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AllusiveJMJ
01-08-2013, 10:44 PM
Hello, all!

I'm new here, and so delighted to discover this forum! I'll go and introduce myself in the Newbie's forum, but I just have a question about plausibility.

A young couple, driving at night, hit a homeless man. He is not seriously injured (scrapes and bruises, I'm thinking). Would it be implausible for them to take him home with them instead of calling an ambulance or taking him to a hospital? Their rationale is that they're afraid he'll sue them or that someone in the hospital will encourage him to sue them (he seems impressionable, almost child-ish) and they hope that if they're very nice to him for a few days, he won't want to hurt them. Obviously, what they're doing is not exactly moral or legal, but they're young and scared and selfish.

My question is, is their fear realistic? COULD he sue them? He doesn't have any proof (aside, perhaps, from the bruises) that they actually hit him. Nobody saw the accident (rural area).

Also, would the legal/criminal ramifications of taking him home and failing to report the accident be so severe that they would have to be idiots to risk them? Could they get away with (if discovered) saying they just found him, felt sorry for him, and were letting him stay in their house as a charitable act?

What I want is a scenario where the young woman is forced into interaction with the homeless man (something that scares her).

I have other specific questions about homelessness, but I'll save them until after I find out if this idea has potential or needs to be thrown out.

Thank you so much!

alleycat
01-08-2013, 10:54 PM
Do you really need all that rigmarole about a lawsuit? If, say, the couple just came close enough to the homeless guy to scare him off the road and into a ditch, they could offer to take him home and put him up for the night just out of a feeling of obligation. But, I suppose what you propose is plausible; that they do it out of concern that the guy might cause trouble for them somehow (maybe he starts babbling about calling the police and they don't want to get in to all that just for barely scraping the guy with their car).

I don't see anything illegal or even immoral about what they are doing, assuming there is no serious injuries. The laws about such things will vary from place to place, but I doubt there is a requirement to report something of such a minor nature.

Buffysquirrel
01-08-2013, 10:55 PM
Sue them for what? Suits are for damages. If he's suffered no financial costs, eg healthcare costs, and no losses, say, from not being able to work, or from disfigurement, or anything that you can put a price on, he has no case.

AllusiveJMJ
01-08-2013, 11:19 PM
Ah! Sounds good! Thank you alleycat and Buffysquirrel! I don't want to bother with the lawsuit unless I have to (and I don't want to make him a cruel person). I know nothing about lawsuits and such (obviously)!

Now here's another question:

I'd like him to stay in the house longer than they had originally planned. What I would particularly like is for him to be a lot weaker than he first appeared. I want him to be so exhausted, weak, etc. that he really can't do anything except lie around resting. Perhaps this could be caused by lack of nutrition? They don't realize how sick/exhausted he is because he shows energy when they first meet him--he seems scared and angry and yells a bit, even though he's quiet on the car ride home--but the next morning he clearly can't leave, and so he keeps on staying and staying...

He has to stay in the home for a long enough period that the young woman can get used to him. Is a week too long? Perhaps a little more than that?

I have some other questions:

I'm assuming that he has not been taking care of himself and so is very, very dirty, smells bad, etc. What kind of specific things could be said about his clothes, any possessions he has in his pockets, etc. that would help him come alive as a character? Would he carry a wallet or would he have any personal papers? They do try to clean him up, but he resists having his things (even his horrible things) taken away.

Also, I want him to talk about the things he's seen in his years of combing through dumpsters, etc. for useful things. Do you have any suggestions for unexpectedly beautiful or expectedly appalling things he has seen? An example of an appalling thing would be a body (I'll probably use this). I want him to scare the young woman because he just talks--he doesn't seem to think of how she'll feel to hear these things.

The story is taking place in a coastal area of Mississippi, in case that helps (could also be LA or AL).

When I was a child there was a homeless (or at least wandering) man who lived around my town. He was kind of lost in his own world, and my siblings and I were afraid of him, but I always thought he was interesting, too, because he could play the piano (we'd sometimes see him in our uncle's music store) and he appreciated good music. He also had very beautiful blue eyes. If anyone has any experiences like this is would be helpful. I see this character as a mysterious figure, but I want the details to be REAL.

Again, thank you so much!

alleycat
01-08-2013, 11:22 PM
Are you familiar with delirium tremens (DTs)?

alleycat
01-08-2013, 11:31 PM
As for appalling/beautiful things, some ideas:

His best friend (also homeless) for killed for some senseless reason, maybe just for kicks.

