Tag Archives: writing

On The Thrill Begins – Shutting Places Down Like Eliot Ness

Many of you may not know this, but my road to publication came with some major potholes. As part of the Tough Times series on The Thrill Begins, I explain how I started to feel Untouchable – in a very bad way.

http://thrillbegins.com/2017/05/11/shutting-down-places-like-eliot-ness/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

How The Night Manager Gives Us Hope for Television

There is half a psychopath lurking in there, Jonathan. I want you to find him and stick to him.”

Angela Burr to Jonathan Pine in The Night Manager

 

For the most part, television bores me.  Occasionally, I stumble across a clever sitcom or entertain myself by dissecting a police drama while rolling my eyes at the inaccuracies or logical fallacies.  It’s not that I’m a television snob, but rather that I long to find shows that are well-written and compelling.  As I write this, articles announcing series cancellations are flooding the news outlets.  Castle is gone.  Agent Carter is gone.  Person of Interest is gone.  A dozen other shows I barely knew existed are gone.  I find these cancellation announcements disheartening, but not necessarily because I’ll miss the shows.  I often find the news clips depressing because many of the series that are being eliminated have been limping along and probably should have been whacked a season or two prior to the finale.

This is the problem with a series that has an indefinite termination date.  The duration of the adventure is determined by ratings and not by quality.  I believe this can give a limited series, or a mini-series, quite an advantage in the screenwriting and production.  Lately, I’ve been watching The Night Manager, which is based on the novel by John le Carré.  Since the six-part series is based on a novel, there is a definite end in sight and the screenwriters were able to feed off of a great starting point.

taller de ilustracion digital - 217

Presumably due to the limited number of episodes, the producers were able to round up an amazing cast for The Night Manager.  Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie headline a collection of actors that includes Tom Hollander, Olivia Colman, and Elizabeth Debicki.  While I’m struck by the cast and the incredible scenery in the show, I’m more fascinated with the efficiency and powerfulness of the writing.  This is something not often found in typical television series and sadly is not always found in literature.  As the series is based on book written by a legendary author, the quality of the writing is hardly a surprise.  However, it is still refreshing when such efforts make their way to the small screen.  I recently came across another example with a mini-series production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.  There is no way the story could have been told as well in a 120 minute movie and it certainly would have become a mess if turned into a full television series.

Storytelling is not just about the plot and the characters, but the pacing and the duration.  If you think back to some recent novels you’ve read, I’m sure you can name several you felt were fifty or even one hundred pages too long.  Similarly, there is little doubt that you have sped through a novel that seemed to drop off an unexpected cliff at a premature end.  These pacing and duration problems plague the television movie industries and are the reasons why so few productions are done as well as The Night Manager.

When the proper amount of time is allocated for a story, dialogue doesn’t ramble and words become more meaningful.  The action is deliberate and related to either the plot or a character’s development.  When a limited series is done correctly, we finish watching that final episode feeling sorry that it’s over, but not really wishing it would continue.  That’s how The Night Manager can serve as an entertaining reminder for writers.  It is also how the series has renewed my faith in the ability for television to keep viewers engaged without simply seeking out the next concept that will shock viewers.  The art of storytelling is in fact alive on the small screen, but it sure would be nice if there were more examples to find.

Share any thoughts you have in the comments below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

Protective Neutrality: The Secret Service and Political Viewpoints

A lot of things have made me cringe during this election year, but one misconception that tends to make me shake my head in disbelief is that a President or Presidential candidate is surrounded by a group of Secret Service agents who support a particular platform and remove protestors from events. This simply is not the case and for good reasons. In this post, I will attempt to dispel a few myths and explain why those who bravely serve in the United States Secret Service do not allow personal beliefs to factor into the way the job is performed.

 

What President did you report to?

