Thursday, September 29, 2005


7:11 a.m. I am on surveillance in military housing today so I've got a lot of suspicious sailors and marines watching me. Which isn't such a bad thing. (There are worse things than being glared at by big, strapping men in uniform.)

I just wish I didn't look like death warmed over. I've got my smart girl glasses on and a ME Investigator polo shirt with my dark blue pajama bottoms. I sure hope I don't have to go under cover today because I took all of my disguises out to be washed after an unfortunate ice cream bucket accident. (Don't don't want to know.)

Yesterday afternoon I realized that toilets hate me. It seems I have an inordinant number of bathroom incidents to report to you people. Last week when I was at Mom and Dad's for the reunion the toilet backed up and overflowed while I was in there. It was...bad.

In a panic, I plunged my whole arm in the toilet to see if I could dislodge the blockage. Which is truly disgusting, but, like I said, I was panicking. When that didn't work, I stuck my head out the bathroom door and yelled to my sisters and cousin who were chatting around the kitchen table, "I need a plunger! Now!" My oldest sister, June, jumped up with a smirk on her face and said, "Ey Ey, Captain! I'm on it!" She suluted me and then ran off down the hall while I struggled to turn off the water supply.

Pretty quick I hear June running back, "I've got it! Here! I'm passing the batton!" She did her best Chariots of Fire impression and handed me the plunger. (I am not the only smarta$$ in my family.)

So, I ran back into the bathroom and unclogged the toilet before Dad got back from playing golf and lined all 38 of us up for a stearn lecture on using only four squares of toilet paper. Back when we were kids we got that lecture a lot. June once made the mistake of asking, "What if four squares just isn't enough?" Dad gave her "the look" and said, "It better damn well be enough." Okay, then. Four squares. Plenty.

So, then yesterday the handle on my toilet at home stopped working. I had to take the lid off and see what happened. Sure enough, the little arm thingy inside had snapped in half. I reached in to pick it out of the bottom of the tank and accidentally snagged the hose on my watch...which sent a four foot water spout spraying up from the tank and directly into my face.

Stupid toilets.

In other news, I managed to murder two more plants. A friend of mine was actually foolish enough to give me an orchid. An orchid! The most tempramental of all plants. It took me a record two days to defoliate it, leaving a sad, bare stalk that would put Charlie Brown's Cristmas tree to shame.

Just call me Agent Orange.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


2:06 p.m. Well, the guy didn't die of esophogeal varices. I could tell that right away when the Chief Dpty ME let me look at the scene photos after I got to the office. There WAS blood in the toilet and sink, but it wasn't thick and dark like is typical. And there should be a LOT more of it.

The problem is choosing the cause of death. They guy was a mess at 62 years. He looked at least 10 years older. He had fleas. His toilet was full of little pin worms (which means he likely was, too). There were beer cans and spent cigarettes everywhere and the place was a disgusting pig sty.

When I got to the autopsy suite he was laid out on the table. His feet and groin were dirty and encrusted with filth. And he emitted a very strange odor. It wasn't just stink, but almost sweet or nutty. Dr. Frank frequently emitted sounds of disapproval and said things like, "Ew! Those feet! I can handle anything but nasty feet and snot!"

It was interesting watching an autopsy where they use a slightly different protocol. Instead of using the bone saw to cut through the rib cage, they used a big ol' set of tree trimmers. Ugh. (Just imagine the crunching sound when you cut dry branches off a tree and that's about what it's like listening to ribs being snipped.)

And they made me get all gussied up in a hazmat suit. Which kind of seemed like overkill to me. (harhar) When I asked why, they said they treat every case as if it's HIV or tuberculosis. Which, I guess, is smart, though I might grumble a bit. I was actually gratful for it when Dr. Frank was trying to strip the fat from around the heart and accidentally flicked a big yellow glob of it onto my face mask.

The heart was enlarged from hypertension. The lungs were black and adhered to the walls of the rib cage from years of smoking. The liver, surprisingly, looked pretty good except that the gall bladder was full of stones and the bile was nearly clear. (It should be dark greenish yellow.) When I asked Dr. Frank why the bile was such a strange color she said, "How the hell should I know? Obviously something wasn't right. Nobody's taken the time to do research on that phenomenon."

The brain was a little shrivelled. (Another typical side-effect of alcoholism.) The esophegus was beat up a bit, but not bad. And the stomach was full of small ulcers that are typical in heavy drinkers. They would have caused bleeds, but nothing so severe that it would have killed the guy. His pancreas looked okay. (Often times the pancreas will hemorrhage in alcoholics, which leads to an agonizingly painful death.)

Then we got to the kidneys, which looked like hell. Instead of a smooth, dark pink, they were pale and lumpy with cysts. Huh. Kidney disease? Dr. Frank immediately checked for a blockage in the ureters, which were dialated. Nope. Then the doc took out the bladder and when she cut it open there was a huge, cancerous mass in there... so big that there was only enough room for maybe a teaspoonful of urine. The guy's kidneys had been stopped up with urine for so long that they became necrotic. Dr. Frank was pretty excited about all this. She says, "Oh, cool! I've got to stick that in some Formalin so I can play with it later. This is great!"

