Friday, September 21, 2007

Character Study: Charlene Engleton

This is the second in a series of character introductions associated with my book, My New-Found Land.

Charlene was born into a rich and politically well-connected ranching family in the Texas panhandle. Her father was cruel and controlling and her mother was willing to support his behavior because it kept her in a big house with running water, electricity, and servants. These things matter when you're keeping up appearances in the resource-impoverished independent Republic of Texas.

Charlene was the clown of the family, always in trouble for one thing or another. She ignored her studies at the ranching compound's school and prefered to flirt with the ranch hands and entertain the servants with her silly songs, skits and dances. Unlike the rest of her family, Charlene never thought she was better than anyone else just because her clothes were nicer, her food better, and she slept in a real bed in a room of her own. Her family despaired of her, but the servants loved her as the one person in the family they could trust to keep their secrets and intercede on their behalf.

At eighteen she ran away. Her destination was a commune in Colorado she once heard about. But she never got there. Her trains got diverted or held up, when they didn't run out of fuel and stall on the tracks. Her money and patience ran out near Deming, New Mexico, where she got off the train vowing to never get on another one.

She found employment as a bar waitress where she was popular for her jokes and friendly ways. She eventually caught the eye of a railroad employee whose route brought him to Deming every few weeks. It was Charlene's first real love and a lot of fun until she became pregnant and her boyfriend's route suddenly stopped bringing him to Deming. When one of her bar customers told her that he had seen him squiring some other girl around in another town, Charlene resolved to go home. She dreaded facing her family and their strict notions of honor, but didn't see how she could raise a child alone when she was living in a hovel and barely supporting herself.

But she won't go home by train. She'll pay whatever she must to hire an appropriate escort to guard her on the long and dangerous journey back to the Republic of Texas.

So what a stroke of luck that the famous Diana Channing should show up in her bar one night, asking questions about a recent derailment! No one will give her any answers because who knows what her real motives might be? But if Diana will agree to take her with her on her trip east, Charlene can talk to her bar clients and get her all the answers she needs.

And Charlene won't be any trouble to Diana on the journey to Texas. None at all. Really.

REMINDER: My New-Found Land is available in print or download at my Lulu Storefront. If you buy in September, let me know so I can enter you in a drawing for promotional giveaways. One of the prizes is the carved wooden rabbit Diana got in Missouri.

1 comment:

Jim Melvin said...

Wow! What an excellent and deeply defined character. Sounds like a blast!