Character Study

Early on in this project, I wrote a short piece as a character study. Although a variation of it could potentially show up in the final story, its original purpose was simply to examine Chester’s character. Although another character named Craig appears in this exercise, Craig has since been cut from the cast. I felt he was too similar to Chester, and I like more diversity and variety. The genie, however, made the final cut. I’ll be introducing her, and Chester’s others partners in crime, soon. Enjoy!

***

Chester took the railing down the stairs. He lost his left shoe in the process, and he didn’t stop for it.

In the front yard, his mother had assembled folding tables and was busily marking the items displayed on them for as little as ten cents or as much as a dollar. Chester pawed through the table of accessories. A sequined coin pouch, never used with the intended evening gown, and outgrown as a dress-up accessory, stood out.

“Uh-uh. No.” Chester’s mother made a slicing motion with her hand. “We’re having a yard sale to get rid of junk. You’re not going to take that thing and add it to your collection.”

“Mom!” Chester danced from foot to foot. “I’ll pay for it. Look. Seventy-five cents. Here. Take it.”

His mother palmed the quarters and grimaced. “And just what do you want a woman’s clutch for?”

“I’m going to use it for something.”

“That’s what you said about the old traffic light.”

“Just as soon as I get it running again. Look, I just really, really, really need this old coin pouch, Mom. I’ve got a really, really, really good use for it.”

Mrs. Phillips sighed and put the change in her apron. Chester fist-pumped the sky and ran back into the house. He galloped up the stairs and fell through his bedroom door.

The genie was still sitting on the floor next to Chester’s bed. She was playing with top. It clattered onto its side in exhaustion. She looked at the coin pouch. Chester was holding it open. He gave it an expectant shake.

“It looks a little musty,” she said.

“No one’s used it for a while,” Chester explained. “In you go.”

The genie stood up. She twisted the top between the thumbs and forefingers on both hands. She then placed it on a smooth patch of comforter and approached Chester. “Goodbye,” she said. Then she was small, and remarkably inside the coin pouch. Chester pinched it shut before sound or light could escape.

All of the weight of his body seemed to go to his rear end as Chester toppled into his throne. The stop sign that formed the seat was somewhat unforgiving. He set the coin pouch on the arm of the chair and poked it.

“You in there?” he mumbled. He poked it again.

Chester scratched his forehead. “Craig,” he decided. He activated speed dial.

“Craig? What are you up to? That’s cool. Listen, I need you to come over . . . yeah. Yeah, it’s not due until Friday. I need you to come over now. Because I have a girl in a coin pouch in my bedroom and I’m not sure how to handle it. It will make a lot more sense when you get here. So I need you to come over and tell me what to do. Just hurry.”

When Craig showed up, the first thing he did was buy a potted cactus from Chester’s mother.

Chester came to the edge of the porch. Craig was finalizing the deal. “Craig!” he hissed. “Hurry up!”

Craig gave Chester’s mother another dime and a quick salute. “You guys got some nice stuff out here,” said Craig. He maneuvered around Chester so as not to graze his face with the neglected cactus.

“Forget the yard sale. Come up to my room. I need your help.”

Craig looked at the bejeweled coin pouch sitting in Chester’s throne. “I hate to tell you this man, but disco’s not coming back.”

“Craig, there’s a girl in there.”

“What?”

“There’s a girl in that purse thing.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Hey! Be gentle with it! Did you not just hear me say there’s a girl in there?” Chester snatched the coin pouch from Craig, who was massaging it with his fists.

Craig stood opening and closing his hands where the pouch had recently been. “Do you mind if I check out the rest of your yard sale? Or are you going to tell me what’s going on here? I’m open to both options.”

 

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