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FICTION
The Hand that Wears a FitBit
Sameer Kulkarni

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The office of Senior Inspector Goodman was a hotbed for unraveling complex crimes where novelty solutions got a higher shelf than closures in the archives section. The season was at its peak, and four members of his staff- Hubbard, Fitch, Lackey, and Miss Klein- were peering down at the case papers that had just come in. Goodman momentarily stepped out and moseyed to the evidence room, got out a few joints from the recent arrest of a pot dealer and came back to the room just as Fitch was showing off his new acquisition to his colleagues.

“What’s that, Fitch? A new bracelet, is it?” Goodman asked, sitting on a crate and barrel that had been recently mandated for good posture.

“Oh no .. it’s called a Fitbit, boss. It counts your daily steps ..” Fitch said, and then handed it over to his boss.

“Honestly, look at this ridiculous thing. It’s a .. it’s a plastic bangle. Oh, and with a small train of LED’s. A traffic light for emmets, is it?”

“It tracks your sleep too ..”

“Wait, wait, wait .. where do you shove in the quarters? I’m assuming it’s remote-controlled.”

“It also helps me track ..” Fitch tried, but Goodman was on a spree.

“And what’s this? A ‘Hey chum, you’ve been sitting too long’ alert? It’s a bit specific, isn't it?”

“Not if you have been sitting too long, it isn’t,” Fitch retorted, getting up and walking around, looking at the mugshots of Andy Warhol in different accents that had been sprinkled around for ambience.

“Alright .. that’s enough. What are we looking at?” Goodman asked, scratching one of his folding chins.

“It’s Maestro’s assault case, boss,” Lackey replied.

“Well .. what do you think, Klein? Any slip from the Maestro, Lackey?” Goodman asked, passing the joints around and lighting one himself.

“I still keep going back to my initial hunch, Al,” Miss Klein said.

“What’s that?”

“Look at the CCTV tapes again and see who the pizza delivery man is. I think the double-chinned bastard .. oh, I beg your pardon,” Miss Klein said, looking at Hubbard, who was busy downing another doughnut. The baker had sprinkled some powdered sugar on his double chin and had thrown it in with the doughnuts for good measure.

“Oh, it’s alright. I watch Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian too,” he said, swiping off a sprinkle from his Fitbit.

“.. And have a video analyst take a look at it. I have a reason to believe that the pizza delivery man is the Maestro because the moment he rings the bell and the tune starts, his left hand goes into motion, his natural instinct,” Miss Klein added.

“No-o-o. It doesn’t resonate with me. I have told you before and I will tell you again- do not rely on technology, use your training. What are the four I’s I keep on banging about, Fitch?”

“Instinct, intuition, intelligence and insight, boss!” Fitch said, casting a smug look towards Miss Klein.

“You bet,” Goodman added, as smoke blew over his nasal tresses.

“How about checking Mrs. Mol’s movements? It covers all corners; I have a reason to believe the person who came to the door to answer the pizza delivery man’s bell wasn't Mrs. Mol,” Fitch said.

“But why wouldn’t she open the door? Would you order a pizza and then not be at home when the bell rings with the pizza guy at the door? No, no, for me it lacks depth..too much reliance on the crust, if you know what I mean.”

“Then why don’t we just bring the Maestro in and grill him the good old-fashioned way?” Miss Klein said, rolling her sleeves and looking incredulously towards her boss.

“No, it’s too straight-forward, too simple. The commissioner will never buy it. Did you hear that, Lackey?” Goodman scoffed, and looked at Lackey, who was busy with his toothpick.

“Hah!” he said.

“I have got it, Al, I have got it!” cried Hubbard, a few sprinkles dearly escaping from his mouth, as he spoke.

“What?”

“Why don’t we recreate the scene? Organize another concert, put Mrs. Mol in the front row..”

“How do we recreate the crime scene?”

“I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but it smells sweet to me.”

“Wait a minute now- you got me out of the haze when you said “recreate the scene”. What we need is a reaction, a shock. We will put Mrs. Mol in one of our interrogation rooms, in that cozy one in the corner with a minibar, put her at ease. Then have the Maestro dress up as a pizza delivery man and knock at the door. Watch the reaction, guys!”

“Man, oh, man! That will bring the cat right out of the bag!” Lackey shouted merrily.

“It covers all the four I’s and it’s direct too!” Fitch said, getting up, loosing his belt a notch.

“We can throw in a dozen wings for the sake of drama,” Hubbard said.

“But, if it isn’t ..” Miss Klein demurred, with a week-old confidence. She hadn't been able to figure out Goodman’s working methods during her first week, and was constantly trying to fix this weak start to her career.

“Do you really think it will work? Now if there is one thing I don’t like is a bunch of yes-men around me. I divorced the second Mrs. Goodman for the same reason. Now let’s get on to the Booker cockfighting case.”

“This is a fairly straightforward one. Through our street contact, we know the fights happen on Thursday nights after Booker Pipes and Fittings closes. The proprietor, Mr. Booker, runs the show but is never at the event himself,” Hubbard gave the details.

