Writers sometimes say they are stuck for topics, scenes or characters. But there is plenty to see all around you–provided you leave the blank screen of the computer in front of you. Coming back from vacation, we stopped at the Denny’s in Truth or Consequences, NM. I happened to gaze out the window while waiting for our orders just in time to observe a curious sight: a group of people carting bedrolls, backpacks and even one with a pillow and another with one of those wheeled roll-on luggage bags. They were coming down a hill from a shopping area a 100 yards above. They assembled into an amorphous, unorganized mass. One held a cellphone to an ear, talking to someone. After a bit, the group made their way across the street and into the Denny’s, where they proceeded to unload their burdens in the outer foyer. It then became apparent they were all teenage males, while the cell phone user appeared a bit older and the leader of the group. After consultation with the leader, the restaurant staff arranged tables so that the dozen or so youth could be seated across from one another. They ordered no food, we noted as we finished our lunch and exited; they had only water or drinks. So, what could a writer make of this?
There were no camping facilities within walking distance, especially on a 95 degree day. How did they get there? Did a small bus or a couple extended vans break down? Were they biding time until repairs could be made or substitute transportation be provided? Neither a pillow nor a piece of rolling luggage were typical camping gear. But some of the group had more or better equipment. No matching shirts, but the shirts they had on bore various youth program identifiers. I could not be so rudely intrusive as to ask what the circumstances of the group were, but I could find the makings of a short story or a scene from a longer piece with a little imagination. How about you?