Just Keep Swimming

Real Life People in My City That will Inspire Fictional Characters

For about 3 years, I've been screaming and waving my arms on this blog about how I'm going to be publishing short stories and novels one day.  I believe both have made the "goals of the year" article every single time I've written such a thing.  Those stories will someday saunter out of the darkness and declare themselves to the world.  I have no idea in what form or medium, but you'll get to read or listen or kick them in the future.  When I do start churning out works of fiction I'll have several years' worth of story ideas that have been swimming around in my head that will be ready to dry off and dance about on my computer screen.  But a story idea means very little if I don't have interesting characters to drive forward the narrative.  Once again I am a lucky man, because my hometown of Brantford has a small army of quirky folks I come across on a daily basis that can be inspiration for future fictional characters.

Here are a few nameless folks that exist in my city, and will possibly someday be altered to be the next Willy Loman, Katniss Everdeen or Ignatius J. Reilly.  Or more likely Chuck Cunningham.

Mad professor-looking guy who spends his evening leaning against his fencepost:  Once the evening hits, there are a few guarantees in life such as it will get dark, cats will come out to play, and a creepy guy will start hanging out by himself on his fencepost.  He obviously is using that location to concoct a dastardly scheme that involves creating an abomination of nature.  I also think it is far more entertaining to believe that he actually lives a few blocks away.

Convenience store clerk who dances to blaring music and then timidly turns the music off when customers enter the store:  Every writer must create a story about the small city dreamer yearning for something more and to make it big.  This little fellow that must suppress his love of flailing his limbs to salsa music so he can dish out lottery tickets will be the basis for mine.  There obviously must be the cranky store owner who refuses to lose the "fastest cash register operator in the west" and tries to sabotage our hero's dream.  Fling around that body young hero; fling it right to your destiny.  

Dog walker who huff and puffs when his yappy beast barks away at other dogs that are trying to ignore it:  Every horror story needs a first victim.

Garbage collector who screams at people for actually putting out their garbage:  Most horror stories need a second victim.

The obnoxious windbag who has spent the last 3 years ranting about how the current house is temporary and he has a massive custom home being built at the moment:  One would assume the man strutting around in an undershirt and boxers with so much free time to rant and rave that it is questionable he has a job would likely be lying about moving to a mansion.  If there isn't any sign of a house being built where he claims then the easy money is on there just isn't a house.  Maybe he is telling the truth, but the building isn't in this dimension.  It is waiting for him in a parallel universe, but he has lost the magical key that unlocks the portal to that world.  Alas, will our brave hero ever get to his home, which is built on a giant purple mushroom, has loyal flying kangaroo servants, and backs on to a cream soda river?

The pushy door to door salesperson who believes the gods have bestowed upon him the right to enter your home and endlessly prattle on about his product, and anyone who denies him is a horrid fiend that must be vanquished with his ramblings and spittle:  There are quite a few horror stories that need a third victim.

The cashier/server who keeps popping up at different stores or restaurants:  The easy answers are she needs several jobs to help pay the bills or that she just isn't all that happy at one mindless job for a very long time.  These would be the wrong answers.  She is clearly a clone created by a computer system that has now become sentient and there is now an army of minimum wage servers designed to win over the trust of the citizens through great service and a warm smile. Before the world knows it, we will all be bowing to our robotic overlords, and we better hope we didn't skimp on the tip

A kind, plump grandmother type who hangs out at the park without any apparent kids of her own but wanders around pinching children's cheeks and offering the parents hard candies:  Obviously, she is trying to form a toddler army where she'll be the mighty Queen who rewards the loyal with delicious teeth crushing candies and subjects the dissident to mass stretch marks on their face.  But one brave woman has been chosen to vanquish this hideous evil, but the question is if she can form a resistance during the two hours the insidious grandma is distracted by her stories.

The mullet sporting family with a giant Confederate flag hanging in their house, but are good friends with their Black neighbour:  I believe, they also had a truck up on cinder blocks for a few weeks, but they must have feared stereotyping and got rid of it.  The crazy thing is I live in Brantford, which happens to be in Ontario, which you may have noticed is in Canada, which the smart ones among you will realize is not a Southern State.  They've opted to proudly sport a flag that not only really stands out when you're not in the South, but also one that is the symbol of a union formed out of several States' desires to be able to continue enslaving people.  More specifically, Black people.  Yet somehow in this wacky world of non-fiction, the best friend of the brood of rednecks appears to be Black.  We not only have a real life Odd Couple, but possibly a story I'd never be able to make up on my own.

The want-to-writer who buys coffee for professional writers so he can ask for career advice, and then waits a few weeks, so he can ask the exact same questions again:  One of the most popular protagonists in fiction are writers, which shouldn't be a shock since we're always told to write what we know.  The problem is that reading about a person writing at a desk all day is pretty dull.  The writers almost never actually write in works of fiction, but once in a while, refer to some novel he is trying to get done.  The alternative might be to have a hero that always talks about wanting to have a writing career and rattles on about his various ideas, but "never has time to write."  This frees our hero up to actually go on all the adventures, but still has the perk of being labelled as a writer, which is a career in literature almost as important as architect is in romantic comedies.