ANECDOTE 045: April 11, 2016
A Rough Sketch [listen]


Having trudged up five flights of stairs to the fifth floor of the public library in his all-season flex-notch lace up boots, he bypassed the cubicle section and located a table that seats four. He unpacked a book, several magazines, and a notepad from his messenger bag. He spread the periodicals on the table, claiming ("reserving") the entire space as his own. After which, he removed his coat, placing the comfy down feather filled double-stitched waterproof fabric around the back of the poorly cushioned chair. Taking a pen from the breast pocket of his wrinkled, unbuttoned collar, cotton long sleeve shirt, he sat in the chair, slid the notepad in front of him, rested his left arm beside the bound paper in preparation to write the phrase: "Given the circumstances of the circumstantial details...."

Now jotted, scribbled as if a rough sketch for a tableau painting, was the phrase the proper starting point for a mystery novel, he thought to himself--or was the phrase the final words of an epilogue to a cynically toned, farcical novel about a conflicted character who worked behind the scenes as a fixer, for a . . . prominent and private consulting firm? What were the "circumstances"? Were they life and death, security or insolvency; were they loyalty and betrayal, a perspective spin or an prospect smear? What game did he want the plot to play?

He began to sketch out the main characters and the relationships that would create "the circumstances of the circumstantial details." He decided that dietary habits would compose their personalities, their physiques, the sociableness that fed their brains and nourished their minds: the spices of life, saltiness, sugar rushes, caffeine highs, a full stomach, a flat tummy, piquant tastes, bold flavors, alcohol driven stupors, liquor induced lunacy. These habits in various combinations would be used to conflict the characters.


Mike [the fixer]: coffee (plain); beer; cheeseburger and fries, ketchup on the burger, no mayo or mustard, lettuce/tomato/onion left on the plate, pickle (spear, not chips). Sam's buddy--unclear whether the relationship is based on his current employment situation or his friendship/camaraderie having played on a sports team together in college: Baseball? Lacrosse?? Soccer???

Lucy [the love interest]: drinks like a fish (both wine and water); all organic (steamed vegetables, salads); primarily low-carb; likes unpasteurized cheese; favorite meal includes broiled salmon, crunchy-soft bread dipped and infused olive oil for dipping. She is Sam's lunchtime "mate".

Martha [brilliant, bitterly divorced]: coffee (with cream and sugar), prefers a triple shot cappuccino; boiled vegetables; meat cooked well-done; a happy hour professional. Sam's office colleague at the firm; she is after his clients; sets him up for a fall.

Sam [management consultant, firm co-founder]: he has inherited his wealth; has lots of second and third gen connections; first drink of the day is at lunch (either a scotch with water, a scotch on the rocks, scotch and soda, or neat); depends on how he gestures with his hand when he says, "Gimme a scotch." Lunches occasionally with Lucy (in a hotel room). Eats protein snacks frequently. Eats dinner at home late at night (nine-thirty-ish); in the morning, joins the kids for breakfast.

Beatrice [homemaker, dedicated life partner]: she is Sam's wife. They were study buddies at college; now she is his confidant (of sorts). Monday thru Thursday she eats dinner twice: once with the kids, then with her husband. She barely shows any weight because she does not eat lunch; she exercises instead. Their daughter is in elementary school; son, in middle school. She keeps busy, but is getting bored.

With the character sketches completed, he slides the chair away from the table and leans back, stretching his arms and legs in opposite direction; his body is at a forty-five degree angle; however, his protruding belly turns what should be a straight line into an arc. He scoots his legs and feet back to sit up, then stands. Takes a deep breath. "Where is the conflict," he asked himself.

Martha and Sam. She is blackmailing him for some reason. Sam asks Mike to 'fix' the situation. Meanwhile, Lucy is tired of being the 'side dish'. [NOTE: how did she and same meet??] Lucy knows Mike too. [Love triangle??] She uses him to make Sam jealous [Cliché??] Lucy must be a former client because she knows Martha as well. Martha is considering who she is going to use to get to Sam: Lucy or Beatrice. However, Beatrice already knows about Sam's infidelity. [No-one is aware that she is hip.] Nevertheless, she likes being a supermom/power broker wife. Beatrice likes being Sam's confidant. She likes manipulating people, making suggestions at the frequent cocktail and dinner parties for clients. She likes controlling her husband, especially his drinking. Her preference is to destroy his liver as opposed to a lengthy litigation for divorce. Beatrice considers 'leaning on' Mike in order to gain a firm grip on Sam's dealings. [No pun intended.]


He decided to let these conflicts swim in his head for a while as he went to take a lunch break. He figured he would need to flesh out some auxiliary characters first. Hastily he packed his messenger bag and scuttled down the flights of stairs and out of the library, over to the eat-in deli. He ordered an American cheesesteak with fried onions and ketchup, then sat down at a four top and unpacked his reading materials, planning to work through lunch at the deli.

"Do you want cherry hots on the side, like usual," he heard shouted at him from behind the counter.

"Yeah, and a bag of crab chips. Oh, can I get a lager?"

"Hey, you don't have to ask permission," he was chided.

He scratched the scruff on his chin before he got up, scraping the chair stoppers across the ceramic tile floor while pushing the table away a bit. He maneuvered over to the sliding door refrigerator and fetched a cold one.

Feel free to exercise thought by sending me an email. If you have a mouth, then you can eat ingredients. (Disclaimer)
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