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Something’s Up in Muncie: A Writing Prompt

Thursday last week was like one of those episodes in a sitcom where there’s multiple plots going on, and the most interesting plot is put in the background, so that the main characters only sometimes see glimpses of what’s happening.

That’s me. I’m the main character. And I have no idea what was happening in the more interesting plot. In fact, I’m giving you these sparse details as a writing prompt. Please write this story for me. I want to see what you come up with!

My fiance and I had scheduled to meet someone at a local cafe downtown. The person we were supposed to meet wound up not showing up for a reasonable cause that we didn’t know about. So we waited, watching people to see if that person showed up, for nearly an hour while we enjoyed our warm tea on a cold day with the lightest flecks of snow in the air.

At one point, a man dressed in black pants and a black leather jacket, with a pastel pink backpack strapped securely on his back, came into the cafe. He had an angry, bitter look on his face and didn’t greet anyone or turn his gaze to either side, looking only straight ahead in the direct he was power walking in a hurry. He walked past the cafe counter and went straight to the back and pushed through the door to the hallway where the bathrooms were, even though the sign clearly said that the bathroom was for customers only.

This alone, was not particularly notable, of course. Maybe he needed to pee really bad before he ordered a drink.

Some minutes later, he pushed out of the bathroom space again. He was in the same foul mood, walking in a hurry and looking at no one. As he passed by where we were watching, I saw he had his hand down at his side, pressed against his thigh and slightly behind him. In his hand was a knife—a blade of about four or five inches—sheathed in leather. He was holding it with the blade shielded slightly along his wrist, keeping his hand low and behind him, the way one does when one doesn’t want what they’re carrying to be seen.

He stormed out of the cafe with the same alacrity that he had entered, still not even acknowledging the staff. When he had gone, I turned to my fiance: “Um, I think someone might have just been murdered,” I half joked. “He had a knife.”

Slightly alarmed, when I described the knife, my fiance bravely went into the bathroom to make sure that no one had, indeed, been murdered. After all, if someone was injured, they’d need help. But there was no blood on the knife or the man, and there was no body in the bathroom. So, honestly, it was probably nothing. I don’t know what he was doing but he might have had perfectly legitimate business, and nothing seemed suspicious enough to alert anyone.

Let’s write an adventure story.
Image by THE 5TH via StockSnap

We waited some more time, and then we decided to go elsewhere. As we were leaving the cafe by the best way to do so, we saw the man again: now he was riding on a bike, going quickly by perpendicular to the road we were on, and his pink backpack was now clutched in his arms, tight against his chest. The direction he was riding was from another part of downtown; he’d obviously gone somewhere else in the meantime. What confused me most was that he was holding the backpack: it’s easier to ride with a backpack when you’re wearing it on your back, as he had originally been, not with it in your arm and pressed against your chest as he was doing here.

And that’s where my knowledge of his story ends. Except…

About 20 minutes later, and probably entirely unrelated, we passed by the courthouse. There was another man (as far as I know) waiting on the curb by the courthouse wearing a balaclava. Sure, it was a cold day–it might have just been to be warm. Again, nothing terribly suspicious or worth acting on.

But, reader, I really want you to come up with a story that involves both these characters, whom we are affectionately calling Knife Guy and Mask Guy. What kind of heist are they up to? Are they allies? Are they rivals? You decide!

Bonus: A colleague posted a photo they took of a man leaping between the tops of train cars on the same day. Might we have a third character in our action flick—Train Guy?

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