Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 9

Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapters 1 through 8 are available.






Rubato- Chapter 9

"I have always felt a peculiar frisson upon seeing for the first time the actual handwriting of a master composer, alive with its irregularities, its visible impulses, its detectable moments of ease and worry, of joy and despair... No printed score can offer such insights." 
Yehudi Menudin


She clutched the music to her chest. How she loved looking at the measures carefully drawn with such precision. 

  Reggie and Stevie sat across from each other at the dining room table. The documents were sorted into piles of correspondence, written documents, and music. Reggie was holding a clear sleeve and within was a very old, yellowed fragment of music written by hand on a parchment like paper with black ink.
   “Are you telling me that this is valuable? Valuable enough to kill someone to get it?” Reggie held the plastic sleeve up into the light.
  “It is priceless. Handwritten scores by the composers themselves are precious to scholars and musicians. Their scores have information about how the composer truly intended their piece to be played and felt. There are no editorial markings or suggestions, just the original notes and notations. Is it more valuable than human life? No, I can’t imagine it has a price tag high enough to murder someone to get hold of it.”
   “So, what is this music exactly?”
   “I think it is the beginning of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8. It is a very difficult piece. All of the Rhapsodies are challenging even to the best pianists. He wrote them to embody the gypsy spirit. The basic form copies the fast and slow parts of a folk dance. Here, I have a copy.” Stevie jumped up and went into the living room. Reggie was interested in what she was going to find, so he followed her. From the top shelf she pulled out a large, thick paperback book. She turned to the page and carefully put the clear sleeve next to it. “It is exactly what I said. Look at the elegance in his writing”. She stood to take the book and the autograph to the piano. “I may not be able to play it well, but would you like to hear it?”
    “Yes, please.”
     Reggie  settled into the soft cushions of the couch. After Stevie adjusted the piano bench she placed her hands over the keys. The first notes had many repeats with trills. Then the bass started a low melody line. Stevie looked transfixed by sound. Gone was the tough cop and here was an artist controlling a much bigger instrument with grace and force. The Rhapsody lasted a few minutes but time stopped for Reggie, who was intently listening. He didn’t know much about classical music. Being so close to a grand piano and witnessing a gifted musician was rare. She lifted her hands but the sound bloomed up and then slowly diminished. Then there was silence.
    “Why are you a cop?” Reggie asked quietly.
     Stevie sat in thought. “I am a detective because I need to solve problems. I need to understand human nature and why people do what they do. I could have become a social worker or guidance counselor but that would require accepting that people change ever so slowly. As detectives we pry and question, pulling information from suspects until we the truth surfaces. Then we can close the case and walk away.”
   “But you didn’t answer my question. Why aren’t you a musician by profession?”
   “I am a musician. Through years of learning and practice I can claim that title. But, financially supporting myself as a pianist isn’t easy. I know. My mother tried to pursue her piano performance career for decades. My father supported her but her choices to perform all over the world left my Dad and I on our own. I am a homebody. I need a center of gravity which to me is my space and my piano. Why are you a detective?”
    “I like thinking that I am fighting to make things right. My father was a policeman and I admired his bravery. Sometimes my optimism gets jaded by corruption. We see a lot of crap and have a front row seat to see the worst in people. But, heck, being a detective beats sitting in front of a computer all day!’
   “Sitting in front of a piano has the same affect on your behind.” Stevie laughed comfortably. “So what did you think of the Rhapsody?”
   “The sound of it was beautiful; a lot of sound.”
    “Liszt was accused of writing too many notes and not enough music. But he countered by saying that he wanted to show what the piano could do.”
   “So show me where the fragment is located in your music edition.”
   Stevie got up from the piano and with the music book in one hand and the autograph manuscript in the other she sat next to Reggie on the couch. The handwritten page had wild scrawls of ink, punctuated with little dots. 
   “If you have a copy of the whole song, or ‘piece’,” he corrected himself, “why get so excited by this little bit? Surely he made more copies.”
   “You are right. A copyist made other manuscripts of this piece. But notice how there is a shadow of a different number behind the four? That shows that Liszt hesitated and almost started in another time signature. And here, see that scratched out note and the one just to the right. The mistake messed with the tonality of this measure. The correction is much better. These are small things but to a music scholar this provides insight into Liszt’s compositional skills.”
  “Are you so sure it is authentic?”
   “Well, we would have to have it looked at by a music scholar or even better several music scholars but my gut says this is authentic.” She gently brushed her hands over the page.
   “We need to get these papers booked in as evidence and to the station on Monday.” Reggie felt the burden of hanging on to this evidence too long.   
   “I know.” Stevie bristled at his implication that she was irresponsible. 
   “If this paper is so valuable why do you think Judith Whitesides left it out among her papers at home instead of locked up somewhere?” 
   Stevie shrugged her shoulders. “It was tucked into a thin music score in the bottom of her cabinet. The murderer must have looked for it. Sometimes, what is in an obvious place is overlooked. The crime scene team gathered many fingerprints in the music room so anyone of those people could have searched the drawers.”
     Reggie picked up some other letters. One was from The Library of Congress, Music Collections department. 
   “Listen to this. ‘Dear Ms. Whitesides, Your inquiry about the discovery of a missing Liszt original fragment is very exciting. We look forward to working with you in accepting this gift.’ Here is another letter. This time from Professor Kemény in Budapest. ‘Dear Judith, I am under the assumption that you will be turning over the autograph manuscript as we have discussed previously. My first payment has been made to your account.’ Did Judith promise to sell it to the professor?”
     “If she did, it explains the enmity between them. So was Judith going to give the autograph manuscript away or sell it?”
     “Hey, here is a letter from that same guy in Hungary.” Reggie stopped reading and looked over at Stevie. “Whoa, he is threatening Judith if she doesn’t hand over the fragment. Oh, there are more letters with the same basic message. This one is dated last month.”
    “Well there is a motive for murder. Tomorrow is Saturday but we need the tech team to do background checks into this professor and while we are at it, let’s find out more about Tony Chavez and Dominik Horak.” Stevie sifted through more papers, setting aside a pile for letters. 
   Reggie glanced at his watch. He stood to go get his coat. He needed to get home.
    “Stevie, I need to get going. First thing tomorrow we gather up information on these leads.” 
     Stevie followed him with a pillow clutched to her chest.
    He pulled his jacket off the coat rack and stuffed his arms into the sleeves. “And, thank-you for playing for me. It was amazing.  You are the first partner I’ve had that provides entertainment on the side.”

