Do You Know How to Fly? 09.01.2017 A


The following is an excerpt from Predator, The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly? It is the first chapter. I already posted part of it and this is the entire chapter complete now.

1

Birth of an Evil Seed

Delmer Smith III was born July 19, 1971 in Detroit, Michigan to a couple who are now both deceased. He is one of multiple children from this mixed-race union. His mother, Velma Shelton, was white and his father was black. Delmer is light skinned, light enough to pass for being white in many circumstances. The mixed bloodlines will provoke identification confusion in the future when, as an adult, he is the suspect in several crimes.
He is given his father’s name and the family happily pronounces him to be Delmer the 3rd. His name, and that of his father, is a variant of Delmar (also used within the family) and comes from Spanish and “Old” French. It means “of the sea.” The choice is, perhaps prophetic in an eerie way.
The sea is a mercurial place. It can be calm, inviting, sublime, and soft at one point in time and then, with little if any warning, it will become treacherous, evil, violent, destructive, a merciless killer. And, so it was to be with Delmer the 3rd. As it is for the sea, he also will be a mystery to those he meets in life. Michele Quinones, his onetime fiancé, told me as she was trying to make sense of their relationship, “He was the man who didn’t exist.”
She went on to say to me, “I recall one day we were fishing and he was standing off behind me and I looked up at him. He didn’t know I was watching him. What I saw was a man stripped for a moment of what or who he was. He was so soft standing there, a little boy. So strange,” she smiled as she thought back. “He was so at peace. And yet, there is this other Delmer that I did not know or even suspect might exist. I saw him for what he might have been, what he could have been, not as he was.”
He was a burglar. He had a weird sexual appetite. He preyed on women who were elderly, or close to being so. Moreover, he was a brutal killer without compassion for his victims, or sense of guilt for what he did to them.
This is a man who is an enigma to many—perhaps even to himself. In his wake will be both terror and love as well as questions—questions that no one will ever be able to fully answer.

The newborn entered the world as all children do, coated in a wet blanket of blood and body fluids from his mother, which left his small wrinkled body coated in a shining slime that needed to be hurriedly washed off. But first, so his mother could touch him, the doctor laid him up high on her stomach. The newborn wriggled about and let go a torrent of crying while the doctor clamped and cut the umbilical cord. Then, nurses carefully lifted him and took him over to a table and water to clean him up.
He was quite a sight, all slick and slimy from the birth, his lungs sucking in huge gulps of air to expel in great rips of crying in protest for having been taken from a warm place and thrust into cool air beneath blinding lights, assaulted by monstrous noises, and unknown things touching him while his arms and legs swatted here and there and at everyone around him as he let his anger be known. Soon, they brought him back to Velma, wrapped tightly in a soft blue blanket and laid him down so she could hold him close. It was only a short while later that Velma and the baby were transported to her room where she could spend more time examining and loving on her baby. And then a small flood of waiting relatives and friends arrived to greet her and the newborn.
Exhausted, he had closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep ignoring the trip down the hall on the stretcher to where they lifted he and his mother onto her hospital bed. It was much later that he felt someone tugging on his blanket and holding his tiny hands.
He opened his eyes to the harsh glare of ceiling lights and a cloud of faces peering down at him all with smiles beaming well wishes. But he didn’t understand all that and he didn’t understand why they were holding his hands and marveling at how strong he was. “What a grip,” someone said. “Just look at how he holds on.” Little could the friends and relatives surrounding him then imagine that those tiny hands would grow and one day beat, sexually assault, drag, and even kill women not much older than his own mother was then.
Then he was surrounded in safety and comfort by his parents, brothers, sisters, other family members, and a handful of family friends. They most assuredly were like others when addressing a new born for the first time. They would have remarked at how tiny his fingers and toes were in comparison to theirs. Perhaps they marveled about how strong the tiny hands were as his fingers curled about theirs and tightened, never suspecting that those fingers one day would be suspected of curling around a baseball bat and beating a woman to death in Sarasota, Florida.
They would have laughed as they tried to get his attention by making odd sounds and tickling him. And he, like all newborns, probably just yawned and looked this way and that, not focusing on any one person or thing. They would have wondered about his future. They surely laughed and were excited about his prospects and, like many parents and well-wishers do, probably even imagined him becoming some famous and wealthy person, maybe even the President of the United States. However, it was not to be. A bad seed is hard to recognize when so tiny. He would become famous, in a sense, as he terrorized parts of Sarasota and Manatee Counties because of the brutality of his crimes.
It is doubtful that anyone present in Delmer Smith’s life then would have dared to predict, or could have imagined, that thirty-eight years later this then tiny bundle of life would be under arrest and accused of being a violent serial rapist, home invader, burglar, murderer, and suspected drug trafficker. All they would have seen before them then, wrapped in a soft blue hospital blanket, was a baby reaching up, sleepy eyed, with curling fingers and toes, stretching, a wonder of life.
No one could have anticipated his troubled youth or his struggle with education. This child would repeat the second grade, and then the third, the fourth, and the fifth. At age fourteen, and in the fifth grade, he was surrounded by nine and ten year olds. Then, suddenly, he was promoted to the ninth grade skipping all the years between, and placed into a special needs class. Testing would determine his verbal IQ to be seventy, one point above “retarded.”
Not one of his then admirers saw the monster he would become. However, as he grew older, there were several neighborhood events, referred to anonymously by those who knew him as a child, which surfaced in and before his teenage years, that were indicative of a troubled future. No one then recognized his lack of impulse control that would plague him. It would not be identified until he was much older and then on trial for his life.
Nevertheless, Delmer Smith has another side to him that was noted by Michele Quinones. It was also discussed in open court during the presentencing stage of his murder trial when the defense introduced two of his family members who, as young girls, had their lives significantly influenced by his interactions with them over the years.

