Thursday, January 08, 2015
The Lost Chord: Chapter 32
(a classical music appreciation comedy thriller by Richard Alan Strawser: you can read it from the beginning, here.)
In the previous installment, Lionel Roth, shocked by what he has witnessed (and you think you know a person...), discovers a secret passage leading from his room to an undisclosed location in the depths of Castle Schweinwald where a man he thought was his friend Dhabbodhú but is now apparently Tr'iTone is performing some strange ritual. In another castle, Dr. Kerr realizes the newly revealed artifact-within-the-artifact may lead to whatever Rob's killer is looking for when they are interrupted by yet another explosion. Peter Moonbeam prepares to e-mail a file - Rob Sullivan's final interview - just as he receives a visit from that sexy security agent he'd met earlier. Meanwhile, things are getting even more dangerous at Zenn's chalet as gunfire erupts and LauraLynn is abducted by... well, who, exactly?
= = = = = = =
"He had said the next time it would be real," I remembered, thinking back to that distant summer in Maine when we were hiding in the attic from Rob's obnoxious cousin Maurie. But that was years ago and we've all grown up since then: how had the years changed Maurie Harty?
But this guy wasn't Maurie – could not have been Maurie, could he? – way too big, too tall, for Maurie. Even steroids and a hellacious exercise program couldn't turn Maurie into that!
The man I thought was Dhabbodhú but who, briefly, could've been Cousin Maurie – well, that would explain a motive – took off down the mountain toward the Zugspitze and the Austrian border.
Special Forces Director Yoda Leahy-Hu strode toward the center of the room and the table where we'd been hiding.
I'd scrambled to my feet, glad to find myself among the living, glancing around at the number of dead bodies then, ascertaining Cameron wasn't one of them, grabbing the statue from Zenn. Momentarily distracted by tallying the body count, Leahy-Hu didn't seem to notice that I stuffed it into my tote-bag.
Howard Zenn was, miraculously, also not wounded, sitting there contemplative as before, off in some trance-like state, no doubt, where his mind continued to work feverishly until I had interrupted him.
Snapping out of it, Zenn looked around amazed at what had happened during what appeared to be his absence: two considerable holes in the dungeon's walls, bodies all over the floor, not to mention bullet holes and shattered objets d'art everywhere in between, just like in the proverbial war zone.
"Our apologies," Leahy-Hu said with a condescending nod, "for what happened here, but I'm afraid it couldn't be helped. Now that these two are in custody, there's some explaining to do."
Tucking back several stray wisps of hair, she began by telling Cameron how his friend Fictitia helped locate them. "All we had to do was follow her tweets," she smiled.
"But we hadn't thought you'd kidnap her as part of your scheme: yet another charge to be considered."
Stepping forward, her hand held out menacingly, she demanded the Maltese Mozart.
"Though it's not officially registered as an antiquity, your interest in it proved suspicious, especially your actions after we met."
Naturally, I was thinking her sudden appearance at that moment and her interest in it were also highly suspicious.
"My actions were to protect something I thought the killer was after," not wanting to take it any further. Considering everything I was thinking, what if she were the real mastermind?
Looking at the fragments strewn before her, Yoda Leahy-Hu couldn't figure out why anyone would even remotely want this: not me, not Robertson Sullivan, not, for that matter, even the killer.
"So, what does all this have to do with Robertson Sullivan's murder?" Leahy-Hu cocked her head expectantly and frowned.
"If Dr. Dhabbodhú was after this artifact for whatever reason," I wondered, "wouldn't that've been sufficient motive to murder Rob? Dhabbodhú was there when Rob was killed and wasn't that him just...?"
"Dhabbo-who!?" Leahy-Hu blurted out skeptically, mumbling something about the hulk Fictitia saw, that photo she'd posted following the explosion.
"No," she said, "the man we're after is Garth Widor – of SHMRG. Like you, Dhabbodhú is merely a distraction."
Through the rubble of the one hole stepped a familiar figure.
"I now realize," D'Arcy began, "that Festival Director Robertson Sullivan was murdered to stop us from premiering his new opera."
"That seems a bit extreme to me," Zenn said, with considerable alarm.
"We also think," he continued, "that the opera had already been completed, the full score copied to a CD-Rom."
I didn't let on that I knew it was and the CD had also been stolen by the killer.
"Whoever has a copy," D'Arcy mentioned, "may find themselves in real danger."
"SHMRG is unrelentingly intent on controlling the world's music industry," Leahy-Hu explained.
"Yes," I mentioned, "I've... heard of them."
"I'm afraid I've never been on SHMRG's good side," Zenn whispered proudly.
"Apparently," Leahy-Hu said, "something Robertson Sullivan had done must've crossed the line: sabotaging his opera was to punish him."
"But what did that have to do with trying to kill him? Canceling the opera would certainly be one thing..." The artifact and its clues made for a much more compelling case.
"It turns out," D'Arcy continued, "this is part of some larger plot, fueled by the premiere of his opera."
"Franz-Dieter Zeitgeist, Schweinwald's former director, did not die in a skiing accident," the Special Forces Director began to explain.
"Yes, I know," I said. "I'd already told Mr. D'Arcy that earlier."
"It had been made to look like an accident," D'Arcy told me, "and not even the police suspected anything different."
"But didn't Rob say anything," I asked.
Leahy-Hu leaned forward. "About what?"
"Rob told me Zeitgeist mentioned death threats he'd received," I replied uncomfortably. "He never told the police about that?"
"I know we both thought Leahy-Hu was after Rob's artifact," D'Arcy said with a deferential nod in her direction.
Looking at her uncomfortably, I also nodded as she scrunched her brows.
"The person suspected of Robertson Sullivan's murder," she said, "already murdered Zeitgeist – now he's succeeded in kidnapping Ms. Harty."
"You see, Professor," D'Arcy continued to explain, "Director Leahy-Hu isn't the villain."
"So if that wasn't Dhabbodhú just now, who the hell is he – and why the hell's he after this?"
= = = = = = =
To be continued...
posted by Dick Strawser
The novel, The Lost Chord, is a classical music appreciation comedy thriller completed in 2013, and is the sole supposedly intellectual property of its author, Richard Alan Strawser.