Of all the characters in Second Hand Goods, Eric Teasdale came about as an accident. When Lenny and Nick realize they have to hide the limo, they need someone outside the city who lives in the last place anyone would look. Enter Eric Teasdale.
He actually came about in an aborted short story involving Nick Kepler and two strippers. Originally, one of the strippers killed Teasdale, and Nick was left dealing with learning he’d helped set it up. Since I never rewrote that story, I thought about keeping Teasdale alive and making him something of a sidekick. So…
The aborted short became a reworked back story. It wasn’t Nick investigating the felonious strippers. It was Teasdale. The end result found Kepler firing him as an employee. All this comes out over the course of Second Hand Goods and its follow-up, Bad Religion. In the meantime, the new Eric Teasdale had to have a personality. I didn’t just want Nick to dump the limo off on some unemployed redneck who sits around in his boxers drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon all day.
So Teasdale has to have moved on since Nick fired him, which gives them an automatic point of conflict. Nick, of course, is not above lording it over someone who screwed him over at some point. He uses equal parts persuasion and coercion to get Teasdale to hide the car. That puts Teasdale at risk. He’s got his own investigative shop going. Seems that Sally Struthers correspondence course paid off after all. (Sure! They all do!) He’s also an auxiliary cop in a nearby township, serving as a detective when their speed trap police department and the county sheriff get into a pissing contest. “Get Teasdale to do it. He’s a private dick. He’s neutral.” Sweet gig. Hiding a limo with a corpse in the trunk that’s been reported stolen might risk that sweet gig.
Teasdale lives in Valley City, a speck on the map where their high school played my high school in the late, lamented Pioneer Conference in Northeast Ohio. I thought that was close enough to Cleveland for Nick to drive out to, since many in Valley City (which is neither in a valley nor is a city. Discuss.) commute to Cleveland daily, but it’s isolated enough, being almost a rural setting. I had a job in Valley City for a few months in 1988. I had a hard time finding the actual town. So it’s sparsely populated enough for Teasdale to stash the car at his place without arousing much suspicion. It’s also literally down the road from Nick. The apartment building Nick’s is based on a building that sat at the corner of Columbia and Lorain Avenue. (Don’t bother looking for it. They tore it down to put up a Walgreen’s. But the UDF is still there. I think.) Teasdale lives on Columbia Road as well, just twenty miles south. (And Nick takes the freeway. Driving a limousine in the middle of the night on a back road? That’s just crazy talk!)
So Teasdale’s home and occupation are established. I needed one more thing. What kind of investigator is he? Early on, I established that Teasdale was 1.) frequently broke and living in a trailer, 2.) a bit of a slob, and 3.) had a redneck-y love of old muscle cars, in his case, a 1968 Ford Thunderbird roughly the size of the USS Nimitz. In Bad Religion, it is established that Teasdale is afraid of carrying a gun, though he will if he has to. In short, he reminds me of Jim Rockford.
So what do I do with him? He’s got a history of his own. He could probably support a series of his own. Would I?
You tell me.