After the unpleasant task of my most recent post, in which I bade farewell to an old friend and colleague, we’re moving forward in a more positive direction. It’s time for another look behind the scenes of Old Bones. In today’s entry we focus on a darkly humorous piece called It Slipped My Mind.
It’s the narrative of a man who has just killed his wife and is on his way home from disposing of the body, and explains to the reader his motives behind such a heinous act. He’s convinced it wasn’t his wife at all, but rather an intricately detailed duplicate, possibly planted by the government or aliens or some such. The imposter was able to fool him for a while but ultimately made a fatal mistake: she asked him if he’d ever eaten jambalaya before. His real wife would have known instantly that he had, because of the back story involved with that particular dish. He knew for sure then, and took it upon himself to take her out before she could do whatever dastardly thing to him she’d been sent to do.
This story was inspired, as so many of the good ones are, by real life events. In this case, it was based on a conversation between my wife and I – about jambalaya. Now, my repertoire in the kitchen is a bit on the limited side, but one thing I do make very well is jambalaya. In our early days together I figured whipping up a batch would be a good way to impress her, and asked if she’d ever had it before. What I didn’t remember is that not only had I asked her that no fewer than four times already… I had already actually made it for her. Her incredulous look, and the fact that she razzed me about it (and still does to this day) made me wonder if maybe I was getting a bit forgetful. I tried to cover for my oversight by pretending I was just teasing her, but she saw right through me and wasn’t having any of it.
It’s become a running joke between us now. If one of us forgets something, the other will counter with “but have you ever had jambalaya before?” Aside from the fun we have with it, the incident sparked my creative “what if…?” mind. I thought about what might happen if the circumstances were a bit different and things got out of hand, and as it played out in my mind this story began to take shape. I won’t spoil the ending here, I’ll just say it’s pretty clever, if I do say so myself.
So even though nobody actually died over this tasty dish, the story is deeply rooted in real events – based on a true story, as they say. My wife, who is still very much alive, got a kick out of the fact I was able to turn this ridiculous sequence of events into a horror story. The lesson here, of course, is this: writers will always find a way to mine a story from what may seem to be nothing of substance. Just something to bear in mind whenever I’m around.
Until next time, be safe, talk soon!