Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Barry's Reviews: "THE BODY AND THE BLOOD" (2010) by Michael Lister



THE BODY AND THE BLOOD (2010) by Michael Lister

Reviewed by Barry Ergang



John Jordan is a man beset by conflicts, internal and external. An ex-cop, he's currently the chaplain for the Pottersville Correctional Institution and a sometime investigator who is trying to reconcile his capacity for violence with his calling to pacific ministry. He's experiencing a crisis of spirituality, if not exactly of faith. He has a tenuous relationship with his father and brother. He loves and has reunited with his wife Susan, from whom he had been separated, but is still in love with a co-worker, Anna Rodden, who is also  married. Susan lives in Atlanta and loves city life; Jordan prefers the rural life he has in Florida. Where to live together has yet to be decided and could potentially be a source of friction, especially considering the surprise Susan has for him.

Jordan also has to deal with his father-in-law, Tom Daniels, the Inspector General of the Florida Department of Corrections. Like Jordan, Daniels is a recovering alcoholic. Unlike Jordan, who has been sober for quite a while, Daniels' sobriety is very recent. It's a kind of shocked sobriety, the result of his wife Sarah having been raped by Juan Martinez, a prisoner at the Pottersville Correctional Institution. It has become Daniels' mission to put him away for the rest of his life. He's feeling good about accomplishing this because he has found a witness, another prisoner named Justin Menge, who is willing to testify against Martinez.

When Jordan learns this, he's taken aback because (when the novel opens) he's just had a conversation with Menge's sister Paula, who has visited her brother for the first time in the four years since he's been incarcerated. Menge, Martinez and others are kept in G-Dorm in the Protective Management unit of the prison. PM is for inmates who are at risk from the general population, and G-Dorm is supposed to adhere to rigid security protocols.

Technically, Jordan's workday is over and his time is his own, but he's returning to the prison because of a flyer he's received announcing a Catholic mass in the PM unit. The flyer is a doctored version of the one the priest distributed, and includes the words "A murder will take place." He discovers that Tom Daniels is on-site, too, conducting interviews and taking depositions, and shows Daniels the flyer. The two return to G-Dorm, where those who are not attending the mass are locked in their cells. Shortly thereafter the mass begins. Jordan and Daniels chat with one of the correctional officers who oversees the unit, a slacker named Potter. During Holy Communion, Jordan notices blood seeping from under the door to Justin Menge's cell. It can't possibly have happened—the cell was locked and the unit under observation by Jordan, Daniels and Potter—but Justin Menge has been murdered.

There is no dearth of suspects. Besides Martinez himself, there are inmates who would commit murder for him. There is Chris Sobel, Menge's boyfriend, and Paula Menge, who had visited her brother earlier. There is the priest, Father McFadden. During the course of his subsequent investigation, Jordan learns that an inmate named Mike Hawkins is in the PM unit. He's the son of the racist, homophobic sheriff of Pine County. Paula Menge insists that her brother was set up for eventual incarceration by Sheriff Howard Hawkins, and that Justin was in fact innocent. Jordan later finds out that a prison psychologist, DeLisa Lopez, might be intimately involved with an inmate who is a suspect in the case. And then there are Potter and Pitts, the correctional officers whose laxity frequently leaves the PM unit vulnerable to problems. 


Correctly guessing (rather than deducing) the identity of the murderer very early on didn't diminish my enjoyment of The Body and the Blood. Michael Lister does a good job of weaving together the various storylines and, although what attracted me to the novel in the first place was the locked-room puzzle, what ultimately proved most appealing was the credible complexity of John Jordan.

I wish I could say that for all of the other characters, but I can't. Many of the novel's suspects are not sufficiently fleshed-out. Some appear in brief scenes but don't make distinctive impressions, so when they're referred to later on, you'll either page back to see exactly who they are, or you'll shrug and keep reading. The characters who most come alive, apart from first-person narrator John Jordan, are his wife, his in-laws, his best friend Merrill Monroe, and Anna Rodden. In other words, those to whom he is closest.

