I'd like to start this post with a big thank you to Layne Faire for asking me to be a guest on her blog and discuss my contribution to Second Chances, an anthology of male / male short stories about finding love again.
I draw heavily on real life experiences in my writing, both my own and others, and this story is no different. When I was younger, I was pulled over at a checkpoint and had to go to court for having an expired driver’s license (everyone pull out your license and check the expiration date. Trust me, it’s not worth the hassle to let that date slip past you!). In court, I spotted someone that I had gone to high school sitting a few rows over. Personally, I slumped down in my seat and hid from them, but when brainstorming for this story, I thought it would be a fun way to spark a reconnection.
A lot of my characters are also based on people that I know in real life. I like characters that are flawed in some way and looking around me is the easiest way to tap into traits that can coexist while still allowing a person still be likeable, or interesting. For example, a friend of mine is a lot of fun to spend time with, but flighty and self-centered. Another one is gorgeous and successful, but incredibly insecure. The characteristics may or may not be blatantly written into a story, but just knowing what they are when developing a new character helps me understand how they would react to different situations.
Notice to Appear is the story of Josh Campbell, a charmingly neurotic and somewhat awkward recent college grad who reluctantly travels home for a court date following a traffic violation. He spies a familiar face in the courtroom that day – Carter Sullivan. Back in high school, while he was still coming to terms with his sexuality, he nursed a massive crush on Carter, a tanned and toned lifeguard who quickly became the object of Josh's fantasies. However, Carter was older and had already graduated high school, and Josh was pretty sure he didn't know that he existed. Upon seeing him again, Josh finds that Carter is a more mature version of the gorgeous man he remembered from high school.
Carter Sullivan had played a starring role in Josh's fantasies starting in the summer following ninth grade. Josh had just started realizing that he liked looking at boys a little more than he cared to look at girls, and Carter was one of the finest male specimens Josh had seen. Josh, who didn't even particularly like the beach, spent almost every day there with his friends to see the older boy who was working as a lifeguard before leaving for college. Josh remembered ogling the lean muscles he was a long way from developing; his body had been that of a growing boy, while Carter’s had been anything but. Back then, Carter’s dark blond hair was worn in a closely cropped buzz cut. His skin was covered in a golden tan from hours spent in the sun working, followed by more hours in the sun surfing.
Little does Josh know that he’ll actually get recognized. Upon leaving the courtroom, he hears the door open behind him.
It was Carter.
Josh gasped in surprise and his mind went completely blank. Thankfully, Carter spoke first.
“Hey, uh, Josh, right?” Carter rubbed his hand along the back of his neck, and it almost looked like a nervous gesture.
It was an easy question. He could respond to an easy question like a normal human being.
Or not. What the hell was that? Josh’s brain had clearly turned to mush in the last ten seconds. He had to try to salvage the situation. Clearing his throat, he tried again. “I mean, yes, that’s me. Carter, right?”
Holding his hand out, Carter’s face broke into a warm, genuine smile. “Yeah, man. How’s it going?”
They make plans to get together, and their age gap becomes painfully apparent to Josh.
“He’s here. Please don’t embarrass me, Mom.”
She looked affronted. “I would never—”
“Okay, okay. I’m just gonna …” Josh pointed over his shoulder to the door before spinning around and walking toward it. Taking a deep breath, he twisted the doorknob and pulled the door open to find Carter Sullivan on his doorstep.
His eyes crinkled as his lips curled up into a smile. “Hey,” he said.
Carter dressed in casual clothing was quite a sight. He wore dark jeans and a black tee, along with some chucks. From under the right sleeve Josh could see a hint of a tattoo peeking out.
“Um, hi,” Josh responded, his eyes drifting over Carter until a throat cleared behind him. He opened the door wider and gestured inside. “Come on in.”
“Thanks,” he said, stepping past Josh into the hallway and coming face to face with his mother.
“Hello, dear, I'm Josh's mom.” Of course, she introduced herself in a way that made him sound as if he was five years old and going on a play date.
From there, the boys begin spending more time together, but are plagued by prolonged separation and bouts of insecurity. Will Josh be able to move past his self-doubt and make his schoolboy fantasies come true with Carter?
Notice to Appear will be released as part of the Second Chances anthology on August 31st 2012 by Bottom Drawer Publications. Second Chances can be purchased here: Second Chances
C.C., thank you so much for dropping by and telling us about Josh and Carter! I can't wait to pick up my copy later on today!