From all of the many choices, kidney failure due to bladder cancer will most likely be the cause of death, though there were several contributing factors. The blood in the toilet was from his diseased bladder.

The sad thing is if he'd gone to a doctor it could have been treated pretty easily. Bladder cancers don't metastasize as readily as other types.

I personally believe he had not been a heavy drinker for too long. He didn't show signs of chronic use...the ulcers were acute. Maybe from the last couple of years. I think he was drinking to mask the pain from his cancer.

The guy had no family and no friends to take care of him. He had no insurance. And a few months back he went to a local funeral home and paid for his own burial in advance.

Very sad.


9:28 a.m. I am getting ready to head to the MEO for an autopsy this morning. Last night they brought in an alcoholic who likely died from what is called esphogeal verices. (I don't have time to spell check that, so be gentle.)

Esphogeal verices is a tear in the esophegus that is brought on from years of constant alcohol burn. Esentially, the person bleeds to death. Exsanguination. People don't realize what a horrific death that is.

I remember the first time I walked into an alcoholic death. I thought at first it was as murder scene because of all the blood. The guy had been living in a motor home for about a month after his wife kicked him out of the house when he refused to quit drinking. She'd finally had enough.

I remember opening the door to the trailer and finding the floor, walls, bathroom, victim..smeared with bright red blood. Generally, the bleed is so sudden and severe that the person doesn't even have time to call 911. They take off their clothes (I never once found one who wasn't naked) because they start bleeding from every orifice...nose, mouth, anus.

The toilet is usually full of blood. The sink. Trails of bloody footprints run from one room to another as the panicking victim tries to figure out what is happening to them.

And when I find them, their wasted, malnourished bodies (never once found a fat one, either) are as pale as a sheet. Usually collapsed on the floor face-down amongst a collection of bottles and cans.

It is horrible.

I had to jump up on the couch and a table and straddle them to get pictures of the guy. He was lying on the floor right in the middle of a narrow walk-through. When I walked out, his estranged wife was there. I had to talk to her to get some medical history and find out more about his condition.

I'll never forget the wife telling me, "I don't feel sorry for him. He got what he deserved. He chose alcohol over his family."

I remember thinking that I understood her anger, but that if she'd seen that trailer...his pathetic last he must have been terrified and yet realized that he'd done this to himself... maybe she would feel sorry for him.

I did.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


8:33 a.m. I got cussed out for saying "suck ass" on the blog. (That was a quote, Mom, so it doesn't count.) And then I was wearing a sleeveless shirt that was maybe a little low-cut and I got the "Can you adjust the straps higher on that? You're hanging out."

I looked at Mom and said, "So, pretty much you're saying I'm a foul-mouthed hussy?"

So, in deference to my mother and in an effort to reduce my Huss-Factor, I will, from this day forward or at least until spring when it's warm again, wear a pull-over with my skeezer shirts (unless I'm on the prowl).

Furthermore, I will no longer say, "ass". (That was another quote, Mom.) I will only say, "a$$"...which is far less offensive but still gets the point across in a poignant way.

That is all. I'm finished being a smarta$$.

Monday, September 26, 2005

7:39 a.m. Well, I'm watching the sun rise over a corn field again. This time I'm not on surveillance, though. I'm down the street from my parents' house. Which seems to be the only place I can get an internet connection.

The family reunion with the cousins was great fun.


I brought a certain light-haired-man to meet the family. Can I just say that I LOVE having neices? They are all 14-yrs-old and under and this man was highly fascinating to them. So much so, that they decided to give us both quizes that consisted of questions such as:

1) How many people have you kissed? (The following are my answers)
100...120 if you include family
2) Would you marry light-haired-man?
I'm sorry...your handwriting is too messy. I couldn't read this question. Tell your mother you need to work on your penmanship.
3) How much do you like light-haired-man?

And so on... The little darlings.

There are a LOT of kids running around...18 or so. They are like vermin. I was out in my car Saturday afternoon (the only quiet place on the property) talking on the telephone when one of the younger vermin splatted himself all over the driveway.

I look around for a responsible adult to take care of the situation, but unfortunately I'm the only option. So, I walk over and pick up the crying toddler. "There, there, kid. It's okay. Let's go find your mother." The kid is crying harder...mostly because he's wondering who the hell I am.

I hold him out away from my body and carry him over to the campfire where all of the grown ups are hanging out. I walk by a cousin who seems somewhat concerned. I tell her he seems okay and continue across the porch to where his mother is drinking a beer. She makes no move to take him from me...just looks at me with a completely blank expression. And I'm thinking, What the hell kind of a mother are you? So I say, "He fell and skinned his knee." She looks at me and says, "Oh." Oh, my holy hell.

So I sit the crying kid down on the bench next to her and he immediately jumps down and runs to the cousin I crossed paths with earlier.

Yeah. I gave the kid to the wrong mom.

Well, if there weren't pascel (wink to Cousin Jethro) of kids running around I might be able to keep track of who belongs to who...

