Can you recognize a good story when it comes along?

Rose-garden

I NEEDED A STORY.

The page was blank.

I decided to go out and look for a story.

My brain was blank.

I left the house and walked to the downtown square.

The Muse had nothing better to do.

He went with me.

“If you did your job,” I told him, “I wouldn’t need to be wandering around town like this.”

He shrugged.

“Not my problem,” he said.

“You’re supposed to give me inspiration,” I said.

“You need an inspiration?”

“I do.”

“Fresh out,” he said.

The Muse always was.

I sat down on a park bench and watched the ducks in the lake.

The water was calm.

The morning was growing warmer by the minute.

Summer hadn’t arrived but was sending notice that it was on the way.

A woman was walking alone among the roses.

She was young.

She was pretty.

She had a touch of sadness etched in her eyes.

“What do you think about her?” the Muse said. “She might be a story.”

“She’s just a young lady in the park.”

“Maybe not,” the Muse said.

“What do you mean?”

“What if she left her husband this morning.”

“He’s probably a broken hearted man.”

“What if he doesn’t know she’s gone?”

“Didn’t she tell him?”

“What if he’s out of town?”

“Why did he leave?”

The Muse paused a moment, then said, “What if he’s running from police?”

“Why?”

“What if he killed somebody?”

“Who?”

“What if he found out his wife had been out sleeping with another man?”

“Is that who he killed?”

“Why not?”

We watched the young woman break out into a warm smile.

Her eyes suddenly sparkled.

She waved at a young man walking across the footbridge.

She ran toward him.

They embraced beside the lake.

“So much for your story,” I said.

“Maybe not,” the Muse said.

“What do you mean?”

“Think about her husband,” he said.

“What about him.”

“He was jealous.”

“Obviously.”

“All he had were his suspicions.”

“That’s sometimes enough.”

“All he had was a name.”

“And a gun.”

“What if he had the wrong name?”

The Muse smiled.

We watched as the couple walked away from the lake, his arm around her shoulders. She was holding a rose he had picked for her.

The Muse was laughing now.

“What if her husband killed the wrong man?” he said.

He stood up and began walking away. He looked back over his shoulder and asked,  “You learn anything this morning?”

“What was I supposed to learn?”

“You don’t make up stories. You don’t go out and find them.” His laughter had geared down to a chuckle. “You know what you’re supposed to do?”

“No.”

“Just recognized a good story when it comes along.”

The Muse stopped a taxi, crawled in, and rode away.

I was impressed.

Our town doesn’t have a taxi.

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of Little Lies.

Little Lies Final Cover LL Mar 13

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