Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Indirect Costs of Disasters

Teton Dam - Wikipedia

Today is National Dam Safety day, because on this day in 1889 Johnstown, PA South Fork Dam failed. It flooded the town of Johnstown killing over 2000 people. This was by far the worst dam failure in US history as far as life lost.

As someone who studies dam failures, one of the first questions you get, and one I always have when studying a dam failure is, how many people died? We are all naturally curious. It gives us a way to judge how significant a failure was. Yet, studying dam failures you quickly learn that the question is always a lot less cut and dry than you think.

In large floods many bodies are washed away and never recovered, making a final life loss count very hard. Many dams fail during large rain events. If someone dies in a flood, would they have died anyways or is it the dam? But one of the hardest things to estimate is lives that were lost indirectly. What do I mean by that? Many think in a dam failure the cause of death would be obvious, drowning. But you would be incorrect.

The largest dam failure in history, as far as life loss is Banquio Dam in 1975, where the life loss estimate is over 100,000. Most of the people died, not from drowning but exposure. After the dam failed, millions were left cold, wet and homeless, not only that roads to the towns affected were all washed out, by the time sufficient aid arrived, ten of thousands had died from exposure.

But at times the deaths can be even less intuitive, and it is those I want to talk about. I have spent a significant amount of time studying the failure of Teton Dam. It failed on June 5, 1976 flooding the towns of Wilford, Sugar City and Rexburg in south eastern Idaho. Luckily, it didn’t fail on a dark and stormy night as is all too common in dam failures. Rather it was on a sunny Saturday afternoon, while the warning could have been sooner, it was soon enough to save many lives. 11 people passed away, but as in most failures many were not directly from flooding.

In Teton only 6 were from drowning. The other five?

Mary Gillette at 94 was the oldest woman in the small town of Teton. Teton actually sat just up from the river valley. The town would not be flooded at all but this was before the days of 2 dimensional flood modeling and most people assumed the town would flood. In fact, it was the first town to get the evacuation warning. Mary had been bed ridden for some time, she was ill prepared to evacuate, but at the time evacuation seemed to be the only option. The next day she would pass from exertion.

As the warning passed through town most people were gathering at Ricks College that sat on a hill in Rexburg. One area that for sure needed to be evacuated was also in Rexburg a small trailer park that sat down near the banks of the river. Both due to proximity and strength of structure, this place didn’t stand a chance when compared to the power of the water behind the dam. The warning hit one of the residents Dolly Pendrey, age 62, particularly hard. She lived alone and as she began to pack to exit the stress hit her. She had a massive heart attack. She made it to the hospital but died later that day.

Downstream of Rexburg was not scott free. The city of Idaho Falls was named because it is built around a beautiful falls on the Teton River. There was considerable fear that the town would flood due to the failure. John Heyrend, 72 lived close to the river and began to pack his car with his most trusted belongings. One trip back to his home he had a heart attack and passed away. His town would fare much better, due to great efforts of citizens doing a massive effort to sandbag around the river the town didn’t flood.

The day after the flood the water began to make its way downstream, leaving in its wake, mud, thick, slimy smelly black mud. Many who were evacuated to be with loved ones or at the college, slept an uneasy night wondering how their possessions, homes, pictures and other treasures survived. Stanley Peterson, 51, was fortunate, his home was not in the flood plain and he had spent the night warm and dry. However, his construction trailer where he stored the tools and equipment that he used to make a living as a contractor were all in the floodplain. He not only wondered if they had survived but worried that opportunists would take advantage of a bad situation and steal his valuable tools. He took his gun and jumped in his truck to make his way through the muddy streets back to his storage area. He didn’t get very far, as he went to leave his driveway he knocked his gun off the passenger seat, it went off, shot him in the femoral artery and bled out in his car.

The whole area began the process of recovery. Many people living in St. Anothony and Parker, towns nearby that had remained dry, housed family or friends that didn’t have homes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was being organized and coming from all over the rest of Idaho and Utah, to help muck out homes. Federal government assistance was also coming, providing trailers to house the many middle class families who now understood homelessness in a new way. But in St. Anthony one woman was struggling with her own personal recovery. Karen Virgin, 29 had been working with councilors to overcome struggles in her life. She felt worthless and couldn’t shake the thought that God was not pleased with her. The dam failing was clear evidence that God was punishing the people around her for her actions. As she struggled with these inner demons she decided to end her life, and shot herself on June 10, 1976. She is the last life that was documented as being associated with the Teton Dam.

Disasters are named that for a reason. And often the indirect damage can be as significant as the direct costs. We are currently in the grips of another disaster. The final death toll connected to COVID-19 will be very difficult to compute. There will be deaths that are COVID that are thought to be something else, and deaths that are counted as COVID that are something else. There will also be many indirect deaths. There will be those that die due to stress at this time, just like those that died at the time of Teton Dam. And there will also be those in the midst of fighting other demands and due to the added pressures caused by this disease and economic stress will take their own lives.

The question we should ask ourselves is? What are we doing to better prepare ourselves and those around us, so that when the next disaster comes, and it will. We will be ready to handle the stress and anxiety that will come with it. In the world of dams, one of things that has changed since Teton is emergency action plans, plans that are practiced to prepare those who will react to potential dam incident or failure. As these drills and other items are better communicated it can help a community be prepared if the worst is to happen.

What emergency action plans do we have in our lives? Are we personally prepared for the potential disasters that might be headed our way? We should all do an after action report after this latest disaster. How prepared we were when COVID hit? Were we physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for what we went through?

If not, take the time to determine what you would have done differently, and then take the time so that you and those around you can be better prepared for whatever the next disaster that comes our way.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective - Chapter 7

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5 and Chapter 6.

As Hanson said his goodbyes to Trout he knew his day was anything but over. The majority of people Hanson knew did indeed sleep but more out of habit than necessity. The longer people were on this side they went one of two ways, sleeping more and more, or less and less. Hanson did sleep from time to time, but never when he had an active case. Hanson was well known in the force not only because of his tendency to push the boundaries but he had revolutionized the force by not limiting his investigations to the living.

And while the beats and his partner slept he began to look up everything he could on Caden and Daisy. Caden’s records were fairly extensive. While the internet really took off among the living in the early 1990’s the Hub, as they called it, was developed among the dead shortly after WWII when many scientist lives were cut short before their work was.

The Hub, much like the internet was the perfect place to collect information and over time it had done just that. No different than the internet the information was only as good as the source, but if you knew what you were looking for the Hub could be quite useful. It helped that the searching capabilities far exceeded anything the google had come up with, and before long Hanson was an expert on the lives of the Mason’s, he knew where they had grown up, how many siblings they had, which schools they had attended, their best friends and perhaps more importantly those who had died around them.

Hanson often started with families, family ties are often the strongest and most powerful. Caden had mentioned that Daisy had recently come into a large inheritance. Inheritance is often the stress that acts as the straw on the camel's back. Obituaries were easy to find and both of Daisy’s parents had them. They had both died on the same day about 6 months ago. There was no mention as to how. But what stood out most was the fact that they were both preceded in death by Ryan, a second brother. There was little about him and he didn’t have any obituary of his own on file.

The only debate Hanson had was whether to first try to interview the parents or the son. In a decision that was basically a coin toss he decided on the son.

It was moments like these he was grateful for some of the extended porting authority that his badge granted him. Anyone who was dead could port anywhere they wanted, that is any address, or location they remembered or could think of. But as a badged member of enforcement he could port to the location where anyone was. He could think of a name and port and he ended up where they were. This was huge, for most people getting a hold of someone, especially someone who wished to remain hidden was nearly impossible, but not for those in enforcement. How this extended port authority worked was a mystery to Hanson, he only knew that it did.

Thinking of Ryan, Daisy’s brother, he instantly appeared in what he would describe as the middle of nowhere. The sun beat down on him with more intensity than he’d felt in many years. The fact that the sun was up at all let Hanson know he was nowhere remotely close to the home. Exactly what country or continent he was on he was unsure of. The landscape was mostly dead, brown desert sand. There was an occasional joshua tree, cactus, and sage brush but especially compared to Midwest Hanson would simply classify it as dead. Not that he was one to talk.

When porting to an unknown location to meet someone he was used to being placed, close to the person. Often it was outside a store, or home, but no buildings stood in sight. However, behind Hanson was what appeared to be an abandoned mine.

Hanson walked in the small rock opening that had been chiseled out of the mine. The opening was not even as tall as Hanson but just beyond the opening the cave opened to a large cavern, walking 20 or so feet in he began to makeout side areas along the main opening and he instinctively knew Ryan would be in one of the areas. Turning into the first opening there he saw Ryan, lying asleep on his back. Hanson called his name out but Ryan slept on. Leaning over the body Hanson grabbed his shoulder and said, “Ryan, wake up.”

Ryan groggily began to come to, “What? Leave me alone man.”

“Ryan, I’d like to speak to you.”

His eyes were now open, “Speak to me? Who are you?”

“I’m Detective Hanson, I’m investigating a homicide and I hope you can answer a few questions.”

Ryan laughed, “a homicide? Dude you’re the one who needs to wake up. You, me, we’re dead, who cares about a homicide.”

“I do,” Hanson quickly replied.

