|The man with a small beard had been waiting in the tiny room for what seemed like hours. His only company was a table, two chairs, and a strange glowing box. Without anyone to talk to or anything to read, he occupied his time by examining the small plastic box that looked like a rectangular solid within a rectangular solid. The tiny cubes that made up the internal rectangle glowed with blue light from inside the rectangular outer polycarbonate frame. He lowered his head to look at the tiny glowing cubes when he heard the door creak open and quickly sat up.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” the detective mumbled as he kicked the door shut. He brought with him a small paper cup of coffee in each hand. Taking the empty chair near the door, he looked across the table at the bearded man, ignoring the strange glowing box, and placed the cups of coffee on the table in front of him. The bearded man seemed more interested in the tiny cups of coffee than anything else and watched helplessly and impatiently as the detective examined the little printed poker cards on each cup. The detective started to slide a cup across the table but then hesitated. He looked up at the bearded man and asked, “Can you tell me again why you killed Julia Brown?”
“I didn’t kill her,” he droned in response.
“You can have this cup then,” the detective said, sliding the other cup over to him. “It’s the deuce. Appropriate since you have run out of luck.”
The bearded man drank down the bitter coffee without responding. He crushed the cup and then tossed it into a small plastic trash can in the corner of the tiny interrogation room. “What is that thing?” he asked, pointing to the plastic box on the table.
“That piece of crap?” the detective said. “It is the Tasseract 5000 Criminal Investigation HyperCube.”
“What does it do?” the bearded man asked.
“I solve crimes,” the box responded, fluttering different colors as it spoke.
“You haven’t solved one yet,” the detective snapped.
“This will be the first,” the hypercube predicted. “He obviously did it.”
”You have no evidence to prove that,” the detective responded.
“Yeah,” the bearded man agreed, nodding at the cube. He then looked up to the detective and said, “Is this some sort of new form of good cop bad cop?”
“No,” both the detective and the box responded.
“He had motive, means, and opportunity,” the cube stated. “He hid his involvement with the victim and lied about knowing her.”
“He was plowing her on the side,” the detective grotesquely explained to the HyperCube but watching the bearded man with his peripheral vision for some sort of reaction. “That’s the last thing he is going to admit,” he continued, disappointed his interrogation subject did not react in any way. “I don’t know why everyone keeps on thinking a damn computer can solve a crime. Crime is a multilayered, multifaceted game. It’s between the perp and the vic and later the cops. It is a game you can never win because you cannot understand people. Sure, you can beat people in games like chess, and you’re damn good at it. But that is because the chess pieces have simple movement behaviors and a limited playing space. With all your teraflops and petabytes you can calculate all the possible permutations based on what you see on that tiny board. You are good at math, which makes you a fancy calculator. The behavior of human beings is not so simple. We’re motivated by emotion, and emotions are irrational, which makes us unpredictable. And you cannot figure out anything unpredictable.”
“I can forensically determine the circumstances of the murder with greater accuracy than humans,” the cube insisted.
“But sometimes it’s what you don’t see which is of importance,” the detective responded. “What didn’t you notice?”
“Her shoes were missing,” the detective remarked.
“It was not of importance,” the computer determined. “She could have walked there without them.”
“Then the bottom of her feet would have been dirty which they weren’t.”
“So what?” said the bearded man.
“So the murderer took the shoes. We found them in your wife’s closet,” the detective remarked. He slid a photograph to the interrogation subject. It showed a pair of butterscotch-colored leather shoes with a one-inch heel.
“My wife has lots of shoes,” the bearded man explained. “It’s a coincidence. They probably both owned the same pair.”
“Not this pair,” the detective argued. “These were imported the old fashioned way. Julia bought them in Italy when she last visited her family there, and brought them back here. Her diary had more in it than just the name of the married man she’d been sleeping with.”
“He kept them as a trophy,” the computer decided, “and hid them with the other shoes expecting we would search his house.”
“I didn’t kill her!” the man with the beard objected, his face was flushed with redness.
“So, computer, do you believe him?” the detective asked. “Or is he lying?”
“You’d know if you could read facial expressions, which is something else computers can’t do which makes you a terrible detective,” the cop suggested. “I have been around liars my entire professional career so it’s obvious that he’s actually telling the truth.”
“Can I go then?” the man asked.
“No,” the detective and the cube snapped.
“Your wife killed Julia, those shoes link her to the crime,” the detective explained. “While we were tailing you, we photographed you and your wife and she was wearing those shoes. See for yourself.” He slid several other photographs across the table. “I think she’s parading them to remind you who’s in charge. She even probably made you hide the murder weapon.”
The bearded man did not respond.
“So are you going to help us put her away?” the detective asked. “Or are you going to be her next victim?”
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