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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Sickness of Death

Murder. To purposely extinguish the life of another human being. I hate murder. I hate death, as inevitable as it is, but I hold a special loathing for murder. No, let me correct myself here, I despise people who purposely and joyously commit murder. It takes a certain type of sickness to be able to snuff out life without so much as blinking an eye. A sickness, unfortunately, that I am intimately familiar with.
One of the worst things about being a detective in a city like Chicago is that you deal with the horrible aftermath of murder on an almost on a daily basis. Or, such as in my case, you are given the task of finding a murderer, and stopping them before they bring that horrible aftermath into the lives of others. Just like a murderer, it takes a certain kind of sickness to be able to track one down. You have to do something so ugly, so disgusting, so unspeakably inhuman that it defies mere words; you have to learn how to think like them. You need to understand how their mind works. You have to be able to share their particular sickness, to be able to put it on and wear it like a jacket. To revel in that sickness. Not everyone can do it. How many times have I laid awake in bed and cursed God, or the Heavens, or whoever for giving the ability to share that sickness. The sickness that plagues me, that turns my soul as black as pitch, and tortures me with nightmares every night.
Brandy brought that sickness into my life. It's her sickness that I had to wrap around myself and call my own. Brandy forever changed my life. Brandy turned me into what I am now.
Brandy killed her victims joyously. She revealed in it. She took the blood from her victims and smeared it all over the scene of the crime. On the walls, the floors, furniture, drapes, everywhere. Tell me, what kind of monster does something like that? Before I landed the Brandy case, the sight of blood didn't really bother me. Now however, I nearly vomit whenever I see it or even smell it. Not a good trait for a cop to have. We have to be strong as steel in order to do our jobs. We have to turn off our emotions, our humanity, and become robot-like to function. Ever see a robot tossing his cookies into the nearest Dumpster because he saw some spilled blood? I know I never have.
Brandy was able to justify her horrible deeds in her mind because she wasn't killing just for the fun of it. Though she clearly enjoyed the act of murder. She got off on it. It made her feel an overwhelming sense of superiority over her victims. It made her feel like she was in the right, that she was doing the proper and just thing. She was sick. I sit here now at my desk, avoiding my paperwork on a minor case I'm working on, and I have to admit that I fully and completely understand Brandy's twisted mindset. I get her line of thinking. It makes perfect sense to me.
What does that make me? A monster? Something else? I don't know. I search every single day for the answer to that question. My wife tells me I'm not a monster. She tells me I'm the slayer of monsters. Those are her words, "The slayer of monsters." Slayer. A slayer kills, right? My father would tell me that I was a good cop. So would my grandfather. Both of them were cops before me. In fact, it was my father who pushed me so hard into the life of law enforcement. Maybe without his constant coaching, teaching an vigilant guidance, I wouldn't be infused with the sickness of death. Maybe my father is just too easy a target to attach my blame to. Maybe Brandy is too. Maybe I was born with the sickness in me. What if I was? What does that make me?
S.C. Lang has captured my soul-wrenching slide in his book, Original Sin. My courtship with the sickness of death is recounted in vivid detail within the pages of his first novel. You still want to understand me better? You still want to know the full story of how I came to be this way? Then read Original Sin, coming out soon on i Universe Books. Until next time, this is Detective Dallas Holden signing off. I got to get back to my paperwork before my boss catches me and gives me even more mindless mounds of paperwork to do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Language of Chat

In a previous blog I had touched upon how chatting and chat rooms are their own sub-culture. Each room has their own little quirks and codes of conduct which makes them different and unique in their own way. However, every room has one thing in common - the language.
In the world of chatting, speed is essential. Especially when you stop to consider that at any given moment there are several conversations going on at once. This can (and often does) boggle the mind. So, being the resourceful buggers that they are, chatters found a way to type faster. They shorten certain words and phrases. Knowing this chat-speak code will make your life so much easier. It sure did mine when I was forced into the Sex Stage. You have no hope in hell of becoming a room regular without knowing, and successfully using, chat-speak. Now, here's the catch, nobody's going to tell you what the code means, and if you ask what something means, it's a sure way to land on the outcast list. Had I landed on the outcast list, I would've had no chance of tracking down my killer, so it was beyond critical that I knew chat-speak.
Now I will pass my knowledge on to you. Here's a chat-speak guide. If you ever decide to enter the bizarre and fascinating realm of chatting, this guide will be like a bible to you.
LOL = Laughing out Loud. This is probably the most commonly used phrase in chat-speak. Sometimes people expand on this and will use LMAO. LMAO = Laughing My Ass Off. When someone is feeling really rambunctious, they will say LMFAO. I'm sure you can guess what the F means.