“Well, good for you, I don’t. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to sleep.”

Hanson was used to dealing with people like Ryan. Death removed the necessity of sleep but some didn’t see much need to be awake either. Many, finding the after life void of physical stimulation: food, drugs, sex and regular entertainment decide to simply sleep, some fall asleep in their home and simply choose to never or rarely wake up. Others, like it appeared Ryan did, first isolate themselves then begin a long sleep. Either way what they wanted was to be left alone so Hanson appealed to Ryan’s desire. “Listen, answer a few questions for me and I’ll get out of here quickly, or be difficult and I’ll have to take you to my office for questioning and it may be weeks before you see home sweet cave, or whatever you call this place, again.”

Hanson could see Ryan was debating whether Hanson would be able to follow through on this threat, but ultimately didn’t want to take the risk, “Fine, ask your questions.”

“How’d you die?”

“OD. At least I assume. We had the biggest run of our lives. More Heroin than I’d ever seen, enough for us to get high as Jupitor and leave enough for a big payout. We celebrated, clearly I went overboard, I passed out and when I came to, my body didn’t.”

“Who’s we?”

“Me and My brother, we were into it together.”

“I didn’t find an obituary on you. Why not?”

“Nobody knew, nobody cared. My brother was probably too scared to tell anyone and I didn’t know anyone else who would have found out. For all I know they still don’t know I am dead.”

“Did you have any kids?”

Ryan got a small grin. “Not that I ever found out about.”

“Are you aware your parents died?”


“They left most of the money to Daisy.”

“Who else would they leave it to. Is Tommy even still alive?”


“I always knew he was the lucky one.”

“Do you think Tommy would be upset about not getting any inheritance?”

The two men sat in silence while Ryan thought and then quietly said with more conviction than Hanson thought him capable of, “When you need a fix and you can’t get it, you will do anything and be angry with anyone who stands in your way. Tommy loved Daisy, we all did. She continued to love us when the rest of the world, even our parents cast us aside, and I wish I could say that the love was stronger than the drugs, but it’s not. At least, it wasn’t for me.” He paused and then with true fear. “No one hurt Daisy, did they?”

“No. She is still alive.”

“Good. She is the best thing that ever happened to our world.”

Hanson had heard all he needed from Ryan, clearly he was either not involved or was lying, either one made further questions worthless, but for other reasons, he added, what year did you die?”


“Do you know what year it is?”

“Not sure, 97?”

“It’s 2018.”

Hanson could see Ryan was struck with disbelief, he wanted to assume Hanson was lying but could sense he was not.

“I was no different than you are today, when I realized I needed a reason to stay awake, a reason to stay dead. Someone very wise told me to find a reason, don’t let death pass you by.”

“You come to ask questions or play confucius?”

“Point taken, thanks for answering my questions, I’ll leave you to your rest.” With that he found himself standing in a smelly hallway of a rundown apartment. Hanson assumed this was some sort of government housing. This and homes like it were magnets for a certain class among the dead, several of which were in the hallway now. This was not what Hanson expected when he ported to the location of Daisy’s parents. People who leave multi-million dollar inheritance don’t usually move into project housing after death. Being out front of unit 209 he assumed it was the one and ported in.

Cries of sorrow were the first things to greet him. Four people were in the front room. The first, a couple, Hanson recognized from Caden’s home. They sat over the one living person in the room. The woman was crying and the man was caught between consoling her and telling the live man, “not to do it.”

The live man looked awful. His flush skin was covered in a cold sweat, and his eyes were fixed on a needle he held in his hand.

The last person in the room sat in the corner, barely visible and before Hanson could get a good look at them, they had ported out of the room.

“Who was that?” Hanson asked as soon as he had entered and witnessed the person in the corner porting out.

The couple turned and instantly recognized him as the detective from earlier that day. “Who are you talking about?”

“The person that was in the corner. They just left.”

“I didn’t see anyone.” The man stated, but as he did Hanson could see why. Whomever they were did not wish to be seen and it would have been easy to be missed. Hanson was holding a conversation with them and they barely noticed him, their focus was entirely on the man crying, clearly in intense mental anguish and a needle full of drugs in his hand.

“Stop him please,” the woman pleaded, turning to Hanson for the first time.

Hanson quickly tried to influence the man. “You don’t want this. You’re better than this.” But Hanson could sense it was too late, unless something changed or shocked him out of this state of mind it was only a matter of time.

“Is there anyone else in the apartment?” Hanson asked in a tone that demanded a quick answer.

“Only Riley his daughter, she’s upstairs.” The parents replied. Instantly, Hanson ported into the bedroom where the little girl lay peacefully asleep. Influencing people while they sleep can be a tricky business but he had to try. Two minutes passed and he was no closer to waking the girl. It may be too late already. Looking up Hanson noticed that the window was opened. It was now Hanson’s mind who had the dilemma. If he failed to act the man below would soon be drugged and do something that he would very much regret. But Hanson was only to use such actions in emergencies that were pertinent to the case. Stretching to get there he quickly laid out his defense in his mind. Given this is where he had ported, the couple below was likely Daisy’s parents and the other man her brother. If they witnessed him fall on, or was it off the wagon, Hanson could never remember which, they would be distraught and difficult to interview. It was a pathetic justification but a justification nonetheless and as he thought of it a gush of wind pushed through the window and with a crash a lamp on the short chest of drawers smashed to the floor. The force of the wind pinned Hanson against the closed bedroom door, as a cry from the bed told him he had successfully awoken the little girl. Footsteps came rushing upstairs and Hanson moved out of the way barely in time to avoid being smashed between the door and the wall as it flew open.

“Are you okay baby?” The man quickly went to his daughter’s side.

“My lamp.” She said as tears poured down her eyes.

“It’s okay, we will get you a new one. It was just the wind.” He got up and closed the window. “Go back to sleep Honey.”

The couple had entered and now watched as he calmed her back to sleep. Once she was asleep the man arose and all three followed him back to the living room. He looked over at the needle, picked it up, walked into the bathroom and injected the contents into the toilet, before throwing the needle in the garbage. Then he went to the living room, lay down on the couch and fell asleep.

“Maybe love is stronger than he thought.” Hanson said aloud.

“What?” The man asked.

“Oh, nothing. But now that that is over. I have a few questions for you two.”

End of Chapter 7

Here is Chapter 8

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective - Chapter 6

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5.

“What are you two doing back?” Caden asked.

Trout and Hanson had traveled back to Caden’s living room and Caden was sitting on the couch when they arrived.

“Good news,” Hanson quickly responded. “Your death is now a muder investigation.”

“Great,” Caden replied. But you could tell by his lack of enthusiasm that he didn’t seem too interested.

“We will be in your study. Let us know when the officers arrive.”

Trout was glad to have a half hour while they waited for Driggs and Lung, being able to magically pop from one place to another was convenient but Trout didn’t realize how much he had relied on car rides to and from crime scenes to process what had happened. Hanson seemed able to process instantly as they went but Trout needed to talk through things in order to process.

“I would have thought he’d be happier to hear about the investigation,” Trout said as they entered the room.

“As you know, it can be hard, when you first cross over. The fact that he is here sitting on the couch is not a good sign. He needs something to do.”

“Can we give him something?” Trout asked.

“What?” When Hanson wanted more man power, what he meant was he wanted to duplicate himself. He had a hard enough time working with one partner, let alone someone else. Other people were all so, not him.

“You said you need more manpower, why not give him something?”

“Maybe, I’ll think about it?” Hanson's response reminded Trout of the tone he used when his kids would ask to go to Disneyland.

Hanson sat and would have been happy to stay quiet but Trout had too many questions and after two seconds of silence asked, “Did you tell the Chief to open the gun?”

Hanson winked.

“How’d you know?”

“I didn’t but I assumed, Caden claimed he didn’t shoot himself. Well if he kept the gun for security, why not keep it fully loaded. I realized the murderer could have removed a bullet, but we knew our murderer didn’t hang around long because Caden didn’t see him.”

“I was curious about that, even if the murderer got out quickly would Caden have seen him?”

“Not necessarily, you don’t come over instantly. You should know better than me, you got here last week. When it’s a hundred years in your past you won’t recall it too much.” Then Hanson allowed a rare personal question and asked, “So, what was it like for you?”

Trout thought back, even though the memory was recent, it was buried. Was it really only last week? He thought, before saying, “It was like waking from a deep sleep. I remember feeling really groggy.”

“That is how it is for most people. And unfortunately, many murderers are gone by the time the person really comes to. But it doesn’t leave a lot of time. Hence, my assumption that no bullet had been removed.” Hanson paused, “I was glad the bullets were there, I was worried for awhile that it actually was suicide and that Driggs would be...I can’t even say it.” Hanson cut out before the thought of Detective Driggs being correct could seep in.

“What do you mean you were worried it might be suicide? We interviewed Caden, he said he didn’t kill himself.”

Hanson rolled his eyes, “Kid, don’t believe everything people tell you over here, people don’t die and get sprinkled with magic honestly dust as they pass. Dead people lie, and people who kill others, even themselves aren't anxious to admit it. Even generally honest people have a hard time admitting to others and themselves some of the things they do, especially suicide. If you want to succeed as a detective over here you better question everything, anyone tells you.”