He was denied shelter in freezing weather when he was "up north".

He was invited home for Thanksgiving by a wonderful family one time. They invited him to stay, but it meant giving up drinking so he had to leave.

He was denied a cot at the shelter because he had taken in a stray cat (I know an incident where this actually happened).

He found a cuddly little teddy bear with a red ribbon in a dumpster once and he wondered why anyone would throw something out that would have made a kid who didn't have anything happy.

Some times homeless people eat out of dumpsters, particularly the ones around restaurants.

Are those the kinds of things you're looking for?

Buffysquirrel
01-08-2013, 11:40 PM
Actually, I do think it plausible they might take him home. I remember reading an article some years ago about some people who encountered a homeless man who'd just been released from prison, and who allowed him to sleep one night in their home. They were later advised by police that he was a dangerous man, and they shouldn't have taken such a risk.

backslashbaby
01-08-2013, 11:41 PM
I hit a homeless man with my car! He wasn't really injured, because he had amazingly long legs, thank God, and he was able to jump onto my hood. It was my fault, but he did kind of pop up to cross the road right after I'd looked that way to check.

That didn't result in my taking him anywhere, but I grab a burger with homeless folks in town here and there, and I drove them to shelters in the winter back when I had a very large boyfriend to go with.

So I have a lot of homeless people knowledge compared to just your average person, I'd guess. There are all sorts of stories. Around here, substance abuse seems to be the biggest defining feature of the always-homeless. Mental illness is common, but not as common as I'd expected.

There are too many stories to know how to narrow much down. An interest in great music? I could totally see that. Some talk about the jobs their siblings have or parents have, or what they used to do, too.

One guy wanted to show me a scar or something he had from Vietnam, but he thought better of it as he realized he had to lift up his shirt to show me his stomach. He always talked about the war (not that they were all in war; most here weren't). That was the most disturbing experience I had.

I don't know. Most just chat (and eat!). Some are mentally ill and chat about strange things. Lots talk about places they've been and things they've done, especially if it was out West or in Europe, etc. Two of them together tend to talk about their own things that are often hard to follow.

Let me know if I can narrow it down any better.

Maryn
01-08-2013, 11:48 PM
Do you know why this guy is homeless? Is he an alcoholic or drug addict? Mentally ill? Simply down on his luck?

What his clothes are like and what's in his pockets will vary depending on the answer. In my mercifully limited experience, the homeless whose personal grooming is non-existent are addicts or mentally ill, and maybe the worst of the alcoholics.

Those who've lost everything through bad decisions and bad luck continue to try for a long time, cleaning up in public restrooms, using some of the money they get to do a load of wash or imposing on friends to let them use the washer, take a shower, like that. Many are also enterprising about getting a bit of money, from collecting empty bottles to begging to scams to small jobs.

The clothes of the sickest ones, who don't wash at all, turn grey-brown. In a winter climate, the layers will be many and there will be multiple coats. Their hair is never combed and once it's long enough, it mats so badly it's like woolen felting. They lose teeth and they can't or don't cut their fingernails or toenails. They don't shave. They smell worse than farm animals and even if they beg, many people won't go near them.

What's in their pockets? It'll vary from person to person.

Maryn, whose heart breaks when she sees them

Guinea
01-08-2013, 11:51 PM
Why have him as a nice guy? This could be an awesome psychological thriller (which was the way I thought you were going in your first post). He has a hold over them, knowing they fear him reporting their behaviour and is now living in their house and possibly creeping them out, demanding too much but laying about their house and whenever they start talking about him having to leave he brings up the accident. Then there could be the conflict of him being able to play amazing music, but is still creepy.

AllusiveJMJ
01-08-2013, 11:55 PM
Yes, alleycat! That's just the kind of thing I'm looking for!

I kind of wanted to avoid the drinking issue (I suppose that might be impossible). I know it is a big problem for a lot of homeless people, but I kind of wanted his mental fogginess to be due to something other than alcohol. Not that she can't think alcohol is a problem at first (I find alcoholic addictions pretty intimidating and I imagine she does too) but I don't want their main dynamic to be his need for alcohol, her denying it, her giving in, etc. Perhaps there are other possibilities?

Yay, Buffysquirrel! That makes me happy.

