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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/9 - Truth Becomes Fiction

I've completed the latest proof-reading of my next novel except for two paragraphs, which I added this morning. I will look at them later. My only concern about the book is its brevity. It's 190 pages after the preliminary stuff. I know I could have added more on the historical side, but I didn't want to pad the narrative just for the sake of making it longer. The following is from the personal side of my life, incidents that actually occurred. I believe they add nice color to the tale. The two are unusual in that at that time I was almost always an observer rather than a participator. I've changed things a bit. Pump and Binky were not involved in the second incident, and Jim Avery was such a mature, conservative guy that he would never have done what I assigned him here. I needed a name, and his popped into my head. I've since decided to change it to Keith Volk, who was one of the triumvirate depicted below. The other member of that trio was Bruce Samarian, whose name I assigned to a doctor serving in Vietnam. He actually did become one, leaving WMU and his football scholarship after his sophomore year for the pre-med program at Wayne St. in Detroit, a move that made such an impression on me. In the novel. I shortened Western Michigan University to Western and Kalamazoo to Kazoo, which creates a sort of alternate universe, covers any errors I might make about each, and affords poetic license. I shortened the name of the dorm complex from Garneau-Harvey/ Eicher-Lefevre to Harvey and Eicher. Since Tom, the main character, is a few years older than I was, the incident takes place before the actual date it occurred, 1967. Truth becomes fiction. Finally, although the following is off-color, it's mild compared to a lot of what's written and filmed these days:

   It was his freshman year. I followed a group led by two sophomores, Pump and Binky, on a misadventure. We went to the basement, where Pump climbed a couple of rungs affixed to the wall, opened a three by three door, and crawled along the duct on the other side off it, the rest of us following. The "tunnel" ran under both Harvey Hall and Eicher, the girls’ dorm. Fortunately, the floor was covered in sand, which made it easy on our knees. The way was lit by light bulbs affixed to a side wall. We made it to the other side and went up to the deserted lobby. Binky whispered urgently to Pump to put his flashlight away. He stuffed it in his back pocket without turning it off and, as he took the first step of a stairway, a large halo appeared on the ceiling. Something spooked us and we retreated. What had been our aim – a panty raid? In those days such events were restricted to a large group of males rallying outside a girls’ dorm, clapping hands and shouting: “We want pants!” Maybe we were intent on a more intimate way. Before re-entering the "tunnel," a couple of the boys stole boxes of canned fruit from a storage room. They pushed those along while crawling along on hands and knees. We were in such a hurry to get back that someone inadvertently kept knocking out the light bulbs affixed to the side of the wall. As we reached the door on our side, we heard voices. Fortunately, Pump was in the lead. Whoever was there, no doubt dorm staff, tried to open the door, the opposite knob of which was in the grasp of Pump’s powerful grip. He grew up on a farm in Indiana, pitching hay. He was strong as an ox. Lucky us. Apparently, our escapade had been discovered. The guys on the other side gave up trying to get the door open and went elsewhere, for a key I assumed. That gave us a chance to escape.
   Tom glowed in the remembrance. He’d been so naive that he hadn't even considered that the action might have resulted in expulsion and the loss of his scholarship. His next entry would be about the night the girls turned the tables on the guys, flocking to the grounds of Harvey Hall and shouting toward the windows: “We want jocks!” Pump and Binky, roommates, suggested mooning them, and I eagerly joined in. While Jim Avery manned the switch, the three of us stood on Binky's bed, dropped our pants and turned our butts to the window. “Now!” said Pump, and Jim hit the switch. Screams followed. The three of us fell to the floor laughing.

Today I was reminded how fortunate I am. The icy wind at my usual nook sent the floating book shop to an alternate site. The Chase bank serve as a shield for all but a few gusts, and the periodic sunshine made the temperature tolerable. Soon Bad News Billy showed and bought up the my remaining inventory of pictorials, including Tiger Woods' How I Play Golf, and also Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow, and the DVD of Mud (2012), starring Matthew McConaughey, and a large deck of cards featuring naked, well-endowed women. My thanks, and also to the gentleman who purchased Cheap Psychological Tricks: How To Get What You Want and Be Happy by Perry W. Buffington.
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