The journey began….
Rock, Roll and Trauma Drama Junkie
I went to college in the early 70’s, fun, wild and confusing times. I found myself in writing songs and playing guitar in Honky-tonks, biker bars and music festivals rather than classes. Our band was rude, lewd and loud. We played at the Missouri School for the Deaf, we were that loud. I’m still playing today. Here’s a few photo “memories” of the years gone by. In the mid-seventies, I became a paramedic. A somewhat radical departure from rock and roll. Something about the human condition at it’s worst appealed to me. I ended up in St. Louis working urban ghetto areas on a Life Support Vehicle, as a firefighter and in a busy ER. I’ve picked up mangled bodies off railroad tracks, started large bore IVs on gunshot or stabbing victims and done CPR on newborns and on the aged. I performed autopsies in the pathology department and delivered babies on stained mattresses in the basement of vacant homes. It was a strange time.
As with most addictions, my tolerance to finding the rush grew, and I needed a bigger dose. To accommodate this hidden desire, I joined the police department and soon found myself first on the scene, first to engage, first to come face to face with death. It worked, and I fed my addiction. I spent the majority of my time as an investigator. I was assigned to a major case homicide squad, undercover drug units, organized crime and anti-terrorism task forces. I faced the immediate possibility of my death more times than I care to recall. But for the grace of G-d, I am still above ground. I’ve solved a lot of cases, put a lot of bad people in prison and found justice for many victims who otherwise would not have had a voice. Four decades of public service in health care and law enforcement. It’s been a good ride; eventful, intense, traumatic, satisfying, sometimes terrifying. Looking back, it has certainly not been an ordinary life. And if you ask any cop or soldier who have been in battle, they will tell you, a life like that takes a toll.
Forensics, Fraud and Disasters
After my time as a paramedic, and while working as a cop, I became a Chiropractic Physician, specializing in forensics and fraud investigations. After 9-11, I became a member of a federal disaster medical assistance team. I witnessed the devastation Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast. I was on the very first team to make it into Galveston, Texas after Hurricane Ike tore that town to hell. I provided medical care to the victims of the tornado that turned much of the town of Joplin, Missouri to dust and wood splinters. The images, stories and survivor’s tales were raw, scary and unbelievable. More graphic images to haunt me.
Turning Life In To Song and Story
The first step in recovery is admit you have a problem. “My name is Howard and I am an”adrenalinaholic.” Is it a sickness to crave the apprehension and crisp awareness that this may be your last hour alive, all senses on high, while responding to an emergency or executing a search warrant? Perhaps it is. I found an outlet by incorporating things I had seen in stories and songs.
Over the years, my musical tastes have turned to country and country rock. I wrote an introspective little number in which I reflect on the life I lived and how much of it I missed, as I chased that ‘next rush. It’s called Still Small Voice, title words from a bible verse. “Too much time living in bars, whiskey and smoke and playing guitar, the story’s written on my arms in ink and scars.” “While chasin’ your dreams, life passes you by, babies grow and your mama dies. You miss the best things in a blink of an eye.”
I drew from the tragic experiences I witnessed as a cop and dedicated a song to those heroes who lose their lives in the line of duty or on the field of battle. It’s a swampy, southern rock number about the unique brotherhood and loyalty that few experience called, Cut One We All Bleed. “When you take an oath, and live by a creed, you cut one of us, we all bleed.”
As a writer and novelist, I’ve published a number of articles in various law enforcement and professional healthcare journals and magazines over the years.
While researching why hell I do what I do and why I lived the life I’ve lived, I stumbled on a behavioral condition which offered some answers. Autism Spectrum Disorders and Aspergers. My first novel, The Mercury Vapor Lamp Experience-A Story of Asperger’s and Aliens, is a science fiction story based in St. Louis, in which several young adults with Asperger’s save the world.
My second novel, The Tapping. It’s a forensic, adrenaline driven tale of murder and mystery. It involves a cold case investigation of a gruesome homicide with elements of organized crime, public corruption and the supernatural driving my characters to find justice. There is a gritty realism to the case for good reason.