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ALL IN TIME

What does a creative endeavor, a flower, and a pregnancy have in common? Sounds like there’s a joke in there, but seriously, that’s what today’s episode is going to connect.

By the end of this post, you’ll know… Also, at the end, I’m going to leave you the first 4 chapters… 20 pages or so… of my novel!

They say, as an artist, to never share a work in progress. Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to do because the whole point of this journey and of this Podcast, and blog, is to show you the progression of things. The progression of chasing a dream, writing a novel, and the progression of my writing itself. There’s a bunch of things I’ll be editing and changing in those first 20 pages, but the ideas are still there to make the read a good one…. hopefully. 

So, feel free to skip ahead if you’d like to download those first four chapters. But, first, I have a question to answer, right?

What do a creative endeavor, a flower, and a pregnancy have in common? 

Let’s get to it!

**anyone out there get this reference? “In it”

IN IT

Ok, now I’m at the point in the journey where it’s time to put up or shut up, right? I took the time to outline, to plan, to just get started with writing the short story, and last we left off, it was time for me to write, period. Time to really start writing a novel. Wow, that statement right there just hit me. I am writing a novel! I mean, I’m doing it right now. Pretty damn cool. I’ve imagined this time, this moment in the future when I would write and finish a novel, but right now, writing this, I honestly just need to sit in the moment with the fact that I am currently writing a novel. 

Is he really just going to sit there? How long do we have to wait? 

You only get to complete something once. When this novel is done, I only get to have finished it the once, but I have days and days where I’m in it, where I’m writing it. Coming up with ideas, solving problems, living in a world of pure imagination.

Whatever you’re working on, just take a moment to reflect on that, because it’s powerful. You’re in it right now, working on your dream, and wherever it winds up, whatever end goal you’re chasing, you’re in a magical spot… you’re in the middle of it. 

I tell you this because as we progress, as I’ve hit days where nothing seemed to come out right, we tend to find these thoughts popping up instead…

“When will I finish? When will this be completed? Why won’t things move along faster? When will I be a success? When will things grow? When, when, when….”

These questions are all about time and if you’re working on a goal, creating something, inching towards a dream, these thoughts are probably a constant companion. And not the best companion. It’s like having your headphones on for a plane ride, but the person next to you keeps trying to talk to you. 

Get the hint pal!

Why can’t we sit and enjoy the process? Why are we always in such a rush? I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard and put our effort in, but not at the expense of missing the process and enjoying life itself. It’s enjoying the game, rather than attaching all your happiness to the end score.

I was talking with someone yesterday actually about the difference in pace between things down South and things up North. Both of us were from up North and moved here to North Carolina. And my thoughts kept coming back to, “moving a little bit slower is a good thing.” Not always racing to the finish line, but enjoying the road you’re on. Because one thing you’re going to find is that there is no finish line. There’s no end. 

Maybe the end is finishing the novel… 

no, no, it’s getting published… 

no, you’re wrong, it’s getting on the NYT bestseller list… 

Derek, you’re forgetting, it’s when you finish the trilogy for this series… 

when it gets made into a movie…. 

When all three movies are made…. 

then, then, then…

That finish line will always be moving away from us. It’s important to chase that dream and to go after these different goals, but to place them above life itself I think is a mistake. There’s always more that can be done, but I also feel like there’s no day like today. How everything has come together for today, it won’t ever happen exactly like it ever again. And I think it’s important to take time to notice, at least here and there. We’re living in the time of the instantaneous, and for the creator, this expectation we can place on ourselves to be at the end before we’ve started is dangerous.

The flower knows this. 

ALL IN TIME

I’ve heard the following analogy from a couple of different sources but I can’t remember from where, so if any of you know, feel free to share with everyone by commenting on the blog or on social media. 

When we look at a flower… at what stage in its life is it Perfect?

Well, when we consider it as a seed, isn’t it perfect? It’s existing as a seed and it’s perfect as is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. As roots and stem start to spring from the seed, isn’t it perfect? How the roots seek the earth’s nutrients and the stem breaks towards the Sun. Then, eventually, it flowers and it’s perfect then as well. The point is, it’s perfect all the way through at any stage. 

