Saturday, April 04, 2015

Not what I wish I'd Said

By Keith N Fisher

With all the great weather we’ve had lately, at least in my part of the world, I was sitting on my front porch, sleepily plotting a story. Suddenly, a car pulled up across the street. The driver slammed on the brakes and bailed out. Yeah. It caught my attention.

The driver set out chasing a little black streak. I thought maybe his animal got away and he was trying to catch it before it got into trouble. Then, I wondered if he was chasing my daughter’s cat, so I headed toward the car. The driver came back in a few moments, empty-handed. I asked what he was chasing? He muttered something about a dog and animal control. Then, he did a u-turn and sped back the way he came.

I assumed he was still chasing the dog and it made me angry for a couple of reasons. With the comment about animal control, I thought he might be an exuberant, off duty, dogcatcher. I also wondered if he was kidnapping animals. Motivated by the recent disappearance of three cats from our porch, I followed.

I had worked at my physical job the night before, so I started my half-hearted chase, using a cane for my sore and stiffened ankles. I didn’t really think I would catch the guy, but I thought I might see him on the next street over, trying to intercept the dog.

I found him parked in a driveway down the block, talking on a cell phone. When he got into his car, he came toward me so I stood in the road to stop him. When he barely cracked open his door, I asked, what makes him think he had the right to chase dogs through my neighborhood? He said something about almost hitting the dog, and that he’d called animal control.

What I should’ve said was, So, you missed your chance to kill the dog with your car, now you want to finish the job by chasing the poor animal. What do you plan to do if you catch it? That’s what I should’ve said.

Of course I didn’t think of that. Instead, I said, “I repeat, what makes you think you can chase a dog through my neighborhood?”
“It ran in front of me. I almost hit it?” he said.

Of course, my uncouth self kicked in, I tried to point out that if a dog got itself killed then it would be the dogs fault, nevertheless, I swore, and said something about driving like a maniac through my neighborhood.

Yeah. As you might’ve guessed it didn’t end well. I lost control and raised my voice. He asked something like who is the maniac now? He closed his car door, and drove away. I felt like tossing my cane, or a rock, through his back window, but I didn’t. Instead, I took down his plate number. When I got home I called the police.

The dispatcher said there was a call from my area for animal control, and that she would let the officers know, about my complaint. I hung up, knowing that would be the end of it. It is an interesting type of road rage that makes a person chase the dog. Especially, when all, that dog did was cross a road at the wrong time.

What do you think of my story? What does it have to do with writing? Other than, being an example for a scene that I might use in a book, it brings up my inability to banter with words. Do you have that problem? Are you able to say the perfect words in the heat of the moment?

I spend hours, crafting the best dialog I can write, but do characters really speak that way? Do your characters speak with perfect inflection, saying the right things or do they do like I did, and never think of the right words to say at the right time?

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.  


Weston Elliott said...

you know, you always think of the perfect thing to say twenty minutes after the opportunity to say it has passed! This is why we writers love edits - it's our chance to go back in time to that one time...

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