GENERATION GAP by Herschel Cozine

Jeff Foster, public defender, nodded at his client. “Let’s get started.”

“What do you want to know?” Hank replied. “I killed him. It’s that simple.”

The lawyer smiled. “It’s never that simple. I’m going to do my best to get you off, or at the least a lenient sentence. Why did you kill him?”

Hank sighed. “Long story.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“It’s like this. I bought a Smart Phone. I didn’t want to. I hate these things.  But it was a matter of survival. There’s no such thing as a pay phone anymore.”

“OK. And the guy you killed was a Smart Phone ‘geek’. Right?”

“Yes. He was showing me how to use the phone.” Another sigh. “I grew up in a simpler time. Phones were used to make phone calls. We didn’t care about weather reports, maps, video games, et cetera. I know that sounds primitive, but I’m a product of my time. This gadget had reduced me to a babbling idiot. I needed someone to show me how to use it. I told him that the instructions told me to go to a page and tap on the red arrow. But there was no red arrow for me to tap. The geek takes the phone, goes to the page in question and holds it up for me to see. There’s the arrow. I was humiliated. Then he told me that I have to double click when I open the page. He looks at me like I am supposed to know that.”

Foster grunted. “Maddening, I’m sure. But there has to be more.”

Jeff expelled a big breath. “The geek then opens a page and there’s a keyboard the size of a postage stamp on it. He starts typing with his thumb. His thumb! When I learned to type in high school we used the thumb for the space bar. He hands me the phone and tells me to type in my name. Hank Barnes. So I do. He takes the phone, looks at what I typed, and grunts. He showed it to me. ‘JslkBsrmed.’ I’m not surprised. Thumbs are for the space bar.”HHhhhH

The lawyer nodded. “I understand.”

“You do? Great. Because he didn’t. He took the phone, typed in my name and handed it to me like it was radioactive. ‘Here,’ he said. ‘check to see if you have any messages. That should be easy enough.’ I ignore the sarcasm. I check the messages by tapping on the message icon. Voila! The page appears! A green dot. I had a message. ‘Read it,’ he said. I touch a figure, the phone starts beeping like a truck backing up, and the message page disappears. ‘Not that way,’ he yells. He grabs the phone, punches some icons and everything goes blank. He gives the phone back to me. ‘Try again,’ he says. So I take the phone, get the message page, press on the icon. Nothing. ‘That’s an improvement,’ he says. Again I ignore the sarcasm. But my head is starting to hurt. He pressed an icon—I swear it’s the same one I pressed—and there’s the message. I’m embarrassed, of course. And frustrated beyond belief. I ask him what he did differently. ‘I followed procedure,’ he said. ‘There is really nothing to it.’ That’s when I lost it.”

“You killed him?”

“With my bare hands.”

Foster stood up and held out his hand for Frank to shake.

“I’ll get you off,” he said.

“How?” Frank asked. “Í already confessed.”

Foster waved the remark aside. “We won’t dispute that. We won’t object to any of the evidence. You’ll tell your story just like you told me. Don’t change a word.”

“I don’t understand. How will that get me off?”

Foster smiled. “I’ll see to it that no one under the age of sixty sits on the jury.”

Herschel Cozine has published extensively in the children’s field. His stories and poems have appeared in many of the national children’s magazines. His mystery stories have appeared in print magazines AHMMEQMMGreat Mystery and Suspense and Woman’s World. Wolfmont Press has used his work for several of the Toys for Tots Christmas anthologies, as well as The Killer Wore Cranberry anthologies published by Untreed Reads. Other of his stories  appear in Orchard Press Mysteries, Page Of Stories, Mysterical E and others. His story, The Phone Call, was the winner of the 2017 Derringer Award.

Copyright © 2020 Herschel Cozine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.