Monday, February 28, 2011

Rulon’s fighting skills

     Rulon is the toughest hombre west of the Pecos – or maybe it’s east of the Pecos, I’m not sure – in any case, Rulon is very tough. But he’s also normal. Though Rulon goes the whole book without losing a fight, I never wanted him to seem invulnerable or perfect. He was just a regular guy, big, slightly overweight, and constantly being put into situations that he never wanted and never looked for. Rulon is confident enough in himself that he doesn’t mind if people underestimate him, in fact, he prefers it that way. He works hard, takes his lumps, dishes them out, and whether he wins or loses, he doesn’t complain. He claims to be peace loving, and actually believes that about himself, but in reality he enjoys a good fight.
      There was a short chapter in Einstein’s Trunk that eventually got edited out, where I described Rulon’s teenage years. His mother died when he was eight and Rulon blamed God and her for that. He grew up angry at the world and at women in particular. He didn’t trust them – his mother ran out on him, why wouldn’t a girlfriend. By the same token, he was constantly getting in fights over girls. It was a paradox. One day when he was seventeen he beat up an ex-con, the toughest guy in the valley, who’d stolen his girl friend, and found himself in jail. His father bailed him out and gave him his mother’s diary to read. The words in the diary changed him for good and he ended up turning his life around, going back to church, and then to college where he majored in communications and did all right academically. He also took up hammer throwing and Greco Roman wrestling – two sports that served him well during his career at OCD.
      One day while on assignment in Marseilles, he found himself in a tight situation in a sleazy bar. He ended up fighting his way out with a Wilton Demolition model short handled sledgehammer that he found in a toolbox. The hammer has been with him ever since. In the sequel I’m writing now, I explain what happened in Marseilles and why.  
      In Barry Eisler’s John Rain series, the main character was an expert in Judo. I wanted something similar for Rulon. The hammer seemed to do the trick. But I didn’t want the hammer to be the focus of the book. In the book, Rulon only uses it twice and hardly refers to it at all. Since I’d written Einstein’s Trunk, I read that hammers make poor personal combat weapons because if you swing and miss, they throw you off balance. Okay. Rulon’s strong enough that he can control the follow-through. For him the hammer works.
      Last point, Rulon is a great shot with pistol or rifle. He grew up on a ranch just north of Twin Falls, Idaho and handled guns all his life. His father was also an expert marksman and taught Rulon, and later, Yohaba, to shoot.
     Next post will be on the minor characters in Einstein’s Trunk.

Zurich, February 28, 2011

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