Imminent release of new book

Yay!  It’s finally here…well closer, anyway. My new novel, WOLFEHAVEN, is completed and about ready to publish. I just ordered a paperback proof, which should be in my hands in the week after Christmas. If I don’t find any problems, I’ll hit the PUBLISH button and it’s a go. I have already gone over it so many times I see it in my sleep, so I don’t expect problems. Of course, you never know, but there you are. It will be available both in paperback and as a Kindle e-book. What’s it about? Well, it’s number three in the Refuge Omnibus series. You know, REFUGE and RAVEN.

The events in REFUGE and RAVEN reduced the remnants of humankind to Stone Age hunters and gatherers combined with scavengers among the bones of what came before. RAVEN ended with Jason Wolfe leading his small convoy of survivors out of Adobe Creek, heading north.  WOLFEHAVEN finds them six years later only a few miles from Adobe Creek where they settled on the north bank of the Russian River a dozen miles from the coast. They named their new home Wolfehaven.

Emmie, accompanied by Raven and Satan on a two or three day wilderness walk-about, uses her special, human-magic to save Sherri and her children from men sent after her by the leader of her village to kill her. Emmie must use more of her magic to not only help transport Sherri and injured Satan back to Wolfehaven for treatment by the village’s healer, Lila, but also to evade a kryl capture mission while en route. Witnessing all these feats that she has been taught can only be wrought by the minions of the Devil, Sherri quakes in fear that her flight has brought her and her children into a land of witches.

Before Emmie and Raven return, two of Wolfehaven’s young men, one black and one white, rape thirteen-year-old Tina. When she escapes back to the village, naked and bloody, she realizes she can’t tell anyone who did it, so she claims it was two strangers, one black and one white.

After Emmie and Raven and their entourage return to the village and Lila heals Sherri and Satan, Sherri witnesses yet more witchcraft put to more good use when she and the village watch Emmie and several others with telekinetic abilities to install a huge waterwheel in the river to provide electrical power. Afterwards, celebrations are put on hold when two travelers arrive, one black and one white. Seeing a way to avoid identifying the true rapists, Tina says it was these strangers. This results in a trial in which Sherri’s surprising, critical input changes everything.

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A New Conspiracy Theory

Just where did The Donald come from…really? No, I don’t mean which planet, although that might be a legitimate question. I mean, is he really an honest to goodness candidate for the office of President of the United States? A job with an annual salary, including benefits, that is about what he makes in a day? Or is it an hour? And this is a guy that can’t stop crowing about how much he is worth. Is it that he has all the money he needs or wants (no, seriously), and that he really does want to make this a better country, at least in his opinion? Is all his bombast just a holdover from his days on TV when such a thing would improve his show’s ratings, and he really doesn’t know any better than to think it is also appealing to thinking people out in the real world? Are all the outrageous opinions and ideas for solutions of the nation’s problems that he keeps coming out with really from his mind and heart (assuming he has either)? Or is it something else?

Are we all being taken for a ride?

Is this whole Donald Trump for President thing nothing but a red herring?

Is it all just something to outrage and occupy anyone not in the GOP’s inner circle while the other candidates look pretty good in comparison? I can see Trump going along with something like that. He’d love being the face on every TV news broadcast and the headlines of every newspaper, even overshadowing the Democratic candidates. That is, if he really is the obnoxious fool everyone is assuming him to be. Maybe when he was a kid, all he really wanted was to be a clown when he grew up. But Daddy merely laughed and said, “No. Here’s million dollars, now go play like a good boy.”  Hell, he may actually be a smart, serious businessman who had developed an on-screen persona for a popular, money-making TV show that is ready-made for this role, and he is merely doing his part by temporarily staying in character for the Grand Ole Party as he was asked. He’d get to be as obnoxious as he wanted, the worse the better, until the true GOP candidate secured the nomination. It could even be someone chosen long ago by those deemed to be the power behind the throne, perhaps someone not yet included in the present horde of candidates who could be smeared by the mud being slug about, someone to be brought out later when Trump has done all the damage he can safely do and can be withdrawn. And then, with a big-business-friendly president in the White House, he could go back to concentrating on making even more weekly millions while trying to score with Miss Universe or whatever he does for diversion.

And, when you consider it, a lot of that could also apply to Carson?

The only thing that would work better for the GOP would be if Trump and/or Carson could then be switched over to grab the nomination for the Democratic Party…maybe as president and vice-president. That way the GOP’s true candidate would win the election by unanimous vote. Even Reagan wasn’t unanimous.

Okay, if he really does withdraw from the GOP and runs as an Independent, I’ll withdraw these “suggestions” that, otherwise, seem to me to be altogether reasonable.

