Seeing as it’s Saturday, arguably the best day of the week, I thought I would go ahead and post something fun. This is a short piece of writing that showcases Chester, Peter, and Jasper together. I find that doing little exercises like this help me to get to know my characters’ personalities. A variation of this scene may make it into the final draft of the story. Enjoy!
The chain link fence sprung metallically as Chester dropped over its top. He squinted. Behind him, the fence rattled. Something sloshed.
“Peter,” Chester said, “did you have to bring Francis?”
Peter wiped his nose on the arm. “No.” He clasped the sealed water-filled mason jar roped about his neck. “But I feel bad leaving her. She has separation anxiety.”
Chester agreed that one of them had separation anxiety. He doubted it was the goldfish.
“Come on.” Chester jogged ahead. The street lamps were lit, but they did little good at twilight when everything was so flat.
Peter was about fifteen feet behind, puffing through his penny-sized mouth. He secured the jar between his unlined palms. The water heaved and Francis floundered.
In another block, Chester stopped at an unassuming phone booth. Royal velvet curtains were draped over the glass, concealing the interior. A hand-lettered sign on the door read, “The Doctor is Out.”
Chester looked at the curtains. “Well . . . that’s tasteful.” He grabbed the door handle (a magic eight ball from WalMart) and jiggled. When it didn’t give, he read the fortune. It said, “Locked.”
Chester checked on Peter’s progress. “What time is it?”
Peter fumbled for his bumblebee pocket watch. Francis looked dizzy. “It’s 9:42.”
Chester spun. Peter impulsively tucked the jar under his chin.
Jasper approached at a walk. His line of motion looked like a backwards S; his spine was supple and curved. Feet and knees led the procession. His long arms dangled like the bare frames of bat wings. His hands were in his pockets.
“Nice fish,” he said.
Chester winced. At school, Peter usually had the sense to keep Francis in the mesh water bottle pocket on his backpack. Most people didn’t know that he harbored an aquatic stowaway to class every day.
“I like the curtains,” Chester said to change the subject.
Jasper appreciated them with his half-lidded eyes. Jasper was both waif-like and giant. His shoulders were barely wide enough to support his head. His head was somewhere in the stratosphere.
“They were a thank you present,” Jasper said. “A little opulent, maybe.”
Chester interpreted “a thank you present” to mean that Jasper had repossessed them from some scared client.
Jasper unlocked the door and invited Chester into the phone booth. Inside, was an impressive collection of antique lanterns. They circled a pile of questionable car parts like a shrine. Pinned to the inside of the curtains were hundreds of handwritten notes. Some broke free and flew away when the door opened.
“Lanterns?” Chester was careful not to nudge any with his large feet.
“For a wedding. A very good client.” Jasper breezed over the notes on the curtains and plucked a few. “I’m a sentimental guy.”
Jasper handed Chester the notes. “The landfill. A few miles out of town. It’s only been a few hours, but my sources tell me that some old scuba tanks were picked up and deposited toward the south end. Hopefully, you won’t have to dig very deep.”
“Scuba tanks,” Chester repeated. He pocketed the note.
“And another thing,” Jasper added. “I’ll waive your payment if you find something for me.”
Chester moved toward the door. He looked at Jasper sideways. “What is it?”
“A box,” said Jasper. He adjusted the felt rose pinned to the left breast of his satin green shirt. “A client wants it back from his ex-wife. Sources say that she threw it away in spite of him. It should have made it to the landfill by now. If you find it, I’ll waive your payment.”
Chester chewed his cheek. He preferred to deal in cash with Jasper. Cash was clean. This sort of trade often got messy. “What does it look like?”
Jasper ejected a photograph from his sleeve, presenting it clamped between his fore and middle finger.
The box was small, maybe ten inches across. It looked to be made of plywood, like the kind you buy at a craft store and decorate yourself.
“It will be blue,” said Jasper. “He spray painted it.”
Chester added the photo to his pocket. “I’ll try.”
Outside, Peter was wearing anxious circles in the pavement. Jasper nodded at him, gesturing with his hawkish nose. Peter squeaked and waved.
“We’re going to the landfill tomorrow,” Chester told Peter on their return journey. He wrangled the chain link in his fingers and heaved himself over it’s dragonish spine.
Peter kept his limbs in close, looking strangely like a hamster, as he scurried over the fence. “Oh.”
“Bring a flashlight.”
“Yeah. I know.”