Who would you choose to tell the story?

I interview a lot of characters, and sooner or later they all wind up in a novel.

I brought them all into the same room at the same time.

It was late.

I was tired.

They were tired.

But I had a problem, and only they could solve it.

I turned first to the girl.

She was probably too old to be called a girl, but she still wanted to play the ingénue.

Dark black hair.

Oval face.

A hint of wrinkles below her eyes.

Her eyes were dark.

They were hard.

Her voice was soft.

And she quietly told her story.

Her name was Alicia, she said, and she came to the city from a small Southern town.

Her mother worked as a waitress.

Her father was dead.

She never knew him when he wasn’t.

She had been poor all of her life and had run off to Atlanta where all the pretty girls went when they were looking for a rich husband.

She found one.

She was tired of him.

Didn’t know why.

Maybe, she said, it was because he had possessed almost as much money as girl friends.

She smiled.

The sparkle on her diamond ring was blinding.

“Has he been good to you?” I asked.

“Now and then,” she said.

The young man across the room was nervous.

He did not look directly at me or at anyone.

He wore a new suit.

It was a cheap suit.

Said he was looking for a job.

“What kind of work do you do?” I asked.

“Anything that pays.”

“You ever kill anyone?”

“Judge said I did.”

“Would you ever kill again?” I asked.

“Not for money.”

“For what?”

“For love maybe.”

He glanced at the girl.

She did not look at him.

But she kept smiling.

I thought she might have winked.

Maybe not.

The older gentleman thought he was wasting his time.

His fedora was pulled low over his eyes.

He was wearing a wrinkled raincoat.

It wasn’t raining.

He didn’t care.

He kept a .38 special in his coat pocket.

He had told me once.

But that was long ago.

He was a policeman then.

He was in business for himself now.

He liked it better.

“No rules,” he said.

“Nobody looking over my shoulder,” he said.

“Nobody makes a fuss over my mistakes anymore,” he said.

“What happens to them?”

“I bury them.”

He grinned.

He scowled when he grinned.

His teeth were yellow.

He hadn’t slept with a femme fatale for a long time.

Buried a couple.

Hadn’t slept with either of them.

He had been a friend for years.

The girl wasn’t.

I wished she was.

The young man was a drifter.

He could drift in an out of a story or your life without you ever knowing he was coming or gone.

So there they were.

I had a story.

Didn’t know the beginning.

Didn’t know the ending.

All three of the characters did.

And I was facing the most difficult task that confronts a writer.

Each of them had a point of view.

Only one point of view mattered.

Who would I choose to tell the story?

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