I’ve been asked that question multiple times by people who mean well enough but do not understand how the United States Secret Service functions. I served in the agency from 2000 to the end of 2006 and at no time did I report to any President, Vice President, candidate, or any other individual who was designated to receive Secret Service protection (a protectee). I started my career during the Clinton administration and finished it during the administration of George W. Bush. During that span, I helped to protect individuals associated with both of those administrations as well as countless visiting foreign heads of state. My colleagues and I approached the job in the same manner regardless if the protectee was a Republican, a Democrat, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the President of Micronesia.

A misconception held by some is that Secret Service agents work for the President.

A misconception held by some is that Secret Service agents work for the President.

Agents report through the Secret Service’s chain of command and not to any politician. This is logical since elected politicians come and go, but the agency is a permanent fixture. Agents are trained to follow procedures that ensure the rights of individuals are respected while threats are addressed using the minimum amount of force. For agents to take orders from protectees who may not be familiar with specific policies, use of force regulations, and federal statutes, would be risky for all involved. Not only would it be unfair to expect a protectee to understand the intricacies of protective operations, but visiting heads of state could not possibly be expected to be familiar with laws in the United States. Thus, agents do not work for, or report to, anybody they are assigned to protect.

 

Why did the USSS remove that protestor?

First of all, please note the proper abbreviation for the agency is USSS, not SS. The abbreviation “SS” has a negative connotation to it from the days of Nazi Germany and there are already enough people out there who misunderstand the role of the USSS.  Let’s not make things any tougher for the agency.

As for why the USSS removed a protestor: The chances are they did not. Agents do not remove protestors unless they potentially pose a physical threat to the protectee. Time and time again, we have seen news clips of protestors being removed from events and sometimes those removing the individuals are wearing suits and earpieces. Usually, those individuals are event or campaign staff members who have asked the individual to leave and then removed the person for trespassing once the protestor failed to depart. Just as if you hosted a party in a large banquet room for which you paid and decided you wanted somebody removed, political committees and event hosts can do the same thing. Most of the time, the protestor is being removed for violating some local statute such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, or disturbing the peace. You may disagree in the legality of this process, but I am only pointing out that the Secret Service does not get involved in these matters as the main focus of the agents is, and should be, the welfare of the protectee.

 

How could you possibly protect someone who believes ________?

Can you imagine the nightmare that would ensue if Secret Service agents started deciding what viewpoints warranted protection? It would be similar to having individual police officers decide they are not going to enforce any laws with which they disagree. The result would be pure chaos.

Protecting the President and the White House is only one duty of the USSS.

Protecting the President and the White House is only one duty of the USSS.

Look. Here is the bottom line. The Secret Service is in the business of protecting lives, not assessing a value to those lives. Perhaps you think some lives are not worth protecting and that is your prerogative. However, every successful assassination makes a future assassination seem more feasible in someone’s mind. If we cannot protect world leaders in the United States, a place where we place a great deal of emphasis on freedom of expression, then it becomes open season on leaders everywhere. Aside from all this, when an attack occurs, agents react according to their training. The practiced reactions become reflexes and when decisive action is needed the last thing an agent is thinking about is the protectee’s stance on abortion. How reflexive are these reactions?  Allow me to give a real life example.

A few years ago, I was with a protectee at a baseball game which was in a rain delay. A storm with strong wind gusts had forced the spectators into the crowded concourse area and the protectee decided to walk around the concrete walkways. Suddenly, a deafening “bang” rang out from behind us. Without any hesitation, I draped myself over the back of the protectee and began moving her toward the motorcade.

Of course, it took me a few seconds to remember I had not been an agent for quite a while and the “protectee” was actually my wife who was wondering why she was being forcibly abducted by her own spouse. But, it was a learning experience for me. I discovered that the reactions that had been engrained in me were still present and that a portable concession stand toppling over onto concrete sounds a lot like a gunshot. Seriously. The similarity is uncanny.


My point is that agents react according to the hundreds of hours they have spent training to ward off an attack. To train people to step into the line of fire instead of jumping behind cover is incredibly difficult and once the training is instilled in an individual, it does not simply fade away (as many Pittsburgh Pirates fans now realize after watching me accost my wife).