I mean, come on, people! Donald Trump is a successful, billionaire businessman. He may have gotten his start with a million dollar stake from Daddy, but he, not Daddy, still turned it into billions. How many MBA’s could do that? No way could he have done that if he was really the obnoxious fool he is portraying to the public. It’s entertaining, but, frankly, I don’t buy it.

Does the GOP have anyone devious enough to put something like that together?

I wonder what Carl Rove has been doing lately.

Okay, now, folks–put down the pitchforks. This was all tongue-in-cheek.  You know, just joking.  A great, elaborate hoax like this could never really happen…not in America…not in the twenty-first century.  …Right?  …Could it?

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Use of force in Lock-ups

“You’re talking about people who have no rules.”

That’s what deputy Scott Lewis of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department was quoted as saying in “Tasers used weekly at county jail” in The Press Democrat on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, about people in custody who are subdued with Tasers and other forms of control when they refuse to submit to control, something that reportedly occurs at the Sonoma County jail about once a week or so.
He also said, “This isn’t a college campus. These are people who, for a million different reasons, don’t have the same behavior control as other people.”

Other people, for various reason, are saying these methods are also used as extra-judicial punishments, or, at the least, as an unnecessarily extreme method when lesser methods may be just as effective, or even more so.

When Esa Wroth, a young man of 28 years, was being booked for DUI, he was apparently uncooperative enough to be tasered 23 times. There is apparently a 29 minute video in support of his claim for three million dollars. It does seem to be a bit excessive–both the 23 times and the three million dollars. You have to wonder what he did that he had to be zapped 23 times.

Seems to me it would have been better to just delay booking until he is sobered enough and calm enough to cooperate. If there is a policy requirement that booking must be completed immediately upon his arrival at the jail facility, that may be one of the problems. Maybe they should take another look at their policies and question if they are in need of improvement.

I my days behind the badge, I took in good number of people to be booked who were less than cooperative. One way to handle them was to pound them until they did cooperate, although, I actually never did that myself, nor did I ever see it done. Another way was to con the guy into cooperating. It’s not all that hard to do with some of them. I arrested a guy for fighting in the street. Since he might still be around, I’ll just call him The Mountain (he was big, like one click was all I could get on the cuffs when I put them on his wrists). Fortunately, he didn’t resist arrest or give me any problems until I was almost finished with booking. In those days, we had to do three separate, original fingerprint cards, one for our records, one for the state, and one for the FBI. I finished everything with The Mountain’s booking except for the last two print cards. That’s when he said he wanted to make his phone call. I told him he had to wait until we finished booking. He said, he he wouldn’t let me finish booking until after he made a phone call. I could have hit him over the head with something, or maced him or some other senseless violent act, none of which would have convinced him to let me finish the booking. I could have just locked him in a cell until he agreed to complete booking, something that I had done with many others. If he had to sit there for a day or so…oh, well, his choice. Instead, I said, “I’ll tell you what, Mountain, if you’ll let me do just two more of these cards, I’ll skip the rest for now and let you make your phone call. Okay?” He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Okay. It’s a deal.” We finished the two cards, he made his phone call, I put him into a cell, and he went to sleep happy. Our policy was to complete booking on any arrested person–if they cooperate.  they don’t, they go into a cell until they do. However, they could not be bailed out or get released in any way until booking was completed. And in those days, when we used actual ink on paper for fingerprinting, we did not want to try to book a falling-down drunk who might have to hang onto my shoulder with his inky hands while I rolled the fingers of his other hand. He would just wait until he had slept it off in the tank.

In today’s law enforcement, there seems to be an urgency to regain control. At times, I agree, there is a legitimate reason for the immediate restoration of control. But there are a lot of times when a little patience will accomplish more that tasers, batons, pepper spray, and fists, and a lot of times even quicker. If a policy demands something to be accomplished immediately, whether it is booking an uncooperative arrestee or overcoming a barricaded gunman, maybe it should be reconsidered. Few things–other than a brick wall–are justifiably inflexible. And, it would be beneficial if even a brick wall could flex at times, like in an earthquake.

Dog owners

Some people shouldn’t own dogs, or probably any animal if the way they treat their dog is any indication. I’m not talking about beating them or starving them or anything like that.  I’m talking about simply not understanding dogs and how they should be treated.  And, really, it all comes down to one simple thing an owner should–must–know about dogs: dogs are pack animals.  Now, that doesn’t mean you have to have a whole pack of dogs in order to made each one happy.  What it means is that dogs kept in isolation, not just from other dogs, but even from the family that owns them, is cruel.  It is torture for them to be alone.  To a dog that has grown up with a human family or joined a family as an adult dog, (even if it only a single person) that family is his pack.  And the human has to be the pack Alpha, but that is a whole other subject that I won’t get into at this time.  The dog will protect that family (his pack) with his life, if such a sacrifice is called for.  So, why do people get a dog and then make him spend the rest of his life in an outdoor pen?  That’s like adopting a child and not allowing him out of his room–ever.  Even if you visit the child in his room every time you take him his meal tray, he is living in solitary confinement, starving for social interaction.  It is no different for the dog in a pen; it is still a life sentence of solitary confinement.  Remember how zoos used to keep all their animals in small cages, especially dangerous ones like the big cats?  Remember how horrible and totally unnatural it seemed to confine such creatures in those small cages, away from others of their kind, condemned to a life of pacing back and forth?  Why do some people think it is okay to treat their own dog like that?

