Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What You Gonna Do When They Come For You?




Mentioned this to Bob earlier when we were discussing Smiley Face. Some cops stay on a case, some could care less. I brought up something I hadn't thought about in a very long time. Back in 1982, while the Atlanta child murders were going on, there was a great reporter named Rick Soll covering the story for the Sun-Times. This guy was a great writer, wrote in a narrative that was stellar for its time, and yet he just fell "into the erff" and disappeared, the quotation marks being around a phrase cops around here commonly use. I think in cops novels they call it "in the wind." Well, anyways. Over the course of a week's articles, I made note of a pay phone near a mall that figured into two of the murdered boys. The fact was not mentioned, it was something that just was a realization that anyone might have if they had read each article, one kid had used that phone last, another had been seen near a phone in that same mall entrance between the time he disappeared and the time his body was found. Well, picture Wayne at the long ago age of 22 1/2, grabbing some blank paper and typing a letter to the Atlanta Murder Task Force on his manual Smith-Corona Galaxie Twelve, mentioning my "realization" and stating that I no doubt believe the cops already made the connection, but I thought it was worth writing in. A week later, I received a response to "Wayne Saller" thanking me for my letter and that the detectives had indeed followed up on the lead. I recall exactly how the following moments went, like a scene in a film. My father was in the backyard, wearing his t-shirt bandana, trimming hedges. I showed him the letter, he read it, looked up at me and said, quite seriously "You know this means that they have you on their list of suspects, don't you?" Well, Wayne Saller, at least. But the deadpan way my father delivered that line. The bottom photo was taken in Waynesboro VA at Beth Massie's house, during a weekend gathering of writers like Brian Hodge, David Niall Wilson, and Mark Stephen Rainey. The cop was a friend of the family and I thought a funny photo would be of me cuffed on the ground. I'm not really mugging it up with my expression, because the cop lifted me off the ground by lifting the cuffs between my wrists as we posed for three takes. I still intend to use the photo in a memoir or, hell, a simple author photo. The fake mug shot is one of my cut & paste with scissors & tape deals, there used to be a great photo booth in the Woolworth's on State Street. I could make my hair look like that just by moving my hand over my forehead. If I used a comb, that hair would fall out. It was a time of Larry King-brand prescription glasses and strands of hair on my typewriter keyboard...bad eyes, bad hair, what you gonna do?

8 comments:

HemlockMan said...

Years and years ago, when I first moved to Charlotte, there was a reporter doing a series on the local chapter of the Hells Angels and of how their leader, one "Thunder" Finazzo had turned them into an effective organized crime ring that was pushing out the usual suspects and taking over. In the end, Thunder and his lieutenant were kidnapped and shot, execution style, and the Angels lost their turf battle.

The series of articles was so well written that, years later, I tried to get in touch with the author of them. However, what I discovered was that the series had gotten him noticed by the big boys of media and he was hired first at one big paper and then another and another, each time making a bigger name for himself. By the time I tried to get in touch with him...he was dead.

Apparently he lost control of his vehicle on a twisty-turny road in the mountains of California and...well, fell off a cliff and was crushed to death.

I really wanted to tell that guy what a grand job he did on those early articles.

Could it be someone else wanted to tell him what a grand job he had done? And that they did so?

Anonymous said...

That smiley face thing bugs me because now every parent of a suicide by drowning will be thinking they are offthe hook, and every cop will be trying to ignore the evidence. I'm sure its true about there being a killer or killers but sometimes people just jump because they can't figure out how to fix what's wrong.

You know someplace in my little box of memories i have a pic of a Burbank cop cuffing me and straddling my chest, it was at the summer BBQ of the former mayor of Burbank, who was a total homo- he's the one that hired all the you virile looking boys during the 80's when my aunt lived there. The story of how i got invited to the party is a long one, some snowy night by the fire I'll have to tell you about it. it involves cops in leather the mayor in a gown and a lot of jello shots

Steve Malley said...

Dude, you should be *so* glad that top photo wasn't attached to your letter to the task force!

Total serial killer chic going on there...

Charles Gramlich said...

Staged arrest? Sureeeeee.

Sidney said...

I think Wayne Saller's memoir probably has the making of a James Frey style piece.

Sidney said...

I think Wayne Saller's memoir probably has the making of a James Frey style piece.

Lana Gramlich said...

Cool picture, although the cop looks WAY too happy to have you cuffed on the ground. *L*
I decided a long time ago that I would never have anything to do with police unless I were desperate. I hope I never witness a crime, because I ain't saying NOTHING to NOBODY. Cops have far too much power to barge into peoples' lives & just destroy them utterly. I'm not offering my neck up to the knife.

Anonymous said...

Bad Boy bad boy wa'chew gonna do, wa'chew gonna do when they come for you?


Just fix them with that steely glare and tell them, "You can't hurt me, for I am Emily Dickenson!"


HEF a LumP!