes later she slowly limped her way down the hall and into the dining room. Sara was busy feeding Jenny while Danny shoveled bites of pancakes into his mouth as fast as he could, hardly taking time to chew.
    “You’ll choke, Danny. Slow down,” Amy admonished with a smile.
    Sara looked up. “Good morning. How did you sleep? Mom, Amy’s here for breakfast!” She called the last over her shoulder to the kitchen.
    Sitting down and leaning her crutch against another chair, Amy looked out the large windows towards the mountain top and saw snowflakes falling gently. “I slept fine. That snow . . .”
    “It’s pretty, isn’t it?” Sara turned and looked out until Jenny demanded another bite.
    “There’s so much. Do you ever get tired of it?”
    Laughing, Sara offered Jenny a drink before replying. “Before spring comes I’m ready to move down south.”
    Just then Mrs. Morgan entered the room with a plate of hot pancakes, crisp bacon and two steaming fried eggs. “Good Morning Amy, I hope you are hungry.” Setting the plate down before Amy, she poured a glass of milk from a metal pitcher on the table, set it next to the plate and sat down nearby.
    Amy’s eyes were wide as she stared at her plate of food. “I . . . I’m hungry, but I don’t think I can eat that much!”
    Mrs. Morgan smiled and patted her hand. “Justin told me to fatten you up, so I’m trying my best. Just eat what you can. You may be hungrier than you think.” She placed the maple syrup before Amy and rose. “Danny, where did all your food go?”
    Danny, his face covered with sticky syrup, grinned and his eyes crinkled. With sticky fingers he pointed down his shirt as he replied, “Down there.”
    “In your shirt?”
    “No, my tummy.”
    Soon Danny was cleaned up and trotted off to go find Adam. Amy began eating. Everything tasted as delicious as it had smelled and with Sara’s bright conversation, Jenny’s entertaining baby antics and Mrs. Morgan bustling about, it was a great surprise to Amy when realized that her plate was nearly empty. “I suppose I was hungry,” she said.

Thoughts?
Questions or Comments?
I'm looking for something to get me going again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SCA - Class 6

SCA - Class 6

    Well, I see that some of you were brave enough to join me over at the jail. Thanks for coming along for class 6 of the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy.

    Arriving at the county jail, we were taken upstairs to the meeting room. Sgt. George Fox was our first instructor of the evening and he talked about conceal and carry. Since I’ve been interested in that for a little while, I found it quite informative. I’m not sure if I’m ready to get my conceal and carry permit, purchase a gun and practice shooting all the time, but at least I know more about it. One thing I had always wondered about was if I had a conceal & carry license in Missouri, would I be able to to take my gun to other states? Sgt. Fox told us that many of the other 50 states will honor a Missouri conceal & carry permit. However, there are some who don’t. “If you are going to be in another state and they do honor Missouri’s permits, you should make sure what their laws are about conceal & carry and abide by them,” he told us.
    One member of the class asked if it was required to tell an officer who pulled you over that you have a conceal & carry. “No, it’s not required,” Sgt. Fox said. “It might be a good idea to tell them, just so they know. And it will depend on the officer who pulls you over, if they want to see it. Some might ask to hang on to it until they cut you lose. Personally, I’m not worried about the ones who have conceal & carry, it’s the other people.”
    To get a conceal & carry card in Missouri you must be 21 or older, 18 if you are a member of the military, not have pled guilty on any charges, not have any history of violence and no more than two DWIs. It really isn’t hard to get a conceal & carry permit, but you do have to practice. We were also told that in Missouri, we have a thing called “Castle doctrine” which means that your home is your castle and if you feel threatened, you can pull your gun out and defend your “castle.” It used to be that you couldn’t shoot anyone breaking in to your home unless they tried to hurt you first. (That doesn’t make much sense to me.) You don’t have to have a permit to carry your gun and use it in your own house (but I wouldn’t recommend it as you might break something), your yard or your car. If you carry it anywhere else, you have to have a conceal & carry.
    When we talked a little about concealing a gun, Sgt. Fox showed us a video of a teen standing before a table. He looked like a normal kid with a kind of long, untucked shirt and loose jeans. Then as we watched, he began to pull guns out. They were tucked everywhere! He even had a rifle! In the end he had about 12-14 guns lying out on the table. “See,” the sergeant said, “it’s not that hard to hide a gun.” He also said that ladies have an easy time since they carry a purse.
    One person in class asked about open carry. “You can open carry,” we were told, “but if you are in a store and some bad guy who is planning something sees your gun, you are going to be his first target.”
    Once Sgt. Fox was done, he turned the class over to our next instructor.

