Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $3.99 and only on Amazon! Kindle Unlimited Members read for free! Click here - Amazon


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, is Free on Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Page Foundry and Tolino

Friday, September 23, 2016

Listen to Your Dead Relatives

When I was younger my mother and I did not have a good relationship. It got better once I had kids, but I still never felt as close to her as I did to my father. I pretty much never listened to anything she said as I felt she was there<...and I was...>here. If she ever said "I love you" to me I don't remember hearing it. The last time I remember saying it to her was when she was on her death bed in the delirium stage of cancer. I hoped she heard it and understood I meant it.

She's been gone 16 years, and only recently has she begun visiting me in my dreams. Over the last couple of months she's been hovering there, in the background, silently staring, and not a friendly stare. She always looks like she's angry, perhaps at me. She exudes a cold chill. She's always silent. I do all the talking, to her, and I usually, like I did in real life too many times, have a snippy attitude. "Say something, dammit!" She never does. And then a couple of weeks ago she finally did.

She looked younger and thinner than when she passed and had her dark hair of her youth. She stood apart from four female friends and relatives of mine. She looked at me with the same cold stare but this time she spoke as she pointed to the four ladies, herself, and then to me. "We are all on the same team," she said and spun her arm, with finger pointed.  My son came running from somewhere and rushed to hug her. "Grandma, it's been so long since I heard your voice," he said. She stood there looking back at me and not acknowledging him. In my dream I said to myself this is weird, she loves him, why is she acting this way? She must be trying to tell me something. Do not forget this dream. And then I awoke with a start.

My mom was happiest when she was with her grandchildren

In the morning I thought back to the four females who were in the dream and what the link between them, my mother, and myself could possibly be. And then it hit me. All of them had some form of cancer. All of them, except my mother, had beat cancer. So how does this relate to me? Well, recently I'd been having "female trouble." When I called my gynecologist the first appointment I could get was three weeks as he had just left town. By time the appointment was rolling around I felt better and my symptoms had stopped. Even though "Google" said I shouldn't, I was going to just cancel it. In fact, the morning after the dream was when I was going to, but then I thought maybe I better not. So I kept the appointment and saw the doctor two days later.

He didn't seem too concerned as I had had similar event happen four years ago and had a biopsy which came back normal. A couple of months ago I had my regular yearly exam and even though he said I didn't need to have a Pap test I insisted on one which came back normal. This time instead of going for a biopsy, which hurt like hell last time, he ordered an ultrasound which took place two weeks later. I was glad because I thought that would be less painful. After having to drink 24 ounces of water an hour before I was scheduled it was almost worse than having a biopsy. I thought my bladder would burst, and every time she pressed on my stomach I thought I was going to have an accident.

I watched the screen and remarked how it looked like doppler radar. The technician said that's exactly what it was. They've come a long way since I had one when pregnant! I asked her what she saw and she would not tell me a thing, no matter how much I pressed her to. The following Monday I got a call from my doctor. When he calls on the phone, it's never good news as I usually get the results sent to Mychart. The ultrasound came back abnormal. I needed to get a biopsy. Oh joy.

So Monday on the anniversary of my father's death, I underwent a uterine biopsy. Ouch. I kept the pain to myself. My doctor said I was "stoic" and the results would take about a week. I already "knew" what they would be, so when he called yesterday with the news I was not surprised. At the very minimum I have to have a complete hysterectomy. What comes next depends on the lymph node sampling. I'm waiting for a call from the Oncologist to set up the consult meeting. My gynecologist forwarded everything over to her. Apparently you just can't call the head of the department up and say, "I want you. C'mon let's do it, now!" So the referral is in, and I await the call.