Lister relies heavily on dialogue which, along with his lucid narrative style, speeds the story along nicely. But he has a habit of interrupting conversations with expository paragraphs, then returning to the conversations. I found myself often having to go back to the dialogue that preceded the exposition to recover the point of that which succeeded it. He also has a fondness for acronyms, but doesn't always explain what they stand for. I can only guess that FDLE stands for Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Although its impossible-crime aspect isn't in the league of John Dickson Carr, Paul Halter, Hake Talbot and Clayton Rawson, The Body and the Blood  nevertheless merits a Golden Age Mystery-type illustration depicting the layout of G-Dorm and the relative positions of inmates' cells to where the mass was held at the time Jordan discovered murder had been committed. I found it difficult to envisage from the verbal description given.

Whether the following comment applies to the print edition I can't say, since I read the e-book—specifically, the Kindle edition—but the latter is in dire need of a good proofreader. It teems with punctuation errors and misspellings, and at least a couple of sentences are missing necessary words.  

Despite its locked-room puzzle, The Body and the Blood is not a cozy whodunit/howdunit in the manner of the aforementioned Golden Age authors and others. It is very much a hardboiled detective story involving onstage violence, raw language, and some sexuality. Readers who find these elements repellent are advised to stay away. Those who can deal with them can expect a fast-moving read starring an appealingly human protagonist. My nitpicks notwithstanding, this one is recommended.

Barry Ergang © 2012


Barry Ergang's own locked-room mystery novelette, "The Play of Light and Shadow," is available at Smashwords and Amazon in e-reader editions for 99¢. Formerly the Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and First Senior Editor of Mysterical-E, winner of the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Award for the best flash fiction story of 2006, his written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. See Barry’s webpagesRemember, too, that he has books from his personal collection for sale at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/ He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our fund, so please have a look at his lists.

Monday, January 30, 2012

CASE DISMISSED!!!!! Update on the CITIBANK/ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES Lawsuit


Today was the hearing for the lawsuit brought by ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES on behalf of CITIBANK after they told me for months they were only a third party debt collector while telling the court they were retained counsel. That and other issues were going to be a part of my case today before the judge.


I arrived at 10:25 for our 11 AM hearing fully prepared with my four inches of records regarding the actions of both CITIBANK and ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES case and supporting paperwork. According to the electronic marquee outside his chambers that listed today’s court docket for Judge W. M. "Mike" Yarbrough of the Justice of the Peace we were still scheduled at 11 AM.  In fact, we were the first case of the day which explained why the court room was empty and closed as I was very early.


I checked in with the court clerk and was instructed to wait in the lobby area outside the courtroom. During the next thirty minutes, I visited with a number of people including a Game Warden I have known for nearly twenty years while we all waited for someone, anyone, representing ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES or CITIBANK to show up.


11 AM came and went and their people were STILL a no show.


Judge Yarbrough and I continued to wait and wait for the people who brought the lawsuit and promised to bring at least 11 witnesses against me today to show, as promised when they had filed, how ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES and CITIBANK had suffered “great economic harm and damage” because of me. This was the trial they had insisted upon having today despite knowing the great economic harm we have suffered here due to my loss of employment from PISD (who could not find another job for me anywhere in the district doing anything), Sandi’s probably terminal cancer, etc.


Finally, at 11:20 the court got tired of waiting for opposing counsel to show and the hearing began. I stood before the judge braced against the defense table and hoped like crazy I would not fall. Noting their lack of appearance on time as scheduled, Judge Yarbrough opened the trail by asking me if I knew of any reason why anyone for ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES or CITIBANK had failed to show. 


I did not.


I noted for the record that I had, in addition to the summons to them sent directly by the court back in November, provided to both parties my copy of the summons. Furthermore, while documenting circumstances and proving the appropriate proof, I had reminded them in every single letter the date and time of said hearing. The judge noted that as well as the fact I had kept the court and both sets of Plaintiffs clearly fully aware of our financial situation, Sandi’s health, etc. He further questioned me as to whether or not I had ever received ay responses to the communications I had sent, especially during the last three months. I explained that other than the filing with the court by them of the 11 expert witnesses list (all ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES paid employees) that arrived in November while Sandi was in the hospital, I had received nothing from them at all.


After several minutes of answering his questions it was clear that the Judge was annoyed and not at all with me. I pointed out again and again that I had fully documented the situation once I had been served. I reminded the court that clearly I had made all the efforts in the case in an attempt to not waste the court’s valuable time. That I had even had filed a motion two weeks ago to dismiss the case because there was nothing to adjudicate since the case had been settled as far as I was concerned back in September when I agreed to their one and only settlement offer of $900. I noted they had not responded to the court at all on the matter.


