Friday, September 25, 2009

Not Old, Just Old Fashioned

Hey gang, this is Detective Dallas Holden, the main character in S.C. Lang's first novel, Original Sin checking in again.
Okay, so here's what I'm gonna rant about today, I'm not old - just old fashioned. I don't need every new-fangled electronic gizmo that comes out, I much prefer a simpler way of life. One of the new guys here in the squad room is walking around with one of those Blue tooth things in his ear, and for the first half of the day I thought the guy was losing his crackers and talking to himself. I even checked his desk to see if he had a bottle of hooch tucked away in there. Somebody please tell me why we need these things? Has picking up a telephone receiver really become that much of a hassle? While I'm on the subject of telephones, remember the good 'ol days when people talked instead of typed on them? I swear, texting is the very bane of my existence. Just this morning I saw a uniform writing a ticket to a young yuppie wannabe female who was texting while driving - never a good idea by the way, folks. Texting while driving really upsets us law enforcement types. There, consider yourselves officially warned. Cops hate when people text and drive at the same time. So don't do it!
The only new trick I can actually find a use for on these new high-tech, slick-looking wafer-thin cell phones is adding the camera to it. In my line of work that can come in handy. Other than that, it's all just a bunch of silliness in my book.
Do we really need a phone that can connect to the Internet so people can keep track of their precious Twitter and Facebook accounts? What, exactly, are they afraid they're gonna miss? The latest "What Kind Of Indian Spirit Are You?" quiz? Seriously?
Now don't get me wrong, I think the Internet is just fine. But come on, can we use it just a bit more wisdom than we currently are?
Last pet-peeve - the Blackberry! Boy we've really lost our minds over this gadget haven't we? One time I found a person's Blackberry that he had left behind in a cab. With just a few touches of my finger, I knew his name, address and telephone number. This schmuck - I mean tax-paying citizen, had all his personal information loaded onto this thing. And you say identity theft is running rampant? Gee, I can't see how or why! But, he could access the Internet, download music, books, ring tones and videos, play a couple gazillion games, balance his checkbook, order food from just about anywhere, get his horoscope, weather conditions, local news, sports scores and anything else he could think of, all on this one hand-held gizmo. Let's hear it for modern marvels. He also made it easy as pie for anybody with a grudge against him to find him. Or to clean out his bank account, trash talk him on his social networking web sites, and any other manner of crap. For every convenience, there is the flip side to consider. I know, I deal with that flip side every day. I see the damage these electronic gizmos can, and oftentimes do, inflict. I'm not saying don't use them, just use them with caution.
I have to go into Interview One now and have a jabber session with some punk now, so I have to wrap this up. Until next time, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off.

The Road To Success Is Paved By The Deeds Of Many Hands

Well after a long hiatus, this is Detective Dallas Holden returning to tend my blog. A lot has transpired since I last sat here at my desk tickled the keys, namely S.C. Lang's first novel, Original Sin has been released to the general public. This is very exciting news since yours truly here is the main character of Original Sin.
Now, I could rant about the book's plot and how it follows me through my first homicide case, and I just might do that in another blog, but for the moment I want to talk about something else.
I want to talk about a lesson S.C. Lang is experiencing very strongly at the moment. Well, perhaps lesson isn't the right word here. He's not actually learning anything he didn't know, he's just seeing it from a more personalized point of view. I know, I've probably lost you all by now, right? Well don't worry kiddies, I'm about to explain.
My old partner, and father-in-law, Stu Hubble once told me that the road to success is paved by the deeds of many hands. Kind of a cool saying, don't you think? Yeah, I do to. But, you may be asking, what does it mean? It means this; nobody gets where they want to go alone. Others are always involved. Lang's situation is no different - other people are helping him get to where he wants to go. What makes me proud to be the star of Original Sin, however, is the fact that Lang understands this concept, and is very grateful to everyone who has reached out and lent him a helping hand. For example, many of his old high school friends, such as Beck, Stejskal, Laurie, Tonia, Karen, Leah and a host of others, have bought Original Sin, and have promoted his work on their Facebook pages. These people are exposing Original Sin to other people and a buzz is beginning to spread about Lang.
