Thursday 20 March 2014

Detective Benny Blow and the Curious Case of the Character Assassin

The second annual Twitter fiction festival ran from the 12th to the 16th of March this year and this story here was my entry. The idea is to use Twitter functionality to tell bite size stories over the duration of the festival. People from around the world took part and hundreds of authors showcased their amazing talents. Search #TwitterFiction or visit the site here.
I'd always wanted to write a hardboiled detective story, film noir has a certain gritty appeal to it. The Twitter fiction festival seemed like a perfect place to do it seeing as I had the #TwitterPolice hashtag. I'd taken a slightly more serious tone with this story; the #TwitterPolice was usually me busting people for committing so called crimes on the network. Hope you like it!

The sky seemed to constantly weep those days; like a broad whose heart had been broken with a sledgehammer. It was always raining around these parts. I was pretty certain our little social network was lodged in the drain of the big blue, because all we got was dirty bathwater. And rightly so, the timelines had become a mess.
Twitter was overrun with Facebook scum that peddled bad bios; Instagram divas that flaunted soft porn and nut cases that still thought cat videos were funny. The grammar Nazis were a link away from going holocaust on the lowlifes with poor spelling and people’s accounts were getting hacked with an axe that could split the whiskers of an alley cat. We needed some kind of regulation.
The #TwitterPolice had been set up to create sort order on this forsaken network, but that was like making a spider monkey ringmaster in circus of gorillas. Everyone had gone ape shit, or app shit if you will. The police had no jurisdiction here. They couldn't keep the sTWEETs safe. I had to quit the force as soon as I got my detective shield.
I wasn't calling for censorship, not at all. All I wanted was to scroll down my timeline without having to worry about some two-bit robot asking me if I wanted to be in a Justin Bieber video. Memes were funny at one time, but now memes made me want to maim someone. All I wanted to do was meet interesting people, maybe DM a dame and meet her in person. All I got was more spam than the canned food section.
I decided that I would play by my own rules; a lone gunman enforcing the justice that once prevailed when that little blue bird first left its nest and tweeted. I greatly admired The Batman, but I wasn't about to become a vigilante. At least not yet. I decided I was going to go into the private dick game.
I still believed there were some good people out there; people that would need a shamus to right a few wrongs when they had no one else left. I didn't get many cases. Half the time I was hired to find out just who the hell #oomf was.
Being a private detective meant the pay was crappy. I would live on a shoe string budget, wearing battered shoes to dates and I could barely foot the bill. It didn't bother me though; most of these broads were total heels anyway. Until SHE walked in.

She walked into my office with the aura of one of those Greek goddesses. If I was a lesser man, I would have apologised for my cheap furniture and humble workspace. I could smell the wealth on her perfume, and her body was a work of art that would have Zeus himself in thunderous applause. She was mythology in motion.
“Can I take a seat?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said lighting a cigarette. “But only if you’ll return the heart you just stole.”
“Never mind. What can I do you for?”
“I have a problem,” she said.
“You and every other person on this network, doll.”
“Well I’m not used to this sort of thing. I didn't ask for any of it.”
“Ask? You don’t seem like the type that needs to. Let me ask you something, where's your shield?"
"What shield?"
"I imagine you have to carry a shield to defend yourself from all the gifts and compliments men throw at you?”
“Are you always this charming?”
“Are you always this smashing?”
Our eyes met. They locked in what seemed like an eternal waltz. It’s a shame I had two left feet.
She tore away her gaze and looked down shyly at her clutch purse, “I have a sensitive issue. Someone has been trying to make me look bad online and I don’t like it one bit.”
“An assassin,” I said pulling my cigarette.
“Yes. He’s been posting nudes of me. I suspect it’s my ex. Please get to the bottom of it and put a stop to it at once.”
“Sure thing. I charge twenty twitter credits by the hour, plus expenses.”
“Money is no object Mr. Blow,” she said as she rose from her seat, “I just want this to pass.”
I watched her as she walked to the door. I hated to see her leave, know the rest.
“Wait. I didn't get your name...”
“It’s, Belle,” she sang, “shouldn't be hard to find the pictures if you search me,” she said smiling.

It wasn't long before I found a trail of the pictures online, sleazy hashtags akin to the #BoityReaction not too long ago. I could understand the allure of it all though. Belle had one banging body; gun fights had nothing on her. The tattoo on her thigh had me staring at her pictures longer than I should have. I had to take a shower before I left my office.
If there was anyone that could get me on the right trail, it was Scribe, the bio peddler. He sold Twitter bios to users that couldn't create their own or just wanted something fancier than the usual ‘fun and down to earth’. I couldn't knock his act. A man did what he had to keep the lights on and his phone charged.
‘The type to cuddle afterwards’; ‘I’m the comic relief in this movie we call life’; ‘You don’t need to use protection on your tweets, I’m safe’; a lot of those bios were quite interesting. All sorts of people came to Scribe for his little epithets, so he was bound to know something.
“Belle? Never heard of her,” Scribe said with a straight face.
I lit a cigarette. “A wise guy huh? Funny. Last one I asked lost his wisdom teeth.”
“Oh yeah! #TinkerBelle! Smoking hot!” he said wiping his brow. “What’s a copper like you want with a dame like that?”
“Working her case. She’d like the perves to back off. That can only happen if I find the slimeball that started this.”
“So whuchu come to me for? I sell bios, I don’t know nothin’ about no softporn!”
I took a long drag of my smoke and looked Scribe square in the eye.
He couldn't meet my gaze. “Alright! Alright! All I know is she had a falling out with her ex and he’d threatened to post the flicks!”
“Thanks for your help. Now beat it. Don’t let me catch you peddling that crap here again.”
This ex guy had a great motive. Dumped by a girl whose body could be the cause of world thirst, and so got back at her by plastering her nude online. Made a lot of sense. But I didn't expect that he’d be a reformed Christian; a bible basher with constant motivational tweets. He sure was spreading some kinda gospel.

Dames’ll tell you all men are dogs. I couldn't agree more and I couldn't agree less. Most chumps are territorial. So it was no wonder Belle’s ex tried to mark his spot.
Motivational Mo, they called him. Followers in the thousands and some quotes I could actually agree with. But I could never trust a man that wore a suit from Tuesday to Tuesday. His act came off clean as a whistle. I just wondered if he would come clean on the dirty pictures he posted.
I had to stake out his account and wait for him to come back from a campaign. ‘No reTWEET, no surrender’ they’d dubbed it. Apparently it was an effort to sensitise people on how retweets were actually endorsements. And if you endorsed worldly things, let’s just say God wasn't going to favourite your tweets.
“Please, smoking is not allowed here,” he told me as I put a smoke to my mouth.
I shoved it back into my coat and told him why I was there.
“Belle, you know her?”
“I knew her. I knew her when I still walked in the wilderness. And now that I walk in the light, I regret having certain knowledge of her. The body is the Lord's temple.”
“Knowledge is power. Why’d ya do it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, friend.”
“I’m not your friend, pal.”
“Then we have nothing to speak about,” he said.
I’d never hit a man in glasses. Too bad for Mo, he wasn't wearing any. He and I weren't friends, but his face and my fist were now well acquainted. And soon we were speaking like old buddies.
“I swear to you! I didn't post the pictures! I did ask Scribe if he knew someone who could do it for me, but he was no help!”
“So you helped yourself?” I asked letting go of his bloodied collar. “What pushed you over the edge though? Was it the tattoo? Had she desecrated The Lord’s temple?”
“What tattoo?”
And those were his last words. Because as soon as he spoke, Motivational Mo met the business end of a bullet.
I recoiled and pulled out my Colt .38 all in one motion. She was the only dame I had ever trusted, and she was louder than my mother with a bottle of wine on Christmas Eve. When she spoke, people went dead silent.
Mo’s shooter sent more lead hornets my way. A couple of inches closer and I would have been stung. My lady had something to say about that. I fired three rounds and ducked behind a table. Unfortunately the shooter had already buzzed off.
Mo was dead now and I couldn't pin the guy on intent to post pictures. Plus Scribe’s word wasn't as good as that of the gospel so I needed something as solid as St. Peter. I picked up Mo’s phone and took off. The fuzz would be there soon.

