by: Joelle Charbonneau
No, I’m not talking about feeling mugged after filing your taxes or knowing you were ripped off after paying full price to see the newest, and lamest, blockbuster movie. During jury duty (yeah, I’m back to talking about jury duty again), the judge questioned all of us potential jurors. One of the questions was “Have you or someone you know been the victim of a crime?”
My answer was yes. My cousin was shot and killed years ago by an angry boyfriend who went to the wrong apartment. Also, a friend of mine was shot in the head while walking home at night. Thankfully, he survived.
For some reason I was shocked to hear everyone answer yes. Wow…was crime that rampant? More interesting still was the crimes that people listed. Almost half the people said their car window had been broken. Well, when we lived in the city our car window was broken a number of times. It never occurred to me to claim that under the heading of “being a victim of a crime”. One woman said she forgot her purse on a bench, realized it hours later and went back to get it only to find it had been stolen. Another guy said his cousin’s house was robbed about twenty years before.
Maybe sitting in a jury box for an impending murder trial made me automatically think about big crimes – capital C Crimes. Murder, kidnapping, assault, armed robbery. I never really thought about the small things like a broken window or a misplaced and subsequently stolen purse.
But aren’t those what some of the best crime stories are about? Yeah, we all love a great murder mystery – at least I do – but the story that revolves around a misplaced wallet can be just as compelling. The lost/stolen purse really got me thinking. What if someone who took that purse got something he or she wasn’t expecting? What if that small act of theft turned into something much bigger? What if that person ended up running for his or her life simply because they didn’t turn the purse into lost and found? What if?
As writers, it's our job to ask “What if?” about everything. You never know which “What if” might inspire the next great story. I have to admit that the book I just started was inspired by me asking “What if” about that jury case… What kind of events or “What if” moments have inspired you?
And for all you moms out there - Happy Mother's Day!