If You Could Hear What I See

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Detective Jack Donovan loses his hearing in a car bombing while investigating a murder. The evidence leads him to Florida and a Category four hurricane. Can Donovan find the suspect in time?

Submitted: November 20, 2018

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Submitted: November 20, 2018



If You Could hear what I see

By Brian Lee Clements


I’m Jack Donovan.  I’ve been a detective in Colorado Spring for about 15 years now.  Well, really a former detective.  I had to retire in 2017 due to going completely deaf.

My family and I moved to Colorado from Panama City, Florida  back in 2000.  In fact, the day we left Florida was Election Day.  We voted and then got in our car and left.  You pretty much know what happened with that election.  

Had a good career with The Florida Marine Patrol, but it was time for me to leave.  Was also getting tired of all of the hurricanes.  Every year, we would have to board up our house. Got a little old.

I was able to get into the Colorado Springs Police Academy that next January.  I sent in my application a few months before we left Florida.  So I was able to get the family settled in with school and with their routines and my wife was able to open her practice.

I did have to get myself in shape for the academy.  Being 45 would have made me one the oldest cadets at the there.  I wanted to show the younger kids that being older didn’t make me an old geezer.  Got through the Academy with flying colors.  Came in third in the class of 30.

I was a patrol officer for about 5 years and then decided to try out for the detective position due to a retirement.  James Davis was a detective for 30 years.  He wanted to spend time with his family.  I really had big shoes to fill and not just his size 12’s.

At the time in 2017, my partner, Debra Powell, and I were were working at the main headquarters when we got the call.

Powell yelled out to me, “Jack, we have a body behind the old KMART on Powers at Palmer Park.”

“OK, which car are we taking.  The Charger?”

Powell shook her head, "Yes."

While on the way, she started texted somebody and when I asked what was going on she replied to me, “Nothing.  Old boyfriend.”

I had no idea somebody was trying to get us.  Luckily, we were not in the car at the time.  Why?  I  was told that a bomb was on a  timer and we had just arrived at the scene and stepped out of the car when it went off.  I had just stopped for a second and almost went back to the car.  My partner had some minor cuts and bruises.  The poor Dodge Charger we were driving was totally obliterated.  

Me? As I stated, I totally lost my hearing.

It was difficult at first, not hearing anything. I could still talk, but I wasn’t sure how loud I was or how I sounded.  I tried to learn sign language. I learned the basics but with nobody in the family not knowing sign language, it was difficult to remember. But, there was one thing I did learn.  I learned how to read lips and read body language.  It’s been very difficult to learn on my own.

Body language is pretty easy to read.  Arms crossed, eyes wandering during a conversation, etc., etc. It all means something.  Read everything I could about it.

Reading lips on the other hand takes patience and concentration.  It also requires the person you are talking with to move his lips while talking with you.  That is where it gets me in trouble. I never knew that so many  people don’t move their lips much.  Concentrating on the lips can also wear you out pretty quickly.

As I stated, it was about 1 1/2 years since when the “incident” occured.  

I was in the hospital for about a week while the doctors tried to figure out what happened to me.  It turns out that both of my eardrums burst due to the force of the explosion. 

My partner was a few feet ahead of me at the time and as I said, she got some minor injuries, including a sprained wrist and a little ringing in the ears.  Her ringing cleared up in about a week.

When I was discharged from the hospital, it was frustrating for my wife and family because they didn’t understand what it was like to being deaf.  Even though my wife was a doctor, she kept forgetting about how to communicate with me.  They would try to talk loud to me or over over enunciate  their lips thinking that I could understand them better.  I would just give them a silly grin as they tried their best.  They would also try to be quiet when I was resting even though I couldn’t hear them. 

While I was home, I made a few adjustments at home.  I purchased an alarm clock that would start flashing when it went off and I attached a light to the smoke alarm.  I also had a lightm attached to the doorbell so that  I would know when somebody was here.  Little things for you, but lifesavers for me.

