What you need, said the Muse, is a good love story. Women like good love stories.


woman-gun-life-magThe Muse was amused.

He usually is.

He was in the backyard drinking coffee. Hot. Black. A cigarette was dangling from his yellow-stained fingertips. A can of snuff was tucked down neatly in his shirt pocket. He was spitting into an empty Dr Pepper bottle.

He was waiting for the birds.

The Muse is poetic that way.

He knew I was there before I sat down.

“You like to write suspense,” he said.

“I do.”

“You like to write thrillers,” he said.

“I do.”

“You know how to solve problems when one crops up in your plots,” he said.

“How’s that?”

“You shoot somebody.”

“I read that somewhere,” I said.

“Read what?”

“If there’s a lull in the story, bring on a man with a gun.”

“Did it say to bring him on and let him pull the trigger.”


“Your man always pulls the trigger.”

“Don’t draw a pistol unless you plan to use it,” I said.

“You could write for the National Rifle Association,” the Muse said.

“I’m not a member,” I said.

“I’m not surprised.”

“Why not?”

“They don’t let people like you join,” he said.

“What do they have against people like me?”

“Too deadly,” he said.

“I don’t own a gun,” I said.

“Your books have too many guns,” he said.

“What if there’s a lull in the story?” I ask.

“Bring on a woman.”

“I do,” I said.

“Yeah,” the Muse said. “But you bring on a woman with a gun.”

“I ended my last novel with a woman standing naked at the door,” I said.

“Had she just shot somebody?”

“She had just been shot.”

“That’s the problem I want to talk to you about,” the Muse said.

“What’s that?”

“Who reads the most books these days?” he asked


“Who buys the most books these days?” he asked.


“They like love stories,” he said.

“That’s what I’m told.”

“You books don’t have love stories,” he said.

“I had a love story in Secrets of the Dead,” I said.

“You had a man and a woman.”

“That’s how love starts,” I said.

“Did he tell her he loved her?” the Muse asked.


“Should he have told her he loved her?”


“Why didn’t he?”

“He had to shoot somebody,” I said.

The Muse nodded and shrugged.

“Did the good guy get the girl?” he asked.


“It’s a bad ending,” he said.

“I liked it.”

“Are you a woman?”


“If you were a woman, you wouldn’t have liked it.”

“I’m starting a new novel,” I said.

“Is it a love story?”

“It could be,” I said. “It has a man and a woman.”

“That’s a good start.”

“And it has a gun,” I said.

The Muse spit for the last time, ground out the cigarette beneath the heel of his boot, and walked away chewing the coffee grounds like day-old tobacco.

When he dropped the Dr Pepper bottle, it exploded on the rock patio.

It sounded like a pistol shot.

I don’t think it was an accident.


SecretsOfTheDead-3dLeftPlease click the book cover to learn more about Secrets of the Dead and Caleb Pirtle’s other novels on his Amazon Authors Page.


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