What if we make a slight change to the plot, how would this affect the outcome?
Like any writer given time to reconsider the possibilities during that time between the first draft and the first re-write.
For a variation I have decided to create a connection between Jack and the girl. It is only a slight connection, they live in the same apartment block and have met once or twice in the elevator or on the stairs.
Introducing a degree of familiarity changes the dynamic.
Another long day, another argument, always the same one, when were they going to move to a more ‘desirable’ neighborhood?
OK, the neighborhood was a little more down market than they expected, and the landlord could do more to make the apartments more livable, but it was as much as they could afford in the inner city area.
But Chelsea kept arguing for the fact their lives would be better and she would feel safer if they moved to New Jersey. It would mean being much closer to her parents, and it meant a longer trip to the office.
Rather that get into a more heated discussion, which always came back to her parents, he stormed out slamming the door behind him.
Now out on the street it was very cold, in his temper forgetting to collect his coat. There was no going back, not until he calmed down.
He could see the lights of the corner store on and headed towards it. A six pack would help soothe the nerves, and perhaps tell the shopkeeper his problems. He been in there a few times and the chap seemed amiable enough.
He crossed the road, quiet for this tine of night, and pushed the door open, setting the bell that alerted the shopkeeper of a new arrival.
Something was wrong.
Jack was looking down the barrel of a gun.
He’d seen the girl holding now holding the gun several times and knew she lived in their apartment block, closer to the ground floor. She had seemed pleasant if not a little out of place, but quite a few people who once had money were down in their luck.
He had thought she was in the same situation.
Then his eyes strayed to the floor beside her, just as the door shut with a bang putting everyone on edge. Except the man on the floor whom he recognized as her boyfriend.
They’d spoken one and Jack didn’t like him. Chelsea said he was a meth junkie. Sprawled the floor curled up in an almost fetal position, he didn’t look very well.
Had she shot him?
A quick glance at the shopkeeper told him this might be an attempted armed robbery, but for what?
The guy on the floor either needed drugs or hospital care neither of which would be available at the point of a gun.
She looked nervous and the gun was wavering in her hand.
“Get in front of the counter and make sure you show me your hands.” She motioned with the gun where she wanted him to stand.
He put his hands out where she could see them. He wanted no trouble.
“What’s wrong with your friend on the floor?” Jack asked trying to keep his voice and manner calm.
“He isn’t my friend, not anymore. Shit.” She waved the gun at the shopkeeper and said in a slightly hysterical voice, “This is entirely your fault.”
© Charles Heath 2016