 

 

Do You Know How to Fly?


A book about a serial rapist and killer.

This is a blogged book. It is about a real killer and real victims.

PROLOGUE

“How is it that you didn’t know? How could you not see these things about him?” Michele Quinones leaned her head slightly to the side as she repeated the same questions that had been put to her by those she thought she knew and whom she thought knew her.

Her face was expressionless; however, her head and right hand responded with a slight rise and then dip as she placed emphasis on each “you” echoing the questions put to her repeatedly in disbelief by family members and friends.

It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon, April 14th, 2013, and the one-time girlfriend of Delmer Smith, an attractive, intelligent, forty-two year old woman, sat with me at a small table outside the Panera Bread Company in the Coco Plum Plaza in North Port, Florida, drinking iced coffee. We had just finished lunch at the sandwich shop where we met to discuss her relationship with a man who terrorized women living alone in Sarasota and Manatee Counties in 2009.

She paused in her thoughts, her unblinking, dark eyes held mine in their grasp. I could see in her gaze that she was hurting deep within.

“That is what they asked me. You know? Over and over again.” She looked away and down, and then added, “It wasn’t so much a question,” she said, “but more of a demand.”

A short-lived smile touched her lips. Her voice lowered, softened. She lit a cigarette, busying her fingers, took a deep draw on it, then blew the first exhale up and away from my direction. “My friends,” she inhaled again. “My family,” she said quietly, more to herself than to me. Her eyes were still looking down and with the palm of her free hand she absentmindedly smoothed her dress. “It was like, you know, I was at fault for some reason. I was the guilty one. That is what they wanted to know.” To be continued.

Dinner With Diane Brinker


Jan and I were very fortunate to have as a dinner guest yesterday evening Diane Brinker who was one of  the eight sisters of Kathleen Briles. There were 9 girls and 2 boys. Diane shared a lot of details with us and it was a pure blessing to simply be able to sit and talk with her. In some ways, having conversations with her and others, the people in these stories become family to me as I ride along listening to the fun days and the sad days. It is so sad to me to meet them with all this pain brought about by one person, and the tragedy is that Kathleen would not have died if the FBI had not failed to keep their computer data base up to date. Diane shared photos of her sister and her family with us. It was a wonderful evening but so tragically  brought about. It leaves me with a major responsibility to write Nightmare in Terra Ceia with as much sensitivity as I can muster.