    Captain Becky Stevens is the one in charge of jail. She told us a little about herself and introduced the lieutenant who works with her. They showed us the tazer first. No, they didn’t do it on anyone. “It really hurts,” Captain Stevens said. “During training, everyone had the opportunity to see what it feels like. You don’t have to, but most people want to know what it’s like if they are going to use it on others. It’s not fun! It only lasts 5 seconds after the trigger is released, but those are the longest 5 seconds of your life. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
    They also have an ankle tazer that is worked by a remote, but they’ve never had to use it. “We’ll always take it along when we’re transporting people to court or somewhere, and we let everyone know we have it. We always get asked, ‘Who is that for?’ and we tell them it’s for whoever doesn’t behave. You can bet they’ll be good then. If there is someone who starts out as unruly, we’ll go ahead and put it on them. We do like to mess with them sometimes, and we’ll tell them that if they get too far away from the person holding the remote, it might go off. Or if they step in a mud puddle, it might go off. But we’ve never had to actually use it.”
    She next showed us how they secure the inmates if they have to transport them somewhere. They have a “belly chain” which is a chain which goes around the waist. Handcuffs are put on in the front unless the person is being unruly, then they have to wear them in the back. These are fastened to the “belly chain.” And then everyone wears shackles around their ankles.
    A few videos were shown from the jails many cameras and we saw a few fights. They never lasted long because within half a minute there were at least two officers to break them up. Of course they also had to show us a few funny videos of the nightshift.

    After a few questions, we were told to split into two groups and Captain Stevens and the Lieutenant (sorry, I can’t remember his name) would each take a group on a tour of the jail. Dad and I ended up going with Captain Stevens. She told us she hadn’t wanted the job of Captain (She had risen in the ranks of the jail to Lieutenant.), but after the tornado hit Joplin, Sheriff Dunn came to her and said, “You’re captain of the jail.” “It wasn’t a question,” she told us. “It was an order and I took it as a complement.”
    Our first stop was the kitchen. Just recently the jail has started preparing all the meals. They had gone with another company in order to save money, but now the captain thinks they can save more if they do it themselves. “So far it’s working,” she said. “Of course we get some complaints but—” and she shrugged. They have five inmates and two guards working in the kitchen at a time. They get oatmeal, milk and fruitcake for breakfast. (They can’t give them regular fruit because of what they will do with it, but they can put it in their cake and get it to them that way.) Their lunches vary with a few hot, cheap meals like macaroni & cheese or meatballs. Suppers are peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. “If deli meat goes on a really good sale, we might give them meat and cheese sandwiches sometimes.” (How would you like to have oatmeal and fruitcake every breakfast and peanut butter & jelly every supper?)
    Moving on, we saw the laundry room which is constantly in use, and then we had to wait for the door to be opened electronically after Captain Stevens called over the walkie. One of the other members of the academy whispered to me, “Okay, I’m getting really freaked out now!” I think it had something to do with the captain asking if the way was clear for us to go through.
    It was rather strange walking down the hallways and seeing in a few windows where inmates were. In one room a group of women were gathered for a meeting. Going farther down the hallway, passing through two doors and climbing a circular stairway, we came to “the tower.” From there we could look down into each “pod” and see the inmates. We also saw the screen where the officer in the tower can watch all the cameras at once from his chair.
    We saw “admission” which is where everyone goes first who arrives for jail, the control room which is the hub of the jail, the storage room where all the boxes with belongings from the inmates are kept until they leave, and the warrants department where hundreds of warrants and other things are processed.

