016 – The Widow

version 1.1

Brad punched a button on his phone activating the official interview function.  This would trigger a call to the interviewee with full legal disclosures and forms.  Once accepted it would also document the interview completely.  Furthermore, this would also be included in the live video feed.

He stated, "Official Investigation Request, Interview Dr. Razel Tulley, Walter Reed Hospital."

A vaguely automated voice responded, "Did you mean Dr. Razel Tulley at Walter Reed Medical Center?"

"Yes, yes that must be the one." Rubenz stated not certain if it was 100% accurate himself, but knowing the phone search engine would have offered him other options if they existed within the search parameters.

"A request has been placed with Dr Tulley's calendar system.  There is a time slot open for a 30 minute window at 9:45 PM, approximately 45 minutes from now.  The next available window is 1 hour, tomorrow afternoon at 3:25 PM.  Do you have a preference or would you like to place an investigation over ride if legally possible?" the voice asked.

"Let's go with 9:45 PM tonight." Brad replied.  "Please make the connection at 9:45 for me and ring me when the Dr comes on the phone."

He had 45 minutes.  He sent Jenny a quick text message.  'Can we talk?'

Her reply came back in seconds, 'Yes, I'm back in my townhouse.'

Brad thought of the townhouse she had inherited from her grandparents after they died. It was a nice place in the middle of the recently restored Buckhead area of Atlanta.

'I'll be there in 10 minutes.' Brad replied as he turned and walked back out the door.

The nice thing about Jenny's place in Buckhead was that it was easy to get there fast.  She lived right off a main loop, near a recently demolished mall called Phipps.  It was an antiquated old shopping mall, although no shopping of anything other than prostitutes and illicit drugs had been found in the broken down old structure in over forty years.  Now that it had been leveled the neighborhoods around it actually felt safe, even though it was probably only a cosmetic safety.

He walked down the corner, hopped into a transport bubble and was on the primary corridor ninety seconds later.  Five minutes after that he stepped out of the transport bubble and walked up the block towards Jenny's townhouse.

As he approached, he could see her sitting on the front steps outside, waiting for him.  Jenny looked miserable and beautiful.

She stood up, wringing her hands, hesitating as if she wanted to hug him, scared as if touching him might trigger an electric shock to her system.

He thought to himself, that was exactly how he felt too, but wondered if her reasons were the same.  It would be best to confront this straight on and get the worst, the new worst behind them.

He stepped up, paused and said, "Hello Jenny. May we step inside?"

She started to tremble and shake, "Oh god, its true.  You never remember to say ‘may’ unless you need to say something serious."

He stepped closer reaching out to guide her elbow without touching it, more of a gesture.  With the high level of static charge in the air it almost felt like a threat to even Brad, like ‘please let's go inside, don't make me touch you, I can't hug you  . . . yet.’

What he really said was, "Please, we need to step inside."

Her misery temporarily turned to anger, "Of course.  Job first. Shit you are as bad as Terry."  She was muttering and probably trying to stoke the anger just a bit, an exaggeration to avoid the tears, but she did turn and led him up the steps.

They walked in through her door and instantly the static charge disappeared.  He stepped to the right into the living room.  Even without the charge, he felt awkward as his training kicked in.  He realized that he was keeping eyes on her as she closed the door behind them and turned to follow him into the living room.  She looked at him briefly, sighed and then sat down on a couch.  It was new.  He did not recognize it even though he had helped her pick out most of the furniture in the house.

"Jenny, Terrence McBoyd is deceased.  I am not at liberty to say much more for reasons that are probably obvious.  As the next  . . . next of kin," Those words really stuck in his throat, "I must inform you and let you know that I am investigating the circumstances of his passing.  Family services and grief counselors are available should you need them."

"So you are a homicide detective still,” she said emphasizing the word ‘are’.  “That must mean someone thinks this was a homicide." Jenny said.

"All I can say is that yes, I am still a homicide detective." Brad replied.  "How did you hear about Terry's death Jenny?"

"I heard it from his fucking wife.  I mean, his ex-wife.  I'm his wife now, or was his wife.  Shit, shit shit!”

The anger and grief were bubbling again.  "She called, she was accusing me, rubbing it in.   she said, 'He's dead and it’s because of you and your sex-freak lifestyle." Jenny added.  "Yes, we met having an office affair and all, but cheating doesn't equate to being a sex-freak."

