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"The Bard of Bel Air"


Prologue
Prologue

By michaelcahill













 


The Bard of Bel Air

laser eyes hypnotize right through
the hole that stands before you
daddy o
are those Brunos on them feets?
                          one on each side?
I dig that rhythm of those swishin'
                       silky drawers
                               shoosh-shee-shoosh-sha-sha

dig it- my dime spinnin' dude
can't buy coffee though... ho,ho,ho
you have that camel burden, 
                        pushin' hard,
but I see right through the eye
clear as bells on angels toes

                     what's a little crazy
                             matter
                                    to the hatter
                                splatter and shatter
for The Bard needs the crime of rhyme
as you perceive him the slime that begs for...   dime
a dozen when your cousin didn't snitch to your ma
well, I could tell you bout your pa'

but, I saw that you done froze him
did you know?
        I saw you expose him
                        to the roll of dimes
                                     you couldn't live without?


 
I suppose it all sounded a bit nonesensical when all was said and done. Honestly, no one listened that intently to The Bard. Now, was not the time. The mansion had cops, paramedics drinking coffee, late arriving coroners, an irritated detective and a cracker-jack team of cryogenic workers that were just about done wrapping up their work with the deceased, Johnathon Blackwell Senior, both figuratively and literally. 

The deceased (and hoped to be revived one day) had previously been one of the richest moguls in the music business. The publishing holdings, alone, approached a billion dollars. The company produced a multidude of plantinum records annually, and the family had a special room for grammys and other industry awards. It was not a small room. 

That responsibility now fell to his son, Johnathon Blackwell, Junior.

Detective Tenaya Adrian did not find any of this above board. She had a suspicious nature, which suited her position as lead detective on this case. No one believed there was a case here. She did.


 

Author Notes Anything in the way of feedback or suggestions is always eagerly sought. I had quite a few short stories that I was going to chose from. I decided to start from scratch. It is possible that I am not all there! Hopefully you are, as you have been in the past. Hahaha. mikey


Chapter 1
A Bel Air Funeral

By michaelcahill












 

If cast-off scraps are the fair of the day
then seek garbaaage superior
trash has grades of quality
why would'st I dine inferior?
 

"I tell you I AM invited! I've known Harpster for five years. We were friends. I'm here to pay my respects like everyone else. Who the hell are you anyway to tell…"
 
"What seems to be the problem, Lincoln? We have a funeral to conduct here." A man of confidence and a cold cultured air intervened.
 
The scene hadn't become overly disruptive yet, and the impeccably dressed gentleman clearly wanted to keep it that way. The man causing the ruckus looked out of place though he didn't present himself in an overly disheveled manner. In comparison to the uber-rich that attend Bel Air funerals, he looked out of place.
 
A man dressed for service responded, "I'm sorry, Mr. Blackwell. This man is trying to strong-arm his way into the private ceremony."
 
"It's okay, Lincoln. He can stand on the outskirts." He said the last part under his breath.
 
He spoke now directly to the intruder, "Come in, Bard. I'm sorry for the mix up. My father would be most upset with this breach of decorum. Lincoln was not aware of your status. I hope you understand."
 

"Too big for his britches
I'd leave him in stitches
respect the old man's riches
look out for snitches"

The Bard answered in verse quite often, thus, his well-earned nickname. His poetry usually went in one ear and out the other. He continued with a more conventional response. "Okay, Mr. Blackwell. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it."
 
 
Stewart Slater, AKA The Bard, had a long history of success in his life. He achieved acclaim in academia and graduated from U.C.L.A., not far from where they were, right this moment. Majoring in ethno-musicology could be called ill advised, but a degree from U.C.L.A. had its own weight, regardless of the field. He minored in English composition. He was a writer and a poet. There are other triumphs and rewards reaped. He could still write and play music. He could compose poetry on the spot.
 
He had a history of failure and loss as well. There was blame to lay at his feet. However, mental illness played a role in his demise. Mental illness did not represent something that he sought nor did he acknowledge its existence. For now, he had the funeral of his friend to attend. It was a sad time for him, but at least some acknowledgment of his status had been forthcoming.
 
"Roses are red, violet a shade with blue, lividity set in, what's a corpse to do?" The Bard muttered under his breath. No one paid attention, as usual. He often made sense. He stood near the back of the gathering and didn't make a scene.
 
The Bard had walked into the private ceremony past two distracted guards who were preoccupied directing late arriving traffic. In Bel Air even, a funeral was cause to consider one's entrance, and fashionably late still had its appeal for a select few.
 
The list of legends buried here sounded like a who's who of film. Myrna Loy, Mary Pickford, the list was long and impressive. Among the unrecognizable names were many like Mister Blackwell's, men of money that greased the wheels and made the business run. The setting might entice some to choose death over life, if it meant a permanent repose in such a beautiful and peaceful resting spot. There were no grave markers here, only sculptures and monuments and tributes in stone. It was a blanket of green embroidered in a riot of colorful flowers, sprung forth from the wildest imagination, the personification of loveliness.
 
Stewart Slater, or The Bard, as everyone called him, walked in with his head held high and took up a position towards the back of the assemblage. Lincoln rolled his eyes when he felt certain that no one would catch sight of his action. Mr. Johnathon Blackwell Junior, son of the guest of honor, returned to his station graveside. The slight smile vanished long before he resumed his solemn duties as the new head of the family.
 
The coffin caught everyone's eye as the hot California sun glinted off it reminding everyone of the oppressive heat that competed for center stage. Being empty didn't seem to matter or affect the gravity of the expressions in attendance. Johnathon Blackwell Senior's death had been unexpected. Only sixty-two years old, they had been years of luxury and the best of medical care. Being born with a silver spoon in one's mouth was nearly a literal depiction of his birth. If one were to remove his mother's failed attempt at breast-feeding, then the first open jar of Gerber's would have made the cliché a reality.
 
Junior simply found his mother's milk to be distasteful. Isabel the head maid was nursing at the time and offered her services, but Lilith would not have it. So, Gerber's became Junior's diet during his suckling years. Ironically, Isabel's services, so to speak, would come in to play fifteen years later, but that is not a story to tell at a funeral.
 
I suppose "Harpster" is a curious nickname. Its origin is curious as well. Johnathon Blackwell Senior, prior to his demise, ranked among the top three harpists in the world. Harpster played the last notes in a long line of accomplished musicians, dating back to the eighteenth century. None of his sons or daughters had shown the slightest interest in music, other than the millions of dollars that Blackwell Publishing produced. For a family that made millions producing recording artists and selling and publishing music, the Blackwells had zero interest or appreciation for music itself.  With Harpster's death, there wasn't a single, living Blackwell to play a note, or have an inkling to sing a Christmas carol. A Blackwell that played an instrument and sang a song did exist, but she didn't know she was a Blackwell.
 
Ruby Patsy Dancer grew up on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Bridget Diamond Dancer, a singer and musician that left a promising career to raise her daughter by herself. Diamond kept silent concerning Ruby's father, claiming to have no idea who he was. Only she knew. Well, Johnathon Blackwell Senior knew, but he was dead now.
 
The Bard knew about this. He knew about more than most. Harpster felt comfortable talking to the Bard, as though he was a harmless neutral party. And, maybe the Bard could be trusted that way, a man with no agenda. The Bard knew about the daughter that was out there somewhere, but not any details. He knew about an old man staring at stars dreaming of a life that wasn't lived, that couldn't be lived…that couldn't be dreamed. But, it was still a life to send a sigh on a journey with a shooting star.
 
Sometimes disregard gives one a vantage point that no one else has. I suppose a cop on horseback gets notice from adventurous lovers in a midnight park. But, an old wino on a park bench seemingly passed out is of no consequence. But, that one open eye sees clearly every kiss and wild dalliance. So, it is with the Bard. No one notices him standing across the street looking in your window while your private life goes on. You're just not aware of that one open eye that sees clearly.
 
The service went as planned. Speeches were made. Lies were told. Not one word about money or power came up. It reminded me of playing classical music on the piano. If one thinks about it, it can't be done. One has to let the fingers go without thought. As soon as one tries to think about the notes, the fingers falter.
 
It must be the same with money and power. Person after person got up and spoke about Harpster, what a wonderful man he was, how much they cherished his harp playing and blah, blah, sugar coated blah. All the while, there was nothing on their minds, but his money and power, and how they would divide it up.
 
Meanwhile, they lowered an empty coffin into the ground and covered it with dirt. Cardinal O'Daniel spoke some solemn words over the empty grave and imaginary tears flowed like a river in the Antarctic. Harpster's body remained in cryogenic deep freeze in an underground storage facility several levels beneath the Institute for Cryogenic Research at One Wilshire Way in Los Angeles. 


 

Author Notes Here is the first chapter. What do you think? Do you like the characters? Setting? Story so far? Input positive and negative always appreciated greatly.


Chapter 2
The Sight of Death, Crime Scene?

By michaelcahill

Previously, we attended the funeral of Johnathon Blackwell Senior. A man known as "The Bard" was initially denied entrance, but the deceaseds son recognized him and allowed him in. The deceased was rich and powerful and "The Bard" was a homeless man that lived in Bel Air one of the richest cities in the world. Mr. Blackwell has been put in cryogenic freeze. His coffin is buried empty nonetheless and services continue on as though he is in it. We go back now to when The deceased was originally found dead in his study.
 
 
 
Everything is peachy keen
Harpster's dead and no one's seen
Wrap him quickly pretty please
Hide him out in your deep freeze
Whoa! tell me that's not sharp.
Enters Heaven with his own harp!
 
 
The cryogenic team received a call the instant Harpster's son found him dead. Procedures to preserve the body were well underway long before the cops and paramedics arrived. The family doctor already had a death certificate filed out and waiting.
 
Detective Teneya Adrian didn't like it and voiced her opinion of the matter loudly. Her protestations fell upon deaf ears. She nonetheless went by the book and treated the area like a crime scene gathering evidence in spite of the lack of cooperation by…well…everyone. Even her superiors offered no support.
 
"Dammit! This is a sixty-two year old man in perfect health. Your carting him off to the deep freeze without even a once over. Who the hell ever heard of such a thing?" Detective Adrian wasn't known for outbursts and displays of temper. This was not the norm for her.
 
"We have the death certificate already in hand, detective. That's all I need to hear about it. Write it up and let's leave this family to their grief." The chief of police rarely came out into the field. This was a prominent case. Chief of Police, Antonio Sandoval never passed up publicity and he wasn't about to have this little detective show him up. He smiled for the cameras. He knew the angles and the expressions to make himself the focal point of the show.
 
Detective Adrian didn't give a damn about that. She didn't like this whole scene. This was a powerful family and the team packing Harpster on ice looked to be professional and orderly. Everything looked perfectly above board; it wouldn't be more orderly were it scripted. Detective Adrian saw everything as a murder. It was her nature and it served her well. Theories ran sprints through her mind and then, after a rest, they ran marathons. Perfect crime scenarios began to work their way in to her mindset.
 
Kill him. Freeze him. Hide the body underground. All right in front of everyone like it's the thing to do. The perfect crime. Hell she had no idea what happened. The doctor said "heart attack". Fine. Let me see his damaged heart. At least a nice snapshot…something. But, no. You got the evidence on ice and you're taking him away to some vault where I can't get my hands on him. Bullshit!
 
"Listen. I realize this may all be routine. I understand the terrible loss you all feel. But, we can get this done now, or I can keep coming back. One way or the other, these reports have to be filed out and turned in. Now, I'll start with who found Mr. Blackwell." For such a petite woman, she had a commanding presence and when she spoke, people responded.
 
Chief Sandoval continued smiling for the cameras outside, while Det. Adrian's furrowed brow put one's mind in memory of their mom's childhood admonition, "Your face will freeze like that."
 
"I did." Junior answered her question. He looked steely-eyed and confident as he strode up to the detective.
 
Det. Adrian thought to herself, He's either totally innocent or totally confident in getting away with it. "So, you found your father right here in the study?"
 
His expression didn't change and he answered immediately in a steady voice, "Yes, I had some papers for Dad to sign, an Elvis Costello tour, and though the hour was late, I new Dad was a night owl like myself. I have a key, so I let myself in. I walked to the study where I observed a light on and walked in. Dad was not in the room. At least, I did not see him upon entering. I approached the desk and saw his feet sticking out behind the desk to the right of it. He was wearing slippers."
 
He paused to pick some lint off the knee of his pants.
 
Detective Adrian took a quick glance around the room. Lilith Blackwell, now a widow, stood looking out the window, detached from the rest of the family, and deep in, what seemed to be, worried thought. Junior's other siblings that had arrived after her, shared the same detached demeanor and the worried expressions as well. I can't wait to lay my eyes on that will. She turned her attention back to Junior.
 
He continued without even clearing his throat, "I rushed over calling his name, but he did not respond. I pushed his desk chair back out of the way and rolled him onto his back. He was cold and his eyes were open. I knew he was already dead. I immediately pushed the button on his alert necklace. That mobilizes the cryogenic team. I didn't have my cell phone with me."
 
He mimed hitting his pants pocket and gestured towards the driveway outside.
He once again continued without missing a beat, "I had left it in my car by mistake. I picked up the landline and dialed nine-one-one. I informed them of the situation. By the time they arrived, my father's personal physician had already arrived and pronounced him dead. The cryogenic team immediately commenced to prepare his body for cryogenic freezing."
 
He remained seated. His expression didn't vary nor did his tone of voice. He didn't even use much in the way of voice inflections or modulation. It was as if a computer voice had been endowed with an .advanced technology that made it sound human.
 
"Now, Mister Blackwell, where were you before you came to find your father here in the study?" Tenaya had learned to speak without any comfort in her voice. Her questions accused without any semblance of an accusatory tone.
 
To his credit, Junior revealed nothing in his response. "I had left the launch party early with the papers for dad to sign. Mr. Costello has a reputation for volatility when it comes to commitments. I'm not his favorite person nor is anyone in the business end of things. I believe he considers us as necessary evils. In any case, there was a sense of urgency when it came to sealing the deal. Thus, the late night swing by Dad's house and the shocking discovery. You may call me J.B., by the way, all my friends do."
 
Suddenly the ice sculpture developed a pulse and a personality burst forth. J.B., as friends called him, had his warmest smile and a friendly warm demeanor come upon him.
 
Tenaya made note of his transformation, but had no outward reaction to it. "How long were you at this event, Mr. Blackwell?" She didn't need to use any name, as it was clear she was talking to him. She made the point that she did not call him "J.B.".
 
"I'll save you some trouble. I spent the prior evening at a location that shall remain nameless with a party that shall also remain nameless. I arrived at the office at 7:45 A.M. and made some coffee. My secretary, Angela Barr, arrived at 8 A.M. and we went to work on the Costello tour tying up loose ends. A little before nine the rest of the employees began arriving. I was there until I left to bring my father the papers as we discussed." He looked smug and defiant now.
 
Tenaya smiled. A nice, pleasant smile that would surprise anyone that had spoken to her in the last hour. "Okay, J.B., I appreciate the detail. You understand that this is all routine. Some guy in an office, with nothing to do, reads these and lives to find little mistakes to make our lives miserable." She had her suspicions and wasn't about to let him in on them. She wanted him to feel free and clear…for now. That's right. You can relax now. That's when people make mistakes, when they're all nice and cozy thinking the heat is off. Just how I want you to fell…J...B.
 
"Did he suffer?" Lilith spoke to no one in particular. She had not said a word since arriving about an hour earlier.
 
"No. No, dear. It was quick, Lilith. A massive heart attack. He never knew what hit him." Doctor Khin spoke his first words, as well, since Detective Adrian arrived on scene. He put his arm around Lilith's shoulder. She didn't seem to enjoy the attention.
 
Tenaya knew that Dr. Khin would be the next to answer questions. "Dr. Khin? If I can have a moment to clear up some technical issues, time lines and the like."


 

Author Notes This book will jump around a little more than my previous ones. It will go from present to past. It will also have scenes that are in Baton Rouge where Harpster's illegitimate daughter lives. Input and suggestions always welcomed and appreciated.
characters:
Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian


Chapter 3
Observations and Introductions

By michaelcahill


Previously, we were at the mansion where Johnathon Blackwell, Senior passed away. Detective Adrian found the circumstances suspicious and intended to pursue an investigation of the case as a murder until her suspicians were put aside. We move ahead to the funeral where she is an observer. We have previously established that the Bard is already there in the background paying his respects. We join the story with Detective Adrian looking causually over the crowd.
 


 


Detective Adrian had a hunch about this case and attended the funeral. She kept a low profile. She had class and didn't plan to make a scene. She wanted to observe, get a sense of attitudes and behavior. She already knew that there was no love lost for the man that wasn't in the grave.
 
"Hello detective." Detective Adrian had a reputation for being hard to rattle, but Bruce Willis seemed to do the trick.
 
"Uh…hello…Mr. Willis…hee hee. How did you know…well, I guess it's obvious isn't it?" Small talk ran through her mind, but didn't quite make it to her lips.
 
"So, someone murder my wayward buddy here?" Bruce looked and sounded just like one of his larger than life movie characters. His smile had a decided effect on Tenaya, who struggled mightily to maintain her composure and keep her skin color from turning a blotchy red.
 
"What makes you think I'm not an up and coming country and western star?" She had managed a somewhat witty rejoinder to accompany a pleasant pink skin tone.
 
"No hat."
 
They both shared a laugh, properly subdued in respect for the occasion.
 
"Just tying up loose ends. High profile and all of that. Where were you on Thursday evening?" She had made a remarkable comeback.
 
"Oh, establishing my alibi with Jennifer Aniston. The question is, where will you be Thursday night?"
 
That smile left some doubt as to whether he was being charming or serious. Her heart maintained a nice rhythm except for the skipped beat.
 
"The usual. Looking out for Ms. Anniston's best interests."
 
"Well, I'll let you get back to it, Ms.?" He extended his hand.
 
"Detective Adrian. Tenaya." She shook his hand.
 
They returned to their previous activities. The smile never left his face. Her heart never left her chest. She continued to scan the crowd. The celebrities clearly were there to make an appearance. There was no outpouring of love or grief. The family made no outward display of grief either. It was an event that had "obligatory" stamped all over it.
 
The only sense of sorrow came from that homeless man fidgeting at the back of the crowd. He looked out of place in more ways than one. He looked human for one thing. He is who she wanted to question.
 
She walked up to the Bard and flashed her badge. "I'm detective Adrian. Can we talk for a moment?"
 
"Look, detective, I've already been through this. I knew Mr. Blackwell. We were friends. I know I'm not rich. You don't have to be rich to be a wealthy man's friend. I…"
 
The detective put her hand up to halt him in mid-sentence, "I know, sir. I wasn't questioning you being here. I assumed you were a friend paying your respects. I'm investigating Mr. Blackwell's death. I was wondering if you have any information?"
 
The Bard could talk when need be. He functioned and seemed to use his poetic gifts as a ploy sometimes. But, sometimes his verse just seemed to genuinely pop out as though it wasn't something he could always control.
 
The Bard got an all-knowing, all-seeing look on his face, and broke into rhyme,
 

 
"the pretty pistol packing blonde delight
is wondering what went down that night
when angels grabbed the Harpster's harp
and the doctor draped him in a tarp
 
Was it his heart that done him in
or could it be a terrrrrrible sin?
Could it be God's simple whim
or did some foul bastard murder him?
 
But  who, his wife…his daughter…son?
with bucks like his? Could be anyone!"

 
 
Detective Adrian smiled. She knew a little bit about "The Bard". He lived in Bel Air, if you could call a city your address when you are homeless. But, as far as she knew, he happened to constitute the entire homeless population of Bel Air. The people in Bel Air tolerated him to his good fortune. I suppose they found him amusing with his poetry and harmless ways.
 
It was clear that he suffered from mental illness, but to what extent might be difficult to determine. People often don't realize that the mentally ill are not at all above using their condition to their advantage. It can be a ticket to whatever they want. It can be a built in excuse to get away with anything. Someone mentally ill can shoplift and get away with a warning. "Oh, let him go officer, he's mentally ill." 
 
"He didn't mean to assault me, he thought I was his long lost abusive uncle, let him go."  So might say an assault victim with a bloody nose while the perpetrator suddenly doesn't even remember his name.
 
"Don't take him in officer, he didn't mean it, he's crying now. Don't be mean to him. He's probably just confused and hungry. I'll take care of him." Yep, tears and a free meal. Totally off the hook. Mentally ill, you know the drill.
 
The Bard clearly knew that he didn't tour with the Stones and help John and Paul write Strawberry Fields. But, if you went along with it, he'd take you on that ride. But, it seemed like he had memories of the Korean War that were real to him even though he was too young to have been there.
 
That left the detective with a dilemma. She suspected murder. She wanted to believe the Bard. But, could she? That would be a question to ask herself over and over. He had information. He definitely had information.
 
The Bard looked antsy.
 
"Is there something else?" Detective Adrian wanted to hear whatever he had to say.
 
"I need to take you to my house to show you." He looked anxious with his eyes darting around. "It's a secret though. You can't tell anyone. I'd get in trouble."
 
"Okay, Bard, it will be our secret. I promise." She put up her hand like a girl scout. She wasn't sure what other symbol she could use to solidify a secret solemn oath.
 
"Me no see
me no tell
me no lie
or go to hell…" The Bard's version of the Boy Scout oath.
 
Detective Adrian kept her hand near her service revolver much in the way a man in a crowd keeps checking his front pocket for his wallet. He seemed harmless, but she knew that no one could be assumed harmless. There were lots of dead cops that thought someone looked harmless. She had no intention of being one of them.
 
There wouldn't be anything to glean from this venue. The entire family was on her suspect list. Maybe some of the others here too. Well, The Bard here, he could have some real information. It was worth a few hours of her time to find out. At the moment, there were no other options to pursue. With bucks like that, it could be anyone! Yep, that was the most sensible thing she had heard in three days.


 

Author Notes Quite a bit to establish and set up and I don't want to be in too big a hurry. The posting norm is to have each "Chapter" be somewhat complete. I'll try to conform to that when possible, but I don't want to alter the story too much just to have a little cliff-hanger at the end. If there is a less than thrilling chapter here and there, read page 341 of Moby Dick, not too exciting either. Hahaha. Don't go looking, I just made that up! Input and suggestions as always most welcome and appreciated. Thank you so much for your help so far. Excellent!! mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian


Chapter 4
The Will, Jagger and a Shakedown

By michaelcahill

Previously, detective Adrian attended the funeral of Johnathon Blackwell Senior looking for any suspicious behavior. She ran into The Bard whom she had heard of and found him to be of interest. He was mentally ill but certainly had information that supported her hunch that Harpster died under suspicious circumstances. The Bard claimed that he was murdered. Of course it was in the form of a poem, but nonetheless, it seemed like he had witnessed something and she planned to follow up and find out what it was. There are other aspects of the story to consider though. We continue with the story now as other factors, such as the will and an heir that is unknown to any one in the family are considered.
 

The will was in good order and expertly executed by Johnathon Blackwell's private attorney, and life-long friend, Q. The guess was that the "Q" stood for Quincy, but no one knew for sure. Well, Harpster knew. He had money and it bought information. He knew it stood for "Quark". A true friend would never reveal such a fact and he took it to the grave, or in this case, to the deep freeze with him.  

As I mentioned the will had been written by an expert and was in perfect order. It contained one phrase curious for its wording, more than anything:
 
"To my first born child, I leave 51% interest in Blackwell Publishing and Blackwell Enterprises, including, but not limited to, artists contracts and goodwill. The remaining 49% is to be divided equally between the remaining siblings."
 
It was a run of the mill legal transference of property and ironclad. The wording was curious though. No names appeared in the phrase. Throughout the entirety of the document, several detailed pages long, names where used to designate clearly who received what and how much. Q Aubrey Langston dotted his "I's" and crossed his "X's".
 
He'd befriended Harpster at Julliard as a not quite gifted French horn player. French horn happened to be an instrument no one wanted to play, so if you could play one adequately you were in demand. He could do that. It became clear that there wasn't a fortune to be made playing the French horn.
 
"Q & A", as he came to be known, transferred to Yale and received his law degree. He was gifted in that field. His friendship with Harpster remained and it became a business relationship. If one ever heard a French horn on a Blackwell, produced record, rest assured, it was Langston. If Harpster felt the temperature in the Jacuzzi getting a bit uncomfortable, Q & A was there to turn down the heat, legally speaking.
 
Langston did not like that wording one bit, and told Harpster so. Harpster had his reasons and there would be no talking him out of it.
 
"What reason could you possibly have, leaving a loophole a sperm whale could jump through in the most important clause in your will?" Langston wasn't used to Harpster showing his underbelly so willingly. It was perplexing.
 
"It means that I am doing the right thing for once, even though it won't matter in the long run. I am leaving it to my first-born child. That's all you need to know. It will all come out the way everyone wants it too. At least let me have the little solace knowing that in my heart, I did the right thing." Harpster had looked on the verge of tears when he gave Langston that cryptic response.
 
They never discussed the matter beyond that. Only The Bard knew anything about the reasoning behind the wording. With Harpster dead now only two people knew who the first born child of Johnathon Blackwell Senior was, The Bard and the child's mother.
 
"greedy Johnny doesn't know
another Blackwell's good to go
if she shows up? Uh Oh…
then it's hidee hidee hooooo!"
 
~~~~~
 
"Ladies and gentleman, Ruby Dancer!"
 
Ruby Dancer took the stage to enthusiastic but sparse applause. The late show at the Longbranch Saloon had a decent size crowd, but most of them had their minds on things other than music. Sometime within the next hour, the rest of their evening would play out.

Would it be another night passed out in front of a movie that went unnoticed? Maybe an angry stagger home that someone noticed and a call to the cops. Then a night in jail and an early morning walk in the cold southern air.

Maybe you'd find that high heel you lost or maybe you'd kick off the other one cause, to hell with it, you'd just get another pair.
 
Maybe, through that cloud forming before any sense you used to have, someone that could keep you company might show up at the last moment, and a pleasant evening would be in store.
 
Ruby's voice sounded so much better than the venue would lead you to expect. She didn't hold back either. She could have been on stage at the Grammys. Even though she sang My Funny Valentine in country and western's backyard, it wouldn't have mattered had anyone been listening. She sang without limits. She soared and every word took on new meaning as it left her mouth.
 
She called her mom up on stage. The applause drifted through the room. It was genuine, for Diamond Dancer was a well-known icon at the Longbranch. Still, desperate minds are distracted by the longing of the moment. They aren't intentionally rude. The Dancer ladies understood. It didn't stop them from leaving their hearts on that stage. They knew no other way. They sang a current song called "Say Something". Neither had any problem searching for heartache to reference within themselves. There might be those that could sing it as well, here and there across the country, but no one could sing it better than those two did, right there on that dingy stage in that run down bar.
 
"Sing Jumpin' Jack Flash! C'mon, Diamond, dance with Twinkle Toes." Jake Spratt had been coming to the Longbranch "since it twer a twig" as he liked to put it.

Ruby and Diamond were troupers. Diamond would dance for the millionth time with Jake and Ruby would sing the song that she had grown to hate for the millionth and one.

The only way to sing that song was the same way Mick Jagger did. Nothing felt sillier than impersonating Mick Jagger. Ruby had tried many times to change it up and put her own spin on it. It never worked. There was only one way to sing it, Mick's way.
 
"Hit it!" Ruby shouted and let out a throaty "Yeoooow!" The band kicked in and she tore that song up as though it was an audition to be in the Stones. Ruby never held back, not even in the shower. Diamond and Jake kicked up sawdust into everyone's beer and they drank it with smiles.
 
If only Ruby knew. She was the legal owner of one of the largest recording and publishing conglomerates in the music industry today. That song they just sang could be released the following morning with a multi-million dollar promotional campaign to launch it.

If only Ruby knew. But like I said, Mr. Blackwell Senior was dead and Diamond Dancer had nothing to say about it.
 
~~~~~
 
The Bel Air police station didn't have any of the high-tech gadgetry that its Beverly Hills counterpart had become famous for in the movies. In truth, it looked quaint and from a different era altogether. One might expect to see it at Disneyland with a review, pretend drinks and Keystone cops performing hijinks. I suppose that crime simply wasn't allowed around such wealth. At least not crime that would get dirt under anyone's designer nails. The decibel level coming from the police chief's office sounded out of place.
 
"Look, Chief, I appreciate this little gal detective trying to do her job. Very nice, bravo. But, she is starting to interfere with my business. Every time I look up there she is nosing around hassling my friends and clients. For Christ's sakes, she stopped Snoop Dog on his way into the studio! What the hell, does she think? He killed my father? You need to back that girl off and her amazon escapee partner too. I do not want to push this. The mayor and I will be golfing this Saturday; I'd hate to have to bring it up." Johnny Junior, as he despised being called, spoke loudly for all to hear, without yelling. He delivered his message to Chief Sandoval in his usual detached, cold manner.
 
"I'm on it Mr. Blackwell. I can assure you that Detectives Adrian and Smaldino are acting on their own and not under my authority. They will be dealt with firmly today. You won't hear from them again." Chief Sandoval extended a sweaty, ambitious palm to Johnathon Blackwell. Blackwell gave it a firm, quick shake, wiped his own hand on his pants leg, turned and exited the building. What a sleaze. He'd make a nice doormat for my Vegas condo. Why don't I think I've seen the last of those two chicks? Well, maybe I'll call in a favor from His Dishonor on Saturday.  

Author Notes Trying to follow the story line even when it doesn't quite conform to what a regular post might be here. I hope it doesn't throw things off kilter too much. I'm trying to look at the whole piece and not just parts. I've been known to get into trouble throwing things in on a whim. Hahaha. Great input and suggestions. I hope you'll continue to feel free to offer ideas, help and critique. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.


Chapter 5
Q, The Clubhouse & Bullfrogs

By michaelcahill

Previously, we met the true first born child of Johathon Blackwell Senior, Ruby Dancer. We discovered that she knows nothing about this. The Bard and Ruby's mother Diamond are the only two that know anything now that Johnathon Senior is dead. We continue now with Johnny Junior trying to block detective Adrian from her investigation and Detective Adrian pursuing it nonetheless.







 
Johnny Junior liked toys. He liked ordering people around and he liked ordering objects around, like his hands free phone. "Q & A." He spoke to the waiting ear in the phone that stood at the ready to do his bidding. He listened to the obedient ringtone in his right ear. A week ago, he would have been preparing a message in his mind. He would've been screened and set aside for a more convenient time. Not anymore. Junior had become the man that got an immediate answer now. He had become- the man.
 
"Q here, how's it going, Johnny? What can I do for you?" Harpster was an ice cube and Junior had taken the reigns. Reality had set in and Q had accepted it.
 
"Listen, Q, I've just left the Bel Air police station. I'm hoping they got the message about that nosey detective. If not I'm sure you can step in. She's cute actually, maybe I'll give her a ride in the Maserati. Well, to other things. The will. Any setbacks?"
 
