Below is my contribution to Bryon Quertermous and Dave White's third blog short story project. This time around, the stories had to be 1,000 words or less and blogging had to be part of the plot.
Confession of a Spenser Fan
by Gerald So
Still soaked from the early morning rain, holding his Cuban coffee as if it were elixir, Lt. Ben Cavett, Miami-Dade Homicide, rapped on the door to Interview Room 1. Sgt. Martin Braugher let him in.
Cavett swatted the rain from his eyes, slicked his hair back, and whispered to Braugher, "This the guy?"
Braugher nodded. "All in the file. Gent's been damn cooperative, too. Could've taken his confession myself, but you know, I wanted to go by the book."
"I appreciate that."
Cavett set down his coffee cup and scanned the file on the table. "Paul Sutherland, presumed killed in a Lake Champlain housefire, 1996. Fire was ruled a cover for the murders of your wife and daughter, followed by your suicide." Cavett paused for effect. "You want to take it from there?"
In contrast to the file photo, Sutherland was clean-shaven, his blond hair going white. The gold-rimmed glasses would have made him look distinguished if not for the bags under his eyes. Being handcuffed didn't seem to bother him. "I came to Miami for a convention," he said with traces of a British accent.
Cavett checked the file. "Sleuthfest?"
"I'm a big mystery buff."
"Big enough to come back from the dead?"
"If you read mysteries, you'd understand."
"I prefer romances," Cavett said.
Sutherland smiled despite himself.
"So you attended the convention as a fan?" Cavett asked.
"You didn't come stalking Stu Truly?"
"Absolutely not. His books are too cozy for my taste."
"Little onstage violence, more leisured pace as opposed to hardboiled."
Cavett was about to ask what hardboiled meant when Braugher leaned down and whispered, "Mike Hammer."
"So," Cavett said, "you weren't a fan with boundary issues."
"And you weren't so annoyed with his work—"
"—that I had to kill him? Please."
"Yet you confessed to the arresting officers you did kill him."
"They caught me in his hotel room red-handed, so to speak."
"That's what I don't get," Cavett said. "You beat on him with a cane, then dally to hack into his laptop?"
It was straight from the arrest report. Truth stranger than fiction.
"Not his computer," Sutherland said, "so much as his blog. I wanted his password but he wouldn't, and then couldn't, give it up."
Cavett knew what a blog was, barely.
On a department-issue laptop, Braugher surfed the Web to Truly's blog. Cavett scanned the site and saw nothing special. "Pretty tame."
"As I said, I wasn't a fan, but Truly liked to travel with his digital camera, do impromptu interviews, take pictures."
"He would post the pictures to his blog."
"One of the people he talked to was Robert Parker."
Cavett blinked. "Robert L. Parker. Miami-Dade Police."
"Robert B. Parker." Cavett could see Sutherland wrack his brain for a reference even a full-time cop might know. "Spenser: For Hire?"
Cavett passed a hand over his head and whistled.
Sutherland's face flushed. He spoke like a teacher to a slow student. "I edged a little too close as Truly took Parker's picture. I had to see if I was in the shot."
Cavett snapped his fingers for show. "Because if someone saw you, they might realize you were a millionaire who should have died eight years ago?"
"I'd have made the connection."
Cavett scrolled the dead man's blog. "I don't see any pictures for the past two weeks."
"I still had to break in. It's possible to set a post to appear automatically at a later date."
Cavett squinted, shrugged. "I'll take your word for it," he said.
I had some dental work done back on February 17, and in the wee hours of February 18 I found myself not in pain but unable to sleep, so I got to work on this story. My two main influences were lateral thinking puzzles (e.g. "A man is photographed with one of his favorite authors. The next day, the man is arrested. What happened?") and the story "Glycerine" by Brian Thornton wherein Homeland Security detains an attendee of Left Coast Crime.
Stumbling on the fact that the Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department is Robert L. Parker, I set my story at Sleuthfest 2004, actually attended by Robert B. Parker.
Thanks to my advance readers, fellow Spenser fans John Ricotta and Brian Thornton.
Others Tackle the Topic
Patricia Abbott - "RE: University Protocol on Incidents of Student Plagiarism"
Steve Allan - "Take That, You Prick"
Bill Crider - "The Sunshine of My Wife"
John DuMond - "The Truth Hurts"
JT Ellison - "Bits and Pieces"
Lyman Feero - "Constructing Eugene: A Profile"
Paul Guyot - "As I Lay Dying"
Daniel Hatadi - "Dumped"
Mike MacLean - "How Does It Feel?"
Russel D. McLean - "Nobody's Listening"
Christa M. Miller - "Blogging a Fantasy"
David J. Montgomery - "AmberSki77"
Karen E. Olson - "Smoking Gun"
Bryon Quertermous - "I Am Not Paul Avery"
Anthony Rainone - "Burning Down The House"
JD Rhoades - "Flame War"
John Rickards - "Your Friends"
Stephen D. Rogers - "Comments Enabled"
John Stickney - "Just Another Wiseguy"
Pari Noskin Taichert - "The Cat's Meow"
Dave White - "The Best Blog Story...Ever"
James R. Winter - "Lady Jade" (approx. 2,000 words)