"The Fiona Apple of Comedy"

The Echo of Guilt – A Phillip Cowsky Mystery

“Did you get it?” The sergeant asked.

“No,” Detective Cowsky answered him.

“Then what’s that in your hand?”

Cowsky held up a piece of paper. “This is his side of the story,” he answered, sarcastically.

“You didn’t tell him we know about the plastic surgeon in Honduras? Or the fingerprints? Nothing?”

“Nah, I thought I’d play dumb and let him hang himself. When he’s charged, we can show this judge his bullshit story he made up about the other guy and have her tack on an extra ten years for not cooperating.

“You don’t expect he’s on to us? Looking like he does?” The sergeant asked, sounding like he didn’t believe anybody could be that dumb.

“You’d be surprised. He fancies himself some criminal mastermind. He’s so convinced he’s a genius and everybody else is so stupid, he doesn’t realize that everybody knows he killed the old guy, fled the country, had some terrible plastic surgeon turn his skin black, pretend he was someone else, fly back to the states, rent the same apartment and plant this phony letter under the  floor.”

The sergeant shook his head, chuckled his head and said, “I gotta read this.”

“Be my guest,” said Cowsky, as he handed him the paper and the Sergeant began to read.

“I couldn’t believe my luck. A two bedroom, 1300 square foot apartment in Beverly Hills, recently remodeled with all new appliances, including a brand new stackable washer/dryer, a pool, hot tub and gym going for about half of what the apartments right next door were charging! I jokingly asked the apartment manager why it was so cheap, had somebody been murdered in the apartment?” He assured me that nobody had. It was the apartment across the way. Directly across from the pool and down a level. Well, that shut me up. But a deal was a deal. Besides, I didn’t believe in ghosts. But I only got the full picture as I was moving in. I was shoving some boxes in the back of my giant walk-in closet; I guess I was too rough with my stuff because one of the vintage cedar floor boards came up. I knelt down to put it back when I noticed there was no subfloor underneath. I stuck my finger inside and pulled up and was surprised to see that it was a secret compartment that contained a box titled “Treasured Memories” on it. I opened it up to discover it was just some loose sheets of paper that on closer inspection turned out to be short stories. I leafed through them and the one in particular caught my eye. It was called “My diabolical plan that nobody will catch on to!” But this had been crossed out and replaced with “My diabolical plan that nobody will catch on to, except maybe Alfonse!” This was again crossed out and replaced with “My diabolical plan that nobody will catch on to except maybe Alfonse but then if he does, I will kill him!”Thinking that was unusual, I read on.

“”HEY FATTY!” the booming voice bellowed out of nowhere. The skinny girl in the yellow bikini stopped in her tracks as she was about to jump into the pool and looked everywhere to see who said that. Her ten attractive friends, arranged about the pool in chairs and chaise lounges looked as well.YEAH YOU, I’M TALKING TO YOU, FATTY!” When The skinny girl realized the voice was directed at her, she turned red and tried to cover up her body, self-consciously. Alfonse, the old nosy neighbor who lived just outside of the pool, poked his head out to see what was going on. I saw this on the video camera that I had installed on the roof. I turned my microphone on and yelled, “GO BACK INSIDE, ALFONSE. THIS DOESN’T CONCERN YOU.”when A booked it back inside, I started laughing hysterically. This was working out better than I  ever could have planned! Ten months ago, I had been woken up from my usual 2:30 PM nap by the sounds of voices and splashing around in the pool below of my window. I got out of bed, annoyed and went to the window, pulling back the Venetian blinds that waved mightily in the wind. As I peeked outside, I saw the source of the noise: a gaggle of busty coeds going for an afternoon swim. Part of me wanted to yell at them to shut up so that I could go back to sleep, but mostly I just wanted to spy on them. I would have done just that, except that I had been caught doing the same thing two weeks ago. “There’s a pervert looking at us!” she screamed. I quickly retreated, but it was too late, I had been seen. They figured out which apartment it was and stormed up here to bang on my door, screaming threats of calling the police on me. Clearly, I had no choice but to get them kicked out by taking their recycling out of the bin and transferring it to the dumpster, in violation of their lease agreement (my apartment takes recycling pretty seriously.) With the immediate threat removed, I said about my scheme to ensure that the unpleasantness of that day would never be repeated. Since I obviously wasn’t going to stop peeping, I had to find a better solution than taking quick peeks now and then, not daring to let my looks linger. With that particular group of girls gone, I set up shop in their vacated apartment. I had hired an electrician from Craigslist to run wires and power up to the roof. Then I hired a different electrician (it never hurt to be too careful,) to set up the tiny wireless camera and microphone.  Finally, I quickly installed a fully fire walled and untraceable relay in the stairwell that would anonymously broadcast the signal to my home router. My trap was sprung, now all I had to do was wait. Everything worked great. This was top-of-the-line stuff; I spared no expense. The problem was that my apartment was full of old geezers like Alfonse. The only female geezers were the group who gathered to do their daily water aerobics. I tested out the 20x zoom on the camera lens and soon came to regret it. I had evicted the only people who would be worth spying on! The gods were truly mocking me in my folly. Worse yet, no suitable replacements moved in until the summer swimming season was over. Once, I heard the hot sluts in 4B screaming from the shock of the cold water in mid-October, but I wasn’t quick enough to hit record on my DVR.No matter. I was nothing if not patient. Well, three weeks ago my patience paid off in spades. I quickly amassed 250 GB of video footage. But beware of getting what you wish for. I had spent $14,000 on this project and I was already bored of it! So I moved to phase two: Yelling at people. In some way, this was even more satisfying than simply spying on them. I guess it was because nobody would ever know my triumph, in the first case. I went back to the Internet and purchased high-powered wireless speaker and voice changer. Again, top-of-the-line, but I had come this far; what was another two grand? I already had the wiring set up, so I figured I could do the install myself, once I bought some Russian military spec night vision goggles of course. So I crawled around on the roof in the middle of the night, looking for the perfect spot to place the fake roof vent I had constructed to place the speaker in. I set it back a ways from the lip of the roof, so that it wouldn’t be seen from below and would be bouncing off so many other surfaces, nobody would be able to tell where the hell it was coming from.  That too, worked like a charm. From the comfort of my own bed, I watched on my 42″ 4K-ready LED monitor as they searched the roof, walking right by my camera, disguised as a roof vent. The manager went from apartment to apartment, accusing each tenant in turn of being behind the mysterious voice. To alleviate any suspicion that may fall upon me, I prerecorded a ten minute rant that I had carefully choreographed to appear as if it were directed at me and that I was yelling back at the unknown perpetrator. Eventually, several people moved out, but there were always plenty willing to take their place, due to the fact that the manager had slashed almost $500 off of our rent, just to keep us from fleeing the complex. So all in all, things worked out pretty well for me. It just shows that if you put hard work into something, it will eventually pay off, even if it’s not in the way you were planning.”

I just sat there, dumbstruck. Of course my first instinct was to go to the Police, but then again, Po Po doesn’t look too kindly on brothers ,like me. They might think I am guilty even though this letter clearly proves I am innocent. Besides, I didn’t know anything about the case. What if it had been solved already? Or what if it hadn’t and the killer was still on the loose, he was certainly clever and resourceful and well-funded to boot. And really, who was I to go poking my nose into other peoples’ business? And then I thought it would make a fantastic premise for a screenplay, so I brought it to a guy I knew at Sony and he turned me into the cops.”””

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