This week on the excellent Tor.com short fiction podcast: Terry Bisson's absurdist social commentary "Catch 'Em in the Act." This is vintage Bisson, a simple-seeming tale told with the sneaky light touch of Kurt Vonnegut. As a bonus, Terry himself reads for the podcast, which is a goddamned treat, because I could listen to that dry, wry southern lilt all day long.
In "Catch 'Em in the Act," Lou is a loner and a loser who orders a "Crimestoppers" camcorder from eBay, and discovers that whenever he points it at someone, they commit crimes. All Lou wants is to find friendship, and maybe a girlfriend, but getting people to commit crimes is a tricky method for accomplishing this.
Lou was almost thirty. He had a job and an apartment, but he was lonely. He didn't have any friends. He didn't know why; he just didn't.
So he did what everyone who is lonely does: YouTube and eBay. One day it was eBay.
"Say, look at this!" he murmured. Lou often murmured to himself.
CRIMESTOPPERS™ VIDEO CAMERA
Catch 'em in the Act!
BUY IT NOW: $19.95
Brand New in Box.
One to a Customer.
That didn't seem like all that much. The shipping wasn't bad either. That's usually where they get you. So Lou did what every lonely person with PayPal does. He clicked on BUY.
Four days later, it came. It was about the size of a cell phone, with a little viewscreen that folded out to one side.
It only had two buttons: SHOOT and PLAY. Not a lot of features. But the price was right.
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