People ask me where I get the ideas for the stories within the story. That's an easy one. The general idea usually comes from some life lesson or experience that I or someone in my family have lived through and survived to tell about. But as the voice on the 1960s Dragnet television series used to say "only the names were changed to protect the innocent".
One such story comes from my father. Legend has it that his dad was quite the ladies' man and I personally, can name three wives. When my father was 16, he, his youngest sister, Alice, and their father, my grandfather, were traveling from Western Oklahoma to Arkansas upon the separation and impending divorce of his last wife. Their plans included driving to Carlisle, Arkansas to pick up daddy's eldest sister and then stay with relatives until Grandpa was back on his feet.
The journey was long and they ended up staying in a travel court in Chickasha, Oklahoma for the night. Sometime during the night, there was an explosion. The hot water heater exploded and Grandpa and Alice were killed instantly. Daddy, on the other hand, was rushed by ambulance to an area hospital, where he was in a coma for several days. He was unable to put his dad and sister to rest and it burdened him his entire life.
The two were laid to rest in a Chickasha cemetery on February 12, 1929.
Daddy and my Aunt Gladys grew up very differently. She was given a proper education and he was used as a family workhorse of shorts, even being taken out of school at times to help with harvesting of crops. While she went to college and became a teacher, he was drafted and went to Japan during WWII.
He was a cook in the Army. When he came home to mother and my two sisters (I was born many years later), he opened a restaurant in Lonoke, Arkansas. A local judge frequently ate lunch there and came in many times asking to set up a meeting with Daddy and then would disappear for weeks on end, as if something kept him from keeping the appointment.
We later learned, through some genealogical searches, that all the records of the fire in Oklahoma as well as the probate records in our county were destroyed from the dates in question. There was talk about the soon-to-be ex-wife's lover hiring someone to cause that explosion. But no one knows for sure.
I only know that my father went to his grave thinking his father and sister might have been brutally murdered, and he, severely injured and left for dead. He suffered from anger issues and could be volatile at times. For all my life, that was the father I knew. He was definitely a product of his upbringing. But I loved him then...and I love him now.