"No, Johnny. Some grumbling, of course. Lilith is pissed and your brothers and sister aren't happy troupers, but the will is gold, nothing they can do legally. It's solid; they can't even hold it up in court. Unless something drops out of the sky, we are good to execute in about twenty days. Don't worry about that detective. I can put enough heat on her to have her begging for a transfer. I don't get her anyway, there isn't anything to investigate. He was my best friend. If I was suspicious, I'd be the first one making noise." Q was one of those men that couldn't be read. It was what made him such a great lawyer. If he thought one of his clients was guilty, you would never read it on his face. He could defend Hitler and make you believe that he thought him innocent.
 
~~~~~~
 
While Johnny Junior turned up the heat on one side of town, Detective Adrian snuck up on his backyard with the local neighborhood crazy guy.
 
You wouldn't call these alleys if they were in a normal city. But, in Bel Air, they were considered alleys. The Bard took me down the alley to an open gate. It appeared to be part of the Blackwell estate, though there didn't appear to be anything of interest to them back here. It was overgrown, and what looked to be a children's play area was within a tangle of tree limbs and vines and unusable. Detective Adrian followed the Bard to a door that appeared between two trees. If you didn't know it was there, you never would have found it. It was a clubhouse at one time. A clubhouse for the wealthy makes for a spacious studio apartment for a homeless individual, like the Bard.
 
The Bard was not so mentally ill that he couldn't sneak electricity and cable T.V. into his domain. The cast off furniture in Bel Air proved to be quite comfortable. The Bard was all smiles as they sat down. Soon, the smell of fresh coffee was in the air. Detective Adrian couldn't help but smile. She removed her hand from a position near her sidearm and relaxed. She seldom relaxed. She found it wise, always being at the ready.
 
She looked around at the room. There was an actual bathroom of sorts. A toilet and a sink behind a curtain, it would suffice for children at play. The mansion loomed rather far off in the distance. For boys, a handy tree would suffice. For the Blackwell girls, the toilet and sink kept things lady-like.
 
The Bard had a kitchen of sorts, suitable for a bachelor. A microwave, toaster oven, crock pot, George Forman grill, flat griddle, coffee maker and a few other, plug-into-the-wall and cook-something-quick appliances, were on a table in the corner. He had a nice fridge, but no stove.
 
He had a gorgeous late Victorian bookcase to hold his spices and dry foodstuffs, rice-a-roni, instant mashed potatoes and items that looked to be from food banks. Much of it looked to have spent a great deal of time sitting there gathering dust. Honestly, it said, "single and poor", more than it said, "insane and destitute".
 
There was an older computer and a typewriter, along with stacks of papers. There were various musical instruments, as well. A couple guitars, a cheap recorder, a harmonica, an electronic keyboard and some kind of string instrument that I wasn't familiar with.
 
The dwelling was disheveled, but not overly dirty. Tenaya felt comfortable and the coffee hit the spot. "Do you play all of these instruments?"
 
"I play at, above, around and sometimes through a few. I'm decent on the guitar. The keyboard is more for composition and recording. It simulates the sounds of other, less criminal, instruments. The clarinet, the clarinet goes doodle, doodle, doodle, doodle det. A poor man's orchestra. I can record into the computer and mix it down onto the cassette player. It is ancient compared to what they do now. I concentrate on writing, but even that has become a waste of time. I mean, who cares what a crazy homeless bum has to say, right? Nobody listens. The Bard of Bel Air, it's a joke to them, a free pass to poverty in a posh cit-teee, for me, tax free…yippee." He followed up with a rock version of "a free pass to poverty" and added a clever poem. He can get pretty damn lucid when it suites him, she noted.


 
"They thought they saw a prince
they haven't seen him since.
The slippery slimy toad
slipped into their abode."


 
"They was all a bunch of bullfrogs!" he slapped the side of his leg singing "bump…bump…the Bard was watchin' all the time, bump…bump…never knew I saw them kill that dude, now they're gonna due some time!"
 
Yep. Joy to the World, indeed! That's gonna go over big at trial. Maybe the judge will kick in with some harmony on the chorus. God, this is my star witness…my only witness. Detective Adrian didn't have a case, yet. She had a mentally ill, homeless man spouting poetry and singing songs. She would have some forensics that would tell her that people were in that study that had every reason to be in that study. It had to be something medically induced. A stab wound or gunshot would leave blood and there wasn't a drop on scene. There was a cup of coffee. But, the killer, if a killer existed wouldn't leave evidence that obvious. Whatever evidence there might be was in a cryogenic chamber frozen and at this point, inaccessible.
 
"What did you see, Bard? Who else was there?"
 
The Bard looked back at Tenaya from wherever his mind had wandered off to. He took a moment to focus. "There were people…people who ruin…people… in and out all day. It was grand funk central railroad. But, I didn't see Harpster after three o'clock in the afternoon. Ready for a short people got no reason climb? And…she's…cli…i…i…mbing a sta…air…way…right up this little ladder." The Bard nodded with his head towards the far corner of the room where a steep stairway went right through the roof.
 
There coming to take me away ah ha… Tenaya had some lyrics of her own in mind, but remained interested.
 
Upon inspection, it lead to a short bridge leading to a tree house. The tree house remained sturdy though the paint and furnishings had fallen to constant years of exposure to weather. The window in the tree house provided a clear unobstructed view of the study. The study had a huge glass wall facing the backyard and was in full view from anyone out there. It was assumed that no one was ever out there, the study being the only access point. 

Author Notes Suggestions and input so very much welcome and appreciated. What do you think so far. Am I over looking anything?

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.


Chapter 6
Flies, Amazons & Ghostwriters

By michaelcahill



Previously, Tenaya followed the Bard to his home which turned out to be a clubhouse long abandoned by the Blackwell children. It is rather well appointed being a clubhouse for wealthy children and a nice dwelling for the Bard. The Bard appear to have quite a few talents to go with his off the cuff poetry. We join the story as he gives Tenaya a tour and shows her a special lookout point that will be of great interest to her.

 


 


The Bard spent many an evening gathering material for his book from his vantage point in that tree house. "The Trees Have Eyes" would be a helluva read if The Bard could ever get it in front of a publisher. Morality did not have prominence on the list of Blackwell priorities. One could look at the record charts and get an accurate picture of who went along with the Blackwell's social agenda and who didn't.

This certainly had the perfect look into the private life of Johnathon Blackwell Senior's private and intimate life. A completly see through wall and The Bard here with a front row ticket to watch without a soul knowing a thing about it. I gazed into that window. Even now, Lincoln and Isabela conversed in the study.
 
A fly on the outside wall. Too bad The bard here wasn't a fly on the inside wall. Seeing is one thing hearing is another. Tenaya had her cell phone out and flipped it open. She hadn't upgraded it in about seven years. What the hell, it worked. To her a phone called people and received calls, anything else wasted her time. "Lucy, get a hold of Brainiac. I might have a little super-hero work for him."
 
Lucy Smaldino was Tenaya's partner. They called her "The Amazon Warrior" back at the precinct mostly out of disrespect. She stood 5' 9" tall at 165 lbs, fit and trim. She did tower over Tenaya though. She had beaten a couple of the men at arm wrestling and the threat to their manhood was real as far as they were concerned. Only Officer Barnes took it with good humor due to a decided crush on her.
 
Lucy replied, "Check. He'll be glad to be haunting the streets of Gotham again." She hung up. They had been partners for five years and knew each other's minds completely. Brainiac had the electronic surveillance skills that Tenaya needed from time to time. He also owed Tenaya big time. She wasn't crooked, but she was obsessed with finding out the truth. She wanted the real truth though. She wasn't out simply to close a case. She wanted to know above all else, what truly happened.
 
Tenaya turned her attention back to the Bard. He stared intently at the two figures in the study engaged in conversation. She had a question on the tip of her tongue, when he spoke.
 
"Ah ha! They're manipulating the stock market. Pork bellies. That's your play. Buy low, sell high. BLTs 12.95 at Coolio's Bar and Girdle Fry. They didn't do it. She knows nothing. He knows what he knows and they know it. Keep your eye on the boatload of cash; you're getting very sleepy, very sleepy…you are innocent too. When I snap my fingers you will awaken cause Baby you're a rich man tooooooo ooooh."
 
"Bard, Common now. What are you saying? Lincoln knows what happened and they paid him off? Bought his silence?  Please just tell me straight up. I'm not good at riddles."
 
"Lincoln knows. What does he win? He knows." The Bard swiftly extended his hand towards Tenaya's face and pulled it back. Such was her astonishment that he retained use of his arm. Normally she would've grabbed it and arm locked him, but this time he got away with it. "I've got your nose."
 
He had his thumb between his fingers. It was the prototypical "Grandpa" trick played on many a guileless toddler. Detective Adrian was neither a toddler nor guileless. "Frustrated", that would be an accurate description of her current state. Getting through to the Bard and keeping him on point would be the challenge. Still, she had no reason to believe that his information came from thin air. Even his delusions had a basis in actual events. He didn't tour with the Stones, but the Stones did tour.

Lincoln did know something, of that she was certain. She needed to corroborate that. She needed to talk to Lincoln. But, it was imperative that no one was tipped off that an investigation was even going on. At this point, only The Bard knew she had any clue there was anything investigated. She had to rely on his lack of credibility. She needed an undercover.
 
With the chief's lips firmly planted on Johnathon Blackwell Juniors posterior it would have to be a completely rogue operation. Lucy Smaldino was about to volunteer for some unpaid overtime. Tenaya smiled to herself. It certainly would not be the first time for either of them.
 
They had captured the Bel Air Bunny Ears Rapist completely on their own and off the clock under the same circumstances. Chief Sandoval had no problem taking full credit for that arrest and conviction. Him forbidding his two detectives from going anywhere near Lattimore Daniel DuPont somehow forgotten in the glory that fell at his feet.
 
"Bard, I need your help. I'm investigating the death of your friend, Mr…"
 
"Murder, murder most foul and egregious! Is this a dagger I see before me or an icy cold can of Bud Light? Hamm's a beer refreshin' Hamm's a beer resfreshin'" Haaaaaamms!"
 
"Right, exactly. Can we keep this between ourselves?" Tenaya was exasperated.
 
"Why of course, Tenaya, I wouldn't dream of jeopardizing your investigation in any way. I want to know what happened to my friend. He may not have been the best guy, but he was good to me. He treated me human. That makes two of you." He smiled and made his eyes cross.
 
Tenaya found that to be crazier than anything he had done to date. Sane did not suit him at all. "Oh…okay…then. Well, thank you then. I appreciate it. Do you know who did it?"
 
 
 
People with agendas
                Slither and squirm as though legs
                                gave clues
limbs can be grasped and held on to
                they form commitments
                                they show concern
                and we don't have that
                               
                                many slip in on their glistening trails
                                their aims congealing together
in a conspiratorial pool
 

but, who…who
the night owl questions
but, the early bird only seeks
 
several trails to follow


no one leads
a circle forms
on one long journey
the destination is clear
but, the steps cannot be navigated


 
It could be one of many, Tenaya. Some I suspect. Others would surprise. None can be discounted. He didn't die without help. That is what I know. I have to make rounds now. Keep it normal. Make a showing. Show my face. Be seen. Make a splash. My public awaits. The Bard of Bel Air is in great demand. You can hang out here if you wish. Don't lock it, I have no key…I have no sea to sail…I see no lock within a tear that's shed, but I confine it in blindness. Perhaps that is the price of failing to cry."
 
The Bard left Tenaya standing in his home. She felt the polite thing to do would be to leave. She felt the detective thing to do would be to detect.
 
What are the odds of this book being something sane? She sat on the nice office chair and grabbed a stack of papers. The top sheet spoke of aliens playing chess with an infant in a floating tree house. The aliens won, but the infant played a hell of a game impressing the aliens enough to gain passage on their spaceship to Jack in the Galaxy, their home planet.
 
Farther down in the pile, she came to "The Trees Have Eyes". A handwritten note on the front page indicated that it would be a good idea to "use fictitious names to keep the goodies coming and not make enemies". It was written with great style and if it were all true it would be an earth shaking scandal fest indeed. Could all of this be true? Who isn't in this book?

This Blackwell had no problem cashing in on the power he wielded. A real slime. But, she had to admit looking at a list of the records he had produced astonished her. Hit after hit that went on for pages covering decades of pop music. Country, Rap, Alternative, Jazz, classical and any other recorded music or spoken word you could name of note could be found on the pages of his production credits. 


 

Author Notes Whodonit? I don't know. Do you? Getting more complicated and will a bit more before it starts to come together. Hahaha. HOPEFULLY!! Loving the wonderful input and suggestions. They are having heavy influence so I hope you continue to offer. I hope to be able to start catching up with responses this coming week. Sorry that I am so woefully behind. Internet disasters. Reading with excitement and interest. I'm sure you must see your input at work in the story already! mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.



Chapter 7
Ruby Debuts & A New Nanny

By michaelcahill

Previously, Tenaya followed The Bard to his home, which turned out to be a no longer used clubhouse on the Blackwell estate. It had been outgrown by the children and stood abandoned until the Bard snuck in and made it his home. As luck would have it, the attached tree house had a clear view of the study and all its goings on. The Bard witnessed the death of Johnathon Blackwell Senior. Somewhere, within his mind, was the truth. We join Tenaya, as she considers some of the facts and mysteries the Bard has left her with.








 
Tenaya's suspect list grew. She had a lot of information. The Bard could certainly give her a lot to think about. She had a couple hours of recorded conversations already. There were clues in his ramblings; was there evidence? Well, there were pathways to follow, they could lead somewhere or they could lead to Oz.
 
 
Johnathon Blackwell Senior, Harpster, lead the pack when it came to womanizing and wielding his power to get what he wanted. Indeed, he had only truly loved one woman in his life, Diamond Dancer.
 
~~~~~


The bartender called the singer over and spoke under his breath. "A couple suits in the corner." Bruno "Shnots" Ernst tended bar along with owning and grilling bratwurst and red onions. He spoke perfect English with no accent. The only time he displayed an affinity for his German ancestry is when a patron ordered shots for the house. Bruno would yell out, "Shnots!" Where he came up with that, no one knew. But, it put everyone in the mood and made for a great nickname and mildly amusing anecdote.
 
Diamond Dancer casually eyed the two gentlemen in the corner booth. "Suits" no longer referred to attire. They donned outfits that were still out of place for a seedy blues club, but there were no ties of gold cuff links clanking on the tabletops. Bastards. After my little girl. Over my dead body.
 
Music scouts and agents were common even in out of the way clubs in Baton Rouge. They had hit the major venues and had a couple days left to go fishin'. Linda Reynard, the country star, burst to stardom from a club less than two blocks down the street. Talent didn't have the compelling draw to the business it once had, but amazing talent always had business people seeing green. A record could go gold without ability; with talent, it could go platinum.
 
Ruby couldn't hide her excitement backstage. "Momma, who do you think they're with? This could be our chance. We have to sing "Say Something" and for Christ's sake, you tell that jackass that I ain't doing "Jumpin Jack Flash" tonight, not with record agents watchin' me."
 
"Ruby, you listen to me. These bastards don't care about your music or talent. They care about what's in your drawers. You let me handle them. I've been dealing with them since I was seventeen years old. I know what I'm doing. You just sing. Pay 'em no mind." Diamond had that cold distant look that Ruby never understood.
 
Ruby pulled out all the stops and the scouts were impressed. They approached Ruby backstage. The younger one spoke with enthusiasm. "We liked what we heard. You have a voice that could sell some records. I see you as a classic soul singer ala Aretha. But, I know you have ideas and we want to hear them. The point is we are interested. I haven't heard a voice like yours in a long time."
 
The older one seemed to have a more business-like approach in mind. "Well, we have superiors to report to. But, our initial report will be positive. These things take time, Miss Dancer."
 
Diamond had been standing nearby listening to all of this and was listening no more. "Look. When you have something on paper and a meeting set up with someone that can make a decision, you let us know. In the meantime, we have another set to perform. We don't socialize. This is all business for us."
 
She took Ruby by the hand and dragged her into the dressing room.
 
The younger one called out, "We'll be in touch soon. This is for real…"
 
If he said anything else, Ruby couldn't hear it through the closed door. "Momma, what the hell? What was wrong with them? They were just talkin'. I don't see why you don't want to get ahead. Aren't you tired of being poor?"
 
"We may be poor, but no one owns us. We ain't nobody's whores or slaves. Is that what you want to be? These men are nothing but flunkies. You think they got record deals in their back pockets? They got lies in their back pockets. Lies and lines to get you in bed with 'em. Just like your father had for me." She knew about Harpster's death and part of her outburst was fueled by her feelings about that.
 
"You said you didn't know who my father was."
 
"That's my point, baby girl. There were agents and record executives all over me back then. I was stupid. Star struck and dumb as a fence post. You don't know the favor I did you denyin' you a father. I wish I'd been denied my father. I wish father had denied me night after night until he found my sister. I don't know who your father is Ruby. But, I know he was no damn good. None of 'em are."
 
"I'm not sleeping with them, momma. I just want to make music and get paid for it. I'm not getting any younger and neither are you." Ruby tired of poverty. She oved her momma. But, she wanted to know who her horrible father was. She wanted to know.
 
~~~~
 
Junior wasted no time in moving his family into the mansion. Lilith remained there in no mood to relinquish any of her rights. The cordiality that passed between them loomed as a necessity between possible combatants at a future court battle. No one wanted to tip their hand. Junior felt secure. Lilith thought she had some ammunition that he had no knowledge of. It constituted a cat and mouse game with those roles yet to be determined.
 
Junior had arranged for interviews conducted for two part-time nannies today. One position would be for a daytime caregiver and the other for a nighttime live-in position with days free. Lucy Smaldino hoped to get the daytime position. She had done her research.
 
Lincoln announced her to Junior who conducted the interviews in the study at the very desk where his father had died. "Sir, a miss Lucy Smaldino to see you, sir."
 
"Very well, Lincoln. Show her in and then give us a few minutes alone. I will call for you when we are finished with the interview." He waived his arms around in an unclear manner. Lincoln understood the meaning and escorted Miss Smaldino into the room. He turned and left immediately.
 
"Are you sure that you’re a girl? I hope you don't plan to take this position by force. Lincoln there is a master of Kung Fu. He's pretty dangerous." He flashed a completely disingenuous smile and motioned to the plain fold up chair at the front of his desk.
 
Are you sure, you wish to remain a man? "I'll be sure to watch myself then, Mr. Blackwell." She laughed as though highly amused at Junior's sharp wit. She was not. "I'm so excited to meet you. I have all of Misty Summers albums. She's my favorite. You have taken her beyond any place I ever thought she could go. That slow version of Purple Haze is amazing."
 
"Why thank you, Miss Smaldino. Lucy, isn't it? Not too many people realize how much work a producer does to make an artist and a record a success. She didn't want to do that song you know." He chuckled as though Misty Summers were a child, "But, I knew what was best for her voice. She was pleased she followed my advice when she heard the final mix down."

He smiled. "Now, Lucy, we need someone to watch the kids during the day. Most of our own children our grown. But, we have a couple older teens and grandchildren that will be here often. There isn't a great deal of care involved. An ear to lend, a snack and a little cleaning perhaps. We are in and out and need a pair of eyes in the house. How would you feel about that?"
 
"I love kids, Mr. Blackwell. I could certainly use the job. And the opportunity to work with such an icon of the music industry…well, I guess that shouldn't matter, but, wow, that sure is exciting too."
 
"Well, Lucy, to be honest, I've been interviewing all day and you are the first candidate that I have felt comfortable leaving my children with. I think we can bypass the formalities. You have the job." He stood and extended his hand.
 
"Oh thank you so much, Mr. Blackwell, you won't regret this. I will bust my tail for these kids and keep you informed of every detail. Wow, Johnathon Blackwell. My friends won't believe it. Can I take a quick picture of us? Just for fun, so my friends won't think I'm in a dream world?"

Author Notes Lots of suspicion, but no evidence. It is a tangled web, but so far nothing is trapped in it. Tenaya's partner Lucy is attempting to get on the inside by working undercover as the Blackwell's nanny. Any thoughts or tips. Ruby Dancer is still unaware that Blackwell Senior is her father. Tenaya has supects but no evidence. Meanwhile, Seniors body is conveniently absent in deep freeze. Amazing input. Thank you so much. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead investigative detective. Perhaps the only one that thinks there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.


Chapter 8
The Bard Writes & Crime in the City

By michaelcahill

Previously, detective Lucy Smaldino successfully went undercover as the Blackwell's new nanny. She praised Junior's accomplishments in the music industry and he fell for it completely. Tenaya continued to find out interesting information and background about Blackwell Senior's life. He has a daughter in the south that would be his first born child. That would make her the heir to the Blackwell fortune. She hasn't stepped forward, leaving another mystery for Tenaya to ponder. She still does not have a suspect. But, with Lucy emplyed now in the Blackwell mansion, information should be forthcoming. We pick up the story as Lucy reacts to being hired by Junior.

"Well, as long as you're not planning to put it on E-bay for a huge payoff. We do a background check, of course. I don't see any problem there." He smiled and extended his hand once again.
 
Lucy shook it vigorously keeping in mind that he didn't have the strength that she had. "I can start immediately." Arrogant idiot. Why don't I think you have the brainpower to pull off the perfect crime? Well, we'll see. Somebody or -bodies did.
 
"Tomorrow will be fine. 9AM sharp. Don't be late. Not even Misty, herself, ever dared to be late. Pet peeve. See you then?"
 
"I'll be early. Being on time is something I live by. Thanks again." She turned and headed towards the door. Lincoln was already coming through the door to escort her out. Either Junior has a hidden button or Lincoln is eaves dropping. Well, I'll find out soon enough. Piece of cake. The Lucy and Tenaya show is back on the air.
 
~~~~~
 
Tenaya continued to pour over the Bard's papers, especially his book, "The Trees Have Eyes".  This old fool has a daughter in the south somewhere. The mother was a singer. Hmm. Tenaya paused to consider a couple of pages devoted to a beautiful, black blues-singer that Harpster had tried to sign up early in his career. Damn! That's an heir. Hell, that might be thee heir. I wonder if this daughter has a clue that her daddy is a billionaire? That would be a lead worth investigating. If mom was still alive she surely would've have heard of Harpster's death. But, where was she to make her claim. Where was the daughter? Not many people wouldn't have an interest in millions of dollars.
 
 
This Dancer danced and sang a song
and Johnny B. Bad soon came along
he had some lies and a fib or two
what's a love struck boy to do?
 
she wasn't too happy
cause he was the pappy
with nothing to offer her girl
she was so damned mad that she was ready to rip his head off; it would make your hair curl!
 
she told him "Hit the road Jack."
don't come back
the girl is mine
the doggone girl is mine
no no no she's mine
the doggone girl is mine.


 
She actually burst out laughing at that. Well, funny but it doesn't tell me who the doggone girl is. She read more:
 
As an independent label, every dime had to come out of Harpster's pocket. Nothing was free, including the morning coffee. He hung out, during this time, at the Baton Rouge Hilton, but his head hit the pillow at Fandango's Sleepy Seven Motel. He had a nose for talent, but he had an eye for woman. It would serve him well, when the size of his wallet made him a more attractive man. But, as a struggling independent record label, he was an ordinary, broke man. Lies became his best friend. He could spin a tale that would make a city boy want to put on a pair of bib-overalls and start whittling.
 
The Bard did that often. In the same manner, he spoke, he wrote. He'd begin writing something coherent and then drift off into something less so like that business about bib-overalls. The same page had some scribbling about hosting Saturday Night Live following it.
 
 
Opening Monologue:
 
The difference between rich people and poor people is that rich folk have a porta-potty while poor folk have a pota-potty. Yep, the rich flush it and the poor have to eat it! Thank you Don Pardooooooo!!!!
 
Will they get it? PORTABLE VERSUS POTABLE???


 
It was pretty clever actually. This all fascinated Tenaya and gave her insight and information, but none of it provided evidence. Just as her thoughts turned to Lucy's project, her phone buzzed.
 
"It's me, Lucy Poppins, nanny to the rich and spoiled. How goes it in Dementiaville?"
 
"This old fool has a daughter down south, somewhere. I can't believe she hasn't stepped forth. There is a helluva motive. But, if she isn't stepping up for the payoff, I doubt she did the deed. So, you're in! Damn, you are good."
 
"Was there ever a doubt? I just buttered him up with praise over one of his horrible albums and he ate it up. It wasn't easy finding something that Harpster let him fly solo on. He's an idiot, Tenaya. I don't see him as a mastermind. I haven't spoken to the widow yet, but from what I gather, she couldn't plan a trip to the toilet. I don't think we've met our suspect yet. This is the place to pick up intel though. I can feel it."
 
"Great work. I'm going to spend a little more time here and head back to the station. Sandoval is beside himself. Gotta throw him off the trail. Keep me posted."
 
They both went back to their respective tasks at hand. The Bard was busy at his appointed rounds as well.
 
~~~~~~
 
Recycling for the Bard didn't take the effort it did for most homeless individuals. His rounds didn't include diving into alley dumpsters or digging at the bottom of smelly roadside trash cans. His recyclables were tied up neatly in bags with twist ties that he harvested and placed in his Bel Air Whole Foods shopping cart. The residents put the bags out for their homeless population, i.e., The Bard. By residents, of course, I'm referring to their maids and butlers carrying out their instructions.
 
Detective Adrian had one last stop to make on the way back to the precinct. She couldn't be sure if The Bard would remember to meet her or not. If he met her, would he have followed through on her request? Well, there he stood, in front of the gate to the recycling center right where she asked him to be. She pulled over, hopped out of her burgundy Chrysler LeBaron, and walked up to him.
 
"Did you manage to get what I asked for?" She was hoping for "yes", she was prepared for, "no".
 
 
"The maze was winding and clever
I braved the weather
Her name was Heather
is it trash if I require it?
perhaps it is your own arrogance
and affinity for opulence
that deems it so
as you, disregard it
so, do you dishonor me
that shops at your curbside"


 
Tenaya looked in his cart and saw what she was looking for and smiled. "You are a prince, Bard. I can't thank you enough." There were bags of paperwork and correspondence. Another bag had sympathy cards and handwritten notes of condolence. Not a sentimental bunch. I would've had these in a scrapbook. There were a couple CD's and an old laptop computer as well. "Are these from the Blackwell trash also?"
 
"Why, yes, my lovely. Purloined by yours truly, just this morning. I have inscribed several of these cards with feelings that, alas, I am too shy to express to you with my own tongue." The Bard spoke with a perfect upper-class British accent.
 
"I have to run. You are a gentleman and a scholar, sir. I owe you dinner. See you soon!" She threw the items in the trunk, jumped in her car and sped off. Chief Sandoval awaited her.
 
~~~~~
 
"Detective Adrian, so nice of you to grace our quaint little station. Where have you been? Questioning Celine Dion as to her whereabouts? I hear she has it in for Patti LaBelle."
 
"I'm off that case, Chief, just like you asked. If you're happy with it, then what can I do. I work for you. For the record, I just said hello to Snoop Dog. I like his music. I didn't question him."
 
"Where's your body guard? I've got a case for you, and no, there's no rock stars involved. It's a break-in at the Rutherford's estate. The second time in two months. Could be those Emmerick boys are back at it again. Maybe juvenile hall didn't teach them a lesson. Spalding is Eighteen now. Some time in county jail with some real criminals might do the trick. You and Smaldino, see what you can dig up."
 
"We're on it, Chief. It's just a matter of time with those boys, before they graduate to something worse. Spalding's just a punk, but Wilbert has a mean streak. He put up a fight the first time. It took Lucy's right upper cut to bring him down." She just thinks of you, every time she throws a punch.
 
For Detective Adrian, this would be like an assignment to investigate Blackwell's death. The Rutherford estate and the Emmerick estate were both within a half mile of the Blackwell mansion. You put us right where we want to be, Sandoval. Here we've been thinking you were a pandering, attention-seeking idiot.
 
"Well, we were lucky to win that lawsuit, Adrian. Though, I'd think twice before I'd sue a girl for kicking my ass. Try the diplomatic approach this time." Chief Sandoval looked delighted with his rapier wit.
 
"The anger management courses should make the difference, Chief." …never so pissed in my life, wasting my time, listening to some Casper Milquetoast telling me to take deep breaths. Right, politely request he hand me his side arm.
 
Detective Adrian thought of Johnathon Blackwell Senior's death as a murder. She thought that, from the moment she walked into that study and saw that team of technicians making a popsicle out of Harpster's newly dead body.
 
People in hospitals on their deathbeds don't die with greater precision then Harpster did at his desk that evening. There was more emotion from a janitor cleaning a room in a hospital than there was from the entire entourage congregated to say fare thee well after learning of Harpster's shocking death. No one was even surprised. No one was upset. No one lost a beat except a mentally ill homeless man that Harpster had befriended. He was the witness.
 
That was her case in a nutshell. Nutshell. Boy, did that term ever apply in this case. Tenaya knew she was right. She needed to prove it. A couple CD's, an old laptop and a couple bags of discarded paperwork and condolence cards were as good a place to start as anywhere.

Author Notes A couple requests for longer posts. Is this too long? Let me know. How about the pace? Still introducing and setting up. Suggestions? Wonderful input as always. If you are enjoying the story please tell me. That is just as important as critique. Knowing I am on track is just as important as knowing I am off track. Thanks so much. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.


Chapter 9
Diamond Dancer & Working Lincoln

By michaelcahill

Tenaya is left to rummage through The Bard's papers while he makes his rounds. It turns out that the Bard is writing a book amongst other things. The book is about Harpster and is somewhat a biographical piece. It makes mention of a daughter that would be his first born living in the south. Much of the writing is lucid and then it lapses into parts that are less so, much like the Bard is in person. She meets the Bard later that day where he has come through with bags of trash, including a laptop and a couple CD's from the Blackwell's trash bin. Lucy is undercover as a nanny at the Blackwell mansion. It remains to pull the wool over Chief Sandoval's eyes. Tenaya has trash to go through and Lucy has a mansion to explore. We join the story as Tenaya looks at what the Bard has provided to her.


 
The laptop had a virus, but it belonged to Harpster. A trip to Bel Air Computer was in order. Some music perhaps. Music to sort trash by. Ahh, yes. "Diamond Dancer." Nice title, let's hear it. Lucy put in one of the CD's The Bard had lifted from the Blackwell's trash receptacles and began to look through the papers he had purloined.
 
Hmm. Royalty checks. Johnathon Blackwell. Savannah Nights, The Train to Nowhere…I know some of these songs. I didn't know he did any more than throw money at artists. More Checks…musicians royalty's…little checks…$24.44…$8.23…not much for a billionaire to bother with. No "Diamond Dancer" though.  
 
 
"Southern night, she glows while I try to stay afloat
Diamond Dancer dazzles all the stars in the sky
why does this shadow drifting 'neath the moon
think she'll even notice me, drifting at sea…alone…all alone
Diamond Dancer shine a crystal smile on me.
with your dancing eyes, guide me home."


 
She couldn't help but sigh when she listened to the lyrics. The instruments were unusual. That had to be Harpster. She had never heard a harp play anything but angel music before. This harp played the blues kind of like a guitar. The singer had an innocent voice with a lot of feeling. She liked the record. A little gem no one probably ever heard. I wonder if it was him? She mused. Diamond Dancer. Who was this Diamond Dancer? Was this the mother of his child? What was her real name? It all painted a different picture of Harpster then what most people would imagine.
 