Part of the problem is that I forget I'm an adult sometimes. For example, when my 14-yr-old neice asked if she could drive me around the field in the golf cart I thought that was a great idea. Her driving skills were really impressive. That kid would never lose her Subject in a mobile surveillance. She got the thing up on two wheels a number of times. And we even caught air while speeding through the drainage ditch.

But then when I jumped off the cart and walked up to were the adults were gathered around the campfire I quickly realized the error of my ways. I was greeted with several grim looks of disapproval. What? Is my zipper open? I look down. Nope.

I proceeded to be dressed down for letting the 14-yr-old drive the cart. For allowing her to drive like a maniac. For LAUGHING while she drove like a maniac. And for allowing the cart to overheat. (It was only smoking a little.) They took my grown up badge away and I ended up eating at the kids table for dinner that night.

More later...

Thursday, September 22, 2005


10:22 a.m. I just got a call from Corp. The number three guy in the company says to me, "Polly, are you on surveillance right now?"

Well, duh.

"Yes. Of course."

"Oh...cuz we just found this new address for the lady you're tailing. We probably should have gotten that to you before you spent all day yesterday in front of the wrong house."

I laugh. A lot. Because anger leads to the Dark Side.

"Yeah. Sorry about that," he says.

No you're not. You're probably sharpening your little devil horns and giggling to yourself.

Well, I guess I'm off to find this lady's real address.

As the illustrious Dr. Frank would say, that sucks ass.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


11:15 a.m. I'm on my way to an interview. I was on surveillance all morning but nothing happened. Be gentle with me, bloglit...I've been working really hard on a book proposal the past few days and it's sucking the life out of me. I promise I'll post something more interesting very soon. I plan on telling you all about the morgue where I work. It's really creepy.

Which reminds me...

I have two questions for you.

First, do any of you know of similar books to what Polly PI would be? I'm trying to analyze the competition and point out what is better and more unique about this concept.

Also, if you could tell me what you think would be special about a Polly PI book and why it would be worth publishing, I'd appreciate your views. I so close in this whole thing that it's hard for me to see it objectively and I'd like to say something more useful than, "People like to watch Polly make an ass out of herself while spying on people. And also there's a lot of death."

Thanks you so much!


7:12 a.m. Well, I spent all of yesterday traveling. I'm back in Minnesota. Home sweet home.

This morning I'm set up near Summit Avenue in St. Paul, MN. This is a really nice area. I always wanted to live here when I was a starving college student.

There are a lot of runners out today. I bet most of them are training for the Twin Cities Marathon which takes place in October. The route goes right down Summit past some enormous mansions and down a very steep drop into St. Paul proper. I think that where I am right now is about 6 miles from the finishline at the state capitol. Mid-September is a very intense training period for marathoners. You are getting WAY up there in mileage, between 15 and 20 on your long runs. One good thing about being up this far north is that it's starting to cool down, which makes running MUCH more pleasant.

My Subject is active. More later...

Monday, September 19, 2005


5:54 p.m. Tonight I was outside the ME van practicing loading bodies when the Chief ME, we'll call her Dr. Frank, left the building to take off for the day. She walked over, stopped dead in her tracks, stared us both down and said, "Well, today sucked ass. I'm going to the gym to work out my legs. See you girls later."

It took all of my self-control not to burst out laughing.

Working here is going to be fun.

Except for the maggots.


2:29 p.m. I got the grand tour of the office this afternoon. The Chief Deputy ME and I were walking though the cooler when I slipped on something and almost fell on my arse. (Which would make that twice in two days.) I looked down at the floor to see what was making it so slippery and...sure enough! Maggots. Lots and lots of them. Apparently, we had a decomp from a couple of weeks ago that started off a nice little infestation of creepy-crawlies.

I need to buy a scrub brush for the bottom of my shoes.


11:04 a.m. Today is my first day of work at the MEO. Before I walked in the office this morning I felt butterflies in my stomach like it was my first day of school. But as soon as I walked in I heard the Chief ME cursing hitting something (computer?). I smiled. The office manager, who appears to go through life with a permanant smile pasted on her face, walked me back to the Chief's office and told her I was here for my first day. The Chief was fiddling with something under her desk and looked up briefly with a scowl on her face before poking her head back under the desk and letting loose with a string of profanity that would make a sailor blush. Okay then. The office manager indicated that the Chief was maybe a bit busy and we'd chat later. It was pretty funny.

Two things of note:

First, the ME drops the f-bomb a LOT. She said it exactly 12 times in the first 5 minutes I was in her presence. You almost have to TRY to say it that much.

Second, I got my ID picture taken a few minutes ago and it makes me look like an exotic dancer disguised to look respectable. When the tech at the personnel office showed me the picture before printing the card I complained that each of my breasts looked as big as my head and could I get a new picture? The tech said no and, anyway, "...what's wrong with that?"


More later...

Sunday, September 18, 2005


1:34 p.m. I'd like a glass of humility with just a splash of embarrassment, please. On the rocks. And hold the pride.


I went on a date yesterday with a certain light-haired man. We decided to browse around the bookstore near my house and then take a leisurely stroll along Main Street. Nice.

