Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Facebook Mystery

My private eye Ivan Monk isn’t much on modern technology. He has a cell phone but is just as likely to leave it at the pad -- he shares a home with the love of his life, Superior Court Judge Jill Kodama – or on the desk of his office. I mean this is a cat who drives a fully restored 1964 Ford Galaxy and at times has had to use the .45 that belonged to his dad in the Korean War. He is not though a Luddite and appreciates the use of certain search services available to him via them internets. But he’s still of the old school and much prefers to put in the leg work, knocking on doors, hunting down leads in a bowling alley in the working class Crenshaw District one day, and gong through the door of a wax and peel in tony Beverly Hills the next day.

Tech has indeed figured in some of Monk’s tales. In a longish short story called The King Alfred Plan, the story kicks into gear because he gets a picture that possibly depicts a woman in trouble in an office sent to his multi-purpose cell. This as Monk is trying mightily to engage the thing, a gift from the judge. “And so here he was punching in the phone numbers of his significant other, his mother, his sister, nephew and those whose occupations dovetailed with his -- beat reporters, morgue attendants, motel maids, liquor store clerks, and even a couple of lawyers.” Monk recognizes an item on a desk behind the woman as that of an attorney and friend he’s done investigating for, piquing his curiosity. He’s got to find out what’s going on here.

So I could imagine Monk, who would not be on Facebook, receiving a friend request via his email. But to give it that tantalizing aspect, let’s say it’s from a man whose real name he knows, but generally always referred to him by his street moniker. Like say a young man he encountered on a volatile case set after the riots in L.A. from some years ago who went by Mad-T, a gangbanger who had the potential to not be your typical drug slangin’ thug headed for the penitentiary. But once the case was done they went their respective ways. Now and then Monk heard about Mad-T’s progress, about how as he got older he went straight, helping at-risk youth from not going down the self-destructive path he did. Yet here this individual is reaching out to him, a simple message to connect after all this time. Monk okays the request and send a comment to the former gang member.

“Hey, man, what’s happening, long time,” Monk writes. A week or so goes by with no response and the private eye’s forgotten about the matter then he gets a ding on his e-mail that he has a message from the once Mad-T.

“Can you come to the place we first met, tonight, 10 pm? It’s important. Very.”

There’s no way Monk can ignore this request. Could it be a trap? Some long ago beef the man has harbored against Monk that he’s not aware of from the past? Or is this man in a tight spot and needs his help? Has he been forced to send this message? There’s only one way to find out. Monk writes back he’ll see him then. Just in case, he’ll probably bring the old man’s gun along for company.


Michael Wiley said...

I like how you imagine the situation, Gary -- the good thing being that Facebook subsumes to the suspense (and in a world in which nearly everything seems to subsume to Facebook)/

Gary Phillips said...

Yes, Facebook will be used to keep tabs on us by our robot overlords.

Kathleen George said...

Sounds good. Techno-creepy. Facebook and twitter ensure there will be No Thought Left Behind!