When Not Writing my Next in the Sterling Novels, I Blog to Amuse...

When Not Writing my Next in the Sterling Novels, I Blog to Amuse...

July 01, 2011

Being a Trained Killer makes me a Better Dad

I’m a trained killer – an Intelligence professional and highly skilled; the US Government spent five years and countless taxpayer dollars to train me how to kill with both my bare hands and with a myriad of weapons.
I’m an expert, according to Uncle Sam, with most of them.
I was trained to jump out of planes in both the darkness of night and when the sun is at its Zenith – fast roping from helicopters or rappelling the sheer side of a cliff is what I do, too.
I’ve seen men die in horrible places.  I’ve operated covertly on my own, and have conducted missions with platoon sized forces.  Jungles, deserts, oceans, and mountains: it doesn’t matter.
I spent many months at the Army Intelligence Center fine-tuning my craft in Interrogation, and was cross-trained in Counter-Intelligence.  Two different languages, Military Intelligence ordered me to learn.
But those days are over; civilian life and writing thrillers suits me just fine now – it’s much safer.
Now, whether it’s under cover of darkness, or during a frantic, disorganized day, I have a new target to chase; a new set of operation orders to complete – my mission is the most complicated that I’ve seen, and I’ve see a lot.
Her name is Sonia; she’s eight months old; faster than a rattler, slicker than a wet eel; she operates independently of any organized structure, and changes her demeanor at even the slightest of whims.  She’s wiry, wily, evasive, and unpredictable.
She’s the toughest challenge I’ve faced – the following is a true story, it happened earlier today:
I furrowed my brow at the mission at hand.  It was going to be a tough one.
Chapter One:
With the same focus I used when firing a round at a target during the twilight hours and nearly one kilometer away, I inhaled deeply, and exhaled slowly – it was at this point, when the breath has escaped my lungs completely; when the body is most relaxed, that I would pull the trigger – today, however, it is when I gently place my half-asleep child into her crib for her afternoon nap. 
My breath is exhaled at its apex; the tension in my muscles has escaped.  Into the crib she is lowered – but her eyes are only half-closed.  Is she awake?  Is she asleep?  I can’t tell; I gamble.  My mission is close to failure; I can sense it, but onward I push.
On the mattress, I lay her; slowly I remove my arms from underneath her head.  My breath is held, I know not to inhale; not to exhale.  When I was behind the cross-hairs of a rifle, that breath would make my bullet stray.  Now, it would wake a sleeping baby.
She stirred.
I froze.
Chapter Two:
My eyes narrowed and I waited.
I’m careful to not let the new tension cascade from my brow and down my arms.  She would feel it; this I’ve learned.
I continued.
My arms are freed; she still sleeps.
Downstairs, I made my way; I’ve my next book in the Sterling Novels to complete.  This is a rare moment of idle Father-time that I desperately need.
I sat at my desk and prepared to begin, but, first, I had a phone call to make to a buddy from my Special Ops day; it had been some time since we last spoke and the opportunity was at hand.  I reached for my cell phone, but my hand grabbed nothing.
Eyeing the place it should be, there was only empty space.  I searched for it mentally: where did I put it?  Where the hell was it last?
It didn’t take long to remember.
I looked upward, and through the ceiling I imagined my daughter’s nursery above – in it, my cell phone sat on her dresser.
I sighed heavily and shook my head.  By now, I should have learned.  My mission suddenly became clear; my objective known.  Inside my mind, I ran through my Operation Orders: 1) Infiltrate, 2) Use stealth, 3) Secure and retrieve the package, 4) Do not be seen, 5) Do not get caught, and, 6) Do not fail.
Chapter Three:
I ran through a mental check-down of my plan; and then I did it again.  It had to be executed perfectly.  This is how I was trained.
The stairs were my first obstacle: wooden and full of unknown creaks.  I made my way – heel to toe; careful to distribute my weight evenly over each piece of dried wood – up them.  At the top, I kicked off my shoes; they were dead weight; they made too much noise – a potential hazard.  I checked for any loose clothing, something that might get caught on the door handle; I tugged at my pockets inspecting for loose change - I can't risk even the slightest noise.  Like dropping from a Huey into the midnight-colored waters of the Mediterranean, everything I carried and didn't carry was purposeful. 
Behind me the shoes stayed.  No coins in the pocket; all loose clothing tucked tightly away.  Forward, I tiptoed one painstakingly slow step at a time.  This was not time to be impetuous; to rush.  I controlled my breath and my movements, I edged forward.  At the frame of the door I peered into her room one eyeball at a time; a flash of fear ripped through me!
I snapped my head back, hoping that my position hadn’t been compromised.
Her eyes had briefly met mine – did she see me?
My breath was held; every muscle frozen – I waited.
Nothing.  Not a peep.
I dropped to a crouch not making the same mistake twice; inward I peered again.  I was undercover of the crib’s bumper; she hadn’t the skills yet to pull herself up and over.  I wasn’t in her line of sight.  I reconnoitered the objective; I watched for movement.  I analyzed the terrain.  I sought out the unseen dangers.
Ahead of me was a small, red & yellow plastic ball – it made noises when it was rolled.  It had to be avoided.  Near it was a toy snake – I knew this one well.  Seemingly innocuous, this was the furthest from the truth: like the venom of a cobra that attacks the nervous system, get too close to this one, and a myriad of tunes like “itsy-bitsy spider,” or “humpty-dumpty” would spew forth from its belly; it was an IED - an Improvised Ear-Splitting Device.
I had to be careful – there were booby-traps everywhere.
I shot a careful glance at the dresser; I could see the Package - the corner which was hanging slightly over the dresser’s edge: my objective was at-hand.
Chapter Four:
I dropped to my back and melted into the floor.  Taking one final breath, I let it out even more slowly than the last.  This was it.  It was now or never.  It was not going to be without pain, this I knew.  My elbows ground deeply into the Berber carpet, every passing inch rubbed more of them raw.
I inched myself backward, my face stared into the ceiling.  I made no noise.  Inside my head, I scoured over the mental-map of the room, and booby-traps I had identified on the floor.  I slithered slowly past them, my path was by no means straight.
The minutes rolled by; the sweat started to bead.  One lone drop trickled down my forehead and into my eye.  The salt stung, but I ignored it; this was no time to succumb to pain; to be weak.  My mission was foremost and I was only half-way there.  Onward, I pressed stopping momentarily to listen.  I tuned into the rhythms of her breathing, counting each breath against the seconds.  They were slow and methodical – they were the signs of deep, infant-sleep.
At the base of the dresser, I reached up for the phone; victory was so close.
The damn thing rang!  Who the hell was calling me now!  Don't they know it's naptime - friggin' single friends!
Sonia started to scream!
I jumped to my feet!  Stealth would no longer be my approach.  I was compromised; a new tactic would have to take place!
I snatched the phone but across the room it flew and against the wall it smacked!
Sonia screamed louder; my mission was still clear in my mind; my objective clearer – Do not fail!
I grabbed the nook; plugged the hole.  The screams escalated behind the rubber of the nook; I refused to give up-my focus never wavered.  I sensed it; the screams turned to cries; and the cries soon to whimpers.  I sang, I rocked, and I caressed her face.  One lone tear trickled down the side of her cheek; I wiped it gently away.
Two big, round eyes stared back at mine; from behind the nook, a long smile stretched followed by a yet to be discerned one-syllable consonant.
And then her eyes closed.
Adapt.  Improvise.  Overcome.