    Completing our tour, we headed back up to the meeting room and waited for the other group to arrive. While we waited, Captain Stevens told us a few things that had happened to her. “You know,” she said, “the people in jail, for the most part, are great people who made some wrong choices and ended up going down a wrong path. We treat them with respect as much as we can and they usually do the same for us. We’ve even had some inmates offer to come to the aid of the officers in fights or be willing to defend us.” One other thing she told us was that working in the jail was a lot like babysitting. “You do a lot of repeating yourself. ‘Don’t do that.’ ‘Stop talking.’ ‘No, you can’t do this or have that.’ ‘Sit down.’ ‘What did I just say?’ And so on.”
    The other group arrived and we were told we could leave if we wanted or stick around and talk. Most of us decided to leave even if it was only 8:45. “You can come back and visit us any time,” the lieutenant told us, “just don’t come to spend the night.”

    This ends our time at the jail. I hope you were able to learn something new. Our next class will be at MSSU where we will be doing FATS and shooting handguns. Join me there! Until then, this is Rebekah.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dr. Morgan - Part 14

Good Morning FFFs!
I don't know where the last few weeks have fled to, but I see that's it's now October. How can it be October when the year just started?

Last Friday I was writing and got the last of TCR - Book 2 written! I still have editing and things like that to do before I can get it sent to my illustrator and the few select test readers. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to work on TCR today as there are lots of other things I need to get done.
On Saturday my shoulder and neck were really bothering me so I tried not to use the computer. I was able to writing Wednesday's report though.
Sunday came and only a three families were at church including us. It was a small group, but we enjoyed the fellowship.
Then came Monday. My mom, sister and I headed up to KC to visit my grandma for a few days while my grandpa was off on a trip with my uncles. I was looking forward to a few relaxing days, but they went by too quickly and my shoulder was still hurting. (I did something to it in my sleep Sunday night.)
We went shopping Tuesday and I made a new fall wreath for Grandma.
Wednesday arrived and I painted their downstairs bathroom. It's now a rose color and really pretty.
Yesterday we headed home again as I had SCA class in the evening.
Tonight we have to head out to Red Oak II and set up our tent for Farm Girl Fest. Wish you all could come to it! It was lots of fun last year. There are booths with crafts for sale, food for sale, hay rides around the old town and I heard that this year there is going to be a pie eating contest. My sister will have a booth with some of her clothes and flexi-clips as well as my books and some things from Light of Faith. Farm Girl Fest actually starts tomorrow morning and ends Sunday evening. And I still need to get my things ready for it.

I'm sure glad those of you who commented didn't mind another Dr. Morgan because right now, that's all I have to post. I am going to try and get some other things written this week so I won't have to scramble next week looking for something to post.

Part 14

    “Good bye, Amy,” Dr. Morgan said, stopping beside the couch where she was resting after having eaten lunch with the others at the table. “Take it easy with that leg. You’re in good hands here.” He smiled and pressed her hand gently.
    Amy said a quiet good bye and then, sitting up, she watched silently out the large windows as moments later the doctor’s pickup truck left the house heading back towards the village, down the mountain to the hospital and everything Amy could clearly remember, leaving her behind, alone with comparative strangers. Suddenly she felt an intense loneliness steal across her and she blinked back the tears which would come and trickle down her cheeks in spite of herself.
    A cheerful whistling caused her to quickly wipe her eyes and lie back on the pillows as Adam entered the room with a few books. If he noticed the traces of tears he didn’t say anything, but he set the books on a stool beside her.
    “Should you grow tired of doing nothing, here’s a few books you can read if you want.”
    “Where are the . . . others?” She hesitated, wondering what to call Mr. and Mrs. Morgan.
    Adam answered easily as he stepped across the room to put new logs on the fire. “Dad’s in his study, Sara is putting the little ones down for naps and,” he brushed the hearth with the brush, “I’m not sure where Mom is.” He stood up, looking down at the fire which was now blazing comfortably, dusted his hands on his pants and said casually, “Well, I’ve got to get more wood. Be back soon.”
    With that he was gone and Amy was left to herself.
    Picking up the first book, Amy opened it and began to read. If Adam’s idea when he brought the books was to help Amy not think, it worked for she was so lost in the story when he came with an armload of logs to add to the wood box, that she didn’t so much as glance over at him.

