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Fact is more amazing than fiction

Published August 13. 2011 09:02AM

Years ago I took part in a writers' circle.

It was a nice group of creative people, some of the best folks I've ever met. I enjoyed getting to know each one.

But I didn't fit in.

For some reason, writers' circles tend to attract fiction writers.

I've never had much interest in fiction, other than Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind."

Someone asked why I didn't go into fiction writing. The answer is easy.

"There is nothing more compelling than the truth," I said. "Not only that, there is nothing more unbelievable than the truth. There is nothing more amazing than the truth. The truth is so incredible that just one tiny drop of truth outweighs all of the fiction ever written in the world." The older I get, the more resolute I feel about it.

Fiction is a wonderful thing, don't get me wrong. And I admire those devoted to it. But it's not for me. I'm geared to reality. I also enjoy writing to entertain. But instead of dealing in fiction, I'd rather try to make sense of the real world I happen to live in, to whatever extent possible. And I don't like the term non-fiction. The terms should be reality and non-reality.

Over the past weeks, I've been working on a few unusual projects.

'Little boy lost,' was a two-part story about a tot who disappeared. It's not every day that local police, state police and the FBI work together on a mystery and come up empty. But that's what happened in this case.

My late mother often spoke of the missing boy. She happened to be in high school when the two-year-old vanished. After she married, she lost an infant son to illness, so it's no surprise she felt a connection to Beatrice Coonon of Tamaqua, the mother whose baby boy vanished.

"They never did find that little boy," my mother would say, so sadly. More recently, my brother Dennis reminded me about the story and urged me to look into it. Did Jerome Coonon fall into a hole or was he kidnapped? The question still hasn't been answered. The little boy, now a man, could still be alive and living in our area. His lone remaining sister longs to meet him. This fascinating stuff isn't fiction. It's truth. I hope this tragic story finds the happy ending all of us would like to see.

More recently, I met with Lansford police about another unusual case. This one centers on the only Lansford police officer to die in the line of duty. He was gunned down in the middle of the night. For almost 100 years, everyone figured it was an accidental shooting. But the victim's grandson had strong feelings otherwise, and so do police. They also have solid reasons for being skeptical about early written accounts of the case. A classic whodunnit. But it's serious business because family members and all concerned parties want to know the truth behind what happened.

The first installment of 'The death of Officer Morgans,' appeared in yesterday's edition and at The next installment will run Friday.

These stories are almost hard to believe. Yet they're real stories; true-to-life snapshots of our area, past and present.

There's an old saying: We can't know where we're going unless we know where we've been.

Maybe fiction writing is able to answer questions in its own way. Maybe fiction can tell us where we're going or where we've been. But I chose long ago to stay away from it. I decided to avoid fiction. I'd rather deal with reality because that's where the answers are. Besides, reality is just so darn unbelievable. Nothing is more surprising than the real world and the truth.

Fiction might be entertaining, but the truth shall set you free.

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