Thank you, backslashbaby! Let me see...I'll try to be more specific. The main focus of the story is on the idea that every person is valuable--even if they aren't "wanted" by anyone. I don't want to go the route of making him a savant of some type (you know--supertalented at something like music). I want him to seem pretty useless. HOWEVER, he is not useless at making other people see that no one is useless (the idea of him finding a teddy bear, for example, is great and is the kind of thing that I'm thinking of--he is a living, walking, talking protest against people just throwing things away if they don't suit their needs).

Also, the young woman desperately wants her boyfriend to ask her to marry him (this is her story goal)--perhaps the homeless man could have some effect on this? He could have loved and lost, or perhaps loved and won and then had that life be horrible?

For some reason, an idea that came up in my brain-storming was a fascination with fireflies (which are becoming rarer these days) and a desire to see some of them, perhaps like he used to see them, in big magical clouds, when he was a kid somewhere. The young woman can't understand his love for these "useless" creatures--until she sees them herself at the end of the story. Does that sound silly?

Thanks again! I'll be back...

alleycat
01-08-2013, 11:59 PM
I like the part about fireflies (although I'm less sure about the "big, magical cloud" of them). That is just the sort of detail that can make a story more interesting and can stand for a larger theme.

Off topic: I had a friend who was from the mountains of Utah. They apparently don't have fireflies there. She moved here and one summer night went to a baseball game. She saw fireflies everywhere and started freaking out. "Look! Look at all the little lights!" Of course, everyone around her thought she was completely nuts. I freaked her out when I took her to have catfish. :-)

AllusiveJMJ
01-08-2013, 11:59 PM
Thank you, Maryn and Guinea!

You make some great points about knowing WHY he's homeless. I'll think about that.

Guinea, I know he could be creepy, but I don't want him to be horrible. The story is less about him and more about the young woman. I want her to RECOVER from fears that pre-exist him (one of which includes her mother's coma and death from involvement in a car crash, and her father's reaction to his wife becoming "non-functional"). I want him to be creepy only in a mis-interpreted way (he's not trying to be dangerous, threatening, etc., but he comes across like it).

backslashbaby
01-08-2013, 11:59 PM
Do you know why this guy is homeless? Is he an alcoholic or drug addict? Mentally ill? Simply down on his luck?

What his clothes are like and what's in his pockets will vary depending on the answer. In my mercifully limited experience, the homeless whose personal grooming is non-existent are addicts or mentally ill, and maybe the worst of the alcoholics.

Those who've lost everything through bad decisions and bad luck continue to try for a long time, cleaning up in public restrooms, using some of the money they get to do a load of wash or imposing on friends to let them use the washer, take a shower, like that. Many are also enterprising about getting a bit of money, from collecting empty bottles to begging to scams to small jobs.

The clothes of the sickest ones, who don't wash at all, turn grey-brown. In a winter climate, the layers will be many and there will be multiple coats. Their hair is never combed and once it's long enough, it mats so badly it's like woolen felting. They lose teeth and they can't or don't cut their fingernails or toenails. They don't shave. They smell worse than farm animals and even if they beg, many people won't go near them.

What's in their pockets? It'll vary from person to person.

Maryn, whose heart breaks when she sees them

Most of our sickest ones still clean up every so often at a shelter or church. The places that give them food clean them up here and there (and they do go for food at these places often). So while they look dirty and disheveled, it's not a lot different from our cowboys who grab a burger after working with animals all day ;)

I have been kicked out for buying a quick burger with a new acquaintance, though. Rarely. I've gotten a lot of dirty looks, that's for sure! And one manager waits on us personally when I do that, too :) He's a cool guy.

backslashbaby
01-09-2013, 12:05 AM
Allusive, it may be hard to avoid the substance abuse unless he's mentally ill enough to be quite noticeable. Hmmm.

Some are rather stubborn and prideful, if that helps. They think they have a plan that will work. They won't take much charity at all. They think organizations to help them have stupid rules. They rationalize that they are just camping and don't need much (this comes up way more often than you'd think). Maybe your character can just be difficult that way? Some really are very nice! I just wouldn't recommend them for responsibility ;)

Guinea
01-09-2013, 12:05 AM
Aah! I like the idea of his making everyone around him seeing the waste, and possibly giving them more meaning to their lives. Also the idea of the woman's mother dying from a car accident would also make it understandable why they would take him home, but the flipside of that is she might also want to take him to a hospital right away knowing that there could be internal injuries etc, but her boyfriend talks her out of it as he is the one more fearful of the legal ramifications.

alleycat
01-09-2013, 12:09 AM
I have had quite a bit of interaction with homeless people as well; strangely enough, mostly in an upscale part of the city where I used to work. There were three hospitals in the area, dozens of churches, any number of restaurants, and they didn't get harassed too much by the police (as long as they behaved themselves).

