A Little Fiction – Dramatis Personae

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Before you begin to write a new character into a novel or screenplay, it is important that you have begun to understand their back story…

…He stood five feet six in his stockinged feet.  When he wasn’t wearing his stockings, he was exactly the same size.  They made absolutely no difference.  I don’t know why I even mentioned them.  His face, which in his prime had looked lived-in, now looked as if someone had died there.  As a baby, not even his mother would kiss him, in case it was catching.  She had the word ‘Top’ stencilled onto his forehead on the day that he was born, so that she knew which end to put the nappy on.  His father had left home the very moment that James (Jimmy) Riddle was born, saying ‘That cannot be mine.’  He never returned, which was a great relief to Jimmy’s mother, as she had no real idea of who he was.  He had just appeared in her bed one hungover morning, where he remained for nine months, rising only to attend to his toilet needs and to empty the traps.

Jimmy was raised on the bottle.  It was not that his mother was unable to breastfeed him, rather that, having had a strict convent education, she refused to remove her vest for anything lower than a cardinal.  Furthermore, the preparation of formula milk required a much higher level of culinary skill than she possessed, so she opted instead for bottled Guinness on which to raise the child, with the result that Jimmy did not experience a single day of sobriety until the age of two, at which time he was introduced to Kentucky Fried Entrails – a rather less-than-successful venture undertaken by Colonel Sanders’ younger brother, Orbital – which was to become his staple diet for the next sixteen years and which, coupled with his continued consumption of eight bottles of Ireland’s finest per day, ensured that he was a boy without friends.

School became a hurdle that little Riddle could not overcome.  Academia was a place that had bolted its doors, put a chair up against the handle and covered the keyhole lest he should attempt to peek inside.  Shunned by fellow pupils and teachers alike, he was instructed to stand in the corner of the classroom even during playtime, when the other pupils used him as a wicket.  He tried to make friends by becoming ‘the class clown’, but he discovered that he was too much like a classic French bouffon, in that nobody found him even in the faintest bit funny.  He was caned on an almost daily basis by the Headmaster.  Not because he had done anything wrong, but because they both rather liked the routine.  The Headmaster was, in fact, the only person in the entire school to ever ‘see anything’ in young James – but charges were never brought.

He left school at the age of thirteen and decided to join the Navy, despite being allergic to water.  It was not a problem, the recruiting officer assured him.  He would be given a stout pair of boots to wear on board ship.  If ever the water began to lap over the top of them, that might be considered an appropriate time to panic.  In fact, the three years he spent aboard the nuclear submarine as Acting Latrine Orderly (second class) were the best of his life.  Although he was shunned by the rest of the crew, the lack of basic facilities on board ensured that he did, at least, smell like everybody else.  He became a valued member of the ship’s company and although nobody tacitly acknowledged his presence on board, it became the accepted thing to leave him some portion of unused rations on the seat as a ‘thank you’ after particularly explosive episodes.

It was the death of his mother – ironically with a cold on the chest – that brought him back to dry land.  She had always told him that he would get what was coming to him when she died – and she was true to her word.  The combined might of the Debt Collectors of seven counties made sure of it.  He emerged from their ministrations looking like Michael Flatley had hoofed his way through an entire River Dance on the bridge of his nose.  He had never been an oil painting, but now he looked like a Jackson Pollock – one of which, incidentally, the debt collectors had also stood on.  He was motherless, homeless, penniless, and his ointment had all but run out.  A silent rage flooded though him.  He felt impotent – which indeed he might well now have been – and useless.  His view of the world had changed.  It was to be despised, along with everyone in it.  He would never know the joy of befriending a bus conductor.  He would never enjoy the thrill of love.  He would never own a budgerigar called Bryan.  Jimmy Riddle stared into the world and prepared to cast himself out from within it.  He carried his impetigo before him like a shield.  His weapon was an unwashed body and breath that could strip paint.  Two weapons.  He strode out of the door with his head held high – which was a shame, because it had a very low lintel…

Well, that’s sorted the romantic hero out, now for the heroine…

11 thoughts on “A Little Fiction – Dramatis Personae

  1. Lovely saga. It made me cry. But I noticed a slight flaw. If I had had eight pints of Guinness at my school when I was a lad, I would have had lots of friends despite mi looks or breath. And the other lads would loved to have eaten Orbital’s entrails just to avoid girl cooties. But we live in different continents

    Take time to laugh

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.