Trout realized that everything Hanson said was obvious but had to admit he hadn’t thought to question Caden, looking back he couldn’t see why, maybe he did implicitly trust dead people. Realizing this was silly and not wanting to admit or discuss it further he moved on.

“So, what cupboards or drawers do we need to be standing over?”

“We need to look at the medicine cabinet and any medication or drugs in the kitchen. It still concerns me that the wife was giving him sleeping medication. Besides that look for anything out of place, unpaid bills, love notes, drugs, stashed alcohol, you know the stuff. I doubt we will find much.”

“Wait a minute, if there wasn’t some specific things to look for, why all the work for them to change this to a murder investigation?”

“Well, I may not expect to find much, but we might find something, but more importantly it’s protocol.”

“Protocol?” Trout asked.

“I keep forgetting it’s my job to teach you all this.” He took a big sigh, it was further evidence that teaching was not Hanson’s preferred job. On top of that Trout could tell whatever was about to come out of Hanson’s mouth was what he had to say, not what he wanted to say. “ We are supposed to always work with the beats to get our guy. Not only do we work to solve cases but we work to ensure the beats get it right. Honestly, the second part is more challenging than the first.”

“What do we do if they get it wrong?”

“We are supposed to do everything in our power to ensure they get it right.”

“But, what if they don’t?” Trout repeated.

“It depends, in my case, usually I do things that get me in trouble.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Never mind, what we're supposed to do is decide if it’s worth pursuing and then take it to the board to get permission to bring them in.”

“Does bringing them in, mean what I think it means?”

“I’m not a mind reader I don’t know?” Hanson said.

“Kill them, does it mean kill them?”

“We prefer the term, ‘bring them in,” Hanson said.


“That is a lesson for another day.” Hanson tried to say with finality. Truth was Hanson, having been recently stripped of that authority, did not wish to discuss the subject.

But clearly he didn’t know how to speak with finality for Trout continued his line of questioning. “But if we can ‘bring them in’ as you say. Why not just do that in the first place instead of going through the beats? When I was a beat and our guy had been ‘brought in’ sure saved us a lot of hassle.”

“I couldn’t agree more. But it’s not my call and if you are smart you will follow protocol, trust me.”

“Are you smart?” Trout asked.

“Excuse me?”

“I mean did you ever just bring someone in?”

“I think I hear Driggs pulling up, let’s go.” Hanson quickly turned to the door.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“And I am not going to, so don’t ask it again.”

They entered the living room as the knocking at the door began.

They turned to Caden who hadn’t moved from his seat on the blood stained couch.

“Caden is your wife home?” Trout asked.

“No, she’s been gone most of the day. Meeting with morticians and lawyers and what not.”

“You didn’t go with her?”

“No.” He said a bit defensively, “I’m rather upset with my wife at the moment.”

The knocking continued, as did Caden, “She is going to have me cremated.”

“Did you not want to be cremated?” Trout asked.

“No, I don’t want to be cremated. I had told her before that I wanted an open casket funeral.”

“I’m not sure that is wise given the circumstances.” Trout offered.

Caden looked at him a bit exasperated, as if to say, ‘that was insensitive’, but only vocalized, “I guess you have a point, but she could have at least given me a casket. She read some stupid article online about cremation being better for the environment. And that’s not the only thing, it sounds like she might try to alter the terms of the trust.”

Four ears in unison bounced up quicker than a cat hearing a can opener. Hanson spoke first, “The trust? How?”

The knocking and now yelling from the other side of the door became more persistent. The threats to knock down the door were loud enough that Caden didn’t answer the question but instead asked his own. “Do you think they will really break down the door?”

“Yes.” Hanson said matter of factly.

“Any chance you could stop them? That door cost me $2000, it’s solid oak and I’d hate to replace it.”

“Sorry, not much we can do at this point.”

A loud crack told Caden that breaking down doors was well within their repertoire. He ran and put himself in front of the door yelling, “Leave the door alone.”

“That won’t do any good,” Hanson stated.

“Doesn’t hurt to try,” Caden offered. As the door began to splinter.

“You said your wife was going to alter the trust, how?”

“Oh, I doubt she will go through with changing it, even if she could. She loves the dogs too much, so I think it will still go to them. She’s just mad right now. My guess is they will even hire the person she likes if they have to.”

Another crack of the door and Detective Driggs and Lung came marching in as Caden was forced into the air like a plastic bag in the breeze. “Looks like nobody’s home,” Lung said. “Well, we better look around.”

“And what exactly do you want me to look for, since this is your case.” Driggs said with as much malice as he thought he could get away with.

Lung was not one to push it so trying to be as professional as possible simply said, “Can you check upstairs for any sign of forced entry?”

“Sure thing, it’s your case.” He said drawing out the word your.

“I doubt Driggs is going to put any effort into it but follow him, just in case it’s true what they say about a blind squirrel. I’ll follow Lung.” Hanson said to Trout. And then turning up to Caden who was still making his way back to the ground said, “I have a few more questions for you to if you don’t mind.”

They spent the next several hours going through items throughout the house but while both Hanson and Trout took lots of notes, they didn’t notice much that brought more to light. The pleasant surprise was Caden. While most of the time was spent complaining about the beats not being careful enough with his stuff there still was time left for him to answer questions about documents and items that turned up.

Driggs put zero effort in the upstairs where he failed to notice the fact that a window was unlatched. A fact that was of little concern to Trout once Caden confirmed his wife regularly opened it and Hasnen confirmed it had been closed earlier when he had looked around.

Driggs' next assignment was Caden’s study. Here Caden was more than pleased with Driggs leaving most things untouched. That was clearly how he liked it. Trout tried to put thoughts into Driggs mind that would lead to the doggie door. He put in thoughts of dogs, or the office chair, of looking for entry points, of the bushes just outside, but nothing had any effect on Driggs.

The only noticeable thing was after pushing thoughts about dogs, and specifically the victims dog he heard Driggs wonder aloud, “I wonder what Trixie is doing?”

Trout of course had no idea who Trixie was but hoped it was Driggs’s dog. That means he was potentially impacting Driggs’s thoughts and while it did little good for this case, it meant he could do this telepathy thing.

Soon other officers entered the office and much to the disappointment of Caden they did not share Driggs’s lackadaisical attitude toward their work. They opened every drawer, took photos, and boxed documents. And while they were thorough in some respects their focus was on documents, not on doggie doors and the small entrance went unnoticed.

“Caden,” Trout said, interrupting Caden yelling at an office not to touch his fancy boat model on his desk. “Do you notice anything missing?”

“I don’t think so?”

“What about in this safe?” Against the back wall there was a large safe, almost 5 feet high. It was hidden behind the door when the door opened. It was of an old style and had a large wheel on the front of it, that was part of the locking mechanism. There was an officer opening it and looking inside. It surprised Trout that it was unlocked, and was completely empty.

Both the officer and Trout assumed this was a big break, an empty safe.

Caden went to answer but first finished scolding an office, “Don’t take that photo, that was the largest fish I ever caught and if you had ever caught more than a minnow, you’d have some respect.”

“Caden, the safe, what’s missing?”

“Oh, the safe, nothing missing.”

“But it’s empty!”

By this time the officer had called over to Driggs and both were speculating what was missing, “Could have been guns, gold, coin collection, important documents, whatever it was, somebody’s taken it all.”

Caden clarified to Trout, “It’s always been empty. I never even change the factory preset code of 000. I bought it because it was a nice piece for the office. You know, symbolized security and that your money is safe with me, but I never kept anything of significant value in the whole house, especially not a safe. No matter how good a lock is, it would be the first place someone looked, or tried to get into. I told my clients to keep their money invested or in financial institutions and I practiced what I preached.”

By the time they had wrapped up it was nearly dark. Driggs began to complain about staying late and that he better be getting overtime, all the complaining finally convinced Lung to call it a day.

Daisy had not shown back up but Hanson had heard Lung get a hold of her and request that she come in for further questioning the next day. Hanson and Trout sat in the study and briefed each other on what they had seen in order to plan next steps. “I think we better go check out this Jim character from Canine Hope.” Hanson proposed.

“Tonight?” Trout asked, Hanson could see his reluctance.

“I guess we could meet him first thing tomorrow, but we have to be at the beats precinct by 10, I want to hear what they ask Daisy. She is looking more and more like their prime suspect.”

“Can I come?” Caden had overheard as he walked in. “I could tell you more about Canine Hope and would like to be there when they question Daisy. I’d hate for her to get locked up over this. Besides, I’m not really sure what else I’d do.”

“Hanson looked at Trout who shrugged, finally Hanson said, “All right, we will meet back here at 7 AM sharp, good night boys.” Caden walked out.

Trout wondered if Hanson had forgotten something and added, “one more thing.”

“What is it?” Hanson asked. “You clearly wanted to go, you are free to go.”

Trout sheepishly replied, “I hardly know where I am, you have zipped me here and zipped me there.”

“Port,” Hanson corrected.

“Okay, you port me here, you port me there, I’ve been ported almost everywhere.” Hanson glared at Trout, clearly not appreciating the Dr. Seuss imitation. “Can you help me get home?”