I furthermore pointed out that I had promised in my motion to dismiss that I would continue to make payments of $5.00 per month directly to CITIBANK until the sum and total of $900 was paid and would continue to honor that, with or without a court order today to do so, as I had promised under the settlement agreement. I pointed out to the court that the figure of $900 that I agreed to was what ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES had offered back in September and was approximately the amount I had owed before CITIBANK ceased to work with me in March 2010 and had returned my payments instructing me to no longer pay if I was not willing to pay the full amount each month regardless of my circumstances at that time.


I noted again that I had clearly agreed to their $900 figure back in September as the sum and total of the debt owed and had made my promised payments with no reply from them at all. I explained to the court that as far as I was concerned that meant they had agreed to said settlement and that no payments had been returned to me as of today before I left for court. I reminded the court that I had followed through on payments as promised and had provided proof to all parties on said payments.


By this point it was 11:30 and they STILL were a no show. No sign of any counsel OR any of their eleven witnesses.


The judge instructed me that he was dismissing the case due to their failure to show. When I asked, Judge Yarbrough stated they could appeal but would have to show good cause for their missing the hearing they were fully aware was scheduled today.


My sense of the hearing was that it was very clear he was very unhappy with their actions in the case to this point and was extremely unhappy with their failure to appear. Judges do not like it when you waste their time. It seemed pretty clear to me as he reviewed the extensive case file and asked if they had ever responded to the various materials I had sent them month after month for more than a year now (the answer was no each time), he was not happy at all. Couple that with their failure to show today and he was obviously not at all pleased.


With a final “good luck” to me, he said the case was dismissed and sent me on my way.


According to the online system this afternoon, Judge Yarbrough has signed the order dismissing the case. A copy of his order should soon be in the mail to all parties. Pending an attempt to appeal by them it is a done deal.


Now that Sandi and I have this weight off of our backs we can focus on her PET SCAN and lab work this Friday morning.


CASE DISMISSED!


Kevin

COURT!


COURT TODAY ---11 AM


Judge W. M "Mike" Yarbrough
Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 4
Collin County Courthouse
8585 John Wesley
Frisco, TX 75034


More information about the court can be found at http://www.co.collin.tx.us/justices_peace/jp4/jp4.jsp


Obviously, I will update one and all in detail as to what happened later today regarding CITIBANK--the only creditor who refused to work with us in any way, shape, or form.

Kevin

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We Need Your Help

As embarrassing as it is, we truly need your help. As you can see by the donation widget over to the left we are coming up short this month.  Please know that we are not asking for anything to deal with the CITIBANK/ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES lawsuit (going to court tomorrow so come see me if you are in the neighborhood), getting my car fixed, or anything beyond the bare minimum to hang in here another month.


This is just for the rent, keep the local phone service on so we have access to the internet, and pay for Sandi’s insurance so that she can continue to get her cancer treatment and meds without interruption along with a couple of other things. The insurance statements are now coming through¸ both for her hospitalization back in November, and what has been going on since then with the chemo. Baylor Regional Medical Center of Plano is STILL trying to figure out whether they can grant charity on the five thousand they and insurance have determined to be our share from her November hospitalization. Not to mention the three thousand they have determined to be our share from her strokes and hospitalization back in July.


Our primary focus, obviously, is the situation with the cancer treatment. One round of chemo is billed to insurance at approximately 18k. We are not sure what our share of that is going to be just yet. Insurance keeps stopping the processing of a bill to ask for yet more information. Or, they recalculate the bill and then two days later send another statement that replaces the first one and recalculates things a different way. Everyone involved here at the doctor is very much working with us on the issue while focusing on trying to save Sandi’s life. Her next deal is a PET SCAN on Friday morning to see what is happening in her. Considering what the chemo has done to her and continues to do, that stuff better be doing something to her cancers. The possibility it has done nothing is unacceptable and unthinkable.


Please know that we are not wasting your donations. We are only doing what we absolutely have to in order to hold things together here as long as we can. We are truly grateful for your help and it means so much to all of us.


Thank you.


