They say you should write what you know. So he always started with the aftermath and worked backwards. (It was what he knew) The action would come in time – he’d always found these things worked like little excavations. Others plotted things out, and that worked too.
The action would come in time, some details would reveal themselves. Then he’d start to see the shape of the narrative, same as always. This wasn’t exactly his first time.
He rubbed a little life into his hands and found a new page in the notebook he carried around in case of sudden inspiration and to jot down small observations. He already had a couple of characters so he had most of the who. He’d flesh out the what, and the when, and in time the how and finally the why. His characters certainly had motivations but he knew better than to force the issue. Best just to wait patiently.
He flicked back and forth through his notebook to give his hands something to do while he worried at the details. Some minor details – he liked to think of them as clues – were more trouble than they were worth.
For him, he found they had to be teased patiently, and followed. Some led him in the wrong direction entirely, wasting his time, which was valuable to him, at least. Overall it was like sex, like that cop Leslie Nielson had played in that movie had said: a painstaking, arduous process and just when you think you’re getting somewhere, nothing happens.
Other clues though, well they came in flashes revealing everything: the shape of things, the story. And the one in his mind’s eye was a doozy. He smiled tightly. This one would hopefully lead him to other avenues until he’d hiked up and across the entire rotten edifice, the whole story.
All of life was stories, he reasoned, it’s how we communicate as a species. Did you hear about… Have I ever told you how I… It’s how we learn and it’s how we remember.
He’d always felt that he had a keen ability to observe people and human nature, but for all that it had brought him it left him feeling isolated, detached somehow from the reality everybody else seemed to live. Observe it and write it down, rinse and repeat – life at arm’s length. Only never quite reality, perception: reality microfiltered and pasteurised through his senses then his brain. After all, everything is made up of largely nothing but you’d never know to see it.
Everything was just perception, at least in his experience. That was his cant.
He nodded to the uniformed sergeant – get forensics on it ASAP, make sure it’s not the victim’s hair or a cat’s or something.
18 hours since the start of his shift. They’d stiff him on the overtime of course, but at least he finally had a breakthrough. Protect and serve or at least clean up afterwards: that was his cant.
PS: A clue: this whole thing was built out of a ridiculous pun on something vaguely esoteric and massively pretentious, that’s also a glib critique. Says everything you wouldn’t want or need to know about me… See if you can find it, no prizes for the winner.