Who lives and who dies? It’s a writer’s decision.

A scene from Out of the Past, starring Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum. Just like a movie director, writers dictate the fate of their characters.

When you’re a writer, you can kill anybody you want and you can save anybody you want.

I didn’t sleep much last night.

I was worried about Mary Brooks.

She was bright.

She had loads of energy.

And when she walked through the door, her smile would light up the whole room.

Mary Brooks was everybody’s friend.

Nobody’s fool.

And nobody’s lover.

However, she had been moody the past few days.

She still smiled.

But the light wasn’t there.

Somebody had turned off the switch.

The last time I looked, Mary had been crying.

Couldn’t blame her.

She saw what nobody else did.

She knew what nobody else does.

Mary Brooks witnessed a murder.

It was dark outside.

Not even the moon had made an appearance.

She had worked late and was walking across the parking lot toward her car.

That’s when she heard the argument.

“It was a man and a woman,” she told me.

“Recognize them?”

“I knew them both.”

“Lover’s quarrel?”

“I don’t know if love was involved,” she said.

She shrugged.

I saw the tear in her eye before she wiped it away.

“But it was definitely a quarrel.”

“What about?”

“Money.”

“His or hers?”

“The company’s money.”

“Somebody stealing it?”

“That’s what he said.”

“He blame her?”

“He didn’t have to.”

“Why not?”

“I saw the look on her face.”

“Guilt wears many masks.”

I paused.

I liked the phrase.

I took the time to write it down.

I would use it someday.

“That’s when she shot him,” Mary Brooks said.

“How many times?”

“I know I heard two shots. It might have been three.”

She know you were in the parking lot?”

“I hid behind an old Buick.”

“What’d she do?”

“She ran to her car and drove away.”

“And left him.”

“She did take the time to run over him before she left.”

“Hard-hearted woman.”

Mary Brooks smiled.

“Aren’t we all?”

I didn’t argue.

And I didn’t sleep well last night.

I was worried about Mary Brooks.

She didn’t know she was going to die.

I did.

“You can prevent it,” the Muse whispered in my ear.

“I can’t.”

“You’re writing the damn story.”

The Muse laughed.

“You can kill anybody you want, and you can save anybody you want.”

“Not this time”

“Why not?”

“Mary Brooks didn’t think the murderer saw her.”

“But the murderer did.”

“She knew Mary was there all the time.”

“Are they friends?” the Muse asked.

“Not anymore.”

“It’s a terrible life you live,” the Muse said.

I agreed.

Mary Brooks awoke this morning.

She was bright.

She had loads of energy.

And when she walked through the door, her smile could light up the whole room.

Mary Brooks was the kind of woman who should live forever.

She won’t.

Mary Brooks will never see chapter forty-three.

Please click HERE to find my noir thriller, Conspiracy of Lies, on Amazon.

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