After being home for a few weeks, I started getting a little antsy.  I wanted to get in the mix of things, but then I found out that the police department was giving me early medical retirement.  That was a big blow to my ego.

Well, after feeling sorry for myself for a few months, I decided to get out and make a life for myself.  I opened a private detective agency in Colorado Springs.  I know what you’re saying to yourself:  Why would anybody hire a deaf detective?  I wondered that too.  Believe it or not, there were people willing to hire me.

In fact, one of my first cases was my former partner, Debra, from the Springs Police Department.

When she first came to my office, we talked about the old times and some of the cases we worked on.  After about 15 minutes, she started talking about the reason she came by. 

“Jack,” she said, “The department is not investigating the bombing.”

It took me a few seconds to comprehend what she was saying since I was reading her lips.  When I understand what the subject is, I can figure out  what people are saying a lot easier.

“They aren’t investigating?” I replied. “Why?”

“The higher-ups in the division don’t think it’s a priority right now.”

“Now, let’s see.  Two of their detectives were injured during a bombing.  One lost his hearing.  And it's not a priority!?  Duh”

“What can I tell you?  Some other cases came up.  Which is why I came to you.  I…..”

She leaned down towards her backpack and I couldn’t understand what she was saying.

She continued  “...Here is the file of the case.  I was allowed to copy some of it so you can investigate it.”

“I’m sorry but I couldn’t understand everything you said.  You just happened to lean over when you were getting the file.”

“I’m sorry.  Keep forgetting.  I would like you to investigate the bombing.”

“And they gave you permission?”

“Yes, they did.  Well,  most of it.

“What part didn’t they give you?”

“Mainly the forensics stuff.  The Criminal Scientific Unit (CSU) is not finished with all of it yet.  When they finish, I can pass it on.”

“Do they know what kind of explosive was used?”

“Dynamite attached to a 30 second timer.  “That is all I know.”

“30 second timer?  I’m still confused how the person knew when we would be in the car.  Unless, they planned or knew about the homicide that we were going to investigate.  But then, how would they know how long we would take to get there?But they could had been following us.  So many questions.  Something is not right.  Maybe I can talk to CSU and they could get me some information.”

“I wouldn’t.  They’re pretty busy and you don’t work there anymore.  Remember?”

“I guess you’re right.  Maybe I can go through channels.  I would like to see some of the old gang again.”

“If you want, but I think it will be just a waste of time.  Well, I have to go now.  Working on a couple of cases.  Can we have lunch later on?  They opened a new Chick Fil-a over on Nevada.”

“Sounds like a great idea.  Just let me know when.  I always like that place.”

After Debra left, I looked over the file and started wondering why she didn’t want me to go down to the station.  A few sticks of dynamite attached to a timer.  So cliche.  Sounds like something out of an old movie.

After I read through the file, I started to wonder who recently got out of prison.  Mainly the ones I helped put behind bars.  I don’t know why they would be upset since they did do the crime and all I did was help find the evidence.  

While thinking about the ones I helped put away, I started to realize there was one person that was extremely mad at me.  His name was David Jenkins. 

Back in 2008, Jenkins was arrested for Breaking and Entering.  He was found with stolen electronics and detonators plus he was in the process of getting a hold of about 1,000 pounds of fertilizer (Ammonia Nitrate).  He wanted to drive a truck into NORAD, which is located in Cheyenne Mountain.  We found the fertilizer in a storage unit where somebody mentioned about the deliveries and complained about the strong odor that the fertilizer made.

I decided to call my Captain. I then snap my finger.

I said to myself, “Crap, I wish I could use the phone."  

That would make things a lot easier.  So, I figured I better emailed Capt. Davis of the Detective Division and go downtown to ask him some questions about my case.  

It felt kind of weird needing to get a pass to get in.  After getting cleared at the desk, I was escorted by a rookie officer. On the way to the third floor, I was stopped by about 5 people asking how I was doing.  

I finally got to the Captain’s office.  After talking about the old days for a few minutes, I asked him what was going on with the case of the car bombing..

