A story caught somewhere between truth and fiction

Louisiana's controversial and powerful governor, Huey P. Long
Louisiana’s controversial and powerful governor, Huey P. Long

STORIES ARE TRIGGERED by the things we hear, by the people we meet, by the people we wished we had met.

The good stories are the ones that dangle somewhere in the darkness between truth and fiction.

We hope the stories are true.

They intrigue us.

They tempt our imaginations.

We figure they are probably fiction.

But what if they weren’t.

On such foundations, good novels are built.

I heard this story from my father who came to Kilgore during the turbulent days of the East Texas oil boom.

“Was it true?” I asked him.

He smiled.

“There’s always a little bit of truth hidden in every lie you hear,” he said.

He said nothing else.

He didn’t need to.

The roughneck, my father said, looked like he could have well been a man on the run.

But then, most roughnecks did.

He said he had a name, but no one thought it was his real one, and time has forgotten what he called himself, if, perhaps, time had ever cared.

He was from Louisiana, he said.

People came to Kilgore from a lot of places.

“I wasn’t always in the oil business,” he said.

Very few were.

“I was one of Huey P. Long’s bodyguards,” he said.

Those in the saloon around him frowned.

The controversial Kingfish, Huey P. Long, was dead, gunned down in the Louisiana State Capitol by a curious little doctor, provided the news reports were accurate, and not all of them were.

“The doctor’s gun didn’t kill him,” the roughneck said.

Those around him shrugged.

“My gun did,” he said.

Was he telling the truth, those around him wondered?

Or was it just whiskey talking?

Those around him ordered another drink.

Oil was flowing, times were better than they had been in years, and they weren’t concerned about what the roughneck had or hadn’t done.

Huey P. Long, his living and his dying, was Louisiana’s problem, not theirs.

Please click the book cover image to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his books.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    I sometimes believe that all stories are caught somewhere between fact, rumors, and fiction. The lines can get really blurred, and no one cares if it’s a good story.

    • Just today someone left this as part of a comment on Pride’s Children: “I’m seeing how you put yourself into Kary.”

      But not really: think of me as the magician behind the curtain in the magical land of Oz – some of it’s true, some of it’s literally true, and some of it is damned lies and statistics. And no one should care – if it’s a good story.

      And if it isn’t, well, they shouldn’t read. and they won’t.

      That last bit? It’s what keeps us writers honest: we can’t compel people to read us, we can only seduce them into bed with us.

      • Caleb Pirtle

        Alicia: I love your last line. That says it all.

    • Darlene Jones

      Facts are a matter of perspective, so yes, they get blurred. They also get blurred by media presentation. But weave those blurs into a good story and you’re set.

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