Once upon a time my name was Jack Owens. I’m the second Jack Owens since my father was the first. He proudly gave me his name when I might well have been named after my mother, Mary Helen Owens. Surely, go ahead and call me Surely, I would have avoided being haunted by dozens of names like Jackos and John Jackman if I was Mary Helen. Having a lovely name that graced my mother and now my granddaughter would have raised dark suspicious in the FBI when I entered on duty as a Special Agent in June, 1969. Had J. Edgar Hoover accidentally hired the first female agent? My first trip to the FBI urinals would have dispelled that notion when a fellow agent inquired, “What say ye?”, from the next urinal down. “Death to Moby Dick,” I replied. No woman agent would have said that.
Many years later, writing as Jack Owens, I created a character named Pock, a swell serial killer in Alabama with a face that looked like water brought to a boil or a man who fell face down into vipers. Pock’s lower extremities turned heads as well, sporting the mother lode of a club foot on a right leg that was shorter than the left. He walked with a tilt to starboard and came at you like a hungry crab. Pock as a package was unnerving.
After dozens of rejections shopping POCK to publishers, I landed a home and readied him for the public. And “glory be,” as my grandmother would have said, my daughter Stacey’s haunting photograph graced the cover of POCK. I was the envy of myself and happy as all get out.
POCK was published and began to gain the traction that I believed he deserved. After months of book sales and hundreds of howdy dos, it was discovered that Jack Owens had been misspelled on the spine of the cover of the book. A guy named Jack Ownes was the author. At least Ownes wasn’t misspelled.