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Monday, January 30, 2012

Out of the Two comes One - Part Six

The one thing that is always true of my duel professions is that there are always intersections where the two worlds are poised for conflict. (You know what they say about phrases with the word always in them…they are always false. Smile.) The experience that gives substance to the lie is my working in the jail. Whenever a new inmate arrived, especially when that inmate was charged with a particularly horrible crime, I was challenged to be something different than that which was common around me. Where my fellow deputies might give into a lower impulse…nothing illegal, but still lower than what would be acceptable to the Lord, I would have to forgo that impulse.

There was an occasion where on one night an inmate came in and was offensive in almost every way you might think, even to the point of his attacking a fellow deputy. At this point, it was my duty to stop the threat while assisting my fellow officer. The hard part was in having to stop before I went too far. The impulse to give into anger, to become the punisher rather than the administer of justice. Conflict.

The question of how to institute the higher law of grace and mercy where doing things “the normal way” would not be questioned. On most of these occasions this conflict did not register with anyone else, for the battle was solely within myself. Do I apply that control-hold for that one extra heartbeat; do I ignore that inmate’s reasonable request just because of what he’s done or who he might be? These are the battles I fought and still fight. But then again, in reality, it is the battle we all fight: Will we do the right thing when it is time for the right thing to be done? Conflict….Just saying.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Out of the Two comes One - Part Five

One of the more common questions I’m asked is how do I blend my two worlds into one. The question is generally posed as if there really did exist a separation between the spiritual and the secular; as if I could be one person at work and another at home and church.

It became one of my constant goals to be congruent— to have my words and actions agree with my testimony. This brings to mind a day that I failed.

On a crisp Saturday morning the shift progressed as usual. I was working in the medical ward. In this ward there was a particular block where those inmates with contagious diseases were housed separate from other sick inmates. On this particular day there was one inmate, who being rather obstinate, provoked me to wrath. [Smile] In police-talk we call this heinous crime Contempt of Cop, and in most jurisdictions, it is considered a serious felony.

Well, after being repeatedly disrespected, disobeyed, and challenged—yes, I lost my temper. I stalked out of the control booth and stormed up to the inmate’s cell and snatched open the door. At this point I challenged the man to the fight he had been begging me for all morning. But, like with most inmates, once the door opened, his glass-courage evaporated. Glass-courage is that courage an inmate has when he is locked safe behind the cell door glass.

When I walked into his cell and stood over him, I could see the fear in his eyes and only then—once the eyes of all the other inmates and the nursing staff and the other deputy—did I mention I had been telling this deputy about the love of Jesus? Back to the story. I finally heard my partner calling me over the intercom and reminding me that this inmate was not worth my job.

Then the truth of the matter settled over me. I had put my testimony on the line. It seemed the Lord was always using the situations of my day to teach me about Him and about myself….Just saying.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of the Two comes One - Part Four

When asked what stands out about wearing the badge while living in the light of the empty tomb, what comes to my mind is an event that taught me more about the nature of grace than all the lectures I’ve heard on the subject combined.

It was early in the shift. I can’t remember what season, but I think it might have been summer— either way it was Southern Cal and all the days are beautiful. Two days prior to this, I had received a novel as a gift and discovered it to be one of those that I just could not put down. On the morning in question, I’d brought the book with me to read on my breaks. During the morning count, it fell to me to run the count on the first floor in booking. While making this round, I came across a single male inmate sitting in a cell designated for at least 20 persons.

When I opened the cell to confirm this inmate’s identity, I saw that he was reading a copy of “my” novel. No, not the one I’d written, but the one I was reading at the time. During this early stage in my career, I was still enamored with my shiny new badge and I couldn’t see how anyone of “these people”— these inmates, could have anything in common with me.

Time stopped.

I stalked to where the inmate sat reading a tattered copy of “my” novel and snatched it from his hands. Fear washed over the young man’s face as his color drained. He went rigid on the stone bench. “Where did you get this?” I demanded.

The inmate stuttered, “I-I-I found it on the floor. I didn’t mean to do nothing wrong, sir. I’m sorry. You can have it. I don’t want no trouble.” With that, he stretched both palms toward me as if to push me away.

In the breath of that moment, I realize the truth of the statement, “Except for the grace of God, there go I.” I just stood there and looked at the fear on the man’s face, shocked at the anger in my voice.