Guess my trip to New York is on hold right now. Guess all trips are on hold right now. Thanks mom for the heads up...sorry it took you to be dead for me to finally listen to you. So I guess the morale is, listen to your body and your intuition, and if dead relatives come to you in dreams, listen to them too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Podcast 1 - Interacting with the Police

Ok, so I've been threatening to Podcast for a while now...tried a couple of microphones and they all stunk, so before I go spending $$$ on something I may get bored of I figured I'd just use the microphone in my laptop. I used GarageBand to record it, and that was a learning curve which I still haven't mastered. As if actually figuring out how to create a podcast wasn't hard enough, once I finished I realized I couldn't just plop it into my blog as I had hoped. Nope, it entails a lot more, and I'm still researching the best/easiest/cheapest way to accomplish that. Meanwhile, I discovered I have iMovie on my laptop and thought maybe I could create a "movie/podcast" that I could upload to Youtube and then just plop it into my blog. So, what follows is nothing fancy, and my maiden attempt to see if this is something my readers/I would enjoy before I get too involved.

This first Podcast rant is about interacting with the police, and more specifically the Roanoke County Police. Let me know what you think...

In case you haven't already read them, here are the two blog posts, My Life Matters and "The Incident" Follow Up that I mentioned in the podcast which go into more detail about what I actually experienced...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"The Incident" Follow-Up

It's been over three weeks since "the incident" happened with the Roanoke County Police coming to my home shortly before midnight and holding my husband and I at gunpoint. As my friends, family, and readers know they came to the wrong address, never identified themselves as police banging on my door, frisked us, and held us at gunpoint until I informed them where they were (the wrong address) and who we were (the wrong people). I blogged about it detail in this post - My Life Matters. Many of you have been asking me what has transpired since then, so that's what this post is about.

The next morning when we went outside we found a large branch of one of our cherry trees which lines the front of our home, bent down and broken.

Since it was one of the healthy branches which was not broken the previous day, we figure the police maimed it. I wondered if it happened when they rushed the house, or if they tried sitting in the tree to aim a gun at us. My husband said they probably pulled it down to use as cover to hide behind. That really upset me, and I wouldn't let my husband take it down all the way. I told him to leave it like that as a statement. When he cut it down the following weekend I was really pissed as I would have kept my wounded and broken branch dangling forever as a symbol that it could have been us who were wounded and maimed by the police. A relative who is an officer of the court in another state had left a comment on my fb page remarking that it was an awful lot of police power for just a "report of an assault" and he thought there was more to it than what the female officer had said to us. That comment, and the many others I received urging me to report "the incident" made me realize that I needed to find out more. This event was not something that I could in good conscious ignore.

On Monday morning I called the Chief of Police and left a message briefly outlining what we had experienced on his answering machine and asked for a call back. Late Monday afternoon I received a phone call from one of the Assistant Chiefs of Police. I reiterated the event and asked what had happened. He did not sound familiar with "our part" of the story, but did reveal an interesting tidbit. That Saturday evening RCP had received a call about an assault that had happened and if any officers responded they would be shot. Holy cow! Although I could certainly understand now why there had been a multitude of cops wearing bulletproof vests, weapons drawn, it also made me sick to my stomach. When the responders came to my door they thought they were there to confront a suspect who had assaulted someone with a weapon and was going to shoot cops! They thought we were the suspect! They were all hopped up, and had we not immediately complied with their commands to put our hands on top of our heads and allow them to frisk us, we could have been shot.

When my questions of what address had the dispatcher received and passed on, why didn't the police officers identify themselves immediately when they pounded on our door, and why they didn't ask our names immediately could not be answered during my phone conversation, I decided I needed to file an official complaint. The Assistant Chief did apologize. A late apology is better than none, however I still needed more than that. He said he would drop a form in the mail which I should fill out if I still wanted to after I received it and then mail back.

Another friend of mine thought I should let the County Administrator and my Board of Supervisor representative know what had occurred. I agreed. Knowing how long the mail now takes to get across town I decided to drop them an email that day instead of waiting for the complaint form to arrive. I pretty much copied my blog post, without the "colorful" words and commentary, included pics of the broken tree and sent it to both of them. Have you received a response from either of them? Yeah, me neither. Although it's not something that they can "handle" I do believe even a brief response to the effect of, "I received your email, thank you for letting me know what happened, I hope you will pursue this further so that no other resident will be subjected to this happening, yada, yada, yada..." would have been appropriate.

