Along with my partner, Bill Gannon, I was working out of the Literature Division, assigned to a special romance task force. There had been a string of people reporting the same kind of thing—an uncontrollable addiction to a new romance short form called Unconventional Affairs. The main perpetrator was a cool cat with a long literary rap sheet named Jay Gaudette.
We got a call from a Wilhelmina Vandervort in Burbank. We checked out a squad car and headed out.
I rang the doorbell. When the door opened we were face to face with an attractive brunette with disheveled hair and pale skin, the kind of skin you'd see on someone that hadn't been out of their house in days.
“Yes? Can I help you?” she said.
“Police, ma'am. My name is Friday. This is Gannon.”
“Oh, good. You're here. It's been terrible, just terrible. It's Unconventional Affairs. I cant' stop.”
“Why don't you tell us about it, ma'am.”
“I can't stop reading it. I'm addicted.”
“Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts.” I'd seen readers like her before, strung out on Gaudette's prose. She had it bad.
“Well, I downloaded a sample from Smashwords.com, read it, then, well, I lost control. They're so good. The characters are amazing. The stories and scenes are exciting. The dialogues are crisp and clean. And they're rated PG13 and R, not X.”
“Yes, ma'am. We've heard this before. Let me just confirm a few things with you.”
I ran the down the list of what we already knew about Unconventional Affairs. “They're short form, right?”
“Yes, that's right. Just a few thousand words. Quick and easy to read.”
“They're about three women—Carol, Monica and Marie—and the people in their lives and how they learned to become amazing through love.”
“Yes. They're wonderful women. All the characters are wonderful.”
“They're still being published. I can't wait for more.”
“Easy to get to and download from Smashwords?”
“And they're available with the You Set The Price feature, so you can pay as little or as much as you want, even free.”
“Oh my god, yes! You've heard of it then.”
“Yes, ma'am. Unconventional Affairs is all over the city. And Jay Gaudette writes in an easy uncluttered way.”
“Yes, he does. He's so much fun to read. And there's one more thing, Sergeant.”
“What's that, ma'am?”
“They're funny too.”
Back in the station, Bill asked me, “What do we do, Joe? This is a tough case.”
“Yeah, Bill. It is. Some things are inevitable.”
“First there was Overly Attached Girlfriend memes, then there was Justin Bieber, then came K-pop, and now this; Unconventional Affairs by Jay Gaudette on Smashwords.com. I think we need to surrender to the idea that everyone—EVERYONE—is going to get hooked on it. There are going to be billions of Wilhelmina Vandervorts out there. And there isn't a thing we can do about it.”
Dum dum-dum dum. Dum dum-dum dum dummmmmmmm!