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 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.
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
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.
Eric sat up in the smother of hay and looked at the two other mice whose faces had emerged from behind a pile of damp fiber. “I told you he would wake this day,” said the one to the right. “I cast stones and they said it would be today.”
“Oh shut up,” said the one to the left. “What do you know about stone casting.”
“Ha, more than you.”
Slowly the both emerged from the shadows. “You’ve been asleep a long time,” they both said almost in unison. “Mind if I touch you,” the one of the right said and extended a paw.
“Who are you and where I am I,” Eric said pulling back as he realized that both of these field mice were much larger than he, almost like rats.
“Ah, you don’t need to worry yourself about who we are but as far as where you are well, that is another matter.”
“And the time. The time and day of the year is important.”
“Fine,” Eric said angrily. “Where am I. Isn’t this Farmer Gragers’ farm?”
“Yes, but another time and day and you’ve travelled here. You would think you have come forward a hundred years but in reality you slid sideways. We tell every arrival that they have gained a hundred years. It is just easier that way.”
“How so? Well, when are able to you will see and find you are different.”
“Yes,” the one on the right said excitedly.
“Can I tell him where he is?” The two looked at each other and then said, “Outside, just down the road is the town of Llandia. Do you know it?” 1/13/17 Copyright Gordon Kuhn Unedited Text.
And so as evening fell fully away from the day and
Those watching went their separate way
Speaking not of evil left there cloaked in dark wings
And left behind small Aleen to sit high upon the hill
The rocky hill that overlooked the city of LLandia
Where the mission keeper sat and looked past them as they left
Brooding about the mission sent him on
And snarled at those who turned to look back at him
For what was their want? Could they have found a better one.
His dark fangs revealed his mood and waited for the taste of blood.
That would run from throats slit by fingernail and dragon tail of wingspan spread
He would wait till fully dark and then mount his quest and deliver the blows
While the silly younger ones left behind who groveled at their teachers feet
Waited for a tasty treat and yet
And yet he recalled Anlock the Strong who spoke to him so long before
Long before the mission clear was in his mind and vision spell
There he had lain away so many days and nights until it became so very clear
That death, dear death would somehow come once again near
And as told when Anloch’s face was close, so close he could hear
The breathing from the lungs deep behind the lacquered armored hide
“Kill them swifty, little one. Surprise those of your kind larger than you.
Surprise them at your strength and keep in mind,
There will come a day when you will have to kill them too.” 1/12/2017
Angels or demons cast their nets
Wide caught those with memories
Memories of rights and wrongs, I think
Those with recall so sharp and clear
Memories of thoughts themselves cursed
Cursed as were the moments in time brought forth
Forth brought the issues as played out in life complex
Angels or demons, I know not which crawl through my mind
And pull me from the present to the past intense
Visions not wished to replay
But seen there on the big screen
Unable to stop them from their haunting. 1/10/17
She had blue eyes,
Vulnerable, blue eyes
And they held him in their grasp
Gentleness lived there so much he had to gasp
And she never spoke; she never once spoke
Yet her eyes could easily jokingly poke
And raise the issue of man and woman
As the world floated past the two who were human
As they lay in a grassy field, in a soft and wavy grassy field
Their hands from the sun wide-open eyes did shield
And his protected hers so deep they were and so blue
As they lay in peace and in love so true.
She had blue eyes, deep, soft blue eyes
Vulnerable blue eyes.
Copyright 2/3/2015 Gordon Kuhn
Eric suddenly realized something was wrong. The hay smelled stale, rotted actually. How long had he slept, he wondered? Hours? Days? No, impossible, he had never slept for more than a few hours and if he had someone would have woken him.
He heard shuffling and mumbling coming from off to his left and then to his right. Suddenly, little brown noses poked into the cavity. Field Mice noses. Then he saw an eye blinking at him. “He’s awake!” a mouse voice said to his left.
“No.” A mouse voice said to his right.
Then the noses and the eyes suddenly broke out of the hay and there he sat being studied intently by two field mice, one from the left and one from the right.
“It’s impossible,” said the mouse to the right.
“Well, it is what it is,” said the one on the left. “I told you he was waking up.”
“Yes, you did but….”
Eric suddenly sat up. “Who are you? I don’t recognize either of you.”
“Good God, he can talk,” the mice said together. “I think we should tell the Queen,” said the one on the left. “No, I don’t think that is wise,” from the right. “She’s been bashing people on the head with her club. I don’t even want to go near her,” said the one on the left. “Besides we need more information,” they said together.
So it happened that Eric fell asleep for what appeared to be only a few minutes, but the reality was it was hours and days and months that had passed in a twinkling when Eric finally yawned and sat up in what was now a pollution of rotted hay for he had been left there as the others were unable to wake him. But then there was a shuffling noise in the far in of his den and out popped the faces of two who were his own age, except you had to consider he was actually over a hundred at the time, but not physically. Physically he was only 3 or was it 4. I’m not sure, maybe 5. Yes, let’s say he was 5 and be done with it except…..well….plus a hundred.