Five days later I received the Citizen Complaint Report form. The space to provide details was way too small so so I gave a brief description and attached a three page detailed report, along with pictures of the broken branch to it. I did not want to drop it in the mail so I hand delivered it to Cove Road. The officer at the front desk asked me what it was, and although I didn't feel comfortable telling him it was a complaint report, I did. He asked if they were expecting it. I replied yes they were. I hoped it wasn't going to be tossed in the trash bin! It wasn't. A week later, I received a letter from another Assistant Chief of Police informing me my complaint was assigned to a Commander as an internal affairs investigation.

On Friday, August 12th I met in person with the investigator who recorded our meeting in which I reiterated again the event and answered his questions. The only question he was able to answer (and I had many!) was that dispatch did indeed give the correct address, not mine. He informed me that there was a good chance I would not get all, or even many, of my questions answered. Although the investigation could take up to 90 days he thought it would be over before that. I was the first person he spoke with. He had not spoken to any officers involved. He asked me if I knew the names of the officers, or could describe them. I told him since the bright light had practically blinded me, and the large cop had all SWAT like gear on while holding his rifle, or whatever type of long weapon it was on me, and with all the confusion going on it was hard to give an accurate description of him. I couldn't really see his face. The only one I could give some sort of description was the female who frisked me. It was dark, there were so many of them, and I was more focused on the guns pointed at me than anything else to be able to give accurate personal descriptions. When the investigator mentioned there were so many police present most likely because it was "a shift change" I responded with, "Really? It had nothing to do with them getting a report that police would be shot when they responded?" He seemed surprised I knew that and asked who told me that. I told him, but I have to tell you, that one statement he made me uncomfortable.

During our interview, I did remark that it was a good thing that knowing what I know now, that we went outside when we did rather than wait inside for the police to break through the door to confront us. Had they seen us standing there with weapons meant to protect ourselves from a home invasion, they probably would have shot us like the New Jersey State Troopers had recently shot a 76 year old man after they went to the wrong address and found him standing in his living room with a shotgun. Read about it here. At least those cops identified themselves! Anyway, the investigator said he wasn't familiar with the story, nor the NJ State Troopers policy, but it wasn't RCPD policy to break through doors, so I asked if it was RCPD policy to go to the wrong address and not identify themselves as police. Never say never, with the hostile environment aimed at police these days, what was once "not policy" could easily become "policy." What is a "mistake" could easily become a "tragic mistake."

All in all, I felt the interview went well. He was very respectful, as was I. I don't think this was his first rodeo so I hope he does a thorough job. He said he needed to interview my husband separately from me so I suggested he go that day as we didn't want this to linger on. I couldn't answer some of the questions he had as my husband was the first person the police confronted and held at gunpoint. He did meet with him that afternoon and my husband was also recorded, did not have his questions answered either, but he did answer all the investigator's.

When my kids heard about "the incident" they were very upset. My daughter was appalled and wanted me to immediately contact the media. My son was angry with us that we went outside to begin with. I think it's the first time I ever had him yell at us. When I told him about the event that had happened to the NJ man being shot staying inside his living room, he insisted we invest in a video surveillance and recording set-up. He said he would hook it all up for us. A couple of years ago we did have two crappy cameras set up after someone had knocked on our door at four in the morning, which we did not answer. The following morning we found our flower box on one of our windows ripped off and saw footprints in the mud by all the windows. We had called the police but a report was never filed as there wasn't enough to investigate a potential break-in. So we bought cameras, but they didn't record unless they were hooked up to a VHS machine, and after a year of no "problems" we got lazy and stopped using them.

I researched different systems and forwarded all the possibilities to my son and we agreed on a set-up that would record and that we would be able to monitor from anywhere. He came up last weekend and helped us set it up. We could never have done it without him. It involved much more than just plugging it in. Luckily he's a computer whiz so he didn't have any problems and now he can even monitor it from Raleigh! Funny how the child-adult roles switch as we all get older.

