The following is a post from my old blog, Fermented Fur, written in February of 2009 when I was doing research for my first book. Some of my fellow authors have been discussing research, and–as usual–I have a unique, slightly warped view of things, so I decided to find and share this post. Authors, is this how you feel when you research?
(Note: The scenario below took place only in my own imagination. So far. Really, this couldn’t happen. Right???)
Heading out to the garage, I am, as usual, blissfully unaware of my surroundings. I know this isn’t very street-smart. Experts are always saying people should be especially alert while going to and from their cars, whether at home or in a public lot. But there’s way too much going on in my head, so I’m generally busy up there pondering imponderables and composing future blogs, which is also one of the primary reasons I fall down so much. That, and the drinking, which isn’t a factor at this particular moment.
Approaching the corner of the garage, the lid of one of the trash cans raises up a few inches, and I see a pair of shifty eyes and hear, “Psssssst. Hey, over here.”
Realizing that it’s unlikely that Oscar the Grouch has taken up residence in my trash can, I am somewhat suspicious. Most people I know don’t lurk about in trash cans.
Clutching my keys, which experts also claim can be an effective self-defense weapon, I ask, “Who are you, and what do you want?” Because if there’s somebody hiding in your trash can, these are things you need to know.
“I’m Blaster625, from the Anarchist website. I hear you have some questions about incendiary devices.”
“Wait, how do you know that?”
“I have my sources.”
“I was doing a lot of research yesterday, and visited a lot of websites. Some of which, I must say, were more than a little disturbing. Are you from one of them?”
“Maybe. So, I hear you need to blow up a bus.”
“No, Blaster, I most certainly do not need to blow up a bus. I’m doing research for a book I’m writing, and my bad guy is going to try to kill someone by blowing up his bunk in a tour bus.”
“Yeah, sure, right, whatever. About blowing up this bus, though…”
“Look, if you’re going to keep saying ridiculous shit like that, I can’t help you.”
“Fine! I don’t want help from some wacko anarchist who hides in trash cans and says corny stuff like ‘psssst.'” And what are you, about 15? Shouldn’t you be in school or at the dermatologist or something?”
“No school today. It’s an in-service day for the teachers. I mean, the establishment.”
With that, I stalk back into the house, telling Mr. Blaster he’d better be gone when I come back. I’m thinking I need to get the mat-splitter from the dogs’ grooming utensil basket, as it is the closest thing to a deadly weapon I own. I haven’t read any expert opinions on the viability of a mat-splitter being used in this manner, but it seems like a safe bet.
Making my way back to the garage, mat-splitter tucked in my coat pocket, I’m much more aware of my surroundings than I had been earlier. I notice a brief flash of movement by the garage.
“Look, Blaster, I thought I told you to get lost.”
Suddenly, I am blindsided and find myself sprawled on my back in the icy driveway, a large, masculine figure pinning my arms to the ground. Ordinarily, being pinned under a large, masculine figure has the potential to be of significant interest, but in this case the black body armor is spoiling the mood.
A second riot-gear-clad form steps from behind the garage and says, “Good work, Corporal. Search her for weapons.”
Hauling me to my feet, the Corporal quickly locates my mat-splitter and confiscates it. “What’s this?” he asks. “Some sort of torture device?”
“My dogs think so,” I reply.
“Should’ve known. You anarchists are all sick and twisted individuals.”
“It’s for getting mats out of the dogs’ undercoat, you moron.”
“A likely story. Should I bag it as evidence, Captain?”
The Captain considers this for a moment and says, “Sure. Can never have too much evidence against anarchists and terrorists, I always say.”
I snatch my purse off the ground and whip out my cell phone. The Corporal slams me back against the garage and grabs it from my hand. “Won’t do you any good, sister. We froze your service.”
“What the hell??? Are you people out of your fucking minds? I’m trying to go to work, here.”
The Captain stomps over to me and leans way too far into my personal space. “We know what you’re up to, lady, and you’re not going to get away with it.” He hasn’t actually pulled the assault rifle from the holster over his shoulder, but he looks like he’s thinking about it.
“What I’m up to? Trying to get in my car and go to work?”
“Do you deny that you just met with a member of an anarchist group known as Blaster625?”
“That kid? Well, he was hiding in my trash can when I came out here a few minutes ago. I told him to get lost.”