My inspiration for this rant is my neighbor.  He doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, so I’m not too worried about him complaining about me ratting on him.  I moved into my current house about a year ago.  It’s in a middle-class residential area of single family homes, and it seems like at least every other house has at least one dog–a large one.  Both houses on either side of me have large dogs.  The one directly behind me, and both houses on either side of it have large dogs.  Beyond that, I can’t say.  But I know more are out there from the barking that goes on.  Although that is mostly during the day, it also happens at night, so some of them–actually, quite a few, it appears–spend the nights outside.  Which brings me back to my opening remark, that some people should not have dogs.  The neighbor to my west takes his dog inside at night.  I’m not sure about the one to the east because he doesn’t bark at night, and even seldom during the day.  Probably goes inside.

I do know about the one behind me.  I have looked over my back fence to see what the circumstance were.  What I saw was a dog run about ten feet wide and maybe twenty-five or thirty feet long.  I couldn’t see into it, but there appeared to be a shelter of some sort at the near end where it butts up against the back fence, so he apparently can get in out of the rain or hot sun.  I saw a food dish and a water dish, and nothing else within view except the dog.  That is his world.  He is a large dog, some kind of hound, so the amount of room in a 10 X 30 foot enclosure doesn’t amount to very much.  He can walk, but not run.  You ever see a dog that doesn’t like to run?  Or cock his leg on a few trees?  Or chase a ball?  I wonder if he knows what a ball is.  Many a time I’ve heard him barking in response to children playing in the neighborhood, and his whining bark is clearly a plea to join them.  But he can’t because he’s locked up.  Sometimes I hear him exchanging barks with other dogs in the neighborhood like they are conversing.  Sometimes he breaks out in a typical bay of a hound, and the other dogs join in for a good old sing-along.  Sounds sorta like a wolf pack.  It doesn’t last long, though.  I don’t know if the other dogs are hushed up by their owners or if they just get bored.  The hound never gets hushed up, though.  He can bark and bark, for an hour or more at a time, sometimes late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, and he is hardly ever hushed up.

He appears well fed and healthy looking, so he is tended to, somewhat.  He’s just ignored–until hunting season, probably.  From my back door, I can see a small deer head mounted on a wall inside his owner’s house.  Maybe he gets to go out into the woods to flush out a deer or two for his owner to shoot.  Or not.  I don’t know if the owner shot that deer or not.  He may have bought it at a garage sale.

So, back to my original question, why do people have dogs and treat them like this?  Is it a cultural thing?  Do some cultures dictate that dogs should be kept outside and away from family except for meal times?  If that is the case, what is the purpose of the dog?  Are they supposed to be watch-dogs, protectors of the homestead?  But, if that is the case, couldn’t they do a better job from inside the homestead instead of penned up outside it where they can’t do anything about intruders except bark at them?  And if they bark constantly like perpetually penned dogs are apt to do, their barked warnings will likely be ignored, anyway.  So, again, why have a dog?  Some people shouldn’t.

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Guns, again

Okay! Enough, already! How many times do we have to have this conversation? What does it take for the message to get through?

Guns kill people.

Three words that are simple, easy to pronounce, and are clear in meaning. Yes, people kill people, too–usually with guns. Did you note that? Usually–with–guns. Yes, they may also kill with knives and clubs and poison and any number of things, like sharp pencils. But, if they use those weapons, they usually only kill one person and then run like hell. The great (?) thing about guns is that they can shoot one person, point the damned thing at someone else and shoot him, too. Then, if so inclined, do it again…ten times…twenty times…or more. There is really no limit to how many people they can kill one right after another as long as they have preloaded their clips and don’t forget to point the muzzle end of the gun at the victim instead of themselves.

