Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 6, Scene 5c

TOC page here.

This part was both the most fun per word and the most time-consuming writing per third of the whole book so far. Here’s the other team of guys from the clothing van:

Mohammed Midou hailed from Senegal. “Call me Moe,” he said as he bent his long, lanky frame to put glasses of strong, hot tea in front of them. “Everyone else does. Ahmed called me a little while ago, said y’all would probably come by. I was watching football at a friend’s place when all that went down.” He passed Mustapha a piece of folded paper. “Call them if you want to.” He sat, sipped thoughtfully. “Man, this is the last thing Islam in Georgia needs.”

Diana said, “Have you ever had any conflicts with the homeless in that area?”

“No.” Another sip. “They ask for spare change; it is my… obligation, my duty to God, to give. So I don’t carry cash.” He drained the cup, quickly; Diana sucked on the bad tooth, which wasn’t getting better. “It took me nine years to get to America. If anyone had told me there were beggars here? I would have laughed. I thought everyone was the one percent, here.”


Mohammed Suleiman was from Yemen: he looked like a DJ at some tech club: nerd glasses, a T-shirt with a robot, cargo shorts. “Call me Sam. First year I lived here was in Clarkston, where all the refugees start? There was like twelve Mohammeds in our building. Plus Sam is Arabic for toxic, like Britney, so I get a laugh out of it. Can I get y’all a beer? I won’t tell. You mind I have one? Thanks. Me and Moe, we got way too much to do to be wasting homeless guys. They’re already wasting themselves, you know? And seriously? They’re not worth wasting. And the fancy calligraphy? Can’t do it. I only learned to read and write Arabic to get my grandmother off my back.” He hoisted the beer. “God bless her bitch ass.” A long swallow. “Oh, right: where was I that night? ESL class.”

Mustapha said, “Seriously? You don’t need to take a class.”

“Ha ha. Thanks. Teaching it, man. I was giving twenty-five people fresh off the boat a lesson on the eight different ways to pronounce ough. O-U-C-H, y’hear? Give me an e-mail addy and I’ll shoot you the roster.”

Neither of these guys had anything to do with Alex Dawson’s death. They’re the American Dream, 21st-century style. So much fun to write, so little to do with the real plot, but they make the book come alive. The real trick to this was toning them down and not using too many descriptors.

Imagine filming this part: the crew, setup, set location, casting, etc., all for what in a Law & Order episode would be about 45 seconds of airtime with two chung-chung breaks.


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  1. Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 6, Scene 5b | Julian Cage

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