My four sisters Charlene, Norma, Mary, and Bertholde are wonderful generous adults, with professional designations and they all lead rich interesting lives. Charlene's in Little Current, Ontario, and the other three are in Sudbury, where we all grew up.
Mary has several university degrees in both official languages. Bertholde runs a successful counselling business. Charlene and Norma are retired from nursing and have three fantastic kids each.
|ACCORDING TO CHATELAINE MAGAZINE, I WAS RAISED IN |
A HOUSE FULL OF BOTHERLY LOVE.
In other words, my sisters present as normal.
All you have to know is, as my children were growing up, their nickname for their beloved aunt Mary Carter (BSc, M.Ed.) was “Auntie Dumb Bunny.”
For another example, a few years ago, after a long and selfless career as an RN, Charlene decided to take a break from helping the sick and landed a retail job in a gift shop near her home in Little Current, ON. It was called the “Cuckoo’s Nest.”
I remember phoning.
This was her, answering: “Cuckoo’s Nest. Charlene speaking.”
I thought: “Took a while, but she’s made it home.”
I love my sisters with all my heart but, you know, sometimes……
Take tomorrow for example.
Tomorrow, I’m going to interview one of my favourite writers—Linwood Barclay. I was pretty pleased with myself when I texted Charlene about tomorrow’s meeting, and she got back to me with, “I love his books!”
The interview is for InBetween Magazine, which is aimed at parents of teenagers, and when you read the next issue, you’ll see why Mr. Barclay is an apt subject for InBetween.
Meantime, right in the middle of the intersection where Mr. Barclay’s books meet my interests, there’s some really bizarre stuff going on and it somehow involves my grounded-seeming sisters.
Mr. Barclay writes thrillers. And in many thrillers, there’s a pattern. Regular life in a small town is interrupted when, say, a little kid goes missing, and soon dozens of citizens get caught in a growing swamp of troubles and 290 pages later, everything comes to a climax involving in a burning dynamite factory, a boat chase or a shootout in an abandoned factory. The End.
It’s not that thrillers are simple. Quite the opposite. A decent thriller, by Linwood Barclay, Michael Connelly, Dan Brown or Stephen King, is full of mysterious magnetism. I wish I had an ounce of those guys' talent. To make a 21st-century book reader want to turn a page to see what happens next borders on the miraculous. The fact that I—and my sisters—get addicted to these books is proof of that magic.
But back to the cuckoo’s nest.
|WE'LL CALL THE CLINIC "THE LINWOOD."|
Norma and Bertholde, both of whom have tons of admiration for Mr. Barclay, want me to ask him this: What about post-traumatic stress disorder?
All those fictional characters: How are they expected to go back to their everyday lives after the book ends?
Out here in the real world, most of us have never seen a decent car crash. Really. Who gets to witness a murder?
But in a thriller? A small-town mayor who used to work for the phone company turns psycho, he offs a few locals, and ultimately gets torn to pieces by a high-powered blade in the darkness of an old sawmill milliseconds before the single mom’s baby gets saved by the handsome retired cop. And a bunch of locals are on hand to see it happen.
A character might start the story as an elementary school teacher but by the time the book ends, the teacher has had a front-row seat watching machine-gun-wielding FBI agents chase a malevolent piano-playing physician-turned murderer up a half-erected skyscraper until he falls to his death. Right before the teacher’s eyes.
“Think of the PTSD!” argue my (whacked) sisters.
According to Bertholde and Norma, when I meet Linwood Barclay, I am to tell him that they are planning to open a PTSD clinic specifically for all those characters and bit-part-players from thriller novels who need counselling after the books end.
They are planning a PTSD hospital for fictional characters. Ladies and gentlemen? My sisters.
Bertholde wants to be Executive Director and Norma the Clinical Director. I think Charlene should be on reception. Mary can do it all in French.
Two more things. It was actually me who came up with the PTSD idea. The fact that Norma and Bertholde thought it was a good one is the scary part.
Which reminds me. Just the other day, I mentioned to my brother Tom that if he ever wondered why our father liked a little nip every now and then, just remember; Dad had a whack of sisters, too.