Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Writing Wednesdays- Rubato Chapter 17

                                                   Chapter 17

“I foster a sorrowful conception of affection. Make no sacrifices.”
 Franz Liszt 

The notes were blurry on the page. Judith wiped tears as she focused to see. She didn’t mind aloneness but she mourned the connection she expected to have when she married. Her consolation was always beauty.  

    The morning started with a brilliant sun. The east windows in Stevie’s music room sparkled with light. She was dressed and ready to go when Reggie arrived. Today they would find Tony Chavez and ask him some probing questions about why he withheld the information about Professor Kemény.
     In the minutes of waiting she played through Liszt’s Consolation No. 3 again. The composer may not have thought of these pieces as consolation for unmet expectations but for Stevie these melodies consoled her for the loss of her father and the other sadnesses that passed through her mind in moments of deep scarcity. The haunting tune drifted through her and onto the keys. She yielded to the question in each phrase and delicately the questions came to be answered in a satisfying conclusion. Would Judith’s murder come to a satisfying conclusion?  

  The ferry moved through still, blue water pushing white frothing foam ahead of it. Stevie got out and stood by the railing looking at jellyfish floating aimlessly on the surface. It was one week since Judith Whitesides’s death. One week, and maybe they were a little closer to finding her killer. She looked back at the car and noticed Reggie talking on his cell phone. As she slipped into the passenger seat she overheard Reggie excitedly asking someone at what time they spotted Adrián Szarka.
   “You saw both of them coming out of Dominik Horak’s apartment? Put a tail on them and keep me posted. We are on the island to follow up another important lead. Yup, thanks buddy.”
  Reggie turned to Stevie with a look of understanding on his face. “Adrián Szarka and Yolanda Valenta have been staying in Dominik’s apartment in Seattle. Maybe we have the wrong idea about who sent those two bad pennies into Judith’s life.’
  “Shall we go back to Seattle and locate them?”
  “My gut tells me to find Tony Chavez. Let’s go to the B&B first.”
  “Wait, I have a hunch he might be practicing at the arts center. His purpose for being here is gone and he may be finishing things up.”
   “So why would he be practicing the piano?” Reggie asked.
  “Because that is his routine. When life gets muddled musicians stay with their routine. It gives meaning to confusion.”
  They pulled up in the parking lot of the arts center. Floor to ceiling windows in the foyer faced out to the street. The light streaming in from outside highlighted the art hanging on the walls. A helpful volunteer greeted them. 
  “We are looking for a pianist named Tony Chavez who practices here during the day. Have you seen him?” 
  “Sure, he is in a practice room down that hall. The music will lead you to him.” She smiled and motioned with her hand.
  Stevie recognized the passage she heard. It was The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8 and Tony was missing the steady flow of the rhythm. She quietly opened the door and peeked in. Reggie was  behind her.
   Tony stopped and continued with just his right hand, his left hand propped on the music stand. His eyes were closed. 
   Reggie coughed quietly and Tony whirled around towards the door. He turned back to his music without acknowledging them and played the trills one more time. Finally he turned his whole body around and met their eyes.
   “Good morning detectives. How can I help you?” His words seemed incongruous with his tone.
   “It seems you have neglected to tell us the whole truth, Mr. Chavez. You left out the part about being in Hungary and you left out the part of your relationship with Professor Roland Remény.” Reggie’s voice held sarcasm. 
   Tony sat on the edge of the piano stool with his head down. “Look, when you saw me at the café a few days back I was scared that you might believe me responsible for Judith’s death.”
   “If you are not, then why don’t you tell us about your relationship with her? Start at the part in Hungary when the professor convinced you to come here to spy on her.” Reggie moved a chair closer to the piano.
   “Let me lock the door so that we are not disturbed.” Tony secured the door and brought a chair over for Stevie and another for himself. They were sitting in a semi-circle.
   “I dreamt of mastering the Liszt repertoire my whole life. In Hungary at the Liszt Academy, I came to a certain level of proficiency. When my school visa expired Professor Kemény told me about Judith Whitesides. He suggested I contact her for a few months of lessons on the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies.”
   “Did he also confide in you his problematic relationship with Judith?” Reggie asked.
   “What do you mean?”
   “He was involved in a dispute over a Liszt manuscript with Judith. Were you aware of that?” Reggie asked.
   “Well, I….”
   “What about the autograph manuscript of Rhapsody No. 8. Did the professor ask you to steal it?” Stevie decided she would use Reggie’s tactics and be more direct.
   “Steal it? Well, Roland was convinced she took it from the Liszt Museum when she was researching there. But, he had no clear idea where she might have found it. I think he wanted it himself and so accusing and bullying her made him feel like she would give it over to the museum.”
