Death Ray Butterfly
by Tom Lichtenberg
Copyright 2010 by Tom Lichtenberg
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If there's one thing I hate it's private detectives. And lab guys. Lab guys think they can figure out who done it just by measuring how hard it was to mop up the blood. And private detectives think all it takes is some kind of unique slant on things and there you go. One time there was this crippled albino midget gypsy detective from Albania who thought that all that individuality he had was enough to go solving crimes, but he just got in the way, like they all do eventually. The main thing that kept all those cases cold was people sticking their noses in and mucking up the waters.
Pet peeves. I could go on and on with those. Don't think I ever found the limits to that! Maybe it's what they want, I don't know. They told me go ahead and start talking into this little black box here and just keep talking, long as it takes. Said don't worry about it. Whenever you start talking, whenever you stop, the little black box will know. Don't have to turn it on or turn it off. It doesn't make any noise either so I don't know. Just keep talking, they said, so that's what I'm doing. Wanted it all for "posterity", their word. Me and my famous cases, all of that. Another cranky old man going on about the good old days. Tell you one thing, it ain't gonna be like that. Never were no good old days I knew about. Or maybe there were and just nobody told me “here they are! Enjoy 'em! Ain't gonna last!”
So here I am, seventy-two years old, been retired from the force a few years now. Worked that beat a long time. Fifty goddamn years. That is a long time, tell you that much. Started out, there was one telephone in the whole department. By the time I retired, they got one planted in everybody's skull. So a lot can happen in fifty years, even if you don't stick to the one same universe the whole time, or even get back to the one you started out on. That's the thing. I can't tell for sure if I ever did. Back when I chased old Cricket Jones throughout the time-space continuum, I'm pretty sure I started out on the one old Earth I was born on, but did I ever see it again? Can't say for sure. Similar, definitely, very much so, and maybe that's enough. You'll see what I mean when I get to it.