Murder By Drill
Murder comes up occasionally in my practice. When I was out in the field, I always used another name. I picked the name of a childhood friend, I won’t tell you which one of you received that trophy, because it’s important to have a complete background story. I knew my old friend, so I could stay in character.
It’s like writing a novel. As you develop characters, you have to know everything about them. Where they were born. What their childhood was like. Everything. Novelists write whole pieces called character developments. After my Writer’s Group critiqued my first novel to death, I used it for character development in Murder For Me. I learned from the pain.
When I was a young attorney, I once was assigned to investigate a life insurance claim. A man plugged in his drill and murdered his wife. Then he made a claim for her life insurance.
Part of my job was to meet the man and take his statement under oath. I never expected him to agree to it because the statement would essentially waive his Fifth Amendment rights, but he agreed to meet me and spill his guts.
I had images of this man as large and strong, how else could someone do such a thing to another human—to his wife? I also envisioned him as looking evil, appearing evil, being aggressively evil.
I worried about the encounter for weeks. I retained security to be at my office that day. I warned the office that this man was coming.
The attorneys and legal assistants were not scared. They were all eager to be there. Attorneys rearranged their schedules to be in the office on the day.
My wife was nervous that morning when I went to work. I had told her about it and she was very worried. I was too.
I got there early, paced around, warned the receptionist this was the day, and made sure the security was ready.
Ten minutes late, a little man about 4’11’’, with his head lowered, meekly walked into the office and quietly told the surprised receptionist who he was. When I saw what he looked like and his stunning impotence, I was sorely disappointed. Not only in the adventure I was expecting, but in my own false and misinformed assumptions.
During his statement under oath I could barely hear him. He sadly whispered his own version of his life and what happened. Afterwards, I watched the little man walk out of the office and into the elevator unnoticed. After they saw him, the rest of the office went on to their regular, mundane work.
I wrote a report. Afterwards, I tried to remember everyone has a life story that can get them to act in ways that even they could not have imagined.
When I wrote my book, I wanted my antagonists to be three-dimensional. I tried to not only show what they did no matter how horrible, but give the reader insight into why they did it.
When I wrote Murder For Me, I wanted to learn from the murder of my first book.
Russell Little posts his blog at RussellLittleAuthor.com. His first novel, Murder For Me, will be published this year.