I decide to wear my favorite pair of jeans, a black belt, a tight black t-shirt and these fantastic black leather boot-shoes with a rather formidable heel that I just got. I know I don't usually wear heels since I'm notoriously clumsy, but...DAMN, they look good! Watch OUT, Wisconsin, cuz Polly is on the prowl! Um... Not really on the prowl, I guess, since I'm on a date and prowling while dating is kind of rude.

Anyway, light-haired man and I have a cup of tea at a cozy little table and things are going pretty well. He is charming and funny and I am patting myself on the back for my witty banter and intelligent commentary on subjects of which I am somewhat educated...mostly death, candy, spying on people, and little morsels of useless trivia such as, "Did you know that there is a type of coffee that is super expensive because the beans have to be shat out by a bat before it is edible for humans?" That kind of thing.

Light-haired man and I leave the book store a few minutes later and decide to take a walk. But then something surprising happens. I'm not quite sure how it all went down, but as I was stepping up onto the sidewalk, I must have caught my fabulous heel on the concrete curb because the next thing I know, I'm on my back. On a very hard sidewalk. With a dully-aching knee and a very concerned light-haired man staring down at me. I say the first thing that comes to mind.

"Did you see how I rolled into that? That was BEAUTiful! I should be a stunt woman!" I am hoping to convince him. He looks dubious as I hug my bruised knee.

Several people across the street are asking if I need help. I want to muzzle them and throw them in the lake as punishment for their neighborly concern. Light-haired man tells them I'm fine and I sit up. He walks me home with a hand around my waist to support my bad knee. As we walk I try to convince him how gracefully I splattered myself on the sidewalk. "Uh huh," he says indulgently. He is concerned about my knee and offers to carry me.

Hmm... I think it would be in my best interest to milk this injured damsel thing a bit.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Hey, bloglit! Any thoughts on a good pen name? Here are a few I've been kicking around....

Polly Debrill (found that one on a map of, I think, Nebraska)

Polly Squires (an ancestral name)

Polly Talbot (another ancestral name)

Polly Maddox (just sounded cool)

Polly Effie (might sound too much like "effing"...which might generate juvenile name-calling from the not-so-sophistocated among us)

Polly Purdue (university...chicken... no good)

Polly Gohn (hehe)

Polly Mehr (hehe, again)

Polly Anna (I kill me)

Polly Tweezerski (getting bored...looking around for ideas)

Polly Cellphonson (time to stop)


7:44 a.m. Well, the 25-year-old "dancer" was quite a disappointment. Instead of going clubbing, he went home and played his PS2 for the three hours I stuck around. And he didn't even do it in his underwear!

Now what am I going to do with all these quarters?

Anyway, I'm on him again this morning. There is nothing going on right now and I don't expect a lot of activity until after noon. When I broke off last night he was still going strong with the video games and I don't expect he went to bed before 1AM.

Friday, September 16, 2005


10:08 a.m. Today I am starting a surveillance at 6pm in a town just north of Chicago. I am supposed to follow a handsome, single, 25-year-old guy around and see what he's up to on a Friday night. His boss told me there are rumors he's frequenting strip clubs and that he's dancing. When I asked her if he was a DANCER in the strip club, she told me that was what I needed to find out because he's on partial disability for a severe leg injury.

That reminds me...I have to go get myself a roll of quarters so I have something to put in his g-string.

In other news, I just got off the phone with the ME's office. I passed the drug test (phew) and will start training on Monday. After I fill out the requisite paperwork and get my badge, I'll spend the rest of the day shadowing the chief investigator, Nancy. Hopefully we'll get called out to a case or two. After that, I'll pack up and leave for Minnesota to do a few surveillances up that way.

Oh, and I was going to keep this hush hush until I actually got a book deal, but...what the hell. I suck at keeping secrets. (Which isn't the greatest quality in a former federal agent.) I just signed a contract with an amazing literary agency in New York City called Trident Media Group! They approached me asking if I would consider them for representation on a book of non-fiction. Can you say, HELL, yes?!

Thank you so much, my friends, for all of your ideas and encouragement and patronage. This contract wouldn't have happened without you and I will never forget it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


3:15 p.m. I see Det. Grizzly leaning against the hood of his vehicle. He's writing something down on a clipboard. We were already told that he is the lead on this case. When he sees us coming, Grizzly lifts a hand and walks toward us. He shakes Dr. Forrest's hand and greets me with a gentle punch on the arm. "How ya doin', kid?" I smile. I haven't worked a case with Grizzly in a while. I was kinda missing him.

Grizzly tells us the story. Apparently, Det. Blue was (rightly) concerned that the man standing in the middle of morning rush hour traffic would either get himself killed or somebody else. Blue pulled onto the inside shoulder and backed up a hundred feet or so, so that he was closer.

He got out of his vehicle and began walking toward the man. "Hey! Get the hell out of the middle of the road!" (Blue isn't one to mince words.) When he heard Blue's voice, the man turned, pointed to himself and said angrily, "I'm Jesus Christ!" Then he ran toward Blue. Blue had left his gun on the passenger seat of his car. And since he didn't know if Mr. Christ had a weapon either, he felt it prudent to get back to his vehicle as soon as possible.