PC = Private Chat. Private chat is a room within the room. In the Sex Stage, you created a Private Chat box by double clicking on a person's name from the name menu. One click and you see their profile - two clicks and you open a PC box. Only two people can be in a PC box at a time. This is for privacy, obviously. Normally, when people want to talk dirty and have themselves some serious adult conversation, they use the PC box.
BRB = Be Right Back. Again, you will see this one very often. It's pretty much self-explanatory. Let me just quickly add here that when someone uses BRB, you might see other people say HB. HB = Hurry Back. I'm proud to say that I was able to figure out BRB and HB without the help of the chat-geek Lt. Gramm forced upon me to teach me chat room codes and etiquette.
Another phrase I was able to unravel all by myself was BTW. BTW = By The Way. This isn't used all that much, but you will see it.
KOTC = Kiss On The Cheek. This is stupid and cheesy as all hell, but it's used a lot. If you replace the C with an L, you make it Kiss On The Lips. If you add an S in front of the K it then stands for Soft Kiss On The . . . Add a G and it's Gentle . . . I'm sure you get the idea by this point. If not, then you're a hopeless case and I have to let it go and move on.
Let's get through the real easy ones quickly. S = Smile. VBS = Very Big Smile. TY = Thank You. YW = You're Welcome. NP = No Problem. OMG = Oh My God. BBL = Be Back Later. WB = Welcome Back. TTYL = Talk To You Later. These are all universal. And used to death.
I don't know about other rooms, but in the Sex Stage EWG = Evil Wicked Grin. UDY = Undressing You. I never used that one myself, mind you, but I've seen others use it enough. I always that that one was dumb as hell.
I, of course, wanted to add one: YUA = You're Under Arrest. However, I was pretty sure that would blow my cover. Duke would then be known to be a cop, and that was not the plan. Nobody would've talked to me then and finding and stopping the murderer would've been impossible. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack already, I didn't need to add to the difficulty level.
You can see for yourself just how hard it was for me tracking the killer when you read Original Sin, a murder/thriller novel by S.C. Lang coming out soon by i Universe Books. OS is a thrill ride, that's for damn sure. I should know, I'm Detective Dallas Holden, the main character of Lang's first novel. Until next time, take care out there people. Chicago is a very dangerous city and I don't want to see anyone get hurt. Not in my city - not on my watch.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Love. According to the old saying, it's a many splendid thing. It's what makes the world go around. Love can move mountains. Yeah, I suppose all that's true enough. But, there's a much darker side to love as well. The side of love that don't quite make it into the lyrics of Journey songs. In my career as a cop, I've seen my fair share of blackened eyes, cut lips, broken bones and destroyed lives, all delivered by love.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in love with all my heart. I'm deeply in love with a wonderful woman with whom I plan to spend the rest of my life with. I just don't think you should turn a blind eye to love's dark side, no matter how long you've been in it, or how well you think you know the person you're in love with.
Trust me. I know what I'm talking about here.
Love blinded me once, and that blindness damn near cost me my life. Even though through my job I've seen love bring out the worst in people time and again, I never thought it could happen to me. I was a fool. Looking back on it now all the warning signs were there. My job, and the endless hours it required, had created a rift in my marriage. The rift was understandable, I thought, so I didn't pay it too much attention at first. She was just going to have to understand that my job was important. Yeah, I pulled that stupid macho crap. It didn't work too well.
Had I paid closer attention to that rift I could've prevented a whole lot of trouble, heartache and pain - on both our parts. Seems while I was out trying to make the world a better, safer place, my wife was falling in love with another man. Or so she thought, but that's another story. I don't want to dive into too much detail here, it isn't exactly fair to her, and it would give too much of the plot away. You can read all about it in S.C. Lang's novel, Original Sin, coming out soon on i Universe Books.
But don't be too quick to pass judgement on my wife. She wasn't the only one who tested the boundaries of our marriage. Again, I don't want to get into too much detail. I guess a good way of looking at things is love put me into a dark place, a place I had never been to before, but love also pulled me out of that dark place. I guess love really is a many splendid thing. Love almost cost me my job and it damn near took my life, but love also saved me. It saved me from myself more than anything. I know, that sounds kinda odd, but once you read Original Sin, you'll understand.
The dark side of love tested me, as I imagine it tests all of us at one time or another. All I can really say about that test is that I'm still standing. The pain I felt was real enough, as are the nightmares I still have as a result of love's dark test, but I came through it.
Until next time, I'm Detective Dallas Holden - (S.C. Lang - Original Sin)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The World of Chatting

One year ago I would've laughed at anyone who said it was possible to sit in front of a computer, hour after hour, and type to a bunch of random names in a chat room. I would've thought them mad to be quite honest with you. Just goes to show you what I know.
