I was a weird kid. One day I skulked around my neighborhood, howling and snarling, and when the other kids came to investigate, I would run and hide, only to pop out again somewhere else along the block, ranting and raving. Finally I drew a crowd, and all my friends chased me up and down the street, trying to see just what the hell was wrong with me. I think I wanted them to believe I’d turned into a werewolf, or Mr. Hyde, or maybe just a crazed maniac. It was all great fun, until they caught me. They were pissed, and demanded an answer. I had none. So I was shunned and ridiculed for a time after that. Until everyone’s attention was drawn by other sport. Maybe it was the kid with bowed legs, or that the swimming pool had opened in Garvin Park.
I made up stories all the time. I was a notorious liar. I told other kids outlandish tales constantly, the weirder the better. And if I could make them believe them, it gave me a warm sense of accomplishment. Sometimes it worked. Other times, I nearly got beat up for it.
I tried it on my parents from time to time as well. Of course, they never bought any of it. I remember sitting on the basement steps one evening, telling my stepmom about my harrowing experience of being kidnapped by a couple of faceless, sinister men in a big black car. I think the story sort of unraveled at the end, when the kidnappers lost interest in me and decided to let me go. I even cried while telling it, for effect. My stepmom feigned amazement, nodding and commenting in all the right places while she did the laundry. I did that kind of stuff all the time, then finally my dad would get fed up and tell me to knock it off.
My little brother, David, was easiest to fool. Once, I convinced him that I fashioned a time machine out of some sort of remote control device. Another time, I had him so scared that I could turn myself into a Jekyll-and-Hyde creature with a concoction I created from my chemistry set, that he threatened to shoot me with our dad’s .22 Ruger until I convinced him that I’d made the whole thing up.
Finally I quit telling lies out loud and started writing them down on paper. While my brothers played outside in the summer, dirt-smeared and naked as savages to the waist, I stayed mostly in my room, writing feverishly, stories about people traveling to and from other worlds, vampires, or that proverbial monster hiding under the bed. Like I said, I was a weird kid. It was just that I was always more comfortable in those fantasy worlds than I was in the real one.
Hell, I still am.