Authors Note

 

Fact is Stranger then fiction: While working on this project I discovered an ironic twist the team effected by the Clear Creek murders for the most part suffered not as a group but rather detached.  The victims were known by many on my senior crosscountry team in Denton we did not talk about the subject never came up. 

When I began this project Ronnie Joe Neal who raped and murdered the mother of two of my teammates was on death row.  June 2010 he died 17 years 1 week 3 days after the infamous Clear Creek murders occurred.  Coach Ponsonby who was a teammate in Denton rejoiced that a group of people now adults whom he he never knew were spared the stays of execution of a man who had destroyed a loved one.  He shared a common teammate with the Unicorns of 1990-1991.  He realized the kinship of all cross-country runners and delighted that a cup of suffering he drank from would be spared his fellow now former crosscountry runners.  Now back to the story.

May 1 1991 A car drove past Hunt Texas following the Guadalupe River Valley in it Diane Tilly, myself and my mother. Talk touched on Amy Cook and her track performance and the upcoming year. In this a sub plot in this novel was born as the car passed Hunt General store.  That trip was inspired I was bound for the Third Annual Friendship Festival Laity Lodge Youth Camp. About 6pm the source of internal tumult that had been unnoticed my freshman year ended. As you read the novel Stephen's disappearance his first one is a plot device.  Fact and fiction mingle I hated Heights because of my ties with Winston School San Antonio.  At Winston I learned I had wings.  On May 1 1991 I started gaining the wisdom to use them properly.  I accepted Christ. In doing so elements of this novel were born.  As I revise this a night After Christmas I pray that the unknown murderer of Andrew Gover come to know the peace found by accepting the Lordship of Christ.  My arms lie waiting to embrace that person as a next of kin the moment they repent.  I am trying hard not to make this too morbid but the fact remains from two high schools both teams have been rocked by tragic losses over a decade apart.  I would meet Cari Crews less then six months later.  Within 72 hours of the 17th anniversary of Clear Creek I got back into contact with teammate far more connected to the tragedy of Clear Creek then I was. 

 The opening run as furious and intense as it is is not to far off of conditioning runs made at Laity Lodge Youth Camp summer 1993.  For LLYC'ers the run description rings very true to the locales.  I heard about Clear Creek     while making a phone call near dinner time while I was a staffer at Echo Valley.  The phone call is burned on my mind like a brand.  My life changed!  There is other irony attached.

Tales of the Dead Armadillo is a work of fiction the team described never existed the season described never occurred. I guess its inspiration was seeing the book Friday Night Lights in a book stop off North New Braunfels in Alamo Heights some time in 1990.  There are some team members who perhaps remember my journaling this represents the end of the journey.  While I spent time on Facebook one sub plot emerged. I could not resist it!  Two people share two classes.  Though one graduated a Unicorn and one graduated a Bronco they belong both in classes.  I ran on 4 cross-country teams. I was a Unicorn 1990-1991 those two seasons and a Bronco 1992-1993. I had lots of grist for this mill.  The Denton teams were far less dramatic.   

Now the miracle knee sub plot: fact is stranger then fiction.  My knee has been an issue fact and fiction to ride close here.  Crosscountry season 1992 and track season 1994 were marked by a mysterious absence of knee issues.  We are talking from inflammation and pain needing constant attention those two seasons had far less attention paid and far less concern given.  The knee's behavior on Stephen King (play on word Esteban Erik) is actually very similar to the crosscountry season in 1992 except I did less knee maintenance.   

On another front the main character like the author is dyspraxic.  There are very dyspraxic tendencies hinted at and overtly displayed.  Teachers read this!  This book can take you into the dyspraxic mind.

I did struggle with the plot line of the main character dealing with a friend’s murder.  It belongs where I placed it.  I know it seems odd but well having lived certain things come with the obligation to tell the tale.  I also feel the obligation to two of my teammates to add that aspect to the story.  You will find a more nuanced view of NBHS in this story if you compare it to Backroad's Buzzards Cafe.   It reflects my journey as substitute teacher and a little growth dealing with my home town. Insight at Taft, Jay, Clark teacher lounge and talking to friends.  It was strange recalling incidents that occurred before having a friend murdered.  Its been a long time.  I decided to include that part of the plot to tell a story that now marks memories of both teams.  In the case of Cari Crews and Jesus and Diane Tilly lives were well lived. This quirk of the plot is something I felt belonged.  In the end that aspect of the story in this novel unites a girl who lost her cousin, children who lost a mother, and teammates who lost a friend.

I could not resist putting two men who have passed away in a place of honor in this book.  Coach Bingham and Doc Bowman do get cameos in here.  The fictional actions of the men in the novel are loving memorial tributes to two men.  Doc Bowman would have helped a student say goodbye to a friend.  His fictionalized conduct in the book is warm supportive and loving like the man he was.  His concern for students was genuine. He was demanding teacher who would drain a red pen on a paper and not take it till the paper he knew was in it would emerge.  Coach Bingham former PE Teacher Seele elementary.  The portrayal of him in the novel as role player in a key moment those former students would see him doing the deed and acting as portrayed.  His genuine love for students his moral compass defined the man.  The pleasure he would have taken I remember him clearly in a wheel chair on the track at Unicorn stadium at a football game.  I was a part of JROTC detail my love for the man smiles when I recall the memory.  The last I saw of him was at wedding glowing when some many of his former students around in college.  He would die shortly after.  

This book is dedicated in loving memory of the following people

Murder victims: Cari Crews, Diane Tilly

Untimely deaths: The parents of Amanda West, Doc Bowman all three lives left a rich legacy of students changed for the better in the classroom

Coach Bingham long time PE teacher Seele elementary.

Micheal Looney: last crosscountry coach one and only season in college Tony Gallucci informed me of death on Facebook September 21, 2010.  Loved chemistry prof at http://www.schreiner.edu (season year 1995)

Ex teammates of Distinction

Amy Cook, NBHS  1990-1991 Now teacher and Coach Churchill

Robin Shwab, NBHS  1990 Teacher

Corey Sanderford NBHS 1990 , Firefighter Washington state

Jonathan Ponsonby, 1992-1993 Denton Now a Coach

Patrick Comisky , 1992-1993 Denton USAF combat Vet!

Luke Slavens, Law enforcement Lewisville Police Department

Unnamed teamate who has served her country in ways that can be inferred

 

 

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