   “Did you try to talk to her about it,” Stevie asked.
   “When Judith and I were working together I hinted around about her knowledge of the original copies of the Rhapsodies but she did not acknowledge having any information.” He shook his head emphasizing his words. “With her teaching I acquired a new appreciation for the composer I love and for a teacher with sensitivities beyond my own, so, if I had found the autograph I would not have taken it. Professor Kemény was obsessed with the importance  of the Liszt Museum and Research Center in Budapest. He was even lobbying to have The Library of Congress hand over their acquisitions.”
   Reggie took out his notebook. “Previously you said you were angry at Judith for canceling your lesson last Tuesday. Do you want to add anything to that?”
   Tony smiled. “The truth? I was in love with Judith.” He looked at his folded hands in his lap and tapped his fingers together.” Stevie thought he seemed sincere. “She gave me no hope that she would ever feel anything for me but she was a patient, dedicated teacher. Tuesday, early evening, I went to talk with her.”
   “So you were her Tuesday evening guest?” Stevie asked.
   “Ah, I guess so…..but I found her distracted and unwilling to communicate. I didn’t understand what was going on and I said some things I wished I hadn’t.”
   “Like?” Reggie asked.
   “Like, I knew she stole the autograph manuscript from Roland Kemény.” Tony looked up with regret. “She was terribly offended by my accusation and basically threw me out of her house. I hurt her feelings but I wouldn’t have hurt her physically.”
   “Why did you think she stole the music fragment?” Stevie was curious if he had found evidence to support this allegation.
    “I don’t really believe she stole it. I mean, she was passionate about Liszt and talked about his life and his music at length. Would she steal it for money? I don’t think so. She sometimes  left me alone to practice in her music room while she answered her phone. I had time to look around and I poked my head into some drawers.”
   “And did you find anything?” Reggie asked.
   “No, I told you that I did not find the fragment and I told Roland the same thing. I believe maybe Roland made the whole thing up.”
   “He didn’t. The Liszt autograph manuscript exists.”
   “Really?” Tony looked truly surprised. “And where is it now?”
   “We found it as we investigated the crime scene, right there in one of her drawers.”
    Tony’s eyes widened and Stevie felt uncomfortable letting him have any more information about the fragment. She purposely changed the subject. “Did you study the Rhapsody No. 8 with her?”
   “No, we worked on several others. The No. 8 was too difficult for me, in her opinion.”
   “Wasn’t that what you were playing just now?”
   “Yes, I’m going to learn it. In memory of Judith, I’m….going to learn it as best I can.”
   “Did she ever talk about autograph manuscripts of any kind and specifically of Liszt’s music?” Stevie asked.
   “We did talk about the importance of preserving the music manuscripts and she showed me some digital pictures of the Rhapsodies.”
    Reggie presented his phone to Tony. “Have you seen these people around Judith’s house?”
    Tony looked at the blurry pictures and squinted. “Yes. The woman there is her housekeeper.” Tony scrolled the picture to the right.  “And that guy does her yard work.”
  “Do you know anything else about them? Did Judith talk about them to you?” Stevie waited for his reply.
   “No, but I thought the guy doing the yard work was strange. He was there a couple of times during my lessons. Once he knocked and tried to engage Judith in a conversation at the back door. She was really irritated. I didn’t ask about him because our relationship was very professional and I didn’t pry into her personal life.”
   “Did you see the housekeeper there on the same day as the gardener?”
   “Well, I think she always came in on Wednesdays. So she probably was there on some of the days he worked. Why? Are they involved in her death?”
  “We don’t know for sure. Where did you go after talking to Judith on Tuesday night?” Reggie asked.
   “Look, I had nothing to do with her death. I promise you. I went home disappointed in myself. I spent the evening thinking about what I should do next with my life. It was going to be awkward with Judith after my accusation.”
    “Can someone verify that you were at home?”
    Tony sighed. “Yes, Jacquie, the owner of the B&B stayed up talking to me way past midnight.”
   A knock at the conference room brought the conversation to a halt. Tony opened the door to a uniformed Monarch County Police Officer. 
   “Excuse me? Are the detectives….”
    Reggie interrupted and showed them his badge.“Officer, are you looking for us?”
    “Yes, I received a call from one of your detectives saying that the two suspects he was tailing boarded a ferry for the island. He said you were not answering your phone so he looked up your phone GPS to let me know where you were and explained you would need backup. We are waiting in the parking lot.”
   Stevie stood up and thanked Tony for engaging with them in conversation. 
   “Are you going after your suspects?” Tony said.
   Stevie patted him on the arm and followed Reggie down the hall.
  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Reggie turned to ask.
  “Yup. They are on their way to Dominik Horak’s house. I’m thinking they are making arrangements to leave town. How is this going to play out?” 
   Reggie opened the big glass doors for her and said, “We are going to stop them.”