    The afternoon passed by with Amy scarcely noticing, for after reading for a while, Sara came in and talked until the little ones were up from their naps. When Mrs. Morgan came to say that supper was ready, Amy looked surprised. Never had an afternoon in the hospital passed so quickly.
    The evening, with the entire family gathered in the large living room around the blazing fire, talking and laughing together, was delightful to the newcomer who lay on the couch in silence taking it all in. This was something new, something that didn’t awaken any dim feelings of almost knowing yet not quite.
    “Sara,” Mr. Morgan spoke during a lull in the conversation, “it is growing late, will you play our evening hymns for us?”
    Sara nodded and rising from her chair, handed Jenny to Adam before sliding onto the bench before the baby grand which Amy had admired.
    Everyone was rising and Amy wondered if she was expected to do the same.
    “Don’t try to stand with the rest of us tonight, Dear,” Mrs. Morgan said quietly as Amy half rose. “We’ll bring you the hymn book if you want it, or you can just listen tonight.”
    “May I just listen?” queried Amy, not feeling sure she could sing.
    “Of course.”
    The couch was moved somewhat so Amy could look at the others. It made a lovely picture, everyone standing about the piano. Mr. Morgan, tall and broad shouldered with a little grey in his dark hair, holding Danny who had one arm wrapped lovingly about his neck. Beside them stood Mrs. Morgan. Such a look of peaceful sweetness was on her face that it was some time before Amy noticed anything or anyone else. Adam, she noticed, pulling her eyes from Mrs. Morgan, was taller than his father with lighter hair and the build of someone who had spent years outside in the elements. He was bending over, attempting to help straighten sheet music for Sara who sat on the piano bench, but he was not having much success for Jenny, who he was holding in one arm, kept grabbing Sara’s hair in a tight baby grasp.
    Giving an involuntary smile, Amy turned her head to gaze again at the flickering flames dancing in the fireplace. There was something comforting yet at the same time half frightening about those tongues of fire and the glowing logs. What was it? She wanted to turn her eyes away, but they seemed held, fastened by an irresistible pull that she couldn’t break, locked on a memory which she couldn’t quite recall. A tightness crept about her throat, a shiver ran down her spine, her hands clenched; she couldn’t breathe! She had to get away!
    It was only when the haunting melodies of the evening hymns softly filled the room that the tightness faded away, the shivers ceased, her hands relaxed, and as the dancing flames, under the influence of the quieting words being sung, returned to being once again a cozy fire, she drew a deep breath and lay back, exhausted.
    When the last hymn was sung, the notes dying in the quiet room, Mr. Morgan offered up a prayer, not forgetting the newest addition to the household. Amy listened while a few tears trickled down her cheeks. She couldn’t remember anyone praying for her before. Quiet good nights were said and Sara and Adam, taking the little ones, disappeared from the room, and moments later Amy noticed them crossing the walkway up above.
    “Amy,” Mrs. Morgan asked gently, coming over to the couch. “Do you think you feel up to walking a little ways to your bedroom? Or shall Mr. Morgan carry you?”
    “I . . . I think I can make it,” Amy replied almost timidly. She had wondered where she would sleep. With the gentle help of Mrs. Morgan, Amy limped from the room, down a short hall and into a small but pleasant room.

What did you think?
Questions or Comments?
Any ideas of what happens next?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SCA - Class 5

SCA - Class 5

    Welcome and thanks for joining me once again as we attend the Jasper County Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. Once again I’ll be your guide as we learn about the operations of the K-9 unit.

