Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Five Star Review and a New Cover

Kristine, and Kimber the Magnificent, at Pages & Paws have reviewed Thirteen Miracles and have given it Five Stars! Here is the link to the full review: https://pagesandpaws.com/2020/10/07/thirteen-miracles-my-new-best-bud/

They are my first readers and my first review. (Well, technically, my editor also read it, but she doesn't count. She was working and not what I would call "a reader".)

I am on wings after this review. I didn't know what to expect because some of the reviews at Pages & Paws are a little on the scary side. (Actually, they're a lot on the scary side.) So, for my book to be labeled "a gem" and to get a five-star review from this formidable review site was more than I'd hoped for or expected!  

Please visit the blog and check out the review. Here's the link again:

https://pagesandpaws.com/2020/10/07/thirteen-miracles-my-new-best-bud/

Here are some of my favorite bits: Bebo is now Kimber's new best bud. That made me cry all by itself. And Kristine said Thirteen Miracles is "a little Narnia, a little This Present Darkness, a little The Shack, and a bit Hatchet all rolled into one." She also said it "packs a wallop" and that, "There's so much joy and hope in the final pages" that she's thinking of "buying stock in Kleenex!" She called it a "beautifully written story that's warm, invigorating, and maybe even a little bit extraordinary." Called it "nimble, creative, and fresh," and said it was, "brimming with engaging, lively characters who learn and grow. Ditto credible dialogue and enough mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing until the last page." She also gave it a rare 5 stars!! Which, according to her rating system, means: "Superb. Our highest rating. Better than bacon! A remarkable achievement. Must have a transcendent theme. Rings heart bells. May qualify as life-changing. Would read over and over and over." 

What writer wouldn't want to get such a review?

It was one exhilarating review, and I am smiling from ear to ear as I read it -- in between sobs of joy! I'll always be grateful to Kimber the Magnificent and the equally Magnificent Kristine.

Wow.

And, on a much lesser note, I have a new cover. I had run some small test ads at BookBub, and my first cover did not do well. My second cover did even worse. This is actually the third cover, and it performed like a champ in a test ad at BookBub. 


Monday, September 21, 2020

Thirteen Miracles Now Available

Thirteen Miracles is now available at Amazon in both digital and print formats.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JDTNSML

It is also available in digital format at Smashwords.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1044076

It is also available at more locations, which is at the bottom of this post, and it is available in different formats, including paperback and hard cover.   

Once again, here are the blurbs and an excerpt, as well as the trailer. 

Short blurb: A woman's search for God ends in a miraculous rescue mission in the marijuana fields of the Devil's Backbone.

Here is the longer back-cover blurb:

Legend says it was the landing spot for Lucifer when he was cast out of heaven. That's not the only thing it's known for. It is also a land of marijuana fields, opium poppies, kidnappings, and drug-related killings. It's the last place you would expect to find God, but Abby Welles is looking for Him there. Her search will lead her on a miraculous rescue mission inside the heart of The Devil's Backbone. But she is running out of time, and she may have already run out of luck.

+++

Here is an excerpt:

The black bird was back, or whatever it was,
and it was in Scarface’s gunsight.


     It was perched on a dead tree overhanging the mountainside, watching the activity below. Something in the bird’s gaze and mechanical head movements troubled her. Was it watching the activity or controlling it? She silently ridiculed the thought. She was being paranoid. This place did that to her.

     The rifle fired, and she jumped. An unexpected explosion ripped through the early morning quiet.

     Scarface gave a sudden shriek of pain and fell to the ground, clutching his face with blackened and bloodied hands. Unearthly sounds accompanied his cries and repeated off the wall of rocks. Bebo joined in the chorus, barking furiously, teeth barred. Abby wanted to silence him but knew it was pointless. His barks were lost in the sea of strange sounds.

