Today, you’ll write about the most interesting person you’ve met in 2014. In your twist, develop and shape your portrait further in a character study.
I haven’t met anyone in 2014. Online, yes. Lots of amazing people who live and lead amazing lives I’ve met here at WP in 2014 (when I decided to sign up to blog). I can’t pick one out of all; that wouldn’t be fair. So, if the gods presiding over this prompt will forgive me, I’d like to introduce everyone to a fictional character from a book I read just last month.
(I apologize, too, if this ends up sounding like a book review. I’ll try hard not to go there.)
He’s still with me, this Alex guy. Tall, robust, and grizzled thirty-something Alex, with his stubble on sharp features, and resentment glinting behind cobalt eyes despite a growing thirst for whisky. He lives on a small island somewhere in the United States, and he’s a successful man, but he’s let his past and life in general dictate his thoughts, actions, and opinions about that life in general, including love.
The setting isn’t as important as his issues with divorce, pre-nup nightmares, and the bottle. And, on top of all that, he’s seeing things. A ghost, actually. Someone who died in the Big Band era and is lost up in the attic of a house Alex is trying to renovate so he can sell it and gain back a bit of the income this divorce has drained from his account.
A space filled with dusty castaways, cobwebs, and memories of a by-gone era no one seems interested in discovering or learning about today, Alex knocks back the whisky as the vision of a ghost forms. A young man from that by-gone era who is searching for a woman in particular. A ghost as angry and bitter as Alex, and yet even dead, he shows contempt and disgust for the problem drinker.
40’s music wafts in the background of my mind during these reminiscences, along with the sepia tone setting you see in old photos. It became my mental backdrop of those moments. It was like listening to my late father again, reluctantly sharing the bits and pieces of his WW2 experiences with us kids. Alex’s remorseful ghost and my father hovering over my shoulder as I read the words
Still, this Alex exists in a tranquil, artistic rendition of time having stood still, and yet all he can see is doom, gloom, and harshness all around. It is the 21st century, and yet there is this nostalgic feel about the place, reminiscent of my father’s young days.
I never knew one moment to the next if these people were in the here and now or simply modern folk with old-fashioned lifestyles. Modern conveniences blending in seamlessly with pre-electronic era anything. A cell phone, laptop, or reference to television or movie were all that needed mention to make this wafting transition occur.
Alex, as grizzled and stubborn as he’s become, has no problem or hesitation about wanting to help this ghost in order for him to find peace in the afterlife. Not that I can blame him. He’s not what you would call a strong, capable lead and yet after being introduced to his dark side, it became easier to want to follow him everywhere, listen to his every complaint, and get a bit misty hearing about his troubled childhood.
It makes perfect sense why he would think the way he does because I do it, too. It’s easier for people like me and Alex to pity the plight of others while remaining incapable of working out our own issues. Just as I kept wanting the best for Alex, he went out of his way to help the ghost put the pieces of his shattered past together.
Perhaps it was my ability to relate to the damaging affects of his cold, unaffectionate, alcoholic mother that made me want to stick by him and learn more. This big, brooding grump of a sour disposition who is teetering on the brink of self-destruction and either doesn’t see it or care. I do, though, so I read on, coaxing him with gentle, prodding encouragement to not give up.
We’re both screwed up people in need of someone as compassionate as ourselves to want to help. We can figure out how best to serve others, but not ourselves.
For Alex, that someone was a woman. His ideal type, too. Buxom blond with blue eyes and a nice smile. Independent but not money-hungry, worldly, or too sophisticated to be able to or even want to become a part of his laid-back lifestyle. The type of woman who can easily vacillate between the here and now and the past without being all that obvious. A modern woman living in a modern world with qualities that date back to the Black & White and sepia image era of a time long gone.
It was wonderful to watch Alex transform into the real Alex. Slowly, stubbornly, and with numerous instances of hilarity when he has to grapple with this woman and his unwanted yet increasing feelings for her. He’s not real and neither is this ghost, and yet I was there just as I’m right here typing about him now. I could smell the sea salt breeze that kept attaching itself to his thick, dark hair. I saw the cove lighthouse flashing intermittently in the harbor, and I smiled politely at all of the incidentals Alex ran into in town.
Relating again, I often wonder what I would be like today had my life been somehow different from the word go. Just as I wonder if there will ever be that special someone who isn’t afraid to get to know me despite myself and help me to draw out the me I should or could have become had there been proper and effective guidance in my own past.
As an aside, the uncanny coincidences of my life never cease to amaze me. After editing this piece, I browsed a magazine, and at the bottom of a page was the quote: Your Inner Child is Looking for a Friend: You.