Another example is Cory Lockwood of 88.5 Harvard Radio who has offered to put Lang on the air and let him ramble on about Original Sin. How cool is that?
Lang understands that without these people he would be nowhere. And without all these special people lending him such a helping hand, how would anybody ever read what an amazing adventure my first homicide case was? I don't know either. I shudder at the thought that people would miss out on discovering who I am. See, a shiver just ran right through me. Kinda freaks me out when that happens.
Teamwork is a true miracle. It shows people at their very best. I know that I couldn't do my job as a cop without a heavy dose of teamwork, and Lang simply couldn't do what he does without teamwork either. It gladdens my heart to see these people helping Lang out, he really is a decent guy. Okay, so he can be an ass when his writing gets interrupted, and he really doesn't handle it well when the Los Angeles Dodgers drop a game, but who am I to judge? I'm a Chicago Cubs fan, I'm used to disappointment from my team. At least the Bears have Cutler this season and might just make it to the post season without buying a ticket this time.
Anyway, I have a small mountain of paperwork I need to get through, so I should wrap this bad boy up. I just want to take a moment to give all of you my heartfelt thanks for supporting Lang and his novel, Original Sin. I know that I can come off as a little too light-hearted sometimes, but I really appreciate the efforts you guys are putting forth to help ensure Lang's ultimate success. Whether he becomes the next-big-thing or not isn't the point, and he and I both know it. By doing what you good people are doing, you are showing Lang what you think of him, and I know how much that means to the man. So, thank you.
Until the next time I decide to tickle these keys, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off. You all be good to each other out there. I'll be watching if you don't - and I have a licence to kill.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Original Sin

You guys like a good read? Well, have I got one for you. The book is called Original Sin, by S.C. Lang. The best thing about Lang's novel is it stars me; Detective Dallas Holden.
A powerful and ultra-secret religious society called the Mission has great aspirations for the future of the planet. They wish to cleanse the world of all sin so mankind can live together in peace and harmony. To help eradicate the sin of adultery, the Mission sends an assassin, a woman code-named Brandy, to seek out and viciously “Purify” the unclean and impure married man using online adult chat rooms as her hunting ground.
With me so far? Good. Sounds interesting, huh?
Now to solve my first homicide case, I must enter the fascinating and highly seductive realm of online chatting. As the danger mounts, I find myself entangled in an intricate web of love, betrayal and power that inevitably leads to a showdown with a trusted ally, and the leader of the Mission - a showdown that not everyone will survive.
Now tell me you don't want to read that book. It's coming out very soon on i Universe Books. I, of course, will keep you posted to the exact date .
Until next time, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Good Day

Some days it really sucks being a cop. I don't think anybody would have any trouble believing that. But some days, days like today, it's the best damn job in the world.
I get a call from one of my snitches about a missing child case that has been open for about seven months now. Most of the guys have quietly given up hope that the kid, a 4 year-old girl, will ever be found; or if she is found, she won't be alive. I take the snitch's info down, but I didn't expect much to come from it. Still, you follow every lead, no matter how small it is, no matter how cold the case.
The snitch told me that he overheard an old "acquientince" of his bragging about how he was getting into the big-buck business of overseas child slavery. Said he had about a dozen "snot-faced brats" ready for transit in an old warehouse on the south-side. As procedure demands, I notified the agent in charge of the case, and my boss about the tip. A small unit made up of detectives and uniformed officers were rounded up for a little run to the south-side.
The first sign that something was wrong were the two windowless vans, each painted pure white with no markings on them whatsoever, idling in front of the open docking bay doors. Why would docking bay doors to an abandoned warehouse be open with two vehicles waiting outside.
