EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Martha Thomases is some of the best advice TVWriter™ has ever heard anybody give writers. Read it and don’t forget to thank the nice lady when you’re rich and famous!
by Martha Thomases
The dame walked into my office just before closing. An older woman, dressed like every other woman in this city in a black leather jacket and black pants. You wouldn’t look twice at her unless you were allergic to cats, because she was covered with cat hair.
“I require your services, Mr. Spade,” she said, a trace of the midwest in her voice. “I’ve lost something very precious. Perhaps it was stolen. In any case, I must have it returned to me. I’ll pay you anything if you can find it.”
I looked here up and down, paying attention this time. Did she have money to spend? “Tell me about the case,” I said, motioning to the chair across from my desk. “Let’s start out with your name.”
“Thank you. I just don’t know what to do.” With this, she wiped a tear away from her eye, using the sleeve of her jacket.
I handed her my handkerchief and waited while she pulled herself together. After a few minutes, she took a deep breath and spoke. “My name is Martha Thomases. That’s ‘Thomases’ with an e-s on the end. Like it’s plural.” She said this as if it was something she had said a million times before.
“My story. I can’t find it anywhere. I think it’s stolen.”
“Can you give me a description,” I said, taking out my notebook.
“It’s been with me since I was a child,” she said, as if that give me any idea what she was talking about. “I really must have it back.”
I looked at her with the pen in my hand. “A description,” I said. “What is it like? When did you last see it?”
“Well,” she said. “I don’t know that it has value to anyone but myself. It’s a story about a girl who grows up, her relationships with other people, the things she has to do to get ahead.”
“That’s describes a lot of people’s stories,” I said, still not writing anything down. “How would I recognize yours?”
“It’s mine,” she said, as if that gave me any clues. She saw my stare, and stammered, “Usually there is something about fathers in it.”
“That gives me something. Anything else?”
“And there’s super-powers,” she said. “Someone will be able to fly or read minds or something. And there will be capes. Dark blue capes.” She tried to repress a shudder of pleasure at the memory, but couldn’t keep the smile from her lips.
Why hadn’t she told me that first. “Now we’re getting somewhere,” I said. “When did you last see it?”
“Just the other night,” she said, crossing her legs. It might have been a sexy movie if she hadn’t been wearing sneakers. “We stayed up late with a bottle of wine. In the morning, there was no trace.”
“Perhaps your story left?” I said, trying to be diplomatic.