Power of the SCA


by Gwyneth MacDonagh, Atlantia

Most people talk about power and immediately think fighters, fencers, and other marshalled events in the SCA. People talk about guilds and households and royals as being powerful. Powerful allies, powerful fighters, and powerful leaders. But, there is another power the SCA holds, a quiet, understated power – the power of caring.

When people come together powerful things get accomplished. Raising money for various charities, food banks and medical bills. Again, I have seen this power. Just recently a very amazing member of our Barony (Highland Foorde) who is young, but, dedicated, lost her mother. Immediately the call for funds went out for a funeral. Not even 24 hours had gone by. She was not going to go through this alone.

This is a pure example of the power we, the SCA, has within us. The power to be there, the power to do good, the power to come together. Times as they are right now make people want to hide, it makes them want to hurt others and fight back. The riots, the killings, the persecution that is happening in our mundane lives makes us depressed and forget the good things that we in the SCA can accomplish.

We can do things no mundane groups can do. We have a huge common interest within our organization, the human spirit. Recreating is just a part of what we do. We also teach community, we teach acceptance, we teach solidarity, we teach compassion, we teach respect and chivalry. These things we have been taught over the years and continue to teach with each generation.

The best part – is that when we come together we do so on a massive scale. Not a group of 20 or 30, but in the thousands. Pennsic is an example. At the end everyone donates their food to the food bank, and the trucks get full quickly. Vendors raise money for people who have been diagnosed with cancer or people who need new homes due to fires and people who have lost lovedones. We, the SCA, have the most amazing power that can change lives of everyone around us – we have the power of caring for others. And that, is the truly the most incredible power of all.


The Phone Calls

Chapter 1:  Girl 1, Tiny Bits

I sit here alone at my desk pondering. I am wondering why life is so dark, why we need to laugh at others to make ourselves feel good, why he had to go and shoot her. Such beauty, tall, legs up to her ass and eyes that could drill sockets into your head. And he shot her. Cold, dead, unfeeling and oh so callus. What made him do it?

What makes a man do anything? Anger, jealousy, hate, fear all of these emotions rolled up into a big ball of jock itch gone mad. I stare at the crime scene photos hoping some clue will be found within the grisly detailed shots my partner took.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around the scene.

So let’s go back 2 months. There I was sitting at my desk eating a ham and cheddar sandwich. Typical day for us at Precinct 9. Everyone was running around with this look of panic on their faces. The poor secretary, Janice, was trying to keep up with the phone calls coming in. How she deals with it all is pure magic. I’m watching everyone do their business and eating my dry, but, filling lunch. Then it came…

Ring..Dave! Line 3! “Hello, Officer James speaking”. “I killed her! I couldn’t stop myself! Help Me”! I stare at the phone at this weird confession. “Sir, could you calm down and breath a little? I’m having a hard time understanding you.” “Officer James, I killed her! And I’m going to kill again. Stop me”.  “Uh huh, so tell me where this “Her” is, and where you are.”

And with that the line goes flat. Seriously, he throws me a bone and hangs up. I immediately hit dial back and no one answers. I order a trace on the number. A few days later I find out it’s a payphone on 5th and Vine. That’s no help. My partner, Kate Mathews is a champ to put up with me. I’m 49, been on the force 29 years. She’s been in 20. She does more leg work and I do the brainy parts. She deals with my cigarettes and cigars, I deal with her painted nails and perfume. We are a team in action. Mostly her action. I like my desk.

“Dave, Dave snap out of it, we have a case.” She punches me in the chest. She’s got fist like a brick and an ass shaped like a heart. I gotta stop thinking about her ass. It’s just so damn….anyway. “So what you got Kate?” I ask putting out my smokes. “Jane Doe, approximately 18 – 20, 5’4″, 130lbs there about, and um, in pieces. Lots of pieces.” I look at her face and recognize immediately what had happened. She’s not one to hide her anger when she sees injustice – and what this bastard did must have been pretty damn awful for her to look like that. “Kate, sit down.” I had her my coffee. “Drink this, it’ll help.” “No, no it won’t. Ah Dave it was just…. horrific. So many pieces.”

After an hour of calming her down and getting the details I found out that the vics wallet was laying right there beside her, still had money in it. Not a robbery then. So identification was easy. Finding the perp and the tools, not so. I finally got out of Kate that a bum had heard some strange noises and was afraid to go over to the area where she was found and told a cop. The cop, thinking the bum insane, ignored it. (I lit into his ass when I found out what he had done, he could have saved her.) Finally, the stench in the alley way was too much even for an officer of the law to ignore. And he investigated, called it in, and puked all over some of the evidence. DNA testing is a messy ass job. One I do not want. Ever.

So here I sit, staring at the photos of not 1 but 3 crime scenes. Trying to match up anything I can find. Anything that would give me a clue. The only thing is the ages, hair color and height are all similar. That’s it. That’s all I have. And a strange phone call from a pay phone.

