The Footlight Club put up a production of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in Jamaica Plain this weekend, so I took Sylvia and Katie H. to see it. The play has some limitations compared to the novel – all action takes place in the drawing room of the mansion on Indian Island, with occasional bits being narrated from off-stage (“oh no … he’s fallen off the cliff!”). And this version has a happier ending than the original novel – two of the guilty party escape death. Fortunately, the director of this adaptation ramped up the creepy atmosphere by having ghosts, dressed in rags and Eyes Wide Shut masks, stalk across the stage at opportune moments. Despite the melodrama, I found the ending genuinely chilling, and was grateful not to have to walk to my car alone.
Then I got to Common Ground, only to find a bar full of drunken Allston hipsters … and the real horror began!
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Sunday dawned gorgeous and warm, 80s with a storm-tinged breeze but no actual rain, so I took my notebook to Davis Square and brainstormed. Inspiration struck me, and I plotted out my next novel from beginning to end. I filled five pages with notes, alternating between furious scribbles and vacant staring. I outlined the project so thoroughly that, if I died, someone could reconstruct the novel from those notes alone.
Lots of authors advise that you not outline a novel in too much detail – you don’t want to straitjacket yourself into a plot that’ll stifle you. But a solid outline makes me feel more confident. It’s a landmark to which I can always return, even if I want to go exploring.
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I also saw a war between transients in Davis that afternoon: a guy in his late teens, dirty but fully dressed, hit up passerby for bus fare. He avoided me – whether intimidated by my attention to my notebook or my comical mirror shades, I couldn’t tell. But then he asked another transient for change. This man – dressed in red sweatpants and unlaced sneakers – vaulted up off his bench and blared something incoherent. He stumbled across the square, ranting louder as the distance between the two of them increased, until he collapsed onto a different bench.
(Edit: The wanderer – Angry Mike)
The truce among the indigent strains to the breaking point. Soon, all hell will be unleashed.