We’ve been doing the Heart of the Story discovery stuff on HWSW, and it’s made me rethink Surprise Lily because, as I wrote over there, a story is nothing without a strong antagonist, and of course, as we talked about here, Lily doesn’t have an antagonist.
Except I’d been thinking about Dorothy, Louis’s admin assistant, lurking in the underbrush at the museum. And I love a doppelgänger antagonist, so I thought, “What if Dorothy loves the museum as much as Lily does?” And then to add some more motivation (that’s what I’m writing about now, motivation), what if Dorothy had been in line for directorship (?) (note to self: research how museums work) and Louis had been given the job from the outside because of his connections, and then brought in his nephew Sebastian. Lily would have been upset for her, but they’d have been coping, and then they would have found out what an idiot Louis was. I mean this clearly needs a lot of work but I can see them aligned on that.
Plus once I’d named her Dorothy, I thought she’d keep a stuffed Toto on her desk, so I went to Amazon to see if there were any and found this awful cheap Toto-in-a-Basket that would be perfect for hiding a recording device or a taser. And I kind of fell in love with Dorothy. She’s like a nefarious Cheryl.
Below is my first Dorothy scene. Way too much thinkin’ and info dump, but it’s a start on character exploration. Dorothy might be fun to write, too. And maybe if I throw an antagonist into the plot, the voices will come back. I miss Cheryl.
Dorothy Gage watched Louis Lewis strut down the hall of the admin section of the Children’s Museum, away from her desk in front of his office. The new girl, Jessica, pep-talked along beside him, smiling at him, pretty as a little blonde daisy, if daisies had butts that were high and tight.
Perky, Dorothy thought.
The perky had probably gotten her far, though. It had definitely gotten her into the Museum.
“You’ll like Jessica,” Louis had told her. “She’s very enthusiastic.”
I like Lily, Dorothy had thought, but she’d beamed at Louis. “Oh, how nice.”
She had liked Lily, a lot, but Lily was too damn smart. Lily noticed things. She was definitely going to get Lily back once she was in charge, but for now Lily was best out of the way, recovering from the awful shock of being hit by an ax, which really had been an accident.
Dorothy winced, thinking about it now, and adjusted the small, cheap basket with the stuffed Toto dog on her desk. That made her think of Lily, too. Louis had asked Lily what he should get Dorothy for Christmas, and Lily had said, “She likes the Wizard of Oz,” and Louis had said, “Really, why?” and then cheaped out on this paper thin basket. Fortunately, it had a label that said “Toto” on it. She’d thought at first that the stuffed animal in it was a rat with mange.
But then, fortunately, it had occurred to her that the basket would be a good place to hide recording equipment. Or a tazer. Or a Glock. No not a Glock—
It’s my fault Lily got hurt. No matter how much she tried to forget, she was the one who’d bumped the ax reaching for the same box that Lily and Sebastian had been after. And then Lily had gone down with a dent in her head. Traumatic, that’s what that was. For both of them.
Fortunately, Lily had been so dazed that when Dorothy had whispered, “Sebastian did it.” she’d just blinked at her. She’d been trying to figure out what to do about Lily, maybe send her on a trip somewhere for the museum? But then Sebastian had seen the box Lily was going to open and lunged, and it was most unfortunate and at the same time so fortunate. Six weeks the doctor had said Lily should be out. Plus counseling.
Fortunately, Dorothy knew a wonderful therapist.
She really did feel bad about accidentally axing Lily. Lily was so nice. So competent. So . . . Lily.
But fortunately, Lily was doing fine now, working for her insane cousin, and she looked pretty good these days when Dorothy went into the diner, you could hardly see the dent in her forehead at all.
Of course, putting Lily on the sidelines led to Jessica, but Jessica had fortunately turned out not to know a damn thing about teaching, kids, museum displays, or Vikings, so Dorothy had just incorporated her into her plans to destroy Louis Lewis. “I know Jessica is hopeless,” she’d tell the chairman of the museum board when he looked into the disaster she was about to facilitate. “But Mr. Lewis insisted.”
Really, there was so much good fortune, it was like Fate was telling her that she was doing the right thing.
She patted her stuffed Toto, now looking marginally better after some grooming. Almost like a dog.
Of course, she was doing the right thing.
Louis came back through the atrium doors, looking perturbed.
Louis Lewis, even his name was ridiculous. His mother must have been an idiot to name him that, which was genetically sound: Louis was also an idiot. He’d once been a very good-looking idiot, but he was going to seed now, so looks were not what he was getting by on at present. That would be his connections.
And the thing about connections, Dorothy thought as Louis came toward her, looking like a disturbed turkey, is that they can be severed.
She imagined a giant Viking ax and Louis, all alone. Quivering.
“Dorothy, the waterfall isn’t working.”
Dorothy smiled brightly at Louis. “None of the water in the building is working, Mr. Lewis, the plumbers are flushing the pipes. There are signs on all the restrooms, and I put the memo on your desk. It will be back on at four.” She checked her watch. “Twenty-seven minutes from now.”
“Oh.” Louis blinked at her, his brow furrowed. “Perhaps next time you could mark the important memos, Mrs. Gage. I can’t read everything, you know.”
You don’t read anything, Dorothy thought, but she didn’t say it because the last thing she wanted was Louis Lewis suddenly becoming literate.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Lewis,” she said, properly submissive. “I should have thought of that.”
“I’m sure you will in the future,” he said, smiling at her with superiority that he probably thought was charm.
“Absolutely, Mr. Lewis,” she said as he went through the atrium door.
I am absolutely going to destroy you, she thought, and went back to the concession order Jessica had just given her.
Jessica wanted custom ice cream bars, “Vik-Cream Bars” she’d called them, giggling, ice cream in the shape of ax heads mounted on wooden sticks.
Lily would have vetoed those because she would have seen ahead to small children smashing frozen dessert into each other’s hair. It was going to be a disaster.
Dorothy sighed happily and picked up the phone to order the ice cream.
Really, nothing but good fortune everywhere she looked.