Readers: Thank you for being so patient while I work to complete 'Keeping Claudia,' the sequel to Saving Toby. In the meantime, I thought I would offer you a little insight to my creative process. When writing a novel, an author must know her characters well enough to consider how they will react and behave in almost any situation. For this, we create a character bible. A character bible is a bio of sorts that includes a charcter's basic backstory, attitudes, desires and such. This one was created for 21-year old Toby Faye. Some of you will recognize a part of it that I adjusted to fit into the actual storyline.
The room has a decent-sized crowd, but I'm not nervous nor intimidated by this. It's an informal gig, and most of them don’t even know who I am, but that’s okay. I gonna play anyway. I begin to talk to them like we're all friends. They quiet down, and I begin to strum.
I like the feeling of my guitar in my hands, and I am proud that I taught myself to play. I don’t sing much 'cause I haven’t trained my voice. Maybe eventually I will work on improving it. Girls like that I can play, but singers get way more attention. Not that I need to sing for attention; that's never been an issue. There's just something indescribably freeing about being able to express myself through music. Playing gave me an outlet during some difficult times in my life. Impressing girls is a bonus.
Don’t know rejection, well, not since middle school days. Changed a lot physically since then. Grew about a foot, then finally filled out in 10th grade and started lifting weights. I’m in fighting shape and can pretty much eat whatever I want. My body is a lean, mean fighting machine. That helped my confidence in high school and after my first few successes with the opposite sex — Lara Whitney for one, I was fearless. I asked out girls wherever I went. Cause if one said no, there was another nearby who’d say yes. My friends Dev and Ray are impressed with my confidence around girls. They always want me to hook them up. I can tell Dev resents how easy it is for me to get girls. I think it’s because, out of the three of us, I’m the easiest going. I can hang with anyone. Kind of a people person — can pretty much talk to anyone. Like to make people laugh. People say I’m a bit of a jokester. Like to hang out, have a few beers and stuff. Regular things like that. Girls say I have nice eyes and arms, and once they get their hands on me, they like all my other parts, too.
I like having a girlfriend, being involved, knowing someone is waiting to be with me. I’m a tall guy, so I’ve had ‘em all shapes and sizes. Though I’m not too particular, she’s got to be sweet and have a good sense of humor. The attraction has to hit me right away. If she’s cute and has a long neck, I’m a goner. I don’t know what it is about that part of the body, but a beautiful neck is a complete turn-on. Muy caliente.
I’d gotten pretty tight with more than a few girls over the years, but I’ve yet to be in a long-running relationship. Most times, it dissolves after a few months, when girls start hitting me up for “L” word. That’s about the time I get ready to bounce.
Love is a defective emotion. I don't trust it, and I am careful to avoid it. Once upon a time, I suppose I believed in it, but that chromosome or gene or whatever it is that makes you trust someone so completely you’d lay your life before his or her feet, was trampled on so much during my childhood; it malfunctioned and I am no longer able to connect to someone like that. When girlfriends who expect to connect with me on that level realize this, they move on. As they should. I won’t say words I don’t mean.
I’m still trying to figure out where I’m heading in the job area of my life. Got no clear road on that horizon. That kind of sucks. No, it just plain sucks. I’m jealous of people my age who have some kind of career thing lined up — or even a plan, because I don’t have any plan. Not a goddamn clue. I keep trying new jobs — everything from construction to waiting tables. Had some pretty sweet offers come my way, but nothing has inspired me. Guess I expect it — whatever it is — to hit me between the eyes and say, Hey asshole, get the hell up and grab this one!
I like going to work more than I ever liked school. With work, you put your time in and go home. Work stays at work. And if I don’t like the boss, sayonara, man. Of course the best part is the paycheck and the next best, a work uniform. Though it’s a little itchy and not the most comfortable thing I’ve worn, at least it’s something I don’t have to think about. It’s awesome to roll out of bed and into the ‘required uniform.’ Means I don’t have to really wake up and make a decision until I get to work. I shower, have a cup a coffee, rake my fingers through my hair, and I’m good to go. I shave every few days, letting the scruff grow a bit before I scale it down to a Leo DiCaprio or David Beckham -like goatee.
