Tuesday, December 2, 2014

You're Sure This Was the Man Who Robbed You? Oh, yes. I'm Certain. I can Tell by the Way He Smirks

For as far back as you can recall, a major staple of the crime-related or police procedural film was the line-up, a group of six or more individuals who were asked to stand in a row within a narrow room with a one-way window.  Witnesses were asked to look at the line-up, then see if they could identify the perpetrator or a robbery or violent crime.

"Do you recognize anyone among this group>'

"Yes, that man, third from the left.  He's the one who robbed me at gun point."

"You're sure?"

"Oh, yes.  I'd never forget that nick in his right eyebrow.  I'm sure he was the man who robbed me."

"At gunpoint?"

"Yes.  At gunpoint."

"Sir, I want to congratulate you.  You've just identified the district attorney."

Of course not all line-up scenes work that way.  The witnesses fail to make an identification, or perhaps they in fact chose the individual they saw in the act of committing a crime.  Line-ups are common in police work, in legal dramas, and in mystery fiction.  In some ways, line-ups have found a par level with lie detector tests.  In other ways, line-ups are excellent springboards to a further plot complication.

You were actually in a line-up when, during a visit to the Parker Police Center in downtown Los Angeles with a group of mystery writers.  You were asked to join a group to "flesh things out" a bit.  This was either a prank or you were positively identified as a bank robber.

The concept of the line-up lingers in your mind because you've recently watched a British police procedural in which there was no line-up, and where matters seemed to narrow down to two characters, a distinct clue for you to discern that the two were really one, thus a multiple personality.

You have for some time lingered with the notion that most of us are multiple personalities.  Only a smaller percent bleed over into multiple personality disorder types, individuals who have one in-charge person who in a sense blacks out or has no awareness of the other entities living in his or her midst.

At one point, when the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference was in the hands of its founders, Barnaby and Mary Conrad, and your position in it was comfortable, you had in your late night fiction workshop an individual who claimed to have seventeen certified alternate personalities.  You begged to differ.  In your belief, she barely had one, but you were able to say something that stopped her from returning to your workshop.  If, you posited, she did in fact have seventeen personalities, she should have paid for seventeen tuitions for the conference.

Thinking about multiple personalities, you've forged some kind of awareness, if not relationship, with some of your aspects other than the one who writes these words.  You're aware of The Cynic, The Grouch, The Critic, The Don't Want to, The Hate This, The Naif, The Optimist, The Leather Jacketed Bad ass, and one or two others of a similar ilk.  To be sure, there are others you've not completely scoped out, even at this advanced date,  The fact is, you know a handful of them, for instance The Ham Actor,

You are also wondering about the possibility and outcome of running a line up for yourselves, wondering how it is that some of these individuals manage to get you, in a metaphoric sense, to hand over the keys to the family car.

One factor to be considered is that the you who is in charge most of the time has settled into the job of managing and keeping up with the others, getting most of you to agree on the same goals, same work ethic, and similar expectations in general.  This comes in part from your growing willingness to lift the curfew on some of the smart ass others from your earlier years, even to the point of letting them know they are welcome to drop suggestions in the suggestion box.

They--you know, them--do not appear to be suspicious of your or your motives, do not appear to be organizing any kitchen coups or other dramatic shifts in leadership.  Thus none of them would be apt to rat you out or, as the saying goes, ID you in a lineup.  This apparent detente may have come about because you offered to share the writing chores with them, allowing them the opportunity to tell their stories.

Thank you, they're pretty comfortable with delegating those activities to you.  They know sanity when they see it, sense its absence when that facet is missing.  If it's all the same to you, they're willing to let you carry the water on this one.

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