Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Writing Wednesday-

New Edits to "Rubato"
Introducing Harry Watts, retired homicide detective, father of Reggie Watts


Included in chapter 10

Rubbing his eyes he pushed the vision of Stevie out of his mind and turned over. He had a dream last night. It was about his father. They were working a case together and Reggie was very frustrated that the suspects all seemed to be lying about one thing or another. His father, also a homicide detective, was pragmatic in his approach to interviewing people. In the dream he said very calmly, “Every person tells their story as if they were the hero. Even if they are innocent of any wrong-doing, they are always going to spin the tale to justify their actions. You must learn to ask questions that challenge their story. The questions often reveal the parts they’ve made up to protect themselves.  Between their story and the truth, a gap develops. A smart detective excavates the gap to look for motivation.” Reggie pondered his father’s words and how well they applied to this case.



Included in Chapter 15-
   Reggie went to church on Sunday, too. His worship was really a gratitude session each week at the care home where Harold Watts lived. Harry, his preferred name, had been a  resident since his stroke a few years back. The retired detective went from decorated officer to being wheel chair bound in just a few moments. The first year after the stroke Reggie despaired at seeing his father fight to regain mobility. Harry felt his life was over and he would never be of use again. When it felt that Harry needed more help than his daughter and son could give him, they started the process of looking for a home that might keep his spirits up and his physical body from deteriorating. They found just the place. It took Harry longer to feel comfortable than it did his children.
   Once a week Reggie sat with his father and talked. Sometimes it was Harry doing most of the listening. He liked knowing how Reggie’s homicide cases developed. He asked really insightful questions, many of them used later in the interrogation room. Today he asked about the new case. 
   “I can’t tell you much, Dad. It involves people visiting the United States from eastern Europe. The issue is over a lost and found manuscript of music by a composer named Liszt, like…. shopping list.  Stevie has been most helpful because believe it or not she studied to be a concert pianist.”
   Harry’s bushy eyebrows raised in surprise.
   “Yup, that little tidbit of information was astounding to me, too.”
   Harry began mouthing words which Reggie couldn’t understand. The stroke had affected his speech. “See…. there?”
   “What?”
   “That man, over there.” Harry pointed to a man sitting with his head down across from them. “He,… he is a musician.”
    “Okay. What about him?” Reggie asked.
    “He needs help.” Harry looked expectantly at Reggie as if he would know what to do.
    “What kind of help?”
     “He needs music. Ask your partner to help him.” Harry was very serious.
     “What do I ask her?”
      “She can bring him music.” They were interrupted by a nurse with a wheel chair asking if they might like to go to the solarium. Harry changed the subject back to the case and Reggie dodged questions that he shouldn’t answer. He thought about what Harry had asked. What would Stevie make of that request?

Included in Chapter 16-

   Now that he was sure he was forgiven, he ventured into a longer conversation with Stevie. He looked over at her, watching her maneuver through evening traffic. It was unusual for him to bring up a personal subject. He waffled.
   “What is it?” she said quietly.
   “I’d like to tell you about my father.”
   “Okay, go ahead.” She sounded encouraging.
   “My father, Harry Watts, was a homicide detective for thirty years. Some years ago he had a stroke which left him unable to walk and paralyzed on one side of his body.” Reggie stopped and had that recurring feeling come over him of deep despair. He knew if he felt it instead of squashing it down it would subside sooner.
    “That’s terrible for him. Where is he now?”
     “In a care home which he likes fairly well. When I saw him Sunday he asked me the strangest thing.”
     “What did he ask?”
      “He wanted me to help a new patient who seems very depressed.” Suddenly Reggie felt stupid going on with his request. What could Stevie do?
       “How could you help him?”
       “Actually, my father thought you could help him.” He watched her expression to see if he detected any annoyance.
        “What can I do?” Her tone sounded like she was asking sincerely with real interest.
         “The man is a musician and my father thought he needed music. I mean I don’t expect you would go there and play for him, or anything like that.”
        “That is an interesting request because my mother coordinates musicians to volunteer at nursing homes to go and have a singing, listening experience. She has told me how effective it is with Alzheimers and Parkinson disease. I will certainly ask her about it.”
      “Really? That would be great. I would like to know more. I apologize for being awkward. It wasn’t an easy thing to talk about.” 
      “Well, we are around people all the time who tell us awkward things. You are a pro at reading between the lines.” She laughed. 

