I love people-watching. Observing what they do, how they act, picking up on their unique quirks and habits.
I also love writing–and reading–a good story, with all its colorful characters and plot. But sometimes my love of people-watching and my love of a good story can mesh together weirdly and get a little carried away.
I tend to look at people and circumstances through the eyes of a writer. Many times I’ve found myself analyzing the various personalities and individuals around me and transposing each person into their most fitting respective roles of my newest epic novel or mystery.
As I observe the rather animated and intriguing group on the other side of the crowded cafe while sipping my peppermint mocha and munching my jumbo chocolate chip cookie, I make several deductions.
The elderly, graying man reclining at the head of the table is obviously the patriarch of the gathering, and by his expensive attire and demeanor, most likely a wealthy CEO of some successful business; but he looks to be somewhat ailing, a definite sign of an impending family crisis. Seated at his right hand is a middle-aged man who, from all appearances, must be the patriarch’s eldest son. He seems to be keeping a close eye on his father, as any careful, loving son would–he knows the older man is nearing the end of life and is taking every precaution to keep him comfortable and secure.
Or so it would seem. As the son must know, he is also in the position of coming into an immense inheritance, once his father passes. The old man does appear to not be in the best of health, but perhaps he is not approaching death as quickly as the son has expected. The impatient son could be planning a swift, smooth exit for his father.
My deductions regarding this son are soon questioned, however, as I suddenly notice that he is sitting in a wheelchair, which takes the place of his chair at his table place. Instead of the patriarch being the one with an imminent death sentence, it must actually be his son. My suspicions are further confirmed as I focus on the seasoned, graceful woman to the right of the son who has been coddling and caring for him throughout the meal.
With elegantly groomed, dark brown hair and impeccable taste in fashion, she has the appearance and expressions of a true lady and a gracious, patient helpmeet to her husband, and she certainly does not come under any suspicion on my part. I knit my brows and purse my lips sympathetically as I think of all the unmitigated corruption that is going on behind her back among her beloved family members.
Moving my attention to the two individuals seated directly to the left of the father, it appears that perhaps they are the true schemers of the group. The man on the left hand of the elderly man bears a striking resemblance to the older son, but definitely younger, and so I deduce that he must be the younger brother of the aforementioned older son. Guessing by their positions at the table, the woman next to the younger son is either his wife or a significant other. She has full, blonde locks and an attractive figure, which is most fitting with the younger son’s dark and handsome features. The typical suspect couple. The two don’t appear to be exchanging much conversation, but they do appear to be exchanging surreptitious glances toward one another as they sip their coffee, and not in the familial way. More like two conspirators employing telepathic measures to some nefarious end.
I suspect that the younger son is also desiring a large share in his father’s estate, yet due to his position as the younger child, it is unlikely that he will be bequeathed enough of the fortune to satisfy his desires, not to mention that the title of future CEO will undoubtedly go to the eldest son. Consequently, he and his female friend are plotting how they can turn the tide of events in their favor. Hm. A classic scenario of mystery and detective stories. Maybe too classic. Too obvious.
All this seems to be leading up to some inevitable conclusion, but there are still further characters to assess in this brewing conflict.
Further down the table I see two more characters in this distressing scene, although they seem less likely to have homicidal tendencies. As typical of young people these days, they are both absorbed in their mobile devices, probably bored with the post-dinner conversation going on at the table. The young man, who looks to be around nineteen or twenty, and his sister, a few years younger, are the children of the oldest son and his wife, making the elderly man their grandfather. They offer minimal participation in the table talk, save an occasional halfhearted nod or comment when their parents or other relatives manage to dredge them up from their cyber reality.
This adds a new layer of complexity to the plot, since this young man, grandson of the old man, will certainly be expected to carry on the legacy of his grandfather and father. Unfortunately, he is not yet CEO-material, as he is currently only interested in living the wildest and freest of lives. Perhaps he will mature and sober up as he grows older, but for now, his failing father and aging grandfather worry about the future of the family business.
At the opposite end of the table from the aged grandfather, the final subjects of my inquiry, another couple, come to my attention. The man also has a slight, allusive resemblance to the other males already described, and I presently come to the conclusion that he is a cousin of the two brothers, nephew of the patriarch. Aha! A jealous, scheming cousin! That would fit the murder mystery scenario exquisitely. He is a quiet, brooding observer of the goings-on around him, unlike his wife, who is both talking and laughing effusively. She has some secret motive behind this superfluous commotion, to cover up something she doesn’t want the others to notice. Guilt of a murderous plan, maybe? Or is she acting as a protective accomplice, trying to deflect the attention from her guilty husband?
The silent cousin holds a sleeping infant in his arms, further complicating the situation and adding to the myriad of possible motives for wanting to eliminate his rivals to the family fortune. Of course, this young child would add another reason to why this cousin and his wife would be willing to commit such a ghastly crime and would also make their actions more justifiable in their minds.
As I complete my observations and review my resulting deductions of this alarming scene, I can only come to one obvious conclusion:
This seemingly innocent family group eating dinner together at the cafe is a powder keg of potential killers, ready to blow at any moment. Someone is most certainly going to be dead before the end of the week, and I’m the only person privy to enough details to be able to do something about it. Thank God that I came in here when I did. When I decided to hole out in a busy cafe to see what inspiration I could gather for my new mystery, I had no idea that I would be an eyewitness to a real-life murder plot!
I hurriedly down the rest of my mocha and cookie and plan my next move to avert this horrible crime. I absolutely must do something to stop this cold-blooded murder plot.
What should I do? Who should I get help from? The police? No, they would never believe me.
Maybe a private detective, or a lawyer? Ah yes, just the thing. They would do something about this situation for sure.
I think over my options. Holmes, Mason, Marple, Poirot, Monk, Clouseau, Shawn and Gus . . . Hm. This definitely does seem like more of a Perry Mason case.
Mason it is, then. I grip my cell phone determinedly. This family is saved.
Okay, so maybe I did elaborate just a bit (especially about the Perry Mason part), but this really is the general direction my writer’s mind goes when I’m engrossed in people-watching.
I guess I should warn you all, though–don’t be surprised if you end up as inspiration for unseemly roles in my next murder mystery.
But don’t worry. I promise you I don’t really think you murdered the helpless old patriarch.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave any thoughts you have in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any posts!