Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Facebook Him, Danno"

• “Mr. Morbeck, I think you and I, and everyone in this room, know it’s just a matter of details from here on out.”
• “I’m innocent,” protested Morbeck. The hobbled wooden chair creaked under him as his hands flashed open for emphasis.
• “Let’s go from the beginning,” Detective Andresen droned. He dragged a small stack of printed documents to the center of the table.
• “Sometime in late August you added Ms. Chanser to your Facebook account,” Andresen explained.
• “Come on, I’ve told you already, I add lots of people. It’s Facebook,” countered Morbeck. “Do you think I really weigh every person I add to my friend list?” His eyebrows bobbed in time with his words.
• Andresen glanced up at Detective Felderfield standing behind Morbeck. He was spinning a rubber band thumb over thumb, gently shaking his head at Andresen.
• “Mr. Morbeck, we have reliable indications,” Andresen said, tapping the stack of papers glowing in the lamp light, “that Ms. Chanser had been in your friend request dock for weeks prior to you adding her.”
• “So?” snapped Morbeck. “And how would you know that? I already said that’s conjecture.”
• “We’ve accessed most of your friends’ pages,” Andresen explained, “and the ones that don’t have Ms. Chanser on their friend lists at least have her as someone they might know.”
• Morbeck inhaled sharply and spit a burst of contemptuous air. “Conjecture.”
• “You keep saying that word, Mr. Morbeck,” Felderfield spoke up, “but we’re the detectives. Let us decide, huh?” He stretched the rubber band between his thumbs as if to snap it but then kept rotating it slowly.
• “The point of this conjecture,” Andresen went on, “is that it looks mighty odd for you to all but know the victim, and for most of your friends to know her too, and then see you add her only a few days before her demise.”
• “I’ve got lots of people I still haven’t added,” protested Morbeck. “I get around to it when I get around to it.”
• “What took you so long with Ms. Chanser, though?” pried Andresen. “Why all of a sudden so buddy buddy with her, and then—”
• “And then the big kaboom,” inserted Felderfield. Morbeck looked back at him over his shoulder. Felderfield just twanged the rubber band a few times.
• “You have a very erratic history, Mr. Morbeck, of adding and dropping friends. You’ve gone from over 200 friends to under 100 and then back up to more than 300. Ms. Chanser was your 313th friend, in case you didn’t know.”
• “I,” stuttered Morbeck, “I get frustrated with having that many friends that are even really my friends. It’s like housecleaning. I just… delete people sometimes, if I see I don’t even keep in touch with them.”
• “Or if their constant updates annoy you, yeah?” suggested Felderfield.
• “Yeah, that’s right,” nodded Morbeck over his shoulder, glad to have a sympathetic ear for once.
• “So, you like to do away with people on a whim, Mr. Morbeck?” Andresen wondered out loud. “Does it give you a sense of power, of control, to, uh, ‘delete’ people, Mr. Morbeck?”
• “Hey! You’re putting words in my mouth,” Morbeck shouted.
• “Calm down, Morbeck, we’re just going over the details with you,” Felderfield crooned.
• Morbeck snapped his back over his shoulder to glare at Felderfield. His chair clattered with age.
• “Look, Mr. Morbeck,” continued Andresen, “you went from naming The Catcher in the Rye as your favorite book to naming Water for Elephants just before you added Ms. Chanser.”
• “So? How do you know that? Maybe I have two favorite books.”
• “So, Water for Elephants was Ms. Chanser’s favorite book for at least three weeks. We’ve got a stack of Twitter reports that give us a blow by blow look at your activity. Remember last March when Facebook merged with Twitter?”
• Morbeck’s eyes sank. He pursed his lips and rubbed the back of his jaw with both hands. “Well,” he began pleading, “I had heard good things about the book. I had bought a copy and was already a chapter in, so I made it my favorite book.”
• “Before you even read it?” queried Felderfield, stretching the rubber band diagonally back and forth between pinched fingers.
• “I needed some motivation to get through it,” Morbeck explained, “so I thought if I imagined it as my favorite book, I’d be that much more into it.”
“We’re getting away from the point, Mr. Morbeck,” interrupted Andresen. “What we have is a small list of suspects, and you’re on it. We have the sudden addition of Ms. Chanser onto your friend roll. We have the psychological profile from your Facebook history.”
• This was new. Felderfield and Andresen smiled at each other with their eyes. Felderfield flicked the frayed red rubber band at the back of Morbeck head. Morbeck wiped his hair where it hit and asked, “What do you mean?”
• “Oh, you don’t know about the new app Facebook added last month?” cooed Andresen. “I guess you wouldn’t, seeing as you’ve been in here,” he said, looking up and around at the city jail all around them outside the interrogation room.
• “What is it?” Morbeck asked.
• “Oh, you pay a small fee to a personality assessment firm in Rochester, and they process all the cached profile data of whatever Facebook friend you’re curious about. • Then they collate the data, run it by a psychiatrist— moonlighting, mostly— and then deliver a fairly detailed psychological profile of whoever it is by email.”
• “You’re making it up,” objected Morbeck. He started to laugh, from the heart, feeling for the first time like a real baddie catching the coppers at their old good cop, bad cop antics. Something, damn it all, held him back from calling "Bullshit!" on Andresen and Felderfield. Was there something such as good suspect, bad suspect?
• Andresen snapped to get Morbeck's wandering eyes back in alignment. Then he smirked for show and flipped through a few pages till came to a paper clipped bundle. He turned it towards Morbeck and placed it in before him like someone weighing fresh fruit on a scale. Morbeck’s eyes bugged then went cross-eyed for a second. A voucher was tucked in the paper clip over the first page of what looked like a professional personality report. He’d paid for some before for himself, but never for someone else.
• “Have a look at your collated comments about your educational background,” Andresen prodded. “How do you think that looks to us, you and Ms. Chanser being classmates in high school, I mean. Looks like you carried some hard feelings from those days.”
• “And it looks like Ms. Chanser got the worst of it,” added Felderfield.

… …

[This story is a comic noir tale of a guy suspected of murdering an old high school classmate. The comicality comes in by way of nearly all the facts against him being shavings from his Facebook account. As far as I can at this point, Morbeck is innocent, so it's a Kafkaesque bad dream. The ‘idea’ is that by making our most superficial selves our most accessible and official selves, we end up getting caught by that same superficiality.]


Anonymous said...

I like it and its so true. I think there is a lot of potential there for this story or another. Shy quiet person pretending to be outrageous or something else, eventually caught up insomething big and bad. maybe that line from 8mm that always got me about "it" affecting you eventually. Maybe there was an original purpose but the internet as it is, distorting it. The strength of circumstantial and other "evidence". Actually this reminds me of something quite weird that happend to me a couple of months ago

Mr Understood said...

err, what he said.