     She tugged on him, pulling him back. He had strayed too close to the edge. Once he was on safer ground, she strained to see where the other noises were coming from. Had the weapon backfired? Was shrapnel pinging off rocks? Not that it would explain what she was hearing. These were more like animal yips and howls, but not quite.

     Whatever was producing these noises wasn’t apparent from her vantage point. Fear gripped her every muscle and nerve as the sounds continued and grew more bizarre. Surely these weren’t the natural sounds of nature. They didn’t even seem to originate from anything she could see—or ever would see—in this world. 

+++

Here is the trailer: 

 

 

Here are all of the links I have so far. If  Gardners is not working yet, it should be shortly. (I hope.)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JJDWLYG Amazon  (Print and Digital)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1044076  Smashwords Store (Digital)
https://books.apple.com/us/book/thirteen-miracles/id1533164251 Apple (Digital)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thirteen-miracles-dl-kennedy/1137716871  Paperback, hard cover, and digital editions.
https://www.gardners.com/Search/KeywordAnonymous/eBook?Keyword=9781005972578  Gardners (Digital)
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781005972578  Kobo (Digital)
https://www.scribd.com/book/477241914/Thirteen-Miracles  (Digital)
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/DL_Kennedy_Thirteen_Miracles?id=E3X_DwAAQBAJ

You can also check with your local libraries and bookstores to see if they have it. 

+++

Interview Questions: This interview is a combination of questions from the Smashwords Interview feature and a Q&A with my niece.

Describe your desk

I'll paraphrase Zola Levitt. For evidence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, one need only look at my desk. Everything on it is moving from a state of order to disorder.

When did you first start writing?

In eighth grade. I had an amazing teacher, Mr. McIntyre. He gave us contracts at the start of the year. We decided what grade we wanted to earn. I wanted an "A", but that meant I had to write three short stories. He read those stories out loud to the class. Fortunately, he was an actor, and he did a really good job reading them. The class laughed like crazy and everyone enjoyed my stories. I've been writing ever since.

What do you want readers to know about your Christian book, "Thirteen Miracles"?

There are a lot of layers to "Thirteen Miracles" and a lot of archetypes. For example, I think of Abby's husband, Charles, as a "type" of Christ. He goes into Satan's territory hoping to save his wife. I also want readers to know in advance that this is mostly a story about a woman and a dog in a wilderness survival story. So there is not a lot of dialogue. I think that no matter how many people are with us in this life, we are ultimately alone with God in the wilderness. I want readers to feel they have been inside Abby's head, heart, and soul by the end of this story. But my goal is to tell a good story. I hope I've done that in "Thirteen Miracles."

What is "Thirteen Miracles" about?

It's about a woman's search for God. Abby has gone to Mexico to write a book about miracles and to meet a Christian mystic who has the gift of prophecy. After some family struggles, Abby is reeling. She has lost her faith and feels that she must connect with God again if she is ever going to recover from her depression. She feels that she must get away from the "screaming commitments" in her life in order to do that.

On her journey, she is separated from her guide and must survive on her own with the help of an albino boxer named Bebo. As she attempts to find her way home, she discovers that two sixteen-year-old boys have been kidnapped by drug runners. She decides she must try to free them from their captors, and the book follows her journey inside The Devil's Backbone as she attempts to survive the wilderness and free the hostages, but she has some supernatural resistance to her goal as well as some natural ones.

You have called this a supernatural adventure, is that the best description of your story?

Yes. It is a Christian, supernatural adventure. I also think of "Thirteen Miracles" as a missionary story. As human beings, we have been separated from God and must find our way home. If we do, our goal is then to attempt to rescue others who are being held captive. But, it is an allegorical story in many different ways. It is the reader who will decipher the symbols and decide if they succeed or not. I don't want things to be taken too far, however. It is just a story, after all, with symbolic undertones. Above everything, I want the reader to experience a good story and be impacted by it.

Will this appeal to non-Christians?

