When Crime Goes Viral

Kamsi Archipley

Friday Afternoon | Caption: Thinking of You, but always focusing on me | Likes:20 | Comments: 2

Imagine the perfect picture. The one. The photo where every pixel is in focus, and they all collide together and it’s you. Your hair is done. It’s perfect. It’s cut into a bob, the executive look. You did your makeup today, and before the sun melts the red matte lipstick and you sweat away the foundation, you capture the image, like a painter taking a photo before the colours wash away. Were the pixels better than the palette? It doesn’t matter to you either way, as you stand behind a real painting, or is the proper word a mural? A myo͝orəl, that’s what it is. How sophisticated, but that’s what you are, or at least that’s how you need to appear to be. You’re an uptown girl, a kingstonian, but here you are, downtown, with not much money in your pocket. But you raise your hand up to the sun, and you see yourself in the camera. You smile, but it’s too ingenuine. You try again, but it’s almost unnatural. You focus on your blouse; it’s white with ruffles and it blends with the purple of the flower, lingun vitate. The painter captures the everyday essence of the bird. You capture, crop, and distort reality with a click. Point and shoot, when something so simple became culturally compulsive.

Roxane sat in the taxi, feeling the cool air from the AC as her skin shivered. She looked out the window as the rain seemed to flood Kingston yet again. She sat in the backseat with another traveller, the driver, and a third passenger sitting up front. She was looking to go to Half-Way-Tree but the driver took another detour to a different road.

“Driver weh you a go?” the passenger in the back asked. He was a tall man wearing a blue-collar shirt and pants, perhaps a businessman or teacher. 

“Mi a drop him off,” he said, as he gestured to the man in the front seat. 

Roxane sulked in the backseat upon hearing this. Her eyes caught the driver’s through the mirror. His mouth sloped into a frown. She quickly looked away, averting his gaze as her eyes looked through the window. She saw a rainbow over the hills. The rainy season was here, and the patter of raindrops sounded like a downpour of blessings from above. She rolled down the window and pointed to the sky, click. She looked at the picture. There was a blur but the vibrant colours were captured. She smiled and in an instant the silence and stares around her brought her back to reality. The reality that this was nowhere near Half-Way-Tree

Friday Evening | Caption:#Blessings | Likes:5 | Comments: 0 | Location: Downtown

The driver pulled into another road. The sign read ‘Beverly Hills’ and the driver quickly parked the caron the side of the asphalt. He shut off the car engine, the glow of the dashboard lights quickly disappearing and the motor engine halting. The driver and the front passenger quickly got out of the vehicle.

“Come out of di vehicle!” he yelled. He was a short and stubby man with a balding head that he wore a cap over. 

“Yuh no hear the man? Come out!” the front passenger yelled. Before Roxane could blink, the driver had pulled out a gun and was waving it at them to come out. She felt her heart collapsing in her chest and her mouth unable to move. 

“Big man, weh you a do? Nuh do this,” the backseat passenger said.

“Give me yo wallet and yo phone,” the man from the front seat yelled.

Roxane watched as he begrudgingly handed over the items. They were apparently the only real passengers in the vehicle.

“You, miss boss lady, give me your phone and your purse.” Roxane looked down and quickly handed over her phone and her purse. “A wah kind a purse this? Weh you money deh?”

“It must a wash weh with the rain. Dis ya rasta gal nuh have no money man with are bamboo purse,” the man in the front passenger seat remarked. “Pure idiot business, eee rasta gal tek yo purse and gwad back a bush.” He threw the purse in the distance and they both hopped back in the taxi and drove off. 

“F- H- 2…no. Lady did you see the rest of the numbers of the licence plate?” the man from the backseat asked as he tried to run closer.

Roxane, paralysed with fear, looked at him. His shirt was wet from the rain, and he was using his hands as an umbrella. “No, I couldn’t see anything,” she replied.

He let out a loud sigh and closed his eyes with disappointment. They walked up the road and parted ways. Roxane gathered herself as she made her way down the hill. She saw the vehicle, a red infiniti, start to reverse, the tires creating a cloud of smoke from the red dirt. The windows rolled down and she saw his face: a familiar face and a ride home. 

