The country cottage was dark. In the dimming evening light, you could see the dirty gray of the walls, and the nasty black of an old and poorly thatched roof. The garden was dead from lack of proper care. You could tell it has been dead for years. The underbrush was thick, dark, smelled of moldy earth. The rose bushes that probably once stood tall and beautiful were dead, brown sticks in the earth. Even the trees looked angry, like they resented being there.
A dim light shown through the dirt encrusted windows. The door had been painted once; now the paint peeled off in large chunks. Inside the cottage, she was seated at the old table, empty bottles lying scattered about. On the table was a dirty glass, an old flip phone, a dirt smudged tarot deck and an antique laptop.
Her head was on the table; she appeared to be asleep. But from the smell, you knew she had been dead a while. Her arm was stretched out across the table; her head had come to rest on it as she died. And in that hand was a single card. The Tower. It spoke of her entire life.
She was a con artist. She has spent her entire life trying to separate people from their money any way she could. From the appearance of her home, however, she did not seem to have been a success.
It had started when she was in her prime. The Lord of Lies had been her companion then. He taught her how to play on people’s hearts. Make friends, and tell them you are starting a charity. Something that will make them give you money till they have nothing left.
She looked around for a con. What was it that was always causing people to put their hands into their pockets that would not be obvious? He whispered in her ear – start a charity for animals.
Well, that worked for a bit. She had some money. But the Lord of Lie failed to mention she should move on once she played the con. She was outed. She fled. She hid.
The sun was coming up. It was another hot day. The cell phone on the table rang at about eight o’clock in the morning. Rang and rang, always going to voice mail. It even reminded the cottage with a printed message on the screen – voice mail. The cottage heated up and the smell started to peak.
She had searched for a way to get the illusive funds for her new live-in friend – Gordons. He made her happy. He made her forget. But he was always running out. She had to keep getting him to come back, and that cost money.
She met a man one evening. He was enchanting. He was naive. They met on social media. He discussed his line of work and said if she needed a job, he could make some suggestions. He encouraged her to find information she could use to make some money on the internet. They met, they discussed, and he had ideas. He whispered some ideas to her, making her feel she was someone special.
The Lord of Lies cracked into a wide grin. Oh, my dear, we can use this young man. Invite him into your space, and let’s see what he can do. And he explained to her the new con. Yes, collect the information off the web as the young man suggested, and cobble it into a book. Be a writer.
Her new mark was a very naïve young man named Copyright. While his background was a well-established and respectable family, they were not familiar with the workings of the Internet. She enticed this young man to her house. Copyright was amazed with her skills at finding information and collecting it. She would ask questions about Fair Use, his friend, who was very misleading. Most people avoided Fair Use, as he is a very slippery slope, who could be turned one way or another depending on who you spoke with. But it was what she wanted, something that was uncertain. The Internet was still a new frontier for writers, so she collected information that was written by friends of Copyright. All this time, The Lord of Lies kept telling her what to do with the information. Put it in a book, he said. We will send the finished product to a publisher, he said.
The Lord of Lies brought a new friend to visit one night when she was working. Plagiarism advised her how to arrange her book, how to mix it up. Just mash it all together. You can use other people’s ideas, Plagiarism said. No one will ever know.
The publisher she submitted the final work to was initially impressed with the work. It needed editing, and it needed some work, but it could make an interesting read. The publisher considered the work for his line of books. But one of the things the publisher was also aware of was that Plagiarism was becoming more and more influential. He hired a company that did checks for works that Plagiarism might have had a hand in. And she was discovered. The book was refused. She was disgraced.
Plagiarism figured out a new course of action. Self-Publish, he said. No one checks self-published works, he said. It will be easy, as the stores that encourage self-publishing don’t care that the book might be Plagiarisms work.
Copyright was unaware of her work with Plagiarism. Copyright was still ignorant of her plan. She was abusing him, you see. And he didn’t realize it. He still hadn’t seen past her smiling face and the Lord of Lies made sure she had the right answers when Copyright asked questions.
The book went up for sale. It sold a few copies, but one astute reader noticed that some of the material was very familiar. The reader used her good friend Google to look for this content, and sure enough, it belonged to someone who had included it in their book, and had published excerpts on the web in good faith. Checking further, there was more material pinched from other authors. The reader recognized the book as another work encouraged by Plagiarism. The reader mentioned it to some friends, who also started looking at the work, and sure enough, they all were finding bits and pieces that were also influenced by Plagiarism.
It is strange that for a woman who was supposed to be a con artist, she had no talent for that trade. She had no talent for writing either. Anyone reading her book could see she had no editing skills. The material was thrown together, not well thought out, and made no sense in the context it was written. It was a sad attempt.
