The Rules of the Justice Game

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

While digitizing and organizing my many boxes of legal–and other–papers, I came across something I typed out years ago from a book by Harvard Constitutional Law Professor, Allen Dershowitz. The book is entitled The Best Defense. It’s still available. I recommend it.

The Rules of the Justice Game

Rule I – Almost all criminal defendants are, in fact, guilty.

Rule II – All criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges understand and believe Rule I.

Rule III – It is easier to convict guilty defendants by violating the Constitution than by complying with it, and in some case it is impossible to convict guilty defendants without violating the constitution.

Rule IV – Almost all police lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict guilty defendants.

Rule V – All prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers are aware of Rule IV.

Rule VI – Many prosecutors implicitly encourage police to lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict guilty defendants.

Rule VII – All judges are aware of Rule VI.

Rule VIII – Most trial judges pretend to believe police officers who they know are lying.

Rule IX – All appellate judges are aware of Rule VIII, yet many pretend to believe the trial judges who pretend to believe the lying police officers.

Rule X – Most judges disbelieve defendants about whether their constitutional rights have been violated, even if they are telling the truth.

Rule XI – Most judges and prosecutors would not knowingly convict a defendant who they believe to be innocent of the crime charged (or a closely related crime).

Rule XII – Rule XI does not apply to members of organized crime, drug dealers, career criminals, or potential informers.

Rule XIII – Nobody really wants justice.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

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Amazon and CreateSpace: the Good and the Bad & Ugly

Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer

The newest Fortune magazine features Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, as the 2012 businessperson of the year. Jeff, it turns out, has built his business by being customer oriented. “We innovate,” he says, “by starting with the customer and working backwards.” In this way he has revolutionized the book publishing business. His board meetings are legendary. Before discussions can begin, the executive team takes as long as 30 minutes to read a six-page printed memo in silence.

I like Amazon. As a Prime member, I take advantage of free shipping, quick service, and low prices. So, when I completed my true crime book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, it was a no brainer to publish it with Amazon as an ebook. That was in October. The process of putting it on line was quick, and they promised it would be available within 48 hours. How modest of them! It was available in minutes.

That’s fine for people who have Kindles or tablets or smart phones—well, I guess that’s pretty much everyone—but many people still prefer to curl up with a paperback. I understand. I used to feel that way myself. So with Christmas season approaching, I knew I needed to get Tom Henry printed … uh, I mean on paper. Amazon owns a POD printer, so why not stay in the family? How far can the apple fall from the tree?

Turns out this apple never grew on that tree and it’s not in the same orchard. CreateSpace is Amazon’s POD printer. POD means publish on demand. It’s the direction printing is headed these days. In the case of book printing you send an electronic file to a machine, which it prints, trims, folds, collates and stacks. At the same time it prints and folds the book cover, then both cover and guts pass through a binding machine and you have a book. The beauty of the process is you can print 500 books, 25 books, or if you like, one book. That’s what they mean by “on demand.” It’s a green process. You print only the books you sell. No overruns, no remaindering—no waste.

Even better, the setup is electronic. I email them a manuscript and an art file and their computer formats it and, voilà, it’s ready to print. With an Amazon company, it should be a matter of hours, but with CreateSpace—not so much.

On October 29 I emailed them the manuscript. Three weeks later (November 20) they emailed me a “mock-up” of the first two chapters for me to verify the formatting. I returned it with minor changes. A week and a half later (November 30) I got it back. I was now frantic to get the book out for Christmas shopping, so I called CreateSpace.

“It’s not exactly what I want, but I can live with it,” I said. “I don’t want to waste any more time. How soon can I take Christmas orders?”

“Well, sir, now we need two to three weeks to format the rest of the book.”

“But it’s done by computer.” I said.

“Yes, and it takes two to three weeks,” they said.

I took a deep breath. “So what’s the next step?”

“When we finish formatting it, we’ll print one copy and mail it to you for final approval.”

“What about the cover?” I said.

“We need the artwork for that.”