   Stevie threw the pillow she was carrying at his head.


                                           Chapter 10







             



                                        

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 8

Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapters 1 through 7 are available.




                                        Rubato- Chapter 8

“As the mother teaches her children how to express themselves in their language, so one Gypsy musician teaches the other. They have never shown any need for notation. “
Franz Liszt

Judith thought she might go to the grave with her secret. There was no one she could trust. She kept writing in every spare moment.

     Ocean View Hospital was swirling with activity outside. Reggie found a spot within parking distance to the front door and put their police placard in the window. Fall trees were bare but the remnants of leaves clung to the sides of the curb like stubble on a man’s face. The sky was a typical November gray. That shade of gray blended nicely with the hospital exterior. Pedestrians with brightly colored jackets gave a much needed contrast to the monochrome world. 
     They moved through the crowd getting to the elevators just as a door opened to take them up. The Monarch County Medical Examiner’s Department was on the second floor. Stevie’s eyes looked up to see Reggie’s head in the ceiling mirror. He had a tiny bald spot developing which she never noticed before. 
     The button glowed for the second floor and Reggie held the door for her while they walked out. Her partner was continuously polite. He had been from the beginning and she must remember to thank him. They showed their badges at the desk and asked to see the medical examiner’s report for Judith Whitesides. 
   “Please wait over there.” The receptionist didn’t bother to look up. Her fingers were dancing over the computer keys in front of her. 
   Time on the island had put their bodies into a new rhythm. Stevie stretched out her legs and sighed. Reggie glanced over and punched her in the arm lightly. 
  “I am over my irritation with you. I admit you may have insight into this case that I do not.”
  Stevie grimaced at Reggie just as the medical examiner for the Whitesides case came though the door.
   “I’m glad I caught you both, detectives. Let’s step into my office.”
   As they seated themselves Stevie sensed he had information that would change the trajectory of the investigation.
  “Okay, this is why I asked to have homicide detectives come over to the island and investigate. While examining Ms. Whitesides I found a pinprick of a needle in her thigh. There was bruising around it which matched other bruises on her lower leg.  That sent up a red flag. And just as I thought, the tox report showed evidence of sleeping pills and a drug called Fentanyl in her system. I believe she took the sleeping pills and then someone injected her with the drug and they interacted causing her death. Im my opinion, this was a murder. Do you have any suspects who might have access to these drugs?”
  “We can’t hang this crime on anyone yet. But, we have a few leads. What do you think caused the other bruising?” Reggie was curious.
   “Perhaps she was dragged and bumped. They didn’t look like blunt force trauma.”
    “Was her death instantaneous upon being injected?” 
     “Yes, pretty much. Fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin. Sometimes before the needle is removed the person is on the floor. Any thing else?”
     “Thank-you, now we know what we are looking for.” 
    They both shook hands with the doctor and left. A heavy feeling came over Stevie. This always happened when a case opened up. Some detectives thrived on the details of violence but she was moved by the plight of the victims. Why did someone take such a step which could never be made right. Even after the many homicide cases she investigated she still found murder incomprehensible. 
   As they left the hospital and moved towards their vehicle they both noticed a parking ticket on the windshield. 
   “What the heck?” Reggie ripped the ticket from under the windshield wipers. 
    “Just tear it up” Stevie reached to take it from Reggie. 
    “No.” He folded the ticket and put it into his breast pocket. “I’ll hand it in to the traffic department and make sure they tell their people to believe a police placard when they see one.”
   They made their way out of Seattle with extreme patience. The traffic was getting worse and they were at the peak of rush hour. Stevie turned to Reggie once they were on the freeway. 
  “I have a pile of evidence in the trunk I took from Judith’s music room. It should take me some hours to sift through that. It is 4:00 o’clock. Do you want to join me for dinner at my house and go through the stuff?”
   Reggie looked at her sideways and laughed. “You are just trying to diffuse my irritation with the traffic. Sure, what are you making?”
   “That my friend, is not for you to know. I’ll give you a clue. There are noddles involved.”


