Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jim Barnum - A Character Sketch

One of the most influential moments in Jim's life happens in the middle of the novel, though it's not seen since he's a background character in Ricia's story. This may be a spoiler since it does cover part of a plot point. For those who don't want to read a spoiler, but do want to know more about Jim, stop at the picture.

Jim has always felt secondary and smaller than the people around him, and not just physically. He feels less important, less intelligent, and less helpful. Tony (Ricia calls him Tiny, because he isn't, and he was never introduced) does stuff on his own, while Jim always waits for orders. Always has.

Jim tries to dress as nicely as Tony and Michael Duke, but it just doesn't come out as well. It doesn't help that he's thinner and older than both of them either.

Jim had worked his way near the inner circle before Michael came along and was given to Micheal when he became the favorite. Jim wasn't thrilled with being passed on, but it saved his life when Sonny was killed with his entire crew. Jim he made the best of it, but he's never felt trusted or needed in his life and it wears on him. The worst part is that he's sure Michael Duke keeps trying to give him the opportunity to be more, but he's been too afraid to step forward and chance getting smacked down.

Tony was gone again. Headed to Georgia to talk to the girl's family. Somehow Tony had given the feds information to get her on the top of the Most Wanted list along with the Boss's new girlfriend. Still the Mr. D trusted Tiny to do everything while Jim stayed behind to chauffeur him around. Not knowing nothin'. As if he'd heard Jim's disrespectful thoughts, the door flew open and Mr. D stood silhouetted in the light from inside.

"We're packing up, Jim." Mr. D said. He stepped further out where Jim had been taking his smoke break. Jim tapped the cigarette he'd barely started into the wall to extinguish the flame and tucked it back into the box for later, ignoring the sad shake of Mr. D's head. Nasty habit, Mr. D always said, but Jim needed the calm they provided. He couldn't give them up in this business.

"Who we packing for?" Jim asked. Mr. D shook his head, lowering his brow in warning. Once more Jim had gotten it wrong. Mr. D had never sent him to take someone out. Just warnings and the one kidnapping. Mr. D was more into collecting information than anything else, but maybe that was smart when he was new in the business. Then Jim realized Mr. D was talking and he needed to listen.

"Everyone. We're packing up and taking everyone we can. We need to get out of the States. When the war on magic starts it's going to be centered here and our people are going to be the ones in danger. The licensed people first. That registration might as well be a price on their head." Mr. D growled, running a hand through his hair. It was the first time Jim could remember seeing him less than perfectly controlled. "I knew it was coming, but I wasn't ready. I have no idea how to get everyone away, but I know I need to do it soon."

Jim looked at his boss, surprised. Like he could think of something Mr. D couldn't. But then he thought of something.

"I saw some tour buses last week," he offered, nervously, watching his foot twist. Mr. D wasn't the type to lash out, not like old Sonny had been, but Jim never had an idea to offer before. Mr. D didn't say anything. He was waiting for Jim to finish, and since he started, he had no choice. He had to go on with it no matter how stupid the idea was. He tried to hold his foot still as he continued. "Three of 'em in a row. Headed for a tour in Toronto. That's got to've been a hundred people each. And we wouldn't need to really send 'em to Toronto."

"Great idea, Jim." Mr. D said. Jim looked up in time to see him smile. "That's going to save lives. Five hundred, I think, easy. Thanks. I'll start making the calls."

"No, boss," Jim put in quickly as he started to walk away. He had some stake in this idea now and he wanted to see it through. "Let me call. I think I can remember the name of the company if I see it in the book."

Mr. D smiled again and nodded. "That would be great. I can start calling our people and getting them prepared. Let me know when they can take us."

Jim followed after him, not quite skipping. Tony might be bigger and more threatening, but Jim saved lives. That might not have been Old Sonny's thing, but everyone knew how important that was to Mr. D.

He couldn't wait till Tony got back and he could tell him about it, but if everyone was leaving town, would Tony be coming back? He almost stopped Mr. D to ask. Mr. D even seemed to pause, waiting to see if he would, but suddenly it didn't matter. Mr. D would know what Tony was doing. He always did.

And Jim had a job to do.

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