TOC page here.
In the previous part of this scene, the guy from the Kidney Foundation talked about his four employees who use his white van. So of course Diana and Mustapha have to follow this lead, even though they know it’s probably not going to take them anyplace useful. This means for me as a writer it’s time to have fun:
Diana expected a guy called Clint to be a scrawny white guy from the North Georgia mountains, but Clinton Gardner was a jovial black guy with a body by KFC. And country black, not city black, something she didn’t see that much. “I seen that on the TEE-vee,” he said. “And you’re saying he got picked up in our van? No way. Who gonna do a thing like that? Not me. Jesus knows I got issues, but I ain’t going to do nothing like that to a man. Not a woman, neither.”
Diana said, “Well, I sure hope not. Your boss gave us paperwork that you said you brought the van back at nine o’clock that night. Two nights ago.”
“Yeah. Me and Ahmed here,” he jerked a thumb at the tiny guy in the oversized Falcons jersey, “had us a long day.”
“We got ourselves stuck on 285,” said Ahmed, who looked and talked like an Atlanta hip-hopper. “It was a parking lot, yo.”
Mustapha said, “So, nine o’clock, then what? You lock up and leave?”
Gardner said, “No way, man: job ain’t done. We gots to leave the truck empty and the clothes sorted out, so the other crew can take over in the morning.”
“How long does that take?”
“Quick as we can, man. Mr. Eddie, he cool about letting us use the office, so we put some elbow grease into the job, then watched the last three quarters of the game on the TV there.”
Diana said, “But you guys were alone.”
Ahmed said, “Oh, right: you looking for an alibi. I was using the computer in Mr. Eddie’s office to Skype with my grandma.”
Mustapha said, “And she’ll confirm that for you?”
He shrugged. “If you can speak Pashto, man.”
This is how to have fun in three hundred words. Neither of these guys is a suspect; but we get to learn a little about both of them. Clint might have beat up a guy, and we don’t get to see if he really does write like a first-grader, but unless these two are super-geniuses masquerading as minimum-wage workers, they didn’t kill Alex Dawson. So instead of dispensing of them with just some paperwork, I get to make them into people, real people you might relate to; and this is what keeps a lot of readers reading. Plus, the last line is just gold.