This book has been a long-time project with many starts and stops along the way. It began in journal form as a father’s history to his infant son and, with much prodding, grew to unleash a darker side of the realities and secrets of crime in our society. I would be more than remiss not to credit the myriad people who influenced and encouraged its fruition. With gratitude, the following is how this writing came to be:
In the late 1980s, I lay in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack—a virtual prisoner of Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. I was being guilt tripped by the angry mother of my very young son, David ‘Chip’ Steece, Jr., Delone Mariano. She prodded and begged for a written history of my exploits. I had been somewhat of an enigma from a street hood to an undercover law enforcement detective. Neither profession was known much for its longevity. “I want your son to know all about you—what you’ve done and what you became. The way you take care of yourself, you’ll be lucky to live to hear him talk.” After days of badgering, she said if I would just lie there and talk as I had many times at the dinner table, she would be my scribe, and my namesake could eventually know my story. She encouraged me to tell about this particular case because of the current news coverage. She wore me down and, thus, began a journal edition and that reminded me of the many flashbacks that created Paradox.
A couple of notebooks later, I was well again and back on the street. Chip was four. Things had changed after a court battle. I had full custody of him. I forgot about any need for him to know me through a journal. I was, after all, I thought, indestructible.
A few months later, I was rushed to the same hospital by my then Police Chief Max Rodriguez, after I had been found nearly unconscious by longtime girlfriend Barbara Gay, who called the Police Department. My daughters, Theresa, Gail, Alisha, Rachael, along with Chip and grandsons Trent and Kristian, all arrived at the hospital after a wild hundred-mile-per-hour drive. It was touch and go for a couple of days; when I finally woke up, there at my bedside was a very worried Gail, and a longtime friend and associate who had come in from Chicago, whose street name was (Joe-nose), holding Chip. I had only been in law enforcement for a short time, so the parade of associates was mixed with new friends and continued until Easter Sunday. Sgt. Swenson took me home and said, “that was close.” He suggested I make some “provisions” for the little guy, not just financial, but some type of written history, so Chip would know who his dad had been. Swenson prompted me to do this because of his own early loss and his curiosity about his history. He added, “your life is much more complicated than mine, so write something down.” Thoughts of the journal I had started returned, and I contacted an old and trusted friend, Gina Duplantis. When she finished typing the notebooks, it was a scant forty pages. She said, “that’s really interesting, funny, and actually pretty good. You should make it into a real book.” But my feeling of indestructibility had returned and, once more, I blew if off.
A few years later, I had retired and moved to Houston, when the health problems returned. Chip was now a second grader and I was in a wheelchair, down to 147 pounds. This was well below the usual 235/240 I had carried since high school. I had been diagnosed with polyethemia vera diabetes, and though I was taking thirty-seven medications a day, I continued to deteriorate. I had been a personal friend for a few years with the head pharmacist, Linda Pham, at Walgreen’s on Hwy 6 in Sugar Land. Linda would push me out to the van because I was too weak to roll myself. With great concern for my worsening condition, she recommended, then insisted, I see David P. Schauer, M D. Linda made the appointment and drove me there. I remember his receptionist, Jeannie Beard, who, from that day forward, made sure I was taken special care of. Dr. Schauer, after a brief examination, sent me straight to the hospital. In a few weeks, he was getting me under control and called in Pavan Grover, M.D., a pain specialist to treat me. Dr. Grover, a personable man, during one of our non-medical talks mentioned he was writing a book. I told him of my meager efforts to start one. He had heard some of my background and wanted to read what I had finished. After I was released, he kept on me until we met and, after he read the famous “forty pages,” he said, “this is very good. You have to finish this.” He then gave me some pointers and, once again, the book continued.
By now, I needed some dates and contacted my former partner, Herb Smith. He was still on the job and could dig through warehouse files for me. I reached Herb at the Bureau and, after some catch-up jawing, told him what I was after. “Sure, hold on,” he said.
SURPRISE! In a few minutes, he came back on the line. “What do you want the dates for?”
I said, “I’m writing a book.”
Herb said, “hold on,” again. This time, when he came back, he said, “you can’t do that.”
“Why“? I asked.
“Don’t do it,” he warned. “They’ll never let you get away with that.”
“Who do you mean…they?”
“You know we don’t do the stuff that we do, and they’re afraid you might be believable. Without the dates and times, if someone runs your name now, you’ll just come up as a gangster and an alleged hit man, and who would believe you without explicit dates and details?”
“What the hell ya talkin’ about?” I asked.
“I love you like a brother,” he said, “but my hands are tied.”
“You sat in my den in Picayune, with John, when I pulled the pin, and told my family how no one could have done the things that I did, nor took the risks that I took on many cases, including ones I worked on with you.”
He said, “I know, but I won’t be able to say that publicly. You know I’m taking a resident agent transfer to Alabama, mostly because you won’t be working with me anymore.”
I thought about it a few days and then called Harry Cabral, Jr., my life-long friend and attorney. Harry said, “you and Herb are friends and have worked closely for a long time, but you’ve worked with others. Aren’t some of them still your friends? Why not ask them discreetly?”
