On Thursdays I like to showcase bits of my work-in-progress. So why am I about to show you a piece from a book published more than two decades ago? My first book, BENEATH SIERRA SKIES, is being reissued in digital format, so what was old is new again.
Also I have a great character in there, an "extra" who barely appears, a functionary. I like him, though. I like the way he shows up, does his job and vanishes, never to be heard from again. Still, like some great extras in movies you've seen and books you've read, he has some memorable lines.
He's a tow truck operator sent by Robin's auto club when she finds her car won't start. From Chapter 2, here is their brief conversation:
The truck took its time arriving. Robin’s worry grew as she watched the attendant poke and prod the engine. “This car’s gonna need a mechanic, lady,” he said at last, pulling out some forms. “Where d’ya want me to take it?”
“Is there any place that can work on it right now? I need to drive to Modesto tonight.”
“It don’t seem likely, ma’am. You can try the Chevy place on Mangrove, though.”
“If you think that’s my best chance.” Robin signed the necessary papers, then unloaded everything and stacked it in her living room as the truck left with her car.
The unnamed two truck driver serves the function of confirming that Robin's car isn't going to get her to her sister's wedding and helps us understand why she is desperate enough to beg a plane ride from the cardiologist who has just tried to have her fired.
If Robin and Brandon never got in an airplane together, they would never end up BENEATH SIERRA SKIES, so the truck driver's role is important, however small it is.
The Great Bard said there are no small parts; only small actors. Perhaps we can say the same for the extras in our own casts of characters.