Imagine a character who is kind, whose every act is based on the notion that other people need help, and who rarely thinks of himself first. This should be a person of great empathy. The character walks into a room and notices immediately the other person in the room who most wants something—a drink, the last cookie on the tray, help remembering a movie character’s name. It would be very tempting to punish this good person in your exercise. Don't punish the character. Don't make a big deal of this goodness, either. Let readers follow this agent of kindness through a handful of encounters. Give as little background information about this character as you can without sacrificing our natural need to know something about this Good Samaritan.
(from prompt #33 in The 3AM Epiphany)
Read my response:
"Open it!" by Anders Ljungberg
The body slumped street side against a car’s front wheel looked dead. His legs stretched out on the road and his head had lolled to one shoulder, like a rag doll. She almost missed him, driving past, the idea to stop and confirm the existence of a possibly dead body laying in the road was delayed. So as an afterthought, almost a whim, she put her car into reverse and drove back to the dark part of the road, flashing her brights on the body’s face and honking her horn. Even though the body didn’t flinch, didn’t give any sign of life, death seemed abstract to her. She left the car in park with her warning lights flashing and walked in front of the body, bent down, and tried to feel for a pulse. She didn’t know what a pulse felt like, but she thought there might be one, and in the meantime she slapped his face and yelled “Hey!” so close it was like she was shouting up his nostrils. He woke up groggy, eyes unfocused, and she realized she now had to deal with this, which was awful. She wanted to go home and lay curled like a shrimp in her bed with the TV on, she didn’t want to think. And here now, she had to think about what to do with this sour-breathed, but breathing, body.
Mid-way through her struggle to lift the still basically dead-weight of a drunken 22 year old frat boy, a door opened and light came on. She yelled out “Is this your car?” and the door-opener came out and said that it wasn’t. He stepped down and walked over to the two, and within a minute he and the girl had the body, now slurring speech that sounded like “birdie” or maybe “buddy,” hanging off each shoulder. They dumped Birdie/Buddy on the safer-than-the-street sidewalk. She thought it might be a good idea to look through the drunk guy’s pockets for a phone or a license, and asked the boy what he thought. He encouraged her to do so, and then, when her hand recoiled as soon as it touched Birdie/Buddy’s wet, soiled jeans, did so himself. Birdie/Buddy batted away the male hand, but the boy who opened the door persisted. He pulled out a wallet just as Birdie/Buddy sprung to life, flailing about and putting a great deal of effort into a limp punch that landed in the air near the girl’s head. The boy who had opened the door put his hands on the wild ones of Birdie/Buddy and held them into submission. The girl’s hands fluttered too, through the punched air, and so with a glance back, the boy said “You did a good deed by stopping, you should be proud. But you look tired, go home and don’t give this anymore thought.”
She nodded without hiding her relief. Alone with Birdie, the door-opener looked through the wallet. Three ones, a condom, and a local driver’s license. He went back inside his house for some water bottles—dropping one off by his girlfriend—and some cash. By the time the cab came, Birdie had passed out again with the water bottle crushed in his hand. The cab driver received an extra ten, in case there were any more accidents on the way, and Birdie never know his wallet had been removed when he woke up face down on his driveway the next morning. The boy who opened the door closed it now behind him, and was there in the bed just as girlfriend turned and reached for him.