No matter where you are on your journey, there’s no time like the present. Nowhere along the flower’s life span do we think it’s not growing fast enough. We expect it to be done when it’s done, and that’s it. Likewise, nowhere along my journey of writing this novel should I think it’s not getting done fast enough. As long as you’re doing what you can do. As long as I sit down to write every morning (just about), then I’m right where I should be and I should see how amazing it is to be right where I am.

Same for a pregnancy. We don’t think, why won’t you just be grown and born already! 

Alright, maybe that is a thought women have… but not with an expectation. 6 month’s pregnant, no one is expecting anything but 3 more months until that child is ready, right? 

We don’t think, if this baby isn’t born in 3 months, we’re doing something wrong. It’s just the cycle. It’s just the time it takes. 

So, why not with a project or a goal? What if we imagine that your goal, your idea has a certain gestation, or incubation period before it’ll be done and ready. You don’t know what that time frame is, but you know it has a set time built in. 

All you have to do is keep moving things forward, keep working, keep sitting down at that computer for the days when 2 sentences come out in three hours, and for the days when 10 pages come out in 1 hour. But sit there, be there, be in it with no expectation, just knowing and acknowledging that you are freakin’ in it. 

You are creating something beautiful, amazing, life-changing perhaps. You’re doing it. And when the time is right, when spring has sprung, you’ll get to say… I did it. 

A TASTE

So, I hope this idea helps you with whatever creation you’re working on, whatever dream you’re chasing. I hope it allows you to take pause and realize how amazing it is to be doing, perhaps even more so than having done.

Now, I want to give you all a taste of what I’ve been working on. The following is the first 4 chapters of my novel (rough draft people! lol). The working title for the story is, “The Adventures of Jewel, An Experiment in Expression.” A bit long… so might have to work on that in the future! 

Anyway… here we go…

 

You can also download a PDF version HERE if you don’t want to read in your browser : )

The Adventures of Jewel

“An Experiment in Expression”

PROLOGUE

His mask was creating a level of discomfort for him that was driving him crazy, making his skin crawl, yet he was too disciplined to make such a stupid mistake as taking it off. The likelihood of him being caught and seen was slim, but this wasn’t a game where one takes chances. No, he wasn’t so stupid. He was almost done, and he could soon rip the itchy thing off and burn it. That was the general routine here and that mask was always going to end in flames, but this time he would take extra pleasure in that step. 

He stood on the edge of the living room and kitchen, tall and muscular. He wore a  plastic jumpsuit similar to a hazmat suit. It covered his entire body except for his hands and face. The elastic hood clung to the full-face mask he wore and a pair of gloves ensured he was completely covered. Underneath he wore no shoes, just socks. Shoes track all sorts of evidence with them and he wasn’t about to bring any evidence to or from his crime scene. His body was devoid of any hair except for his eyebrows, which were covered in tape underneath his mask. The hair removal was a painstaking process, but he felt he had to do it. He knew that hair found at a crime scene is one of the most common ways someone gets caught. The clothes he wore under the plastic suit were bought today and never came into contact with anything in his World. Everything would be burned after and there would be no fibers to link him to this crime; to this murder. 

He took a deep breath, held it for a four count and then released it slowly. As he exhaled he let go of his thoughts of the irritating mask covering his face and studied the scene before him. The living room was dark with the only light coming from a wall-mounted flat-screen TV. Flashes of light from each changing scene on the TV illuminated the living room like a series of camera flashes and his mind flashed through the last minute step by step in a similar way. 

Flash. Quietly and expertly picking the lock of the backdoor. Flash. Taking the 8 steps, which he measured before hand, from the door, through the kitchen, to the edge of the living room. Flash. Raising his gun, pointed to the unsuspecting, unknowing, sleeping man on the couch. Flash. Waiting a brief moment for the light from the TV to provide him a better view. Flash. Pulling the trigger and seeing the man on the couch jerk with the impact of the bullet and then returning right back to the same position. Appearing like he was still sleeping. 

If that’s not mercy, I don’t know what is, he thought after finishing his mental instant replay, satisfied he left no stone unturned. As usual, it all went perfectly. This was not a crime of passion, it was an act of precision and expertise to him. The scene on the TV changed to a bright and sunny scene which acted like a spotlight upon the lifeless body on the couch. Another chance, he thought.

