Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A shot in the dark

"You killed him!"



"Does it matter?"

"Of course it matters! You can't just kill a man!"

"I just did."

"Well, yes, but there has to be a reason."


"Well, because, there always is."

"Is there?"




"Are you sure?"

"Yes. I mean, I guess. Maybe not a rational reason, perhaps, but a reason."

"Like, for instance, I could be a deranged psychopath."


"Do you think I'm a deranged psychopath?"

"No. Which is why I'm asking you for a reason."

"All right, let's say there is a reason. Would it make him less dead if there was one?"

"No, but..."

"Would it make it okay for me to have killed him if I did have a reason?"

"I don't know. It would if it were a good reason."

"A good reason. I see. And who decides whether it's a good reason?"

"No one, I guess. It just is or isn't."

"Is it? What reason do you think he would have considered a good reason?"

"I don't know. Nothing, I guess."

"But you think there might be such a thing as a good reason for me to have killed him."

"There might."

"So it's a subjective thing then?"

"I guess."

"And what, in your opinion, would comprise a good reason for killing a man?"

"Well, self-defense, for a start."

"You mean if he'd been trying to kill me, for instance."


"But he wasn't."

"Suppose he was."

"That would be a bad thing for him to do, would it?"

"Well, yes, of course."

"A bad thing for him to kill me. But a good thing for me to kill him if he was trying to kill me?"

"Well, yes."

"How are the two different - either way you end up with one dead man."

"It's different. You were innocent. You weren't trying to kill him."

"But I did, eventually."

"Well, yes, but..."

"In fact, the only situation in which it would be justified for me to kill a man who was trying to kill me would be if I were incapable of killing a man. Any man."

"Yes. That is, I think..."

"Only then, of course, I wouldn't be able to kill him."

"I don't know! Look, dammit, there's a man lying there with a bullet through his head! This is not the time or the place for conundrums."

"Of course not. But you did ask."

"I just wanted to know why!"

"You just wanted a reason."


"Not because it had any consequences, only because you were uncomfortable not knowing what the reason was. In other words, you were curious."

"Yes. No. It was more than that."

"You needed to know there was a reason."


"So that you could fit this event into your world view. So that the universe would make sense again?"

"Yes, exactly."

"And does a universe where a man can pull a gun out of his pocket and kill another man make sense to you?"

"If he has a reason, yes."

"If he has a reason. Isn't it interesting that you're less concerned about the death of a fellow human being and more worried that you may not be able to make sense of it?"

"If you put it that way. But..."

"It is that way. Has it occurred to you that you might be next?"


"Isn't that why you really want to know why I killed him? To see if I'm likely to kill you next. To see if the same reasons apply."


"Yes, I suppose."

"Would it help you to know if I was going to kill you next."


"Why? How would the knowledge help you? What would you do if I was going to kill you in a minute? What could you do?"

"I don't know...something."

"Pray? Attack me?"

"Either. Both."

"I have a gun. You'd never make it."

"I could try."

"How would that help if you didn't make it?"

"What could I do?"


"I'd still want to know, though."

"Would you?"


"Do you?"


"Ask me then."

"Are you going to kill me?"

[sound of gunshot]

"Does that answer your question?"


csm said...

of course it answered the q...
thumping finale.

counted 15 single word, 9 double word and 11 triple word 'sentences'.

??! said...

one is tempted to give up writing - one can't compare to this. quite fascinating.

Anonymous said...

err..mmm...Would I be a party pooper if I say "I saw it coming way long back in the starting itself including the reasoning bit?"

Somehow the realization that "reasonable" is a subjective (relative? and not to forget circumstantial) thing throws quite a bit of spanner in viewing the world.

km said...

This is a 2-minute short film *waiting* to be, ahem, shot.

//a quibble, but why "deranged psychopath"? Why not simply "deranged" or just "psychopath"?

Revealed said...

Awwwwww. The ending, the ending. It was such a nice one till then. Sigh.

ret said...

I feel u, revealed. :)

It started as "trying hard to make a storyline". Then, it picked up pace, in fact was very intriguing. Then, the ending botched everything. Sorry! Thats what I felt.

I would have ended maybe...

"Are you going to kill me?

[freeze frame. camera pans out. Silence. Credit rolls]

There is something about not giving an answer that is so much more seductive than blurting it out, u know...! :))

Falstaff said...

csm: Yes, that's what happens when you OD on Cormac McCarthy

??!: Thanks, but it isn't THAT good. Really.

anon: not really. It wasn't meant to feel surprising. It was meant to feel inevitable.

km: Really? I'm reeling with excitement. And good point.

revealed / ret: Ignore the last two lines if you like. I was feeling bloodthirsty. Plus I like closure. There's something depressingly obvious about closing the story with the question unanswered. It's very 'look-at-me-I'm-so-clever-and-arty'. I didn't feel like it. The truth is I was trying to think up a new direction to take the story at the end, then I got tired and just let it be.

Revealed said...

Yeah. I'm not a fan of the open ending. It suggests laziness and cowardice. And yeah I can see why it'd be a hard one to end. Still. You can't be Baron F for nothing y'know. Gotta earn your keep :D

Revealed said...

And for the record I only didn't like the Does that answer your question? line. It was out of character.

Supremus said...


Anonymous said...

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Kill Each Other.


Entropy said...

oooh lovely.

Anjana Talapatra said...

In your book Etudes, the dialogue ends differently. Now why is that?