Included in Chapter 22
   “Is that you, Stevie?” her mother called from the kitchen.
   “It is. I’ll be right there.” She walked through to the kitchen and gave her mother a hug. “I’ll change my clothes and come back down.” Upstairs in her bedroom she changed her clothes wishing she could take off the heavy emotional memory of the interrogations. The case would be in the hands of the prosecutors now. It was possible she would be called to testify but her responsibility was over. She washed her face and hands. Downstairs she heard her mother playing Liszt. The sound replaced her frustrations almost immediately. On the way through the kitchen she gathered up a snack of cheese and crackers, then settled herself onto the sofa and put her head back. She closed her eyes. The music slowed as the thirds cascaded down into the bass clef. Tears dropped off the edge of her chin. Stevie did nothing to stop the flow.
   The music stopped but neither Stevie or her mother broke the silence. After a while Stevie straightened up and looked at her mother. Angelika was still sitting quietly on the piano bench. 
   “Reggie has a father.” 
    Angelika moved to join Stevie on the couch. “Well, most people do.”
   “He told me about him yesterday. Harry Watts is in a care home recovering from a stroke. He has asked for my help.”
    “Doing what?” Angelika asked.
    “There is a patient there who is very depressed and he wanted Reggie to ask me if I could bring him music.”
     “Really?”
      “Are you still in touch with the people from California who started Music Mends Minds?” Stevie asked.
      “Yes, there are two facilities here in Seattle who have volunteer musicians come in once a week to do music. I could query my friends and see if that could happen in Mr. Watts’ facility.”

       “I’d like to help with that. You taught me that music heals.” Stevie walked over to the keyboard and started the same Consolation by Liszt that her mother had played. Their touch was almost identical but it was even more nurturing to press into the keys and feel the vibrations through the wood. She felt renewed.


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And, I thank-you for reading my mystery novel, Rubato. Judith, a piano teacher extraordinaire, makes a decision which, upon reflection, changes the lives of others, not for the better.






Monday, February 19, 2018

Returning To Past Successes

Some practices, oft repeated get stale
Bring them back...


Like many people I have occasional bouts of insomnia. I found relief in sleep stories. My Calm App has stories, recorded by various popular personalities, made to lull you into peaceful slumber. The stories aren't boring but they become slower and quieter as the narrative progresses. I rarely hear the whole thing. 
  Somewhere along the way I forgot about the success I had falling asleep. This month I'm working on meditating everyday and coming back (Umkehr) to sleep stories is such a good idea. 
  What do you use to fall asleep?

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And, I thank-you for reading my mystery novel, Rubato. Judith, a piano teacher extraordinaire, makes a decision which, upon reflection, changes the lives of others, not for the better.





Friday, February 16, 2018

Rubato- Chapter 23


                                                  

                                                          Chapter 23

“Tempo rubato,“this irreconcilable foe of the metronome,” as Paderewski calls it, is one of music’s oldest friends.”


The precinct was quiet for a few days. Friday morning Stevie came to work feeling more energy. Today she would tie up loose ends. Reggie’s desk was still empty. She noticed a piece of blue paper on top. She came around her own desk to take a peek. The note was from their boss. A call related to the Whitesides murder had come in from a woman named Linda Taylor. She requested that either Reggie or Stevie call her back. It was still early but Stevie was too curious to wait. 
  
The cold, wet wind pushed Stevie’s hair away from her face. Waves were foaming around the boat, churning the water into peaks of white meringue. She and Reggie were standing on the car deck of the ferry holding onto the green railing. This was hopefully their last visit. 
 “Could you ever live on an island with access only by ferry boat?” Stevie asked. 
 “Obviously no, with our job. But, I could retire here.” 
 “I wonder why Judith chose to live here instead of the city. She would be able to build a much larger group of students there. Although, waterfront real estate is pricier in the city. She could never have the same view from her music room along waterfronts in Seattle.” Stevie brushed the hair off of  her face once more.
  Reggie turned and asked. “What do you think Linda Taylor wants to give us? If she has withheld evidence she could be charged as an accessory to a crime.”
  “Whatever it is, she is not likely to have withheld evidence without good reason. Let’s hear her out, Reg.”