We immediately kicked things into high gear. We pulled over and let the uniforms out so they could flank the warehouse from both sides. Next, we got on the horn and screamed for more back-up. it seemed we had no sooner put the radio down when three squad cars came screaming up behind us. We wasted no time. We parked two of the squads in front of the vans to block their exit, then we all drew our weapons and silently descended upon the warehouse.
We heard the kids wailing fifty paces from the door. I had snuck in through the open dock doors, along with two other cops. I saw the children right off the bat. They were sitting on the floor, hands bound together so that they formed a chain. Only one man was guarding them, and he was unarmed. On the far side of the children, lurking in the gloom, I spotted four more cops. I could tell they were good guys by the way they were moving.
It all happened in a blink of an eye.
Someone screamed "Freeze, police!" and then everyone with a drawn weapon emerged into the clearing where the kids were. The guy was so stunned and scared by the sight of so many people, and guns pointed at him, that he offered no resistance at all.
The kids were fine. Scared beyond shitless, mind you, but physically unharmed. It just doesn't get any better than this if you carry a badge.
I'm leaving out a lot of details because I can't give them to you. No names. Not of the kids, not of the man we took down, not of the officers involved. I couldn't tell you where everyone was placed, or how we each knew what was going on. It's against the rules. I'm sure you understand.
The parents of the children were all called, and I got to watch several very happy reunions take place.
This was a good day. No, this was a damn good day.
I gotta fill out my reports on the bust. For once I won't mind doing a paperwork.
Until next time, this is one very happy Detective Dallas Holden signing off.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Religious Cults

So, first thing this morning I get called into my boss's office for a closed door meeting. This is never good. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I did wrong. I've been in the squad house all of three minutes, not even enough time to grab a cup of stale coffee and a doughnut (yes, we eat doughnuts, get over it,) let alone do something bad enough to get summoned to the principal's office.
So I slinked into his office, slithered into the offered chair, and awaited whatever fate befell me. "Dallas," he said in a small voice, "you're the closest thing to an expert I have regarding religious cults."
He's right, of course. I am the closest thing. I learned all ever want to know about religious cults on my first case as a detective. You can read all about that case in S.C. Lang's thrilling first novel, Original Sin, coming soon on i Universe Books. It's not exactly a memory I wish to explore in any great detail here, so I'll just let you read about it. You'll understand my position when you do. Still, not wanting to recall that case, or deal with religious cults, didn't matter at all to my boss. He had that look in his eye. He was clearly upset over something, and with his opening line, I thought I knew what it concerned. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. Like it or not, I was about to head back into the fire.
"Yes, sir," I said.
"I know all about your experience with cults, Dallas. I've read the files and talked to those I needed to talk to. I understand this isn't your favorite subject matter, and I'm sorry to have to bring it all back up for you now."
A ray of light, perhaps? This might not be as bad as I first thought. I nodded my head, both in acknowledgement of his understanding and for him to continue.
"In your opinion," he says, "what is your definition of a religious cult? Specifically, how does it differ from people who follow a particular religion such as Christianity?"
Oh. Is that all you want to know? Ok, simple. You have about a month? Because that's how long it'll take to sort through all the subtle differences and definitions, and requirements. In order for me to be of any service to him, he's going to need to be a bit more specific. I asked him what was going on, he didn't seem overly eager to tell me, but it finally said, "How does Christianity define a cult?"
Now we're getting somewhere.
Christianity considers any religious group that deviates from, or distorts certain fundamental teachings of Bible-based beliefs, such as Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit,) the resurrection, salvation through Holy Grace, to be a cult. A bit simplistic, I grant you, but there it is. Christianity considers such groups as Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, and the Mormons as religious cults. Mainly because these groups add to the Bible (such as the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, etc.) Jehovah's Witnesses actually changed the text of the Bible to make it conform to their Doctrine. As you can imagine, Christianity has a major problem with these additions to, and changing of, the Holy Bible. I relayed all of this information to my boss, who, I must say, sat at rigid attention and did not interrupt me once. props to him for being such a good student.
But wait, there's more.