I’m really into baseball. When I was a kid, I dreamed of playing professional ball for the New York Yankees, but I quit playing in middle school. Julia said I was good and never under stood why I decided to stop. I never told anyone that it was because of the mitt my father had given to me back when I was eleven. It wasn’t my birthday or anything, but he came home and handed to me. I was super excited and he even went outside and had a catch with me. You wouldn’t know it, but that wasn’t something my dad did, so it was like a dream for me. Very regular, like other families. The folks had me registered in Little League and just before practice one day, I couldn’t find the mitt. I was freaking out, looking under my bed, tossing my room when Dad came in. I remember telling him, with my voice shaking, that my mitt was missing. Dad just spun around and marched to my brother’s room. He started to yell and then there was a scuffle — I’m sure there was some manhandling going on — and moments later, he came back and tossed the mitt to me. “Go play,” he said.
I passed Al’s room on the way out and tried my best to appear casual when I looked in at him. The only way I might explain the look in his eyes is to tell you to imagine an angry and violent terrorist blaming you for all that’s wrong in his world. Somehow you have what they want – what is most important to them. And even though you’ve done nothing to provoke the hatred, still it’s there and there is nothing you can do to change it.
I felt bad about the way my father treated Al, but it wasn’t my fault. I slunk out and went to play ball. When I came home later, I found the shoebox I kept my baseball cards in, on my bed. I hadn’t left it out, so I was immediately suspicious. I rushed to open the box fearing the worst — and it was. Four cards, my most valued ones — Clemens, Posada, Jeter and O’Neill — ripped in two. I had a near complete Yankee team and now the hardest ones to get were destroyed. I lost it. I ran to Al’s room with the box. He wasn’t there and I threw the box as hard as I could across his room. Then I stomped on it until the box and cards were a mangled mess on his floor. But still I was furious. I ran from the house, down the block, to the wooded area south of the soccer fields. Lots of stews hung out there. I don’t know how it started, but I got into a fistfight. My nose got bloodied and I was aching afterwards, but I felt better, calmer.
Back then, a good fister cleared out the muck like nothing else could. That stuff is behind me now, especially since Al went away. Not saying I don't get into a scrape every once in a while, just that I have to be really provoked to go there.
Though sometimes I dream of the smell of the dirt field, the sound and burn of the ball smacking against my leather mitt, nowadays, I just watch baseball on TV. Watching it is far less exciting than playing, but some dreams you have to let go of.
Hey, who’s that? A real cutie just walked in. She’s not paying me any attention. I purposely stop playing. She glances up and I can tell she thinks she’s interrupted me by the way she smiles. Her face gets red. Shit, she’s real cute. And I think I know her. Oh, yeah, I know her. Damn, she looks good — hot. Now I’m completely distracted. I start playing, but I’m blowing cords left and right. Can’t concentrate.
“You messed me up,” I tell her and she blushes again.
“I’m sorry,” she apologizes.
“If I have to look at you, I won’t be able to concentrate. You’d better come over and sit next to me,” I say, but she shakes her head no. I get up and go over to her. There really is no room for me, but I insert myself in the space between her and another girl. She begins to laugh. It’s a great laugh. One I remember. One I want to hear more of.
I put my arm around the back of her chair and accidentally-on-purpose caress her back with my fingertips. She leans forward, away from my touch. I remove my arm. I can see by the look in her beautiful eyes, she’s not going to make it easy for me, but I don’t mind. I’ll have to step back a little for this one, but I like a girl with a bit of spirit. More sure of myself, I start to play again. Now I sound brilliant. And even though she’s not aware how much she’s going to like me, I can tell by the way she watches me play, it won’t be long till I win her over.