Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

About Rapid Eye Reality
Poker Papers
Up For Poker Blog
Up For Sports Blog
PokerStars Blog

Currently reading:

2007 Reading List

Barack Obama
Devon Epps
Mt. Otis
Mental Massage
Tiffany Souers
TV News

Blogroll RER

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from OT!S. Make your own badge here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Steve Earle Guitar

Several years ago, I sat in a renovated mill in downtown Greenville at a charity auction held by the local classic rock station, Rock101. It was a time I didn't have a lot of money in my pocket and probably shouldn't have been bidding on anything.

I didn't need another guitar. I have my old Alvalrez acoustic/electric I've been playing since I was a teenager. I have a beat-up Peavey T-60 I've been playing since then, as well. What's more, I would soon have a 12-string and a mandolin. The last thing I needed was the guitar that sat on the stage. It wasn't an expensive guitar and had nowhere near the kind of tone I would want. Still, I bid, bid again, and bid again. I took it home with me that night knowing I bought it only because it was signed by one of my songwriting heroes, Steve Earle.

That guitar has been here ever since and took on the likely name "The Steve Earle Guitar." It got played, to be sure. It usually came out when I had friends over and we took to musical silliness. The best night I remember was a Bradoween celebration. My cousin, a friend named Kebin, and I all sat in my driveway for way too many hours and traded songs.

That guitar isn't here anymore. It's now somewhere where it's going to get played all the time. I bought a hard shell case for it so it would survive the trip and had a packing company send it off. To the credit of the U.S. Postal Service, the entire journey took less than a week and the guitar arrived in one piece.

That guitar and its future are now in the hands of a friend. I know it is in good hands. I sent along only one request: Make sure the guitar stays there until everybody gets to come home. I know my friend, known to many as Dr. Chako, will make sure that happens.

For more, visit Dr. Chako's website.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rudolph and bloody marys

The boy is loud.

Give him a guitar and he will rock out with his blocks out. He's currently working on a Ramones-style version of Billy Jonas' "What Kind of Cat Are You?" It's sure to be a hit with the under-five set. Drum sticks? Yeah, he has a pair, and when he's not threatening the dog with great canine injury, he's turning any of about a dozen home decorations into his own personal snare.

All of this is an ad for Tylenol Parent and makes me only mildly insane. Most of the time I am more proud than I am wishing to stuff my ears with my own brains. There are times, however, that are so sweet and endearing that I'd cut off my arm if it mean my son could drum a few more minutes before bedtime.

As the holidays approach, Mt. Otis is taking on a distinctly cheerful aura. A wreath went up on the front door, other decorations are waiting in the wings, and my boy is requesting I play Jingle Bells instead of "I Gotta Get Drunk." Merry Christmas, one and all.

Last night, we went for a drive and "Little Drummer Boy" came on one of the five XM stations playing holiday music. The boy stopped his mindful screaming and settled into a quiet, make-you-wanna-cry "Rum-pah-pum-pum." I almost had to pull over.

I really don't like Christmas music, and I certainly don't like it for 30 straight days. Most of the time the music comes across like a Sweeny Sisters orgy if Bing Crosby and Johnny Wadd showed up. In fact, about the only time I really enjoy holiday music is on the actual holiday. I have a couple of cousins who have angelic voices and occasionally treat us to perfect-pitch harmony on Christmas Eve. Then, I can listen to it. Otherwise, it feels like I'm main-lining simple syrup laced with shut-the-hell-up.

The dilemma is pretty clear. The kid loves him some Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa songs and notices when I switch it over to "Daddy's on Parole This Christmas." I don't want to discourage the boy from enjoying traditional holiday fare, but waiting around for Frosty to come on the radio and listening to a scat version of Jingle Bell Rock is quickly going to turn me into Ebenezer Scrooge on meth.

I haven't quite figured out the solution, yet, but I think I'm getting close. I just bought a $4 Willie Nelson Christmas disc off Amazon that might be a happy compromise. I'll be able to stomach hearing Christmas music for another four weeks and, if I'm lucky, I might be able to slip "Bloody Mary Morning" into the rotation. It's either that or I'm going to have a lot of those mornings myself between now and the time Christmas rolls around.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black leaves fall

The dog is getting old. She has gray around her muzzle and gives up the fence-row race with the neighbor mutts a lot quicker than she used to. Most people don't like my dog, and I don't care. She's a constant companion and likes me when most people don't. We were alone in the house for an hour today. She nuzzled quietly into a blanket and left me be. I acted in kind, save the blanket.