Goodman took a joint from his pocket, scoffed at the way it was rolled, unrolled it and put it’s contents on the case papers. He took a square piece of sisal from his drawer and started rolling his own joint.

“Okay. Any hunches?”

“Why yes,” Miss Klein added, “We have multiple witnesses who are willing to testify; we can go and arrest Mr. Booker directly.”

“Isn’t that a little too direct?”

“Then we can plant our man in his gang. Let him hang around the shop, earn his trust and slowly Booker will let him in, invite him for one of the match nights. Our man will make sure Booker is there to show him around. And boop! We swoop in the same day with a SWAT team.”

“I like the way you are taking the challenge on, Klein, but it’s lacking tact, discretion. We have to smoke out Mr. Booker and his partners, catch them redhanded.”

“But ..” Klein tried to edge in, without much success. 

“Will you back a true winner, Al, just answer yes or no?” Fitch asked.

“Does it involve my angle?”

“Involve? It dissolves your angle and drinks it with a slice of lime. The way I see it is that we put a wire on our contact along with a tiny camera in his hat. He captures the whole thing on video, along with a close up of faces and everything. Even the strictest of public prosecutors will sign the warrant!”

“Where does it involve Mr. Booker’s capture?”

“I have only had a minute to think about it, I haven’t explored every nook and cranny.”

“Now for a minute forget that I am your boss and tell me the truth, okay?”

“The only reason I am in the force is to see that the truth prevails,” Fitch slammed his fist on the table.

“Even if I have to lose out on a promotion!” Hubbard motioned with his hand in the air.

“Good men, good men! Listen, now this is old style, mind you, but I think it is super. We let one of our guys hang around Booker’s Pipes and Fittings, let him ease up to him slowly. Offer him a cigarette, occasionally walk with him to the bar and pay for his beer and a lap dance. Earn his trust. Once he has his trust, our man tells Booker that he has a mole in his gang and points to our street contact. Booker kills him and we book him for murder. Then we throw in a few more offenses, including cockfighting, in the mix. Get some action going, yeah?”

“Holy Mary! That will smoke out the buggers alright! It’s gold, boss, pure gold!”

“It sounds experimental, but it reeks of success at the same time.”

“Now if you think it needs improvisation with some of your modern devices ..”

“I wouldn't dare let a dead battery ruin such a plan.”

“Boss, would you mind saying it again? I have to present a seminar on Case Analysis 101 to the new batch next week. I can show this recording as a demonstration, show them the real deal,” Lackey said, taking his phone out and holding it horizontally.

“No, tell them theoretical knowledge is useless. Now what’s the deal with this Haversey case?”

“This is a cinch, boss! I have got it by the collar,” Fitch said, now fully understanding what the boss was looking for, “Mrs. Haversey was murdered two days ago. Mr. Haversey claims that he was visiting his mother when an intruder barged in and shot Mrs. Haversey. We talked to Mr. Haversey’s mother and she said her son had been with her at the time, giving him a strong alibi. Now there is a pizza delivery guy who came around the house at around 7.00 pm. He is the only guy who visited their house the whole day. Has to be the pizza delivery guy! I was thinking we get one of our agents made up as Mrs. Haversey, order a pizza and watch the delivery guy’s reaction when he sees Mrs. Haversey. He will slip, boss.”

“Oh Christ! It’s eerie! He took the words right out of my mouth,” Hubbard said, wiping his lips on a napkin.

“Open and shut case,” Lackey quipped.

“Hmm..something about it smells..I can’t put a nose on it. It’s too open.”

“That’s what I said when I saw it first,” Lackey said, feeling happy that he hadn't echoed in earlier, “It’s too simple.”

Goodman stared at the case report in front of him for a minute and then said, “Now I have been ruminating the details of this case over and over and I have a thought. It’s a trifle ultramodern and à la mode, but I think it’s a gem. On the list of items recovered from the person of Mrs. Haversey, there was a Fitbit wristband. Check its activity and put a timeline together. I have a hunch there in lies our answer.”

“Put that in your hat and smoke it, Mr. Holmes, the grand old man of detectives!” Fitch pitched in.

“You cannot put all these stories in your autobiography, Al! Let me call my cousin at Edelman Studios, let him spin off a TV series.”

Miss Klein got up, looking more irked than dejected. “Where are you going, Miss Klein?” Goodman asked.

“I will be at Bloomingdales handing over perfumed mouilettes to the modern clientele. Don’t bother checking my Fitbit activity, eh, Al?”

Miss Klein left and momentarily there was a pause. “I told you something about her didn’t smell sweet,” Hubbard said.

“Some people just can’t roll with the times man, I gotta tell you,” Fitch added.

“She is a shifty little woman, isn't she? Good trimmings though,” Lackey chimed in, adjusting his tie.

Hubbard added, “Al taught her a thing or two today though, didn't he?”

“She will be back by tomorrow, mark my words. Not even Bloomingdales can offer her such novelty, eh boys?” Goodman said, and scratched his back as the loyal three scuffled to get the talcum powder.