Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
"Hello..." I answered.
"Hi Mike, it's Dad." he replied.
"Is everything all right?" I ask in my normal, blunt manner.
"Oh, everything's fine. Hope I didn't wake you? Just thought I better get hold of you as soon as I could." he said.
Considering it was maybe 7 in the morning, his time, a lot of alarm bells were going off in my head.
"What's up?" I asked, wondering if I really wanted to know the answer.
He continued "Well, a fella from Texas contacted me yesterday. Said he ran across my name on the internet, did some digging and decided I must be the person he was looking for."
God damn that web site! I was gonna take those pages off and erase every trace of my family history.......
"Turns out I'm listed as his father on his birth certificate."
Pregnant pause then all that came to my head and out of my mouth was "Bummer Dude!"
He went on to tell me about his tryst with a nurse in Korea during his tour of duty. A twelve week love affair between my mother and wife #2 as best I can figure. He reckoned as how the guy could very well be his son.
The reason he was letting me know all this was my new half-brother wanted to contact me since he didn't have any real family and wanted to get to know his half-siblings. Oh joy. I was just shitting my pants with excitement.
We eventually talked, he wanted to know more about "Dad" and was sorely disappointed that I only knew a little more than he did about our common link. Haven't talked to my new half-brother in a long time (I think that's still a coon's age in Texas) and that's just fine, I've got enough going on without strangers popping out of the woodwork.
My wife's only comment was - "I'm holding my breath that the same thing doesn't happen to you!"
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
“The abductors follow this note up with a second one, accompanied by more Polaroid snapshots showing
My fraternal grandmother was contacted by an author in the ‘40s who was trying to gather information for a book about the Rusk family. The author sent my grandmother the information she had acquired and requested any other information my grandmother could provide. I stumbled on the information in 1965 when I was visiting Grandma and
Over the next 30 years I would occasionally pull the aging, dog-eared papers out of my underwear drawer and read the story to my kids. They were bored but humored me to stay on my good side. I was sad this was the extent of sharing. It was my intent to pursue the family tree and add more names and history to our story. But I lacked a way to find any potential contributors (read that as “people with the last name ‘Rusk’). I had no money to actively search for people and definitely had precious little time.
Along came the World Wide Web! My company started exploring the internet as a marketing channel in 1995. I seized the opportunity to set up a company funded “sandbox” for myself. Armed with a $70 domain from Network Solutions and a web hosting account from a Southern Maryland ISP I commenced thinking about what the heck I was going to do with this new toy.
Then I remembered my family tree! The burning desire to share my family history could now take shape in HTML. I decided to display all the information in a chronologically sorted list beginning with the oldest event at the top. Birth, marriage, death, moving, emigrating, publishing, graduating or any other identifiable milestone became an item on the list. Events like my father writing
Lacking an immediate flood of emails in response to my site I ventured out to Yahoo! Remember this was back in the infancy of the web and Yahoo! was just an ordinary directory company. I added my site in the proper categories and tried to find other directories for listing the site “RuskFamily.com … the Legend Continues”. New information dribbled in by email and I scoured newspaper sites for more tidbits to add.
During one of my daily inbox scans in ’97 I came across an email that read “Hi, I am trying to find the author of Black Abductor and I think the author, James H. Rusk, Jr., you have listed on your web site might be him. I need to contact him. Do you know him or have his contact information?” Being the cagey, paranoid person that I am I slyly replied “I’ll see if have anything more on this person and let you know.” I couldn’t tip my hand too early and admit that this was my father.
First thing I did was lean back in my chair and mutter “what the f**k” (we didn’t have WTF back then). Then I started laughing, the laugh you do when you realize your parents had sex to have you. The email was too hot for email delay so I picked up the phone and called Dad. After we said our hellos I popped the question – “Hey Dad, did you write Black Abductor?” Damn, it got so quiet I though the phone had gone dead! Finally he replied “Yes, where did you hear about it?” I read him the email and he agreed to contact the guy and asked me to forward the email to him.
He proceeded to tell me the story. His dream was to quit working and become a full time writer. He was doing some contract writing under pseudonyms for publishing houses that put out romance novel series under one author’s name. He’d get an outline and crank out a story and get a check. He was also trying some writing under his own name hence the books we all knew about – the ones his mother knew about. But on a darker note he was trying his hand at getting published writing his own brand of novels under another pseudonym – so his mother wouldn’t find out.
During the day he was the
By chance, a bored newspaper publisher in
The FBI agreed the book was too close to what actually happened to be just a coincidence and set out to locate the author. The publisher was out of business and the
Worse than all the embarrassment, questioning and harassment at work was the fact that his mother found out what he had been doing in his spare time! Thus ended his career as a porn author – unless he switched to a new pseudonym!
Oh the guy who sent the email? He was an English representative of a Japanese television production company that was going to do a series of shows on strange coincidences. He had stumbled on articles about the book and the kidnapping on the web and tracked Dad to my site. Last time I asked, Dad and the company were trying to work out royalty arrangements for the book – that was in ’99 – the subject has not been discussed with him since. But you can bet the story is embedded in our folklore and will pass from generation to generation. In an inexplicable way we’re proud of him!