I hear fairly well and have near-perfect vision, but I didn't notice what was happening outside before the dog. She let loose a small yip that seemed to come from nowhere. I assumed she had woken from a dog a dream, one where two squirrels were screwing on the back deck and offending the dog's moral sensibilities. I paid her little attention until she barked again.

Like my wife's bemused expressions, the dog has a different bark for different occasions. It's always in the interpretation. The staccato yip usually means, in dog shorthand, something ain't right. It's not a meddlesome squirrel. It's not a neighborhood teen punk. It's the dog's alert that something quite off has crossed the property line and threatens to upset the normal order--or disorder--of our home.

I looked up and out the window. I saw what appeared to be an inordinate amount of leaves falling from the giant four-trunked sweetgum in the front yard. We're nearing that point in the year when the final leaves let loose of their annual hold and fall onto our half-acre. Nothing new. Nothing uncomfortable. Simply seasonal changes in how we process our lives.

The dog yipped again and the sky rained black. The fire-colored leaves were falling, but something else was there, too. The sky was voiding itself of color and the dog was nonplussed. Unsettled, I stood and walked slowly toward the window. The dog did not follow.

My eyes registered the sight before my mind woke up. The front yard--no small amount of space--was nearly black with birds. Dozens of giant crows had landed within a couple of seconds of each other and turned my manicured lawn into a Hitchcockian horror show. I turned my head to look for my camera. It was across the room.

I took one step and the birds rose en masse into the air. I was behind a pane of glass and more than 20 feet away from the nearest beak, but they knew. Chaos choreographed broke into the sky and hung there, a black mass working in confused and unsure unison. The flock knew it had to move, had to do something, had to get away, but--for one tenth of one second--didn't know where. The birds spoke to each other in a silent alarm. Like the dog, it was if they knew something wasn't right, but were unsure what it was.

I continued to move toward the camera and grabbed it. When I returned, the birds had lit in a neighbor's yard, out of my lens' range but within the bird's danger instinct. I cracked the door and the birds again took off. This time the birds had no question. Danger was here and they knew they had to be gone. I turned my lens toward the black mass and fired three unfocused shots. The birds dodged and disappeared as if they were from somewhere else--somewhere meant to be unseen, imagined, storied. Evidence of their appearance was beyond inappropriate. It was verboten.

They were gone. The dog was quiet. I looked at the LCD screen on my camera and saw the black blur. It was not half as remarkable as what I saw, what set the dog on edge, what actually happened in my front yard. It didn't happen slowly enough for me to register good or evil. It was spine-chill quick and away.

Tonight, the reasonable side me assigns no value to the moment other than a brief whisper from nature. That's what I tell myself.

The curtains, however, are now closed.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Today, tomorrow, a lifetime of Sundays

I live in a place of four seasons. Today was clearly autumn, but a warm wind pushed red and orange leaves through the air like driving snowstorm. Leaf drifts piled up on the curbs and covered the newly raked grass with each gust. My son stood in awe, amazed and yet sweetly naive about how beautiful it really is. To him, it's normal because it's new. My wife has a spark in her eye. It peaks out from a place where her three-year-old spirit hides. It makes me feel as warm as the day.

I count friends on both coasts and smattered in the middle of the country. They are people who choose to believe in me when either I won't or fail to give them good reason. They offer me opportunity when I don't ask for it and encouragement when I need it. Though hard to accept, it's a safety net I could never bring myself to request. I know if I fall, they will be there to catch me. Some of these people are as much brothers and sisters as they are friends. Having such an extended family--the kind that gives without expecting anything but friendship in return--makes every reunion as sweet as if it has been 20 years since the last.

My dad didn't realize he was dying until he was already living again. It took him a couple of years to realize he wasn't dead or about to be. Now, four years later, he is shooting in the low 70s on hard courses. My mother nearly cries with joy every time she sees my son. It seems she has found new purpose. If I have given my parents nothing else, I have at least produced something that makes them smile. In a couple weeks, I get to see my brother again. The only thing that compares with having a brother for a best friend is being able to spend time doing things we both love on regular basis.

