Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

So I was power walking this morning, thinking about Schrodinger's Cat (I'm serious—come back tomorrow if you don't believe me). I get about ¾ of a mile from home and hear this 'crack!' or maybe it was a 'pop!' but hearing it over Greenday means it wasn't like... you know, a branch snapping or something, so I take out one head phone and listen. I hear it again. If I were a betting woman, which I'm not really—I prefer sure things-- I would have pegged it as a b-b gun or caps like my kids get for the 4th of July. I am alert though, because when I lived in Portland one morning, I actually saw someone shoot a gun—same time of morning from down the block, just like this seemed to be. That was LOUDER and I actually SAW the orange flash as it fired (I went around the block that time too).

You see BOTH TIMES I had to get PAST the spot of the action... anyway... caps seemed like teenagers, so I started up the block. I see a person—but from clear down the block, right? Then I hear yelling... okay, equation changes. I am brave enough to walk by a teen throwing caps, no matter how inappropriate at 5 a.m. I am NOT brave enough to walk into the middle of a confrontation. I turned around and went another block over.

I get up the block and see someone walking. He's banging a stick on the ground (or so it looks from a distance) and then he starts talking, so I slow down. I'm in shadow a little from the trees. I turn off my music and watch, and he goes past the street I'm on, so I keep walking. He gets maybe 20 feet up the street as I am approaching and a car comes along. He starts cracking what I now realize is a WHIP, yelling 'get out of my face!'  (sadly, nothing like THIS man)

The car (not apparently realizing this guy is INSANE) slows, but keeps coming, so the guy steps in front of the car and WHIPS IT. “Get out of my FACE!”

I scuttle quickly, but try to be as quiet and subtle as I can, across the street and HURRY up the next. The car, I see, pulls over (hopefully calling 9-1-1, because I don't HAVE a phone) and the guy back-tracks. He yells up the street I'm on, “get out of my face!” but by that point I am almost to the next block (very short blocks at this point, so I don't feel SAFE, but when I cross the next street I crest a hill, so will be out of vision, plus it's a slightly BUSIER street (though busy at 5 a.m. in Ann Arbor is relative) but I figure putting some distance and obstacles between me and this nut is a GOOD idea.


Now what would make a person behave this way? In my mind there are two answers, possibly working in conjunction. Schizophrenia or drugs. I know it's Delusional Thursday, but people who aren't ACTUALLY insane wait for a reasonable hour to begin their shenanigans. And to reassure you, I had NOT yet begun my delusions for the day.


But you know what? I did some character plotting (and wrote a prologue) last night for a story (read:  novel) I've been thinking about... and I HAVE a schizophrenic person in it... I am going to FREAKING USE the scene I just experienced! Ha! So THERE! Take that, crazy person who scared the crap out of me! You will make me famous! (okay, so maybe now the delusions have begun).

That said, y'all were RIGHT that writing would help pull me out of my funk. And the diaspora of looking at a true LUNATIC makes the nut I'm married to seem relatively harmless by comparison. HIS only delusions are the things he thinks I ought to be doing that I don't care to do. He is also behaving better though, too, so that helps.

Prologue is only 4 pages, but it feels good to have the set up going. My MC is a little chatty, which might be a challenge, as this will be my first book told from first person (she's making me). I think it will be fun to write though. I DO need to do some research on... you know... nuts... (hopefully I don't have to experience them all—not sure I want to deal with THAT, but universal forces can be strange that way).

31 comments:

TreeX said...

One story that always stayed with me from the loony bin is a story one of the other kids told of what he saw by the gate on coming back in one day. He saw one of the older residents relief himself on the lawn dividing the main road from the compound, but in order to do so he had to pull down pairs of underpants upon underpants, none of which were clean.(Hey, I WAS five years old after all.) The determination of that guy was quite something...

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

It would be fascinating to spend some time in (visiting preferably, not committed) a mental institute for research. Even with schizophrenia what made that man do that particular whip-cracking lunacy at that particular moment? Maybe writing about other crazies can keep the white coats from our own doors. ;-)

As for your husband... "HIS only delusions are the things he thinks I ought to be doing that I don't care to do." At least his concerns are the things he thinks you SHOULD be doing not the things he thinks you're are doing that you're not.

