Friday, December 3, 2010

Not All Mysteries Are of the Fictional Variety

“When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one but, you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.” Leo Burnett

Case in Point!
A mystery, no actually two, surfaced in our small community the past week that ended our, perhaps, laid-back, serene-country atmosphere. I’ll only discuss one here today.

Perhaps the least mysterious, or maybe not…Let's test it out.

Can you imagine an armed bank robbery?  A bank robbery in a town of maybe 500 people if we stretch a little and count the dogs and cats too.

In the summer time, summer people and with the weekenders and cottage vacationers we may stretch up to 1,000.

If even half of those people that live here use the bank in our town, most are retired. There are four businesses in our village. Given the current state of Social Security (and believe me payments are meager and they doesn’t stretch very far) and the limited resources, there is very little money in this bank.

Now, picture Monday morning, peak traffic time is usually 9:30 or there abouts when everyone is going to pick up their mail (there is no postal delivery in our town/village – unless you live on the outskirts at least several miles away). This is the time the armed robber thinks will be a great time for a heist.

What would possess anyone to think he could rob a bank at gun point and get away any day, but particularly given the scenario I just described.

He didn’t— succeed--that is...12 minutes later he was sitting in a squad car about 9 miles away, wondering what happened.

Clues—every mystery writer needs to ferret out clues. Even if your book starts with the crime solved, the reader wants to know why—if not—how and a myriad of other answers to questions he may not know to ask.

Three essentials in every mystery are:
Motive: maybe he needs money – desperately, is a given

Means: He has a gun, a truck and he has done something similar before –he was just released from incarceration we find out later. How he came into the possession of a gun is another mystery if he is already a criminal.

Opportunity: Driving along a deserted or nearly deserted section of highway, there right next to the highway a bank—quickly he surveys the area, a gas station to the south—neat rows of storage sheds to the west, quiet street, fairly early(for him but not us country folk)…He parks his truck in the driveway between those storage sheds, out of sight. He meanders back to the bank, a 1/2 block away. The rest, as they say, is still a mystery.

If jail didn’t teach this man anything, there is something wrong with him, our system or both. It’s a mystery to me.

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