“Suicide,” Detective Meren declared, lifting himself off the floor. Officer Gued glanced at him and rolled his eyes. Meren pretended not to notice, moving away from the body. It was of a 17-year-old -- just younger than Meren -- who, blood tests affirmed, was Shirley Vistet. Her mother had found her, here in the apartment Shirley shared with her boyfriend Marcus Zenkins. Shirley was sprawled on the floor in the kitchen, a smashed glass of water in one hand, a bottle of pills in the other. The pill-bottle was filled with all kinds of pills, including zephecei and merdikol. Tests proved she had taken these two pills together, or within an hour of each other; either way it spelled instant yet painful death. Ironically, apart the pills were for stress-relief and fluid-control. There really was nothing to it, Meren mused. Her parents and sister said they hadn’t seen her in 2 months, her co-workers at the fire department said she was becoming secluded, her boyfriend said she was getting more and more emotional and strange. Shirley must have chosen to take the back door out of her problems, to go into a never-ending sleep. It happened everywhere, every day. Meren had heard things weren’t nearly as bad 500 years ago during the 20th century, but had been getting progressively worse. Meren thought of his history classes and smiled. His fellow humans had apparently envisioned many things about the future, none of which proved to be in the least bit true. In honest fact, humanity had progressed very little since the golden age of invention (between 1800 and 2200). They had faster and safer transportation, more effective and widespread medicine, more reliable satellites, cheaper entertainment of greater variety, better sciences, cooler computer devices, and better health overall, but otherwise few things had changed. “And what do you see amusing about this all?” a voice coldly intoned to his right. He glanced at Shirley’s sister, Merva. “About this?” Meren said in his young, superior voice. “Nothing at all.” “Then I ask you not to smile,” the blonde said, frown deepening. “One should never be able to smile around the dead.” Meren lost his smile. “Indeed -- my apologies. I meant no disrespect.” He spoke politely and inclined his head humbly, hoping to win her attraction, but beauty was not to be easily swayed. “I know this is only a job for you, Mr. Meren,” she said, jaw so tight her teeth almost grated, “but my little sister is dead -- gone, to no-one knows where! -- and you tell me it’s suicide.” She shook her head, tears leaking from her lovely blue eyes. Meren nodded in what he hoped was a distraught way. “I am most sorry for your loss, Miss Vistet, good-day.” He inclined his head again to her and left the apartment, where he lost his polite expression and rolled his eyes. “Women: full of tears and little rational.” His partner, Jae Dorell, came out the same door and clasped Meren on the shoulder, leading him away from the guarded door. “So wassup, my ol’ man?” Jae asked, grinning from ear to ear. Meren closed his eyes, and opened them when he was calm. “Jae, do not use that term, it's vulgar -- and I’m 5 years your junior.” “You’ll always be older to me,” Jae said cheerfully, “you being my higher-ranking partna'. C’mon, lighten up, dude!” “Please, Jae, that type of slang is only used by lowlifes.” “Why? It’s cool. Y’know, you sound just like that ol’ gal in there -- the sis. She didn’t like it either.” “And rightfully,” Meren added. Jae snorted. “Aw, c’mon, man, not only lowlifes use it -- y’gotta admit, it’s a-rollin’.” “It’s not ‘a-rolling’, it’s a-nnoying. And no one proper uses it besides you.” “Oh yeah? Senator Nellimin does.” “He’s not proper,” Meren muttered. “Aw, watcha gotta against him?” “Nothing in particular.” “It’s ‘cause he’s black, in’it,” Jae demanded. “Oh, please, stop it,” Meren sighed. “I’ve got nothing against blacks -- you’re black, Col’s black -- gosh, Jae, my old girlfriend was black.” “Yeah, and why’de you break up wit her, huh?” “Because she fell in love with James Connir, remember?” “Oh. Yeah. Well, anyway, you just said ‘gosh’ and ‘old girl’ too, so don’t go criticizing my language.” Meren grinned and shook his head. “I’ll see you later, Jae,” he said. “C’ya,” Jae returned. Meren went to the tram and pressed in the buttons for his home district.
Elvis Meren had always been a normal man, no matter that he’d been named after reportedly one of the most famous music gurus in history. That was before and during college, however. Once he graduated and joined the Detective Agency For North America (DAFNA), his life changed. Normally it took detectives 3-4 years to progress from trainee to DE, and another 2 or 3 years until T-D. It took Meren 2 years as a trainee and about six months as a DE. Now he was a T-D, and quite proud of his rank. His co-workers, however, weren’t so pleased. They couldn’t see how this newbie -- this ‘boy’ -- could have weaseled into the position they were all praying for. On top of that, in their opinion Meren didn’t have any skill either. He was over-confident, and too proud of his position. Pride and over-confidence don’t mix well when you’re a detective, unless you’re Hercule Poirot, but unfortunately this genius Belgium detective was never more than a character imagined. Meren, by the way, had no idea who Hercule Poirot was. He never read any old books but stuck to the modern ones, the ones in ‘style’. No one could disagree with Jae’s use of the word ‘dude’ for Elvis Meren. Meren was fanatically fashion conscious with his looks, foods, ideas, actions, and everything else. If slang, for example, became the new language spoken amongst the high-ranking people of the world, Meren wouldn’t be slow to switch from his carefully precise ‘courtly speech and mannerism’. It was simply the defining character of the boy-detective Elvis Meren.