  Linda Taylor greeted them at her door. Her face was serious and as she brushed her hand through her hair Stevie noticed a slight tremor in her hand. After asking them to sit she retrieved a shallow box from her office. The box was tied with a red ribbon and it looked sealed from what Reggie could see. 
“I suppose I need to explain.” Linda clutched the box to her chest. “The night before Judith was killed I came to see her.”
 “So you were the Tuesday night guest?” Reggie was surprised.
 “She asked me to come over. I’ve never been invited as a guest to socialize with her so I was very curious. We had some tea and cookies and then…,” Tears glistened in her eyes. “She asked if I would take something home. She presented me with this box and made me promise to never open it or let anyone see it. Keeping it safe was my only obligation. I don’t know what it is or if it could help your investigation.”
Reggie let a huge sigh escape his lips. “Linda, it is a criminal act to withhold evidence.”
“But I made a solemn promise and I always keep my promises.”
“So why are you giving it up now?” Stevie wanted to sound patient and caring. 
 “Have you arrested her killer?” 
 “Well, we have three suspects in custody and there is evidence that Mr. Horak came back to the island on the night of the murder. But, I really shouldn’t tell you any more.”
  “Her husband? Did he kill her? But, why?”
   Reggie and Stevie sat quietly while she wept. When she regained her composure she handed Stevie the box. The three of them were held together in a suspenseful waiting while Stevie untied the ribbon and slipped the lid off the box. 
  “Wait!” Reggie cautioned. “We shouldn’t open this. It is most certainly evidence.”
   Stevie avoided Reggie’s eyes. “Linda, I’m going to give the box to you. You and I need closure before we turn this into the big, black hole called evidence.”
  Linda picked up the top sheet in the box. “It’s a manuscript. ‘Finding Beauty In A Lost World’ by Judith Eleanor Whitesides.” She passed the first page to Reggie and continued reading. The pages went around the circle, each person silently reading the story. The first section was a biography, including highlights of her musical achievements and professional positions. The second section was a personal account of Judith’s love of Franz Liszt. The third section left them speechless. Among the pages detailing the finding the autograph manuscript page, a plastic sleeve appeared. It was another Liszt original.
 “Whoa! Is this what I think it is?” Stevie held the document up into the air. “It looks like the same handwriting but, again it is not the whole score.”
 Linda reached over to see it for herself. “Gosh, can you tell what it might be?” Stevie passed it over to her and motioned to take it to the piano. 
Linda settled onto the bench and with very slow deliberate movements she played the right hand. The piece was in F# minor with cascading triplets coming down the keyboard. The rhythm moved like a dance but it didn’t sound familiar to Linda and it was too difficult for her to play at the correct tempo. 
“It has the sound of another Hungarian Rhapsody. The minor key is feeling like gypsy music. Do you have a complete copy of the Rhapsodies?” Stevie said.
Linda went into her office and when she came back she had a thick book of music in her hand. She handed the book to Stevie who started leafing through the pages. They sat together at the piano and stopped several times to compare music to the manuscript. Reggie was still reading Judith’s book. He glanced over at the two women playing and talking. He thought of the detective work going on across the room. The truth of the matter was, all of this would be entered as evidence and would be unavailable until the trial was over. Who would finally take possession of Judith’s work?
“Got it!” Linda triumphantly opened the music book wider and started playing quiet, mournful, minor chords from the beginning of the score.
“So, she found another fragment; this time from the Hungarian Rhapsody No.18.” Stevie stopped to listen to Linda play. When she reached the section which the fragment encompassed, she stopped and sighed. “The first section is straightforward but the middle is crazy hard. I don’t think I can sight read it. Look at the angular ink marks all over the page. It seems unbelievable that Liszt had a plan in this frenzy of notes.”
On the couch, Reggie reached a part in the book where Judith described how she found the manuscripts. What he suspected was true. Judith was working in Budapest, researching in The Liszt Museum. She was given access to the basement storage areas and there she found a box of haphazardly collected papers and memorabilia . To her amazement and delight she found the autograph manuscripts of both Hungarian Rhapsodies. An intense inward struggle ensued. She described how she knew she should immediately report her findings, but the joy of seeing Liszt’s hand written music overcame her rational thinking. Her actions left the rigid tempo of law and she acted from her feelings instead of her head. She robbed justice, just like a pianist robs a measure of it's strict beat by holding on to certain notes intentionally longer than prescribed. 
“Listen to this. ‘I hinted to Professor Roland Kemény about the autographs, although I never told him what I found. He immediately demanded that I was forthcoming. I felt trapped by what my profession demanded and what my heart yearned to possess. The more he pressed me the more uncooperative I became. Then he came to visit me in Prague and against my better judgement, I showed him one of the autographs. He began talking about paying me for it, which was ridiculous. He worked for the Liszt Academy. Why would he want to own the autograph himself? I thought he would demand that I turn it over to the museum.’
Stevie looked up from the piano. “Does she give details about receiving a payment from the professor?”
Reggie cleared his throat indicating that he was going to continue reading. “I heard from my colleagues in Prague that the professor announced  at a press conference that he was acquiring a new Liszt autograph for the museum. How could he openly lie about what had not happened. Rather than be called out I decided to sell it to him. He sent a contract and I received the first twenty-five thousand.. Something inside me panicked. How could I let this piece of art go. It moved me to do a very irrational thing. I quit my job in Prague and sent a letter to the director of the Liszt Museum stating that Professor Kremény was lying. Going back to Washington State was an effort to leave everything behind me. It was likely that he was going to come after me but when I went to the bank to wire the money back, the transaction failed. I made the choice to keep the money until I secured the music. I was going to return all the money to Roland very soon.  It was never my intent to put the manuscript at risk.”
Linda and Stevie came back to sit by Reggie. They were quiet for a while. 
Reggie took out his phone and suggested they take pictures of the pages they particularly wanted to document. “Can we photograph the music?” Linda sounded hopeful. 
“The archival sleeve should protect it. I’m going to.” They laid the papers out on the floor and passed the phones around snapping shots.
Finally, Linda gathered up the pages of the Judith’s book and sorted them by page number.
“Can I keep these a while. She did give them to me.”
Stevie looked with compassion at this woman who cared very much for her colleague and friend. She explained that the book and music autograph would now go into the custody of the police department and be instrumental in convicting her husband of murder. 
“We can’t keep them, even overnight. I learned that lesson.” Stevie said very seriously, trying to comfort herself as much as Linda. “The autographs have an indefinite future, as well as Judith’s book. We can monitor their safety but the prosecutor will make decisions about when they will be released and who will receive them.”
  “Can I show my son the pictures?”
  “I won’t tell. How is Jon?” Stevie remembered the young man from the first day. 
 “He was a little freaked out. We talk about it often. It still all seems a little unbelievable.” Linda handed Stevie the box.
 “Are you disappointed in Judith?” Stevie asked.
 “Disappointed? In her decisions? Maybe, but I learned so much from her about music. I am more resolved to be an inspired musician because of Judith.”
Reggie signaled that they needed to leave. He was amazed at how long they had stayed. 
Stevie reached into her pocket and handed Linda her card. “Call me if you have any concerns. I will let you know how the trial ends up.”
“Thank you. I will be thinking about Judith’s book. Someone should publish it. And, I hope the autograph manuscripts are made available online.”
Stevie couldn’t help herself. She reached out to Linda and pressed her into an embrace. 

