The Wayside Motel
Harlan Sanders moved to Corbin, Kentucky in in 1930 at the age of 40. He had tried many things in his life with few successes. When he got the Shell station on 25W, he was desperate to make it a success.
25W was a main thoroughfare for travelers going from Cincinnati or Lexington south to Knoxville or Atlanta. He quickly realized offering food as well as gas would make him a nice profit. He cooked the fried chicken and other country foods his mother had taught him, serving travelers in his own dining room, the food cooked in his own kitchen.
By 1934, he had purchased the filling station across the highway and expanded to six tables.
Stuart “Stu” Croley became a friend of Harlan’s and watched his success. Stu owned the local Farmer’s Trust bank and loaned Harlan money from time to time. When he learned Harlan was thinking about expanding to over 100 tables, Stu decided those travelers might just need a motel as well.
Stu quickly put up the Wayside Motel, just down 25W from Harlan’s station and restaurant. It was one floor with 16 individual rooms, each with its own bath.
Immediately, it was a hit. Most every night all the rooms were filled. Stu was making good money on his little investment and started thinking he needed to expand. Harlan, however, had other ideas.
Seeing Stu’s success meant to Harlan that he could be making even more money if he had his OWN hotel. He purchased the closed, rundown hotel across the street from his restaurant, renovated it and opened the Sanders’ Cafe and Court in 1937.
Within a year Stu’s business had dropped to just a fraction of what it had been. He tended to only be full on nights when Harlan’s hotel had already filled up. By 1940, he decided to sell.
Since then the Wayside has gone through a number of owners, including a major renovation in the 60s. But it always struggled. When I-75 was built in the 70s, business stopped completely. A developer bought it just for the value of the land in 1980, speculating Corbin would expand in the years to come and his investment would pay off.
In 2010 the developer died and his son, Arnold Harrison, who didn’t have any head for business let alone experience, decided to open the Wayside again. He took his inheritance, fixed the place up, redid the bathrooms, updated everything, then waited for the business to flock in.
As several owners before him had discovered, the Wayside was never going to make a profit. He kept it as a going concern, but it soon became known as the place you could go for quick liaisons. Seeing a chance for a quick buck, Arnold decided to offer a “nap rate” – $25 for clean sheets, towels and a four hour “nap.”
Polly Henderson frequented the Wayside at least three times a week. She was seeing three men, two married, and the Wayside provided her a simple place to see them without tongues wagging in Silerville.
Most of the men she met online. Facebook or the occasional dating site. She didn’t mean to lead them into affairs. She kept telling herself she would stop, just like she would stop smoking. Someday. When she was ready. Right now maybe she would cut down, try to gradually quit.
But, just like her smoking, she’d get the urge and end up at the Wayside – or some other equally remote place. Polly had desire, but no self control. She needed men to want her, need her. It made her feel loved. It made her feel sexy.
Polly had a way with men. Though 35, she still looked 10 years younger. She talked in a way that men seemed to find sexy, suggestive. She started having this effect on men at 13 when she suddenly grew nice hips and large breasts. By high school she had learned to use her power over boys. She didn’t even have to sleep with them.
As she got older, she found she preferred older men, at least for “dating.” They had more money and could buy her nicer things – which they did almost without thinking about it. Most of them were better in bed too. She had tried picking up younger, heavily muscled, men, but they tended to lack technique she enjoyed.
This Wednesday afternoon, Polly pulled her red Mustang to number 12. Johnny was already there, waiting. She saw his Mercedes as she pulled around the back. He always got room 12 or 14, you couldn’t see the cars from the road.
Johnny Tyler was an attorney in Lexington. He never told Polly he was married, but the tan line on his ring finger did. The first couple times she was with a married man she felt a pang of guilt. “If they had a good wife, they wouldn’t want to see me,” Polly rationalized. That was years ago now.
The downpayment for the Mustang had come from him.
Polly knocked on the door and Johnny opened it immediately. Two drinks in hand. He gave one to Polly and then closed the door behind her.
When they emerged two hours later, they weren’t aware of the stranger looking at them through the blinds of 14. Polly kissed Johnny passionately then walked to her car. As she walked the stranger’s eyes followed every sway of her hips.
“Tasty,” he said to the empty room.
This is the beginning of the novel I am writing for NaNoWriMo for those of you following along at home.
