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The real biography of Wilfred Bereswill
You can read the “official” version which formally introduces Wilfred and makes him sound qualified and scholarly in front of groups, etc. However, what follows is the real truth behind the author of A Reason For Dying.
Wilfred was born in St. Louis, Missouri at Alexian Brothers Hospital. The same one that became famous for housing the possessed child who’s story became known as William Peter Blattey’s “The Exorcist.” This actually has nothing to do with Wilfred, because that episode took place six years prior to his birth.
From as long as he can remember, Wilfred wanted to be a superhero. He really didn’t care much for school and homework and certainly not writing. He ran around the house with arms outstretched, a towel tied around his neck making “shhhhhh” sounds, pretending to fly. Of course, he never did really make it off the ground.
There was one time at the age of eight, he actually tried to fly. It happened at a Laundromat in south St. Louis with his parents. Being extremely tired of watching the laundry go round and round, he attempted to jump into the open window of his dad’s 1951 Ford Crown Victoria. The plan involved leaping from the sidewalk, sailing gracefully through the air and landing on the soft cushion of the front seats of his dad’s Ford. That didn’t work out so well for Little Willy (his parent’s lovingly called him Little Willy, while his father retained the Big Willy moniker). He underestimated the height of the curb and what happened on that fateful first flight involved dented chromed trim, a bloody towel and seven stitches. Several lessons Little Willy never forgot was that head wounds bleed profusely and his parents didn’t react well to emergencies. He also learned that they made cars much more solidly back in the ‘50s. It was that event that earned Wilfred the nickname “Knucklehead” from his father.
No, Wilfred never endeavored to write. However, he did like to read. After mastering Dick and Jane, he moved on to classics like, A Wonderful Flight To The Mushroom Planet, My Big Red Dog and a wealth of other books with mostly pictures in them. When the evil Nuns at St. Hedwig’s Parish made him do so, Wilfred actually read other books, the kind with mostly words. He loved fantasy and science fiction and occasionally read books in those genres. But, you see, Wilfred really loved to daydream while in school and most of the fantasy was just in his head.
As Wilfred grew older, he disliked writing even more. There was only one reason to write and that was because his teachers made him. In high school, Wilfred found his next love. His high school sweetheart and current love of his life, Linda would have you believe it was her, but it wasn’t. Wilfred’s love became computers. His first computer was an IBM 1630 with 4 megabytes of RAM. You heard it correctly, 4 MEGA (not giga) Bytes of RAM and yes, these days a blender has more computing power. The drab gray heavy duty, heat-producing electrical equipment that was called a computer filled an entire room in the school. It had tape drives that spun and stopped abruptly, computer card sorters and readers, keypunch machines, a monstrous CPU and he fell in love with it. With the exception of Fortran computer code, Wilfred still didn’t like to write, but he was no ordinary dummy.
Three years later when Wilfred was a senior, he spotted a beautiful little waif with an armful of books as she passed by on the way to class. He told his best friend Brad that he would marry that girl someday. He signed up for drama class in his senior year of high school, because he didn’t have to write, there was little homework and there were twenty-eight girls and three guys in the class. And one girl, in particular, Linda Meyer was in the class also. Five years later, his dream to marry that beautiful little gal came true.
After high school, comes a bunch of boring crap that you’re not really interested in and quite honestly adds nothing to this biography. Yes, he went to the University of Missouri - Rolla, and graduated in 1980 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, barely. He played a lot of golf in college and skipped a few classes. But demands for engineers were high and Wilfred had thirteen job offers to choose from. Oh, there was one business writing course he reluctantly took in college, which constituted the majority of Wilfred’s writing curriculum.
Somewhere during his college years he married Linda and they didn’t live happily ever after. In fact, Linda toiled in St. Louis to put Wilfred’s sorry ass through college. An investment that paid off years later.
In 1980, Wilfred dragged Linda to Kansas City where he took a job as an Environmental Engineer for a natural gas pipeline company. For the next fifteen years, Wilfred worked in the oil and gas fields, on offshore drilling platforms and in a barren 8 X 10 cubicle. Somewhere in there he moved back to St. Louis to work with a different natural gas pipeline company. Wilfred’s responsibilities required him to work in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. In order to communicate effectively, Wilfred studied fieldese (the art of speaking like roughnecks, welders and bulldozer operators). This involved other forms of communication including, spitting, cussing, hand signals and scratching himself in personal areas. Even though he still hated writing, as he climbed the corporate ladder, he had to write more. He wrote reports, and...more reports, with the occasional memo and letter thrown in.
During this time, being a devoted Trekkie, he started reading science fiction and various Star Trek books. After finishing every possible situation involving Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Scottie, someone gave Wilfred, The Stand, by Stephen King. It was a book that hooked him on horrors for years.
In the early 90’s Wilfred was invited to move with the company to Shreveport, Louisiana. While Shreveport is...ahem...a beautiful city, Wilfred decided to stay in St. Louis and took a job as an Environmental Engineer with a large brewer. His new duties demanded he write more than he did in his previous job. His boss was even concerned about the coherency of his writing. The details of this time in his career are a little sketchy since Wilfred is now 53 and his memory is not so good. In the mid 90’s Wilfred started traveling internationally. He spent three weeks traveling around Mexico quickly learning how to adjust his sombrero to block out the light during siesta and to protect his pesos from the street shysters.
Since the late ‘90s, Wilfred has been traveling in China. His adopted official Chinese name is Bai Li Wei (By Lee Way). During this time, he finished all the horror stories ever written and moved on to Thrillers. He mainly read Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, John Grisham and, of course, Michael Crichton. They were perfect for the long flights over the north pole from Chicago to Beijing.
In September 2000, Wilfred and a small team of engineers traveled for 3 weeks through the middle of China. The planes, trains and Jin Bei Minivans, (throw in a mamoo and an oxcart or two) trip was his first trip through the countryside. In order to keep their sanity, the group started writing a humorous, but mostly true, story of their journey. Upon his return, he found that he owed his Aunt Mildred a letter, and still not liking to write, Wilfred took the easy route and shoved his story about China into an envelop and sent it off instead of a personal letter.
Six months later, that aunt came to town and told Wilfred that he had a talent for writing. This was news to him. She challenged him to write a story and her husband gruffly gave some advice, “Write what you know.”
Well, you’ve just read the biography, there’s not a lot of substance there. Wilfred continued to travel through China, even around the SARS epidemic and continued to jot down some of the very different experiences. So, he decided to take a few tidbits and make up a bunch of stuff. After a night of drinking with some of his friends, he came up with the plot for A Reason For Dying. A terrifying and suspense filled story.
Coincidentally, Wilfred now lives a half mile from the White House Retreat, a Jesuit retreat where the possessed child featured in The Exorcist was taken for some time. The room that the child was held in is still sealed to this day.