  Back in West Seattle, Stevie unlocked the front door and gently put the bag of documents on the dining room table. Lights from the street intruded  through the slats of the light brown wooden blinds and their patterns played on the walls. She switched on a  lamp to the right side of the entrance. The gentle glow illuminated the table where Stevie dropped her backpack.  The front door opened to the dining room on the right and the living room on the left. Each room had windows facing front towards the street and on the sides facing the small corridor of grass between houses. 
   “You can hang your coat on the coat rack.” 
     Reggie looked behind the door to see a tall. dark brown rack shaped like a treble clef. Dowels protruded out of the wood to hold coats. He chose the edge of the rounded clef sign to hang his jacket. As he turned to look into the living room he saw the large grand piano nestled into the corner with windows on both sides. The length of the piano extended out into the room. On the opposite side of the room, two plush leather couches, with bright colored pillows gave the impression that listeners were welcome. Reggie gently touched the black and white keys, listening to the tinkling of notes. On the piano stand, a blue music booklet entitled, Consolations by Franz Liszt, lay open to view. Was it a coincidence that Liszt was on the piano? It explained why Stevie could talk to Tony Chavez with such intelligence. It occurred to Reggie that Stevie might have a score of music in her head for this whole investigation. 
  “Come on into the kitchen. I’m reheating some lasagna from Sunday,” Stevie called. 
   The kitchen had bright yellow walls with olive colored trim. A  round table was nestled into a bay window which looked out to the garden. Reggie could see the silhouettes of bushes and one large tree. He squinted to see more.
  “I can’t get used to the fact that it’s dark at 5:00 pm. It feels like the middle of the night.”
   Stevie handed Reggie two rust colored placemats and two white china plates. 
   “Can you grab two glasses out of the cupboard there?” 
With her head she motioned to the cupboard by the sink. A steaming platter of noodles with sauce and cheese made Reggie’s mouth water. The sandwich at lunch at the café was long gone. Picking up his fork, he prepared to dig in when Stevie ladled  a portion onto his plate.
  “This looks good. I appreciate your hospitality.”
  Stevie looked at his face and smiled. There was a tiny splat of tomato sauce on his lip. She stopped herself from wiping it off with her napkin.
  “Your welcome.”



Friday, December 15, 2017

Different

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. 

Don Miguel Ruiz

My husband tells the story of when he was taking a philosophy class in college and the awful truth first hit him. Descartes did not think like him, at all.
If we all think differently and see the world differently how can we possibly understand each other?


  Always assume others are doing their best. What? Can that possibly be true? If that statement is hard to believe of others then we probably don't believe it of ourselves. But, think of the freedom this idea brings to our relationships. If I believe I am doing my best and I believe you are too, then I will be at peace with my actions and be more at peace with yours. 

Do you need a good book this holiday season? Take a peek at my new novel Rubato, a musical mystery involving a dead piano teacher. Yikes, I'm a piano teacher. No, this is not a biography.


 



I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 7


Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapter 1 chapter 2 ,  chapter 3, and chapter 4chapter 5, chapter 6 are available. 




Rubato- Chapter 7     


“Like a modern pop star, Liszt was a blank surface on which to project secret desires and fantasies.”
       Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar
                            Oliver Hilmes

  Judith lived solely for her students. But, they also put expectations on her which she could never fully meet.

   The address for Mr. Chavez was a half mile further north. The road twisted and turned as it started going down towards the water.
  “There are never any places to park at these waterfront homes.” Reggie made a u-turn and carefully moved his car in front of what looked like a garage. “That trail there looks like the way to the house.”
   “The pathway is steep. I wonder how fun it is to carry groceries up and down.”
    They made their way down through the heavy foliage and came upon an older, large, red home. The front door was facing the water just over the bluff, but the side door seemed to be the point of entry. They knocked robustly. 
    A woman with masses of curly salt and pepper hair answered. 
   “Sorry to bother you ma’m. We are detectives Dangerfield and Watts with the Seattle police. Does Tony Chavez live here.”
   “Come on in.” She led the way into a tiny kitchen, then through to a large living room with a view of the water. “This is a bed and breakfast. Mr. Chavez rents a long term room. He isn’t usually here during the day.”
   “How long has he been staying here?” Stevie looked around at art on every wall. A painting with bright light emanating from under a tree, caught her eye.
  “You like that watercolor of the world above and below? It is an interesting idea to imagine what is going on under the ground. Hmm.. Tony has been here over a month. He is a writer and musician, you know. Is he in any trouble?”
   “Not that we know about. We would like to talk to him about his piano instructor, Judith White.”
   Jacquie’s smile dimmed. “I heard about that. Yeah, Tony was taking lessons.”
   Stevie looked around and noticed a large older upright piano across the room. 
  “Does he practice there? “
  “On that old thing? Not Tony. He made a large contribution to the arts organization and they let him practice on the big grand piano at the performance hall. Tony’s very good.”
   “Do you know when he might be home?” 
    “You can find him at the coffee shop. He goes there to get ‘his juices flowing’. The café is across from a restaurant called The Hardware Store. It is right in town, can’t miss it.”
   “Well, thank-you, you have been very helpful.” 
Jacquie stood to see them out the door. 
   “Do you have a pathway to the beach below?” Reggie took another look out towards the sea.
    “Yes, a steep one that leads to a dock.”
    Stevie and Reggie started back up the pathway felt the climb work their legs. Waterfront living had some downsides.