Maybe. I'm not sure. I can't see this appealing to people who don't believe God exists. I think it would be offensive to them. In fact, I think there are many Christians who would be offended by "Thirteen Miracles" as well. Christians who don't believe in miracles will have a problem with this book. Christians who don't believe in an unseen, demonic world will have a problem with this book. I have a disclaimer at the end of the book. It states that my goal was not to teach doctrine or theology. It was to tell an entertaining story. I hope I succeeded, but that is up to the reader.
 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Book Trailer for Thirteen Miracles

Here is my book trailer for Thirteen Miracles. The digital book should come out before the end of September, 2020. The print book will come out shortly after that. 




Please see the below post to read an excerpt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Thirteen Miracles

I have a new book coming out. I have included some blurbs and an except as well as the cover.

Short blurb: A woman's search for God ends in a miraculous rescue mission in the marijuana fields of the Devil's Backbone.

Here is the longer back-cover blurb:

Legend says it was the landing spot for Lucifer when he was cast out of heaven, but that's not the only thing it's known for. It is also a land of marijuana fields, opium poppies, kidnappings, and drug-related killings. It's the last place you would expect to find God, but Abby Welles is looking for Him there, and her search will lead her on a miraculous rescue mission inside the heart of The Devil's Backbone.

But she is running out of time, and she may have already run out of luck.

There will be a book trailer available soon. I'll post that here when it's finished.

Excerpt:

The black bird was back, or whatever it was,
and it was in Scarface’s gunsight.


     It was perched on a dead tree overhanging the mountainside, watching the activity below. Something in the bird’s gaze and mechanical head movements troubled her. Was it watching the activity or controlling it? She silently ridiculed the thought. She was being paranoid. This place did that to her.

     The rifle fired, and she jumped. An unexpected explosion ripped through the early morning quiet.

     Scarface gave a sudden shriek of pain and fell to the ground, clutching his face with blackened and bloodied hands. Unearthly sounds accompanied his cries and repeated off the wall of rocks. Bebo joined in the chorus, barking furiously, teeth barred. Abby wanted to silence him but knew it was pointless. His barks were lost in the sea of strange sounds.

     She tugged on him, pulling him back. He had strayed too close to the edge. Once he was on safer ground, she strained to see where the other noises were coming from. Had the weapon backfired? Was shrapnel pinging off rocks? Not that it would explain what she was hearing. These were more like animal yips and howls, but not quite.

     Whatever was producing these noises wasn’t apparent from her vantage point. Fear gripped her every muscle and nerve as the sounds continued and grew more bizarre. Surely these weren’t the natural sounds of nature. They didn’t even seem to originate from anything she could see—or ever would see—in this world.


My new website and blog can be found at http://thirteenmiracles.com

Sunday, October 27, 2013

SPIDERS

Here is a trailer I had done for my book Spiders. I love the guy that did the voice over.

You can read the opening chapters and some reviews at Amazon. Just click here. Thanks!

To read interviews I did for my earlier novel, Sleeping With Skeletons, click here and here.




And here's the trailer for my first published book, Sleeping with Skeletons:




Note: My dad just passed away and my mom is ill, so this blog is on hiatus. I am leaving some of my favorite blog posts up and will pick things up again in the future.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Door Swung Open

The first challenge is underway in the Platform Building Campaign, and it's a doozy! I loved this particular challenge. It's to write a short story in 200 words. It needs to begin with 'The door swung open". There is the option of making it even more challenging by ending with "The door swung shut." Here's my entry. It's exactly 200 words (and that really was a challenge):  

The door swung open. He was barely visible through the smoke, but I recognized a Corelli when I saw one. Gino? Yeah. Gino. He was the worst. He was looking for someone.

I could guess who.

My partner, John, was in the hospital, not expected to survive the round from Vince Corelli’s D’Eagle. Vince lay in the morgue, and I’d put him there. Now Gino wanted justice, but a cop bar was a stupid place to extract it.

