Monday, June 3, 2013

How a Big, Burly Truck Driver Showed Up and Took My Story

Not long ago, a strange thing happened to me.   When I was smack in the middle of writing my latest novel, a huge, bearded, tattoo-clad truck driver showed up and made off with the whole damn thing.  Well, that’s not completely true—he actually forced me to rip the manuscript to pieces and write a completely different story...

About him.

The original book was a Silicon Valley thriller about a young, upper middle class couple who get in serious trouble with the mafia and have to go on the run.  The problem is, their marriage is in such bad shape that Cynthia would just as soon be on her own than stuck as a fugitive with her self-centered, workaholic husband. 

As they flee their beautiful San Francisco home, their only means of protection is an ancient .22 calibre Beretta that belonged to Allen’s father, which Allen has never even fired.  To test it out, they stop at an outdoor shooting range in Oakland.  Allen has zero experience with firearms and of course he wants to hide this from Cynthia.  Fortunately, the shooting range is deserted and no one is around to witness Allen’s bumbling lesson in marksmanship.

That's when Billy shows up, out of nowhere.  The quiet morning stillness is shattered by roar of an engine...a smoke-belching tractor-trailer rig pulls into the shooting range parking lot.  Not an entire truck—only the cab portion.   If the image that's air-brushed on the side of the driver's door isn’t enough to unnerve the young couple—a gibbering skull crowned by a ring of roses—the man who emerges from the monstrous vehicle is.  He seems as big as a mountain.  He's wearing a snakeskin cowboy hat, matching snakeskin boots, and is clad head-to-toe in faded denim.


“Howdy,” he mutters, from behind his thick, scraggly beard.  He proceeds to unload a veritable arsenal from his truck—pistols, rifles and shotguns.  

Allen turns back to Cynthia, trying to concentrate on teaching her how to shoot their little pistol, but he can feel the trucker just standing there, watching them with what Allen imagines is a kind of mocking amusement.

“Ya’ll don’t know much about guns, do ya?” the man finally says, in a thick Southern drawl.

“Ignore him,” Allen whispers to his wife, but it’s no use.  Billy  is already sauntering over to them.  Before Cynthia knows what's happening, he steps up behind her and encircles her with his thick arms.

“Darlin', you got to stand with yer legs more far apart, like this.”  Billy moves in a little closer, his head almost touching hers.  “That’ll give you a stable base.  See?”

Allen doesn’t like it one bit, being pushed aside, standing there watching his wife be all but fondled by this overbearing, redneck version of Santa Claus.

Billy tilts his head, looking down the line of sight with her, even closer now.  “Now, ya gotta aim real careful, keepin' your arms steady, and then you slowly pull back on the—”

“Get your hands off my wife,” Allen says.

Billy becomes perfectly still.

Cynthia is afraid to breathe, her torso wedged between the trucker’s beefy arms.  As his bearlike head slowly turns towards Allen, she could feel his whiskers scratching across the back of her neck.

“I said, get your hands off my wife.”

There is another long, tense moment.  The shooting range is so quiet you could only hear the sound of the breeze whispering through the trees.

Billy finally lowers his arms from around Cynthia, but not completely.

That’s when he looked at me.  Right past the two of them, straight at me, his brown eyes burning with an intensity that sent chills up my spine.

“Listen here, Mr. Writer-man.  You're gonna tell this story the way I want it told, see?  It ain't about no mafia, and it sure as hell ain't about no Sili-cone Valley.  This story about me.  Billy.   Billy Hunt.”  He paused, letting his words sink in.  “You got it, Writer-man?”

Oh, I got it.  I got perfectly.

I tore up everything I had written and started over again, madly writing down everything he said.

My new book is called The-Drive-By Wife, and it's supposed to be out by September.

At least, I sure hope it is.

That's what I promised Billy.


  1. Sounds good. And if you promised Billy you should probably make sure you meet that deadline!

  2. Don't you just hate it when the characters take over your carefully thought out story. Err...I mean, don't you just love it when the characters tell you how to write their story. :-) This story sounds interesting. Good luck with it. I hope Billy doesn't have to force you to make your deadline.

  3. You surely don't want to let him down !