Well, well, well... about MrB. Writing about myself is not my thing, but I'll give it a shot.
When I met Cody on line, I was at my lowest ebb, aged in my mid fifties. My previous career as a creative writer in advertising and media had screeched to a shuddering halt because I bit off more than I could chew and got mixed up with a bunch of fuckwits. All of a sudden I was Mr Nobody, rejected even by colleagues whom I had known for years.
But Cody didn't think I was Mr Nobody. We clicked, despite our generational gap, and he inspired me to write stories, beginning with Daniel's Diary. Cody gave me purpose and focus. He was the proverbial needle in a haystack where I had become totally lost.
Cody often referred to my having saved his life when something I wrote in Daniel's Diary caused him and his best friend to abort a suicide attempt at the last moment. But I don't think Cody ever realized that he saved mine as well. I had nothing to live for before he came into my life. So the lifesaving thing was mutual as far as I'm concerned.
At first, I wrote Daniel's Diary purely for Cody's amusement and "education", and sent chapters to him via email on a daily basis. It was only after some weeks of writing a chapter a day that the idea of setting up a website occurred to me. The original site was called Daniel's Diary, after which it was called MrB Stories because I'd branched out into other titles. The new MrB site was launched on June 15, 1999.
Then I had the problem of thinking "who the fuck am I to be writing stories?" I wasn't an author, so I decided I needed a pen name that had perceived credibility; that had a certain savoir faire. Sheesh. I invented the name B. Hayworth-Jenkins. But after I while, I decided it was all too pompous and shortened it to plain ol' MrB, and it stuck. However, in all Cody's emails he referred to me as either Gary or G, mostly G.
When I say that I was at my lowest ebb, I mean it. I'd lost my house, my business, my self esteem, my friends, my everything. I was one notch up from living on the streets - broke and desperate. I shared a cheap flat with a couple of alcoholic misfits. But at least I had shelter. My income was the unemployment dole. My bed had a broken spring that I fixed with a sheet of sponge rubber I found on the street. I found lots of things on the streets, actually, and I'd bring them home to fix them.
Meeting Cody was a blessing from heaven, and exactly the diversion I needed. He didn't solve my dilemma, but he made it disappear. In fact, he was pretty much unaware of my situation because it was rarely mentioned. The focus was on him and his life; his friends; his ups and downs; hills and valleys. His life became my life, and I gave it everything I had.
It was an ideal situation for Cody because he was a teen growing up. Like all teens, his life was the center of the universe hehe. But that was okay with me because I didn't have a life. He had my undivided attention, and he was most grateful for that, for which I was also most grateful. I was being useful.
When Cody was killed in November 2001, I had improved my circumstances somewhat. The alcoholic misfits became my "job" as their carer, and I was paid to look after them. At least I had a regular income, albeit modest. All these years later, in 2010, I'm still their carer.
Meeting Cody was a chance in a billion, and it gave me an opportunity to re-live my life through his. He did all the things I had never done... or at least had never done properly. I took a deep interest in his relationships and used my own failures to guide him. But only when necessary... I was always careful not to lecture. As a result, Cody and I developed a very close bond... the Fossil and the Captain. He felt comfortable telling me his deepest and darkest secrets, knowing that I would understand and not be critical... that I was his true friend. He called us 'Soul Buddies'.
Cody's death devastated me, of course, as it did everyone who knew him, in real life or on line. Then Steve came along. I knew about Steve through Cody but we had never corresponded prior to Cody's accident. Steve had turned to drugs (which had been his habit for some years) to help him cope with the death of his best friend and lover, and he chose to write me seeking support. I was happy to oblige because it eased the pain of losing Cody. Steve and I also had Cody in common, which bonded us immediately. As I wrote Steve's story, San Francisco Jim described it as "astonishing"... which was astonishing in itself because SF Jim had seen a helluva lot in his 70+ years.
I owe a lot to Cody, as well as Steve. I am what I am today thanks largely to having known them and having written their stories. I also owe Cody's friends, even though they are unaware of me... people like Mark and Wingnut. It's been a unique and enormous privilege.
Gary Kelly aka MrB passed away in April 2015 after a long battle with cancer. His archive of stories lives on here in his memory. He will be greatly and deeply missed.
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