I should warn you, the stories I tell are lies. These fabrications describe events that never took place, and relate the lives of characters who never existed. Frequently, my stories are so bizarre that even the most naïve reader can recognize my dishonesty right away. But sometimes, I employ more subtlety, appearing weave honest, upstanding narratives of true events, only to later reveal a strangeness impossible in the real world. While decent writers toil away at useful nonfiction books, I squander my talents on fictions that have no place in the lives of people who wish to stay firmly grounded in the real world.
I will tell you something of my life, but I remind you not to trust anything I say.
I became a liar early in life. In high school, I was even in an organized society of liars. We called it our high school literary magazine.
Like many young people, I had a fascination with the world around me. It led me into the sciences. I studied marine biology at the University of Miami, learning about the alien creatures lurking beneath the surface of our oceans. These creatures are so strange that many seem made up, but they, unlike the denizens lurking within my stories, are real.
But even at UM — whose very motto, “Magna est Veritas,” means “Great is Truth” — I discovered opportunities to improve my skill at dishonesty. A secret cabal of professors in the English department taught classes in lying, which they euphemistically referred to as “creative writing.”
I spent twenty years putting my scientific education to use in labs, looking for the truth instead of making up lies. I’ve drilled for ice cores in Antarctica, identified mysterious white powder found in a threatening letter, and investigated the cause of the overnight annihilation of hundreds of water birds. But, as the years crept on, I realized that scientists aren’t adults who see the world with childlike wonder. They grow up. Fascination with the world around them metamorphoses into obsession with minutiae. Scientific rigor petrifies into pedantry. Lab work becomes more about bureaucracy and less about being amazed at how cool the world is.
I realized how important lies are. Lies are only possible because of imagination. My imagination was in real danger of being crushed, a fate which would have transformed me into a soulless bureaucrat. So, I escaped. I made a dummy out of wadded-up parafilm and human hair, put my lab coat and safety glasses on it, and made a break for it. By the time my ruse was discovered, I was already gone.
I live in Lloyd, a former whistle-stop deep in rural North Florida where bounty hunters from the lab can’t find me. My scientific career over, I support myself with the only talent left to me — my ability to lie. I make up stories, and hope they are entertaining enough that people will pay me money for them. I use the money to feed not only myself, but my family, and 200-odd pounds of dog (divided, for convenience, into three discrete units). I spend as much time as possible looking at bugs and fishing, so a good portion of my stories involve fishing or bugs.
(The image on this page is modified from “Mysterious Shadow” by Utahraptor. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.)