author of When the Chickens Come Home to Roost

Joe Cobb CrawfordMark Twain said it: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t“. Truth’s possibilities flourished during my recent three day Book Sign-A-Rama. I heard and saw things that only J.K. Rowling might have imagined. Just a sampling of each will give you a hint.

On Day One of Sign-A-Rama, I met a lady who told me the most amazing story. The lady was a widow whose husband had recently died. She had met her husband forty-three years ago in Oklahoma. He was a soldier from north Georgia stationed in Oklahoma. After marriage, he moved her to his home in north Georgia to live. Her husband was active in local business and civic activities. They spent their lives together until his recent death. Now the amazing part: Recently, she had researched her ancestry.  She learned her roots were originally in north Georgia. Her ancestors’ roots were in fact in the same part of Georgia where she had lived for the past forty-three years. In the late 1830s her ancestors had been removed from Georgia and forced to travel the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. This Cherokee Native American woman was now back in her ancestors’ old tramping ground- where they had lived for centuries. True irony and tragedy unfettered by possibilities.

When the Chickens Come Home to RoostThe Sunday afternoon Sign-A-Rama was a total disaster. I even received a traffic light citation in the county of the signing. The owner hosting the signing was pilfered and several items were destroyed. He’s crippled and mans his store on crutches. Had I known what happened on the day before my scheduled signing, I possibly would have stayed home. I asked the bookstore attendant “Where is everyone?” No other authors attended the signing and few people showed. His answer was, “they may have been scared away”. He went on to tell me the place had been shut down the day before. Police had found what they thought to be a bomb located near the store. It turned out to be nothing but a grocery sack full of clothes. A homeless person had left them there. It happened. My limited chicken catcher imagination isn’t capable of dreaming up this stuff.

The second day of the Sign-A-Rama was actually the most interesting day. I met a scientist who worked at the Savannah River Nuclear Facility. He researched detection of explosive devices for the government. Also, I met a person who was maybe too interesting. Let me explain: A heavy-laden lady with books, papers, and a large bag walks up to my book signing table. Her face had a familiar expression- a look I’ve seen on teachers’ face at the end of a hectic day. She looked to be “in search of intelligent life in the universe”. She said nothing. She just looked at me like I was in trouble and would possibly be kept in at recess. The silence was getting deafening so I finally asked, “would you like a book?” She didn’t respond and continued to stare at me. Finally, she reached in her enormous bag, brought out a wrapped “Starburst” piece of candy, and handed it to me. Then slowly she uttered the words I can’t get out of my mind:

“The…Store…Manager…Here…Starts…His…Name…With…The…Letter…’T’…as in……..’Team!’” Still staring, she squint one eye and tilted her head at me as if to say “better you die first rather than forget these important words I just told you”. Then she flitted away.

I have absolutely no clue of the meaning of her words. If you do, consider writing a Fictional Novel and please let me know.