Last night as I was dozing off I was visited by Lorelei. There are a lot of new followers lately, so I’ll let everyone know Lorelei is my Muse.
I never saw her, never even smelled her sandalwood scent. Usually, she hits me over the head, but not last night. Maybe I’m in trouble.
I see posts that ask writers what they come up with first, plot or characters. It never happens for me that way. I get little vignettes. There’s a bit of setting, some plot, and a scosh of character. Then it stops. Here’s what I got last night:
I stepped off the monthly bus and removed my new felt safari hat. The plain leather band marked me as an outsider. Maybe I’d get the chance to upgrade it with something a bit more rustic. I wiped the sweat with my sleeve and put the hat back on to protect me from the brutal sun. The driver unloaded my bags and rifle case, then drove on.
The corrugated metal sign across the street was hand painted with The Grey Baboon. I carried my bags to the porch, but brought the rifle case inside. I looked up to see if the roof was really grass, or just on the outside. It was the real deal. The bartender had his back turned polishing a glass.
She sat at a table off to the far right, lounging lazily like no woman I’d ever been around before with one riding boot across a second chair. She wore one of those loose khaki military shirts with epaulets on the shoulders. Her sun bleached blonde hair was tied in back and cascaded over one shoulder.
There were light crows feet around her eyes and her skin was perfectly tanned. It was hard to tell if she was twenty five or forty five, but some of the women in Nairobi had the same look. She was beautiful, but not in that painted New Orleans style from when the boat shipped out. It was more like a perfect wild animal.
She turned over a second glass and filled it from her own bottle of gin, added two drops of quinine and sat it toward me. She took her leg off the chair and used her boot to shove it away from the table.
She pushed back the brim of her filthy old pith helmet. Her nails were cut short and hadn’t seen polish in years. When she spoke, her accent was like a combination of Australian and Heaven. “Welcome to Africa, Mr.–
And that’s all I got. It’s almost always that vivid and full of detail. It’s usually just that short too.
I don’t know who he is, or why he went to Africa. I know it’s historical, because he took a boat. There’s no hunting in Kenya these days, and quinine hasn’t been a staple preventative for a few years now.
I don’t know who she is, or how she knows him. She didn’t run up and throw her arms around him. She must be Afrikaans/Boer because of the accent (and the look), but she’s hundreds of miles from South Africa. That could be interesting.
I don’t know what they have planned. It could be as simple as a safari or a land sale. It might be ancient ruins or even an alien crash site. Maybe there is a will to be read.
I may never write their story, but you never know. I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but these people are haunting me. I kind of wanted to make some notes about them and chose to share it here.
Does anyone else ever get vignettes? In all my reading it seems like I’m the odd one here. I’m usually on my own after that, but sometimes Lorelei comes back. Where do your ideas come from?