Saturday Evening | Caption: We have a missing… | Likes:200 | Comments: 170 | Half-Way-Tree

In three days he rose from the dead, but in three days that’s what it took for those closest to you to realise that you might be [gone] but you’re not forgotten. You’re now in the community consciousness. Aren’t they generous in the neighbourhood? Your mother posted it, but the local church reposted. 

…Mrs. Norma daughter gone

…What kinda mix-up these young people in? 

             …The Bible says we shouldn’t judge. Pray for her return

                        …Gyal with some man, and left her mada. So it go. 

…Did anyone contact the newspaper?

…You have [newspaper] money? 


Patsy trailed around the house, dialling her daughter’s phone for the fifth time and counting. Her daughter didn’t answer her calls or texts. Patsy even thought of leaving a voice message with some bad words to drive the message home: come home. She sat back in the chair and ran her hands through the turban on her head. Then she gently took it off. She could see her bald scalp reflected in the round glass frame on the wall. He had to put it back up, she whispered to herself. She had reached a point in the illness now that she could hardly recognise herself, but she could see herself clearly in her daughter that was now missing. 

“Errol, is you that?” she asked into the void of the empty house. There was a clink from the front gate.

“Patsy love, who else it fi be?” he asked, walking into the front of the house. The aroma of the takeout reached the front of the door before he did. Patsy walked out front, covering her arms from the cool night chill. Patsy could smell that he had bought her favourite dish. A big plate of snapper fish with festival and a side of red peas soup that was not her favourite, but she was sick.

He walked closer, and from the light, he could see her under-eyes had ballooned into a dreaded weariness.

“Patsy, what happened to you?” he asked, almost dropping the food.

“Roxane, she’s not answering me enuh,” she said, her lips quivering. 

“Baby, it’s Saturday. She’s probably at some dance. She’s a big woman. No worry yourself.”

She looked at him with a mix of scepticism and annoyance.

“This no like her at all. Roxane nuh into them things man.”

“Patsy, you worry yourself too much,” he said, stepping inside turning on the light in the dark house and resting the food on the table, ensuring the white tablecloth was straightened. He started to take off his work boots sitting in his special chair as he looked up at Patsy opening up the plastic bag and taking out the containers.

“Errol,” she said with almost alarm.

He looked up hoping that the servers didn’t get the order wrong. He hadn’t checked.

“Where is Roxane’s food?” Patsy asked, her warm brown irises widening under the dimming kitchen light.

He looked at her and opened his phone to distract from looking at her gaze and addressing her question. 

“Errol, is you I talking to,” she said. 

“Patsy, Roxane is big woman. She can buy her own food. Me have three pickney of my own; you see me buy dem food?” he asked. 

“Stop the foolishness, your pickney dem live a country. Roxane live a town and you make she don’t live with we and mek my pickney dash weh like smoke from fiyah,” she said, her tone gaining a little strength, but gone were the days where her voice roared like thunder. 

Errol’s lips parted but no words were exchanged. He closed his eyes, his mind flashing back to a million versions of the same fight, the same topic, the same child he just did not like. He stood up and walked to the bedroom and slammed the door behind him. 

Patsy walked to the door. She went to bang on the door but her fist didn’t have the strength. She grabbed a jacket and went outside to the front gate hoping to see a taxi or Roxane walking down the avenue. She looked around. The streets were busy but everyone was in their own world, idly walking past her. She felt a tightening in her chest and she touched the left side, feeling her deep scar from the missing flesh of her breast that not too long ago had fed a daughter who’d now vanished into the Kingston night.


||+1||Sunday Afternoon | Caption: We have a missing… | Likes:200 | Comments: 170 || -1||

Have you ever tapped something you shouldn’t like? Even worse, you tap and don’t notice until it’s too late. The forbidden fruit in the Apple device in your hands. Is it clumsiness, a need to recalibrate the touch sensitivity on the screen? What do the fibres of muscles in our fingers know that the mind chooses to forget? You’ve liked a million photos but soon there is one you come to regret, and yet there is still some part of you that liked it for a reason. 

