by ZJ Czupor

Social Distancing Hampers Close-Kill Techniques for Writers

I’ve never killed someone—a real person that is—although I’ve often thought I sure would like to strangle so-and-so or knock some sense into my city council person’s head. That kind of thing.

But I admit I have knocked off a few shady characters, and good people, too, in my writing. Knowing this group, I’m certain most of you listening to this have done the same.

Supposedly, there are 101 ways (and probably more) to kill someone—including everything from slashing a body with paper cuts to shoving your victim into a volcano.

But in today’s new world, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic—where we must honor the notion of social distancing—and remain six feet away from each other—it presents new challenges for mystery writers. Most importantly, how do our bad guys and gals kill someone if they must stay six feet away?

Well, here’s some no-nos for up-close and personal killing:

  • For example, let’s say your killer is a wire expert. You know, he chokes his victims with piano wire. Sneaks up from behind and throttles the throat. Well, in today’s environment, that’s just too damn close for comfort, and will get you arrested by the social distancing police. And, by the way, is that piano wire a G-string?
  • The same goes for hanging by rope, or any other object. Just think, Jeffrey Epstein would still be alive today and probably singing like a canary.
  • Also, there will be no more cutting off of heads or limbs by axe. Just think, Andrew and Abby Borden of Fall River, Massachusetts (if they lived in modern times) would be alive because crazy daughter Lizzie would not be allowed to get that close to chop off her parent’s heads. This new rule might also have saved Jimmy Hoffa, and it for sure would have stopped Norman Bates from stabbing Janet Leigh behind the shower curtain. What a psycho!
  • How about stabbing a rusty knife through the liver? Sorry, but knife fighting requires close quarters. This just won’t do.
  • How about a series of paper cuts on the body and pushing the victim into a pool of hungry piranhas? Exotic, yes, but the killer can’t get that close. Sorry.
  • And, no more Kung-Fu fighting. You can set-up the “crane kick” like Ralphie in The Karate Kid, but that’s it. Hold that pose because you can’t move in for the kill. And if you can twirl and swirl like Bruce Lee and knock down a horse with your flying heel, well, sorry. While that’s pretty neat, it’s just too close.

But, don’t despair, mystery writers. We still have options:

  • Black widows can stealthily poison their eighth husbands by dripping strychnine into protein drinks;
  • Arsonists can still set houses ablaze while their victims are quarantined as they watch re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond; and
  • James Bond can still lock himself into his armored Aston Martin and machine gun the bad guys.

My guess is there’s still about 79 creative ways you can employ to kill your literary victim. Just, please,be considerate. Keep your distance. We still have guns, bows and arrows and hand-held missile launchers at our disposal.

After all…keeping our distance is the right thing to do in these trying times.

And, that’s your Mystery Minute.

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