Every novel that's written has storylines that get changed and tweaked. Sometimes throughout the process of working on a story, significant portions will get tossed for various reasons. I've shared bits of this before on this blog and wanted to share some more for Paper Angels written by Jimmy Wayne and myself.
Here's a portion devoted to Kevin and one of the people working underneath him.
(Paper Angels Deleted Scene #1)
Christmas always seemed to make him melancholy, but Kevin wasn’t exactly sure why.
There were two sets of Christmas experiences that he could look back on growing up. The first set was when his parents had money, and the second set was when they didn’t have any. As much as he’d love to say that the latter memories were more fun and meaningful, he couldn’t. He couldn’t even really remember them, not as well as the Christmas mornings when they’d rush to the family room to see all the toys Santa had dropped off. The Christmas mornings after Dad had lost his job were always stressful and unsure. It wasn’t the lack of gifts that made Kevin sad. It was the lack of certainty in Mom and Dad that seemed to filter down to him.
As a teen, he’d made a vow that his family would always feel secure. He wanted them to trust him to provide for their needs, no matter what. He didn’t want to go overboard on Christmas but still wanted to make sure they loved the holiday and felt loved throughout it. He wanted his family to always feel certain of his care, of his love, especially around Christmastime, even if it meant working extra hard.
Now the season made him more than melancholy. It wore him out. With all the pressure and stress he was under, the last thing he wanted to think about was the right gift for the right person and keeping everyone in his family perfectly happy.
Kevin sat in his weekly meeting with one of his top designers, Zack Cradles. The guy was talking as his usual highly energized, highly caffeinated self always did and Kevin had to concentrate on listening to him.
“So I gotta tell you I have some pretty awesome news.”
Kevin feigned interest and curiosity but he already knew. He would’ve bet a hundred bucks what it was. But this indifference again pinched at his soul.
Where’s the Christmas cheer, Kev?
Zack was the kid on Christmas morning eager and excited about rushing downstairs to get to the tree.
It wasn’t that he was a Scrooge or a Grinch around this time of year. He didn’t need some life revival like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. Kevin felt like he could identify best with Charlie Brown from the Christmas episode, questioning the true meaning of the holiday while walking around in a state of angst and melancholic longing. The Snoopys of life hounded him. Just like Zack, who seemed so inexplicably happy, like a little kid or a puppy. Happy-go-lucky. And it was fine except for the fact that Kevin wanted to reach across the desk and wrap up that happy face and smug smile and send them to the North Pole.
“I’m going to propose on Christmas morning.”
Kevin wondered what Zack’s bride-to-be name was. He sure hoped her name wasn’t Robin, or else she’d suffer a lifetime of abuse.
“Do you have a ring picked out?”
“Yep. It’s in my bag, hold on.”
Zack slipped out of the office. As Kevin waited, a familiar, mocking chant played in his mind.
The twins are coming the twins are coming the twins are coming the twins are comin'.
Zack came back and showed off the ring. It really was a rock.
Kevin couldn’t think about the bride’s happiness or Zack’s generosity. All he could think about was the money involved. “I bet it set you back some.”
“Oh, yeah. But I’ve been saving.”
Why was everybody he met these days a better saver and investor than he was? Or, as his father-in-law put it, a better “steward with his money”?
“Good for you.”
And good for Robin Cradles.
Kevin smiled drily and continued listening to Zack.
The meeting went on another fifteen minutes. Yeah, sure, busyness was one thing and time was another, but sometimes you simply needed to stop and shut up the thoughts taking over your mind and celebrate with someone else. Try to let their joy be yours. This was what Kevin tried to do, but it was all forced.
By the time Zack left his office, Kevin felt like a failure.
He had started this job and this office to be different from his competitors. He wanted to strive for something unique, for a breath of fresh air in today’s business climate. Yet he wasn’t just trying to climb up a ladder. He was attempting to jettison up it as fast as he could. Not for anything other than security. And security in this day and age was becoming a rare thing.
Zack’s youthful energy and elation were a mirror of what Kevin used to be. Before the job became his life, and his life became about keeping that job.
Life is so quick. You blink and you’re almost forty.
He couldn’t share this thought with his young designer friend. Zack would discover that in his own time. And hopefully he’d be a little better prepared.
Jenny and Gregory’s smiles lit up the office. On busy days and stressful days Kevin would glance at the photo and remind himself. If he was talking to an demanding client on the phone, he’d stare at his family’s faces to gain a little sanity.
The picture is nice, he thought, but it’s no ATM machine. A couple of aspirin could help the headache but it couldn’t cure the cancer. And he was getting very close to losing the battle. Very close.
In the picture he saw the colorful bracelet on his wife’s wrist bearing the letters WWJD. But Kevin wasn’t really interested in what Jesus would do. This wasn’t something Kevin would admit to anybody, but it was the truth.
It was more like, what would Charlie Brown do? WWCBD.
He opened the draw of his desk and pulled out the tag. The paper angel with the writing on it. He reread the name and the description of the presents underneath.
Then, for the next hour or so, he surfed the Internet looking for gifts and pricing them out and trying to figure out where to start.
If someone like Zack could go crazy and afford a big rock like that, the least Kevin could do was put some thought and time behind the gifts he was going to give to “Tom.”
Sure, this was another thing on his to-do List, but Kevin wanted to do this right. He wanted to make sure he wanted to do it.
He wanted to make Charlie Brown happy.
Labels: From The Cutting Floor, Jimmy Wayne, Paper Angels