View Full Version : Prompt - "Caricatures of Immortatlity

Brainerd T.
06-01-2005, 12:25 AM
All right. As writers we need to make our characters outstanding. we create these characters out of our own imagination. But the best characters are based upon real people.

We all have people involved in our lives whom we remember for saying the right thing, doing the right thing, or otherwise being the person we need to SEE at a particular moment in time. They could have taught us a lesson. They could have shown us something we have or will remember for the rest of our lives.

We have the benefit of the memory, but what about the person? They deserve to be more than a nameless, faceless entity, enshrouded in the mists of our memory.

A "Caricature of Immortality" is a snapshot of that person. A tribute that will be upon paper for eternity. those people deserve nothing less. There have been many people in my life who has deserved a spot in my "hall of fame". What about you? Will you share one with us?

I've done this before on other forums. Most people say "I can't think of anyone". My response is: You would not be who you are without them. So come on. Paint them a word picture.

To whow you what I mean, I'll start.

Brainerd T.
06-01-2005, 12:29 AM
"Ethel" was written before I had a word for it. I now call it "Caricatures of Immortality". I hope to fill a book with such tributes. My book will be my own people. So come on. share yours. You'll be doing yourself a favor. You will hone your writing skills. And you will pay eternal homage to that certain someone who did something in your life you'll never forget.

1981-03-20 ETHEL

Immediately after High School, my first job was that of "Bundle Boy" at the factory where they manufactured blue jeans. I was to make sure that the ladies that did the sewing had thread and material to sew with. Having grown up in Wewoka, Oklahoma, everyone there knew me as "Drebbie's kid", and a lot of them had changed my diaper when I was little. Therefore, they expected me to hug them every morning. If I didn't, they'd act as if they were mad at me. It was all in fun. Most of them were old enough to be my mother anyway.

Except Ethel. She cussed me every time I passed her bench. She was the one no one could get along with.

"Good morning, Ethel."

"Shut up."

One morning, I instinctively replied "Oh, shut up yourself. What makes you talk like that anyway?"

Instantly she lowered her voice and almost inaudibly said "Larry come here." In the next few weeks, I learned a remarkable story, teaching me a priceless lesson in judging people.

Ethel lived in a much smaller town than Wewoka, Oklahoma, where we worked. When her husband of thirty years died, she got a job in Wewoka thirty miles away to make some friends. Since she was a housewife, she didn't know anyone, and she was very lonely. It had been so long since she had talked to anyone she had forgotten how to get along.

She loved everyone at the factory and she thought they knew that she was kidding when she cussed at them. She thought that their griping was just part of the game. It broke her heart when I told her that not many people thought she was joking.

I began making it a point to hug Ethel when I made my daily rounds. She resisted at first, but I soon began to see her soften. People were soon remarking about the difference they had seen in her.

One day, several months later, she was acting far worse than she ever had. She would cuss at anyone who would pass within ten feet of her. Even I, who had grown so close to her, was not allowed to approach. Again on instinct, I said as gently as I could, "they retired you didn't they." I had heard the rumors.

She didn't have to reply. I could see the tears in her eyes. That day, I hated industry more than any time in my life.

She had been working at a sewing machine for so long her hands had been shaking for years. Her performance, once record setting, couldn't keep up, being almost seventy years old.

"Larry, my whole life is in this plant. If they make me retire I'll just wither up and die. They're trying to decide how long they'll let me stay."

I could scarcely keep from crying myself. I knew what she was doing to her friends now. She was trying to push them away, afraid to let anyone come close to her. She would miss them too much. She couldn't bear the thought of being away from them.

Everyone had come to love her, and they had a hard time understanding why she was going back to the way she used to be. I discreetly explained it to them. They understood.

"Well, Larry, today is my last day." she announced one day, not long after. She had been crying. Everyone, including me, was sad to see her go, and was crying as well. I worried about her. It was my last day also. I was moving to Dallas.

Two weeks later I called my mother. "Have you heard from Ethel"?, I asked.

"No. Not yet."

A week or two later I called again. "Have you heard from Ethel?"

"Larry, Ethel died yesterday." I was stunned. I cried as if it were my own mother. It had been less than a month since she had been forced into retirement.

I never learned her last name. In a short time I had learned to love her very dearly. Through her I learned not to judge people too harshly. Someone may be pushing people away to keep from getting hurt themselves. Ethel loved her friends. Was it the loss of her friends that had something to do with her death?