Homeless people do vary just like the overall population. There are various reasons why they are homeless. Some we could all sympathize with, and some are just plain mean (the biggest danger to homeless people is probably other homeless).

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 12:15 AM
Hah, yes, about the fireflies. When I was a child, I lived in NC for a while, and I remember seeing some there, but here in MS, I never see them. I wish I would!

I thought of another question, though. I think it would be interesting for the homeless man, in addition to being preoccupied with fireflies, to be preoccupied with applying Biblical sayings to ordinary things--for example, a character references bread and he says, "Beware the yeast of the Pharisees." He might have some Biblical tattoos or something like that. Basically, I think he might treat everything in the Bible like it 100% affects him and his current life and everybody else's life--for example, he might believe he could heal someone if he had enough faith.

Still thinking...

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 12:19 AM
You're right about the mother and hospitals, Guinea! I was thinking of the boyfriend as being the one to push taking the man home (he was driving, after all). She is, as I said, afraid of the homeless man. I think one of the reasons why she comes to fear him less and appreciate him more is that he DOES represent a belief that everyone is worthwhile, even in a "vegetable" state. One of her problems is that she thinks her father was wrong to choose to let her mother die (perhaps it was the kind of situation of being taking off a breathing machine or something) instead of wanting her alive no matter what.

Guinea
01-09-2013, 12:19 AM
Mmmm ... the atheist in me is rebelling against the biblical ideas. Where would you be going with that? Making the couple reaffirm their religious beliefs that have been lost along the way? Or just a quirk that he has?

alleycat
01-09-2013, 12:19 AM
They have probably heard enough Bible verses to memorize them. Most rescue missions require the people they take in to attend service.

Guinea
01-09-2013, 12:22 AM
You're right about the mother and hospitals, Guinea! I was thinking of the boyfriend as being the one to push taking the man home (he was driving, after all). She is, as I said, afraid of the homeless man. I think one of the reasons why she comes to fear him less and appreciate him more is that he DOES represent a belief that everyone is worthwhile, even in a "vegetable" state. One of her problems is that she thinks her father was wrong to choose to let her mother die (perhaps it was the kind of situation of being taking off a breathing machine or something) instead of wanting her alive no matter what.

Or it could be that her mum had a living will and so the father had no choice but to take her off the machines, and she could be angry at her mum for having a living will, and also angry at her father for going ahead with her mum's wishes.

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 12:26 AM
The Biblical things are less about how the couple receives them (they aren't very religious people) and more about WHY he believes everyone is important. He thinks (I think) that people are blind to seeing life as a gift, even if their lives aren't always happy. He holds people responsible, for example, for letting the fireflies become extinct (at least where he is), and he thinks this is because they don't care about the fireflies as living things created by some Creator not to be "good for" anything but just to be "good."

alleycat
01-09-2013, 12:31 AM
Possibly off-topic . . .

In East Tennessee they have synchronous fireflies (they all flash at the same time). Maybe you could use that in your ending somehow, even though they don't really exist in that setting.

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fireflies.htm

Guinea
01-09-2013, 12:41 AM
Ah, but then might it not be better for him to believe implicitly in a number of religions and sprout stuff from the Koran, Torah and so on. Would have a more authentic feel if it's not just christianity.

Love the idea of the fireflies - can so see a huge flower-filled meadow with thousands of fireflies zooming about at twilight. We still get quite a lot of fireflies here, but only at certain times of the year and you need to know where to go to see them. We have midnight picnics (alcohol fueled) and they are always memorable.

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 12:48 AM
I'm so glad the firefly idea is getting enthusiasm! Pretty cool about the synchronized fireflies, too. I don't really mind that it wouldn't be natural for the deep South. I'd like to have a little mystery.

I see what you're saying, Guinea. I'll probably keep Biblical references way down, if I use them at all.