Blue dove into the driver's side just as he hear a deafening crash of glass. His back windshield had shattered and Blue was certain at this point he was being shot at. Blue scrambled for his gun as Mr. Christ continued to proclaim himself the Son of Man and ran toward the driver's side door. Using his elbow and forearm, Mr. Christ had almost smashed through the driver's window when Blue let off the first shot. Then the second. Then the third.

When I talked to Blue later, he told me that the sound from the gunshots was so loud he thought he'd permanently lose his hearing. He sat in the car for serveral minutes, shaking off the adrenaline, before he called in the Code 15. Then he tried to open the driver's side door but Mr. Christ was slumped against it and it wouldn't budge. Blue pushed again, harder, and the body finally fell back against the concrete barrier, coming to rest partially underneath the vehicle.

Forensically, speaking, this is a fascinating case. Blue's story appears to jive perfectly with the evidence on scene. The back windshield is broken in an oblong pattern and the interior and trunk are showered with flecks of safety glass and blood from when Mr. Christ's elbow smashed through it.

"Whoa!" Dr. Forrest says almost reverently, "He must have been on some serious drugs. The force he needed to punch through that window probably broke every bone in his arm." Grizzly is writing as he leans against the concrete barrier and doesn't even look up when he says, "Well, he WAS Jesus Christ."

"If that's true then I'm damned disappointed.", Dickie says as he kneels in front of the body.

I check the sky for random lightening bolts.

"Look at this," Dickie says. "Blue is one hell of a shot. That was pure instinct. Head, chest and trunk. Classic cop training."

I glance at the body and grudgingly acknowledge that they were damn good shots. Then I roll my eyes. "Dickie, he was a foot from the guy. He'd have to try NOT to hit him."

Dickie steps over the body so that I can take photographs. "You just don't like Blue." I say nothing as I begin snapping pictures.

The man was about 30-years-old, thin, pale, dirty, wet. He had no shirt on. There were light scrapes on his face, arms and chest. I inspect the wounds. They were from before his encounter with Blue. I imagine this man panicking or caught up in some state of euphoria that compelled him to run from someplace safe and warm and light into the night...through brambles and over fences at full tilt with rain and lightening cascading down all around him. But why? I reach in his jeans pocket and pull out his wallet. John. His name was John.

When I spoke to his father later that morning I was told that John was mentally ill and refused to take his medication. He ran out of the house the night before without saying a word to anybody and the father had no idea what had happened to him until he watched the news this morning and put two and two together.


11:45 a.m. Dickie hits the lights and turns on the siren as we move onto the shoulder of the interstate. Traffic is at a standstill for miles and miles. Within a few minutes, we pull up on the scene from the opposite side and have to scale the concrete barrier that separates the north and southbound lanes from each other. I toss my heels onto the other side and maneuver myself over the wall in as dignified a manner as one can when wearing a suit dress.

I give Dickie a dirty look as he takes my hand and helps me down. "Tell me again why we have to wear our Sunday best to crime scenes?" Dickie tries unsuccessfully to supress a grin and says, "So that we are more approachable for the families of the deceased. So that it's not just another person in a uniform that they have to deal with." I give him a sideways glance as I slip my shoes back on and say, "You sound like a funeral director." He chooses to ignore me.

I glance over at Dr. Forrest as we approach the police line. He has a bemused look on his face. Dr. Forrest is probably 50 years old or so. Handsome. Intelligent. Funny. He never married, though he clearly wanted a family. He spoke often of his search for the perfect woman, like his mom, and how he would never settle for anything less. In 10 or 20 years he's going to realize that Ms. Perfect doesn't exist and he spent his whole life in pursuit of his...ick...mother. That's messed up.

As we walk into the perimeter of the scene, a cruiser drives by on its way back to the SO and I can see Blue sitting sullenly in the back. He's staring at the seat in front of him. He's being taken to the station for questioning. They already temporarily relieved him of duty and his weapon. At this point, he's a civilian until further notice.

More later...

(Sorry, guys. Stupid job keeps interrupting my story.)


8:26 a.m. Chief Dickie is looking out the window. "That was a police copter. I've been listening to the radio for the past 20 minutes. Det. Blue called in a Code 15 and asked for backup. Then, about 10 minutes later, he called in a Code 5. He sounded about as rattled as I've ever heard him."

I suck in a breath. A Code 15 is shots fired by an officer. A Code 5 is reporting a death. Dickie continues, "He's out on the interstate about 20 miles north of here. Go tell Dr. Forrest that he'll need to come out on this one. We'd better get going."

It's rare for the actual ME to be called out to a death scene. But this is a case in which a cop killed a civilian and there will definitely be a thorough investigation requiring ME testimony. The more Dr. Forrest can gather regarding the scene and circumstances, the better.

As we pile into the Explorer, I note that the morning news is already ripe with speculation on what happened. "Well, that was fast," Dr. Forrest says. "They don't waste time, do they?" Law enforcement and emergency personnel aren't the only ones that listen in on the police bands and you better believe that reporters who hear a Code 15 and 5 in conjunction with one another will be following the scent like bloodhounds. This is going to be a mess.

