Sunday, February 13, 2005

BC: Pounding Feet—Part I

Why am I on this blog? I have my own. I post Monday through Friday, and lots of writers come along to discuss the craft of fiction. I can be my fun-loving, ridiculous self there (in spite of the excruciatingly deep and dynamic fiction techniques I teach, of course). But, hey, it’s my blog.

This is not my blog. Here, I am among known and respected authors of fiction with a Christian worldview. They hold discourse on how faith finds it way into their stories. Their posts are all so . . . erudite. So intellectually stimulating. Athol opines about understanding God in an evil world. Jane talks about commitment. B.J. discusses writing grace. Angie waxes poetic on discernment of distractions. Okay, so Jack confesses to being a blog virgin, but even amid this unlikely topic he manages to speak Roman and quote classic literature.

Part of me wants to pull out my own favorite phrases from Goethe and Milton. Weave into them some awesomely divine topic. Match wit for wit, I.Q. point for I.Q. point.

The other part says, “Aaah, what the heck.”

So I’m joggin’ down the sidewalk early in the morning last week, minding my own business. Every day I run the same five-mile trek through a well-kept and expensive residential neighborhood. Been doing this for twenty years. I know this area.

Deep into the second mile I pass a large black duffel bag on the street near the curb. Open. Clothes spilled out. As if it’s been tossed from a moving car. Quite untoward for such a tidy neighborhood. My suspicious suspense-writer brain kickstarts. I ignore it. So somebody threw a bag out of a car, so what? My stride doesn’t break.

Until I register the wallet.

Of their own accord, my pounding feet slow to a halt. I turn and eye the brown leather on top of the clothes. Someone will surely steal any money in it. The Good Samaritan within me is alarmed.

I hustle back and pluck up the wallet, looking for an I.D. Perhaps the person lives nearby, and I can return the stuff. The thing’s empty. No money, no cards, no driver’s license, no pictures. I turn it over in my hand, study it. The leather’s so flat. Maybe it’s never been used. Or maybe . . .

I survey the clothes. Pants. A red knit shirt. I turn the shirt over and find some sort of referee badge sewn onto its front. Something clickety-clacks beneath the clothes. I catch a glimpse of pens and coins.

My imagination roars into full gear.

I drop the shirt, back away from the clothes. What have I done? This is evidence. Whoever this guy is, he’s surely been kidnapped, maybe killed. My brain does some clickety-clacking of its own. Probably two suspects at least, because the duffel bag would have been thrown out the passenger window. They stripped the wallet to slow down detectives. No victim name—no suspects, no trail.

I have just left my fingerprints on the wallet.

They will be good prints. Before I left home I put lotion on my dry hands. Lots of oil to leave behind on that leather.

Sanity raises it head. Girl, you need to chill. I have written one too many suspense novels. Surely there’s an innocent explanation for this mess at my feet. And nothing I can do about it, either, not without an address. I double check my Good Samaritan conscience. It is saddened but acquiescent.

I resume my jog.

The strewn items scream at my back.

Facts stubbornly crowd my mind. I brand them into memory. They will be important when the police are faced with a missing persons case. I left my house at 6:08 a.m. Yes, officer, I remember exactly. I checked the grandfather clock as I slipped out the door. Which would have put me at the place of evidence around 6:25. I will explain how my prints got on the wallet. They will fingerprint me to ferret out this false lead.

Who was kidnapped? Why? Is he still alive?

I finish the second mile, attack the third. Dark scenarios of blood and terror weave through my head. In the fourth mile, reality rises once more, waving frantic hands. It catches my attention, pulls me from the grim tapestries. Space and time join the argument, each step I run away from the bag, each passing moment, calming my errant thoughts.

There is an innocent explanation.

I cover circuitous streets until circling back a mere half block from the duffel bag. Temptation to veer off-course, recheck the items, crooks a seductive finger. I resist, sold out to the belief that all is well.

Until I see more scattered evidence in the middle of the road.

~ Brandilyn Collins, author of Dead of Night and other “Seatbelt Suspense”


At 12:33 AM, Blogger Val said...

You and your cliffhangers, Brandilyn. Argh. I definitely need to know what happens next. *sigh*

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This can't be a never ending saga right? 'Cause you only have two days to finish. I'll tell you what from all I've learned from you, the power of the hook has got to top all. Thanks

At 8:57 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

Man! Talk about show don't tell. You're doing really well with showing us how to use suspense techniques, Brandilyn. I know I'll be back ...

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Domino said...

What? No Goethe? hehehe

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read the second installment tomorrow. Mayhem does seem to follow you around :-)

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Gina Conroy said...

When you first saw the duffel, I was thinking there's a dead body in there or a bomb! Guess I have a wild imagination as well.

Can't wait until tomorrow to see what happens next.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Refreshment in Refuge said...

Look at the Gina's around here! I wanted to look up to see who was watching for the "bait" to be taken... that flash of sun on glass, or maybe a whiff of cigarette smoke.


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