“Porting is simple enough, but I can take you back to the station tonight and we can work on porting tomorrow.”

“How about taking me to my home? I’d be just as lost at the station.”

“Sure, show me where you live.”

“I live on…”

“Just send me the information to my screen.” Hanson said, getting only a blank stare in return. “Think about sending me the info and I’ll get it on the screen.”

Before Trout could answer if it had worked they were standing in Trout’s living room.

“Thanks,” Trout could tell that Hanson had planned to continue the investigation before he had requested to come home and now being dropped off he felt like an awkward date at the doorstep where one person had asked to go get drinks and he said he’d rather just go home. He felt the awkwardness demanded an explanation. “I really enjoyed the work today. It's just that today was my wife’s first day back to work since the funeral, and the kids first day back to school and I’d like to see how things went.

It had been a long time since Hanson had connected to the day to day lives of the living. He was always wrapped up in his work. People he dealt with were often in the middle of death of a loved one and far out of the day to day routine. Talk of kids at school was a reality that had been foreign to him for a long time. It made him realize how fresh his partner was, and how stale he felt. Something he’d rather not think about.

“I understand.”

“Do you have any kids?” Trout asked


“A wife?”

Hanson paused long enough that Trout felt bad for asking but eventually he simply said, “no.” Hanson hated to lie but as he had told Trout earlier that day sometimes even honest people find the truth too painful to vocalize.

Here is Chapter 7

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective-Chapter 5

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.

A second later, Trout and Hanson found themselves in the office of Chief Skousen. He was preoccupied with the moving cards on his screen in the hope of concurring solitaire. Trout was beginning to understand why Hanson had a poor outlook on beats.

“I can’t believe he’s playing cards, I’m sure there are 1,000 things to do.” Trout said in a bit of disgust and assumed Hanson would join in, after all, bashing beats seemed to be one of Hanson’s favorite past times.

So he was surprised when Hanson said, “Don’t be too hard on Skousen, he’s one of the better ones and probably our only hope of getting this case opened up. But then looking up at the screen added, “but admittedly, he’s not very good at solitaire.”

“But what are we doing here?” Trout asked. “I hate to join your pessimism about the living but I don’t have much hope for Captain Driggs opening up the case, he’s hopeless.”

“True, but the reason I have hope and why we are here is the Chief here realizes that he’s hopeless and that might help us.”

“So, how are we going to get the Chief here to help?” Trout asked.

But the question was asked too soon. Because Trout could see irritation and indecision was spreading across the face of the chief. Noticing this Trout asked Hanson, “What did you put in his mind?”

“Simply Driggs.” Hanson said with some satisfaction. “Like I said, the Chief is a good guy, so naturally he hates even speaking to Driggs. But as much as he hates interacting with Driggs he realizes it’s his job to check in on him once and awhile, and is usually willing to do so with a little reminder.”

The Chief gave up on solitair and got up and leaning out the door yelled, “Driggs come in here a minute.”

Driggs obediently got up, worked his way through the maze of desks and entered with a rather bright smile underneath his ginger mustache.

“Driggs, how did that call go?”

“Well, Lung was a bit confused, as young detectives can be but I did a bit of, not to brag, excellent detective work and wrapped it up rather nicely. Once Lung finishes with the paperwork, we will be ready for the next case.”

As much as Hanson disliked Driggs, he had to give him a big thank you for what he had just said. Hanson had been pushing the Chief to do a little digging, knowing that even the most basic question would lead to Driggs total lack of investigation showing itself. However, the Chief had been resisting. Every question he’d ask would only lead to the thing he hated most, more time with Driggs. And it wasn’t as if it would end in good news. No conversation with Driggs ever led to good news. To find that Driggs doing anything even remotely correct would have left the Chief pleasantly surprised, and he had yet to ever be in a room with Driggs and leave pleasantly surprised. Surprised? Yes. Pleasantly? No.

As much as he hated to do it, the Chief was ready to count whatever blunder Driggs committed as a loss and move on, if it hadn’t been for Driggs last statement, that he was soon to be ready for his next case. Giving Driggs another case was the one thing he desired to do less than talk to Driggs, so he decided to ask, “Why was Lung confused?’

“Well, silly kid is so new. So he peppers the poor women with all sorts of questions, when it was obvious...well, obvious to a trained eye like mine, that it was a suicide. Luckily I did some investiation and determined it was suicide and closed it up with a bow.”

“How did you know it was a suicide?”

Driggs paused and then as if the next line was going to simultaneously impress the Chief and put an end to his question he said, “I found the note.”

It wasn’t pleasant but there came the surprise that so often came with talking with Driggs. “Driggs, you are a moron.” The Chief was not one for delicate speech.

“Excuse me Sir?”

“Driggs if your father wasn’t such an amazing detective maybe they would let me fire you, but they won’t. And they won’t let me promote you in order to get rid of you, the way your last 3 supervisors did, so I guess I'm stuck with you. But please, when you are on a case, listen to your junior detective, because if you don’t. I’ll make you junior.”

Driggs sat in silence.

Hanson was so enjoying himself that he almost forgot why he was there.

Trout said condemningly, “That was a bit harsh, wasn't it?”

Hanson feigned being hurt, “That wasn’t me, that was all the Chief.” He paused, “Okay, maybe I encouraged the junior thing.”

“How do you get in their heads?”

“It’s simple, just try it.”


“Now is as good as ever. What is the most likely thing the Chief could look into to open this case up?”

“The inheritance?”

“That might work, but I’d go with the gun.”

“The gun?”

“If Caden is telling the truth, then there is a decent chance the bullet in his head does not match his gun.”

“So, ballistics?”

“Just think about the gun and try to encourage the Chief to think about the gun. We can see where it goes.”

Trout did his best to telepathically push the thought of the gun to the Chief.

Hanson looking over at Trout said, “Kid, looking constipated doesn’t make it more effective.”

Trout tried to look less intense and still transfer the thought to the Chief.

Driggs had crawled into his shell and didn’t know what to say.

The Chief who now felt like perhaps he had been too harsh, softened as he asked, “Tell me about the scene?”

“Man had shot himself in the living room. Revolver in hand, whole in head. Seemed preety clearly a suicide.”

“Maybe you’re right. But don’t be so sure, simply because you found a note. How do you know it wasn’t the wife?”

Trout look a bit exasperated. “It doesn’t seem to be working.”

“You are doing fine, keep it up.” Hanson encouraged.

Driggs replied, “Trust me, wasn’t the wife. I could tell.”

“Like you could tell on the Dog Walker you let go that went on to kill another 4 people?”

“That was because…”

“I don’t want to hear it.” The Chief said.

“Did we do any clean up?”

“No. It was a suicide.”

“Did you at least bag the gun?”

Trout began jumping up and down, “It worked.”

“Keep your cool. Nice work, but we can’t guarantee it was you. So just sit down.” Secretly Hanson somewhat enjoyed the enthusiasm, but wasn’t about to show it.

Driggs paused, the truth was he did have someone bag the gun, but only because Lung had insisted. “Of course I bagged the gun.”

“Good, let me see it.”

“Oh, okay,” They got up and walked towards Lung’s desk.

Driggs took control as they got there, “Lung, where is that gun we bagged?”

“Right here.” Lung offered as he handed a gun in a plastic bag to the Chief.

“Lung, do you think it was a suicide?” The Chief asked.

“It was clear,” Driggs jumped in.

“Shut it Driggs,” The Chief said.

“I wasn’t sure, Sir.” Lung said with respect and brevity.


“Permission to speak openly.”

“Yes Lung, this isn’t the military.”

“It bothered me that the wife didn’t hear the gunshot, but I didn’t have a chance to look into things much.”

The Chief looked up at Driggs who looked as comfortable as a bull before a rocky mountain oyster cook out.

“Well let’s look.” The Chief put on gloves and carefully took out the gun. “A colt. Classic American gun.” The gun was a classic six-shooter revolver.

He turned to Driggs, “Can I see the photo of the body? This is a 45, it would have been a mess.”

Driggs discomfort level was rising. “I don’t think we have one sir,” he whispered. “But we could take a trip to the morgue.”

The Chief was now rolling open the chamber. “I don’t think that will be necessary. Lung, go back to that house, hopefully it’s not too late. We will be investigating this as a homicide.” He turned over the barrel as six bullets came out. “Driggs, you go to, but,” he said, turning to Lung, “this is your case.”

Here is Chapter 6.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson- Dead Detective - Chapter 4

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

Hanson went out and got Caden. It was often at night or the next day before he would get around to interviewing the victim, when the beat's work slowed down, but with Captain Driggs running the case, he saw little point to wait, the police wouldn’t be making much progress.

Once back into the house they went to Caden’s study. It was clear this is where Caden was used to working and Hanson wanted him as comfortable as possible. Caden took his usual spot behind the large desk. The office was large and impressive. It was clearly designed to portray success with it’s expensive internal elements. These included dark wood crown molding and matching dark wood wainscoting. The desk was a large oak desk that faced the entrance and backed up against the windows that faced out to the side yard. Hanson had walked this room earlier and was happy to be having the interview here. Taking the victim back to headquarters was always an option, but fresh victims were so lost and perplexed that getting information out of them was difficult even in the most comfortable of circumstances.

