UNITED STATES—The case ended successfully for Detective Zorba. A trash collector in the magnetic train stations had emptied the contents of a trash can and turned up a wallet tossed out and a vodka bottle, it turned out to belong to the manager of the smoke/payday establishment, so he got his identity and got his cards back. The culprit quickly got busted when a doctor’s suspicions were aroused by a drunk and belligerent man, seeking a rapid “snap-on” installation of a pill-pod to override guilt or queasiness over the binge he was on.

“It’s sure a lot easier than having to hear everyone else’s sad stories,” the doctor joked.

“Shut up and do your job!”

The doctor, being used to such outbursts, limited himself to one eye-rolling glare. Then asked the patient if he had brought his own pill-pod. That’s when the man opened up his denim vest, and the inside was spangled by dozens of pill-pods, not much bigger than pomegranate kernels.

The police made an arrest when the bad guy was still in the waiting room, just after getting the usual pre-op fingerprints. And they matched the prints gathered at the robbed smoke shop.

November 5, 2045 was turning out to be a good day. Detective Zorba basked briefly in the glow of a slam-dunk solution to that case, and still drinking it in he got back to headquarters. This completely circumvented the total antsy-ness the detective head about the DNA test for his cold case, which wasn’t going his way. There had been a delay anyway, and he was miffed. The best way to deal with it was to horn in on the victim of that long-ago crime…There in the dark cool office of the underground city, he accessed the files on the bright screen. It was a SOB story.

The victim had been rejected by his birth mother for being feeble minded. He was not learning to talk. In due time it would be learned that it was a result of deafness. In the meantime, he was turned over to a chain of foster homes, each one more driven by avarice than kindness, to end up begging on the busses and streets. On a street named Wilcox near the corner of Cosmo is where he ended up bludgeoned by a hammer during what historians called the special period, 25 years ago.

Elam DuPuy, the detective mused. Imagine having to go through life with a name like that!
Detective Zorba was elated to observe at the corner of the screen that the DNA test had been performed on the dead skin cells scraped under fingernails of the dying victim as he clawed out at his retreating victimizer. Zorba was exasperated to come up against the victim again, the ill-starred Elam DuPuy. The skin cells sample had been mislabeled or maybe Elam, the poor soul who handed out cards with sign language words, had scratched his own dandruff.

After getting so excited, Detective Zorba was crestfallen. He took up a place in the isolation lounge. Where he would tune into surf sounds and a tropical sunset, the perfumed breeze through coconut fronds. There was his boss, Lieutenant Robbins, the last person he had wanted to see. But instead of bringing up professional stuff, she brought up the menu for the coming holidays.

“With the wages we’re being paid, I had to ask my daughter for a little help in the kitchen. And she said to ask her brother. That I was profiling her for being a girl.”

Devon Zorba laughed, “Carrie” he called the lieutenant by her first name, “You should get a pill-pod to take care of this and correct your daughter’s perception.”

“Or for myself. . . But I would never do that again. “Once while studying criminal justice, I started using once to infuse me with a studious attitude. But for a while I got hooked after that. I wanted a pill to diet, a pill to get over lovesickness. I was almost going broke with my habit.”

Detective Zorba laughed. It was hard for him to imagine the perfectionist, demanding lieutenant had once been so out of control. Well, he thought to himself, we all have different chapters in our lives…

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)