He raised his arm to check the time on his watch. That watch went with him everywhere he went and with it came the reminder and the reason for everything he was doing. In this moment especially, with another dead body before him, the reminder was a comfort. Right on schedule, he thought as he studied the watch face. Then, from inside the pocket of the plastic suit he pulled out a device that looked like a small walky-talky but it had a screen like a smart phone. He studied the screen for about a minute before placing it back in his pocket and turning away from the living room in one swift and defining motion. He walked towards the back door, passing through the messy kitchen along the way. He opened the door with his gloved hand, took one last glance back, feeling resolved and hopeful. This time for sure, he thought, and began to walk across the snowy backyard and into the backyard of the house behind it. If not, there’s always the next time...

CHAPTER 1

Thomas was shuffling through the crowd at the house-party making his way back to his friend, excusing himself with almost every step. Each bump and contact with someone gave him anxiety and he wondered why on Earth he let her convince him to come along on another one of her “experiments.” Foolish to call them experiments, he thought while bumping into yet another person. This time, the bump sent cold liquid splashing into his face and the sound of glass shattering on the floor. Before he could look up to see who he bumped into or who bumped into him, he found himself being slammed in the chest. In a blink of an eye Thomas was hitting the ground, landing on his back. His head followed and hit the ground making him dizzy. Shards of glass cut his hands as he tried to find the strength to sit himself up and make sense of the scene and what just happened. 

“You’re gunna pay for that!” 

The angry threat came from some guy before him and Thomas’s fight or flight response kicked in, correcting his dizziness. He was now acutely aware of the situation, but everything moved so fast that Thomas didn’t have time to respond before the guy jumped on top of him fist raised. Thomas threw his hands over his face and closed his eyes instinctively. Then, nothing. Thomas opened his eyes back up slowly, expecting the punch to land at any moment, and then saw why it hadn’t. His friend, Jewel, had the man’s arm trapped between the crook in her right leg and holding his hand in place with both of hers. As she straightened her leg, the guy’s arm bent backwards a little and he yelled in pain. Thomas stared at her in shock and Jewel smiled and winked. 

“I think now would be a good time to slide out of the way,” she said with a smirk and Thomas needed no further instructions. Glass or no glass he shimmied out from underneath his attacker, and out of the way. 

Jewel let the guy go and stepped back with her hands in the air between him and Thomas. Her defense didn’t ease his anxiety in the moment. Jewel stood at barely 5 foot 5 inches, and the guy before her was pushing 6 feet tall and at least 100 lbs heavier than her. Thomas didn’t understand how she looked so calm and steady. 

“Who do you think you are?” The guy before her said angrily while rubbing and shaking out his arm, taking a step towards Jewel. “Get out of the way or I’ll go through you,” he said his fists now raised like a boxer. Thomas took another step backwards, but Jewel didn’t move. She just glared at him and answered his threat with one of her own. 

“If my first action didn’t give away my intention here, then I’ll state it clearly — walk away from my friend or I’ll break that arm of yours.” Thomas watched the moment unfold, his hair and shirt dripping wet, hands cut with glass, and his anxiety grew from the conflict rather than dissipated by her act of protection. Why can’t we just run away? But he knew it was just wishful thinking. He wasn’t sure how he ended up being friends with someone who seemed to chase conflict when he hated it so much.

With absolute predictability, the guy in front of Jewel didn’t listen to her threat and ran at her attempting to push her to the ground like he did to Thomas. Moving with incredible speed, Jewel grabbed hold of one of his arms, threw her hip into his groan, her other arm around his waste, and spun around 180 degrees. As she spun, the man flipped straight over her landing hard on his back right where Thomas had been just moments before. The guy was clearly dazed and not going to get up anytime soon. Jewel left him there with his arm unbroken, grabbed their coats, and walked with Thomas out of the house while everyone else just stared at his friend, Jewel, with shock and awe. 

CHAPTER 2 

“… Sometimes, Jewel, you need to ask yourself who you’re helping when you’re satisfying that curiosity of yours, and perhaps, who you might be hurting…” 

Jewel was recalling one of the lessons provided to her by her hometown Librarian, Abe, certain that she’d done it again. Certain that she’d pushed her curiosity too far leading to another friend about to become another non-friend. 