“Thanks for letting us ask you a few questions Caden,” Hanson paced the room as he spoke. “Caden, I am Detective Hanson and this is my partner, Trout.”

“I don’t understand?”

“I know, Trout is a weird name, but that’s not why we are here.”

“No, I don’t understand why there are detectives? I thought that when you died, people or at least someone knows what happened.”

“Caden, you are going to find out that in many instances life after death isn’t what you expected, and maybe someone does know everything, but I don’t, so I have to figure it out, and I would appreciate your help. Can you help us?”

“How do I know you are real detectives?” Caden asked.

“I do have a fancy badge, but unless you’re impressed with such things, which I doubt, then you will have to believe me. But I promise you, your best chance at solving this thing is working with us. Unless you already know what happened, then your best chance of justice is with us.”

“Do I have to answer your questions?”

“No, but I can make your time with us uncomfortable if you don’t.”

“Is that a threat?” Caden raised his voice.

Hanson remained calm. “No, I just want to be honest with you. I do have the power to detain you but I’d rather not.”

Caden nodded, “Okay, go ahead with your questions.”

Hanson wasted no time getting to it. “Did you kill yourself?”

“No, I can see it looks like that, but no, I had no reason to kill myself, I was happy, I mean mostly happy.”

“You can guess my next question, why mostly?”

Caden shrugged his shoulders slightly, “Everyone has issues, right?”

“Right. What were yours.” Trout was surprised how focused and forceful Hanson was. He would have tried to break the ice by asking what he did for a living or something; But he had to admit it seemed very effective.

“Well.” Caden paused, no one liked going into their issues, but Hanson didn’t let the pause worry him. He stood above Caden with focus and a look which conveyed that Caden could take his time but Hanson wasn’t going anywhere so he might as well tell, “My wife and I have been fighting more, she was stressed about something but wouldn’t tell me what.”

“Perhaps because of your dog's disappearance and death.”

“So you guys do know something. No, she started acting funny before Mildred disappeared and Munchies died.”

“Maybe she suspected you had an affair?”

Caden was clearly offended, “I never had an affair.”

“That’s not what the note said.”

“What note?”

“In front of you is a screen.” As soon as Hanson mentioned it, Caden looked and his visor appeared. “The note on your screen, was in front of your body.”

Caden read it carefully. “I didn’t write this.”

“Is it in your handwriting?”

He looked closely. The note was in cursive, that alone was somewhat incriminating, he was about the only person he knew who still wrote in cursive. He was no handwriting expert but if he had glanced at it he would have assumed it was a note in his hand. “It looks a lot like my writing.”

“Was it your gun in your hand? Again, look at the screen.”

Caden looked down at the photo of the gun in his lifeless hand. Attempting to get past the surreal feeling of looking at one’s own body he answered, “Yes, it is my gun.” Caden was no fool and quickly began to realize how it was beginning to look. “I swear, I did not kill myself, not on purpose at least.” It was his turn to ask something, and looking to Hanson he asked,
“Maybe someone broke in?” .

“Not that I could see. I did notice your security system. How long have you had it?”

“Years, I got it shortly after we moved here,” Caden answered.

“Did it go off last night?”

“No, not that I heard.”

“All the doors and windows were hooked to it?”


“What about the doggy door behind your seat?”

Sure enough behind the large office chair, barely noticeable, was a doggy door. Caden looked down and somewhat sorrowfully said, “No, it wasn’t. I was always worried about security but we wanted the dogs to freely come and go, having a doggie door in the front door was too big a security risk, so I installed this one in my study. It is behind the bushes so it can’t be seen from the outside and my chair usually hides it from my clients view.”

“You said to me when we first met that you knew this would happen, but you didn’t think it would be like this. What did you mean?”

“I’ve always been worried about invaders, hence the dogs, the security system and the gun. I had always felt it might happen. Recently I could barely sleep, so my wife convinced me to start taking a sleeping pill. But when I was under the fog of those stupid pills I’d hear things and be unable to get up. So, I refused to take it last night. She tried to talk me into it but I put my foot down. Sure enough, I heard something and got my gun and went downstairs. I searched everywhere but no one was here. I sat down on the couch for a while and must have fallen asleep, next thing I knew I was looking at myself, dead.

“Did you see anyone else, after you died?”

“No, I didn’t. At least not at first. I didn’t know what to do, so I ran outside and a lady was walking by, or at least I assume that is why she was there. I asked her to call for help and shortly after that my dead family started showing up. And then shortly after that, you two appeared.”

Hanson was thinking and probably taking notes, thought Trout. He realized he was probably supposed to be taking notes as well but assumed Hanson had it covered. Trout could see a change in Hanson as he was pulled out of his deep thought and was now ready to move from direct questions to more general.

“What did you do for a living?” Hanson asked.

“Financial Advisor. I had both individual and company clients.”

“Were you successful?”

“I guess that depends on your definition, but I did alright.”

“What was your net worth?”

“5-6 Million. Why? Does that help over here? I always heard that you can’t take it with you.

“That part about death is true.” Hanson said with a smile. He was glad to see Caden was joking. “I assume the money goes to your wife.”

“Actually, No.” Hanson was full of surprise, regret now poured over his body. He hadn’t even hinted to the beats that they ask about inheritance, his only thought had been life insurance and after he got the beat to ask about that he had dropped it. If only he had gotten out that someone else got the money perhaps he could have gotten the investigation opened up. While Hanson bemoaned his error, Caden continued, “A few months back my wife’s parents died, leaving her quite wealthy in her own right. So we decided to keep our money separate and if either of us died we’d leave the money to our favorite charity, Canine Hope.”

“And what do they do?”

“They not only save abused dogs throughout the US, but are a lobbying group that helps promote protection of canines throughout the world. They were recently successful in getting anti-dog fighting laws in several countries. It’s something we are both passionate about, or at least I was?”

“You can still be passionate about it.” Hanson kindly added. Caden smiled. Hanson continued, “Well Caden, that's all the questions I have, no doubt more family has shown up, you are welcome to go visit them.”

“Actually can I ask you a few questions?” Trout asked from behind Hanson.

Caden and Hanson had almost forgotten about Trout. But Hanson was happy to see some initiative.

“Do you know someone named Tom?’

“Tom? I know several.”

“Your wife called one after your death. Do you know who that might have been?”

“Yeah. My lousy brother-in-law. My wife is really attached to him and calls him once and awhile. She visited him a few months back but luckily for me I haven’t had to see him in years. He spent 5 years in prison for some drug conviction and is now on parole in a few counties over. I was worried once he got off he’d show up here. Daisy had a really hard time ever telling him no.”

“Do you know who Riley might be?”

“Riley? I’m not sure, that could be his kid. He got a girl pregnant prior to going to prison.”

“He mentioned Jim. Do you know who that would be?”

“Jim? There is a Jim who I work with from Canine Hope, he’s the CEO. He was working with me because he didn’t like the charity's last financial advisor and so was trying to convince the board to use me. They had just agreed, I signed the contract to run the account on Friday. But if she was talking to my Brother-in-law I am not sure why she’d talk about Jim. I don’t think the two knew each other.”

Hanson was pleased with his new partner’s line of questioning and decided he wanted to jump back in with his own, “Have you looked over the accounts yet?”

“Not much.”

Hanson looked to Trout to continue but Trout replied, “That is all I’ve got.” and he stood.

Hanson began to exit, “Thanks for working with us. You are free to go. We will be in touch if we need anything else.”

“Where do I go?” Caden asked.

“Wherever you want.” Hanson replied.

“Where do I stay?”

“Again, wherever you want. But if you are willing to keep an eye on what is going on around here it may be helpful to us. We will be in touch. Goodbye.”

Hanson put his hand on Trout's shoulder and they instantly appeared in the side yard in front of the bushes that obstructed the view of the doggie door.

“You need to warn me before you zip my body to some new location.” Trout argued as he tried to place where he was.

“Sorry.” Hanson said with absolutely no sincerity. He was already looking around the bushes. “Sounds like you staying back with the wife was fairly fruitful.” Hanson was on his knees looking at the dirt around the bushes.

“Yeah, she seemed very concerned about Tom. She seemed to wonder if he had been there. She said…”

“I know,” Hanson cut him off. “I read your notes. Good job.”

“So given what Caden said, what do you think?” Trout asked. Hanson was so intently looking at the ground that Trout decided to continue on his own. “I’ll tell you what I think, I assume this Tom was here and he didn’t want Daisy telling the police. They may look into it and find out that this Tom doesn’t like his brother-in-law anymore than his brother-in-law likes him, and so he took care of him.”

“Perhaps. Or maybe he didn’t want Daisy to mention it to the police because he would be violating his parole and end up back in jail.”

“That could be it also. Either way, I say we track him down and ask him a few questions.”

“Good idea. Just one problem, he isn’t dead, and trust me, they don’t look kindly on you bringing people over to our side just for an interview.”

“Have you done that?” Trout asked.

Hanson looked up towards Trout in a manner that clearly said, ‘I’m not talking about it.’ Then he turned and began crawling behind the bush.

“Any sign that someone entered through the doggie door?”

“Hard to say, if they did, they would have had to crawl through and would not be on their feet at all, so no prints. These marks could be made by someone crawling through but I couldn’t say for sure.” Hanson worked his way out of the bush.

