Rarely are stories just about us.
I wrote a piece in a blog a while back that we find ourselves as writers, often times telling other people stories.. Life doesn’t happen to just us, it also happens to other people. And so it is with our characters. One of the most interesting things that can happen is when they step out of the shadows and into Center Stage.
I’ve been looking for ways to make some of my second string characters a little more front and center. So it is with Jewell, Will Diaz’s wife.
Well, something totally unexpected happened with her the other night. And it’s was fun, unexpected, and totally unplanned. I wanted to get her out of the shadows a little bit, and toss her right into the mix.
First, a little about her since ‘The Lawman’ isn’t out yet. She’s a Christian Counselor and her specialty is working with abused women. Whether she knows it or now, she’s had a lot to do with putting her husband back together after the gulf war. She’s also a gifted musician, and has a sense of humor. In one counseling session, Will wonders why someone would try to kill him. His exact question is, “Who do they think I am? Batman?”
When his pastor says they must, he looks at Jewell and says, “I suppose that makes you Batgirl.”
She smiles, shakes her head, and says, “Nope, I’m Wonder Woman!”
“Wonder Woman?” Will says.
“Yep. She’s tougher, badder, smarter, and a hell of a lot hotter than Batgirl!”
The Lawman is still being edited, and I’ve started work on a sequel called Family Secrets. Suffice it to say, Will Diaz and company find themselves up to their eyebrows in an unholy mess, one that drives the ultimate wedge between Will and his family.
There’s a scene in it where they’ve got his cousins wife held in jail for murder. Will gets some intel that a mob is going to assault the jail, take her, and administer a little vigilante justice. Arrangements to move her to a more secure facility hundreds of miles away are quickly made, a job Will gives over to his other detective, RJ Madril and the Ad Hoc swat team. His concern was is if he leaves, they’ll know she was moved.
Will’s wife, Jewell had come down to bring him some supper when they show up. Will’s plan all along was to do an old fashioned Old West stare down, and he steps out, 45 on his hip and addresses the crowd.
Unknown to him, and apparently me, Jewell got in his locker, put on his tactical vest and helmet, and grabbed an AR-15 and went out the back.
As Will is standing in front of the Sheriff’s office talking to the mob, she slips out the back, and around the courthouse. It’s night time, so she goes unobserved till she’s in position.
Will is standing in front of the jail, asking them to disperse. They say they’re there to make sure justice happens. All of them are wearing masks or hoods, but Will knows who most of them are by their voices and he’s calling them out on what they’re doing.
“You Leonard, Russell, all of you. Listen to me. All you’re guilty of right now is annoying me, and there’s no law against that.” I said. I knew I could probably arrest the whole bunch of them for rioting, but there was still the small issue of one of me, and three or four dozen of them. Besides, that would put them in the jail where they wanted to be. “I strongly suggest you all go home before this turns into something you don’t want to be part of.”
I felt the cold steel of the pistol on my hip. There were seven bullets in it. I didn’t think I’d be using them all, but when the first person dropped dead they’d either rush me or run home. I knew a lot of them. They’d be stupid enough to rush me and I’d just keep firing till I ran dry and then do the best I could with fists and feet. I might not be able to hold the line, but I’d make damn sure they’d pay for crossing it.
I mentally kicked myself for not grabbing a shotgun. In a situation like this, it would have been the perfect equalizer. But it might have been an escalator. I saw clubs in the crowd, a couple of crowbars. And here and there, a rifle held up. I wondered if they actually had the stomach for a gun fight. I guess I’d find out.
“Diaz,” one of them shouted. I knew the voice. It was my brother. What the hell was he doing here? “There’s only one of you. You’re not stopping us.”
The leaders the mob of my relatives took a step forward, and I drew my pistol. My thumb swept down, and the safety came off. I dropped instantly into a weaver stance; the weapon held out in front of me, arms locked forward.
“OK,” I said. “Who dies first?”
They wavered, and then someone shouted, “He’s just one guy!”
And that’s when I heard the bolt slam shut on an AR-15.
“Try two,” I heard Jewell. She stood dressed in my vest, my helmet on her head. The AR was up, on her shoulder and I could see she had a 30 round magazine locked and loaded.
She’d filled her hands and was ready to fight.
