While writing stories, I tend to fall back on a few characters. I didn't start out with them fully fleshed out; but they sort of evolved with time. Here's what I see them as currently, but they may change according to my whim.
Madeline, the Prophetess -- Madeline is a woman in her mid-20's, a New Orleanian to the core. She's Catholic, but with that peculiar tendency towards devoutness that is seen in some living in New Orleans. She is sincerely religious in the best sense; and follows the spirit of Catholicism but not necessarily the letter of it. In another time, she would have been like Jeanne d'Arc. Because she is a public figure, this can get her in conflict with the Archdiocese on occasion. Strangely enough, she doesn't mind hanging out with characters on the edge of the underworld. While she has visions, she has lately been using them in her capacity as an equine actuary (bookie). As a Cajun, she is also versed in folk medicine; she is a taiteur.
Cowgirl Melinda is a straight-shooting girl also in her 20's who lives by the code of the West. Don't fence her in. She is skeptical of authority, government, and people who put on airs, as she puts it. That sort of stance comes with the territory of being home alone on the prairie with cows or other critters for extended periods. She's a hard-working girl who is darned nice to have around when she doesn't get in trouble even if she has a few rough edges that she sporadically tries to smooth.
Frankly, Madeline and Cowgirl Melinda are in some ways different aspects of myself.
Officer Pete is a young NOPD patrolman who is attracted to the Prophetess, but doesn't know quite how to go about it. The NOPD was frequently a target for lumps from the national media, but most of its members mostly do the best they could.
Crazy Chester is a large, wise, good-hearted, middle-aged African-American Creole who is Madeline's partner in bookmaking. He also runs the numbers on the side, and sells some mind-altering herbs. Despite his involvement with the underworld, he is sometimes called on covertly for advice by local businesspersons. A major fear of the local ward heeler is that Crazy Chester will some day go political and run for public office, like a seat in the House.
You know, if he would become the Honorable Crazy Chester, he would improve the tone of the House, whether in Baton Rouge or Washington.
The Lucky Dog Guy is a rotund vendor of hot dogs in the French Quarter. A graduate of Loyola University in philosophy, he provides sagacious comments to those who would listen. He is a font of knowledge on appropriate condiments for hot dogs.
Al Gautreaux and Missy Chauvin are two newscasters with Action News, both in their late 20's. Missy had an escapade with The Honey Island Swamp Monster that left her well-pleased; but she does not say why. Al is a great one with the ladies.
The Lewd Dude is a college student/tourist from Indiana; hoping for a moral holiday in New Orleans. He saw too many DVDs of Girls Gone Wild and developed great expectations.
My Guardian Angel Steve appears now and then, but is discreet, a real gentleman!
Sakura the Fairy is a displaced Japanese fairy who dresses in a kimono and is creatively mischievous, as fairies should be. Although she was originally the Cherry Blossom Fairy, her lack of detail caused her to be demoted to the Fruit Cake Fairy.
I may use Suzette, the Existential Stripper, again someday if my whim goes there.
I drew heavily on New Orleans types, partly because I grew up there and because I think New Orleans has something to offer. I planned to write an essay on 'Why New Orleans Matters.' But it boils down to the fact that because it is an incomplete melting pot, it forces people living there to make some form of accomodation for each other. As a result, it has layers of several cultures there. Where else could you find Italian-surnamed people practicing some voodoo rites, or African-Americans speaking a dialect of French (Louisiana Creole), or the various forms in which Mardi Gras is celebrated?
New Orleanians tend to be fairly tolerant of others' frailties. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
In short, New Orleans is different from the Great Elsewhere. It may be a potential source of cultural renewal for the United States in the future. I really think that our regional differences should be viewed a strengths, rather than liabilities.
In the meantime, it is extremely entertaining to live there or to visit.
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