“I have the artwork,” I said. “I just need to know the spine width. When will you know that?”

“When the book is fully formatted,” they said.

“But your computer does that. Don’t you have a formula based on the number of pages?”

“Sir, your book is not the only one we’re doing. We’re busy.”

“OK,” I said. “I get the first printed copy a few days before Christmas. If I approve it, then how much longer before someone can order it?”

“It takes a week to put it on Amazon.”

“But that’ll be too late to order it for Christmas!”

“Yes, sir.”

In fact, it will have taken them all of November and all of December to prepare to print a book from two files—a Word file and a PDF.

I think perhaps Jeff Bezos needs to call an emergency six-page-memo board meeting at CreateSpace. The memo will be on customer service. And I have a tip for Mr. Bezos.

Don’t let CreateSpace print it.


Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

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A Thanksgiving Eulogy


My father is in heaven. He died four years ago, shortly after turning 80. For his last 20 years, he was a traveling preacher, known in the Plymouth Brethren fellowship as a “laboring brother.” Because of him, our family gathers at Thanksgiving instead of at Christmas, because Christmas trees come from pagan worship, because Jesus wasn’t born in December, and because God would never approve of such blasphemies as drunken parties to honor the birth of His only Son. And so this week I’ll travel to my eldest sister’s house to join my family and to be thankful together and to visit and to squabble and to do everything at Thanksgiving time other families do at Christmas time.

A few years ago, we were gathered in my sister’s living room in Southern Illinois, sated from a bountiful feast and engaging in another tradition. Each person read a scripture verse from a card placed before them and then said what they were thankful for. When my turn came I read, “In everything give thanks,” and then said, “I’m thankful Dad’s not here.” It got a big laugh. Not that we didn’t love our Dad. We did. But the statement was funny, not just because of the out-of-context jolt, but because it was true that Dad’s presence made us uncomfortable.

He was a stern man, lacking in the social graces you and I employ daily. I remember one Thanksgiving Dad was there. Three small candied yams remained in the serving bowl and two siblings were eyeing them hungrily. Dad addressed the heavier one, “Leave it for him. He can use it more than you.”

My mother said, “Chuck! Don’t say that!”

“Why not?”

“It hurts his feelings.”

“You want me to lie? He’s fat! I’m just being honest.”

My father was naturally short on tact. A co-worker told me a story from Shure Brothers, where my father was a quality control manager. One day she overheard an employee saying, “Chuck’s smiling. They must have rejected a batch.” My father himself recounted to me a time when he, a fervent young believer, was counseled by an older “brother”: “The Bible tells us to season our speech with salt, Chuck. I believe you’ve been using pepper.”

My father’s mission was to evangelize; in church, at work, and even in the home. My mother made the world’s tastiest spaghetti—no Italian ever did it better—and when an invitation was extended, everyone knew it meant Laverne would make spaghetti. Invited guests would have a decision to make: was her spaghetti worth the post-prandial preaching? I guess the people I got to know best must have loved spaghetti.

Nor were we spared because we were his children. Daily Bible readings were held in our home. To make it less tedious, Dad instituted a contest. It would be my turn to read until I made a mistake. My sister would pounce on my error and then she’d get to read until she flubbed a word, and so on. This Thanksgiving, if you were to come home with me and say the phrase, “brief synopsis of Revelation,” you’d hear a collective groan as we’d all remember one summer when Dad announced that’s what we were going to get. “It’ll take me a week or so to run through it,” he said, but it dragged on for one interminable year of squirming torture.

And yet at Dad’s funeral, I learned something I’d never realized before. Lots of people loved this hard, unbending man. They came from all over—six states, two countries. The preacher didn’t deliver a eulogy; he preached the gospel. And he hit it hard. Hellfire and damnation—and God’s saving grace. Out of place? Not at Brother Chuck’s funeral, it wasn’t. It was exactly what he would have wanted.

At the graveside, a crowd of people gathered. Several stood by the casket and said a few words. They told stories of my dad and shed gentle tears as they lovingly remembered him. It wasn’t like they were ignorant of his flaws. One story highlighted his bluntness, and wisps of smiles rippled through the mourning congregation.