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 16

                                                     Chapter 16

Truth is a great flirt.
 Franz Liszt

Tomorrow she would finish up the last chapters of her memoir. This was one of her few consolations. She would leave something behind showing the world the beauty of the music of Liszt. 

     Monday morning the homicide squad gathered around their desks with coffee in hand and pastries on the table in front. Reggie enjoyed the weekly meetings with his colleagues mainly because Stevie made their presentation go smoothly. With other co-workers he dreaded the grilling from his fellow detectives because he wasn’t always in sync with his partner and it showed under pressure. With Stevie he trusted that both of them had the facts well rehearsed and their report would be sound. Captain Monson called for their attention and asked if each group could talk about their open cases. The six partnerships were diverse ethnically but Stevie was the only female in the squad at the time. They were the last to report. He motioned for Stevie to talk. She explained who Judith Whitesides was and the facts of her murder. The other detectives groaned when she told about the two suspects and their connection to Eastern Europe. If the suspects lived outside of the country everyone knew the case might go cold. 
    “We think someone in Hungary hired two people to come to the States and ingratiate themselves into Judith’s world and to ultimately murder her.”
   “Are they U.S. citizens?” A detective with a brightly colored jacket asked.
   “No. They entered the United States some time ago. Adrián Szarka is wanted for breaking and entering here in Seattle. We have a witness to that crime, so when we find him, that accusation will stick. He will spend time in jail.”
   “Which one is likely the murderer?” Captain Monson asked.
   Stevie stood straighter. “We don’t have sufficient evidence to make that statement. Detective Watts and I are looking for both Yolanda Valenta and Adrián Szarka and all of you should have received pictures and descriptions. They have been sighted here in Seattle and on the island where the murder took place.” 
   “Is Szarka the one who was loitering around the precinct last week?”
   “Yes, he is the one we found on surveillance footage meeting with Yolanda Valenta. We hope to have this case wrapped up this week.” Reggie could tell that Stevie felt their work was a long way from being finished. He agreed but he didn’t appreciate the  grumbling he heard from several other detectives about her positivity. She wasn’t tough and jaded as many of them were but she had excellent detective skills. His one criticism of her style was her she spent more time asking questions than he thought necessary. 
   “All right, folks, keep your paperwork up to date. And keep us all in the loop.” Captain Monson shook each detective’s hand and left them to get back to his own stack of reports.

   After a day filled with reports and paper work, Reggie and Stevie headed north on Highway 99 towards the University District where they would meet with Sydney Cabine. The gate-house attendant issued them a free pass and instructed them where to park. The weather had cleared and the trees along the streets on campus glistened with droplets of rain. Walking through ‘The Quad’ brought memories to Stevie of the cherry blossoms in the spring, lazy summer days sitting on the lawn, and occasional snow that settled on the gothic towers of the library. As they walked into the School of Music she marveled, as always, at the Romanesque style architecture. 
    She grew quiet as memories flooded her mind; good memories as well as bad. Music composition classes were her favorite. But the pressures of performing made a lasting shadow on her first academic years. Much was expected of her because she was Angelika Hanson’s daughter.
   “Is this where you went to school?” Reggie asked.
   “Yup, I have been up and down these halls more than I want to remember. Sydney Cabine’s office is on the second floor.”
    They walked down the white hallway with offices on both sides. A few doors were open and Stevie overheard a phone conversation about a struggling student. They found room 204 and knocked.
   “Come in!”
    Sydney sat at her desk with a large screen in front of her. She was conversing with someone on the computer. 
   “Come sit behind me and meet Professor Roland Kemény.” Sydney turned back to the screen. “Roland, these are the detectives I told you were investigating the death of Judith Whitesides. Stevie Dangerfield and, excuse me, what was your name again?” She looked up at Reggie.
   “I’m Detective Watts.” Reggie looked at the computer screen. “It’s nice to meet you sir. We would like to ask some questions about your relationship with Judith.”
   The elderly gentleman on the screen had white hair and a white beard. Stevie was impressed with his office in an ornate hall. There was a grand piano behind him. It would be hard to believe he was a killer, he looked more like Santa Claus. 
    “Where would you like me to begin?” He asked sincerely. 
    “Tell us please how you met Judith Whitesides.”
     “I have known of her for about ten years. She taught in Prague and specialized in the music of Franz Liszt, a famous composer from Hungary. She was an excellent, virtuosic pianist. We collaborated together over the years. She liked coming to Budapest to visit the Liszt museum. Last year she hinted that she had found something very unique. I asked her where she found it and I had the impression she found it here at the Museum.” Professor Kemény looked around him and then continued. Stevie thought maybe he was checking to see if anyone was listening. “She was allowed access to the basement where there are many unopened boxes. I pressured her and told her if she found it here and did not reveal it, she would be accused of stealing. She laughed and said that Budapest was not the only place to find precious Liszt material. I very badly wanted to see what she had and I traveled to Prague to get a look. The autograph fragment looked authentic. It was the first 34 measures of The Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8. I knew something of the original because I previously studied it at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
   Stevie interjected, “What do you think she intended to do with the fragment?”
   Professor Kemény squinted at his computer screen to see who asked the question. “Judith had a way of holding back information. Over the next few months I repeatedly asked her if I could buy the fragment and she finally agreed. I sent a formal contract to her home in Prague, which she signed and returned.”
   “You have a signed contract?” Reggie asked.
   “Yes, and then I paid her the first installment of twenty-five thousand dollars. I expected she would bring me the autograph and in my excitement I announced it to patrons of the Liszt Memorial Museum.” The professor’s voice trembled with controlled anger. “That is when her true nature emerged. She publicly denounced me as a fraud and as someone who advertised things that were not real.”
    Reggie asked with confusion, “Why did you continue to pay her even when she went to the United States?”
   “I know it sounds crazy, but her husband visited me in Budapest and assured me that he would deliver the manuscript himself. He gave me back the check for the first $25,000 as  a good faith gesture and said he would be traveling to the United States to get the autograph within the month.” 
    “Dominik Horak entered into an agreement with you? He told us he knew nothing of his wife’s dealing with you.” Professor Remény remained silent. “So you made another payment without actually having the document?” Reggie asked not quite comprehending.
    Looking a little bit offended the professor answered, “Yes, but I had faith the arrangement would end well because Mr. Horak was very eager to receive payment.”
   “Tell them who you sent to the United States to check on the arrangements, Roland.” Sydney added. 
    Roland blanched and looked away. 
    Reggie erupted with, “Did you send people to steal the music?” Reggie was obviously pushing now to get a reaction from Kemény.  “Did one of them kill Judith to get the autograph manuscript back?”
   Sydney Cabine turned with shock and held her arm out to Reggie to warn him. Stevie knew she was uncomfortable with him blaming the professor. 
   With some dignity after receiving the insult, Roland Kemény continued, “I don’t know what you are talking about. I did not send anyone to steal the music fragment. I sent an American piano student to Judith named Tony Chavez, who studied with me for a year and was returning to the States. He was interested in taking lessons and he offered to find out about the manuscript.” 
   “And did he kill Judith to get the music fragment?” Reggie asked.
    The professor got up suddenly from his chair and disappeared from view. It seemed he would not re-appear. 
    “Professor Kemény? What has happened?” Sydney asked with alarm and shot a warning look at Stevie. A minute passed.
     A shadow moved over the screen and then he was back in his chair. “This is most upsetting to me. I believe you would like to blame me for the murder of Ms. Whitesides. I never wanted to harm her and I don’t believe Tony harmed her in any way. The last time we talked he was getting nowhere with his investigation.”
    Stevie softly asked, “Why did this music fragment mean so much to you?”
    “I wanted this piece of the Rhapsody for the Liszt Museum. We have a deep affection for Liszt’s music and if we had the first section, I hoped we could barter with The Library of Congress for the rest. It rightfully belongs here and I don’t understand why Judith Whitesides could steal it and then try to extort money from us to buy it back. I made a mistake paying her before I had the fragment of music in my possession.” He looked up sheepishly. “Can you tell me where it is and who will take possession of it now?”
   “Our job is to solve this murder. We have no idea what will happen to the music.” Reggie said. 
   “Professor Kemény, we will keep you posted about the music fragment. Thank-you so much for talking to us. We hope you were not too offended by our questions.” Sydney said.
   “I’ll speak to you another time. Good-bye.” The screen went blank. 
  Sydney whirled around in her chair and angrily spouted at Reggie. “I can’t believe your audacity, Detective Watts. I invited you here on good faith that you would be polite to my colleague.”
  “Ma’am, I am trying to find a cold blooded killer. I needed to push the professor so he would show his hand. Do you think he is going to admit to murder without being pushed?” 
  “Well, I don’t want to be part of this. My reputation and the reputation of my department is at risk here.”
  Reggie turned to go and Stevie reached out her hand to hold him back. “We so appreciate your help, Sydney. Our conversation did open up a new inquiry. Please forgive our methods. In our line of work ferreting out the truth is always uncomfortable. Thank you again.”
  She pushed Reggie out of the door in front of her. Darkness had settled on the trees and buildings as they left the campus. After minutes of silence, Stevie looked at Reggie and smiled. “We did find out that Tony Chavez is hiding important information.”
  “So you are not furious with me?” 
  “Of course I am, but, we have to prepare for a visit to the island. 
   Reggie threw Stevie the keys and got into the passenger side.

   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 seemed very depressed.” Suddenly Reggie felt stupid going on with his request. What could Stevie do about it?
      “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. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Eliminating The Problematic

“We believe you should consume only foods (and drinks) that support normal, healthy digestive function; eating anything that impairs the integrity of your gut impairs the integrity of your health.” 

There are three days left on my Whole30 diet. I followed the invitation of my One Little Word, Umkehr and eliminated added sugars, grains, legumes, and dairy. 


This was a return, Umkehr, to a cleaner diet which I tried in the past for a shorter duration. Now, because I am going to carry on another month, I will give an accounting of the results after one month.

  • Much less digestive rumblings
  • My face is very smooth, rough surface gone
  • I am able to fall asleep quickly
  • Weight loss of 7 pounds
  • I can move easier, less joint inflammation
There is one food family I will introduce back into my diet. Legumes will be the returning ingredient this month. With a dash of dark chocolate. I've missed it!

  January is destined to become a memorable month. Click here to see some other Umkehr challenges in the future.

Maybe I should have picked Rubato for my word this year since it is the name of my mystery novel. 

“Rubato is a musical term which means temporarily leaving a strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slowing, usually without altering the overall pace."

Friday, January 26, 2018


Windows and Mirrors
Reflection and Light
One borrowed image
The other pure sight

Sixty-four years ago I surprised my parents by arriving twelve years after their three boys. I was a big deal. They surrendered to starting over with diapers and sleepless nights. The novelty wore off, but I must say they loved me very much. They have both passed from this world but I think about them all the time. Forty three years of making decisions in a war torn country made a safe place for me to arrive. My brothers survived the war as children and they tease me by saying I waited until the war was over to make an entrance. What they did before I was born impacted my while life. I hope that some of the things I have done since they have passed make that kind of an impact on my posterity.

You are within us
We carry your light
To vistas, extended
Beyond present sight.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Chapter 15

                                                      Chapter 15

“Companions, in misery and worse, that is what we are, and to try to change this substantially avails us nothing.”
   Franz Liszt

The professor would not sway her. He might need this Liszt discovery to bolster his reputation but she would never sell it to anyone.

    Stevie sat at her desk across from Reggie. Their desks were off to the side of a very large room with cubicles dividing the space. They were both searching on their computers. Stevie was looking for clues in Judith’s bank accounts. The late afternoon sunlight was filtering through the blinds in the office. She switched on her desk lamp and walked over to turn off the fluorescent ceiling lights. Her eyes were tired and the lower lights created a warmer feeling. Reggie looked up, but went back to his searching. 
    The bank records showed the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars, wired two months in a row, from Kemény in Hungary to Judith in the United States. Was she committed to selling it? Stevie had many questions for professor Kemény on Monday.
    Reggie looked up suddenly. “I have a hit for Szarka in the Interpol database. He is wanted in Hungary, Poland, and Germany for pharmaceutical thefts.” Stevie saw Reggie come alive as if electricity flowed through his body “He is accused of being part of a gang that hit two big factories. Interestingly, he is described as someone in the medical field. His credentials as an EMT in Hungary are current. This is someone who could drug Judith and then administer an injection. What if  he posed as her gardener and had time each week to watch her comings and goings? The housekeeper could give him access to the house so they could look for the music manuscript.” He stood up and started pacing the room. “We need to pick him up and when we do we’ll nail him for murder.”
  “But, somehow this goes deeper.” Stevie interjected. “Szarka was hired to come here and get the music manuscript. What would bring him to commit murder when he didn’t have the music manuscript? That doesn’t make sense.”
   “Maybe killing her was not his intention at first. How do we use our opportunity to talk to Professor Kemény and get him to confess that he hired these two wanted criminals to retrieve the music and kill off Judith?”
   “Are we missing something? What exactly does the professor gain by killing Judith?” Stevie asked.
    “He gets the manuscript and he doesn’t have to pay a dime.”
    “But, Reggie, he has already paid her.” 
     At 8 o’clock both Reggie and Stevie agreed to call it a day. Tomorrow was Sunday and they both had the day off. Unless someone picked up a lead on Szarka, they could have time to recharge. 
   “What are your plans tomorrow?” Reggie asked. 
   “I will sleep in and go to church with my mother.”
   “That’s right, I forget that you are a believer. No offense meant, but I don’t understand how you can see what we see day in and day out and still believe in a God.”
   Stevie replied slowly. “It is precisely why I believe. God is my hope that this messed up world has some redeeming value. I believe in the power of God to save, even the hardened criminal who forfeits his right to be free.” Stevie laughed at Reggie’s expression. “There you have my sermon and it isn’t even Sunday.”
   She gathered her things and Regge opened the door for her as they left the police station. 

   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 Reggie 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?”
   “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?

     Sunday started out rainy and did not improve. The gray enveloped the outline of the trees. Stevie watched the drizzle roll down the window in the music room. The houses across the street were blurry with raindrops. Cars lined both sides of the street indicating that most neighbors were home, not rushing off to work. Stevie smelled cinnamon and butter and wondered if her mother was making sweet rolls. The smell reminded her of days when she was home with her Dad. He made the store bought cinnamon rolls in a paper canister and she loved striking the container on the edge of the counter to hear it pop open. As the rolls baked they would sit up on barstools together and wait for the thirteen minutes to pass. They played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would get to spread the rich, white frosting.
    What would her Dad say about her life as a homicide detective? She could almost hear him say that she was not reaping enough dividends. Dividends were important to an investment broker. His dream for her would include security and safety—-so much for Daddy’s dreams.
    Angelika was humming in the kitchen. Hearing her mother sing felt natural and soothing. For them the early church service was renewing both spiritually and physically. She realized that hours had passed without her thinking of Judith’s case. Without her daily meditation, prayer, and church worship there would be little to balance the stark reality of her job. 
    She padded into the kitchen and joined her mother with a mug of cocoa. 
   “Do you like Reggie?” Angelika asked innocently. 
   “As a person or as a detective?” She hoped her mother wasn’t going to pry into her social life.
   “As a detective. What is he like at work?”
   “Reggie is tenacious, honest, hard working, smart, and considerate. I have no complaints.”
   “He sounds like a perfect partner. Do you ever have disagreements?”
   “Sure. He is more hard line than I am, in general, and he has a habit of leaving before I’m really through with my investigation. He is faster at coming to his own conclusions.”
   Angelika thought for a moment. “Does he treat you like an equal?”
   “Do you mean does he let me take the lead on investigations? Even though he is the senior detective, he always considers my point of view. And, no mom, I am not interested in him romantically.”
   “That is not what I am hinting at. I would like to think that the world you work in allows you to use your skills and gifts to the fullest. I still fight for an equal voice in the world of music. I wonder how I would fare if I made a discovery like Judith Whitesides and then tried to have it analyzed and verified by my male colleagues.”
   “Do you think she would have had an easier time if she were a man?” Stevie wondered if her choice to take the manuscript from the Liszt museum had to do with the resistance she might have endured had she presented her discovery to those in authority. 
   “Where did she physically find the autograph manuscript?” Angelika asked.
    Stevie realized that fact was still elusive. “We don’t know how she came to it originally. I found it tucked into a copy of Liszt’s Consolations in a drawer of her music room. We think she tried to sell the autograph to another professor but had not made delivery yet. The thieves who wanted to find it were unsuccessful and somehow figured out that I had the fragment and they figured out where where you and I lived, well, you know the end of that.”
   “No matter where she found the music it doesn’t belong to her. It should go into a museum with other documents. I wonder why she kept it?” 
   “Do you ever remember talk among other teachers at the university about a Liszt autograph manuscript?” Stevie asked.
   “No, but I am not so interested in Franz Liszt. I sometimes hear of new discoveries when they are auctioned off at Sotheby’s or another auction house. Then it becomes a hot topic amongst my peers and we wonder who will buy it and what they will do with the manuscript. It all feels a bit pretentious, to me.” 
  “What do you mean pretentious?” Stevie actually thought much of her mother’s world was pretentious but she had never heard her mother voice that idea.
  “To own a piece of paper handwritten by someone like Beethoven is exciting but if it isn’t used to show to the world, to illuminate his particular notation style or demonstrate his composing process, then it is pretentious. It pretends to be something only because other people claim it has value.” 
   “Judith apparently had a lineage where she could trace her teachers back to Beethoven. Do you have a lineage, Mom?” Stevie didn’t know all that her mother felt about her long line of piano teachers. 
    “Honey, my teachers were the most inspiring individuals in my life. Each one of them gave me their legacy of skill and even more important, their musical sensibilities. Then they pointed me in the direction of searching out my own interpretations. I have never cared if any of them had a teaching lineage.”
    “I think Judith cared about those things very much.” Stevie spoke with surety. “And, I think she wanted to distinguish herself as a scholar of Liszt’s repertoire. If she stole the autograph manuscript I believe she intended to keep it from becoming just a monetary acquisition.” 


Writing Wednesday- Chapter 14

           Chapter 14

“Brahms’ Variations are better than mine, but mine were written before his”
      Franz Liszt

  The Liszt autograph was priceless. It belonged to no one, especially to a museum which let it rot in a basement box. She felt she wasn’t stealing when she took it t0 protect it. It belonged with the rest of the manuscript and to reunite them was her goal.

     Reggie watched Yolanda walk down the hall. He wished they could arrest her but they had no evidence to hold her any longer. 
   “Let’s put a tail on her for a few days. I wonder who else is involved in this? She is obviously not the leader.”
   “This woman is a chameleon. I don’t trust anything she says.” Stevie added. 
    “If she can lead us to Adrian Szarka we have evidence to book him for breaking and entering. That means we can keep him in jail, pending bail of course.” Reggie ran his hand through his hair. 
   Stevie pointed at the clock down the hall. “Reggie, my mother is having lunch with a professor from the university at noon. She might be able to tell us more about Judith. I’d like to know how many students she had there. Would you join us?” 
  Reggie thought about the details of the search for Szarka and what they should do next. He wanted to see if Interpol had info on him as well as Yolanda. They needed to do a background check and see if they could find him in a database. However, on Saturday the station was quiet and his usual buddies on the computers were gone so he would be on his own. 
  “Okay. I’d like to meet her, so, yes, I’ll join you and then we need to get back here to do some fact checking. Is there a detective available to tail Yolanda Valenta?”
   “You go check and I’ll call my mother and find out where we can meet them.”

  Reggie drove while Stevie gave him directions to the restaurant. They were in an industrial section of Seattle. Businesses with drab corrugated steel buildings lined each side of the road. The area was attracting newer entrepreneurs. Renovated old factories were turning into offices, providing smaller rent prices than in the middle of the city. Stevie directed him to turn left into a parking lot next to an outdoor eating area with twinkle lights hanging from wooden posts. As they pulled in at Jack’s Barbecue, Reggie smiled a large, wide grin. Jack’s was one of his favorite restaurants. He never would have guessed that two music professors would do lunch here. Stevie and her mother were breaking all the stereotypical images he had of music academics. Maybe if they had barbecue sauce on their hands he would feel less intimidated by their talk of Liszt and music fragments. 
    “Jack’s has the best brisket I’ve ever tasted.” Reggie felt his mouth watering at the prospect of a really excellent lunch.
     “You have been here then?” Stevie asked.
     “More than once.” 
     They looked around for Angelika. She was not there yet. They settled to wait on a large brown couch in the front area. 
     “I am a little surprised at the choice of restaurant.” Reggie said, wondering what Stevie thought.
     “So am I. A vegetarian place seemed more my mother’s liking. But, don’t pre-judge Sydney. She could be a down home southern gal.”
      “Your mother is a vegetarian?”
      “Not really, but she likes to eat light so I hope she finds something here on the menu.” 
       Two middle aged women entered, Reggie recognized Angelika. The other woman taller, had silver hair cut short and on a slant. She looked very stylish as she greeted a thin, bespectacled man at the door.  
      “Jack! How lovely to see you.” She was gushing with enthusiasm. 
      “That is Sydney Cabine,” whispered Stevie.
      “And the man greeting her is the owner.” Reggie whispered back. 
      “You are always welcome here and let me find you the best table.”
    Angelika motioned to Reggie and Stevie to follow them. They were seated in the back, along a wall of brightly painted doors. The doors, going nowhere, were hung side by side. Each door was unique and painted in different, bright colors, adding a flamboyant flair to the restaurant. Reggie particularly liked the quirkiness of the doors. 
   “Jack,” Sydney said, “this is my colleague Angelika Hanson, her daughter, a homicide detective, and her daughter’s partner. Are you a policeman to0, honey?” 
   Reggie winced and nodded. 
   “I welcome all public servants. Well, you have a lovely meal. Our breakfast burritos are the best in the Northwest.” Jack smiled at each of them and left to greet new arrivals.
   Sydney turned to Stevie. “Your mother tells me you are quite happy chasing criminals around the city.” 
    Reggie saw Stevie’s smile tighten around the edges. “I’m happy with the work I’m doing. Everyday is a new adventure,” she said.
      Sydney changed the subject. “They have the best meat here. It is organically raised and they barbecue in a big smoker in the back of the building. Jack uses a very old recipe from Texas where he grew up. Be sure to try his caviar beans. They are my favorite.”
   The talk stayed on pleasantries while they ordered. Angelika and Sydney discussed her recent trip to London. Reggie was eager to ask Sydney about Judith.
   “Was Judith Whitesides your employee or your colleague?” Reggie put his oar into the water to start the conversation. 
   “Excuse me?” Sydney looked over at him with distrust. 
   “What did Judith teach at the university?” Reggie asked.
   Sydney shifted in her chair. “She taught several classes when she was first hired, a pedagogy class and an advanced repertoire class. She also had a handful of advanced private students. Why are you asking me questions about her?”
   “Sydney,” Angelika tried to smooth the waters, “I invited Stevie and Reggie because they are working on the case and they are interested in what you can add to their knowledge of Judith’s life at the university.”   
  “I have no idea who killed her. The whole incident makes me feel dirty.”
   “Dirty?” Reggie asked. “Why would her murder make you feel dirty?”
   “Judith was not entirely honest with me. I hired her largely because of her teaching pedigree. What I didn’t know was that she came from The Prague Conservatory with a suspicious cloud over her head. At first she was enthusiastic about teaching and she had new views on the Liszt repertoire, but as the year passed I sensed she was less and less committed to her students and more and more submerged into research. Then I had an illuminating conversation with Professor Remény from Budapest. The story he told made me very cautious around Judith Whitesides.”
   Reggie sat up. This was getting interesting. “What did he know about Judith?”
   Sydney looked around the restaurant to see who might be listening. “He told me that when she came to Budapest to do research she found a fragment of the original Hungarian Rhapsody No.8, who knows where exactly. She refused to give it to the Liszt Museum. In frustration Dr. Remény agreed to buy it from her if he could verify it. She refused to leave it with him and so he and another scholar traveled to look at it in Prague. They came to the conclusion that it was truly hand written by Franz Liszt. The professor asked Judith for some time to raise the money. When we last spoke, he was sending her the second of three installments. He was worried that she might not keep her word.”
   Stevie asked quietly. “Did you ask Judith about Professor Remény?”
   Sydney laughed. “Professor Remény was not totally trustworthy in the way he talked about the incident. I had a feeling he was personally wanting me to spy on Judith, so in answer to your question, no, I didn’t ask Judith about any of this. I wanted no part of this intrigue. For all I know this was all a con game. I personally have not seen the fragment of music.”
    “Well it exists.” Stevie reassured her.  “I saw it before it was taken into evidence. The notation is flamboyant and clear. Someone was willing to take Judith’s life for those thirty-four measures.” 
     Reggie was astounded when Stevie recounted the recent sales of other autograph manuscripts at the Sotheby’s auction house. Why would someone pay that much money for a piece of music?
   “Incredible!” Sydney said. “The story is true? So, now who will take custody of that music autograph?’
    Reggie snorted. “Who does the music really belong to? If people are willing to invest large sums of money to have such a prize, is ownership clear? Should it be in the hands of an individual or a museum?”
   “Detective, I personally don’t have a strong opinion about these authentic manuscripts. Sometimes the second or third copy is more reliable. The composer often edits his own music and makes more manuscripts later anyway.” 
   “Is there a way we could contact Professor Remény?” Reggie asked. He hoped she might use her influence to connect him to the professor.
   “I teleconference with him on occasion. Perhaps he would agree to a chat and I could introduce you.”
   “We would really appreciate that, Professor.” Stevie seemed pleased to have Sydney’s cooperation. “Can we do it soon?” 
   Sydney agreed. “It will have to be late Monday night to catch him at work Tuesday morning.”
   “Shall we meet you in your office at the university?” Stevie asked.
    “Yes. I will arrange it. But, please keep your conversation respectful. I don’t relish him thinking we are interrogating him.” Sydney turned to Reggie. “Any chance I could see that manuscript?” 
  Angelika answered for him. “Sydney, it is evidence in a murder trial. Take our word for it. It was authentic.”
   “You saw it too?”
   “Yes, and someday it will be recognized and made available to us all, at least via digital scan.”
    “I don’t want you to get the impression that I did not like Judith Whitesides or that I am unaffected by her death. I am very sorry about this unfortunate incidence.” Sydney said. “I hired her because she was a gifted pianist and talented teacher. Didn’t you know her too, Angelika?”
   “I met her at a meeting but I know very little about her. We taught different curricula.” 
    Sydney dabbed at her mouth with the napkin. “Well, Judith was reserved and private. I knew I would have to pursue the relationship if I wanted to know her better. I had intentions but……….. I am truly sorry to lose her.”
   Reggie interrupted. “We need to get back to work. Lunch was excellent. This is one of my favorite places to get barbecue.” He rose and reached into his pocket. “Here is some money to cover our lunch.” He looked over at Stevie as he counted out fifty dollars. 
   “No, please let me pay the bill.” Angelika took command and turned her back away from Reggie. “It was my pleasure to meet you and I will see you again, Monday. Stevie, I am upstairs in Room 204.” 
   Reggie pulled Stevie’s chair out for her. She looked surprised. When they got back to the car she asked, “What was that all about, Reggie?”
   “Ah…I know. I was acting out of character. I felt awkward.” He started the car. “Do you think Judith was taking money from the professor without any intention to deliver?”
   “What if the professor hired Yolanda and Adrián Szarka to steal the music? It isn’t a coincidence that they are here from Hungary.” 

    Reggie saw a new light in Stevie’s eyes. They were getting closer to uncovering the truth. 

                                           Chapter 15