While he was setting everything up something dawned on me. If the police thought they were responding to a suspect who had assaulted someone, and who threatened to shoot officers if they arrived, wouldn't they have taped their operation??? One would think they would want to document everything that went down in case they were shot at, or if they had to shoot at someone. I didn't notice if they were wearing body cams. I don't know if RCP even have them, but I do know they have dashboard cameras, and I would think there would have been at least one of the many holding some sort of camera to document. All the questions the investigator had could be answered upon viewing the recording. Since the investigator said I could contact him if I had any more questions, I knew this would be one of them.

I also had another question for him. Upon researching public records I noticed, under the Uniform Crime Report which is reported to the VA State Police, there were 0 reported offenses for the date of "the incident" and address block. While I thought that was odd, I found it even stranger that on the Roanoke County Calls for Service report there were also 0 incidents reported for the date and address block. On 7/24 at 16:38 there was a entry for "Civil Advice" for that address block but "No Report Taken." That was a full 17 hours since "the incident." On 7/25 at 11:49 there was an entry for "Break-In Residence" but again "No Report Taken." Now, I didn't expect to find that they had reported "the incident" at my address, but I certainly expected to find reports at the other address. How is it possible that neither a Crime Report nor a Calls for Service report doesn't exist??? This newfound information really disturbs me. Something is rotten in Roanoke County.

I decided not to just place a phone call but to write an email to the investigator asking about the above. I also thought it would be good to cc the Assistant Chief who advised me of the internal affairs investigation since he also said if I had any concerns I should contact him. When I called to find out his email address he let me know basically what happens during an internal investigation. The bottom line is that after all parties are spoken to the info is sent to the Assistant Chiefs. If they have any additional questions they will ask the investigator, and if any are for us he will contact us. Once they are satisfied they have all they need they then pass it onto the Police Chief. He will then decide if my complaint is true or not. If they deem it is, they decide what actions, if any, will be taken. I will probably not know if any actions are taken. That's it???

Every word I've written is true. As soon as the police left I texted my kids to let them know what had happened to us. I posted on Facebook not long after that. I blogged the following day. I took pictures of my tree damage. I emailed representatives. There is no way they can say what I've reported is not true. Just because RCPD did not file a report does not mean "the incident" never happened. If this incident was never reported, how many others have not been? It's a scary thought. Since the RCPD is interested in the actions of its employees and expects every employee to uphold the department's values of Integrity, Courage, Accountability and Respect, I sincerely hope with all my heart the investigation will not be corrupted, and that proper actions are taken to those responsible to ensure that an event like this never happens again.

I cannot stress enough to all citizens reading this. Please, please, please, comply with the police when they ask you to. Even if they're wrong, just do it. Better to take actions later than have your friends and family mourn you because your non-compliance was seen as "threatening." Also, something I took from this experience...if you do not have a phone on you to record, make sure to look for and remember that badge number. I wish I had at least one of them...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Life Matters

Last night I witnessed my husband looking down a barrel of a gun while I had a couple pointed at me, in my carport, and not by criminals, but by Roanoke County cops.

It was just your average sweltering Saturday night spent in the cool air conditioning of our home, drinking wine while watching movies. Around 11:30 we turned on Saturday Night Live and after about fifteen minutes of not laughing, we decided to go to bed. As we were getting ready, Bella, our dog, started to freak out...whimpering, running to and fro before jumping into the front window. Once she did that she started barking ferociously, more so after the doorbell rang and a loud pounding ensued.

My husband and I looked at each, "Something's up!" No one we know uses the front door, and no one we know would be out at 11:45pm banging on it. Bella is barking danger, danger, danger! There's been home invasions in the county, one just last week, the perps are still out there. There's no way I'm answering that front door, to be bum-rushed as potential criminals might push their way in. My husband is already heading to the side door, stopping to grab his piece as Bella practically pushes him out of the way so she could "get 'em!"

Adrenaline kicks in and I know I have to be back-up. I've undergone training and know how to use my .38, only shattering water-filled bottles or just missing the bullseye on paper targets. By the time I get to it my husband is already out the door, with me yelling, "wait for me, wait for me, be careful, be careful!" I enter the sunroom, blinded by a light coming from somewhere, as I open door to Bella's yard to let her out. I hear shouting, but it's not coming my husband. I'm not out the door but being yelled at to "Step outside, step outside!" Still, not knowing what is happening I yell back, "Shut that light!"

