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Friday, September 28, 2012

Too Crazy for Fiction

Have you ever heard the expression, "Too crazy not to be true"?
Well, there's a reason for it. Because all the editors but I have ever had are the most incredibly logical people in the entire world. Mr. Spock would be proud of the lot of them.
Editors like a story to flow logically. And sure that is not very much to ask for, but
for me as a writer, I just like to think of the crazy stuff that actually happens! I'm thinking Seinfeld crazy. Stuff that makes no sense at the beginning, but is all tied nicely together into an insane situation at the very end.
That's the kind of story I want to write.
But, like I said before, I have editors.
So my stories are logical.
Still...yesterday, in the school where I volunteer, there is this one computer. It's an older model, used only for teaching speed reading, and sits in the corner. But at the end of the day when it shut down, it waits 1 min. and starts up again. That's right, it starts up again.
Incredible, isn't it? Now has a suspense writer, I have to admit I'm intrigued with this computer. What if…
Any of you with an imagination could come up with 100 scenarios, but would they fly with your editor?
Of course not. A computer that turns itself on just does not make sense.

It's too crazy not to be true.

Let me tell you another story. When I was still in the military, back in 1993, I worked in a large maintenance hangar. It was surrounded by a chain-link fence, and the only access into the compound was through a gate that was guarded. There was this little gatehouse, and the privates all took turns doing nicknamed ''penalty box duty''. The private would have to stop each vehicle entering, and get each person to sign in. And watching from the front office was our Sergeant-major, who made sure that this rule was enforced.
Will this one particular week, the young private in the penalty box, was doing an extra week because he had waved in to the compound a friend. It was a very cold February, and I guess the young private didn't want to have his friend climbed out of the truck run into the little penalty box, dragging all kinds of cold air with him, just to sign a sheet of paper. It was that cold.
Meanwhile, inside the maintenance hangar, upstairs in the coffee room, which was always nice and warm, was a large conveyor belt type of bread toaster, which had an annoying habit of overheating. And cold, February days in central Ontario called for lots of toast being made. But I was at the far end of the main floor workshop, freezing my butt off, for with a dozen big bay doors going up and down all day long, it was impossible to heat .I only wish I had the time to spend up in the coffee room eating hot toast.
Well this one day, with that young private stewing in the penalty box, and the Sergeant-major watching him carefully from the front office, and me way at the back of a cold workshop floor, the obvious happened.
The toaster overheated.
And set off the fire alarm.
Now this in itself is hardly newsworthy, but remember, it was freezing out, and I was not going to stand outside without my parka just because the toaster was acting up. The trouble was, my parka was in my locker, and access to the women's locker room was only available through the long hallway leading to the front offices. I tore off at a dead sprint, something I should've done in physical training that morning, because I had mere seconds to get my parka.
(Okay, this is not a picture of me in my parka, but it's still a cold scene)

Not because of any fire that may be burning, but because during a fire, a huge steel door would come barreling down and divide the main workshop floor from the offices, and like I just mentioned, access to the women's change room was on the far side.
With the combat roll that would've made Indiana Jones proud, I dove and twisted and got myself under the steel door chugging down at top speed, just in time. I quickly ducked into the women's change room, grabbed my parka from the locker, and dashed out. The only way to leave the building now would to be through the front office and past the window of our esteemed Sergeant-major who had been spending the morning keeping an eye on the private who had waved his buddy through the week before.
No sooner was I outside, heaving with exertion, because you remember that I only put the effort into physical work to get my parka and not at the physical training earlier that morning, I looked up at the penalty box.
The fire trucks had arrived.
I could see the driver of the first fire truck, having stopped at the penalty box, with his window rolled down talking to the young private. Everyone watched him, especially the Sergeant-major.
All of a sudden, the fire fighter driving the vehicle climbed out of his fire truck because he had to sign in.
And with a smug look on his face, the private opened the door to the penalty box to allow the firefighter to enter.
I looked around for the Sergeant-Major, but I couldn't find him. I still had to find my platoon and report in, but as I walked along the length of the maintenance hanger toward them, I was finding myself looking forward to the next change of rules concerning the penalty box.
The story actually happened, believe it or not, and it's just crazy enough to be true. But don't see it in any of my stories anytime soon. It's just not logical.
But wouldn't it make a great scene?
Do you have any too crazy not to be true stories? Tell me about them. It's not like they'll be believed by any editor of mine!


Norah Wilson said...

LOL! Making the emergency response firefighters sign in! Love it!

Barbara Phinney said...

Norah, it is so crazy, my editors would never buy it. LOL!