She walked beside Thomas on their way back to Booth Hall, their dormitory at Syracuse University. The cold Syracuse air filled her lungs with each breath, but her adrenaline was still racing after the little altercation at the party that she still felt warm. Thomas and her had walked in silence since they left the party, and she knew that she couldn’t push him any further, so she let the silence remain. It was her idea to go to the party after all and specifically to bring Thomas along for her experiment. 

It seemed every time she satisfied her curiosity around her friends and peers it always ended with her pushing the boundaries a little too far. By the time she graduated High School she only had Abe to call a friend. The Librarian was in his 70’s and a former Psychology Professor spending his retirement surrounded by books and curious minds. Where her peers came to fear her curiosity, or get annoyed by it, Abe stoked it. Even now, almost 3,000 miles away from Seattle, Washington and Abe’s Library, his lessons were still there helping her hold on to her one new friend. 

Making friends was supposed to be easy as a Freshman at College, but Jewel was just too focused on what she wanted to do at times to take part in the typical College life.  Jewel knew who she was and what she wanted to do and so, she wasn’t interested in much else than bettering herself as a detective. It was that curiosity of hers that drove her. She could have went down a path of trying to uncover the mysteries of the Universe, but she loved the immediate impact that solving a crime had on people’s lives. Once she read a Nancy Drew book as a kid, and knew that being a detective was a career path, she wanted nothing else. Luckily, she had found someone else who was just as dedicated to their craft as her. That was Thomas. She was studying Forensic Science and Psychology, and Thomas was a Computer Science Major and fascinated with all things technology.

Other than their connection of work ethic and intelligence, they were very different people. Jewel was an athlete. She was a black belt martial artist in Brazilian JuJitsu, Judo, and Tai Kwon Do. Jewel knew if she was to be a detective, that might mean being in dangerous situations and she began her training since she was 9 years old. She was strong and had short jet black hair that wouldn’t flap around during training, or in case she had to execute a hip throw on someone at a party. She even dressed ready for a fight. Jewel always wore tight jeans and sneakers. She would wear form-fitted sweaters or t-shirts, and always walked with her jacket unzipped held closed by her hands in her pockets. It wasn’t that she was paranoid, or thought she would be attacked, it was just how she thought after years of training. 

Thomas on the other hand was no athlete. He was just a few inches taller than Jewel, but skinny and had red curly hair that always seemed to be unkept. It was a little longer than Jewel’s hair but sat up on his head and never drooped down. He was smart and witty, but when he found himself in a confrontational situation, Thomas became silent, hunched over, and altogether a completely different person. Which was how he was walking now along side Jewel; hunched over, and hugging himself.

Thomas and Jewel crossed the last road leading away from the still-open dining hall, Kimmel Hall, and towards the entry to Booth Hall. Salt crunched under her boots as they crossed the road, and then crunched again on the ice and snow as they stepped onto the side walk again. They walked down the path, with the Parking garage on their left, entered the glass enclosed stairwell to the parking structure, up one flight of steps and back outside onto the lit path. To the right was a small snow covered field with trees. After about 50 ft, they passed the end of the parking structure and the path opened to the courtyard in front of Booth Hall which was cleared of snow. Jewel was beginning to wonder if Thomas would ever talk to her again when he finally spoke up, breaking the silence abruptly, and startling Jewel in the process. 

“Well, that was some experiment,” Thomas said.

“It was definitely illuminating, although things did take quite the turn there at the end,” Jewel replied.

“I was being sarcastic,” Thomas began stopping dead in his tracks and turning to look at Jewel, “What on Earth could’ve been illuminating about that?”

“Oh, well, what I was experimenting with tonight is something I learned about in Psych. Micro-expressions, or the really small, extremely quick expressions our faces make almost involuntarily even when we’re trying to hide our emotions.” Jewel finished her explanation happy to be talking to Thomas again and to be discussing her experiment. 

“And what did you need me for?” He said.

“Well, I needed your face,” Jewel said matter of factly.

“My face? So, I was your experiment?” Thomas said with a little anger welling up in his voice. 