I need for nothing else. I have a healthy son, a beautiful wife, the best friends I could ever want, and a family that has given me all I have ever needed or wanted. The only thing I lack is a sense of confidence in myself, and I know that no one else can give me that. Better though, I feel like I may be close to finding it or something close enough. With that will come peace. However slow it comes, though, I know I am the luckiest person I've ever known.

For these things and more, I am thankful today, tomorrow, and a lifetime of Sundays.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dream Solider

Despite the fact this blog began six years ago as a dream diary of sorts--an experiment that didn't last but a week or so--I don't like to write about dreams. They are like pets and kids--only interesting to the people to whom they belong. However, as I'm now back into recurring dream land, I need to purge. The past two nights have been on the same dreamscape, followed the same themes, and have been as vivid as any dream I've had in months, if not years.

The hardest part was the waiting.

We were barracked in a long, skinny industrial dorm. The concept of "we" was loose, in that our unit was no more than a ragtag band of novice soldiers--professionals, laborers, slackers, and pretty lesbians. The only real military men among us were the commanders, a surly collection of impatient and tired mercenaries.

A volunteer army it was not. While we were all sure of the coming invasion, we were conscripts, forced to leave our families, and laboring under the assumption that there was no way we could win the inevitable war. I spent my hours wandering the complex and trying to find a way to get in touch with my wife. I had a phone card and managed to find a payphone in a dark hallway.

The phone rang and I heard her voice say, "Hello."

The Soma-calm that came with the sound of her voice was short and cut off by an operator telling me the phone card was out of minutes. I had no money, no more phone cards, no cell phone, no way to get home. I was trapped inside a dark and wet building, surrounded by a razor wire fence, and under a blanket of such fear and doom that no amount of sunshine could set optimism alight.

Men and women were housed together here. The unmarried soldiers in the group were treating their confinement like a doomsday party. On my many walks, I wandered by the group showers and found my fellow American service men and women naked, groping each other, and fucking their way to oblivion. They knew we weren't going to win. They knew how it was going to end.

The commanders turned a blind eye to it all. I learned after a while that they were only responsible for keeping us in one place. They didn't care that the lesbians had started a Dorm B fantasy camp, removed their bunks from the wall and started sleeping in a mass of naked flesh on the floor. The officers didn't care that I spent most of my time huddled in a small lower-tier bunk wondering if I could escape, and, if so, how.

The enemy was the oddly-named Caspians. Their uniforms were blue and fashioned much like the Russians in the old video game Rush 'N Attack. When they landed--much like a scene of out Red Dawn--we didn't have any guns. There was no shooting. The commanding officers disappeared. If it wasn't clear before, it quickly became so. We weren't meant to fight.

As we were all rounded up and put on a caravan of buses, I wondered about my wife and child. There was nothing I could do for them. I'd held out hope that we might fight and win, that I could someday return to my family.

I don't know where they were taking us. It's a looped scene that changes in the exposition but ends the same every time. The Caspian is firm but not violent as he leads me by the arm onto the bus. His face is emotionless and he doesn't say a word. I don't struggle. Instead, I let myself be put into an aisle seat on the bus. I can't see out the window and don't bother looking to see who is on the bus with me. It's clear that while the dream will start over at some point, it will never really end. Isolation and defeat are all I know until I force myself awake.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Naked swordfights, pitbulls, and pregnancy

I look at most stories and think, "Well, if it had a little something extra, it would be really interesting." This story, however, needs nothing else. If I were sitting around coming up with my dream story for a Monday, this would be it.

A Greenville man was arrested Sunday night after police say he and his pregnant live-in girlfriend were scuffling naked in the street, with a plastic sword and an unleashed pit bull nearby. [Full story]

As it is the perfect story, I have nothing to add...except to say, this wasn't my wife and me.

She's not pregnant, anyway.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


The best thing about having a large circle of friends who do a lot of reading and writing? I almost never want for a book. Thanks to a sense of optimism and a number of gifts from generous friends I am currently five books behind on my reading list for the year. However, I'm still gettting a lot of reading done and have read some great stuff this year.

More on that in a second. First, while I'm on the subject of books, I haven't taken the opportunity to publicly congratulate my friend Wil on publishing his third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives. He's been selling the paperbacks for weeks now and doing very well. Today (for what I can only assume will be a one-day offer) he will be issuing a limited-run hardback/signed edition. He only has 300, so I doubt he makes it through the day without switching back to paperbacks. That's success for ya. I'm happy when 300 people read this blog in a day. Congrats, Wil, on another great effort.

