Good for Gone

Music always brings back memories. One of the greatest disappointments of my life is I have absolutely no musical talent. I can’t read music, I can’t sing, I can’t play any instruments. My singing voice probably curdles milk.

But I love music, and I love all kinds and types and styles of music. I like Top Forty pop music from the 60’s and 70’s to album-only rock to country to jazz to rap to what I used to call ‘Ecstasy music’–gay dance remixes that were clearly mixed to enhance drug-dance marathons at three in the morning. My music collection has always been varied. I listen to music when I write, when I clean, when I do data entry at work, and it has always made the work go better.

The music of the Go-Go’s always brings back fond memories, of the times I saw them in concert, of other friends who were fanatics about them, and of course, from “We’ve Got the Beat,” Go-Go’s music really makes us dance!

Next up in Murder-a-Go-Go’s is Jen Conley’s “Good for Gone.”

cover-west-murder-go-gos-frontI’m going to tell you the truth. You don’t have to believe me, but I need to be heard. I need to tell you what love did to me.

Earlier tonight, I stood over my husband at the side of the bed holding a gleaming butcher knife, my hands shaking, my mind saying, He deserves it. Kill him.

My husband didn’t know I was there. He just snored on. His mouth open. His sleep apnea creating short quick pauses, then the chig chig sound burbling from his throat, followed by the release of breath. Sometimes he put the mask on before bed, looking like he’d emerged from some Rod Serling creation, and I’d once joked about it. “Episode 39, Season 7.”

“There is no season seven in The Twilight Zone,” he snapped, the snark dripping through his mask.

I met Jen at Bouchercon in Toronto; we were on an Anthony Awards Best Anthology Nominees panel, along with Jay Stringer, Sarah Chen, and Eric Beetner, if I am recalling correctly. It was an early morning panel, I think on either Friday or Saturday, and I’d stayed up much later than God intended, drinking with friends, and therefore wasn’t at my best on that panel…and in fact, I don’t remember much of it. I just remember liking them all, and thinking they were all smart and had terrific things to say, whereas I babbled like a complete moron. Jen was also at a disadvantage, in that she was nominated for a single author collection, Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens, whereas the rest of us were nominated for editing anthologies–so many of the questions thrown at us had to do with editing, rather than writing. But she was smart, she had terrific things to say, and I remember thinking I should read her collection.

It’s still in the TBR pile, alas, and this is my first time reading her work.

“Good for Gone” is a story about quiet desperation, about choices made and having to live with those choices. The older I get, the more these stories resonate with me, and the more I tend to write stories about bitter disappointment with life, and looking back with regret at the time you possibly chose the wrong path at a fork in the road. I’ve been thinking alot lately about how much the world has changed and evolved, as has society, since crime fiction started being published, and how motives for murder have also evolved. Do people still  kill to get out of bad marriages when divorce is so much easier to obtain these days?

The answer is yes, obviously, we see it in the news every day, and yet what works for real life doesn’t always work for fiction.

But Jen does a very deft job of getting inside her character’s head, of making us see the choices and the life and possibilities wasted and lost, about her wrong choices and regrets, and how that translates into the potential for murder.

Well done, Jen!

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