Her withered fingers wrestled with the tattered tissue, her hollow gaze portraying a mother's loss of hope.
"Detective Lang, my son is dead and no one seems to be able to answer any of my questions. Every time I call the investigator, he gives me the same ol’ runaround, 'We're working the case and we have a subject of interest,' but he won’t answer my questions."
My heart wrenched. The grieving mother who so desperately sought to find resolution in her son's murder had lost all hope. I could see the fatigue weighing heavy across her brow. Her small, frail body spent from many sleepless nights.
"I don't know if this helps, but have you tried..."
Her head cocked and a small grin curled in the corner of her mouth. Her eyes shifted as she mused over the suggestion. "Well, no, detective. I can't say that I thought of that." I sat back in my chair and watched as her fears were quietly replaced with hope.
Seeing the small achievement, my mind recalled the circumstances that brought me to this meeting for the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. The invitation came quite unexpectedly. Having released my debut book, Walking Among the Dead: True Stories from a Homicide Detective, I was attending my first book signing when a victim’s mother eagerly approached me and asked if I would share my experiences in dealing with homicide victim’s families. Her request was genuine. It was honest. How could I resist?
One by one, family after family, I sat and listened to their desperate pleas. Each searched for suggestions hoping to bring closure to their case. They recounted their unique stories. They shared their predicaments. Some expressed their frustrations with an inexperienced detective or an ill-equipped agency tasked with a monumental investigation. And as I listened, a revelation unfolded right before my eyes. In the stagnant meeting room at the back of the VFW, I realized the purpose of my writing.
How could I have been so narrow-minded, missing the importance in the power of my words? Like a blind man seeing daylight for the first time, I realized just how profound my writing could be, how it could impact people in such a positive way, changing their lives for the better.
A lifetime of experience, encased in words captivated this audience who hoped to glean some small tangent of information that could, just by chance, bring their loved one’s killer to justice. And I was just starting to see the light.
The meeting drew to a close and a brisk September breeze chilled me as I walked to my car. My mind raced with the events that just transpired and the lesson I learned. Twisting the key, the engine fired up, the headlights chasing away the darkness. A light sprinkle began coating the windshield as I thought about my latest writing project. Dropping the gearshift into drive and accelerating off the lot, I felt the urgency to get back home to my writing.
So many families are depending on me.
Usually, we at Jungle Red invite our readers to engage our guest writers on the back blog. Today that's not going to be possible - Ken Lang is off in the wilds of Pennsylvania on a father-son hunting trip. He'll be reading and answering your questions when he returns later this week. In the meanwhile, I encourage you all to read his account of a trip earlier this fall: his first time turkey hunting with his son Sean. They didn't bring back a bird, but...well, I'll let you read the rest. You can find out more about Det. Lang at his website , fan him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.