He sat in the dark in a wooden chair, rocking the cradle back and forth, his thumb swiping through the post. The phone was the only source of light in the room. He could hear the nightly news on the television from the tenants in the next room over. The side door opened and she walked in and flipped the light switch. She was in her work clothes.

“Dane, you’re in the dark with the baby. It’s his feeding time.”

“Oh, he wasn’t crying.”

“That’s not how it works. Why are you so dunce?”

She stared at him and then at his phone and grabbed it out his hand. She looked and saw the photo of her.

“Why? You’re in my house and looking at this photo of your ex-woman and liking her post?”

“Like what? I didn’t like anything.”

“You lie no til, what this? Instead of you finding a job and taking care of the baby you online liking gal picture like some rasshole,” she said, her breath heavy with steam. She grabbed his phone and threw it at him. The device bounced off his skull and shattered on the floor. 

“Now why do you do that?” he asked, leaning down to pick up the pieces.

“Good, hope it dead. Crossesman like you don’t deserve nothing, broke like dog, that’s why you like the bitch picture,” she said as she rolled her eyes, but soon she noticed his anger and she ran out the room as he lunged in her direction. 

“Let me go!” she yelled as he tried to pin her down.

“Traci, call the police!” she screamed as the neighbour opened the door in shock at the couple’s scuffle. 

He looked at the two women and backed away. The baby’s cries grew louder. He picked up his phone and rushed outside into the night.


Early Monday Morning | Caption: Kingston Woman Missing | Likes:2200 | Comments: 1270 

The light flickers, and the face comes on. It’s a live and they’re at the police station. You see the sign in the background; they stand by the portion that says justice. You notice the incoming comments, the likes, the discussion. But you also notice a familiar face in the live feed, a lurker amongst the frenzy.

In an instance, the street lights faded on the avenue and the early light of dawn paved the way as Patsy walked into the gate of Central Kingston Police Station wearing her brightest coloured turban and walking with a folder of documents in her purse.

“Good morning officer. I’d like to report a missing person. My daughter has not call me and isn’t home.”

“What’s her name and date of birth?”

“Roxane Brown, December 23rd, ninety-seven.”

“Relation to the person?”

“I’m her mother.”

“Last known place she was seen alive?”

Patsy baulked at the question. The officer looked at her. 

“That she was seen leaving with any friends relatives?”

“No, she was downtown at a mural. Her friend said she posted this.”

He looked at the photo from the printed out copy of her social media post. 

“I’ll register the report.”

“Register? Who is going to look for her? This fool fool police station?”

“Lady, calm down.” 

“My daughter is missing and you are telling me to calm down while you sit in a chair like you’re warming the bench at school. What kind of idleness is this?” she said, lifting her arms in the air.

“Do you know anyone who would hurt her?”

“No. But she did have some man that I didn’t like.”


“O’Dane Sammuels.”

The officer stopped typing and looked at her. 

“So, you know him too?” Patsy said, perking her lips and placing her bag on the counter.


Monday Morning | Caption: Kingston Woman Missing | Likes:2200 | Comments: 1270 

You’re on page 20, but you are the top liked and commented post on the newspaper’s page. The algorithm and the metrics deemed you [engaging]. The editors take notice. They contact the police department and crawl through your social media pages. Roxane Brown is a person of interest. You’re not quite viral, but this is the closest you’ve gotten. You’re an algorithmic darling, how fortunate you are. 

She walked in the room, her hips swaying with her waist-length dreads. Faces began to peek from the cubicles. They could hear the tiny clinks of her beads synchronising with her marching heels. They knew from the tempo of her stomps that she was charging with a story. Whispers began and the sound of text messages fired off asking who would be assigned the star story. Eyes watched her as she walked to the back of the room to the last cubicle. The junior journalist sat in his chair, spilling his coffee when he saw the senior editor approaching him.

“Big yute, you went to Ardene High nuh?”

“Yes, yes miss.”

“You recognise this girl?” 

“Um, yes, that’s Roxane. We had a few classes.”

“Good, you know her. I need you to write a story to run for the morning,” she said, showing an email she had sent from her phone. 

“Wait, what happened to her?” he asked, the coffee stain visible on his fading white teeth. 

“Missing woman from Central Kingston. You know her parents and her friends. I want the story.”

“You sure she’s missing? She was always quiet. She nuh in a dem passa passa things.”

“Don’t fresh yourself with me, Michael. Look at the views from the post. She’s missing, the search has started, and you’re behind. I want the story and the deadline met,” she said, then she quickly turned around towards her office.

He looked at the stats, his jaw lowering at the numbers climbing. He opened his phone to the app and started to type in the group chat. His fingers slamming on the keypad, he looked at the screen. Several people were typing at once. He placed his phone down and realised the Bush Telegraphy was getting ahead of the story. He grabbed his computer and equipment and ran through the door. He knew just where to go to get a lead. 


Monday Afternoon | Caption: Kingston Woman Missing | Likes:10,234+ | Comments: 5270 |

@Janieee….I knew her from high school. She was a sweet girl. Hope she’s alright. Bleess Up. #Kingston Woman Missing 

He drove through the back streets trying to cut out traffic. He felt the warm heat of his phone through his pants as it began to vibrate. He slowed down at the light, fumbling to keep his phone in his sweating hands. He glanced at the notification and opened it. A million expletives raced across his mind. The rival news crew was at the house doing interviews. He opened his contacts and made a call. 

“Janice, wah gwan is Michael?”

“Mikey, what happened? Long time we nuh talk.”

“You remember Roxane? Where did she live when we went to Ardene?”

“Roxane? I hear seh she missing. Is she you call me about?” Michael could hear her kissing her teeth as he rolled his eyes then widened them, realising the light was now green.

“She use to live off of Windward road across from the shop, but Mikey, her man left her and get woman pregnant and she left him, you think seh—”

The phone fell to the floor of the car as he took the sharpest u-turn in all of Kingston to get on the road to the house. Through the phone Janice could hear the screeching and began. 

“Mikey, you know I can’t stand you. All a unu men no good,” she said as the call disconnected. 


Patsy wore her Sunday best during the weekday. The neighbourhood began to gather at her front gate. The news crew stood outside and she could see the camera men getting ready. She swayed slightly in the Kingston heat, Errol’s hand was on her shoulders. His daughters were there now, but not hers. 

“Mrs Mitchelle, do you have any theories on the disappearance of your daughter and her whereabouts?’


“What about any past relationship?”

“She was with some dutty man from across the waters. I don’t know where he is at the moment, but I am trying to find my daughter and make sure she is safe.”

He began to write down something and Patsy took a look at him. Those glasses. He looked like one of the boys that went to her daughter’s school. She wanted to ask him if he went to Ardene and saw her, but before she could reach over and tap his shoulder, the news crews were in front of her and the crowd swelled to the point where people were standing on cars and leaning over the fences to get a better look. She took a deep breath. She needed to find her daughter if it was the last thing she did before she stopped breathing. 

“My daughter is a good daughter. She went to Ardene High, graduate at UWI, and is working a good corporate job. But if she did all this and her life dash weh so, what that says we as a country when the good hardworking people suffer? Good hardworking people suffer from the crime and frustration in this country. Nobody safe and life can’t go on, so how me with my one daughter suppose to go on so?” she asked, looking into the crowd, her eyes scanning and avoiding her stepdaughters’ gaze. 


Take a peek. How long do you have before they block you? In fact, how long will you wait until you won’t see them again? This could be your one and only chance. Their account is private, you can’t just create another one to see them, so it’s now or never. You’ve done this before, the muscle memory is there: click, view, and screenshot (just in case). But you’re still too late. You knew it was coming. We’ll send you updates and engagements on the one you cannot engage with. It’s the least we could do. 