“So, where to next?” Trout asked.

“I think we need to spend some time with our new friend at Canine Hope, but as much as I hate to say it, I think we better go pay a visit to my favorite precinct first.”

Here is Chapter 5

Trout's First Case-Chapter 3

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

Nothing up to this moment could have prepared Trout for this. Hanson had been the model of composure through some of the most bizarre circumstances so far but supposedly these beats, as they called them, had a profound effect upon him. Trout had sensed that Hanson was not exactly in love with his living counterparts but never expected him to cry out in horror as soon as one came into view. The detective who stood on the front door was a bit shorter than average, 5’ 8” or so, stocky build and wore a standard issue ginger mustache.

“Hello, Ms. You rang. I’m Captain Driggs.”

“Thank you for coming, I’m Daisy Mason.”

Hanson regained his composure. “Well Trout, lets go.”

“What? I thought you said, we didn’t have to go. That while the cops were here; we were super busy following them around.”

“Recall, I prefaced that with, if we got a decent detective. We did not.”

“How do you know?”

“This isn’t my first case with Captain Driggs. I do not wish to speak ill of the living, but here it goes. The man is an imbecile. We will only lose brain cells by watching him investigate and he will refuse in every instance to listen to me.”

“No kidding, you’re dead. Do they usually listen to you?”

Hanson debated replying but didn’t have the patience to do so. “Let’s go.”

“So you are just going to drop the case?”

“No. I do not drop cases. We will have to do the investigation without the beats.”

“Shouldn’t we at least see what he asks the wife?”

“Let me tell you how this will go.” He did his best imitation of Captain Driggs, who had a Boston accent and a bit higher voice than Hanson. “Let me see Ms. Oh, I am sorry but it looks like your husband shot himself. Do you think it was suicide? Oh, you do, well I’m sorry to say but you’re right. Would you like us to clean this up or do you got it.’ Then he will ship back to the office, pull out his ‘case closed’ stamp and leave 100% of the work to us.”

Trout had no desire to abandon the scene of his first case. “Look, he has a junior partner maybe he’ll be better?”

“He never listens to anyone, partner or not.” Hanson said.

“So you and him have a lot in common.” Trout came back.

Hanson usually appreciated someone quick on their feet but didn’t seem happy with this last comment, no matter how clever it had been. But like it or not it was effective. Hanson turned around and sat in a chair in the adjacent dining room, clearly giving in to the idea to listen to Captain Driggs.

Before Captain Driggs asked anything Daisy felt the urge that most people feel when they are the ones who find a dead body, to explain themselves. “I came down to breakfast, and noticed the coffee pot was empty, see, my husband usually makes Coffee every morning, so I came out to the living room and saw him there.” She gestured to the body as tears began to flow.

“Oh, I see mam, So how’d he die?”

“I’m so glad we stayed for this.” Hanson mocked.

The question caught Daisy so off guard that she stopped crying. “I...think it was a gun.”

Captain Driggs looked down, and began to process what had been patently obvious to everyone else, the gun and the large wound in the victim's head.

“I believe you are right Mam.” Daisy would have been offended if there had been any hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“It’s only downhill from here,” Hanson continued his mocking.

“Hang on, hang on, what have we here?” Captain Driggs grabbed the hand written note with his ungloved hands. He began to read the note under his breath. “Sorry… can’t go on...affair,” He added, “That is never a good a thing,” before he continued reading. “Can’t live without her, we say goodbye.”

“Well,” Driggs turned back to the group at large, ready to let them enjoy his great wisdom. “That is what we call in the business, a suicide note. Mam, I hardly know how to tell you this, but it is my professial opinion, as a vetern detective, that your husband committed suicide.”

“Nice clean wrap up, time to dust off that, ‘case closed’ stamp.” Hanson said, with an, I told you so, smile.

Daisy was in a state of shock from the captain’s behavior that was only slightly less than the shock she had an hour earlier.

Trout spoke up, “They have to ask her something.”

“Weren’t you listening?” Hanson asked, “The captain asked her that very astute question about how the victim died.”

“Didn’t you say you could get them to listen to you sometimes?”

“Kind of, I can put thoughts in their head but they can choose to ignore them. And Captain Driggs is an expert at doing just that.”

“What about this guy?” Trout said gesturing to the quiet junior detective who had failed to say so much as hello. “Why don’t you try to influence him?”

“I am not very optimistic about this but at least we can say we tried,” offered Hanson.

Captain Driggs was getting up. Trout eyes jumped back and forth between Hanson and this junior detective as if magical telepathic waves would be like ping pong balls going back and forth for him to see. With nothing visible he at least thought Hanson would focus his eyes, hard on the Jr. detective, like a Jedi Knight playing mind tricks. For a good example of Trout’s expectations, ask any 7 year old to attempt telepathy, but Hanson simply sat there.

“Are you doing it?” Trout asked.

“Calm down kid,” Hanson said in a relaxed sense.

Captain Driggs was continuing his dithering of attempted sympathy as he got up. “You know Mrs. don’t blame yourself, the affair may have not even been your fault. Although I did read a study that most men who have affairs do feel neglected from their spouse. See . . .” That’s when it happened. Trout could tell Hanson was getting through. The junior detective was visibly looking at things. And beginning to question if things were not quite as straightforward as Captain Driggs thought.

Driggs was about to leave as he said, “I’ll send a few of the boys in for cleanup”. When junior first tried speech.

“Do you mind if I ask her a few questions?”

Captain Driggs was taken a bit aback. “Sorry ma’am. This is my junior.” he paused. “Very junior partner, Detective Lung, I’m sure I can answer his questions outside.”

“I only have a few questions,” Lung continued.

The captain pulled his partner aside and tried, unsuccessfully, to speak in a voice the others couldn’t hear. “Listen Lung, I have been able through my expertise, to calm this poor woman down. We don’t need you riling her up again.”

“I’ll try not to.”

The captain gave a look and then finally backed down. “Go ahead, make it quick.”

“Mrs. Mason. How long were you and . . .” He realized they had not even got the victim's name.

“Caden,” she helped.

“Thank you. So how long were you and Caden married?”

“Twelve years.”

“Any kids?” Lung asked.

“No. We were unable, so our dogs became our children.”

“So you have dogs?”

“Used to. Mildred and Munchies. Two weeks ago, Midrid disappeared. It was very unexpected, she had never run away before. A week later, Munchies died,” she said, pointing to the urn on the mantle. “He was getting old, and I think Mildred disappearing broke his heart. He simply couldn’t take it anymore...and now I know how he felt,” she said, as she began to cry.

As she did Captain Driggs rolled his eyes. “I knew it,” he puffed through his mustache.

Ignoring his superior, Lung moved on. “Any life insurance?”

“No, we had sufficient to be fine if either of us passed.”

“I also noticed that you have an alarm system. Is it active?”

“It is. My husband was very big into security and always kept the alarm set. His general security fears are also why he bought a gun a few years back.”

“Is that the gun?”

“Pheff,” a sound of exasperation came from the Captain, “Who’s gun do you think it is?” Clearly he felt he deserved to have a monopoly on obvious questions.

Mrs. Mason ignored him. “I think so.”

“And did the alarm go off last night?” Lung continued to question.

“I didn’t hear it.”

“Is the alarm connected to every window and door in the house?”

She began to stir in her seat and it was clear she didn’t want to answer the question. “Um, I think all of the entrances are connected, but it was really my husband’s system. There are so many things he ran around here. I won’t know what to do without him,” she got out as the tears again began to flow.

Captain Driggs jumped in, “alright that's enough questions for the poor Mrs.” He grabbed Lung and pulled him to the door. “The boys will be by in a moment to bag him.” Realizing, ‘bag him’ was a bit insensitive, which for Captain Driggs was quite impressive, he paused and tried to think of a kinder way to say it. But this was Captain Driggs, so nothing else came to mind and he headed for the door.

Lung turned and said, “Last thing, Did you hear the gunshot?”

She paused and was clearly surprised, “You know, I’m a very light sleeper but did not.”

The Captain was not happy that Lung had slipped one more in and said, “I said enough,” and pushed Lung out the door.

Hanson turned to Trout, “That Lung has potential. Much better listener than his Captain, of course, so are most inanimate objects, but I’m glad you suggested working with him.”

“So, you told him what to ask?”

“I can only prompt and encourage thoughts, putting it into words and asking it is up to him. I was trying as much as possible to get him to consider this as a potential homicide. I’d really like some drawers open but the fact that he pushed back at all against his Captain shows guts. And the last question about the gunshot was all him. Not that it hadn’t crossed my mind, but I didn’t give it to him.”

“Can you teach me to prompt people?”

“Like most things over here kid the best way to learn, is try. I don’t think there is much more for us to do here, perhaps it’s time for a chat with Caden.”

Here is the link to Chapter 4

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Law of the Harvest and going viral

We stood staring at the screen. It couldn’t be so. 1000 hits in one hour. How could that be? Someone, somewhere in the world was clicking on our movie every 3.6 seconds. We could hardly believe our luck. You hear that people can go viral and you assume it’s possible to happen but it seems more a dream than a reality, even as it is occuring.