GOODREADS BOOK GIVEAWAY


Goodreads has a contest running on my book Do You Know How To Fly which is a true crime novel. It is the first of two books about a career criminal who came to the Tampa Bay area after being placed on parole for bank robbery and sentenced to 15 1/2 years in Federal prison.

Shortly after his arrival here he dumped the woman who married him sight unseen while he was in prison and who helped his being released from prison and moved in with a woman much younger. Shortly after that he began a series of robberies, assaults, and home invasions. It ended with his capture after a bar fight but too late for the murder of a local doctor’s wife. Sadly had the FBI’s CODIS program for DNA been up to date he would have been stopped months prior before two local women (one the doctor’s wife) was brutally murdered.

THE DAY THAT HEMINGWAY DIED


I will never forget the day that Hemingway died

Nor of how he died on ‘61’s second day of July

I was sixteen years old way back then

And far too much to the universe tuned in

I will never forget the shock that filled me as I cried

Deep inside a wounded creature not knowing why

Not even knowing much about the man I stood

Alone in silence surrounded by living woods

That were more than silent that day he died

To me they were, to me they were and yet

The world still moved and went its passing way

But in my heart, I knew something broke that day

Something strange that day had come and gone its way

The day that Papa died, yes that day on ‘61s second day of July       1/14/17

KIRKUS REVIEW OF DO YOU KNOW HOW TO FLY?


KIRKUS REVIEW

Kuhn’s debut true-crime story shows how a violent man’s life led him to death row.

The author uses interviews and other sources to piece together the life of Delmer Smith, a seasoned career criminal awaiting execution in Florida. Smith was born in Detroit in 1971, on the cusp of the city’s economic decline. By age 14, he was convicted of raping a woman at a carwash where he worked. The 18 months that he spent in a juvenile reformatory dashed any possibility of rehabilitation; instead, he learned “how to be more proficient as a criminal” as he became “a creature without a conscience.” As a young adult, Kuhn writes, Smith carried out burglaries, carjackings, and bank robberies, which eventually led to a 15-year incarceration. After his second prison stint, he moved to Florida; there, Kuhn writes, Smith assaulted and beat multiple women—all the while leading a double life as a “wise and loving uncle” to his two nieces. Eventually, the violence led to a murder conviction. The author interviewed many of Smith’s victims and found that the women were now “desperately seeking someone or something to fully trust again.” Thanks to these firsthand accounts, readers receive a nuanced portrait of a predatory man. Kuhn’s decision to jump between accounts of Smith’s early life and present-day interviews is an effective one; by regularly pulling readers back to the present, he reminds them of the painful, enduring impact of his subject’s actions. Moreover, Kuhn shows a great deal of sensitivity when recounting the crimes, evoking deep pathos instead of graphic sensationalism. That said, the book does include some unnecessary background information, including three pages on Smith’s birth alone; it also bafflingly overuses section breaks, which disrupt the otherwise strong narrative flow.

A thoughtful, engaging account of a brutal life and the carnage that it left behind.

Book Two of Predator Coming Soon


They were husband and wife. Best friends. Two who loved each other without question. Her name was Kathleen, Kathy for short. His was Doctor James Briles. He went by Jim.

Kathy spent the last day of her life excited with the prospects of preparing a special dinner for the man she loved. One they would never share. She had gotten her hair done just as it had been on their first date. She had stopped to visit with friends telling them of her plans for the evening.

It was to be a special night. One filled for them with the sense and wonder of simply being in love. But the actions of one man, one monster, turned it into a scene of horror.

Book One is published: Do You Know How to Fly?

You can order it from Barnes and Noble, Amazon has it and also has it in e-book fashion, and I have it on http://www.authorgordonkuhn.com . Order from me and it will arrive with my personal note to you.