All of these little receipts that would normally be handled by a nameless accountant, he handled himself. For all of his faults, he cared about the music and he clearly cared about this woman. He doesn't seem to be the complete monster that many want to portray him as. This would keep her busy awhile. Lucy should be arriving at work soon.

~~~~~
 
The time had come for Lucy to meet the Bard.
 
"Wooooowwww! Wonder woman! Wonder woman! Miss. I'm having trouble figuring out where to put this parking ticket. I can't find your windshield. Haaaa. Heeeeee. Get it? Invisible plane? I'm known as the Bard.
 
 
The harmless man that tickles
offers you some pickles
it rhymes with butter brickles,
makes no sense.
But, I'm here to say hello
sayin' watch out from bellow
for there's one thing I know
Satan might be lookin' up your dress!


 
At your service, I'm the doorman. May I escort you?"
 
"Yes, that would be lovely. There just aren't any gentlemen anymore." Lucy pointed her key ring at an empty space on the road and a clicking sound echoed down the street. Her Honda Accord or her invisible plane was secure depending on one's perspective.
 
The Bard was both impressed and delighted with her response. "So, you’re the new nanny, Fran Dresher with the funny voice and pretty face? There's an old uncle living in the dungeon. I think he's titched in the head. But I abhor gossip and vacuums, they aren't natural, you know."
 
"Oh? What is this uncle's name? Is it Mr. Blackwell Junior's uncle? Senior's brother?" Lucy held out some hope that perhaps an uncle lived elsewhere in the house and she might get some information from him.
 
"It be a swarthy old uncle cuss of a son. Well, son of a cuss, really. Harpster's deaf brother. Daniel. Disabled in Vietnam, PTSD. That happened to me in Korea, but I live with it. No sense crying over spilt goat's milk. Watch out for him. He might mistake you for the most beautiful woman on earth and ask you out." The Bard shuffled his feet a bit and looked away shyly. It was the way a shy boy looks away from a pretty girl, not the way someone crazy drifts off to the next delusion.
 
Lucy made note of the information. She enjoyed that he had the nerve to compliment her when so many men were too intimidated. "Thank you, I'll keep my eyes open. Any other surprises to look for."
 
"A lot of anger in that house. Lots of dreams, lots of nightmares. Lots of smiling faces, smiling faces, someti…i…i…imes ha! They don't tell the truth." He wandered off singing the song.
 
Somehow, she had the feeling that there was just as much sane as there was insane in the Bards ramblings, maybe more.
 
Junior opened the door just as Lucy started to knock. "Glad you're early, Lucy, grandkids and nieces, nephews…hell, I don't know who some of these kids are. They're everywhere. Mind starting early?" He didn't wait for an answer. He turned and went back in the house as though he were diving into a particularly unpleasant hot spot in hell. Lucy followed him in with a big "bring it on" smile on her face. Kids had the same reaction to her as men did. Kids, however, had nothing to fear.
 
"Will reading, gotta run. You can handle it, right? Good. I should be back in a couple hours. Help yourself." He didn't close the door. His wife didn't say a word. Lilith Blackwell had already passed here on the road as she drove up.
 
Help myself? Self-help advice or just an invitation to raid the fridge. She'd play it by ear. "Anyone under five feet tall, front and center!" She had a voice that boomed bigger than her frame would have you believe. Commanding would be an understatement. Lincoln stood by in awe as eleven unruly children came tumbling in from all over the house and lined up.
 
One of the kids stood well over five feet tall. "I think you are over five feet, sir. You didn't have to come."
 
"I didn't want to chance it." He stood at attention. 
 
"I'm keeping this one. You kids go and play now, but behave! I'll be watching." Lucy picked him up and flung him over her shoulder. He started giggling as she sat him down and let him run off with the others.
 
"Damn. That was amazing. Where were you when these Blackwell monsters were kids?" Lincoln smiled in amusement and awe.
 
"I'm afraid I wasn't born yet…thank God!"
 
They both laughed at that. Lucy wanted some alone time, meaning she wanted some time to sneak around the house and see what she could find. That meant losing Lincoln.
 
"What are your hours, Lincoln? If I didn't know better, I would say 24/7 365 days a year. I'm guessing every four years you work February 29th too." Lucy had plenty of charm when the situation called for it.
 
"I see you've done you're research. That is my job to a tee. I'd give anything for an afternoon at the movies. It just never works out that way. None of these little lovelies were supposed to be here today." Lincoln looked tired.
 
"I know you've gone through a lot with the death of Mr. Blackwell and all. It had to be a shock, someone that young to die so suddenly. I doubt anyone was closer to him than you. You were with him every day. You lived life with him, everyday life. Not just deals and money and fame, but talking about real things that matter. Now, his son just takes over. I don't want to get in trouble cause I need this job, but he doesn't treat his help very well…you know, with respect." Lucy went into sympathetic mood with grace and honesty.
 
Wisdom doesn't always come with years. A simple understanding of what a person is receiving and what they want can go a long way.  It didn't take great insight to know that a shallow man like Johnathon Blackwell Junior would have little regard for a butler in his employ like Lincoln. Of course, Lucy also knew about possible payoffs involved that would give Junior a further sense of dominion over Lincoln.
 
Junior doesn't have the complexity to understand that Lincoln has less to lose and therefore more power over him who has everything to lose. Lucy looked thoughtful. "It would be nice, just once, to trade shoes with someone like Junior. Let him see what it's like. Well, I got these guys under control, It's my specialty. Why don't you take the afternoon for yourself? God knows you have earned that and then some." Lucy smiled and put her hand on Lincoln's arm.
 
"I owe you won. I haven't had an outing with my grandkids in too long a time. I'll be back for dinner. Thank you Lucy." He put his other hand on hers and gave it a squeeze.
 
Time for a tour. The first thing she had to find was the security room. There were cameras set up, nothing state of the art, but several that appeared to be active. She needed to know the security layout in order to get Brainiac in and out undetected. Bugs in this place will be a piece of cake. I could put one in Lilith's Easter bonnet and she wouldn't know it.
 
The monitors ran unattended in a room on a lower level of the mansion. It ran VHS tapes and had a limited coverage of highly trafficked areas inside and outside the property. The front driveway was covered, but not the garages. The living, dining and guest bedrooms were covered, but not the study, master or any of the other bedrooms were covered. The entrance and foyer and the entrance to the kitchen were covered. Anyone aware of the cameras could easily avoid them. A look at the tapes from the day of Blackwell's death would make for interesting viewing. There should be a storage room here. Crap! Someone's coming! Who the hell could that be? Hide? Play dumb? No, react to what does happen.
 
"Who the hell is in there? Is that you Johnny? Uncle Daniel needs some smokes. I could go, saddle up Bessie."
 
 

Author Notes The story is starting to crystallize. Any input or suggestions? Everything suggested so far has been of great help. Wonderful input. Thank you so much. mikey

REMEMBER: Most of the poetry is dialogue that the Bard is speaking in the middle of his sentences as he speaks. There are a couple exceptions. But, in general, you can just read the poem as though it is him speaking.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.


Chapter 10
More Relatives and Visiting a Friend

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy arrived undercover in her new position as nanny at the Blackwell mansion. Junior was in a rush and pleased to see her. He put her to work immediately taking care of grandchildren and nieces. Lucy took the opportunity to convince Lincoln to take some time off leaving her to roam the house alone looking for clues. She found the surveillance room. She also found that she was not alone. We continue.
 
Crap! Someone's coming! Who the hell could that be? Hide? Play dumb? No, react to what does happen.
 
"Who the hell is in there? Is that you Johnny? Uncle Barry needs some smokes. I could go, saddle up Bessie."
 
"It's Lucy, the nanny. Do you want me to go get some smokes for Uncle Barry?" Lucy decided to go with, "I belong here, this is perfectly normal" to explain her presence.
 
"Lucy? I don't know no damn Lucy. Where's Isabela or Lincoln. For that damn matter, where is that limp wristed grandson of mine. I swear since my son died it's like I don't exist. My Johnny boy took care of his mother and his uncle Barry. This grandson doesn't know a damn thing about music and he doesn't know piggly wiggly squat about takin' care of his family." She didn't seem happy, but she didn't appear crazy either.
 
This is exactly what I'm looking for...okay.  Sympathetic. Best friends. Lucy Smaldino let this woman talk. She kept her ears and eyes open, searching for an angle to reach her. "Oh, well that isn't right. He just left me all alone with a house full of kids. I was just looking for something to entertain them. Lincoln finally got an afternoon to visit his grandkids. He'll be back for dinner. I just started. Does Isabela live here too?"
 
"Isabela? She got fired. I'm just used to asking for her. Junior's a jackass. Izzy worked here since the snot-nose punk was a baby. Changed his diapers. Ha! A lot longer than a boy should need his diapers changed too! She raised that boy. Well, her and me. Johnny's always off chasin' his dreams with floozy gold-diggin' wives. Speakin' ill of the dead, I suppose. You watch that Junior. Johnny had some heart at least. Junior…I don't know…cold…about the money…power…mainly power…he doesn't care, Lucy. It's scary."
 
She looked off as though something had entered her field of vision. It left just as quickly. "Esmeralda Blackwell, call me Emma. The last dinosaur in the dungeon." She extended her hand.
 
"My pleasure. I'm sorry about your son. He was so young." Lucy shook her hand warmly and brought up the topic on her mind at the same time.
 
"Yeah. I don't know how they killed him, but they managed somehow. Some kind of poison, I imagine. But, I can tell you this. Those damn guys in green jump suits had him wrapped up before anyone got here, the doctor, cops, paramedics, coroner and I bet the angel of death too. There's your power right there. The only person questioning anything was that young detective. Even the police chief was all smiles going along with the show. Hell, he was yelling at the detective for TRYING to do her job."
 
She looked angry. She continued with a little smile that looked practiced, "I suppose there is nothing we can do about it. He's in deep freeze, Junior's in the saddle and the matter is closed. So, we carry on. There's a room full of toys from when the kids were little. I don't suppose these kids play with old-fashioned things like bats and balls though. But, I'll show you the room. I used to love our family badminton afternoons. Great fun. Well, another time, another time. Don't forget about us down her, Lucy. Daniel smokes Lucky Strikes, non-filter. Filthy habit. But then, we've all got something I guess."
 
"I'll try and keep him supplied. I know I wouldn't want to run out of chocolate!" Lucy made her way upstairs pleased with the new information. A death certificate without so much as an examination. That was beyond suspicious. That was a crime. She needed to get together with Tenaya and compare notes."
 
There were tapes, but she would have to find some replacements. She would also have to find out the procedures involved. Who changes the tapes and how much attention is paid to them. They were old Sony VHS tapes so she would have to find some used tapes that wouldn't stand out. They had been recording over the same tapes for years. The quality of the recording wouldn't be good, but there could still be something of use on them. Maybe some of the neighbors had more sophisticated equipment. That would be worth looking in to. She could feel her pager buzzing in her back pocket. She stepped into the ladies room and looked. She called her partner.
 
Tenaya didn't even say hello. Her caller I.D. told her it was Lucy. "I'm on my way to the Cryogenic Institute. The Bard is there demanding to visit Brewster. I already told Malone and Sanchez that I had the call. They were happy to finish there Starbucks. Perfect, right. A chance to see what is going on there. I'll let you know. How goes it there?"
 
"Mom and uncle Daniel living in the dungeon. They had Blackwell wrapped up and on ice before anyone even checked his pulse. This is a murder investigation. Nothing new, you were right Tenaya. Thirteen suspicious characters upstairs wanting to play tag. Gotta go. Together soon, right?"
 
"Without a doubt." Tenaya clicked her phone off and sped towards the institute.
 
She came upon two burly security guards in the process of escorting The Bard from the premises. Their tone was firm but unwavering. "We see your ass in this building; you'll be leaving it without it. Get what we are saying?"
 
 
"Mighty Joe Young surprised all with his mate
no one had seen him have even a date
and now this surprising twist of fate
the wedding is soon, don't be late!"


 
The two guards didn't seem to find that amusing. Detective Adrian's presence saved the Bard an unpleasant bit of critiquing. "I'll take it from here, gentleman. Take me to the complainant." It wasn't a request.
 
The building impressed. It reminded Tenaya of the old art deco buildings that her grandfather used to show her pictures of when she was young. He would show her pictures and just say, "See, nothing else looks like that. That is what life is Yaya. Being like nothing else." She could still see him in her mind sitting back smiling with that long hair and beard. God, it tickled.
 
It had the feel of a hospital, but none of the urgency or smells. It was cold too. Odd. The cryogenic chambers are underground and nowhere near this floor. Yet, they keep it cold to give the impression that everything here is in a preserved state. I wonder if they believe that? The guards took her with The Bard in tow up to the receptionist's desk.
 
The large Hispanic guard, the smaller of the two, addressed the lady behind the counter, "Let Mr. Nagahito know that the authorities have arrived. We are on the way to his office now."
 
 
"Nagahito smell my feeto
I think it would be neeto
if we dropped another bomb
with a little more aplomb
on his shady operation, sensation, heaven's way station
Get your ice cold stiffs, ice cold stiffs here!"
 
 
Tenaya kept a straight face in spite of how hilarious she thought that was. She'd play it back on her tape recorder for Lucy when they met later. It would be a long laugh, especially with a couple well-earned shots of vodka in them.
 
"Mr. Nagahito, is this the man that caused a disturbance in your establishment earlier?"
 
"Yes. That is him. He barges into my office when I am in a meeting demanding to know when visiting hours are. I told him, or at least tried to, what we did here, but he just kept insisting. When he wouldn't leave, I called security. He went crazy spouting nonsense."
 
"Oh, nonsense, ponsense, donsense. I say flog him and let him feel the sting of alliteration."
 
"Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to please simmer down please. I'd like to resolve this issue. I'm sure Mr. Nagahito would like to get on with his busy day and you mean him no harm. You mean him no harm, correct." Tenaya gave the Bard and I-mean-business glare that made him blush.
 
"Yes your officership. I mean no…no harm. I only wanted to visit my friend in his hour of need."

Author Notes Rolling along. A surprise coming. With my internet being down, I've had plenty of time to write. How do you like the direction this is going. It is a surprise to me. Hoping for suggestions and input. So far your help has been awesome.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother


Chapter 11
So, Where is the Victims Body?

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy met a couple new relatives that lived in the Blackwell mansion that didn't have high opinions of Junior. She found the monitoring system for surveillance. Tenaya answered a call at the Cryogenic institute where the Bard was creating a little distrubance. We continue the story now as she intervenes on the Bard's behalf and angles for a tour of the facility. 
 
"If you could explain to this gentleman that this is not a hospital. We are merely a storage facility. We preserve the human body for a time when medical science can restore these people to health and vitality. They cannot be visited in their current state." Mr. Nagahito quoted directly from one of the posters that adorned the wall right behind his desk.
 
We preserve the human body… Brother, word for word. Tenaya had a few questions. "Now, did he mention who he wished to visit?"
 
"Why, yes. He wanted to visit a Mr. Blackwell. He called him Harp Man, or something like that. I explained that we could not release the names of any of our clients. He said that he was cold and needed more blankets and that he did not like country music. All silly things that made no sense. I tried to explain to him, but he would not listen." Mr. Nagahito looked sincere, which Tenaya found quite amusing.
 
"These bodies are stored downstairs? Might I be able to take a quick look at the facility? I think our friend here may need some treatment. It might help if I were to tell his doctors exactly what we are talking about." Tenaya continued to give the eye to the Bard, who could clearly barely contain himself.
 
"Yes, for the children starving on Mt. Fuji. They ask for so little." At least the Bard said that softly and with reverence. Tenaya could barely keep a straight face, but she wanted to see the mechanics of this place without a search warrant. Hell, there was no way she would see a warrant in this case with the evidence she had now. That would be none.
 
"Well, that is irregular, but if it will facilitate an end to this manner…Susan, send Teller in please." He had pushed a button on his phone. "Yes, Mr. Nagahito." A drone-like voice responded.
 
A couple of minutes later, Joann Teller, an all-business woman in a grey suit arrived. She might have been attractive, but interaction with humanity was not high on her list of priorities. She didn't acknowledge anyone or even speak. She just stood there awaiting instructions.
 
The Bard looked at Tenaya with wonder and said, "She looks so life like."
 
"Joann, give these two a quick tour of the facility and entertain their questions please." He left out niceties, more because they would not register with her, than out of rudeness.
 
"Very well". She had yet to make eye contact with either one of them.
 
"They were never seen on planet Bel Air again. Legend holds that their progeny returned to the great seas of their planet and de-evolved into plankton, restoring the ecological balance. They had saved their planet, but no one was left that used language to tell of it." The Bard continued blathering though it was low key. Tenaya assumed that was the best he could do.
 
They went on their tour, the Bard singing a lovely ballad, Tenaya laughing and Joann Teller having no reaction whatsoever. Mr. Nagahito returned to the business at hand.
 
The tour went without incident. There didn't turn out to be much in the way to question. There were vats of liquid nitrogen with wrapped cocoon like objects suspended in them with a few wires attached. There were a large number of them, much larger than Tenaya had imagined. There were very few employees and very little for them to do. Most of the employees where on the sales staff.
 
This could easily be a complete scam. The only way to determine what was floating in that liquid suspension was to thaw it out and check. That, of course, would ruin the purpose of the freezing. Was everything done and being done according to specs? Who knew, there was no way for an outside party to check. Still, there was no motive for murder or a motive to conspire to murder. They got their money up front. If they were a part of a conspiracy or cover up than it was unwittingly. That remained a strong possibility as far as Tenaya was concerned. Having the body carted away and frozen beyond the hands of scrutiny was too sweet to be a coincidence. The Cryogenics Lab may not be participants, but they were certainly being used.
 
I had one question for Joann Teller. "Which one of these cocoons is John Blackwell Senior?"
 
"I'm sure Mr. Nagahito told you, we are not allowed to give out the names of the clientele."
 
"Well, in this case, to avoid further problems. Perhaps you could bend the rules. I'm sure this gentleman would just like to say a few words. Then perhaps he won't come back and harass your boss. I'm sure your boss would appreciate it."
 
"Well, I suppose that I can't tell you who is here, but I can tell you who isn't. There is no Johnathon Blackwell Senior in this facility."
 
"What? Is there another facility? Technicians from this facility came and wrapped him up. I was there investigating his death. I watched them drive him away in one of your vehicles. He's here. That much I do know." Tenaya rarely was thrown for a loop like this.
 
The block of ice that was Joann Teller thawed ever so slightly. "He's not here, Detective Adrian. Mr. Nagahito runs a tight ship. There are no pseudonyms or scenarios. There can't be. This is long term and by long term, I mean past the lifetimes of succeeding generations even. Identities must be clear. A little mystery now would be an unsolvable enigma ninety years from now. I'm sorry, sir, but your friend isn't here. There are no other facilities associated with us. We are exclusive to Los Angeles County."
 
Joann took us quickly back to Mr. Nagahito and explained our dilemma.
 
"This is unfortunate. Of course, we have nothing to hide and certainly have no desire to be part of a murder investigation. How can we help?"
 
Tenaya's head was spinning. Even the Bard was speechless. Tenaya said, "If you could give me a step by step run down of how you acquire clients and the procedures involved when it is time to…how do I say this…gather one up? Has there been any contact at all between you and Mr. Blackwell? Or, how about any other member of the Blackwell family?"
 
"I have not personally spoken to him or anyone from the family, but I will find out if anyone on our sales force has. They would be the ones that would intitially approach or be approached. I would be brought in more towards the end when decisions were being made. I will be on it immediately for you detective. I am sorry about your friend sir and this misunderstanding." He bowed to Tenaya and the Bard. Tenaya nodded her head and the Bard bowed at the waist completely at a ninety-degree angle. Mr. Nagahito found that amusing and smiled. Joann almost smiled; the sound of ice cracking could be heard near her jaw line.
 
Tonight's meeting would prove to be revealing. Tenaya decided to bring the Bard along. She had passed the point where trust was an issue. He knew enough to sink the whole investigation already. He had information and there was no telling when he would throw out something relevant. Lucy suggested the Santa Monica Pier and Tenaya agreed. They had to be sure that none of them were seen together from here on out. Lucy could run into the Bard near the house. That would be the extent of their interaction, the investigation depended on it. It was possible that lives were in danger if their involvement in the investigation was known.
 
Tenaya couldn't wait. "I don't know if we have a murder case. I don't even know if he is dead! I know this, if he is, we don't know where his body is. It isn't at the cryogenic institute. The one witness that saw him dead, is our number one suspect. Is that crazy? Junior found the body and made the phone calls. Or, did he just make some phone calls? There was a body. I saw it. Was it Blackwell's? Was it dead? I don't know."
 
 
"Who's the body in the bag?
the Harpster dude, or some old hag
my buddy drank a cup at two
left the room and left my view
I didn't see a body fall
I saw no one make a call
wonder what is on that page
yep, all the world is a stage."


 
The Bard threw his usual twist into the mix. Lucy decided to use her charm on him. "Are you saying that you didn't see Harpster after two? Do you know who was in the bag they drove away with?"
 
"No. Lovely Lucy in the Sky. I don't know. But, no dead bodies in the study. No phone calls in the study. No nothing in the study. Two o'clock. Empty. Three o'clock the door opens the show begins. From the outside in." The Bard didn't add anything clever.
 
Lucy looked at Tenaya. "Hell, partner, we don't know a damn thing. We have a body. We don't know who it is. We don't know if it is dead or alive. We have a team of imposters throwing it into a truck. We don't know who any of them are or where the truck went. Mr. Blackwell was last seen at two P.M. We don't know where he went or if he is alive or dead. We don't know if there has even been a crime committed. At best, we have a missing person's case and I suppose a false insurance claim. That's it. The will!"
 
Tenaya jumped up at that. "Hell yes. If there is no dead Brewster, there is no estate to divide. That should force somebodies hand. Whoever wants the money better come up with a corpus delicti or they aren't gonna see a dime."

 

Author Notes Surprise! So, how do you like the direction? What do you mean, what direction? Hahaha. Input and suggestions. I don't know what these detectives are going to do. There is something going on, but what? Suggestions and input would be most appreciated!!

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother


Chapter 12
A Genius & A Diva

By michaelcahill

Previously, the Bard shows up at the Cryogenics Institute demanding to see his friend and bring him a blanket. The disturbance brings the authorities and that turns out to be Detective Adrian. It becomes a perfect excuse for Tenaya to get a tour of the facility. At the end of the tour she is astonished to learn that Johanthon Blackwell Senior is not one of the bodies in storage at the facility. The Bard, Lucy and Tenaya take off to the Santa Monica Pier to relax and discuss the events of the day. We join the story as they walk the pier together relaxing and enjoying each other's company.


 
The Bard and the two detectives walked the Santa Monica pier and enjoyed the atmosphere. They didn't stand out and the Bard didn't receive any more stares than anyone else. The two detectives became two attractive ladies out for a walk in the cool misty air of the Pacific ocean. They were both lovely women and admired as such. Thoughts concerning the case weighed heavily on the detectives' minds, but thoughts concerning the crescent moon and the light dancing on the water found a way in as well. The Bard looked to be more content than he usually did, but the thoughts at play in his mind would be difficult to fathom for the most part.
 
"I used to come here often when I was a little girl." Lucy leaned against the wooden rail and looked out over the dark ocean. "My grandfather was a big time fisherman. He would tell me that a crowd of people made the spirit of a place hide. You had to come at a time when the spirit felt free to dance, then you could get to know a place. We would walk out to the end of the pier and he'd whisper to me. "She's here. Close your eyes now. She's very shy." I would close my eyes. He would say. "Here she comes." I could feel her. A warm breeze within the cool mist."
 
 
"She hides in the mist unseen by downcast eyes
and dances turns upon the ever fickle tide
she seeks the heart that yearns with hope
and slips in quick to tickle smiles inside"
 
 
The Bard didn't add anything off the wall. Tenaya put her hand on his shoulder. She existed in the moment and then a light bulb appeared over her head. It was one of those old style bulbs, the ones where you could see the workings inside. "Hey! "In and Out" double burger animal style with chili cheese fries!"
 
The Bard started lumbering down the boardwalk like a jackal that had just then discovered bipedal ability. "Fried flesh of unknown origin…fried tubers plucked from the spoiled earth soaked in an orangish goo…piping hot and into the abyss of my gullet. Morgan! Moooorgan! Da da da…da…da da da da."
 
Were the professional and serious minded detectives capable of joining in such a demonstrative display? Yes, they were indeed.
 
Tenaya smiled at the young man eager to take her order, "Yes, Morgan, we'll have three double burgers animal style, two with cheese and three chili cheese fries, two coffees and an ice tea."
 
The young man repeated the order, took her bankcard, processed it, returned it and never mentioned being called Morgan. "Number 236. I'll call when it is ready. Here are your drink cups." He smiled.
 
The three of them filled their cups and found a large booth. "In N Out" never had a time when it had several empty booths from which to choose. The Bard sipped his tea as the girls prepared their coffee.
 
"That body must have been dead. There wouldn't be any reason to pretend for Junior Jackass and the poorly dressed lab boys. What if someone insisted that the bag be opened? That would be a definite possibility. You could have insisted on seeing the body, Tenaya. Right? If that dancing clown would've backed you up at all. Zip, zip, zip…hey whom do we have in the bag Don Pardo? It would have to be Harpster or the whole plot goes to hell right then and there. What do we have for the winner? A new car! An all new putt-putt from Pitter-Patt motors." The Bard continued to sip his tea.
 
Tenaya shook her head in the affirmative. "That would be a risk. Unless they were certain that no one would open that bag. How could they be certain? The detective on scene, the first responders, the fire department, but those men had him on ice before any of those agencies arrived. They arrived there first. Now, we don't even know who they were. We know who they weren't. They weren't employees for the Cryogenics Institute. Unless Nagahito was lying. But, why would he?"
 
Lucy interjected impatiently, "The chief. Sandoval, Tenaya. He stopped you from investigating. He backed the doctor and the cryogenics team. You would have had that bag opened in a heartbeat. He ordered you off. Why? He's an idiot? Or, he is in on it? You know he kisses butt anytime one of those rich fools comes in. I thought he was going to have Robert Duval's baby when Duval had that parking complaint last year. Damn, that was embarrassing. Remember that? Christ! He was impersonating Brando. Not even from the Godfather either. Stella! Stella! What a moron!"
 
"As you can see, Detective Adrian, I spoil my wife, Lucy here. She acts when she should dance." The Bard jumped up in the middle of In N Out and started singing, "I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night." He put out his hand to Lucy. She grabbed it and gracefully pulled him to his seat in a swift move. He continued in Brando's voice, "I coulda been somebody, I coulda been a dancer, a prancer, a chance taker and a rainmaker and a booty shaker. I'm not the only one with a tree house you know. Van Johnson's grandkids still live in his estate. The old man invested wisely. His daughter Mitzi and two boys and a girl. She's a widow. The older boy, seventeen. He sees."
 
"You mean another neighbor can see into the study?" Lucy grew serious.
 
"Brandon. He goes by Bran D On. Some kind of rap artist he thinks. Couldn't flip about two cats in a spat over a hat, believe dat. Couldn't free style on the green mile to get a stay of…oh well like I say…went to his head…he's dead. Now he can see most of the study, but he can see the driveway too. He can see the comings and goings of the sheep on the loaming so he could be knowing who, what, when and maybe where or where can my baby be."
 
Tenaya had known the Bard long enough now to understand all of that. Or, at least get the gist of it. The kid next door could see the study and driveway from his treehouse. If he happened to be up there that night, he might have some information. She leaned forward and kissed the Bard on the forehead. "You are a genius."
 
The Bard blushed and smiled. "Opinions vary."
 
The three of them laughed. The rest of the evening was for relaxing. They finally made it back to Bel Air and left the Bard where he requested. Tenaya and Lucy went to Tenaya's apartment on the outskirts of Westwood near U.C.L.A. They shared a little wine and tried to come up with a plan.
 
Tenaya tried to break their case down. "I'm at a loss. We have no evidence. But, we know something is going on. Harpster is certainly missing at the very least. Hostage or more probably dead. But, where. Junior and the doctor are directly involved, but is Junior the mastermind? Lincoln knows something and is being paid to keep it to himself. What does he know?  The will reading happened this afternoon. We need to find out about that. Interview the kid. Our best bet is whatever you can dig up in that house. Lincoln needs to come over to our side. I don't want to threaten him yet. See if you can recruit him."
 
Lucy smiled. "That has possibilities. Junior doesn't treat people worth a damn. Lincoln, his great aunt and uncle are all-unhappy with him. He fired the maid that had been there for decades. Izzy…Isabela, that's it. I'll find her. She wasn't there, but she may have something. We just bide our time and wait for someone to slip up. Junior is arrogant and thinks he is in the clear. I say we let him think that. Then drop the anvil on his head all of a sudden."
 
It seemed like a long evening, but it still hadn't reached eleven o'clock yet. They decided to call it a night and rest up for a busy day. It was three hours later in Baton Rouge.
 
~~~~~
 
"I'm not meaning to offend you, Diamond. But, our interest is in Ruby.  That isn't to say we don't think you have talent. We happen to think you have some great pipes. But, to be honest, you're a little old to be starting your career. If you were already established that would be different. Even Ruby here is not young by industry standards. We usually sign new artists out of high school. She is one of a kind vocally. We can make allowances for her age…"
 
"Allowances? You act like she's an old lady. Thirty-five isn't all that old. She looks twenty-five. I may be old, but I can blow most of what's on your label off the stage. I never heard of your little label anyway. Deep South Records? Sounds like you made that up walkin' in the door." Diamond Dancer had spoken to talent scouts before. She had spoken to producers, record executives from little fledgling labels to Capitol records and Motown. She knew the business and she had watched it change.
 
"Deep South Records has been charting on Billboard for five years now. We are hardly little or new. We are a division of Blackwell Publishing, I'm sure you've heard of them. The decisions are made here, but the pockets are deep and go all the way to Bel Air, California. No, Miss Dancer, we're not little. With Whitney's death we see Ruby stepping into that spot. Not replacing her. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that she would be promoted as the voice of all voices. The number one diva in the country."

Author Notes The feedback has been so encouraging and helpful. I love all of the ideas and suggestions. You would be surprised how little things stick in one's head and influence direction sometimes. Please feel free to offer anything. Thank you very much.

In N Out is a popular fast food chain in the U.S.-Animal style is extra lettuce, tomato, cheese & onion. You have to ask for it. It isn't offered. You have to be in the know!

The term "Flip" refers to making up rhymes or lyrics on the spot to music being played. A good rapper can make up intricate rhymes and meters on the spot. Some of the best rappers like Eminem and Tupac Shakur are true poets. (my opinion)

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother


Chapter 13
The Heir, Kidnapped, Suspended!

By michaelcahill

Previously, the Bard, Lucy and Tenaya spent time together on Santa Monica Pier relaxing and taking a break from the hectic activities they had all been going through. It was a great evening. It had become clear to both detectives that the Bard was much more than just a crazy homeless guy that spouted poetry. Within that persona was a sharp mind with insight. He was also a friend. Across the country, the true heir to the Blackwell fortune sat with talent agents considering a life changing contract for her services. We pick up the story now as Ruby Dancer considers her options while her mother looks on disapprovingly.



 
He reached into his satchel and pulled out a thick book. It was a listing of Blackwell publishing's song holdings. He handed it to Diamond who never took her eyes off him as she set it on the table between them. He continued, "The Blackwell publishing catalogue is the most extensive in the world. Miss Dancer, we own every meaningful song ever written. We own the rights to every decent song that anybody is going to write. We are music and we want to sign your daughter to a recording contract. She's a full-grown woman, I could just go straight to her, but out of respect, I have come to you. Let us make your daughter a super star."
 
"We'll let you know." Diamond began to rise from her seat.
 
"Hell no. I can let you know right the hell now. Where do I sign?" Ruby was red with anger. The agent was taken aback, but only for a moment. He handed her a pen.
 
"Wait, Ruby! Talk to me first. You don't know what you're doing. You don't know what I know!"
 
"I know that I've wanted this my whole life. If not now when, Momma? I'm signing."
 
"Dammit, Ruby. You already…own the company. You don't have…to…sign. You are Johnathon Blackwell's daughter." Diamond broke down into tears. Ruby stood there stunned. She knew her father was white. She could see that in the mirror. She even suspected someone in the business, considering her mother's attitude. But, Johnathon Blackwell? Her mom could've have said Abraham Lincoln and not received a different reaction.
 