I was all set to get into a George Singleton marathon when Pauly shipped an old copy of Another Roadside Attraction. Now, I'm knee deep in that funny business and loving it (not to mention being quite surprised I'd never read it before).

I've not done as much reading this year as I hoped. What I have read, however (along with some very, very quick reviews) is on the 2007 Reading List and Mini Book Reviews page. Here's the quick list of my 2007 reads to date.

Kitchen Confidential--Anthony Bourdain
The Making of a Chef--Michael Ruhlman
Dogrun--Arthur Nersesian
Pastoralia--George Saunders
Blackwater--Jeremy Scahill
Sick Puppy--Carl Hiaasen
Bigger Deal--Anthony Holden
Blaze--Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Nasty Bits--Anthony Bourdain
Looking For Jake--China Mieville
A Dirty Job: A Novel--Christopher Moore

Now, back to the books.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Patriots with broken thumbs

I was questioning my own patriotism. I wasn't sure a red-blooded American would've had a spinach fish wrap for lunch on Veterans Day. Yet, as planes flew overhead and the small town parade inched its way down the main drag, that was what sat in my stomach. The least I could've done was have a meal with red meat in it. Maybe a rare burger or something. And I called myself an American.

Sated, though, I stood on the sidewalk and watch the parade pass by. Grizzled Vietnam vets rode on Harleys. World War II soldiers sat in the back of convertibles. Girl Scouts walked to their cadence. Each passing group got a round of deserved applause as it passed. I stood with my back against a storefront and thought about my friends. One of them drove humvees through rainstorms of gunfire. Another, a doctor, is there saving lives. One good buddy is on his way back to Iraq for yet another in an endless series of increasingly dangerous tours.

A high school marching band played "Tequila" and I thought about how I could use a shot myself. I wondered about my dad's buddies. They were Vietnam-era fighters. One drank, the other did not. In more than 30 years of knowing them, I never once heard them talk about their time during the war. There was a time I thought about asking. Now I know that people are quiet for a reason.

A few weeks before, I had taken my son on a hike through the woods. It was a tricky trail, tangled with tree roots and jutting rocks. My son is three and I have eleven lifetimes on him. Neither of us had an easy time standing up. Along the way, we passed a man who could not have been younger than 85. He and his wife moved slowly along the trail. I wondered how they could manage the hike. We stopped to talk and I noticed the man's cap. He was a veteran, as well. He didn't talk about his service and I didn't ask. Instead, he complimented me on getting my boy outdoors. As we walked away, the old man called, "Keep that boy in the woods!"

The parade was nearing its end when a group passed by on foot. The group was made up of of young and old, male and female, and just about every other descriptor you could come up with. They held signs that read, "Support the troops. End the War."

I nodded to myself as I heard applause begin to rise from the streetside crowd. I was impressed and held a moment of hope that we were all going to be okay. I pushed myself off the wall and headed farther onto the sidewalk. That's when I saw the 70-something lady a few feet away. She was waving? No, her hand was in the air in motion that is almost universally known to mean, "Get the hell out."

"Grandma's a war hawk," I muttered and started walking back up, almost in step with the "Support the Troops" group. I hadn't walked a block before I saw another lady--this one closer to 60--literally standing on her chair at a corner restaurant. Her hand was in the air and jerking. Her thumb was pointed toward the sidewalk. That is how some people recognize and honor our veterans. They boo the people who want the war to end.

The parade wasn't over, but I saw little reason to stay longer. I turned and walked down a side street. If supporting the troops and wishing for an end to war is a reason to boo, I am obviously in the wrong place.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Technological Breakdown

I, for one, believe we aren't all that stupid. Oh sure, there are those among us who still die in lawnchair accidents or end up in the ER because they "accidentally sat down" on the remote control. Those, however, are the exceptions. If we human types weren't that smart, I wouldn't be able to digitally record my favorite programs while holiday shopping online and IMing with my wife from across the room. These are the things--not to be mention the artificial heart and and Platinum Coil Embolization technique--that let me know I live in a society that has a future. Hell, I just learned a few minutes ago that there is a service that will let everyone who knows me know where I am at any given second. That sounds like a real treat.

