Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Paris: Blogging the #AtoZchallenge

Meet My Imaginary Friends: Paris Friedl

Years ago Paris Friedl was a real beauty stuck waiting tables in a Harrisburg diner which is where Farmer Friedl found her. Farmer didn't have a lot to offer--he drove a garbage truck in the Pennsylvania Dutch town of Marienstadt--but he promised Paris if she'd marry him she'd never have to work again. That was good enough for her. Now Farmer is gone and Paris lives in his camp outside of town with her collection of animals. In this scene from The Last Time I Saw Paris in The Bucktail Cap in the Trunk, Chief of Police Henry Werner pays her a visit as he investigates a series of peculiar robberies.

Farmer’s house started out as a mobile home but over the years he had built on to it, mostly with cement blocks. Here and there Henry recognized parts of salvaged barns and sheds. The screen door opened with an ear-splitting screech.
Henry Werner.” Paris Friedl stood in the doorway. Despite the heat she wore a plaid flannel shirt over a nylon tank top. Her hair had once been dyed an apricot color but now two inches of gray root showed. She squinted through the smoke from a cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth. Henry kept his eyes on her face. He noticed that she wore old blue jeans chopped off above the knees and was shoeless. He couldn’t bear to look at her feet. Whatever glamor her name once evoked was now a distant memory. “What do you want?” she snarled through the cigarette smoke.
Just wondered if you had a few minutes?” he said. A rusted out Pontiac Firebird sat in the driveway and he glanced at the inspection sticker; it had expired three years ago.
For what?” Leaning against the door frame, she removed the cigarette from her mouth. Henry never felt less welcome anywhere.
I was just over at the Wilde Tavern and Boone mentioned you stopped in recently. I wondered if you’d mind answering a couple questions.”
That a crime now? Having a beer at the Wilde Tavern?” She took a long draw on her cigarette then pitched the butt into a coffee can next to the door.
No.” Henry stayed in the driveway. “There was a burglary at the hotel that night. I’ve been talking to anyone who might have seen anything unusual. That’s all.”
Compared to what? I ain't never been in there before and I ain't been in there since, so how’m I supposed to know what's ‘unusual’?”
Henry nodded. “That’s a good point.” He looked at the goats. All of them crowded against the pen’s gate watching him, pushing and shoving each other to be the closest. Amid the squawking and bleating he heard another sound—a high-pitched trill that he knew he’d heard before but couldn’t place. “You’ve got quite a collection of livestock.”
I like animals.” She narrowed her eyes. “They don't suck as much as people.”
Do you have any problems with wildlife out here in the woods? With all your chickens and ducks I’m surprised you don't lose some to foxes or coyotes.”
She reached inside the doorway and pulled a shotgun into view. “They know better.”
Fair enough. I just wanted to check in with you. Don't hesitate to call the station if you think of anything.” He paused. “Or if you ever need help.”
Why would I need help? Do I look like a helpless maiden?” She dug a cigarette out of her shirt pocket, put it between her lips, and pulled out a lighter.
Not hardly.” Henry smiled. “I just want you to know I’m there if you have any problems with wildlife or…" He hesitated. “You know—enemies.”
I ain't got no enemies.” She lit the cigarette and took a long draw on it.
Well, that's good. You’re lucky.”
I out-lived the bastards.” She stepped back into her house and pulled the screen door shut.


  1. "I outlive the bastards." What a great line!

  2. I had an uncle who used to say that all the time!

  3. What a stunningly portrayed characterization. You inspire me to write better, for sure. All I got from a mentor years ago was "show, don't tell." You demonstrate it.
    Awakening Dreams and Conquering Nightmares with a Pen
    I hope you are having a day as lovely as what I’m enjoying on my back porch this fine Tuesday.

  4. I agree. Animals don't suck as much as people. In fact, most of them don't suck at all and offer up devotion when I need it most.

  5. I like her! I laughed at "They don't suck as much as people" :P

  6. Thank you all for your kind words. Yes, Paris is a colorful character. I actually know a couple women like her and they are always an adventure.

  7. What did Mark Twain write: "The more I learn of people, the more I like my dog."

    We both did Paris but in different ways! :-)

  8. Twain was right about that, Roland.

    Thank you, Elizabeth. She's colorful.

  9. Great scene! I love her character and want to know her more for sure. So glad I found your blog! Or you found me...or something... :)
    You're a fabulous writer.

    Michele at Angels Bark

  10. What a wonderful character Paris is! I loved that last line too - made me laugh! I agree with Michele, you are a fabulous writer.
    My blogs: Around My Kitchen Table I notice on a previous comment I left a link to "how to leave link" rather than the link itself. Honestly, galloping senility.
    That's Purrfect

  11. Ooh, this is good, very good! You've created a very colorful character here in such a short space, and I'm thinking she might be someone I'd like a bit, if for nothing else then for her independent stance that didn't permit her to be easily cowered or backed into a corner!
    Josie Two Shoes
    from Josie's Journal

  12. This scene reminds me of a scene in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Paris is alone but she has some similar characteristics that drew me in.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

  13. Yes, Paris is a very independent person--with a secret and some secret helpers, too.

  14. Paris is my favorite character so far. I could picture the whole scene in my mind

  15. She's right. Animals don't suck as bad as people.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  16. great closing sentence!

    The Birthday Girl At The Joyous Living

  17. Thank you Samantha, Lynda, and Joy. Thanks for visiting.

  18. I just love your characters! So deeply drawn and interesting. Another book on my TBR list! You have a fan!

  19. She sounds tough. Probably had to be.

    Liz A. from
    Laws of Gravity

  20. Thank you, Yolanda, and, again, thanks for the kind review.

    She did, indeed, Liz. Thanks.

  21. Intense and interesting. I'm glad I stopped by

  22. Paris is an interesting character. I love that last line! ☺ May we all outlive our enemies.

  23. Paris sounds like a lady who knows how to take care of herself. Given some people I can see her point about animals :)
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  24. I really like your description of people. The part about the apricot hair with roots showing, her cut off jeans and Henry not being able to look at her feet really made me picture Paris in my mind.

    Cheers - Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/q-is-for-q-flag-nancy-drew-investigates.html

  25. Well, this sure is a remarkable woman. I loved the dialogue. It sounds so natural and still it gives so much in terms of characters' personality and setting.

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz


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