Modus Operandi

 

The Rocket watched carefully. His target was near. Once again his skill and his daring would be their undoing. A young man who went by the moniker The Rocket was feeling a need: a need to take. He watched as a slightly older than middle-aged woman stopped to root in her purse for something. With a quick glance around him he darted out from his hiding place between the buildings. He stopped only for a smile, to tip his hat and to say “thank you” as he relieved the shocked individual of her purse.

As The Rocket darted away down the street he was laughing at his daring. It never failed to amuse him that it was so easy to swipe a purse in broad daylight. His feet had carried him a mere 10 feet before they betrayed him. Without time to understand what was happening to him The Rocket watched as the pavement rose up to meet his face. He dropped the purse he had just liberated in an attempt to protect himself. Just before he reached the ground, he heard a voice.

“Once you’ve finished your fall I would suggest you stay there.” An ominous voice instructed.

“What the . . . !”

“Watch your language young man. There are ladies present.”

The Rocket tried to sit up but realized that there were something sticking in the middle of his back keeping him down and it hurt. As a matter of fact most of him hurt. Someone had tripped him!

A moment went by as The Rocket collected his thoughts.

“That’s better Richard. You might want to get up off the pavement. It is a little undignified.” That voice again!

“That’s not my name!” As he stood up, the boy known as The Rocket looked at the man who seemed to be the cause of his most recent fiasco.

“Your name is Richard Dunston. You are 14 years old and have been in and out of juvenile hall for two years. Your mother is so worried that she asked me to take you under my wing. So why don’t you sit down here and we can get to know each other a little better.”

The newly identified Richard stood staring at this old man with a cane and dog. He couldn’t think of anything to say. So he said nothing. He also wanted desperately to run away but he realized now who exactly was sitting on the park bench. This man probably had Richard’s future in his hands. So Richard, formerly known as The Rocket, sat down.

If anyone had bothered to look they would have seen an elderly gentleman of some distinction sitting quietly beside a young boy. At the feet of the gentleman was an obviously excited dog. It seemed as if everyone was waiting for something to happen.

Not a moment later the woman who had previously been relieved of her purse approach the park bench. She was smiling. She retrieved her purse from where it had fallen on the sidewalk and nodded her head at the two men.

“Good job done Superintendent, you were right. Shall I leave him in your hands?”

“Yes thank you Constable. I’ll call in my report later.”

“Good luck kid. You’ll need it.”

The now identified policewoman took her purse, straightened her back and walked purposefully away. Richard a.k.a. The Rocket stared at her retreating back with something akin to horror. He had been set up! By an old man and a girl! He would never live this down.

“How? How did you know?” He just kept repeating one word: how?

“Well son, do you know what a modus operandi is?” Richard just looked blank.

“I’ll take that as a no. I guess I should introduce myself.” So for the next few minutes Brett did just that. As Richard listened he felt more and more at a loss. His life was changing drastically.

Brett Bramwell Kirkland was a retired Police Superintendent. He had worked for 37 years with a near spotless record. The only complaint ever made against him simply reinforced his image of impartiality and of doing the right thing regardless of cost. Four years ago his wife of fifty two years had died. He kept in touch with his four children and their families but he lived alone except for Ten-four: a small West Highland Terrier. His name Ten-four, in police language means everything is fine. The dog was given to Brett by his grandson.

Nowadays Brett could be found walking his dog in this neighbourhood almost every day or lounging on this particular park bench. Which is how Richard’s mother knew where to go when she needed help.

Richard was on a path of destruction. He fought, he drank and he stole. He had been in trouble with the police and his next step would probably land him in a penitentiary. So Brett had been prevailed upon to help.

“You make a lousy criminal kid.” Brett spoke quietly. Richard balled his hands and looked as if he wanted to start a fight.

“I can keep you from jail and alive, but you have to do something for me.”

“I don’t gotta do nuthin you say!” Richard was definitely spoiling for a fight. He jumped up from the park bench and turned to face his accuser.

“Oh sit down. You give me a hard time, I call the cops, you go to jail. How long you go to jail will depend on what my mood is. So it is in your best interest to do as I say.” The quiet authority with which this man spoke caused the young criminal to re-think his situation.

Richard was starting to understand that he was stuck between a rock and hard place. So he sat down, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to listen.

First of all, you are going to return all the items still in your possession that belong to other people. Next, you are going to meet the principal of the high school and make arrangements to get back in school. Then you are going to write letters to all the people whose names I will give you, that you have stolen from. The police keep very good records. And finally, you’re going to get a job. That job is to be my assistant. Ten-four needs to be walked regularly and I’m sure I can think of a great many other activities to keep you out of trouble. I’ll pay you what you’re worth so you had better do a good job.

