The Future Is Blurry

The Future Is Blurry

It was a strange case for Detective Frank Lisburn, a police veteran for over thirty years. Frank lived by routine. Every morning he would shower–same soap, same shampoo, same conditioner. His suits, always neatly put away in the closet, were lined up by the days of the week. He never wore cologne and his hair was always perfectly parted in the same place. The biggest disruption to his routine in thirty years was when he started wearing glasses, which had only been about five years.

Even at a crime scene, Frank insisted on routine. There was a specific order for everything to flow. Establish the scene, secure it, develop the plan of action, primary survey, ect. These rules had been drilled into his head since the first day of training. Frank lived by the rules. That’s why detective work seemed so intriguing. Frank wanted to know why people chose to live outside of the rules.

With one exception, Frank had solved every case that went across his desk. He solved the missing Hope Springs baby in two days. The murder of Alice McGraw he solved in four days. The kidnapping of Nancy Pollis he solved in a day and a half, even having time to go to his little cousin’s bar mitzvah. Frank loved his work, but he had not yet solved the case of Blurry Man.

Blurry Man had plagued the city for a few years. There were no patterns to follow. Blurry Man sometimes would steal from several places in a day and disappear for months. Other times, it was a one-shot and vanish scenario. The businesses seemed random. A grocery store, a convenient store, a vet, the cinema. It was all fair game. The most bizarre part about the case, however, was the security camera footage.

Frank was accustomed to security camera footage. He had seen plenty of it and was used to the differences in quality. Some cameras were color while others were black and white. Some cameras were high-definition, while others were questionable. Regardless, Frank never had to deal with camera footage quite like that of Blurry Man.

Seeing blurry suspects on camera was not uncommon, but in every shot of Blurry Man, the suspect was blurry. He was too blurry to tell any facial features or even a narrow age range. The suspect never wore the same thing and sometimes it appeared as if he had a different color hair, although all witnesses seem to discredit it.

Even more curious about the Blurry Man footage was that other subjects in the camera, such as store patrons, were perfectly clear many times. Having been three months since the last occurrence of him, Frank wasn’t sure what to expect. He could strike again at any time, or he may not strike again for another seven or eight months. The longest stretch between Blurry Man robberies was one year and seventeen days. The shortest stretch was thirteen minutes.

Frank sat at his desk, poring over evidence from the various crime scenes. From eyewitness accounts, Blurry Man didn’t have any features that really stood out. The composite sketches of him were all very plain and could be 70% of the white men on the street, including Frank himself. The one thing that all witnesses recognized about Blurry Man was his shoes. They were always spotless, but not always the same shoes. Some accounts saw black tennis shoes. Others saw brown loafers. Sometimes he wore red boots, and about six other pairs of shoes throughout the different accounts, but no matter what, they were always impeccably clean.

There was nothing else about his attire that stood out to witnesses. Sometimes he would wear a coat. Sometimes a flannel shirt. He would wear jeans or slacks. His clothes were always dark, except for the shoes, which were sometimes light colors.

Frank found himself looking for Blurry Man wherever he went. Getting a coffee at Coffee Shop on Blake St., he noticed a man wearing sandals. Frank thought about the sandals wondering if that will be the next shoe attributed to Blurry Man. It would make sense, considering there were no sandals reported so far. Blurry Man might try something like that.

A blond gentleman got up from a table and got some napkins from the counter. He was wearing black dress shoes. They were spotless shoes. Certainly clean enough for Blurry Man, but he had never worn anything that dressy before. Still, Frank expected surprises from him. Sitting there in the coffee shop, Frank realized Blurry Man had never robbed a shoe store. Interesting! Frank suddenly realized that he had never put that together before. It sent his head spinning in different directions. There were only two shoe stores in the general area that Blurry Man frequents. He wondered if they might be next.

He went to the stores and spoke with them about upgrading their security and alerts the other officers about the shoe stores. Maybe if they were lucky, he would strike one of the stores next. Frank knew it was a long shot. After all, Blurry Man had been wearing different shoes each time and there was no indication that a shoe store would be next. It was just a hunch he had to play.

Weeks went by without a Blurry Man sighting. The patrols around the shoe stores had normalized. Frank started staking out the area from his ‘94 Buick LeSabre. He had made his car his mobile office. If he was going to catch Blurry Man, he needed to be there. Frank couldn’t sit in his car all day, every day, though. He would get out and walk the block or would sometimes sit on the hood of his car reading. He made friends with some merchants in the area. Eventually, Blurry Man would strike again.

One day, Frank was leaning against his car reading a men’s fashion magazine. He had been contemplating a new suit to refresh his Monday attire. It was part of his yearly routine to change a different day each year to keep his suits from looking too worn. He was arguing the pros and cons of pinstripes with himself. He had the same argument every year, but always voted against it. Frank always considered himself a plain suit kind of guy. Pinstripes were too fancy.

A man approached Frank from the rear of the car.

“Excuse me.” the man said. “I love your suit. Where did you get it?”

Frank turned to look at the man. He was wearing a black button-down shirt, black slacks, and dark-green sandals. Frank was astonished. The man had a very plain-looking face, like 70% of other white men. He had no distinguishing characteristics other than his green sandals, which were spotless. Frank pointed the man to the suit store about a block away, even though he always ordered his suits and had them tailored locally.

“Thanks. I’ll check them out next. Appreciate it.”

As the man walked away, Frank got into his car. He called the suit store and told the owner, Cliff. He called for backup and Frank moved his stake out to the suit store. Frank was confident he found Blurry Man. Hours later, there was no activity at the suit store. Frank was getting frustrated, but was determined to stay until the store closed. Just before closing, a phone call came through on Frank’s cell. There was a robbery reported at the shoe store. Blurry Man had struck again.

Frank took the rest of the week off. He had lost his chance to get Blurry Man, and it could have been so easy. Frank was very frustrated with himself. Still, he knew he would have other chances. When Monday came, Frank awoke, showered, and put on his new pinstripe suit. It was a new day for him, and the future never looked so blurry.