“On the phone earlier you said something about a video message.”  Rubens queried.

Jenny paused, “I must have imagined it, like déjà vu. I thought I had received a message.  I could have sworn that I watched it, but it wasn’t on my phone.  I started to check with the police station via the web, then I called you and you wouldn’t say.  Then she called later via holovision.”

Brad didn’t follow up on that one, yet.  He would double check phone records.  Video messages didn’t just disappear; they were stored forever virtually, just accessible via a phone.

Jenny could be telling the truth, but that didn’t mean that someone with money, influence or both hadn’t done something to the video message records.  Then, Brad couldn't help envisioning Terry boy with whacked off p3nises all around him, in a warehouse full of them, and in a warehouse that Terry owned.

"How did you meet Terry?" Brad asked.

"I took a job working for him, not directly that is.  He ran a distribution business here in town.  I took a position writing logistics algorithms.  It was a small office.  We all worked a lot of hours.  He had also written logistics algorithms early in his own career and acted as a bit of a mentor to me for a while."

"When did you  . . ." Brad trailed off, his own emotions suddenly getting in the way of the question.

Jenny picked up with a flash in her eye, "Start sleeping with him, dating him, or decide to marry him?"

She could probably see the retreat in his eyes, and said, "I'm sorry.  It’s all so much.  We just kind of lived and breathed work.  We got close.  It all kind of melted together.  He was separated from his wife, living in a different house for several years.  I was looking for someone.”  The way she said ‘someone’ made Brad want to finish the sentence for her, ‘someone, not like you.’

"Eight months ago his divorce was finalized, and 2 months ago we were married." She finished.

"Why do you think is ex-wife was . . . " Brad started

"Such a bitch to me? She's probably not really.  I think she never expected the divorce.  She just thought Terry was a workaholic and would move back when things were practical.  When he filed for divorce, I think she was shocked."

"I do not know the details of the divorce settlement, but I think she received a lot of money.  Terry and I had pretty rigid prenuptial agreements.  Terry's business was pretty large and extended, and I have my own inheritance.  Neither of us married for the money, but with my family, siblings and a complex trust, and his family, ex-wife, a daughter and multiple business partners, it just seemed the easiest way.  We were together as a couple, but financially we were completely separate."

"So now that he has passed, you retain nothing from Terry?" Rubenz asked.

"Nothing material.  Nothing from the business that is.  I believe I will receive some money from a small insurance policy, but that's more than likely for tying up loose ends.  With my trust, there wasn't much that he could leave me that would make a material financial difference." She added.  Jenny was about as rich as they come.  She didn’t have to work, and especially didn’t have to work for someone else.  She always had though.  Jenny wanted the experience of working her way up the corporate ladder despite having a trust large enough to feed a small nation.  But she came from tough stock.  Her father and grandfather before her had each amassed amazingly large accumulations of wealth, making each of them one of the ten richest people in the world in their turn.

They both gave away 98% of their entire wealth to charity only leaving a small fraction of their wealth in a spend thrift trust to each of their children.  Jenny was just starting out.  She didn’t have the inventive genius of either her father nor her grandfather, but she did have an amazing drive and probably would eclipse them some day.

He recollected his thoughts catching the time on his phone, "I understand.  I can't stay long, but couldn't delay the visit. I will do what I can." Brad said.

"That's true.  God, this must be a homicide, which is hard for me to fathom at the moment, but I do know that if it is something atypical then you can definitely figure it out.  Shit. shit. shit! It must be something extra gruesome or they would have just sent crime scene bots and some junior level investigator.  This isn't normal is it?" Jenny asked.

"I can't say more, but you know what I do." Rubenz said, "I do need to ask you two remaining  questions:  When did Terry's ex-wife contact you and what type of products did Terry's business distribute?"

"She popped in via holovision and started ranting at me." Jenny said, "I wasn't here.  Terry and I lived at his house.  This is the first time I've been here since just after the wedding 2 months ago.  She still had a holo key allowing her to appear at his house.  I guess that was primarily for their daughter to call.  I don't think I ever saw his ex call via holo before."

"It must have been around 7pm.  I checked in through the police website and was routed to the officer in charge.  When I saw the url address pop up, it had your badge id and that's when I realized the case was assigned to you, I just called you immediately and didn't finish filling out the form online." Jenny said

Rubenz thought of the crappy security loophole on the police website.  That overly simple url had caused problems before, and it could have almost derailed this investigation.  He clicked a button on his phone, which tagged this time in the interview as an item for internal process review.  His superiors were always looking for situational examples, anecdotes that they could show to politicians to make improvements, budget justifications, and get things done in general.

