While waiting for the opportunity to open Brown River Blues on a computer that won’t completely spazz out when I open it, I pulled out a notebook this weekend and wrote the first draft of what will be a story in the collection.
I’ve hinted at what the 10th story will be, and this isn’t it. In fact, I’m thinking about re-categorizing stories 2-4 into a trilogy of sorts. Or turning the collection up to 11.
This is a story I think needs to be told.
In the beginning, on Thursday, Dec. 17, 1998, the character of Lorenzo Santiago Williamston had a girlfriend named Marian Miguela Moreno. Her parents are from Venezuela. His parents thought naming him Lorenzo Santiago Williamston sounded cool. Over the years, I’ve considered anglicizing his name, but Lawrence St. James Williamston sounds like a name a Brontë sister would come up with.
Lorenzo and Marian technically started dating when they were 3, when they would refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. She is the only person who calls him Santiago, as he breathed in at the wrong time when he introduced himself to her, and didn’t correct the pretty girl since Santiago was one of his names.
Marian and Santiago would consider themselves engaged after he presented her with a Ring Pop when they were 5. They were mostly joking but, 10 years later, when they had a mini-breakup during the course of the original novel (which shall not see the light of day) Lorenzo learned that she still had the hunk of plastic left after eating the candy diamond.
In my college Lorenzo stories, which are trapped on floppies somewhere, they broke up the summer before he went to college on the Virginia Peninsula and she headed off to get her bachelor’s and master’s Philadelphia.
In fall 2006, a few months after Lorenzo nearly passed out from heat stroke on assignment and landed a job at his hometown newspaper, Marian began working at their old high school.
Obviously, they grew and changed during that period. Especially Marian, who shot a man in Philly. She had her reasons.
I haven’t fully decided whether they’re going to break up for the final time during the early action of Brown River Blues or shortly before the novel begins.
This new story takes place a few hours after they call it quits.
I was going to leave it alone but they were each other’s first loves. I couldn’t just write her out of the narrative after all those years together. I don’t regret having the breakup happen because I knew it wasn’t going to work out. Lorenzo came back home to get his bearings before heading out in the world again. Marian fully expects to teach at Greenfront-Council High School until it’s torn down or she retires. It wasn’t supposed to work out in the original novel. The break was supposed to be for good when I wrote Lorenzo short stories for class in college. If I delayed it any longer, there would be a bitter, divorced Lorenzo story somewhere down the line.
“You never really end up with your first crush,” Fred Savage said in a recent interview with the New York Daily News. “You have this idealized love affair with your first crush, and that doesn’t always work out.”