His gaze found me and he smiled; it wasn’t a ‘glad to see you’ sort of smile. He weaved around off-duty cops. They were too drunk to know a storm brewed. I pushed away from the bar.

I wasn’t that drunk.

His hand came up and I stared down the barrel of a .45.

Damn. I was drunker than I thought.

I grasped the barrel, deflected it, and struck him over his jugular—not hard enough to kill, but it buckled his knees. The other officers swarmed. Gino was handcuffed before I picked up my barstool. I sat and Mickey brought another beer.

“You okay, Maggie?” 

“Yeah. Fine. But John wasn't. Vince wasn't. 

I turned and watched as the door swung shut.

Here's the link to the challenge: http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2011/09/first-campaigner-challenge.html


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cat's Eyes


I thought I'd drag out a post I did a while back when I was a guest at another blog. It has never been posted on my site before, but some of my original followers may recognize it from that guest appearance. I hope you enjoy the information.

 ***

You're running late, and in your panic you take the wrong exit off the highway. Now you're lost. The road is narrow, and there are no easy places to turn around. You're trapped on a strange road and going the wrong direction -- traveling at night into unfamiliar territory. The minutes are stacking up, and there is still no exit in sight. You glance repeatedly at your wristwatch and fumble for your phone, but it's not where you normally keep it. You check your pockets. It's not there either! Now you're really frantic. Did you leave it on the kitchen counter in your mad rush to be out the door?

The road narrows even more and drops abruptly. Now you're driving over loose gravel, surrounded by abandoned cornfields, and storm clouds are moving in. This is not someplace you want to break down, and it's definitely not someplace you want to get stuck either. The first fat splashes of rain hit your windshield and lightning streaks the sky. A sudden thunderous crash nearly sends your head through the roof as you jump, and the storm lets loose with a torrential downpour. You round a sharp bend and two green eyes peer at you from the side of the road. You brake abruptly, fearing the worst, but there is no cat in sight.

There never was a cat. You just stumbled upon a pickup location.

A reflection of cat's eyes is commonplace at night. I'm sure your headlights have illuminated them at some point in your life. Two glowing eyes in the dark. But sometimes, they're not quite what they appear to be. Cat's Eyes are a device used in spycraft. They make for a great 'pick up' or 'drop off' signal.

Let's say an operative wants to be picked up at an undisclosed location for security purposes, but she is deep in the country, and there are no local pubs or restaurants available. She has told her desk operator that she will be somewhere between spot code orange 7 and blue 13, but that stretch of road is long and lonely. This is where the Cat's Eyes come in. The operator takes a simple sheet of plywood, paints it black, and uses glass beads backed with silver foil for the Cat's Eyes. She plants it next to the road, hides out of sight, and waits for her pickup. Her pickup will know what those two glowing eyes mean, but anyone else will merely pass them by without a second glance.

Next time you're traveling along a deserted highway at night, and you see two glowing eyes on the side of the road, don't assume it's a cat.

... especially if you see a shadowy figure waiting in the dark.

And don't try to dig up that sheet of plywood. It's extremely dangerous.

If you'd like to spend more time in the company of spies, I hope you will read my book Sleeping with Skeletons. You can find out more information on that at my website. 

http://doralynn.net/skeletons.html

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Ethics of Autobiographies

Molly Ringle and I recently discussed the ethics of autobiographies, and I thought I'd blog about that. I think as people we want to "be known." I'm not sure anyone really wants to go through life and not be known intimately by at least one person. Some of us might guard our privacy as fiercely as a Doberman guarding a junkyard, but there are still people we open the locked gates for. We want to let people in. We want to be known. Even if we don't ever offer a complete tour.