“Was that before or after he gave you the instructions for building a pipe bomb to blow up a tour bus?”
“He didn’t give me any plans. I don’t want any plans!”
“Uh huh. Then why were you visiting all those bomb-building websites yesterday?”
“As I explained to Blaster-Boy, I am writing a book, and my bad guy is going to try to off my lead male character using an explosive device planted in a tour bus.”
“That’s what all the terrorists say.”
“I think I’m going to have to ask to contact a lawyer.”
“Suspected terrorists don’t get lawyers. We just send you to Gitmo.”
“No, you don’t. George isn’t president anymore. They’re shutting that place down.”
“Well, I haven’t gotten a memo about that yet, so I’m still going with ‘lock ’em up and throw away the key’ till I hear different.”
“This is ridiculous! I swear, if Ashton Kutcher climbs out of my trunk and even whispers the word ‘Punk’d,’ we’re going to discover just how effective mat-splitters are as an instrument of torture. I can’t stand him anyway, except for when he’s playing Kelso. All I did was Google some sites so I could make the bomb part of my plot sound plausible.”
“You did do that, and you also wrote to a couple of bomb squads and asked them about jurisdictions and investigative process, as well as how to blow up a bus.”
“I never asked how to blow up a bus!”
“Jesus H. Fucking Roosevelt Christ on a Crutch, what is wrong with you people??? I never asked how to blow up a bus.”
“You did? When? How? How did you get past the dogs?”
“Last night, and your dogs are real nice. Probably not terrorists. They like cookies.”
“Might’ve been the last cookies they ever see. So if you didn’t find anything, why are you here?”
“Can’t be too careful.”
“Look, do you want to see the novel I’m writing? Would that help at all?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. What’s it about?”
“What difference does that make?” Sigh. Blank looks from the Corporal and the Captain. “Fine. The male lead is a musician, and someone is trying to do away with him, and so the male and female leads have to figure out who it is so they can live happily ever after.”
“Sounds like a romance. I don’t read them girly-books.” This, from the Captain.
“Oh, for crying out loud! You don’t have to read it, you asshat! I’m just trying to prove to you that I am really writing a book.”
“Well, okay. Are we going inside so I can visit with the doggies again? That little gold one is real cute. He drools kind of a lot, though.”
“No, I am going to get my laptop out of the car and show it to you.”
“I kinda wanted to go inside. It’s cold, and I have a couple more cookies for the dogs.”
“We are not going inside.”
I approach the car, with the Corporal hovering over my shoulder, and retrieve my laptop from the back seat.
The Captain says, “Corporal, I want you to open up the computer. Don’t want to give her any chances to try something funny.”
The Corporal looks worried. “What if it blows up? I don’t want to get exploded.”
“That’s the kind of funny stuff I’m talking about. Not that it’d be funny. No, not funny at all, blowing up a federal officer.”
“I really don’t want to open it.”
“Oh, just open it, you big baby. You’re wearing body armor and that Darth Vader mask thing. You’ll probably be fine.”
The Corporal doesn’t look reassured, but does as the Captain ordered.
Nobody gets exploded, and in a few minutes, they are perusing my novel-in-progress.
“I was right,” says the Captain. “This is a girly-book.”
“Yes, it is. I am a girl,” I point out.
“Kinda hard to tell in that coat.”
“Go to hell.”
“Now, that’s not nice. We’re just protecting America, you know.”
The Corporal has been reading avidly, scrolling down at considerable velocity. “Are they going to have sex? ‘Cause it sure sounds like they want to.”
“Yes, they are,” I say. “But I’m not up to that part yet. I’m still working on the bomb thing.”
“When you get to the sex part, can I read it?”
“No, not unless it’s published and you fork over full retail price. Now, are you two going to go away? I’m going to be late for work. And give me back my mat-splitter. Darwin’s been running in the mud, and his britches are becoming a mess.”
The Captain gives this some thought, reluctantly hands back my canine torture device, then says, “I guess we’re done here. You don’t seem to be an imminent threat. But we’re watching you.”
I sigh. I’m free to go about my business, but now I’m on some sort of Federal Watch List or something. I’m disconcerted to learn that my home, cell phone, computer, and – apparently – my dogs can be compromised so easily just because I clicked on a few web links and sent a couple of emails.
I’m starting to think I should just write porn and leave the suspense/thriller genre to the terrorists.