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Five-Minute Fiction

Five-Minute Fiction:

Who’s Talking?

The challenge: In five minutes or less, using only dialogue and situational description, create two characters, suggesting age and sex, without giving away visual cues or the words young, old, man, or woman.

The setup: There are two people sitting in the row of chairs behind you in the jury selection room at the courthouse, engaged in conversation. You know nothing about them, and you don’t turn around to see them. As prospective jurors, they are strangers to each other.

Start here: One says to the other, “Do you think the guy’s guilty?”

My attempt, not corrected or edited. Fun to see who I channeled behind me in the jury selection room. Two old guys! At first, I expected to present two middle-aged women, but look what happened by the fourth exchange! The magic of writing.


Sure. The guy who stole that car.

I don’t know anything about it.

Well he did. He stole a car. It was a beater, too—a real piece of shit. Imagine going to jail because you were stupid enough to steal a beater.

You mean, you might as well steal a Lambourghini?

Well, sure.

Hmm. The speaker pauses to think about this. I don’t know. The smart choice would be not to steal a car.

Well, sure, but these guys aren’t smart, these criminal types. If they were smart they wouldn’t need to steal.

How do you know about this case, anyway? We’re not supposed to know anything.

I read the paper. Don’t you?

The local one? No, not really. My wife does. She clips the coupons.

Smart gal. My wife, bless her soul, had a whole system. Me, I don’t bother. Why bother for one person?

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