More later....


6:35 a.m. Detective Blue had been up for 31 hours straight working a case. He was exhausted at 7am on a Friday morning, driving his unmarked Impala down the I-90 corridor. He just wanted to get home and fall into bed for 10 or 12 hours.

It had been raining the night before and the roads were still wet. Even now, a fine mist floated in the warm morning air. As he sped along the freeway, Blue noted traffic swerving to avoid an obstacle up ahead. There was something in the road. When he got close enough, he realized that a wet, bedraggled man was standing in the middle lane of the freeway with his arms spread wide and his face turned up to the sky. Blue pulled over onto the shoulder.

Meanwhile, I am trying to make room for my modest lunch bag in the break room refrigerator. The day before, we'd had a birthday party luncheon for the Chief ME and everybody brought food. Two giant kettles occupy most of the space on the top two shelves. This is because Winston, a very sweet, very big, black man who runs a restaurant called, Soul Food, when he's not investigating deaths, brought two soup dishes...chitlins with collard greens and pigs feet soup. Gag.

Despite efforts not to be rude, I couldn't help but wrinkle my nose when I peered in the pots on my way around the buffet table. Winston saw me and smiled wickedly. "Why don't you try that, Polly? It's real good!" I look up at him with distaste and say, "I don't have enough soul to eat that. What do you have against PB&J, anyway?"

In any case, this morning I am peering into the fridge and seriously debating whether to throw his "spare parts" soup into a HAZMAT bag and let BFI dispose of it with the rest of the biological hazardous waste that we generate around here.

I finally shove my bag into the vegetable crisper and am heading to the investigative section when I hear a helicopter overhead. I hear helicopters a lot. The only level one trauma unit in North Florida is located just a few hundred feet from the MEO and the helipad on the roof of the building is frequently occupied.

More later...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


5:39 a.m. I left my windows open last night and woke up around 3AM when a storm blew in. After a bit of momentary confusion, I realized I was getting pelted in the face with rain. Interestingly, in that blur between REM sleep and consciousness, I had been having a nightmare about the hated hair-trigger automatic toilets they have in my gym...the ones that flush anytime I move/talk/breath. These toilets are so super-powerful that you could probably flush a small child without difficulty. I have taken to gingerly tip-toeing into the stalls and hovering gracefully above the commode so as to avoid the unpleasant splash-back. (Rather a rude awakening when you're not expecting a spritzer down there.) Anyway, when I woke up I'd been dreaming that the water in the toilet at my gym (as I was sitting on it) formed into a hand and was pinching my butt. Fresh toilet. Taking liberties.

Ew. I just had a disconcerting thought...I should check for spider bites.

Anyway, as I'd predicted in my post-that-is-no-more, I am going to be going to Minnesota to run four cases next week. Which works out as far as timing because I will also be attending a big 'ol family reunion. I think the most recent count is 41 people in attendance. Should be good times. And this is my DAD'S side of the family, too. While Mom's people were dignified, pedigreed aristocrats, my ancestors from the paternal line, (as I've mentioned before, but it's worth mentioning again), got kicked out of England for stealing the king's horses. That sort of says it all, I think.

This afternoon, after I return from the hairdresser, I'm going to write about a case involving a homicide detective who had to shoot a crazy man on the freeway during morning rush hour. This was a very interesting case.

More later...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


2:48 p.m. So, I signed up for this online dating service a long, long time ago. And today I got the following email:

I would like to meet with YOU.I am Manasseh,30,single,Nigerian,Transporter,loves life .Ienjoy reading your profile and it kind of interest me.I WANT A WOMAN i CAN LOVE WITH MY WHOLE HEART.I also want to feel like an African king in the bossom of my sweetheart.But I must first get to know her and appreciate her person.

Cool. I wouldn't mind making him feel like an African king, but my questions is, what IS a "Transporter"? Does he drive a bus? Is he a drug trafficker? Does he carry stuff? Because, in that case, aren't we ALL "Transporters"?

And isn't he getting just a little fresh asking me if he can appreciate my person on the first email? I mean, really...


Polly (on the horse) and big sister Tina at Disney World. A long, long...long time ago. Posted by Picasa
These two stuffed deer were fighting for some chick deer and got their antlers stuck together. That just sucks. Survival of the fittest, my friends... Posted by Picasa
Breakfast Posted by Picasa
Bored in a hotel room. Posted by Picasa
View of Lake Michigan in (blah) winter. Posted by Picasa
Tee hee Posted by Picasa
12,350-year-old Mammoth bones found in a farm field where I live. It was a male, about 36 years old. It is also one of the earliest known human activity sites in North America. There is evidence of butchery...cut marks and stone tools. Fascinating.  Posted by Picasa
Who's that handsome guy?? Why, it's my dad working on a rocket for NASA. Cool. Posted by Picasa
This is an inside view of the rows of teeth growing in a tiger shark jaw. This particular shark ate a police diver. Posted by Picasa


6:29 a.m. For breakfast I ate peanut butter on a spoon dipped in sweetened-condensed milk. Yum. That's almost as good as Nutella.