  The little island town was only about four blocks long and two blocks wide. At the main intersection they spotted the coffee shop sign. 
  “Can’t find any parking here either. I guess we will park behind the bank.” Reggie muttered.
   As they walked into the café the bells on the door chimed and everyone looked up to see them enter. There were a few tables, a large kitchen table, and some couches. Nothing matched, but the feeling was warm and cozy. 
   Reggie approached the counter and asked if Tony Chavez was around. The barista motioned at a man on the couch in the corner, laughing loudly. Stevie saw Reggie glance towards the man and she took a chair very close by. Reggie asked for coffee and a soda for Stevie and added two sandwiches to the order. 
   They sat quietly and listened to the conversations around them. Tony was in boisterous discussion about sound waves and how they affect people. His companion was only getting a few words into the discussion. 
   When the conversation died down Reggie approached Mr. Chavez. He introduced himself and asked if they could talk to him somewhere less public. 
      “You are investigating the death of Judith White? Yes, follow me.” Reggie motioned Stevie to come and they went through a doorway into a quiet storeroom. Food service supplies were stacked around the walls. Tony pointed to a table and chairs in the back. He had a somber expression on his face. His dark hair was slicked back with gel which gave him an otter like appearance. 
   “I have permission to work back here if the noise gets irritating. How did Judith die?” 
   “We don’t have all the facts yet. Maybe you can answer some questions. When did you last see Judith?”
   Tony looked at the floor. “She called me Monday to cancel my  Wednesday lesson and so I tried to get a lesson on Tuesday morning but she brushed me off with the excuse that she was having guests that day. I was angry and went by late Tuesday afternoon to ask her why she was dismissing me. She was very much alive and very offish.”
   “We were under the impression that she worked at the university on Monday and Tuesday? “ Stevie asked with some confusion.
  “Not this semester. She was just taking private students. There was some project she was working on that took her attention.”
  Reggie leaned in, pressing Chavez for more information. “Do you know who the guests were? Her husband maybe?”
   “I don’t know.” Tony looked at the table steadily. 
   “Come on, you know who she was seeing.” Reggie said with impatience.
   Stevie touched Reggie’s arm warning him to be less forceful. “What brought you here to this island and to Judith White?”
   Tony looked directly at Stevie and answered her bluntly. “She has the best understanding of the music of Franz Liszt in this country.”
   “So, what is your interest in Liszt’s music?”
   “I play romantic composers because they are closest to my native sensibilities. You might not understand that.”
    “But I do.” Stevie assured him that she had just as much interest in Liszt as he did. 
    The next thirty minutes the talk was of the what pieces they loved the most. They laughed at what critics said of the sheer volume of notes Liszt wrote and how there was so little music between the notes. Liszt was showing what the piano could do, not just showing off. No-one before him dared give concerts choosing only his favorites and having the public swoon at his feet, especially the ladies. Both Stevie and Tony Chavez were energized by their conversation. Reggie was not. He couldn’t see how this dwaddle was getting the information they needed. He gave Stevie a look of irritation. The conversation came to an end only when Reggie’s phone rang. He stepped out into the café to take the call. The coroner’s report was in and both he and Stevie needed to come back to Seattle. He stood at the doorway and motioned to Stevie. She did not meet his eye.
   “Look, we need to get back.” Stevie rose to shake Tony’s hand. “Mr. Chavez, please don’t leave town unless you call us.”
   “Am I a suspect?”
   “A suspect for what, Mr. Chavez?” Stevie asked with mock surprise.
   “Judith’s murder.”
   “Was it it a murder?” Reggie asked and looked at him with intense interest. 
   Tony shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Ah, I just assumed that is what you were investigating.” 
   “Why would you think her death was a murder and not accidental?”
    Tony lifted his hands in the air as if to say he didn’t know. “I noticed an anxiousness in Judith this last week. She was secretive about a project and less engaged in our lesson.”