Religious cults very often create their own rules, rituals and ceremonies that cast a certain meaning to the deeds and words of Christ. Ok, how do I explain that without writing a friggin' book? Ok, let me try to dummy this down a bit, for the sake of the blog, and not because I don't think you people can keep up. Christianity states that a firm and solid belief in Christ, and His Holy sacrifice upon the cross, is all you need to gain entry into Heaven. These other groups do not. They believe that a belief and Christ and His sacrifice is needed, but that you must also do certain "works" or "deeds" to gain entry into Heaven. The leaders of these groups will always site James 2:26, which states, "Faith without work is dead," to prove their point to their followers. Christianity, again, takes very severe exception to these interpretations of the Bible and its passages.
And so the debate rages on. See, I told you it would take a month to totally figure all this crap out. I'm not going to get into who's right or wrong here. I have my beliefs and I'm very happy and content with them. You go ahead and believe whatever you want, and more power to you.
My boss finally admitted he was inquiring due to "personal reasons." There's not a cop alive who's not smart enough to leave that alone. I figured if he really wanted me to know, he'd come out and tell me. Not that I wanted him to, mind you. All I cared about was that I wasn't about to be assigned another case concerning a religious cult - thank God.
Anyway, I think I've rambled on here long enough for one day. Until next time, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off. Have a good one people. Now, where's my damn doughnut?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Religious Nut Jobs

It's not even noon yet and already I've had an interesting day. You can't see him, I understand, but sitting in Interview Room 3 is this guy wearing a red hoodie and blue jeans that haven't seen the inside of a washing machine since Carter was in office, claiming he has to blow up Chicago because God told him to. I had to cuff him because he had two knives and a loaded pistol on him. Sometimes, I just don't understand people.
On our way to pick up this loon, we passed another clown on the corner of W. Jackson and S. Wells wearing a sign saying, "The End Of The World Is Near." He was jabbering into a bullhorn trying to scare everybody. Doing it a block away from the Sears Tower is a pretty decent spot to get people's attention. The local boys were dealing with him, but there was a news crew there filming this nut. They were all smiling and laughing at the guy, clearly they didn't take him seriously,but they were still there.
That got me thinking.
Remember a few years ago when that painting was supposed to be crying real tears? Or when that teenager sliced open an apple and claimed there was a perfectly-shaped design of Mother Mary's head inside. Or the statue that cried tears of blood? That one is my personal favorite. My point is this: religious nut jobs are everywhere, and people seem to listen, and give credence to, these nut jobs. Are we, as a people, this desperate for something supernatural in our lives? Do we want to believe so strongly that something greater than us is out there somewhere that we will grasp at anything, no matter how ridiculous and bizarre it is?
I was born and raised in Chicago, folks. I come a long line of cops. My ass was in church every Sunday morning growing up. Still is today, I'm a man who believes in God and Jesus with all my heart, but I don't believe God or Jesus works in such an outlandish way.
What I mean is, I believe it's possible to talk to God. I just don't think that God is going to tell you to blow up the city of Chicago. I don't think He proves He exists in the core of an apple, or by making paintings or statues cry. Somehow, I just don't think that's His style. You want proof of God; check out a thunderstorm sometime. Or a rainbow. Listen to the pure harmonious sound of a child laughing. Gaze at the sheer beauty and scope of a mountain. Watch a tidal wave (but not too close.)
That doesn't do it for you? Okay, how about this; explain to me how somebody gets shot in the head at close range - and lives. Or gets struck by lightning and survives. Explain childbirth to me, or that time the kid fell into the Gorilla pit at the zoo and the Gorilla protected him. Explain a person waking up from a coma after years and years. Explain the Earth already having everything we need to survive (air, water, food, plant-life) by the time we humans took it over. Explain how a bird flies when science has proven that it should be impossible for them to. While I'm at it, explain why there are so many different kinds of animals, bugs, mammals, fish, plants, trees, on the planet. Why are there dogs, or cats, or mice? Ever stop to think about these things? I have. Of course, I've come close to dying before as well. That may have something to do with why I've thought about all this stuff before.