I'm feeling a little hyper and unfocused now for some reason...

Monday, September 12, 2005

This is a terrible picture of a collage depicting Slim, the skull that I reconstructed. It's kind of hard to tell, but the final result looked kind of like Bill Crider...  Posted by Picasa


5:11 a.m. Back when I was a student I went down to Scotsdale, AZ to learn how to do forensic facial reconstruction from Betty Pat Gatliff. She was a sculptress that worked for years with Dr. Clyde Snow, a Titan in the forensic anthropology world and the man that revolutionized facial reconstruction techniques using tissue depth measurements gathered from the faces of hundreds of cadavers.

Forensic facial reconstruction is pretty much a last-ditch effort that death investigators use to get a skeleton identified. This is because it is equal proportion art and science.

You cannot, for example, tell the shape of lips or a nose from a skull...or the color and style of hair...or eye color and shape. You can't tell whether the person was fat or skinny. You can't tell if they had scars or moles or traumas the left them with distiguishing marks.

What you CAN tell, (with the help of a forensic anthropologist) is the approximate age, race, and gender of the decedent. You can look at the shape of the nasal bones and get a general idea of whether the nose flared or was turned up at the end. And because of tissue depth markers specific to race and gender, you can get a pretty accurate feel for the shape of the face.

So, basically, if you get a bunch of reconstruction artists working on a caste of the same skull, you'll end up with a room full of sculptures that look like cousins. (Interestingly, without a model to work from, people tended to give their reconstructions noses and lips similar to their own.)

At the time, I was only taking this class as research for an idea I had to gather more accurate tissue depth readings. Even back then, actual clay reconstruction was falling rapidly to the wayside in favor of computer-based reconstruction and age progression models.

Anyway, my idea was based on the fact that gathering tissue depths from cadavers creates a whole host of inaccuracies. The most obvious being the rate at which skin dehydrates after death, scewing your results.

And having asked around to friends, family, strangers on the street, I determined that most people wouldn't volunteer to have needles inserted into several locations on their skulls for the sake of my research. My hope, provided I could wade through a ton of beaurocratic red tape, was to use the thousands of cross-secting head CT scans stored in the university hospital's radiology department to get more accurate measurements.

Anyway, my nerd is showing. How embarrassing.

I never ended up undertaking the project for various reasons, but I'm sure it's been done ten times over by now. There is no such thing as an original thought, after all.

Friday, September 09, 2005


11:45 a.m. Well, I'm on the official list of medical/emergency professionals slated to volunteer with the recovery and identification of Katrina victims. I'm supposed to get a phone call from the coordinators sometime in the next few days as they are putting teams together. I heard the latest figures are estimated to be somewhere around 10,000 victims. 220 children have already been reported missing, and that number is expected to rise. Dear God.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


6:39 a.m. I wake up this morning to the lady next door calling for her cat. Her voice is raspy and harsh and sounds like she's been chain-smoking for the past 50 years or so. "Here, kiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiitty! Here, kiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiitty!" It's 4am. Who calls for their cat at 4am? Who calls for their cat at all?

I cover my head with my pillow in order to either muffle the sound or pass out from lack of oxygen. Either one is okay by me at this point. After 20 minutes of, "Here, kiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiitty!", I give up and kick the covers off as I get out of bed. I feel like yelling out the window that kitty won't be coming home anymore because I ate it for dinner last night.

As I walk toward the kitchen to put on a pot of water for tea, I feel rather smug that I am not tripping over piles of laundry. My house is clean. The refrigerator is full. I haven't killed a plant in a record two weeks. Hell has officially frozen over.

Today I'm doing an interview with a hostile Subject. He gave one of my investigators such a hard time over the phone that Corporate asked me to take over the case. I'm sort of afraid of what awaits me when this guy opens the door. His injuries include: head, neck, left arm, left leg, left hip, hands, left shoulder, and right eye. That's got to suck. Was he run over by a steamroller or something?

After getting dressed in business attire, I drive around for no less than 45 minutes trying to find gas under $3.00/gallon. Finally, I find a station selling for $2.98. I am aware that I probably blew all of my gas savings driving around looking for cheaper gas. It's the principle of the thing.

I am currently in line waiting to fill my tank. I'm five cars back and this will probably take a while. Fortunately, I have food provisions (a Kit Kat bar and Diet Pepsi) and a pee bucket. I feel smug yet again as I watch the other drivers who can't eat or pee at will.

I wonder if this was what it was like during the gas shortages in the '70's? I would seriously consider investing in a bicycle except that I'm afraid it might be hard to remain discrete when I pull out the camera. "Uh, lady...I know you keep telling me I can't see you, but I'm pretty sure you're sitting on a bike and videotaping me..."

This afternoon I get a physical and a drug test for my new job as a death investigator. My official title is Deputy Medical Examiner. I should pass the test with flying colors so long as caffeine remains a legal drug. I remember back a couple of years ago I had this crazy idea that I would go off caffeine for a couple of days. I found that I really missed the heart palpitations and the shaky hands.

