Finally, a moment to myself after a hectic few days. My cat is even playing along and sitting beside me on her makeshift perch instead of traipsing all over me. I put a small square pet bed on top of my rolling file holder so she would have someplace other than my keyboard to lounge. If she isn’t on my keyboard, she is on my lap, which gets really uncomfortable after a while. It isn’t the constant kneading with her little claws that does it; her drooling is the kicker. She sits contently in my lap and purrs and drools all over my leg. Cat drool is just plain yucky and that is all there is to it, thus the invention of the file-holding cat bed next to my desk. Ingenuity is one way to kick a cat butt and keep your leg dry. You can quote me on that.
So, what kept me so busy? I took a trip to see my in-laws. If you are expecting to hear horrible in-law stories, this is going to be really disappointing for you. I don’t have any killer cousins in-law or loosey-goosey sisters in-law ; no, none of that here. I actually hit the jackpot when it comes to my husband’s family. They are the most fun loving group of people I have ever been around. Having in-laws you love and love to be around really makes things easier. I know lots of folks that have all kinds of extended family troubles and sure, it makes for great stories, but I would rather hear those stories than live them.
I don’t know if other writers do this or not, but when I am around people, I often wonder if they would make interesting characters in a story. Certainly there are some who I could base an entire book around. (Those folks are in MY family.) Sometimes, I like to pull out character traits from a few different people and mash them up into a completely new person. This person would most certainly have issues, lots and lots of issues.
Here’s the problem; I like to write stories that have a mix of horror, suspense, sci-fi, and humor. My in-laws gave me lots of humor, but not much of the other stuff (for which I am very grateful). Luckily, at least for my imagination, we got stranded in the airport for a while because of storms. Thus, I had lots of time in the airport to play with strangers. OK, that sounds a little odd. What I meant was I would pick a person at random and make up stories about them. Everybody does this, right?
For instance, when we finally boarded the plane, a middle-aged man caught my eye. He was about 5’ 10” and had brown hair. His hair was what made me first notice him. His meager strands of hair looked like they were made of wax. Although there wasn’t much of it, he had found a way to plaster down to his scalp in straight, chunky lines. The hair didn’t move and it had a dull sheen to it, not greasy, but almost tacky. He had a round doughboy face and wore little spectacles that were so tight, they cut into the tops of his cheeks and always seemed foggy. Maybe that is why he kept squinting. I call them spectacles instead of glasses because his eyewear had a sense of nostalgia to them; it just didn’t feel right calling them glasses. He wasn’t fat, but he wasn’t fit either. He was just sort of soft. His clothes didn’t help either. Beige corduroy pants, an off-brand beige polo-style shirt, and a faded old blue sweater didn’t do much for his image at all. I didn’t see his shoes because of my vantage point, but they were probably beige too.
Anyway, he had a Chick-fil-A bag with him. I assumed he picked up a chicken sandwich in the concourse before boarding. A lot of people pick up food to take on the plane with them to eat later, ever since the airlines started charging for cookies and chips. (Those bastards.)
It wasn’t the bag that was unusual; it was what he did with it during the flight. The first time he opened the bag, I expected him to pull out a couple of those waffle fries that Chick-fil-A is so famous for, just for a taste. But he didn’t. He just looked into the bag for a few seconds, rolled it up, and set it on his lap with both hands on each side of it. I thought maybe he was not hungry yet. About 15 minutes later, he opened the bag again, looked inside, then reached his hand in, but didn’t immediately pull anything out. He fumbled for something and then stopped when he seemingly found what he was looking for, but he still didn’t pull it out. He just sort of fondled it inside the bag. OK, that was strange enough, but then he did it three more times! By now I am coming up with all kinds of stories about this guy and his bag. Perhaps he did have a Deluxe Spicy Chicken Sandwich and a large order of waffle fries in the white and red bag, but he could also have severed fingers in there too.
Yep, in my boredom, I came up with a story that this guy had killed and tortured some random soul back in the terminal restroom and taken his fingers as souvenirs. He hid the body in one of those giant trashcans the janitorial staff always leaves at the entrance to the restroom. I don’t know why they do that; maybe it gives the impression the restroom has been freshly cleaned. The dead guy, most likely a guy since it is a men’s restroom, won’t be found for hours because those cans sit there forever. Perhaps it will start leaking blood or producing a foul oder (eau de toilette of decomp) before someone will notice. Then I started thinking about it a little more; Doughboy could actually be a Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter want-to-be and is savoring the moment when he can eat the fingers with his sandwich. Fingers instead of fries? Hmmmm. He might be debating if he can sneak one into his mouth without being noticed. This must be sheer agony for him, being able to touch the savory little digits, but not being able to chow down.
I was having a lot of fun while Doughboy fiddled with his bag, but alas, I guess I will never truly know what was really in there, because once the plane landed and everyone shuffled out, I lost sight of him. Maybe he went straight to the men’s room, perhaps for an entrée to go with his fingerling appetizer. (Sigh) Those are the breaks.
I am not going to ask you if you think this is normal or not. I am pretty sure it isn’t. Still, I can’t turn off my imagination. It just goes and goes, usually in dark and creepy directions. Yep, my imagination is the next best thing to reading books by Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Mark Tufo, and Jonathan Maberry. Perhaps reading these types of books perpetuates my somewhat sinister thought patterns, or maybe it is just natural.
One day, I will pen a book of short stories about the people I ‘enhance’. Maybe some of them might turn out to be actually true. (Cue the ominous music.)
Cat butts are taking a beating this week, at least in my imagination.