As they drove through town Reggie laughingly quoted a television show. “Rule Forty-Five, don’t get emotionally involved in your investigation.”
Stevie punched his arm. She watched the scenery pass by. A wooden statue of a man holding a chainsaw caught her eye. “What’s the story there?” 
She was about to give her impression of the island when her phone rang. Her boss at the station was giving directions to her. She said goodbye and turned to Reggie, “We are needed in South Seattle. There’s a suspicious suicide. They have notified the ferry system to let us board the next vessel first.”

Reggie put his foot firmly on the gas pedal and they were off.

                                         THE END

The work of editing is in full force. It seems harder than writing the first draft. Yes, there will be a sequel. Writing Wednesday's will continue. Thank you so much for reading and especially for those of you leaving comments on Facebook and Instagram.
I am @gabyburg on Instagram.
beallcomp@aol.com

Why?

What Is The Back Story?
We are all wondering why? Why would that man kill those students? I am sitting with that question this morning even as I am in the editing process of my own murder mystery. Why am I writing a story about murder?


   I don't read murder mysteries to glory in death or because I am fascinated with the act of taking human life. It actually repels me. What draws me in is the story of "why". What brings a person to take the life of another? 
   That story is in the first book of the Old Testament. What brought Cain to kill his brother Abel? Was he overcome by evil or did his narrative need evil to be realized? We are all the hero in our story. It is when we stop questioning the truth of our tale that deception finds a foothold. I can usually tell when I'm spinning a yarn. The need to rationalize my actions is the clue. "I had to do it." "I saw no other way out."