Watery Tart said...

Joris-teehee--VERY determined to make his point (or mark his territory)...

Rebecca-Welcome! I don't think I've seen you before! Just knowing where I am, I am actually more inclined to believe this was a bad drug trip--I somehow think the whip in the hands of a crazy man is less likely than the whip owning 20-something having a bad trip (5 am reinforcing that idea... party's over). There is a part of me TERRIFIED of institutions, but it WOULD be interesting. My book actually takes place in a Juvy facility, but we all know that mental health in the US is most often dealt with through the criminal justice system.

And GREAT point that it is far better for my husband to be irritable about what I'm NOT doing, that accusing me of something I'm not doing (part of why I married him actually--the lack of paranoia made him appealing)

BLANCHDAWG said...

Sorry to scare you, I thought you liked whips. :-)

Marissa said...

That's what you get for thinking about Schrodinger's Cat at 5 a.m.!! That really is hysterical (and would have scared the bejeebers outta me too) I am so glad you are a now funkless Tart!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, you live in a weird neighborhood!
I'm betting drugs.
Careful out there, Hart. Carry your cell phone.

Sugar said...

Awesomeness!!! Although, too bad he wasn't like the guy in the pic...mmmmmmmm....
sometimes the best characters are real, I brainstormed with my teenager (and I survived!) last night... we got some awesome characters(which happened to be based on her and her teeneybopper friends) sooo...good for you to find a cool character..
And yes...take your phone always!!!

Watery Tart said...

Jason-had you remembered the rest of the outfit, I woulda been okay, though I really prefer to be the one carrying the whip...

Rissa- *snort* But Schrodinger's Cat is so APT! You'll see!

Watery Tart said...

Alex-actually I live in a highly educated affluent college town, but yeah... drugs. (I don't have a cell phone... I actually usually really LOVE that no one can reach me. I'm freaky that way)

Sugar-How fun to brainstorm with your teen! My kids know some 'characters' (thinking the psycho ex-girlfriend of my daughter's boyfriend may deserve a place in this book) but my kids are only moderately interested, at least thus far...

Megan said...

Okay, that would have scared the CRAP out of me. I've had a couple confrontations like that in life, and I probably would have froze and been whipped to a million tiny pieces. ugh.

At least it makes great fodder for fiction.

It should be an interesting scene in your book.

And I loves listening to Green Day when I exercise. Always gets me going. :)

Deb and Barbara said...

Living in a relatively big city, you kinda see "crazy" people on a regular basis. Can be scary in the moment, but usually does make good fodder for writing! I love that you're inspired by it!

B

Jan Morrison said...

yep and now what? Turn all phenomena to the path. Think you got it going. sorry not to be more coherent but my groundlessness has begun. Perhaps, like Schrodingers cat, it is the other one of me that is writing...

Watery Tart said...

Megan--yeah, in the moment, I was relatively scared--I do a bit of a separation thing mostly, and then swear a lot after the fact.

D&B-I saw more crazy when I lived in Portland, but in Portland when I saw it, there were OTHER PEOPLE around too. In Ann Arbor when I see it, it is just me and the nuts! Man, I was glad that car was there!

Jan *giggles* Now THAT is a good excuse! The other me is writing...

It wasn't until I got home (and was naked) that it occurred to me I has just sketched out a schizophrenic character the night before, and what a GOOD match this was...Power walking and nudity. I swear by it! Erm... them...

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

That is one of the most random incidents I've ever heard. eek! Glad your safe, and also glad you're using this totally random event in your writing. It's one of those moments that is too noteworthy to not write about would be a shame.
How weird! I'm still scratchin my head tryin to figure out this guys "motive" for such a thing.

Leanne said...

All these comments and nobody mentioned Basil Fawlty beating his car with a branch yet? ;-) Dude, you need a freakin' phone.

Watery Tart said...

