Graphic Design, Computer Illustration, and Production Art
Richard C. James Design

Short story 10

I am he. He is me.

The detective arrived on the scene fairly quickly. The Medical Examiner’s van was there, several squad cars, a TV news van and the D.A.’s car. They were all waiting for him.

The news reporter rushed him with microphone in hand but he waved her off.

The D.A. approached him and began to scold the detective about his tardiness, but the detective ignored the D.A. and moved pass him. (The D.A. was up for re-election; otherwise he would not bother to oversee a simple stabbing at 1 am.)

The patrol officer who was the first to arrive on the scene stepped up to the detective. The uniformed officer was young. He seemed nervous.

“Did you call it in?” asked the seasoned detective.

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay what we got here, ah, Officer 1717?” asked the detective.

“I was responding to reports of someone screaming for help. I pull up and I found that old guy over there with a knife in his hands standing over the body. I pulled my weapon and told the old guy to drop the knife. The suspect complied. I subdued him and placed handcuffs on him.

“Then I checked for a pulse. The victim was still alive. Before he died, the victim said, ‘Soy él. Él es yo.’” The young cop reported to the detective.

“Okay, 1717. You did good. This your first homicide?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay fill out the report and have it on my desk by noon.”

The detective surveyed the scene. His well-trained eyes were surprised to see so much blood. The Assistant Medical Examiner, Louis Jameson, was finishing up.

“Hey Lou, what’s the deal?” asked the detective.

“Hi, Walt. Looks like a crime of passion. Multiple slash wounds. The kid bled to death. He looks to be maybe 16 or 17 years old. Hispanic male. Maybe illegal. No identification found.”

Next, the detective walked over to the squad car where the suspect had been placed in the back seat. Peering through the glass he saw an old man who was sobbing tears of deep sorrow. The suspect kept repeating the same phrase over and over. “Soy él. Él es yo! Soy él. Él es yo!”

“Goddamit. Does anybody here know Spanish?” the detective called out. Officer 1717 spoke up. “I do.”

“What’s this old guy saying?” asked the detective.

“It sounds like the same thing the victim said before he died, ‘Soy él. Él es yo.’”

“Well, what the hell does it mean?”

“I am he. He is me.”

The detective wasn't satisfied, but he was never happy with psycho cases. They never made any sense.

“Okay. Looks like I got a looney here. Advise him of his rights and take him in. I‘ll be right behind you.” The frustrated detective ordered the cops to shut down the crime scene.

The detective also asked if any witnesses had come forward but none did. He was not surprised. But he had the uniform officers canvass the area anyway.

At the stationhouse, the suspect had calmed down and was waiting patiently in the interrogation room.

The clear, bright fluorescent light of the interrogation room revealed a man with an old weathered face. His skin was deep olive and leathery in appearance. His hair was a dingy gray. He wore an athletic jump suit and had a strange tattoo on the back of his left hand. He sat motionless staring at the tabletop.

The detective began the interrogation by asking, “Okay. What’s your name?”

The old man leaned back in the chair and smiled. He said, “My name is A6w884z.”

The detective expected as much. The suspect was angling for an insanity defense.

“Okay, A6w884z. My name is Detective Walter Harris. Do you know why you are here?” the detective began the process of determining if the suspect was crazy or just faking it.

“Yes. I know, Detective Harris. I killed the kid. I stabbed him 20 or 30 times.” The old man said calmly with an unnerving smile. He had a slight Hispanic accent.

The detective tried to appear unfazed by the confession, “Why did you do it?”

“Listen detective, I don’t have much time. I will be leaving soon. They will be coming to get me. They must have realized that I used the temporal displacement apparatus.”

“The what?” asked Detective Harris.

“A time machine detective! I am from the future. I am from the year 2077. I came back to kill the kid. He had to die! Don’t you see?”

The detective needed to elicit more of the man’s deranged fantasy.

“No. I don’t understand A6w884z. Tell me.”

“Don’t patronize me detective! Your puny brain with your limited experiences couldn’t possibly understand my story. But since you are so damn arrogant, I am going to give you a gift!”

Suddenly, the old man spat in the detective’s face.

“You damn old ass bastard! I should…” Detective Harris stood up to bitch-slap the crazy man but remembered the hidden video camera.

The old man laughed and then explained, “Detective Harris you have just been given a dose of nano-probes! They are tiny molecular machines that operate within me. They are in my blood, my spit, my semen, my urine – they are in every inch of my body. They monitor my health, my brain activity and my whereabouts. They record what I ate for lunch, who I had sex with, all kinds of stuff. I just gave you some mid-century technology! All slaves of my time are injected with them. You’re lucky I didn’t piss on you!”