No one would be getting any sleep in Baton Rouge that evening. Across the country Johnathon Blackwell Junior was making plans for his new empire even while his own family plotted against him for a piece of the action. Little did any of them know that the real mogul of Blackwell Publishing was Ruby Dancer. They would be finding out soon enough.
 
~~~~~
 
Lucy arrived at work early and well rested. Lincoln greeted her at the door. He seemed excited and took her to the side. "You missed a lot of excitement last night. That man you were talking to yesterday, the homeless man? Well, it turns out he has been trespassing on the property for some time now. Mr. Blackwell found him walking down the street late at night and watched him go down the back alley right into our yard. He's been sleeping in the clubhouse back there. He even has it furnished. Mr. Blackwell has been tolerating him being that he was a friend of sorts to his father. But, that takes the cake. He told him he had to leave. When he wouldn't leave, Mr. Blackwell called the police and they arrested him."
 
Lucy didn't want to blow her cover. She maintained her composure. "Oh dear. He seemed harmless enough when I talked to him. No one uses that area do they?"
 
"No. I don't expect that they do. But, it is private property."
 
"Was it the Bel Air police?" Lucy was trying to determine where he might've been taken.
 
"Yes, they said they'd take him in and let the D.A. decide whether he wants to prosecute or not. I hope it doesn't come to that. But, you can't just move into peoples yards willy nilly like that."
 
"You're right of course, Lincoln. I feel sorry for him, but he does get a lot of help from the neighborhood. Well, any kids here yet. Or, do we have time for coffee?"
 
"Coffee is on and ready. Just waiting for the right company." Lincoln smiled.
 
"I'll be right there. I just have to powder my nose." Lucy smiled back.
 
Lucy jumped on her cell phone right away. "They have the Bard, Tenaya. You need to get down to the precinct. That jackass, Blackwell had him arrested for trespassing last night. Must've been a little after we dropped him off. Let me know. I gotta get back to work. Text me."
 
~~~~~
 
Lucy returned to chat with Lincoln determined to get some information out of him. Tenaya sped toward the Bel Air Police Department hoping to get the Bard out of whatever mess he was in.
 
On arrival, she walked up to the watch commander and inquired about Stewart Slater, the Bard's given name. Sgt. Trammel pulled up a screen on his computer and looked it over. "Yes, here it is. Trespass. Bail posted. He was picked up early this morning at about six A.M. Yeah, I remember. I was just taking over shift from Johannsen. Four guys came for him. He claimed not to know them and wanted to stay locked up. He said he wanted to wait for someone. I asked him who and he said it was top secret. A real nut case. A funny guy. He was singing some mean Hendrix too. I mean, pretty damn good. Anyway, he took him with them."
 
"What about the bond. Do you have a copy of it?"
 
"Sure, I'll make you a copy. Standard stuff though. Have a Heart Bail Bonds, typical 10, 000 dollar bond, 10% down. The usual drill. Here you go." He smiled.
 
Tenaya took the form and attempted to smile back. She was partially successful. Christ! This is all bogus as hell. John Smith. 1234 Dreamland Lane? Hell, I don't read them either. Crap. The chief! No. What if he is in on it? I have to risk it. They have him. This is not good!
 
"Good to see you Adrian. Report."
 
Report? Oh, the damn Rutherford case. "Ah, yes, Chief. Nothing yet. They are out and about, Sir. Up to no good. They haven't made us yet. But, they haven't been near the Rutherford house yet. Lucy has it staked out. I go back in a couple hours to relieve her. Sir, I have another matter. There was a homeless trespass brought in last night and bailed out. I have reason to believe he was kidnapped." Christ, that sounds nuts!
 
"The pest on the Blackwell property? Naw, he posted and left this A.M., Adrian. He's probably dumpster diving as we speak." Sandoval laughed at what he considered a highly amusing line.
 
"You don't understand, Sir. He was a witness to the Blackwell murder. I think he's been abducted."
 
"Blackwell murder? What the hell are you smoking there, Tenaya. There is no murder. That was ruled a natural cause demise. You're sounding like him."
 
"Sir, there is no Johnathon Blackwell Senior at the Cryogenics institute. I had the opportunity to ask them when I was investigating a disturbance there.
 
"I thought I pulled you off that case. Hell, there is no case. I ordered you to drop your crazy hunch and get on with things. Now what? You've got abducted homeless guys and missing frozen bodies. What next, Tenaya, Hoffa's body in the window display at Macy's?" Sandoval was delighted in what may have been the wittiest remark of his life. He was busy mentally writing that down in his mind.
 
"Yes, sir. I wasn't investigating. I was curious is all. I inquired and they told me that he wasn't there and they had no orders or agreement on file concerning him. They buried an empty coffin, there is no body and a billion dollars is about to be passed out to a jackals den of relatives. There is a crime here and now the one man that witnesses anything is suddenly abducted. We need to get a force out and find this guy. He is in grave danger."
 
"Dammit Detective. This is Bel Air. We protect and serve billionaires. The ghetto here is the part of town that millionaires live in. You want me to get hot and bothered over some homeless guy? I know this guy. He's like the town pet wandering around performing for treats. That's all fine and good showing what a nice heart our little community has. But, when your dog shits on the carpet, you rub his nose in it and put him out of the house. Now get back to work!"
 
"He's a part of the community like anyone else. He's a human being, not a dog. I'm telling you that he is in danger. I want to know what you are going to do about it."
 
"I've had about all the insubordination I can take from you little girl. He was arrested, he made bail and he was released. End of story. Now, you either get back to work, or take your badge and sidearm and lay them on my desk and get the hell out of here. You are one word away from suspension."
 
I've seen that shade of red before. At the L.A. Zoo on a baboon's ass! I've done stupider things before though I can't recall what at the moment. Detective Adrian removed her sidearm from her holster, took her badge from around her neck, and placed them firmly down on the Chief's desk. "This is the beginning of your end you, incompetent ass. When I am done finding my friend, I am taking you down. Believe it!" She turned and walked out of the office. He stood there looking suitably terrified.
 
Once she had left the building, a figure stepped into the office. "I thought you had that bitch under control Sandy. That chick is section eight and loud. What are you going to do about her? What about that dyke partner of hers? She'll have an army of lesbians picketing this place. Not exactly low profile."

Author Notes Lots of fun. Is this all making sense? Great input as always. Reading every single word though I am terribly behind in responses. I apologize again. Limited access to the internet. Thrilled with the input and suggestions. Thank you!

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother


Chapter 14
Out of Ice. The Circus Comes to Town

By michaelcahill

Previously, Ruby Dancer discovers that she is the daughter of Johnathon Blackwell Senior and thus the heir to the Blackwell fortune.  The Bard is arrested, bailed out and then kidnapped by the men that bailed him out. Detective Tenaya Adrian attempts to get help from Chief Sandoval and meets a stone wall. They argue and she ends up being suspended. After she leaves the office a figure steps into the chiefs office to discuss the matter. We continue the story now as the discussion with Chief Sandoval is in progress.



 
"What the hell did you want me to do? Shoot her? This isn't some homeless bum that no one will miss. This is a Bel Air detective and a decorated one at that. She's doing what she is trained to do. It's your plan. I did my part. You did your dance. I got you a death certificate and a closed investigation. Christ! No body at the damn cryogenic facility. You didn't have a hundred bucks to get some computer geek to type something in?" Chief Sandoval had regained a little arrogance.
 
"The homeless bum is out of the picture, thanks to you. I don't know what we are holding him for. Do you have any idea who that fool is? He was in Pakistan alone before we had any unofficial presence there. He was the presence. You think he's crazy? Let me tell you something Sandy. I know he's crazy."
 
"Look dammit. He's been sittin' up in a tree house watchin' the property for God knows how long. We have to know what he knows and who he's told. Whatever he once was, he's crazy as a bed bug now". Chief Sandoval didn't like the idea of any of this spilling over into his precinct and personal life. 
 
"I got pops out of the house. Now, my idiot brother is in there. That's fine. He isn't the man my dad is. He isn't the man my mom is for that matter. The idea is to let him play musical chairs while we do what we've gotta do. This Slater is nothing to fool with, crazy or not. And your detective, Christ, she's not going to retire to Cabo and drink Sloe Gin Fizzes. Look what she has found out already."
 
"I haven't killed anyone yet. I'd just as soon keep it that way. The idea here is to make money. We get the money and then we disappear. They can all sort it out at the family reunion." Sandy seemed a little more at ease now.
 
Winston Blackwell did two stints in the armed services. He was the only Blackwell soldier since World War I. Money buys exemptions. Well, Senior did a tour during the Vietnam war. He played harp in the All Branches Orchestra. He was a navy officer though he never fired his sidearm or went through boot camp. He just showed up for rehearsal with his harp.
 
Winston was a Navy Seal with all that implies. He had his leg blown off training mercenaries in South Carolina. You wouldn't know it to see him walk or even run. You could tell when he got in or out of a vehicle, or sat down to eat or watch T.V. He hated the United States.

As far as he was concerned, martial law should be declared and the military should start on one coast and march through to the other coast, eliminating every gang member, criminal and enemy along the way. He had a long list of enemies. His list of friends was shorter. It included anyone that could make him money.
 
Money occupied the thoughts of many people when it came to the name Blackwell. The reading of the will, meant to be a solemn private affair, had turned into a circus. It wasn't a slick Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey show either. This was circa 1910 traveling-freak-show and the Elephant-man was missing. By law, the reading had to be announced in the paper, and run for three days. The add was run in the, relatively obscure, Pasadena Star News. However, within a population of 250,000 individuals, someone was bound to notice. Three claimants showed up with attorneys in tow.
 
Ascension Bolivar and her son, Enrique had documentation that appeared to be in order. If it held up, Enrique Bolivar at that moment was the heir to the Blackwell fortune. Well, that title belonged to Ruby Dancer, but that wasn't known by anyone, yet. Lourdes Stevens was only thirty-seven and her mother, Sunshine Michele, claimed that she was the first-born daughter of Johnathon Blackwell Senior. Maybe she was the heir.
 
Famous Washington certainly wasn't the firstborn at sixteen years old. He didn't have parents to represent him. He showed up with his publisher and ghostwriter. "Harpster's Lovechild-Abandoned at Birth", it sounded like a good page-turner. A crack-addicted prostitute giving birth right on the mixing board in Blackwell studios, while Snoop Dog laid down tracks on his latest platinum album. It is said if you listen closely, you can hear the baby crying in the background.
 
The Enquirer had interviewed two of the three claimants on the way in, and had stories already going to press. Entertainment Tonight and other serious journalistic endeavors were on scene as well. What would Harpster say if he knew all about this?
 
~~~~~
 
He wouldn't know about it, where he was. At the moment, all he could say was, "Bard! They got you too? What the hell are you doing here? Do you know where the hell we are? What in hell is going on?"
 
"On the third day he arose…no…too grandiose…Persnickety Snodgrass snookered back enough schnapps to somnambulise a shirtless Sade…OH! I like that image! Come on down! You’re the next contestant. Such incompetence! We need more ice! Dammit Jim. I'm a doctor, not an ice cube. Another Abe Vigoda moment. Good to see you, Harpster. Come here often? I've put in a complaint with management. I've been kidnapped by thugs and stuck in some kind of cellar. NOT IN THE BROCHURE!"
 
Harpster rushed forward and gave the Bard a bear hug. "You are a sight for sore eyes. They think you know something and they want to know what it is. That's what is keeping you alive. I have them snowed. What the hell, I'm a writer and a damn pathological liar too. Finally, coming in handy. Keep them thinking you have one up on them, or you're a goner. We got to get out of here. You have the skills. I'm along for the ride, if you don't mind" He put his hand out.
 
The Bard grabbed his hand with a purpose. "Corporal Slater, reporting for duty sir. A little bit crazy, a little bit rock and roll."
 
Harpster looked like hell. It made sense since he had been taken there and back, in a proverbial sense, several times. His son didn't have the heart to kill him…yet. He was heartless enough to torture him though, or at least to allow his torture. Harpster's secret surveillance system probably kept him alive. Winston had underestimated him.
 
That old VCR system gave Winston the impression he could run his operation virtually unseen right inside the mansion. Harpster had left that system running and prominent to act as a decoy for his real system, a state of the art full coverage monitoring of his entire estate that would record how many acorns a squirrel had hidden in the oak tree in the south garden.
 
It took very little to convince Winston that he had back-up tapes ready to be released in several locations. The truth is that Harpster paid no more attention to his new security system than he did to his old. It didn't stop him from looking Winston in the eye and saying, "I know everything and I'm not the only one." That was enough to keep him alive. Harpster knew it was that and not some sentimental notion about father and son that warmed his son's heart.
 
The two friends started filling each other in on their recent activities. Harpster had been drugged and had no knowledge of anything until waking up in the room he was in now. He knew nothing about cryogenics or Dr. Khin or anything that the Bard told him about. He had no idea he was dead and on ice.
 
The Bard had a poor response to stress and his communication skills were more difficult than ever to comprehend even for someone that knew him well. It was a damn shame that a war hero walked the streets homeless.

True, it was the streets of Bel Air. But, in many ways that made it worse. Obscenely rich and soulless people throwing tidbits out their stained glass windows and watching with a little amused smile, while the little homeless man gobbled them up soothed their sense of obligation.
 
Harpster knew that the Bard stayed in the clubhouse. He had Lincoln put some of those appliances and furniture in the alley. He hung the cable line from the box himself for the Bard to find. The treehouse, he hadn't thought of. He had offered him a room in the house, but the Bard didn't like the idea of a free ride.
 
Well, there was much to discuss and hopefully the Bard would calm down and join in more coherently. Harpster couldn't help but wonder, what was unfolding outside of this dark little room. Apparently outside of this room was a world in which Johnathon Blackwell Senior was dead.


 

Author Notes This is fun to write. Fun to read? Suggestions and input are so very welcome. I listen to every word. I may not do something with a suggestion right away, but I do have it in mind and might surprise you out of the blue.


Chapter 15
Heeeeeerrrrreees LUCY!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Johnathon Blackwell Senior, Harpster, was found to be alive and a hostage of his son Winston, who had turned from a war hero into a money hungry mercenary. The Bard had been arrested, bailed out and kidnapped by his benefactors. Upon reuniting with Harpster we learned that The Bard had a military background that might come in handy in helping them escape. We continue now as we find Tenaya, driving from the precinct, preparing to contact her partner, Lucy and fill her in on the lastest developments.
 
Tenaya couldn't be any more angry than she was at this moment. That son of a bitch is so totally in on it. Whose damn Humvee is that in the employee parking lot? Not one of ours. Maybe Arnold is researching a movie. Boy, have I got a damn plot for him. Naw, too damn complicated for him. She had to call Lucy and give her a heads up.
 
"Lucy, it's me. I'm suspended or fired, I don't know which. That bastard is up to his eyeballs in it. I can feel it. Play it cool. I suggest you turn on me as far as work goes. Cover your ass. Adrian was a loose cannon…wild theories…just want to do your job…blah, blah, blah. They have the Bard. Bailed him out this morning…gone…who knows. Trust no one. Well find a meeting place. Low profile. Later."
 
Lucy looked around the house. Lincoln was there somewhere. Emma and Daniel were downstairs as far as she knew. Everyone else was gone. Time to find Lincoln and start working him.
 
He looks like he's buried in the sand up to his neck and the tide is coming up. Like that movie…what was the name of that?...can't think of it…oh well…that guy looked braver. "They kidnapped that homeless guy. I wonder what’s up with that? This place is beginning to feel dangerous. You know what's going on better than anyone. Was Blackwell murdered? Does that homeless guy know something? Am I next?"
 
"There's nothing going on, Lucy. I was here when Mr. Blackwell passed away. The doctor did everything he could do. His heart just gave out. I just hope I'm alive if they ever revive him. He was always good to me and Isabel. We were like family. This homeless man was trespassing. It wasn't my call. I suspect a man has a right to protect his property. What makes you think he was kidnapped. How do you know those men weren't his friends?"
 
God. You are too damn easy. Lie, lie, lie. How do you know who picked him up? Jeez. Can I take your confession now? I'm going secret agent on him. "Look, Lincoln. You can drop the façade. I know all about everything. I know about the fake drivers for the cryogenics lab, I know about juniors involvement, the doctors and I know about the payment to you. I don't know where they took Senior or if he is dead or alive. I don't know where they took Slater or if he is alive. If you want to cooperate, we'll go easy on you. If not, I’ll fry you along with the rest of them. That's your choice to make."
 
Lincoln just burst out laughing. It was not the reaction that Lucy was hoping for or expecting. "You're gonna' fry me? Ha! You think Isabel got fired? She's downstairs warming her feet by the fireplace…from the inside! This family thinks nothing about killing their own. You think you scare me? Your're the one that needs to be scared. I don't know a damn thing. I know this: Yessir' Massa Blackwell. Ya sure do looks handsome tonight sir. Y'all let me know now what butt cheek y'all want me to kiss now ya hear? That's what I knowMiss CIA, FBI. KFC or whatever you are. Any other questions for me, Missy Lucy?"
 
Lucy walked over to the table where her oversize purse was. She reached inside and pulled out two items. She put the cuffs in her left hand. In her right hand, she had a service revolver, which she pointed at Lincoln. "Turn around and face the wall. Put your hands on your head, interlacing your fingers." Lincoln looked rather surprised as he turned around and complied. Lucy cuffed Lincoln and read him his rights.
 
She rattled off a list of charges. She said, "You're gonna love it when I drop you off in public and give you a big hug and a sloppy kiss on the lips. I know your buddies will like it too. Scared now, you lowlife bitch? You let your friend rot downstairs for a few bucks. You deserve everything that's coming to you. I'm glad you decided to play it chicken shit. A punk like you knows nuthin' anyway."
 
All of the arrogance and bravado drained right out of him. "They're gonna kill me. You can't do this. No! I'll tell you anything you want to know. He ain't dead. He ain't dead. The doc. He's in on it. He paralyzed him. Signed the death certificate. I wasn't supposed to be here. Just came back for my wallet. Twenty grand. That's all. Ain't worth it. Please, Lucy. They'll kill me for sure." Lincoln was close to tears.
 
Lucy put her hand around Lincoln's throat and slammed him against the wall. She took her knee and placed it firmly against his crotch. "I'm not a regular girl, Lincoln. Things got a little out of hand training me. I'd rather take care of you myself than arrest you, know what I mean?" She released him and spun him around. She undid his cuffs and returned them to her purse along with her service revolver.
 
Lucy sat at the dining room table. All look of menace had completely vanished from her visage. That scared Lincoln even more. She spoke in her regular sweet voice. "Is that fresh coffee? I brought some baklava, enough for two. It's on the table in the kitchen. Join me?"
 
Lincoln managed to croak out an, "Of course". He stepped into the kitchen and returned shortly with two cups of coffee and a plate with baklava. He used the antique Wedgewood china. He began to volunteer information. "It is about weapons and military secrets. Of course, at the bottom of everything is money. Lots of money. Blackwell is one of the most liquid billionaires in the world. His money is tied up in money: bearer bonds, silver, gold and cash. He has real estate, rare art and things. But, he likes real spendable money. That is what makes the arms trade run. You don't put flamethrowers on your Visa card. You want untraceable transactions. The more illegal it is the less paper you want. They didn't know that I was a communications specialist in Nam. Harpster didn't pay any attention to his new surveillance toys, but I did. I've got back up too. Don't think you live in the squeaky-clean U.S. of A., Lucy. The cutting edge research on biological and chemical weapons is being done right here in the land of the free. Winston got his hands on it. It is priceless to some of these countries. The Chinese have unlimited funds for it. That's the play. If they don't buy from him, they'll buy from the next guy."
 
Lincoln looked down at his coffee cup. Lucy took a bite of her baklava. "Go on."
 
"Well, that's about it. I have nothing to do with it. They don't know that I know all of this. They think I have suspicions about Blackwell, that's all. Twenty grand to keep quiet about maybes. Just insurance. I'm not a priority. Blackwell and his toys though, they had no idea about that. They didn't know that he paid no attention to any of his own surveillance. That's why he's alive. They think he knows something. Apparently he's been able to keep them thinking that."
 
Lucy didn't respond. She let the events of the last few minutes work their way through Lincoln's mind. She sipped her coffee and nibbled on her desert. Lincoln sat there looking at the floor. He knows a lot about what's going on for an outsider. He's been watching and documenting, no doubt. This isn't the Bard, sitting up in a treehouse. This is someone that could help her nail these people to the wall. But, could she count on him. She didn't think so. Still, she would have to up to a point.
 
"I'm not on their side, Lucy. I'm just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just want to survive. I've got family. I want to see my grandkids grow. If I can help, I will. But, I want assurances that you can protect me. Doing the right things is great for the movies. Actors that die in movies are still alive in real life. In real life, when you're dead, you're dead."
 
"You'll have your chance to prove yourself. So far, you haven't proven a damn thing to me. You take the easy way every time. You have no convictions. That makes you weak. Maybe you'll turn out to be someone your grandkids can be proud of. I hope so. As far as assurances go, I can assure you that if you screw me or any one of my friends over you'll beg for death."
 

Author Notes No Bard in this chapter. I didn't want to force him in and I needed to establish some things. Besides, Lucy is a cool lady all by herself! Suggestions and input? Loving your ideas and help. Great thoughts and ideas!! Thank you. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnaped father and the Bard.


Chapter 16
Lawyers, Headlines, Ungrateful Kids!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy heard from Tenaya the news that Tenaya had been suspended. Lucy decided to push issue with Lincoln and ended up playing hardball with him after listening to him lie about everything. She didn't feel confident that they would be able to trust him. We continue the story now as Lucy reports the latest news to Tenaya and prepares to meet with a young witness that has been observing the Blackwell property from next door.


 
Lucy excused herself to the lady's room and called Tenaya. "Lincoln's as dumb as a butler that would settle for a twenty K bribe. He's got some intel, but he can't be trusted. We have a homicide right here in the house. The maid Isabel is buried in the new fireplace downstairs. Now, who do we report it to and who do we arrest? We can't do anything till we find Harpster and the Bard. Are we on the same page?"
 
Tenaya had cooled down considerably from their last conversation. "Agreed. I say we are on our own. They feel the heat and they fry those two and run. Braniac's made his installations?"
 
"Yep, in and out like a summer breeze. He also rigged the existing monitoring equipment to be run remotely if the need arises." Lucy smiled. Their man had no peer. She imagined that he could take a tin can and a string and call the White House.
 
"What about the kid in the treehouse next door?"
 
"That's a go. He isn't much of a rapper, but he needs to meet Braniac. I think they would have a great conversation that only they would understand. I meet him later. Shot a few hoops with him on the way to work this morning. I'm worried about the Bard. There is no telling what the hell he might say to piss someone off."
 
"Yep. Well, we just hope and wait. In the meantime, we find out as much as we can. For now, we are totally on our own and you don't even know me. We'll meet at The Ice House in Pasadena later tonight. The nine o'clock show, Steve Martin is booked for one night. Bring Braniac and the kid unless you think that would alert his parents."
 
"Naw. Typical wealthy Bel Air types, out of the country. We'll see you there."
 
Later that day she met the young man at Starbucks. Brandon or Bran D On, as he demanded to be called, lived next door to the Blackwell mansion. The Hargitay mansion had everything the Blackwell estate had. The slight prominence came in a vague memory that the name Hargitay triggered. Mickey Hargitay had been Jayne Mansfield's husband. They made a few movies and Mickey was shrewd and invested wisely. They made money in the movie industry.
 
His daughter, Mariska gained notoriety on Law and Order, SVU. But, she didn't live here. No one paid any attention to this part of the Hargitay family except people that needed money or wanted to make money. Bran D On had nothing better to do than play with his collection of electronic spy toys. Lucy was about to add a seventeen year old rapper to the team that she and Tenaya had put together. With the Bard of Bel Air, Braniac, and the formidable Lucy, the team looked a little bit like a Marvel Comics action hero group.
 
~~~~~~~
 
"Dammit, Q. You assured me that this was all a formality. Now what? Can't you do some lawyering? Are you telling me that there might be something legitimate to these claims? You've got to be kidding me. I had to leave out the back door. I'm not my father. I don't need a spotlight to validate me. I need all of this crap to go away. I've got a business to run. What am I paying you for?"
 
"First of all. You aren't paying me, the estate is. In other words, Johnathon Blackwell Senior is paying me or has seen to it that I get paid. It isn't my fault your dad had some dalliances here and there. Be glad there are only three. I have the feeling we aren't done with them though. One of them is totally legitimate. Another might be."
 
"Make them go away. I'll be damned if I get cheated out of my birthright by some one-night stand dear old dad had on the side. Throw a little cash at them. But, not too much."
 
"Speaking of cash, this estate is in a living trust. I understand that you have operating costs and a household to run, but I hope you are accounting for your expenditures. Harpster's books aren't looking on the up and up lately. My loyalty is to him"
 
"Look, lawyer. I get it. You and dad were buddies. Dad is in deep freeze and won't be back for a while. You work for me now. So, work for me. I can find plenty of lawyers that would love a billion dollar account to handle. Just handle it. Get rid of these clowns!" Junior stormed off convinced that he had made his point.
 
Q watched him leave. If you think I work for you, punk, you're in a bigger dream world than I thought you were in. I know you're bleeding his accounts and holdings dry. I just don't know what you're doing with the money. But, I'll find out.
 
 
 
~~~~~
 
Junior's desire for a low profile fell victim to sensationalism. Money does that to people. We seem drawn to obscene amounts of money and what people will do to get their hands on it. The press, both legitimate and otherwise, (is there a distinction?) had a re-awakening as muck raking journalism at its finest. The headlines were in direct competition.

 
Are You Harpster's Kid? Odds Are Good!

The article concerned itself with over 124 separate claims against the Blackwell estate. One gentleman, born in 1924, claimed that his mother had been transported to the future, impregnated by Blackwell, and then returned to the past to invent modern jazz. He said that he became a plumber as his mother lost all of her teeth and could no longer play the trombone. There were other claims that were outlandish.


 
200 GALLONS OF BLACKWELL SPERM!

The article estimated how many 32 oz. soda bottles it would take to store that quantity of Blackwell's sperm if such a quantity were available. Sadly, it only talked about the question and never answered it. The author claimed to be doing research, but was vague about a completion date.


 
BIEBER ADMITS IT! I AM HIS DAUGHTER!

Sonja Bieber of Cricketscreams, Wyoming caved in to pressure from her high school prom date in front of the entire student body. It had long been suspected that she was Blackwell's daughter ever since her drunken mother pointed at Blackwell's picture in a magazine and said, "Did him". It was also reported that Annabelle was producing milk again. The Dooley household could breathe a sigh of relief.


 
Many of the articles were without merit and not worth reporting, but of course they were. It wasn't long before Junior became prominent and his every move was followed and reported on. This did not put his partners' minds at ease not did it make his covert activities easy to carry out. It didn't sit well with Junior, But, Winston found it to his liking. In his mind, Junior could run the circus and draw all of the attention to that while he and his cohorts could slither in the dark and take care of their shady dealings un encumbered.
 
Winston Blackwell was hard to figure. A one-time war hero and patriot, he had turned, seemingly on a dime, into a money hungry mercenary of the worst kind. There didn't appear to be a moral bone left in his body. He once epitomized integrity and honor. They don't give the Congressional Medal of Honor out on a whim. There is documentation and independent verification.
 
There are those that play devil's advocate and intentionally try to undermine the process to make sure that the merits of the recipient are beyond reproach. Winston had saved six men single handedly, when any sane man would have run for his life. No one would have criticized him for doing so. Six badly wounded and immobile men, unable to defend themselves, or even walk, already abandoned by medics and two guards, were defended by Winston alone.
 
Winston had come across them while in an ordered retreat. As his unit poured by him running to safety, he stayed there with his M-16 and guarded these six wounded soldiers, five men and one woman. A portrait of him standing guard while enemy troops advanced from over the dunes hung in the National Gallery, commissioned by then President George W. Bush.
 
A last minute air strike saved him and the six wounded soldiers. Five of them survived. Witnesses said that he never looked back for help and he never showed signs of abandoning his post even with dozens of enemy troops advancing on his position.
 
This same man, now, had his own Father held hostage in a dungeon, and was in negotiations with foreign entities for the sale of, not only weaponry, but, also, national secrets that would compromise security for forces in several parts of the world. He was on the verge of becoming a traitor on the scale of a Benedict Arnold. He decided to interrogate his father himself.


 

Author Notes Still more without the Bard. But, he is coming up soon. Suggestions and input? Always most welcome. mikey


Chapter 17
Time For a Vacation

By michaelcahill

Previously, Junior's life became inundated with things that he didn't wish. Claims against the estate from so-called heirs to the fortune. Outlandish headlines and stories appearing. Elsewhere, Winston prepared to interview his father and the Bard.




 
Winston walked into the room as though he had watched too many second rate combat movies.
 
"You know you're getting special treatment pops, you being my dear dad and all. I'm running out of patience and you'll soon be running out of fingers. Oh yes, daddy dearest. I am smart. I know what your price is. Most men would list their manhood first, then probably their eyes, the ability to walk and maybe to hear. Fingers wouldn't be at the top of the list. But, they are for you."
 
Harpster did everything within his power to hide his terror. He couldn't completely hide it though. His son knew exactly what he was talking about. Harpster was a musician first and foremost. It meant more to him than the money, power and fringe benefits. The only thing better than producing great music was playing great music.
 
Harpster regained some composure. "What would you know about it, Winnie?" He knew how much Winston hated that name from his childhood. "Your fingers never did anything but kill. What's the count Wee Winnie Williker? Or, did you lose count. Or did it become so a part of your nature that you lost the desire to even brag about it?"
 
"I'm not Junior, pops. Little piggy went to market mind games won't reach me. It's been long enough. You had no back up. You had no damn plan at all. You…"
 
The Bard jumped up. Winston put his hands up startled. He put them up as though he were swiping at a fly that existed only in his imagination.


 
"There was a time
                when the river flowed in torrents
                through trembling canyons
                                that you were but an amoeba
                                                like any other
               
                                                you looked up at that mountain
                                                                                as did they all
                                and dared to become king of it.
 
and now you are just as small
but you only look down."



 
The Bard looked Winston in the eyes. He didn't blink. Though little remained of what he once terrified those that terrified with, it was Winston that turned away.
 
Winston said, "You remember what a soldier is. You might even remember that you once were one. But, you are not one anymore. You don't have long to live, either of you. I suggest you get together and decide what your life is worth. You have two hours."
 
~~~~
 
The guard unlocked the door and let Winston into the room where the two prisoners were being held. He walked in and just stood there staring. After a minute passed he called in the guard to ask him a question. "Nunez, was that hole in the wall there this morning?"
 
Nunez stared at the large hole in the wall of the room. "No, sir!"
 
"Nunez, would you be so kind as to tell me where my prisoners are at this particular time?"
 
"I don't know, sir."
 
"Well, Nunez, you can well imagine that I might not be too pleased to hear that?"
 
"Sir, yes, Sir."
 
Winston walked over to the hole in the wall and squeezed through it. He motioned for Nunez to do likewise. He had another question. "Nunez, have we built a new heliport since this morning?"
 
Nunez looked at the heliport and forced out a strained answer. "No, sir."
 
"Well, good. That is just great. I was just wondering, Nunez. If it isn't too much trouble. COULD YOU TELL ME WHERE THE HELL MY PRISONERS AND MY HELICOPTER HAPPEN TO BE?"
 