Kevin

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: "Killer in Control: A Key West Mystery" by Dorothy Francis

Dorothy Francis takes readers back to Key West in Killer in Control and it’s another good very atmospheric cozy style mystery from the author. Full of guilt and heavy with memories, suspended Iowa police officer Kitt Morgan plans on spending time with her sister, Janell and her husband, Rex at their bed and breakfast inn, “The Poinsetta” located at Key West.  When she isn’t lecturing one and all about her Prius and how environmentally responsible it is, Kitt’s plan is to relax as much as possible and try not to think about her role in the shooting back home in snowy Iowa. Something that is never far from her thoughts as her police officer father never once shot anyone during his long career.

Sensing something wrong on her arrival, it is not long before Janell and Rex explain to Kitt that they are in real trouble. Fortunately, despite the fact that Rex is bald, it does not mean he is dying of cancer as Kitt quickly suspects on arrival. Instead, one of their guests is dead. Abra Barrie was murdered. Not at the bed and breakfast but elsewhere. They are involved since she was a guest and there is evidence indicating someone at the inn was involved. Both Janell and Rex, as well as their small staff, are suspects in the murder case. Janell and Rex would like Kitt Morgan to quietly investigate, when she is not relaxing and seeing the sites, to clear their names and the business.

How can Kitt tell her sister and her husband no? She can’t. The problem with that, is by sticking her nose in the case when she is not seeing the sites of Key West and the immediate area, she makes herself the target of a killer. While the suspects are many because they are all eccentric in various ways there is only one killer among them.  A self-proclaimed “killer in control” who will strike again in this cozy style novel before the case is solved. Despite all Kitt’s reading and experience, and a sister who seems to know much more about police investigative work than she does, it isn’t an easy case to solve when some many characters fit the profile of sociopathic behavior.

Dorothy Francis has penned yet another enjoyable stand alone novel set at Key West. Once again she recounts the sights and sounds along with the unique history of the area while assembling a cast of rather eccentric characters for her latest cozy style mystery tale. A tale of serial murder that fittingly eventually ends on the beach.  Killer in Control  is another solidly good story from this talented author.

Killer in Control: A Key West Mystery
Dorothy Francis
Five Star
ISBN# 978-1-43282-502-7
July 2011
Hardback
274 Pages
$25.95


Material in the form of an ARC was provided quite some time ago by the author in exchange for my objective review.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

FFB Review: "The Maya Stone Murders" by M. K. Shuman

It is the late eighties as this novel set in New Orleans opens. Private Investigator Micah Dunn, home from Vietnam for quite some time and still suffering flashbacks and war injuries, is used to people staring at his left arm. He doesn't have much use of it and usually tucks his left hand into his pants pocket for support and control. Something that Dr. Gregory Thorpe notices immediately and asks if his handicap is a detriment in his line of work.


After Dunn explains that most PI work is documents related and waiting, lots of waiting, Dr. Thorpe finally begins to outline his problem and one that the police can't help him with at all. Somebody is messing with Dr. Thorpe's exhibition of artifacts brought back from the Mayan city of Ek Balam located on the Yucat√°n peninsula. Somebody keeps adding items one at a time to the various displays. When a display is supposed to contain three items and suddenly contains four, visitors and staff notice. Dr. Gregory isn't a popular man and he has several suspects in mind.

Somebody is going to considerable effort to plant the realistic fakes in an effort to discredit Dr. Thorpe and Micah Dunn figures a couple of days max and the case will be wrapped up. That is what he thinks, before a death of one of Dr. Thorpe's suspects happens literally outside Micah Dunn's home in front of him in the middle of the night and Dr. Thorpe is subsequently arrested for the murder. What begins simply enough in the Crescent City will finally end at the ancient Mayan city making everyone wonder about the curse.

Written by M. K. Shuman who also wrote as M. S. Karl (Killer's Ink among others) this is the first novel of the Micah Dunn Series. Published in 1989 the novel doesn't follow the current conventions of mysteries that mandate a body to fall in the first chapter, a breakneck opening, etc. Instead, this is a novel that opens slowly and deliberately with background on the characters to give them depth before slowly picking up the story pace. Setting and character developments are the main keys here with action scenes few and far apart with most saved for the last thirty or so pages of the novel.

