Crime Over Time

Caveman Times

Popular crimes in Caveman Times generally involved the use of a club and/or the theft of a mate. Punishment for crimes in Caveman Times generally involved the same. One notable exception was Grk’s landmark conviction for patent infringement after claiming to invent a fire-starting technique which had actually been pioneered several days earlier by Urg. These were their names, because cavemen could not talk, but only grunt comically.

Police say: “Ug og ook ugh rrrgh.” [“As you know, we are unable to speak; we can merely grunt as I am doing now.”]

Criminals say: “Uk akk rrgh mmm.” [“Some may argue that our system of grunts, arranged as they are to create meaning known to us, constitutes a language. However, I assure you that this is not the case, as we do not understand each other’s grunts in the least. This has made planning crimes very difficult.”]

Typical Crime:
Ohk: Uh ak ugh ghr guh ak. [“The sexual relationship between my mate and myself has grown stale and routine, and I wonder if you’d be interested a naughty but exciting mate-swapping session.”]
Rrgh: Muh uh, rrg guh aah? [“What are you asking? Your grunts are not arranged to form any discernible system of language and are merely grunts to me.”]
Ohk: Rgh rrgh rgh! [“Well? Do you want to swap mates or what?”]
Rrgh: Magh magh magh! [“Perhaps a cave drawing would help clear things up. Really, this is getting us nowhere.”]
Ohk: Ooh, ugh. [“Okay, it’s a deal.” (Ohk has misinterpreted Rrgh’s previous grunts to mean “You may borrow my mate, but only after forcibly incapacitating me.”)]
[Ohk bashes Rrgh on head with club.]

Roman Times

Roman crimes were remarkably few, and impressively focused. Nearly every crime committed in Roman times tended to connect in some way to the slaying of an Emperor. Whether the assassin acted out of treason or a lust for revenge, whether he acted for noble reasons or selfish ones, one way or another, it all came down to stabbing Emperors. Also, Russell Crowe getting an Oscar for Gladiator. Now that’s a crime.

Palace Guards say: “You mean you guys will give us ten units of whatever currency we Romans use to go out for drinks for an hour? I’m not sure it’s okay to leave the palace unguarded like that.”

Conspirators say: “It’s okay. We’re all senators. You can trust us … to kill the Emperor. Dang it, I did it again.”

Old West

Old West crime is practically redundant, for in the Old West Times crime was a matter of course. Nary a day went by without bullets being exchanged, even in the quietest of Old West Towns. Towns were often scandalized if a citizen were to be found not carrying a gun. Indeed, the Old West was one of the most picturesque times for crime, what with such time-honored traditions as mid-street shootouts (soon to become obsolete due to traffic congestion, only to resurface in the late twentieth century as a side effect of traffic congestion), the posse, and public hangings. And horses. Don’t forget horses.

Police say: “Back in the Old West Times it warn’t like it is today, all namby-pamby-like. A town had one sheriff and one deputy, and that was it. Someone started any trouble, a couple days in the county jail would straighten ’em out, and if that warn’t enough, well, I reckon they’d hang. Not much in between in those days.”

Criminals say: “Old West Times is great. Ain’t no shortage of things to rob. We gots the banks, we gots the stage, we gots the trains. And when they ain’t nothin’ to rob, we jes’ walks into the saloon and everyone goes all crazy, duckin’ under tables and the like.”

“When you’s robbin’ a stage, first thing you gotta do is take out the sumbitch riding shotgun. Some guys like riding shotgun. They even call for it. ‘I got shotgun,’ they says. Why them dumb bastards like riding shotgun I don’t know. They’s the first to go. It’s really the ‘death seat’ if you ask me.”

Victorian Age

The Victorian Age had its share of crimes. Certainly, there was the obvious — Jack the Ripper’s well known rampage and pickpocket street urchins dominated the headlines. Yet the majority of Victorian crime was never discussed in polite company, and people were content to enjoy their opium as the soot-stained, orphaned masses endured one heartbreaking, melodramatic hardship after another. If it weren’t for the sudden intervention of contrived, unexpected wealthy benefactors, few would ever escape the dregs of society.

Police say: “Things are splendid, simply splendid. I can’t think of a thing that is less than satisfactory. Please ignore the violence and poverty that lurk just beneath the surface of our highly refined and civilized society. I’ll bring your tea.”

Criminals say: “In this life, one thing counts / In the bank, large amounts / I’m afraid these don’t grow on trees, You’ve got to pick-a-pocket or two / Why should we break our backs / Stupidly paying tax? / Better get some untaxed income / Better to pick-a-pocket or two.”

The Forties

It was a rainy decade, with a wind so bitter and cold you’d think it was a woman. Mooks were tough, but never as tough as they’d like you to believe. Some were so lightweight they’d blow away if they didn’t have the the weight of a gun in their pocket. And then there were the muscle men. Big slabs of meat with fists like steak hammers, only too pleased to crush your face the moment they got a permission slip. Los Angeles may glitter on the silver screen, but I’m a private detective — I see the dirt up close. The gambling houses, the shootings in dingy back rooms, the spoiled elite languishing in their hilltop mansions while clouding their minds with marihuana cigarettes. It’s not a pretty business, but after a few shots of bourbon, I’m not so pretty myself.

Police say: “Well, look who’s here. Do yourself a favor, shamus, stay out of this one. I know you think you’re all mixed up in this murder business, but we’re on this case now, so leave it to us. Don’t get any funny ideas about going behind our backs just because you’re more competent, perceptive, and couragous than our entire department.”

Criminals say: “You a cop? Oh, private dick, eh? You’re the guy’s been givin’ Eddie and his boys a hard time, ain’t you? You talk pretty tough, what with your dry wit, collected demeanor, and astute character judgin’. You like stickin’ your nose where it don’t belong, you’re liable to lose it, see?”

Future Times

Though much of civilization has been decimated by a mysterious global conflict which no doubt holds disturbing moral considerations for us all, crime remains as constant as ever. In the Future Times, most crimes involve cloning, computer hacking, and various combinations thereof. Another frequently used tool is the jet pack, which have remained legal because the dangerous, difficult-to-control devices still kill more criminals than they help. Fortunately, police have evolved as well, fighting crime with ray guns, thoughtcrime predictors and laser cuffs, which work like ordinary handcuffs, except with lasers.

Police say: “The total abolishment of civil liberties in the Future Times is a huge boon to law enforcement. It is a little oppressive at times, and some even call it a sort of fascist cautionary tale, if there were anything left to caution society against. And yet at the same time we’ve managed to maintain a sedate, seemingly happy populus. Is the trade-off worth it? Sometimes I wonder. It makes you think, that’s for sure.”

Criminals say: “If it’s a crime to follow your heart and the human spirit, to desire freedom from conformity, from surveillance, the freedom to simply live, as the lone rebel in a society eerily similar to your own — if that’s a crime, then sure, I’m a criminal. But ask yourself: Who’s next? The answer is you.”

Even Farther Future Times

Millions of years in the Future, humans live in idyllic paradise free of crime, getting along absolutely perfectly except for the horrible mutants who live in caves and eat the normal humans.

Typical Crime:
Eloi: I love speaking English, don’t you?
Eloi 2: Oh yes. Let’s speak it forever.
Eloi 3: Well, we have spoken it for the last eight hundred thousand years. It doesn’t look like it’s going out of style any time soon.
Morlock: RRRGH!
[Morlock steals Eloi 3, takes him back to cave, where Morlocks feast on Eloi 3’s flesh]
Eloi: Looks like he won’t be speaking English much longer.
Eloi 2: I love speaking English.