I wanted to say something too, but I didn’t. If I thought I could have done it without breaking down, here’s what I would have said.

I know my father loved me, but he wasn’t the kind of man to just say it. He spent time with his children. He played sports with us and he read to us for hours. But it was only after I’d become a father myself and after my family had been ripped from me and after I’d suffered so severely I doubted the very existence of the God my father knew and loved, that I came to understand how much he loved me.

My father, along with my mother, drove three hours each way to visit me every month all six years I was in prison. My father cried with me and he hurt for me, he prayed with me and he prayed for me, he begged God to dispel my doubt and to deliver me from my unjust predicament. It was clear he loved me. But it was the thing he didn’t do that, to me, proved my father’s love like nothing else could.

This man of God, who’d never avoided the chance to confront a stranger about Jesus, this husband who’d made a practice of ignoring signs of boredom, anger and hostility as he’d driven home his message of salvation to unwilling victims—so much so that my mother’s relatives would come to town and call her out, but they’d never again put themselves under my father’s roof—this father who desperately wanted to assure his son of the futility of anger against God and to show him from the scriptures that God never gives us a trial so great we can’t bear it … this hard, unyielding, insensitive, yes, even selfish man never once preached to me. He wanted to, I could see it, but he must have had some sense of the additional pain he’d pile on, and he never said a word. If that isn’t love, you tell me what is.

And so when it’s my turn at the dinner table this Thanksgiving, I plan to simply say, “I’m thankful for my Dad.”

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

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Give Obama a Chance

Tom Henry: Confession of a KillerThe joke goes like this: A guy jumps off the top of the Empire State Building. A woman in a 74th floor apartment has her window open. As the jumper plummets by, she hears him remark, “So far, so good.”

I thought of this joke recently, when the US economy improved and the unemployment rate fell below 8% for the first time in Obama’s presidency, forcing Governor Romney to abandon his favorite attack—that Obama’s unemployment rate had never been below 8%—and pivot to saying the rate was now the same as when Obama was sworn in, so there’d been no progress.

That struck me—a businessman—as most dishonest.

In accounting, the two most important measures of financial value are the balance sheet and the profit & loss statement (P&L). The balance sheet tells you how the company looks now. The P&L tells you how the company has done over time. The balance sheet is a snapshot; the P&L is a movie. Acquisition specialists evaluating a company will view the snapshot, sure, but they really want to watch the movie.

To illustrate this, let’s return to our New York jumper. If, as he’s passing the 74th floor, you take a photo, you see a guy at the 74th floor. But if you’ve been running a movie camera since he jumped, you see a guy in free fall. That’s why the overheard comment—“so far, so good”—is funny. You know it won’t be “so good” for long.

In the year before President Obama was sworn in, national employment fell from 95% to 92.2% (5% to 7.8% unemployment). During the next nine months it continued to fall, then stopped and gradually climbed to the level it was when Obama began (see chart below)—at which point Romney declared there’d been zero progress.


This, coming from a man who’d been spectacularly successful buying and selling businesses, seemed to me the height of disingenuousness.

He was comparing the snapshots, ignoring the movies, and hoping no one noticed. The snapshots were identical. The movies were quite different. The same employment numbers, but two very different trends—a free fall versus a steady climb. Mitt Romney would have been thrilled to buy the first economy and sell the second.

All candidates tell lies to get elected. I understand. It’s part of the game. But there are lies and there are lies. Mr. Romney’s strength—the thing about him I valued most—was his business acumen, and for him to pretend to misunderstand that … that was the lie that cost him my trust and caused me to vote to give Obama the chance to finish what he started.

Thank you for viewing my blog. Please return often. I value your comments.


David Hendricks

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20-20 Hindsight

Last night the American people elected President Obama to a second term. I watched on CNN, until I fell asleep waiting for Florida. When I awoke this morning, Florida was still undecided, but it no longer mattered.

