Short story: Dead Man's Trigger

My name is Rob, short for Roberta. I'm a private investigator, which means I'm good enough with social networks to do what the police does, just without the automated subpoenas and the retroactively legal hacking. It's not difficult, really. Nine times out of ten the obvious suspect did it. The bereaved know who did it, acquaintances know who did it, even the police know who did it.

So ten times out of ten I'm hired when the police pretends not to know who did it, when a judge pretends not to believe them, or when a jury pretends they've got reasonable doubt. I'm never hired to figure out who did it, despite the pretenses the client and I go through. I'm not even hired to find proof. I'm hired because once I've found, again, what everybody knew, and collected the proof they didn't need, I give them a burner email address.

They hire me for that email address. I don't like it, but I don't dislike it enough not to give it to them. It's my business to give the address, not what they do with it.

I can pretend not to know just as well as cops, judges, and juries do, but I can't lie to myself, not about this. Content sent to those addresses usually goes viral. Which by itself would be a weak form of revenge: The crimes the police decide not to solve, judges not to take to trial, and juries not to punish, are the kinds of crime many people cheer the criminal for. Shooting the "right" kind of person, more often than not. (My boyfriend was the right kind of person. Serious, sad, brilliant John. Did he know how he'd die when he wrote this program?)

But the evidence doesn't just go viral, it infects the right sort of group. I don't use the word metaphorically, or at least not much. I don't know who those people are, but I'm sure they aren't always the same. Depends on the crime, on the victim, and on tides I don't visit the right forums to feel the shifting of. I'm glad of that, for my sanity's sake. (John had to, if nothing else to teach the program to seek them. I didn't know him well, it turns out, while he knew exactly what I would and wouldn't do. I only get email addresses sent to me. Nothing more.)

I don't tell myself that the deaths that follow are coincidence. I don't dwell in how they are not. I sleep reasonably well.

I've stopped missing John.


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