Continuing with our to look at the characters peopling Heart Soul & Rock’n’Roll, let's tackle Kenny Jameson, a secondary character who has a powerful impact on the others.
I don’t usually put up photos of people who might resemble my characters, but I needed an image for this blog (hey, I need an image for every blog), and this guy caught my eye. He looks so down-to-earth, friendly, and good-natured that I thought, “This is Kenny to me!”
When we first meet Kenny Jameson, he is sitting in front of the music store and begging Lins for change. Lins tells him she doesn’t usually give money but would be happy to buy him lunch. Kenny agrees, and she gets sandwiches and iced tea for the two of them. Then they return to the bench to have lunch.
Then they begin to talk to each other. Lins quickly learns that Kenny’s story is made up of challenges. I think he gives the short version of his adult life best:
“Before I signed up [in the Navy], I was two semesters short of getting my master’s degree in psychology. Originally I thought I’d be career Navy and finish school when I could. But my experiences in the wars were so intense that I just couldn’t re-up again. Had the idea that as a civilian I could finish the degree and look for a job in counseling. I’d planned to work with kids but …” He sighed. “It was tough just finding any kind of work. Then I got knocked down by post-traumatic stress. Recognized the symptoms and got counseling, but the money ran out quick and next thing I knew I was on the street. Been on the street for two months now. Well, actually, I’ve been in my car … on the street.”
All that on top of all that, he is black.
When Lins asks if he’s been to the local shelter, he says, “Yeah. I’ve been there. But I’d rather stay in my car. What I really need is a job. I know there’s one out there with my name on it. Just have to find it.”
Despite all the trouble heaped on his head, Kenny is skilled at discerning the inner-workings of the people he meets. For instance, he asks Lins about her life as a pastor and she says, “It’s been a good ride.”
He replies, “Interesting. ‘It’s been a good ride.’ Does that mean it’s not one now?”
“Interesting” is Kenny’s go-to response when he finds something… uh… interesting psychologically. Lins has known him all of ten minutes, but she sees he’s figured her out. Maybe it’s because of his graduate studies or because he has an innate talent for reading into peoples’ words, but a conversation with Kenny might leave you with a slightly uneasy feeling. “Interesting…” coming from Mr. Jameson sounds as if it might be the start of a diagnosis!
Despite Kenny’s skills in human nature and psychology, he is thrown a bit off balance when Neil invites him to work in the store, live in the break room, and use Neil’s kitchen and bathroom until he can afford a place of his own. Neil's act of kindness and generosity puts Kenny on a journey that will help him get off the street, finish his education, and start a new career.
Throughout the novel, Kenny not only is the voice of reason for the other characters but is able to help his new friends discover how to navigate their confusing and messy lives. He is a stable force and is there for of Neil and Lins during the darkest time in their story.
Kenny is an strong character who has had some hard knocks in life. He is focused, kind, and a solid rock for Lins and Neal – not to mention a great main squeeze for Patti! We don’t see much of that, but I do get the sense that he and Ms. Campbell will have a long-term thing going.