“I think you should listen to him,” she said.
“Go home,” I shouted at the mob.
One of the hooded figures looked at Jewell, she stood her ground, her legs slightly apart.
“Bitch!” he screamed, and charged her. Two more were following his charge.
The mob charged me.
There was a sound of thunder at the old Colt’s hammer fail on a cartridge. A ball of fire erupted, and I could fairly see the bullet spit out and catch one of those charging me in the shoulder. He went down screaming in pain, his shoulder no doubt shattered by the big bullet.
The first person reached me, He had a stick and was swinging it over head. I side stepped, and clubbed him aside with the pistol, and came up and caught the next person in the nose with the iron of the Colt. I looked desperately for Jewell.
The man charging her had almost reached her. I saw her turn as if she was going to bolt, but she just kept turning, and brought the butt of the rifle up, catching her would be assailant in the face and batting him aside. She finished the turn, the rifle coming back up to her shoulder.
And she was pulling the trigger. An Ar-15 doesn’t make that loud of a report, but here and now, it sounds like the wrath of God coming from the barrel of a gun. She was shooting over their heads, and the fright and hesitation in the crowd was obvious.
I kicked another relative in the groin and as he dropped, smashed the pistol into his face. He went down like a sack of potatoes. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a rifle come up, it was aimed at Jewell. I smashed one more guy in the face, came up, and the man with the rifle was center mass. The bloodied pistol fired once more and I caught him in upper back, shattering his shoulder blade. The im,pact of the bullet knocked him down and onto his face.
The crowd wavered. I’d already wounded two, and between Jewell and I, we’d knocked several unconscious or out of the fight because of injuries. They didn’t have the stomach to finish what they’d started. They began to fall back as Jewell kept firing over their heads, and I charged forward . And they began running. They’d lost all stomach for trying to stand against us.
Within a matter of seconds, they’d all vanished into the darkness except for the two I’d shot and those we’d knocked unconscious or hurt badly enough that they weren’t moving.
I heard cars start and drive away, and I relaxed, and holstered the weapon. Jewell lowered the AR she was carrying and started walking towards me. I could see the beads of perspiration on her brow, and her eyes were still a little wide from the intensity of the situation.
“You OK?” she asked. “You’ve got blood all over you!”
I nodded, and pulled her close.
“Jesus Christ,” I said. It wasn’t a curse. It was a prayer of thanks. “I really do believe I’m married to Wonder Woman.”
“I told you so,” she said, and then looked at the people we’d knocked out or hurt. “What do we do with them.”
In the distance, I could hear sirens coming, and I could see police overheads miles away. Help was coming, a little too late, but coming all the same.
“We arrest them,” I said. “We get those who need medical attention, medical attention. Everyone else goes to jail.” I pulled out my handcuffs and cuffed the guy who she had butt stroked with the rifle. It was going to be a long night, I reflected.
Later, the small war escalates even more. While making a traffic stop, Pam Mortenson, town marshal in Sanford, is shot and wounded in the hand when it turns out that one of the people she stopped is a suspect Will is looking for.
While the wound is no where life threatening, Jewell has to step in and help put Pam back together and turn her from a frightened woman back into a police officer. It actually brings two characters a bit more out of the shadows and shows what a traumatic injury, especially one inflicted on a human being by violence does to their confidence and abilities.
While I was doing a final edit on The Lawman, I also had a chance to take one of the more or less secondary character and have them step out even more. When Max kills Eva, Detective Andy Deshong of the Routt County Sheriffs Office along with Will and Jonesy (LAPD) are some of the first Law Enforcement officers to arrive. Andy is older than Will and Jonesy, and had been a NYPD Homicide detective. He’s written books and teaches seminars on the subject. Well, Andy steps out of the shadows a bit to become a little more of a key player.
Will has made the decision to hand the investigation over to RJ. In the Novel, RJ gets promoted to detective, but this is his very first homicide investigation.
Andy quickly steps in and become a mentor to him, basically serving as an advisor and teacher on this case.
And all it took to elevate Andy even more was a few strokes on the old keyboard.
So, don’t forget, just like in life, other people have skills and attitudes that can help us out, your secondary characters can become major players as well. I guess the point is, make sure your primary character isn’t in love with himself and you’ll do just fine.