And yet...

  • My laptop battery (less than one year old) is completely shot
  • My wife's laptop battery (less than one year old) has somehow fried her touchpad and keyboard
  • Guitar Hero 3 users are saying en masse that their controllers don't work right
  • Vista sucks even more balls than I thought it did
  • American Airlines computer system and employees have the same amount of intelligence (tonight I asked for my boarding pass for the third time and the gate agent--a fifty-something lady--muttered mysteriously "Oh, shit" before sending me away for a couple of minutes)
  • Every DVD player I have ever purchased has died or bugged out on me

    These are just things that I have come up with off the top of my head. I'm too fried right now to get into this too deeply. Hell, if I did, Blogger would probably eat my post.

    Techno-tilt sucks.

    Labels: ,

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Six thing learned in six days

    1. There is a big difference in doing something because you want to and doing something because you have to.

    2. There is a nearly equal difference between Johnny Walker Red and Macallan 18.

    3. Some people are just assholes and losers. Time taken to remind them of both attributes is time well-spent.

    4. Farm-raised sea bass is not always the same thing as Chilean sea bass. Also, cous cous is sometimes the size of a peppercorn.

    5. You might not think honey and coconut milk would be part of a good meal, especially when combined. You'd be wrong.

    6. When you hear your kid talk about the size of his excretions and it makes you a little misty, it's time to go home to the family.

    I'm headed back to the fort in about 14 hours. It's been a good and revealing six days of solitude. For those who have asked...

    a) No, I'm not converting to Scientology
    b) No, I'm not yet gay
    c) No, my wife has not yet figured out how smart it would be to divorce me.

    All is well and getting better every day.


    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Gone Again

    Going off on a trip that only a few trusted souls know about. Will be semi-off-grid for the next week or so.

    Updates along the way? Doubtful, but you never know.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    The face of Amanda Smith

    Among the greatest topics of speculation since August 12 is how Amanda Smith has spent her time. In the run-up to the arrest, I held back information I had been given for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to how it might affect the investigators' efforts.

    Now that Smith awaits a bond hearing on her murder charge, I suppose it's now open season and it's fair to reveal Smith's apparent obsession with maintaining an Internet footprint, most notably on the social networking site MySpace. Smith has bounced all over MySpace, dodging reporters and websleuths while still attempting to keep up with a new cadre of friends and people who were willing to believe her or turn a blind eye to the seemingly inevitable arrest. Since Devon Epps' death, Smith has maintained no fewer than three MySpace pages.

    Today, a valued source slipped me some pictures that, should Smith end up in a sentencing phase at trial, will undoubtedly be shown to a jury. In most cases, we have no idea when these pictures were taken. As such, they are presented without comment. However, two of the pictures are dated in mid-October of this year. The grief on Smith's face is obviously well-covered. Save that fact, they too are presented without comment.

    Who is Amanda Smith? I'm not really sure anyone knows. As I've said before, there are enough unflattering pictures of me out there that I feel obliged to point out that a picture doesn't always tell the whole of a person's personality.

    That said, I think some of these new pictures are telling. In the end, it is not up to me to decide, however.

    Unless I get picked for jury duty.

    A few notes before we get to the pictures.

    First, apart from the date-stamped photos, I have no idea when they were taken. Many of them appear to be self-portraits. Second, I have obscured the faces of the people in the pictures out of respect for their privacy. Beyond that, the pictures appear in their original unedited form--or at least as original as they appeared when given to me.

    Previous Coverage:

    Reading between the lines of Devon Epps' death
    Devon Epps, Amanda Smith and the difficulties of reporting crime news
    Devon Epps: Scene of the Crime?
    Rapid Eye Reality coverage of Epps case makes it to print
    Devon Epps: Waiting
    Devon Epps: Pictures
    The Missing Memorial Page
    On Being Devon Epps' Mom
    Amanda Smith arrested in death of son Devon Epps


    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Amanda Smith arrested in death of son, Devon Epps

    The incident report for the the night of August 12, 2007 reveals little about that night and what light it does shed is fractured by the passing of the past two and half months. When the Greenville County deputies responded to the intersection of Jacobs Road, Amanda Raegan Smith gave them a story that seemed so implausible, it didn't even make it to the print version of the deputy's public incident report. The "Incident Type" field is blandly marked with the words "Death Investigation." The rest of the documents list Smith's address, her grandparents' phone number, and a vague suspect description.

