Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Powder Burn Flash #16 - Clair Dickson

A Bo Fexler Short Story
by Clair Dickson

"He moved out eight months ago. I've hardly seen him since," my client, Deanna Terp explained, pausing to sip her coffee.

My name is Bo Fexler; I'm tall, pretty and have a speech impairment. In spite of all that, I work as a private eye. A quiet private eye. I let other people do the talking.

She continued, "He did well enough in school. He got the factory job as soon as he turned eighteen. He makes decent money. He's never been in trouble."

"As far are you know," I commented, like holding a flame under kindling to see how dry it was.

The kindling-- client-- smoldered, but didn't ignite. "Maybe, but really Wayne didn't usually go out. Not with women, not even with other guys. He can't get in much trouble at home."

"What did he do with his time?"

"Played video games. Probably too much, to be honest."

"What makes you think he's in trouble?"

"His phone's busy all the time. When I get through, he doesn't want to talk. He won't tell me what's going on. When I go over, he doesn’t have time."

"Did he leave anything here when he moved?"

"Yeah. I'll show you his room."

She stood in the doorway while I sorted through papers, old notebooks, and homework assignments. I found several pages that were potentially useful and pocketed them. Then, as it was nearing nine that night, I shook hands with my client and went home.

Or rather, went to work. With the information I got from Wayne's room, I came up with the name of an online multiplayer game. There was one character he had the most notes, illustrations and stats of. I called my friend Axel for some help, and he set me up to join the online world where I hoped to find Wayne.

I wandered around at first, then, I started asking for Lord Xeon-- the character Wayne had seemed most interested in on paper. I found that Lord Xeon often hunted in a particular area of this online world, and marched my character off after him.

As I went, I continued to ask questions about this Lord Xeon character. How long was he usually on? How high of a character was he? Did people like him?

When I got my PI license, I never would have expected to conduct interviews online via video game. But, it was extraordinarily successful. People were very familiar with Lord Xeon. He was a top level character that many noobs would go to for extra items, spells, and advice. He was kind to most, but willing to take out anyone who gave him any crap.

As I waited for my character to ride a boat across some ocean, I flipped through the case file I was building. I stopped to linger on a photo of the short, pimple-faced, fat kid with glasses standing with his mother.

He logged on usually at 5:30pm . Barely a half hour after his shift at the plant would end. He logged off between one and two in the morning; however, he was still there when my character walked into the hut where he hung out.

I brought up my text menu. "Wayne Terp?" I asked in a private chat.

"I require the name of my inquisitor," he typed back, his font large and red.

"Bo Fexler. Private investigator."

"What can I do for you?"

"Are you really Wayne Terp?"

"I am."

"Birth date?"

" January 23, 1973 ."

"Your mother's worried about you."


"Could I get some kind of proof that you're okay? For your mother."

"More, I presume, than just my word."



"What about your game log. Print it off for me. I'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon when you get home."


"What's the problem, Wayne ?"

"She won't understand. She doesn't think I should spend so much time on the computer. That's why I moved out."

"You have your own place. What can she do?"



"I never thought about that. I'll print it out for you."

"Thank you."

Logging off, I checked the clock. Three in the morning. The next-- or rather-- later that morning, I called Axel and made a less-than-ethical request. I needed him to hack into game and email me Wayne's chat log.

The email didn't arrive until after I'd gone to Wayne's for the game log he'd printed off. Wayne put in hours and hours on the game. The chat log told a different story. A story that included many deals between Lord Xeon and other players. Deals that exchanged in game items and spells for cybersex.

I used the 'find' function to search for other references and instances of cybersex. Only, I found that it didn't always remain on the internet. There were half a dozen accounts in that many months of times that Wayne had driven to some hotel over the weekend in exchange for real-live sex. Didn't matter if they were men or women. I took out my highlighter and started marking the chat log.

Then, I wrote up the report and prepared to deliver it to my client. She took it about as well as she would have taken a prostitute's solicitation. Or if I was telling her that her son was a prostitute.

"You have to be mistaken! Not my son."

I tapped the thick binder with my report and the chat log. "Believe what you want, ma'am."

"I'm not paying."

"Then, I'll see you in court."

"I'm sure you're wrong."


"He's-- he's not like that. He's a quiet boy. Shy."

"But online, he can be whatever he wants. No body can see what he looks like. In real life he doesn't have the super model body. He's just average. When he's this Lord Xeon character he plays, he's important. He has power. He can get sex. He's got vast fortunes of virtual money. He works to pay the bills. He plays this game to live."


BIO: Clair spends her time writin short stories for bitter PI, Bo Fexler, when she's not teaching. Which isn't a lot of time, unless she skimps on sleep. And she does. Readers can now follow Bo Fexler across the dark alleys of the internet at http://www.bofexler.blogspot.com/.


John D. said...

Cool story. I think it's the first one I've read where a PI actually tailed someone into cyberspace.

socalledauthor said...

thank you. Bo Fexler is product of her times as much as Phillip Marlowe was a product of his.