The detective said nothing as he wiped the spittle from his face.

“Don’t worry detective they won’t hurt you. You need a controller to make them effective.” The old man pointed to the tattoo on the back of his left hand. “Once they become separated from my body they become inert. They should deactivate within an hour or so.”

“Oh, is that so?” the detective said mockingly.

“Yes. But, back to my story, I killed the kid. He had to die. His name was Hector Manuel Gonzales. He was 16. And he was an illegal immigrant that crossed into the United States on September 11, 2001. That was the day that America died.”

Detective Harris surveyed the crazy man’s body language and demeanor.

The old man continued, “Hector was a good kid. Smart too. But he was an illegal. After 9-11, America went bad. The issues of illegal immigration and national security merged together. Politicians began pushing for more stringent measures of immigrant law enforcement. Poor Hector was a dumb ass kid. All he wanted to do was play video games and flirt with the girls.”

“What did Hector do to justify you killing him?” Detective Harris asked.

“It’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t speak out. He didn’t take a stand. He allowed the government to round up his Hispanic brothers and sisters and herd them into concentration camps back in 2010. When his mother died in the work camp near Santa Fe, he should have escaped and went back home to Mexico.”

"You killed him for not doing anything?” the detective inquired with a smug yet puzzled look on his face.

“You don’t understand detective. I killed Hector to save myself.,” the old man explained.

“You’re right, A6w884z – or whatever your name is – I don’t understand this crap you’ve been telling me. Get real, Pops. Why did you murder this poor 16 year old kid?" Detective Harris had lost his patience. He was sure the old man was a complete nutcase.

“Detective Harris, it wasn’t murder. It was suicide! Soy él. Él es yo. I am Hector Manuel Gonzales! I am he and he is me!”

The old man unzipped his jumper suit to reveal several old scars across his bare chest.

“These scars appeared on my body as I was stabbing him! Call down to the morgue they will confirm that these scars are an exact match with the wounds of the victim’s!”

“This is crazy!” The detective thought, but he called the morgue anyway to get the autopsy report. The assistant M.E. said that they did not have a victim of multiple stab wounds and that there were no Hispanic males on the slab. His friend, Lou Jameson denied any involvement with the murder investigation.

The detective was shocked. “What do you mean there’s no body! I just saw it an hour ago! You were there at the crime scene. You took it to the morgue!”

The old man smiled and said, “The Nano-nites are working.”

“What’s going on here, old man?” the detective demanded.

The old man smiled again and said, “Only you and I are aware that there was a killing tonight, Detective Harris. With the death of myself, my complete personal history will cease to exist. I have escaped the pain. The labor camps, the slavery, the torture has ended. For me, it never happened because I was killed when I was 16 years old!”

“Are you telling me you came back in time to kill yourself - to avoid the future?”

“Yes! You got it detective! By killing myself as a young boy, my life as an adult ceased to exist! The nano-probes are making us immune to the time realignment. You and I are outside the temporal construct. Time is trying to correct itself. The event erasure protocols have begun! History is re-writing itself!”

“Suddenly two men dressed in jumper suits similar to that of the suspect’s appeared in the room. They popped in from a negative void. Reality became distorted and warped as if the men’s presence filled an unnatural space.

Detective Harris could not move. He was completely paralyzed, but he could see and hear everything. The men had electronic badges and weapons. Their faces were hidden under their helmet visors. They moved swiftly to apprehend Detective’s Harris’ suspect. Harris tried to intervene but he was totally powerless.

As the two intruders reached for the crazy old man, he declared joyfully, “You’re too late, you bastards! Mission accomplished! I killed myself!” As he laughed, he vanished into nothingness. His voice became a fading echo.

The two men stood silently and looked at each other. They assessed the situation and departed.

Suddenly, there was a flash of light and Detective Harris found himself alone in the interrogation room. Reality had returned to normal. Detective Harris reached out the feel the space that had been occupied by visitors from another time. He stared at the chair where the crazy old man sat.

That old guy wasn’t crazy after all, Detective Harris muttered softly. Slowly, he became aware of the cell phone in his hand. The line was still open. His friend Louis Jameson, the Assistant Medical Examiner was still on the line.

"Hey, Walt! I think we got a tag on that Hispanic male you were talking about. He just came in. Multiple stab wounds. No witnesses. No I.D., yet. I’ll do the usual fingerprints, tattoos and birthmarks workup, but he might be a damn illegal. So don’t get your hopes up.”

“He name was Hector Manuel Gonzales, from Mexico.” the detective said.

“Yeah? How do you know that?” asked the assistant M.E.

The end.

©2006 Richard C. James


© 2003 Richard C. James