All the Ups and Downs

Article 15 Blog Tour Guest Post

October 28, 2019

Who or what is your biggest inspiration for writing and why?

“And so my story begins, like so many stories, with a woman.”
― Daniel Defoe

Well…not so much a woman as a young, nubile waitress. Ah, we were young then. I still recall her coy smile; the strands of blonde hair pulled loose from the bun at the back of her head; the strain of her waitress uniform against her slender waist as she reached overhead for coffee cups; the sheen of panty hose against the back of her thigh beneath her hemline that beckoned like a siren to the hormonal gumbo of my adolescence…

She was from the other side of Lindbergh Boulevard, a neighborhood where the upper middle class lapped at real money mansions. I was from West County where the farmlands were being plowed up into subdivisions with exotic names and three model homes to choose from. The daughter of a physics professor, she was reading Herman Hesse. I had just discovered the dark insanity of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 beneath the looming shadow of the United States Selective Service draft lottery—which Nixon ended the year I turned 18. By then, I had moved on to “creative writing” classes, more for practical, romantic reasons rather than any grand inspiration.

After I flamed out of the music conservatory in Cleveland, I followed her down 3-C Highway to the English Department at Ohio Wesleyan University. But a year later, she was gone…for good. Somewhere back East, I believe. Eventually.

Why? Why do we do it? I fell hard, just like Griff falls for Helena. And surely our great love was frowned upon in parental, religious and legal establishments. But it was sweet while it lasted.

And now I’m stuck with all these goddamn colorful characters rattling around in my head and the sounds of footsteps behind me…

“Don’t look back, son,” Satchel warns me. “Something might be gaining on you.”

“Thanks, Mr. Paige. I’ll try to remember that.”