Capt. Davis said, “Don’t have many leads right now.  Everything has dried up so we had to set it aside until something comes up.”

I replied, “Detective Powell got the impression that you put the case on the back burner and that you are not interested in solving it.”

“That couldn’t be further from the truth.  The truth is we don’t know who did it.  All the evidence was destroyed in the bombing.  We’ve looked at yours and Powell’s past cases and nothing sticks out.”

“How about David Jenkins?  Is he still in prison?”

“We looked into him.  He got out about a month before the bombing.  He had an alibi for the days surrounding the bombing.  He then disappeared.  We figured that he just wanted to get out of Colorado and skipped town around the time of the incident.  Never even saw his parole officer.”

“Have you talked to anybody who would know where he went?”

“Yes, we have an idea as to where he might had gone.  But, I’m not sure if I should tell you?”

“Why?  Where?”

“The reason is obvious.  We figured you would go chase him down.  Where? A place called the ‘Redneck Riviera.’ Have you heard of it?”

“You’re kidding me.  That’s where I grew up, Panama City, Florida.  That is also where I worked before coming here.”

“Are you going to go look for him?  Isn’t it hurricane season down there.?”

“Yea.  But the season has been kind of quiet so far.  I doubt there would be any more hurricanes this year.  It is October, right?

Little did I know that there will be a storm brewing soon.  A big one.  And his name:


Well, I was able to get a plane down to Panama City on October 6th.  Flew Southwest Airlines to St. Louis then to Panama City.  Pretty good flight.  No problems.  They even let me get on the plane ahead of most people due to my hearing disability.

The new airport was farther than I expected.  I had to use my GPS since I wasn’t sure how to get to the motel.  I’m glad I did.  I didn’t recognize a thing.

When I got into town, I stayed at the Comfort Inn on Jenks Ave.  Since it was late, I decided to get something to eat at IHOP down the street and I sent an email to the Panama City Police Dept. and the Bay County Sheriff's Office to explain why I was there, my situation with my hearing problem and to make an appointment.

After a good night sleep, I had breakfast downstairs in the cafeteria.  They serve a great breakfast. And it’s free too.  That’s what I like about Comfort Inns.  

Got back to my room about a half hour later.  I had a response from the Panama City Police Chief.  He set up an appointment with the Captain of the Investigative Services Section in about an hour.  Nothing yet from the Sheriff’s Office.

I got to the police station around 10.  By then, I got a response from the Sheriff’s Office.  Detective Miller answered me and we set up an appointment around 1:00.  This should give me enough time to find it since they moved it after I moved away.

The Police Department was smaller the Colorado Springs but the officers are just as dedicated as any department.

Soon after I checked in, Captain Davis came to the waiting room.  We introduced ourselves and he invited me to the Detective’s offices. I had a chance to talk with some of the detectives about Colorado and some of the cases they were allowed to talk about.  The Captain then  invited me into his office and for some coffee.

After chatting for a few minutes about Colorado Springs and Panama City, we started talking about why I was there.

Capt Davis started, “From what I understand, you lost your hearing from a car bombing while investigating a murder in Colorado.  Let me know if I need to go slower or  whatever you need that will be helpful.”

I replied, “You’re doing great so far.”

“Good.  And you think he might had come to Panama City.  Why?”

“Our informants heard he left and decided to come down here.  They’ve never been wrong before.  This case is very close to me because my partner was also injured.  She gave me information that made me think of coming down here. The suspects name is David Jenkins.  Bad dude. He once tried to blow up NORAD.”

“Here is a mugshot of him” as I handed him the picture.  “He is a very dangerous person.  Please have your officers be extremely careful if they should confront him.”

“I sure will.  Just remember I have to remind you that you don’t have jurisdiction here and you are just a guest.  We don’t want you to get in trouble or embarrass yourself.” 

“I understand.  That’s same same line I would give to visiting detectives to Colorado Springs.  Thank you for your help.  I really appreciate it.  By the way, where is the Sheriff’s Office now?  I understand they moved it after I moved away 18 years ago.”

