Thursday, June 2, 2011

FICTION: "The Insane Detective," by Tommy Oliver

Not many people are able to avoid feeling a bit nervous when entering a police station. Harley Jones would never understand such an emotion, for to him it felt like going to visit a friend who gave him gifts every time they met. Going there usually made him feel very happy. And he would continue to be happy, if the police would only give him a case to work on. It had been way too long since he was hired to solve a case. Far too long for someone like him.

"I'm sorry, but we don't have any cases for you."

He knew that. He had called her more than once to find out if they had any cases for him.

"I know that. I didn't come here to ask you if you had any cases for me."

"But you just did."

"I did," he admitted. "But that's not why I came here. You know how people usually like to talk about the weather, despite the fact that neither of them cares about that before they start talking about what they actually want to talk about? That's what I'm doing. I'm trying to sound polite so that you won't shoot me. I'm about to start annoying you by asking why you don't need me to solve cases anymore, and you just might shoot me. It happened once in New Zealand. A guy kept asking a police officer about something, and he shot him. That's why being polite is important."

He stopped for a second, to catch his breath. He looked at Irene and smiled at her. He figured the smile would keep her from yelling at him...for a minute or so, but that would buy him enough time to start another speech.

"Where was I?"

"New Zealand."

"Right! You are a woman working in the police. You are a great homicide detective, and are probably under a lot of stress. And I am an annoying human being. And I plan on upping my annoyance levels to the point where I make myself sound pleasant. So please, unload your gun before I start talking. Okay? Excellent!" Harley exclaimed as she reluctantly took the bullets out of her gun.

"…Get on with it."

"… So, why aren't you calling me to solve cases anymore?"

She shook her head, attempting to dismiss him. "I don't know what to tell you Harley. Jastrade is literally on fire. He has solved nine cases already. I'm sorry but the truth is, we just don't need you anymore."

"Literally as in we should call an ambulance kind of literally, or as in the misuse of the word literally?"

Irene looked through her folders. She really wanted to make him stop talking, and since her gun was out of bullets now, her only option was to find a case for him.

"Here.” She handed over one white folder to him. “Jastrade is not here yet, but this case needs to be solved as quickly as possible. You are lucky he is late."

"Luck is merely a skill one has to master in order to succeed," Harley commented, his tone almost convincing her he was serious. “This is all due to my talent.”

"You have until he shows up to solve the case,” she said. “You have about thirty minutes to go to the suspect's apartment, solve the crime and find undeniable evidence of his guilt."

Harley and Irene engaged in a staring match, but the detective was unable to penetrate her reticence. He would need to agree to this job without actually knowing what the case was about. It would be foolish to even hope for her to give him more information.

"If you are so confident, why don't we make a bet?"

"A bet?"

"Yes. If I solve this case, then the department has to hire me to solve, say, three more cases."

"There is absolutely no reason for me to go along with this."

"Yet,” began Harley, “you are going to go through with it anyway. I can feel it in my bones."

"You are the most annoying person I've ever met."

"And that," he said triumphantly, "is why I'm so sure you will give me a chance. You absolutely hate everything about me."

She inclined her head to the left very slightly, as if convinced a change of angle would be necessary to understand what kind of logic Harley was using.

"How does me hating you translate to me giving you a chance?"

"Because giving me a chance to win also means giving me a chance to lose. And you want that second option to happen, and you are willing to take a risk to watch it happen. I understand why people place wagers in certain outcomes. I understand it so well I can see it in their eyes when they are about to do it. I can see it in yours right now. You don't think I have a chance to win. Which is why you'll go for it. But just in case you are still not convinced, I'll throw you a bonus. If I don't win, I will also not get near you for an entire year.

Irene giggled quietly. Their eyes met for a split-second, enough to allow her to make her decision.

"You sure like to gamble, don't you?"

"I don’t like gambling," Harley replied. "I like winning."

Harley could have argued that only an insane person would actually cheat to solve a murder case, but he knew that Irene would then present her counterargument that he was hardly sane, and their extensive history allowed for her to make a very convincing argument. He would cheat to solve the case if he had to. He would break the law, he would fake evidence, there was nothing he wouldn’t do. Life was just a game, and if you couldn't win it you might as well not play it. She knew all of that. Which is why she decided to go with him to visit the suspect.

"I had nothing to do with it, I'm telling you! I'm really innocent," said a middle aged man yelled at them as soon as they knocked on his door.

"And I am telling you that you had everything to do with it," Harley replied coldly. "And if you don't admit it...I'll prove it anyway."

Irene suppressed a laugh. Harley was a really annoying person, but it was fun seeing him working. He hadn't read the case's file, his strict time limit didn't allow him to. He had absolutely no idea what he was accusing the man of, yet sounded absolutely confident of it.

"I can tell what kind of person you are just by looking at you. You are a person who does things for a reason. You didn't just feel like being evil. You had a motive, a noble one at that."

It was somewhat known as wild mass guessing combined with flattery. It was also called cold reading, a technique frequently used by con artists to pretend to be psychics. Better known as being a sly but technically not illegal interrogator. The victim told them more than she was willing too; sometimes not even aware they were giving away information.

"I… I guess."

The man didn't realize it, but he had just confessed his crime. Of course, it wouldn't hold up in court, but it was enough to let Harley know that he wasn't wasting his time.

"That's enough for now."

Irene was wondering why Harley had stopped asking questions. She was going to ask him about that later, but she couldn't. Because as soon as the man closed his door, Harley pulled down the fire alarm and yelled at the top of his lungs "FIRE".

Irene was confused, but didn't dare ask Harley anything, partially because she knew his answer would likely not help her at all, and would involve either mocking her, or a very realistic imitation of a dog. So she just waited, watching as the rest of the building ran away in panic. And the middle aged man was one of those people, despite taking his sweet time to finally leave his apartment, and when he finally did so, he was holding a book. Why would he risk his life, staying longer inside a (as far as he knew) burning building, just to get a book? It was true that he could have assumed it was a false alarm, but Harley's constant shouts of "FIRE!" made the entire building panic into thinking it was real.

"Stop!" Harley shouted.

"T-The fire! Where is it?"

Before the man (or Irene, for that matter) knew what was happening, Harley snatched the book away from him, while laughing from what it seemed a very unfunny joke.


"See, I would love to. But I can't, because this book proves that you are guilty of…" Harley's voice trailed off, his expression clearly showing he was trying to figure out what to say next. "...Murder?" he asked hopefully.

"Nope," Irene denied.


"Closer," she responded without missing a beat.

"Point is, this has evidence of...whatever the hell you are guilty of.

Irene examined the book. There was nothing special about the book itself, but there were some letters hidden inside the book. Those letters included details of the crime, including where he and his accomplice should meet.

"You are guilty of two crimes. Something that I neither know nor care about, and most importantly, not reading Arthur Conan Doyle's books. If a person's home is on fire, they try to run away with their most precious belongings. Children, jewels…criminal plans that they cannot live without; you understand right?"

At that point, Irene couldn't control herself anymore, and started laughing. The middle aged man just stared at both of them. The reality of what just happened probably hadn't hit him yet.

"So could you please tell me, where you hid the body?"

"Money," Irene whispered to him.

"Money," he corrected himself, his arm still pointed at him.

The man raised his arm, and pointed at them, visibly shaking, although still showing some resolution on his voice.

"I… I am not going to tell you!"

"Well Harley," Irene said, finally managing to stop laughing. "You lost the bet."

Harley didn't seem shocked, or angry. He seemed almost as if he was waiting for a sign to start reacting to what Irene just said.

"We're going to find the body and the accomplice for sure because of the clues you found, but you still don't know where the body is. Technically, you lost."

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I haven't lost yet. I have almost fifty seconds left," he casually said, looking at his watch.

Before anyone knew what was happening, Harley was pointing a gun at the criminal. Irene was, for the first time, shocked at what he was doing. The criminal seemed to be having trouble understanding what just happened.

"I'm going to shoot you, if you don't tell me where the body is."

No one said a word as Harley kept the gun pointed at the criminal, a sadistic smirk present on his face.

"You wouldn't have the guts," muttered the criminal.

"Wanna bet?" Harley asked, visibly having fun. "I don't lose bets very often. In fact, I never lose. "

"Why are you doing this?" Irene asked, recovering from the shock.

"I want to know the truth. I love solving cases. I love to find out the truth. I love to be there, wondering that the answer to this twisted puzzle is! I want to know where he hid the body. I want to know why he committed this awful crime. I want to know. I need to know. Ever since I read about this case, I've wanted to find out what truly happened. I need to know. It's the only way I feel alive."

He cackled softly, spinning the gun twice, and pointing it ever so close to the criminal.

"I don't care if I have to kill someone, as long as I an answer. Make your price. What do you want? What do I have to do for you to give me the answer?"

"…The gun would be good."

"Okay. You can have it."

Irene couldn't do anything. She reached for her own gun, but found nothing but empty space where she usually left it. She couldn't do anything as Harley simply handed the man the gun. He was smiling while he did that. Maybe he wasn't just an eccentric detective. Maybe…maybe he really was insane.

"My name is Mike. Prepare to die!" The man shouted, now pointing the gun at Harley.

"I remain unimpressed. The whole prepare to die thing has way less impact if your name is not Inigo Montoya."

The man didn't say anything, but he did grumble a lot. Irene wondered how long it would take for the firemen to get there. A minute maybe. If they got there in time, maybe they could be saved.

"By the by, I should probably warn you that this does not legally count as self defense since I'm not armed anymore," Harley casually remarked.

"I don't care," he said. "I am not defending myself. I just want to kill you since you know I did it. I can just dump your body in the fire, no one will know what happened."

"Your understanding of forensic science is rather flaw-"


It seemed like the man still didn't understand there was no fire. Harley, not caring about the death threat, opened a big smile and asked him a question in the happiest, most carefree tone a human being was capable of uttering.

"Before you shoot, mind telling me where you hid the money?"

"Inside the Sherlock Holmes Museum, back in London. I know one of the managers."

Harley smiled, and looked at Irene.

"I won the bet!"

Before Irene could answer to that remark, the man shot Harley in the head. Irene could do nothing but stand helplessly as he shot him, turned to her, and killed her as well. That's what would have happened if the gun had any bullets inside it. Which it didn't. Harley had stolen Irene's gun while she was distracted by the people running away from what they thought was fire. At that instant, before the man could understand what had happened, the firemen were there, and followed Irene's signal to knock him unconscious. Harley laughed like a maniac. Irene looked at him with a mixture of disgust and outrage.

"I hate you," she sighed. She should have known that he was not hat insane to give a loaded gun to a criminal.

Two hours later, at the police station, Harley was as happy as a child during Christmas.

"You could have told me you were going to do that!"

"I know."

"Why didn't you?"

"Establishing I could do something does not mean you established I should have done something, ya know? But if you really must know," he sighed," it's because it wouldn't have been as fun."

"I need to know the truth, ever since I heard about this case..."Irenequoted, in a mocking tone. "You hadn't even read the case file when we got there!"

"Yup. You should have known. You are an idiot."

Before she could answer to that insult, Inspector Jastrade entered the room, clearly angry, though clearly-ready-to-murder-someone-whose-name-rhymed-with-Garley-Romes would probably be a more precise way of describing his mood.



"Don't hello me! Do you know why I'm late?"

"Your little nap took a bit too long?"

"Yes," he grumbled. "Care to venture guess why I slept for too long?"

"Oh I wouldn't dare to guess," Harley laughed.

They both stared at each other for at least a minute, one man repressing his will to murder, and the other repressing his will to laugh. Deciding he wasn't strong enough to hold his instincts if he stayed for too long, Jastrade walked away, quickly resulting in Harley breaking down in laughter.

At that moment, Irene had an epiphany. Harley really did know about the case. He had drugged Jastrade with sleeping pills so that he would be late for the case. He knew from the beginning that Jastrade was solving the cases, so he would have to get him out of the way in order to get a shot at solving a case. Since Godot would show up before Jastrade actually called in sick for work, he had to drug him. And he made her take the bullets out of her gun even before they went to interrogate the suspect. He knew they were going to investigate him because he was probably stalking Jastrade, who was working in the case, while he was looking for a chance to drug his coffee. He had everything planned out from the beginning. Including his outrageous way of solving the crime. She didn't say a word. She just looked at him. And smiled. He smiled back.

"Like I said, I don’t like gambling. I like winning.”

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