I'm praying I don't hear a gunshot...I don't want to have shoot anyone, even a criminal who shoots my husband. Whoever it is, they are not lowering the light so I look away from it and see my husband to my left staring down the barrel of a gun while a cop shouts to him to put his hands on his head. WTF? The light gets lowered as I'm being yelled at to step out of the house, and for the first time I see cops, many, many cops all over my yard, guns pointed at me and my husband. I quickly put my piece on the shelf inside and step out to the shouting, "Put your hands on top of your head, hands on the head!" while three of them advance on me, their guns drawn and pointed.

"Do you have a weapon?" "Not on me." Wearing a dress, without a bra, I get frisked and patted down as does my husband, even his privates. He's wearing shorts and a wife-beater t-shit and remarks later, "We were dressed for an episode of cops."

"What the hell is going on?" I ask. "Keep your hands up, hands up!" is the response. Our hands are up and Bella's not liking this one bit, she's barking crazy and banging on the fence, "Let me at 'em, let me at 'em!!!" And I'm thinking, Oh damn, they better not shoot my dog. I'm looking at all the cops in the side yard, front yard, driveway, I count five cop cars. My husband tells me later there were more than that. I still don't know why they're here.

Finally a female cop states, "We got a report you assaulted someone." "What?! We've been home all night. You got the wrong people." They don't want to hear that, "Keep your hands up!!!!" Then it dawns on me. "What address are your looking for?" She says our four house numbers. "Yeah, but what street? This is xxDrive. Are you looking for xxMountain Road? That's two blocks down!" I try to point the way but I'm told to keep my hands up. She looks at her pad then all the cops start looking at each other. Then, only then, do they ask our names. Yeah, wrong names, wrong house.

Like what happens when a light switch is turned on in a hoarder's home, the roaches scatter. They all jump in the cars and head down the road. Not one apology. Not one we're sorry. I yell at them as they leave, "We're the fucking good guys!" I don't even know why I said that. Maybe I said it because I police the park across the street that they're supposed to. I've thrown druggies and pedophiles out of it. Just a couple of days ago we had a run-in with someone there, so it was no stretch of the imagination that maybe, just maybe they were the ones coming to our front door in retribution. When the banging on the door occurred not once was "Open up, it's the police!" uttered. They NEVER identified themselves as cops, not until I was looking at guns pointed to our heads did I realize they were law enforcement.

This could have been a disaster. Had we not complied immediately who the hell knows what the outcome might be. They all seemed quite hopped up, and why in the world would there be so many cars for a report of an assault??? It got me wondering why they were here, and why they thought our house was the place especially since our mailbox clearly states the correct address. It's one thing when the post office continually screws up delivering the right mail to the right address, but this is a whole other ball of wax.

I couldn't see all of the cops faces because I was mainly focused on the ones who had their guns pointed at me and the one who felt me up, but I wonder if this had something to do with another occurrence of a false report that happened two years ago, bringing three cops at my door at midnight then again. Waking me out of a deep sleep to question me and check my and my husband's hands for bruises one of the male cops at that time said, and I quote, "I hear you're a hot-headed crazy Italian, but we do things differently down here." I didn't even know what the fuck that meant. Flabbergasted that they would believe a report from someone who was just released from a mental institution after trying to kill themselves with drugs, I did go down the next day to file a complaint. Since no charges were brought, and no report was even made, nothing happened. But what if one of the cops last night was that same cop and heard the address, not listening to the full address, and immediately thought, that's the hot-headed Italian, follow me, I know exactly who they are and thus arrived at my house??? How screwed up is that???

When my kids were young I always told them cops are your friends. As the years passed and I saw and experienced more and more ineptitude from them, I changed my narrative. Now, it was more, "Be careful of cops. Not all of them are your friends. Some have a power complex. If you're ever stopped, do exactly what they say. Answer yes, sir, yes ma'am. Tell them you're reaching for your license, registration, whatever. There are dirty cops, ones that steal from dead men's homes. There are lazy cops, ones who can't be bothered to investigate crimes. There are judgmental cops, ones who see a teenaged girl with hair dyed a different color than the norm and immediately assume she's walking around a supermarket to shoplift. There are prejudiced cops, ones who think if you're Italian or a New Yorker in a southern state you must be a criminal.

