Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Microstory 1397: Evidence

Fiore Stern [on audio recording]: Yes, I agree. We should nip it in the bud, lest you poison the world with your claims about me.
Psychiatrist [on audio recording]: Mr. Stern, what are you talking about?
Fiore Stern [on audio recording]: Why don’t you stop recording, and I’ll explain.
Psychiatrist [on audio recording]: Stop. Don’t touch that. Please keep your distance, Mr. Stern. Mr. Stern! If you don’t—
Detective: That was the last recording from your psychiatrist. We couldn’t find a local copy on her computer, so I bet you erased it without realizing her sessions are automatically uploaded to the cloud so her assistant can transcribe them for her later.
Fiore Stern: Why are you playing this audio for me? If you want me to sue the psychiatric practice for breaching my privacy, then okay, I’m in.
Detective: That’s not why you’re here, and you know it. Madam Psychiatrist was killed two days ago. Her assistant happily supplied us with this evidence, because it appears to suggest you killed her to cover up whatever it is you shut off the recording to prevent anyone from finding out about.
Fiore Stern: Well, play the rest of it.
Detective: There is no rest of it. That was it.
Fiore Stern: Oh? So you don’t actually have any evidence that I killed her. All you’ve heard is that my psychiatrist didn’t want me touching her crystal awards, and then some kind of technical malfunction ended the recording.
Detective: You literally ask her to stop recording, and then your voice becomes slightly louder, which suggests you approached the microphone. You’re not going to get me to believe you didn’t turn it off. Now all I have to do is prove that you killed her. And honestly, I don’t really care why you did it; just that you go down for it.
Fiore Stern: This  is exactly what’s wrong with this country. You’re so eager to punish whoever you find first, you end up letting a lot of guilty people walk away unscathed.
Detective: You didn’t seem to hate the authorities very much when you were praising how well they handled your case with that bomb-making organization you worked for.
Fiore Stern: I was playing nice for the cameras, but the truth is that company wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. Hell, the Financial Regulation Commision didn’t even suspect there was something wrong with their books. I only needed the authorities, because I’m not allowed to arrest people. You’re completely incompetent, and totally pointless without people like me.
Detective: I suppose that’s true. I wouldn’t have a job if killers like you didn’t exist.
Fiore Stern: That’s not what I was talking about—I mean, that’s not what I meant, because I’m not a killer, and you have nothing on me.
Detective: I have an adjudicator working on a warrant for your apartment as we speak.
Fiore Stern: Great, I’m happy for ya. All they’ll find is a stack of dishes I wasn’t able to clean before you so rudely forced me to come down to the station, and a bunch of requests for book deals to tell the world my story. When you don’t find anything illegal, I’ll have even more material for a tell-all book. It’ll be a scathing indictment of Usonian Law EnFARCEment.
Detective: The warrant’s just for safety. We didn’t need one to search your greenhouse.
Fiore Stern: What?
Detective: Yeah, we had probable cause. One of our officers saw some splatter on the glass that looked a little like blood.
Fiore Stern: It was paint. I use some of those plants to make art supplies.
Detective: No matter. We couldn’t know for sure. The only way we could run a test to see whether that was true was if we went in, and procured a sample.
Fiore Stern: This will never hold up in court. A little red on the window isn’t enough for probable cause. Besides, I built that greenhouse with my own two hands in the middle of the woods, which means there aren’t any public records of a property, so you couldn’t have known about it unless you broke the law to peek at my GPS history.
Detective: We didn’t need that. Your mother told us where to find it.
Fiore Stern: She doesn’t know anything.
Detective: She’s seen you go out there. She’s worried about you, Mr. Stern. You’ve always been a dark person with a frightening fascination with deadly plants.
Fiore Stern: You can go to hell.
Detective: We have you, Mr. Stern. You don’t have to tell us anything. Everything will come out in court, but you can help your situation if you talk to us now. Start by telling me how your colleagues from the garden team died.

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