    By now, most people who care about the case know what Smith told investigators. She said she'd been sitting at the intersection when a man forced her out of the car, jumped in, and smothered her son with a pillow. Smith told investigators they should be looking for a man in his late 30s or early 40s with a red, graying beard and wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. He had a knife, she said. Her 2000 black two-door Honda Civic was impounded and handed over to forensics investigators. Smith walked free. The next time a public document came out, it would be her murder warrant. [Read' Devon Epps, Amanda Smith and the difficulties of reporting crime news ]

    This morning, a Greenville County Magistrate named James Hudson sat in his small chambers inside the county Law Enforcement Center and signed the warrant. That document is just as vague. The investigating officer offered just enough to get the warrant. Among the few words in the affidavit are these: "Forensic crime scene investigation reveals facts consistent with the defendant's guilt and inconsistent with the defendant's version of events."

    That much we knew already. An autopsy revealed that seven-year-old Devon Epps had been not smothered, but strangled. No one could ever find who forum-posters began calling BHS, the Bushy Haired Stranger. Beyond that, though, rumor and innuendo ruled the day. Nearly everyone saw what was coming, but no one knew what would happen. [Read: Reading between the lines of Devon Epps' death]

    This afternoon, as news of Smith's arrest surfaced, 13th Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail put it all in perspective. "The community wants a quick answer," he said, "but the community wants the right answer."

    Greenville County Sheriff's Office investigators took two and half months to bring Smith in on murder charges. During that time, they chased 60 tips and leads. All of them led to dead ends. Or, they led back to Smith.

    Sheriff Steve Loftis stood, as usual, stoic in front of the assembled media today. Interviews and forensics he said came in "in bits and pieces." Despite what many people in the community thought, there was no case-breaking piece of physical evidence that led to today's arrest. The totality of those bits and pieces led to Smith's arrest.

    "It has been determined that Devon Epps death did not occur in the manner in which it was reported by his mother," Loftis said. "Amanda Smith is responsible for the death of her son."

    Just like that, all the speculation and rumor turned into an official statement. With the county's chief prosecutor standing behind him, Greenville County's top lawman called Amanda Raegan Smith a murderer.

    Inside the magistrate's chambers, Smith looked pudgy, pasty, and emotionless. Her face was broken out and plastered with with makeup. Her hair was tussled. She wore a black graphic t-shirt that was mostly covered by a zip-up black fleece jacket. Her jewelry consisted primarily of a silver set of handcuffs, tight around her wrists, and a stark contrast to her long, manicured fingernails.


    After so many weeks of waiting, there is now a renewed public urgency for the next step. It will not be fast. If people had a hard time waiting two months for the arrest, waiting for ultimate justice will be a lot more tough. If history is any indication, Smith will remain in the Greenville County Detention Center on no bond until such time as her attorney can get her a bond hearing. That process usually takes a week to a month. In many cases these days, the defendant is not physically present for the hearing. It happens via video conferencing. As to whether she will get bond, it's impossible to say. Most hard core murderers are held without bond until trial. However, every judge is required to consider a reasonable bond. It will be up to the judge to decide how much of a flight risk and danger to the community Smith might be. If bond is forthcoming, it will be very, very high.

    After that, many more weeks, if not months, will pass before a preliminary hearing. That will be the public's first opportunity to hear the prosecution's case. Usually, Ariail puts the lead investigator on the stand and walks him or her through the case. Then we will learn at least some of the evidence Ariail plans to use to put Smith away.

    Then, the long wait happens. Most big murder cases in this county take at least a year before they go to trial. The timeline will largely be affected by whether Ariail decides to seek the death penalty in the case. One of the many aggravating factors in South Carolina that allow for a death penalty prosecution is the murder of a child under the age of eleven. Ariail has sought the death penalty in most of the high-profile murders in his circuit. He has been successful in almost all of those prosecutions. At the same time, Ariail is a prosecutor that absolutely despises losing and is very reluctant to take a case before a jury if he thinks there is a chance he won't win.

