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If you've read my book, you know that the majority of the stories in it are both true and humorous. There is a disclaimer at the beginning that a few of the stories are only based on true events, and that some, even fewer, are completely fictional. I don't, however, tell the reader which are which.
There is one exception to this: Enid Wakely and the Great Tornado of 1948. I'm happy to tell the reader that that story is completely fictional. It's not even based on anything that happened to me.
I made that one up.
I found it a bit disquieting when one of my readers, a friend from Grade School, told me it brought back memories.
That certainly wasn't the intention. Although I guess I understand both why and how that happened. Enid was based, very loosely, on a teacher from that time, and I won't even mention here who that was. Although many students would know as soon as the teacher is described.
Anyway, it's the oldest story in the book. My first draft was written about thirty-five years ago. I remember reading it to one of my classes at Herman Secondary School. Without giving anything away, I remember with pride that when I came to the end of the story, the twist, one of my students, exclaimed, "That Bitch! Oh! Sorry Sir!"
It was good. But when I gave a version of it to my sister-in-law to read about two years ago, she said that it was too different from the rest of what I was writing - dark - too dark. "It's just not funny, Dave. Can you re-write it so that it's funny?"
After thirty-three years, I didn't think that it was possible. My student was correct all those years ago. And the twist at the end is essential. So I pulled it from the book, and kept writing other stories. But I returned to it again and again. Reading it over and over. Enid Wakely had to be a villain. Otherwise the story didn't work at all. Again, without giving anything away, I remember laughing out loud when I figured out that I could make the story funny, not by changing Enid at all - she would remain the villain, but by adding my brother as a character, and making him kind of a co-villain. Two for the price of one.
And although none of that sounds funny, I think it is. I sent the story off to my brother and asked his permission to present him to the world as a villain. He read it, laughed I think, and gave me permission. My sister-in-law agreed that it was much improved. To thank my brother, the very next story I wrote, made him a hero, and presented him far more as the real brother that I've been fortunate to have around for my whole life.