Going viral has taught me a few things in regards to the law of the harvest. Some are old news but some of the insights have been new to me and I hope prove valuable to you.

1. You cannot reap if you never sow.

This is so incredibly obvious, but so often it is the problem. You want to be a New York times bestseller, but you haven't written a book. You want to be a YouTube sensation but you haven’t posted a video.

In Proverbs there is a great scripture, Prov 26:13 The slothful man saith, there is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.

There is always a reason, a lion, for not moving forward. Time, effort, it wouldn’t pan out anyway. I would do all that work only to see my book/movie flop, etc… But step one is getting up and going in the street.

2. The harvest can be surprising, both in type, quantity and timing.

Type first

This one has been a surprise for me. We are taught in scriptures and elsewhere you, “reap what you sow.” And while it is true one cannot sow anger, resentment, violence, addiction and hope to reap charity, benevolence, peacefulness, and self control. However, the harvest is often far more diverse than we realize. For example, when you plant YouTube videos, you do so in the hope of reaping views, likes and subscriptions, but we have found that in there we have also seen more discipline, hard work, love in our children, and overall unity. Has our home turned into a sparking clean bundle of sunshine? No, but having goals and moving toward them has given us far more than the things YouTube offers.

This is important to realize in any venture you take. Never start a journey saying, if I don’t get X for this it will be a failure. Because you very likely will fail, and it won’t necessarily be a failure. A few examples. If a kid only plays basketball to get in the NBA they are wasting their time. They should enjoy the game, get physically fit, use their fame and name in high school and college for good, and then if on draft day they get called up great. There is nothing wrong with the goal to make it to the NBA, but if you judge your success or failure on that one endpoint you are missing most of the benefits the journey provides. I have noticed this in my writing journey. Do I want to be a New York Times bestseller? Of course, I do. But in the meantime I am loving writing. I get joy out of hearing every time someone enjoys an article or one of my books. I am learning a tremendous amount and pushing myself in new and exciting ways that is making me better at everything I do, even if I never sell a single book. So, don’t get over caught up in a single outcome.

Quantity- You always reap more than you sow

That is why we do things. Would a farmer plant a seed if all he got in return was another seed? No, you put seed, water and work into the soil in the hopes of getting more in return than you started with. And you do. As stated above, it’s not always the crop you expected but good effort yields benefits in greater supply than the effort put in. And much of the credit goes to others on this one. First and foremost the Lord. The Lord always blesses us above the efforts we invest when we do things that he commands. (Mosiah 2:24)

In addition to the Lord's blessings, no man is an island. We all benefit from those around us, and they all play a huge part in our successes. What good is YouTube videos without an audience? How much technology goes into getting a video created and put out for the world to watch? How much of that technology can I take credit for? (Zero, in my case). To ever feel that you deserve a certain outcome is ludicrous. We all get far more than we deserve, but that is one of the reasons God asks us to make honest efforts, because he wants to bless us above what we deserve. That is part of what makes him such a great Father.

Timing- The harvest is rarely in planting season

This is the hardest lesson for any of us to really accept. We all know this instinctively with actual crops, it takes a good portion of the year to grow tomatoes, and it will take several years from the time you put that orange pip in the ground until you are enjoying your first sweet bite of pulp and juice. Yet we all want instant benefits. In our YouTube case Jeanine has been cultivating many skills, including video making for years without getting a single YouTube like. They are hilarious little sketches she did mostly for ourselves and family. One she posted on YouTube six years ago and before last week it had about 100 views, and since I have watched it 99 times you can deduce that it didn’t get much outside traffic. She spent hours on hours learning video and sound editing, determining where to film etc… The first real big production, so to speak, her song, Did I Sing with the Angels. Did okay, a few thousand views, but never really took off. Simply speaking, the harvest, so to speak did not come instantaneously, it never does.

3. We are poor judges of others efforts and harvest

“He did what and got how many views? A kid makes millions opening toys and talking about it? I could do that.” We have all said this or something similar. We often judge some of the rich and famous thinking they put in little and got out much. As I said earlier, it is true that they harvest likely exceeds their effort, it does for all of us. But it may be more balanced than you realize. Just like in Jeanine’s case who spent hours and hours learning skills that others will never witness or see, many of these “overnight” successes did their fair share of work and effort behind the scenes. We should always seek to learn from others, but when we move into the realm of judging that they don’t deserve their harvest or that they have “all the luck” we shouldn’t be so hasty.

4. Most harvests are perishable

As big as this video got, I have bad news for my kids. They aren’t going to be able to live their lives in fame and luxury from it. If they don’t make entertaining content they will fade into history much faster than it took them to make the video. Part of the human condition is the need for constant work. No matter how good a harvest we have one year we need to plant the next year if we want to eat. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. (Gen. 3:19)

We can’t work out once, or for a week, or for a year and expect to be healthy forever. We can’t study hard for 12-16 years of our life, stop and expect not to lose most of what we learned. Constant effort and improvement is part of what we signed up for down here. (See my article about work)

5. Harvest are generally proportional to our effort on a macro, not a micro level.

While we reap more than we sow, the more we sow and work the greater our harvest will be, in general. What I mean by that is, we may have years we work hard and have a poor crop. Jeanine may make a video that takes a ton of effort and it flops. And she may make a video that takes much less effort and it does tremendously well. And while picking any micro level will lead us to say the harvest is out of balance with the effort, if you look at a larger scale you will see that it is more balanced than you think. Work hard throughout your life and you will reap more abundantly the harvest you seek, whatever it is.

6. I am not the Lord of the Harvest

While I can control my efforts, and while the harvest will generally be in proportion to my efforts, I am not the Lord of the Harvest. It is not in my hands. Ultimately God decides what we reap at any given time and for any given effort. This means we need to work on the part we can control, what we sow, and then rely in faith that God knows what harvest we need, how much of it and when to give it to us. Basically we need to have faith that he has our best interest at heart. It is my testimony that he does.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Llewellyn Hanson, Dead Detective - Chapter 2

Move over Poirot, a new detective is here - columns - Hindustan Times

Here is the Link to the Prologue and Chapter 1.

Hanson had seen this scene hundreds of times but that never made him comfortable with it. But comfortable or not he knew what to do. He held the man who was weeping in his arms, “Caden, we are here to get to the bottom of what happened. I know it’s a lot to take in, but I need you to stay calm”

“I knew this would happen.” Caden wasn’t prepared to listen until he got a few things out. “But how did it happen like this?”

“We don’t know, but that is what we are here to figure out.” Hanson’s calm was equal to Caden’s lack thereof.

“What do you mean you don’t know? How can you not know? I’m dead, right?” Caden asked.

“Yes, you are definitely dead,” Hanson replied.

“Then you should know who killed me. Didn’t you see who killed me?”

“I wasn’t here at the time. If someone was, we will find them, but it’s likely there weren't any eye witnesses.”

“Eye witnesses? Don’t you people just know?” Caden asked.

“It doesn’t work like that, but don’t worry too much about that right now, I see that you have some family and friends here to see you.” Hanson gestured to a few folks who still stood in the doorway. “I assume you know them.”

“Yeah, that’s my Uncle Scott.” Caden said as he started to walk to the doorway.

Hanson walked over with Caden to Scott. “Scott, why don’t you take Caden outside and answer some of his questions. But keep him close by, we will want to ask him a few things after we look around.”

“But what about my wife?” Caden asked as he looked down to the women who cradled the lifeless body against her while she sobbed throughout this interchange. “Can’t I somehow tell her that I am, I don’t know, okay, in a sense?”

“I’m sorry, but no. Go catch up with your Uncle and others; she’ll be calling the police soon and I’d like to look around before they show up.”

Caden and his family walked outside and Hanson turned to his shell shocked partner. “Let’s get to work.”

“With her crying there?”

“Yes. She will be up in a moment and, I assume, will call the police. You can listen if you like, but I doubt she’ll know much more than we do.”

“Shouldn’t we interview Caden first?”

“Wouldn’t do much good. It will take several more hours for the idea he’s really dead to set in and another few hours for him to realize that we're not omnipotent. The first 200 questions we ask him will be answered with, “don’t you know?” I’d rather he use up those responses on his relatives. Your training starts now. What do you see?”

“Looks like suicide to me.”

“Wow, I have more training than I thought.”

“What? You don’t think it’s a suicide?”

“Not sure. See, you are busy thinking, assuming, and conjecturing. There may come a time for that, but I don’t start doing those things until I gather the facts. So, let’s try again; what do you see?”

“Man down. I guess we can say he’s dead because I saw his spirit walk out the front door and the body stayed behind. Appears he has a gunshot wound to the head, entering on the right side, and revolver in his right hand.” Looking on the coffee table, Trout noted, “Hand written note.”

“What’s it say?” Hanson asked.

He went to read it, but before he could the sobbing wife picked it up and read aloud, between gasps of breath, “I can’t go on. I have been living a lie. I have cheated on my wife and know she will be devastated. I can’t be without her, nor can I live on with her disappointment. So, we say goodbye.” She again burst into tears.

While she read and Trout listened, Hanson was busily looking around the room, the mantel piece, around the T.V., out the front and back windows, on counter tops, and at an assortment of many other household items. As she finished, he looked back to Trout.

