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?