Monday, February 12, 2007

A Byline Magazine character sketch

DAVID CHARLES WRIGHT: a character sketch in 500 words.

Byline Magazine which bills itself as, "The best little writer's magazine in America" holds a series of writing contests during the year. Coming in March will be one for character sketches of 500 words or less. I decided to enter using, D. C. Wright, one of the secondary characters from my, We Danced To Ray Charles, novel.

Comments, suggestions, predictions are all welcome.

Bayou Bill


by Bill Fullerton

A familiar figure stood at the business end of the Hilltop’s pinball machine, The Blushing Beauty. By even the most tolerant of standards David Clyde Wright was a strange life form. By those of Pinefield in the summer of 1968, he was way off the scale. His more distinctive features included long, stringy hair, and the beginnings of a beer gut. He also had a goofy, don’t-give-a-damn smile some girls insisted was cute.

Friends and law enforcement officers alike called him, D.C. Both agreed he was every bit as odd as he looked. Among other things he was a self-destructive, semi-alcoholic, anti-establishment free spirit.

D.C. was smart, but in a D.C. sort of way. After being expelled from high school, he got his equivalence diploma before the rest of his class graduated. Unlike most of his former classmates, he read Dylan Thomas and William Faulkner because he liked them.

Everyone in town knew he operated the printing press for his family’s weekly paper, “The Standard.” But few suspected he wrote a lot of the articles which appeared under his father’s by-line. Mark knew. By some strange amalgamation of interests, they were long-time friends. And while total opposites, they could share certain secrets and count on one another for candid advice.

Unlike his anti-social friend, Mark was easy-going. He’d been an athlete in high school. Back then he kept his hair short. Now it was a well-barbered, fashionable collar length. And while D.C. took the concept of casual clothing to an extreme, Mark dressed like the fraternity member he was. However, both men liked sports, Bob Dylan, and William Faulkner.

At the counter, Mark asked for two burgers and a large order of curly fries. The sour-faced, older woman D.C. had nicknamed, “Winona, the Woeful Waitress,” took his order in silence. After checking his hair in the mirror next to the “George Wallace for President” poster, he walked over and stood beside the machine. While a new ball was being put into play, he asked, “So what’s a guy like you doing in a nice place like this?”

Bells rang and lights flashed. D.C. kept his gaze focused on the shiny, darting, steel ball. “Getting my scrawny ass whipped by this damn machine.” As if to validate his remark, the ball ricocheted off a bumper at an unexpected angle, sped past the outstretched flippers, and disappeared from sight.

A short but emphatic string of obscenities followed, punctuated by D.C. slamming his palms against The Blushing Beauty. It responded to this assault by flashing, “TILT” and ending the game. Like two mourners viewing the body of someone who died owing them money, they pondered the treacherous machine’s dimmed lights. It was D.C. who broke the unnatural silence. “You know, it could be worse. I could be Chinese.”

“I’m going to hate myself for asking,” said Mark. “But, how’s that?”

“Just think. You’ve got a billion thirsty, commie devils over there, and not a single Budweiser to drink.”


Blogger Bk30 said...

Rofl, Bill you sure know how to make a girl laugh..."not a budwiser to be found" lol

10:14 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

You are a GREAT writer, Bill. I love your stories. I love the story that runs parallel to your love story with your wife and as for your short stories...I think this is one of the best.

11:23 AM  

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