Monday, September 24, 2007

Character Study: Sgt Darrell Bonner

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

Darrell Bonner grew up in a decaying Atlanta suburb. God and family were central to his life and he was a youth leader in his church, known for his ability to organize the local young people to get the job done, whether it was a plastic collection drive, an emerging virus awareness day, or simply a new garden to be dug on the esplanade of a crumbling boulevard.

It was only natural that he should volunteer to fight in the resource wars, but his faith and commitment were badly shaken when his family and many of his friends died in an epidemic that broke out in Atlanta while he was on campaign in the Canadian tar sands. But Darrell was a man who honored his commitments, and his dedication and leadership didn't go unnoticed. After the retreat from Canada, he was reassigned to the White Sands with a special mission. The secessionist movement in the southwestern United States was getting serious and the overextended US government would have to make some tough choices. If they could get their most dangerous weapons out of the desert, the rebels could have it until the US was in a better position to regain control.

Things didn't go as planned. Before the weapons could be safely removed or disabled, disturbances along the Mississippi demanded immediate attention. The desert would be allowed to secede for now, but some men would be left at White Sands to guard the weapons until the army could return.

Years passed and keeping up morale was hard. Men from some of the other units in the White Sands defected to Alamogordo. A black market grew, with soldiers trading army surplus gear for much-needed food from the locals. Preying on passing travelers was often a good bet, but Darrell drew the line there. He couldn't control what other sergeants let their men do, but his own soldiers would be respectful of honest travelers or there would be hell to pay.

So when he started providing extra protection to one of the local desert guides, he told himself it was only as a courtesy. Isabel was twelve, and although wise and competent beyond her years, it was still a dangerous thing she was doing, guiding caravans of travelers across the old missile range. And her so small and delicate, with her big dark eyes and serious ways!

It took him two years to admit to himself that he loved her. He was almost twenty years older, and she was still a child! Was it the lack of women in the desert that made him feel this way, or was there something horribly wrong with him? He questioned his God and he questioned himself, but the feelings wouldn't go away.

That Isabel returned his interest enthusiastically was of no import. Having lost friends, family and even the support of his government, all he had left was his high standards for himself. By the laws of the local community, Isabel would be of legal age to marry at sixteen. If she was still interested, and if he could find a way to cope for another year and half, maybe things could work out in a way that satisfied everyone's honor.

But in the meantime, it's no help that one of Isabel's latest customers is determined to see them together. Thank goodness the other one-- the serious young lady named Diana-- is more reasonable. But that Texan girl, Charlene, is going to be a handful!

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!


Bill Fullerton said...


I really enjoyed reading your character sketches. And all this time I thought the ones I'd drawn up for my characters were detailed.


Alice Audrey said...