Back in my newspapering days, my writing was pretty much limited to the facts - who, what, when, where and why - as it should be. My columns usually touched on my personal experiences, friends and family.
So, now, as a writer of fiction it has struck me somewhat by surprise that people still try to look at everything I write as some sort of autobiographical non-fiction, with my stories rooted in true-life experiences. Frankly, there's a touch of that, but mostly it's just a guy with an imagination.
Like in Joshua's Ladder, I'm not Joshua. I'm not married to an astronaut. I'm not even married to a blonde. But, I am Catholic, and I was known to frequent a bar or two "back in the day."
So, yes, I draw on some personal experiences in my writing. They say to write what you know about. But mostly it's an imagination extrapolating upon many of the characters I've met along this 47-year journey of mine.
Among my small circle of best friends, it's a well-known fact that if I am in a bar or restraunt or sitting at the Blackjack table in Deadwood, the most unique, odd and ornery people in that place will sooner or later end up sitting next to me. I seem to attract the characters, and I love it.
So it is with these Hitchhiker short stories I've written, these characters aren't me, but they are likely based on somebody I've run across in my travels. And, yes, I have been known to pick up a hitchhiker along the way.
These stories are what I call "thinkers." There's not so much a start, middle and end, as there is just a picture of time, leaving the reader to wonder how they would react in these situations, with these characters, and if perhaps they've known one or two of them in their time.
Here's an excerpt from "Hitchhiker 3 - Wendy," which you can find in its entirety in the top left corner of the site in the "short story" section. Hope you enjoy:
Yet what red-blooded male driver wouldn't want to be accompanied by a Barbie doll hitchhiker? As she leaned her head in the car, it looked like a puppy had chewed on the head of my Barbie doll. Her face was pock-marked and drawn ghost-like over obscenely jutting cheek bones that could cut glass. Her chalky look had meth-head written all over and “trouble” should have been etched on her forehead.
But I'd committed and was getting pretty good at keeping those kinds of things, so I half-heartedly muttered: “Hop in.”
“Where you going?” she chirped, setting the backpack on her lap and closing the door.
“Kansas City. You?”
“St. Louis. Going to see Mount Rushmore.”
It took a second or two for that to register in my brain and when we were on the interstate, I mentioned the obvious or what would be obvious to you and me. “Mount Rushmore isn't in St. Louis.”