“We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the neverending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.”
                                                                     ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden



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And, I thank-you for reading some of my mystery novel, Rubato. Judith, a piano teacher extraordinaire,  makes a decision which, upon reflection, changes the lives of others, not for the better.




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 22

                                         

                                          Chapter 22

“Life is only a long and bitter suicide, and faith alone can transform this suicide into a sacrifice.”
Franz Liszt

Tomorrow would be another day to deal with the confusions around her. Tonight she would sleep. She opened the child protected bottle and with one hand full of the two pills, she took a long drink of water from the glass on her night stand.

  Before they entered the interrogation room with Dominik and his attorney, Reggie and Stevie reviewed the medical examiner’s report. If Dominik killed her in the early hours of the morning it would have been well planned. How could he have been sure  Judith would take the sleeping pills and then inject her with the Fentanyl? How did they get the drug?
   “Let’s ask Yolanda if they had access to drugs. We need a connection to the Fentanyl injections.”
   Stevie pulled on Reggie’s jacket. “Take it slow. She might clam up if she thinks we are going to slam her with a drug charge.” 

   They entered the room where Yolanda Valenta was waiting to find her weeping at the table. She looked up anxiously. “What is going on?”
   Reggie sat across the table. His first question was soft and imploring. “We need to know if you, Adrián, or Dominik purchased drugs here?
   “For what? We are not drug users.”
   “You told us that you and Adrián stole from drug companies in Eastern Europe. What drugs did you handle?”
  Yolanda sat mute. Minutes past and finally she asked, “Will you help me get out of this mess if I help you?”
  “The district attorney will know that you helped bring a murderer to justice. She will have a measure of mercy for you, I’m sure.”
  “But you can’t promise me anything?”
  “In my position I cannot make you promises.”
   It was silent again. Stevie was pleased with Reggie’s composure. He wanted to squeeze for information but he held back.
   “Adrián knew the market for opioids. He stole Fentanyl most often because he knew he could turn around and sell those easily.” 
   “Did the two of you bring any into the United States?”
  “I did not!” Her strong statement resounded in the tiny room. “I don’t know if anyone else had them.”
   Stevie picked up the conversation next. “Were you aware of Judith’s use of sleeping pills?”
  “Yes. They were always on her night stand. Dominik asked me to report back to him any use of prescription drugs.”
  “Do you know why he would want that information?”
   Yolanda pretended to think carefully. “He was concerned for her health, I suppose.”
   “Or maybe he planned to murder her?” Reggie watched for her response. He thought she knew more about how Judith died. 
   “Well, I suppose I should tell you.” The was an awkward silence of many minutes. Stevie waited keeping her eyes on Yolanda the entire time. She was watching for signs of deception. This woman was an astute liar. “Adrián  asked me to take a picture of her sleeping pill subscription bottle with my phone and to take two of the capsules. On Tuesday morning when I came to work I made an excuse to go upstairs into Judith’s bedroom and emptied out her sleeping pills. I put the two capsules which Dominik had given me back into her prescription bottle. But, I did not know what Adrián put into those capsules!”
   Reggie let a long breath out of his mouth. “It never occurred to you that Adrián was trying to harm Judith?”
   “I stayed out of that part. I just did what I was asked. The end reward was was going to be worth it to me, or so I thought.”

    The interrogation room was stuffy. Stevie suddenly felt claustrophobic. She looked at the two way mirror and saw the tired circles under her eyes. The hardest part of her job was seeing the consequences that followed the poor choices of so many people. She saw Reggie gather up his papers and she knew they would now confront Dominik to hopefully get a confession.