There is a large market for biographies and autobiographies. Over the past year we've seen President George Bush's biography, and we've seen Snooki's. I don't think you can get any different as people or life stories. The only thing they had in common was a place on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

One issue with writing a biography or an autobiography is that we always drag other people into the mess. And I say mess because life is messy. If we're completely honest, we're going to hurt people. That's where the ethics come in. I wrote bits and pieces of my biography, but I have since destroyed it. It was impossible to write it without hurting other people -- people I love. Being known is less important to me than protecting them.

If you had publishers beating down your doors asking for your life story, would you give it to them? Would it be 100% honest, or would you withhold things that made you look bad or hurt others?

With that said, I admit that I still want to be known. I shared a story with Molly from my past. It will never make it into an autobiography, but it is going to make it into this blog. Just because, as I said, I want to be known. At least to a degree. And life is short.

A few months after I arrived in Europe, I was drawn into an incident that made international news. On March 23 of 1985, Major Arthur D. Nicholson became the last American casualty of the Cold War. He was shot by a Soviet soldier and was the only Military Liaison officer to die in the line of duty. This quickly escalated into an international incident, and Major Nicholson was promoted posthumously. The image at the top of this blog post is a photo of Major Nicholson's casket being placed on a U.S. aircraft at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. (A few years later, assassinated CIA Station Chief, William Buckley, who had been kidnapped by the Iranian backed Islamic Jihad, tortured and executed, came home through this same airport. He's known as the spy who never came out of the cold.)

As a result of the incident with Major Nicholson, I was assigned to a patrol at the Soviet Military Liaison Mission (SMLM). We had two cars. One was a stationary car and the other was a chase car. Our stationary car remained at the mission on a more-or-less permanent stake out, monitoring and logging all of the activity taking place at the mission. The comings and goings at the mission, and any observed activity, was documented. That was the job of our stationary car.

The chase car's job was to follow the Soviet officers whenever they left the mission and report on everything they did. It was pretty pointless really. They knew we followed them, and we were limited in what we could do. So whenever they didn't want us to follow, they would just "go beyond our boundaries" so to speak. The chase would break off at that point and we would return to SMLM.

So, back to my earlier question. If you had publishing houses knocking down your door begging for your autobiography, would you give it to them? And how important is it for you to be known? 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Late Night Patrol. Writing Justice for the Dead - One Veteran's Story.


Why do we choose the subjects we do when we write? Some of us have political, social, or religious agendas. Some of us just want to educate, entertain, express ourselves, or cope. But I believe all writers have a reason for writing what they do.

When I first began putting stories on paper, I was a child, so I wrote children's stories. My subjects have changed over the years. I tend to write from experience, and my life usually shows up in my stories. I'm not writing my life, but my life definitely affects everything I write.

Over the last several years, I have written stories that primarily center around justice, and I tie that to incidents that I experienced in law enforcement. Justice is rarely served, and sometimes, the only way to achieve it is to write it into a story. It is so often lacking in real life. One of the times I encountered this was when I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany with the Army's 284th Military Police Company.

It was foggy that night, impossible to see beyond the beams of our patrol car. I began the shift with a lie of omission -- and a new partner in a bad mood. Confessing to being the source of Beheng's anger wasn't an option at that moment, and I decided to save the necessary moment of truth for later, preferably as much later as possible.

The 284th was one of those assignments that everyone wanted, and we were the lucky ones to get it. We handled military-related law enforcement for Frankfurt and all of the surrounding cities. It was like being a cop in New York City -- only we covered more territory. I listened quietly as Beheng ranted about his pre-shift detail, which had been the laundry room of our barracks.

We all had pre-shift details. We worked twelve-hour shifts, but before and after each shift, we had Army-related duties. Our twelve-hour shifts usually worked out to be about eighteen. After that, we did our personal chores: laundry, ironing, cleaning, and whatever else we needed to do to get ready for our next shift. It left us with no time, and we were usually functioning on two to three hours of sleep a night. There were times when we worked up to three months without days off. We were all on the verge of snapping. That night, Beheng had snapped.

And it was my fault.

He just didn't know it yet.