Sometime within the last two hours, Harpster and the Bard had knocked a hole in the wall, taken the helicopter, and escaped.
 
~~~~~~
 
Harpster had his heart in his throat. He was sitting in a helicopter about to take flight and the pilot was singing a damn good version of "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. A desperate fear of flying would have been enough to strike terror into him. Adding the possibility of an armed attack at any moment put the tension level over the top as far as he was concerned. The Bard seemed pleased as though this was the most natural thing in the world. Somehow, that didn't help calm Harpster down.
 
As the chopper lifted off, Harpster's terror became academic. It was time to "tell your dreams to me,
fantasy will set you free".
 
As soon as they got a little air, the Bard could see where they were. "This is Mojave. Bel Air is south. Vegas north. New York east. Into the western glare we sought the deep blue sea."
 
"Look, I'm dead and I have to stay dead. It isn't wise for you to be alive either. We need to crash this thing."
 
"Like, dude. You're such a downer man. Always such a negative Nellie. Too dangerous. We can land this. It's a big desert. But, then we're in the desert. But, I can find a spot. Leave it to me. Yeeeeeeeooooowwwwww!!!!! Lake Los Angeles, Crystal Meth Capital of the world! What is there to do here dude? Oh nothing. Yeah! Then let's stay awake forever doing it!"
 
Brewster glanced over at the Bard blathering on and smiled. Something about the whole situation tickled the hell out of him. I've just escaped from armed independent mercenary soldiers. I'm flying over the Mojave desert in a helicopter piloted by a mentally ill homeless man that is looking for a place to land in the middle of the crystal meth capital of the world. "Get ya motor runnin'. Head out on the highway. Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes are way…"
 
Brewster felt alive for the first time in years. The Bard? He felt normal, like he always did. Lake Los Angeles actually had water in it at one point. It had been thought that a lake in the middle of a desert would make a great tourist attraction. For some reason the people preferred the Pacific Ocean that happened to be closer. Go figure. Eventually the man-made lake dried up and remained empty and abandoned.
 
Miners still coaxed gold out of the desert sand and lived unnoticed where no one else would care to look. If one wanted to get lost and not have anyone search for them, this would be a great spot. Even the native flora had a mind of its own. The Joshua tree, actually a succulent, which looked like a cactus, grew as though no one would actually look at it. Limbs jutted out at strange angles, grew up and down and straight, and crooked as though it had no interest in itself whatsoever.
 
The Bard had been here before. He had lived in this desert before hoping on the Metro link train to Union Station in Los Angeles. He had made his way to the mission district and lived there for over a year. The mission district looked and smelled like everyone's worst vision of homelessness. The reality of living there proved to be much worse. To see the painting is one thing, to be the subject matter is another. To get a whiff of something in passing is an assault on the senses, a brief one. To be the assailant unable to escape one's own foulness left permanent scars on the heart.
 
He could still hear their voices in his head. These voices were memories. They tried to compete with the other voices, the ones that attempted to tell him what to say and do. "Why don't you take a bath, bum? Jump in the fountain. It couldn't hurt." But, that would get you a night in jail. Gas stations locked their bathrooms. Bathroom keys were attached to neon glow rods that whistled Dixie if they were more than twenty feet from the building. But, bums didn't get bathroom keys to take baths in rusty sinks. It was a class thing. There was a time before being The Bard of Bel Air when Corporal Slater answered to "lousy bum" or "stinking parasite" or "worthless scum". Now he returned in a helicopter with one of the richest men in the world as a passenger.
 
He set the chopper down in a small canyon. There were a couple of dilapidated structures and a cave that looked to be reinforced. The Bard hopped out and beckoned Harpster forward. "Welcome to my summer cottage."
 
He threw Harpster a cell phone and smiled. Harpster smiled back.
 
He took another cell phone from his back pocket and typed in a number. "The is Red Rover from Dover. The password is "bird". I have the popsicle thawing out here at Bard Manners! Manners! The salad fork is not used for stabbing cocktail weenies and I find it most insulting."
 
A relieved Tenaya Adrian answered what she thought might be a question, "Yes, dinner would be lovely. Your place or yours. Have your people give me directions. So you have the dead guy with you?"
 
"Rumors of his death have been slightly exaggerated. But, just slightly. He doesn't look good at all for a thirty-year-old man. Well, nothing a couple eight balls of meth can't cure."
 
"Don't make me have Lucy arrest you now."
 
"So, she is interested!"

 

Author Notes Could use some input and suggestions. Anything at all even if it sounds a little outlandish. Thank you!!!


Chapter 18
Roads to Los Angeles

By michaelcahill

Previously, the Bard and Harpster have escaped the mercenary camp. Tenaya has been contacted. Winston is beside himself over their disappearance. We pick up the story with an angry Winston about to make a surprise move.


 
A strange phenomenon occurred now. Nothing happened. A house of cards built on a sandy foundation in earthquake country still stood. Nobody told anybody else what they had discovered. Winston didn't tell Junior anything. Well, nobody told Junior anything. Nobody told the authorities anything. Nobody told any of the various litigants involved in the estate settlement anything.
 
Most of the world continued revolving in the belief that Johnathon Blackwell Senior had died and was currently chillin' at the cryogenic institute rappin' with the head of Walt Disney. True that was a comforting if not uplifting scene to imagine, but some of us know that it just isn't true.
 
With billions of dollars at stake, Winston couldn't afford to let his partners or more importantly, his customers know that more spotlights were ready to shine on them then had ever shone.
 
He pulled a device out of his pocket that looked like an old-fashioned beeper. He closed his eyes. You're a smart boy, Slater. You won't go far. You'll be spotted. He pointed the device towards the sky. "Goodbye, dad." A small explosion could be heard, far off in the distance. Winston couldn't see any evidence of it. The sound was good enough for him. But, you're not smarter than me.
 
Harpster came running out of the cave as surprised that he could still run that fast as he was at the sound of the explosion. An explosion in the desert sounds even louder as there is nothing to compete with it but a slight breeze. "Slater! Talk to me. You okay? What happened?"
 
The Bard stood in front of the wreckage of the chopper holding something that resembled a radiator house. "I reckon' yous a gonna have ta spend the night. Izza be fornicatin' repairs at sun up".
 
"Holy crap, Bard. What the hell did you do to it?"
 
"I told it I thought it was fat. It started demanding pies. GIVE ME PIES! I honestly have never seen an entity eat so many pies even in a Korean Pie Face Saving contest. Well, that's all meringue to find angels in. Ha! Like they would chance getting their wings sticky. I swear, Harpster, some of the ideas you dream up. Well, that's why you play harp and I play marbles. Hey…where are those damn things?"
 
The Bard handed Harpster a shovel and ran into the crude shack that served as a shelter and storage shed for various items. Blankets and tarps were among the items inside. He began covering the main frame of the chopper. He motioned to Harpster to begin shoveling sand on top of it. After a couple hours, it would probably blend in as part of the terrain if one were not looking too closely.
 
"What now?" Harpster hoped for taking a nap as an answer. He felt the effects of the last few days. Tired wouldn't begin to describe the level of fatigue he felt.
 
"Shopping about five miles south." The Bard pointed at a hill. "Edwards Air Force Base, ten miles east." He pointed towards another hill. "Lancaster, eighteen miles." He motioned towards the desert this time with little to obstruct the view. He gazed towards the area they had just flown from considering the sky. "They think they got us. No one is coming."
 
~~~~~
 
Night approached in the desert. Night had already arrived in Baton Rouge. The love of Harpster's life watched the sunset and thought back, a long ways back. It was a strange world that did not include Johnathon Blackwell Senior in it. She watched her daughter on stage singing and dancing as though she had been born for no other reason.

Had she been wrong to keep her from her father? It took a while, but she had convinced Harpster that Ruby was not his. Well, mostly convinced. Harpster always had a feeling deep inside that the daughter he never met might be his. But, Diamond told him no with enough emphasis that he stopped asking. There are words though, that dance forever on the tongue and never pass the lips.
 
 
Now, the truth had come out, and those words that had never been spoken, could be. Diamond's heart had softened now that she thought Harpster dead. Death does that. Indeed, Harpster had gained a lot of credibility since his supposed death. His true impact on the music industry had been documented in television specials. Yes, his wild ways came out too. In fact, he became legendary and beyond anything, he had ever been when he was alive. Well, he was alive. Okay, you know what I mean.
 
Ruby came to sit by her mother. Her set was over. "It's time to go to California, Mother."
 
Diamond sighed and let a half smile slip over her face. "Yeah, I figured that rather than argue I'd book us a flight."
 
"You are becoming wise, Mother."
 
"Oh. Is that what you call it?" Diamond looked serious now. "There is no tellin' what we are getting into. Think porterhouse steak into a starving lion's den. No guarantees, Ruby."
 
