Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How To Spot a Murderer

       Halloween is in the air as goblins and ghouls are on the streets. If that is not deserving of a post then I do not know what is. So on this most wonderful Halloween, since I can't give you candy, I figure I'll do the next best thing: teach you how to spot a murderer. Because nothing improves your Halloween like not being murdered in your sleep...or one-upping your friends by figuring out the killer on TV before they can.

       A prime plot point of television crime dramas is: Who did it? The interest of the show comes from the viewer testing their mettle against that of the televised heroes. Through a love of stories and extensive practice, I have been able to decipher how to figure out a television murderer.

      To practice let's stage a murder, shall we? -Fade to Black-

       On a dark and stormy night Detective Stone is called in on a case. The wipers work furiously trying to keep the rain at bay as his car heads down fifth street and towards the business district. He takes a right turn and there, sticking out of the night, is the crime scene. Underneath a street light a body is slumped over, the red lights spinning from the cars of the cops and paramedics lend a disturbing visage to the scene. Stone sighs then steps from his car, pops his umbrella, and head towards the scene. Pictures are being taken of the body of a young woman. Her skin looks even more pale in the faint light. The scarlet tears of the fallen trickle from a wound in her chest, staining her blouse before reaching the ground and rushing off with the rain water to the gutter. Murder is afoot...murder most foul!

The Facts:
       The body of Jillian LeSourie was found dead at 11pm on Friday night. The cause of death seems to be from a fall, but upon further inspection shows a stab wound to the heart. The purse remains, and it's contents seemingly intact so it does not appear to be a robbery. She was an executive at a local business and lived alone.

       Detective Stone enters the business. A man (Craig Livingston) and a woman (Wanda Jenkins) are chatting by a water cooler. Stone approaches them.
       "Excuse me, I'm with the Police. Do either of you happen to know of a Ms.Lesourie?"
       "Oh! You mean Jillian?" Wanda says.
       "Her office was across from mine,"says Craig. "What's going on?"
       "Is she in trouble or something?" Wanda asks.
       "She was murdered sometime last night. Do you two have any idea of what time she usually works?"says Stone as he pulls out his notebook and pencil.
       "Oh my God! Umm...yeah I'm not really sure. I think she works pretty late usually." Wanda says her eyes wide in surprise.
       "I tend to work late and she's always here when I leave. Although last night she seemed to rush out awfully early," says Craig. His eyes also Wanda-like in their wideness and surprise.
       "Do you think Mr. Bullwick had anything to do with it?"Wanda wonders.
       "Mr. Bullwick?" Stone inquired.
       "Yeah, he's the CEO here. They were...'involved'" Craig says making air quotes with his fingers rolling his eyes. "I couldn't help but hear it through the wall."
       "They really weren't great keeping it a secret. A lot of people here have figured it out. Especially with all the fights they've been having recently,"Wanda explains.
       "Can you point me in the direction of Mr. Bullwick's office?"Stone asks while pocketing the notebook.

Johnathon Bullwick's Statement:
       Bullwick admits to cheating on his wife with Ms. LeSouire and to have been doing it for over a year. Apparently they had been fighting a bit recently, because she wanted their relationship to go to the next level and he needed more time. A search revealed a message on his phone: Ms. LeSouire had threatened to tell his wife if he didn't break up with her soon. Thus losing out on getting any of her money out of the divorce.

-Let's pause for a moment to think about what the show's motives are: to create an interesting plot and do so within a certain amount of time. For these reasons the most guilty seeming suspect is almost always a red herring. I'm going to save you some time and tell you that Mr. Bullwick did not do it. It'll probably be revealed later in the show that he has a iron clad alibi like a stockholder's meeting, or a even an affair with yet another woman. But what about the wife?

Mrs. Margaret Skye Bullwick's Statement:
       Mrs.Skye Bullwich seems heartbroken that her husband is such a douchebag while simultaneously feeling quite pissed off. She cries and makes threats of castration. But it is revealed that while her feelings are real, she had known about this before the police told her.

-Time for another break. At this point the show will probably be 1/2 - 2/3 of the way over. So she is certainly more of a suspect than Mr. Bullwick was. The real problem is that she doesn't fit all the criteria. The criteria for a TV murderer are as follows:
     1: The show's introduced who they are. Shows will pretty much never have the murderer be some random punk from off the street, because that is both boring and not fitting with the who-done-it dynamic. So the murderer has been seen in the episode.
     2: They murderer won't be expected. The show is trying to surprise you, this is why the most obvious choice isn't the murderer. The murderer will most often be someone suspected very briefly then dismissed, or never considered a suspect at all.

-Like a real show you can figure it out awhile before the end. So you should know by now. Let's look at the first criteria: I've only mentioned 6 characters so far. We know that it is one of them. Stone and LeSouire are both out, so we're down to 4. Now add the second criteria: The Bullwick's are both people you'd expect. So now we're down to 2. The answer: Craig Livingston! The guy with the office next to Jillian's.
       It'll be revealed that he had a big crush on her, but she kept rejecting him. Telling him that she was already in a relationship with someone else. He tried to break Bullwick and her up by calling Mrs.Skye Bullwick. Mr.Bullick and Jillian have a big fight one night about a phone call. Mr. Bullwick storms out. From his office Craig can see Mr.Bullwick's car leacing and Jillian crying in her office. He decides that now is the time to act as they are surely broken up and he can be her shoulder to cry on. What he doesn't know is that the call the fight was about was not his, but the one Jillian had left on Bullwick's phone and they were not broken. Jillian is freaked out that Craig had been listening to them through the wall like a pervert and angry that he tried to break up her love. A confrontation ensues, but no one hears it because they are the only ones working late. Craig, filled with hot molten anger over being rejected yet again, ends up stabbing her then dumping the body out the window out of fear. Then lies about when she had left.

Now get out there and eat some candy and solve some crimes!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Looking Through the Old Stuff

        I was just looking through old things in my documents folder and found a bunch of things I started writing and then promptly quit writing. However, a lot of the stuff I really don't recall writing...well at least only mild recollections of writing. It turns out this is rather bothersome, because I'm left with only a vague recollection of where the story was going. How do they end? I have no idea and I'm the one who wrote them. There is something inherently wrong about that, don't you think? Perhaps I shall fix up the shorter ones, but considering I'm working on a different story, programming a video game, and doing a spot of comic work, I doubt I'll get much of anything accomplished. Well, anyways, I particularly like this bit of dialogue from one of those lost stories. The file was titled Dragon.odt so I assume there is a dragon in it at some point although you wouldn't know it from the 5 pages that got finished.

        "Can you think of a reason why a tree branch would suddenly break in the middle of the night?" Johnathon asked Caleb.
        "Ummm," Caleb pondered through a mouthful of a PB&J sandwich. "A desperate bid for freedom?"
        "What the branch just got fed up with only being seen as part of the tree and couldn't take it anymore?"
        "It worked didn't it? It is now identified as 'the branch' after all." Caleb took a swig of his water bottle. "Why do you want to know?"
        "A branch-"
        "THE branch"
        "...The branch formally known as tree broke off outside my window last night and I can't figure out why."
        "Maybe a bear was trying to climb it and it broke off?"
        "Well, now every time I hear a strange noise I'm going to wonder if a bear is trying to sneak it. I hope you're happy."
        "Actually...yes. Yes, I am, "Caleb said trying to suppress a laugh.

Oh my gosh. I bet a dragon broke that tree limb! But we will never know. Let us take a moment to shake a mental fist at past Jesse for being a douche.