Slower moving that his Peter Brady Series written as M. S. Karl, this book also has a darker tone to it than that series. Not just because of the frequent Vietnam flashbacks which serve to build character back story in several very different areas, but Dunn's perceptions of the world are much darker. While Peter Brady packs it in and runs to rural Louisiana to own and operate a small town paper and lick his wounds, he believes ultimately that most people are good at heart and want to get along. Dunn is much more cynical about the world and looks it as a hard place where everyone is hiding some dark secret or action. Dunn is often right but is that because the world is such as he sees it or a self fulfilling prophecy?

While not engrossing, this book overall is a solidly good read that delivers on well thought out characters, a complex mystery and themes of history and morality. Not easily available, it is a novel well worth hunting for as it will keep you turning the pages.

The Maya Stone Murders
M. K. Shuman
St. Martin's Press
http://us.macmillan.com/SMP.aspx
1989
ISBN# 0-312-02608-8
Hardback
246 Pages


(My sincere thanks to the staff of the Central Library of the Houston, Texas Public Library system who provided a copy of this book via the interlibrary loan program. If it was not for the staff of the local Plano, Texas library system as well as staff of libraries across the country, many of the reviews you have seen of mine in various places the past decade simply would not have ever appeared. I also would not have had the many hours of reading pleasure made possible by librarians.)

The rest of the books selected for Friday’s Forgotten books can be found at:
http://pattinase.blogspot.com/


Kevin R. Tipple © 2008, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Sandi Update--One Week After Chemo Round Three

A week ago today Sandi finished her third round of chemo. This one has hit her much harder and for far longer than the first two rounds. I’m sure some of what she is feeling is stress and clearly there is a lot of stress around here. I still have to be in court Monday as I wrote about yesterday, , my car is still dead in the lot, and we are very, very far short paying the rent--- let alone anything else. 

But, I think the biggest culprit is the chemo. A good friend of ours at one of the local libraries warned me that the third round of chemo would brutalize Sandi. The friend had something similar and hadn’t been as sick as Sandi had been in the weeks leading up to the start of chemo. The theory was that the body recovers a bit after the first round and then not nearly so much after the second round. By the third round, the body has nothing left in reserve to recover or bounce back.  She equated it to jumping off a cliff without a parachute.

That seems to be the case here as since last Thursday afternoon Sandi has been in bed with the flu like symptoms caused by the chemo. Shakes, chills, and severe fatigue have been the biggest issues though nausea has reared its ugly head several times. So far today as we approach noon she is a little better. Hopefully the worst is over. 

 This picture was taken last Wednesday at Chemo as Sandi wore her new hat thanks to an online friend. The hat is actually a light green, but due to the overhead lighting, it appears white in the picture.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Update on the ALLEN ADKINS AND ASSOCIATES/CITIBANK LAWSUIT


On January 12, 2011, unbeknownst to me, ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES needlessly filed suit here in Collin County against me on behalf of CITBANK. CITIBANK had been the ONLY creditor that refused to work with me in any way, shape or form while my health worsened, I lost my job with the school district (you can’t work with violent not verbal autistic children if you can’t walk, chase them, and also just flat out fall on your own at random times among other issues) and applied for state assistance while I waited for my Social Security Disability case to proceed.

I had no idea that the lawsuit had been filed until a process server showed up on the Saturday, January 15, 2011 and after taking one look at me, shook his head, and told me how sorry he was as he handed me the paperwork. Their lawsuit resulted in my first blog column here about the case on back on January 16, 2011 where I explained I had been served on behalf of ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES representing CITIBANK in a lawsuit for $1701.71 plus court costs, etc. I noted at that time that I had (and still have) severe medical issues, no job, no income, had applied for food stamps, etc. I noted that we had no money and had tried to work out a payment deal with CITIBANK. They had absolutely refused all efforts and ignored the documentation I had provided before turning it over to a collection agency based in Lubbock, Texas d/b/a as ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES.


I’m sure the folks at ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES expected me to do like most folks do and just ignore the deal so they could get their quicky judgment and move on. That wasn’t going to happen. On Thursday, January 20, 2011 I blogged about how I had filed my twenty page plus answer to the court and all parties and detailed the true facts of the case using my extensive and detailed records.  I also pointed out to all parties that CITIBANK and their collection agency, ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES, were the ONLY creditors that had refused to work with us.