    A big part of his decision will be based on things we don't know right now. Consider this: the highest profile murder in Upstate South Carolina in the pasts several decades was committed by a woman named Susan Smith. She admitted to drowning her two sons and then telling investigators she'd been carjacked. The prosecutor's case was ironclad and he tried the case in a part of the country that is very pro-capital punishment The jury gave Susan Smith life in prison with an opportunity for parole after 30 years.

    Ariail was predictably reticent today. In all the years I've known him, he has never given away his intentions regarding what kind of penalty he expects to achieve. At this point, I'd have a better chance at flipping a coin for an answer than guessing what he will do.

    I can feel confident of this, though. Ariail is sure he's got the goods on Amanda Smith or we wouldn't have heard from him today.


    Right now, Smith is likely in a jumpsuit and sitting in the women's wing of the GCDC. Many people believe she has spent the last two months working at Zaxby's during the day and partying with friends at night. She will be among the most famous women in jail tonight. A dubious honor, to be sure, but one that may fit her very well.

    At Jacobs Road and Frontage, there hung a picture of the old suspect on a tree near the crime scene. One of my more regular e-mail friends I've developed as sources since this case broke sent this message this evening: "I drove to the place where it happened and tore down the poster of the BHS (Bushy Haired Stranger). Wish I had one of Amanda Raegan Smith to replace it with." [Read: Devon Epps: Scene of the Crime?]

    On the outside, Devon Epps father is saying out loud what many people have been thinking. Devon Epps is gone forever, but there is still time for justice.

    "It's not going to bring him back," Chad Epps told WYFF, "but at least she has to suffer for it now."

    Previous Coverage:

    Reading between the lines of Devon Epps' death

    Devon Epps, Amanda Smith and the difficulties of reporting crime news

    Devon Epps: Scene of the Crime?

    Rapid Eye Reality coverage of Epps case makes it to print

    Devon Epps: Waiting

    Devon Epps: Pictures

    The Missing Memorial Page

    On Being Devon Epps' Mom

    *Photo courtesy GreenvilleOnline


    Devon Epps Case Breaks

    Word is just now coming out of a break in the Devon Epps case. A live press conference is slated for 4pm.

    Somehow, I think I know what's coming. Blogger is having some publishing problems. Not even sure this will get out.

    3:52pm--Word just in. Amanda Smith, Devon Epps mother, has been arrested. News conference coming soon.

    4:19pm--A quick news conference revealed few new details, but it gave everyone the one they wanted. Amanda Smith has been arrested and charged with murder in her son, Devon Epps, death. Here's a Cliff's Notes version of the newser:

    A judge signed the murder warrant against Smith this morning and she was arrested this afternoon. Video showed an emotionless Smith being led into the Law Enforcement Center judicial chambers where she was made aware of the charges against her and told she will be held without bond in the Greenville County Detention Center.

    Sheriff Steve Loftis said that the night of the murder, Epps was found with his mother outside the car. He was unspresponsive, take to Greenville Memorial Hospital, and declared dead.

    Investigators followed more than 60 tips in the case and never found another viable suspect.

    "It has been determined that Devon Epps death did not occur in the manner in which it was reported by his mother," Loftis said "Amanda Smith is responsible for the death of her son."

    Loftis said Smith was "cool and calm" upon her arrest. He said that there was no one piece of evidence that cracked the case, but rather a lot of small "bits and pieces" that led them to the arrest.

    Amanda Smith is eligible for the death penalty in South Carolina. There are several qualifying factors in this state for death penalty eligibility. The murder of a child under the age of eleven is one of those qualifiers.

    The usually reticent 13th Circuit Solicitor Bob Ariail commented on the duration of the investigation by saying, "The community wants a quick answer, but the community wants the right answer."

    More to come.


    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Get in my pants

    I have a hard time believing there is anybody out there who wouldn't enjoy spending some quality time in my pants. My wife's facial muscles are sprained from the amount of eyebrow raising she has done on the subject. Chagrin might begin to explain it, but it comes nowhere close to ending the subject. Simply put, I've got a great pair of pants and I'd be happy to invite anyone to get in them for a test drive.

    Perhaps some background is in order.

    A couple of years ago, I picked up a pair of jeans on a whim. I don't buy clothes very often, and when I do, it's usually a ten-minute aisle-sprint that ends in me buying a bunch of muted colors and things that are more comfortable than they are stylish. These particular jeans, however, were perfect. They hugged the parts that needed to be hugged without squeezing the parts that shouldn't be squeezed. They looked worn, but not worn out. Best of all, they were comfortable enough to make me wish I never owned another pair of jeans.