Ah, but then comes the argument: The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  What a great soundbite!  Unless you stop to think about it and all the ways it’s a terrible soundbite. Imagine if all the folks who considered themselves to be good guys–they just don’t wear white hats so we can tell they are the good guys–were walking around with S&Ws or Berettas or Colts, or any of those other brands manufactured for the primary purpose of easy, multiple killings, in a handy pocket or purse. Now, imagine a scenario in which a bad buy (but one without a black hat) takes his gun to someplace like an elementary school or a college campus or a darkened movie theater (hey, it could happen) to see how many innocents he can shoot before a good guy with a gun stops him.  Because it’s a popular movie, lots of good guys are at the theater with their wives, children, girlfriends, boyfriends, or alone.  At a pre-selected (or maybe not) point in the movie, he pulls out his gun and starts shooting in all directions because he knows about every seat is occupied.  Naturally, when the good guys see the flash of his shots and hear the booms, they surmise that it has to be a bad buy because good guys don’t do that sort of thing.  So a good guys slaps leather, draws a bead on the shooter, or just points his own gun in his general direction since it’s so dark he can’t really see him, and starts shooting.  After all, the bad guy is still shooting, people are still screaming and falling over each other, so immediate action is needed.  However, all the other good guys, none of which are wearing their hats, see the flashes from his gun and assume there are two bad guys, so they all open fire on both of them. Of course, in the darkness, none of the good guys shooting at presumed bad guys can actually see their targets, but, action is needed. Each one knows he is a good guy, and, because people are screaming, he knows bad guys are (probably) shooting them.  Before you know it, every other person inside the theater is shooting at gun flashes in every direction.  Meanwhile, the bad guy who started it all is sitting in the corner watching and laughing; or maybe he just turned and left after his first few shots, knowing all the good guys would finish what he started.

This particular scenario has not happened–yet.  Not this complete scenario, although one may have come close.  But there appears to be no end to the insanity in this country, so hang in there.  The above described action adventure may be coming soon to the theater near you.

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Pitts: If Sandy Hook is ‘bearable,’ what is | The Press Democrat

You may cringe to hear the nation’s response to the 2012 massacre of 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., described as being an end to the debate. But you can’t deny the brutal truth of the observation.

Source: Pitts: If Sandy Hook is ‘bearable,’ what is | The Press Democrat

Driving in America

Well, school has begun for the year, and the annual increase in insanity on the road has returned.   Anyone else notice?  I’m not sure if it really gets worse every year, or if I’m just getting older.  Most likely I’m getting older, but that doesn’t mean drivers aren’t also getting worse at the task of driving.  Maybe it’s because they don’t understand that it is not only a task, but it is one that is best done on its own and not as merely another part of multi-tasking.  Honestly…

Thank God I no longer have to insert myself into the insanity of commuting on the US 101 freeway, anymore.  I still drive to work every morning, just not on 101.  But I’m sure I’m not the only person out there that has seen all sorts of multi-tasking while behind the wheel.  I’ve seen normally sensible people eating breakfast, and not just a one-handed affair with a McDonald’s or similar outlet’s ham and egg sandwich.  I mean eating cereal from bowl held in one hand with a spoon in the other while steering with elbows.  And, of course, brushing teeth afterwards is certainly necessary–while still behind the wheel in bumper to bumper traffic traveling at anywhere from stop-and-go to sixty-plus MPH.  Fairly common sights are ladies driving with their elbows while applying various items of make-up while their main focus in on their image in the mirror, either rear-view or fold-down on the visor.  Or, how about the guy I saw in my rear-view mirror with the lower portion of his face hidden behind a newspaper held across his steering wheel, and only occasionally glancing up at the real world beyond his windshield?  Come to think of it, I saw him more than once.  I couldn’t swear it was the same guy, though, since I could only see his eyes once in awhile.

Yes, I am free from the insanity on the US 101 freeway, but not all insanity.  Just driving from one side of town to the other, I still use a local freeway, just not one as fun as US 101.  But, then, city street traffic has its own version of insanity.  I’m not talking about a big city, either.  Santa Rosa is only about 160,000, and spread out over a few square miles.  It’s normally not too bad, though…unless you look at the details.

How high should one have to count before pulling into an intersection after getting a green light?  Five would be risky, and ten should be fairly safe, but do you really want to bet your life on it?  Sure as hell, when you do, someone is going to come bombing through because he is running late getting to work, or getting home from work, or getting to wherever it is that is so important for him to get to, and he and two or three tons of steel are going to join you in your front seat.  But, if you don’t jump out there as soon at the light goes green, the guy behind you is going to start laying on his horn.  And, try this sometime when you are sitting at a red light watching the cross traffic go by:  count the number of cars driven by cell phone users.  It might be easier to count the ones that aren’t driven by someone whose attention, or at least half of it, is not pulled away to some far away place.  And then, there are the really scary ones with their attention focused on their laps as they barrel through or make a left turn into the lane beside you.  We can only hope their laps are occupied by a cell phone on which they are texting, and not some lesser, baser activity.

