Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Outlaw In-laws by Gail Roughton

              In-laws. We all have some. And for better or worse, blessing or curse, we all are or will be somebody’s in-law.  Mother-in-laws, especially, get a bad rap. I mean, how many mother-in-law jokes have you heard in your life? So many that it’s a wonder in-laws aren’t just called out-laws in the first place.  That doesn’t apply to me, though.  My daughter found her other half very early in life.  Her husband first walked in our door when she was fifteen and he was seventeen and neither of them ever so much as seriously looked at anybody else. Even though they didn’t get married until they were twenty-two and twenty-four, they were a confirmed couple from that first meeting and everybody knew it.  I don’t even consider my son-in-law an “in-law”.  He’s a son, one of my boys.  Neither of my sons have found their other half yet, so I only have the one “in-law” I don’t even consider an “in-law”.  He’s just one of the kids. I’ve loved the boy for the last seventeen years.  Well, okay, the last sixteen.  That first year might have been kind of rocky. 

            I do, however, realize he probably cringes when he sees my name pop up on his cell phone as a call or text message.  And there’s a reason for that.  Most son-in-laws could expect their mother-in-law to text something like “Remember tomorrow’s Becca’s birthday!” Or I suppose they do, though in fact, I don’t really know because now that I think about it, most telephone communication between the two would probably be through their common link, the daughter-wife.

            Us though?  All bets are off.  My son-in-law’s a Deputy Sheriff who’s worked his way up the ranks from jail duty to patrol duty and beyond. He’s cut suicides down from a rope, he’s worked accidents that would make a blood and guts horror movie fan turn pale, he’s pulled alligators off county roads running near the local swamps. At present, he’s a K-9 drug interdiction officer specially trained to target drug traffic on the interstate.  I’ve been a paralegal for a few months shy of forty years now, so we have that “legal bond” thing going on wherein we can discuss the finer points of law and legal procedure in depth, something we can’t do with too many folks not members of those respective professions.  But even more than that, I’m a writer. Who writes suspense thrillers.  Can you say “marriage made in heaven”? An actual in-house source, as it were, for law enforcement procedures, particularly in a rural county big in area and small on population. 

            It never really struck me until the other day just how strange our text conversations would seem to someone who had nothing better to do than snoop into our phones (not that anybody’s doing that, of course, I just mean if anybody did they might wish they hadn’t). My son-in-law was invaluable to me during the writing of Country Justice.  I picked his brain mercilessly on such things as guns and what caliber bullets went with which, what type of damage each would do, how an experienced and trained driver would react to a sabotaged brake line to come out of a dead-man’s curve alive and what sabotage would have been used in the first place, what procedure would be utilized in accessing the evidence locker,  the average size of a drug shipment, ad infinitem on and on and on until it’s a miracle the boy would even talk to me.  Country Justice is dedicated to him, in fact, and nobody ever earned a dedication more.

            Well, guess what? I’ve got a current work-in-progress (that’s WIP in writer shorthand) and the merciless brain-picking has commenced.  The text messages are flying. How’d you like to get this text (reproduced with grammatical correctness rather than copied in text shorthand form for your reading convenience) from your mother-in-law?

      “Question. If the Department found a cadaver in the woods about two months old, no missing persons report, how would it be handled?  Would y’all just call the county Coroner who would transport to the nearest GBI crime lab or would one of their teams be called to the scene right then and take over?  And if there was suspicion these remains might be connected to an old cold case and y’all requested a priority, would the crime lab give it some kind of priority or just put it in line? Don’t you just love having me as your mother-in-law?”

            The response came in a few hours.  Bless his heart. He didn’t turn a hair. Or even try to arrest me.

            “First the coroner would get the body and would do the autopsy but the GBI and possibly even the FBI would be on the case from start to finish to oversee the local law. And yes they would check everything with priority because the person died under suspicious and unknown circumstances.  Sorry it took me so long, didn’t see I had a text.”

            I’ve got a resident expert and I’m going to complain about the length of time it took to get an answer? I think not.

            “No problem.  This is in a rural county where the mortician is the coroner and not an MD.  Do they do autopsies or call in an adjoining bigger county where the coroner’s an actual pathologist?”

            Yeah, I guess I am kind of single-minded when I’m in process on a work-in-progress, huh?

            “The local guy would do it with maybe the GBI or FBI present but other small agencies do ask bigger departments to help, like here if the City Police had that scenario they’d call us in  to work the case. And yes, they will sometimes send the body to a bigger city to be autopsied.

            “Got it! Thanks a million.  Title is Black Turkey Walk.” (Nice I finally threw in it was for a book, don’t you think?  Not that he didn’t know that from the start, of course.)

            “Sounds cool and very interesting.”

            A good son-in-law’s value is beyond rubies. It’s plot material.  Lord love you, darlin’, ‘cause I sure do!  To check out the results of this priceless in-house informant’s knowledge, click on my Books We Love Author's Page.  And coming Spring, 2015 – Black Turkey Walk.