By this time, Copyright was asked about his friend’s book and her work with Plagiarism. Copyright had no idea, but once the facts were on the table, Copyright realized he had been played. This was shameful. This was theft. Copyright knew what to do. Copyright was no fool.
Copyright called his friend DMCA. The Self-Publishing company was notified. The stores were notified. And the con artist was uncovered. The public was notified.
She was pissed. She dumped Copyright, and looked to what she needed to do next. She needed to keep Gordons. She turned to Plagiarism. She needed another plan. She begged Plagiarism. We need another plan.
It was about noon now. There was a knock at the door. Someone called her name. But she was not answering. There was a rat nibbling her fingertips of the hand in her lap that had slipped off the table when she had passed. The rat would eat well this day. The banging on the door got louder and louder, The voice sounded panicked. After a bit the voice stopped calling. There was the sound of a car pulling out of the drive that gave way to the chewing noise from her lap.
Plagiarism came up with a plan. Change your name, change the title of the book, and publish again. Brilliant! No one would know her book! She went to it again. Copyright was gone. She never missed him. The company of Gordons and Plagiarism was all she needed.
But again, she was discovered. Another reader found the book, and brought it to the attention of the first readers. They could not believe she had tried to republish it. Again, they sought Copyright and his friend DMCA. Again notices were sent.
The influences of Gordons and Plagiarism were strong. The Lord of Lies knew what to do. He coached her in what to say, how to present her arguments, and how to try to make the readers seems like fools out to harass and bully her.
But it was she who was doing the bullying. She threatened people. She threatened people’s families. She threatened their livelihoods. She stalked people. She tried to dig up dirt on these people, but again, the con artist proved to be of no talent when it came to lies as well as everything else. She was investigated. Her lies were discovered as false. She was again trying to violate Copyright.
She put up a final stand, trying to tie herself to a very reputable house. She thought, if she could make herself look important, be part of a very important family, people would believe her instead of the readers. Again, she was wrong. The readers were smarter than that, and they asked the family. Again, she was found to be wrapped in lies. And the investigations found that she was indeed threatening people to a point of harassment. She was removed from social media, and pushed back into the dark corners of the internet, and obscurity.
She made one last attempt. She tried a local con, made some money off a naive woman local to her. But you don’t con in your own backyard. She was turned on by her neighbors. And now was forced to a place where she had to hide. She spent whatever time she had left running a phone service by the minute, trying to keep people on the phone long enough to run up a large bill. It worked for a while. She still had Gordons, and the Lord of Lies. He taught her how to lie on the phone, to make people believe she cared.
When the money was scarce, she would spend time writing ramblings on her blog, blaming everyone for her miserable life. There were attempts by her family to try to contain her ramblings. But she always found a way to post her ramblings, and it was clearly influenced by Gordons. She posted poorly stated arguments for her failures that blamed the same people over and over. She made no sense half the time, the rest of the time you could barely understand her. And you knew Gordons was pushing her on to ramble, to blame everyone else, and to sob her hard luck story to the Internet. To do what? To garner sympathy from her clients? Yea, a few fell for it. Sadly. But it’s to be expected. She did learn some tricks from the Lord of Lies. But it was never enough. Never enough money, never enough attention. Never enough Gordons.
The police arrived midafternoon, alerted by a family member. Once the door was forced open, it was clear what had happened. No one had missed her, really. A son, however, had not heard from her in a while, and did notice she was not posting on her blog. He had called, he had stopped by, but it appeared no one was home. He had checked her favorite haunts – a pub, a liquor store, but no one had seen her for a while.
The coroner arrived late afternoon, pronounced her dead, and put her in a bag. They took her away. All that was left was the smell, a beat up laptop that was not worth taking, the empty bottles, and the rat, who had not yet realized his meal was gone. The son took her phone and the tarot deck.
While the son knew her name, others never would. She had so many names. But whatever name you knew her by, a year later no one would remember it. Such is the price of failure; you are doomed to obscurity.
Copyright was treated and released. The abuse actually made him a stronger man and he has become stronger thanks to the efforts of his good friend DMCA. Fair Use, who had always been so ambiguous, has been to court several times. He has become better defined, but still needs work.
Plagiarism is still roaming about, picking new victims. The authorities seem to catch up to him every once in a while, but he is illusive and sometimes very hard to catch. His true identity is also marked with many names and aliases.
Gordons has influenced many people and he is a hard one to leave once he shows you how to forget your troubles. He is still around, but has not been charged with a crime, yet.
And finally, the Lord of Lies. While he has been accused of many things, he has sharp lawyers and he is a slick operator. He will be around for a good, long time.
Written by guest Blogger, Boudica