So this election year, please remember that not everything is political. Although Secret Service agents are thoughtful individuals  who certainly have their own political viewpoints, those opinions vanish when it is time to go to work. The apolitical nature of the job is actually refreshing when you stop to think about it.

Imagine what it would be like if more people focused on doing their jobs and upholding their oaths regardless of personal ideology. Not only would we be incredibly efficient, but we would all be considerably safer from rouge concession stands.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

2014

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

The Motivating Effects of New Toys & Money Spent

After I got into distance running, I learned various ways to motivate myself to get out there and pound the pavement.  One surprising motivator I found was money.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve never had ANY chance to run a race fast enough to win any cash.  In fact, there have been races in which I should have paid any spectators who had to witness the horrible expressions on my face as I entered mile 12 of a half-marathon.  The monetary motivation I’m talking about is the money I’ve already spent.  I’ve found that if I shelled out $100 on a pair of running shoes or a GPS watch, I’m more likely to run.  Additionally, once I pay anywhere from $50 to $100 to register for a race, you can be damn sure I’m running that sucker!  Lately, I’ve discovered the same motivation has been helpful with my writing.

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Not Creating Guilt-filled Motivation

I’m not a real “gadget” person.  I’m usually content with any device that is simple and works.  My running watch is about ten models old and is about the size of Captain America’s shield.

Not a user-friendly running watch

Not a user-friendly running watch

I don’t use any heart rate monitors or dive into any software that calculates my optimal stride length or calorie intake.  When I write novels, I open up Microsoft Word and type away while marveling at how many of my sentences become underlined with green for poor grammar or in blood for my atrocious spelling.  It’s a simple program that has been around forever, which is fine with me.  I simply buy what works and stick with it until it dies.  This is what happened a few weeks ago when my computer died.

I’ve become a MAC guy, just because I like the way the keyboard functions and the laptop I owned fit perfectly on my lap.  However, the MAC started crashing and randomly shutting down so I decided to purchase a Microsoft Surface Pro.  Even though I got the Surface Pro 3 instead of the more up-to-date Surface Pro 4, the tablet/laptop was still expensive.  I shelled out quite a bit of money for a device that I would mostly use for nothing more than writing.  What I discovered (other than the fact I LOVE the Surface Pro 3) is that I was motivated to write more in order to get my money’s worth out of the device.  I know.  It’s totally illogical.  The money has been spent and will remain so whether I write one novel or ten novels on the thing.  The money is history.  Gone.  Devoured by the teeth of consumerism.  Buried up on (Re)Boot Hill.  It’s not coming back.

Yet, I have been writing like a madman because of my new toy.  It’s like I bought a new pair of running shoes, a modern GPS watch, and paid a $100 race entry fee all at the same time.  I’m motivated.  I’m fanatical.  I’m not cursing at a frozen monitor while praying my last three pages can be recovered.  It’s exhilarating!

Then, I remember how many great runners have run races in shoes that were little more than pieces of Paper Mache bound together by stitching.

I remember how many amazing writers constructed masterpieces with old pencils and scraps of paper.

I remember and I feel inadequate.

 

But, then I take the keyboard off of my Surface Pro and use it as a tablet.  Seriously, the thing is freaking AWESOME!  You couldn’t do that with a quill dipped in ink and some tattered sheets of parchment!    

What motivates you?  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

2014

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

 

I’m Not Running Races and That’s Okay

I love running.  When I first started running, I found I loved the push toward self-improvement, the camaraderie in the distance running community, and the spirit of competition.  I’ve loved all of it.  Part of me still does, but due to countless other obligations, and a few injuries, I haven’t run a race in over a year.  My disappearance from races has taught me something unexpected.  I’ve learned that I still love running, but for different reasons.