    Arriving a little earlier than other times, Dad and I found seats. Most of the class was already there and a slide show was playing of the K-9 dogs. After watching the dogs in action with someone in a bite suit, Amber and Micaela and I were all very much disinclined to put on the bite suit. “I like my dogs friendly,” I mentioned. “Me too,” agreed Micaela.
    After Sgt. Davis introduced us to Sgt. Tom Crossley, the other two K-9 officers introduced themselves. John works with Axo who is about to be retired from the department, having worked for nearly 9 years. Corporal Matt has Lisa who is the only bomb dog in MO south of KC. Sgt. Tom’s dog is Stagg. The other deputy in the K-9 unit is Joe, but he couldn’t make it to this meeting. He has two dogs. Copper is the bloodhound and really good and Gunny is the other Malinois. All of the dogs right now  in the K-9 unit, except Copper, are Belgian Malinois. In look and shape they are like a smaller, lighter German Shepherd. Cpl. Matt said that one reason they use Malinois instead of German Shepherds is that the Shepherd, because it is such an old breed, has been in-bred so much that is is very susceptible to cancers and other problems including hip trouble while the Malinois is a young breed. “And much lighter, so it saves the wear and tear on your vehicle when they have to jump in and out so much,” Sgt. Tom told us.
    We had a short power point about the K-9s and what they do and some things you should NEVER do. There are eight things the Malinois dogs in the force, with the exception of Lisa, do.
1. Obedience - This is the most important thing a dog must have. Without it the dog is useless to the department.
2. Drug and Evidence - When a dog is searching for drug evidence, they don’t just smell the drug. Instead a dog smells each scent separately. “That’s like us going to a pizza place,” Cpl. Matt explained. “When we walk in we smell pizza and we know there are pizzas. But if you were to take a dog in there, he would smells the flour, the salt, the cheese, the peppers, the pepperoni and all that is in the pepperoni. Each smell is separate and the dog puts them all together to create a ‘scent picture.’” So, when dogs are trained for drug finding, the trainers will get the pure drug that is unmixed with anything else and teach the dog with that. Later on they will use the “street stuff” that has other things mixed in it. But the dog, because he has learned what the drug itself smells like, doesn’t have any trouble recognizing it. People with drugs may try to hid the scent, or disguise it, but it doesn’t work with the K-9 dogs because they take each scent separately.
3. Tracking - I don’t think this needs much explaining. Copper is a tracking dog and some of the stories they told about him are incredible. One time he was called out to try and track a murder suspect. It had been three days since the crime had been committed near a river and there had been a rain storm in between. Copper picked up a scent and started following it. He went into town and ended up at the back door of a house. Then he began to circle the house several times. At this point the deputies called to ask about the house. They were told that the house was where the suspect lived. Suddenly Copper headed into the alley and went right up to a man on a bicycle who he began to lick. That is Copper’s way of saying “I found him.” It was the suspect. Another story about Copper is that he was able to track a person who got in a car, drove several blocks, got out again and walked away.
4. Building Search - If one of the dogs is searching a building, they will keep him on a lead.
5. Area Search - That is where the dog is searching the area for someone, whether it is a lost child or person, or a suspect or criminal.
6. Evidence Search - Dogs can find all kinds of evidence on the ground.
7. Handler Protection - All the dogs are taught to protect their handler. Sgt. Tom said that we’d never see his K-9 men following a suspect with a leash in one hand and a gun in the other. “What would happen if the suspect started shooting? The dog would go crazy trying to get that person and if the handler is trying to hang on to the leash, how in the world is he going to be able to shoot straight?” He has always told whatever patrolman is with him, “If there’s any shooting, I’m hiding until it’s over.”
8. Apprehension - If the suspect won’t give himself up for arrest and has been warned that a dog is going to be released, but still won’t give up, they’ll let one of the “bite dogs” loose. I watched one of those dogs do “bite work,” and people must be crazy if they think they can get away from one of them. Basically the dog’s job in apprehension is to engage the person until the officers can take over.
    Lisa is the dog they take to schools. Her only roles are explosives, article searching and tracking. One time Matt took her to a school and suddenly Lisa pulls towards a closet and makes the biggest alert there that Matt or Sgt. Crossley had ever seen. Since Lisa is the bomb dog, that wasn’t something they really wanted to see happen and, not knowing what was in the closet, they called the “bomb boys.” It turns out is was full of Elmer’s glue. (There is something in the glue that could also be used as a component in a homemade bomb.
    Here are a few thing not to do when it comes to K-9 dogs.
* Don’t get between the dog and his handler when the dog is working.
* Don’t ever get between the dog and the suspect. At least not unless you want bitten.
* Don’t feed the K-9 dogs.
* Don’t go up to a K-9 car and tap on the glass. That just makes the dogs mad.
* Don’t even pretend to fight with or get rough with a handler or you’re going to have a serious dog bite.

    “When searching for drugs,” Sgt. Tom told us, “95% of the time we search vehicles. And most of that is after a patrolman stops a car and thinks there are drugs in it. And unless the car looks clean, I won’t let my dogs in it,” he said. “Because I don’t want my dogs getting hurt by anything that might be in it.”