Chapter 2: Girl No 2, Nearly Dead

It’s been 2 weeks since we found the first girl murdered. The phone call from a payphone and a bum who is scared to death and won’t leave the box he calls home. My partner, Kate, is fed up with my rants and tyraids about getting this creep and it happened again.”Dave! Line 3!” “Officer Dave James speaking.” “Dave, buddy, I did it again. I couldn’t help it!” “You, don’t you hang up, don’t you dare hang up!” “I didn’t mean it Dave, seriously. Something, something inside made me do it. She was just so, she made me mad Dave.” “I had to do it.” and click. Just like that. The bastard hung up on me, again. This time we had the phone guys on it. 2nd and Vine. Again. Same pay phone. I hate that damn thing.

Kate grabs her jacket, tosses me mine. “Let’s go partner. We will get this asshole yet!” “I hear ya Kate, but, somehow I don’t think he’s playing with a full deck, be careful.” We scramble to the car and she drives us faster than a taxi in New York City. Better too. We arrive at the scene in 5 minutes flat. Nothing. Not the bum, not his house, not a body, not a clue. Just, nothing.

We start walking up and down the streets looking for anything that would match that voice. There were just so many to choose from and if I chose wrong – well harassment charges would be filed, it’s just a nightmare. I sit on a chair outside Max’s Deli. Best rubens money can buy. Anyway, I’m sitting there looking around and I heard a scream from the alley next to the deli. “Help! Oh my gawd help! There’s a girl!” Kate tosses over her chair in a dead sprint. Me, I’m too fat for that. I just let her handle it.

“Dave!! Call an ambulance, she’s alive!” I call in and request both back up and an ambulance. I walk around to the corner to find Kate on her knees, cradleing the victim in her lap, blood everywhere. “Come on hun, you gotta stay strong, you can make it. The ambulance is coming.” I take a pulse and it’s barely there. “Kate, you touch her. You contaminated the crime scene.” I say gently. “But Dave, she’s a kid. A Gawd Damn kid.” “I know Kate.” I gently move the dying girl out of Kate’s arms and lay her on my coat. “That’s it kid, fight it, you can do it. We aren’t going to let you go that easy.” I notice Kate get up and start searching the area. “Kate, get fingerprints from that bottle over there.” I point to the half broken bottle, glass shards matching what’s in the girls head. “Got it Dave, kit in the car?” “Yep.” She goes off, and the girl stops breathing. I knew I had to get her out of here somehow. This kid was in no way going to make it. Damn, that makes 2.

After the coroners office came, Kate was sitting at the deli with a cup in her hand. Shaking and angry. “Kate, there was nothing we could do. She was already dying.” “Yeah, I know Dave. But, I want this bastard. Like nothing I’ve ever wanted before now was important. This guy is mine.” “I understand. She’s the same age as your Mags. You want revenge as a mother not a cop.” “Yeah. Is that wrong?” she ask staring into her cup. “No, not at all.” We sat there in the afternoon heat. Steaming cup in front of her, cigar in front of me. I’m staring at the pictures, wondering what, if anything should jump out at me. In my head I think: “Please, let something connect, something jump out me.” But, again, nothing does.

Chapter 3: Girl 3, Finally


Gone to the Dog

My service dog, leroy, with an irish wolfhound.  Big difference! But, seriously, that "little dog" has saved my butt 14 times in 2.5 years. His birthday is in 4 days! I am so going to take him to the puppy bakery and get him a special treat. While I was in my sleep study a friend of mine watched him. And man it was tough. I woke up with 2 night terrors in the hour that I slept. He wasn't there so it took me forever to go back to sleep. Anyone with PTSD gets this concept. Heart races, body shakes, mind can't focus, breathing is rapid and your eyes are darting everywhere looking for a problem that isn't there. :(

Leroy, my faithful boy, always wakes me up, licks my face, lays on me and gets me to focus on him. He's a champ I tell ya'! Service dogs come in many breeds, sizes, shapes and abilities. Not all dogs have blind handlers. I'm not blind - though I am legally hard of hearing But, hey - my boy knows things. He can brace, hold, down, sit, stay, ignore, leave it, step up and hold, step down and hold, wake me up, open fridge, lean (balance) and a lot of little things. He's amazeballs. Some he learned over time, some with his trainer. (Greyt hearts service dogs).

He and I teach kids and parents alike wherever we go. I always teach. It's a me thing. LOL  We talk about types, rules, what they do, how they do it. People are
always fascinated by what dogs can do. And greyhound owners zero in on Leroy immediately. We are a strange breed us greyhound folks. Normally you see multiples because greyhounds are better with more than 1 and they are easy to deal with in sets.  But, with a service dog - i only have 1. He's expensive enough. LOL Maybe when I pay him off (2,000 left!), i'll adopt another smallish one. Maybe a 50lb instead of 70!