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In 2008, I began training for my first half-marathon and became focused on improving my distance, my time, and my overall conditioning.  However, in 2010 I began thinking about writing a novel and found I was “writing” in my head during my long runs.  This kept up throughout the publication of Resolve and continued as I pieced together several more books and stories.  As this process became a habit, I realized I was running for different reasons than before.  My long runs had become quiet periods of introspection and isolation.  Those miles had become a haven from the stresses of life and allowed my mind to run free, rather than milestones toward any particular goal.  My race times suffered.  My conditioning deteriorated to some extent.  And that was okay with me.

Distance running is special and it means something different to every person who falls into the lifestyle.  We learn a lot about ourselves as we push ourselves down the road.  We learn how much we can endure.  We learn how to deal with setbacks.  We learn how to keep achievements in perspective.  And sometimes we learn our reasons for running have been redefined.  But no matter the reasoning, we churn out the miles and continue to learn more about ourselves with every mile.

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

2014

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

 

Can a Gun Owner Support Gun Control?

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

For whatever reason, there is a segment of the population that believes these two facts conflict and that gun owners who believe in gun control are hypocrites. This faulty reasoning often originates from a misguided belief that “abolition” and “control” are the same thing.

They are not.

Some argue we already have effective gun control measures in place in the form of the meager background checks that are conducted on those purchasing a weapon.

We do not.

Others argue gun control cannot be totally effective because criminals often do not purchase weapons through legal means. The argument that criminals will not follow the laws, therefore stricter laws should not exist is, on its face, ludicrous.

If we were to follow that thread of logic, then we should eliminate speed limits because a significant number of drivers exceed the posted limit. Even with speed limits in place, we test new drivers, mandate drivers wear seatbelts, enforce a myriad of traffic laws, and then we STILL have guardrails along the sides of highways because we expect there to be those who will stray off the designated path either by choice or accident.

Our cars are filled with airbags and new safety mechanisms seem to pop up with every new model. We nod with approval as car manufacturers brag about exceeding government safety standards, yet yawn when gun companies advertise extended magazines that will hold more ammunition and silencers that can be purchased online. We accept – and even expect – regulation in nearly every aspect of our lives. It is part of the social contract we have with our government. We surrender some rights in order to live in a society of rules that will protect us, our children, our future.

Limits are good things. I own guns, but I do not need guns that are capable of carrying buckets of ammunition that can be fired at a furious rate. Many argue they need such things for home defense. Let me be clear about something. If you cannot stop a threat with a handgun or two, each capable of holding 10 or 12 rounds, you don’t need more guns. You need more practice.

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

It’s funny. After you drive down the interstate for a while, we barely notice the guardrails that may keep us from driving off a cliff.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

 

When Crime Strikes a Crime Fiction Writer

I usually don’t get too personal with this blog, but it’s confession time.  I’m a victim.

Yesterday, I returned home to discover a grisly scene unlike any I’ve ever witnessed.  As I had a long career in law enforcement, I’m no stranger to the brutalities of life, but never has such a scene played out in my own home.  In the field of law enforcement, you have to disassociate yourself from crime scenes and make an attempt to be objective.  But, how do you do that when your own home has become a battleground?

Returning home from work, I entered the house to hear the sound of water rushing in the basement.  Unfortunately, the sound was not unfamiliar to me as we had had a waterline break five years ago and the result was a flooded basement.  Assuming the same thing had happened, I rushed downstairs to shut off the water.  As I expected, water was shooting out from behind a toilet, so I quickly reached behind the porcelain and grasped the valve to shut off the water flow.  I yanked my hand back in pain and saw blood streaking down my hand.  The valve had been severely damaged and crudely sharpened into a jailhouse weapon.  Bleeding and confused, I managed to shut off the water and then began examining the flooded basement.

Note the metal is completely disfigured and the line above has been shredded.

Note the metal is completely disfigured and the line above has been shredded.

