Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


The years were not slowing down. The old man sighed and rubbed his forehead with the cuff of his sleeve. Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself and entered the room.

In front of him lay the facts. The things he could experience. The physical. First of all was the smell. Whoever was in the bed had been there a long time. Days, if not weeks. Next was the light. The curtains had been specially made. No light, not even the smallest sliver, could find it’s way in from the outside. The only light that was in the room now was from the spotlights the advance team had set up.

“No,” he said quickly to a young rookie who was beginning to take down the curtains. “Leave them.” His gruff voice left no room for the other to raise an argument. As they had been trained, when the old man speaks, you listen.

Now the body itself. She had been a woman, maybe forty years old. If there had been no work done. He would have to check that out. She lay almost serenely on top of the covers of the hotel room bed, her hands folded across her naked chest.

He gave her long, slim body a once over. Only a pair of modest black underwear stopped her from being entirely indecent.

There was no immediate sign of distress. No scratch marks on her, no stab wounds. No bullet holes or anything to give an obvious cause of death. But, then, if there had been, he wouldn't have been called to have a look.

As he wandered slowly, methodically, around the room, he wrote everything he saw down in a well worn notebook. The famous notebook. It was the 80th famous notebook by now, given his tenure. But everyone referred to it as the famous notebook.

He pushed his pen behind his ear and pocketed the book in his jacket pocket.

“Here,” he said, pointing, without touching, to a spot just behind the dead woman’s ear, a spot that had mostly been covered by hair. “You see?” he said to a crime scene bot. “The weird mark?”

“We registered that as a birthmark,” the blank faced droid said before turning back to examine something else.

“Well it isn't,” the old man said to empty air. “It’s a bruise. Something hit her there. Am I the only one paying attention?”

“The bots are focused on the curtains, boss,” one of the other detectives said, leaning against the open door, sucking on a lollipop. “You know how they get.”

“They're missing the actual evidence.”

“They'll get to it.”

“And in the mean time, the fucker who did this is getting further away.”

“We would appreciate the use of more agreeable language,” another bot said, turning to face the old detective. “Studies have shown it to make for a more welcoming workplace.”

“Fuck you,” he said and the bot turned and went back to what it was doing.

At the door, the other detective shrugged. “They will get to your bruise or whatever. One day. They've caught more murderers than you, remember?”

“I've caught mine before they killed again,” the old man said.

The room was hostile. The detective could feel that already. He took a deep breath, took the notebook from his pocket and the pen from behind his ear.

He took his seat opposite the man he had been told was his boss but who he had never met before.

“Detective Hoskins,” the man who was his boss said. The words were benign, but the way he pronounced the name was as if it was a poison.

“Sir,” the old detective said.

“We've had several complaints about your actions in the recent case to do with,” the man rifled through some papers on his desk, “the Countess du Bucha.”

“The woman who was murdered in the hotel downtown last month?” the detective asked.

“Indeed,” the other said. “You've been told about following up with the bots on leads.”

“Sir, with respect-” the detective started to say.

“No,” the other said. “How many times have you gone off on your own, and almost ruined the case?”

“Never,” the detective said. “I do my job, the job you pay me to do. I solve crimes and arrest the people who commit them.”

“The bots beat you to it this time.”

“Your little robots were an hour ahead of me. For all this new fangled technology that Collins dickhead puts out, they're not very good at their job. I had it all sorted.”

“And he got away because of your meddling.”

“He got away because the fucking handlers from Eutronics couldn't sit still and let the actual police do their job! They had one job, but they couldn't even do that.”

“We are under contract to these people, Detective. You can’t just run off in the middle of a case like that.”

“Are you even a cop? Do you hear yourself? Under contract? Does that mean Collins has this department by the short and curlies? What's next, I have to head up to that fucking soulless tower and plead at his feet for another notebook?”

“Take some time off, Detective,” the man across from him said. “Take some time to get your head right. This is the way the world is turning now and if you can’t get onboard, you're no use to us.”

I solved that case, you know,” the detective said. “Solved it and had the perp dead to rights. If those idiots had just sat still, he’d be in lockup. I did my job. I’d like to see you do yours.” The detective stormed out of the room and out of the building. The other detectives and officers watched as he left, but no one tried to get in his way or stop him.

From the door to his office, the other man watched. His two assistants stood just off to the side in the office, whispering to each other.

“No,” the manager said, turning back to face them. “Leave him be. Give him a week or two to cool off. He’ll come back. I'm told he always comes around.”

“Yeah,” one of the other detectives said once the door was closed and he couldn't be heard. “When everything makes sense he does. Not this bullshit.” He cast an accusing glare at the inactive Eutronics droid in its charging cell nearby, shook his head and went back to his work.