"I just want to meet my family. I know I'll regret it. But, I have to know". Ruby would be flying to Los Angeles with her mother. An interesting time awaited them.
.
 ~~~~~~
 
In Bel Air, Los Angeles, members of the Blackwell family were returning home. Lilith looked smug as she stumbled through the doorway. She looked at the smooth wood floor and admonished the perceived imperfection that impeded her entrance. "Lincoln! Where are my grandchildren?"
 
Ever the ghost, Lincoln stood before her. "They have not arrived yet, Mrs. Blackwell. They are due any moment though. Shall I inform you when they arrive?"
 
"Yes…inform…inform me when they arrive. That would be fine." She walked deliberately to her room. She walked very straight and very carefully, her posture was excellent.
 
Emma had come up to fix some dinner for her and Daniel and had Lucy assisting her. Lucy had other places to be, but hadn't come up with an excuse yet. She wanted to gather some information from Junior when he arrived and observe Lincoln's behavior around him. If Lincoln had the makings of a rat in him, she would sense it right away.
 
Junior stormed in like he owned the place. "No calls. No surprise visitors. No questions. No mail. No damn nothing! The world is full of nothing but parasites. Christ, why do I even leave my house!"
 
Three screaming kids weren't far behind. "Daddy! What's for dinner? I need this signed for school, Daddy!"
 
It would be difficult to say which kid had uttered which phrase.
 
"Lincoln! Lucy! Mother! Isabel! Anybody!" Junior looked as though unsavory creatures were crawling on him.
 
Lucy took her cue and rushed to the entrance. "Kids. I think your pops might want to sit down and relax for three minutes before you attack him without mercy. Am I right Mr. Blackwell?" Lucy could smile like Julia Roberts when the need arose.
 
Junior smiled back in spite of himself. "Ah…yes…thank you, Lucy. Ah,…yes. Thank you."
 
The kids took off as though they were a single entity made of six arms and six legs attached together by an ignored and spiteful God. Yet, somehow, they did move rapidly and exited their father's presence.
 
"I heard you call Isabel, did you rehire her?" Lucy used her detective training to study his body language.
 
"Oh. Habit, I guess. She quit. Winston told me. Attached to my dad. Couldn't handle it. I listed it as a firing so she could get unemployment. I miss her key lime pie. To die for." Junior looked off as though he missed Isabel. He kept swallowing. Lucy deduced it was the pie.
 
Hell, he knows less than Lincoln. No wonder Winston has him around. He has his hands on all of the money and doesn't have a clue what's going on. Lucy began to wonder if Junior had any idea what Winston was really up to.
 
Lincoln seemed to avoid Junior. Lucy found that to her liking. A rat would be trying to get him alone to spill the beans. Maybe he could be trusted to a point. Maybe he had more fear of Lucy than he did of anyone else. A loud knock on the door interrupted her thought process.
 
Lincoln answered the door. Winston stood there trying to look pleasant. He needed more practice.

 

Author Notes Everyone is in the dark. Hardly anyone knows that Harpster is not dead and it is better for most of the ones that do know to keep it that way. Input and suggestions as always are sought and most appreciated. Everyone a bit scattered around. They will all be heading back towards Bel Air.


Chapter 19
Houseguests and Desert Treks

By michaelcahill

Previously, The characters are spread out at the moment with the kidnappings and firings. The Bard and Harpster in the Mojave Desert, Ruby and Diamond Dancer are in Baton Rouge and Tenaya is driving around trying to come up with a plan. Lucy is currently at the Blackwell mansion trying to determin who knows what.




"Good evening Mr. Blackwell. So good to see you again. My I get your coat?"
 
Lucy's ears grew several sizes and she put her hand up to cover one of them self-consciously. Tenaya had filed her in on Winston. What the hell is he doing here? Damn. I could be on my way to meet my friends. Lucy slowly made her way towards the door and planned her escape should the need arise. She hadn't been apprised of the escape yet.
 
"Lucy! Come over and meet my brother, Winston." Junior seemed insanely jovial. It gave Lucy something like goose bumps but decidedly larger.
 
Lucy managed a smile of sorts. "My pleasure."
 
"I like a gal with a little squeeze in her gun hand. You a hunter Lucy?" Winston stood a little too close and though only a couple inches taller tried to tower above her.
 
Lucy negated whatever advantage he perceived having by leaning into him. "It depends on what I am forced to consider prey."
 
"You finally got someone here that can teach those kids of yours some discipline, Junior. A pleasure to meet you miss." Winston smiled in the manner a snake would if it had been a lifelong wino and had just been fitted for dentures.
 
Lucy discovered what she needed to know. Winston didn't know who she was. He also had no reaction to Lincoln. He had no dealings with Lincoln. Lincoln was strictly Junior's problem. Furthermore, Junior reacted to Winston like he would to a brother. He didn't cow down in fear or break into a sweat. Junior didn't know what Winston was really up to.
 
The scenario had comedy written all over it. If everyone knew what everyone else knew it would cause a miniature riot right in the living room. But nobody knew anybody's business but their own.
 
Junior knew nothing about Winston's agenda. He didn't know that Winston was behind everything. Junior only knew that money fell into his lap and he liked it. He liked it more than he liked anything else on earth. If only he knew how much money was at play in Winston's dealings.
 
Lucy felt her phone vibrating in her back pocket. Under the circumstances, the sound of it could have been a jackass braying. It sounded that loud to her adrenaline-drenched eardrums. She slipped away to answer.
 
"They escaped. By they, I mean the Bard and the very much alive, Mr. Johnathon Blackwell Senior. Winston had them both hostage somewhere in the Mojave desert. They're holed up their now. Winston thinks he blew them up in their helicopter. He didn't. We've got to get them out of there. What about you?"
 
"I put the hurt on Lincoln. Junior's a sap. He don't know anything. Lincoln knows more. Dr. Khin knows more than that. Winston's the one. They're all crooks. Winston's a killer. Isabel is decorating their new fireplace from the inside. We'll meet later and get those two. Hell, Tenaya, I was worried as can be about that crazy fool. He grows on a person, you know? How'd they escape?"
 
"The Bard flew them out in a helicopter. How else? Listen. This Winston fool is dangerous. He is up to his eyeballs in crazy. He's selling secrets to the Chinese and anyone else with money. He's a traitor. He doesn't care about anything but money. Be ready to drop that gig in a heartbeat."
 
"I'm on guard. Know that. My eye has been on the door since he walked in to the room. But, there's a house full of innocent people here. I can't very well leave them here at the mercy of a psycho and an idiot. Stay in touch. Call Braniac while you're at it. Have him wise that kid up. Bran D On. He thinks he's a secret agent. If I know he's around with his nose out, so does everyone else. He's gonna be a passenger in a Humvee if he doesn't watch it. I don't mean the front seat either."
 
"Humvee? Is that what Winston drives? Is it black?"
 
"Yep, as coal. Inside and out."
 
"Good to know. Later."
 
Lucy came out to the sound of the doorbell ringing. Funny, it sounded like any other doorbell. She was expecting something fancy. She observed Lincoln wearily trudging towards the door.
 
"May I help you? We aren't hiring."
 
"Hiring? We might be firing if you don't move out of that doorway. I'm here to see my daughter's brother, Johnathon Blackwell Junior."
 
Junior heard the commotion and approached the doorway. "I'm Blackwell. Who are you?"
 
"I'm Diamond Dancer. This is my daughter, Ruby. She's your older sister."
 
"Ma'am, if you have some sort of claim against the estate, you'll have to get in line. You need to have your attorney contact my attorney. He handles this sort of…."
 
Diamond put her hand up. "This is no claim. Ruby here, is the new owner of Blackwell Publishing and all of it's subsidiaries. I am assuming that this little cottage is part of that. Now, can we get a drink and get acquainted now?"
 
"I know nothing of any sister. My father never said a word about this to me. Like I said, claims to…"
 
Diamond cut him off more briskly this time. "It was a long flight. Ruby, show the man."
 
Ruby removed her right tennis show and the white sock and displayed her bare foot to Junior and the other's that had gathered around. It looked like a foot with some nice ruby red toenail polish on the nails. It hit everyone at the same time. They counted multiple times. Ruby had six toes.
 
Junior opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Everyone in the room had stopped staring at Ruby's toes and were now looking at Junior's Bruno Maglis.
 
The Blackwell Mansion was beginning to get interesting.
 
Out in the Mojave desert, the lights of a helicopter bothered the Bard. They hadn't come near his small area. Still, the fact that they were out there looking made him and his friend, Harpster, ill at ease.



 
"Like a lover's eyes that turned green
                when baby blue made you shiver
                                you didn't see it coming
 
those grains of sand that she found
                the ones that weren't from
                                this part of the desert
 
how did she know that?
                as if you didn't know
                                and aren't you just a little
                                                too
                                defensive?
 
why are you so angry about a little sand…unless



 
We need to get out of here. He either wants to make sure that the Globetrotters are still at the throttle or he needs something out of that wreck. Either way, if he wants to find it, he will. All aboard. Lake L. A. Express to Lancaster on to Metro link. Next stop Union Station. The mission district. Brother can you spare a dime. Soup kitchen. Mommy the soup is cold. You know that dad is going to get mad. Yes, mother. You do deserve it. Look what you have done to his knuckles. Those aren't just simple drag marks."
 
Harpster abhorred exercise. He was fit, especially for his age. He hated anything designated "for his age".  He could walk the five miles to Lake L. A. to get on the bus. He just didn't like the idea.
 
The walked around near the bus stop singing duets with their hands out. The Bard had the pipes, there was no question he had the better voice. But, Harpster had produced a lot of records and could put over a song. He had a decent voice and knew how to sing. They did "Yesterday" and the Bard started making up his own lyrics and Harpster managed to keep up and sometimes just sang the original lyric softly underneath the Bards freestyle.

 
Yesterday, I saw troubles and I laughed them away
now I'm crying that's the price I pay
dreams never wakened so asleep I stay
oh, I lost my hope in yesterday
can I just return to yesterday?
Just a memory that I miss today


 
Before long they had the five bucks for bus fare. Once on the bus, they blended in perfectly and for the first time in a long time, Harpster was able to relax. He was asleep before the bus made it's first stop. They would search for Harpster where someone like Harpster would go. They would go instead to where someone like the Bard would go. They'd be safe.

Author Notes Everyone has been scattered to the winds. Trying to get them situated nearby. Suggestions and input always so very appreciated. mikey


Chapter 20
Welcome to Olvera Street

By michaelcahill

Previously, the Blackwell Mansion in Bel Air is getting crowded. Diamond and Ruby Dancer have arrived to stake claim. Winston has arrived. Junior is already there and clueless. Lucy is there, undercover as the nanny, wondering if her cover is about to be blown. The Bard and, a very much alive, Harpster are on their way to Los Angeles. Tenaya considers what she should do next. We continue, now, with the Bard and Harpster about to hop the Metro Link to L.A.

They made it to the Metro Link station just in time to hop on the train to Union Station. That is the only train that goes to and from Lancaster. They had no ticket and if they were caught, they would be put off at the next stop with a citation. However, odds were pretty good that the Bard and Harpster would ride the Metro Link right into Union Station Los Angeles without a question being asked. On this particular evening, that did turn out to be the case.
 
Union Station is a huge train depot and a transportation center in Los Angeles. There are buses that will take you virtually anywhere in the county running all hours. Even with Los Angeles International Airport in the mix now, Union Station remained a major hub. Harpster would normally be picked up by limousine and whisked away to his home in Bel Air or on to a hot recording session in Hollywood. For a man that despised flying, Johnathon Blackwell Senior had arrived on familiar ground.
 
Of course, anyone looking for him knew that. The Bard would be in charge of the itinerary and travel plans for the evening. No one would be looking for him and if they were, they wouldn't know where to look anyway. As far as the Bard was concerned, they already were where they were supposed to be. The Bard new the streets of Los Angeles and that is where they were.
 
The Bard noticed that his phone had very little charge left. He made a call. "I thought I told you to pick up the kids at the Mayberry Bus Depot at midnight. Aunt Bee is peddlin' her wares on Spring Street and I don't think we're gonna get to share a cup of coffee. It's the voice, Tenaya. It just isn't sexy. Well, Opie took off. I think he's making movies or something. We could use a little cash to be honest. I hear this dude here is a billionaire. Just between you and me,…he doesn't have a dime. I think it's some kind of mental problem. Ya know like he's deludable or in his own dimension."
 
"Where the hell are you? I thought you were in the desert." Tenaya wanted to laugh, but she had visions of hearing the phone click while she was laughing.
 
"Union Station, of course. We were at the beach, but God repossessed the ocean. It's safe here. I don't think it's safe to come home. So…"
 
Harpster grabbed the phone. "Is this detective Adrian? This is Harpster. Damn, I can't thank you enough. My friend here has been filling me in. Is there a way you can get some cash to us? You have to watch out for that son of mine. Winston isn't anyone I know anymore. As long as he thinks I'm dead we're okay. But, he has people out looking for the wreckage in the desert and there are no bodies with it. He's a killer. We need to get together. Can you come down here? We're at Union Station."
 
"Okay. I wanted to bring Lucy. That's my partner. She's under cover in your house. But, your son is there. She doesn't want to leave everyone unprotected. Lincoln has been paid off and could be in danger. She tells me some lady is there with her daughter…well, your daughter they claim. Lucy doesn't want to leave them there alone. Junior isn't thrilled with that. I don't know if Winston cares about that or not."
 
"Lady? What lady? I don't have any other children that I know of."
 
"Diamond Dancer. A made up name I'm guessing. A black lady. The kid is mixed though…so…you know, not totally farfetched. Can I ask you, how many toes do you have on your right foot?"
 
"How in the hell do you know about that? What does that have to do with anything? Diamond Dancer? She is in my house? With a daughter? I knew it. My God. I knew it. She's the heir to my estate. It's in my will. First born child…it's her. I knew it. All these years. You have to bring her to me. I have to tell her."
 
"Hold on a minute. That is all going to have to wait. No one can know you're alive. Junior thinks you're on ice. He doesn't know a thing about Winston's dealings. You stay there and keep my friend out of trouble. I'm coming. I'll be there in less than an hour. Go across the street to Olvera Street. Halfway down the street on the right. Consuelo's. Are you listening? Consuelo's. Go inside, ask for Angela, and say you know me. Tell them I'm on my way. Consuelo's. Angela. Got it?"
 
"Consuelo's, Angela. Got it. I'll…hello…hello" 
 
The phone had died. He and the Bard headed across the street to Olvera Street. It was a bit of a tourist attraction with goods for sale and several restaurants. It had once been a simple shopping strip in a Hispanic section of Los Angeles long ago. Now, it was a preserved and commercialized street that still had goods for sale and some excellent traditional food. They found Consuelo's and went inside. Angela turned out to be the owner and Tenaya's aunt.
 
A lady named Consuelo had originally founded the restaurant over a hundred years earlier. The name had remained through several owners. The menu had not changed and the recipes were still as they had been when first opened. It had been a condition of sale with each change of ownership.
 
By the time Tenaya arrived, the three of them were singing what sounded like a traditional Mexican folk song.


 
"She would never marry again
though the hombres were hungry all day
when their bellies were full
they'd say marry me girl
and from here, I will take you away
 
Aye, Consuelo, I hunger for you
and you feed me
I guess that must do
but, your hand in mine for eternity
is the answer to all that I dream
For now just a slice of that pie!
Oh my!
For now one more slice of that pie.



 
Yeeeee Haaaaa!"
 
"Where have you been hiding these boys, Nina? They just wrote my theme song!"
 
"I've been keeping them on ice, Tia. I trust they've been giving you no worries then?"
 
"Well, I told them they could either wash dishes or sing for their supper. You know, like I tell you all the time. You can see what they chose. Let that be a lesson to you, Sobrina."
 
Tenaya didn't expect to see a billionaire record executive singing harmony with The Bard. It gave her a high regard for Harpster. The question to Harpster sounded like something right out of the Bard's fertile mind. "Do you wish to remain dead for the time being? Or would you prefer to be alive. Being dead has its advantages…"
 
The Bard jumped in at this point. "There is the whole not paying taxes aspect, though, with the Democrats in office, you can't be sure. Now, your vote is still going to matter, so we'll have to brush up on the candidates. I say that we go with candidates that are tough on crime. I've always found white-collar crime to be unmanly. I like a man that can start a nice barroom brawl over a lady. Is chivalry dead? Well, thank heaven for little girls, as he used to sing. No, that's too deep. Too much of a stretch. Too much of an inside, Maurice Chevalier joke. Well, you're doing fine, Tenaya. Where's my girlfriend?"
 
"She's fine. I wanted to bring her, but she is protecting the rest of the earth at the moment. I say we don't force Winston's hand. Even if he discovers the wreckage and no bodies, he can't reveal that to anybody. We keep that as our ace. Let him sweat. If you show up alive, then it forces his hand. There is no telling what he will do. Hell, he kidnapped the Bard here. He makes mistakes. That was plain stupid not having the Cryogenic Institute on board. That was waiting to come out at any moment. You two can stay at my place. I'm suspended. I'm going to act like it. As far as anyone knows, I am out of the loop."
 
Tenaya walked over to the Bard and gave him a big hug. "Don't do that to me again. Lucy is a great partner, but she can't just bust out with Zeppelin the way you can."



 

Author Notes Everyone is converging on the Los Angeles area. Harpster is alive, but hardly anyone knows it. Estate battles continue as though he is dead. Suggestions and input are most welcome as always. Thank you all for your help.

Sobrina-Spanish for "niece"

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnaped father and the Bard.


Chapter 21
Meet and Greet at the Blackwell's

By michaelcahill

Previously, Harpster and the Bard managed to hop on the Metro Link in Lancaster, Ca. and ride to Union Station, Los Angeles. With the few remaining minutes on the cell phone, the Bard called Tenaya. Tenaya directed them across the street to her aunt's restarurant, "Consuelos" to wait for her. They settled in and waited getting to know Tenaya's aunt Angela. Tenaya arrived to finally meet Harpster and they all began to make plans. It was agreed that it would be wise to keep the fact that Harpster was alive a secret as it could trigger Winston in to rash actions that might cause innocent deaths. The story picks up now as we return to the Blackwell mansion where Lucy is observing a tense crowd of individuals and contemplating what action she should take.
 
Lucy felt like she had walked into a dog-fighting ring, where none of the dogs had noticed each other yet. Lincoln scurried along the molding seeking shadows to hide in. He thought of Isabel, a permanent fixture in the architecture of the fireplace downstairs. He had the video tape. Winston took care of her, personally. Lincoln had seen the maneuver in countless movies. It always looked so fake. The bad guy would grab the victims head with both hands and give it a quick twist. Crack! The victim falls to the ground dead.
 
Isabel had told Winston, "I saw what you slipped the doctor and I heard what you said. Do you think you're going to get away with it? Not while I live and breathe."
 
Winston had said, "Very well." He had walked up to Isabel, looked to the left, then to the right, grabbed her head with both hands and with a quick twist, broke her neck. She had fallen in a heap, just like in the movies. It had looked so fake. Just stay out of his line of vision. Don't make eye contact. Lincoln felt like the top shrimp in a cocktail at a Vegas casino while a busload of seniors emptied.
 
Junior didn't quite have enough substance to be beside himself. He didn't like having these two claimants to his position as heir in his presence. Those six toes gave a special air of authenticity to Ruby Dancer's claim. Having six toes certainly wouldn't be a trait common to very many people. His own brothers and sisters made fun of him for not inheriting the Blackwell signature trait.
 
Junior's mind was spinning. I can't send them away. That is for damn sure. Christ, Dad! This would've been nice to know. Keep them close. Be cordial. My long lost sister. How smart can she be? I'll buy her off and send them back from wherever they came from. Y'all keep in touch now, ya hear?
 
Winston kept a look of calm about him. He had his hand in his coat pocket on his cell phone in case it vibrated. I know those two bastards are dead. I heard the explosion. Slater didn't go far. I knew he wouldn't. Still, though, I'd like confirmation. Just to tie up the loose end. He kept trying to look casual as he eyed those around him. Lincoln, skulking around like a little rat. Gotta keep an eye on him. Gutless. He doesn't know anything anyway. But, who knows what he might make up to save his own yellow ass. I gotta take him out. Maybe his buddy, Isabel, could use some company.
 
Winston kept eyeing Lucy. He thought he used discretion, but Lucy had the perceptions of a tigress. She had all of her senses on alert and monitored every blink of an eye around her. I could use a woman like that. She has a cool calculated manor about her. She doesn't panic. Not many woman will stand up to me like she did. What the hell is she doing working as a nanny. Something strange about that. Well, no matter. Maybe we'll talk at some point.
 
These two gals and their southern accents. Winston considered what that might mean to the matters at hand. Well, that's Junior's problem. Whatever keeps him occupied is fine by me. But, they could be trouble. The old one has a big mouth. I can't have her demanding to look at books and all that. So, That gorgeous dish is my sister. Too bad. She makes my wife look like...my...cleaning lady.
 
"Who in the great green-grass of hell are you? Dammit, Lincoln, don't you tell me who in purple blazes is sneaking into my own house anymore? What in the hell am I paying you for." Lilith had, what was once called, a snoot full. She had her drink on. She flew three-sheets to the wind. She had reached a lovely, warm state of inebriation. Well, she was drunk.
 
Lucy could feel the tension level in the room elevate. It surprised her. What once could have been cut with a knife, would need something considerably more intrusive. The household felt like war might break out at any moment.
 
Junior attempted to intervene. "Lilith, this might be my father's daughter. This is Ruby Dancer and her mother, Diamond." Junior couldn't possibly have introduced them with any more disingenuous venom.
 
"Daughter? Well, I'm his WIFE.  As in partner till death do us part? And my part is...ALL OF IT! So, Hope Diamond here is your mom? How nice. I guess she thought this was the Emerald City, huh? Well, you've just met the wicked witch of Bel Air honey. Back to Ohio for you, my pretty…and your mom, too. Hahaha!" Lilith found her little speech highly amusing, did a little twirl, and fell, most gracefully, to the floor, much like a skilled actor portraying death might.
 
Junior laughed. "She's such a kidder. I'm afraid she hasn't been herself since the death of my father. I hope she hasn't offended you. She is really a very sweet woman."
 
Diamond had a fire stoked behind the black coals that constituted her eyes. "Well, I've read the will, so I'm not too worried about what her…", she glanced down at the barely moving Lilith, "…opinion is."
 
Junior looked to be in thought. "Ruby Dancer. Hmm. You're the singer. I have people in Baton Rouge scouting you. They told me about you. Is that where you came up with this? What is it; you read somewhere my father had six toes? That gave you the idea? The agents were for real. They told me you had some real talent. You're willing to throw that away to pursue this nonsense. You have a million dollar recording deal on the table. You really want to jeopardize that?"
 
Junior seldom had the brains to come up with such a smart play. If these two had doubts about their claim or simply didn't think they could fight the lawyers that money could buy, then maybe they would go for the big bucks record deal. He had heard the name. A great singer down south. He remembered the name that sounded completely made up to him. He didn't care about the talent, but it did sound like there was money to be made. Maybe this would work out after all.
 
"It isn't nonsense, boy. My daughter is Johnathon Blackwell Senior's daughter, and she is two years older that you. She is the first-born child and heir to Blackwell Publishing and its subsidiaries. You don't need to sign her. She can sign herself." Diamond looked at him with an icy stare.
 
Lucy caught Winston looking at Diamond at the same time. His gaze took on a sinister glow as though he fantasized something unspeakable. Of course, just because one might not speak about something doesn't mean that one won't do it. Lucy's instincts told her that the wise move would be to get those two woman out of there. Lucy thought there might be a chance that Winston could kill them for no reason at all.
 
Christ. This guy is pure psychopath. He could kill anyone here for any reason. None of them has a clue. Lucy had seen this look before. She had studied it. He had at least three weapons on him that she could see at the moment. There could be more. Even if she got the drop on him, he could kill more than one of these people before she secured him. For all she knew he had back up outside waiting to be called in. Mercenaries don't travel alone, not even to visit their dear old family.
 
She wanted to draw her service revolver and handcuff this freak right now. What's my evidence? Lincoln? There is a great witness. He's a paid conspirator. The Bard? He's a mentally ill homeless man. What does he really know and, more importantly, what can he testify to in a courtroom that a jury will believe? The only action available to Lucy was to wait. She had to wait for evidence. She had to wait for Winston to get the hell out of there. She had to wait and hope that bullets wouldn't start flying at any second.
 
This is a helluva situation. Lucy thought to herself. None of you is the heir. You're all ready to fight for something that isn't even there. I hope I can keep you from dying for it. I could put a bullet through Winston's brain and I know it would be the right thing to do. But, that wouldn't stop his people from storming the house and killing us all. That wouldn't stop the deal to sell American secrets to our enemies and jeopardize God knows how many American citizens. I hate waiting.
 
Lucy didn't change her expression as thoughts raced through her head. Something that the Bard said popped into her head and made her smile:
 
"They say to kill a snake, cut off its head. They don't understand that there isn't one snake. It's a snake pit. You have to kill them all. You kill one…another one crawls out. And, he's pissed."




 

Author Notes A cat and mouse game is underway. Can you call the cops? which ones are in on it? Evidence still needs to be gathered. One false move could jeopardize many lives. Suggestions and input are always sought and given serious consideration. Your reviews have been excellent and I read each word with great interest. Some suggestions I put to use right away and others I have on the back burner for editing. Thank you for the great help. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.




Chapter 22
Dancing On Thin Ice

By michaelcahill

Previously, The Blackwell mansion had visitors. Winston showed up out of the blue followed by Diamond Dancer and her daughter Ruby. Lucy had her hands full as the tension level reached feverish levels. A drunken Lilith only added to the situation. Tenaya, in the meantime, had the Bard and Harpster secure finally. For the moment, it was decided that Harpster would remain presumed dead for everyone's safety. Only Winston and Lucy knew that he was indeed alive. As far as Winston knew, he was the only one that knew. We continue on now, as Lucy continues to monitor the situation and come up with a way to difuse things.









Lucy felt relieved to feel the vibration in her pocket. She could use an extra opinion right about now. Tenaya usually had the extra insight that put everything into perspective for her. Lucy didn't bother with a polite exit. She left the room and went out to the front of the property. She had two reasons. Number one was to take the call. Number too was a casual surveillance of the perimeter of the Blackwell mansion. She wanted to see for herself if there might be backup for Winston as she suspected.
 
"Tenaya. It's a nut house here. I swear that jackass can't wait to kill someone…anyone. Its written all over his face. What the hell is the business with this girl's freaky toes? Junior looked at them like he'd seen a ghost. Christ, girl, I didn't think he could get any whiter. I half expected morticians to start knocking on the door."
 
"It's genetic. A Blackwell trait. Senior has the same thing. Six toes on his right foot. That's his daughter. He is delighted about it. That is their real names too. Diamond Dancer, I heard the song he wrote. That's Harpster's true love, I kid you not."
 
"Well, she's a woman after our heart. But, that could get her killed around here. I think I should get them out of here." Lucy paused and listened. She cracked the bathroom door to see if anyone was out there. "She's not the kind of woman that is going to buy into any bullshit. I think I should risk telling them the truth. She's a loose cannon. She isn't the shy retiring type. She had no problem staring Lilith down into a ball on the floor. Winston's armed to the teeth. I don't want her tangling with him and I have no doubt she isn't afraid of him." Lucy felt something in the air. She had great instinct.
 
"I trust your gut completely, you know that. Sounds like Diamond wouldn't mind mixing it up with the rich folks that think they're all that. If you can get them out of there without revealing anything or blowing your cover, it's a go from my end. You need me…I'm there. I'm heading that way, just in case. I'll be down the street in five minutes. You call, I come." Tenaya hung up and challenged the speed limit a bit more.
 
Tenaya had a feeling that things might heat up at the mansion. She was already on her way long before she called to check in on her partner. She took a moment to smile as she recalled Lucy walking in to the Chief's office that first day as a detective. She looked so nervous and out of place. Yet, she had the presence to look her in the eye and say, "You're safe now". Tenaya let a little laugh out. She spoke softly, out loud. "You're safe too, partner, you're safe too."
 
The tension that Lucy had stepped out of moments before had escalated into an argument. As Lucy had feared, Diamond Dancer was at the center of it. Lucy didn't know what Junior had said to Diamond, but she would now hear what Diamond's response was.
 
"You keep talkin' record deal, recording contract and million dollars on the table. Do you really think I came here to apply for a job as your maid? I know the tone you're using with me. Am I supposed to retire into the woodwork with that fool and keep my big black mouth shut?" She gestured at Lincoln, who was actually stooped over near the wall.
 
She continued, "My daughter has manners…raised that way. I was raised in the wild, Blackwell. I'm feral. Back me in a corner, I scratch my way out. You ain't buyin' the ignint colored girls off and sendin' em back to pickin' cotton. Be a gentleman now and fetch me a vodka tonic." She looked at Ruby, who didn't look the least bit surprised by her mother's outburst. "What you haven' darlin'?"
 
"I'm good, momma." Ruby smiled and looked angelic.
 
Winston started laughing. It was the kind of laugh that a ten-year-old future spree killer might emote before tying his first two cat tails together. He looked at Junior with a look that demanded immediate action.
 
Junior took out his cell phone and dialed. A couple of tense moments passed. "Chief? I have a couple of trespassers here. Could you send a squad car by and remove them from my property? Okay. Yep. Just crackpots. Ha! Heirs to the estate. Get this…these ones are black. Yeah. I guess they didn't teach that in the ninth grade. Okay then, thank you."
 
Junior looked Diamond in the eye now. "It seems I made a mistake thinking you would be professional enough to handle a record deal in the big time. So, your ride to obscurity is on the way. If you're smart, you'll leave before it gets here."
 
Winston stepped forward, "I'll give you a ride where ever you wish to go ma'am. I'm not mixed up in the whole will thing. My Humvee's outside." He looked at Ruby like she was a blue plate special and he was a starving overweight trucker.
 
Lucy stepped up, "I'm off in a few minutes. I'd be glad to take you anywhere you'd wish to go. I hear the Bel Air police aren't the friendliest."
 
Diamond smiled. "You think you're the first Blackwell that screwed me over? I can tell you this Junior. This ain't gonna look good on your report card. I don't need a ride. You want me out of my daughters own house, you're gonna have to throw me out. But, know this, punk, it won't be forgotten."
 
Winston didn't care for her tone apparently. "I've had enough of this crap. Let me give you a ride. It would be my pleasure. I insist. He had his hand inside his jacket as he walked towards Diamond and Ruby."
 
Lucy jumped up like a cat with her hand in her open purse and her eyes on Winston. "I offered them a ride already. That offer stands unless they want to spend the night in jail." She looked at Ruby, having decided that she might listen to reason. "Do you have anything to prove to the officers that are on their way that this is your house?"
 
"No. We have nothing yet." Ruby stood up.
 
"I can't see any point to you two spending time in jail. There is plenty of time to make your claim. You can't do it from a jail cell." Lucy looked into Ruby's eyes imploringly.
 
Ruby seemed to sense that Lucy was on their side. "Let’s go mother. I don't want to spend the night with these people. Let's accept this kind woman's offer. We'll be back soon enough."
 
Diamond could hear the sound of sirens in the distance now, as could everyone else in the room. She jumped up with her bag in hand and headed towards the front door. Ruby and Lucy followed. Lucy could feel Winston's eyes on her back and swore she could hear the sound of his fingers caressing the cold steel of his weapon.
 
As soon as they pulled out of the driveway and made it halfway down the block, two squad cars passed them on the left heading towards the mansion.
 
"Crap, Chief Sandoval." Lucy said softly, but loud enough to hear.
 
Diamond said, "Okay, why are you helping us? We don't know you and you work for them."
 
Lucy smiled, "Detective Lucy Smaldino, Ms. Dancer. I'm working undercover investigating the alleged murder of Johnathon Blackwell Senior."
 
Diamond Dancer wasn't at a complete loss for words, but they weren't flowing with their usual panache. "Murder? Alleged? I read that he had a heart attack or something. They put him in deep freeze, right, Detective?"
 
"Call me Lucy."
 
"Okay. Lucy. Call me Diamond. I read that he was cryogenically frozen upon his death. How do you investigate when his body is frozen in some tube somewhere?"
 
"That's a great question, Diamond. It's a long story. I've got coffee, cheap wine, vodka and apple pucker at my place. It isn't fancy, but the company is friendlier. My apple martinis are felonies in the mid-west."


 

Author Notes Will it be revealed that Blackwell is alive? Maybe it is better if everyone thinks he is dead. We'll see. Suggestions and input always listened to and sought. Every little bit helps. Wonderful thoughts and input so far. Thank you kindly.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 23
Q, Diamonds Are Forever

By michaelcahill

Previously, seemingly everyone showed up at the Blackwell mansion at once including Winston. Tension was high and grew considerably with the arrival of Diamond and Ruby Dancer. Words were exchanged as Diamond refused to be patronized by Junior. Junior called the cops and Lucy managed to get Diamond and Ruby out of harms way before the cops arrived or Winstons blew a gasket. We continue on now as Tenaya meets with Harpster's layer and friend, Q to discuss what moves to make next.
















Q's residence wasn't far from the Blackwell mansion. Tenaya pulled into his driveway before Lucy had even arrived at her own apartment with the girls. Chief Sandoval was still three or four blocks away, enjoying a false sense of security, while Winston fantasized about what his head would look like mounted in his den.
 
Q answered his door, already expecting her. He had never developed the pretentious air that afflicted most of his community. He had a butler, but he treated him like an employee and even enjoyed his company. He extended his hand and said, "Q".
 
Tenaya couldn't resist, "You look much different on television."
 
"As do you, Captain Janeway." Q smiled broadly. Fellow trekkies delighted in encountering one of their own kind.
 
"Well, we're going to get along. You know the Continuum is observing, right?"
 
"Killjoys, aren't they always? Please, come in. I must say, that was the most shocking, but best, news I have ever received. How can I help?' Q looked happy and intrigued.
 
"Well, we need a lawyer we can trust."
 
They both burst out laughing at that.
 
"Can I offer you a drink? Some Klingon Ale, Talaxian Brandy or just some coffee, perhaps."
 
"Coffee would be fine."
 
"Guinan! Two American coffees."
 
An extremely deep voice answered, "Yes, Captain." There was an audible sigh.
 
"Now, pretending that I am a trustworthy lawyer, how can I help?"
 
"Well, I know you have detailed knowledge of Harpster's business dealings. Winston has his hands on vast sums of cash. We need to find out where he is getting it. It appears Junior is clueless. And then…I know you aren't a criminal attorney…but we have a few ideas how to go about nailing these fools, especially Winston. We think we know who did what, but we don't have much in the way of solid evidence to present in a courtroom. There is something more serious at stake too. Winston is planning to sell military secrets to the Chinese, and apparently anyone with the cash. We don't know what secrets he has, but he is scoffing at Harpster's money, like it's chump change in comparison."
 
"From what you told me on the phone, you have a lot of criminal activity, but not a lot of good evidence to pin it on anybody. You have my crazy buddy, the Bard, who might not look to good in court. You have Lincoln, who is worthless and may not be around much longer. You have a body in a fireplace. Now, that is the most solid. If Lincoln has that on tape. But, you have to get that tape. That is evidence. A lying, bribe-taking fool like Lincoln is no witness. You have great evidence that Harpster was murdered, but he's screwed that up by being alive."
 
Tenaya stopped Q there. "That is one of my off the wall ideas. What if he stays murdered? By the way, you are now my attorney. Congratulations. Most of the world thinks he is dead. Only Winston, the Bard, Lucy and I, Diamond and Ruby and now you, know that he is alive. Well, my aunt Angela too. The point is that all the people that matter, Junior, Lilith, Chief Sandoval, the insurance company the coroner's office, even the doctor, that is in on it, all think he is an ice cube at the cryogenics institute. What in hell is Winston going to say if he is indicted? Is he going to say that he didn't do it? Hey, he's alive; I just kidnapped him so I could get money to help me sell secrets to foreign governments. I'm not a murderer, I'm a traitor. Could you execute me now…pretty please? See what I mean?"
 
"Wow. That is wild. Damn, the Bard has affected your mind. That's what I love about him. That is just wild. Did I mention that it was wild? I love it. But, listen. We need some big guns. I don't mean local cops, no offence. I mean flame-throwing, bazooka types. This is National Security we're talking about. This Winston's no joke. the Bard may be nuts, but I know what he can do. Hell, he rescued Harpster from an army of mercenaries all by himself. Winston is the same kind of animal and he has a pack. We have to get more information. It sounds easy. Call the FBI; they go slap on some cuffs, good night Irene. Winston and his men could wipe out the west coast while we try to do that. There is no telling. We need the kind of help that doesn't have stand-offs on television that end in blood baths."
 
"Where do we find people like that? You're telling me that the CIA & the FBI aren't the way to go. Then what is the way to go? Who can we get?"
 
"Well, this is going to sound crazy, but you have the first person I'd call sitting over at your apartment right now, probably rewriting "Stairway To Heaven". Damn. If we could find some of his squad, I'd feel a whole lot better. I met one of his partners, though, and he was nowhere near as together as the Bard is. So, I don't know. The Bard is mentally ill, that's no joke. I've seen him turn into a panther though. I've seen him elude half a dozen cops with a chopper tracking him. He was in one of their squad cars."
 
Q started laughing at the memory.
 
Tenaya smiled. "In the car? What do you mean?  In the back seat?"
 
"Hell yes. He laid down on the floorboard while they drove around in circles looking…for HIM! They finally gave up and drove all the way back to the station. They parked the car and while they're standing there, scratching their heads, he sneaks out and takes a seat by the fountain to the entranceway. He's got a newspaper up, hiding his face. He greets them as they walk by. Ha-ha. "Hello officers" The mumble some greeting and walk into the station. Bel Air's finest."
 
Tenaya couldn't get over that. "They had him in custody the whole time! Hello officers! Haaaa! I can hear him now. Oh God, we're all gonna die, aren't we?"
 
"Yep, it looks that way. Shall we go make plans with our leader?"
 
"Beam me up. Warped speed. We have to get him to stop smoking the dilithium crystals. That's the key."
 
The two Star Trek nerds headed towards Tenaya's apartment to make plans to capture a deranged, well-armed psychopath. A poetry-spouting-schizophrenic and a damned-good harp player awaited them. They felt upbeat and optimistic.
 
Q was genuinely thrilled to see Harpster. "God, I can't tell you how good it is to see you. My best friend in the whole damn world. l think your girlfriend and I have some bad news for you, though. We think you're better off dead. Nothing personal, you understand. It just works out so much better for all concerned ,if you remain in the slushee machine."
 
"Hey, I'm willing to wait. They may find a cure for this someday. What about my friend here. Does he get to live?"
 
The Bard wasted no time with his response.


 
I took that first breath as though my life depended on it
it did
it became a habit
                some say it was gree-d
                                I said the air was free
                                they said it shouldn't be
                                can't you see
                               
connections…a tree
                                me
 
but, they had
bigger
                                endangered fish to fry
                no time to cry
                or wonder…
why
                                like a sparrow dreams
                                 so
do I
                                                     I wish to try
if I am the beholder it is in my
                point of view
                to eschew
                you
 
that was quick
I take that last breath
as though my life
depends on it
it doesn't

 

 
"Bard, we have a special forces soldier gone rogue. We need to stop him." Q looked at the Bard hopefully.
 
"Cigarette smoking is bad for your health. We're gonna have to smoke Winston. How's Lucy? Is she okay? When ya gonna bring Lucy by. I've got the diamonds, she is the sky."
 
"They'll be by before long. Which brings me to you, Harpster". Tenaya smiled. "It's none of my business what happened between you, thirty-some years ago, but that is one feisty woman. I need you two to get along until the dust settles. Then you two can go to WrestleMania for a cage match, whatever you need to do. If you want to tell me about it, I'm all ears, if not, just remember, we need to take care of business first."
 
"She caught me with a naked woman. Well, two of them actually. But, it wasn't my fault. I had a reputation and she wouldn't believe me. It was a couple of singers looking for a record deal. They were good too. They didn't have to do that. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. I only sign based on talent, in spite of what you read. I'm not saying I'm an angel. I'm just saying, I sign artists that are artists. I don't make or break anyone. Anyway, Diamond wouldn't buy it. She never spoke to me again. I heard she was pregnant. I knew it was mine…the timing and all. She said no. She had a man…lifelong thing…she was just angling for a record deal herself…turning the tables, you see. I didn't believe her, but she showed up where I was playing,, arm and arm with this big dude. What could I say? I couldn’t be sure. She never responded to anything I sent her. She told me she miscarried in her last letter. I didn't believe that either."
 
Just as he finished his sentence, there was a knock on the door.
 
Tenaya looked at Harpster, who looked like a nerdy high school kid, going to his first dance. "Well, I guess we'll find out if she's over it, now."
 
The door opened and Diamond Dancer stepped through. She looked like a diva. It was her natural look. It didn't need practice or honing. This is how Diamond looked every day of her life. Harpster felt everything inside of him surge forward. Nothing had dulled with age. There was nothing standing in front of him that diminished the fantasy that he held in his mind. This was the fantasy and it matched his dreams in every way. Diamond gazed at Harpster and managed an almost pleasant smile. Harpster's heart sang an incredible melody. Everyone in the room could hear every single beautiful note.


 

Author Notes What do you think of the direction this is taking. I don't want to end up in a big military situation. So, I'm hoping that our team can prevent that before it becomes necessary. Any thoughts, suggestions or input would be most appreciated.

For those unfamiliar with Star Trek: It is something that the very coolest people follow! :

"Trekkies" are individuals devoted to Star Trek.

"The Continuum" is a group of immortal beings that control the universe. It is where "Q" comes from. For some reason he is fascinated by humans and causes them great difficulty with his meddling. The Continuum has been known to intervene.

"Q" is a character that is immortal that can alter virtually any reality. (Yes, he is a real person.) Captain Janeway is a character from the American television series "Voyager" about a spaceship marooned many years of travel from home. "Guinan" was a character that Whoopi Goldberg played as a regular guest star. She was a strange bartender aboard one of the starships with amazing insight.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 24
The Gang's All Here

By michaelcahill

Previously, tension at the mansion as words are exchanged between Diamond and Junior. Junior finally decides to call the cops forcing Lucy's hand. Lucy scoops the girls up and leaves. Lucy and the two Dancer girls are on thier way to meet Harpster and discuss the next steps along with Q and the Bard. We continue now as people reunite prior to urgent discussions getting under way.

Diamond gazed at Harpster and managed an almost pleasant smile. Harpster's heart sang an incredible melody. Everyone in the room could hear every single beautiful note.

Diamond did not turn a deaf ear either. Her eyes grew with surprise and her head tilted to the right. Her heart prepared itself suddenly for the unexpected. Her soul flew free unencumbered by silly human shufflings. Souls do not shuffle; they only know how to dance.
 
With her right arm, Ruby Dancer moved her mother slightly to the side and stepped forward. With a voice that betrayed her confident smile she hoarsely said, "Hello, Father."
 
Q following his instinct grabbed Harpster's arm to support him. Harpster took in the sight of his daughter as time and all other physical laws ceased to exist. She had eyes that saw inside of him through any weak barrier he attempted to construct. The scrutiny weakened his knees even as the lack of judgment strengthened his hope. Her beauty astonished all that beheld it for it only began on the outside. It could be followed inside easily and once enclosed, there was no end to find.
 
 
Harpster could not stop a single tear. He could not even lift his free arm to shield his face. It hung by his side unmoving. His silent plea for her to come forward to him crossed easily across the room and she approached. She moved as though the earth and she were of the same material. They embraced, father and daughter for the very first time.
 
Most men with children when asked for the happiest moment in their life will say, "the moment I saw my child for the very first time". Johnathon Blackwell Senior, "Harpster", to most that knew him, would tell you that very same thing.
 
The Bard strolled up to a teary-eyed Diamond Dancer. "They call me, the Bard. I live in a fabulous world of my own making".
 
"Diamond". She smiled a genuine soft smile. "Don't we all; don't we all."
 
The Bard waved his arm in a flourish and bowed deeply to father and daughter. He recited a poem:


 
"to seek the meaning
                                cease the seeking
                                                the endless speaking
                                                                pontificating self-revealing
                                                in depth feeling
                                send the world reeling
my old face is pealing
                                now you see
                this skull has many caves with exits
                                                                I can easily flee
                                at my whim
the inside must meet you outside
                soul's naked swim"
 



Lucy was next through the door and she went straight to the Bard. "I'd appreciate it if you'd take better care of my friend. He's a poet you know. Yep. I hear he can fly helicopters too, but I think that's just a legend." She gave him a big bear hug.
 
The Bard actually turned red. "Yeah. The whole helicopter thing. Poof. I flew out with Harpster, here, on my back. Well, Krypton is just a memory. I just want your word that you can handle Lois. Well, maybe Clark can make a move there. Wait, no… too bi-polar… hold on now… the phone booth, Tonto, no doors… I'll be mobbed… "
 
Lucy smile and shook her head. "Well, we honestly don't have much time for reunions as lovely as they are. We have to make a plan and we have to do it quick. No offence, Harpster, but you've got some rotten kids and at least one of them is a psychotic killer."
 
Harpster clearly had interest in only one of his kids at the moment, but he realized the urgency of the situation. Ruby, though she didn't know the details, also had a sense of the urgency permeating the atmosphere in Tenaya's now small feeling apartment. Harpster spoke, "Well, this is our team. What's our plan? When it comes to resources, we have them. I have connections and funds even Q doesn't know about. I know people. It comes from being obscenely rich."
 
Tenaya stood up. "Here's the situation as I see it. We have Winston Blackwell, a trained weapon of destruction who's gone rogue. He seemingly has no conscience and is motivated strictly by money. He has funds, Brewster's, and he has manpower and equipment. We don't know the extent of it at this point. We know that they are missing one helicopter. He has military secrets that have enough value to make Brewster's estate seem insignificant to him. We don't know what the secrets are. The money involved has to be billions for this to make any sense."
 
Lucy stood up and took over. "He's a loose cannon. He has killed one person that we know of and he appears more than ready to add to that total. Remember, as far as Winston knows, he blew his own father up. I could see in his eyes that he would have been delighted to kill Lincoln and I don't know that by now he hasn't. I think he wants to recruit me. He likes that I appear to be a psycho gun-toting bitch that wouldn't mind using his eyeballs as something to decorate my martini. Of course, we know that I don't just appear to be that."
 
Everyone laughed at that including Q who had just met her. She continued, "We need to know everything about what Winston has got going on. I don't see where I have any choice but to go under cover if I get the chance. Yes, it's dangerous. Anyone have a better idea?"
 
Diamond stepped forward. "I'm not really a part of the family or involved at all, I guess. My daughter is though. I'm here to protect here whether she thinks she needs it or not. I want to know why the hell we are sitting in this room whispering about these crazy schemes. Why don't we call the L.A. whatever newspaper you have here, and the T.V. stations and blow the whistle on this situation. Hells bells people, we can prove that Harpster ain't dead. For Christ's sake, he's sittin' right there! Well, I did promise Ruby"
 
Q spoke to that. "I like that phrase, blow the whistle. Keep that image in mind. Think… start of a race. Whistle blows… race begins. Winston jumps in his tank and starts blowing things up. Maybe he drops anthrax out of a helicopter. Maybe he nukes LAX. Hell, who knows. And, that's the point. We don't know. We call a press conference… Tap, tap, tap… is this on? Yeah, okay. Winston Blackwell is a murderer and a traitor. Oh no! Winston is in a world of hurt now. His world just went down the toilet. Maybe he will come waltzing in and say, "Hey, sorry boys, looks like ya got me. By the way, which way to my execution?" Or, just maybe he uses the millions of dollars he has and leaves to hide out with one of his buddies in China or Pakistan. Or, maybe he's just pissed and wants payback. While we're patting ourselves on the back, he's putting bullets in anything that moves."
 
The Bard hopped up. Then he hopped around a little. "I'd make an excellent Bugs Bunny. What seems to be ascending, Physician? Is that too formal? By the time Geraldo finds the empty vault the Winston Tire man has burned rubber all over the state. We need to know the enemies strength and more importantly, what his plans are. Who are his contacts and what is he offering them. It's going to be a damn shame if his clients lose confidence. Holy backing out of the deal, Batman. Yes, Robin the Chinese can't trust the forked tongue anymore. When he runs it's too late, surrounded. Lookin for love on a two way street. Too dangerous for I Love Lucy. Ricky Ricardo at your service. This is right up my alley. Not under cover, under sheet, like Caspar…a ghost… now you don't see him… now you don't."
 
"I'm safe, Bard. I've been doing undercover professionally for years. How the hell are you supposed to eat and communicate running around the forest or wherever they are?" Lucy didn't want to come right out and say the Bard might be too nuts to trust on his own. That did run through her mind though.
 
"Lucy, I understand you concerns. But, there is no one better for the job. You slip up, you're dead. There is no grey area. He's my son. I can't see you taking that risk." Harpster seemed ashamed and responsible for Winston.
 
Ruby hadn't said a great deal. She never did. She listened. When she spoke it came with a lot of thought behind it. "Winston is an opportunist. We need a scenario that creates an opportunity for him. Junior is alive because of his control of and knowledge of Dad's money, right?"
 
Harpster loved hearing her call him "Dad". "Yes, that is true. He kept me and the Bard here alive, because of what he thought we might know. We can all see that the second anyone's usefulness is gone, so are they. What's your point?"
 
"My point is that any of us could join forces with Winston if the scenario suited him. He liked Lucy and the way she stood up to him, I could see that. She could easily come up with some secrets about Dad's money that she found out that even Junior doesn't know about that he'd be more than interested in. Why? Cause she's sick of working for assholes like Junior. She wants some real money. See? Scenarios. He'd be tripping over his own greed to have her on board. Not that dangerous. She's a pro. I could go with her as a translator. Fluent in Mandarin. Scenarios."
 
The discussion continued well into the night.
 
At the Blackwell mansion, most of the people had retired for the evening. Winston bid his brother goodbye and exited through the front door. A couple minutes later, Lincoln left as well and headed towards his car. Winston had other plans for him.

Author Notes Would you like more information on the reunions? I'm trying to concentrate on the action. There has to be some background as to the planning and the whys and wherefores and that takes some time. So too would more details about the various reltionships between Harpster and Diamond, Harpster and his daughter Ruby, and even Lucy and the Bard which seems to have a few sparks developing. I plan to sprinkle more about relationships as the story moves along. I'm just not sure how much of that to include.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 25
Lincoln Surprises & Plans Are Made

By michaelcahill

Previously, Through various means most of the good guys ended up at Tenaya's apartment for reunions and and discussions. There was a lot to hash out. While this was going on, Winston was lying in wait for Lincoln. We pick up the story now as Winston is about to confront Lincoln.

Winston bid his brother goodbye and exited through the front door. A couple minutes later, Lincoln left as well and headed towards his car. Winston had other plans for him.

"Lincoln."
 
Your name has many meanings doesn't it? As a child, there is the various tones that a parent can communicate just by saying your name. One of the most powerful is that version that ends in an exclamation point. That is the version of your name that stops you in your tracks. It is usually a formal birth certificate version. If you are normally called "Mike", on this occasion you are "Michael!" I've seen grown men freeze in their tracks when a mother admonishes her child in a public setting. They just happen to share the child's name. But that sound still carries they same weight. "Michael!" There is the whispered sound of your lover's voice, the formal indifferent summons of the next in line at the DMV and so many others.
 
"Lincoln". Winston called him over like someone that he had dominion over. The word property would not quite describe it. People generally care about their property. This had the sound of disposable property to it, like someone hired to haul trash from the alley. When the trash is gone, there is no need to consider the individual any longer.
 
Lincoln did not function in life without guile. He understood the precarious situation in which he found himself. He had a weapon close at hand. It didn't compare to Winston's mini-arsenal, but it would certainly be a huge surprise to Winston for Lincoln to pull a Colt revolver out of his dark blue sport jacket and plant one between Winston's light blue eyes.
 
With all of that in mind, Lincoln said, "Yes?"
 
"I want to ask you about that nanny. I got the feeling there's more to her than meets the eye. You've been working with her. What's your take?" Winston looked neutral. As far as Lincoln was concerned, that was great news. Winston could've pulled a gun and invited him to have a seat in the trunk of Winston's Humvee.
 
Lincoln had to devise his strategy and make some decisions and he had to do it immediately. He realized that this was life or death, his, Lucy's and who knows whom else's. There was a time when Lincoln had integrity. But, like a river creates a valley through the mountain that integrity had become less rock-solid over time. Life can do that when it doesn't go as planned. He made his decision.
 
"We can count on her. She is no wallflower. She thinks Junior is a buffoon and wants more out of life than being a nanny. She's in Bel Air because that's where the money is. You saw her instincts with those two bitches. She doesn't even know the score, but she knew that the call is to get them out of there and avoid the attention." Lincoln surprised himself. It felt good to have some loyalty and to do the right thing for a change. It had been a while. Besides, it was the smart move. This kept him on the good side of both the good guys and the bad. But, that razor's edge seemed sharper than ever.
 
"Okay. Don't say anything to her. I may have some work for her. You have a nice evening, Lincoln." Winston didn't wait for a response. He just turned and hopped in his Humvee and motored out of the driveway. Halfway down the street, he was joined by two other Humvees.
 
Lincoln continued walking to his car. He slowly drove down the driveway and around the block where he parked. He pulled his cell phone out of his inside coat pocket and dialed Lucy.
 
Lucy felt her phone vibrating in her front pocket. She signaled everybody to hold it down. It was Lincoln. "I'll be damned, It's Lincoln." She answered, "Lucy".
 
"It's Lincoln. I just had a nice chitchat with our boy Winston. It appears he wants to put you to work."
 
Lucy smiled broadly. "We were just talking about that. Tell me about it."
 
"Well, after you left with those…ladies. What did you do with them by the way?"
 
"Oh, I put them on a bus. They had enough of our hospitality, I reckon." Lucy threw a little Southern accent on the end of her remark. She gave a little wink to Ruby, who smiled.
 
"So, he leaves and I follow a few minutes later and oh hell no… there he is saying "Lincoln". It sounded like a call from the angel of death. I've got my hand on my Colt and I say, "Yes"? He says, "So, tell me about that nanny." I'm on the verge of laughing, I swear to God! So, I had your back, of course. I told him that your one of us. Haaaa! Whatever that is. But, I ain't in the trunk of that Humvee. So it worked out okay for me."
 
"I knew I could count on you Lincoln. You hang in there. You have more back up than you realize. The good guys don't turn their back on their own. Remember that. We'll talk soon. Well, I'll see you at work tomorrow." She hung up and said to no one in particular. "I still don't exactly trust him."
 
Tenaya spoke up over the murmuring that filled the apartment. "That answers whatever questions we have right there. I don't hear a better plan on the table."
 
The Bard jumped up. "I'd look good in some Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. I could be your secretary. Of course, the beard would have to go. No. You could be my beard… Well, it's too dangerous. The roadrunner and the anvil… Winston and the Acme company are up to no good. I have to protect the Diamond Girl.

 
she exploded in the night
                for the world could not contain her
                                and the stars did not explain
                                why one day she would not deign
to implode when it was me
that loved her so"


 
Harpster spoke out. "I can get people. But, they aren't going to have the inroads that Lucy has. But, if you're worried about protection, my friend, I can have people in place just for that purpose. But, we need Lucy to find out some basics. How about where? I know we were in Mojave somewhere. But, it's big with lots of hiding places. There's a forest attached. There's wilderness that people get lost in all the time. We weren't at the main compound. There was just the one building and a helicopter. It was barely an improvement over the Bard's hideout. Hell, we kicked a hole in the side of the building. The Bard here looked like Bruce Lee, way more alive too."
 
"Book em Kato. Whaaaaa!" The Bard jumped up and did a spinning roundhouse kick. It looked lethal and he managed to miss connecting with anything in the crowded room.
 
Ruby jumped up and performed one that put the Bard's to shame. She spoke, "Like I said, I speak fluent Mandarin and I would like to be involved. He is my brother, right?"
 
Harpster looked amused and unmistakably proud. "Wow. That was impressive. Him being your actual brother or half-brother is debatable. His mom was not exactly faithful. I'm not so sure about Junior, to tell you the truth. Lilith is very career minded. That brings me to another little task. My mom needs to know that I'm okay. I want her out of that damn house too. My brother, Daniel also. He hates my kids with good reason. A long story. You’re the only one that can talk to them, Lucy. It was different when I was there. No one dared screw with them. Now there's no telling."
 
Tenaya had been listening for some time. "We need to get going on this now. It's dangerous, but Lucy is the only card we have to play. We can have her back, of course. I think tomorrow is the day to get mom and uncle Daniel out of there. Until we know where Winston's operation is and who he is dealing with, we're just talking. If Lucy can get you in Ruby, it looks like you can handle yourself. We'll see. IF it looks right and it helps the situation okay. We'll play it by ear."
 
Diamond had something to say about that. "The ear will be the one I grab a hold of when I drag her ass out of here. You sit here and get acquainted with your daddy. I don't think he wants you in danger any more than I do. Isn't that right, Harpster?"
 
Harpster smiled and gave the only answer he could. "Yes, of course. There's no need for you to endanger yourself. We have plenty of people to endanger already."
 
The whole group burst into laughter at Harpster's poor choice of words.


Q looked like several light bulbs went off at once over his head. "Diamond had an idea that I  think we should reconsider. I was against it at first. But think about this. She wanted to blow the whistle. She wanted to shine a spotlight on the whole mess. Now that I think about it, I think there is something to that. Why don't we shine a light on Chief Sandoval, Junior, Dr. Khin and the murder of Johnathon Blackwell Senior? We don't mention Winston or any of that. Hell, Winston would probably love it. But, in the long run that is what will nail him. We go after everybody but him. In the meantime we are undercover destroying his plans. When the time comes, we nail him for Brewster's murder. We get them all. That spotlight is a lot of protection. Winston won't want to risk being anywhere near it."
 
Diamond smiled. "I told y'all you should listen to me. Damn. Ain't nothing like a shysty lawyer when he's on your side."
 
This was certainly a group that could laugh in the face of danger.



 

Author Notes Trying to keep things tied together as the pace quickens. A lot going on all of a sudden. Any input or suggestions will be considered and taken most seriously as always. Your help and advice has been wonderful. Thank you!

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.


Chapter 26
Lucy's New Job

By michaelcahill

Previously, the group after discussing the matter came to the conclusion that Lucy should go undercover in Winston's operation. It was determined that it was imperative to find out who Winstons was dealing with and where he was operating from. In the meantime they would go to the media and accuse Junior and the Doctor of murdering Harpster and shine a bright light on the Blackwell mansion. Eventually, the plan would be to accuse Winston of the murder while Harpster remains in hiding. Winston's only defense would be that he was busy committing treason a death penalty case. We continue now with Lucy anxiously awaiting Winston's arrival. She also needs to get Harpster's mother and brother out of the house and to safety.



Lincoln answered the door when Lucy showed up for work at the Blackwell mansion. They exchanged smiles.
 
Junior smiled as well on his way to the study. He motioned Lucy in. She set her things down on the coffee table, kept her bag and followed him in.
 
"What happened with the two ladies last night? Where you able to convince them to give up on their little charade?" Junior looked arrogant but apprehensive at the same time. It combined into a look that resembled indigestion.
 
"No problem boss, they could see you meant business. They were glad to get a ride to the bus stop. They fought all the way there too. I guess mom's been interfering with the girl's life from day one. She could sing, huh?" Lucy took this as an opportunity to boost Junior's over inflated ego.
 
"From what my boys down south tell me, she's the real deal. But, there's more to the record business than talent. Talent is common. Lots of people have talent. My dad, rest his soul, didn't get that. He understood talent, but he didn't understand business." Junior swam in his own self-realized glory.
 
Lucy did her best to paint a face that displayed admiration. It proved to be quite a chore for her. Everything now depended on Winston making his move to recruit her. Winston needed to get Lucy out of the Blackwell mansion before the rest of the team could put the spotlight on it. Winston wouldn't be around the circus that would surround the mansion that could be counted on. Lucy had another task to tend to. Esmeralda, Harpster's mother and Daniel, his brother were about to go on a well-earned cruise, the sooner the better.
 
Junior stood up and Lucy took that as her cue to do likewise. He spoke, "I'm taking the kids on a little trip up to Hearst Castle in about a half hour. A nice drive up the coast. I haven't had a moment off since Dad died. It should be an easy day for you. Maybe a niece or nephew, you never know when one might show up. But, nothing planned. And, Lucy, I appreciate your help last night. You made it a lot easier on all of us. I wasn't looking forward to putting those gals in jail. You saved everyone a lot of headaches."
 
He began to walk out of the room at that point. Lucy took that as the end of their little meeting. Fifteen minutes later and the house contained her and Lincoln. Lilith had gone somewhere before she arrived that morning. The people she needed to talk to were downstairs. She left Lincoln to his afternoon soap operas. He couldn't exist without watching All My Children. It had priority over just about everything else in his life. If his daughter went into labor, well surely she could hold it for an hour.
 
Lucy always felt like she was in a secret section of the estate when she went downstairs. It just felt set apart somehow and even Emma and Daniel seemed like dark secrets in the cellar. They preferred the solitude and had no great affection for any of the people that occupied the upper floors. That was the reason they kept to themselves down here.
 
There were grandchildren that Emma favored and they would find their way down or she would find her way up when they visited. But, other than that. there was very little interaction between the two levels of the household. Other than Daniel's cigarettes, there was little reason to communicate with Junior or Lincoln at all. They had no knowledge of what had occurred with the death of Harpster. They were not aware of Isabel's corpse used as filler material for the new fireplace that they often enjoyed.
 
"Emma?" Lucy called out to her friend.
 
"She's taking a nap." Daniel appeared out of nowhere startling Lucy. She managed not to show it. His voice came across rather clearly for a deaf person. She imagined that he had not been deaf for very long.
 
"Oh, hello Daniel. I kind of need to talk to both of you. It's important." Lucy sounded and was sincere.
 
Daniel used his deafness with most people to pretend that he couldn't understand them. But, the truth was, he could read lips better than most. He understood Lucy completely. He nodded his head and went to get Emma.
 
"What the hell? The Nazis invade Belgium again? Well, I don't like sprouts anyway. So, what gives? Why wake an old lady from her beauty sleep. God knows I need every minute of it." Emma liked Lucy quite a bit. She didn't get to talk to many people that didn't have some kind of agenda when speaking to her. People always had an angle because of the money. It didn't even matter that she had no control over it. She knew who did and might have some influence.
 
Lucy laughed. A nice musical laugh that had a genuine quality that confirmed Emma's instinct about her. "Well, I have some news that is probably going to be shocking. I guess I'll come right out and say it. Your son Harpster is still alive. Winston kidnapped him to get at his money. He escaped and he is safe. He wants me to get you and his Uncle Daniel out of this house for your own safety."
 
Emma had tears in her eyes. "I never let myself grieve. I can't believe it. I guess I don't have to grieve now. But, why do we have to leave. Why doesn't he just come home and throw that bastard in jail. I don't understand."
 
"I know it sounds a little crazy. But, Winston's involved in some dangerous business. He has private soldiers and he is up to no good. Harpster and all of us agree that if he gets the idea that we are on to him that he could wipe out a lot of people before we ever get him in custody. We have to have a plan that nails him and cuts him off at the knees before he can react. You'll have to trust us. It's the only way to protect everybody. We'd like to get you out of here and send you on a cruise or put you up near my house or my partners. Your son made me promise I would get you to safety."
 
"I trust you. I trust my son. I don't trust any of these other bastards. Not one of them can play a note of music. Do you know that this family goes back many generations all musicians? Winston and Junior, none of the girls, they could care less about music except for the money it makes them. I don't think they have a drop of Blackwell blood in them. A damn shame. Okay, we go then. You ready Daniel? There better be smoking where we go, that's all I can say. My boy alive. I'd cruise to the moon to see him. Thank you Lucy."
 
"Okay then. You get ready and I'll come down when the coast is clear. I think I'll send Lincoln home to see his granddaughters." Lucy felt relief. She didn’t' know if Emma would take any of the news well or not.
 
It took Lucy about two minutes to convince Lincoln that the afternoon with his granddaughters was a well-earned bonus he had coming. As soon as she saw Lincoln's car on the road, Lucy called Q. They had all agreed that Q was the one person in their group that could explain showing up at the mansion. Everyone else was either presumed dead or unwelcome.
 
Within five minutes, Q pulled up in his Cadillac and Emma and Daniel tossed their bags in the trunk, and they were off. Lucy went back inside to wait. There was no guarantee that Winston was going to show up at any particular time. But, she had a feeling that she was a priority to him. Until she could get inside his operation, plans were on hold.
 
Lucy spent the next three hours all alone in the mansion. She snooped around the study looking for nothing in particular. She just looked. Junior had removed most traces of Harpster and had his plaques and awards in their place. There was no comparison as far as accomplishments went. Junior had to put up a lot more in the way of photographs with celebrities. She did find a couple numbers for Dr. Khin that she didn't have previously. She jotted down several other numbers that may or may not come in handy.
 
When Winston arrived this time, he didn't have his backup hovering down the street. Three jet-black Humvees roared up the driveway towards the entrance of the Blackwell mansion. Lucy took a deep breath. She waited.
 
Winston came through the door and said nothing.
 
Lucy spoke first, "Mr. Blackwell took the family on a drive to Hearst Castle, I don't expect him back until much later, Sir.
 
"Well, that suits me fine. He bores me anyway. I'm here to see you, Lucy. I could use someone with your skills in my operation. I'm not sure if you're interested in making money though. You may like kids so much that you couldn't bear to leave this little job." Winston's attempt at a pleasant smile came across as sinister perversion. A picture of something unspeakable performed on a pile of money came to mind.
 
"I thought you'd never ask. I am keenly interested in making money. That is why I came to Bel Air. I'm not fond of kids to be honest. They really aren't too bright. When do we leave?"
 
"How about now?"
 
Lucy walked over to the coffee table, picked up her things, and headed towards the door. She paused and looked back at Winston. "Should we leave your brother a note?" She smiled as sinister a smile as she could muster. She imagined Winston on a skewer over a giant fire pit turning slowly.
 
Winston started towards the door. "I've already let him know that he needs to hire another nanny." He began laughing as though he was in a mad scientist movie. In a most chilling way, it suited him.
 
The entourage pulled out of the driveway headed to Winston's compound. When she was certain she could get away with it, she dialed Tenaya on her voice activated cell phone. When Tenaya answered she said, "Go for it".
 
Tenaya hung up her phone and announced to the team, "We're on. She's in".



 

Author Notes Lots going on. Believable? Is it easy to follow? Loving the great input. Most appreciated. Still hopelessly behind in responses, but I read everyword and I'm sure it is reflected in the story. Thank you so much for your support.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 27
It's Showtime!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy completed her task of getting Harpsters mom and brother out of the Blackwell mansion safely. Winston showed up as expected to recruit here and she jumped on board. Plans were worked on and the rest of the team waited to hear if Lucy and made it to the inside of Winston's operation. We pick up now as Lucy is traveling along with Winston's crew worried that she joined up a little too easily.


I went along way to easy. What the hell was I thinking? I have to remedy that. Stupid, stupid, stupid Lucy! Hey, wanna become a master criminal, kill a bunch of folks, and maybe betray your country? Sure! Get my home by ten though, Judge Wapner's on. Yeah, definitely on at ten. Crap. Lucy felt a little crazy driving along with her little Toyota in the Humvee caravan. But, she had made her move. Winston called and she answered. It was the plan and maybe Winston was expecting her reaction. She had planted the seeds. Maybe they had already had enough wink, wink moments for her answer to be a given. Well, she would be a little harder to get when they reached… hell she didn't have a clue where they were going. The Humvees were pulling over to the side of the road. She pulled over too.
 
Winston stepped out of the lead vehicle and approached Lucy's car. "We're going to have to take some security measures, I'm sure you understand."
 
Lucy understood, but decided not to for the moment. "What do you mean? Are you saying I'm a security risk? I just left everything I own. I ended my former life completely. What exactly do you need to secure?"
 
"I hear you. But, we have our procedures and we follow them in all cases. We need you to step out of your vehicle. You'll ride with me. We have to blindfold you. Not knowing where we are or where we are going is to your advantage as well. You'll see, it's for everyone's protection. We'll talk more when we get to base." Winston was firm, but not as forceful as she imagined he usually was.
 
"Very well then. I hope you're not sticking me in some hot trunk or something." She did her best to remain in control even though she wasn't.
 
"No. You'll be able to ride shotgun. You just won't be able to see for a while. It won't be long. Like I said, it's for your protection too. If someone ever asks you where we are you can honestly answer that you don't know. He put a pair of what appeared to be wrap around shades on her. She couldn't see a thing. He grabbed her arm, escorted her to his vehicle, and helped her into the passenger seat. She heard her Toyota start up. She was pleased that they were bringing it along.
 