 Reggie walked back in the storeroom and sat across from Tony. “Do you know of  anyone who wanted to hurt Judith?” 
  “Judith was a complicated woman. I can’t say I know very much about her at all.” He stood to leave and moved his chair back. “I have an appointment I need to attend. Do you have anything else?”
   Stevie and Reggie watched as Tony Chavez hurriedly left the room. 
   “He is not telling us everything.” Stevie nodded. She knew Reggie was frustrated at the small talk she made with Chavez.

    The ferry was jostling from side to side. Most passengers on the car deck left to go upstairs. Reggie and Stevie were sitting in quiet. Both held back their feelings until finally Stevie began.
   “I know what I’m doing, Reg. My approach allowed me to see if he was who he said he was, and I believe he is. The question for me is not why is Tony Chavez here, but what brought him to Judith Whitesides? What does he know that he is not telling us?.”
   “Of course he knows more.” Reggie was still irritated. “Your bantering about music slowed down the tempo of my questioning. I wish you had followed my lead. If we had pushed him more he might have given up more information.”
   “Slowing down the tempo of the interrogation sometimes brings more openness. The same is true for music. You asked what rubato means? When we change the tempo for just a small moment, certain sounds come forward and add heightened emotion. I was able to feel the intensity of Mr. Chavez’s actions.  I believe he is a musician and he wanted something from Judith. Did he get what he wanted?”
   “If she was murdered he is the main suspect in my opinion.”
   “But what about her husband? He admits to being there Tuesday. Maybe he didn’t leave the island and he was the guest she was waiting for Tuesday night? Or what about the housekeeper? Maybe she wanted more from Judith than she was willing to give and they had a heated discussion and she………”
   “Stevie, the killer had to get her up to bed, probably unconscious. This took time and definitely was premeditated.”

  As the dock came into sight Reggie sat upright. “The medical examiner’s report is what we need next. And if this was an accidental death we should be able to wrap it up today.”

                                  Chapter 8

Monday, December 11, 2017

Nurturing Monday- A Ritual To Remember My Word


I'm a big believer in the way ritual can put us in connection with our spirituality. 
Sue Monk Kidd

In 2015 I wrapped up my black plastic word 'ribbistrate' in beautiful paper and returned it to my friend Jenni who made up the word and introduced me to it in a meeting of women. 
 Combining the word ribbies, which is baseball slang for a batted in run, and monstare, which means to show we get the meaning. It is  unparalleled joy. It can be for yourself or seeing the achievement of someone else.
In 2016 my word 'mindfulness' retired as my focus word but it stayed very much front and center as a way of being. 




This year 'nurture' is retiring with honors because the reminder to nurture has changed my view of what I can do. I thought is might be a call to serve others but it has also worked to give me permission to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, to pursue a goal for the sake of learning, and to take stock of what I nurtured subconsciously, perhaps to my detriment.



To say goodbye to my word I will move the painting from above the mantle to a new location. There is already a canvas waiting for paint, to hold next year's word. I'm waiting for mail from Colleen Attara to see how next year's word looks in red. Someone asked about buying the painting with the word 'nurture' but I'm not ready to let it go. It will be in a less dominant place but still influence my actions.




              What year end rituals do you have? Do you think about them before the holidays or just as the old year slips away?







