Sunday, October 2, 2011

Idea Garage Sale: Enigmatic List

I was going through a folder containing all the notes I wrote down on stray bits of paper during soul-sucking day jobs. And I do mean all - the following is obviously dated to 1991, when I had a temp job as ticket cashier for the Splendors of Mexico Exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art, and I have earlier notes with internal evidence connecting them to jobs held earlier than that.

The list itself is enigmatic and probably the result of an exercise in plotting. Before anybody reads this, I wish to make it clear that I don't remember having anything against anybody on this temp job, or even having any contact with the senior curator. I have had jobs during which I plotted the fictional murder of a boss or co-worker as a tension reliever, but I have only pleasant memories of this one. It was a spectacular exhibit, and employees got to walk through it for free!

What - Corpse
Where - Trolley in little-used hall between Exit and Main Hall, behind breakroom
Who - Sr. Curator
How - Cyanide-laced chewing gum
Why - Major spectacular art theft/forgery - cover up or double-cross
When - Monday, Splendors of Mexico

Obviously, anchoring a mystery to a specific exhibit and venue like this would be unwise. What I probably intended to do (insofar as I intended anything; it probably was just an exercise) was plot the story using the geography and schedule of the real art museum, and then use all fictional characters and enough tweaking of the museum to avoid hurt feelings and render me immune to prosecution.

Which is not a bad procedure for writing a puzzle mystery.

I wonder if you could deliver a fatal dose of cyanide in chewing gum, and how you would go about it?


  1. Ooooo. Perhaps one could casually hand the victim a piece of gum, particularly if said victim was trying to quit smoking....

  2. Yeah, but - how big a dose is fatal? Could you add that to the gum without changing the texture? How would you even research that? Bazooka or Double Bubble gum would work best, as stick gums neatly wrapped and would be hard to put back into the package, and gum balls are protected by their candy coating. I don't know of any "make your own gum" hobbiest like the home brewers and people who bake their own bread, make their own sausage, and so on.