My point is this; I understand the need to have a Higher Power in our lives. Some kind of supernatural force that guides us, leads us, helps and protects us. Trust me, I get that just fine. What I'm saying is, don't go to such bizarre lengths to prove it's there. Don't walk around saying "God told me to blow up Chicago." That will just result in me slapping some cuffs on you and dragging your ass down to the station for a little chat. You want proof of God? Look around you - all around you. The proof is everywhere and in everything. The things you don't even think about or notice, that's where the proof is. A wisp of wind across your cheek, a pleasant smile from a stranger, that annoying urge that finally makes you pick up the phone and call your mother, a hug from a loved one. People, trust me, it's all there.
Kind of mushy for a cop, huh? Well, what can I say, I'm just a big softy at heart. No promoting of Original Sin today, that's not what this particular blog was about. Just do me a favor and don't tell Lang. He gets all kinds of pissy when I'm not in my selling mode all the time. A part of me understands, I mean the man is just trying to raise a noise about his novel, I get that. And most of the time I'm more than willing to do my part, but this blog was different. I had something on my mind. Lang, and Original Sin, can wait until tomorrow for me to ramble on about how good of a story it is, and how it's coming out soon on i Universe Books. For now, I gotta go talk to a nut job in a red hoodie and filthy blue jeans. This ought to be good. Wish me luck. Until tomorrow, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Sunday. God's Day. It's my one day off. Well, what I mean is, I don't have to go into the squad house today. I still have plenty of work to do. I've often thought that they should change Sunday's name to Honey-Do Day. At least it would be more fitting. Tomorrow I'll listen to the guys in the squad house gripe and moan about all the chores they had to do over the weekend, but for me, I love it. Nothing screams "normal" like weekend chores. And after spending the week dealing with the craziness that is my job, "normal" sounds just like what the doctor ordered.
Even though it's just the two of us living here, Sundays start early. Our Baptist church gets things cranking at 8:00 am, and she has to look immaculate before she'll even think of stepping outside. Her hair and makeup are tended to with such care and devotion that it can't help but make me smile. I do wish, however, that I got a dime for every time I hear the phrase, "How does this look?" After a month I could buy Jamaica. Me, I'll throw on a clean dress shirt, a pair of black slacks and a tie and call it good. For her, it's a little more complicated. Her purse - I mean handbag (purses, it seems are so yesterday) has to match her shoes. Her jewelry has to be just so, not too big, not too small. I mean, God won't love her if she doesn't dress to the nines.
After church is when the fun begins. I'll grab a change of clothes and a quick lunch (probably an egg salad sandwich) and then it's time to attack to front lawn with the mower. This is great fun because I own probably the oldest, smelliest and loudest mower known to man. When I fire this baby up, everyone for blocks around can hear me. I like that.
After the yard is mowed, it will be time to fix the squeaky gate on our picket fence. It doesn't need anything more than a healthy dose of WD40, but I plan on making a production out of it. I might even throw on my old leather tool belt - depending on my mood and when the NASCAR race comes on. Now that Rusty Wallace has retired I don't really have a driver to root for, so I mainly root against Jeff Gordon. Never did like that boy. Anybody who drives a rainbow-painted car just isn't right.
When the race is over, I'll grab some tools and try to figure out why the bathtub won't drain properly. I don't care, mind you, but the Mrs. seems to think it's just a few drips short of qualifying as a national disaster. Yep, that's my Sunday, folks. No cold-blooded killers to track down in a chat room, no bullets flying over my head, no high-speed car chases through crowded streets. Just me being allowed to be a normal guy for a day. I love it.
I'm not even going to promote S.C. Lang's book, Original Sin, coming out soon on i Universe Books, today. Nope, I'm just Joe Average today, so let me be. I have a yard to mow, a gate to fix, a race to watch and a tub to tackle. Don't worry, I'll be Detective Dallas Holden again tomorrow. I'm sure I'm going to be charging head first into an interesting week. Until then, this is Joe Average signing off.