Over the years her words come ringing back to me: "My whole life is in this factory. If they make me retire, I'll just wither up and die."

Perhaps she died of old age, perhaps she died of loneliness.

Brainerd T.
06-01-2005, 03:29 AM
Here's Another:

1989-05-26 RAYMOND RAMEY

Raymond was several years younger than I. We used to do a lot of things together, but gradually he started hanging around a tougher crowd than I wanted to, so we went our separate ways.

His dad knocked him and his brothers around. His house was in a constant state of disrepair because someone's fist or head was being knocked through a wall or window. Because of this, Raymond was a rebel. He didn't go around looking for trouble, he just didn't like being told what to do. I spent two years of my life running around with him. He was like a brother to me. I felt the same way he did about things, but he felt them stronger.

A few years after I joined the National Guard, at the height of the Viet Nam conflict in 1967, Raymond joined the Guard. At that time, our unit was a pre-selected "hot" unit that could be activated any time. We met nearly every weekend for almost six months, and if anyone missed just one weekend drill, they would be AWOL and could be sent to Viet Nam.

Raymond took it all very lightly. During that same six months, he missed every single Drill. He thought the war was wrong, so he stayed away from Guard drills. I begged him to go, but to no avail. Finally a warrant was issued for his arrest. The Military Police chained him hand and foot and had him sent to Viet Nam by ship.

In late summer of 1968, as Raymond was still on the gangplank, he was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. He didn't have a weapon, being still in chains.

The can that was passed around the restaurant where his mother worked was ignored by many. They thought it was a joke. Few people knew that he had been arrested. When the body came, it was no joke.

He was no hero, but he was no panty waist draft-dodger or protestor. He was a good kid, and good looking, barely eighteen years old. I went to the café' to see his mother. Her baby, her youngest, was dead, and she took it hard. The Kent State murders meant nothing to me, but the cold-blooded murder of Raymond was no less of a crime.

He did nothing good or bad, right or wrong. He just got in harm's way because of a stubborn streak.

Hero? Maybe not, but he was my friend, and I loved him.

06-03-2005, 05:09 AM
This is as true as I can make it.


The first thing I remember learning about her was that her first name had no 'h' in it, and that her last name had no 'd' in it. It took a while to sink in; my memory is bad. I met her because of a competition we were both in; we fell to talking about Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. She gave me her email; in those days, it was still Numairsgirl, a reference to the mage Numair from the Wild Magic series we had both read.

When I met Cristina - Cris - her hair was to her shoulders, a dark dark brown, which I've always seen as black. Her eyes are hazel, and she wore glasses. She still does. She had a jacket, that sticks out in my selective memory, even now - a bright orange windbreaker she wore at least 3 out of every 4 times I saw her. There's a slight birthmark on her forehead, barely noticible. She is two months older than me; our birthdays would have been on the same day, but she was early.

She cut her hair, the second year I knew her, cut it as short as a boy's. That was the same year she came out of the closet, and I suppose that was when things started to change. Suddenly, she was bolder and braver than me, and she grew, so she was taller. Cristina always knew exactly what she wanted, always, always. Her religion was the right one, for her and for me, but I wasn't so sure about that. I ended up staying with Christianity, and it infuriated her. I never really understood why, but she believed that Christians were close-minded, couldn't change, and couldn't get along.

It's odd. She is UU - supposedly very accepting of other religions, and she can not stand any type of Christianity or Catholicism. She can be cruel, terrifyingly so, but something still draws me to her, though we haven't really spoken for over a year, because we fought. She falls into hate quickly, and is slow to let go of it. But she can be kind and loving - to the ones she loves. I know, because I was one.

I can close my eyes, and remember her totally, down to what she smelled like. Don't laugh, it's important. The smell of sun-dried cloth, a certain sunscreen, and the beach brings her back to me.

Like I said, we can't talk anymore. She left me behind, totally and completely - like we had never been the more-than-friends we were. I find it incredible that a human being can do that.

Lets not forget she made me who I am - she gave me Talia. I remember it, so well: walking through the woods with her, creating a character from the air, naming her, finding her history... I became the streetrat queen, because of a girl who now can barely stand me.

Beats me if this is what you wanted. But here it is.

Brainerd T.
06-03-2005, 05:22 AM
Exactly. Any memory of any one that made any kind of impression on you for any reason.

It's quite like the "Chicken Soup" stories, except it centers on THAT person. Why did that person stand out? Why do you remember that person? Who gave you that cold galss of water when you needed it most? Who is your favorite teacher and why? The possibilities are endless.

