Hello, RPD Series readers! This is the first installment in a series of questionnaires, character profiles, if you will, answered by the men and women of the Riverdale PD and Calera County Crime Lab themselves.
Without further ado (whatever that really is), I present for your perusing pleasure, Mr. Noah Harkham:
Name: Noah Alexander Harkham
Age: As of September 3, 2013, I will be 36
Height: approx. 6′
Occupation: I was a Detective Sergeant until 2012, when I sustained injuries in the line of duty which rendered me…unable to continue in that capacity. I have since become a consultant for the Riverdale Police Department, where I am currently also teaching Crime Scene Preservation classes to uniformed officers.
About: What do you want to know? There’s not much to tell, really. I grew up in Indiana with my parents, Thomas and Renee Harkham. Our last name is of Welsh origin, by the way, not Jewish. I get asked that all the time. I am an only child, but my cousin Neil would come up every summer for about a month and then we would all go back with him to Riverdale and spend a couple of weeks with my aunt and uncle, Michael and Helen Coates. We did this up until the summer I was 16.
That’s the summer my parents were murdered in a convenience store robbery gone bad. I don’t talk about that. You can ask Neil, he was there.
[JIO: Okay, then, tell us about living with your Aunt and Uncle.]
I moved in with my Aunt Helen and Uncle Michael and my cousin, Neil. There was talk of them adopting me, but since I was almost an adult already and…adverse to the idea, they instead remained my legal guardians. I owe them more than I can ever repay, but sometimes it’s just hard to be around them with all that history, you know? Don’t get me wrong, I love them more than just about anyone, but it’s hard to let go of the past.
[JIO: What can you tell us about your parents? What do you remember about them?]
You want to know about my parents? Well, all I can tell you is that they were amazing people. Everyone wants to believe the best about their parents, but I know mine were truly, genuinely good people. They weren’t perfect, by any means, but they loved me and each other and they loved God. What about me and God? Let’s just say I haven’t been on the best of terms with Him for a number of years. I know He’s there and I know all about His love and grace, but right now I’d rather have a little distance. There are some things I just can’t quite wrap my head around and forgive just yet…
My mother was beautiful. She was a little bit the girl next door, a little bit some sort of fae creature. She had the most vivid imagination and told beautiful, magical stories. Her laugh was the soundtrack of my childhood. Her eyes. I was blessed to get eyes the same shape as hers, even though they are the same color as dad’s.
My dad was a little bit of a nerd, to be blunt, but a manly nerd, if that makes sense. I got my curiosity from him, my drive to see how things tick. He helped me catch my first tadpole and then helped me keep it alive long enough to watch it become a frog. We let it go in the pond near my old house in Indiana. Dad was the more earthbound of the two. He was our solid ground; mom was our wings.
I know what you’re going to say: “This all has to do with your parents’ murder, right? You wanted to be a cop so you could avenge their deaths.” Wrong. The guy who killed them killed himself that same day and never left that convenience store with the $80 he murdered three people for.
No, becoming a cop was the plan all along. Dad was the one who encouraged me in my dream to be a cop. Mom was supportive, but she always worried that it was too dangerous. She was right. I nearly died on the job the day I lost my sight and hearing on my left side.
Of course, the world is dangerous no matter what you do for a living.
[JIO: Very true, even for a writer. But surely your students are a little less dangerous to deal with than criminals. How did you make the transition from detective to forensics instructor?]
Becoming a scientist as well was my dad’s idea. He wanted me to have a skill set that I could use in my retirement once I was too old to chase after bad guys. I graduated from the same high school Neil attended and then decided to enroll in the Criminal Justice Program at Riverside University here in Riverdale. I graduated with a specialized degree in Forensics, then enrolled in the Police Academy. Thanks, dad. It wasn’t like we talked about, but you were right: if I didn’t have the science to teach now, I don’t know that I’d still be here.
[JIO: What can you tell us about your partner – sorry, former partner?]
My first partner, Detective Sergeant Rob Meares, died after my first year as a detective. That was a blow. He was more a mentor to me than anyone else I ever knew. But, I was then partnered with Detective Allan Franks, who I, and almost everyone else now, call Frankie. We didn’t start off so well, as you can imagine, but now he is my best friend. Pretty much the only person I consider a true, close friend. I’m fairly sure he feels the same about me.
[JIO: Oh, I would say so. But, we’ll find out for sure when we sit him down for the interview… Now, what about what you do in your downtime? What do you do for fun – or to relax?]
Is this the part where I’m supposed to tell you I like long walks on the beach and sipping champagne by candlelight? Sorry. The beach is a great place to go for a run – the sand really challenges your muscles – but I can’t just hang out there. I prefer to run there in what passes for winter in this area (usually no less than 50 degrees, even in the heart of February) but it’s too hot for my Midwestern blood in the summer (when it can soar over 100 degrees and stay there for a week at a time).
Also, I don’t drink. Ever. Why? It’s disgusting. I hate the taste, the smell and the effect alcohol has on people. Nothing good has ever happened when alcohol was involved. I saw it up close and personal for a few short years growing up, as my grandmother was an alcoholic. I saw it day in and day out on the job, both in uniform and as a detective. No, my poison of choice is either ginger ale or a Coke.
I also prefer tea over coffee about six times out of ten, but will take either if offered.
[JIO: I’m the same way, though more like eight out of ten for tea. Now the important questions: are you seeing anyone? Ever been married or would like to? Kids?]
Right now I am single. Never married, but there were a few serious relationships over the years that never seemed to last more than a year. Without getting into the psychobabble that my uncle would tell you right about now, I believe that it was just the stress of my job that ended up ruining everything. I know many cops have fantastic relationships with their spouses and family. I just wasn’t one of them, apparently. I’m not opposed to the idea of finding the “one” someday, but I also believe that I’ll be perfectly happy if that never happens. I guess that’s in God’s hands. Yes, I know what I said before but I did not say that I ever stopped believing He exists or that He has a plan for my life. I just said I’m not on speaking terms with Him.
I’m not a big fan of children. I don’t have the patience for that. I like animals, but have not lived anywhere that allows pets so far so haven’t had any of my own since I was a kid. A dog would be cool someday. I could take it on runs with me. Yeah, that would be nice.
[JIO: Great! Dogs are awesome. But remember: Adopt, don’t shop!]
I’ll have to look into that.
[JIO: Good. Now the old standbys: Favorite color? What books do you like to read? Movies? Music?]
Uh, my favorite color is dark blue. My favorite book genre is sci-fi, and true crime, to an extent. My favorite movie genre is thriller, but the kind that really makes you think, makes you work for it. I don’t like cheap, easy mindless entertainment. I like movies set in space, too – not necessarily sci-fi, though I like that, too, a little. I don’t listen to a lot of music, but when I do it is usually new wave. I am definitely a child of the ’80s in that respect. As for the new stuff being cranked out today, I think I’d rather be subjected to fingernails on a chalkboard the rest of my life than hear any more pop “music.” I’m talking to you, Gaga, Minaj and all the rest.
[JIO: Hear, hear! Okay, last but not least – maybe least: Give us something juicy.]
[Frowns] I’m not really a juicy kind of person… I sleep in boxers or track pants and a tee shirt, unless it’s too hot. Then it’s just the boxers. There, I gave them something someone might think is juicy, I suppose. Happy? Ugh.
Is that good enough or should I go on? I think I’m just going to stop there. Sorry, I have work to do.
Thanks, Noah! Join us next time, when we sit down with the loyal and charming, Detective Allan Franks.