by Joelle Charbonneau
I’m not really going to talk politics. Well, not exactly. But I have to admit that the current political upheaval over the Healthcare Bill has me thinking. Yep…smoke is coming out of my ears from the effort. I have lots of friends whom I talk to on a regular basis be it on the phone, in person or through e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. Most of these people are stable, rational human beings. (There are lots of creative types amongst my friends, so I use the word stable loosely. The jury is still out as to whether that word applies to me.) On a typically day, I can count on these people to be kind, funny, snarky or disgruntled. They make me laugh and sometimes they make me cry. They’re normal (yeah, qualify this one, too) people.
Until politics come into play.
Last Sunday night the Healthcare Bill was passed and all hell broke loose on Facebook. People who I believed to be rational suddenly started foaming at the mouth. Words that I never dreamed my friends had rolling around in their heads were suddenly spewed forth. I learned some ugly truths about some people I like. Some are racists. Some are bad losers. A few are incredibly bad winners. All of them would make really great characters in a book.
Some of the best crime fiction involves every day normal, even boring human beings. A catalyst, like the political issue we are currently experiencing, suddenly pushes them from their rational state into a frenzy of action. People who sit next to you in church or whose kids play with yours are suddenly throwing bricks through windows and contemplating much worse. It is the reason so many of us are drawn to reading and writing crime fiction. The unexpected happens to a mundane person and a fascinating tale of morality unfolds.
The movie Nothing to Lose (with Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence) is a great example of a perfectly normal guy who spirals out of control. Tim Robbins' character thinks he sees his wife having an affair with his boss. He holds it together and leaves in his car where he then gets carjacked. Now he’s a man on the edge. Instead of doing what the carjacker wants in order to preserve his life, he decides he doesn’t care and turns the tables. Suddenly, he is the kidnapper and he is out for revenge.
The movie isn’t a stellar example of cinematic brilliance, but it isn’t hard to believe that a normal guy would go over the edge so easily. We see it every day and, if you’re like me, you’ve seen it a lot this week when people talk about the Healthcare Bill. No matter how you feel about the bill itself, you might find some inspiration for your next book or story. Heck, that Dan O’Shea guy might even turn it into a flash fiction challenge. And after this week I definitely understand why people say not to talk about politics over dinner. There are too many dangerous implements at the table. Someone might end up dead.