Laughing Man

It’s been said that the best fiction is based on fact. And, no matter how large or small that books-oldtidbit of information is, it plants the seed that the writer develops as the story arc. It’s the spark that creates the basis for the storyline and it’s the anchor that keeps the story focused.

Often I’ve joked to my fiction writer friends about the stories I create. “You just can’t make this stuff up,” I say, and they smile and I get nods of agreement all around.

But where do these crumbs of fact come from that fester into plots? I either findMH900070935 an interesting newspaper article, an online piece about some new scientific research or I develop a story around something that I’ve experienced—and then embellish on those facts to create believable fiction.

And that’s simply what good fiction really is—a believable lie!

So when I was traveling back from New England recently, I experienced something quite unique that became the seed for a sinister new short story.

It happened while my wife and I were having lunch at an airport. We were seated at a table toward the back of a restaurant off the main concourse. Shortly after we were seated, another person sat at the table next to us.

This fortyish man first ordered food, then placed an ear bud into each ear and connected them to his cell phone. Next he made a call. About that time, another gentleman—this one a twentyish-looking kid—sat at the table adjacent to the fortyish man such that they were facing each other.

The young man ordered and the waiter left his table. Suddenly my wife and I heard the young traveler start to giggle. There was a perplexed look on my wife’s face as she said, “How odd. That young man is looking straight at the guy next to us and giggling.”

I looked to my side, to the fortyish man next to us. He was obviously talking on the phone, but he stopped talking and smiled along with the man giggling. Laughter is often infectious and one cannot help but smile or laugh when someone else laughs. The fortyish man, however, stopped smiling and grew perplexed when the younger man started laughing out loud.

I asked my wife, “Is that kid talking on the phone?”

4460987120_dbcc3d3a88_z“No,” she said. “I don’t see a phone on the table, and there are no ear buds or blue tooth device in either ear. He’s laughing at the man next to us. He’s staring straight at the guy and laughing.”

I gazed over at the man next to us as I heard the chuckles behind me evolve into gales of laughter. Fortyish Man seemed irritated and said as much to whomever he was talking to on his phone, but then he tried to ignore Laughing Man and simply looked down at the table.

But Laughing Man kept at it. He started giggling so hard that others in the restaurant turned to stare at him. The laughter stopped momentarily while his food was served, but then he started up again. It began with some intermittent giggles between bites and then his chuckles cascaded into gales of belly-jiggling laughter that was heard around the restaurant. At that point, the man next to us threw up his hands and asked, “Okay, what’s so funny, man?”

This only encouraged more laughter, but it also brought over the waiter who unsuccessfully tried to quiet the man. Finally, the manager came over and asked the guy to leave. The manager instructed the waiter to package up the man’s food and to prepare his bill.

As my wife and I watched with astonishment, Laughing Man continued chuckling as he paid the bill. We saw the waiter roughly wrap the guy’s food in tin foil and stuff it into a to-go box. Laughing Man took one more look at the man seated next to us and let out another gale of laughter before he turned and walked out of the restaurant.

At that point, Fortyish Man turned to us. “What was with that guy? What did I do?” We confirmed that it was one of the strangest things we’d ever seen, and then all three of us focused on our meals once again and ate in peace.

As I paid the bill and we gathered our carry-on bags, my wife turned to me and said, “You know, you always tell me that there’s a story hidden somewhere in everything. I think we just observed a short story that you should write.”

And that’s exactly what I did. We walked to the nearest airport lounge and settled intoMH900443125 some chairs for another hour to wait for our flight—an hour that I used to outline a short story, a bit more sinister one I might add than the actual event that we witnessed.

The short story is now complete and it has a name. I call it Laughing Man. One of these days I’ll publish a collections of short stories and this one will definitely be included.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in About James J. Murray, About Writing, Accuracy in Writing, Airplane Murders, All About Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, Character Development Techniques, Characteristics of a Fictional Character, Developing a Writing Career, Developing Better Writing Skills, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Fiction Based on Facts, Fiction Based on Real Life, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Event and Ideas Develop into Short Stories, Mastering Your Craft, Plot Ideas and Where They Come From, Plotting Short Stories, Short Story Development, Sources of Story and Plot Ideas, Story Development, The Art of Storytelling, The Art of Writing, Tools of Fiction Writing, Writing Skills, Writing Techniques and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Laughing Man

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    Hard to beat real life for inspiration. I do it all the time. I have a file drawer filled with newspaper clippings and other idea snippets that I’ve been compiling slnce the early 70’s.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

  2. Suzy Lapinsky says:

    Sounds as if that was one lay-over that was quite profitable. Looking forward to reading this gem.

  3. Thanks! When the opportunity presents itself…

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