City of Unused Characters

Over on /r/writing, turtleofsorrows asked “Do you have any abandoned characters you love too much?

Yes, turtleofsorrows. Yes, I do.

The first that came to mind were Tristan and Esteban, who first showed up in a story I co-wrote with my brother-from-another-mother, the dearly departed Kevin W.

In the story, Tristan and Esteban were henchmen of a secretive redheaded woman whose name escapes me now. They were a pair of Latino men, snappy dressers, one tall, one short. They may, or may not, be brothers. They were one part Jake and Elwood Blues, and one part Penn and Teller, and one part Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from Diamonds Are Forever. Except, y’know, Latino.

Their names are an homage to a friend and former co-worker, a person who was empathetic but sarcastic, and who had appetites larger than life. I miss him, but I doubt he’d want to hear from me after all this time and the mistakes I made in that particular social circle. Ah, well.

Tristan and Esteban, though, were wry, laconic, unflappable. They were loyal to their current boss but I always got the sense that this was just a gig for them. They did their job, which in that story (unpublished, alas) they were tracking down mystical artifacts which manifested as ordinary mundane objects, starting with an empty mayonnaise jar which had welded itself to the hero’s hand, annoyingly. But at the end of the day, they would probably do whatever paid the best. They had few scruples or morals, though, so finding work was never difficult for them.

I don’t think any of that made it into the original story, however. It’s all just backstory. I liked the characters, and thought that they would be fun to write. I wanted to find out more about them.

But I’ve never been able to crack their mysteries. I’ve tried using them in another story but they didn’t fit in well. And I even started writing a story with them as main characters, and I just couldn’t figure out what they wanted.

If I had to cast them for a movie, I would go with someone like Benicio del Toro as Tristan.

And Gael García Bernal as Esteban.

They’re always in the back of my mind, though, waiting for the right opportunity to spice up a story with some menace and wry sarcasm.

Any other writers out there carrying around abandoned characters? I would love to hear about them.