Today I am going to see if I might be able to help with the forensics recovery after Katrina. I am sure it will be difficult to identify the dead after ten days and I imagine federal and local workers are going to need all the assistance they can get. It's not the most positive contribution, but it is what I know. There is an emergency response organization of forensics professionals called M.O.R.T. that responds to human disasters such as this. I was asked to join them several years ago, I just never got around to it at the time. I plan to contact them and see if they are still in need of volunteers.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


My company sux. :-)

Thanks for the good advice, bloglit. You've got my back and I appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


5:28 a.m. Friday night on our way up the elevator to a room party, Jeff Meyerson and Jackie expressed worry that I wouldn't enjoy hanging out with a bunch of... how did they put it?..."old geezers". Are you kidding??? Dude, when we got up to the room Bill Crider was just opening a new kegger and passing out unidentified pills and glow sticks. And then Jeff started mixing a questionable drink with Metamucil, vodka and Ensure. I know I've eaten deer brains, but I wasn't quite brave enough to try that. I assured him that my bowels were moving quite nicely and opted for some fudge, instead.

I'm kidding, of course. About the fudge.

No no no. This was not a Hollywood party. But there WAS Steve, who has to be at LEAST as entertaining as crystal meth and fiber laxatives.

I really had a great time and look forward to next year in Madison, WI. Interestingly, Madison is about the same distance from where I live as Chicago.

By the way, I am probably going to get fired today. I was assigned a case in Michigan but after repeated inquiries, never got approval on the travel request. Hell if I'm going to spend eleven days in Paw Paw, MI without knowing if I'll be paid for it.

I have two new investigators that started on Thursday, the first day of BCON. One we'll call Scrappy. She's great. On her first day she was out in the bushes taking video of her Subject. She also writes a great report that I only had to spend a half hour tweaking. When I asked her about her experience she said that her ex-husband used to be a PI and he'd take her out on cases with him. She said that when she was eight months pregnant he had her go into a hotel and bribe the clerk with $100 to tell her the room number of a man to whom she was serving a subpoena. The girl's got guts. Or her scared is broken. In any case, I like it.

My second investigator, Brawny, had a harder time of it. Brawny is a personal trainer/judo instructor. She got the cops called on her early on in the morning. I'm not sure how she presented herself, but I ended up getting a call from Officer Friendly asking me if she was legit. And of course, as luck would have it, while I was on the phone with the officer, the Subject got in her car and left. After some shameless begging I got the cop to let Brawny go so she could begin mobile surveillance.

Unfortunately, Brawny got picked up by the Subject in the grocery store parking lot a few minutes later and, after a discussion on how to conduct a mobile surveillance (i.e. don't follow so closely that you can see the Subject's eye color in the rearview mirror) we had to break it off for the day. This is not a huge deal. It happens. And she is just learning.

Brawny is, however, the worst report writer on the face of the planet. I think I have a better appreciation of what editors have to go through. When I opened the file I didn't even know where to start. I sort of felt like crying. Or eating chocolate. Or drinking one of Jeff's vodkamucil drinks.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

War wounds from climbing trees yesterday. I made a bet with some random kid that I could climb it before he did. I won. That'll teach random kids to underestimate women in their thirties. Posted by Picasa
It's Cap'n Bob Napier! Sorry this pic is so blurry. I was still recovering from the effects of meeting Paul Guyot. I think at this point I was still trying to remember my name...  Posted by Picasa
Jeff Meyerson. He and Jackie are great. I had so much fun and look forward to seeing them in Vegas next month.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 02, 2005



This conference is a blast. I've met some really amazing people.

Jeff and Jackie are fantastic. I could just sit and listen to their stories for hours.

Cap'n Bob got on his knees and kissed my hand when we met, so he is now automatically my new best friend.

Susan McBride has such an amazing presence that you can feel her enter a room. And she was really nice to me even though I was a babbling star-struck idiot when I talked to her.

J.D. Rhoades is always breezing by with a harem of women in tow. The other men are jealous and are wondering where THEY can get their OWN harems.

Bill Crider is smart and gracious and has a great sense of humor.

Steve is charming and smooooooooth. I look forward to experiencing more of his charming smoothness later today.

Paul Guyot.... Let's just say that he gets points for them most ORIGINAL first meeting I've ever had with somebody. My lips are still tingling.

Patrick, who I met last night, is another of those people I could just sit and listen to for hours because he knows so much.

And there are many more people I met yesterday but I've got to get going if I'm want to make it to Chicago before noon. I will write all about this very interesting experience sometime this weekend.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


5:32 a.m. Well, today I go to Bouchercon, a mystery writer's convention that is taking place in Chicago this year. It will be great meeting many of my writer friends from the internet.

Today I am also training two new investigators on their first cases. Which means that my phone will probably be ringing off the hook. Blah.

It'll be a jam-packed couple of days. I am really looking forward to it.

The HR guy that sat in on my interview with the Medical Examiner seems to want me to do PI work for the county. And a friend of mine has a sister who is a lawyer that wants me to do PI work for her. If I started the Polly PI Detective Agency, I would have a ready-made clientelle.