Every man, no matter how low on the totem pole they are, has an ego. Some egos have been beaten into dark and dirty corners, but they’re still present. You just have to throw the right scraps at them to feed them.
I told the Joe at the internet café down on Cairo that I was part of a special task force trying to eliminate social network spam and phishing. I told him our inspector general believed in this Joe but I needed to know whether he was worth any salt.
Half a bottle of Jack and a sluggish internet connection later, this guy had shown me more than enough. All the trending topics in this part of town for the last three months and Motivational Mo’s paperless trail.
Turns out Mo had deactivated a previous Twitter account and then set up a current one. Funny thing was he did that about a year ago, but the Joe showed me the old account had tweeted the pics around the time #TinkerBelle was trending. That was only weeks ago. Something wasn't quite adding up. There was obviously ‘Mo’ to this story.

Light showers, drizzles, precipitation, rain; whatever you wanted to call it, it never stopped. Sunshine was foreign around these parts, but Belle was a close substitute.
I could hear her long heels tapping the pavement as she ran through the rain and reached my car. She quickly flung the door open and hopped into the passenger’s with the grace of a cat. Her trench coat was dripping with the tears of the sky and the seat made a great shoulder.
Lightning tore up the sky and someone in the heavens drummed something to usher the light show. My ashtray was only half full, so Belle hadn't kept me waiting long. She knew how to make an entrance.
“Do you have something for me, detective,” she said with her eyes wrenching the life out of me.
“That depends. Do you want the bad news or the bad news?”
“Give me the bad news.”
“Well, your guy got bumped last night. It’ll probably be all over the newsfeeds soon.”
“Oh my Lord,” she said gasping.
“Yeah. And I couldn't get much out of him. Trying to interrogate his corpse was a dead end.”
“That is highly inappropriate, detective!”
“Not as inappropriate as those pictures of you. Tell me, why did you break up with Mo?”
She looked at me scornfully, “Many reasons. One of them was my tattoo.”
I stayed silent.
“When I got it, he was just getting into his Christian phase, said my body was the Lord’s temple.”
“I see. And when you were together, did you send him any pictures?”
“What is the point of all this?” she asked.
I tossed Motivational Mo’s phone in her lap, “Everything points to those.”
She swiped her finger across the soft glow of the phone screen, looking at the tasty treats she’d sent that poor bastard.
“None of those has a tattoo in them. And Mo seemed to be clueless about your ink,” I said igniting a cancer stick.
“So? You don’t need to be a private DICK to know these are from before I got my tattoo.”
“True. But this dick did some poking around. Mo’s old handle hadn't sent out any tweets since he’d switched religions from you to Christianity. Then a year later, out of nowhere, the same handle posted tweet pics and went dormant again?”
“Yeah, easy cover for him,” she sneered.
“Maybe. But the ISP says those tweets came from an address in Rich Hills. YOUR address.”
She was silent.
“Mo had actually turned over a new leaf and you weren't happy that he’d gone to worship at a new temple. You knew his password and so you posted those images yourself in an effort to assassinate HIS character. You brought me on board knowing I’d find the trail, but you didn't count on me actually doing my job.”
She raised her head and looked me in the eye, she was no Greek goddess. I saw her for the Medusa she truly was. I turned stone cold towards her.
“What can I say, I love the attention,” she said smiling.
“Oh, you’ll get all the attention you seek where you’re going. Mug shot photo shoots and cuddles from Gorilla Grace, your new cellmate.”
“I guess you've done your job then, detective Blow. How much should I write this cheque out for?”
“Doll, I wouldn't accept a cheque from you if it was the coveted blue one. Your money is dirty.”
“You’re an honourable man,” she said looking at me with sinful eyes.
“If only honour paid the bills.”
She kissed me long and passionately. The rain tapped the asphalt, making that constant shushing sound it always did. It flowed down a dirty drain somewhere and soon its sound was drowned by sirens.


Detective Blow drawn in my likeness by the talented Lo

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  1. omg.. very diferent and interesting.. hope for more to come on detective blow!!!!! thank u for feeding my addiction...will need another dose soon. ;)

    1. Thank you! I'll definitely post something again soon :)

  2. Benny does it again! Im nominating you for the best fiction writer at the Born n Bred Awards - next year.

    1. Lol, I'd be honoured just to be mentioned! Thanks Mwape :). We'll ask them to introduce the category lol