I never would've discovered chatting, and all its fascinating, baffling, obnoxious, humorous rules, codes and ways, if I hadn't been ordered into an adult chat room by my boss, Lt. Jack Gramm. Why did my boss order me into the realm of online chatting you ask? Because I had to track down a cold-blooded murderer who was using a chat room as a hunting ground. I don't want to get off-track with the details (you can read all about it in S.C. Lang's novel, Original Sin, soon to be released by i Universe Books.) Rather, I wish to focus on the amazing subculture of chatting and chat rooms.
I knew absolutely nothing about chatting when I given my assignment. Not that I thought that was a problem, mind you. I mean come on, how hard can it be, right? Just go in there, type, type, type and boom, you have whatever you're looking for within a matter of minutes. Simple. How wrong I was. Chat rooms, as I soon discovered, are just like soap operas. Each individual room is its own show, and the people in those rooms are its cast. Believe it or not this is important information. The same people tend to show up around the same times every day. The people who do that are called "regulars." Regulars tend to own the room. Everyone knows them and greets them when they enter. They then dominate the topic of conversation in the room. This can be very frustrating when you're a cop like me trying to hunt down information on a dangerous killer, and the regulars decide to talk about something as earth-shatteringly important as last weeks episode of House. I hate that show, just for the record. Pompous ass. If I ever met him I'd stick that cane of his . . . see how easy it is for me to get off-track?
But that's the way it works, see. Chat rooms have their own rules. Each room's rules vary, but they all have them, and you had better learn them quick and follow them to the letter if you want to get anywhere. The room I was in was called the Sex Stage (this room does not really exist, it's in the book Original Sin, by S.C. Lang, so please don't go looking for it.) Catchy title, huh? The rules to this room where fairly basic; get the regulars to accept and like you by playing the game their way. In my case I used humor to worm my way in. Everybody loves the funny man. I was never rude or lewd in the main room. I went to great lengths to learn who the regulars were, and then to befriend them. I had to, my job demanded it.
What I learned was that I liked chatting. No, check that, I loved chatting. It was fun and a great way to escape the pressures and stress of everyday life. I got to invent a whole new identity - how cool is that? My nickname in the room was Duke, of course based after John Wayne. Duke was everything I was and more. He was funny, charming, witty, clever and never at a loss for the right thing to say. Duke easily won over the regulars and was soon considered one of the leaders of the room. This was good. It made my job easier - not easy, mind you, but easier (I'll delve deeper into that in future blogs.) When I was Duke I was happy. People liked me. People accepted me. Females wanted to sleep with me, and the guys all wanted to be me. It was great. And scary. I soon discovered I was addicted to chatting. All I wanted to do was hit the Sex Stage and see my friends. I was all caught up in the in-room dramas of who was with whom, who was cheating on whom, and with who. It all seemed so vitally important. I could easily spend five, six, seven hours in the room and not think anything of it. I told everyone I was just doing my job, which was true enough. I never did abandon my search for the killer, but there was so much more to it it than just me doing my job. I came dangerously close to losing myself to Duke.
I'll get more into that in future blogs as well. Now I had better get my ass back to work. I'll talk to you all tomorrow. Thanks for reading this blog.
Until then, this is Detective Dallas Holden - (S.C. Lang, Original Sin.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A First Greeting.

I guess introductions are a good place to start, huh? My name is Detective Dallas Holden. I'm a cop, obviously, who lives and works out of the Windy City; otherwise known as, Chicago. One more fact about me, and this one is rather important, I'm a fictional character. I was created by the mind of author S.C. Lang, and I'm the main character of his first novel, Original Sin. OS, as I will call it from now on, is an action-packed murder mystery, and it delves pretty deeply into my life as well as my first case as a detective. What a nightmare that case was. I still have nightmares about it.
I'm not going to give the plot away, of course. That would be cheating. I will, however, tell you all a little about myself. I'm a fairly ordinary person, not too flashy, but not dull and boring either. All I really want is the Great American Dream; a nice house with the white picket fence and a loving wife to come home to every night. Slightly old-fashioned, I grant you, but that's how I was raised. You work hard, play life by the rules, and try to be the best person you can. I come a long line of cops and have cop blood running through my veins. What does that mean exactly? It means I believe there are only two sides to everything; right and wrong. Gray areas don't exist. If you break the law in my town, I'm gonna take you down. It's really as simple as that.
My creator, S.C. Lang has given me this blog so I can express my views on anything I want. I will be utilizing this blog for that purpose, but for now, just introducing myself is enough. I don't want to bore you with my whole life story right off the bat. Don't you just hate when people do that? "Hi, my name is so-and-so, and let me tell you every single detail of my life . . ."
My name is Dallas Holden. I'm a cop. I believe in good and bad. That's a good start.