I stopped. I prayed. I repented. Then I gave the book back and apologized.
I left that cell a humbled man. The point? The only difference between us and “those people” is God….Just saying.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Out of the Two comes One - Part Three

I remember when I was a child we lived right up the hill from a ditchThe ditch. My grandmother always told me to stay away from that ditch, or I would fall in. Well, being the full-blooded American youth growing up in the 1960’s South, you might well imagine that I took that admonishment to heart.

Well, it was not so different from when I began my career in law enforcement and continuing my walk with the Lord. As an ordained minister, I was always aware of my reputation: What we call a testimony in the church, and the effect it would have if I failed. The key was to not play around the edges of trouble. There were many times when I had to walk that thin line of not giving into the impulse of anger or just plain dislike, but I knew I was being watched; watched by not only my fellow officers and staff, but watched by the Lord.

This reminds me of one morning in particular. My oldest son was two years old, and I had just kissed both him and my wife good-bye for the day. I made my way to briefing, and as I sat there, the duty sergeant gave us the details of our day’s assignments. Mine? I was tasked with watching an inmate that had been booked in overnight and was currently on suicide watch. What was so hard about that you might ask? Well, this particular inmate had killed his two-year-old nephew after molesting him and then partially decapitating the small body and hiding him in a trash bag. As the sergeant gave me instructions to watch this man, to guard him, to make sure he didn’t kill himself, I wonder aloud, “Why should I stop him?”

Immediately I knew I was wrong. The sergeant stopped, looked up and said to me, “Because you are one of the few people here that I can trust to do it.” As the team filed out, I sat there for a moment and talked to the Lord about it. I made my peace with the fact that I was not to be his judge, but rather his jailer. I was not to be his jury, but rather his guard. I had looked down and found that I had been standing near the edge of that “ditch.”

This is what it was like to work in the jail and walk with the Lord. At times, I did it quite well and soared over trials. At other times, I had to fight through…and sometimes I failed. But then again it’s kind like Grand-Ma said, “If you play around the edge of that ditch, you gonna fall in.” I did. You want to know something else? Ditch mud really stinks….Just saying.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Out of the Two comes One - Part Two

As I’ve said before, I began my law enforcement career working as an Orange County Deputy Sheriff; station 18 for those in the know. It was while still assigned to my JTO (Jail Training Officer; the senior officer responsible to assure that you make the shift from academy graduate to functional field officer.) — that I first realized I would have to earn my right to hold my testimony in Jesus Christ and still be accepted as a viable field officer. However, most challenges I experienced were presented on a subconscious level; people just being who they are and expecting me to be like them.

One of the first challenges an officer has to overcome is whether or not he/she will engage in battle. Now it is true, most officers over the course of their entire career, very few will ever draw their weapon as an act of aggression. However, as a jail-officer, that same officer will have to go hands-on in a combat status at least once a week on average. My first challenge came during my second week of training. In those moments, you don’t have time to stop and pray for a Godly mindset, so one is best served by being prayed up and prepared ahead of time.

There are two stations where a fight was most likely to happen: Uncuff or Court Transfer. Uncuff is where new intakes arrive at the jail, and the booking process begins. In this stage, inmates have just come off the streets, transferred from state prison or other city or county jails. On the other hand, Court Transfer is where inmates, already housed in jail, were brought down and transferred to and from court while still in custody.

Now, another thing that was very real in the jail was that the different ethnic groups had to be kept separate. Well, actually, the Whites and the Mexicans had a truce that held up in lock-up, while the Blacks and Asians teamed up to create a precarious balance that allowed the jail to operate just this side of chaos.

Back to my challenge: It was in Uncuff where a transfer inmate decided to challenge me. He knew I was a rookie, and as such, had not been tested. If he caused me to cower or back off, he gained points in the jail. If I prevailed, then I made my marks with my JTO. This all happened in a moment, kind of like scripture — in twinkling of an eye. You either pass or fail. No retest.

I passed.