I had been running late and needed to get the trash out of my room. I shared the room with Janelle Bebo. Janelle had just left, and I couldn't ask her for help. So I took our trash and put it into the trash can in the laundry room. I was too tired to think about the consequences for whoever was responsible for the laundry room. I was just thinking about getting the trash out of my room and still making it to guard mount on time.

As I settled into the patrol car with Beheng, he began his rant. Bebo had left her trash in the laundry room. There had been a pizza box with her name on it in the trash, and he was going to let her have it the next time he saw her. Literally. He had saved the trash and was going to bury her in it. Since I was her roommate, and as likely a suspect as Bebo, (more so since I was the one coming on shift), he was taking it out on me. I debated telling him the truth right then, but I decided to save the confession for later. After all, we were both armed, and I didn't want to get shot.

Like I said, Beheng had snapped.

It wasn't a very busy midnight shift, so we met up with other MPs throughout the course of the night. Each time we did, the 'trash' subject was brought up by Beheng. He would rage on about what he was going to do to Bebo next time he saw her, and I just stood by in guilty silence, waiting for the best time to tell him. I decided that would be at the end of the shift after we'd turned in our weapons to the arms' room. I'm sure he suspected me, but I didn't think a confession while armed was a good idea. 

Since we weren't busy, we were able to do all of our security checks. There had been several terrorist bombings on military bases in the area, so we did frequent checks of those compounds to watch for suspicious activity. We also patrolled civilian apartment complexes that housed large numbers of military personnel. We were patrolling a German apartment complex around two AM.  Beheng was driving and cautiously maneuvering the different streets in the complex while I watched our surroundings. My task was impossible. It was so foggy I couldn't even see the sidewalks or the grass, much less anything on them.

After we finished, I called in our check, and Beheng pulled out of the complex back onto the street.

I had no sooner called it in than dispatch called us back. A soldier, who was walking his dog, had discovered a dead body lying in the grass beside one of the buildings of the apartment complex. We had just driven by it, but I hadn't even seen it because of the fog. We turned around, drove a few hundred feet, and parked -- quickly finding the man, his dog, and the deceased.

At first, I thought I was looking at a dead child -- a boy of about twelve. Here was someone's baby. I walked as close as I could without disturbing anything and bent down, checking the child's neck for a pulse. There was no pulse, and the skin was still warm and supple. The death had recently occurred. The child's head was completely caved in on the right side. It looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. There was no blood on the scene, so it was obvious that the death had occurred someplace else, and this was a secondary crime scene. The boy had been laid flat, and his body was neatly arranged. His hands were in his pockets. He wore clean white socks. The ground was soaked from earlier rains, but those socks were pristine. They had not even touched a floor -- much less the wet grass.

I stood and moved back, hoping I hadn't contaminated the crime scene. We secured the area and started talking to apartment residents. We soon discovered that the 12-year-old boy was actually an adult woman. She was so small and boyish looking that her appearance had been deceptive. We also discovered that she was a German national, so we called in the German police.

While we waited for them, we spoke with her neighbors. She was a lesbian and a prostitute. She worked in the red-light district in Frankfurt. She and her girlfriend shared the apartment, and apparently they were involved in a lovers' triangle. There had been a loud argument in the apartment shortly before she was found murdered. We had a general idea of what had happened, and when the polizei arrived, we attempted to tell them what we had discovered. They brushed us off and told us it was obviously a suicide.

The woman, according to them, had jumped.

I'd been with the 284th for over a year, and I had worked with many German police officers during that time. These were the first German police officers who had not impressed me.

The woman's body was removed without any investigation, and Beheng and I were left with our mouths hanging open. We could barely believe what had just taken place. Apparently, the murder of a lesbian prostitute was not high on the priority list of these particular police officers.

Beheng had forgotten about the trash.