Sterling Novel: Book 1


  1. That was a delightful story. You had me very much on the edge of my seat. It was terrifying and I hope I never have to go to war or put a child down for a nap.


  2. Thx for the comment; never thought all that training would be best used to keep a child sleeping...


  3. Haha... Joseph, this was hilarious. Miss you guys!

  4. Thx, Jennifer-glad your stopped by...

  5. Absolutely delightful. I never imagined that steal warfare would be useful in childcare. Now you've let the cat out of the bag I see that I used similar - though not battle trained - tactics.
    This leaves me with a taste for more.

  6. It's amazing how many professions overlap w/others...yes, parenting is a profession-it's so much darned work!

  7. Wonderful!! Made me chuckle, root for you and eagerly anticipate more of your work.

  8. Sometimes I feel as though I'm on some kind of secret ops with parenting. Gotta be on your toes all the time.

    Enjoyed the post. well done

  9. LOVE this! I never knew my child-rearing tactics went hand-in-hand with special ops procedures =P

  10. Awesome read! I love the military applied to childcare thing. And I can soooo totally relate to the stealth and control required to put a child to sleep...carry aforementioned child...etc Great post.
    Lani Wendt Young

  11. Love, love, LOVE this!! And it's all so true...and I've never been in the military! I'm so glad you shared this with me...and now I'm going to share it with all of my readers as well!

  12. This is fantastic.

    My youngest is 3, but this took me right back to those early napping days.

    Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  13. Fantastic! I can't tell you how many times I wished I could float through the air and out of the room. Thanks for the laughs!

  14. Oh Joseph! This was absolutely hilarious. I've not had the pleasure of raising human children, just the critterkids (although military tactics seem feasible for them, as well, now that I ponder it), so I read it out loud to my significant other who raised a son. He was in stitches laughing, nodding, & 'uh huh'ing at just about every turn of events. I'm definitely going to share this. First & foremost with my Dad & Mom, both of whom I'm sure will relate.

    You write wonderfully.

    Grins & Giggles,

    Cari L. Pedstelak aka @AudaciousWolf

    P.S. Sorry about tossing in the unannounced kitty grenade the other day. I'll try to yell 'incoming' next time. :-D *chuckles & smiles*

  15. i enjoyed this story immensely. very clever and very funny. a pleasure.