“Well, no, you weren’t the experiment, you were the control,” Jewel spoke quickly to avoid Thomas interrupting her. “Neither of us wanted to be there, but I couldn’t study my own face, right? So, your face would give me blatant expressions of discomfort, and I could use those expressions to see if I could recognize flashes of that discomfort on other people at the party who were trying to hide that they didn’t want to be there, or maybe didn’t want to be around certain people.” Jewel finished and took a breath, the cold air a shock to her lungs. Thomas paused in thought before responding a few seconds later.

“And if you told me, then I would be thinking about my face the whole time,” he said looking down at the ground and Jewel could see him understanding what she did even if it was a reluctance of understanding. 

“Well, obviously I couldn’t have predicted what happened at the end there, and I’m really sorry about that,” Jewel said, “can I help clean up your hands? I have tweezers and a first aid kit upstairs.” Jewel said 

“Of course you do,” Thomas said laughing, and Jewel joined in, the tension between them suddenly dissipated. “Thank you for saving me an unjustified beating tonight,” he said. 

“Anytime,” she said and Jewel felt relieved. Somehow Thomas always seemed to come around when her peers from her home town outside of Seattle became quickly upset by her actions. They didn’t understand that she just needed to uncover things for real. It wasn’t enough to read it in a textbook, she had to see it, touch it, experience it. She couldn’t just learn about micro-expressions, she had to be able to see them for herself. 

Just then, police sirens filled the air and Jewel immediately changed her demeanor. Jewel’s eyes widened and like a dog looking for the source of another’s bark, she cocked her head from one side to the other in search of where the sirens were heading. The sirens grew louder as three squad cars came up the hill, down the road they just crossed, and past the parking garage in front of them. Jewel stood transfixed and then looked to Thomas with raised eyebrows and excitement. Thomas stared at her, and muttered under his breath, “Oh, no.” 

CHAPTER 3

Officer Clayton Jones was the first on the scene, but the eerie, tense quiet that once was, now resembled a circus. Six patrol cars and two ambulances, with all the personal they carried, lit the snow covered lawn and houses around in red and blue lights. Neighbors and non-neighbors alike watched from windows, porches, and bundled just outside the police tape searching for a glimpse of what happened inside of #24 Washington Avenue.

The two detectives, Bennet Shaw and Allya Anderson, were barking orders to the officers on the scene.

“Hey, Christmas,” shouted Detective Shaw and Officer Jones turned towards the detectives to see Shaw waving him over. Since Clayton was in the Police Academy he was given the nickname, “Christmas,” simply because he was born on Christmas. It just stuck.

Clayton left his post, watching that no neighbors got too curious and crossed into their crime scene, and made his way over at a light jog to where the Detectives were standing.

“Hey guys, what can I do?” Clayton said standing before Detective Shaw. They were both tall. Clayton was clearly muscular in his fitted uniform, but Clayton couldn’t tell with Detective Shaw as his clothes were always baggy and didn’t seem to fit. It was as if he had lost 50 pounds at some point and never invested in a new wardrobe. Clayton’s bald head was by choice, and Clayton figured Detective Shaw’s was only partially by choice, as he was significantly older than he was.

“Well, you were first on the scene, Christmas, so anything we should know?” Detective Shaw waved his hands around and spoke with an Italian accent. He transferred to Syracuse from Brooklyn 10 years ago after 20 years on the force there. While he spoke one hand holding his notepad and the other a pen. He was one of the kinder detectives to the other officers. Always treating people well, and thanking them for their hard work.

“I received the call over dispatch, like all of us, of a crime in progress, and I came straight over,” Clayton said. 

“What happened when you arrived on scene?” Allya said impatiently. 

“I knocked on the front door, announcing I was Police, and the house seemed silent except for a TV running… so I tried the back door, which was unlocked. I stepped inside—”

“You went inside without backup?” Detective Allya interrupted condescendingly.  For someone so short, her stance and demeanor made her intimidating to most around her. She had long black hair in a tight braid down the back of her neck. Clayton always figured her attitude came from living in the cold weather of Syracuse when she was originally from Puerto Rico. Clayton didn’t get thrown off by her attitude anymore, but this question hit him in the right spot and he responded with fire in his voice.