Again, thank you all so much!

frimble3
01-09-2013, 03:34 AM
I'm kind of worried about this poor guy going off with these people. Okay, they might be risking taking in either a dangerous man, or some scammer that they won't be able to get rid of, but he's risking even more.
Presumably, this happened on an isolated road, (or they couldn't just bundle him into the car and drive off) so who would even know if he just 'vanished'? What if they've decided to solve any potential lawsuit problems by taking him out to the woods and finishing him off? For that matter, sure they say they hit him by 'accident'. Maybe they were aiming directly at him, and only missed him by 'accident'.
Maybe they were just looking to slow him down, so they could torture him at leisure.
It works if he's a nice guy who reads the Bible, because if he read crime stories, they'd have to drag him kicking and screaming into that car.

I sense that I am not, perhaps, your intended audience for what seems like a heartwarming story about nice people.

The fireflies sound lovely, though. We don't get them up here. I'm thinking that a snowglobe with glow-in-the-dark 'snow' would be a cool thing.

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 04:47 AM
Ha ha, frimble3--that would be a great story, if it was HIS story, but he's not the narrator--the woman is--and I don't think he's particularly worried about what's happening to him. Remember, he's supposed to be (in addition to a rounded character) a symbol of "dysfunctional," "useless" people. He is not "valuable"--even, sometimes, to himself.

Also, it's not like he's not human and is just a nice guy--he gets irritable, etc.--I'm just not focusing on the danger issue here (at least not directly, the young woman can create all kinds of horror fantasies in her head).

Thank you for your comments!

joebill
01-09-2013, 07:42 AM
Well, for some sort of counterplot, my wife once asked her mother what it was that convinced her that she was in love with my wife's father when they had only dated for a short time.

Her mother related a story about them car-dating and he ran down an old woman with his model-t ford. The kindness he displayed in caring for her and taking her to the hospitol, paying her bill, etc. convinced her mother that he was a good man, indeed, and she married him. Compared to what her daughter put me through, he got off easy.

If you are talking about a homeless guy in Mississippi, don't forget the tart aroma of mildew.....Joe

AllusiveJMJ
01-09-2013, 05:34 PM
Nice idea, joebill! I'll keep that in mind. I'll remember the mildew, too.

cornflake
01-09-2013, 11:40 PM
If there's something wrong with the woman in the book, I think that makes a difference as to the answers that'd make sense for a lot of this.

Does she have some particular issue with a mental illness that leaves her unable to cope normally with stuff or is she mentally challenged or what have you?

AllusiveJMJ
01-10-2013, 01:55 AM
I don't think she's afraid of mental illness. What she's afraid of is being useless and alone, as she sees the homeless man being. She DOES cope with the situation (she doesn't fall to pieces) but it is hard for her.

blackrose602
01-10-2013, 08:21 AM
Okay, you didn't say how old the homeless guy is. My experiences are with young (teens and 20s) homeless people in Orlando and New Orleans. I've had quite a few that I counted among my closest friends. I've also brought several home, helped them clean up and get back on their feet. So I have extensive close, personal contact, but again, only with the younger set.

Homeless people are individuals, just like anyone else. Among the young adult group, there are two basic reasons they're homeless--runaways and throwaways. But it amounts to the same thing--they left home because they could no longer stay. Many, though not all, have been abused. All have something about them that their parents couldn't stand (sometimes serious like psychiatric problems, sometimes as simple as being gay). They're generally looking for surrogate family. So they bond, and they bond hard--with each other and with those who take time to get to know them as people.

In my experience, many (not all) are quite gifted at something. Lots of musicians, who make their living playing on street corners. Computer gurus. Handyman types who can fix anything. Car guys. Poets. Artists. Tarot readers/psychics/mystics (hugely common in New Orleans). Among the young adults, it's quite common for them to eventually get themselves together enough to get off the streets. For an example of a former homeless guy turned big success, Google Mad Mike the Hippie Bum--he went from sleeping on the street to owning a huge house in the Garden District, solely based on standing on a street corner singing humorous songs about being homeless.

So what would he have in his pockets? Well, who is he? What's his story? Who's his adopted family (the collection of street kids and sympathetic locals he knows and trusts)? Does he still have any ties to his biological family?

Most homeless people I know carry a duffel bag or large backpack everywhere they go. It literally contains their entire lives, so they're extremely protective of it. It's been my experience that homeless people tend to fiercely hold onto things that remind them of better times--the cork from a bottle of wine someone split with them by the riverfront, a photo of a favorite niece or nephew, a t-shirt from a concert they scraped together the money to see, a handmade bracelet from someone they knew in another city. They also carry stuff to kill time--magazines, books, playing cards--the hours can be endless when you have nowhere to really be.

