I don't remember exactly what inspired this scene. It might have been when I was trying to work my way through a plot. It took on a life of its own, which is what I always want my writing to do.
Half a dozen people sat around a green, cloth covered table playing cards. One of the women squinted past the smoke spiraling ceiling ward from the stub of a cigarette dangling from red painted lips.
"I have to kill her off," she tossed down a queen of hearts.
A bearded man picked it up, discarding a one eyed jack. "Why? Did she piss you off"
The others chuckled lightly as the game progressed.
"She's a nuisance. No one likes her."
Six heads bobbed in unison.
"So, how did you figure to do it?" A well dressed, handsome man said quietly.
"Stabbing," the woman replied, grinding the cigarette out.
"Stabbing's messy." A red haired woman wrinkled her nose.
"She's right," the well dressed man agreed.
"Is it premeditated or a crime of passion?" The bearded man wanted to know.
"Oh, it will be very well planned ahead of time."
"Knives are for crimes of passion," the well dressed man interjected.
"Shoot her," the redhead contributed.
"Then I have to dispose of the weapon. And the powder residue - dead giveaway."
"Do you want it to look like a murder?" A pretty blonde next to the redhead said.
"What do you mean?" The smoking woman lit another cigarette, inhaling deeply.
"Well, some contract killers use drugs to make it look like a heart attack. No one knows the difference. It's the same drug they give you when they work on you at the hospital, so it doesn't show up on a tox screen."
"What's the drug?"
"I don't remember. I saw it on TV."
"Hmm, have to research that."
"Set her house on fire," the bearded man said calmly.
"That doesn't look accidental."
"It does if she smokes in bed."
"Quit twenty years ago."
"Drunk driver killed in fatal crash," a dark haired man said enthusiastically, holding up his hands as if announcing a newspaper headline. Everyone groaned.
"Dammit, Barry! I just saw your hand," the bearded man complained.
They tossed in the cards.
"You never answered me," Barry reminded the smoker as she lit another cigarette.
"Quit smoking and drinking when her dad died."
"Does she have any vices?" The redhead looked alarmed.
"Why kill her off?" The bearded man asked.
"She's too damn nice!"
"An old lover returns, stabs her in the back for jilting him." Barry said.
"It's not a crime of passion."
"It's metaphorical. She stabbed him, so he's returning the favor."
"No, I don't think that would work, but it's an idea."
"How about a fatal fall?" The well dressed man asked. "Does she frequent tall buildings?"
The smoker shook her head. "Afraid of heights. I'm still liking the poison heart attack."
"Lots of research," the bearded man said. "How soon did you want to do it?"
"Sometime this week."
"Once she's dead, won't you have to solve it?" Asked the blonde.
"I hadn't thought of that."
"Tragic suicide," Barry said. "She leaves a pathetic suicide note. Badabing, wrapped up nice and neat."
The cigarette smoking woman stared at him in wonder. "You know, that might work!"
The others added to the idea, brainstorming incidents with enough tragedy for a soap opera. The table and people faded as the woman set down her cigarette. She was alone in her office, computer screen flickering gently in the half light. With renewed vigor, she hammered at the keys, putting her ideas down while they were still fresh. She finished the chapter with a smile, patting the screen fondly.
"Thank you," she said to her characters. Thanks to all of you."