I began telling stories at a very early age, yep, I was a little liar. I’m not proud. It seemed a good survival technique at the time.

Me in the middle. By this age I was kicking my brother under the table. He would punch me and get punished. Tee hee.

Me in the middle. By this age I was kicking my brother under the table. He would punch me and get punished. Tee hee.

My craft developed into an art during my high school years. Born and raised in Ashdown, Arkansas, population 5,000, the most important part of my day was cruising in my Kelly green Toyota Celica and waving to other teenaged cruisers. Left hand poised at the top of the steering wheel ready for action. The cool one finger wave accompanied by a backward head nod acknowledged an acquaintance. A full palm, four-finger wave was reserved for friends. The forget-about-your-image and flap-your-arms-all-around wave could only be witnessed by my closest most trusted bffs.

This velour top is the closest vision I can provide of my green car. Though not made of velour, the car was kinda shiny. That's my sister on the left and half of my brother on the right.

This velour top is the closest vision I can provide of my green car. Though not made of velour, the car was kinda shiny. That’s my sister on the left and half of my brother on the right.

Perpetual cruising became the impetus of many a tardy slip to Mrs. Perkins’ speech class. My unfondness for this particular course made being late okay with me. Each time I requested the little pink slip for admittance to Mrs. Perkins’ classroom, the office secretary, Mrs. Davis asked, “Reason?” Soon I grew bored of my response, “I was cruising in my Kelly green Toyota, waving to everyone in town and didn’t make it to school on time.” Mrs. Davis must certainly be bored as well.

That realization created the perfect atmosphere for my two talents to collide: lying and connecting with people. In a generous effort to brighten her day, and a blatant attempt to delay my arrival to speech class, I began weaving tales in response to, Mrs. Davis’ “Reason?” The more elaborate the tale, the more class I missed. The more outlandish the story, the more belief and disbelief battled in her thoughts. Collecting a tardy slip highlighted my mornings and I’m almost sure she looked forward to it as well.

Ashdown High School, home of the Panthers and some of the most dedicated, caring teachers you'd ever want instructing your kids.

Ashdown High School, home of the Panthers and some of the most dedicated, caring teachers you’d ever want instructing your kids.

After a few weeks of straining her ears to listen in Mrs. Reed, the principal’s secretary started coming out of her back office to listen to the days’ adventure. Soon, even Mr. Pickle, the assistant principal joined our little story group.

Specific stories escape me, save one. Truth has a way of sticking like that. The story the Ashdown High School’s office staff deemed most unbelievable was the solitary tale of truth.

At that moment I knew real stories and real life contained more fascination than any work of fiction. I’ve dedicated myself to helping people tell their stories. That’s the honest truth, cross my heart hope to die.

Read the true, but unbelievable, story: Miss Della.