Then comes the self-examination where I had to check my heart before God. Did I say or do more than was necessary? Did I, even in the heat of combat, say or do anything that would be displeasing to my God. After assuring that I had not lowered my standards, came the act of living with the praise. Not giving into the power and adulation that is inherent to wearing the uniform is a battle I had to fight every day, not so much with others but rather in my own heart. The fight was actually easier to handle….Just saying.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Out of the two comes One:

Back in 1989, as a very mature 26 years old, I was both ordained into the ministry and sworn in as a deputy sheriff in Orange County, California. I joined the staff of the Eagles Nest Christian Ministries – under the leadership of Dr. Gary Greenwald as his leader of Youth Ministries. At the same time, although several months apart, I pledged an oath to uphold the laws of the great county of Orange under the leadership of then Sheriff Brad Gates — not to be confused with his distant relative, Daryl Gates, who was the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Since that time, people often ask me how I can do both jobs and not confuse their missions or become hypocritical in the service of one or the other. For me this has never been an issue. You see, I see myself as a Christian first; Christian before a law enforcement officer, Christian before husband, or father; and here it is: ¬¬Christian before a Blackman in America. Christ first, Christ always, Christ only.

This reminds me of the time when I was testing for the position of sex crimes investigator. My supervisor, which shall remain unnamed, pulled me aside to voice his concerns. In his typical fatherly tone, he expressed his concern that my being a Christian would disallow me to see anyone in a bad light, thus inhibiting my ability to judge rightly a sex offender as evil. He saw my Christianity as a hindrance to the performance of my duties.

I took pleasure in explaining that my faith is what gave me the proper understanding of the true nature of what it meant to be man: That all of us were evil by nature, and it was only the grace of God that set any of us apart. Well that was almost 10 years and many hundred investigations ago. Water under the bridge as we say.

In this new post, I would like to explore with you my journey through this blended world of mine. As in all things, I would love to hear and share your thoughts. Out of the two worlds came one unique perspectives; it makes for a wonderfully exciting adventure. Come along for the ride and let’s see what we see….Just saying.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Here's a sneak peek of DRT

Wet snow looked like a spilled cherry snow cone spreading from beneath the man’s downturned face. Detective Nate Richards of the Treasure Valley Metro Police looked down at the body stretched out on the ground at his feet. A quick glance suggested a single blow to the side of the man’s head had ended his life. Nate shook his head, dislodging snow from his loose curls, the white flakes contrasting against the coffee-colored tone of his skin. He shivered, I hate winter. Nate looked up, momentarily drawn by the halo that encircled the streetlight as its russet glow illuminated the night sky.
His partner, Detective Chris MacGilvery, worked a short distance away, talking to the on-scene patrol officer. The unbroken surface of the snow, pristine in its whiteness, made the whole scene eerily bright. MacGilvery cupped his hands and blew into them, attempting to thaw them out, his gray-blue eyes reflecting the light from the snow. He had been assigned as Nate’s partner when Nate’s previous partner, twenty-year veteran Sabrina Jackson, retired after being shot in the line of duty by a rogue cop.
Looking up with the memory, Nate flexed tight muscles in his jaw and stooped to better examine the body. Remembering his scripture reading from that morning, Hebrews 9:27, “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Nate wondered where this man’s soul was now.
He looked over the crime scene, trying to decipher its secrets. Shaking his head from side to side, he considered the snow. It was not helping; no footprints led to or away from the body. The snow will have to be collected and sifted for possible evidence. He rubbed gloved fingers across his chin.
“Mac,” Nate called out, “witnesses?”
“None. A man walking his dog found the body and called it in.”
Nate made his way over to Chet Baraza, the patrol officer in charge, and looked in the direction of the sirens sounding in the near distance. “I guess we can tell the paramedics to downgrade,” Nate said, extending a hand to Baraza.
The group of patrol officers laughed. Baraza chuckled and shook Nate’s hand. “He’s DRT. Dead right there, man; this one’s not going anywhere on his own. He must’a dropped like a sack of potatoes. Farrumph!” the officer said and gestured as if dropping a heavy load.
Wheels crunched in the snow as the paramedic van pulled up and rolled to a stop just outside the crime scene. The overhead lights flashed brilliantly against the snow, perforating the velvet drape of the night sky. The already too bright landscape sparkled like an oversized diorama as the red and white lights of the van played against it. The driver, a middle age balding man, stepped from the van. “What’d’ya got?” he asked nobody in particular.
Nate dipped his chin toward the body. He looked back at the driver and shook his head from side to side in a slow sweep.
Pulling on rubber examination gloves, the paramedic bent over and examined the four-inch gash in the temple of the victim, paying particular attention to the jagged edge. He stood and whistled, blowing air through pursed lips. “Wow, that’s…,” he began. “That’s…that’s bad.” He looked over his shoulder at his partner who was quickly pulling gear from the van. “Bag it, Jeff, this one’s DRT. Better call the coroner, Nate.”

