Written For: Creative Writing
Parameters: An exercise with focus on quirks in dialogue. Both characters may or may not be telling the truth. Convey as much meaning as possible in dialogue, and imply or disprove without either character, or narrative, accusing the other of lying.
And silence reigns.
Unsteady and tensed, a stark contrast from the buzzing fluorescence emitting from the long cylinder fixed to the chalk-white ceiling. Atmosphere is predatory and poised, like the muscles of the men occupying the small space. A chair here, a table there.
The proponent must act.
As he muses, a ginseng scent hovers, with a pungent tinge of remnant heat.
"And your only daughter's death doesn't even shake you?" Posed question acts as a spoken statement.
An involuntary twitch flitted across the accused man's face. Is quiet on his side of the table, and then, "Destroying, dying, reliving . . . it's all arbitrary, and all the same."
"So people in your life commonly drop dead?"
Quiet intake of breath; he builds his emotional guard. The interrogator begins to pace, brows deeply angled.
"Look, there's sufficient evidence to convict you of her murder—"
"Somehow, I don't think so."
Glaring at one another, minds buzzing; a violently disturbed apiary with no escape holes in the fence.
"What's this alibi you've got?"
"The nine-to-five grind." An amused smile tugs at his lip-corners. "I'm no special man."
"We happen to know that you weren't present at clock-out."
"How would you—"
"Your daughter is home later than you on most afternoons?"
"Hmm. Just like mine. Leaves the front door unlocked, grabs a soda, immerses herself in her monstrous pop-rock, headphones at max." Raising an eyebrow, the interrogator locks his eyes on the man behind the table. "Couldn't hear a belligerent drunk drive a crane over the threshold."
"She didn't enjoy music."
"Preferred to listen to her own thoughts, huh?"
"You could say that. I always expected her to grow up that way, though."
"Reserved sort of household?"
"Somewhat. We tend to contemplate often, and to ourselves."
The questioner leans easily on the sturdy square table, cocking his head to one side, an air about him. As if discussing the weather, fiscal responsibility, or pesky wives.
"She ever come home late?"
"Despite being a girl that kept to herself, and didn't know much else?"
Pause. "Occasionally. Home with me a lot."
"Because of your wife's recent death?"
"It was sudden, violent. She was the spitting image of her mother, from head to toe. Another pause. "We need one another."
"But you can't have her now."
"She's here, though." A lopsided grin graced his gaunt face, and his shoulders hit the hardback chair; a glazed, sated expression surfaced. "She's always with me. She always has been."
Throat working furiously, the proponent cursed in disgust. Glancing peripherally, he caught the curved corollas of the tattoo peeking from under the respondent's long sleeve; a blooming network across the stringy tendons of the back of his hand. Colored pink. Odd.
"I will ask you straight out: Did you or did you not murder your daughter?"
Brilliant red spatters across the lonely table; a child's ideas come to life with finger-paint. And the interrogator lowers his firm hand, no sympathy present as the accused painfully sits up, his head grossly lolling to one side. Nose broken.
His footfalls sound heavily, the funeral percussion.
"No daughter, but two wives."