Tom Sibley’s Watch
Tom Sibley loved his watch. His father, a physician of no small reputation in the “hills and hollers” surrounding Silerville, Kentucky, had left it to him. After 25 years on his father’s wrist and then almost 15 on Tom’s, the watch body had it share of marks and scratches. Upon close inspection, one could see the crystal also had a tiny fracture, visible as a small line between the Roman “X” and the tick mark representing “XI”—in 1967 the Rolex “Bubble Body” face only had room for the even numbers.
Jim Helton, Tom’s across the road neighbor and local jeweler, had more than once offered to replace the cracked crystal. “Tom,” he would say in his perpetually and inexplicably jubilant tone, “when ya gonna let me fix up that watch fer ya? It’s probably worth near on three or four thousand. You oughta take care of it.”
“One of these days, Jim, one of these days.”
The truth was Tom didn’t want to replace the crystal. That hairline fracture meant almost as much to Tom as the watch itself. The watch received that injury the day “Doc” Sibley took his 12 year old Tom out to the garage to show him how to change the oil in Doc’s new fire-engine red 1972 Chevy Impala convertible.
Huddled beneath the huge crimson hulk which was securely elevated by two bright orange ramps, Tom held the “trouble light” while his father ratcheted free the drain plug.
Being a new car, and this being its first oil change, the plug was putting up solid resistance. Doc lay on his back, his right hand on the wrench and left lying motionless on his chest.
Doc was just instructing his son saying, “No need paying someone to do something you can do…” when the bolt suddenly gave way, causing Doc’s typically nimble hand to lose grip of the wrench, which predictably landed smack dab on the watch crystal.
It was one of the few times Tom heard his father offer a profanity.
Doc quickly slid out from under the vehicle, carefully inspecting his watch for damage. Tom scurried out as well, “Are you OK dad?”
“I think I cracked my watch. Shoulda taken it off before we started. Oh well, what’s done is done. Let’s get back to work.” With that Doc placed the wounded watch on his workbench and crawled back under the car, placing mom’s old roasting pan beneath the drain plug to catch the oil.
That was the first day Doc had ever treated Tom like a man. He explained to Tom everything he was doing, imparting seemingly ancient masculine wisdom. Dipping your finger in the used oil to lubricate the seal on the new filter. Checking the timing using a strobe. Revving the engine by pulling on the little rod next to the carburetor. Checking, “gapping” and replacing a spark plug.
Things men must know.
In Tom’s mind that was the day he became a man. There would be many days where he would learn “man” things, but that day Tom knew his father no longer saw him as an awkward boy, he saw him as a man.
That tiny, barely visible line in that 40 year old Rolex meant everything to Tom. It meant manhood. It meant his father’s love.
At precisely 11:58pm Tom looked down at his watch and pronounced the body dead. A single gaping wound to the torso the obvious cause.
Today I will be starting the rewrite of the final draft of my novel Resurrection. I will be putting it out a chapter at a time, hopefully a chapter a day, for the next few months.
I have taken time to redo the plot, make some character changes and get a better feel for the emotions I want my readers to experience.
If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to the blog or just stop by. I would truly appreciate any comments and encouragement you may want to give.
This book started as a 2016 NaNoWriMo and it’s been an exciting ride so far. Life meant I put it on the shelf for a while, but now I am ready to write again and put it into a form ready for a final draft. Then, hopefully, I will get an agent.
Thanks for playing along at home.
Now the hard work begins…the whole book, now over 80,000 words, needs to be “rearranged” and then finished. Still I’m pumped about the process.
Cheesy marketing banner aside…
For a while I have been talking to Dr. Meg about starting to collect names and email addresses so we can notify folks of cool things we’re doing, free and discounted books, writing tips, reviews, etc. We even thought we’d use the list to promote some of your books (if you write.)
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I love narcissists.
Well, let me rephrase that: I love writing narcissistic characters. In real life, they are more than a pain to deal with. Writing a narcissist is fun because narcissists cause problems and problems make for interesting writing.
Narcissists are selfish, use people for their own agenda, are secretive and fly into fits of rage. They cause crises that move the plot along. They have intense sexual needs.
The Primary Traits of a Narcissistic Character
This is not meant to be a psychological commentary. Dr. Shell King has done a great breakdown of the psychology here. What I want to focus on are the common ways a narcissistic character views the world and how it shapes his role in the story.
There are three dominant commonalities in almost all narcissists:
They Have a Mission
Narcissists typically have lots of shame, but you’d never know it. To compensate for their inner feelings of inadequacy they must be “bigger than life.” They can never tolerate being seen as “common.” They must be better than everyone else in at least one area of life. They have grandiose plans.
