Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Homicide in the Nth Degree

Research has always been a favorite part of my writing experience. This was especially true for my newest Pepper Bibeau mystery, Island Cruise Homicide. (No, the research did not include the act of homicide on any level.) But while working as a police reservist and part time peace officer in Minnesota some years ago, I did learn interesting facts about the degrees of homicide.

Whether the cause of death is murder, or manslaughter – which is murder without the pre-meditation part – the legal definition is Homicide. 

The act of manslaughter is further divided into two categories and four degrees. The term homicide also covers actions described as excusable homicide, in cases of self-defense; and justifiable homicide, as in acts of war.

The maximum penalty for the homicidal act of premeditated murder is “an eye for an eye.” Legally, the death penalty has been carried out by use of various methods, including the guillotine, electric chair, rope, and lethal injection. Debate over the morality and effectiveness of beheading, electrocution, hanging, and administration of fast-acting drugs or chemicals will probably continue until the last being capable of ratiocination* remains in power.

The category, level, or distinction of a homicide is often determined by a multitude of factors not directly related to the definition of the word. A familiar adage is: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Here’s the sixty-four dollar question: If you bludgeon to death someone – who you know has a very bad temper but insults you anyway – is it considered an act of self-defense, manslaughter, or premeditated murder?

*ratiocinate: form judgments by a process of logic; reason.

A relaxing family cruise around the Hawaiian Islands is not what is in store for Pepper. Along with the fun of hiking, biking, snorkeling, and many other energetic activities, she contends with the mysterious disappearance of a wizened old surfer, a case of stolen surfboards, an end to a career - and a corpse.
Available now on Amazon in eBook and Paperback.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Staying at Home - Day #1: A Lesson Learned

Waikiki Beach at Duke's Statue
before "Stay at Home" order for O'ahu

Today is the first full day of "Stay at Home" on O'ahu. This means staying off the beaches and out of parks and restaurants. The order for all non-essential workers is meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus so healthcare personnel can keep pace with the rise in medical needs.

My first reaction was to subscribe to the late night talk show home editions to keep up my spirits. Last evening Stephen Colbert demonstrated how to change a flat bicycle tire. A relatively unremarkable event until he stated that what he learned at age 13, how to change a flat tire, was of use today. He then asked his virtual audience, "What did you learn at age 13 that is useful to you today?"

The question required a bit of thought and could easily lead a person down multiple rabbit holes while thinking back to such a young age. Where it led me was to my eighth grade cheerleading squad. As a student in a newly constructed school with a class of about 21 girls and boys, the teacher insisted that the squad must allow every girl in the class to participate as a cheerleader for sports events. This meant all or nothing. The lesson I learned then, that is useful today, is that everyone counts equally.

Here in Hawaii, that means 'Ohana, where everyone counts and no one is left behind . . . except when it comes to Spam during a hurricane watch - then you're on your own!

Hawaiian hibiscus in bloom yesterday!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Zulu Warrior in Belgium


The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

Zulu Warrior in Belgium
Genre: Shared Fantasy
(305 words)

Belgium demonstrates its humor in unusual ways. They honor a rather risqué, diminutive bronze sculpture, Manneken Pis, located on an obscure corner near the Grand Place in the heart of old Brussels.
Strangely enough, nobody seems to actually know why the manneken is there. He is believed to be nothing more than a decoration on top of a fountain, where people in the Middle-Ages came to get fresh water. Already in the 15th century, a fountain called 'manneken-pis' existed in the Stoffstraat/Rue de l'etuve. The official origin can be traced back to 13 August 1619 when the city ordered the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy to make a new bronze statue of manneken-pis to replace an old and withered one.
As one of the stories goes, during the course of centuries, the little manneken has often been hidden to protect him against bombs of invading armies. According to a restaurant waiter most eager to refill my beer stein, the statue has been stolen several times by plundering soldiers and even by the citizens of Geraardsbergen, a city in Flanders that claims to possess the oldest statue of a peeing boy in Belgium.
The Brussels statue of a naked little boy, picturesquely doing just what the name implies, has over 654 costumes – donated from every country in the world. A Costume Committee reviews each new submission to assure that it meets the criteria of authenticity and proper structure. Costumes range from Santa Claus and a Swiss Soldier to a Zulu Warrior.
The waiter leaned close while refilling my stein once again, and said, “The little statue has become a national treasure.”
With no inclination to question the statement, I sipped my beer in silence. Another question I refrained from asking: “Why would any army want to bomb a little boy who is so desperately in need of relief?”



Oh, what a relief to have arrived at the letter Z in the #AtoZChallenge!


Monday, April 29, 2019

Yeoman's Daughter


The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

Yeoman’s Daughter
Genre: Historical Romance
(386 words)

Katerina stared toward the aging castle looming over the Bohemian countryside. Its crumbling structure served as a backdrop to her life. Memories surfaced of her father’s return from the war, alive but crippled for life. Whether limbs or part of their minds were lost, most men who survived were left to struggle with farm life.
Her father, a yeoman, could no longer make simple decisions such as when to till the fields or how to plant and sow. He roamed the fields when left unattended. If he wandered into town, the feed mill owner escorted him home after shop closing. Sometimes the local priest walked him home and stayed for supper.
Katerina’s mother was a daughter of the yeoman who originally owned the farm. She had gradually stopped contending with the uncertainties of life and taken to her bed. If she spotted the priest strolling down the lane with her husband in tow, she barred her bedroom door.
“Evening Miss Kate,” Father Tam would say, doffing an imaginary hat. “Your father and I have been for a walk. We could both use a shot of brandy and a bowl of soup. If that is not too much bother.”
Katerina dutifully poured the brandy and heated the soup. Her poor father went along with Father Tam’s charade, never appearing to doubt that the priest spoke the absolute truth. Following the sparse meal, Katerina settled her father in a chair near the wood stove, wrapping a blanket tight around his legs.
Then she and Father Tam would step outside. With the abandoned castle at their back, they discussed her father’s condition, pointedly ignoring that her mother might be suffering with a different problem.
Katerina walked out to the lawn swing, adjusting her skirts to sit. As her gaze wandered up to the castle, a touch of melancholy filled her. The affair, as secret as it was forbidden, had lasted a year. She still blushed to think of how they inhaled the essence of each other’s souls and dreamed the intimacies of one another’s ambitions.
They never tarnished their love by consummating the relationship. When the parish choirmaster had recommended a transfer to a congregation in Prague for Father Tam, Katerina was devastated. But the week after the priest vacated their town, her mother left her bed.