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Change involves loss and gain. You may leave your old apartment but move into a new house. You get married but things don’t work out the way either of you thought, and you get divorced. You find a pet whom you grow to love and one day it dies.
In my WIP (work-in-progress), Eli experiences loss and gain, as he does in all the novels. This blog will look at a change in the new book that produces dark clouds for Eli. (Hence the blog image.)
One of his two close friends, Chester Carson, will be moving out of Greybeal House. These two characters have developed a bromance of sorts. They love each other like brothers and at the same time bicker as if they were an old married couple.
They always have each other's back, though. And are close enough that Carson feels comfortable to share his greatest a secret with Eli.
In this scene from Walk by Faith, Eli starts a conversation by being his usual chatty self while the two men travel in his news wagon. He tells Carson about his days living out west with the Sioux and describes how some of their customs and beliefs differ from people of European descent.
“For instance, say a man prefers other men. For the Sioux, that’s all right because they have those other spheres. He doesn’t have to be a warrior, a husband, or a father to be valuable to the village. Everyone is welcome to contribute regardless. They would never beat up a man just because he wasn’t like other men.”
He [was] completely taken aback when Carson heaved a sigh. “Ah. Then perhaps I should have been born a Sioux.”
After an awkward pause, Eli found the courage to say, “Does that mean you like men?”
“I should have remained silent. I fear you will feel uncomfortable around me henceforth.”
Eli had blinked, thought for a moment and then sputtered, “No. Hell, no! I don’t care if you like men.”
Carson smiled knowingly. “I see. Just so long as I do not like you, I presume?”
“Well, yeah. Damn it, man, I like women. I’m married to one.”
Carson chuckled, “Have no fear, my friend. I do not find you at all appealing,” which left Eli wondering whether he should be insulted or relieved.
As I mentioned, the friendship between the men also involves a fair amount of bickering. In this scene from Walk by Faith, it is winter and the two have built a cabin near the Union army encampment. Their home away from home is less than comfortable and both men can get cranky, especially when they need to share a bed.
“Wonder if it snowed again.” Eli scratched at his beard and then put his hand back under the quilts where things were at least marginally warmer. He wrinkled his nose. “Phew. It’s starting to stink in here. One of us needs a bath.”
“Yes, you do.”
“How do you know it’s not you?”
“Because I had one three days ago. You, my dear fellow, are way overdue. Go into town and visit the baths today or you shall sleep on the floor tonight.”
“You’re not my wife, Carson.”
“Nor do I wish to be. Our delightful Maggie is a saint.”
“She’s not your Maggie, she’s mine.” Irritably pulling a quilt around him, Eli got out of bed and limped toward the door. “I’ve got to see a man about a dog.”
“Take your cane. We can’t have you falling over.”
The words nettled Eli. “You know, I think I will sleep on the floor tonight. You’re starting to nag.”
“Sleep where you wish. I wouldn’t touch you with a stick regardless.”
Their friendship has continued throughout the series. Carson returns to Blaineton with the Smiths and extended family and lives very happily in Greybeal House. That is, until he reveals to Eli and Maggie that he has purchased a place on Main Street and plans to start a photography gallery and business there. Eli takes the news in stride. And then...
“Well!” Eli pushed himself to his feet. “I’m glad you’re going to open a gallery. Now, let’s get to The Register –”
Carson cut him off with a raised hand. “Not quite yet.”
Eli narrowed his eyes. Then he said slowly, “Don’t tell me you’re gonna…”
“Yes,” Carson replied. “I am.”
Maggie looked from one man to the other. “I’m afraid I can’t read your minds, gentlemen. What are you talking about?”
Eli growled, “He’s gonna quit The Register, Maggie!”
“I also will be moving out of Greybeal House. I plan to live on Main Street.”
“Oh, my.” Maggie repeated, tears coming unbidden to her eyes.
“There!” Eli gestured at his wife. “See what you’ve done? You’ve made her cry!”
Carson rolled his eyes. “I did not do this to make either of you unhappy.”
“Well, you’ve done it!” Bombarded by a sense of betrayal and abandonment, Eli grumbled, “Now what am I supposed to do?”
“Promote Edward Caldwell to senior reporter, of course.”
“What? Caldwell? That pup?”
“He’s not a pup, Elijah. He’s a capable young man. And a brilliant writer, to boot. You could not do better.”
“And who’ll I get to replace him?”
Once again, Caldwell rolled his eyes. Eli was like a younger brother – well-loved, but also when the occasion arose (as it had now) completely annoying. “Honestly, Elijah! Place an ad in your own paper. How do you think you’ll find a replacement? Must I tell you everything?”
So, Eli has lost one of his best friends. Well, not really. They just won’t be residing in the same building or working in the same place. But it's still a loss, and Eli is taking the news hard. Will he pine for his lost pal, stop eating, and lose weight? (I hope not. His portly physique is what makes him the perfect antidote to the handsome, ripped male leads populating historical fiction.)
But, never fear, friends. Eli is about to experience a non-weight-related gain, Check this blog at the end of the week.
Until then, stay well!
Janet R. Stafford
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder