I don’t honestly see myself as a writer who takes pleasure in cruelty to readers, and yet here we are with Darlene dying and Eustace revealed as accomplice to her murder.

I mean, for some of you this may well invoke joy. For many others, ambivalence. But at least a few of you have admitted to finding it gut-wrenching.

And honestly, I share that pain.

“Well in that case,” one might ask, “why don’t you not write this nasty fate for these characters? Why you gotta go all darkest-timeline-George-R.-R.-Martin on us?”

Well. That’s a damn fine question, and one I’ve pondered myself when a story I’ve been enjoying takes a dark turn. I find myself quite short-tempered if I feel like it’s unjustified, even with a creative property widely hailed as a classic such as the movie Chinatown.

Oh yes, I’m quite miffed at the ending of Chinatown, even with the movie telling me to “forget it.” That final line is based in the theme that bad things happen and bad people succeed and there’s nothing you can really do to stop them, but it’s all based on the main character, who has been portrayed all film long as a smart, cynical, experienced professional, surrendering himself and his only piece of hard evidence into the clutches of the antagonists for… well, no reason I’ve ever been able fathom really, excepting that the director wanted his tragic ending. Then again knowing what we do about Roman Polanski these days, maybe he didn’t consider that ending a tragedy…

Anyhow, I desperately hope my own fiction feels a little more justified on analysis, and I’m heartened whenever I see someone in the comments puzzle things out — like for instance that Eustace, for all that he seems like a nice guy, is unfortunately rather spineless when it comes to standing up to a forceful personality ordering him around.

It’s a tragic weakness, but a consistent one.