Sunday, July 20, 2008

Desperadoes

Since nobody regularly posts on Sunday and since my Friday post was so short, I decided to post today.

Why are the heroes of so many novels--mystery, romance--desperadoes? And why do women love them so much? I can only speak for myself and one particular desperado. A desperado with Paul Newman eyes. A guy who comes into and goes out of my life as if he goes where the wind blows him. A guy who yesterday--in front of my husband, no less--I pleaded to, "'Come down from your fences. Open the gate.' Let somebody love you--let ME love you--before it's too late." He came over, lay his chin against my thigh, looked up at me and said, "Eh." I took that as a "no."

But look at him (the big blue-eyed guy in the forefront of the photograph). Isn't he dreamy? I have to admit, he's also a little scary . . . a little dangerous. And sometimes he simply breaks my heart.

Let me give you a little background. Last year, a one-eyed stray cat (who becomes "Sparrow" in my mystery, Murder Takes the Cake) wandered into our backyard and had kittens. She and the kittens lived between our storage shed and the storage shed of our neighbors. They were all feral and terrified of humans. I began to feed them. I soon noticed a large male cat hanging around. The first time I started to run him off because I thought he might harm the kittens. But then I discovered how affectionate he was with the kittens and their mom. I began calling him "Big Daddy" and putting out extra food. I sat outside on the ground a few feet away from the cats' food bowl until they became used to me. Finally, I was able to touch both parents (Big Daddy warmed up to me the quickest). A few months later I became able to pet the kittens. A neighbor at the time who worked for a spay/neuter clinic was able to trap the mother and kittens and take them to have them vaccinated and spayed. We weren't able to trap Big Daddy.

Now, the mother cat and the kittens live with us full time, but Big Daddy comes and goes. Oddly enough, it seems he most often visits on holidays. The first holiday he appeared after an extended absence was Mother's Day. He sat on the porch and meowed until I came to the door. We'll go for a week or two without seeing him at all, but then he'll come and hang around for a meal or a day. Sometimes two or three days, if we're lucky.

He apparently had a rough winter. He came to us once and had a broken tail. Another time, one of his ears was ripped at the top. It has healed now, but he still bears the scar. The ear scar is one of many. I'd love to take him to the vet, get him checked out and vaccinated; but we don't have a trap. I tried to pick him up once and he hissed. Everything with "Big Daddy" is on his terms. He even bit me once during the broken tail incident. I'm half afraid of him, and yet I keep asking him to come home for good this time.

Where he goes when he's not with us is a mystery. Which brings us full circle to the hero in your mystery . . . or romance . . . or thriller. What is he running from? What sort of scars does he carry? What makes us love him? What makes the reader keep rooting for him despite himself? If you can answer those questions, you'll have a bestseller on your hands.

2 comments:

zhadi said...

Awwww...he's a big old beauty!

I think it's the thought of being able to tame that which doesn't seem tamable...or to be the only one able to win the desperado's heart. I have to say, though, that the older I get, the less interested in 'bad boys' I am. Human, that is. I'll always be a sucker for a stray tomcat...

Marian Allen said...

Zhadi's right, imo, on all counts. And it isn't just females who do it. It goes all the way back to childhood, when we think, "If I met Frankenstein, I would understand him and he would be my friend." I think it comes from identifying with not fitting in and projecting our own longings for being distinct individuals and for belonging.

You didn't say your book had a cat in it! I can resist cake, but I can't resist a cat! lol