One of the most emotional times in my career had nothing to do with the death and mayhem I witnessed while working the street. All the murder victims, the abused children, the carnage left in the wake of car accidents, all of these life-changing incidents that cre- ated unwanted memories and nightmares for everyone involved, their lives ruined for evermore. No, the most emotional incident in my career came in the form of a phone call late one night, a phone call from a good friend who told me “Ned” had been killed during the service of a search warrant. Shot by a fifteen-year-old kid, a rock coke dealer. “Ned” was struck in the vest by the first bullet which spun him around; he took the second bullet to the back of the head. I don’t mention “Ned’s” real name in this Author’s Note, because I in no way want to exploit his death.
Even though I was not present with “Ned” when he died, the phone call was devastating.
In writing this novel, I continually heard “Ned’s” voice, his words filling in the scene all on their own. Each morning when I sit down to write, I first go back twenty pages and edit forward before I start anew. Several times during the writing of this novel, I started back on those twenty pages and found “Ned’s” real name in the place of “Ned.” In writing the day before I’d been so engrossed in the character of Ned, I’d inadvertently replaced the name.
In the Bruno Johnson novels, Bruno never swears. He does one time in this book when he refers to how much he loved Ned.
In real life, I attended “Ned’s” funeral. Thousands of cops came from all over the nation to pay their respects. Many more times the number of people that filled the packed church stood outside in a group shoulder to shoulder, silent, their heads bowed.
“Ned’s” untimely and senseless death happened early in my ca- reer, and later on, even though other fellow cops—some I knew, most I didn’t—died in the line of duty, I never again attended an- other funeral.
By far the most difficult chapter I have ever written was the one where “Ned,” dies—the killing of Ned Keifer.
“Ned,” used to make me laugh like no one else. ***
During my tenure on an FBI-sponsored violent crimes team, we did go after a husband-wife team who corrupted young boys, fed them propaganda, and cajoled them into robbing banks. In one incident, my team witnessed one of these bank robberies committed by kids, teens. We took them down by pulling our cars in on three sides of their car boxing them in. Afterward, while we had them sitting handcuffed on the curb, I spoke with one of these newly minted delinquents. He had a full-ride scholarship to a big college for bas- ketball. He asked me when we would be letting him go because he had to get home for a game. The felony conviction ruined his chances of escaping his life in the ghetto.
My favorite brother Van followed me into law enforcement and followed a very similar career path. While working on a violent crimes team, his team tracked a murderer into an adjoining state, Arizona. The suspect spooked before my brother’s team could close the net around him. The armed and dangerous suspect fled. He would have escaped had Van not used bold and unflinching initiative. He rammed the suspect’s car broadside with his truck. The moment before Van’s truck slammed into the side of the suspect’s car, the suspect fired one shot, trying to kill my brother. This bul- let, fired out of hate, pierced the windshield, narrowly missing Van. For his valiant efforts, the Sheriff’s department awarded him the Medal of Valor.
An uncaring lieutenant refused to let me take time off of work to attend the awards ceremony when Van was given the medal. I count this as one of my true regrets in my career. I could only hope my brother would forgive me for my absence.