Sadly, I’m not an outlaw. The most daring thing I do is, sometimes, cross the street against the light. Not because I’m afraid of getting hit. When I lived in New York City dodging traffic was my sport of choice – the lights be damned. But here in L.A. crossing against the light is illegal, even if it’s the middle of the night and you can see for miles in both directions. So most of the time I stew on the curb instead. Because I don’t want to get in trouble. I’m embarrassingly law abiding. Even so, last Saturday when I pulled from my mailbox a huge white United States Postal Service Priority Mail envelope that someone had paid six dollars and twenty cents to send me, my heart began to pound – and not in a good way. There was a generic return address. Holding it up, I saw that inside was nothing but a single letter size envelope. It looked ominously official.
Was I being sued? What had I done? I’ll refrain from going over the scary possibilities that flew through my mind, beyond the thought that somehow I’d been caught on a traffic camera crossing on a red, and I was going to jail. Besides, once I opened the envelope it turned out to be a form letter about a new benefit my bank was offering.
But it got me thinking about the old saw that eighty-five percent of people, if you sent them a telegram saying, “All is discovered, flee!” would be out the door without asking a single question. Because we all have “that thing” that we don’t want anyone else to know, ever. The thing that, if it came out, would change everything.
And it struck me that it’s a great question to ask of your protagonist – one of the few general questions that will inherently yield relevant information. So why not ask them: if you received such a telegram, what would you be sure had been discovered? What would you be fleeing from?
I’d love to hear what they ‘fess up to! And, did it surprise you?