    I went out a week later and bought another pair of jeans.

    The exact same style, size, color, and everything. Even I couldn't tell the difference between the two pair. That's actually where I made the first mistake. I should've put one pair in the fire safe. Instead, I wore one pair until it was time to wash, and then put on the other pair. Rinse and repeat for two years.

    I guess it has something to do with the amount of time I spend on my knees in front of my employer, wife, and the poker fates. Regardless, the knees of my jeans are always the first to go. No big surprise, the knees of both pair of jeans blew out within a week of each other.

    "Honey," the wife said one day, "I think it's time."

    The wife is immeasurably understanding when it comes to my indiscretions and eccentricities. She puts up with me looking like a slob most of the time. However, there reached a point with both pants that I looked...well, I'll say it: stupid. Somehow, though, I couldn't let go. When you have something that spends that much time protecting your junk from public view, it deserves a little respect. I mean, these jeans have covered my ass in several countries and I'm supposed to just throw them out because of a couple holes? Nuh-uh.

    I went with iron-on patches. For a mere four bucks, I got about two dozen patches of several different colors. The idea was to turn the jeans inside out, hold the raggedy parts together and fuse them back together from the inside. The first time I did it for both pair, you could barely tell there was a patch involved.

    The fourth and fifth times I did it, however, I knew I was fighting a losing battle. I was like the guy who doesn't realize when it's time to put his dying dog out of its misery. One day, one pair of jeans blew out again, this time in a huge rip down one of the legs. Faded denim hung like ripped flesh. There would be no putting those jeans back together. I considered burning them and keeping the ashes in a mug on the mantle. Instead, I tossed them in the trash and cried for a couple minutes.

    That left just one pair of jeans raging against the dying of the light. My irrationality headed into overdrive. I went to the same store and couldn't find anything close to the same style and size. I went online and started searching--everywhere from the store's web site to eBay. Nothing. I might as well have been a junkie on a desert island with the last of my H dripping out of a hole in my arm. The laws of supply and demand only hold up when a supply exists.

    So, I went to work. I identified every weak spot in the aging denim and patched it from the inside. Turned inside-out, my jeans looked like something out of a Ozark Mountains craft fair. Worn correctly, though, they look like...well, they look a pair of jeans that has been patched seven or eight times from the inside. Still, I can't stop myself from wearing them. My wife has stopped rolling her eyes and started averting them. Either that, or she covers them when we're in public together.

    As I type, I hear the Friday arrival of the local garbage collector. It would take me all of two minutes to walk upstairs, grab the jeans, and run them out to the curb. But I can't. And I won't.

    Not until the last shred of denim is hanging from my sentimental and quite happily covered ass.


    Advertisting inquiries to:
    blackjack terminology
    New canadian casino online poker web, which is owned by 888 casino announced launching before a few months. They are focusing only on Canadians and their specific needs (e.g. payment methods etc.),so you are able to play online games such as poker comfortably in your national background.

    August 2001
    September 2001
    October 2001
    November 2001
    December 2001
    January 2002
    February 2002
    March 2002
    April 2002
    May 2002
    June 2002
    July 2002
    August 2002
    September 2002
    October 2002
    November 2002
    December 2002
    January 2003
    February 2003
    March 2003
    April 2003
    May 2003
    June 2003
    July 2003
    August 2003
    September 2003
    October 2003
    November 2003
    December 2003
    January 2004
    February 2004
    March 2004
    April 2004
    May 2004
    June 2004
    July 2004
    August 2004
    September 2004
    October 2004
    November 2004
    December 2004
    January 2005
    February 2005
    March 2005
    April 2005
    May 2005
    June 2005
    July 2005
    August 2005
    September 2005
    October 2005
    November 2005
    December 2005
    January 2006
    February 2006
    March 2006
    April 2006
    May 2006
    June 2006
    July 2006
    August 2006
    September 2006
    October 2006
    November 2006
    December 2006
    January 2007
    February 2007
    March 2007
    April 2007
    May 2007
    June 2007
    July 2007
    August 2007
    September 2007
    October 2007
    November 2007
    December 2007
    January 2008
    February 2008
    Current Posts
        Creative Commons License

    Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
    All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license