Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Burning Car

This is a couple of weeks old, so for Floridians, it's old news: Burning Car on Skyway Bridge

I remember seeing the report on television when it happened: they actually displayed the car with "something" burning in the opened trunk. Then they said it was a body. Then, they showed a photograph of her. Sheryl Lynn Laird looked so happy in that picture. The victim's killer/ex-husband meanwhile, was on the railing of the bridge getting ready to jump- it was all caught by a passerby. The picture here, does absolutely no justice to the horrific scene I viewed that morning.

When I write, I give a lot of thought to human feelings and emotions. For me, it's these fragments of joy, anger, jealousy and fear, that truly make the story relatable. Even so, it's difficult to imagine what this poor woman went through before and during her experience. Also, we'll never truly know and can never honestly relate to Sheryl on that desperate level, in that desperate moment. I've tried to do just that and failed. Miserably. To an extent, this would also carry over to the afflicted man who committed the crime; somewhere along his life's journey, Robert Laird's wires got crossed. Brainwaves shorted and sparked. The results, of course, were beyond terrible and affected many lives in the process.

Sadly, this is yet further proof, that real life is in fact stranger and more disturbing, than the fiction we write.

I can always go back and look at that picture of Sheryl. I can see her smile. I can wish the best, for her young daughter now growing up without a mother. Unfortunately, it's the burning car on the Skyway bridge that will stick in my memory. I'll never need to see another picture, to remember that.


  1. Mike,

    I agree with you two hundred percent.

    The truth is always stranger and, in many cases, more disturbing than anything we could ever write.

    Here in Duluth, Minnesota, we had a homicide two or three months ago, involving two men and the victim, all of whom knew each other.

    The victim was killed because he couldn't come up with or didn't have 90 cents. Ninety cents! Not a dollar. Ninety fucking cents. So he was beaten and left to die in an alley in Downtown.

    The sickest part isn't that he was beaten to death or killed over ninety cents. That's sick in and of itself.

    The sickest part was that there were some in the community that blamed the victim, who was mentally ill and homeless and had been in and out of places where he was getting help.

    How it was his fault, none of these people would ever say. Just that it was his fault.

    So we will never be able to write anything approaching these acts.

    This is a great place you have here, Mike, and I'll be visiting often and pimping it on A Twist Of Noir.

  2. Mr. Grant, it's always a pleasure to hear from you. I hope you're doing well.

    90 cents. What can you say to that? Unfortunately, I hear about this kind of thing all too often; my wife is a social worker, who deals with issues like this all day, every day. And as you've probably found, if it happens in the wrong neighborhood, you rarely hear about it.

    Needless to say, she is a better person, than I could ever hope to be.