One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Mystery Novel


Driving my kids to school this morning I passed a large black trash bag, carelessly tossed on the side of the road. Instantly my mind filled that bag with a dead body. I wondered what horrific events had led up to this person’s demise, and if it was male or female. And, although the bag was quite large, I wondered if the body was completely intact, or if it had been dismembered so it could fit nicely inside. Was someone looking for them or was it too early in the day for anyone to notice they were missing? And could the lady in the hair curlers driving the mini van behind me be the killer? Some might think these are disturbing thoughts for a mom to have while hauling her young, impressionable children to school. But I say seeing a dead body in garbage bags is a sure sign that I was born to write.

I remember when I was a child, I was always the one to come up with the storyline for whatever we would pretend to be that day. One hot summer day in particular, all the girls on my street gathered in a friend’s garage to play make believe. The girls were getting irritated with all my crazy ideas, and they simply wanted to play house for a change. After much complaining, I gave in, but then they told me I couldn’t play. No matter how much I begged, they refused. Not one to give up easily, I suggested that I play the part of a doll. I promised I would only sit on a pretend shelf and not move at all. They agreed to allow me to be the doll provided I did not utter so much as one word, and they threatened me with a group tattle to my mother if I did.

Within a few minutes I sensed they realized how dull washing fake dishes and cooking plastic chicken legs was. I seized the opportunity and quietly suggested that perhaps the doll could move, not talk, just move, and only at pretend nighttime. So while everyone was pretend sleeping, the doll magically came to life and tiptoed through the house. Before long we had a garage full of magical dolls. These were not your ordinary magical dolls either; I didn’t do ordinary. These dolls didn’t dance and sprinkle fairy dust while having tea parties with the teddy bears. Our dolls all had a fatal virus for which there was no cure. One by one each little doll would die a tragic, painful, overly dramatic death. As I recall, some of my friends even shed real life tears. We played magical dolls for hours, it was the most fun we’d had all summer! Of course I was the last surviving doll. It was only fair, after all, given that all the dolls were conceived in my mind.

To this day my mind instinctively creates, but sadly up until now I haven’t tried much to share my creations. I believe that anyone can write a story. Some may not write as eloquently as others, but we all have something to say. I have found that getting my stories out through writing is therapy for my soul.

You have your own stories everywhere, but you have to use your minds eye to see them. That package left on your neighbor’s doorstep might be an ancient Greek idol that allows a glimpse into the future for those who touch it. Your boss and one of your co-workers may have a very complex casino scam going and when the corrupt casino owners discover they’ve been had, all the clues they find may lead them straight to you! Or maybe, just maybe that very evil man crossing the street with you just purchased the winning lottery ticket, but when he is run over by an ice cream truck a gust of wind blows his ticket right into the hands of the homeless woman you see on the corner each day. The possibilities are endless.

Do you see dead bodies in trash bags, or do you just see trash? If you see the bodies like I do, don’t let their story go untold. Take a chance, and write.



2 responses »

  1. Great post! I get inspired driving to work too! Often to write poetry, as soon as I get to my desk I have to hastily scribble down the images and lines before they vanish…

  2. Thank you! It’s true, you really have to get your thoughts on paper as quickly as possible or they will get squeezed out by something much less important. 🙂 Happy writing to you.

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