WRITING PROMPT: Patricia Highsmith wrote a novel called STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Use the phrase “strangers on a train” in a poem. Or, write part of a story based on this idea: a stranger your character meets on a train tries to convince your character to do something that your character finds shocking or morally wrong.
“Excuse me, madam, but is this seat taken?”
“Please, let me set my duffle on the floor. You may have the window seat if you like?” She carefully folds her stitchery and places it in the top of her duffle as she places it on the floor beside her.
“Thank you. But the aisle seat is fine. The flowers you are embroidering were exquisite. They remind me of the daisies that grew just outside my mother’s door in Lancaster.” The gentleman sits down.
“You are late. You were to get on at Birmingham. That was three stops ago.”
“I did. I have been sitting behind you for the last three stops. A person cannot be too careful in this business,”
“I find all this cloak and dagger a trifle condescending. I had to meet with you before all ….. this happened. I have just found out my son will be home from college that night. I do not want him hurt.”
“But in our agreement, the house was to be empty. You would be at your sister’s assisting with the newborn.”
“Well, it can’t be helped.”
“This can create complications.”
“There’s more. I don’t want him shot in a robbery. My son will hear it and try to get involved. He has to die quietly in his sleep.”
“Whatever you say, madam. But our arrangements were for me taking care of just one. Now there are two.”
“There are not two. I already told you I don’t want my son hurt.”
“There are two. What, exactly, do you want me to do?”
“Rudolf must be taken care of …. Tonight. I suspect he is going to file his papers tomorrow. We have no more time. It must look happenstance. Heart failure, if you will. He has been under a great deal of stress.”
“Murder is far easier.”
“I will not have my husband murdered in the house while my son is asleep there! Do you understand? I will not. It just isn’t right.”
“If you say so, madam.”
Written for Creative Writing Now: Be a Writer Now class