~~~~~
 
Tenaya turned to the group. "She's in. That means we are a go to put our plans into effect. First of all, is the tracking device working. Dammit, Q, the only answer I want to hear is yes. That's my partner out there."
 
Q smiled. "Hell yes. It's working like gold. There's no way Winston's got anywhere near this technology. It will pinpoint where she is, but that is all. That will allow us to get surveillance in place. This is delicate business. This is all paranoid by nature. Suspicions' are the nature of everyone involved. Lucy has got to be on her toes. The others aren't going to like a newcomer. But, she can handle it. Getting intel to us, that's the tricky part. They'll watch her like a hawk. It comes with the territory. They watch each other like hawks. They'd watch their mom and make her taste the apple pie before they'd have a bite."
 
The Bard paced around the room muttering and obviously on edge. "Hi Lucy. I'm home. How's little Winston? Okay. Remain calm, keep your arms loaded and inside the vehicle at all times. It's like my old buddy, Walt Disney used to tell me: stay calm and let cooler heads prevail. Get it? Cooler heads!" He kept pacing and chuckling to himself. Harpster came over and put his hand on his shoulder.
 
Tenaya spoke, "Well, we can start with the rest of our plan right away. I've called a press conference for two in the afternoon. That will get it on the news at five o'clock locally and hopefully it will go national for the six o'clock network newscast. It's going to be right in the courtyard of the Bel Air precinct." She couldn't help but laugh out loud.
 
Tenaya continued, "I'm just praying that Chief Sandoval attempts to intercede. I couldn't ask for more than to see his face when he is standing there when he is accused of conspiring to murder Johnathon Blackwell Senior! Ha! How great would that be if the damned fool was standing out there with his pants down? If we get lucky, maybe Junior will show up to get a parking ticket fixed."
 
Q jumped in. "Christina Gonzalez is a close friend of mine, so I gave her the run down and the exclusive. She doesn't know the whole story, but she knows that the Chief, Junior and Dr. Khin are the ones being accused. She has her people on it. She'll be knocking on Junior's door before the first question is asked. She's local channel seven, but she's gone national more times than I can count."
 
Harpster was anxious to speak and cleared his throat, "We still haven't come to a decision regarding Ruby. I think announcing her, as my rightful heir right then and there would be the perfect kicker. That would send that mealy mouth kid of mine off the deep end. It would also shine a bright light on my daughter and make it difficult for anyone to get to her."
 
Diamond looked worried. "I don't know. One day she wants to go undercover with psycho militia and now you want to put her face on national television in the middle of a murder scandal. Why can't she just keep a low profile until the dust settles?"
 
"Ya see though. She's the one now. It's all her. Blackwell publishing. The big dog. The big cheese. The whole enchilada. Speedy Gonzales. Harpster's dead man. Old news… pushin' up Daisy, that naughty girl. So, being the precious stone that she is, it's time she take control. She is the Kahuna with the tuna. I asked Charlie and he said the dolphins are down." The Bard went back to his pacing.
 
Q smiled. "I agree. Junior doesn't have any right to anything. It's your show, Ruby. Step up and take the reins. It's no scam. You own the company."
 
Harpster added, "That's right, honey. You are in charge now. I'm retired. It's legal. You are the legal controlling partner of Blackwell Publishing and all of its affiliates. You may as well get to work. If you need a harpist, I'm available. Gotta sneak me in when no one's looking though. I am dead, after all."
 
Discussion continued and before long Tenaya, Q, Diamond and Ruby got in Q's Mercedes and began the half hour drive to the Bel Air Police Department. They arrived to an even larger throng than they had expected. The courtyard had just enough room for the four of them to squeeze through the sea of cameras and microphones to the top of the steps.
 
Q stood in front of the bank of microphones. "I am Quincy Langston. I am the personal attorney for Johnathon Blackwell Senior. We have several announcements to make this afternoon on behalf of the deceased and his estate. I'm joined here by Detective Tenaya Adrian of the Bel Air Police Department. She is currently under indefinite suspension. Also with me is Diamond Dancer and her daughter Ruby. We have extensive evidence that Johnathon Blackwell Senior was murdered by his son, Johnathon Blackwell Junior and that Senior's personal physician, Dr. Tahir Khin and Police Chief Sandoval of the Bel Air Police Department are co-conspirators in the plot and subsequent cover up. There are other unnamed parties that will be facing indictment as well. We would also like to announce that we have conclusive DNA evidence that Ruby Dancer is the first-born child of Johnathon Blackwell Senior and thus his rightful and undisputed heir. She will take control of all aspects of Blackwell Publishing and its affiliates immediately. We are prepared to answer a few questions at this time. Please don't ask about specific evidence. As you know we can't discuss matters currently under investigation."
 
Obligatory blinding flashbulb pops and unintelligible questions converged on top of each other in a cacophony that we all recognize as a news feeding frenzy. The group in the spotlight couldn't be more pleased.
 
Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, three Humvees and a Toyota made their way through the mountainess roads of the Angeles Forrest on their way to Winston's hidden compound. In the passenger seat of one of the Humvees, Lucy Smaldino sat amused listening to the radio and thinking to herself. This guy isn't very bright for a dude that wants to rule the world. Doesn't he think I might notice that he is listening to an Apple Valley radio station as we wind our way through mountain roads? I don't even need a tracking device to know I'm on the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles Forest. This might be fun after all.



 

Author Notes The characters are in place now and the action should start to pick up. Suggestions and input always welcome. I listen with open ears to everything you say. Don't be shy. Your input is invaluable to me as is your support. Thank you so much. mikey


Chapter 27
It's Showtime!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy completed her task of getting Harpsters mom and brother out of the Blackwell mansion safely. Winston showed up as expected to recruit here and she jumped on board. Plans were worked on and the rest of the team waited to hear if Lucy and made it to the inside of Winston's operation. We pick up now as Lucy is traveling along with Winston's crew worried that she joined up a little too easily.


I went along way to easy. What the hell was I thinking? I have to remedy that. Stupid, stupid, stupid Lucy! Hey, wanna become a master criminal, kill a bunch of folks, and maybe betray your country? Sure! Get my home by ten though, Judge Wapner's on. Yeah, definitely on at ten. Crap. Lucy felt a little crazy driving along with her little Toyota in the Humvee caravan. But, she had made her move. Winston called and she answered. It was the plan and maybe Winston was expecting her reaction. She had planted the seeds. Maybe they had already had enough wink, wink moments for her answer to be a given. Well, she would be a little harder to get when they reached… hell she didn't have a clue where they were going. The Humvees were pulling over to the side of the road. She pulled over too.
 
Winston stepped out of the lead vehicle and approached Lucy's car. "We're going to have to take some security measures, I'm sure you understand."
 
Lucy understood, but decided not to for the moment. "What do you mean? Are you saying I'm a security risk? I just left everything I own. I ended my former life completely. What exactly do you need to secure?"
 
"I hear you. But, we have our procedures and we follow them in all cases. We need you to step out of your vehicle. You'll ride with me. We have to blindfold you. Not knowing where we are or where we are going is to your advantage as well. You'll see, it's for everyone's protection. We'll talk more when we get to base." Winston was firm, but not as forceful as she imagined he usually was.
 
"Very well then. I hope you're not sticking me in some hot trunk or something." She did her best to remain in control even though she wasn't.
 
"No. You'll be able to ride shotgun. You just won't be able to see for a while. It won't be long. Like I said, it's for your protection too. If someone ever asks you where we are you can honestly answer that you don't know. He put a pair of what appeared to be wrap around shades on her. She couldn't see a thing. He grabbed her arm, escorted her to his vehicle, and helped her into the passenger seat. She heard her Toyota start up. She was pleased that they were bringing it along.
 
~~~~~
 
Tenaya turned to the group. "She's in. That means we are a go to put our plans into effect. First of all, is the tracking device working. Dammit, Q, the only answer I want to hear is yes. That's my partner out there."
 
Q smiled. "Hell yes. It's working like gold. There's no way Winston's got anywhere near this technology. It will pinpoint where she is, but that is all. That will allow us to get surveillance in place. This is delicate business. This is all paranoid by nature. Suspicions' are the nature of everyone involved. Lucy has got to be on her toes. The others aren't going to like a newcomer. But, she can handle it. Getting intel to us, that's the tricky part. They'll watch her like a hawk. It comes with the territory. They watch each other like hawks. They'd watch their mom and make her taste the apple pie before they'd have a bite."
 
The Bard paced around the room muttering and obviously on edge. "Hi Lucy. I'm home. How's little Winston? Okay. Remain calm, keep your arms loaded and inside the vehicle at all times. It's like my old buddy, Walt Disney used to tell me: stay calm and let cooler heads prevail. Get it? Cooler heads!" He kept pacing and chuckling to himself. Harpster came over and put his hand on his shoulder.
 
Tenaya spoke, "Well, we can start with the rest of our plan right away. I've called a press conference for two in the afternoon. That will get it on the news at five o'clock locally and hopefully it will go national for the six o'clock network newscast. It's going to be right in the courtyard of the Bel Air precinct." She couldn't help but laugh out loud.
 
Tenaya continued, "I'm just praying that Chief Sandoval attempts to intercede. I couldn't ask for more than to see his face when he is standing there when he is accused of conspiring to murder Johnathon Blackwell Senior! Ha! How great would that be if the damned fool was standing out there with his pants down? If we get lucky, maybe Junior will show up to get a parking ticket fixed."
 
Q jumped in. "Christina Gonzalez is a close friend of mine, so I gave her the run down and the exclusive. She doesn't know the whole story, but she knows that the Chief, Junior and Dr. Khin are the ones being accused. She has her people on it. She'll be knocking on Junior's door before the first question is asked. She's local channel seven, but she's gone national more times than I can count."
 
Harpster was anxious to speak and cleared his throat, "We still haven't come to a decision regarding Ruby. I think announcing her, as my rightful heir right then and there would be the perfect kicker. That would send that mealy mouth kid of mine off the deep end. It would also shine a bright light on my daughter and make it difficult for anyone to get to her."
 
Diamond looked worried. "I don't know. One day she wants to go undercover with psycho militia and now you want to put her face on national television in the middle of a murder scandal. Why can't she just keep a low profile until the dust settles?"
 
"Ya see though. She's the one now. It's all her. Blackwell publishing. The big dog. The big cheese. The whole enchilada. Speedy Gonzales. Harpster's dead, man. Old news… pushin' up Daisy, that naughty girl. So, being the precious stone that she is, it's time she take control. She is the Kahuna with the tuna. I asked Charlie and he said the dolphins are down." The Bard went back to his pacing.
 
Q smiled. "I agree. Junior doesn't have any right to anything. It's your show, Ruby. Step up and take the reins. It's no scam. You own the company."
 
Harpster added, "That's right, honey. You are in charge now. I'm retired. It's legal. You are the legal controlling partner of Blackwell Publishing and all of its affiliates. You may as well get to work. If you need a harpist, I'm available. Gotta sneak me in when no one's looking though. I am dead, after all."
 
Discussion continued and before long Tenaya, Q, Diamond and Ruby got in Q's Mercedes and began the half hour drive to the Bel Air Police Department. They arrived to an even larger throng than they had expected. The courtyard had just enough room for the four of them to squeeze through the sea of cameras and microphones to the top of the steps.
 
Q stood in front of the bank of microphones. "I am Quincy Langston. I am the personal attorney for Johnathon Blackwell Senior. We have several announcements to make this afternoon on behalf of the deceased and his estate. I'm joined here by Detective Tenaya Adrian of the Bel Air Police Department. She is currently under indefinite suspension. Also with me is Diamond Dancer and her daughter Ruby. We have extensive evidence that Johnathon Blackwell Senior was murdered by his son, Johnathon Blackwell Junior and that Senior's personal physician, Dr. Tahir Khin and Police Chief Sandoval of the Bel Air Police Department are co-conspirators in the plot and subsequent cover up. There are other unnamed parties that will be facing indictment as well. We would also like to announce that we have conclusive DNA evidence that Ruby Dancer is the first-born child of Johnathon Blackwell Senior and thus his rightful and undisputed heir. She will take control of all aspects of Blackwell Publishing and its affiliates immediately. We are prepared to answer a few questions at this time. Please don't ask about specific evidence. As you know we can't discuss matters currently under investigation."
 
Obligatory blinding flashbulb pops and unintelligible questions converged on top of each other in a cacophony that we all recognize as a news feeding frenzy. The group in the spotlight couldn't be more pleased.
 
Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, three Humvees and a Toyota made their way through the mountainess roads of the Angeles Forrest on their way to Winston's hidden compound. In the passenger seat of one of the Humvees, Lucy Smaldino sat amused listening to the radio and thinking to herself. This guy isn't very bright for a dude that wants to rule the world. Doesn't he think I might notice that he is listening to an Apple Valley radio station as we wind our way through mountain roads? I don't even need a tracking device to know I'm on the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles Forest. This might be fun after all.



 

Author Notes The characters are in place now and the action should start to pick up. Suggestions and input always welcome. I listen with open ears to everything you say. Don't be shy. Your input is invaluable to me as is your support. Thank you so much. mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 27
It's Showtime!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy completed her task of getting Harpsters mom and brother out of the Blackwell mansion safely. Winston showed up as expected to recruit here and she jumped on board. Plans were worked on and the rest of the team waited to hear if Lucy and made it to the inside of Winston's operation. We pick up now as Lucy is traveling along with Winston's crew worried that she joined up a little too easily.


I went along way to easy. What the hell was I thinking? I have to remedy that. Stupid, stupid, stupid Lucy! Hey, wanna become a master criminal, kill a bunch of folks, and maybe betray your country? Sure! Get my home by ten though, Judge Wapner's on. Yeah, definitely on at ten. Crap. Lucy felt a little crazy driving along with her little Toyota in the Humvee caravan. But, she had made her move. Winston called and she answered. It was the plan and maybe Winston was expecting her reaction. She had planted the seeds. Maybe they had already had enough wink, wink moments for her answer to be a given. Well, she would be a little harder to get when they reached… hell she didn't have a clue where they were going. The Humvees were pulling over to the side of the road. She pulled over too.
 
Winston stepped out of the lead vehicle and approached Lucy's car. "We're going to have to take some security measures, I'm sure you understand."
 
Lucy understood, but decided not to for the moment. "What do you mean? Are you saying I'm a security risk? I just left everything I own. I ended my former life completely. What exactly do you need to secure?"
 
"I hear you. But, we have our procedures and we follow them in all cases. We need you to step out of your vehicle. You'll ride with me. We have to blindfold you. Not knowing where we are or where we are going is to your advantage as well. You'll see, it's for everyone's protection. We'll talk more when we get to base." Winston was firm, but not as forceful as she imagined he usually was.
 
"Very well then. I hope you're not sticking me in some hot trunk or something." She did her best to remain in control even though she wasn't.
 
"No. You'll be able to ride shotgun. You just won't be able to see for a while. It won't be long. Like I said, it's for your protection too. If someone ever asks you where we are you can honestly answer that you don't know. He put a pair of what appeared to be wrap around shades on her. She couldn't see a thing. He grabbed her arm, escorted her to his vehicle, and helped her into the passenger seat. She heard her Toyota start up. She was pleased that they were bringing it along.
 
~~~~~
 
Tenaya turned to the group. "She's in. That means we are a go to put our plans into effect. First of all, is the tracking device working. Dammit, Q, the only answer I want to hear is yes. That's my partner out there."
 
Q smiled. "Hell yes. It's working like gold. There's no way Winston's got anywhere near this technology. It will pinpoint where she is, but that is all. That will allow us to get surveillance in place. This is delicate business. This is all paranoid by nature. Suspicions' are the nature of everyone involved. Lucy has got to be on her toes. The others aren't going to like a newcomer. But, she can handle it. Getting intel to us, that's the tricky part. They'll watch her like a hawk. It comes with the territory. They watch each other like hawks. They'd watch their mom and make her taste the apple pie before they'd have a bite."
 
The Bard paced around the room muttering and obviously on edge. "Hi Lucy. I'm home. How's little Winston? Okay. Remain calm, keep your arms loaded and inside the vehicle at all times. It's like my old buddy, Walt Disney used to tell me: stay calm and let cooler heads prevail. Get it? Cooler heads!" He kept pacing and chuckling to himself. Harpster came over and put his hand on his shoulder.
 
Tenaya spoke, "Well, we can start with the rest of our plan right away. I've called a press conference for two in the afternoon. That will get it on the news at five o'clock locally and hopefully it will go national for the six o'clock network newscast. It's going to be right in the courtyard of the Bel Air precinct." She couldn't help but laugh out loud.
 
Tenaya continued, "I'm just praying that Chief Sandoval attempts to intercede. I couldn't ask for more than to see his face when he is standing there when he is accused of conspiring to murder Johnathon Blackwell Senior! Ha! How great would that be if the damned fool was standing out there with his pants down? If we get lucky, maybe Junior will show up to get a parking ticket fixed."
 
Q jumped in. "Christina Gonzalez is a close friend of mine, so I gave her the run down and the exclusive. She doesn't know the whole story, but she knows that the Chief, Junior and Dr. Khin are the ones being accused. She has her people on it. She'll be knocking on Junior's door before the first question is asked. She's local channel seven, but she's gone national more times than I can count."
 
Harpster was anxious to speak and cleared his throat, "We still haven't come to a decision regarding Ruby. I think announcing her, as my rightful heir right then and there would be the perfect kicker. That would send that mealy mouth kid of mine off the deep end. It would also shine a bright light on my daughter and make it difficult for anyone to get to her."
 
Diamond looked worried. "I don't know. One day she wants to go undercover with psycho militia and now you want to put her face on national television in the middle of a murder scandal. Why can't she just keep a low profile until the dust settles?"
 
"Ya see though. She's the one now. It's all her. Blackwell publishing. The big dog. The big cheese. The whole enchilada. Speedy Gonzales. Harpster's dead man. Old news… pushin' up Daisy, that naughty girl. So, being the precious stone that she is, it's time she take control. She is the Kahuna with the tuna. I asked Charlie and he said the dolphins are down." The Bard went back to his pacing.
 
Q smiled. "I agree. Junior doesn't have any right to anything. It's your show, Ruby. Step up and take the reins. It's no scam. You own the company."
 
Harpster added, "That's right, honey. You are in charge now. I'm retired. It's legal. You are the legal controlling partner of Blackwell Publishing and all of its affiliates. You may as well get to work. If you need a harpist, I'm available. Gotta sneak me in when no one's looking though. I am dead, after all."
 
Discussion continued and before long Tenaya, Q, Diamond and Ruby got in Q's Mercedes and began the half hour drive to the Bel Air Police Department. They arrived to an even larger throng than they had expected. The courtyard had just enough room for the four of them to squeeze through the sea of cameras and microphones to the top of the steps.
 