That’s their mission.
There are a number of ways this works out. Some may become religious leaders. Some, business. Some will set themselves up a “mentors” to you lesser folks. Heck, they might even write tutorials on how to create compelling characters despite being a newbie at fiction. Some will focus on personal improvement.
Your narcissistic character wants to project his superiority. He sees himself as smarter. He may only go to “the best parties” with “the best people.” His way of doing things is always the “best” way. He does not tolerate people who he sees as inferior. He does not take advice and criticism puts him into a rage.
They Have Intense Sexual Needs
To cover their deep self-loathing, they use sex. Often. While just the act is originally fulfilling, they find pretty quickly – like any drug – the initial high wears off and they need “more” or “better” sex to fill the need.
Over time this manifests as seeking what most would consider “aberrant” sexual behaviors. They are not likely to be faithful to a partner. They try new and “better” sexual experiences looking for that high. Something “perfect” to fill their intense psychological need.
As a character it would be “reasonable” for him to move over time into more bizarre sexual activity. Often they are deeply ashamed of their sexual needs and try to hide them from others. Like all addicts, they will eventually seek their fix.
They Exert Inappropriate Control of Others
To the narcissist, appearance is everything. It doesn’t matter if their finances are a wreck and they are on the verge of bankruptcy as long as they appear affluent. It’s more important for them to have an attractive woman on their arm than to have a kind, loving partner.
As such, they see their world as a reflection on them. They control family members to make sure they adhere to a strict (often arbitrary) code. People who work for them often find their demand impossible. They have no respect for other people’s personal boundaries or needs. They have no empathy.
They are masters of manipulation.
Writing a Narcissistic Character
If you’ve ever tried to write any character, you’ve already realized the need to understand how your character came to be BEFORE the book starts. We call that backstory.
It’s important to understand how your character became a narcissist and how they informs their current choices in your story. Here’s how I create narcissistic characters.
Create a psychological backstory
Some things you typically see in a narcissist’s childhood would be a close relationship with his mother and a distant or non-existent relationship with is father. Sometimes it is a mother who sees him do no wrong. He is always right, always her special boy. Sometimes the mother will be overbearing and disapproving.
If his mother “spoiled” him, he likely lacks any kind of long-term self-discipline. His grandiose plans never translate into progress because he lacks the grit.
If his mother was intolerant, he likely will do remarkable feats and have incredible self-discipline. Literally “to a fault.”
Because of his emotional issues, your character will have a string of broken relationships. He will find and use pliable people, then throw them away when they are no longer a benefit. His infidelity and/or deep sexual needs will make romantic relationships hard to maintain. He may no longer have any relationship with his mother or, at best, a strained one.
Create “Honest” Scenes
Your narcissistic character is constantly asking himself: “What’s in this for me?”
In action, he will not truly care about anyone but himself. He may feign compassion, as long as it achieves his goals. His ends always justify his means. People exist only to meet his needs.
If he gets angry, it’s their fault for making him angry. If he fails, it was “the man” or “those corrupt politicians” or…whatever. It will never be his fault. He is perfect, better than anyone else, so bad things happen when other people screw up.
He’s probably vain. He may be excessive in his workout routine. He probably dresses well.
He’s surprisingly charming. Manipulating others all his life, he has learned to charm. To seduce. He appears incredibly confident which appeals to the women around him. He needs adoration and cultivates it from others – especially women.
Let His Mission Move the Story Along
Narcissists create story. They have a goal, a direction and it affects all the other characters they encounter. Their drive might be “caught” by other characters and cause them to do great things with him. Their objective might also put a character or three into situations where they are forced to react.
All of these move the story along and make it interesting. Your readers can fear for the woman caught in the web. They can cheer for the accomplishments.
Now, go write a narcissist…
It will be fun. If you have any questions, be sure to put them below.
Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I wrote the first chapter, she wrote the second. The third is here. To read the fourth, go here. The fifth installment is here. Read the sixth installment by clicking here. The seventh is here. Eight here. Nine can be found here. Meg has written chapter 10, go over to her blog to read it. Chapter 11 is below…
Chapter 11 – Revelations
Mel was distracted all afternoon. The text from Anton had rattled her and the day couldn’t be finished fast enough. As her last patient left she turned to Andi. “So Dr. Rivers?” she began cheerfully. “I was going to stay and file these…. Um, Dr. Rivers? Are you ok?”
