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Article Noir Casefiles: "DIAL # FOR EARTHBOUND" - by LiarXAgerate

Article Noir Casefiles: "DIAL # FOR EARTHBOUND"

It was dark. Dark and rainy.

I was inside.

I decided to shut the window and turn on the lights.

She came into my office with a chased look about her, like she'd just revealed her gender in a Star Trek chat room. Her dress was new, but tattered; her hair, mussed and wet, fell haphazardly over her enormous

Blue eyes. It was short hair. I sat back at my desk.

"Is this the office of Liar Lasciviously?"

"Could be." I put out my cigarette. "Did you leave your measurements with my secretary?"

"Mr. Lasciviously, this is serious. It's about the chat room."

I was serious, too, but I decided to let it go. My eyes lit up underneath the brim of my fedora. I used to live in those parts. They'd seen hard times and harder times, harrassment and happiness, but mostly a halting heavy-heartedness held over its harangued habitants.

I decided to stop alliterating. "What about IRC?"

"There's no influx of immigrants--"

"Alliteration is my deal, sweetheart."

"That's... assonance." Smart dame. "But anyway, it's--it's just awful." I nodded. "We used to be big, Liar. But now... well, something's wrong. I don't know what it is, just wrong."

"Yeah? What'm'I to do about it, baby?"

"Just take a look. Do it for me. Do it for the moral, puritan sensibilities that lie beneath your shadowed, gruff exterior. Also, I've got all the Flooz you could ever dream of--they're like gift certificates you can use anywhere on the internet."

We went to the IRClands in her computer, a Packard Bell Rambler that had seen better days. I was stunned. Where once there were people talking about videogames, and whatever else crossed their minds, now there were tumbleweeds--there had been an explosion at the film prop factory in southtown. Where we used to have Starmen.Net meetings, now people talked only infrequently. I turned to the dame. "There's nobody here. Where are the lamers mucking the place up? Heck--where's anybody?"

"That's the problem."

"Well, I know how to solve this." I turned to the camera and read from the teleprompter. "The solution is that nobody hears about IRC anymore--everybody should read the newly-renovated Chat page and figure out how to go to #earthbound and, as we have for over seven years now, chat about whatever it is their heart desires with thirty or more fellow Starmen.netters."

"Interact with the radio hosts, too."

"Sorry, I missed that bit, it rolls by so--right. Chat with the radio hosts."

"So, Liar, now that we've solved the case... what say we go back to my place and, you know, admire the noir-ish lighting?"

I looked over at her. "I'm sorry, honey, but this is where I get off."

"But--what do you mean?" She looked hurt and oblivious, like the second male lead in a Cary Grant picture. "We get along so well, and--well--" I tilted my fedora down, lit another cigarette, and stared up at the sky.

"Sorry, babe, but there's no room for a wife in a Phillip Marlowe pastiche." I walked away. "Look up The Thin Man, see if he wants you." She looked at me, broken up, but I had work to do. That's just how it is, being Liar Lasciviously... Private Eye.

Coming up this week on Article Noir: Liar resubmits a former article staffer's column, finally setting into motion episode two: The Maltese Falcon24. Tune in.

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