06-03-2005, 06:32 AM
My best friend's name was Dorothy. I've never had another friend like her, and I doubt I ever will. She was a best friend, cousin, aunt, sister, mother -- all rolled into one. I met her through two sisters who were my schoolmates. They stopped coming around her house, but I never did.
She used to regale us with the best stories. Dorothy worked in vaudeville. She told us stories of Danny Thomas, The Three Stooges, and others I don't remember now. She'd been a hand model and an actress; she'd lived in Chicago amd worked for a jeweler there. She had the most marvelous collection of costume jewelery I'd ever seen. She'd bring it out and let us try it on - and tell us stories of her life. Her favorite pieces were amethyst. I still think of her when I see amethyst.
Dorothy collected teapots. Oh, she had so many! Brown Bettys, and fine porcelain; teapots shaped like roosters, cats, and fish. Our favorite was a plain turquoise clay pot. It really was rather homely compared to the others - but it made the finest pot of tea. Her favorite tea was Constant Comment, mine Earl Grey. We must have drunk gallons of tea together all told. It didn't matter what season or time of day. We'd brew a pot of tea and talk and talk and talk.
No subject was taboo with Dorothy. I think that's one of the reasons I loved her so much. She seemed so worldly and wise. She'd lived in so many places and had done so many things. She never judged you - no matter what you said. Her advice was always sound so I trusted her with any problem I felt I couldn't work through on my own.
Did I forget to tell you? She was 64 then, and I was 16. I'm sure people must have talked about our relationship. I'm sure they wondered what we did together for hours on end. In retrospect, I'd have to say she was teaching me how to be a decent, loving human being. I've never met another person like her. I think God created an original in her - and I've never properly thanked Him for bringing her into my life when He did. I'm a far, far better person for having known her.
I haven't described her too well. She was tiny. She stood 4'11' when she stood up straight. She wore a size 4 ring and shoe. Her skin was fair and flawless - even at 64. She made me feel like an Amazon standing next to her. I didn't mind, though. I would have protected her with my life. She was my best friend, my mother, my sister, my aunt. She was Dorothy and I'll remember her all of my life.

Brainerd T.
06-04-2005, 03:42 AM
What an outstanding portrait, Unique.

Each of us has hundreds of people we could honor. I'm sure of it. Anyone else.

06-04-2005, 08:37 PM
Out of everyone I know, she probably deserves to be portrayed here the most. As she is also on this board, she is also the likeliest to find out about this.


Melissa - or, more usually for me, Byrd - is afrikaans. I'm reasonably sure I spelled that right. She's about a head taller than me, pale-with-lots-of-freckles, and blond. She's very, very strong, both mentally and physically, and speaks/is learning to speak four languages. She lives over two thousand miles away from me; if I'm lucky, I see her once a year. Hasn't always been like that; she used to live about five minutes away.

I met her when we were both in 7th grade, a friend-of-a-friend type of deal. It didn't take too long for me to decide she was someone I could trust utterly - even if having her right behind me makes me twitchy. To me, she's both dangerous and completley trustworthy. It sounds weird, to an outsider - but she understands it, and so do I. How'd I know I could trust her? Easy. I had some cards with me, with writing on them for a story. I'm touchy about letting others see unfinished work, and so needless to say, the other people we were with tried to snatch them from my hands.

And then Melissa said, "Here! I'll take them." I looked at her a minute, then handed them over. No one else noticed, and continued chasing me. Byrd held them, and never looked. And that, my dears, was when I found my first real friend.

That cemented that, really. We were in classes together, occasionally - we had more apart. But we ate together (just us two, actually) and talked at recess. This had several unpleasant consequences - we got called gay more than once, and were surrounded while we were outside - but it was worth it. Then, two weeks before 8th grade ended, she moved away, leaving me to sit alone every day.

I did go see her, but we started drifting apart. We didn't talk as much anymore - and she'd been my best friend and the inspriration for Jao Lianas, my first real (and my favorite) character. But then I broke, and she was there to hold me up, despite the 2000 miles between us. And I remembered how much I need her.

Byrd knows so many different ways to beat me up that's its vaguely unnerving, and also kinda cool. She's always been weird - her whole family is, when it comes to that - and does a lot of Rennaisance stuff. As I said before, she's my Jao - a tall blond inspiration for a tall, blond, fierce vampire hunter who has more layers to her than you might think.

Melissa... is Melissa. And Byrd. And, always, Jao.