Blotter Fodder: “To Save Herself, She Bit the Cop on the Leg”
to Go for Ideas When You Are Stuck
by Kathleen Kaska
Need an idea for a short story, blog post,
or a novel? Check out the newspapers. I don’t necessarily mean the front page.
In our town, the most entertaining reading comes from police blotters. The
reports are a wellspring of ideas for writers. Some are written
tongue-in-cheek, and I can imagine the fun police officers must have in
Recently, the police in a nearby city
uncovered a murder-for-hire plot by an inmate in the county jail who was
enlisting the help of a fellow inmate to murder the man responsible for the first
guy’s incarceration. These were the instructions he gave to the would-be
killer: “Wet him with gasoline; dry him with a match.” That’s a pretty good
line; right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. If this guy ever went straight, he
might make it as a pulp fiction writer.
Or how about this one? A few weeks ago, the
police in my quiet, little town were called to a motel where a woman insisted
they arrest her. She was hiding out from her ex-husband and current boyfriend
who, according to the woman, were plotting to kill her. The cops explained they
could not fulfill her wish because she hadn’t committed a crime. With a
that’s-what-you-think attitude, she began pounding on the windshield of the
squad car. When one of the officers tried to restrain her, she bit him on the
leg. At least for the next few days, the woman had the protection she’d
And another: A guy was shoplifting at
Safeway. When the cops arrived to question him, he made his getaway on a
motorized shopping cart, which he drove down the middle of Commercial Avenue.
The shoplifter received applause from the bystanders who cheered him on as if
he were the Grand Marshall of a parade.
And one more: Several people complained
about a homeless man who was causing a ruckus in a downtown square. The police
arrived and realized the man was arguing and shouting profanities at someone
only he could see. The cops told him to apologize to his imaginary friend. He
End of story.
This is an excerpt from my book, Does Anyone Have a Catharsis Handy? Five-Minute
Kathleen Kaska is the author of The
Sherlock Holmes Quiz Book (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing
Group). She is the founder of The Dogs in the Nighttime: Holmes Society of
Anacortes, Washington, a scion of The Baker Street Irregulars. Kathleen writes
the awarding-winning Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series and the Kate Caraway
Mystery Series. Her passion for birds led to the publication The
Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story. Kathleen’s
collection of blog posts, Do You Have a Catharsis Handy?
Five-Minute Writing Tips won the Chanticleer International
Book Award in the non-fiction Instruction and Insights category.
Go to her website and sign up for her newsletter. Look for
her bi-monthly blog: “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town” because
sometimes you just have to laugh.