The Book I Had to Write
You see it all the time – the “must read” book. Sometimes that overused tagline turns out to be true. But as for me, my new novel, Farewell PFC POLK: The End of a Nightmare, was a “must write.”
For just about as long as I can remember, Charlie Polk’s story has been in my head, and now that it’s on paper the saga is firmly entrenched in my heart and soul.
Another common tagline is “based on a true story.” The only thing that separates Farewell PFC POLK from “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is my concern for the players in this story who are still living. Therefore, I invoked the old Dragnet disclaimer, “Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent?”
Charlie, Uncle Buddy as I knew him, was the hero of the family. I would have little recollection of him had my family not held him is such high regard. On May 28, 1955, two days shy of his 20th birthday, the U.S. Marine Corps Military Policeman was accidentally shot and killed by his best friend.
I was 7-years-old when it happened, and I was ill-prepared for my family’s reaction to the crisis. My grandmother, the family’s rock of faith, and my best friend was sidelined and catapulted into such a severe depression that I feared she would never recover. My grandfather blamed himself for the tragedy. He thought God was punishing him for his sins. My mother was so overwhelmed with grief at the loss of her brother that she sought medical help.
It would be an understatement to say that the summer of ’55 was miserable. The dark cloud that had engulfed my family seemed endless and left me to wonder if we would ever return to the joy of the past.
But…life goes on, and the human spirit does rise above the devastating consequences of the death of a loved one. The turning point came during a conversation between my grandmother and me. I won’t give it away here, but that discussion is detailed in the book.
In death, Buddy Polk became bigger than life. More handsome, more moral, more…perfect. His picture hung on the wall over the TV in my grandparent’s living room. All that was missing was his autograph, befitting the iconic pedestal upon which he had been placed.
He became the standard by which my life was to be measured. Buddy did it this way or that way. “Your Uncle Buddy would never have done that.” It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was no longer Richard Weirich. To be accepted, or so I thought, was to become Charles Fletcher Polk.
To be clear, I have never resented that expectation because he truly was a great person, And since his life has so much to do with my life, I decided that it was time to get to know him better. That’s why I researched and then wrote, Farewell PFC POLK: The End of a Nightmare.
This touching, heartwarming, and powerful story is now available and you can get it here. And if you like it, please do me the honor of sharing a review.