   Dominik and his attorney were talking heatedly when they entered. “Charge my client now or we walk out of here.”
   “Hold up, I just have a few more questions.” Reggie slowly put his papers face down, again, on the table. “I want to repeat my question as to where you were on Tuesday night.”
   “And I told you that I was at a bar and you can ask around for verification,” Dominik said.
   “I want to go back to the Liszt autograph manuscript. Where did Judith find it?” Reggie said.
   “I believe she found it on a trip to the Liszt Museum in Budapest. She never admitted to it’s origin.”
    “Isn’t that something that should have been handed over to the Museum?”
    “Yes, I think it should have been returned. But perhaps my wife was a thief?” Dominik said with a sly smile. 
   “If you think it should have been returned why were you trying to sell it to Roland Remeńy?”
     Dominik’s attorney cautioned him not to answer.
     Reggie went on. “We have a surveillance photo of you getting off a boat on the island at 12:55 am on Wednesday. Yet, you say you were in Seattle.”
   Dominik’s eyes widened. He began whispering to his attorney. Turning back to the detectives he stayed silent.
    Stevie turned over the second photo, pointing at the top, right edge and said, “Here you are leaving the island 4:05 am. What did you do in the hours you were there? Did you inject your sleeping wife with the drug Fentanyl?” 
   A ripple of energy went through Dominik. His attorney tried to hold him back.
    “My wife made some stupid mistakes and she would not listen to me.”
   “Why did you instruct Adrián Szarka to substitute different sleeping pills into her prescription bottle?” Reggie’s voice grew louder and more intense. Stevie watched Dominik’s face intently because she knew he would either completely close off or he would lose his temper and reveal what she hoped would be a confession.
   “What was in those sleeping pills? Where did you inject Judith with the Fentanyl? Did you instruct Adrián to acquire these drugs with the intention of killing your wife?” Reggie’s voice was full of indignation. Dominik’s attorney grabbed him by his shoulders and told him to stay quiet if he valued his freedom.
   Stevie cleared her voice and began reading Dominik Horak his Miranda Rights. “You are under arrest for the murder, in the first degree, of your wife Judith Whitesides. You have the right to remain silent…..” Stevie had a feeling of release as she saw Reggie put Dominik in handcuffs. Her voice became stronger. Not yet proven guilty, but in her heart she knew he was another murderer who somehow felt he had the right to take a life. And this man was Judith’s husband, who likely promised to protect her in their wedding wows.  

  Reggie and Stevie sat in silence across from each other at their desks after the three suspects had been officially charged. It was their custom to decompress together after the end of a case. There were hours of paperwork ahead but first they would talk through all that had happened. The murder took place almost exactly a week ago. Stevie rested her head on her arms and listened to her breathing. Something was nagging at her. There was a thread in this investigation that did not get sewed in. What was it?
    “Let’s go over our notes.” Reggie, who kept beautifully written paragraphs, read the account from their first visit to the island through to the last interrogation. She listened as he recounted meeting each person. When he got to the part where they interviewed Tony Chavez, Stevie sat up tall. 
   “That’s it! We never discovered who her guests were on Tuesday night.” 
  “That’s true.” Reggie wrote a new paragraph into his notes. “Maybe they never came. The neighbors didn’t mention seeing a car or a person visiting that night.” 
   “I have a nagging feeling that it was someone important.”
   “I am so tired. Let’s go home.” Reggie grabbed his backpack and pulled it over his arm. 
    “I feel bad making you drive me clear into West Seattle.” Stevie reached for her own coat and turned off the desk light. She loved the police station in the evening. Each desk had a lamp with cozy light instead of the glare of florescent overhead light. Tonight the coziness was wearing thin.
    
   
   The drive through the city was calming. Lights twinkled in store windows pretending they were open, inviting pedestrians to check the doors. Seattle was alive all night. Along the waterfront the ferris wheel sparkled and shimmering reflections danced on the water. 
   “You know, I have never ridden that wheel.” Stevie leaned her head on the car window and looked out longingly.
    “When all the paperwork on this case is finished, I’ll treat to to a ride.” Reggie said magnanimously. 
   “I’ll hold you to that.” 
    Reggie slowed on the West Seattle street, looking for a parking place. The cars were parked facing whichever way they pleased and there was no open space to stop. 
   “You can just let me out.” Stevie gathered her belongs. “At night every street is filled with cars. It happens when a small suburb becomes ‘cool’ and they build condos on every corner with no parking attached.”
   “I’ll see you tomorrow morning. And, I really enjoyed working this case with you.” 
    Stevie waved and walked up to her mother’s house.

    “Is that you, Stevie?” her mother called from the kitchen.
     “It is. I’ll be right there.” She walked through to the kitchen and gave her mother a hug. “I’ll change my clothes and come back down.” Upstairs in her bedroom she changed her clothes wishing she could take off the heavy emotional memory of the interrogations. The case would be in the hands of the prosecutors now. It was possible she would be called to testify but her responsibility was over. She washed her face and hands. Downstairs she heard her mother playing Liszt. The sound replaced her frustrations almost immediately. On the way through the kitchen she gathered up a snack of cheese and crackers, then settled herself onto the sofa and put her head back. She closed her eyes. The music slowed as the thirds cascaded down into the bass clef. Tears dropped off the edge of her chin. Stevie did nothing to stop the flow.
   The music stopped but neither Stevie or her mother broke the silence. After a while Stevie straightened up and looked at her mother. Angelika was still sitting quietly on the piano bench. 
   “Reggie has a father.” 
    Angelika moved to join Stevie on the couch. “Well, most people do.”
   “He told me about him yesterday. Harry Watts is in a care home recovering from a stroke. He has asked for my help.”
    “Doing what?” Angelika asked.
     “There is a patient there who is very depressed and he wanted Reggie to ask me if I could bring him music.”
     “Really?”
      “Are you still in touch with the people from California who started Music Mends Minds?” Stevie asked.
      “Yes, there are two facilities here in Seattle who have volunteer musicians come in once a week to do music. I could query my friends and see if it could happen in Mr. Watts’ facility.”
       “I’d like to help with that. You taught me that music heals.” Stevie walked over to the keyboard and started the same Consolation by Liszt that her mother had played. Their touch was almost identical but it was even more nurturing to press into the keys and feel the vibrations through the wood. She felt renewed.
     

  


                             
                                           Chapter 23

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 21

                                                   

                                             

                                             Chapter 21

“Liszt’s playing contains abandonment, a liberated feeling, but even when it becomes impetuous and energetic in his fortissimo, it is still without harshness and dryness. […] [He] draws from the piano tones that are purer, mellower and stronger than anyone has been able to do; his touch has an indescribable charm.”
                                                From the Diary of Valerie Boissier

Tony was so cruel today. She thought she understood his motivations for coming to her as a piano student. But, he was someone else entirely. How did she not guess that Roland would send someone to acquire the autograph manuscript? Everyone needed to get out of her life. After she made restitution she would take a short vacation to clear her head.

    As Stevie and Reggie left Yolanda Valenta in the interrogation room they stood in the hall for a few minutes in silence. Stevie paced the hall a bit and finally leaned against the wall. Reggie joined her. 
   He looked over at her. “Who do we interview next? Adrián Szarka or Dominik?
   “We can hold Szarka and charge him for breaking and entering. Maybe we need to talk to Dominik first and press him about his companions. He doesn’t know what they have told us and he will likely be shifting blame for everything on them.”
   Another detective came towards them. “Mr. Horak called his lawyer. He is in there. Thought you would like to know.”
   Reggie raised his eyebrows and opened the door to confront Dominik again, letting Stevie go in first.
  Stevie extended her hand. “Mr. Horak, thank you for your patience.” She turned to the attorney and introduced herself. 
  The lawyer stood and started right in. “Do you intend to charge my client? He has been detained for hours here.”
  “Please sit down. We have some questions for Mr. Horak.” Stevie stayed polite.
   Reggie opened his notebook. “In our first interview you said you knew nothing about what was happening in your wife’s life. Then again on the morning your house was robbed you acted as if you had no knowledge of what was happening.”
   “And I did not!” Dominik hotly justified his actions.
  “Okay.” Reggie was appalled at his blatant lies. “Now you might like to be honest here because the other two people next door have been telling us a different story.”
   “What have they been telling you?” Dominik’s attorney pulled him back cautioning him with his expression.
   “Why don’t you just answer a few questions. Are Adrián Szarka and Yolanda Valenta in your employ?”
   Dominik looked at his attorney and saw him nod his head. “Yes, we worked together in Prague.”
   Reggie continued. “Did you hire them to come to the States to work for your wife, Judith Whitesides?”
    “Yes, they needed work and she needed help.”
    “Did you send them to steal the Liszt autograph manuscript?”
     Dominik’s lawyer shook his head and Dominik stayed quiet.
     Stevie added a new question. “Did you tell Adrián Szarka to break into my mother’s home and steal the Liszt manuscript?”
    When Dominik refused to answer Stevie continued. “I was the one who told you I removed papers from Judith’s music room the day we came to investigate your break-in. You knew they were with me. We have a witness that saw Szarka in my home and Mr. Szarka will not be leaving this police station today. He will want to point a finger at you if you are a conspirator to this attempted theft and murder.”   
   Dominik’s eyes stayed on his lawyer’s face. Without words he was told to stay quiet.
   Reggie looked at Stevie and she knew he wanted to do a full court press. 
   Reggie put some papers, face down, on the table. “You have lied about knowing the value of the Liszt manuscript and you have lied about your relationship to Valenta and Szarka, What else have you lied about, Mr. Horak? Did you kill your wife?”
   “No, I told you I was at a bar in Seattle Tuesday night. I could not have killed her.”
    Stevie couldn’t help herself. “Did you want to kill her when she would not sell the manuscript? Did you already make promises to Dr. Roland Kemény? Did she become a liability to your plans?”
   “Wait a minute.” Horak’s attorney spoke up. “My client has an alibi for Tuesday night. Do you have any evidence that supports your claims?”
  Stevie stood up, with frustration written on her face. “Will you please excuse us for a moment?” She removed the papers off the table and motioned for Reggie to follow her outside. 
   Once outside Reggie watched as Stevie paced the hall. After some minutes passed she looked at him. “Let’s talk to Szarka and give him some reasons to help us nail Dominik.”
   “Stevie, lets tread carefully. We need to know if Szarka had a hand in killing Judith. Let me get a digital recorder take his statement.”
    “Go. I should have thought of that, too.”