I was notified by the Court in early April the trial was now scheduled before Judge W. M "Mike" Yarbrough’s Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 4 located in Frisco, Texas on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 9:30.  Once I was notified that we were going to trial on the issues, I had to comply with the voluminous information requests generated by ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES that were designed only to bury me and not generate any new information as they already had the items requested as did CITIBANK.  I was not happy about it but did so extensively with copies of everything to everyone including the Court.
                                                                                                                                    
Since that time where I supplied about seventy pages of material they already had as the Spring of 2011 progressed, I also provided updated copies of our approval for food stamps and my status regarding my appeal of Social Security disability.  In my extensive correspondence, I noted the fact that the caseworkers in both cases had remarked that the fact we were approved for food stamps should have made it clear to all involved that we had nothing of value.  I further noted again and again that I owned no home, no land, etc. and that what very little I had was exempt under Texas law. I again and again requested that ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES stop wasting the court’s time, withdraw their lawsuit, and work with me.

Having received nothing from anyone besides the court in months, I was prepared to go to court in May and further document the facts of the case and my situation at trial. Sandi was now home on unpaid medical leave for her knee injury. It seemed inevitable that ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES as well as CITIBANK were ignoring the reality of my situation.  Then suddenly, just days before trial, I received a copy of a continuance request dated May 6, 2011 that ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES had filed with the court. “In the interests of justice” they wanted 120 days to negotiate a settlement of their claim and needed time to contact me. I had to read it twice to understand they now wanted four more months to discuss things with me. Considering they had filed their unnecessary lawsuit four months ago almost to the day, it made me laugh that they had waited till now to want four more months so they could talk to me about settling.

Thankfully, the continuance was granted and we were then scheduled for trial on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 10 am. I was absolutely thrilled their request for time has been granted.  I hoped they would finally work with me as they knew in detail then as well as now what the situation was here.

Weeks passed into months with no contact from them. Sandi’s knee surgery was delayed over and over again due to our lack of money as well as huge errors by her insurance company. Then, Sandi had her strokes and cardiac deal at the end of July and was hospitalized for a week. We were still on food stamps, still waiting on the appeal of my social security disability case and still surviving only because of charity.  I kept ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES and the Court fully apprised of everything by written letters detailing the facts and copies of food stamp award letters, medical paperwork including doctor notes, billing statements, etc. and other paperwork.

Early September 2011 found me making my own motion to the court for a continuance. I did it because four months plus later, I still had yet to hear from ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES regarding a settlement of their unnecessary lawsuit. Remember, they had filed for a continuance back in May asking for time to contact me. Having heard nothing from them, I filed my motion for continence citing their reasoning. Thankfully it was granted by the court. No date for trial was scheduled at that point.

Then finally, I got their first and only settlement offer. DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES offered to settle the case for a total amount of $900.  I agreed immediately as that was about the amount I owed when CITIBANK instructed me by phone and in writing to not make any payment unless I could make the full monthly payment owed. 

So the case was settled for a total of $900. We were making progress I thought.

DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES also wanted after his extensive review of my case for me to sign paperwork guaranteeing monthly payments of $85.00 to ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES.  I could go ahead and start sending payments and then at some unspecified point at the future after I had made some unspecified number of payments he would file a motion to withdraw the case. Considering how they had misrepresented the case to the court in their initial filing,  how they had misrepresented their involvement to me in writing and other issues, as well as what I had read online from others that had received this kind of paperwork from this debt collection company, I wasn’t at all inclined to sign anything from them. Beyond their record with me and others, considering the fact that we were still on food stamps and charity, Sandi had suffered permanent brain damage thanks to her strokes which meant ever going back to work was very questionable and she still needed knee surgery if we could get the insurance straightened out, and my own worsening health among other issues, $85.00 a month simply wasn’t remotely realistic or even possible. 

I explained reality again---that a real review of my case would show that we were on food stamps  and charity with various medical situations, that we had no land, homes, or property to sue for and no resources. I pointed out yet again how hard it is to get food stamps in Texas and that if we had anything at all, we would not have been recently approved yet again for assistance. I informed DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES that the absolute best I could do was the same payment that had been refused and sent back to me by CITIBANK---$5.00 PER MONTH. I would immediately begin payments and all I needed from him, besides filing paperwork with the court to withdraw their still unnecessary lawsuit, was the mailing address at CITIBANK to send my direct payments on our settled case.