‘Yes they have.  They demolished the old one.  The new office is up on Highway 77 near Lynn Haven.  It is on the left side off the road.  If you reached Walmart, you’ve gone too far.”

I had enough time to eat lunch so I went to the Golden Corral on 23rd Street.  Hasn’t changed any and just as busy as ever.  I don’t know why go there because I have to waddle out when I leave.  Always get so stuffed.

I found the Sheriff’s Office and got there a little before 1:00.  I went through the the same procedure and got to talk to Detective Miller for about 15 minutes.  I gave him the same information and mug shot as earlier.  He said he will pass it on the the deputies and will have their full cooperation.  He failed to inform me about the storm forming in the Gulf.

Nothing was happening that afternoon, so I took a walk along St. Andrew’s Bay to relax and to figure out my next move.  I then went back to my motel, checked my emails and emailed my wife.  She was telling me about her day and the surgeries that she performed that day. I just wish I could hear her voice once more and also the kids.  

That evening, I decided to go to O’Charley’s on 23rd Street.  I had not been there since my folks passed away in 2008.  As I was sitting there, I was hoping that Jenkins would somehow show up in the restaurant.  That would be too easy.

After I ordered, I started to look around to see if I could happen to spot him in the dining area.  While I was looking, somebody started to block my view and kept moving where I was looking.  When I looked up, I noticed that it was my old girlfriend from high school, Teri.  

Before, I could stand up, she have me a big hug.  She then started talking.  I had no idea what she was saying because her lips were moving so fast.  I finally had to cut her off and tell her about my deafness.

“Teri” I explained.  “I lost my hearing last year due to a car bombing.  So, please talk a little slower.  I hope you understand.”

“I’m sorry,” She replied.  “I didn’t know.  How can I talk to you then?”

“I can read lips.  So, just talk a little slower, if you can.”

“I didn’t realize I talked fast.  What are you doing back in town?”

“I found a suspect’s name for the bombing.  And, all the evidence is telling me that the bombing suspect is here in Panama City.  The Sheriff’s office and the Police Department are keeping an eye out for him.”

“What’s his name?”

“The creep’s name is David Jenkins.”

“Jenkins?” she said with a surprised look.  “I met somebody named David Jenkins in Mexico Beach just last night.  At a place called Toucan’s”

“Really?  Can you describe him to me?”

Teri gave a very good description him.

I then asked her, “Do you know where he lives?

“Right along the beach there, I think.  He made a pass at me.  In fact, it was a very good one.”


She gave a little smirk and said, “I wasn’t interested.  I am with some friends right now, so I hope I can see you before you leave town.”

After I finished my meal, I went back to the motel and emailed the Mexico Beach Police Chief and told him my situation and what I found out.  I received an email from him within an hour and he scheduled an appointment at 9:00 am on Tuesday, the 9th. 

The next morning I got up around seven and took a quick shower.  Went to eat breakfast.  Read my email.

While reading, I received an unusual email from my wife telling me that she got me a ticket to fly out on Delta at 6:00 this evening.  She said there was a hurricane heading directly to Panama City and will hit on Wednesday, the 10th in the afternoon.  She also stated that I should get my rear in gear and be there. I didn’t know about this storm.  I looked up from my and saw the news and they were talking about  the storm called Hurricane Michael.

Oh, crap.

I went back to my motel room and packed my suitcase and checked out.  I then put everything in the car and head out on US 98 east towards Mexico Beach, which is the opposite way of the airport. I finally got to the police station around 8:45.  And I didn’t break any laws. 

The police chief said he could only talk for a few minutes because of the storm and they were evacuating the city of 1,000 people.

I told him the same story as the other departments.  

The Chief said, “I really can’t help due to the current circumstances.  If you want, you can help with the evacuation.  We just might find him while we are out there.

I told him.  “I’ll be glad to help.  We just might get lucky.”

So, I rode with Officer Bradford and we went house to house banging on the front doors. Only half of the people were home.  Most were already packing to get out.  The other homes were either rentals or the people were at work at Tyndall Air Force Base.