Today, Barry Eisler, a novelist I follow on Twitter, retweeted an @froomkin tweet with a link to a blog by Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow for Media Matters. Here’s the link:

Boehlert discusses pundits who got it wrong, who “misread the campaign through partisan eyes.” He writes, “It was fascinating to watch because these claims were supported by nothing but blind faith, as well as the far-right’s signature hatred of the president and a conspiratorial view of the media.”

Fox News had predicted a Romney Landslide. Boehlert quotes their predictions: Dick Morris: “Romney 325, Obama 213”; Glenn Beck: “321-217 victory for Romney in the electoral college”; Rush Limbaugh: “Everything—Except the Polls—Points to a Romney Landslide”; Michael Barone: “Romney Beats Obama, Handily”; George Will: “Romney 321, Obama 217”; Newsmax: “Expect a Mitt Romney Landslide”; and Larry Kudlow: “I am now predicting a 330 vote electoral landslide.”

“It didn’t work out that way,” Boehlert concludes.

I’m reminded of the following passage from Chapter Five of my book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer. This is a scene that took place in a prison cell in 1985. I’ve just suggested that it’s time for Tom Henry to start dictating his story.

“Which reminds me,” Tom Henry said. “You know who I saw the other day?”

“Give me a hint,” I said.

“Well, what reminded me is this guy was examined by psychiatrists.”

“The clown?” I said.

“John Wayne Gacy himself. He was in chains and four guards were taking him from Death Row to the medical building.”

“Now there’s a psychiatric session where I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall.”

“I’m sure he talked about his childhood,” Tom Henry said.

“This guy had sex with young men, tortured them in this attic, killed them, buried them in his crawl space, and they have to examine him to see if he was sane?” I shook my head. “What I’d like to see them do is interview a hundred normal guys, then predict which one is going to go nuts. They get that right, they’ve got my respect. Like those talking heads on TV. The stock market dives and the next day they tell you why. Where were they the day before?”

I wasn’t thinking about political pundits back there in that prison cell in 1985, but I could have been. So tonight, 27 years later, for the first time in … well, since I can recall, I’ll watch Fox news, just to hear these same pundits explain why the American people committed mass insanity and voted more four more years of the same.

It ought to be entertaining.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, is now available on Amazon as an ebook.


David Hendricks

Coons Catching Chickens

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to a 300-page book, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. This story we also offer as a live prison recording. Enjoy!

When I was first a fugitive in Missouri, before I got married, I worked at the chicken plant. For a while I lived in a homemade camper I built in the bed of a pickup I called old Betsy. It wasn’t just cheaper, it was more convenient too. I worked all hours for the chicken plant at the time so it was handy to sleep right there in my camper.

Some chickens get loose off the loading dock when you’re hanging them. We have guys that go around catching chickens, but they usually don’t catch them all. They’d chase them all around in the woods and along the creek.

I was parked right down from the chicken plant this night, where all the trees were, on the left side of the chicken plant, sleeping. Chickens usually roosted in the trees at night. I heard this noise and I looked out my Plexiglas window. There were mercury lights there, so I could see these two coons.

Three chickens were on a limb on the right side of this tree. They were high enough where the coons couldn’t get them from the ground. So one coon went up the tree and walked out onto the branch. The other coon stayed on the ground under the branch. Now, a chicken won’t fly at night, unless they’re pushed off a branch, ‘cause they can’t see well in the dark.

The coon on the branch walked out far enough on the branch so the chickens had to go way out to the edge. The limb bent down under their weight and the coon below got the one farthest out, then the coon on the limb eased back to the tree trunk, and the two coons took off.

I was thinking they were smart to figure out a way to get that chicken, but I didn’t nearly realize how clever they really were. By easing off the branch, the one coon avoided scaring the other two off. I saw the two coons come back into view about twenty minutes later. They repeated the procedure, got one more chicken, and left. Within about an hour, they wound up getting all three.

Smart coons!

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, is now available on Amazon as an ebook.


David Hendricks

The Business of Writing

Yesterday I published a book on Amazon. Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer. So I guess that makes me a writer. But really, I’m a businessman. Anyway, as a new writer, I made a discovery the other day, when I went to an Orlando diner and ordered eggs Benedict.