At those hours in the morning and afternoon when parents are transporting our future to and from school, the numbers of cars seems to double, at least.  And I could never understand that.  Does that mean during the summer when the kids aren’t in school, both parents aren’t holding down jobs?  I remember when it used to be like that, but those years have long ago faded into the murky past.  And I wonder how many of the cars en-route to or from schools are among those idiots that apparently have no idea what a big red stop sign means when it swings out from the side of a school bus stopped at the curb with red lights flashing front and rear.  I have counted five, six and more cars just whiz on past those temporary, mandatory no-travel zones, and probably swearing at the bus drivers for blocking their roadway.  I’m not sure what would be the best answer for that.  Having a fleet of police cars escorting each bus would do it, but that would be expensive.  How about gattling-gun mounts similar to what Apache helicopters have, with each bus also carrying a gunner dedicated to its operation.  Naw, someone would sue.

Although driving isn’t necessarily a venue for entertainment, it can be if you can avoid being caught up in the insanity and merely observe it around you.  A great place for this is just about any place where a multi-lane roadway necks down to fewer lanes.  It’s like watching the scramble for position when the green flag flies at Indianapolis.  You’d think they really bought into those new car commercials where the manufacturers demonstrates how their cars really can do the stuff you only see in Mission Impossible movies.  Everyone is going to do their best to get to the narrows first, even if they know it means slowing to a crawl in the line of cars on the now reduced width road.  It’s like they take it as a personal assault on their dignity if someone manages to get there ahead of them.  I wonder, do schools still teach children how to stand in line and wait for their turn before moving ahead?  Are they still taught to yield to each other when they both arrive at the door then proceed with mutual respect.  Do they learn to back off when approaching their goal if another child is closer, falling in behind to be next in peaceful, polite manner instead of rushing forward to beat the one that would, otherwise, get there first?  If they are taught these things, at what point are they allowed to no longer practice what they have learned?  When does it become okay to rush forward, making it a race to the door or slide or swing or whatever?  When do they realize no one is going to stop them from cutting in line unless whoever they are cutting in front of is bigger, meaner, and more likely to violently teach them better manners?  Why has it become another function of the police to intercede in school discipline?  But, that is a matter that deserves a blog all its own.

What is this aversion in recent years to closing up the space between your car and the one in front when you all come to a stop at a red light?  If ten cars are stopped in the same lane, at least five will leave at least a full car length between it and the one in front.  Is this what the driving schools are teaching, now? Do they say you should be able to see the back tires of the car in front of you to be sure you won’t be shoved into him if someone slams into your rear?  And, if that’s the case, are they also teaching it really isn’t necessary to see ten or fifteen feet of pavement behind those tires, or do they just leave it to the judgment and the paranoia of the drivers.  Maybe it was when the price of average cars climbed to fifteen, twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars that everyone became obsessed with avoiding damaging their investments by using the same thinking that takes up two adjoining spaces in parking lots for the shinny, new baubles.  One problem that goes unattended when this occurs is that a number of cars are forced to stop at the last intersection back even though that light is green.  And if someone creeps ahead into that intersection, where, after all, the light is green, he is likely to still be sitting there when his light turns red and the cross traffic then has to wait until he can move out of the way.  I know it’s not because of all the huge SUVs and pickups on the road now that are mixed in with the smaller, modern cars.  Back before this driving technique began, most of the cars on the road were humongous machines out of Detroit that were as long as the monsters on today’s roads.

Anyway, that’s what I think.  How about you?

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Petaluma’s Own Keystone Kops

There have been recent incidents of police vehicle pursuits in which, too often, un-involved citizens are injured or killed.  Many people, in law enforcement and out, are saying such things should be discontinued unless the pursued person is known to be a dangerous felon; and, even then, only after serious consideration.  That’s probably not a bad idea, given the amount of cars on the roads these days, even at all hours of the day or night.  It has not always been that way, though.  I remember back in the good old days…

At about 9:00 or 10:00 o’clock one night in the city of Petaluma, a lovely little town in the coastal hills of Northern California sometime in the early 1970’s when the city’s population was probably not over 17,000, Officer Bill Lane tried to stop a car for speeding or some other infraction while eastbound on East Washington Street at about Payran Street.  They continued east two or three blocks to the U.S. 101 freeway where Bill followed him onto the southbound on-ramp.  That’s when Bill called it out as a pursuit.  They continued at speeds of 80 and 90 MPH to somewhere near the Marin County line south of town.  Traffic on the freeway was fairly light at the time, even for back then.  The other car, the rabbit, did a U-turn on the freeway and came back at Bill head-on.  After a near-miss, the rabbit crossed the center divider and headed back northbound.  Bill crossed the divider and continued to pursue.  After two or three miles, Bill chased him onto the first off ramp, Petaluma Blvd. South (PBS).

