We’ve all had fun reading about my cut characters over the past two weeks. There was the inimitable Benjamin Rossedale and the vanilla blandness of the mononymous Britt. But this week, I want to talk about one of the more tragic figures I’ve had to cut. This week’s subject of Faux Memoriam is a really decent guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the course of doing his job, he accidentally walked into a novel. His name is Officer Tegan Hollis.
By the time my book starts, Tegan was fresh out of the police academy. He’d returned to his hometown of Draftbury, New Hampshire to pursue his dream career: small town cop. He wanted to serve the community he grew up in and protect his friends and family from criminals. After struggling to get through high school, he pulled himself together and applied for the police academy three times. His first two applications were denied. Tegan almost gave up and got a job at the local staple factory where most of his graduating class was already employed. He applied to the academy one last time and, against all odds, got accepted! His family celebrated, despite their limited means—they took him out to his favorite restaurant, TGI Friday’s, and he was allowed to order whatever he wanted (except the steak).
This might not sound like a grand dream to us city folks, but this was all Tegan ever wanted. He never saw much value in exploring the wide world. As far as Tegan was concerned, everything he needed was in Draftbury. Why waste his time in other places when we already knew where he wanted to live, work, start a family, grow old, and eventually die? These modest goals are what made Tegan so likeable for me. He woke up every day with a profound sense of optimism. He showered with a smile. He shaved with a smile. He grinned as he put on that uniform and badge he worked so hard to earn. Every day, he passed the staple factory where he knew some of his old crew was working. They never escaped the trouble that had found them in high school. But Tegan did. And this bright eyed, bushy tailed approach to life would ultimately be his downfall. You see, he was a simple dude in a town full of backstabbing, lies, and back-room deals.
And on that fateful day near the midpoint of my book, he was just doing his job.
Officer Tegan Hollis made the unfortunate mistake of pulling over my protagonist, Rosie, for a routine traffic stop. I’ll be honest here. Rosie deserved it. Tegan exhibited correct procedure from the minute he turned on his squad car’s flashing lights. Sadly, he had no idea who he was pulling over. Let’s just say he eventually lost his job because of the ticket he wrote. It’s true. Tegan stopped the wrong car and ended up embroiled in the sticky plot of a novel. How was he supposed to know? He was only trying to meet his quota and keep the roads safe.
In previous drafts, Rosie bumped into Tegan in the penultimate chapter. We learned the ex-cop was put on “administrative leave” for “technical and procedural violations.” This meant, essentially, that Tegan lost everything. His subplot was my way of showing how people in power often crush the little guy underfoot while taking whatever they want. It’s tragic. And now, it’s even sadder because Tegan is no longer with us. Turns out, my book had one too many subplots and side characters. Sorry, buddy. But if Benjamin Rossedale had to go, you didn’t stand a chance.
Thankfully, I talked to Tegan last week. He’s doing all right. He got a job at the staple factory and is letting his beard grow in.
But cheer up! Now it's time for the dearly departed LIGHTNING ROUND!
Favorite food: freshly shot venison burgers
Favorite clothing accessory: uh, hats?
Favorite movie: that cop one with Jackie Chan
Favorite photographer: his cousin who posts pictures of trucks on Facebook
City of birth: Draftbury, New Hampshire
Alma mater: N/A
Actor who would've played him in the film adaptation of my book: Joe Alwyn
Actor he would've wanted to play him in the film adaptation of my book: Clint Eastwood
Deepest fear: that small towns, despite their romanticized bucolic charm, function as socioeconomic trapdoors which perpetuate the cycle of poverty while stifling the growth of new generations by limiting their interaction with larger populations and cultures.
Favorite animal: dogs