Indie Author Answers #44: False Suspense

i’m too busy for a tip of the week, so I’ll talk about finding time for writing when you’re super busy. Seem contradictory? That’s how we roll on this show.

And now, your reading of the problematic virtue:


20: Brian


“From that perspective, then everything we do could be wrong,” Megan said as she leaned against the oven.

“It’s not about perspective. It’s more about a view of morality, which means looking at an objective thing in a subjective way. The idea of mandates from a Creator God limits everything to only two categories,” Brian said. “There’s a set of rules, and you can be on one side or the other. Morality is more like an ebb and flow. Your view doesn’t take into account how choice is interconnected.”

Brian and Megan were arguing the finer points of morality in the kitchen while about a dozen people hung out in his apartment. The group consisted exclusively of people from their Ethics class: no Alex, no Wiles, no Graham, no Miguel, or anyone else from Brian’s drug-world. In addition, no pot, or cocaine, or acid, which Brian thought was a refreshing change from the usual scene at his apartment. Brian imagined this might be how “normal” kids partied.

Most of the people sat at the table in the living/dining room, playing a drinking card game called President Asshole. Brian had never quite understood the rules, so he and Megan opted instead to chat in the kitchen while having a few beers. Brian found Megan refreshingly conversational, despite having placed her on a pedestal at the laundromat. He was perfectly willing to forsake everyone else at the party to spend time with her.

Brian caught Megan trying to sneak a glance at the people at the table. Then she continued her argument. “But there is an easy way to determine if something is right or wrong. It’s like if you go over to a drug pusher’s house to buy drugs–”

“Whoa, wait a second. Drug pusher? What do you mean by that?”

“You know, someone who sells drugs; a dealer.”

“There’s a huge difference between a drug dealer and a drug pusher. A drug dealer is someone who provides a service to people who are already looking for it. Like the guy working at the movie theater ticket stand. You want to go see a movie, you go to that person, and he can make it happen for you. A drug pusher is a guy who seeks out people who aren’t looking and tries to convince them to buy drugs. Like if the movie theater guy went out in the street and tried to convince people to buy tickets to a movie. They are two entirely different things. It’s morals vs. ethics: you could argue that the drug dealer is unethical because he is doing something illegal, but it is those people’s choice– driven by their own desire– to buy the drugs. What the drug pusher is doing is immoral because it’s imposing will. Different, but still interconnected, in a way.”

“It’s the same thing but different?” Megan said. She took a step towards him, and then peeked at the other party guests again.

Why does she keep doing that? “Yes, exactly.”

“You make no sense, Brian. You speak in riddles.”

He grinned. “It makes perfect sense to me.”

“If that’s true, how do you make an exception for an internal versus external sense of morality?”

“In what way?” he said.

“Like if a desire opposes the will of God or the laws of the people; something feels right, but the law says it’s wrong. It seems black and white, in that instance.”

Brian frowned. “Hmm. Well, I don’t… I mean–”

She leaned in close, almost touching him. She stood a head shorter than he did, and as she drew close, she batted those huge, seductive eyes. The heat from her body entered his personal space and began to warm him. She tilted her head, not so conversational anymore. “What about that, Brian?”

Brian became short of breath. He wanted this, but she had caught him completely off guard because of her seemingly preternatural ability to anticipate his intended destination, then beat him there. As if he did not have time to think, he just had to act. “Do you smoke cigarettes?” he said.

“No, but I’ll join you on your balcony, if that’s what you’re asking.”

They gathered their jackets and proceeded to the balcony, just the two of them. Across the parking lot, floodlights lit up the framed building with the partial roof, but no workers toiled under the lights tonight. They were alone.

“This where you bring the girls.” she said. “This is where you work your magic.”

Brian lit up his cigarette. “Sure. I’m a major player in Boulder, breaking hearts left and right. Everybody knows that.”

“Alright, player, can I ask you a bold question?”

“I’m surprised you asked my permission. That seems out of character for you.”

“How many girls have you slept with?”

A dangerous question. He had not expected this brand of audaciousness. “Not that many,” he said. “I’m not actually a player or anything. I was just kidding.”

She moved in a little closer to him. “I know you were. Just tell me.”

Brian chewed on his lower lip, searching Megan’s eyes to discern her goal, or if he should even tell her. He had previously gone months into relationships without revealing this information. “Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s seven.”

Megan’s eyes lit up. “Really? Me too.”

“You’ve slept with seven girls?”

She smacked him in the chest, but after her fist connected, she did not let go. With her other hand, she grabbed his jacket, and then looked inside. From this angle, anyone in the living room could see them. The party guests seemed to pay no attention, but that easily could change if they turned their heads. Megan seemed to become aware of this and so she pushed him up against the door to the balcony storage closet, out of sight from anyone inside. She leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed him. Soon his hand moved behind her head, holding their faces together for an extended kiss. Passionate and intense, Brian became blinded by lust.

Each incremental movement of their evening that led to now had essentially been not of his doing. Megan had called all the shots.

“There’s something about you,” she said as she moved a few inches away, while still keeping her lips within striking distance of his. “I don’t know what it is. You smell like sex, and I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Yet again Megan had rendered Brian mute. Everything in his body urged him to kiss her again, but he waited to see what she would say next.

And she spoke. “Would you like to make it eight?”





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