Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Character Who Became More

Authors work from imagination and those ideas clamor to cover pages. Not sure if, like me, they ever use real people who walk into their lives bringing unexpected joy and laughter. With permission, I did just that. When we talked about my stories Eggie would always say you need to put me in a book. I'd respond, "Only if you promise to read it and be honest." Of course his comeback was, "Did you ever know me to be anything but." I didn't. Can't think of a single time he ever said something to placate me or anyone else. That is not who he was. So, he became a character in my story, Grind. He was the bartender named Eggie who made my hero look at himself in the mirror exactly the way Eggie had of making a person take another look at who they were every day. He read my story, made awesome criticisms and suggestions. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I give you just a bit of how I perceived him.

Eggie became one of the few he called friend and Raider confided more than he should have to the fun-loving bartender.
“Stop being angry at every...”
“You need to tend to your customers.”
He swiped a cloth across the counter and eyed Raider. “Be a lot easier to find what you’re looking for.”
“I do okay.”
“Do you even see what looks back at you in the mirror?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Loneliness, man.”
Between Davis telling him to get laid, and now Eggie’s bullshit, Raider was ready to snap like a used rubber band. “I got everything I need.”
“And how warm is that camera at night?”
“Kiss my ass.”
“I’m trying.” The bartender smiled. “Am I white enough for you?”
“Careful, Eggie.” The man had opened a raw nerve. Coming from nothing, Raider possessed two things: an eye for color and the love of photography. He’d scraped and clawed his way up the ladder in a field overflowing with mediocrity. He had been kicked aside, stepped on, and kissed a lot of white ass on his way to the top. Now the industry kissed his.
Yet there was still a bad taste in his mouth.
Raider Ridgeway had worked hard to build his reputation, he earned every penny he made, and he didn’t give it away freely. Young studs, especially those who knew his worth, were greedy bastards. His preference for a fling would be a man at least in the neighborhood of his age and one who had more than change in his pockets. Tonight, not only did the early side of thirty seem to be the theme; the jangling sound of coins filled the air. About ready to give up and head home, he cursorily glanced at the door when it squeaked open admitting three men. Two quickly found a table and the third stood nonchalantly in the lit entranceway surveying the clientele.
“Damn, I see a light in your eyes.”
Raider continued to watch the man in the doorway. “Who’s the new guy?”
“Never seen him in here.” Turning his attention to Raider, Eggie added. “A cruiser. Back to me kissing your ass…”
“Fuck off, that’s never gonna happen.”
“A man can dream.” He glided down the counter unaffected by Raider’s harsh words.

Eggie was a delightful and engaging man who was larger than life. Funny, down-to-earth, honest, and unapologetically truthful. If you didn't want to hear the nitty gritty about yourself, what you did, or planned to do--he was not one to talk with or discuss how you might say or do something. You'd end up being read like a book but he'd make you laugh at yourself. Not a mean bone in his body, he just knew what to say at the right time to get you thinking about other ways to achieve what you wanted to accomplish.

A proud and beautiful man who loved his family and friends unconditionally, a wonderful person I'm glad I met.

Eggie, who wanted to be a character, loved how I portrayed him. I kept him real. Even better--he became my friend.

Miss you already man, light the big sky up as only you can.

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out. - J. Hali Steele