One Pager: Untitled Detective Story

Everything I’ve written has been speculative fiction in some form or another. This story is my attempt to do something different. It’s only a one-pager right now, and will remain so until I find the motivation to make something more of it. The text fits on a single page of a Word/OpenOffice.org text document, in a format I learned in my Interactive Storytelling I class.

Untitled Detective Story (2010) written by Derek Floyd

GENRE: Detective fiction.

PLAYERS: Carlos “Charlie” Smith, half-white half-Mexican SDPD homicide investigator; Andrew Palmer, millionaire real estate dealer; Michael Victor Magruder, the unlucky victim; the Puerto Rican assassin.

STORY: Michael Victor Magruder’s body has been discovered in Little Tijuana, a Mexican neighbourhood of San Diego, and Charlie Smith is on the case. Unfortunately for Charlie, the people of Little Tijuana see him as an outsider and are being as unhelpful as possible, with the Neighbourhood Watch aggressively pushing him to drop the whole thing.

Andrew Palmer is suspiciously calm about the loss of an employee. He claims he can’t grieve due to business and having already filed paperwork to give Mrs. Magruder her husband’s pension.

While he waits for the autopsy results, Charlie visits Mrs. Magruder, who is convinced that Palmer was responsible for Michael’s death: Michael was going to blow the whistle on Palmer’s latest plan to buy out and redevelop Little Tijuana.

Charlie calls on his mother later for advice. She tells her little Carlito that he needs to connect with Little Tijuana and gives him the names of some of her old friends from the neighbourhood. Unfortunately for Charlie, his mother’s old friends are as keen on helping a neighbourhood expatriate’s son solve the murder of an outsider as everyone else.

As the investigation slowly progresses, Charlie decides to spend as much time in Little Tijuana as he can. The inhabitants are wary of him, but he tries his best to integrate into their culture. The atmosphere grows tense as SDPD investigators are now combing the neighbourhood for leads and information. Going back to the hotel, Charlie now learns that a suspicious man with a Puerto Rican accent was around before the murder. Charlie tracks down the Puerto Rican and arrests him. The investigation ends up in the hands of the FBI after we learn that he came to San Diego from New York City to kill Magruder. Unfortunately, the assassin doesn’t know his employer’s name. All the circumstantial evidence points to Palmer.

When the murderer’s arrest hits the news, Little Tijuana openly turns against the police. Charlie must defend himself against a violent attacker. He has no choice but to shoot, but he is unwilling to inflict lasting harm. His decision to load rubber bullets saves his conscience.

Charlie’s encounter sparks a riot. He finds in the mob people he talked to during his investigation. He makes an impassioned speech to try and end the riot before it gets out of hand, telling them that Palmer wants them to do this. He promises them that they will all see justice served. Somebody throws a rock at him. He falls from his perch, but those moved by his speech protect him from a grisly demise by forming a wall of bodies.

The next day, Charlie learns that the Puerto Rican has confessed to the murder and turned over all the contact information he has. While the FBI works, Charlie visits his mother and thanks her for her advice. Charlie returns to Andrew Palmer’s office and serves the arrest warrant.

THEME: Don’t shun your community. Andrew Palmer isolates himself from the world in his office and is estranged from his own wife and child. Charlie can’t get to the bottom of the case until he becomes part of Little Tijuana.

CONFLICT: Andrew is using his wits and money to slow Charlie’s investigation and deflect suspicion. In order to get to the bottom of the case, Charlie has to embrace his Mexican heritage and become accepted into Little Tijuana’s culture.

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