Thursday, March 23, 2006

Karlston, MO

I created a fictional town. I had to draw a map for class, and give the town a name, a history, and indicate landmarks as they pertain to fictional stories I may or may not write (or have written). I'm not going to show you the map, partly because it's embarassing that I can't even draw a two-dimensional map without it looking like my 3 year old neice drew it, but mostly because I don't have a scanner. For those of you who have read my fiction, screenplay, one-act (or if you saw my one-act/acted in it my senior year of high school), you probably know a lot about my John Hughes-esque (I like to think of it as Faulkner-esque but perhaps I should wait to get published before I start inflating my ego beyond its natural bounds) style. You've got Colin and William and James, Zach, Zack, Xavier, Tom (there are two of them, one from fictional St. Louis suburb and another from Minnesota), Kristen, Peter, Kelly, et al, plus Brooke, Amy, Mike Rose, Banning, Cameron, Matt Grogan, Stefanie, Les DePaul, anyway, you get the picture...I like my people. Anyway, I finally gave those from the fictional St. Louis suburb (sort of a hybrid Webster Groves, Kirkwood/Glendale and Shrewsbury) a home. And since nothing is given away in the description (and yes, you do need the map to get the real good visual, but too bad), here is the description I handed in with my map.

Karlston, MO is your standard suburb of St. Louis. It’s named after one of the former mayors, Karl Odell, who was mayor for eleven years, elected in 1958 and planning his 1970 run when he died of a heart attack. The high school, built in 1965 (built using tax money he campaigned against initiating) is seemingly named after JFK, which is what the stonework over the front door proclaims, but around the area it’s known as Karlson High. Across Vernon Street from the high school is a large park named after Karl Odell’s father, Vernon Odell. Karl’s son’s namesake belongs to the middle school on Elm.
Long before the town was renamed, it was known as Evans, MO, named for the pioneer who first planted the magnolias that grow in Vernon Park, lining the creek and turning the ground pink, yellow and white in late spring. The Evans family still lives in Karlston, but has long been politically dormant. The only remaining trace of the lineage comes in the small elementary school on Greenwood Avenue and the restaurant next to Fairmount Books.
Appropriately enough, at the intersection of Greenwood and Church Road, there is one church on each corner. There is a Baptist church on the northeast corner, a Unitarian chapel on the northwest, a Lutheran church on the southeast corner and a Catholic church, elementary school and junior high on the southwest corner. On Greenwood, there’s a Straubs Marker, an Ace Hardware and an empty storefront that used to be a Starbucks, but couldn’t compete with Segue Coffee, which is on the next block across Elm. Segue Coffee is owned by the Evans family, who are close friends of the Fairmount family. The Fairmount family has lived in Karlston longer than the Odells, but have assigned themselves as the booksellers of town since the late 1970’s. Their bookstore, known simply as Fairmount Books, is adjoined to Segue Coffee. The Evans Steakhouse is on the other side of Fairmount Books, but is not connected in the same way Segue and Fairmount are. Evans Steakhouse is actually owned by the Applebees Corporation, which has decided to keep the name and menu but the restaurant now benefits from the buying power of the larger corporation.
Across the street from Segue, Fairmount and Evans Steakhouse is the Karlston Library and City Hall.
Consult the map for further references:
1. William Loudermilk lived here, before moving to California for school. He and his friends James Evans, Colin Fairmount, Tom Eagleston and Xavier Houston once had a band that practiced here. William attempted to write his college application essays here but James brought his girlfriend troubles over, which erupted in a fist-fight between James and his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Peter Lawrence, great-grandson of Karl Odell.
2. The Evans family lives here. Segue Coffee has been open since the early 1980’s, and though Starbucks moved into the new shopping center across the street in 1998. The Starbucks only remained for three years before admitting defeat. The people of Karlston, and especially the high school students, appreciated Segue for the atmosphere, the familiarity of the photos and decorations, and the fact that it was connected via a set of glass doors to a bookstore. James worked at the coffee shop starting at age twelve. At the age of 18, James became a very enthusiastic bicycle racer, and it’s here at the house that he started a bicycle team run out of a shed in his backyard that he and his father converted into a clubhouse, complete with air-conditioning, heating, a couple of beds, refrigerator, computer, and enough bike tools for everybody on the team. The team included James, William, Colin, Xavier, Zachary Houston (Xavier’s twin brother) and Zack Cohen. Together, James and Colin found jobs at Big Shark Bicycles in University City, Missouri after starting the team, and they continued to work there summers in between school years. James went to college at the University of Minnesota (along with Colin and, for one year, William) and, after managing a bike shop in St. Paul for three years, moved back to Karlston and leased the former Starbucks, where he opened his own bike shop, Blue Peach Cyclery.
3. The Fairmount family lives here, and owns a good six acres of land to the north and east of their house. They’ve got the land registered with the Missouri Conservation Department as a wildlife preserve. The Fairmount family fronted most of the money for James’ bike team, including sponsoring a race in town, which started at their bookstore, going west, turning north on Elm, running through the parking lot of Vernon Park, east on Varsity Road past the high school, south on Avery Boulevard and back to Greenwood, heading west. The Odell family, led by the current mayor Kurt Odell, opposed the race and nearly succeeded in getting it cancelled before the Fairmount family stepped in to pay for the race. Colin became the second-best rider on the team, only behind James.
4. Xavier and Zach live here with their grandmother. Their mother died shortly after they were born, and their father quickly remarried and left them in the care of their maternal grandmother. Xavier, in an attempt to confuse his friends, opted to go by the name Xak (pronounced Zach). Their grandmother was often away, and Zach and Xak became the party organizers for their friends. They would call their older brother Matt, who lived in the city, and he would bring them alcohol and marijuana and keep them supplied, until Xak woke one morning on the trampoline with a girl he didn’t know, pictures of him on his digital camera, drinking bong water, and put a stop to the parties.
5. The Odell Mansion, though not it’s official title. It is the Mayor’s home, but as the entire Odell family has lived there since it was built in 1967, everybody knows it by this misnomer. The Lawrence family, though technically part of the Odell family, does not live here.
6. Kristen Avery lives here. She is James’ ex-girlfriend, a year younger than James and not overly ambitious. Her goal is to go to business school and become an executive at Target in Kirkwood, MO, where she’s worked as a cashier since she was sixteen.
7. The Lawrence family lives here. Two years older than Kristen, during his second senior year at Karlston High, Peter Lawrence asked her to go swimming at the Odell mansion with him. She was dating James at the time, but Peter mixed her a drink which caused her to lose her balance and inhibitions, and so too her virginity. Shortly after Peter’s fist-fight with James, he broke up with her and set his sights on a freshman named Kelly. A long string of girls can tell the same kind of story about Peter Lawrence, but because he’s an Odell, hardly anybody believes them.
8. It was here, in the middle of the night in August under the Magnolias one summer, William began his habit of drinking alone.
9. Peter was tackled here his freshman year, playing football, and received a concussion which nearly killed him.
10. Kristen crashed her car here on a rainy night. She crashed into a retaining wall going forty miles an hour after Peter fucked her on St. Therese’s playground and broke up with her as she got into her car. She drove off without him and was on her way to James’ house to apologize. James passed by on his way home from the coffee shop, and waited with her for the ambulance. Aside from an airbag bruise and a sprained right ankle, she was okay.
11. As young kids, James and Colin threw rocks through the windows of this house, causing the owner, an elderly widower, to have a heart-attack. It was days before anybody discovered his body.

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