Victims Viewed Violently

The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see – every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.

Graham Greene

Watching people gives me the greatest joy, especially when I’m planning a murder. It’s all here and there, the look one woman gives another in the grocery store. The woman who walks into the nail salon, sees another woman, scowls and leaves. I saw a woman punch a carton of eggs when she thought no one was looking. I watched a teenager with a nose ring sullenly follow a woman who looked like she could use a drink. I saw a tattooed young couple unable to choose a box of cereal –they were so desperate to get what the other one wanted. I saw a toddler sitting on a throne made of cartons of generic cola. I watched an impossibly thin elderly woman carefully check prices on cans of tuna, she had small single servings of each item in her cart. I saw a girl deliberately run a cart into her brother; when he screamed, his distracted mother hit him with a bag of marshmallows and told him to behave. He looked murderous as he followed his mother and princess-perfect sister. I wanted to give each one a dime, since they all deserved to be tipped. Instead, I paid for my bag of cherries and went home to write about a woman who wore that little boy’s scowl as she followed her husband down into the basement. He really should have weeded like he had promised.

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