By Tracy Kiely
A few years ago my Muse, Thalia (“the joyous,” “the flourishing”), went on strike, citing “poor work conditions” and a “lack of fertile soil.” However, as with most strike situations, there was a scab ready and willing to take her place, and so within a few weeks, I had replaced Thalia with Tridenta (“the gum smacker,” “the loud talker”).
Tridenta and I don’t have the same chemistry as Thalia, but then Tridenta doesn’t judge me when I watch The Golden Girls when I should be writing.
But, there are downsides to our arrangement. Tridenta is well…flighty. My deadline is looming, and somewhere mid-August, Tridenta went out for a smoke or something and then completely disappeared. When she finally returned a few weeks later, looking like something the cat dragged in, I gave her a firm lecture on responsibility, slipped her a few antibiotics to be on the safe side, and set back to work.
But I’m way behind, and everyone once in a while she’ll start singing some Mexican drinking song, and I get even further in the weeds.
Anyway, the book I can’t seem to write (besides the current one, that is) is one that I’ve been toying with for about twenty years. I love Hitchcock, and so a long time ago I came up with a Hitchcockian plot of sorts. It goes as follows: A young woman fights with her boyfriend, and on the spur of the moment decides to take the train to New York for the weekend. On the train, she talks with her seatmate, a young woman who seems nervous. They chat, but soon our heroine falls asleep. When she awakes, she finds that her seatmate is gone, having apparently taken the wrong purse. Our heroine finds a hotel reservation in the woman's purse, and so heads to that hotel in the hopes of exchanging purses. However, hours pass, and the other woman doesn’t show. Without a wallet or any cash, our heroine decides to use the reservation for herself. She is surprised when she is awakened a few hours later by the missing woman. However, the woman has been shot and is near death. She whispers some sort of important message to our heroine and then dies.
From there we have more of the usual Hitchcockian elements – mistaken identity, wrongful accusation, and, of course, a lovely MacGuffin.
But, this is where Tridenta has been most disappointing. What is the message? What does our heroine have to do? Why can’t she call the police? Why can’t she call her family?
Tridenta won’t tell me. She’s singing that damn Mexican song again.