It was a cold and snowy morning in December, 2010. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation homicide detective Larry B. Davis and I had just finished the biggest high five we could ever give each other. ‘I didn’t ever think it would happen, Larry!’ That was all I could think of to say at the moment.
‘How many times have I told you, Doc, it ain’t over til it’s over?’ The agent proudly smiled from ear to ear. ‘I sound like Yogi Berra, don’t I? Ya know, this case can teach you some lessons of life. Ya don’t give up, you never give up, ya never give up on your goals. We were determined to solve it, and by George, we did it!’
We had just gotten official word from the DNA lab that our cold case that had lingered since February, 1997, was finally solved. The body we had cottled and preserved, personified and lamented, finally had a name. It only took almost 5,000 days to crack this one. That was nearly 5,000 times that I had scratched my head in disbelief. Would this madness ever end. Would this poor charred set of remains ever get a name. Finally, it became a ‘he’. It was finished. His identity was complete.
When Larry left the office after delivering the good news, I couldn’t wait to share the story with my wife, Karen. She stared back in wild disbelief. She, too, had become doubtful that our stories’ ending would ever come to be known. ‘I can’t believe it!’ That was all that either one of us could say at the moment.
‘Ya know what, Sweetie? I’m gonna write this one down.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I think I’m gonna write a book. This case has had more twists and turns than a rat’s maze. The story that this body has told me has got to be told to others. I don’t know if I can write it down well or not, but I’m gonna give it a try.’
And so ……………… from that day forward, my course was charted. A tangent of Mike Tabor’s life was about to take a sharp right hand turn. I’d never had a day of writing composition in my life (hope you don’t say ‘I could tell’ after you read it!). I could hire a writing coach. You know they say it’s never too late to learn how to play the piano. Why not?
Fast forward. Today is June 4, 2013. Nearly another 1,000 days have passed, like sand through an hourglass, since I made myself that promise. I struggled, tore up pages, cussed at the word processor, wondered where exactly I had gotten this wild, hairbrained idea. But this morning, it all fit together.
As my pocketknife made the long cut across the top of the sealing tape of the first box of books this morning, a cold shiver passed across my skin. What a process this project had been. My golf game had gone to pot. My buddies had long since written me off, having heard I was off on some literary writing frenzy, determined to become the next Patricia Cornwell. I would see them at the gym, and they would act like they couldn’t even remember my last name. They would still be there for me. When would I come back to the sobering reality that writers come from other parts of the world besides Nashville, Tennessee?
But you know something? This writing project has been quite therapeutic. It had changed a few of my pastimes. I had become a bit of a recluse for days at a time, time when a writer gets in his ‘zone’ and is afraid to let up until the spirit lets go. By putting these stories/cases on paper, it had become evident that it was a bit of a purging experience for me. Now, I am getting the closure I need to let go of some of these cases. And this one was the first.
The box flap finally surrendered, and the lid separated. Like a youngster eager on Christmas morning to get that one stubborn bow untied, I carefully removed a single sheet of brown cardboard that laid across the top protecting the precious contents below. Slowly my hand reached into the container, hardly able to process the joy and sense of accomplishment that filled my heart. As I lifted the first precious pearl from the carton, my face must have shown like a shiney dime. There it was …………. the fruits of my labor.
Bruce Gore, the mastermind graphic artist extraordinaire, teamed with the design imagination of my wife, Karen, had created a book cover that would knock my socks off! I breathed deeply through my nose, taking in all the characteristic aroma that the fresh, crisp pages of a newly printed volume exudes. We took a few photos. This was a ‘Kodak moment’ if there ever was.
And so, my friends, from this moment forward, the path I shall take will guided by you. If you want more stories, I’ve got a sackful. I’ll get them out as fast as my little laptop will let me peck the keys. There’s a comment section on our website here. Let me know what you think.