“Good choice,” the waitress said as she scribbled on her order pad. “And to drink?”

“Coffee, black.” I opened my Kindle Fire to read.

“You’re always reading,” she said.

“Yeah, but this time it’s my own book.” I grinned at her. “I’m doing the final proofreading on my Kindle to catch any formatting problems.”

“You’re a writer? Wow! I know a writer,” she said.

“Don’t get too carried away. First let’s see if anyone wants to read my book.”

“I do,” she said, “and I want it signed.”

“Well, it’s going to be an ebook,” I said. “You can read the first five chapters free on my website, but then you’ll have to buy the book to read the rest. As soon as you do, it downloads to your phone or tablet—or computer.”

“I don’t want to read a book on my phone or computer. Aren’t you going to have a printed book?”

“Yeah, but that’ll be a month from now. It’ll be POD—print on demand—so you’ll still have to order it online. It won’t be in bookstores.”

“Well, I’ll just wait. When it gets printed, bring me in a copy—and I want it signed. Wow, I know an actual author!” And she skipped away, happy as could be.

Nothing abnormal about that, right? Well, suppose you meet a friend you haven’t seen for a while.

“Hey! How are you?” you say. “You still doing engineering?”

“Yeah,” she says. “I just designed a machine that’ll revolutionize carpet cleaning. Took me two years.”

“Cool,” you say.  “Let’s get together for a cup of coffee sometime and catch up. Bring along a copy of your drawings for me. And don’t forget to sign them.”

Sound ridiculous? But that’s the same thing the waitress was asking me to do. What makes it OK with a book but not with design drawings?

As I said, I’m a businessman. I design orthopedic braces. I’m paid well to do that. I stopped doing that the last two years to write this book. Decades before that, I spent two years getting the story. OK, I was in prison at the time, so don’t count that. But in the late ‘90s I spent a year traveling around the Midwest conducting interviews and writing an early draft. Since then, I’ve paid editors for revisions, a graphic artist for the cover, and others to format the e-book and paperback.

So, that’s three years of time and thousands of dollars and now I’m supposed to buy the book, sign it, and give it to her—for free! Amazingly, she didn’t even think she was out of line. More amazingly, neither did I. Her request was socially acceptable.

So I ask my fellow authors—now that I am one—what’s going on around here? Isn’t a writer’s work product worth anything? Perhaps this thinking comes from the old days when publishers paid advances on royalties and gave authors a few copies to give away, but in these e-times when the big six are dying and indie is what’s left, I’m guessing writers will need to become more businesslike or there’ll be a new twist to an old saying.

In academia it’s publish or perish; in writing it’ll be publish and perish.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, is now available as an e-book on Amazon. Paperback, Special Edition Hardcover, and audio-books are coming.


David Hendricks

A Zealot in the Fog

I wrote this very long poem in a prison cell in Menard on deadlock. I was thinking of my family’s regular Sunday drive from Mosinee, WI to Rockford, IL, 200 miles. One Sunday morning, a misty rain froze on the pavement, making driving treacherous. We made the trip anyway, and I remember Becky leaning over the front seat as she liked to do, her long pigtails dangling on the seatback, asking why we did such a crazy thing.

This poem is a ballad filled with allusions to scripture and to the doctrines of that branch of the Plymouth Brethren. I wrote it in their most common hymn meter, in which the lines are and the 6-beat lines rhyme. For an exmple, think “Amazing Grace” or read this incredibly long poem.

The wipers squeaked across the glass
To scrape the fog-made mist,
A pair of pigtails crossed the seat,
He felt a tiny wrist.

My Dear, he said, you must climb back,
I cannot drive like this,
This fog is thick, my eyes are sore,
Climb back now, little Miss.

How come we always drive so far
Just to meet with God?
My good friend Mary walks to church,
It’s just a block for Todd.

We go where God would have us go
We’re gathered to His name,
The Christian saints in Acts did so,
And we’re to do the same.

