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Finding Philip

December 11, 2013

Philip and I attend the monthly Writers Guild. He always needs a ride, and has one or two members that normally pick him up.
This morning I got a group request email that Philip needed a ride. I checked with my husband who does my night driving for me, and my son offered us the use of his truck which is bigger and has a back seat. I emailed Amaryllis to let her know that I could take him. Also, I promptly emailed Philip to let him know I was coming. I did not give him a time, nor specify where to meet us.
Philip lives in a three-story apartment complex. My husband had taken Philip home once, but only dropped him off at the door. I didn’t go on that trip because we have a ‘baby’ truck that can’t accommodate three adults in the front seat. It barely manages when we have our young grandson with us. My point being that neither one of us knew which apartment Philip lived in.
I saw a couple men standing outside as we approached and thought one of them would be Philip. No such luck. As we came down the long drive to the main entrance, I noticed a woman looking out a second-floor window. She disappeared after I got out of the truck and walked halfway up the sidewalk. I hoped she was watching out for my arrival and went to tell Philip.
I got to the front door as another person walked out. They let me in without questions. I went into the “foyer”–does that little space between two doors have a name?–only to find myself locked out at the second door. There were mailboxes on both walls, listed by apartment number, not name. No help whatsoever.
A portly elderly man walked past the locked door, opened it far enough to stick his head out, and asked me if I needed help. I told him I was looking for Philip.
“No, I don’t know any Philip. I’m George.” He opened the door for me to enter. “Do you know what apartment he’s in?”
“No, I thought he’d be waiting for me down here.”
“What’s his last name?”
The name flew out of my head. All I could think of was that it started with a ‘C’.
“Wait a minute. I’ll get someone that can help.” He headed down a hallway.
A man carrying a clipboard came to the elevator just as another woman showed up. She asked him something and he answered with a chuckle that he was the insurance man. He then questioned her as to whether or not she had insurance. The elevator arrived about the same time she said, “No.” They disappeared behind it’s softly closing doors. I wondered if he’d make an appointment or simple discuss insurance in the elevator.
I continued waiting in the lobby, listening to the muffled conversation of George and another man down the hall and out of site.
Momentarily, Joe came back with George. He was a cute little guy. Looking at those two gave me ideas for book characters. Unfortunately, Joe was no more help than George as to Philip’s location. I was beginning to think I had the wrong building entirely.
A tiny woman got off the elevator. Before she got out the front door, I accosted her with, “Do you know Philip?
She looked a bit startled, but answered my question. “Yes, I know a Philip.”
“That lives here?”
“Yes, he lives on the third floor.”
George chimed in with, “Do you know his apartment number.”
She rattled it off and headed out the door. I think I thanked her before she was out of hearing range.
“Wait here.” George ordered and grabbed the elevator as it dropped off another person. Joe waited silently with me.
It was a short wait luckily. With all the brouhaha we were now going to be late for the meeting.
Philip was busy putting George’s phone number into his cell phone when the elevator doors opened. He made a new friend. As we walked out to the truck I got Philip’s apartment number and told my husband before I climbed up into the seat.
What I thought was odd was my remembering that his apartment number was the same as my grandmother’s house number. Why that popped into my head is anybody’s guess.
The best thing about the experience–I met some wonderful people whom I may never see again, but I got several new characters and a scene.
Most of the people I met were short. George was about my height, 5’ 6”; Joe was a few inches shorter. The woman who knew Philip was near 4’8”. The few other people that passed me coming and going were all shorter than me. Even Philip was not tall for a male; being about my height, maybe an inch taller. The “insurance man” was the only one of regular male height.
What could I do with the “insurance man?” (Keep your thoughts clean now.) I loved his chuckle and wanted to hear a full laugh. How would that sound? What would make him laugh?
Could I use a scene with a hotel or apartment building that held only short people? Could they be actors doing a movie in the area? Maybe in a traveling circus? Should I suspect one of them of being the murderer or thief? Maybe I should make one of them the victim with a whole motel of possible “short” suspects.
Why people tell me they can’t think of anything to write, is always surprising. There’s always ideas popping into my head. Sometimes it’s a sound, or an overheard snippet of conversation, or a box delivered to the wrong address that triggers an idea. After jotting down the idea, it may sit and stew awhile–actually, a long while. I may never use that idea or it may trigger something else.
What could I use the memory of the house number for? Why would it be significant, or better yet, what could it indicate?
As long as there are words, there will always be something to write.

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