Alcohol and soft drugs (pot, primarily) run through the culture. But they're not necessarily alcoholics or potheads. For a lot of people, it's more of a social thing...a group spends the day spanging (spare changing, aka begging for money) or playing their instruments on a street corner for cash. They pool resources to get some dinner and a cheap bottle of wine or a couple of 40s. Sometimes they can control it, sometimes they can't. But alcoholism isn't necessarily a go-to reason for their predicament.

I don't mean any of this to suggest that mental illness and substance abuse aren't incredibly common among the homeless population. I just wanted to bring another dynamic, one with which I'm intimately familiar, to the table.

cornflake
01-10-2013, 09:18 AM
I don't think she's afraid of mental illness. What she's afraid of is being useless and alone, as she sees the homeless man being. She DOES cope with the situation (she doesn't fall to pieces) but it is hard for her.

I meant does she have a mental illness or condition. The stuff about her being upset hearing the guy once saw a body and other such things, in addition to her goal in life being to have a guy propose made me think she wasn't 'normal' or had some issues or what have you. If she's meant to, I think the answers will be different is all.

druid12000
01-10-2013, 10:20 AM
When I lived in Florida I met and got to know several homeless folks who were not addicts of any sort, their meds were off kilter. Once they were straightened out they were fine but if they didn't have them or the scrips or diagnosis was wrong, they were definitely different people. Nice, just off.
I met a guy who was brought to New York from Mexico, didn't speak any English when he arrived and was forced into working in a sweat shop. Before long he realized he was being taken advantage of and stood up for himself. They (the people who brought him here and gave him a new identity) took away his identity and gave it to someone else. He had no relatives here and didn't know anyone. But, there is no shortage of people who can and will help the less fortunate.
Allusive, since your setting is very close climate-wise to Florida, I could give you some real life accounts if you'd like.

debirlfan
01-10-2013, 12:45 PM
What about the possibility of the homeless guy being a veteran, either with PTSD or perhaps having had too many concussions and being a little "off" because of it?

mirandashell
01-10-2013, 04:37 PM
I meant does she have a mental illness or condition. The stuff about her being upset hearing the guy once saw a body and other such things, in addition to her goal in life being to have a guy propose made me think she wasn't 'normal' or had some issues or what have you. If she's meant to, I think the answers will be different is all.

I'm guessing you didn't actually mean this how it reads. :)

Cos it reads like someone who doesn't like the mention of death and wants her boyfriend to propose is mentally ill.......

cornflake
01-10-2013, 05:25 PM
I'm guessing you didn't actually mean this how it reads. :)

Cos it reads like someone who doesn't like the mention of death and wants her boyfriend to propose is mentally ill.......

I didn't say someone who doesn't like the mention of death and wants her bf to propose.

I said what I said and was referring to things like this -


the young woman is forced into interaction with the homeless man (something that scares her)...

appalling things he has seen? An example of an appalling thing would be a body (I'll probably use this). I want him to scare the young woman because he just talks--he doesn't seem to think of how she'll feel to hear these things...

Also, the young woman desperately wants her boyfriend to ask her to marry him (this is her story goal)Yes, I think someone described like that has mental issues. That does not sound to me like a mature adult with healthy coping skills, among other things. I don't know an adult would be scared because someone said they'd once seen a body or would be scared by interacting with a random homeless person or who would have that as any kind of "goal." If I met someone who was as described, I'd wonder what the heck was wrong with him or her. YMMV.

AllusiveJMJ
01-10-2013, 05:36 PM
Thank you, blackrose602--WONDERFUL information!

druid12000--thank you! I may take you up on your offer about Florida accounts (I'm still working out exactly where this story is going).

cornflake--no, she's not meant to have any abnormal issues. Mirandashell has it right--she's just someone who wants someone to love (she's pinned her hopes on the boyfriend) and who is afraid of death, disagreeable things, etc.

AllusiveJMJ
01-10-2013, 05:40 PM
STORY goal, cornflake--not necessarily her entire life goal. As the narrator, she has to have a "goal" that drives the story, and her boyfriend becoming her husband is that goal. When I say "desperately" I'm exaggerating a bit, but that is what she wants more than anything else, including career goals, etc.

Yes, she could be more mature and healthy--and she will become so, through the arc of the story.

Also, remember that he is IN HER HOUSE--when I say she's scared of him, I mean she's scared of the unpredictable, the odd, etc. She tries to be nice to him, but he says things that she doesn't want to hear. Maybe "disturbed" is a better word that "scared"--or perhaps "uneasy" is the best word. The point is, he challenges her comfort zone.