Then there's cops like the ones in New York City who recently thought a bomb was tossed in their vehicle and rather than have it blow up everyone in a crowded area drove post haste to minimize the mayhem as much as possible. It didn't matter that it wasn't a bomb, but that they thought it was. Too bad there seems to be less and less of those types of cops lately...

So, after all this what would I have done differently? Probably the only thing would be the next time I would also reach for my phone and hit record...

My watchdog

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tommy James & the Shondells in Atlantic City

I went to Atlantic City and all I got was this cool Tommy James shirt...

Actually, that's not all I came home with...I also have a couple of lousy shots of him but, more importantly, wonderful memories from a great show.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a concert at Harrah's in Atlantic City to see the amazing Tommy James and the Shondells. This was the first time I had ever seen the legendary act, one of my favorite bands who shaped my musical tastes as I listened to them on AM radio during my pre-teen years. I remember digging through the sofa cushions amongst the lint in the cracks of the pillows to find enough change to go and buy Crimson & Clover. I think I wore that 45 rpm disc out playing it over and over, and even mastered the quick press of the throat technique to mimic the latter chorus as Tommy sang "Crimson and clover over and over...crimson and clover over and over..."

All the aggravation of having to endure the poor planning of Harrah's regarding the issuing of tickets, resulting in waiting on a long line to pick them up (more on that, and observations on Atlantic City in general in an upcoming post) dissipated as soon as the band walked on stage and the first note was played. TJ played all his hits and I danced in my seat non-stop to such classics as "Hanky Panky," "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Dragging the Line," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," "Mony Mony," (yes, that's his song not Billy Idol's) and others.

One of my favorites was "I Think We're Alone Now." Tommy told us that it was going to be the music on the closing credits of an upcoming film based on his book "Me, the Mob, and Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells." The book was great and that's one movie I am really looking forward to. The song was played at a slower tempo than the original and moved me to tears...such simple lyrics that evoke such a strong response. My hand always beats on my heart in tandem with the sound of the beating drum after that last line in the stanzas below...a TJ fan knows what I'm talking about.

"Children behave
That's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand
And so we're running just as fast as we can
Holdin' onto one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground and then you say
I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound"

As an added bonus we got to hear the original in all its glory during the encore. TJ did not disappoint. He still got it, his voice was strong, his fingers nimble on the guitar strings. The band was tight and the concert venue was the perfect place to see them. There was not a bad seat in the house. Tommy seemed very happy to be there, connecting with the audience on many levels..."I used to drop acid, now I drop antacid" garnered a good laugh from the understanding crowd of baby boomers. I was particularly impressed by him during the musical stretch in "Mony Mony." He jumped right into the audience, shaking hands, getting hugs, and *gasp* posing for selfies! When's the last time you saw a performer do that during their show? Class act.

After the show he agreed to sign anything we wanted, hopefully something bought from the merchandise table. We were told he even said he would have no problem posing for pics but it had to be a smooth, quick session as he had a fight to catch. I bought the shirt and was preparing to get to the back of yet another long line when my husband reminded me if I got the shirt signed I wouldn't wear it. I want to wear this shirt, and I really didn't want to wait on line, so I passed up meeting him in person. Of course, I'm kicking myself now.

Tommy James and the Shondells, please come to Roanoke, Virginia. We've got a great amphitheater that would be a perfect fit. The sound system & acoustics are great, the venue comfortable, holds a nice crowd number, and, I can also get much better shots. I'd be happy to show you around the valley.

One thing that really bothers me is that these guys are NOT in the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame! What's up with that????

If you want to know more about TJ click here for his website. With music so easily gotten for free on the internet, musicians these days really need to tour and sell merchandise to make money, so make sure to check out the store to see some really neat and affordable mercy.

Tommy James...You still got it, baby!