In one of my stories, “The Pink Teddy Bear” (Originally published in the award-winning collection, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties (under the title “Going for the Gold”) I came up with a character very much like so many men who watch sporting events while sitting in an easy chair drinking beer and eating fast food. This man, who is out of shape, identifies closely with the athletes on the TV screen. A couch potato who thinks he’s an athlete. But we find out as the story proceeds that he has a dark history. Based on the personality of that character and the situation in which he finds himself, the character seemed to tell me what would happen next. I simply wrote it out. If taken literally, what I’ve just said may sound like I’m material for the booby hatch. I suppose what really happens is that the character and the situation(s) strike some kind of chord in my mind and through some kind of mysterious (but not supernatural) alchemy, the next step becomes obvious, and the next and the next, till the end. (I never know what the end of a story will be until I get there.)
Now, the strange part is that I am nothing at all like that character; I have never even known a man like that. What I knew about people like him came from newspapers and movies. I started writing the story as a kind of satire on couch potato who fantasizes he’s a great athlete. When I was writing the story I felt absolutely no emotion. But now, several years after first writing the story, I feel great emotion, great sympathy for the protagonist. The story is definitely not a satire. How can I explain that? Perhaps when a writer creates a character, that fictional person becomes the writer’s child, so that when heart-breaking events overtake him, his “father” (the writer) has intensive feelings about these (fictional) events. He vividly exults or suffers with his creature. As the writer suspends his own disbelief and, reading his own writing, he becomes a part of the fictional world that he created. Temporarily, of course. The way a father becomes part of his offspring’s life (for ever).
Some people who have read this story have told me that at first they hated this man, but as they learned more and more about him they came to have different feelings.
I’ve had 17 books published, but only three of them consist of my own fiction.
You can look into my literary production by going to my URL: http://www.clarkzlotchew.com
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Amazon lists more of my books, but my website lists fewer but with more information on each.
The Pink Teddy Bear – Clark Zlotchew
WARNING - Contains strong language
3500 words General Fiction
A man with a tortured psyche keeps a pink teddy bear on his food tray as he watches the Olympics on TV. He is physically out of shape but fantasizes that he is the athlete on the screen. The reasons for his mental turmoil, and for the pink teddy bear, become clear as the story unfolds. First appeared in the short-story collection, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties which was one of three finalists in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, short-story category, 2011. In that collection, it appeared under the title, "Going for the Gold." Re-published under the original name, "Going for the Gold," in Open Pen, July 2016
Joe Sims sat sprawled on his stained and tattered easy chair, a six pack of Budweiser at his feet, one of the bottles in his left hand, the remote in his right. He took a long swig of beer, laid the remote down next to the pink teddy bear on the metal tray table before him, and reached for the Big Mac. He closed his eyes and savored the succulent beef patties, the cheese, the lettuce, onion, pickles, sesame bun, and the secret recipe "special sauce" that Sims was sure contained mayo, ketchup and relish. Sims let his taste buds bathe in the savory juices as his teeth and tongue caressed the food before he gulped the mass down. He felt its bulk pass satisfyingly all the way to his stomach where it came to rest, producing a feeling of contentment. This contentment faded when he looked at the pink teddy bear. He sighed deeply, then tore his eyes from the stuffed animal.