When they came back into town on PBS, at least three and maybe as many as a dozen other patrol cars (it seemed; of course, Petaluma PD only had six or so at that time, including the chief’s) were waiting, myself included.  I was driving and Johnny Turner was my shotgun.  Remember that, Johnny?  We all tried to block off the Blvd. at McNear Avenue, but it’s a wide four lanes and the guy easily slipped around us and barreled on northbound on PBS towards downtown.  With Bill still first in line, the rest of us fell in behind with light flashing and sirens blaring.  Somewhere before “D” Street, the car turned off into the residential area west of PBS (which is 3rd Street).

This is an area of straight streets and square corners, a typical, older residential area.  North-south streets are numbered starting with 1st St. next to the river and progressing west to 12th Street with the next beyond being Sunnyslope Avenue.  East-west streets are lettered starting with “A” St. near downtown and progressing south to “I” St.  The next street south is Mountain View Avenue and the one past that is McNear Avenue.  The terrain in this area of town is flat and level east of where the hills start west of Sunnyslope Avenue and north of Mountain View and “I” Street.  The only street that continues out into the countryside from this area of town between PBS, which goes south to the freeway, and “D” Street, which goes west to the coast, is “I” St.

The rabbit kept making U-turns and coming back head-on at the first pursuing patrol car.  But when he would get past that one, there was always another one ready to pick up the pursuit.  This went on around a number of blocks, seldom more than one or two before turning left or right.  The highest speed attained during this phase was probably not much over 50 MPH since everyone kept turning.

While one or two cars stayed behind the pursing officer as back-up, the rest of us kept trying to get ahead to block off streets.  So when the parade went westbound on “I” Street for a distance, another car and mine just happened to be in place to block him.  Even before “I” Street gets out of town, the western hills begin, and, if you know the area, you can get back to U. S. 101 a couple of miles south of town or keep going west through the unlit maze of hills and curves in the 30 miles or so between town and the coast.  We didn’t want him to get out there.

We set our cars across “I” Street in the area between Sunnyslope Avenue and Sunnyslope Road farther west.  There was a drop-off of eight or ten feet to a wooded creek bed on our north side, and the south side of the road was bordered by a high, rocky bank, no sidewalks on either side.  It should have been an ideal place for a roadblock, a real choke-point.  It was an ideal place.  The driver of the rabbit car just didn’t play fair.  Or he was crazy.  Or drunk.  From the way he was driving, I don’t think he was drunk.  We had our cars in a vee, with the other car pointed east towards the direction of the rabbit’s approach, and my car pointed in his direction of travel.  It wasn’t planned that way; that’s just the way we ended up after we both came sliding to a stop when we realized our opportunity.  There were about four feet between my car’s left-front and the other car’s left rear.

We didn’t have time to get out and take shielded positions before the rabbit and his pursuers came screaming around the curve just east of us.  Johnny had called out the position of the roadblock on the radio so the other guys wouldn’t slam into us as well as the idiot they were chasing.  But when the idiot they were chasing came around the curve and saw us, he sped up and aimed straight for the space between us—those very small four feet.  Now, there weren’t a lot of big, beefy cars from Detroit in the sixties and seventies that were less than four feet wide, but, fortunately, the officer driving the other car had a better view then I had.  He had the good sense to widen the space between us just before the rabbit got there.  However, in attempting to get turned and proceeding in the direction of the rabbit that was roaring on down the road, the other officer managed to get his car across the road in such a way that every other pursuing car had to stop, or at least slow down and try to squeeze past him.  Meanwhile, there I was with Johnny, facing in the right direction with my engine running, warmed up and ready to go.  So, we went.

Instead of the rabbit continuing on out “I” Street where he might have been able to lose us in the dark, rural wilderness, he turned onto Sunnyslope Road which curved back to the east and delivered him right back to Sunnyslope Avenue, then across it and back into the grid of numbered and lettered streets.

Now Johnny and I were the ones leading the chase around blocks.  The rabbit car was a late sixties or early-seventies something, large and powerful, like a Lincoln or Ford, or something mean and husky from General Motors; I don’t remember.  I was driving a sky-blue Plymouth Fury, also early 70’s, with a 400 CID engine; not monstrous, but hefty enough.  Having a shotgun officer was handy; he handled the radio and all I had to do was concentrate on driving.

So there we went, around and around the blocks, Johnny calling out each change of direction and me hanging on the guy’s rear bumper.  He tried various tricks to get me off his tail, such as turning at the last instant as we went through intersections, and swerving back and forth before intersections so I wouldn’t have a clue which way he might go if he did turn.  And lots of slamming on his brakes, trying to catch me too close to avoid slamming into his rear end with my more vulnerable front end with its vulnerable radiator just behind the grill.