To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Only

              The word 'only' is so exclusive


   If I accept only this or that into my life I, by definition, exclude the other choices I might encounter. If it is a matter of choosing good and bad, only choosing good is a positive thing. If it is a matter of choosing good or better, then things get more difficult. Add in choosing only the best, then many, many things will be excluded.



     I don't know for sure where I'm going with this but here is an example. I am a very visual person. I decided one day to organize my books by color or color harmony. That process of choosing, let's say, only warm colors for a shelf made me exclude many books that were similar in subject and even the same author was shelved differently. Visually the whole bookshelf was very satisfying to look at. Only, it was hard to find a book because as yet I hadn't memorized the color of every book's spine. Did I abandon my exclusive shelving idea? No, I did not. The visual appeal, for me,was better than the shelving by author or subject. Paul admonished us to choose the better way, which he later explained was the way Christ loved. His charity for others was only based on pure love. I am here on earth to learn to choose. How I organize my life should reflect my best choices. How I shelve my thoughts should attract more good thoughts which should ultimately turn me outward to others, more than inward to my own self.  


"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

 


I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 6

Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapter 1 chapter 2 ,  chapter 3, and chapter 4, chapter 5 are available.







 Chapter 6- Rubato

Beware of missing chances; otherwise it may be altogether too late some day. 
Franz Liszt


The housekeeper is annoying, thought Judith as she heard the vacuum cleaner hitting the wall upstairs. Her curiosity about the music room was suspicious. If her interest was in music she would stop her racket when Judith played. She should never have agreed to hire her. 

  Reggie called in to the precinct about the Medical Examiner’s report while Stevie drove south past the little town and towards Judith Whitesides’s house. This time the driveway down the narrow road was open. No one seemed to be parked at the bottom of the hill where three homes sat perched on the edge of the beach. Stevie wondered why there was no police presence. The police tape barred the front and back door. 
   “Let’s see if the doors are all locked. They should be.” Reggie bounded up to the back door first. He glanced into the garage to see if anything was out of order. The backdoor seemed locked but when he jostled the door handle it came open.
   “It’s our lucky day. Someone did not lock up correctly. Well, let’s see what the the crime scene team left for us.”
   Together Stevie and Reggie walked through the waterfront home. It was more quiet than their first visit, of course, but the quiet was eerie. As they looked in every room they saw only traces of the in-depth search conducted the day before, a door ajar here and papers askew there. 
   “I’ll go through the music room,” volunteered Stevie. 
   “Okay, I’m going back to the bedroom suite.”
   Clouds shadowed the sun so the music room was dimmer. It would be hard for Stevie to concentrate on what she was doing with the view in front of her. Sailboats rocked from side to side like a mother comforting her child. The land across the inlet was deeply green with thick fir trees. 
     A small plate of black licorice pieces sat on the top of the piano. How ironic that this women liked black licorice, too. Often before Stevie sat down to practice she would grab a handful of the black candy. When she mastered a section of music the licorice was her reward. She picked up the top piece of music on the right side of the music stand. Judith was teaching or maybe she herself was playing the Consolations by Franz Liszt. Number three was familiar so Stevie sat down to play. The quiet melody rang through the house bringing goose bumps to her skin. This piece started with the very softest of dynamic markings and for many measures the quiet sounds caressed the room before they swelled to intensity. An understanding of the sensitive soul of the composer traveled through the music into Stevie’s hands. 
   It traveled up the stairs to Reggie, too. He looked out the upstairs window while the music played. What negative forces lay beneath the refined setting of this house? Under what circumstances did Judith pass from this world? The music stopped for some time. Finally Reggie called down, “Are you alright done there?”
    “Can you come here?” He hurried down the stairs to find Stevie sitting on the hardwood floor pouring over aging music manuscripts from one of the drawers. They were yellow and thin on the edges. 
    “These are likely old handwritten scores made by copyists. I wonder if she brought them from Prague. Look at this letter clipped to the music.”
  He glanced quickly through the paper and immediately noticed the angry words. More slowly he carefully read accusations from an unknown source. “Your fraudulent claims need to be brought to the attention of the Conservatory board! I will see that you are fired.”
   He looked at the dates of the letters and noticed they were sent earlier this year from Budapest, Hungary. 
   “Sounds like someone had a beef with Judith over there.” He turned the letter over to see the sender’s name but it was empty. “The second page is missing. Who do you think would write this?“
   “I’m taking all the papers from her drawers.” Stevie straightened the stack. “I need time to digest this information. Can you find me a paper sack or something?”
   “This is evidence. We need to carefully document everything we remove here and get it logged in at the station.”
   “I understand,” Stevie said defensively, “but I don’t know what this all is until I have time to really study it. Tonight this can be my bedtime reading. What did you find upstairs?”
  “A prescription for sleeping pills jammed in the back of her night stand. The crime team may have found the bottle of pills and have them in evidence.” 
   “What did they say at the medical examiner’s?”
    “The autopsy is done and the report is ready. We can pick it up when we get back to Seattle.”
    Stevie felt a surge of energy go through her body. This was a recurring sensation when a case was about to open up. If Ms. Whitesides died from an overdose of sleeping pills then there would still be factors to consider. Was it accidental, intentional, or were the pills given to her by someone else? The ending of Liszt’s third consolation came floating through her mind. The middle section was turbulent and intense but ended with a satisfactory resolution. Would this story end with a positive outcome or would it reveal mysteries from as far away as Eastern Europe? 
  
