I love writing about offbeat characters and wacky scenarios. Those who’ve read my manuscripts sometimes ask how I come up with it. Real life? Imagination? Am I in therapy?
Here’s a roundabout answer to all of the above.
This morning I took my two beasts to the dog park. It’s a 20+ acre fenced area with places for dogs to frolic and sniff and do what dogs do. As we made our way from the parking lot to the park, a man race-walked past with a small black terrier attached to what appeared to be a women’s belt. The man was burly with a camouflage jacket and a tattoo of a spider on the back of his neck.
“Come on, Belinda,” he snapped when his dog paused to inspect my dog’s hind end.
Belinda cast an irritated look at her owner, trotted three steps, hunched up, and . . . well, did what dogs do.
The man grunted with obvious disgust, waited for Belinda to finish her business, and yanked her toward the park.
“Hey!” someone shouted. “What do you think you’re doing?”
We turned to see an elderly woman walking a small camel. On closer inspection, the camel turned out to be a Great Dane with a growth on its back. The woman had frizzy blue hair that looked like someone dipped her head in a cotton candy machine.
“You can’t leave that doody there!” she yelled.
“Doody?” the man asked, looking genuinely perplexed.
“Poop,” I offered helpfully. “You’re supposed to pick it up in a bag.”
“But I don’t have a bag,” he griped. “And the dispenser is way over there.”
The woman scowled. The Great Dane took a step forward. I took a step back. My dogs hid behind my legs.
“Do you know what the fine is for failing to pick up after your dog?” the woman hissed.
No one answered, probably because none of us knew the answer.
The man snorted. “Bite me, lady,” he said as he turned toward the park with Belinda trotting beside him.
“That’s it, fart-knocker!” the woman shrieked. “I’m calling the police right now!”
“Fart-knocker?” I repeated, committing it to memory for future use.
The woman grabbed a hot pink cell phone out of her pocket and began to dial.
“Stop!” the man yelled. “No cops.” His eyes were wild as he looked from me to the old woman.
“I’d give you a bag if I had one,” I said.
The man shook his head in disgust. Then he bent down and picked up Belinda’s doody with one gloved hand.
We watched him stalk away, hand out, palm-up. Beside me, my dogs whined. I looked down at them. “Just so you know, I’m never doing that for you.”
The woman marched off. “Come on, Ferguson,” she told her dog. “Let’s make sure he disposes of that properly.”
And that was that. See, I can’t make that stuff up!
Except I just did. All of it. OK, there was a moment at the dog park this morning where I forgot my bag and briefly considered sacrificing a glove to avoid being yelled at by the couple behind me. But the rest was made up.
It’s a good illustration of where these stories and characters come from. One little thing will trigger an idea that just keeps going and going as I wander around the dog park. Normally, I’d put a little more thought into a scene and its characters before posting something for all the world to see, but you get the idea.
Oh, and for the record, I went and got a bag for the dog doody. I’m no fart-knocker.