But Dad, she asked, how come we can’t
Meet God near where we live?
That way you’d save a lot of gas
And there’d be more to give.

To hearken’s better than the fat
Of rams, was his advice,
And to obey is better than
A great big sacrifice.

Now climb back girl before we crash,
This fog is closing tight,
And listen well to what I say,
I’ll teach you Truth and Light.

The thousands, millions, billions who
Seek God in their own way
Are headed for destruction sure,
I faithfully must say.

If you could bore a tunnel through
The earth below our feet,
You’d land in what we call the East
If you got through the heat.

Religions there teach people that
When dead they’ll live again,
Their Karma may make them a rat,
Now that belief is sin.

A little closer to us here,
But still so far away,
Five million Jews in Palestine
Believe in their own way.

The Muslims in the Asian land,
Six hundred million strong,
Say Jesus equaled Abraham,
So they are just as wrong.

The little head appeared again,
Hey Daddy, see that truck?
It makes the fifth one off the road
And all of them are stuck.

My Dear, the fog is freezing now,
So sit back still and tight,
And I will teach you as I drive
And you’ll learn what is right.

Where was I now? Oh yes, I know,
The atheist is next,
God calls him fool, agnostic too,
He’s only more perplexed.

But all of those you’ve mentioned are
An unbelieving throng,
My friends are Christians just like us,
They cannot all be wrong.

My little girl, the lesson you
Must learn from me today:
All who profess Christianity
May not be what they say.

The Mormons hold their man-writ books
To be the Word of God.
On Saturday the Adventists
Would never mow their sod.

Jehovah’s Witnesses there are
And Christian Scientists some,
With Guinea pig they share this trait:
Not pig, nor Guinea from.

I know that well, my father dear,
But my friends Bill and Todd
Believe in Jesus as their Lord,
Their parents worship God.

Of Catholic priests you could say that,
But error filled are they
To grant what only God can give,
To say “Absolvo te.”

At first the Protestants were right
To leave the Roman bed,
But now, though they profess to live,
They are as good as dead.

But my friend Todd is none of these,
His dad’s no priest of Rome,
Or Mormon, Jew or Protestant,
I’ve been in his home.

His folks believe that Jesus saves,
Their Bible church is sound,
They read the scriptures and they pass
The bread and wine around.

Why can’t we go to church with them?
It’s in our neighborhood,
And we could spend the time we’d save
To treat old people good.

Oh, little one, it sounds so fine
To let go principle,
But God has shown us in His Word
The Path of blessing full.

And I must tell you one thing more
Oh, that this fog would go
In things divine you must believe,
You shouldn’t reason so.

Todd’s Bible church, I will admit,
Speaks well of Jesus’ name,
The Nazarenes are saved by grace
And Baptists are the same.

But they all pay their clergymen,
They call him Reverend,
God is the Holy Reverend One,
All knees to Him must bend.

Disdaining all of these we meet
In all humility,
But we are sure we have the Truth
If never harmony.

Now there’s a group much closer home
That satisfies me fine,
They were in Fellowship until
They left the Ground Divine.

Though evil birds lodge in the tree
We must fight nail and tooth
To serve our Lord, the Prince of Peace,
To champion the Truth.

So if we drive through fog and mist
And freezing slippery road
To please the Lord who loves us so,
It’s not a heavy load.

I have a question for you, Dad,
If you can answer me,
Compared to groups in all the world,
How big a group are we?

Well, Child, we are a feeble lot,
A Remnant, just a few,
Six billion holds the world, our group
Six hundred fifty two.

The little girl was good in math;
She sat back and she thought,
She worked the problem in her head,
The way she had been taught.

Why Dad, she cried, in great surprise,
This all must be a hoax,
Would God keep Truth from all but one
Among ten million folks?

My little Dove, he cried, amazed,
Don’t ever talk that way,
We must keep reason from our faith,
Oh Lord, teach us to pray.

He stopped the car and then he said,
Let’s pray right now, my child,
Help us, oh Lord, to know thy Truth
And make this fog more mild.

