NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE is a law enforcement memoir to be published sometime in the near future.
It is the story of my career as a deputy sheriff with Los Angeles County, but it isn’t just a collection of war stories; rather, it is a compelling story of pain and healing, self-doubt and certainty, love and hate. It’s a story that begins with promise and ends with hope, if only a sliver.
The job is replete with shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, and sometimes you never knew how close you had come to killing or being killed. Other times you did.”
It is about my journey from innocent childhood to the deadly encounters I would survive on the streets of South Los Angeles, and my years at the elite sheriff’s homicide bureau. There, I would eventually stand over the bodies of dead gangsters, murdered children, an up-and-coming rap star, a Native American burned alive by skinheads, the beautiful Lana Clarkson who lay dead on Phillip Spector’s floor, shot in the face.
As I drove to the bureau on my first day there, both excited and nervous about my future, a young man exited a city bus and walked across a set of railroad tracks, apparently oblivious to the flashing lights and deafening whistle of the locomotive that bore down on him. Before I had been offered a cup of coffee or assigned a desk, I was dispatched to handle the tragic death—on my own.
When I arrived, the Industry station patrol deputy who handled the call briefed me on his actions and observations preceding my arrival. I took copious notes as he told me he had received the call, responded, arrived and observed parts of the decedent’s body and his personal property strewn a quarter mile along the tracks. He turned and pointed to a distant landmark and said, ‘There’s a shoe with his foot down there, that’s the farthest body part we’ve located. I think we’ve found all the pieces.’ “
I finished the manuscript six months ago and began shopping for agents to represent me. I had hoped to have it published by a traditional publishing house, a formidable task in the publishing world.
I queried seven literary agents, two of whom were excited about the project, and within days of receiving my queries and sample chapters, requested the full manuscript. This was exciting, a big deal in the publishing world where your odds of landing an agent are equal to those of winning the World Series of Poker.
Then St. George Floyd happened and suddenly both agents declined to represent me, citing a soft market for law enforcement memoirs. Of course, I don’t believe them. Wouldn’t they know their markets before asking for the manuscript? Isn’t it more likely that their motives were more likely aligned with the rampant “cancel culture” that is the “new norm?”
Or perhaps the memoir, raw and truthful, offended their delicate senses.
You hear tales of cops who spent their entire careers (God knows where) never having to pull their guns. That wasn’t Firestone. It wasn’t South Central Los Angeles. We pulled our guns multiple times each shift and often had them pointed at dangerous adversaries. With the numbers of gang members, drug dealers, and hosts of other violent criminals that we would encounter on a regular basis, violence was always anticipated, and it often came. It was that expectancy that gave us an edge and kept us alive. Mostly.”
So now I’m carefully shopping for independent publishers who work directly with their authors, eliminating the need for an agent.
Griffin, fluently bilingual, repeated the commands in Spanish. The man stared at us through bloodshot eyes while waving a pistol around, the one he was shooting into the air when we arrived. I was squeezing the trigger on my revolver. Mike was yelling at the top of his lungs, the Spanish rolling off of his tongue as beautifully as a mariachi melody, as we literally found ourselves in a deadly standoff. I felt the pressure on my trigger. This was it; I was going to have to shoot a man. Some of my friends were still in college, others living at home, working at Magic Mountain or Taco Bell. If this drunk man with the gun brought the barrel in our direction—intentionally or not—I would have to pull the trigger. You didn’t wait until they let one fly in your direction. That’s not how you went home at night. I kept the front sight of my revolver glued to his chest—the ten-ring—and I watched the gun in his hand with an intensity I had never before felt.”
For me, self-publishing has offered the freedom of voice—I haven’t the burden of being told to choose political correctness over authenticity when it comes to raw language, that which is factual and necessary if I am to be true to the tales. Each time I’ve thought about submitting my Dickie Floyd Detective Novel series to a literary agent, I’ve decided against it, knowing they would never allow my work to go unchanged in these areas. I believe most of my readers appreciate the genuineness of my prose.
I always knew life could come to a screeching halt—we saw the aftermath of it all the time—but I never had thought that for me it would be the result of a plane crash. I thought of my children, Jami and Randi Jo, just little girls at the time, and I thought of my wife. I pictured the three of them at home, busy in their routines, no idea of the predicament I was in. I had been in many situations wherein I could have been killed, but none that allowed considerable reflection as it slowly unfolded. I had no control of the situation, no say in the outcome. Honestly, these were the most frightening ten minutes of my life.”
If I don’t find an agent or publisher with whom I can come to an agreement on the terms of this project, I will eventually self-publish this book, too.
The conversation with my sister had taken place not twenty minutes before the carload of hooligans pulled alongside me. After hearing I had been called in for the riots, she called me, emotional and scared, uncharacteristically indifferent to the plight of her fellow humans while fearing for the safety of her baby brother, the smart-alecky little redhead who had grown into a man and now drove into the abyss with a shotgun on his lap. She was but one of millions who had been unable to turn away from the images on TV: the bloody trucker, groups of thugs looting, shooting, burning their communities to the ground. And it had terrified her.”
NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE will be published, and I hope that happens in the very near future. Because not only is it an exhilarating story that needs to be told, but it is mine to tell
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