“I’m fine, Andi. It’s just allergies. We’ve had a long day, let’s just pick it up in the morning,” hurrying Andi out the door.
“OK…Dr. Rivers…um…have a good night” she said frowning.
Mel locked the door behind her and pulled her phone from her pocket, pressing Anton’s number.
“Melody, thank you for calling.” Anton’s deep voice answered in his thick Romanian accent.
“Why are you checking up on David? I thought you were going to drop this.” Mel’s voice was a mixture of anxiety and anger.
“Melody, please forgive, but I care about you and I felt my talents might keep you from harm. You need to know: David is not who he pretends to be.”
Mel’s breath caught. She wanted to rail against him, release the anger she felt. At the same time his statement seemed firm, it caught her off guard. Before she replied, Anton continued.
“When someone takes a picture with a digital camera or phone, the picture has saved with it additional information. It can be read with the right software. The picture you sent me last week of David on his motorcycle, when did he say it was taken?”
“This is too much Anton, you are my friend and my sparing partner, but you have no right to mess with my life.” Mel fumed.
“Melody, please, just answer the question. It’s important. If you are still angry with me after you learn the truth, then, well, we’ll deal with that. But you must know the truth. When was it taken?” Anton’s voice was calm but firm.
“The truth? You make it sound like he’s an ax murderer. It was taken a couple weeks ago. Why does it matter when it was taken?” Mel’s jaw was firmly set.
“Bear with me. And where?” Anton again seemed unfazed by her tone.
“David was taking a ride. On Sullivan Trail. To the Poconos,” Mel snapped back.
“Melody, you need to know the picture you sent me was taken six years ago in San Bernardino, California. I don’t believe it is a picture of David.”
“You don’t know that! That doesn’t mean anything!”
Anton had never heard Mel so angry.
“So what? So what if he took it years ago? We’re talking. We’ve only met online. Lots of people use old pictures. Anton, if you keep this…”
At this point, Mel’s phone signaled an incoming call. From David.
“I’m done talking about this. I’m getting a call. I have to go.” Without waiting for Anton to reply, she ended the call and switched over to David.
“Hey, beautiful. How was your day?” David was light-hearted. Every time he talked to Mel it gave him joy. It usually did for her as well.
“I’ve had better.” The edge in Mel’s voice was obvious.
“What’s wrong?” David soothed. His voice was calming and sweet, caring. Just like always.
“Nothing, really. Just a meddlesome friend. I’m pretty angry right now. Maybe I should just go. We can talk tomorrow.” Mel was reeling. She didn’t want to talk to anybody right now, especially David. She needed to process.
David persisted, he didn’t want her to go. “What happened? Is it that bad? It will help you to talk about it.”
Mel hesitated, it was hard to resist the urge to pour all this out to David. Over the last several weeks they had become so close. They talked about everything. They knew everything about one another – or at least she thought they did.
“It might make you angry.” Mel said wearily.
“Mel, if someone has hurt you, we can be mad at them together. What is it honey?”
“Well…I sent Anton the picture of you on your motorcycle,” she took a breath, “I’ve enjoyed all the time we’ve spent getting to know one another, I had talked about you often to him and..well…I guess I just wanted to share.”
“That doesn’t make me mad, I’m glad you’re telling your friends about me – even Anton.”
Mel’s voice trembled slightly as she gradually admitted what Anton had “discovered”: “Anton says the picture wasn’t taken a couple weeks ago, but six years ago, and in California.” Mel wanted to take back the words as soon as she said them, “but he probably just made a mistake, I mean, I don’t really understand how he could know that from a picture. I’m sure that’s not the case, is it David?”
David felt a jolt of anxiety burn through him. If he hadn’t already been sitting in his recliner, his knees might have buckled. He paused, trying to find the words. The silence stirred Mel to fill it.
“Is it an old picture? It is you, right?”
David recovered enough composure to answer. “I’m so sorry, Mel. I truly am. It’s definitely me, but that picture is several years old. I don’t think it was taken six years ago, but it’s not new.”
“You lied to me?” It was spoken as a question, but Mel knew the answer. “You know, David, I need to go. I can’t talk to you right now.”
“Let me explain…” she hung up before David finished his sentence.
David sat there in his recliner, staring at his phone, his hand shaking. He had been caught in a lie. A big lie. He wanted to crawl away.
It was at that moment he knew without a doubt he was falling for her. He realized the only way he could ever have her in his life was to come clean.