    We took a break then while John set a few things up outside. We were going to head outside to watch some of the dogs actually do some work.
    While we were standing around waiting, Sgt. Tom was talking to a few people on one side of the room while Cpl. Matt was talking on the other. I listened in on a story the sergeant was telling. (Sorry, I didn’t catch the very beginning of it.)
    He was driving down the road on Christmas Day and there was this donkey walking down the road ahead of him. Now, I’m not sure if he was just feeling in an ornery mood since he was out working on Christmas Day or what, but he picks up his radio. “Dispatch this is car - - -, we can’t get this guy to pull over.” And he yells out the window, “This is the Sheriff’s department, pull over!” But the donkey, being the stubborn animal that he is, won’t pull over. The patrol car’s lights and siren are going and Tom again picks up the radio. “Dispatch, we’re in a pursuit. It’s small, donkey grey in color and pursuit speed is 5 miles an hour.” Dispatch could hear the sirens and Tom shouting out his window to pull over. Well, the donkey still won’t heed the instructions, so Tom turns to the rookie who is riding with him, “Get ready to jump from the car. We’re going to do a foot pursuit.”
    “This is going to get us in trouble,” Rookie says doubtfully.
    “I’m your superior and that’s an order. I’ll take any blame.” Then he picks up his radio and calls in again, “Dispatch, we’re about to start on foot pursuit!”
    Needless to say, his superior wasn’t too happy about those calls and firmly told him never to call in on Christmas Day about a donkey again. What could Tom say but, “Yes, Sir.” But, a little while later a call came in about a cow on the road. “I just couldn’t resist,” he said with a grin. “And he had said a donkey on Christmas Day and this was a cow in the middle of the week.” Again he picked up his radio and called in. “Dispatch this is car - - -. We’re in a pursuit. Small, bovine in color with white markings, pursuit speed 10 miles an hour.” Well, his supervisor heard about it and ordered him to his office. There an even higher officer came in and, once he stopped laughing, asked, “Weren’t you told not to do that again?” “No, sir,” Tom replied. “I was told not to call on Christmas Day about a donkey, sir. This was a cow in the middle of the week.” The officer begged him never to do anything like that again. Two days later there was another cow in the road. “I was tempted,” Sgt. Tom told us laughing, “but decided I better not.”

    Once we got outside, we were told that a certain vehicle had some drugs in it and three members of the class were given the chance to find it. They each had a flashlight and went to work. After nine minutes they still hadn’t found it. “In all the classes I’ve done,” Sgt. Tom said, “not one time has anyone found the drugs.” Then John got Axo out. It took him 1 minute 28 seconds to alert on the car and find the exact location in it.
    Our next demonstration was Lisa. Matt took her out and had her search a large shed for explosive components. She found them. When Lisa or Axo alert on a scent, they both sit or lie down as close to it as possible and wait until their favorite toy appears. (That’s how they reward the dogs.) But Stagg has an aggressive alert, and if Tom doesn’t pay attention or isn’t watching, he’ll try to dig through anything to get to it or will drag Tom back to the same place until his toy appears.
    After Lisa found the place where the explosives were hidden, she got to chase her tennis balls. It was really fun to watch her.
    Our last demonstration was with the “bite suit.” Jordan offered to wear it. It was a very stiff and thick jacket. Everyone else lined up beside the cars in the parking lot and I think a few were slightly anxious that Stagg might decide that they were the ones he was to attack. Stagg, on first seeing us, wanted to come over and say hi, but then he saw the bite suit and his tail went up and his ears went forward. It was play time! All the commands are given in German though we were never told why. It was quite something to see that dog go from a crouched position on the floor to launching himself at Jordan! After doing it twice, Jordan was done and his jacket taken off. Sgt. Tom then took Stagg over to Jordan and told him he was a friend. “If I didn’t do that,” he told us, “any time he saw Jordan he would think he was supposed to attack him.” As soon as he was told Jordan was a friend, Stagg’s tail wagged and he looked quite pleased when Jordan patted him.
    Right after that Sgt. Davis came out and said class was officially over. Everyone left except Dad & me and two others. Since Dad had asked a question, we hung around and listened. Sgt. Tom likes to talk and we didn’t end up leaving until 9:40.

    That was a long class and a long report. I hope you have enjoyed it. Come back next week as we . . . head to jail? Hmm, perhaps you’d rather not. If you do decide to join me, I’ll be here. Until then, this has been Rebekah.