Why I Wrote... THE SUIT

Tyson quoteThe knockout game is the concept of randomly selecting a victim and then rendering them unconscious with a single blow. It’s violent, it’s illegal, and it always preys on a weaker victim.

You see, no one is going to walk up and try to knockout Mike Tyson.  If someone does and they don’t succeed, a man like Mike would take their head off.

Instead, the cowards playing this game attack someone like Michael Milquetoast—a schlub they fully expect to not fight back.

It’s like a wolf attacking sheep.  It does it when the sheep are vulnerable. It never attacks when the sheep’s protector, the sheepdog, is around. And the wolf would never attack the sheepdog, even if doing so would allow unfettered access to a field full of sheep. The wolf instinctively knows there is a chance it could be hurt badly.  The reward is not worth the risk.

The wolf may be dumb, but it is not stupid.


I’m not sure when the knockout game originally started, but the first report I could find of it was in Norway in 1992.  Since 2011, there has been some occurrence of it almost annually somewhere around the globe.

Whenever it occurs, the media reacts by splashing it across our television screens and newspapers.  It makes good press.  People are scared by unseen things that can randomly hurt them.  Shark attacks.  Plane crashes.  Earthquakes. A punch from an unseen assailant.

Social media also amps up—type in ‘knockout game’ into YouTube and find out.  Random violence is great click-bait.  Viewers can comment about it. Some are horrified. Others are stupefied. There may even be those who are impressed.

But make no mistake, there will be comments, likes, and retweets. It’s the nature of the beast. Part of the knockout game is to be recognized by others.  Usually that recognition comes from the peers of the knockout player.  They’re looking for a laugh, a pat on the back, or a cheer of “big hitter!”


Writers look for certain situations and try to find a spin on them.

In the situation of the knockout game, I thought, What if some someone fought back?

Eh.  Big deal, right?

A guy fights back against another who tried to sucker punch him. Shrug. Not so interesting. Doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with that.

But what if there was a crew terrorizing a city with the knockout game?

And what if a guy targeted that crew?  Maybe he was playing his own version of the knockout game?

Okay, I thought, that seems a lot more interesting.

Especially if the crew decided they weren’t going to back down.


What the story needed was a reason for the crew to stick in the fight once they realized someone was targeting them.  I mean, the knockout game is, in its design, a craven pursuit.  Cowards play it. If characters are to be confronted by a pursuer, they needed to be strong willed or, at least, determined.

What could motivate a person to play the knockout game?


Well, duh. It seemed a good idea to get the ball rolling.  The knockout game is kicked-off for a pot of cash—winner take all.

But money only motivates so far.  So something bigger needed to come along. A higher purpose, so to speak.

Initially, the knockout victims are chosen at random.  This changes about a quarter way into the game, though, and a singular victim type is selected—men in suits.



For they are the symbol of the 1%—that nameless, faceless group that controls the largest amount of wealth in the United States. This symbol gives the players not only a common target, but also a higher purpose—something they all can hate.

And it is exactly what the hero of our story is.

A man in a suit.


The suit allowed me a symbol for a hero.

Comic book characters were suits, albeit spandex or whatever crazy material superheroes wear these days.  My hero in this story would wear a suit and tie.

He would be flawed, though, carrying unseen scars from a faraway battlefield.

And in the eyes of some, he would be a vigilante.

Even though they rescue and help people, Batman and Daredevil are considered vigilantes. But they are also symbols of hope—something for others to follow and emulate.

In my story, the suit becomes the same symbol. Of course, not everyone can be a hero. It requires sacrifice and discipline. Just putting on a cape doesn’t mean you can fly.

And putting on a suit and tie doesn’t mean you can fight your way through a crew of violent miscreants.


The Suit cover

Why would I put this story into the 509? In other words, why set it in Spokane, Washington? Why not put it in a larger city like Seattle or Chicago or New York?

This type of violent crime would be expected in those larger cities.  Because of that, I believe, it wouldn’t be as frightening. Don’t get me wrong.  It would still be upsetting to the general population, but violence occurs in those areas on a much larger, more frequent basis.

Not Spokane.

Oh, there’s violence and crime in the Pacific Northwest.  But with a city population of roughly 220,000 and a county population of half a million, random violence like the knockout game would stand out far more.

The public outcry would be louder. The fear would be higher.

And the local press would pay a hell of a lot of attention to it.

Which means there would be a lot of pressure on the cops to solve who is behind the string of assaults.

And what does any crime fiction writer want? They want tension on their characters.

Because tension causes all sorts of bad things to happen.

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