Well, eventually, he got me, but not my radiator.  When I slammed into him, my big, bulky push-bumper protected my radiator and everything else behind the grill—except for my hood latch.  After all the screeching and slamming and banging and sliding to a halt, Johnny and I sat there watching what looked like about forty acres of blue hood rise up in front of the windshield.  I could hear the rabbit’s tires squealing as the roar of his engine faded into the distance.  Johnny was on the radio, yelling out the direction the guy was going and that we were dropping out of the pursuit.

Our patrol car had a wide strip of louvers across the back of the hood just forward of the windshield.  So, with the hood up, we could look through the louvers at the road ahead.  We both sat there watching through the louvers as the next patrol car took up the chase a couple of blocks away.

Now, Johnny and I were both so pumped full of adrenalin and desire to get that guy, we weren’t about to shut it down.  Even with the hood up, I could see through the louvers well enough to drive, just not very fast.  So when we saw the pursuit take a left turn a block or two up the road, I took off in that same direction on the parallel road.  We kept up with the changing locations with the radio, and I managed to keep us within three or four blocks of the action, moving in the same general direction as the flow of the mobile circus.  Remember Keystone Kops pursuits where one car goes across an intersection one way as another car goes across in the opposite direction a block or two away?

Eventually, we got to “I” Street again.  We were southbound on 5th, and the chase was going across “I” Street on 6th, also southbound.  It just so happened that about the time I pushed my crippled patrol car across “I” Street, Lieutenant DeWitt was crossing on 6th in line behind the pursuing cars (Shut the chase down?  What are you, crazy?).  I suppose when he looked east as he was going through the intersection, he misunderstood our intent, because he immediately got on the radio and, in a voice very close to panic, instructed, “The car with the hood up—shut it down, shut it down!”  He probably assumed I would immediately obey his order, because he didn’t say anything else and kept going in his own position in the line of pursuit.  It really wasn’t necessary, I assured him afterwards, because we weren’t in the chase anymore, anyway…not really.  Johnny and I just wanted to be there when the guy stacked it up, if he did.  We were pretty sure he would.  Well, sure enough, he did.

It couldn’t have been many seconds after the lieutenant issued his panicky orders to the strange looking car a block away that it came over the radio that the rabbit had, indeed, stacked it up.  After 6th Street crosses “I” Street, going south, it goes over a pretty good rise.  And right after the crest, 6th Street makes a slight jog to the left on the way to Mountain View Avenue.  So anyone going south on 6th Street at any rate of speed up and over the hill had better be aware of what the street does on the other side.  Apparently, the driver of the rabbit car wasn’t.

The first car behind him said the rabbit was doing about sixty when he made the crest.  On the other side he went airborne far enough to come down in the parking lane next to the curb.  Unfortunately, a car was already parked there.  After knocking that car out of the way, the rabbit bounced across the next house’s front lawn, and then the big old beast slammed into the corner of the next house after that, and the chase was over–the car chase, anyway.

The pursuing officers were familiar with 6th Street and the sneaky curve south of the crest, so they all managed to stop with only a bit of screeching, tire squealing, broad-sliding, and just plain skidding.  By the time I made it on down to Mountain View Avenue, west to 6th Street, and then back north to the area of the pursuit termination, everyone was out of their cars.  Some were standing around looking at various damaged cars, houses, shrubs and lawns.  Others were talking to some bewildered residents that had gone to bed certain in their knowledge that they were safely in their house and that their car was safely parked at the curb in front of their house.

Johnny and I parked and tried a couple of times to re-latch the hood of our patrol car, but it wouldn’t catch.  I think we had to wire it shut before we were allowed to drive it back to the station.  As we worked on it, a couple of officers came walking out from between two houses.  They had been in foot pursuit after the driver.  They said he ran like a scared deer, last seen heading through back yards northbound towards “I” Street, and who knows from there?  They got into their cars and drove back that way, but they never found him.  The officer that was checking the interior of the rabbit car, just to see if it contained any dead bodies, bales of marijuana or smuggled machine-guns, rose up with a big smile on his face.  In his hand he held a set of dentures he had picked up from the floor beside the gas pedal, apparently having popped from the driver’s mouth from the force of the stop.

As it turned out, the car, which had Texas license plates, was not stolen.  The driver had not just robbed a bank, nor had he just gunned down a group of children.  When he was finally found a month or so later, he said his driver’s license was suspended, and he didn’t want another ticket.  Then he asked if he could have his teeth back.

