Out in the real world, I’m fairly anti-social. I hate crowded places and have a slight disdain for people in general. Not like a super-villainous urge to rid the world of humanity by any stretch, I just don’t like how people act when they are in groups. This could make it difficult to create life-like characters but the world has a way of throwing people at you.
I was at a casino not too long ago when a guy and his friend wanted to borrow my phone at about 7 in the morning. The guy was wearing a wife beater and one hand was wrapped in an ace bandage. His friend looked fairly normal but apparently lacked the capacity to put a hat on straight.
The guy’s phone was out of minutes and he needed to make a call because his “bitch sister” had left without him. I let him use the phone to call his cousin and a couple of other folks to try and get a ride because I felt that the casino would have been a nicer place without him.
In the course of his dialing a couple of numbers I learned several things about him. His sister was a bitch. I only know this because he told me several times. He had gotten some friends escorted from the casino after he had been forced to pull a knife on them. But he didn’t stab them because “that’s me being a grown up. That’s me being responsible.” All his “bitches” numbers were in Texas. He didn’t mess with those Oklahoma girls. One of his girls was claiming that she was pregnant. But he told her she was lying so now she’s mad at him. He works at Braums and McDonalds because it’s a job and he’s proud of that but he’s use to making $18 an hour doing electrical work which he is currently doing at a new old folks home site. His sister works in the vault at the casino so we should try and pull off a heist. His cousin owns all the strip clubs in Arlington. (He invited me to go to a strip club at that point but respected that I was married.)
His friend thought he recognized me. At first I thought maybe because of the books, but looking at his hat again I could all but guarantee that he wasn’t a “reader” or “literate.”
In the end, he couldn’t get a hold of anyone, cursed his sister again and they wandered off.
All in all it was an interesting 5 minutes.
I’m not saying that this guy or his friend will appear in any of my stories. But it was a nice confirmation that I can make a character as stupid as I want and not risk being unbelievable.
Heh, no kidding.
For my idiot characters, I find I need only hang around Walmart or McDonalds for inspiration (or severe depression, depending on how you choose to view it).
For drones and other “I simply exist” characters, I’ve been known to ride the elevators in downtown Dallas or Fort Worth or Houston between 8 and 9 a.m. and just watch, listen and observe.
For my heroes or strong characters, time spent at a VFW or American Legion post, non-denominational church or charity outreach center gives me a lot of material.
Likewise, I’ve found the greatest place in the world to find names for my characters is the phone book.
My time spent working on the Argosy Casino (Kansas City) and Harrah’s Casino accounts guarantees that I’ll never be seen or set foot in another casino as long as I’m breathing free air.
My best inspirations come from the people that I meet. Were you at a casino in Atlantic City? Because I have met my share of strange entities while in a Jersey casino.
Ha. No, it was Oklahoma actually.