“Well, if the crime was in progress, I thought I could at least scare the perp away if anything, but I was too late anyway.” 

“Alright, Alright,” Shaw said with his hands in the air trying to diffuse the tension.  “Just lay it out from when you arrived,” he said, and Allya just looked at Clayton shaking her head arms folded across her chest. Clayton calmed himself down and just ignored Allya.

“I went inside, announcing I was Police, with my gun drawn and I was only about two steps inside when I saw the body on the couch. Clear bullet wound through the forehead.” He said.

“Did you inspect the body, move anything, touch anything else?” Allya said. 

“No, it was clear the kid was dead so I came outside to call in the major crime alert and other officers started arriving on the scene maybe a minute later.” Clayton spoke very casually in spite of all the lies he was telling.

“Alright, well, good work,” Detective Shaw said, and Allya rolled her eyes and walked away from them. “Just one thing for the future, Christmas, wait for backup next time.”

“Sure thing,” Clayton responded and turned to head back to his post on the Police tape when Shaw called back to him. 

“Still no partner, Christmas?” Detective Bennet said.

“No, not yet,” Clayton responded and a well of emotion filled him which he quickly pushed down.

“That’s like 6 months,” Shaw said with genuine surprise in his voice and then continued, “Well, more reason to wait for backup next time. Nice work,” he said. 

“Thanks,” Clayton said turning to make his way back to his spot on the police tape watching the crowd of people awake and alert at 2am. Nothing like a murder to make people into concerned citizens, he thought, and impulsively placed his right hand on his back pocket ensuring his notepad was still in its place, and then his left hand into his front pocket ensuring both pairs of rubber gloves were still there. 

CHAPTER 4

“FSC197 – Criminology” was the class and Jewel’s Professor was the head of the Forensic Science department, Dr. Eugene Letzger. It was rare for a Professor in his status to be teaching a Freshman class, but that was his way. It was clear to Jewel, and everyone else on campus, that he wanted to encourage and sometimes discourage students when it came to taking the plunge into the potential future of being an investigator; whether as a forensic scientist, or a detective. Jewel was sitting in the front row staring at the board which still had the riddle he gave the class on day one as a part of his first lesson. On that first day he leaned back on his desk and began talking with his arms folded. No introductions, just straight into his lecture.

“Some people want solve crimes because it’s a job and they want to do a job that’s meaningful… others do it because they’re obsessed with the puzzle; because there’s no other choice for them. And I believe that you have to be both people to be a great investigator. Obsessed with the puzzle, and pulled to make a difference. If you’re not obsessed, you’ll never stick through it. For instance… if I give you a riddle to solve, how many of you will want to look up the answer within one minute? Five minutes? What if the puzzle, the riddle, was so hard that it took months? Would you stick with it? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.”

From there, the Professor wrote a riddle of his own making on the board in the top left corner that couldn’t be simply googled, and 6 months later the riddle remained on the board, unsolved by any of the 175 students in the class. Jewel stared at the riddle reading it over in her mind wanting to desperately find the answer. 

I show age upon my face, but it’s not mine.

I’m tagged with a name, but it’s not mine.

Jewel repeated it now in her head, not really needing to read it anymore as she had it memorized after that first class. She was determined to figure it out. She had to figure it out.

Professor Letzger walked into the classroom breaking Jewel’s trance and everyone immediately became silent as he typically started speaking to the class before making it fully into the room. That was his style—straight to business, and this Friday was no exception. 

“Ok, so, as I’ve been doing the last two weeks, let me start off by seeing if anyone has decided to have a go at solving any of the real cases given to us by my friend, Captain Alverez?” 

Last Monday, the start of the second semester, Professor Letzger began his class by letting everyone know they would now all have a chance to stretch their first semester knowledge on real cases. It’s why most people came to Syracuse University to study Forensic Science in the first place. Apparently, The Professor and The Police Captain were long time friends and anyone majoring in Forensic Science were allowed to get first hand access to real cases. They would be able to work with Police Officers to get practical experience investigating and seeing how things work in real life. This was only a bonus to Jewel for coming to Syracuse. She would’ve found herself onto a real case one way or another wherever she went to school. Her reasons were more sentimental; more emotional.