Ah, the good old days…

 

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Thoughts on the 2nd Amendment

I like guns.  I really do.  I understand their fascination.  Back in 1956 and 1957 I was on the small-bore competition rifle team in high school.  I was pretty good, too.  Some years later, I competed on my police department’s pistol team, qualifying expert most of the time, and master twice.  But, except for target shooting to maintain my proficiency for the possibility that one day I might have to, God forbid, shoot someone in my duty to serve and protect, there was really no compelling reason for me to have a gun.

The primary purpose of a gun is to kill; target shooting is just practice for that ultimate use.  A peace officer may legitimately kill only in self defense or in defense of another.  The military, which includes the militia, which these days is the National Guard, legitimately kills only in national defense.  A hunter legitimately kills only for needed food or if he is attacked by a vicious animal while traipsing through the wilds.  A citizen may legitimately kill only in self-defense or in defense of another.

Any gun that is not used for killing, legitimately or otherwise, regardless of its size and firepower, is a toy.  A privately owned P-51 Mustang with three fifty caliber machine-guns in each wing, if such a thing were allowed to be owned and used by a private citizen, would be a toy.  But to believers that the 2nd Amendment allows no limits on what arms a citizen may keep and bear, even that should be allowed.  Target shooting and sport hunting is playing with toys.  Target competition is playing, even in the Olympics; it merely illustrates the proficiency with which the competitors would be able to kill in other circumstances.  Many other “sports” are the same.  The original purpose of javelins, which are spears, was to kill hunted prey for food, competing or attacking predators, or enemies in battle.  Shot-put probably evolved from throwing stones at animals and enemies.  Archery is basically the same as target shooting but with weapons that don’t go boom.  Tradition is a fine sentiment, but going into the woods to kill an animal for the trophy or unneeded meat, is play.  The play is to pretend to be an essential protector or provider for the tribe huddling back at the cave, or some variation of that.  Killing for play, even animals, has long been losing its legitimacy, which Merriam-Webster Reference Library defines as conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules or standards.  It’s pretty much going out of favor the same way as pit-bull fighting, cock-fighting, bullfighting, and throwing Christians to the lions.

When the founding fathers wrote the U. S. Constitution there were no police in the colonies, only the federal military, the state militias, which, at that time, were all able-bodies men that could be called upon to aid the small military in repelling invaders, and the citizenry.  The larger cities might have sheriffs and their staffs to maintain order, but in the towns and villages, a homeowner, farmer, or shopkeeper had to rely on himself and his neighbors to keep safe in the course of daily living.  Without a trusty musket over his mantle, things could get dicey.

But, did those great men intend that the 2nd Amendment they added should limit this country’s ability to control criminal violence for all time?  Or was it to allow citizens to protect themselves and their new homeland in a culture that had no other local protection until such time that the evolving nation developed a better system?  Could they have envisioned gangs and cartels over two hundred years later with open-market access to assault weapons?  Could they have envisioned assault weapons?  Could they have envisioned a future with access to guns so common that a deranged person could go down to the corner, buy a gun, and then walk into a theater or shopping mall or airport and shoot people at random?  Or how about a school child who could bring his father’s unsecured gun to class to show off to his peers, or to threaten them—or to shoot them?  Might they have envisioned their progeny developing trained agencies to police the towns and counties of their new nation?

I believe they did, and they built on their faith in us.  With wisdom seldom demonstrated since, this country’s founders included Article 5 in the United States Constitution as a method to amend the amazing document they created, the Constitution that was to be the supreme law of the land.  Even the admonition that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed is an amendment, an addition, to the original, none of which, by the way, was carved in stone.

How did such deadly toys become so sacred that they can only be pried from cold, dead hands?  Could our founders have envisioned a society so enraptured with guns that we refuse to use the tools they gave us to adjust our Constitution as needed?  Probably not.

So, why all the guns?  Are they really to prevent a president from using the military to make himself a dictator?  Does anyone actually believe that the United States military, or any part of it large enough to make any difference, could be blindly led into supporting or even allowing a president to become a dictator?  Does anyone really believe that if such a thing did occur, an armed citizenry could prevail against them?  Does such paranoia really exist, or is it merely a ploy that, shouted loud and often, is intended to deter saner minds from denying them toys that have become too abundant and too dangerous to amass in the toy box?

It has taken a long time to get here, so we should not expect a quick fix.  There are so many guns in this country that it is said we can never be rid of them.  Perhaps.  But, even if it takes longer to get rid of them than it took to amass them, it will never end if it never begins.  With an amended 2nd Amendment, perhaps one that spells out what a well-regulated American militia means in the 21st century, we can begin to move away from such violence that too often resembles the chaos of the Middle East.

Coming release of latest book

I’m happy to announce I am getting closer to finishing Wolfehaven, the third book in the Refuge Omnibus series. I’m not sure just how close, but close enough for me to see it on the horizon. More to come.