Poor Ricky's Retreat

Poor Ricky's Retreat

A Story by The Gillerd

This is a post in my fictional blog www.thegillerdsshow.com. It's about a writer who's writing a reality show about sock puppets. This story is about a character in the show that had to be deleted.


As a writer, one of the most frustrating, frantic moments is to have a really good idea and nothing to write on or with. Actually skin would do, the palm, the pale, spongy underbelly of the forearm, these are fine surfaces to write on if only I had pen.

I know never to leave home without my tools. But it happens. Sometimes I have the tools but I'm not in a position to write. Maybe I'm swimming laps, getting a root canal, kneading dough, etc. Maybe there's a cloud that looks like the face of Charlton Heston and I get distracted. Whatever the reason, when I finally get to a place to write it down, the idea has vanished into thin air.

And there are ideas that just don't work no matter how much I love them. No matter how hard I plead their case, no matter how hard I try to make them fit, they just won't. If I'm editing, someone's going to get cut. Their sentence is handed down and they get deleted. But where do they go? They must go somewhere.

Just like the good ideas (and a lot of bad ideas, too) that make it into publication and are forever cemented on paper, the ones that don't make it out of a writer's mind, forgotten or deleted, go somewhere to exist forever. Whether they are whole characters, lines of a story or poem, twists in a plot, a unique scene, whatever, a bright shining thought or a brief flicker, they are here to stay.

With characters, once created, they cannot be uncreated. They can be chosen or exiled. They can be foreigners or full-blooded citizens. They can be here or there separated by vast expanses of memory and mind, compartmentalized, categorized, dead or alive. But they cannot be undone. So where are they?

I started thinking about this question after a recent experience with a character in The Gillerds Show that had to be written off. His name is Ricky Gillerd. He is a fashion designer. I wrote him into the show to be the lovable, oddball character, the one that's always doing and saying things that make the other puppets a little uncomfortable, but hilarious. He's the water cooler character, the one everyone talks about at work the next day. Well, he turned out to be a little too odd for the other puppets who didn't find his antics funny in the least.

For a fashion designer in a sock puppet reality show, the sock is Ricky's medium. It is his clay, his canvas, his clean sheet. But it also happens to be the body of a sock puppet.  Consequently, Ricky had a tendency to get a little too touchy, feely. He had a penchant for the sock. He approached the bodies of other sock puppets in much the same way a horticulturist would approach a plant or a palm reader a palm. He was quite hands on. And it didn't matter to Ricky if you were male or female. To him, the sock had no gender, just a different shape.

On several occasions he would walk right up to a female bobby sock and touch her pom pom's like he was inspecting cantaloupes trying to find one's that's 'just right.' The other male sock puppets became rather envious of Ricky because he could touch girls breasts like a sculptor would touch a block of marble or a lump of clay. To Ricky, they were merely objects to be studied. If they should protest his advances, he would dismiss them and say, "Nonsense, I'm conducting research. I am a trained professional. Now stand still." A knee to the groin would often ensue.

To Ricky, his touch was neither lewd nor lascivious but necessary. He would play games like "Guess the Dress," where he tries to guess the fabric blend of a sock puppet by proceeding to caress them all over. He collected quite a few black eyes when he tried this with the men in the show. As a result, Ricky became reclusive spending most of his time in the dark, basement laundry room feeling whatever he could get his hands on, including himself.

So in an attempt to salvage Ricky's character and restore order to the Gillerd house, I had to write him off the show. But that doesn't mean he ceases to exist. He's just on sabbatical - indefinitely. Ricky Gillerd has gone to a land of forgotten ideas, an island of misfit characters or as I have come to call it after receiving this letter from him - Poor Ricky's Retreat.

Dear Gillerd,

I'm here. I'm ok. I can't say I'm pleased with your decision but I understand. Some socks just disappear, right? You can't find the match. I get it. But I don't like it.

Where am I anyway? Is this hell? Purgatory? I'm sitting in a lawn chair on the deck of a tiny pool in the middle of a desert. The water is crystal clear and cold. It's hot, damn hot, but it's a dry heat. There's a small hut and a tiki bar behind me. There's a couple sitting at the bar making out. I asked the bartender for a beer and he brought me a six-pack of V8's chilling on ice. When I asked him what this was he said they were on the house. He said he was sorry about the beer but they don't serve alcohol. Did you do this? Why V8 juice?

There's an old man sitting at the pool who does not look good. He has long hair and a long beard. He's very skinny and pale with quite a few tattoos. He looks like Neil Young in his 80's. His head is down and his feet are dangling in the water and every so often he'll lick his thumb and stick it in the air. I think he's trying to tell which way the wind is blowing.  But there is no wind here. It's very calm, very still. The sky is a very deep indigo blue and not a cloud in sight. The sun is small and white but extremely bright. It does not appear to be rising or setting. It's hard to go anywhere here. My feet stick to the ground like magnets. I think I'm on another planet. And this is the weirdest thing about this place. In every direction, I can hear the faint, scratchy sound of ragtime jazz being played on an old phonograph. I can't tell where it's coming from. It's as if it's right in front of me and yet a million miles away.

Dr. Brownhead says hi too. Do you remember him? He says he was a sock puppet proctologist.  He has his metal detector out scouring the sand. He tells me it's just a matter of time until he hits the jackpot. Jackpot? What good would a jackpot do here?

Where are you? How long am I going to be here? This is kinda like a retreat right, a time to reflect, reevaluate and refocus? I keep staring at the horizon thinking I'll see you approaching on the back of a camel. You will reach down your hand and simply say, come, it's time. And I would come.

Yours, Ricky.

Poor Ricky. I don't want to leave him there. He was a good idea, just didn't turn out to be good for the show. Maybe he can be recycled, repurposed in another story. And the really brilliant ideas that get forgotten before they can be written down rain gold in the barren wasteland of Poor Ricky's Retreat. That's why Dr. Brownfinger had his metal detector out. The land is littered with jewels, precious metals and coins. There they will continue to shine forever.

That's why writers must resolve to regularly sojourn in this land. Maybe there's an idea whose time has come. Maybe we'll come across one of those forgotten nuggets shimmering in the evening sun. These ideas are ours forever. Poor Ricky's Retreat is the land of the discarded and forgotten but not forsaken.

© 2012 The Gillerd

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Added on January 27, 2012
Last Updated on January 27, 2012
Tags: sock, puppet, writer, relationship, between, author, character, idea, forgotten, deleted, redemption, lost, reality, tv, show


The Gillerd
The Gillerd

Bay St. Louis, MS