   As Reggie and Stevie locked up the crime scene they heard a loud screaming. A tall, blond woman with wild hair came running down the driveway. 
   “Stop! I need to get in there.” Reggie moved in front of the door to block her way.
   “Excuse me ma’m. This is a crime scene. Step aside.”
    Sobbing now, the woman looked up incredulously. “You don’t understand. My tools are in this house. I need them right now.”
    “Wait a minute. Who are you?”
    “I am Judith Whitesides’ housekeeper. I heard in town that Judith died,” she blubbered a little. “My  livelihood depends on me getting the stuff out of there that I left Tuesday morning. “
     “Please, calm down. Let’s go sit down over there in the back yard.” Stevie took her arm and guided her to a lovely area with chairs behind the house. Reggie followed, already taking out his notebook. He detected a slight accent to her flawless English. Was it German? 
      “When exactly did you last see Judith?” Reggie’s voice was smooth but there was an intensity to his question.
    “Tuesday is my regular day to clean. I got here at 9:00 am and Judith sent me away. She had visitors coming and needed quiet. “Leave your stuff and I’ll call you in a couple of hours”, she said. A hundred dollar bill dangled in my face and so I did as she pleased. But, she never called.” The woman’s agitation returned. “I need to get in the house.” 
   “We can’t let you in until the crime scene investigation is complete. It could be as early as tomorrow. I’m sorry for your inconvenience. How long have you worked for Ms. Whitesides?”
   Abruptly, she bolted out of her chair and ran up the hill. Reggie ran after her but got caught by a branch, losing his balance. He righted himself and resumed the charge after her. When he reached the top of the road the woman was gone. The street was empty. He heard Stevie behind him, out of breath.
   “What the heck was that about?”  
    The detectives stood watching the road with befuddled faces.
   “Who did she say she was?”
    “She didn’t,” Stevie recalled.
    Reggie looked down at his notebook, writing. “Did you catch her accent?”
    Stevie turned and started back down the hill. “I’m going to double check that the house is secure and grab the bag of Judith’s papers before we go.”
   When she rejoined Reggie he was ready to go. ”Who can we talk to next? Anyone close by?”

    “I have an address for a Tony Chavez just north of here.  I found his name and address in Judith’s list of piano students on her phone. Let’s go ask some more questions.”


                                             Chapter 7