Excerpt from The South Hills Conspiracy

imageAndrew sat stoically during most of the graduation ceremony. He was thankful that the program was primarily emceed by the lead class academy cadre along with drill instructors for each squad. However his sister Vera, seated to his left, made him feel somewhat less thankful and more akin to a mouse perched beside clipped cheese. She had apparently intended to take full advantage of the situation with him as her captive audience.
“You know why I came, Stone? It’s because the boy invited me. And I know I just had to be here, poor baby. If only Cassandra could’a been here to see him. Don’t say it Stone. I know. I know you and her ended your cordial relations years ago. But that shouldn’t matter on a day like this and under these circumstances.”
Andrew turned to Vera. Her dark complexion, short heavyset stature, and flat facial features would not support a case for proving their genetic connection. She was smartly dressed in a bright, salmon colored two piece ensemble. Her Pixie hairdo was black with gray streaks.
“Don’t tell me. Tell your nephew,” Andrew pressed.
“What do you expect? You left his mom.”
“Oh is that what it’s all about? Why didn’t I come to you sooner?”
“Watch yourself little brother. I whipped you when you was a little bitty thang and I’ll whip you just the same right in front of all these here people, yo’ son included.” Vera removed her sunglasses and looked hard at Andrew for added emphasis.
Andrew wrinkled a cheek at his sister’s vernacular use and it’s return to her southern Louisiana roots.
“I guess it’s my fault he dropped out of the United States Military Academy too?”
“I just don’t understand you sometimes. I just don’t. For a man of your accomplishments. You’re still just as hard headed, and thick skulled as you ever have been. How did I ever put up with you? How did Cassandra for that matter?”
“Your point in there somewhere? Did I miss it?”
“The boy is here, Andrew, now. Right there in front of you. He’s about to graduate and very soon he’ll be following in your footsteps. Any father would be proud.”
“Any father on speaking terms with his son, you mean.”
“He’s been through a lot. You know that better than anybody. Yet he’s surviving, more than surviving if you ask me.”
Andrew also knew better than to tell Vera that no, he had not, in fact, asked her.

Life in College Matters for Life After College

Research can be fascinating and informative at the same time.

imageCase in point:

The gallup article referenced in the link below.





Life in College Matters for Life After College http://www.gallup.com/poll/168848/life-college-matters-life-college.aspx?utm_source=add_this&utm_medium=addthis.com&utm_campaign=sharing#.U5fjBbE8jfI.twitter

Excerpt from The South Hills Conspiracy

image“I got a job offer.”
Vera having brokered the deal, Andrew found himself making nice in a fancy restaurant for the obligatory dinner celebrating Jesse’s culmination. He’d been introduced to and seated across from Jesse’s date, Angela. He was contemplating her neon red miniskirt with matching tube top, one inch nails and lip gloss, as she sat beside Jesse, who was looking at Vera, but very much speaking to Andrew.
“I didn’t realize that you had interviewed,” Andrew said, nor applied he thought. “Tell us about it.”
“The California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement wants me as a Special Agent.” Jesse glared at Andrew.
“Impressive,” Andrew chose the diplomatic route, ignoring the invitation to confront his son or doubt his veracity. “That sounds quite unusual, a state investigation agency hiring directly from a local academy.” Andrew turned to Angela and tried to control the tension by including her in the exchange. “How is your pasta?”
“Delicious thank you. I just love shrimp.”
Seated in a mahogany booth behind red velvet drapes, the foursome was elevated above the main dining room. Andrew loved the privacy afforded by the layout almost as much as the food at Hamilton’s, which featured steak. As the odor of garlic emanating from her plate made his eyes begin to water, Andrew’s doubts about Angela grew with each passing minute.
“I guess it would,” Jesse continued, ignoring the culinary review. “You know how LAPD runs that undercover program in the L.A. Unified School District?”
“I did when I worked there,” Andrew replied modestly, having once supervised it and personally run the training program for field officers.
“Well it has done so well they want to do something like it at State College.”
“Who are they?”
“The Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Team. It’s a task force,” he added, presumably for the women at the table.
“Right here?”
“Right here.”
Andrew let out a slow whistle. Vera smiled at first, then her face went blank when Andrew did’t speak. Andrew realized that being at State College, the largest public university, as well as the closest to South Hills, a private institution, meant that Jesse would be nearby. He wondered if he was the only one capable of understanding the danger involved.
“Let me be clear, Jesse. You are going undercover as a NARC on a campus with over 40,000 students, within walking distance from South Hills?”
“Is there a problem?”
“South Hills, where you just finished the police academy, where you went to high school, where Angela and God knows how many people know you…”
“Hey, hold up.”
“…Where any number of them know who I am.”
“What’s that have to do with me?”
“Andrew,” Vera tried, putting a hand on his arm.
“Jesse,” she added, looking very flustered.
“So I guess you didn’t calculate the likelihood that your cover could be blown with such a high probability of being recognized?”
Jesse looked at Vera, then Angela. He could only have seen what looked like obvious concern from both. He turned toward Andrew but his eyes were cast down at the table.
“So what are you saying, I can’t take the job?”
“No. I’m not telling you what you can or cannot do. What I will say is that I wonder how careful you can be, under the circumstances, when you bring the whole covert operation up, in casual conversation, at a restaurant.”
Jesse stood, set his napkin down and walked from the room. Angela swallowed some shrimp and scampered after him, touching Vera on the shoulder with one hand, as the other clawed the hemline of her skirt in a futile attempt at modesty. Vera turned and looked at Andrew with her mouth open.
“What?” He raised both hands, like a suspect being held at gunpoint, and waited.