I suddenly realized I was not alone.  In fact, every move I made was being watched.  Behind me, my two dogs were standing by the door leading out to the backyard and were trembling.  In fact, one of the dogs was wet from head to tail and was absolutely frantic.  Assuming they had been spooked by the water spraying, I reached for the sliding glass door to let them out.  That’s when I saw it.  The door was damaged in multiple places, the door handle broken, and blood (not mine) covered much of the glass as well as the door frame.

A portion of the door to the backyard - post blood clean-up.

A portion of the door to the backyard – post blood clean-up.

My senses went on high-alert and I began searching the house for a possible intruder.  Had someone circumvented our alarm and vandalized our home?  Was this the act of teenage vandals hoping to flood basements for no other reason than to cure boredom?  The former Secret Service agent in my was wondering if this was an elaborate diversion, and an intruder was lying in wait.

I searched the house and cleared it of any threats.  During the search, I heard the tell-tale chirp of a smoke detector that had a failing battery.  I thought, Great.  Just one more thing to add to the list.  Upon returning to the basement, I discovered the bottom corners of a door leading to a storage area was also covered with blood.  What the hell happened here?  Two damaged doors.  Blood everywhere.  A vandalized waterline.  My thumb bleeding.  Dogs trembling.  The scene was perplexing.  It was shocking.  It was… our home.  This – whatever THIS was – couldn’t happen here.  Not here.

I breathed deeply and cleared my mind.  It was important for me not to jump to any conclusions and to simply analyze the evidence on hand.  It was Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes who said, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”  I remained still and thought deeply.  I considered every piece of evidence one by one and then searched for links between those item.  Slowly, a picture began to form.  Then… I knew.

The damage that only seemed to be on the inside of the doors.

The twisted metal.

The annoying chirping from upstairs.

Sherlock Holmes was the master of deductive reasoning, but it was the Beastie Boys who said, “I’m telln’ y’all it’s sabotage.”

Here is how the caper went down:

Event 1:  A 9-volt battery in a smoke detector drains to the point the detector repeatedly chirps.

Event 2:  Our beagle-mix (a beagle mixed with something dumber than a beagle) panics, as she does not like beeping noises of any sort.  They are the sounds of Satan’s birds.  Obviously.

Post-arrest mugshot.

Post-arrest mugshot.

Event 3:  The aforementioned dog attempts to exit through the basement door and tears the wooded frame and door handle.

Event 4:  Being unable to escape to the backyard, the beagle-mix does the next logical thing.  She attacks the waterline running into the toilet which is located in an adjacent bathroom.  I mean… what else could she do?  She chews on the metal valve, sharpening it into a blade, and manages to break a tooth in the process.  Next, with her mouth starting to bleed, she attacks the line itself causing water to spray throughout the bathroom.

Event 5:  Having turned into a bloody, soaked mess, the dog then makes another attempt to exit to the backyard, and then turns her attention on a door leading to a storage area.  It happened. Blood doesn’t lie.

Now… I thought I had solved this mystery, but the terror was not over.  Two hours later, after my wife and young daughter had returned home, my daughter went to her upstairs bathroom to get ready to take a bath.  My wife and I heard screams of horror and rushed to her aid.  At some point during the Day of Toilet-Terror, the beagle-mix had jumped into the bathtub and mutilated multiple bath toys and attempted to get to yet another waterline behind a toilet.  Since she already had a broken tooth by this point, the scene in the room was gruesome to say the least.  The photo doesn’t do the justice to the scene, as it appeared someone had attempted to dispose of a body in the tub, but got sidetracked by the Rupunzel shampoo bottle.

The Pennsylvania Chainsaw Massacre.

The Pennsylvania Chainsaw Massacre.

This story (which is 100% true) is intended to serve as a warning.  Anybody can be the victim of a crime.  The world is full of those who will do anything to wreak havoc and disrupt the lives of others.  The trick is to remember that you can never discount the possibility that an attack on your security may be an inside job and the trigger may be the smallest thing.  Such as a poorly charged 9-volt battery.

The trigger to the chaos.

The trigger to the chaos.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

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AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

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Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.