Life Expectancy

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A novel that expands on what it is to be human: Runaway, riding the rails, vagrancy, drugs, jail, mental illness, Christian Science, blackmail - Still human Watching the film Big Fish jolted me into renewed commitment to research and write a novel based on my father’s life. At the end of the film, a voiceover said that if a man tells a story over and over again, he becomes that story and therefore becomes immortal. Unlike the protagonist in Big Fish, my father never told ANY of his stories to anyone. Occasional fragments escaped from the edges of a dense fog - so thick that it covered everything in his past. I groped my way through the fog to find an outline of events that did happen or might have. Many events were based on apocryphal fragments that escaped - like gossip that was overheard but couldn’t be repeated. Life Expectancy is a novel that tells his story, beginning in Oklahoma in 1907.

Drama / Other
5.0 2 reviews
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Introduction: Begin Again

Begin again... a man with so many secrets. The legacy goes back to past generations and forward to current and emerging generations.

Respect for their elders past, present, and emerging... the usual mantra at the beginning of every public event in Canberra Australia, where I live. We recognize that we are on Ngunnawal land and extend our respect to their elders... Respect for elders is fundamental to the Aboriginal cultures of Australia, extending back over 65,000 years.

When I was growing up there was no respect for elders in our family. My mother complained about lack of love from her own mother and disgust for her stepfather. My father said nothing at all about his birth family. He covered up his past.

Life Expectancy is fiction based on events in the life of my father, W. Lon Hutchison. The only clues about his life are documented intersections with the United States legal system. I have followed those clues to come closer to someone I never knew, although I lived in the same house with him for eighteen years.

Runaway, riding the rails, vagrancy, drugs, jail, mental illness, Christian Science, successful businessman, blackmail - Life Expectancy is a story that expands on being human.

Through fiction I propose to reconcile my family with forgiveness for future generations. Too late for my brother, who was clipped by a bus while waiting for a traffic light on a corner in Mazatlan, Mexico in 2014. He hit the ground, (wearing no helmet), and died almost instantly. And for my sister who never forgave me, for what I don’t know, but refused to see me when I was visiting Kansas City in 2016. She died some months later of cancer, but she would not talk with me about her illness or anything else.

Why fiction? Because a different truth lies in stories where point of view is acknowledged, where readers can draw their own conclusions and think about what happened or might have happened.

An introduction welcomes a guest at the door, rather expected or not, invites that person inside, and ensures that she or he feels welcome and is glad they stopped by.

I invite you in with the words, come home, come home, it’s supper time.. Words my mother called out, standing at the front door, while we children continued playing in the street, well past sunset. We would resist her call, but finally we had to come inside.

I resisted sharing this story, but eventually we all have to come home, come home for supper time. Now let us sit down together.

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