We were both devastated by what had just happened. The story soon spread like the flu. Everyone on duty with the 284th that night was sickened by the lack of justice for this murdered woman. Though Beheng and I had primarily just been acquaintances when our shift began, we knew each other better now and had shared a dramatic experience. We ended up our shift completely somber but more comfortable with each other.

After we returned to the police station, I told Beheng the truth about the trash. He barely commented on it. A few minutes later, he asked if I could do him a favor. Would I go out to the patrol car and get his briefcase? He needed some paperwork in it. I went out, but when I came back in, he told me he didn't have the right paperwork after all and asked if I'd check my briefcase. Perhaps I had the right paperwork. At this point, all of the MPs who had been on duty that night had returned, and many of the MPs who were coming on duty were present.

I went to my briefcase, opened it

... and it was filled with trash.

I almost fell down laughing. Dozens of people were there when I opened that briefcase -- the MPs coming on duty, and the MPs going off, the desk sergeants, and the patrol supervisors -- and every one of them was laughing.

And we really needed that laugh.

I dreamed about her several times after that -- the woman discarded like trash. In my dreams she always had my sister's face. It haunted me for months. Very few people cared. Those who should have sought justice, didn't. Heartless killers walked free.

My writing changed because of things I witnessed in the military.

I always make sure justice is served in my stories.

It's so often lacking in reality.

Doralynn Kennedy


The photo I use in this post was taken in Rome in early 1986, about one year after the event I relate in this post. I was working with PSD at the time this photo was taken.

Today is Veteran's Day, November 11, 2009. So thank you to all vets and all active duty military personnel and their families.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spycraft and Strange Spy Gadgets, The Elderly Man Next Door

The old man who lives next door keeps strange hours and does not welcome visitors. The neighbor's boy was allowed in one time, but only because it was storming outside and the child was locked out of his house. No one else was at home to help the boy that day.

But other than one small child, no one else has ever set foot inside the old man's home.

Rumors swirl around him like falling leaves in the autumn. One tale bearer claims the hermit is all alone in the world. His family was killed in some tragic accident. Other gossipers weave gruesome tales of a serial killer who escaped from prison or was never brought to justice in the first place. Wild tales are concocted at dinner parties and spread around the table like jams and jellies.

Just the month before, the elderly gentleman bought a poodle at the mall and brought it home with him. Now he spends more time outside, walking his dog into the woods that border one side of his property.

Shortly after the dog moved in, and the old man began taking frequent walks, a strange car began prowling the streets at night.

The boy who spent an afternoon at the old man's house watches from his third-floor bedroom with fascination. The car comes late at night, headlights off, and parks in the dark. A bulky shape emerges, enters the woods and disappears from sight. Eventually, the mysterious visitor reemerges -- carrying a small package -- settles back into his car and slowly drives away into the night.

The boy keeps his observations to himself. He likes the old man with the houseful of computers, TV screens, and radio equipment. And he can keep a secret.

You have probably guessed by now that the old man is a spy, and the boy has witnessed something he was never meant to see.

Around 1970, as the conflict in Vietnam escalated, United States military intelligence (and no, that is not an oxymoron) developed a homing device camouflaged as dog or monkey droppings. It was actually a homing device officially known as a T-1151 radio transmitter, and unofficially it was known as a Doo radio transmitter.

This inconspicuous little spy gadget could send or receive radio messages, usually by Morse code. It was positioned throughout the jungles of Vietnam, relentlessly transmitting a radio signal that led aircraft to enemy ground sites for strikes or reconnaissance missions.

Because the device looked like -- well -- poop, it was usually left undisturbed. Therefore it could be planted well in advance of any mission.

It is still in use today, as our elderly neighbor could verify. If he were talking.

If you'd like to spend more time in the company of spies, let me recommend my novel, Sleeping With Skeletons. You can find out more information on that at my website. You might also like some of the additional posts that I've written below. Thanks!

Here's the link for my site:
http://doralynn.net/skeletons.html