Jenny hadn't stopped talking, "so he was primarily involved in medical prosthetics.  We shipped prosthetics all around the world, not just for veterans."

"Just prosthetics?" Brad asked.

"Yes, well and a few accessories that shipped with them for maintenance or repairs."

"Was Terry involved in any other businesses? Any other product lines?" Brad asked.

"No, there were a number of shells and subsidiaries in different countries, but it was all the same primary business."

"Ok, Jenny, get some rest" Brad was going to table the hard questions until he had more background information.

Continue to Next Chapter - 017 – Manhood Revitalization Services

015 – Another Discovery

Part 2

vers 1.0

Brad transferred to a smaller single pod for the last leg of his journey. The stench of the crowds transferring tonight was heavy with travel commute stress.

Rubenz thought the smell alone was enough to give him a headache.  It wasn't the first time he wondered if the headache was just a mental thing or if there really was a type of accumulated air pollution triggered by such high numbers of people.

He mumbled, "Why the do I keep making these stupid trips to crime scenes?" So what if he closed cases a little slower?  While he did like having the reputation of being fast, it was the closing of the case that was most important.  He just couldn't completely rely on the recorded version of the crime scene alone.  If that cost him one closed case a year, it was too many.

When he got to his house, there was a digital delivery message on his door.  He walked inside, and opened his digital mail box as he walked towards the kitchen.

There was a flashing red urgent message from Goozmos, the monopolistic media company that controlled most of the content, entertainment and news on the internet.

Your personal contract needs to be updated and signed.  Until we receive your updated contract, we will have to hold all revenue earned on your accounts.  If the updated contract is not received within a three (3) day period, your pending earnings will be forfeit.  If the updated contract is not received within five (5) days, your account will be placed in suspension for a period no less than 1 year.

"Shit," Rubenz said to himself.  “That's all I need”, he thought.

He forwarded the message to his automated legal advisor program.  It processed for about thirty seconds and came back with a rapid message stating,

"The new contract has changed in two substantial ways:
1.  The new agreement calls for your release of your personal image to be used, reused, repurposed, modified and broadcast at the discretion of Goozmos in return for an increase in usage rights revenue for this image at a rate of $0.2346 cpm.
2.  Your account level as been graduated to the status of 'Temporary Web Celebrity" which entitles you to access to Goozmos talent agents, at a fee of $0.00000063 of your web contents total cpm, including the use of your personal image.

In layman terms, Goozmos feels your personal image has greater value as you are now a temporary web celebrity.  They will hold your account and all revenues, past and future hostage, until you agree to their terms.  As they are a monopoly and have greater legal resources than your personal financial statement currently indicates, it is advised that you agree as quickly as possible and return this agreement.

*DISCLAIMER - Personal Automated Legal Advisor Wizard Inc is a subsidiary of Goozmos Inc, an independent legal review would be advised.

"Well that can't be good.”  Brad flipped over to the news and was treated to a video of himself shuddering in an orgasmic like way with that damn P3nis stuck to his forehead.

" . . . and an Atlanta Detective was caught enjoying himself during an investigation . . ." the commentator was saying to her anchor sidekick, who was laughing like a damn fool as they looped that section over and over again. "... this video went viral 15 minutes after it was broadcast live to the internet during a routine investigation into the homicide of the infamous King of the Whack Jobs . . ." the anchor continued.

"... family members are calling for the removal of Detective Rubenz from the case as his head is not in the game apparently.. Meanwhile, spoof videos, mixes and other versions of the video are circulating faster and faster.  Estimates indicate this viral video may break new records as it has already been remixed 142,532 times and growing!"

Brad clicked off, pulled up the agreement, signed with his finger on the touch screen and sent off the document back to Goozmos as fast as he could.

"Holy Shit!  This is going to be embarrassing as hell, but it might just pay for his early retirement and after the job the press was probably going to do on him, he might need that money even sooner."

He did a quick mental calculation on a modest one billion views / one thousand x a modest twenty-three cents that was about two hundred thirty thousand dollars or four years salary.

He needed to do some more things to fully capitalize on this fast wave, but he didn't have time.  He still had a crime to solve.

He pulled up his research list.  He needed to better understand the technology, some basic background information, and some technical details, especially about the cause of those welts.