Poor Richard looked as if he were ready to cry. All the fight had gone out of him. He had met his match. He reached down to scratch the silly white dog’s head. Maybe things weren’t that bad. The old man had a cute dog.

“Hey mister, how’d you know I’d be here today?”

“Modus operandi. It is a Latin phrase that means method of operating. People do the same thing out of habit. It’s those habits that make criminals easy to catch. People do the same things the same way almost every time.”

Richard thought for a moment and then realized he’d just been taught a life lesson. People were predictable. It’s what made understanding them a possibility.

“So what’s your modus operandi?” Richard asked of the older man.

The retired superintendent smiled, “I catch thugs for breakfast.”

The two men sat beside each other on the park bench. Each set in their ways but ready to face the changes the world would force upon them. At their feet quietly sat a small white dog, he too was waiting for a change.

“How about a walk in the park?”

 

the end

 

 

 

 

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Hello?

 

Hello! She said

Her smile intact

The world

A beautiful place.

No one answered

They turned away

Darkness

All around.

Hello! She said

A hopeful grin

Trying to stay

Positive.

A single child

Stopped and looked

Shy and tentative

He was.

Hello. She said

Her smile had dimmed

Wistful and

Subdued.

Hello? He asked

Unsure, afraid

Was anyone there

To hear.

Hello! She laughed

All was well

A single light

Broke forth.

Hello!! She shouted

The world to hear

A single voice

Did conquer!

I Am Going To Kill . . .

 

Now that sounds like a mighty provocative statement don’t you think? But what does it mean? Am I going to end someone’s existence? Murder? Or am I going to end the existence of that hamburger on that plate?

Context. It’s all about context. And quite frankly ‘Kill’ could mean any number of things: ruin something, overpower, block, hurt, make time pass, laugh . . . . the list is pretty extensive. Confused yet?

I speak one language well (well, pretty well) and I will acknowledge it is a rather confusing language. “Stay where you’re at, and I’ll come where you’re to”. Drive on a parkway and park on a driveway. To anyone to whom English is a second language: Kudos! Even some of us born to it have issues.

I am finding more and more that it is not how well I speak that is important, it is how well I am understood. And the onus is not on the person to whom I am speaking, rather it is on me. I love words. I have a university degree in English. I often use words that are multiple syllables long and sometimes archaic. To my ear I am speaking appropriately. Unfortunately it is not my ear that I am speaking to. I was in a grocery store the other day and looking for a particular item. I was looking for aubergines. For the life of me I could not remember it’s common name. When I asked I was told that they didn’t sell exotic items. I was looking for eggplants.

I love the fact that I live in a multicultural nation. I love the fact that people from all over the world choose to come to my beautiful country. I believe we are stronger for that. But it also presents difficulties that I’m quite sure 30 years ago we never thought about: everyday conversations. And then of course you have the generation that speaks in symbols, short forms and acronyms. The flavour of the word is lost when you LOL. The first person that ever used that acronym for me was a dear, dear friend. I thought it meant Lots of Love. You can imagine my chagrin when an acquaintance used it. Context my friends, context.

There is a marvellous scene in an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation where one character holds up a hot cup of tea and asks another how he would explain what she is holding in her hand, to an alien race. For those of you in the know it was counsellor Troy and Capt. Picard. Was she holding hot, liquid, glass, cup of tea, beverage? And if the alien race had no concept of drinking a cup of tea how do you explain it to them? And that is our problem here in present-day Earth. Context.

All over the world things are done differently in different countries. They refer to things by different names. When we come together there’s a great deal of miscommunication. Our job is to keep trying to communicate until we’re all on the same page. When I write that down it seems like such an easy thing to do. And yet you know as well as I do easy is harder then it looks. We will never, ever fail as long as we keep trying. I’ll keep trying and I’ll stop looking for aubergines!

Circumstances of Childhood

 

Circumstances of Childhood.

By John W. Howell

 

Available on Kindle

Shipping on October 1st. Priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

This is a different story for John. It is in the Family Life genre and tells the story of brotherly love, riches to rags, redemption and a little paranormal thrown in. Normally John writes thrillers but this time he has stepped into a different place. This book was written with love for the story and the hope it will be an enjoyable read.

Here is the blurb:

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of inspiration, riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

Here is an excerpt.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

Author Bio.

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories.  His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The latest Circumstances of Childhood a family life story is available as of October 1st, 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books:

My GRL, His Revenge and Our Justice

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell