Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 9

Chapter 9

“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

She clutched the manuscript to her chest. How she loved looking at his handwritten measures drawn with such precision. His notation was like a private diary. She could see into his intentions and at the same time view his soul.

    Stevie sat across from Reggie at the dining room table. The documents taken from Judith’s house were sorted into piles of correspondence, written documents, and music. Reggie was holding a clear, plastic sleeve up into the light, turning it right and left. It looked like a very old, yellowed piece of parchment. Groups of black notes ascended and turned back down on the musical staff. These were the notes of a master composer. 
   Reggie passed the document back to Stevie. “Are you telling me that this is valuable and that the murder is tied to it? Is it valuable enough to kill someone to get it?” 
  Stevie nodded her head. “It is priceless.”
  “Priceless to whom?”
  “Handwritten scores by the composers are precious to scholars and musicians.” She touched the plastic sleeve with reverence. “Their scores have information about how the composer truly intended their piece to be played and felt. No editor has made marks or suggestions, just the original notes and notations.” She stopped to look up at Reggie. “If you are asking whether it is more valuable than a human life then, no, I can’t imagine it has a price tag high enough to murder someone to get hold of it. But, when has a murder investigation ever made sense?”
   “So, what does this music sound like?”
   Was Reggie asking to her to play it? Stevie felt a moment of panic. “I think it is the beginning of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8. It is a very difficult piano piece. All of the Rhapsodies are challenging even to the best pianists. He wrote them to embody the gypsy spirit of the Romani people in Hungary.” 
    “Did he come across gypsies in Hungary?” 
    “Yes, and Liszt was fascinated by their folk music. He actually coined the term ‘gypsies’ in a book he wrote.” Stevie propped both elbows on the table, putting her face in her hands. “But, I’m embarrassed to say that he was still rather bigoted and felt they needed civilizing. Here, I have a copy of the No. 8 in a later edition.” Stevie jumped up and went into the music room. She noticed Reggie right behind her and assumed he was interested in knowing more about Liszt. From a top shelf she pulled out a large, thick paperback book. She turned to the Rhapsody and carefully put the manuscript next to it, side by side. “It is exactly what I said.” She smoothed her hand over the plastic sleeve. “I absolutely love the elegance of his script.” She took 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 dropped into the soft cushions of a leather couch across from the piano. 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’s eyes scanned the music and was immediately transfixed by the sound. No longer the tough cop, but more an artist controlling a big instrument with grace and force. She lifted her hands off the keyboard at the end, but the sound bloomed up and then ever so slowly diminished. Then there was silence.
    “Why are you a cop?” Reggie asked quietly.
     A slight blush washed over Stevie’s face. The conversation was getting very personal. She weighed her answer carefully. “I am a detective because I need to solve problems. I need to understand human nature and why people do what they do.” She propped her elbow on the piano music stand and turned toward Reggie. “I could have become a social worker or guidance counselor but that would require working with people over a longer period of time and accepting the fact that they change ever so slowly. As detectives we pry, we question, pulling information from suspects until 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?”
    Stevie left the piano and settled into a chair facing Reggie. She pulled her knees up close to her chest, her arms encircling and holding them tightly.
   “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 me on our own. I am a homebody. I need a center of gravity which to me is my living space and my piano.” Stevie unwrapped her knees and leaned toward Reggie. “Why are you a detective?”
    “I like thinking that I am fighting to make things right. My father was a detective and I admired his strength of character and his integrity. I still admire those qualities in him” 
    Stevie saw a shadow cross Reggie’s face when he mentioned his father. She knew very little about him but had seen his picture in a book at the station.
    He continued with a darker tone in his voice. “Sometimes my optimism gets jaded by the corruption I see. You and I have a front row seat to see the worst in people.” But then his face burst into a smile. “But, heck, being a detective beats sitting in front of a computer all day!”
   “Sitting in front of a piano has the same effect on your behind.” Stevie laughed comfortably. “So what did you think of the Rhapsody?”
   “The sound was beautiful; a lot of sound.”
   “Liszt was accused of writing too many notes and not enough music.” And it’s true, she thought. His music was often complicated by design.
   “So, show me exactly where the fragment is located in your music edition.”
   Stevie joined Reggie on the couch, with the music book in one hand and the autograph manuscript in the other. She wondered what it looked like to Reggie? The handwritten page had wild scrawls of ink, punctuated with little dots. It wouldn’t seem valuable if you couldn’t read the notes and hear the vivid sounds in your head.
   “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’re right. A copyist made other manuscript copies of this piece. But notice how there is a shadow of a different number behind the four?” She leaned over to bring the document closer to Reggie. “That shows that Liszt hesitated, and almost started in another time signature.” With her finger she pointed at the page. “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?” 
    Stevie noticed that Reggie looked sincerely interested. “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.
   Reggie took the document out of her hands. “You know, we need to get these papers booked in as evidence at the police station on Monday if they have any tie to the murder of Judith Whitesides.”   
   “Yes, I know.” Stevie bristled at his implication that she was irresponsible. Reggie always did things by the book. It made him a trustworthy detective but sometimes a little too rigid.
   “If this is so valuable why do you think Judith left it out among her papers at home instead of locked up somewhere?” 
   Stevie thought Reggie was still skeptical of it’s value as would most people outside of the music world. She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe Judith was unaware that someone was trying to steal it. It was tucked into a thin music score in the bottom of her cabinet. The murderer must have been looked for it. Sometimes what is in an obvious place is overlooked. The crime scene team gathered many fingerprints in the music room so any one of those people could have searched her drawers.”
     Reggie went back into the dining room and picked up some letters from the stack of correspondence. Stevie followed and settled into a chair across from him.  
   “Here is a letter from The Library of Congress. Listen to this. ‘Dear Ms. Whitesides, Your inquiry about the discovery of a missing Liszt autograph manuscript fragment is very exciting. We look forward to working with you in accepting this gift.” 
    Reggie handed the letter over to Stevie. She wondered how Judith came upon the fragment and how she thought she had authority to give it to The Library of Congress?
   “Here is another letter. This time from a Professor Kemény in Budapest, Hungary. ‘Dear Judith, I am under the assumption that you will be turning over the autograph manuscript to me as we have discussed previously. My first payment has been made to your account.” Reggie stopped reading. “Wait…, this may be the colleague her husband referred to. That album I found upstairs in her bedroom had a picture of an older gentleman with her. It is possible that he was the professor.”
     Stevie’s mind started pulling together memories of seeing the large deposits on Judith’s bank account. “This is starting to smell fishy if she promised to give it to the Library of Congress and also promised to sell it to the professor.” A new picture of Judith began forming. Was she dishonest in her dealings? 
  “Hey, here is another letter from that same guy in Hungary.”  Reggie looked up. “Whoa, he is threatening Judith if she doesn’t hand over the fragment.” He put down the letter and picked up several more. “And, there are a few more letters with the same basic message. This one is dated last month.”
    “I wonder where exactly she found this manuscript. These autograph manuscripts are not lying around just anywhere. I suspect she found it while she was in Budapest.” A motive for murder was emerging. 
    “Tomorrow we need to go into the station and do some background research on Kemény. And while we’re at it, let’s find out more about Tony Chavez and Dominik Horak.”
   Stevie sifted through more papers, setting aside a pile for letters. She would soon give them all away as evidence. A longing to keep the autograph manuscript seeped into her thoughts. Did Judith feel this same temptation?
   Stevie saw Reggie glance at his watch. He was ready to quit.
   “I need to get going. First thing tomorrow we gather up information on these leads.” 
     Stevie followed him to the door with a pillow clutched to her chest. She had enjoyed the evening with him more than she should.
    Reggie 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 as he stepped outside into the night.

Chapter 10



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 8

                                                   Chapter 8

"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

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 Vista Hospital was swirling with activity outside. Reggie found a spot within walking distance to the front door and put their police placard in the window. The fall trees were bare but the remnants of leaves clung to the sides of the curb like stubble on a man’s face. Stevie didn’t mind that it was a typical November gray day. The shade of gray blended nicely with the hospital exterior. Pedestrians with brightly colored jackets gave a much needed contrast to the monochrome world. 
     She checked the time on her phone. It was late afternoon. They moved through the crowd, getting to the elevator 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 had never noticed before. 
     The button glowed for the second floor and the door opened. Reggie held the door for everyone. He was always polite, even though he was stubborn about other things. He had been polite from the beginning of their partnership 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 perched over the computer keys in front of her. 
   The time they had spent on the ferry had put Stevie’s body into a slower rhythm. She stretched out her legs and sighed. Reggie reached over and lightly punched her in the arm unexpectently. 
  “Hey, I’m over my irritation with you. I admit you may have insight into this case that I do not. I apologize.”
     Stevie grimaced at Reggie but inwardly she was relieved that he giving up his resentment. He never stayed angry very long, at anyone. She returned his playful punch just as the medical examiner for the Whitesides’ case came though the door.
    He cleared his throat and gave them a questioning glance. “I’m glad I caught both of you, detectives. Let’s step into my office.” He led them into a small, brightly lit office with organized clutter on bookshelves and filing cabinets. 
     As she sat Stevie sensed he had information that would change the trajectory of their investigation. She gripped the sides of her chair and readied herself for the facts.
    “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 on her thigh. It looked like she was injected with something. That sent up a red flag. There were also other bruises on her lower leg.”
    “Why?” Stevie asked.
    “And the tox report?” Reggie asked his question at the same time.
    “Okay, hang on, one question at a time.” The medical examiner passed a file over the table towards Reggie. He opened it for both of them to read as he continued speaking. “It was 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 together causing her death. In my opinion this was not self inflicted. I believe it was murder. Do you have any suspects who might have access to these drugs?”
    “We don’t have any definite suspects yet. But, we have a few leads. What do you think caused the other bruising on her leg?” Reggie asked.
    “Perhaps she was dragged and bumped. It didn’t look like blunt force trauma.”
    “Was her death quick 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.”
     “Do you need expertise to inject the drug?” Reggie asked.
     “I’d say you are looking for someone who is a user or knows the world of drug use. Maybe someone who deals?” The doctor waited for them to digest this information. “Anything else?”
    Stevie looked over at Reggie. Because of this new information the conversations earlier were now interrogations in a murder case. She would want to go over the talk with Judith’s husband again, although he had an alibi for Tuesday night. They needed to find out who the housekeeper was and what Tony Chavez wasn’t telling them. Reggie moved to the edge of his seat. He looked ready to go.
    “Thank you, now we know what we are looking for,” she said.
     They both shook hands with the doctor and left the office moving towards the elevator. A heavy, low feeling came over Stevie. This always happened when the facts in a case became more clear. Some detectives thrived on the details of the crime but she was always moved by the plight of the victim. Her past partner told her she needed to disconnect her heart from her work, but that might also rob her mind of important perspective.
     They were alone on the elevator going down.
     “Did you suspect it was murder, Reggie?” she asked. 
     “Honestly? I thought it was a drug overdose. I am a little surprised. I can’t see a motive yet. I’d like to dig more into the background of Tony Chavez.”
   As they left the hospital and headed for the car Stevie saw a parking ticket on their window. 
   “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 give it to the traffic department and make sure they tell their people to believe a police placard when they see one.”
   Stevie was glad that Reggie was driving on the way to her home in West Seattle. Cars were moving so slowly through the city she could have walked alongside and kept the same pace. Stevie turned to Reggie and noticed that his grip on the steering wheel had relaxed once they were moving faster on the freeway. 
  “I have a sack of papers in the trunk which I took from Judith’s music room. It should take me some hours to sift through that. It is 5 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 ease up my  irritation. Sure, what are you making?”
   “That my friend, is not for you to know. I’ll give you a clue. There are noodles involved.”

    When they arrived in West Seattle Reggie took a few minutes to really look at the house where Stevie lived. He tried not to gawk, but her house was several steps, no triple digit steps above the apartment where he lived. She must be living with someone or could it be she was living with her parents? That was not a negative idea but it would be a long time before he took her to his dingy digs. The house was older but well preserved and gave the impression of gracious living. It reminded Reggie of a Frank Lloyd Wright house called the Meyer May House. He had always liked looking at American architecture. Three stories of windows faced the street. The top floor window looked like a small attic room. The second floor had four leaded colored glass windows side by side, tucked under the eaves, which stood out from the house similar to bay windows. A covered porch area had boxes filled to the brim with greenery. 
    “This is a great house.” 
    “Thanks. I love the architecture. It was built in the early 1920’s.”
     He followed Stevie up the stairs to the porch where a few comfortable chairs looked out over the street. Reggie turned back to look at the rest of the street while Stevie unlocked the front door. There were many beautiful homes but Stevie’s was the most unique. He ducked his head just a little as he stepped through into a dark room where the lights from the street intruded through the slats of  brown, wooden blinds. The outside light made patterns on the walls. Stevie switched on a lamp which illuminated the dining room on the right and the living room on the left. 
   “You can hang your coat on the coat rack.” Stevie said.
     Reggie checked behind the door. He stopped and looked at a tall, dark , curvy wooden shape. 
     “Yup. That’s the coat rack. It is in the shape of a treble clef. Just hang your coat on one of those dowels.”
      Stevie continued through to the kitchen and he heard her open a fridge. He walked through the living room and beyond into what was surely a music room. Open french doors with gauzy curtains separated the two rooms. He was drawn to the piano and gently touched the black and white keys. There was a grandeur to the shiny black instrument. He moved his hands across the smooth surface. The black body seemed to be longer than a car.
      “This is a big piano.” He said, hearing Stevie come in.
       “It is my mother’s six foot concert grand.” She joined Reggie on the piano bench. He could smell her light citrus perfume. 
       “What is a trouble clef?” he asked.
       “You mean the coat rack?” Stevie laughed. “It isn’t trouble but treble and it’s a musical sign that indicates higher notes on the staff. My mother had the large wooden one made to amuse her piano students.”
       A blue music booklet entitled, Consolations by Franz Liszt, lay open to view on the stand in front of them. 
        Reggie reached up and touched the book. “Have you been playing his music?”
       “I have. These pieces called Consolations have been rumbling around my head throughout the last few days.”
       “Does this Liszt guy offer consolation to the nasty work of murder?”
       “Surprisingly, he does.” Stevie stood and took his arm firmly nudging Reggie to his feet. “Come on into the kitchen. I’m reheating some lasagna from Sunday.” 
        The kitchen had bright yellow walls and frilly patterned curtains. A round kitchen table was nestled into the bay window which looked out to the garden. Reggie thought that his mother would have loved a kitchen just like this. The garden outside was barely discernible as dusk fell. 
       “I can’t get used to the fact that it’s dark at 5:00 o’clock. It feels like the middle of the night.” Reggie said. 
       Stevie handed him two 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. She balanced a steaming platter of noodles with sauce and cheese in her hands. 
       He carefully brought the glasses to the table and seated himself across from Stevie.
      “You look hungry. Let me dish you up a big plate.”
      “Looks really good. Thank you.” He suddenly felt a little self-conscious eating in front of his work partner. Reggie picked up his fork and without further hesitation commenced devouring the food. It was delicious and it’s warmth made him relax. 
       “You have a tiny splat of tomato sauce on your lip.” She picked up her napkin but Reggie saw her stop herself from bringing the napkin to his face.
      “I’ve got it.” he said, as he brushed his napkin across his mouth. 

                                                     Chapter 9

Friday, December 15, 2017


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

            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 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 highway 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 seems steep. I wonder how fun it is to carry groceries up and down.”
    “It would get old fast.” Reggie answered. 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. Reggie knocked. He listened to a wind chime choir hanging from the eaves under the door. 
    A woman with masses of curly, salt and pepper hair answered. 
   “Sorry to bother you ma’am. 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. The view was almost identical to Judith’s since it was just a little further north. She motioned for them to sit. “This is a bed and breakfast but I rent long term rooms. Mr. Chavez isn’t usually here during the day.”
   “How long has he been staying here?” Reggie noticed a portion of a fishing net draped along the wall with a carved wooden oar mounted behind. 
   “Do you like my sea theme? I love collecting parts of boats, beach offerings, anything that looks like it lives near the ocean,” she said to Reggie. “Hmm.. Tony has been here a couple of months. He is a writer and musician. Is he in any trouble?”
   “Not that we know about. We would like to talk to him about his piano teacher, Judith White.”
   Jacquie’s smile dimmed. “I heard about that. Yeah, Tony was taking lessons.”
   Reggie saw Stevie look around at an old piano across the room. He asked before she could form the same question.
  “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.”
   “Did he talk much about Judith Whitesides?” Reggie asked.
   “To me? Nothing specific. I had the impression that he enjoyed what he was doing with her. I didn’t know Ms.Whitesides myself.”
   “Do you know when he might be home?” Stevie asked.
    “You can find him at the coffee shop. He goes there to get ‘his juices flowing’. The café is across from a restaurant that looks like a hardware store. It is right in town, can’t miss it.”
   “Well, thank-you, you have been very helpful.” Reggie handed her a card.
Jacquie stood to see them out the door. 
   “Do you have a way to the beach below?” Stevie asked.
    “Yes, a steep one that leads to a dock.”
     Reggie started back up the pathway to the highway above. His mind was on the medical examiner’s report waiting fo them in Seattle.

  The little island town was only about four blocks long and two blocks wide. At the main intersection they spotted the coffee shop. 
  “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 small tables and one larger wooden one in the middle of the room. Couches lined the back wall. 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. Reggie glance towards the man and nodded at Stevie. She took a chair very close by and listened more closely to the conversation. 
    Tony was in boisterous discussion about sound waves and how they affect people. He sat on the edge of the couch facing another man, gesticulating wildly with both hands. His companion sitting with one leg across the other and both arms crossed over his chest, was only getting a few words in. Stevie saw that Reggie was bringing food to the table.
   “I hope you don’t mind that I ordered you something,” he said.
   “Thank you. I am really hungry. Tony seems like a blustery fellow,” she whispered. Both of them stayed quiet, observing the group of people in the café.
   When they finished lunch they approached Mr. Chavez. Reggie introduced himself and asked if they could talk to him somewhere less public. 
      “You are investigating the death of Judith Whitesides? Yes, follow me.” 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 in the cafe. How did Judith die?” 
   “Well, we don’t have all the facts yet. Maybe you can answer some questions. When did you last see Judith?” Reggie asked.
   Tony looked at the floor. A lock of hair fell over his forehead. “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.” Stevie noticed a vein pulsing quickly on the side of his eye.
   “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 all her attention.”
   Stevie observed Reggie leaning closer, pressing Chavez for more information. “Do you know who the guests were? Her husband maybe?”
   “I don’t know.” Tony looked down at the table steadily. 
   “Come on, you know who she was seeing.” Reggie said with impatience.
   Stevie touched Reggie’s arm, warning him to ease up on his interrogation. 
  “What brought you here to this island and to Judith Whitesides?” Stevie asked.
   Tony looked directly at Stevie, unclenched his hands, and answered her bluntly. “She has the best understanding of the music of Franz Liszt.”
   “So, what is your interest in Liszt’s music?”
    Tony moved back in his chair, his face losing some of it’s intensity. “My love for his music started in college. I play mostly the music of the Romantic composers because they are closest to my native sensibilities. You might not understand that.” His dark eyes flashed with passion. 
    “But I do.” Stevie assured him. 
     Stevie took control of the conversation. For the next thirty minutes the talk was of Franz Liszt and the 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. 
     “Do you remember how he answered his critics?” Stevie asked. 
     “Yes, Liszt said he was demonstrating what the piano could do, not just showing off.” Tony moved his long fingers up into the air as if he were playing a piano.
      “No one before him gave as many home concerts. And he got away with playing only his favorites. The public swooned at his feet, especially the ladies. He was simply a rock star in his own time.”  Both Stevie and Tony Chavez were energized by their conversation but she noticed the look of irritation on Reggie’s face. He pushed back his chair from the table. The chair was  balancing on two legs against the back wall. She was sure he was finding the talk tiresome. They were interrupted when Reggie’s phone rang. He brought his chair onto all fours with a bang and stepped out into the café to take the call.
   “Where do you come from, Tony?” Stevie smiled back at Tony and continued her questioning. 
   “I am originally from Texas, the Panhandle.”
   “What were you doing before coming here to work with Judith?”
   “I received some opportunities to study in Europe. They ended and I heard about Judith from an acquaintance. I have six weeks before I go back to Texas and take a job in Austin.”
  “This unfortunate event has abruptly changed your plans……..” Reggie reappeared at the door 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 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 the last week. She was secretive about a project and less engaged in our lesson. She was acting a little paranoid.”
    Reggie walked back in the storeroom and sat across from Tony. “Do you know of  anyone who would want 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 under the table. “I have an appointment I need to attend. Do you have anything else?”
   They watched as Tony Chavez hurriedly left the room. 
   “He is not telling us everything.” Reggie said quietly. Stevie nodded. She knew Reggie was frustrated at the small talk she had made with Chavez.

   The ferry was jostling from side to side. Most passengers left their vehicles to go to the upper deck. Reggie and Stevie sat stiffly in their car and stayed quiet. The tension between them was making Stevie uneasy. She started talking to break the ice.
   “I know what I’m doing, Reg. My approach allowed me to see if he really was who he said he was, and I believe he is. The question for me is not why Tony Chavez is here, but what brought him to Judith Whitesides? What does he know that he is not telling us?”
   “Of course he knows more.” Reggie said shortly, his hands clutching the steering wheel. “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.”
   Reggie had never questioned Stevie like this. In their months together this was the first time they encountered a case where Stevie had more knowledge of the background of the victim than Reggie.“Slowing down the tempo of the interrogation sometimes brings more openness. But, I know the opposite is true as well. Pushing the interrogation forward can bring information to the surface.”
   “We obviously have different styles.” 
   “I like to think that my style of interrogation has a bit of rubato thrown into the mix. Do you remember this morning we talked about that Italian music word.  It comes from the Latin root which means ‘to rob’. 
   “So?” he asked.
   “When we slow the tempo in music for just a small moment, certain sounds come forward and add heightened emotion. The beats we have lengthened  or “robbed” from the measure must then be made up in the following measures.”
   “What does that have to do with our murder investigation?” Stevie felt Reggie squirm. She wanted him to understand that she was using her knowledge of music to help Tony Chavez feel more at ease so that he would tell them more about his relationship to Judith.
   “I was able to feel the intensity of Mr. Chavez’s actions by slowing down and asking questions about his passion for music. I think he talked more freely because we weren’t bearing down on him as a suspect. He seems to be an excellent musician and he wanted something specific from Judith. Did he get what he wanted?”
   “If she was murdered, he is the main suspect, in my opinion.” Reggie muttered.
   “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, if this is a murder, 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 buckled his seat belt. “The medical examiner’s report is available. Let’s agree to disagree and get his opinion of what killed Judith Whitesides. If this was an accidental death we should be able to wrap the investigation 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


              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.