March 6, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: government bans art; group uses it to restore…

Hector Blaine has lived his entire life on a ranch in central Kansas. When his family is killed in a tornado while he’s on a mission trip, he’s shipped off to a wealthy, elderly aunt and uncle who live in Minneapolis, not far from the Walker Art Museum in a huge house. He has a room of his own, but he never sees them – only the housekeeper and a cook.

He’s been in Minnesota for three months and he hates it, but the school year is starting and instead of taking his aunt and uncle’s suggestion to attend an exclusive private school, he opts for a public one, figuring he’ll have a better chance surviving among the poor and rough rather than among the rich and snotty.

They comply and he’s set to start Southwest Minneapolis High School. But he just doesn’t want to be here at ALL. He’s trapped. He can’t escape. It’s like he’s been captured, enslaved and totally out of control of his life.

NOT that he ever felt like he had any control when he lived in Kansas – his two older brother and older sister pretty much used him as a dumping ground for the chores and work they didn’t want to do. The kids in Brownell think of him as a country hick. The kids in Salina, Kansas (the nearest “big city”) – the one time he’d been there – had looked at him like he was from another planet. But at least they’d been from Kansas. He’s certain he’s going to DIE at Southwest.

So he runs away. Sort of. To the Museum, which is the only place he’s felt at home since he came to this Northern Nightmare. He wanders most of Sunday, ending up at a new exhibit of Roman artifacts. He has no desire to leave and hides, studying one of the things – a bucket of some sort – when a group of five people come in. They’re talking, and he hears them say clearly, “It’s not a bucket. It’s a helmet. A Roman helmet in a Briton dig.”

“What would a Briton be doing with a Roman helmet? Was he insane? A collector of war memorabilia? What?”

A softer, woman’s voice, with a clear British accent, speaks up then, “I think that instead of inventing fantastic excuses why a Briton couldn’t have a helmet, we accept instead the simplest answer – that during the First Century AD, the Britons and the Romans weren’t all about hating each other. Some Brits were accepted into the Legion as soldiers.”

“He’d have been a pariah among his own people!” one man exclaimed.

“Hated above all others!” a woman cried.

The soft-spoken woman remained silent until the others had finished then said, “A man set apart whether by choice or circumstance is still a man set apart – and he might have been set apart for greatness.”

Hector didn’t hear the rest of the argument, he reached up and touched the Plexiglas cube covering the “bucket”. For a moment, the people break into chaotic shouting, but the sound fades as does the room around him…

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