The creation the Ed Calkins, Steward of Tara, character in Bryony is a superimposition of the make believe on a real person who's already fictionalized himself.
I first met Ed Calkins in 2007. At that time, Ed supervised one of four news agencies in a single warehouse after distribution for The Herald-News in Joliet (owned at the time by The Sun Times) was deconstructed and contracted out to the Chicago Tribune. For the remainder of my newspaper-delivery career (which ended in 2011), I would work for two to three news agencies at one time, whoever happened to handle the accounts I delivered.
If you've read the BryonySeries, you've met Ed Calkins: the the pot-bellied, bespectacled, gray-haired man wearing blue jeans and a white and red-striped shirt...pushing a pallet jack full of newspapers.
In the series, Ed, a vampire, fancies himself a "ruthless dictator" and calls himself "The Steward of Tara." He threatens people not with violent attacks for their blood and fear of death, but with badly composed limericks designed to ruin their good reputation.
Ed creates a verbal harem ('Oh, there’s no ceremony,” Ed said, “and no sex...I just appreciate beautiful women, and being a vampire doesn’t change that. You only verbally agree to join my harem. This way, I make wives left and right") and forever is inducing people to sign his petition:
“Of course, the highlight of the year is the Calkins Day parade on February thirteenth, my birthday. In fact, I have a petition circulating to make February twelfth through the fourteenth a three-day national holiday. Would you care to sign it?”
Ed also lures potential carriers into his news agency: "It’s a profitable business, especially since I print my own currency. To amuse the peasants, I grill steaks on the Fourth of July, host a Queen of Christmas contest where I distribute candy canes and presents, and organize a pallet jack race for Labor Day.”
And it's all real. Except for printing his own currency. Even the dialogue is word for word to slight adaptations of real conversations with Ed. And it's all legal, per his and mine written agreement.
Ed had only one request: to be known. And, I fear, I've been lax in that department, especially where Calkins Day is concerned. Not many novel series come with built-in holidays. Every year, I resolve to create a celebration. Every year, February 13 comes and goes. Later, I remember with a clap to the forehead, a groan, and a swift text to Sarah: "We missed it again!"
This time, I being proactive.
I'm rolling around some ideas in my aging brain on how to properly commemorate the day. Nothing that's jelled yet. But it will get there. I promise.
“Next time,” Ed promised with a hearty smile and a farewell nod.
No, Ed. THIS time. 2017. I promise.