Monday | Caption: #KingstonWomanMissing | Likes:76,900 | Comments: 11920 | {Display Ad: rings}

There is no jungle in Kingston but there is bush, plenty of it, especially in the country, and Dane found himself wandering through the tense bush through the high hills of Saint Andrew. He looked out at the distance from his brother’s farm. The cali weed was almost to his knees. He sat down on a smooth stone and took out his lighter, the orange flame against the backdrop of the glowing city lights of Kingston. He took a spliff and leaned his head back, his eyes taking in the lush canopy as he leaned back and fell into the grass.

“Brethren, wake up,” he heard his brother’s voice as his leg nudged him, the flashlight shining on his legs, the light crawling to his eyes. 

“What happened?” he asked as he started to get himself up. His shirt felt damp as it oozed the stench of sweat and herbs. He reached for his phone but the black screen looked back at him like a haunting night. 

“All night me a try call you.”

“You nuh see the phone dead,” he said. 

“Your rasshole soon dead, police a look for you, mama a call me a look for you, your baby mother call for you, even your ex Roxane mother call for you.”

His body perked up when he heard her name. Jerry looked at him, examining his brother’s reaction. They were close but he soon wondered if they were close enough for him to get the truth. He stood down, pointing the light in his direction as he started to roll a spliff. 

“Tell me something, you mash up the thing with your ex?”

“Don’t talk to me man,” he said, fanning his brother’s words with his finger. 

Jerry took a hard look at his brother, inhaling deeply and letting the cloud of smoke fill his face.

“You who too good to farm and go a Kingston to live lavish in a slum, all of a sudden come back a country and your ex missing, and you felt your baby mother and the pickney, and you worry about your ex. You done fuck her already, so tell me something, you kill her off too? Since when rasta man a killa?” he asked, showing the headline from the newspaper: 



Three Months Ago | Caption: I want a man that loves me for me. He’s out there, I know it | Likes: 13 | Comments: 1

Some captions confirm everything we hope is true about the world. Everything we hope to be true in our sphere. How we interpret things to orbit around us, to suit our most coveted and idealised reality.

They drove in near silence to the soft tunes of a reggae record playing from the speakers. Roxane looked at his eyes. She was still damp; the cool air felt like a freezer’s kiss on her skin. 

“How you end up in Beverly Hills?”

“Riding a taxi and some man hold me up.”

“Violence can’t done in a this country.”

“It can’t done no where.”

“You wanna towel? I was heading home to pick up some files for work.”



She stepped inside the house. It was three floors. She walked up the stairs looking through the window, seeing the valley covered in grey clouds of rain. 

“The bathroom is around the corner.”

“Thank you,” she said with a smile as she walked out of the room.

She opened the door and was shocked. Even the bathroom was picturesque, with a tiny window with views of lush green and golden petals from the birds of paradise flowers. She ran the tap water and began to wash her face. She felt a pain in her shoulder and, taking off her shirt, saw the fresh crimson bruise. She opened the cabinets and looked for a paper towel or gauze to treat the bruise. The bottles of prescription fell out onto the floor, the clatter loud as each hit the tile. 

“Everything alright?” he asked, knocking and opening the door.

She glanced at him, her eyes meeting his, but he was staring firmly at her bosom, at the monochromatic brazier with the vertical lines. It was geometric but hypnotic to his desires. 

“Sorry,” she said as she tried to adjust her strap and lift the front to cover her ample cleavage. 

“Don’t worry yourself,” he said, artfully diving to the ground to reach the bottles. His hands frantically reached for the bottles, reached for hers.

Roxane stared at him for a moment and let out a nervous laugh. 

“Sorry, my mother always says I’m clumsy.”

He smiled at the comment, admiring her, and then he reached over and gave her a kiss, his hands reaching for her face, holding it with each finger like a predator’s teeth sinking into fresh flesh. Roxane’s head started to tilt back until she pushed him away, feeling his serpent-like tongue in the back of her throat. She wiped her mouth, her face contorting with disgust. He looked at her, his ego bruised and offended.


Wednesday Night | Caption: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary in Paradise | Likes:207 | Comments: 52 

Why are the most enhanced perceptions of people sometimes lies? The digital theatre gets no applause and oftentimes it is valid.

