He received the invite. Nashville’s Grand Ole’ Opry. Now, it was real. Satisfaction cut through the engraved stress marks on his face that belied his young years. He had earned it. Rough schedules, racking up miles across the country, opening shows with a mixture of envy and admiration for those who had paid their dues.
Billed as the new Hank Williams those close to him shuddered at the commonality.
Blinding lights, applause, screams, hands reaching to touch him played in his head as he splashed water against his face and patted down his hair. The paraphernalia used earlier set on the counter beside the sink. One more time to pull him through. Good that he forgot to put it away, he told himself ignoring the real reason. The effect didn’t last that long, just enough to get him on stage.
“Twenty minutes,” the chauffeur said through the phone.
Muscles tightened. His stomach quivered. He washed white pills down with bourbon to calm the nerves, but his thoughts were on the bathroom counter. One last time his mind reasoned. Before the show, before walking onto that famous auditorium with pieces of wood from the Ryman auditorium.
The wood Hank Williams stood.
The stretcher disappeared out the door. That close to making it his chauffeur thought with a tear in his eye.
Your Comments and Shares are appreciated. Thank you, Paul.
Three summers now, rude words cut through the cool morning air followed by a window shut with force that rattled the glass.
The old woman next door started that damn lawn mower every Saturday morning at 6:45 am sharp. You could set your watch by it.
A chain link fence, four feet from his bedroom window separated the properties. The landlord made it clear that seniors made up most of the quiet street. He assured the landlord, early or late, he never threw parties. In fact, he did his partying after work before he came home in the wee hours of the morning. He slept late, and returned to the club where he and three others played music from nine to one o’clock in the morning. If anything, learning of the quiet neighborhood drove him to sign the rental agreement without reading or asking questions.
He never admitted the early Saturday morning routine had turned into a game. He could have left the window unopened that one day of the week, or used earplugs.
As it turned out, a game so ingrained that he woke up 6:45 sharp every Saturday morning from the first Saturday the lawn mower failed to start. A habit that continued after they took down the for sale sign.
Have you experienced a conflict with people and discovered that you missed them and the conflict after they were gone?
Born at the turn of the century from hard working good people. Dropped out of school at age nine to care for younger siblings. Calloused hands and bent fingers told a story of work. House, field, serving others.
Blue-gray eyes told tales beyond their years.
Raised a family of seven, and never missed a day of work. Smile creased lips belied the struggles, cries of pain, suffering deaths of children before their time.
Pin a blue ribbon, hang a gold medal. Five stars are not enough.
The missing character is my mother.
Do you have an unforgettable character?
Get out of the office. Stand on street corners, visit coffee shops, go to a bar. The world is full of characters. Believable? Hey, I believe anything. Doesn’t the juiciest gossip begin with You won’t believe this, but . . . ?
Weird-ass quirky character material is as close as my family tree. I don’t have to leave the house to find it. Change the sex, give them an entire make-over. Use mannerisms and physical descriptions from people you observe. They will never know.
Eavesdropping should be tax deductible for writers. Master the art. Use your imagination. A Facebook follower overheard a neighbor tell a friend, “My fingerprints are on the knife.” My imagination kicked in so fast, I forgot to read the rest of the post.
After all, the people writing contemporary fiction are authors. Writers come with imagination and a weirdness of its own.