 Adrián Szarka was sitting with his head on his arms on the table. He looked to be asleep. Stevie and Reggie sat on opposites sides of the table and waited for what seemed to be five minutes. Reggie fidgeted with the recording device. He tested it by saying the date out loud, trying to get a reaction out of Szarka. 
     Finally Adrián raised his head. His dark hair was cut very short, almost a buzz. It was easy to ignore his physical appearance because his demeanor was so suspect and suspicious. With narrowed eyes he grimaced and nodded to them both.
   “Mr. Szarka, you are under arrest for breaking and entering the home of Angelika Hanson. You have the right to remain silent…” Reggie continued until he finished reciting his Miranda rights. “Would you like us to get you an attorney?”
   “No.” Adrián’s voice was quiet. 
   “Mr. Szarka has waived his right to representation.” Reggie recited into the recording device. “Can you tell us your name and where you reside?”
   “I am Adrián Szarka and I live in Budapest, Hungary but have lately worked in Prague, The Republic of Czech.”
   “Who do you work for presently?”
   “I am employed by Dominik Horak. He hired me to come to the United States and work for his wife as a landscaper.”
    “What is your relationship with Yolanda Valenta.”
    “She is a business partner from Budapest. We were hired together by Mr. Horak.”
    Stevie interrupted and asked boldly, “Were you hired to kill Judith Whitesides?”
    Unexpectedly Szarka started to laugh. His eyes filled with mocking. “Kill her? No, there was no reason for us to kill her. She had something that Domink wanted and we were to get it from her.”
   “And did you get what you were looking for?”
    “Come now, detective.” Szarka smiled at her with glee. “Why are you playing games with me? You have the item for which I have been searching.”
   “Why did you break into Angelika Hanson’s house?”
    His smile deepened. “That was your Mamma’s house? Domink told me that you would be gone and I was to look for the music piece there.”  
    “Have you actually seen this music manuscript before?” 
     Szarka shrugged his shoulders. “He showed me a picture of it. I would recognize it if I saw it. So is it here in this building all locked up? Are you going to sell it and keep the money?”
   “That is none of your concern, Mr.Szarka.” Reggie felt irritated with Szarka’s familiarity. “Who do you think killed Judith?”
    “I don’t know. Maybe it was Dominik.” Reggie fell silent as he met Szarka’s eyes. 
    “Do you know that for sure?”
    “Look, Dominik made it clear to both Yolanda and me that we had to find the music if we wanted to be paid. I could tell that it didn’t matter how we got it.”
    “Miss Valenta led us to believe that you were with Dominik Tuesday night at a bar. Did you go home together?” Reggie felt heat rise up in his body. He wanted a confession from either Adrián or Dominik.
   “I went home with someone else that night.”
   “Can you give us a name to verify your alibi?”
    Adrián smiled snuggly. “I didn’t ask. But she works at the bar and since you are such good detectives you will likely find her. She was tall, blond, with a laugh like a hyena.”
    “We will be back shortly.” Reggie stood and Stevie followed out the door.
    “Don’t hurry back. I need some more sleep.” Adrian yelled after them as the door closed.


   Stevie knew their next step was to confront Dominik with the surveillance pictures. Adrián could stew a little while longer until they booked him for attempted theft.