Goodie, I thought, we’re finished. I can go girlfriend shopping at the weekend. I wonder if Eva Mendes is still single. But seeing as Julie was talking and I really should take notice of her from time to time, I decided to hear her out and said, “What do you mean?”
“I keep seeing the dark side of things.”
“Tell me more, Haley Joel Osment.”
“Wednesday, I’m looking out the office window while talking to Susan. There’s a man and a woman. The man is holding the woman’s arm. They’re smiling, but he’s gripping her bicep a little too tightly for it to be friendly. Across the parking lot are two guys. The man with the woman waves at the two men. Everyone walks to the middle of the parking lot. The man with the woman maintains his grip on the woman’s arm all the way across the parking lot. Guess what I think?”
“I don’t know—maybe that you should be listening to your boss and not looking out the window?”
“No, I think kidnap exchange. That’s your fault. Years ago, I would have seen friends meeting to chat. Now I see a felony in progress. Because of you, I can’t see the world in normal terms. You’ve ruined me.”
What could I say to this? It’s a hefty accusation. So I just smiled and said, “Love you.”
Actually, I know what poor, confused, Julie means. Telling stories of crime means I tend to look at the world in criminal terms. Now I don’t mean I go looking for evil doers doing evil on street corners, but I do look for oddities in the world around me. If something catches my eye, I’ll concoct a story to suit what I’ve just seen. If I spot someone leafing through a trashcan, I don’t think homeless guy, I think money drop. When I notice a guy sitting alone in a dull sedan, I don’t think guy waiting on his wife, I think FBI surveillance on Columbian drug cartel operating out of a Happy Donuts. If I sneak a peek at a flatbed truck chock full of giant seedpods, I don’t think a horticultural expo must be in town, I think alien invasion is on and I shouldn’t go to sleep.
So how did I repay my lovely Julie for her imaginative thoughts about the goings on in her office parking lot? I used them in a book. In my latest thriller, Terminated, the opening scene takes place in a private company’s parking lot, not too dissimilar from Julie’s. Things don’t go down the way Julie witnessed, but there are similarities. The theme of the book deals with workplace violence originating from a grudge that escalates and escalates. The scene now features the protagonist being assaulted in the parking lot. Julie shared the chapter with several of her coworkers with gratifying results. Let’s just say people have developed a healthy fear of the trash enclosure located in the staff parking lot. If nothing else, I’ve made people review their approach to safety.
It’s nice to see that I can convert people to my way of viewing the world. It makes for a far more imaginative place, even if people are a little scared to leave the comfort of their own homes.