When Life Gives You Your Characters


Yesterday, I saw a teenage girl sitting in the back of a pick up truck. She was only wearing a t-shirt and I couldn’t stop wondering, who are these people? It’s January!

This morning she became my victim’s surly best friend but I could have lived without seeing that stellar example of bad parents.

I sat waiting at the light, behind a car in the right turn lane when a pickup truck pulled up on my left, one car length ahead. It was a small pickup, oddly low to the ground with a young girl in the back. It was January, brrr! She wore a thin t-shirt. She lifted her arms to finger-comb her hair into a ponytail, I saw the soft-white pillowy skin of her side-boob exposed under the pillowy skin hanging from her upper arm. She was a teenager, probably sixteen, maybe eighteen. Pretty freckled face with blue eyes, red hair the color of autumn maple leaves -she could be a stunning girl if she lost about two hundred pounds. I wore my black Matrix sunglasses, so I was sure she didn’t see me look at her. I bet she knew. She had that defiant look look of someone too young to be so world-weary.

The car in front of mine turned but the traffic was too heavy for me to follow. I pulled up along side the truck and looked over to see who makes a teenage girl, wearing only a t-shirt, ride in the back of a pickup truck in New Hampshire, in frigging January, for crying out loud! Two refrigerator-shaped people were tightly backed into the cab of the truck. Both stared ahead with surly expressions. The man was wedged behind the steering wheel, his face pointed straight ahead, lead by his large formidable jaw. Red hair cut in a buzz cut covered his head. He bore an uncanny resemblance to that magnetic car game, the one that you play with a magnetic pencil on the back to move iron shaving onto a face to make beard, hair, eyebrows -you know that toy right? The woman looked enough like the man to be his sister. That the three were related required no great feat of deduction on my part. I wondered if they were too closely related.

I tried to imagine a scenario where someone would get into a vehicle and then expect their little, er young daughter to get into the back of the pickup, in January! Didn’t anyone tell her to wear a jacket? Did she even have one? There was a rusty assortment of tools and containers in the back with her. I wondered that a fast turn wouldn’t cause her injuries like the something that looked like a partial lawnmower, wouldn’t fall on her. I drew a blank. I suppose I would have made two trips or if that wasn’t feasible, I’d be in the back with moveable items secured. Although, the fact I just used the word feasible was a clue that I would never have to make this type of decision, short of an apocalypse.

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