Whilst vacationing back in August, I mentioned the honor bestowed upon me to write a gay man centered short story involving the hellish incidents of sex (see Keys to the West). Ha! Just putting me there makes me laugh, but seriously...I need a draft by the end of October. In my vacation post, I mentioned two ideas that survived the Donner Party of Five: one, Keys to the West, involved the transgressions of a typical conservative Trumpster at the (unusually large) hands of beautiful men in drag, while the other centered on a day in the life of a trucker's young trick working lonely Missouri highways. I wrote several scenes and dialogue of 'Keys', and I was quite proud of what I had until my family heard me read it out loud (for effect, I tell you) and was, well...quite displeased with the stereotypes that I presented.
"Unless that takes place in the 70s, no one is going to buy what you have now because we have progressed from those stereotypes."
Not that any of my family are drag queens, but we all have shattered stereotypes from all directions. They had a point. I was writing a spoof. I was embarrassed. They encouraged me to make changes here and there, and to keep writing it. But, I stopped writing it, because I lost confidence in the premise.
Gratefully, Heather pulled me from my exile and gave me a good shake. She actually sparked me to take a new approach on 'Keys' and she presented new ways to 'complex' not only the situation my conservative friend has stumbled into but also his characterization: Why is he a Trumpster? What got him to this point? What happened to him in his earlier life to not be so forthcoming of his sensual desires? Yes!
Yet, as I was feeling sorry for myself regarding 'Keys', I started to flesh out Heather's original idea on the lonely Missouri trucker trick, Mr. Josh No Name. Why No Name? Because that's Rule number 1 in the trick trade: never share your real name or anything personal.
Josh has grown up to 30-something and has had hit some harder times since his original McGrail characterization. A couple of failed relationships with other men in the same trade...wearing the same clothes he's worn some four years before...and not much aware of how the world has progressed beyond interstates and truck stop restaurants and mom and pop hotels. Somehow, Josh has stood still, even while hitching the 18 wheels.
What did remain of the original idea was the state of Missouri.
Although not terribly long or particularly dull, the stretch of Interstate 44 between Springfield and Joplin is a lonely one. I have traveled it many times with my family (and a couple of times on my own) on our way to visit my Aunt Faye and Uncle Bo who lived in Galena, Kansas or to cut out to the West. I'm betting Keith has been on that road many a time (or did you wrap around Springfield and head straight down to Branson? Done that, too). Josh's story takes place on I-44 after another lover leaves him for a job (rather, for another client), and Josh finds himself in the cab of an older trucker whose physical attractiveness, let's say, is nowhere near as hot like the clients Josh had before he met his last lover. However, the trucker is friendly and, despite his insistent questions, is quite knowledgeable about the world; the very world that Josh can only vaguely understand. The trucker is more than a little odd; maybe he's just eccentric? No matter. He's only one of many clients yet to come. But, there's a bag of expired, sun-baked, truckstop bought gummi worms between him and the fat trucker's sweaty leg...that just repulses Josh to no end...makes him wonder what's truly missing in his life.
I have to help Josh figure what that is, and somehow make it somewhat humorous, if darkly so, and make the realization very, very unsatisfying! So much to unpack, Doctor/Professor McGrail. So much to unpack!
'Keys' may still prevail, but Josh's story will be completed before I swing around and pick up my drag queens.
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