At a recent Sisters in Crime meeting, our speaker (a gun expert) pointed out that if a person is shot in the heart, there is enough blood already in the body to keep them alive for about thirteen additional seconds. (I repeated this very interesting fact at a dinner party and learned that not everybody talks about stuff like this! But I digress.) Thirteen seconds. To demonstrate just how long that really is, he started the timer on his watch and we sat there while the seconds counted off.
And then he pointed out that in this scenario, the person you shot center mass might very well already have a weapon aimed at you. That their brain—still operating for thirteen seconds after having been shot in the heart—might tell them to use.
I write amateur sleuth mysteries, and I’ve never been held at gunpoint. (I hope both of these facts continue to be true indefinitely!) But when it’s time for the final showdown in a story, when the bad guy and the good guy face off, I imagine this scenario. The good guy can shoot the bad guy and still not get away. The bad guy can be shot and still do damage. The sense of morality that you and I share, the “good” that allows us to connect with the good guys in mysteries, might not be enough if the bad guy is bad enough.
Diane Vallere | @dianevallere