I'm really great at starting things, not so good at finishing. I have a huge file in my computer--Great Beginnings--full of things like the following: "Sometimes, when the facts of an untimely death are not in dispute, the line drawn between accident and murder is just the locus of intent." That came to me while I was driving, and it sounded like the first or last line of a story. So I wrote it down--something I try to do whenever I get an idea that sounds like it belongs in a story. Thinking about that line, I came up with the probable genesis--trigonometry class a zillion years ago, where I was required to memorize definitions like: "A circle is a locus of points equidistant from a point." Trigonometry was a clue--the story had to do with math or a math geek, and a crime.
It took six years to work out the rest of the tale and come up with an ending: "When your locus is equidistant from two points, what you have is the straight line dividing them. And you always have to be careful that you come down on the right side of that line."
Here are some other "great" beginnings I'm still working on:
Any day the water wasn't frozen, Rhoda washed her hair.
Our savior was a suicidal bitch known as Cara who we had to take turns watching to see she didn't off herself.
I came late to crime--might have missed it altogether but I was pushed into it
The first thing I noticed was that the guy was naked; the second was that he was dead. Not soul-dead like my ex-brother in law, or brain-dead like my senile uncle. But white as dry-wall mud and frozen into a pose that would otherwise be quite painful. I’d seen stiffs before. I guess the naked bothered me more.
We all want heroes. Even those of us who know better want heroes
When I first met him I thought him dazzling, but in certain lights glass glitters as brilliantly as diamonds.
When you get shot with a real bullet it's never that neat process you see on TV that leaves you with a small hole through some part of your anatomy not essential for locomotion or circulation. Bullets usually hit something messy and essential—like an artery, or something painful—like your gut. When a bullet hits you in the middle, it doesn't just breeze through, because your innards aren't neatly coiled like a new garden hose They come gathered together like a dust ruffle, and when a bullet plows through, it tends to cut your ruffle into lace. I found that out the hard way.
10/18/82 These thing really happened:
As I've worked it out, there are two schools of thought about disposing of dead bodies. One holds that if you hide the corpse well enough, you're out of the woods. The other is that murder always will out, so you save yourself an eternity of uneasy moments if you just dump the remains in a conspicuous spot. Unobtrusively, of course. The murderer of “X” was clearly of the second school.
It was inevitable that someone would call the police. however tolerant people may think themselves, most find a man wandering the streets with a butcher knife somewhat bizarre.