Speechifying is not the way to tell a story, but somehow I always end up with one know-it-all character who cannot keep his mouth shut. I do, however, manage to get rid of some speeches during the rewrites. This is an outtake from my novel More Deaths Than One.
“In a book I wrote,” Harrison said, “one of my characters was hypnotized by the CIA, then sent to wait tables at a very important, highly secret and secure dinner for several heads of state and other key figures. In his hypnotic state, the waiter was able to remember everything that was said and done, and parrot it back later. Afterward, his memory was erased, he was brought out of his hypnotic trance, and he resumed his normal life, none the wiser. I thought the idea of a secret agent who was so secret he himself didn’t know he was an agent was very clever. I just recently found out that the military had used that very same technique in Vietnam, Korea, and perhaps even during World War II.
“I also discovered that they had once developed a program to desensitize service men to the act of killing. One problem soldiers have, even those with no moral objection to taking lives, is that they reach a saturation point. After a while, the killing seeps into their heads and into their dreams, and they begin to hesitate when it comes time to pull the trigger. Because of this, a tour of duty in a combat zone is limited to twelve or thirteen months; experienced fighting men are constantly being replaced by neophytes. Not a very efficient way to run a war. Ultimately, the program was abandoned. Desensitizing soldiers beyond the point of saturation was very expensive and time-consuming, to say nothing of inhumanly brutal, and after all that, those soldiers often died in battle before they ever reached that point anyway.”