Thursday, November 29, 2018

11/29/18

"Who Dares Call It Murder?"
By Walt Giersbach


Damn you, Danaë, you were the colossus of my life, the thing that gave meaning to the daily chores of getting up and lying down. Each morning you greeted me with a smile, your soft kiss at night guaranteed blissful renewal. And now I’ve laid you down to rest.

“Your wife is dead, Yoshio,” the police inspector insists. “The ambulance took her away to the morgue. We know you killed her. We have your pistol.”

Of course he did — the Beretta .25 caliber the police took from my hand. There was no point in discussing this. He’d know the truth soon enough. All I could remember was how sweetly time had rolled by since Danaë came into my life, accelerating my pulse as we gamed the tables in Macau and Monaco and skimmed the clouds from continent to continent. It was my joy to hang diamonds and emeralds from her throat and cover her white shoulders in silk. That was the least I could do in compensation for her creating the Fibonacci logarithms that built our financial empire. She was brilliant. No way could I alone have come up with the schemes that sent dollars, euros and yen flying into our accounts.

Why she had to double cross me I’ll never know. Setsuo Kawabata said there was an outside possibility that love would fail or be denied, but I didn’t believe him. Danaë, you knew there was no capriciousness where my love for you was concerned. No matter. The scientist Kawabata is no longer alive, so I can’t question him on this point.

Odd how I remember our bathing nude on the beaches of St. Martin, when Schiller laughed and pointed. “Bildschirmbräune,” he said. “Screen suntan,” referring to the hours you spent on computers, because your unblemished skin remained pale while I — more advanced — colored like a potted lobster. But, he wasn’t laughing at you. I was the cuckold. He took you in my own bed as easily as he siphoned my account.

“We have very precise laws in St. Martin concerning murder,” the police inspector says. “There will be a trial, the prosecutor will line up the evidence like sausages on a plate, you will be convicted, then you will hang. Now, do you wish to explain a motive? Perhaps some mitigating circumstance causing you to kill such a beautiful young woman?”

I sighed. Interrogation is so tedious. Schiller’s body will never be found, unless a shark coughs up a piece of bone or gold ring. Kawabata hanged himself like a proper Japanese, atoning for his monumental hubris. And Danaë’s death will never come to trial.

But the inspector is relentless. “You are a crook of the highest financial order. We all know that, but I am only interested in murder — not your pyramid schemes and money laundering and currency violations.”

“Alright, I will give you a morsel of information. It won’t satisfy the appetite of a mouse, but it will be enough for you to leave me in peace.”

The smug bastard said, “Alors, my crumb, if you please.”

I smiled — sincerely, I hoped. “My wife colluded with my enemies. That cost her her life. I shot her with the Beretta.”

He returned the smile. “Now we have it. That’s all I wished to know — to hear it with my own ears.” He got up to leave the cell.

“Do you want to know the key that will unlock all mysteries concerning me, my business, my entourage of bankers and lawyers, my Gulfstream at the airport — and why you will release me shortly?”

He paused in mid-step. I had his attention.

“I loved Danaë more than a cowboy loves his horse, more than a teenager his motorcycle….”

“Comparing her to a horse!” he said haughtily. “You disparage the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, dead or alive.”

“Much more than the finest horse. Danaë was an android, created by Setsuo Kawabata, the artificial intelligence expert in Osaka.”

His eyebrows rose in circumflex accents.

“The 21st century offers exciting times,” I continued. “Revolutionary advances in software, processing speeds, nano technology. In Japan, there’s Sony’s robotic dog, Aibo, and Honda’s stair-climbing android. Carnegie Mellon University invented Grace, who registered herself for an academic conference. Flexible polymers are indistinguishable from skin. Most important, AI makes feedback loops possible so love can be reciprocated. I loved Danaë and she loved me.”

“Your robot prostitute? You obscene Shylock!” he hissed.

“Then to paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘Hath not an android hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, hurt with the same weapons as a human? If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh? If you shoot them, do they not die?’ But where’s the law against destroying a machine?”

The Inspector would not sleep well tonight. He would sleep even less well if he knew that I was Kawabata’s masterpiece. Danaë was his first iteration, I his second. Humans would probably call our love incest, but there’s no comparable feeling among androids.


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Walt’s fiction has appeared recently in Bewildering Stories, Everyday Weirdness, The World of Myth and a dozen other publications. He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and a couple of Asian countries. He now lives in New Jersey where he moderates a writing group and co-edits a community publication.

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