Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interview with Lt. Del Carter, CPD

This was me at 6 AM
when my company
Note: I apologize that this post was released before it was completed! That was an accident! It also speaks volumes about the day I had today!

Anyway, here is the final cut!

Well, last week I explained how the people in January Moon showed up at my home one very early January morn and forced their way into my home and heart and changed my life forever.

That's no hyperbole; they changed my life in ways that are yet unfolding and which, I suspect, will unfold for quite sometime. It's extraordinary to have your life completely transformed at the awesome age of 59; 18 months later I am a different person in a different life -- and it is sweet. It took awhile to get here but I believe I am finally doing what I was born to do and all of my life's experiences (both wonderful and dreadful), as well as my education, were prelude to this point.

The person most responsible for changing my life is Del Carter. Del and I sat down this morning over coffee and discussed this, as well as other things.

MG: Del, I can't thank you enough for showing up at my door!

DC: Looking back, I think I need to thank you! It was a huge leap of faith to let us all descend on you as we did. Sorry about that; it wasn't very well thought out.

MG: Wiley would have asked "what are the odds that she'll let us in?"

DC: (Laughing) Oh, he said that a few times on the way over here. He still harps on it!

MG: I already know you rather well but let's get you introduced to everyone else. How 'bout we start with your full name and some bio info?

DC: My full name is Franklin Delano Carter. I've always been called Del. My dad, Mack, has always been a trucker. He and my mother, Marge, built up his one truck business into a successful trucking company. It was hard work and a struggle. They're still not on easy street. The economy has hammered them pretty badly but I'm hoping they can retire soon. They deserve it.

MG: You don't like talking about yourself, do you?  I've noticed before and now again you tend to go off and talk about someone else. Jess, your folks, your partner; that sort of thing.

DC: Hmmm.... I guess that's right. Yeah, maybe. Never thought about it before.

MG: Let's try to stick to you, OK?

DC: We can try.

MG: You had a rather meteoric rise on the Chicago Police Department; it was very impressive. In January Moon, however, you're very troubled about your career. You want to talk about that?

DC: (laughs) Well, actually no, but I will... I think everyone, if they're honest, has doubts about their choices in life. Probably the oddest thing about me is not that I went through a period of burn-out -- that just goes with the territory -- but that I ever became a cop. I never dreamed about being a cop as a kid but take my partner Tooch --  now there's a guy who knew he was going to be a cop from kindergarten. Me? I figured I'd drive a truck like my dad but my folks were hellbent on me going to college. They talked me into it in fact. I thank them for that but I don't think my dad figured he'd get a philosopher out of the deal! I think he was sort of hoping I'd major in business or become an accountant. They were barely adjusted to the idea that I had a degree in philosophy when I told them I'd been accepted into the Police Academy. One surprise after another I guess.

MG: So, how did you go from a degree in philosophy to becoming one of the most decorated police officers in Chicago's history? A degree in philosophy isn't the usual route.

DC: Probably not. But I had to eat. I considered law school but that didn't turn me on and I even considered the FBI. My senior year of college was sort of the Summer of My Discontent and I knew I had this great education, or so I was told, but I also knew I had no real skills and it was time to get real and get a job. I met a chick at a bar who was a cop and also in grad school to become a psychologist or something and I thought "hell, if she can do it, I can do it..." Honestly, it was just going to be a stepping stone. Get a job with benefits, maybe a schedule I could rotate around on so if I wanted to go back to school I had some wiggle room, and kill some time doing some interesting things. I wasn't interested in a desk job but I'm athletic, strong, never blink first, can handle a gun... so I figured if that little cutie who was a third my size could work the streets so could I. And, don't laugh, I'm serious, I actually thought I could make a contribution, be a real public servant. Seriously.

MG: Why would I laugh? I would hope all police feel that way.

DC: Some do, some don't. Anyway, I thought it would be a short term gig until I figured it out. I'm still trying to figure it out.  Plan B was playing sax in a jazz club but a guy has to know his limitations; that was never going to pay the bills for me.

MG: But you're very musical; you have an incredible voice. And you seem to have a remarkable memory for music and lyrics. Jess told me you literally know thousands of songs.

DC: Yeah, what's the TV show about knowing the lyrics? Maybe I should look into it, huh?

MG: What are some of  your favorite songs?

DC: Of course, you know I'm a whore for sax. Anything with alto sax just knocks me out. But I love rock & roll, country & western, Broadway show tunes. I'm pretty eclectic. It's hard to say what's a favorite but there's no doubt "Lady in Red" is up there at the top.

MG: Let's get back to your formal education. How did it help you as a cop?

DC: Philosophy teaches you to think outside the box; ask the questions no one else asks. I also went back to school and studied criminal justice. One degree is heavy in theory, the other in praxis. A yin/yang combination. It seems to work.

MG: Let's talk about love. You're very much in love with Jess Farrell. How has that changed you?

DC: Damn, it changes everything; absolutely everything. Men who say it doesn't are deluding themselves, at least if they really love. It makes you vulnerable. Suddenly you really know fear.

MG: You almost lost Jess.

DC: Yes. It still turns my blood to ice water thinking about it.

You know, bringing in the scum was just part of the job. Unless the SOB tried to kill me or my partner, I was happy to just throw his ass in jail and let the state take it from there. But I fell in love with Jess when I was on the United Nations Serial Killer case. My perspective changed after I was in love. Mommsen was probably never a threat to Jess; his victims were foreign tourists but nonetheless every victim became Jess in my eyes, every grieving lover was me. It's the first time in my life I understood paranoia and real fear.

MG: You could have killed Mommsen but you didn't. Do you still regret not taking the shot?

DC: Every day.

MG: But he's been put away for life.

DC: So they say. I won't relax until he's dead.

MG: And then there was Rae Hart. She was the real threat to Jess.

DC: Yeah, and I never saw it coming. It happened fast, it came out of the blue, my guard was down. She's at the heart of January Moon. The story opens with Mommsen in jail and Rae Hart out there in the wings. She was such a surprise. So unexpected. I never knew the likes of her. Don't think any of us did. She's one freaky scary bitch. I bumped into Mercer and Cole in the Federal Building in Chicago a few months ago. Remember them? They were the federal agents in charge of the raid on the cult. Apparently Rae Hart's a spooky legend with them too.

MG: How are you and Jess now?

DC: We're great. Living the dream.

MG: But the story continues...

DC: Yes, it continues in March Storm. You're writing it now so I guess we don't want to give too many spoilers.

MG: And Wolf? 

DC: Amazing as always. He's become a celebrity.

MG: Well, he's probably going to be the most famous dog in literature since either Lassie or White Fang.

DC: He's definitely more like White Fang. Don't you remember the ending in Jack London't great story when the grateful Weedon family name White Fang the "Blessed Wolf"?
MG: I never thought about it before but the you're absolutely right; there are parallels. The "Blessed Wolf." Amazing. Is Wolf going to end up living contentedly with a cute Border collie and siring lots of puppies like White Fang?

DC: So he hopes, right? We'll see.

MG: Would you mind if I told people they could ask you questions about January Moon or yourself? Would that be OK?

DC: Don't know why not. Sure. They can email you or leave questions here on your blog. If I can answer their questions, I will.

MG: Anything in particular you want to say before we end?

DC: Yeah, these are some delicious donuts. Mind if I grab another?


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