Mac finished talking to the witness and, after getting his contact information, released him to leave. Turning to face the group of officers, he jogged-skidded his way back across the thin sheet of ice on the street to join Nate and the others near the body.


Nate locked eyes with Mac before they both turned to face Baraza. The veteran street cop pulled his note pad from his breast pocket and frowned as he prepared to check his information against what the detectives already had.
“The old guy,” he said, indicating the RP (reporting party), “called in a medical assist man down at about twenty-fifteen hours… just after the first call came into dispatch about what sounded like a single gunshot being fired.”
Nate looked back at the body of the unidentified man lying face down in the snow. “Anybody pull I.D. yet?”
“Naaa, it was obvious he was dead. Thought we’d wait for five-one to call it, and of course you guys.”
“So, you’re a doctor now, Baraza,” Mac chided.
Baraza frowned, feigning injury. “You don’t need an M.D. in front of your name to know you can’t live with a hole like that in the side of your head. I’m thinking long gun, .22 caliber maybe.”
“That much damage from a twenty-two?” Mac asked, arching a brow.
“Heavy load, low velocity at close range,” Baraza finished. “Maybe a tumbler; of course it’s just my guess. But I’m only a lowly street cop, not like you bright boys up there in Criminal Investigation Division.” He smiled sarcastically and, with a tap of his fingers, tucked his pad back into his jacket pocket.
Nate cupped Baraza on his shoulder and pushed him, causing him to slide on the ice, barely managing to keep his balance. “I’ll see you in the morning, wise guy.”
Baraza laughed. “Heck, we’ll be back for morning briefing before you even finish your paperwork.”
The men laughed, and Nate turned his attention back to the dead man belly down in the snow. Looking up, Nate saw the coroner’s van pulling into the intersection. The deputy coroner, a tall dark haired man in his mid to late twenties, got out and prepared to bag the body.
“Hold on there, cowboy,” Mac called to the deputy coroner.
Nate waved a hand to get the coroner’s attention. “We haven’t finished here yet—crime scene’s still mine.”
“Works for me, I’ll wait in my wagon. Too cold out here for me anyway,” he said and hefted his bulk back into the van.
Flipping open his cell phone, Nate called the on-call crime scene tech. Rosie answered on the second ring. “Hey, sorry to bother you this early.”
She cut him off. “I’m already en route. Got in late and heard the call go out. I should be on scene in about—Now.” She honked her horn as she parked her van across the street from the crime scene. Rosie, a fifty-something Hispanic woman, was almost as tall as she was round, with a personality just as big. She was a no-nonsense, fresh-off-the-streets type girl.
Bumping the van door closed with her hip, Rosie opened her bag and began to set up her camera. “What do you want?” She asked over her shoulder.
Nate and Mac smiled knowingly as Rosie sorted the varied baggies and evidence containers. “Better get everything. We don’t know what we have yet,” Nate answered.
“You can get me the heck out of here,” MacGilvery added sarcastically and glanced over at Rosie.
As Rosie began to create a photo log of the crime scene, recording the location and placement of items of interest, Nate and Mac stepped back to consider what they had discovered. A half hour passed, and Rosie signaled that she had finished with the preliminary photos and was all set to begin evidence collection.
“Ready?” Nate asked.
“Nope,” Mac said joking.
“Oh, shut up,” Rosie cut in. “We’re ready.”
“Okay,” Nate began, “I’ll walk the route. You watch Mac and Rosie you—”
“I’ll stand by for collection and tagging. It’s not my first ride on this train you know”
Nate smiled.
Standing near the head of the body, he looked at the scene again. Studying the body’s position, Nate moved around it, trying to determine the victim’s direction of travel at the time of attack. Beginning at the corpse’s feet, taking slow steps moving in a spiral search pattern, he progressed outward from the body. Nearing the head again, he stopped, feeling something hard beneath the toe of his shoe. “Mac…I think I got something.”
Nate knelt down and retrieved a small rectangle shaped piece of plastic from beneath his right foot. Reading the writing on the side of the object, he recognized it to be a sixteen-gigabyte thumb-drive.
Holding the thumb-drive between his index finger and thumb, Nate dropped it into a small evidence bag held by Rosie. She cut her eyes at him. “Next time use rubber gloves, Sherlock.”
He exchanged glances with Mac. “What’d’ya think?”
“I think you should wear gloves.” He cleared his throat and chuckled. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” he answered. “Let’s get it back to the lab, and see what the boys in cyber tech can do with it.”
Rosie didn’t smile. “Let’s just get it dried out, and see if there’s anything on it.”
Nate nodded and continued the swirl pattern outward to about ten to twelve feet from the body. Mac tracked his progress from the side, looking for anything that Nate may have missed.
Nate positioned himself near the shoulders of the body, directing Mac to the opposite side near its knees. “Okay, let’s roll this fellow over, and see who we have here.”
Aided by the cold and rigor mortis, the body rolled easily and rocked onto its back like a saucer settling into place. Its hands and arms splayed, frozen above his head. Blue eyes stared unseeing through ice crystals into the night sky.
“Whoa,” Nate said, “you know who this is?” He reached into the dead man’s pocket and retrieved his wallet. Opening it, he passed the ID to Mac.
Mac forced air through pursed lips. “So, justice finally caught up to old Bobby.”
“When did he get out of prison, anyway? I thought he got fifteen to life on his last jaunt to State.”
“Yeah, fifteen, but only two fixed. He must have made parole.”
“Only two years for child rape.” Nate shook his head. “Maybe he should’a stayed in prison.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