One girl in the back of the classroom raised her hand in response to Professor Letzger’s question to the class and announced that she had decided on the case of potential insurance fraud. Then, the guy sitting next to Jewel told Professor Letzger he wanted to go after the string of robberies that have been happening in nearby neighborhoods. That was initially what Jewel was going to choose as well, until last night. Until those sirens filled the air and her curiosity led her to a new, and even more serious case. 

After the Police cars drove passed Booth Hall, Thomas and Jewel went racing to the elevators, soon arriving to the 7th floor. Jewel ran down the hall and into her room, #12 where she no longer had a roommate to worry about bothering. She’d unintentionally driven the last two girls away. Thomas kept pace with her, but was panting by the time they made it to her room, where Jewel was already turning on her police radio listening to try and figure out what was going on. Reports of a 10-31 filled the room and Thomas looked to Jewel for explanation.

“That’s a crime in progress,” she translated, reading his expression. While Jewel waited intently for more information to come across the radio she tended to Thomas and pulled any glass pieces from his hands. About 10 minutes later Thomas was patched up, his hands looking like a mummies. Finally the dispatch coded a 10-35, and calls for detectives to report to the scene. “10-35… that’s a major crime alert, which is usually only one thing!” Jewel became excited, and then kicked herself for her excitement sinking back in her chair calming herself down. A murder was nothing to get excited over, but her desire to work a real murder case overshadowed her humanity for the moment.

The morning news filled in some of the other details as they reported a possible gang related murder. Although it wasn’t on the list provided to the class by Captain Alverez, this was the case she wanted to be a part of solving. The more difficult, the more she wanted to figure it out. The more serious and impactful the case, the more she wanted to be a part of it. She wanted to see what she could do. A murder investigation was a far cry away from the little “school-house” crimes she uncovered over the years and she wanted to stretch her capabilities. 

Jewel raised her hand in the lecture and when Professor Letzger pointed to her, she explained the situation. The Professor listened intently leaning on his desk, arms folded. He was dressed in his usual jeans, and sweater over a button down shirt. His hair was perfectly combed over in a side part as usual. His appearance was always impeccable and put together, from head to toe, which was also how he taught. No room for mistakes. As hard as he made his class, his demeanor was the exact opposite. He was friendly, kind, and eager to help eager students. He just didn’t give answers away; he gave students a way to find the answers for themselves. The students that made it through his classes were always better for it according to the word on campus. It never bothered Jewel though since he could never push her as hard as her Martial Arts Teacher had. A little criticism was nothing to some live sparring. When Jewel was done explaining, Professor Letzger stood up straight and walked towards Jewel. She studied his face and his micro-expressions read, “happy.” 

“Well, well, that’s the obsession I talked about at the very beginning of last semester. Very good.” He turned away from Jewel and looked at the whole lecture hall walking with his hands behind his back. “Wanting to be on a case before a case is even an option,” he said playfully making the students in the lecture hall laugh. He stopped and turned to look back at Jewel who was eager for his answer. “I don’t see why not,” he said. “Others have worked on murder cases in this class in the past. I’ll talk to Captain Alverez and make the arrangements to get you the case file.” Suddenly, about 10 more hands shot up into the air and shouts desiring to be on the case as well. 

“Ok, ok,” Professor Letzger said gesturing with his hands for everyone to calm down. “This will be open to anyone to be involved on just like the other cases, but a word of caution. Something I said last semester that I think is pertinent to repeat here and now. As a detective, as any kind of investigator, you must assume that you are both the hunter and the hunted. You must assume your criminal does not want to get caught and will go to almost any length to prevent it. So, don’t take on any of these cases lightly, but that goes double for anyone who wants to join on this murder investigation. Being a detective is to put yourself in harms way, and the greater the crime, the greater the risk, so think that over before you get all excited like this is your favorite crime drama on TV.” When he finished speaking, and for the rest of the lecture, the students in the class were silent. Jewel was too excited of the possibility of working on a real murder case that she couldn’t focus on his lecture, so she just stared at the Riddle in the top left corner of the board. Saying it over and over in her mind.

I show age upon my face, but it’s not mine. 

I’m tagged with a name, but it’s not mine.

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