Her little eyes peered through the glass
As they drove on again,
She looked ahead, she glanced behind,
This little girl of ten.

Hey Dad, look at the car ahead,
Just two pink spots of light,
The headlights of the car behind
Are just a touch more bright.

But Dad, I see you just as well
As if the air were clear,
Just we can see, while they’re all fogged,
The Lord answered our prayer.

Oh silly girl, he laughing said,
It just appears that way;
You have so very much to learn,
We’re just as fogged as they.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.


David Hendricks

Quotes on Writing

This morning I came across a quote I liked in Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing. Discussing the need for a writer to bare his soul, he quoted writer Red Smith, who said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Over the years, when I’ve come across quotes that resonated with me from my reading, I’ve marked them for later inclusion in my file of quotations. So, for today’s blog–and specifically on the subject of writing–here are some quotes from my reading, in no particular order.

“Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by any competent journalist or historian.” Joseph Pulitzer

“Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” Samuel Johnston

“A critic is a man who knows the way, but can’t drive the car.” Kenneth Tynan

Headlines in two newspapers, The LA Examiner, William Randolf Hearst and The LA Times, General Harrison Gray Otis; same day, same year, same edition, same trial:

  • Examiner: Cops Kill Two in Cold Blood
  • Times: Criminals Open Fire on Officials

Later edition:

  • Examiner: Witness Tells How Police Assassins Wait in Ambush.
  • Times: Witness Admits Being in Pay of Hearst—Yellow Journalism

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Thomas A Edison

“Art and ideas come out of the passion and torment of experience; it is impossible to have a real relationship to the first if one’s aim is to be protected from the second.” Mass Culture and the Creative Artist, James Baldwin

“Ninety percent of writing is re-writing.” Ernest Hemingway

“In every work of genius, we recognize our own reflected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.” Walden, Henry David Thoreau

“The prime difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction must stick to possibilities.” Mark Twain

“Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great or original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.” William Wordsworth

“Books, like babies, are easy to conceive but hard to deliver.” Andrew Greeley

Advice to those who would achieve immortality: “Either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I ever met.” Disorderly Conduct, Abraham Lincoln

I trust you enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed resurrecting them.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.


David Hendricks

The Clever Fox

This blog presents one of the many stories Tom Henry told me in our prison cell. The Tom Henry manuscript, which began at 1,100 pages, has now shrunk to 370, and this story was lost to the cutting, but it’s a good one. Enjoy!

“I was in a tree stand, watching the deer hunters walk through a field toward me. You climb a tree so the deer can’t smell or see you there – they don’t look up. I was point man for the hunting party. Ten men in a line were making a drive. They were walking slowly, about fifty yards apart, so I had time to watch the fox and still keep my eye peeled for deer.

“While I was waiting, I spotted a red fox by the creek. I brought my gun up to watch him through the scope. I could see the hunters by naked eye.

“That fox picked up a piece of driftwood, I’d say two inches around and fourteen inches long, and grabbed one end of the stick between his teeth. He backed into the water up to his hips and stayed in that position a few minutes. He backed up a little more, so his mid body was in the water, and held still.

“What could he be doing? I had the scope up to 9X. He backed up to his shoulders, and paused, then he backed up to his chin, and waited, and then he swam out into the water, letting himself float with the current. Then his head disappeared, and all you could see was the stick pointing straight downstream, and finally he let go of it. It floated downstream while he dog-paddled to the shore, shook himself, and walked away.

“For months I wondered about that red fox with the stick in the creek. I’ve shot a lot of foxes with ticks and fleas in their fur and I’ve noticed, when I put a fox hide in water, they all came up out of the hair.

“That red fox must have had fleas and, by backing into the water, he slowly got them onto the stick and then he got rid of them.

“I used that story as a sermon in church later. ‘The fox is us, the fleas are our sins, and the stick is Jesus, who took our sins on him, leaving us free and clean.’”

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you visit often. My upcoming book, Tom Henry: Confession of a Killer, will be e-published in September.


David Hendricks