Oh my, when did it become May?? Seriously. A few weeks ago I started a draft of this post, figuring I had weeks – WEEKS – to decide which last line to use. And then I’m checking the comments on my blog and someone is nice enough to remind me that the Last Line Blogfest is tomorrow! TOMORROW.
A heartfelt thank you to Roland over at http://www.rolandyeomans.blogspot.com for the friendly reminder, and of course a mega-thanks to Lilah Pierce for hosting this blogfest. Too cool!!
Below is my entry for last line blogfest over at http://lilahpierce.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-blogfest.html
Ahem, I cheated a bit in that the set-up is way more than twenty-five lines. More like fifty. Sorry – I really wanted feedback on the last line in this scene and didn’t think I could get the flow working in less than fifty lines.
This scene takes place after Joe Cooper, ME, is called out to examine the second murder in as many weeks. He is speaking with Detective Grace Gutierrez right before he’s about to chat with the kid (a seventeen year old) who found the victim.
Now, I like the last line. I think it’s somewhat cheesy, but that’s what I was going for in some ways. Joe’s a bit of a player, flirts (even at crime scenes), and Grace is attracted to him. But….if you think the line doesn’t work, please don’t hold back. (FYI, Rodriguez is Grace’s partner. Another homicide detective who is rather AR. He dropped a spot of jelly from a donut on his shirt, hence the reference to him still looking at the spot).
Thanks for reading!
I walked away from Rodriguez, who was still looking down at his shirt. I headed over to the kid, and Gutierrez followed. “Don’t trust me to get at the truth, Gutierrez? I’m not like your partner, you know.” I smiled at her, the most unassuming one I could manage. “Occasionally, I give someone the benefit of the doubt.”
She laughed, looked at me, started to speak, and then blushed. She always seemed momentarily taken aback when we looked directly at each other. And in those moments when I looked directly in her eyes, I could see the beginnings of her guard going down.
“I know you’re not Robert. In fact, you’re so opposite of him and any of the other detectives I work with, it’s strange.”
“Well, I’m not a cop.”
“True, but you work with us. You’re on the same side, but something about the way you conduct your business is different.”
“I’ll bite. Different how?”
“You’re focused, intent, and yet, also distant. I know all of us are—hard, somehow. No one on the police force could be accused of not caring about a case, about the victim and those left behind.” She looked off to the side, took a deep breath. “You put on a good show of not caring, but it’s obvious you do. Maybe too much. And yet, I can‘t figure out just what you care about, what motivates you. Is it catching the killer, helping the victim, or something else entirely?”
I watched her, enjoying the sound of her voice. It was soft and lyrical, and I thought I could listen to it for hours.
Her breath quickened and she looked at me, her eyes open and wide. As if she was waiting for me to say or do something. Not just to answer the questions she had voiced, but to give her answers to larger, more universal questions. Maybe to explain why anyone cares about anyone else in this world.
“I know I’m rambling—sorry. I’m tired and working this crime is a hell of a way to wake up.”
I looked at her for a moment, sensing what she needed to hear, perhaps what she plain needed. And I wanted to give it to her. All of it. The answers about my existence, my life, my pursuits. I wanted to tell her why I cared about humans, the same humans I hunted when my thirst became too great. But, as always, I held back.
I broke her gaze, looked to the side and cleared my throat. “You think too much, Gutierrez.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw her body tense, her shoulders go up a fraction of an inch. She stared at me for a moment, and then turned in the direction of the witness.
“And, I would never call you hard.” I turned back and gave her a sly look. “You seem plenty soft to me.”
She snorted. “Guess I was overreaching with you, Cooper. What was I thinking?” She smiled, not very convincingly. “So the kid’s name is Ernest Smith, a.k.a Skinny Ernie. Seems he was headed over to his grandmother’s so he could help out around her house. He wanted to get an early start since he has to work later today. I will give Robert credit for something. I think the kid did see more than he’s letting on.”
“You know I prefer to question witnesses my own way.”
“Sure, I know.” She turned to walk away, then looked back. “Hey, Cooper—”
“He seems like a good kid. Okay?”
“Sure, Grace.” The maternal instinct looked good on her. “By the way, if you know where I live, why haven’t you ever come knocking?” The embarrassed and possibly caught reliving a sordid-sexual-fantasy-involving-a-forensic-pathologist didn’t look too bad on her, either.