Most writers will tell you they love to sit back and watch people. There are real life people who make fantastic fictional characters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there are also people you interact with on a daily basis who can inspire new characters. I wrote a quick character sketch below based off of someone I work with. It made me think of Nathan, the annoying neighbor in the movie Extract. You just can’t get rid of the guy! Here’s a short clip:
And here’s my character sketch:
If only he hadn’t caught me off guard, but my headphones were wrapped up on my desk. Immersed in an email I was typing, I barely had time to react to the brisk pounding footsteps coming down my aisle.
I jumped a bit and scrunched in like a tortured bug when I heard the excited knocking against my cubicle wall and the obnoxious voice of Dave the salesman: “Hey Hotshot! Guess who’s back from vacation? It’s not going to be quiet around here anymore, no Ma’am! Not one bit! I hope you enjoyed that little bit of peace while I was gone. Eh? Eh?!” He slapped me on the back and I squinted at the rotund man with peppery grey hair and bulging blue eyes who looked at me expectantly. I faked a smile.
“Oh boy…” I said flatly. “Welcome back.”
He thought that was the funniest damn thing he’d ever heard. He then adjusted the suspenders over his pit-stained white dress shirt and made for his office across from my cubicle. Instead, he bopped into the office next door where Alyssa was busy running a report. “Alyssa, isn’t that right?!” he boomed.
I couldn’t see Alyssa but I knew exactly the expression painted on her face at that moment. “What?” the curvy Asian woman replied, in a slightly edgy tone.
“Between you and your conference calls and my big mouth, I bet Lauren really missed us when we were both gone last week. Eh?”
I could hear her deflated laugh and then a distracted, “Oh yeah…I’m sure.”
“Golly I just love being surrounded by women! You gals are so funny.” I pictured Alyssa rolling her eyes.
I thought it was over with by then and I could get back to finishing my email. I was in the process of sliding on my headphones when he burst into my cube again. “Didja hear that Hotshot, huh? Alyssa’s ready to make some noise, too!”
“Super! Oh, you two are something else…” I smiled sweetly. He padded into his office and slammed the door shut, not out of anger, but because loud is how he did everything. I heard some rustling around and the door reopened a few seconds later. I heard a deep breath behind me and then, “Hey, I need your help with something, Hotshot. You’re so good at this technical stuff. I’ll come by later. You’re great!” He made a beeline for Alyssa again and stuck his head in her office. “Right, Alyssa? Lauren’s our tech girl if you need anything. She’s got ALL the answers! In fact, I’m gonna go over to Lauren’s boss’s desk right now and tell her how good that Lauren is.” I heard Alyssa grunt in approval. Dave winked at me as he passed by. He walked as though he were trying to hold in a big bowel movement on the way to the toilet. I heard his voice in the next aisle over, speaking with my boss.
“Hey Hotshot! I was just talking with Lauren over there, and that girl…oh she just knows everything. Didja know that? Silly old me, I didn’t know how to attach a picture in my email recently and that Lauren, she showed me how it’s done. She’s gonna help me with something else later, too. You need to give that girl a raise.”
“Working on it!” My boss replied. Dave laughed uproariously. I could hear him on his way back down my aisle. Headphones wouldn’t do any good at this point. He had to get it all out of his system. “Hotshot, didja hear that? I was just talking with that boss of yours!”
“Oh I heard you, thanks!” I smiled appreciatively.
“You’re the best! I’ll be back later.”
Later is in 3 seconds, I thought. Three…two…one…
He reappeared once more. “Oh and wait just a minute there young lady, is that yogurt you’re eating? Is that healthy?”
“It is if it’s plain without added sugar and if you can tolerate dairy. Good source of protein, too.” The cubicle across from mine was empty. He grabbed the chair inside, rolled it over, and sat down by me.
“Ohhhhh I could sure learn a lot from you healthy people.” He patted the protruding belly barely held in by the suspenders. I looked at my phone, willing it to ring with all my power.
He went on. “So tell me Hotshot, what should I be eating for breakfast?” To my delight, the phone rang.
“Oh dear, I had better get this call, Dave. You’re a salesman, you know how it is.”
“Gol-ly! I sure do. You get that call, Missy!”
In a flash he was gone and I answered the call. “This is Lauren,” I said.
“This is your boss, saving you.”