Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott tells me to look within to create a character. Today, while meditating, I did that. And I stumbled across bitchy Alice.
Usually, I try to stuff Nasty Alice. I pretend she doesn’t exist. But today I embraced my wicked. I let that vile woman out of her box and said, “GO FORTH AND SPEW YOUR VENOM!”
Rotten Alice is a lot of villainous fun. She curses like a sailor. She is catty. Her claws are long and sharp. Here are some other embellishments I’m adding to Evil Alice.
Tattoos. Lots of them. Sleeves on both arms. And a mullet. Atrocious Alice has a pierced tongue. She spends afternoons in dark, empty bars, the only patron on a stool keeping the bartender busy pouring shots of tequila served with salt and lime.
She has a swagger. And possibly a dagger. And indeed a handgun in her fringed purse. She wears frayed too tight jeans with 1970s crocheted vests and Hendrix T-shirts.
She steals from friends. Goes through their medicine cabinets and lifts their Hydrocodone. She grows pot under black lights in her basement.
She drives a Harley way too fast, veering in and out of lanes, flipping the bird at cars as she cuts them off. And she spits great gobs of phlegm on grocery store parking lots.
However, even obnoxious people have a bit of decent buried deep within.
Evil Alice is kind to animals. Even at her most heinous Cruel Alice could never hurt a dog, cat, bird, horse, or rabbit. Although she can and does happily kill gnats and mosquitos. Further, she’s unfailingly gentle with children.
She bakes peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses in the middle. She serves them with cold whole milk. Her kitchen table is from the 1960’s. White Formica with gold flecks. Her dishes are Franciscan Desert Rose.
Do you want to know this person? Perhaps I need to give her a husband. Or lover. Or kids. Does she have a pit bull or poodle?
What is her home like? A double wide trailer backed up to a chain link fence? Or possibly a Cape Cod with white cafe curtains in the kitchen.
On her windowsill is a Magic Eightball. She shakes that black orb several times a day, looking to it for answers. Usually, it responds “Reply hazy, try again later.”
She smokes Marlboros. Before opening a box of cigarettes, she tamps it on the kitchen counter, packing the fag tightly. Her ashtray is red plastic. Her gums are receding due to the smoking. Her home, possibly a mid-century split level, smells like smoke and fried fish.
I like her in spite of her nasty mouth and tobacco breath. I will explore her later. I need to know her friends, her job, her tics, and obsessions.
But for now back to Anne Lamott. After that perhaps I’ll color more of Where the Sidewalk ends for my grandson Tate.
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