People always ask me where I get the ideas for my books and the things that happen in them. They come from everywhere. Maybe a snippet of conversation I hear someplace, maybe a true crime show that gives me an idea, and sometimes I just listen to the voices in my head. But as I’ve said many times, truth is always stranger than fiction, and if I wrote about some of the things I see on the evening news in a book, people would think I was really stretching reality. In fact, someone once asked me if the stories I share in my Newspaper Days blog posts are true. Yes, every one of them is.
One crazy story happened when I was a single father back in the mid-80s. I had a woman stalker. She was a volunteer classroom mom at my son’s school, and I met her there. At the time, I was working two jobs, one of which was selling cars on the weekend. She bought a new car from me, and we chatted while the paperwork was being drawn up. Then she called me a time or two, asking questions about the car.
The next thing I knew, she called telling me she understood how hard it was to be a single parent and offering to “help me,” whatever that meant. From there, it progressed to her happening to be at a restaurant or grocery store where I was, “just by coincidence.” It ended with her coming to my house when I wasn’t home and grabbing my nine-year-old in a big hug and telling him she was his new mother. It scared the hell out of him, and rightly so.
I put an immediate stop to that nonsense and warned her never to call or come around again. A few nights later she called me and said since I had “rejected” her, she had taken an overdose of pills and slit her wrists. Even if she was a looney tunes, I didn’t want her to die, so I called the police, and they sent an officer to her house to do a welfare check. He called me an hour or so later and said she was drunk, but that was all, there was no suicide attempt. I happened to know the officer, and he stopped at my house a week later to ask if I had heard from her since. I told him no, and he said, “Lucky you. She has called Dispatch wanting me to come by her place at least five times a day since I was there and sent a dozen roses to me at the police station.”
Florida seems to have so many wackadoodles that the term Florida Man has become something of a pop-culture catchphrase. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. A few days ago, the news here had a story about some fool at Jensen Beach who saw a small shark in the water. His buddy dared him to catch it barehanded, so he did. And the shark did what sharks do. It bit him on the arm and would not let go. It wasn’t a big shark, only about three feet long, but that’s more shark than I want biting me! Fortunately, they were eventually able to get the shark to let go of the man’s arm, and it was put back in the water (the shark, not the arm). The bite wasn’t serious, but it just shows how foolish people can be, and how an author does not have to look hard for story material.
Then there is the story about the man who was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a live alligator through a Palm Beach County Wendy’s drive-thru window.
Or how about the Florida man who stole a peacock in Coconut Grove and got chased by a flock of pissed off birds? Do you see a pattern here about Florida men and critters? You just know I’ll figure out a way to get some of these stories into a book.
Thought For The Day – If 2020 were a drink, it would be called “Colonoscopy Prep”.