Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rats, Cats, and a Gorgeous Man.

For my first post on the blog, I’m going to fall back on the good old subject of pets. Well, pets and a gorgeous man, but I’ll come to him in a minute.

I have a beautiful chocolate-shaded burmilla pedigree cat that I used to show in her younger days. I’m not sure what the cat show scene is like in America, but here in the UK a neutered female gets to qualify as a Premier if she wins three open classes for her breed. She can then make it to Grand Premier if she wins three more special classes for Premiers.

Well, my sweet little girl Meg made Premier and won one Grand Premier class before she had an operation to remove a lump on her belly. Then she decided to chew off all the fur around the stitches. Needless to say, we gave up on the show scene. Bald patches don’t go down well with the judges.

Although she has the face of an angel, she has the heart of Attila the Hun. Any poor little creature that dares enter our garden usually meets with a sticky end. (Often under my kitchen table.) Her latest quarry has been a nest of rats in the compost heap—only these rats wouldn’t go quietly.

One evening, she came in bleeding from the neck. Discovering two puncture marks among her fur, I quashed my initial excitement that maybe she was about to become a vampire and cleaned the wound. It didn’t look too bad, so I waited for it to heal. Instead, over the next few days, two more bites appeared on her neck. This definitely called for a professional opinion.

I fetched the cat carrier down from the shed roof, and off we traipsed to the Vet. After cleaning the wound, he stifled his laugh and announced she’d been bitten by a rat. The indignity of it! I assumed she’d learned her lesson and would give the compost heap a wide berth. No such luck. Staking out the compost heap became her raison d’être, and we’ve had to resort to a dusk curfew—if we can find her. She’s got very sneaky and persistent.

This brings me to the man. (Not because men are sneaky and persistent, of course.) When I pulled up in the veterinary center car park, which doubles as a car park for the local pub, I parked beside a sleek blue sports car. No idea what make. All I can say is it was one sexy car. While I scuttled around the car to retrieve my poor mewing cat in her cat carrier from the front passenger seat, the owner of the sports car sauntered out of the pub.

Twenty something, dark hair, dark eyes, faded jeans, killer smile; he so belonged in that car. I couldn’t imagin a sexier guy and, believe me, I spend a lot of time imagining sexy men. All in the course of my art, obviously. As I fumbled my purse and keys, we both arrived between the cars together.

In deference to youth and beauty, (and hoping to watch him pour himself into the sports car), I stood back to let him open his door. Eyebrow raised ever so slightly, he extended a hand toward my door and said, “Go for it.” Having expected words such as ‘after you,’ I was momentarily stumped before my brain whirred into action.

Not to be ungracious, and rather conscious that I probably resembled his grandmother, I fumbled around undoing the seatbelt securing the cat box while he waited. I was fully aware Mr. Luscious’s gentlemanly instincts were probably wearing a bit thin by now. In all likelihood, he’d taken in my baggy jeans and ratty fleece, all decorated with a liberal coating of white cat hairs, and was thinking, ‘get a move on you stupid old woman.’ Of course, he was too polite to say anything.

The point to all this rambling? The gorgeous man and sports car were great, but still just eye candy. The moment he opened his mouth and said, ‘Go for it,’ a character was born in my head. Just those few words spoke volumes about his personality.

I’d love to know of an incident or person who has inspired a story character for you.


Mel Hiers said...

"Although she has the face of an angel, she has the heart of Attila the Hun."

This made me giggle, Helen. It reminded me of my Jane! She doesn't often get a chance to hunt outside, but she likes to practice on her human housemates. :-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Helen, an age ago I used to show our beloved breed of dog. I had no idea neutered was acceptable, fascinating. Anyway, I think the angel-faced attila-hearted cat should be one of your characters, her nemesis, the rodent family dynasty. Yep, I was giggling. And Mr. Sleek Sports Car guy, well, he might have inspired me. Certainly the sexy car would have inspired me, maybe more. Speed! yes, yes, yes.

Holli Bertram said...

Great entry, Helen. I don't think I've ever had a particular person inspire a story or character. I usually get a scene, or just a fraction of a scene, in my head and then I start to build a story around that. Hmm...I wonder if that means I'm more plot vs character focused.

Trish Milburn said...

I think my characters come together as bits and pieces of things I've seen and overheard. Often, I'll see a character in a TV show or movie that'll spark the creation of an entirely new character in my head.

And LOL on the vampire kitty. :)

Liz Jasper said...

"I’d love to know of an incident or person who has inspired a story character for you..."

Well, Helen, now that I've read this, the being I'm now inspired by is your cat.


Mona Risk said...

Helen, what a funny blog. I can imagine your expression when your Mr. Luscious said, go for it. As for characters’ inspiration, my heroes and heroines are people I know, people I can relate to and understand, or a mixture of several models.

Anonymous said...

Helen, I loved your descriptions of your cat -- and the hot guy -- and I know what you mean about characters being born in the oddest ways. My vampire character was born partly from a peanut butter commercial.

Only writers, right?


Helen Scott Taylor said...


A vampire born from a peanut butter commercial--now that would be an interesting story!