He performed a couple quick searches, and tracked down the name of Razel Tulley, Phd, MD, who worked at Walter Reed Hospital.  Tulley had apparently been involved in several key areas of research and development with prosthetic systems.

Prosthetics had made rapid advancements since soon after the start of the Afghanistan War at the turn of the century.  Shortly after the first decade of that war, researchers were already making progress in the direction of developing prosthetics that could be hard wired, almost literally, into the brain.  They weren't pretty and the surgery involved was even uglier.  But the results were distinctly functional.

The hardware weighed less.  It was more functional, recharged in reasonable amounts of time, and restored a significant amount of mobility to soldiers and later other people that had suffered traumatic injuries.

About the same time, other researchers were making rapid advancements in systems that grew real skin, faux skin, materials that looked like skin, even skin that grew on inanimate objects.

There were obvious things missing, such as a pulse, warmth, or in some cases coolant that brought the temperature of the prosthetic up or down to something close to 98.6 degrees.

Research seemed to hit a plateau until about 8 years ago.  Most functionality could be restored in operation, movement and appearance, but there were two areas that lagged significantly.  The first major area involved tactile feedback systems.  These systems slowed down response times just a fraction of a second in all prosthetics such that movement was still just slightly mechanical in appearance.

The other major area was surgery.  It was still a very invasive surgical procedure.  Depending on what area of the anatomy was being wired back in, surgery could take days.  If multiple prosthetics needed to be attached, such as an arm and a leg, or fingers and toes and an eye, the patient would either have to endure a marathon of surgery that could take up to twenty hours or they would have to come back for repeated surgeries, undergoing, surgery, recovery, adjustment, and repeat for each prosthetic.  That could drag out for months or years.

This time and surgery and planning was insanely inefficient and expensive.  Plus, it always increased the possibility of complications, infection and rejection.

Dr. Razel Tulley had zeroed in on this problem and had focused her research and efforts on finding a 'plug and play' solution.  She wanted to entirely eliminate the need to perform an invasive neurosurgery.  Furthermore, she wanted to minimize the deficiencies in tactile feedback.

One news article described Dr Tulley as, "...smart enough to realize that the two problems were connected.  She isolated and interpreted the actual signals sent by the nervous system.  She identified a method that utilized communication networks in a universal way such that any nerve could function as a contact point for input and output in short, an incisive breakthrough."

Once translated, she then went about designing a contact patch that could interface directly with nerves through the skin.

Her research was speeding along at this point.  The only problem now was finding a method for attaching, 'sticking' the prosthetic to a person such that the attachment could hold the weight of the prosthetic and maintain the intended functionality.

Humans had dabbled in ways to attach prosthetics for hundreds of years, using everything from straps, to screws, surgery and implants and more.  This was never ideal.  It might create chaffing at best, and severe pain or life threatening infections at the worst extreme.

Fortunately, Dr Tulley had the backing of the Defense Department.  The defunct NASA space agency happened to be sitting on a dead end technology.  They had developed something of a tractor beam, a 'ray' that could capture an object in space and pull it in without physically having to touch that object.

The technology worked, but had long ago been replaced with more efficient technologies that required less energy.  It seemed that the tractor beam required large amounts of energy the further away an object was located.

However at small distances of millimeters, the energy required was minimal.  Some NASA researcher had actually solved the attachment challenge long ago.  They had used the tractor beam to lock new attachments of space stations to one another, like magnets.

Prosthetics were developed that essentially had this micro tractor beam technology built in, as the device made contact with skin, which itself had a micro charge of electricity, a connection was completed and the tractor beam activated, which then pulled itself closer, tighter and firmly to any dense mass identified as a stable system, such as bones in a skeletal system of a human.

It was a brilliant adaption and allowed plug and play prosthetics to advance quickly, however, the research articles didn't discuss the demand for prosthetic sexual devices or prosthetics as consumer products that could be bought off the shelf.

Brad replayed his conversation recorded with Jenny earlier.  He re-experienced his amazement that she was ... . had been married and married to the murder victim.  He realized he would need to inform the family of the murder in an official capacity.

He did a quick check of the file he had for Terrence McBoyd.  He was married to Jenny McBoyd, no children.  Terrence was previously married to Karen Chanier with one daughter age twenty-four.

That was damn close to Jenny's age.

Continue to Next Chapter - 016 – The Widow