I can keep a secret as well as the next guy, but this time I don’t want to.
It was a nice peaceful day until a few mInutes ago. That was when I heard Jan arranging to kill her two-timing boyfriend. Not the brightest of babes, she was dumb enough to make her plans RIGHT ON THE PHONE. Yikes! Can you imagine? Hiring a hitman on the phone? What’s the world coming to?
I not only heard her, I recorded her. Jan’s voice in all its digital glory, preserved forever. Along with the voice of the hitman, of course. Double trouble.
The hit on Joe isn’t scheduled until a few weeks from now, but It has to be stopped — pronto.
I go to work as soon as Jan leaves the house. She left for a two-week business trip, looking like she didn’t have a care in the world.
My friend Bill is in the living room, and I shout for him to join me in the study.
I play back Jan’s incriminating message (it’s close to three minutes long). When Bill asks me to play the last part again, I oblige. The voice of Jan fills the room: OKAY, JOE WILL BE THE ONLY ONE HOME THAT NIGHT. IT’LL BE A HOME INVASION GONE HORRIBLY WRONG. I’LL PAY YOU HALF UPFRONT AND HALF WHEN THE JOB IS DONE.
Bill says, “She’s a harpy, we gotta do something. And fast. That murder date is four weeks from tomorrow.”
“Agreed,” I say confidently. But I’m actually not that confident. You see, Bill and I aren’t humans, we’re machines. I’m one of those combo answering machine/phone thingies. I think I’m pretty smart, but technically I don’t have all the capabilities of a “smartphone.” With My friend Bill now, it’s a different story. He’s a cellphone, and he can do things I can’t. He’s a REAL smartphone. Working together we’ll hopefully save Joe’s life.
“Here’s the plan,” I say to Bill. “With a little tinkering, I can easily change Jan’s usual outgoing message to something more entertaining: the recorded conversation with the hitman. And your assignment, Bill, should you choose to accept it, is to text the police, the FBI, the town newspaper, and every one of Jan’s contacts, instructing them to call her here for an important message.”
Now Bill is laughing. He says, “Love the idea of just about everyone being privy to Jan’s plan. An answering machine greeting they’ll never forget.” A pause. “Just hope this works.”
“I think it will,” I answer. “It’s the perfect way to protect Joe. With her plan exposed, the harpy wouldn’t dare go after him. And if it doesn’t work, we’ll still have time to try something else,” I assure him.
I watch Bill begin to coordinate the data for his texting assignment. We’re doing our part, I’m thinking, now we can only hope that humans will do theirs.
Lucky for Joe that we machines have all sorts of powers (talking, plotting, and taking action) when humans aren’t around. Joe doesn’t deserve to die for being unfaithful, especially for being unfaithful to a harpy.
I turn to my own work, remembering what Thoreau once said, “Men have become the tools of their tools.”
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Gail Farrelly (Twitter: @gailfarrelly) writes mystery novels and short stories. She publishes satire at The Spoof ( http://is.gd/ZjsZuy). Her short stories are sold at Untreed Reads (http://is.gd/9uwEfO), on the Amazon Kindle, at iBooks, and at many other ebook vendors worldwide. She shares a website, www.farrellysistersonline.com, with her sister, Rita Farrelly, author of the local best seller, NOT IN BRONXVILLE: A SUBURBAN MYSTERY NOVEL. Gail is working on another mystery novel and also a book of spoofs.