I thought that was a good idea. I called Del Hahn, now a private investigator after he retired as a resident agent in Baton Rouge, where he went when he and I quit working together in New Orleans, back when Bob Rightmier was still Special Agent in Charge. I knew Del had been deeply involved in the investigation of the big narcotics dealer, Barry Seal, whom they flipped and who turned many cases for the Government including the Gotcha Cartel in South America. Two Columbians had gunned down Barry in Baton Rouge at the Salvation Army, where he had to spend the night as part of the parole requirements from a Federal Judge. Del and I had done some pretty heavy shit together. We were not as close now as Herb and I. I had never missed Carolyn, his wife’s birthday (October 2). But when I was sick in Texas, I didn’t send her a card for the first time in over thirty years. Del went to a lot of trouble tracking me down to make sure I wasn’t dead. I still have the handwritten letter he sent, “in case his memory goes bad” also.
We met for coffee in Baton Rouge on College Drive at the Waffle House and just shot the shit. After a while, I mentioned I had seen the TV movie Double Crossed with Dennis Hopper and Adrienne Barbeau, about Barry Seal, adding, “I thought that might have been yours.”
He didn’t say anything for a couple of minutes, and then said, “yeah, I wrote it all out for a book, but someone beat me to it.”
“How could someone beat you to it? It was your case!”
He shrugged and changed the subject.
I went to back to Harry with this information, and he said, “you have a young son to raise, and you, of all people, know how capable they are, and you have plenty of time. Be smart. Write it and wait, and then at the right time, publish it.”
I laughed. “You mean when I’m dying?”
He said, “write it down, wait, be smart!”
I went home and thought about what had happened, and you know me, I was well on my way to recovery, out of the wheelchair and walking with a cane and, of course, once again indestructible, so I just blew it off again.
By this time, Chip was ready for middle school in Houston. He was headed for an inner-city school where gangs and dope ran rampant. I contacted OSHA and was told that the best two counties for air and water was Bonner County, Idaho, and Marion County, Arkansas. Idaho was too cold, even though we visited it in the spring. So we moved to rural Arkansas on the Missouri border, where the chances of catching a stray bullet was remote.
There I met Rosie Lucitt. She was there with her partner, a retired cop, and we became friends. I knew her as a photographer because of the great pictures she took or “made” as they say. She moved to Buffalo, NY, after her man died, to be near her daughter, but we stayed in touch.
In 2002, about sixty people from the little town I lived in, asked me to run for Mayor. I did, and of course, sent letters to everyone I knew asking for money. Rosie, though hundreds of miles away, was one of the first to send a contribution with a letter asking me to let her know how it turned out. To shorten a long story, I lost and was subject to some of the most outlandish lies ever told. So, after the election, when Rosie and I were talking on the phone, the election was over and the lies were now funny. I said, “I should write a book about the election.”
Rosie said, “one about your life/career would be better. You know that’s what I do. I’m a magazine editor.”
I said, “I didn’t realize that. I thought you took pretty pictures.”
“That’s just a hobby,” she said.
I then mentioned I had started a book many years ago at a couple of different times, and the one time when I really decided to get serious about it I was told, “you can’t do that,” by my former partner.
She asked some details and asked how long ago that was.
I said, “I think in the mid 90s.”
“Do you still have a copy?” she asked.
She told me to send it to her, and I told her I would and then forgot about it.
She called back after awhile and reminded me, “send me a copy. I want to read it.”
After a few more phone calls, I finally dug up the manuscript and sent it to her. About a week later, I received a letter from her that started out WOW! It went on to say how mad she was when the story just stopped. She said, “sit down NOW and finish it and to hell with everyone who doesn’t want this stuff known.” As we got into it, she said, “what a great movie it would make and, of course, if you’re reading this, as Paul Harvey would say, “AND NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY.”
Without each of these people, there would be no Paradox. They are listed in the order in which they affected this book,of course, starting with me!
- A Bunch of Bad Guys and Crooked Politicians
- DeLone Gladys Mariano (David, Jr.’s mother)
- David “Chip” Steece, Jr. (son)
- Theresa Ann Steece (daughter, deceased)
- “Beth” Claire Steece (daughter, adopted)
- Luann Gail Steece Grommon (daughter)
- Alisha Louise Steece Massarini (daughter)
- Rachael Elizabeth Steece O’Neill (daughter)
- Barbara Ellen Steece (wife)
- Gina Duplantis (friend and first typist)
- Max Rodriguez (Chief of Police, retired)
- Harry R. Cabral, Jr. (first attorney, deceased)
- Linda Pham (head pharmacist at Walgreen’s Drugs)
- David P. Schauer, M.D. (saved my life)
- Pavan Grover, M.D. (advisor)
- Dave Hendricks (photography)
- Lois Miller (typist)
- Rosie N. Lucitt (the editor)
- Artisan Communications (Cover Graphics)
- Ronald P. Kincade (attorney)
- Sue Hall – Asst. Director (Bay City Texas Library)
- John C. Smith (Captain, USN Retired advisor)
- Metal Graphics (Novelty Graphics)
- Carol Smith (author: “Journey to Command”)
Credit must also be given to the Houston inner-city school system that caused our move to Arkansas and the eventual meeting with Rosie and her RED PEN. Also very important with loving thanks for the perseverance of my wife Barbara, and son, Chip, Jr. Chip typed all the writes and rewrites, after I fired a few hired typists, until I married Barbara, when she took over and took it to the end. But, alas, they all had to deal with my fits of rebellion against sitting down to dictate, placing the pictures in the right locations, etc. Their hard headedness surpasses even my own. The journal is now complete. The son knows his father, and the father is lucky enough to know his son, now an honor student in college and making his way toward his own adventures. My wife can now enjoy our days without my…what ever! Oh Yeah, better give Gratitude also for INDESTRUCTIBILITY.
David W. Steece, Sr.
Somewhere in Texas