Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, July 02, 2012

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Conversations with a Dead Man

A stroll through an old cemetery will reveal very little about the people buried there. Their headstones will whisper of father, wife or lost child----but they don't sing of the lives those men and women led. Even our national heroes are lucky to have one or two of their life's accomplishments inscribed on their markers for future generations to marvel at.

Cemeteries are filled with forgotten people. They were people who had lives rich with or empty of the joys that just being alive creates for us.

Once we are dead and gone, our lives quickly fade into small morsels of oral history and are slowly forgotten by family and friends as time and generations pass.

What would these forgotten souls tell us if they could talk?

Conversations With a Dead Man answers some of those questions from a dead man's point of view. John Wesley Elder will share his loves, failures, accomplishments and the simple life he led with you.

The Man in the Mountain

For most of us, we have mental pictures of just what and how our favorite authors live. Their lives must be far richer and more interesting than ours, because they have the ability to engage our minds and thrill our souls with their visions of what life was, is or could be.

These word smiths can hold our imaginations in a vise grip with the grace and skill they weave action, love, adventure, and science fiction genres into a whole cloth we can clad ourselves in for an hour or a life time.

This magic cloth allows us to escape our own truth and absorb realities that thrill, intrigue or titillate us. At times authors can: relieve boredom, fear or want, and offer the grace of comfort to our mundane day to day existence. Most at one time or another has sought the company of our favorite author's work to do some or all of those things.

Poets entice us to spend an hour On Walden's Pond, historians teach us the lessons of The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire, theologians interpret The Last Days of Christ for us, and humorist show us The Redneck Dictionary is really us as others see us.

We think we know these word smiths, those tellers of tales who will join, entertain and instruct us with the turn of a page or the touch of a screen. To one degree or another, we are what we read and what we read depends on the author who engages our mind.

But what would happen if a group of people found themselves in a real life web of entanglement and relied to one degree or another on their favorite author?

Would those solutions rendered in print, meet their needs or fail without aiding them as they sought solutions to their own drama?

Another small question might concern some of our favorite authors, would they meet our mental image of who they really are?

I invite you to spend some time with me and explore these questions, as you touch the screen or turn the page.


Historical fiction has a foundation of truth but that truth is often shrouded in fiction. Some claim that only time and distance can separate the two.

We have all lived through events that have shocked or changed our nation.

The assassination of Martin Luther King, or John and Robert Kennedy, men traveling into space, and landing on the moon, and of course the bombing of the World Trade Center; these are just a few examples that have occurred in my life time. These are the pivotal events that surround us I and others think we know all of the important facts.

But do we remember? Ask yourself or a friend what date any of these events happened on, see if you or they can give the exact date or even some of the facts surrounding any of these or other major past events of your lifetime.

Americans are noted for their short memories, we invented the term "Attention Deficit Disorder" to describe it. We immerse ourselves in an event for a short time span, then quickly lay the event aside and move to the next. If those events didn't or don't affect us directly----they are quickly forgotten.

23 October 1983 is one of those forgotten events. One of those events where we felt we knew all the facts and then it was quickly forgotten. I ask one simple question---"Do you really know all of the facts?" There are hundreds of these events, forgotten by all but those who lived them.

I invite you to read "Forgotten", separate the history from the fiction. Another term to remember would be "Plausible Deniability", facts that did happen are handled in a manner that allows them to be denied by those who caused them to happen. Separating plausible deniability from fiction can be almost impossible. At times this is by design of those who use the term.

When you've finished reading this "Historical Fiction", ask yourself if you have forgotten.

You must decide, what is fact, what is fiction, and what could be plausible deniability shrouding truth.

Buzz Words

Most of us think we understand how police investigations work. We've seen them depicted on television so often we believe it's really only one or two hardnosed, lone wolf detectives who will shoot, punch or intimidate criminals as they investigate crimes and apply justice in their own way. The image fiction has imprinted on minds is one of fast paced, rough and tumble fearless officers who are always at odds with their bosses, politicians and the law. They also manage to solve every crime in the amount of time allotted for the shows time slot, normally in forty-five minutes or less after you remove the commercials.

Real life police work is not for the faint of heart, and it is work; mind numbing work that at times makes you feel more like a researcher with a weapon than a law enforcement specialist.

Those lone wolf fictional police officers would mostly be unsuccessful in real life for one single reason, lack of teamwork.

Law enforcement requires a dedicated team of people who possess many different specialized skill sets, all working towards a single goal, and the processing of evidence to aide an officer in making a solid arrest.

There are specialized segments of police work that are accomplished by shadow people. These are the ones who're given the artifacts of a crime and asked to find information to confirm facts or assist the efforts of investigators as they search for answers to who, what where when and most importantly why.

Shadow people must be just as dedicated, just as driven, and just as determined as the officers they work for. Their knowledge of the specialized area they work in must produce accurate evidence for the investigator to work with and also stand the test of our judicial system to be of any value.

C.W. Burwell was a shadow person. One who met all of the requirements officers seek when they need a staffer from the shadows to process forensic evidence. He's just as driven and dedicated as the men and women he worked for.

CW is also snoopy, very married and retired. Retirement allows him to pursue two goals that he has set for himself, much to the shock of his wife and their bank account.

In an effort to give something back not only for law enforcement, but to fill a personal goal of his own, he buys the equipment of his trade and sets up shop. He offers his skills to small departments in an effort to help them process some of their evidence quicker. He also wants to train one or two officers in his field to aide and assist those small departments.

This is the very thing that will force him to reopen an investigation that has haunted him and one of his friends. Cliff is a sworn law officer from a medium sized department and the holder of a cold case. No one in law enforcement, not the shadow people or sworn officers, wants to be responsible for leaving an icebox behind after they move on.

CW and Cliff have worked this cold case so many times; they know the box contents by heart. A chance encounter with two other cold cases and theirs launches a frantic search for a serial killer------a very successful sadistic killer--------one who's on a mission; a mission that brutally ends the lives of young girls---------only young girls who are relatives of policemen.

You are introduced to the shadow world of forensics and watch an investigation from the inside as it starts, builds and reaches a climax. You are allowed to sit with a shadow person for just a short time and work with him. You will feel the pressure, confusion and fatigue of an active, desperate race against time as the investigation starts, builds with each piece of information found and ends in the arrest phase.

The only person in any investigation who has all the facts is the lead investigator. You'll meet Marty D, the driving force in an investigation that is twenty-one years old, as she sorts through the fog of time to prevent another Star.

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