Monday, November 18, 2013

Missing That Man of Mine

Have you ever missed a fictional character? Like you miss a person?
            And was that fictional character your own creation?
            And do you miss him because you killed him?
            When I killed off the goodhearted and likeable Lt. Luke Taylor in my novel Latter-day Cipher, it made many of my friends peeved at me. Some still have not forgiven me. And I have not forgiven myself.
            I wanted to write his death scene in a way that I honored his character, and tied his last moments to the unforgettable poem, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died” by Emily Dickenson.
            I miss Luke Taylor as if he were my true friend. Here is my account of his death:
Officer Shoemaker radioed to Lt. Taylor to stay back, stay down, because he was going to fire on the suspect; but Lt. Taylor ran from behind the plane anyway just as the shots were fired.
Ten-One, Ten-One, can’t copy.
Ten-Double-Zero, Ten-Double-Zero. Officer down.
For his part, in the following moments Luke had several thoughts that were, in his mind, quite logically connected, assignable, lovely in their symmetry.
He remembered a poem that Helaman once quoted to him at a crime scene, but only one line. Was it about the buzzing of a fly? 
He remembered a trip to Alaska that he took last summer, a secret vacation, one of those foolish singles cruises that made him crave solitude. It was there, on the narrow-gauge train from Skagway, that he experienced the most complete, the most satisfying keepsake experience of his life:  one of such sparkling clarity and insight that at that very moment he knew he would remember it always, to his dying day.
He looked straight up into the profound steel-grey crevasses where even in May the snow still sagged, pale ancient breasts in stone corsets. He peered into the mists for the genesis of this whiteness, its origins unseen and unknowable.
Perhaps, he thought, it was the shining blood of angels, slain for kings in glory, in time immemorial, on the mountains’ unapproachable heights.
Then he remembered, felt the heritage of his fathers, as he wondered about the squareness of dirt corners—
Then he remembered: 
Then, he could not see to see. 


Megan Sayer said...

Beautiful. Wow.

Patti Hill said...

wow, I love your poetic prose. Thanks for refreshing my enjoyment of Later-Day Cipher...and everything else you've written.

I submitted a proposal for a story in which a character dies. And then I fell in love with him. I wrote the ending that gave him a future. After reading the completed manuscript, my editor wrote his editorial comments with this as the headline: H MUST DIE!
And so, I killed him. I do miss him. What a sweet, earnest guy.

Cherry Odelberg said...

So incredibly sad when a good man dies.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Your prose is distinctive and profound. He must have been at least half Canadian, thinking of snow in his last moments.
I killed a character. Then I'd write a scene and say, he'd be perfect here...but his death speaks louder.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I killed two good guys in Paint Chips. It hurt me every time I had to do a rewrite or edit of those scenes. But I had to take away all that my protagonist depended on so she could put her trust in God alone.

Still chokes me up when I think about those two. They were such good ones.

But one of the other characters that I killed off in Paint Chips had it coming. That was much more satisfying.

Latayne C. Scott said...

Thank you, Megan. (curtsies.) You are kind.

Patti, that was a hilarious story. Makes me think of some of those cosmic scenarios where some god or another throws dice to decide someone's life or death. Give 'em the axe.

Cheryl, thank you for that empathy. It still hurts when I read Luke's death. Even though I read it.

Henrietta, is Alaska close enough to Canada? That description of Skagway I wrote as I looked up into a crevasse there.

Susie, there is indeed something satisfying about being able to kill off the bad guy, even if it's only fiction.