Sunday, September 18, 2011

Idea Garage Sale: The (Your Hometown Here) Slasher

We had some nice rain yesterday; at least, in my neighborhood we did. And the fires are finally thinning rather than just shifting their locations. Soon, I will find something new to obsess about. Yay!

Meantime, after all that generalization last week that went on and on and on, I thought I'd do something short and specific today. Also, I'm not much in the mood today and I need to wake Damon up to play the Sunday puzzle soon. So I do what all experienced authors do when they need an idea in a hurry - I opened up some old files.

Seriously, I have a subfolder in my Story folder labeled "Dormant." Stuff I haven't worked on in forever and am pretty sure I can't make saleable, but am not ready to discard, because hey, the idea was sound; I just didn't execute it well enough. And hey, I still have a word processing file for "The San Antonio Slasher." Good lord, there's a blast from the past. Draft 1 was almost certainly typed on my old electric machine.

It was the story of a Day in the Life of a wannabe serial killer and his victim. Jim Seagram is a young man whose ambition is to be a serial killer, a mysterious figure who strikes terror into the hearts of all and whose identity becomes a popular intellectual game. His heroes are Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer. And his victim of choice is little old ladies. It's the day he's planned for his debut, and the story alternates between him - going to his job at a small neighborhood garage, interacting with his co-workers, planning the evening's work - and his designated victim, Persis Morgenroth, going about her little old lady business. Her daughter is a worrywart and keeps calling her, wants her to get a guard dog or something, but Persis has lived in this house for over fifty years and is on good terms with all her neighbors (though that mechanic is beginning to annoy her, the way he glares at her). She gossips with her garden club, makes a carrot cake, runs her errands, goes jogging, and feels secure. Nothing bad can possibly happen to her in the house she came to as a bride, where she raised all her children, where she can still feel her family's love all around her.

Even when Jim breaks in, Persis remains calm; which is more than can be said of him. The reason he wants to kill little old ladies is that he resents the power they exert over him - he was raised by his grandmother, who treated all men as incompetent boys - and he thinks his big knife will reverse that. But Persis recognizes him despite his carefully worked out disguise and she just can't feel anything but annoyance at that rude young man from the garage.

It doesn't end well for Jim.

I realized, writing all this out, that I've gone back to the core idea - the story alternating between the serial killer who kills, or tries to, out of his sense of inferiority and his innocent prospective victim, who really is superior to him - for the often-rejected novel to which I sometimes refer as "The Happy Family Serial Killer Story." I don't seem to have quite made it work there, either.

But if somebody could, I'm positive there's an awesome story to be made of it.


  1. I hear this tale as a humorous satire. Glad you got some rain. We are still dry as dry can be here. Not one single drop. Sigh.

  2. More rain here last night. Some of it has to make its way over to you sometime.

    I'm afraid one reason I haven't made a saleable version of his idea yet is that my base concept of the serial killer is a little off from everybody else's. They're horrible, but they're also pathetic; basically bullies - only more so. Honestly, how big a loser do you have to be that the only way you can feel big and important is to kill folks? Get a life, dude!