She sat at the kitchen counter, swivelling in the chair. She heard a ping. Soon the blue glow was illuminating her entire face. She realised it was another comment. Her lips curved into a smile. The first real smile in ages. She took a swig from the glass of wine; the bottle was almost empty.

The Airbnb was overpriced and the broken glass table may have just pushed them over budget. He picked up the pieces, another fight on their 10th anniversary, but that was marriage or an immediate divorce. He swept the pieces up and went outside to the trash. He couldn’t keep the pieces in the house, so he walked down the street to the neighbour’s house. Then a few metres away, he saw the shadowy figure of a man walking from around the corner of the house. He didn’t care too much about the man but his trash bin was nearby and he needed to throw the bag away. He opened it and he saw the blood-soaked towels and looked back up at the house. The only lights that were on were on the third floor. The curtains were drawn and he saw the figure again. He dropped the bag and ran back to the Airbnb. He wasn’t going to end up an accessory to a crime in Kingston. 

He ran towards the house, his legs staggering, his body aching. He pulled his phone out his pocket and started to dial 1-1-9. She opened the door and stared at him.

“What is it? Duppy you see?”

He looked at her, panting, his hands trembling. 

“The duppy and the body I see.” He motioned with his lips to the house down the street, they both stepped inside and the operator picked up.

“1-1-9, what is your emergency?”


Monday Morning | Caption: With God As Guide Seek Best the Best | Likes:2200 | Comments: 1270 

Our school has lost one of our own.

Ten years had not yet passed but it felt like a reunion.They all gathered, holding their flowers and candles. The small crowd of young adults’ eyes were dazed and disturbed. The sting of life had reached them through the proximity of death. Success seemed almost superfluous in a world where life could be so fragile. 


Monday Morning | Caption: No Woman No Cry | Likes:2200 | Comments: 1270 

There’s a new mural right next to the last one where you were. There’s a woman whose smile radiates . It’s you. A thousand posts and growing. With death you’re alive again, alive for a new moment.

Patsy and Errol walked in black amongst the backdrop of colourful murals. A small crowd gathered, a painter in their midst. 

“Thank you all for coming to the unveiling of the new mural. The title is for a woman who was not only beautiful but brave. And though she was extraordinary and had so much potential, she was taken from us. That’s why this mural here is dedicated to her departure, so she remains in our hearts forever.”

The crowd clapped and the sheet was pulled, revealing an image of Roxane. She was smiling with a rainbow behind her, her hands gently holding her face and her eyes vivid with happiness looking down at them. Patsy’s eyes swelled and Errol squeezed her hand. His eyes were already dripping tears. She stared up at the face she would never be able to touch again, a face like her own, a face that was gone too soon. 


What happens to our data when we die? If heaven is a place beyond the clouds, what happens to our digital forms that are left behind? What do the clouds here on earth, the countless servers around the globe, tell us about ourselves and what we leave behind? Predictability.

One Year Later | Caption: A Woman is Missing | Likes:2300 | Comments: 1170 

The woman sat in the taxi, hoping to go to Constant Spring Road before the end of the business day, when the vehicle pulled off to the side. She held her purse tight in one hand, gripping the car handle as the car took a sharp curve into the bushes. She looked at the other passenger in the vehicle but they were unfazed, their eyes averting from hers. The driver put the car in park and turned around. 

“Aye lady, run me you money,” he shouted, holding a gun that was inches from her face.

The doors made the clicking sound signalling that they were unlocked, and she swung the door open and ran screaming. 

“Somebody help me,” she yelled. Her voice was loud, nearly drowning out the last sound she heard: a bang, which preceded darkness.

Kamsi Archipley is a writer from Kingston, Jamaica, who has always been fascinated by the darker side of her tropical homeland. Through writing, she seeks to peel back the green and sunny facade of the West Indies to reveal the darker nature of society. She currently resides in Brooklyn and is working on a short story collection about gender-based violence in the Caribbean, while revising their first novel. 


*Image by Shaquiel McKenzie on Unsplash

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