AllusiveJMJ
01-10-2013, 05:40 PM
Sorry! I forgot to say thank you! Also, what does YMMV mean?

cornflake
01-10-2013, 06:05 PM
Sorry! I forgot to say thank you! Also, what does YMMV mean?

Sorry, means Your Mileage May Vary (basically two people may view the same trip or experience very differently). As in I think your character needs therapy, others don't think so at all. ;)

AllusiveJMJ
01-10-2013, 07:02 PM
Thanks!

I forgot to say that I'm not sure how old the man is yet--he could be young, or he could be in his forties or so. I don't think I want him to be TOO old, as it would put even more of a gap between him and the woman. I don't want a "grandfather-granddaughter" vibe.

Also, what about names? I imagine that most people just use their real names--Joe, Josh, Keith, etc., but I have no experience. Are nick-names used (a la "Red" or something)?

This is a huge help!

blackrose602
01-12-2013, 05:04 AM
Also, what about names? I imagine that most people just use their real names--Joe, Josh, Keith, etc., but I have no experience. Are nick-names used (a la "Red" or something)?

This is a huge help!

Nicknames! Not everyone uses them, but the vast majority do. In my experience, it's not just the homeless either--it's most people living "off the grid" (no driver's license, a month-to-month or week-to-week rental somewhere, under the table income). And they're not always that original. I personally know about five Ravens, three Shadows, etc. They may be based on personality traits, animals that they identify with, physical characteristics, or seemingly random things.

MeretSeger
01-12-2013, 06:32 AM
Nicknames! Not everyone uses them, but the vast majority do. In my experience, it's not just the homeless either--it's most people living "off the grid" (no driver's license, a month-to-month or week-to-week rental somewhere, under the table income). And they're not always that original. I personally know about five Ravens, three Shadows, etc. They may be based on personality traits, animals that they identify with, physical characteristics, or seemingly random things.

'Freeway' was our garage guard. We didn't tell the apartment manager he was living there, and he kept an eye on our stuff.

Also, some people have nicknames based on what their activities and interests are. On the Berkeley campus, we had The Hate Man, Dave the Yeshua Guy, Hefty Man, Five Dog Lady...These may have been originally applied by "outsiders" but the people made them their own.

Guinea
01-12-2013, 11:33 AM
Thanks!

I forgot to say that I'm not sure how old the man is yet--he could be young, or he could be in his forties or so. I don't think I want him to be TOO old, as it would put even more of a gap between him and the woman. I don't want a "grandfather-granddaughter" vibe.

This is a huge help!

Maybe he should be a similar age to the couple so they can see the way their lives could have diverged if different choices had been made or each had had lived in different circumstances. It would show the disparity between their lives if they're a similar age and have a more philosophical twist, where the idea of a single choice (whether large or small) could have such a profound effect etc.

Canotila
01-12-2013, 02:59 PM
When I was in high school we took in a homeless woman briefly. Some of her experience may be relevant to your character.

She had no addiction problems, but she was out of it. She was an older woman (mid 60s early 70s) and had some form of dementia. My friends and I found her living in the public art studio we volunteered in. She was very sweet, and had pretty good hygiene though I could see someone with similar challenges maybe struggling with it.

At first we kind of let her stay at the art studio even though it was against the rules because it was very apparent that she was harmless and nobody had the heart to kick her out. One evening she started having chest pains, so we all rushed her to the hospital. They said she was fine and turned her out, it was freezing cold outside and she was obviously not fine and still in a lot of pain, plus having respiratory problems. Nobody was comfortable with her staying unsupervised in the studio overnight in case she needed to be brought back to the hospital.

I ended up taking her home. She stayed with us for a few days and we filled her up with good food. After that the volunteers at the studio took it upon themselves to take shifts having her stay at their houses so someone could keep an eye on her.

Through all this, she kept bringing up a son that she had. She couldn't remember his name. The only name she gave us for herself was "Naomi Ruth", and we were never sure if it was her real name or not. She was very Christian and could quote a lot of the bible off the top of her head, for all that she had forgotten.

Over the next few months, we were able to slowly piece together bits of information. Her son lived in Portland. Someone found out a name eventually and found him. He was overjoyed, because she'd gone missing a year prior and he'd been searching for her all that time.

