Friday, December 3, 2010

FFF 8: Time

I'm a little late this week... partly because I still thought the deadlines for F3 were Friday.  And partly because I really just need the whole week.  =/  I'm gonna keep trying the prompts, when they tickle my muse, but I already know I'm not gonna make any Wednesday deadlines.  ESPECIALLY not Wednesdays!

Anyway, here's my story for F3 #8...

Wasting Time
A Bo Fexler Story

The clock ticked off the seconds, each a piercing reminder that time moved forward.  It was already late on a bitter cold night.  The heat had turned off for the night—and the long holiday weekend—in the office building.  The cold workspaces, extra clean by some managerial mandate, were even more impersonal in the dropping temperature.

My shoulders were tensed, as if doing so would contain what little body heat remained in my body.  My fingers were so numb that I could barely feel the shape of the mouse as I navigated with it. 

Without the intermittent whooshing and humming of the heating system, the office was still, lifeless.  Only the barely perceptible whir of the computer fan, the faint click of the mouse button, and the interminable ticking of a clock on the desk next to the computer broke the still stillness. 

Everyone that normally worked in that office building was off doing holiday related things.  If not enjoying their families for Thanksgiving, they were tolerating them with whatever coping methods or alcohol they could manage, or just plain avoiding them at home or at the bar.  The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year.  Few people work that night—besides the standard retail workers, law enforcement and emergency responders, and bartenders.  The occasional private investigator will put in a few hours, checking to make sure that a certain spouse is actually working late, rather than finding unauthorized reasons for giving thanks.  Then they, too, would join one of the normal Thanksgiving activities.  Being a PI, like being a cop, can be hard on personal relationships, though, with the odd hours and spying and trust issues that come with watching everyday people betray the trust of those who care for them. 

Luckily, I had trust issues long before I entered the PI business.  It makes the job easier.

The holidays no longer have any meaning for me beyond the normal ebb and flow of business as people increase or decrease their need to know the truth.  It’s just part of the passing of time.  One month to the next, one year to the next. 

I tucked my hands under my arm pits, trying desperately to restore some feeling to them, while the computer considered my request.  Fittingly, the machine turned a digital hour glass while we waited.  The sand grains didn’t move though.  It was an old machine, running an old operating system.  It made my job both easier and harder.  Security on that old computer was something of a joke.  And the man who used that machine wasn’t very good with computers.  The collection of empty folders named New Folder was amusing. 

The man who worked on that computer was at home with his wife and grown child.  According to the wife when she called me, he was pretty well trashed too.  That was why she'd asked if I was busy—or more importantly, was my time claimed by anyone else that holiday-eve.

 She'd first thought maybe he was staying out late because he was having an affair with some office girl.  But a couple days of surveillqnce showed that the husband was the last to leave his office, and did so well after everyone else.  Sometimes, he'd return to the office after a few hours at home, claiming he had things to do.  He had agreed to stay home the night before Thanksgiving, but promptly got plastered.  That meant she could take his keys—under the guise of keeping him from driving drunk.

So, while he was drunk, and his wife was working on a bottle of wine, I was snooping around the man's computer.  It looked like he had saved everything in the My Documents folder, without even the benefit of sub folders for organization.  Except there was another folder, buried among the system folders.  It was also named 'New Folder' but it wasn't empty.  It was quite full, actually.  Full of movies mainly, with the occaisional picture, too.  Renaming files was not part of his skill set, so I was able to tell the content without actually having to watch any of them.They had titles like Girl Takes Huge Dick and Young Blonde Likes Getting Rammed.  Not even any flicks about anal or threesomes.  As far as porn went, it was tame.    

I rummaged around in the man's internet history.  Nothing much there.  A couple porn sites, some random searches for trivia bits-- the sort of things people talk about in the break room and then Google to find out who was right-- and some searches for local addresses.  I searched for the addresses and found he'd gone looking for a bar, a floor covering outlet, two restaurants, and a sex toy store. 
With his not updated web browser, I was able to access his email, even though he'd logged out.  The session cookie was still available, so hitting the back browser until it activated the session cookie.  Except it wasn't worth the technical know how.

How the hell was I going to write up the report on this case? The man wasn't sleeping around.  He seemed to be avoiding his wife by going to the office after hours and, while there, watched porn.  And probably jerked off.   He had enough videos that he could watch for days.  Plus, given the dates on the files, it appeared that he went hunting for more every three or four days. 

 Hopefully she could accept that her husband was passing his time with porn and masturbation.  More likely, she would claim the investigation was a waste of time. 

For me, though, finding answers, no matter how mundane or disappointing, is never a waste of time.

Besides, I get paid pretty damn well for my time. 



Paul D. Brazill said...

Bo always gets to the nity gritty! Beaut!

New Bo Reader said...

hi! First-time visitor here. One who's never read any previous Bo stories, so take this review as coming from totally new eyes:

Entertaining scene, and interesting protag in Bo. The writing flowed reasonably well. No significant grammatical nits to pick. Consistent voice in Bo.

But if I were to offer my most significant sincerely-hoping-to-help criticism it would be to say that the story, well, wasn't much of one, I'm afraid. There was very little "story" here. Maybe some interesting characterization, and plenty of description about the cold and empty office, but nothing of any real "stakes" or "tension" that was resolved or dealt with in any significant way. Bo opens the computer files of a guy and finds some naughty videos. Case closed.

I think you need to add some element of a twist or tension or something at stake to raise the emotional involvement in your reader. It's hard in such a short story, I know. But something like...

-- Say the files are videos from a hidden camera that the guy took of his own wife. That adds a twist and some emotional complexity -- he's leaving the real wife to go back to the office to fanticize and 'entertain himself' over her video image?!?

-- Or perhaps add tension and raise the stakes by having Bo discover the videos are all of women who were later murdered.

Maybe your intent is to make Bo as 'real' a PI as possible, and it's true that most real cases are pretty mundane. But that then then unfortunately makes your stories mundane and not very interesting too, I'm afraid.

But this is just one reader's opinion -- and truthfully, I DO like your writing. Enough to want to leave a comment. And I can tell from this one snippet that you have talent and I want you to really unleash that talent and make every story as entertaining and engrossing for the reader as possible.

Clair Dickson said...

@New Bo Reader--
Admittedly, this story was more about characterization that tension. I wouldn't say it was light on plot, but the plot was fairly low stakes. Some stories are like that.

If you're interested in more Bo Fexler stories, there are a bunch more. Maybe some of those will have the higher stakes that you enjoy. =)

Thanks for taking the time to comment.