Indie Author Answers #68: Dialogue vs. Action Beats

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23: Miguel


“A couple days later, I went to talk to Wiles about it. Wiles was majorly pissed that I was at the bridge. The whole thing had been planned out, and me showing up sent that all to shit. I told him about Jimmy, and he wasn’t surprised at all. Wiles knew Jimmy was there. He sent Jimmy there. He’d been slinging meth for Wiles on the sly and Brian didn’t know. I didn’t know then that Wiles had arranged the meet with Ray and them just to scare Brian. He sent Jimmy there to see his brother’s initiation into Wiles’ crew for real. Like a test of faith. Jimmy was supposed to go back to Wiles when it was done so he could tell him how Brian handled it.

“He said Brian had just gone soft and was acting like he didn’t want to sell weed anymore. The plan was they’d draw their guns on him, and then he would be too scared to stop selling for Wiles. If Brian thought that he’d messed up the deal, then Wiles would have something he could hold over his head. Wiles told me the whole thing. Ray let him know that they caught Jimmy, and got rid of him. He said it was my fault that Jimmy died, because they only discovered him because of me. He said the whole thing was my fault, and I’ve believed him this whole time. All that cloak and dagger shit; Wiles playing everybody against each other. You can see how I just wanted to be done with him.

“But Wiles told me I couldn’t say anything to Brian, or to anybody, so he could keep on doing business with Ray and his boys. He told me if I said anything, he would kill Maria and Brian and anybody else he could think of to keep me quiet.”

“Why ain’t you just pop a cap in him right then?” Theo said.

Miguel slammed his fist into the table. “Because I’m weak. Because without Wiles, there would be no product in this town, or in the state at all, to be honest about it. He needed my connections, and I needed his product. We had one of those… what-do-you-call-it relationships, like where the little fish that attaches to the alligator cleans its teeth, and the alligator lets the fish eat bits of stuff it doesn’t want. You know what I’m talking about.”

Theo shook his head.

“Well, I’m done with this shit. I’m done hiding in fear from this dickweed and his little army. The whole thing was a mistake, and I’m going to fix it. Right now. I don’t care what happens; I’m going to end that piece of shit.”

“Let’s do this,” Theo said as he stood up. Theo teetered on his feet, then staggered and fell back into his chair. In his current state, put a gun in Theo’s hand and he was likely to shoot himself.

“No, Theo. You need to stay here. I need you to be here when Maria comes back, in case she asks about me. I need you to take care of her if anything happens to me tonight.”

Theo leaned forward in his chair. “For sure, Miguel,” he said, “you don’t need to worry about anything because I always got your back. And I promise Maria is safe with me.”

“I need one more thing. Can I borrow your car?”

“Of course you can.” Theo tossed Miguel his keys.

Miguel said (perhaps) his final goodbye to his old friend Theo, grabbed his new friend the Mossberg out of the closet, and started up Theo’s car.

He drove on Foothills highway out towards Brian’s apartment and just a mile short came upon a car accident. Up ahead, an ambulance and several cop cars had surrounded an overturned truck. Traffic at a standstill. Before he could back up and possibly, cross the median to find an alternate route, cars filled in behind him. Bumper to bumper in just a few seconds. He regretted giving Maria his truck, because Theo’s little Sedan couldn’t just jump the median as he could in his own vehicle.

Traffic jam meant he wasn’t going anywhere, unless he could find another solution.


24: Brian


Brian glanced at the door. Wiles took a deep breath and steadied himself. “This isn’t how I wanted this to go,” he said. “Things seem to have gotten a little out of hand here. I know you have these God-given urges to get laid, and normally, I’d have no truck with that. The truth is, she’s a little cunt, and I can’t stand her.”

Wiles is going to beat me up because of a woman that he doesn’t like. Is he serious?

“But she is family,” Wiles continued. “I love my brother, and he loves her, so that means she’s important to me. I loved you too, Connelly. I gave you everything. Maybe you don’t get that; maybe loyalty doesn’t mean anything to you.”

A reflexive chirp of a laugh escaped Brian’s mouth. Despite the gravity of the situation, Wiles’ ridiculous remark incited Brian to speak. “Loyalty?” he said. “What does this have to do with loyalty?”

“Aren’t you the one who’s always talking about how everything is related? You must think your definition of loyalty is the only one that matters. You’d be wrong, son. Everything has to do with loyalty.”

Brian slinked closer to the fireplace poker. Across the room, Alex’s eyes darted back and forth between them like a person watching a tennis match in fast-forward. “You’re full of it,” Brian said. “This has to do with your damn empire and you saving face.”

Wiles sat back down on the couch. “Is that so,” he said, tenting his fingertips. “I’ve been trying to be reasonable with you, but you don’t want to listen. You seem to talk like you have some control over this situation,” Wiles said. “Maybe you don’t actually understand what’s going on here. Let’s take a step back. This is the moment for you to come clean, son, and what you do in the next few minutes is life and death. I want you to trust in that.”

Brian began to believe that Wiles meant to kill him. Explaining himself was not helping, so he would have to take action. But what? What could he do with a fireplace poker– if he could even reach it– against the gun that Alex held in his hand? Everything in Brian’s life had now led to this moment, but nothing before had prepared him for this situation. He had to do something. No other way.

I can walk in May. If I live that long.

Brian had not experienced this sensation since the night at the bridge, but this seemed infinitely more vivid. Infinitely more immediate. Brian looked at the door again. Come on Miguel, where are you?

Wiles caught him in the act, and furrowed his brow. “Why do you keep looking at the door?”







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