Sarge T. Douglas is a fictional character I developed for my two novels. His active role in “Hawk Dancer” and in “Cloudburst” is minor. He is a chronicler and journalist. There is a brief scene where he meets the twins of Birch Clump in Turkey. Douglas is assigned to the Incerlik Air Base; the twins are on a one-year study program in Turkey.
His more significant exposure comes a couple of years later when Douglas, since honorably discharged, shows up at the friary in Birch Clump for a retreat. He begins interviewing villagers and friars to learn more about the history of the first ever Catholic religious order of Native Americans. His role in the fictional stories is useful to me as the author as I wanted to give some credence to how material, research and information on such a large cast of characters spanning nearly eighty years was possible.
Character development shows him as calm, collective, somewhat quiet and laid back. He’s tall and slender. He is just shy of 140 pounds at six-feet, one inch in 1978, the year he visits the village at age 27.
An author can easily get involved with his characters. It took me nearly ten years before I decided on giving Sarge T. Douglas more exposure and greater development. Where was he born? What about his childhood?
Avoiding any spoilers, I can share that he was born to a single teen mother. He is mixed race. His grandfather nearly succeeded in having him murdered. He begins an adventurous search in his young adult years for his biological father and to learn the meaning of his first name name.
I even attempted to write a story in which a few of my fiction characters actually have a chance to interact with me, the real life author. I have not succeeded in doing that thus far.
In one imagined setting, in the later 1970s, I would like to meet Sarge and ask what the “T” stands for in his name; T. Douglas. It has been nearly ten years since I developed him and yet even I never knew what his first initial stood for. (The secret of his first name is found in the shot story Changing a Flat in the book, " Ten Things: Birch Clump Village Reader 4.")
I begin laughing as soon as he tells me because I know what the name means. He’s upset. I tease him some more. Bystanders egg us on hoping to see a fight, but neither one of us are prone to fighting. An instigator slapped him across the back of head as he walked off but I got the blame. With adrenaline running, he instinctively shoved me. That went through me and I instantly returned the same. Insults, dares and shoves work us up into a frenzy.
Sarge and I are the same age, he being born five days before me. We are the same size. We are both chicken when it comes to fighting. It’s a perfectly matched struggle our friends, real and fictional would really like to see. What the heck, I think I'd like to see which of us would win, or if it would be a draw. I pop him in the mouth. We go at it big time.
The drawing at the top of this blog is of the fight between Sarge and me.
About the most humiliating thing that can happen to me as an author is when one of my fictional characters is able to beat me up.
Will I write the story?
I’m not sure.
Welcome to the Village of Birch Clump. All the children here are all above average, as Garrison Keillor would say of his Lake Woebegone. Crime is very low. The last murder was decades ago. About the worse that happens up here is for a couple of the good old country boys to have a go at each other fist-n-cuff. They patch up their differences and get along just fine after these rare public rifts.
Compare that to some of TV’s ideal fictional small town communities. Cabot Cove of Murder She Wrote, had a killing every week; fifty-two per year. I’m surprised they didn’t run that snoopy author out of town. Little House on the Prairie had a number of murders, armed robberies and violent racist attitude towards the Native Americans. Imagine, those shows were touted as family friendly. The worse anyone got in BC was a bloodied nose and a black eye, (well for the most part.)
The best thing about BC is that everyone knows each other. There are times that level of familiarity is cited as the worse thing about living here. All-in-all, folks do come through for each other when needed.