Apparently, she'd been admitted to a mental hospital for some dementia related stuff. While she was there, the governor signed something eliminating 80 beds in the hospital, so the patients occupying those beds were literally turned out on the streets to fend for themselves with no resources (my dad worked at that hospital at the time, it was really tragic). She was one of them. Her son said that they didn't notify the family to come pick her up or anything. The way they found out was they went up to visit and she was gone, and nobody knew where she'd disappeared to on the streets.

Anyway, I hope this helps you develop your non-creepy non addict homeless man's background. Maybe he could even have family looking for him and your young couple could help him find them if that's the sort of thing you're going for.

AllusiveJMJ
01-12-2013, 07:01 PM
Thanks again, everyone!


Apparently, she'd been admitted to a mental hospital for some dementia related stuff. While she was there, the governor signed something eliminating 80 beds in the hospital, so the patients occupying those beds were literally turned out on the streets to fend for themselves with no resources (my dad worked at that hospital at the time, it was really tragic). She was one of them. Her son said that they didn't notify the family to come pick her up or anything. The way they found out was they went up to visit and she was gone, and nobody knew where she'd disappeared to on the streets.

Canotila, how terrible that those people were treated so badly! But this could be very useful to my story, so thank you!

Good point about the "choices" and age, Guinea. I'll keep that in mind.

Torill
01-15-2013, 12:40 PM
the patients occupying those beds were literally turned out on the streets to fend for themselves with no resources (my dad worked at that hospital at the time, it was really tragic). She was one of them. Her son said that they didn't notify the family to come pick her up or anything.I'm sorry, I know this is off topic of sorts, but - that's shocking! Is that legal in the US? Demented patients can be just dumped in the streets like that? Sorry, we want to cut down on our expenses - without securing alternative care, without noticing the family.... please tell me there were massive law suits and public outcry because of this!

I'm speechless.

cornflake
01-16-2013, 05:58 AM
I'm sorry, I know this is off topic of sorts, but - that's shocking! Is that legal in the US? Demented patients can be just dumped in the streets like that? Sorry, we want to cut down on our expenses - without securing alternative care, without noticing the family.... please tell me there were massive law suits and public outcry because of this!

I'm speechless.

Treatment (or lack thereof) of the mentally ill in the U.S. is notorious for this sort of thing, for various reasons including cost, insurance issues, privacy issues, inability to force unwilling patients to accept treatment, unwillingness of communities to have mental health facilities of nearly any sort within their borders, etc., etc., etc.

This is (http://sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas_d.html)(it's an academic's article) what seems to be a decent summary of some of the issues of one of the more turbulent modern eras in that regard, that's often cited as responsible for many of the problems. This is (http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/30/science/how-release-of-mental-patients-began.html?pagewanted=all) a NY Times article about the same thing.

You might also want to google things like Willowbrook School in Staten Island, which, when what went on there was revealed did cause widespread outrage and reform. There's good and bad and it's an ever-evolving issue. Remember, the U.S. is a vastly larger and more heterogenous country than someplace like Norway, without nationalized health care and with some expectations about privacy that hamstring things that may seem logical there but would be unworkable in the U.S.

Guinea
01-16-2013, 11:07 AM
Treatment (or lack thereof) of the mentally ill in the U.S. is notorious for this sort of thing, for various reasons including cost, insurance issues, privacy issues, inability to force unwilling patients to accept treatment, unwillingness of communities to have mental health facilities of nearly any sort within their borders, etc., etc., etc.



It's not just in the US, happens all over the world, and not just with mental patients either. I have heard of people being tossed out of state hospitals after a heart op coz the night nurse doesn't want to look after them.

Canotila
01-16-2013, 12:04 PM
I'm sorry, I know this is off topic of sorts, but - that's shocking! Is that legal in the US? Demented patients can be just dumped in the streets like that? Sorry, we want to cut down on our expenses - without securing alternative care, without noticing the family.... please tell me there were massive law suits and public outcry because of this!

I'm speechless.

Tragically, it's not uncommon. A lot of Americans find it repugnant, and mental health care is loads better now than it was a few decades ago when people were put into eugenics programs and sterilized against their will, but it has a long long way to go before it will be anywhere near adequate.

In my opinion it should be a priority. For some reason the jerks doing the state budget think it should be the first thing cut to "balance the budget". Last year we did have a some big protests at the state capital and several caregivers were arrested when they forced their way into the governor's office to yell at her. Folks got outraged about that. It's starting to change. Just not fast enough.