Erica-this was only a block from where I found the chicken people one Saturday morning. I'm thinking it is a sort of a nut vortex. i'm sure the fact that the IRB medical office is in between is relevant, too.

Leanne *snicker* If only it had been Basil... When I am EXERCISING, i don't WANT a phone! Then again, nobody would be awake to call me at that hour, so maybe when I can afford an iPhone that will BOTH hold my music AND work as a phone, then I might consider...

James C. Wallace II said...

I'm just curious... What color was Schrodinger's Cat?

Helena Soister said...

I love the emotional calming that comes from putting disturbing real-life incidents into fiction. Talk about free, effective therapy!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Scary, Hart!

But I'm so glad you've gotten funk-free!

Watery Tart said...

James: we don't know until we open the pen, do we? And then we are so eager to see if he's alive or dead, that we are hardly looking at what color he is! I suppose until we know, he is all colors at the same time.

Helena--it WAS a cool feeling, settling in on how to use it! Most of life's traumatic events are waiting to be written until the rotten people who did them are no longer alive to sue me *hmph*

Elizabeth, scary, yes--but useful! thank you!

TreeX said...

Sue you -- or just plain don't KNOW you ;)

Marjorie said...

Well, if a cat can be dead and alive at the same time then I suppose it can be all colors at once. But I'm with Marissa. Why the heck think about that so early? Of course, you would have to do something pretty drastic to get me out of bed at that hour anyway.

I'm going with the bad drug trip for the whip guy. Yeah, it would have scared the pee out of me too. There is a crazy homeless man that lives under a bridge near my neighborhood. All he really does is shake his fist and yell at passing cars for no reason. There was an interesting moment there at one point when I was walking to the store a couple months back. I should blog about it.

KarenG said...

Incredibly entertaining YET scary post! Actually, THE most entertaining post read TODAY!! Gosh I would have been scared out of my mind.

Watery Tart said...

Joris, the trauma is ALWAYS at the hands of family. I would think you'd know that.

Marjorie-I actually wrote much of TOMORROW'S post last night (for today) but had been incoherent about the cat... I was just organizing--that is what power walks are FOR! We have a park with homeless people, and I avoid that one if it's not light out. It's true that more than half are mentally ill, and that is just unpredictable.

Karen-Most entertaining today?! WOW! Thank you! It was off the cuff, too... I suppose real life experiences can do that... adrenaline rush lets it FLOW. I appreciate it though!

TreeX said...

My trauma was not being with the family, and then some, but alright, if you say so :)

Watery Tart said...

Lack of family is still family trauma--especially if it's decided for you.

Caledonia Lass said...

Hmmm... 5 a.m. and a nut is out walking his whip... What a story in itself. I don't think he started his day early, I think he was ending the day before very, very late!
If it weren't for the nuts in this world, we'd live boring lives. ;)
And oooh!! Green Day! I love me some Green Day.

Amy said...

I just wrote up my Pay It Forward post, if you want to check it out. And thanks again for tagging me; you gave me some new followers! I guess now I really have to start writing again.

Watery Tart said...

Mel-oh yes. This man certainly had his own story... and not knowing what it is, there is certainly a lot of room to fill in the blanks! (I love Green Day, too--especially for that 'get me moving' thing)

Amy--I will check it out! And YES--get writing!

Lisa McLellan said...

It'll be interesting to get feedback about that character when you fictionalize him. Sometimes the feedback I get is that the characters based on real people/events seem less believable. Now that could just be because my writing still has problems,but I tend to think that sometimes people have a hard time believing the truth!

Watery Tart said...

Lisa-I think that is absolutely true--that the things from real life can seem to 'over the top' and you have to mellow them out a little, though my characters will all be in a 'home' which means they've been formally institutionalized, so I think that makes it a little easier to buy--not sure if I will have THIS as a story before she got there (it is a female I am using it for) or if I will substitute a stick she finds INSIDE--because of course an inmate (do they call kids inmates?) wouldn't have access to a whip inside--but a documented problem case--that makes it more believable, i think.