Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lingering Notes

As with many writers, I try to keep a notebook around. I often have a small pocket notebook in my shirt. This is for the times when an idea for a story or the thoughts of a character hit me and I need to write it down in quick order before the idea fades completely away. And they do that--ideas--they come and go.

And when I open those little notebooks I dig through them and do a literary triage and ignore the ones that were probably not very good to begin. About one in ten seem worth of further work.

This is one that I've actually been carrying around for years. Maybe one of these days I'll do something substantial with it:

Characters for new book or story. ("Beryl" or THE GLENDALE.)

Copyright 2009 By James Robert Smith.

Girl--Beryl. Young woman. 24 years old. Unmarried, with child. Child is a little boy. Father was a black guy who left Beryl, she didn't know the guy that well, anyway. But here she was with this three-year-old half-white kid who she loved with all her heart. But she's sick of the stares, the hateful stares and the muttered threats and the out loud remarks of "nigger-lover" and "whore". She can't get away from it. Every street. Every neighborhood. Every store, every mall, every apartment complex, everygoddamnedwhere she goes.

Boy--Wiley. Beryl's son. Smart as a whip. Sweet as a child can be. He loves his mommy the way every kid does, but he never whines and he never complains and it's almost as if he understands that the nasty looks and the bad names are because of him. He's a sad little boy.

Michael--the guy who lives one door down from where Beryl and Wiley have moved--the Glendale Apartments on Whitney Street. The apartment complex is strange (more about it later). Michael has lived there a while. He's seen his neighbors change a number of times. His girlfriend of two years has left him, tired of waiting for him to marry her and move away from Glendale. He's interested when he sees Beryl. She has the same accent that he recalls from back home in Savannah, and he isn't surprised when he finds that's where she's from. Also, her little boy doesn’t put him off. In fact, he likes Wiley. Michael is a decent guy and maybe he's tired of being alone.

THE GLENDALE--strange place, really. Most of the tenants have been there a long, long time. There aren't many like Michael and Beryl. The place is shaded and kind of dark and damp on the outside, and it looks kind of dilapidated, but that's only from a distance. When you get up close you can see that it's quite well tended, new paint and it's only all of those live oaks and all of that Spanish moss that makes the place look so old. The Glendale is a series of buildings all interconnected by walkways and breezeways and by god you can get lost in there. It's almost like a maze and once or twice Michael HAS gotten lost. Kind of spooky out there at night, so he always tries to be in by nightfall and carries a flashlight when he thinks he might not be home by then. Best to be careful. And those strange noises and tickings at the windows are best just ignored--there's never a break-in at the Glendale, so he looks upon the weirdness and bizarre sounds as something of a mixed blessing.

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