After an hour of banging on door, we decided to walk along the beach and get people out of the water.  You wouldn’t believe how many surfers there were in the water trying to get the big wave. 

We got the people out of the water in 10 minutes and started talking to them.  While out on the beach, I noticed one man in shorts and an Hawaiian shirt walking towards the crowd of surfers.  Guess who it was, my friend David Jenkins.  It looked like he didn’t have a care in the world.  I told Officer Bradford where I saw Jenkins.

Officer Bradford yelled out to him,  “Jenkins, we need to talk with you.”

At that minute, Jenkins started running.  Why do they always run?  Bradford and I started chasing him in the sand.  Beach sand is very difficult to run in.  He was running towards the houses.  Bradford was a little younger and faster than Jenkins was and definitely faster than me.  After more than a minute, Jenkins was caught and thrown to the sand.  We were able to get the cuffs on him after a brief struggle.

After we got him up on his feet, I said to him, “Remember me?”

Jenkins replied, “I thought you were dead.”

“Hardly. I made it through the bombing.  But, I lost my hearing because of what you did.”

“Sorry.  Just meant to scare you.  I’ll like to make a confession, though.  No lawyers.”

After Bradford read him his rights, we took Jenkins to the station.  Jenkins wrote down everything about the bombing.  But he made one stipulation.  I was not able to read it until I was out of town.  I guess he figured I would be heading out due to the hurricane.

Bradford told me that the Sheriff’s Office will pick Jenkins up and wait for the warrant.  He also gave me a signed copy of the confession.I told him that I would not read it until I was on the plane that evening.  Which I better head out or I will miss my plane.  Bradford told me that the airport was closing at 7 this evening.  Looks like my flight will be one of the last ones out.

The airport wasn’t too crowded so I was able to get my ticket, through security and gate with plenty of time to spare.  As I waited, I was very curious about the confession but I said I would wait.

I got on the ½ full plane and about 15 minutes into the flight, I decided to read the confession.  It was interesting and shocking. 

In the confession, he stated that he was extremely angry with me for stopping the so-called Fascist government and he wanted to get even.  He described the bombing and how he set up the 30 second timer.  He did tell me who his partner was and that part I was not expecting.

When I got to Atlanta, I was still in shock.  I emailed my wife that I got on the plane.  She emailed me back and said she would meet me at the Colorado Springs Airport.  I then emailed Capt. Davis and told him I would like to meet him in the morning.  He emailed me back and said that he heard from the Sheriff’s office and told me that Jenkins had escape from the Mexico Beach Police Department.  They had no idea where he was plus that the city was under an evacuation order and couldn’t look for him.

I got home to Colorado Springs around 10pm.  I told my wife what happened and about going down to the police department the next day.  I did not tell her about the confession. 

The next morning, I watched some of the news about Hurricane Michael and the devastation it was causing in Panama City and especially Mexico Beach.  I got to the station around 11 and showed the Captain the confession.  He was a little shocked also and called in the Internal Affairs Division.

The Captain asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this.  She was your partner for many years.”

“I’m afraid so, Captain.  It hurts me more than you realize.”  

After a few hours, Debra confessed to everything.  Allowing Jenkins access to the car, texting him on the way to the murder scene and also being his lover for the previous months.  She was angry that he left without even saying goodbye.  She said that the timer was connected to the keyless entry.  She didn’t think I would stop for those few seconds.  She was very sorry about what happened to me. 

That evening, I talked to my wife and we both decided that the private detective gig just might be a good thing for me.  Maybe I just might get some interesting cases.  What could be more interesting that almost being in a Category 4 hurricane?


UPDATE: On April 19, 2019, The National Hurricane Center reclassified Hurricane Michael as a Category 5 hurricane. Highest sustained winds were 160mph. Michael was the fourth Category 5 hurricane to hit the United States. Devastation in Panama City, Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base was massive.

The people in the Florida Panhandle are still hurting. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Please donate of you can. Thank you




© Copyright 2019 Brian Lee Clements. All rights reserved.

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