See what readers on Amazon are saying about NHI!

5 out of 5 stars “New Nate Richards fan! Ok, so I love a deal, I like knowing I got value for money spent...that being said this book is a treasure. I'm a Kindle owner and devout book reader; book buying has become compulsive, so I am ALWAYS looking for a deal. That is how I found this little GEM!!!!. The story is fresh... the emotions between the main characters are "oh" so real. Nate Richards is sexy but saved, he's not over the top religious, but he knows GOD. The author did an awesome job of not "selling" religion by making this a "Christian book"... Nate Richards' faith is a much a part of him as his skin color, it's simply who he is. This feels like what Walter Mosley did with Easy Rawlins ...I love a good detective story!!!The way this one ended, I am hoping for more installments from Ray Ellis and the adventures of Nate Richards....write on... Buy it, READ it, you won't regret it!”

4 out of 5 stars “Well on your way! As a first book, this book was amazing. As a new author, Ellis did an outstanding job developing characters that will easily become favorites across a series of books. I think the characters were developed in such a way that the reader can connect with. This book, like so many other others manages to get its hooks into the reader, to the point that the reader wants to finish it. Very well written, both in plot and setting. I am looking forward to the rest of the series, to see where Ellis takes these unique characters. Ellis is definitely well on his way to becoming one of the great authors of today.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

