aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Scraps of paper

Every time I start a new book, I go through an entire file drawer that I have filled with nothing but scraps of paper. Magazine articles about hoarding, or shoplifting, or addictions to QVC. Bits of newspaper desccribing bits of lives. Some might spark characters, others plot twists. Like I just read a tidbit about a gang in the 50s that once killed a man and then cut off his hands and then kept them in the freezer - with the plan of using them to put fingerprints on another murder weapon.

Here's something from the NY Times Metropolitan Diary section earlier this year. Doesn't this just conjure up an entire character? In fact, you could almost start a plot with this story. What happens next to Drew? Does his shell continue to crack more and more?

Dear Diary:

I live in Brooklyn but work in Manhattan and sometimes take the train to Carroll Gardens. I am a 50-year-old male, very unassuming and very low-key.

When I boarded the train recently, the row of seats in front of me and the row beside me were filled with young men and women, probably in their late teens or early 20s. They were loud and raucous, yelling and laughing at the top of their lungs. I wondered whether they were going to give me a headache or hassle me.

Suddenly, the guy next to me introduced himself, extended his hand and explained that they were playing the staring game (whoever blinked first lost). After I introduced myself, he asked if I would like to be the next contestant to challenge the reigning champ. At first I was hesitant but then obliged.

My opponent across the aisle was a lovely young woman who hunkered down and gave me her best stare. I gave it my best for the next few minutes, being cheered on by some of the group, but in the end I blinked and lost. For the rest of my ride I watched subsequent matches until I got to Brooklyn. Upon leaving, all in the group wished me a good night and a happy holiday.

It was the best time I had riding the train in years.

Drew Helstosky

So does anyone else have a similar file drawer?

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