Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ducky Malone

MY second e-book is about done. Finally. It seemed to take forever but in reality, with halts and stops and starts about six months or so. The title tentatively is "Fall is the Wrong Time to Kill," but who knows what I'll decide once crunch time arrives.

IN this novel, I introduce a new detective. E-book number one the hero/detective is Johnny "Clubs" Murdock. Here, in Number 2, is Francis (Franc) Donahue. I don't know how many pages of description I used to build the characters in this story. Probably on the order of 12 to 15 pages of just ordinary information from which I drew what I thought I needed to show the reader this person. I built much more than I needed but I think it helps to know your person pretty well before you start writing about them. I'm not bragging. I changed a lot of material along the way. As an illustration I've pasted below what originally thought one of the characters should be like. He didn't exactly turn out like I planned because there may have been too much stuff to search through every time I needed to know what made this person tick and I would get lazy or just plain miss something.

THAT is the hard part of trying to write a bit about someone. Where do you begin with who they are and what do you decide to include. If you read the whole thing you'll actually get a very deep insight into how the story turns out!


Duckworth Allison Malone named after his grandfather's last name and is great-uncle's first name. No mention of grandmother. He must have had one. He had brother (Bobby) named after who knows who? Bobby was successful. In the body-shop business. Made a good name for himself and his wife and his kids and kept out of trouble. That was Bobby, staying out of trouble. However, Bobby also dislikes Franc Donahue very much and threatens to beat him up but reluctantly allows him to search premises then throws him out.

But not Ducky. He was in and out of trouble throughout high school. Lousy grades. Truancy. No particular effort at anything. Some people thought the problem was Bobby's success. Ducky just couldn't quite live up to his older brother so he gave up trying. There were easier ways to get attention.

Being short didn't help. But he wasn't all that short. Maybe 5 foot 6 inches. Light weight. Thin build but muscular. In his 30s, he keeps his hair in buzz cut. It almost looked like he shaved it off and then let it grow back for a few days. Sort of a five-o'clock shadow on his head. His eyes were small, set far apart. Good teeth. Nice smile. A woman-killing smile. Square chin. Square face. Good looking. Has all the right ingredients to attract women except no money and not much chance of getting much. He knows this and it doesn't help his disposition. Somewhere along the line Ducky got shortchanged.

Ducky has a scar on his left temple just behind his eye. (Fell down the stairs when he was four and busted open his forehead. More blood and tears than anything else.) Bushy eyebrows. Square eyebrows, that didn't taper towards the outside. Looked almost like pasted-on eyebrows. Shorter than Donahue, a slim, wiry, kind of guy whose eyes are always moving.

His name is like a bad joke on his life. His brother even felt sorry for him which is why the brother, Bobby, gets in front of Donahue and defends Ducky.

He knows he should get a job, read, drink less, cut down on his smoking but none of these seem to get done. He has to rent a very small apartment (one large living/dining room and alcove type kitchen, 1 bedroom, bathroom, cable, second floor) in one of the renovated apartment buildings on Main. He's a likely to stay home --drink beer and watch TV-- as do anything useful. It's getting the money and the very little money he needs, legitimately. He's been in the county lockup once already and this is the second time in, this time for passing a bad check. He hasn't been to a doctor in years. He has construction laborer skills. Nothing "skilled" like electrician (although he could do it) but is stuck as a plumber's helper or general worker. He can get those kinds of jobs when the market is up but it takes being on the good side of the construction company who look first to hire reliable help, first, and better skilled second.

If he wanted to, he could look back over a life of having no particular interests. Nothing to keep his mind occupied when he was away from structure (work). No draft so no military requirement. It is debatable whether the Army would have done him any good. (He's is probably smart enough, at least, to past the aptitude battery.) Knows people if only because he grew up here. Old neighbors. A few businessmen. Somebody besides the legal aid lawyer. Once upon a time tried church. Too snooty for him. Tried it also to meet women (even at church) which worked until he wanted to take them out and have a beer. It just didn't ever bear fruit.

In This story Ducky Malone gets paid enough bucks to buy, paint, sign, and furnish the van, gets paid enough in advance to buy a cheap engagement ring from a pawn shop for the love of his life (the prostitute).

He dies in a shootout with Donahue before Donahue realizes Ducky is the wheelman. He has a falling- out with two of the men the leader had NOT chosen to do the shooting. Donahue arrives just in time to hear some of the argument but not enough. Just as Donahue is listening, the door opens and surprising the other two men the shootout begins and Ducky is killed by one of the other gang members.

Recent parolee. Been in trouble before but not for anything heavy. This last time he posted bond but when payment of the bond fee came due the check bounced and then he disappeared. Leaves behind clues in his cheap room (a money band with the address of the victims house written in the margin but the writing is so illegible that when Donahue finds the band he makes the same mistake the shooters make) (receipts for latex gloves)(a cigarette in a bottle the cigarette has a ring of red/raspberry/cherry lip gloss)(a business card from a sign company but Donahue has no reason to connect this card with the blank panels on the van). When he gives the girl the ring he takes her out to eat and then they visit used car lots looking for a service van (she will tell Donahue this after she gets beaten up.) He had a cell phone for a while just long enough to get the job finished and then return it to the leader (confirmed by the prostitute after she is beaten). (Cell phone won't be on Ducky when he's killed.) Ducky is last seen by the prostitute couple of days before the hit. She lies that she saw him a week or more before, instead. Eventually, Donahue figures out, in a very round about way, Ducky Malone is the wheelman.