FLASH FICTION: The Issue With Standards

“I still can’t believe you called us in on this one.”  Guy Faver shook his head as he flipped up his notebook cover.  “I mean, Larry, they’re your family.”

Larry Atlas smiled and shrugged.  “Standards are standards, Lieutenant.”

“Yes, but on Christmas Eve?”

Larry wiped a piece of lint off his suit jacket.  “The law doesn’t change according to the season.”

Faver sighed to himself.  Cold-blooded bastard didn’t begin to describe it.  Great freelance detective, but to turn in your whole family as criminals during the holidays…    “Well, alright.  Take me through it.  So you got to the house three hours ago.  What did you notice first?”

“Well, my brother was sitting on the couch in the living room, buying tickets to upcoming Celtics games.  A lot of tickets.”

“He a big basketball fan?”

“He hates it, Lieutenant.  Despises it.  So I knew the tickets couldn’t be for him.”

“Christmas presents, then.”

Larry shook his head.  “He was scalping them on eBay.  Huge markups.”

“Well, Larry, that’s legal if you—”

“—if you have a license from the state, yes, I know.  He doesn’t.”

Faver shrugged, finished jotting down his notes.  “Okay, next.”

“Well, I went to go find my mother, to say hello and to ask her if she knew that Cody was committing a crime using her Internet connection.  She was just finishing wrapping presents in the den.”  Larry smiled.  “I knew from the minute I walked in she’d gotten me another sweater.”

“How did you know that?”

“Oh, come on, Lieutenant.  She’s gotten me one for the last six years.  It doesn’t take a genius.”

Of course not, Faver thought wryly.  Even an idiot like me should know better, right, Larry?  “And you’re accusing your mother of shoplifting.”

“There was a security tag remover in plain sight on the table, and I noticed several tags in the wastebasket next to the den table.”

Faver sighed.  “Seems like every time I go shopping these days, I have to deal with a clerk who won’t remove the security tags.  Maybe your mother was going through the same thing.”

Larry frowned.  “I know what I’m talking about here.  And her wardrobe upstairs has the proof.  It’s full of stolen clothes.  Most of them still have the tags on – she’s never bothered to wear them.”

“Fine.  Which was it next, your father or your sister?”

“My father.  He’s been committing securities fraud.”

Faver sighed.  “Why would a legitimate millionaire who runs a big department-store chain need to fool his investors for financial gain?”

“You’ll have to ask him that.  Maybe he likes the thrill.  Maybe all the money he has isn’t so legitimate after all.  But he’s been misleading his investors for months, at least.  Two sets of books upstairs, and the numbers just don’t match.”

“And your sister?”

“Piracy.”

Faver stared.  “Oh, come on, Larry.”

“No, I’m serious.  Downloading movies without paying for them is a federal offense.”  Larry pointed at the laptop.  “The proof is on there.  It should be about downloaded by now, if you feel like watching a free copy of The Help down at the station.”

This was going to be a notebook the captain would want to look at, probably repeatedly.  Faver flipped down the cover.  “Well, okay.  Do you have anything else to add?”

“Yes.”  And Larry stuck out his fists, together, wrists up.  “You should probably take me in too.”

Faver stood there for a moment, shocked beyond belief.  Finally, he spoke.  “Why?”

“Well, let’s see.  I had to break into a state database to find out my brother wasn’t a licensed ticket reseller, so there’s a hacking charge.  I also had to break the lock on my mother’s wardrobe…at the very least, that’s vandalism.  And it’s trivial, but I passively participated in the illegal download of the movie by not shutting it down.  Plus, there’s the securities fraud.”

“That was your father!”

Larry shrugged.  “I’m on the board of the company.  If I’d investigated our financial situation earlier, I could have and would have caught these errors.  That would have been a different story, but I took my father’s word that everything was okay.  His securities fraud doesn’t excuse my nonfeasance.”

“But—”  And Faver found himself at a loss again.  “But for God’s sake, Larry…you had to know some of those things were crimes.  Why did you do ‘em?”

A rueful smile answered him.  “Well, finding out my perfect family isn’t so perfect drove me a little crazy there for a minute, I guess.  Anyway, come on, Lieutenant.  You know you have to.  I’ve confessed.  After all, standards are standards.”

********************

Let me know what you think of the story.  If you like it, please feel free to forward the link to your friends!  If it wasn’t to your taste, better luck tomorrow — a new piece of short fiction goes up every day.

Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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