No reply at all. Of course, like everything else I have done in the case, I once again supplied copies of their letter and my response and supporting documentation to Judge W. M "Mike" Yarbrough’s Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 4 located in Frisco, Texas. I wasn’t concerned and figured that if it took nine months for their first and only offer to be made, it would take them a couple of weeks anyway for a letter to be sent with the address to make payments.

Nothing from them as the weeks passed. Knowing the case was settled, we had more pressing issues. Sandi had her knee surgery back on October 1, 2011 and it was successful. She started rehab for the knee and the deficits from the brain damage she had suffered from the strokes at the end of July got somewhat better. The neurologist and cardiologist had her stabilized and things seemed to be getting better on all fronts.

November arrived and still nothing from DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES or anyone there. Sandi’s knee was healing nicely and there was some talk from various doctors that just maybe she was going to be able to go back to work on a very limited basis by sometime in early December. I now had legal representation for my appeal of my social security disability case as BINDER & BINDER had agreed to represent me. I also had been informed that in Texas it can take 12 to 18 months before one has his or her hearing before the Administrative Law Judge.

Then, Sandi’s breathing problem started around November 14 and our world shattered.

It was while she was in the hospital being diagnosed with her two forms of Hodgkin’s Lymphomas  and being told that both were very advanced and aggressive and her prognosis was not good at all, that I was informed that the Court---because ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES had once again done nothing--scheduled the trial for MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012 AT 11 AM.

Obviously, when the doctors tell you horrible news, the last thing you are worried about is going to court in a couple of months. I spent hours upon hours at the hospital watching as they put her through surgical procedure after surgical procedure to determine the status of her cancers, to help her breathe by draining liters of fluid from her lungs and belly, and numerous other tests. Mail piled up on the kitchen table and it was only in December, just after she got home and had started chemo therapy to try and save her life, that I realized there was finally a letter here from ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES. Instead of withdrawing their case, somebody else at the collection agency had filed with the Court a list of designated EXPERT witnesses---all eleven listed being employees of the business including DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES.

Despite the fact we had settled the case back in September, the intimidation by paperwork had continued on their part. How they would testify regarding the paperwork they sent me and what they told the Court would be interesting at some level, not only to me but to the public at large as I noted in my response, but there was no need to continue to waste the Court’s time on their unnecessary lawsuit. I had agreed to their settlement offer months ago and documented the fact that I had begun my monthly payments by money order directly to CITIBANK using the last payment address I had for them.

As I have done the entire time, I provided copies of everything I asserted to both ALLEN ADKINS & ASSOCIATES and the Court. Therefore all parties received copies of the payments, Sandi’s diagnosis/prognosis at the hospital, the first billing of over 65 thousand dollars from the hospital, the schedule for chemo therapy, etc. I again requested DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES to withdraw the lawsuit since we had a settled case and I had clearly begun payments.

Still nothing from him or anyone there. No response at all.

On Thursday, January 12, 2012, I filed my MOTION TO DISMISS the lawsuit with the Court and sent copies to DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES. As of this morning, the Court has not ruled on my motion nor has there been any response from anyone at ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES. That same day, we completed our phone interview for re-certification for food stamps and did our phone interview for Medicaid.

On Friday, January 20, 2012, we were notified by Texas Department of Health and Human Services that we were once again certified for food stamps. We also were notified by them that, due to her cancers which they had verified as well as our financial situation, both Sandi and I now qualified for Medicaid. Something I have long needed as I have had no insurance for more than a year now. But, I never wanted it because of her like this.
 
 I sent copies of the award letters to DEBT COLLECTOR MICHAEL A. MOSS of ALLEN L. ADKINS & ASSOCIATES as well as to the Court keeping all involved fully updated. Nothing has changed. We still have nothing and unless we get some help very quickly, we will be homeless next week.

Despite all of my efforts I am still scheduled to have to be before Judge W. M "Mike" Yarbrough’s Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 4 located in Frisco, Texas on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 11 AM. So, assuming Sandi’s old car will start (mine is still dead in the parking lot) next Monday morning, I will go up to Frisco with my extensive documentation and my cane and limp into court to appear.

If you would like to join me and witness the hearing, the court is located at

Collin County Courthouse     map
8585 John Wesley
Frisco, TX 75034

More information about the court can be found at http://www.co.collin.tx.us/justices_peace/jp4/jp4.jsp



Kevin