Special review: NHI Chapter One

Chapter One




The body of the teenage boy lay face down in the gutter, his bandana, his colors, still clenched in his fist, floated in the water beside him. Blood mixed with rain raced in a gurgling stream down the drain, splashing noisily as it made its way to the river.
What had it gained him? What had he proved? These were a few of the questions that flashed through Detective Nate Richards’ mind as he studied the crime scene. Summer rain washed over Richards’ lean frame, soaking his loose brown curls to the scalp. Flexing a muscle in his jaw, he lifted a hand to wipe water from his face. The street light reflected off of his cocoa-colored skin, twinkling in the early morning darkness. “Who’s calling the scene?” Nate asked the group of four uniformed officers standing near a row of patrol cars, their overhead lights casting a rainbow effect on the wet pavement.
Three of the four uniformed men walked toward Nate. He looked between the men and, finding the corporal stripes, directed his comments to them. “What d’ya’ got, Benson?” he asked, reading the nametag that went along with them.
“Another one down; one less to worry about shooting me in the back,” Corporal Chad Benson muttered under his breath while using his hand to squeegee rainwater from his short blond hair. He chuckled to himself as he walked past the body headed for his patrol unit. He glanced at Nate as he passed.
“Does the phrase crime scene integrity mean anything to you, Benson?” Nate said.
“What’s your problem?” Benson said in a harsh whisper. “It’s not like it means anything. They breed like rats down here. Who cares if they kill each other off? We’ll have two more by week’s end. Mark my word. And it won’t even make a difference.”
The two uniformed officers, with Benson, smiled at their team commander’s remarks. One of the men stared at Nate, holding his gaze for an extra heart beat longer than necessary before turning away. Nate made a mental note to remember the men’s names.
“Stow it. Now!” Nate cut his gaze to a woman sitting on the curb rocking and hugging herself. The dead teen’s mother. Grabbing Benson by the shoulder, Nate pulled him off to the side. “You can’t see?”
Benson snatched his arm from Nate. “What?”
“You okay, Bens?” one of the other officers called and stepped toward Nate.
“Johnson, right?” Nate asked, making sure he had the man’s name correct. “Is this the way you run a crime scene?” Nate had directed the question to Benson.
Looking down the desolate street, Nate pointed to the nearest intersection. “Block that off and get some cones out in the street to keep paramedics and everyone else from driving through my crime scene.”
Johnson looked at Nate but didn’t move.
“You got a problem with that, patrolman?” Nate asked.
“Go ‘head,” Benson said, stepping between the two men. “Look, Detective, we do just fine. You take care of your stuff, and I’ll take care of mine.”
Without responding, Nate turned away from the officer and approached the woman, hoping she hadn’t overheard Benson’s comments or noticed the patrolmen’s cavalier attitudes.
Shielding his notepad from the rain with his arm, he checked the comments he’d recorded there. He cleared his throat. “Mrs. Fuentes? I’m Detective Nate Richards, Treasure Valley Metro Police Department. I need to ask you a few questions.”
The woman raised her dark eyes like dead pools, lifeless and cold, to meet Nate’s expectant gaze. “What does it matter? We breed like rats anyway, right?” She pulled her jacket collar tight around her neck and turned away from him.
So much for her not having heard, Nate thought. He stooped to meet the woman’s gaze. “Mrs. Fuentes…”
“Miss. I’m not married. But I guess that’s okay when you’re only a Cricetomys emini, huh?”
Struck by the woman’s beauty, Nate thought she didn’t look much older than a teen herself. “Miss Fuentes,” he began again, “A what?”
“A pregnant rat,” she said, anger coloring her voice.
Nate broke eye contact for the briefest of moments but watched her gauging her movements. “I apologize for the officer’s crudeness. There’s no excuse for his behavior. I also assure you that his is not the general attitude of the police department.” Nate was sincere in his response but knew avoiding an officer complaint was a good idea as well.
The woman stood abruptly. She looked again at her son lying dead in the street, took a breath and seemed to gather herself. “Can I take him now?”
“I’m sorry Mrs.—Miss Fuentes, but the body can’t be released until the coroner has been called and finishes his examination.”
“You gonna cut up my baby? You gonna cut him open and play around inside him? For what? We know what killed him. The bullets killed him. Just let me take him and put him to rest.”
Nate looked over the woman’s shoulder at Officer Benson sitting in his patrol unit out of the weather and wished that it was Benson standing in the rain having to explain the bad behavior instead of him. Benson sat leaning back in the passenger’s seat stuffing the last of something into his mouth.
“Miss Fuentes, I’m sorry, but certain things have to be done and then—”
“I don’t care. You want to assure me you don’t see my son as some kind of second class citizen? You find the man who killed him, and you make him pay.” She walked away, her shoulders heaving as she struggled against the sobs shaking her entire body. Stopping a short distance away, she leaned against the wall and stood there absorbed by the shadows.
Nate stormed over to the patrol car and pulled open the door. “Benson, you’re a pig.”
Benson looked up, a smear of mayonnaise stuck in the corner of his mouth. “What? What’d I do?”
Nate looked in the direction the woman had disappeared. “You couldn’t see the mother sitting not fifteen feet from you? What were you thinking?”
“NHI, man. Why should I get all bothered over nothing?”
Nate clenched and then relaxed his fist. He inhaled and blew out his breath in one explosive sigh, water vapor springing from around his lips. Without speaking, he turned and walked away. Kneeling beside the body, he began his investigation while fighting to control his anger at Benson’s callous behavior.