“What else?” Hanson said.

“Um…” he looked around again, “bereaved wife. Need to start verifying if he really had an affair and that the gun was his, but still looks like a classic suicide.”

“Finally, you said something insightful,” Hanson said with a smile. “This is a classic suicide, everything is exactly to the book, a cliche suicide. Take the note; you could slip that note under any dead body for a suicide. It doesn’t mention him or her by name. Doesn’t that seem odd to you?”

“I have seen vague notes at suicides before.”

“And I’ve seen beats call murders suicides before.” Hanson ment for this comment to sting. But as soon as it was said it was clear it did not have the effect he had planned and Trout’s question explained why.

“Who are beats?”

“Beats, live officers, the people she is dialing as we speak.” Sure enough the woman was trying to compose herself as she picked up a phone and started to dial.

“Why beats?”

“Heartbeat. they have one—we don’t.”

“Are you saying cops don’t do their due diligence?” It took a while, but his earlier words finally stung.

“I’ve known a few officers who really like that ‘case closed’ stamp on their desk.”

“We are not like that,” Trout said.

“What do you mean ‘we’?” Trout’s face was unable to blush, but that didn’t stop him from being ashamed as Hanson pointed out his error. “Anyways, they are going to be here soon.”

“Yes, my husband is dead.” The woman could be heard in the background talking to dispatch.

“Why are you in such a rush before they come? Do we have to be out by the time they show up?” Trout asked.

“No, but if we are lucky enough to get a decent detective and they do investigate, they will swarm the place. I wish we had that kind of man power: two of us will have to keep up with 10-15 beats. Best to pick places you want to look at and try to be there when they look. We need them to open the drawers and turn pages for us to see much.

“We also need to be prepared with information to help influence the beats in the right direction.”

“What does that mean? How do we influence the beats?”

“I would explain it to you, but then I would have no information to help or influence the beats with. So, we better get back to it.” Hanson was continuing looking in every place possible while they spoke.

“Fine, you don’t think it’s suicide,” said Trout.

“I Never said that, suicide is one of many possibilities I am looking for more clues.”

“Okay like what?”

“No forced entry, on the front door, back door or windows, is a good example,” Hanson said.

“I noticed that.”

“You didn’t say it. Nor have we searched the rest of the house. More importantly, the dogs,” Hanson said.

Trout thought back to the picture. “The Dalmations?”

“Precisely, where are they? No sign of them, not in the house or either yard.”

“That picture could have been years ago. Perhaps the dogs are long gone.” Trout said.

“Gone maybe...long gone. No.” Hanson continued, “Dog bowls on the kitchen floor, empty but still there. The leash by the front door on the key rack. And most telling of all, the urn on the mantel with the date from last week on it.”

“The dogs died last week?” Trout asked, “Are you sure? That urn could be from a relative.”

“Good old Uncle Munchies? The name on the urn led me to believe it was one of the dogs.” He then added under his breath, “but I may have made the same assumption with the name Destry.”


“Nothing,” Hanson said.

“Okay, so where is the other dog? No second urn?”

“Excellent. Those are the questions that will get us somewhere,” Hanson said.

Trout suddenly stopped and looked at Hanson, shouldn’t we be writing this stuff down? We wrote everything down when I was just a low down ‘beat’.”

“Yes, beats are so meticulous.” Hanson said with his ever so common roll of the eyes. “I have been writing it down.”


“Check your visor.”

Trout had once again forgotten he had a visor but as soon as he thought about it, it appeared. He had no idea how to get it to display what he wanted but he was curious about the case notes Hanson had supposedly taken and suddenly that is what popped up. Trout was amazed at the amount and the detail. Hanson had noted all they had talked about and 100 times more. It stated how many people had been there when they walked in. What time the wife had entered. How many windows and doors, their sizes and types of locks, the security system. A diagram that showed the location of all the furniture, and every other item in the room. A copy photo of the suicice note, and dimensions of the yards. As he read more things appeared below as clearly Hanson was still making observations. The next one read, a deceased male had a solid wedding band, possible titanium. Woman on the scene, no band but imprint, so recently removed. Sure enough looking over at her left hand holding the phone to her head there was no ring but the tan line showing it must have recently been there. And two inches from her hand was Hanson's face looking very closely. Clearly personal space between the living and the dead wasn’t a thing.

“How are you making all these notes?” Trout asked.

“Think about what you want to write or take a photo of it, and it’s done. Your visor is merely an extension of your mind, only the stuff we put in the file others have access to.”

Trout tried to think of something he could add, instantly text started to appear, beginning with his name.

Trout: What can I add. I can’t add anything, this guy is a freak. How could I add anything? Oh, wait don’t write that, stop, delete, how do I go back.”

Hanson looked over at Trout. Trout smiled, “You’re not reading the file are you?”

“Yes. I am.”

“um...I didn’t mean to...sorry.”

“That’s fine, it takes practice. Focus on the part you want to delete, and delete it.”

Trout saw that if he thought where to start and moved his mind over the text it highlighted much like a mouse on a computer. Once all the text he had put in was highlighted he attempted to wish it away. “I did it, and it’s still there.”

“True, but it’s been marked for deletion. All redacted notes get reviewed, it will be deleted soon. You can’t delete an official record without permission.”

Trout was now stuck between wanting to do the right thing and take notes and fear of being on the record, everytime he tried. As if reading his mind Hanson said, “Don’t be afraid of it being official, in my experience everything we do, say or think will likely get figured out at some point. Might as well get used to only thinking and saying things you are okay with others seeing anyways.”

Trout wanted to say, easier said than done, but realized that went without saying, so moved on to another curiosity he had, “Why don’t I see your visor?”

“I don’t see yours and you don’t see mine. Remember it's really an extension of your brain except with access to the hub.”

“The hu…”

“Listen Kid, Make a personal note and I’ll tell you later. Now I need to scope out the rest of the house.” Meanwhile Hanson made a personal note that he liked Kid, even more than Trout.

“What should I do?”

“Watch her, Note who she calls and what she does. Message me when the beats arrive.” Hanson said as he started up the stairs.

“Message you?”

Hanson was already halfway up the stairs and followed his own advice when he said, “Never mind, just yell.”

Trout sat quietly watching a woman in shock, staring at her dead husband. They both felt helpless. She because her husband was dead, and Trout because he was. Crime scenes were not foreign to him. He had been a badged officer by age 19, youngest recruit in his academy’s history, and detective by 25. He was so determined to change the world, catching one murderer at a time, and after only a few years he was dead. When his great-great-great, truth was he wasn’t quite sure how great this particular grandpa was, but he told him he could be a homicide detective over here he ran down to the office to sign up. And here he was, nothing to do, staring at a dead body and it’s wife.

His mind thought of 100 things that needed to be done, dust for prints, bag the body, the weapon, interview the wife, set up the autopsy and each of those led to 10 more things to do, but all those things required something he didn’t have, a body. And everything he could think to note that didn’t require a body, the dead Hercule Poirot had noted within five minutes of them being here.

As Trout stewed on the limitations of death he noticed that the woman was coming out of shock and that something clearly hit her, as it did she picked up her phone and dialed, “Tom is that you?”

Not being able to make out the voice on the other line, he moved in closer, as he did he made a note, his visor popped up and he saw,

Trout: She called a Tom at…

He wanted to think of a time but didn’t have a watch, so simply thought the words, current time and 6:47 AM popped into the notes, “Wow, this is nice.” he thought, but was a little disappointed that it appeared in the notes, he marked if for deletion and went back to listening.

“Caden’s dead,” She said.

“Is this a joke?” He was close enough to make out the other line, after stealing a play from Hanson’s playbook when it came to personal space.

“No. I am serious. I came down stairs and he was lying dead on the couch.”

“I’m so sorry, did you call the police?” Tom asked.

“Yes, they are on their way.”

“Good, they will know what to do.”

“But what if they ask me about last night, and who was in the house?”

“Wo, wo, wo, I didn’t end up coming last night. Jim asked that I stay late and guard his stupid paintings. I can prove it to you, in fact, I didn’t want to tell you this but Jim fired me last night.”

“What? He can’t, you need that job.”

“I know. But he can, and he did. He said, I stole something, which is totally untrue. But the point is, I wasn’t there, so don’t mention my name to the cops. It will only confuse them, and even if they clear me, you know what will happen to me?” Tom asked with growing desperation.

“I know, but what if they ask about who has been here lately.”

“Don’t mention my name. I can’t go back. You know that. If not for my sake, think of Riley. She needs me. I need her.”

She thought and he waited for some reassurance. “You never did like Caden,” she said as tears again began to form around the edges of her eyes.

“Daisy, don’t talk like that, I would never, could never hurt Caden. I wasn’t even there, please, please, please don’t mention my name.”

A knock came on the door. “There here, I have to go.”

“Don’t tell them about me Daisy. I can’t go…” She hung up the phone and headed for the door.

“They’re here Hanson.” Trout called out as loud as he could. Instantly Hanson appeared by his side making Trout jump about 6 feet. “Whoa, you can’t even walk down the stairs?”

“There are zero benefits for exercise over here Kid.” The door opened and Hanson cried out in terror.

Here is the link to Chapter 3.