Q stood in front of the bank of microphones. "I am Quincy Langston. I am the personal attorney for Johnathon Blackwell Senior. We have several announcements to make this afternoon on behalf of the deceased and his estate. I'm joined here by Detective Tenaya Adrian of the Bel Air Police Department. She is currently under indefinite suspension. Also with me is Diamond Dancer and her daughter Ruby. We have extensive evidence that Johnathon Blackwell Senior was murdered by his son, Johnathon Blackwell Junior and that Senior's personal physician, Dr. Tahir Khin and Police Chief Sandoval of the Bel Air Police Department are co-conspirators in the plot and subsequent cover up. There are other unnamed parties that will be facing indictment as well. We would also like to announce that we have conclusive DNA evidence that Ruby Dancer is the first-born child of Johnathon Blackwell Senior and thus his rightful and undisputed heir. She will take control of all aspects of Blackwell Publishing and its affiliates immediately. We are prepared to answer a few questions at this time. Please don't ask about specific evidence. As you know we can't discuss matters currently under investigation."
 
Obligatory blinding flashbulb pops and unintelligible questions converged on top of each other in a cacophony that we all recognize as a news feeding frenzy. The group in the spotlight couldn't be more pleased.
 
Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, three Humvees and a Toyota made their way through the mountainess roads of the Angeles Forrest on their way to Winston's hidden compound. In the passenger seat of one of the Humvees, Lucy Smaldino sat amused listening to the radio and thinking to herself. This guy isn't very bright for a dude that wants to rule the world. Doesn't he think I might notice that he is listening to an Apple Valley radio station as we wind our way through mountain roads? I don't even need a tracking device to know I'm on the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles Forest. This might be fun after all.



 

Author Notes The characters are in place now and the action should start to pick up. Suggestions and input always welcome. I listen with open ears to everything you say. Don't be shy. Your input is invaluable to me as is your support. Thank you so much. mikey


Chapter 28
The Media Circus

By michaelcahill

CHAPTER 27 DID NOT HAVE NOTICES SENT OUT. PLEASE READ FIRST! ALMOST EVERYONE MISSED IT. IT IS PROMOTED TOO. MIKEY
 
Previously, Lucy hooked up with Winston and worried that she may have jumped on board too quick. Winston was lax as far as covering the location of his compound. Lucy had a pretty good idea of its approximate location even though blindfolded. Plans to call a press conference where solidified and the participants set out on their way to it.


The response to Q's announcement reminded me of feeding my goldfish in the evening. Goldfish, it is claimed, have a memory that only spans about twenty seconds. That is why they appear to be starving every time they are fed. They don’t remember eating… EVER! It took a few moments of shouting and elbowing for the first question to be posed.
 
"Lance Goodsprechen, Channel 7 News, are any of these parties in custody? Have any arrests been made?"
 
Q pretended to confer with Tenaya. He whispered under his breath, "This is awesome. Are you up for some questions?"
 
Tenaya looked a bit nervous, "Warm them up a little, so I can get a feel for it. Then you can turn it over to me. I've seen many "tell them nothing" press conferences; I think I can handle it."
 
Q addressed the throng of reporters, "Warrants are being issued as we speak. Detective Adrian can give you more specific answers."
 
"Sonny Denteen, MTV, How will this affect the Elvis Costello tour that has just been signed and what about the artists signed to Blackwell Publishing?"  
 
Q smiled. He was hoping it would go this direction. "That is all in the CEO's hands, Ruby Dancer. She will be glad to answer your questions shortly. I can assure you that the transition of ownership will be smooth and there will be no disruption of tour dates or release dates for albums."
 
"John Slayer, NBC Nightly News, is this another Michael Jackson scenario. Did the Doctor give him the wrong medication? Did his son have him murdered so he could take over the company?"
 
Q suppressed a giddy laugh. "We can't go into details of an ongoing investigation. All the circumstances will be brought to light in due course. I'm going to turn the mic over to Detective Adrian. She can answer general questions about the case, but don't expect details. Remember that there may yet be people in danger and not everyone involved is behind bars at this time. Adrian?"
 
Tenaya came forward. She looked over the assemblage and pointed at a familiar face, "Katrina?"
 
"Yes, thank you detective. Katrina Wright, KCAL9, The Police Chief works out of the office right behind you. Are you going to arrest him right on the spot?"
 
"Technically, I can't arrest anyone. I'm suspended. So, someone else will have that honor. If he's inside watching, he's welcome to come out and respond. I doubt he has the nerve being a low life and all." Tenaya had all she could handle keeping a smirk off her face.
 
"What facts can you tell us? Can you give some basics at least?" Katrina Wright knew Tenaya from a previous prominent case and had a friendship of sorts with her.
 
Tenaya responded, "I was the lead detective that awful night. We responded to a 911 call. Upon arrival, I observed the victim, Johnathon Blackwell Senior, being tended to by a civilian team from the Cryogenic Institute. I was prevented from conducting an investigation at every turn. Police Chief Sandoval was already on scene and interfering with my investigation. Dr. Khin had already signed a death certificate. Blackwell Junior had discovered the body, according to him, and called the Cryogenic Institute before he called 911. There are witnesses that are in protective custody that will testify to the actual murder that took place. The body remains unexamined at the Cryogenic Institute. I assure you, we will have access and we will test for toxins. That is all I can tell you at this time. Ruby?"
 
Ruby stepped up with all the poise those years on stage had taught her. "If you would confine your questions to matters that concern Blackwell Publishing and its affiliates, I am here to answer them. I have no comment on the investigation involving my father's murder."
 
Q and Tenaya gave each other looks of approval. There was the sound bite that would take them national. Ruby looked gorgeous and the epitome of class and poise.
 
"Ms. Dancer! Ms. Dancer! Is that a stage name? Are you going to change your name to Blackwell?"
 
"That's my name. Daughter of the legendary Diamond Dancer. Yes, I use my real name on stage. In private life, my last name will be Blackwell. But, as far as my recording and music career, I have no plans to change it." Ruby was right at home and seemed to be without nerves. She had them, but the experience to overcome them had been honed for years on stage.
 
A murmuring began through the crowd as eyes turned to the front of the Bel Air Police Department. Chief Sandoval, flanked by seven officers, was making his way towards the press conference. He looked unhappy and stared directly at Tenaya Adrian. Upon arrival, he directed his officers to stand behind him as he walked up Tenaya.
 
Tenaya eyed him with contempt and anticipated what his next move might be. She motioned to three officers in the crowd who appeared to be there for crowd control purposes.
 
The Chief spoke, "Tenaya Adrian, you are under arrest for violating your suspension and inciting civil unrest." He pulled cuffs out of his back pocket and attempted to get closer to Tenaya.
 
"Chief Sandoval, you are under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, you have the right to remain silent…" One of the three officers had come up behind the Chief and neatly cuffed him and began reading him his rights.
 
Chief Sandoval was incensed. "You can't arrest me. This is a career move here, buddy. Dobbs, Fortenson, stop him!"
 
The two officers that the Chief called out to looked confused and stood there motionless. The three officers escorted a yelling and uncooperative Chief Sandoval to a nearby squad car and put him in the back seat. The car sped off.
 
On stage Ruby Dancer spoke, "You officers can go back inside now. Oh… Chief Sandoval won't be coming back for… well, Chief Sandoval won't be coming back. Now, are there any other questions?"
 
~~~~~~
 
Johnathon Blackwell Junior couldn't believe his eyes as he watched the breaking news on channel 9. "Lincoln, are you watching this crap. That damn meddling detective just arrested the Chief and she's mentioned my name and the doctors. What the hell is going on here?"
 
A loud knock at the door interrupted his diatribe. "Lincoln, see who the hell that is and get rid of them. Whatever it is, I don't want any."
 
Lincoln answered the door. "Christina Gonzales Eyewitness News, You have not been implicated yet. Is yours a name that we can add to the list? Are you one of the unnamed conspirators?"
 
That was unexpected by Lincoln and sent him reeling. "Me? No. Hell no! I have nothing to do with nothing. I just work here. You want to talk to Junior here. He's the one they're talkin' about, not me. Mr. Blackwell. It's Christina Gonzales, she has questions for you."
 
Junior was red-faced mad. "Dammit, Lincoln! I told you I didn't want to talk to anybody." He stormed to the front door as Christina and her crew pushed by Lincoln.
 
With the camera and light directly on Junior, Christina Gonzales posed a question, "Did you murder your own father to gain control of his company?"
 
Junior was not used to the spotlight. He reacted without much thought as to what it might look like. "This is just the latest lame attempt for some country bumpkins to gain a little fame and grab a headline. I watched the damn circus and I'm sure you vultures are eating it up. I run Blackwell Publishing. No, I didn't murder my own father."
 
"Yet, the Chief of Police for Bel Air was just arrested on television for all to see. So, there is certainly something to all of this. Are you going into hiding?"
 
"Hiding? Ha! Are you kidding? Hell no! Hiding from what? That pain in the ass detective and a shyster lawyer. Hell, that's my lawyer. A little conflict of interest there somewhere? Ya Think? Those two hicks are gonna run a billion dollar corporation. On what planet?"
 
Christina Gonzales smiled and looked into the camera. "That was Johnathon Blackwell Junior's reaction to the news that he has been accused of the murder of this father. I'm Christina Gonzales, Eyewitness News." She paused knowing that she already had exactly what she came for. She continued. "Are you prepared to answer some questions here and now to clear yourself?"
 
"I don't need to clear myself. You can take your little camera and sideshow back out on the road. You're on private property, lady. Don't make me call the cops."
 
"Your connection at the Bel Air Police Department isn't taking any calls at this point. With the takeover of Blackwell Publishing, what are your plans?"
 
"Take over? Take over? Nothing is taken over anything. Those two bitches will be on a boat to Louisiana by the end of the week. Are you kidding? Take over? Now, get off my property with this second rate circus. You must want to be sued."
 
"I don't think your lawyer is handling your affairs anymore."
 
"That's it. Very funny, funny girl. Lincoln! Show these people the door. Get them out of here. Call the cops do something!" Junior stormed out of the room and into the study.



 

Author Notes Somehow the last chapter didn't have notices sent, so I hope everyone got a chance to read it. So, is this all rolling along to your liking? Input and suggestions always welcome. You have been wonderfully helpful. Thank you.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 29
Questions and More Questions

By michaelcahill

Previously, the press conference went off beautifully. Chief Sandoval, true to form, tried to intervene and was promptly arrested and driven away. Christina Gonzales, a veteran reporter, managed to get Junior to fall apart for the cameras in a way sure to get him national exposure. We pick up now as Junior has stormed off and Christina attempts to get information from Lincoln.




Christina turned to Lincoln. "You are in the middle of this. Senior was your employer for years. Now his son comes traipsing in here and takes over, that has to bother you on some levels. Junior doesn't seem too reasonable." She left the statement out there. The camera was on Lincoln.
 
"I work here. I don't have any information to add to anything. That is all I have to say. I miss Harpster; he was one of a kind. If his death was not natural, then I would like to know what happened and I would want those responsible brought to justice. With that I have to say goodnight."
 
Christina didn't get the bonus she had hoped for from Lincoln. He was cooler under fire than she thought he would be. Well, Junior sure got me on the network tonight. What an idiot. How could he look any worse? I guess he could've pulled off some butterfly wings. She chuckled under her breath as the crew loaded up the gear. As a veteran journalist, her mind already had assessed Junior. This guy is a jerk, no doubt about that. But, he doesn't strike me as a killer. I've interviewed many. He doesn't have the nerve.
 
~~~~~~
 
Chief Sandoval went from pissed off to bewildered. "Where the hell are you taking me? You're on the five going north. That isn't on the way to any precinct I know of. What the hell is going on here?"
 
"We're taking the scenic route, Chief. We thought you might want to get some things off your chest. You know, things. Let's start with Doctor Khin's role in Harpster's murder. What drug did he use and where did he get it?"
 
Chief Sandoval's jaw dropped. "You're not cops, are you?"
 
That seemed to amuse the officers as they burst into laughter. Moments later, they pulled into an underground garage, escorted the Chief into a room with a few chairs and a table, and sat him down.
 
Sgt. Patel stood a good half foot above the six foot tall Chief. Imposing would be putting it mildly. "I'm part of the Bradley Commission as are my fellow officers here. We're the group that investigates the investigators. Mayor Bradley instituted this commission made up of decorated officers back when he was Mayor. We make sure that Internal Affairs is on the up and up. We investigate rotten cops like yourself that have somehow risen to positions of prominence. Unlike you, we give a damn about the integrity of the Los Angeles Police Force. A rogue asshole like yourself makes it pretty damn difficult for the good men and women on the force to get a break."
 
"Look, Patel, or whatever the hell your name is. I'm a police chief. Hell, I'm the police chief of one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Do you think you can just scoop me up and drive me off and no one is going to say a word? You have got to be…"
 
A quick slap in the face with a decent amount of force ended the Chief's little speech. Sgt. Patel continued, "You don't get it Sandoval. We've already done everything you said and no one's said a word. I don't like being a tough guy. I'm really an old softy, ask my grandkids. But, you are going to tell us what we want to know. Get that straight, right now. Save yourself some needless aggravation."
 
Sgt. Patel assumed a posture of menace towering over Chief Sandoval. Whatever fight the chief had in him quickly vanished. "We want to know about Winston Blackwell. We want to know who. We want to know where and we want to know what. You might come out of this in better shape than you deserve…IF…you cooperate. You could also get a needle in your arm if you want to continue to conspire in treason against the United States. We are going to get what we need one-way or the other. Your ass is in your hands right now. Give us what we want, or it will be in mine. Who is Winston dealing with?"
 
Sandoval went from six feet tall down to about two feet in a hurry. "I don't know anything about Winston's dealings. I'm not in on any of that and I have no idea what you're talking about. I provided some privacy to some good friends in their time of need, that's all. Their father died and they didn't want it to be a circus. Dealing with? What the hell are you talking about?"
 
"Dammit, this is going to get ugly if you don't get smart and I mean right now. He didn't put one hundred thousand dollars in an off shore account under your name for a little professional courtesy. Yes. You pompous ass. We know everything. We know you were a bed wetter. Names!" Patel pulled a nightstick out of his tool belt and tapped it on the table.
 
"Look. I don't know names. He's up there in the Angeles Forest somewhere. Mercenaries. That's all I know. I haven't been there and I'm not a part of it."
 
"I asked you about the Doctor and what kind of poison he used. I suppose you don't know about that?" Patel motioned to Sweeny and Roussin and they began plugging in equipment and making a lot of noise. A table with straps hanging off the side looked particularly menacing and not a place that one would expect to get any beauty sleep on.
 
Sandoval looked at the activity and turned the kind of pale that Al Jolson used to be known for. "I have the needle and some of the evidence from the scene. Dr. Khin claimed it was medicine for diabetes. I didn't know any different. But, I'm a cop. I threw everything in an evidence bag. I have it. If you want it, I have it. I didn't know they killed him. I thought he died of natural causes. The doctor handed me a death certificate. I was just trying to make it smooth for the family. It's hundreds of thousands of dollars for that freezing business. An autopsy would make it impossible. I swear, I was just helping out."
 
Patel pulled his phone out and punched in some numbers.
 
Harpster flipped open his phone. "Yep. Anything?"
 
Patel answered, "I don't think this jackass knows a damn thing. He might have the goods on the doctor though. That will help us put the heat under his ass. I'll keep grilling this idiot and find out what I can. If he coughs up a hairball I'll give you a call."
 
Harpster hung up the phone and turned to the Bard. "Well, not much from Sandoval. A little help to nail the doctor. Where waiting on Lucy. I don't know if any of the players here have a clue."
 
The Bard paced, but not as frantically as he has been known to do. "We have the signal. Drop me off. I'll find her. The Angeles Forest is enchanted compared to some of the places I've been. Drop me off. Talking bout my Gir..ir…irl my girl!
 
Tenaya jumped in, "I'm inclined to go along with my friend here. You're not going alone by the way. That isn't happening. My partner, my show. But, we have a general idea; at least we'd already be close. Let's get going. I can't stand sitting around."
 
"Lots of big game in the forest. Lions, tigers and Arbys…oh my. Ever eat a pine tree? What the hell for? Well, don't mind me, I'm thinking out loud is all. Anyone up for Arbys? He's buying." The Bard pointed to a picture of Tenaya's great grandfather that she had hanging on the wall. That proved to be hilarious to her and she laughed in that manner where you have to cover your face for fear of what you might look like.


 
"was it worth the price
when you wouldn't see the train reach
the station
                a ticket bought
                with old dollars
cashed in future times
                                they say the dollars
                                bought more
indeed they did
                the rusty tracks go unnoticed
                as the counting continues
                                the shiny coins
                                                mesmerize



 
So, let's go. Lucy needs me. It is nice you know."
 
Harpster smiled and spoke, "You don't seem to realize, I'm filthy rich even when I'm dead. I have property there. That will be our base of operations. That puts us about an hour and a half from here. I have access to a helicopter if need be. I don't see what for. Convenience maybe. Ready?"


 

Author Notes Everything is in motion at once. Suggestions and input always sought and given serious consideration. Your help has saved me over and over. Thank you. mikey


Chapter 29
Questions and More Questions

By michaelcahill

Previously, the press conference went off beautifully. Chief Sandoval, true to form, tried to intervene and was promptly arrested and driven away. Christina Gonzales, a veteran reporter, managed to get Junior to fall apart for the cameras in a way sure to get him national exposure. We pick up now as Junior has stormed off and Christina attempts to get information from Lincoln.




Christina turned to Lincoln. "You are in the middle of this. Senior was your employer for years. Now his son comes traipsing in here and takes over, that has to bother you on some levels. Junior doesn't seem too reasonable." She left the statement out there. The camera was on Lincoln.
 
"I work here. I don't have any information to add to anything. That is all I have to say. I miss Harpster; he was one of a kind. If his death was not natural, then I would like to know what happened and I would want those responsible brought to justice. With that I have to say goodnight."
 
Christina didn't get the bonus she had hoped for from Lincoln. He was cooler under fire than she thought he would be. Well, Junior sure got me on the network tonight. What an idiot. How could he look any worse? I guess he could've pulled off some butterfly wings. She chuckled under her breath as the crew loaded up the gear. As a veteran journalist, she couldn't help keep certain thoughts out of her head. This guy is a jerk, no doubt about that. But, he doesn't strike me as a killer. I've interviewed many. He doesn't have the nerve.
 
~~~~~~
 
Chief Sandoval went from pissed off to bewildered. "Where the hell are you taking me? You're on the five going north. That isn't on the way to any precinct I know of. What the hell is going on here?"
 
"We're taking the scenic route, Chief. We thought you might want to get some things off your chest. You know, things. Let's start with Doctor Khin's role in Harpster's murder. What drug did he use and where did he get it?"
 
Chief Sandoval's jaw dropped. "You're not cops, are you?"
 
That seemed to amuse the officers as they burst into laughter. Moments later, they pulled into an underground garage, escorted the Chief into a room with a few chairs and a table, and sat him down.
 
Sgt. Patel stood a good half foot above the six foot tall Chief. Imposing would be putting it mildly. "I'm part of the Bradley Commission as are my fellow officers here. We're the group that investigates the investigators. Mayor Bradley instituted this commission made up of decorated officers back when he was Mayor. We make sure that Internal Affairs is on the up and up. We investigate rotten cops like yourself that have somehow risen to positions of prominence. Unlike you, we give a damn about the integrity of the Los Angeles Police Force. A rogue asshole like yourself makes it pretty damn difficult for the good men and women on the force to get a break."
 
"Look, Patel, or whatever the hell your name is. I'm a police chief. Hell, I'm the police chief of one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Do you think you can just scoop me up and drive me off and no one is going to say a word? You have got to be…"
 
A quick slap in the face with a decent amount of force ended the Chief's little speech. Sgt. Patel continued, "You don't get it Sandoval. We've already done everything you said and no one's said a word. I don't like being a tough guy. I'm really an old softy, ask my grandkids. But, you are going to tell us what we want to know. Get that straight, right now. Save yourself some needless aggravation."
 
Sgt. Patel assumed a posture of menace towering over Chief Sandoval. Whatever fight the chief had in him quickly vanished. "We want to know about Winston Blackwell. We want to know who. We want to know where and we want to know what. You might come out of this in better shape than you deserve…IF…you cooperate. You could also get a needle in your arm if you want to continue to conspire in treason against the United States. We are going to get what we need one-way or the other. Your ass is in your hands right now. Give us what we want, or it will be in mine. Who is Winston dealing with?"
 
Sandoval went from six feet tall down to about two feet in a hurry. "I don't know anything about Winston's dealings. I'm not in on any of that and I have no idea what you're talking about. I provided some privacy to some good friends in their time of need, that's all. Their father died and they didn't want it to be a circus. Dealing with? What the hell are you talking about?"
 
"Dammit, this is going to get ugly if you don't get smart and I mean right now. He didn't put one hundred thousand dollars in an off shore account under your name for a little professional courtesy. Yes. You pompous ass. We know everything. We know you were a bed wetter. Names!" Patel pulled a nightstick out of his tool belt and tapped it on the table.
 
"Look. I don't know names. He's up there in the Angeles Forest somewhere. Mercenaries. That's all I know. I haven't been there and I'm not a part of it."
 
"I asked you about the Doctor and what kind of poison he used. I suppose you don't know about that?" Patel motioned to Sweeny and Roussin and they began plugging in equipment and making a lot of noise. A table with straps hanging off the side looked particularly menacing and not a place that one would expect to get any beauty sleep on.
 
Sandoval looked at the activity and turned the kind of pale that Al Jolson used to be known for. "I have the needle and some of the evidence from the scene. Dr. Khin claimed it was medicine for diabetes. I didn't know any different. But, I'm a cop. I threw everything in an evidence bag. I have it. If you want it, I have it. I didn't know they killed him. I thought he died of natural causes. The doctor handed me a death certificate. I was just trying to make it smooth for the family. It's hundreds of thousands of dollars for that freezing business. An autopsy would make it impossible. I swear, I was just helping out."
 
Patel pulled his phone out and punched in some numbers.
 
Harpster flipped open his phone. "Yep. Anything?"
 
Patel answered, "I don't think this jackass knows a damn thing. He might have the goods on the doctor though. That will help us put the heat under his ass. I'll keep grilling this idiot and find out what I can. If he coughs up a hairball I'll give you a call."
 
Harpster hung up the phone and turned to the Bard. "Well, not much from Sandoval. A little help to nail the doctor. Where waiting on Lucy. I don't know if any of the players here have a clue."
 
The Bard paced, but not as frantically as he has been known to do. "We have the signal. Drop me off. I'll find her. The Angeles Forest is enchanted compared to some of the places I've been. Drop me off. Talking bout my Gir..ir…irl my girl!
 
Tenaya jumped in, "I'm inclined to go along with my friend here. You're not going alone by the way. That isn't happening. My partner, my show. But, we have a general idea; at least we'd already be close. Let's get going. I can't stand sitting around."
 
"Lots of big game in the forest. Lions, tigers and Arbys…oh my. Ever eat a pine tree? What the hell for? Well, don't mind me, I'm thinking out loud is all. Anyone up for Arbys? He's buying." The Bard pointed to a picture of Tenaya's great grandfather that she had hanging on the wall. That proved to be hilarious to her and she laughed in that manner where you have to cover your face for fear of what you might look like.


 
"was it worth the price
when you wouldn't see the train reach
the station
                a ticket bought
                with old dollars
cashed in future times
                                they say the dollars
                                bought more
indeed they did
                the rusty tracks go unnoticed
                as the counting continues
                                the shiny coins
                                                mesmerize



 
So, let's go. Lucy needs me. She's nice you know."
 
Harpster smiled and spoke, "You don't seem to realize, I'm filthy rich, even when I'm dead. I have property there. That will be our base of operations. That puts us about an hour and a half from here. I have access to a helicopter if need be. I don't see what for. Convenience maybe. Ready?"


 

Author Notes Everything is in motion at once. Suggestions and input always sought and given serious consideration. Your help has saved me over and over. Thank you. mikey


Chapter 30
Lucy Makes the Right Moves

By michaelcahill

Previously, Chief Sandoval had the tables turned when he tried to arrest Tenaya. He was arrested! But it wasn't reguler LAPD. He was whisked away and grilled about his knowledge concerning the matters at hand. He proved to be a small-time player and had little to offer. As the Bard and others planned to make the move to Harpster's property in the Angeles Forest, Lucy took the tour of Winston's compound. We continue now as Lucy meets some of the boys.




Lucy could feel hungry eyes burning holes through her as she walked through Winston's compound. These soldiers certainly didn't look like the polished men and women that wore the uniforms of the United States. This group looked slovenly to be kind. She could sense that someone would have to be put in their place to establish herself. Her thoughts drifted back to the arm wrestling days when she first earned her badge. No one dismissed her once they could see her strength. If they had doubts, they only had to spar with her on the mat. She could take almost any man on the force with her extensive martial arts knowledge. That would come in handy here and it would be sooner rather than later.
 
"Hey, Sarge. It's about time you brought something female in here. I'm so tired of looking at these fools that even this amazon here looks pretty good." Lazinsky found his remark to be highly amusing, as did many of the men that congregated around him.
 
Lucy had already planned to make a statement. She walked over to Lazinsky with eyes that did not waver when they looked at you. She responded, "I'm not a lesbian, so you ladies are going to have to continue to entertain each other. If you had any manners you might be able to get one of these nice ladies here to give you a big sloppy kiss."
 
Lazinsky didn't expect a response and certainly not an in your face challenge like Lucy presented him. "Hey, pretty funny dumpling. Just joking around. Soldier's humor. I don't fight girls; my momma raised me to respect women." He found a little bit of swagger and managed a little smirk.
 
"What do they call this creature?" Lucy inquired as she looked confidently over the quickly assembling throng of scruffy soldiers.
 
"They call him Lazinsky, Ma'am." A young much less scruffy soldier replied.
 
"Lazinsky, huh? You're momma didn't do too well with you, Lazinsky. I'd hate to have to give you a crash course in manners." Lucy could already sense the hesitation in him. That would be all she needed. Lazinsky had height and weight on her, but that indecision would give her the edge.
 
Lucy could hear the flat-footed approach behind her as one of Lazinsky's cronies used all of the stealth that he had to sneak up behind her and kneel down. What do they think, I'm deaf? This will be fun. Lazinsky stepped forward. Lucy knew the purpose being to shove her over the soldier crouched behind her. He extended his arm towards her shoulder. Lucy grabbed it and stepped to the side pulling down on his arm. His momentum thrust him forward on top of his cohort.
 
The assemblage roared with laughter. Lucy turned and rejoined Winston to complete her tour. Winston couldn't suppress a rare smile.
 
"Nice bunch of gals." Lucy announced loud enough for all to hear.
 
Lazinsky sat there next to his buddy looking defeated. A red sign saying "revenge" flashed above his head. This couldn't have worked out better for Lucy. That gave her instant credibility. She could feel any apprehension about her presence dissipate. She owed Lazinsky for his great kindness. He had made her an instant insider.
 
They took the dime tour and ended up in a nicely appointed office that could've been in a suite at One Wilshire Building in Beverly Hills. He dismissed everyone with him except for Lucy. "Have a seat." he directed Lucy to a large overstuffed chair facing his desk. Lucy remained standing and then began to roam around the room admiring artifacts.
 
"Where did you get your training, Lucy? I'm curious." Winston looked suddenly cold and suspicious. He asked the question in the manner of an interrogator.
 
Lucy pretended distraction by an old map of the world mounted on one of the walls. Damn! He sounds like he's suspicious. Hmm. His normal paranoia or did someone tip him off. Her response could be critical. If he knew she was a cop and she lied, it would be certain death. But, if he knows, what am I doing here? She made a bold decision. She went with the truth.
 
"I learned much from the Bel Air Police Department. They had an instructor in boot camp that taught martial arts to anyone interested. I had a high degree of interest. It made me a bit of an outcast." She laughed, "I could take most of the men in the department and most of them couldn't handle that." She threw it out there and left it hanging. She suspected that he knew that she was on the force. Denying it would be quite a bit more suspicious than admitting it and adding it to her resume.
 
"It seems like a conflict of interest, doesn't it?" Winston's questions were clipped and offered no clue as to his feelings on the matter. He seemed to want Lucy to explain herself without the advantage of knowing why.
 
She knew that the wrong answer would put her in jeopardy. "I'm like anyone else here, yourself included, that has offered services to a community or country and had it stomped on by some clipboard toting idiot that's never stood a post. I served like a lamb brought to slaughter. America the Beautiful, blah, blah, blah! What did America do in return? Showed me its ass and told me to kiss it! I served and risked. I came home and served some more. Now what? It didn't matter? Oh, I see. Well, guess what? I matter now. I wash my hands of it. I'm out for me, just like America is out for the smiling bastards that own it lock, stock and barrel."
 
She hoped that whatever she felt inside didn't show on the outside. I hope that is what you want to here, psycho. I don't see any allies here. I have to act now if he doesn't buy it. I have to take him out, right here…right now.
 
Winston stood up. He presented an imposing figure even to Lucy. He had some crazy skills learned in the direst of circumstances. He had nothing in common with his whiny slack-jawed brother. "Yep. I played the same gung-ho, love-my-country game that you did. Well, they didn't give a damn. Now, I don't give a damn about them. Arm them all and let them kill each other. Save me some work. I'm going to be sipping Coors out of a crystal goblet high on a hill... watching. Welcome aboard, Smaldino. We may be able to use your position to our advantage. From what I saw on television, my good buddy Chief Sandoval isn't gonna be wielding much influence down at the precinct anymore. Nothing unexpected. You know that if you worked for him. We're going to want you to maintain your position there. It can be a big plus having a cop on board. Especially one that doesn't hurt my eyes to look at."
 
Winston had a leer that chilled Lucy to the bone. The insanity glimmered in his eyes and the extent of it became more clear than ever. Fanatic. Lucy had connected with the part of Winston that had no logic. Up until now, she had managed to get inside the building. Now, she belonged in it. Mission accomplished.
 
"Glad to be here, sir. Considering the spotlight on your father's house, I suggest you stay away. If you like, I can stay on there and be your eyes." May as well go for the best of both worlds.
 
"I have a man there already. But, I do want you to maintain your position on the force. What's your status there?" Winston seemed relaxed now, a good thing.
 
"I'm investigating burglaries. I'm not expected in except to report to Sandoval. So, I'm in good standing. My partner is suspended. A real nosey one that girl."
 
"Are you still in contact with her? Partners are usually close."
 
"I check in with her, but she's gung-ho save the world and arrest all the bad guys. All that cash flowing in Bel Air and she drives a 94 Le Baron. She cramps my style. No offence, but turning in hundreds of thousands of untraceable dollars isn't smart to my way of thinking. She's no problem. She thinks we're the two musketeers or something. She's no dummy, but she wouldn't be a help to us. She would turn on me, I think. Goody two shoes."
 
A knock on the door interrupted their little exchange. "Boss, the Chinese are here. Show them in?"
 
Winston paused and addressed Lucy. "You watch and observe. Don't speak. They think women should sit there and look pretty. They aren't fond of women that talk." He turned to the older man at the door. "Okay, Samuels, let them in".
 
Lucy moved over to some chairs along the side of Winston's desk and took on a stoic air. Two Chinese men and what looked like almost a Geisha Girl came filing in.



 

Author Notes A lot of necessary set-up. Itching to see Tenaya and the Bard in action too! I am thrilled with the input. A tremendous help to be sure. Thank you.


Chapter 31
The Team Makes Preparations

By michaelcahill

Previously, Lucy handled everything perfectly at the Winston compound. She was tested the moment she walked in the door. She was confronted by one of the mercenaries and his little ploy to embarass her backfired. He landed on top of his cohort in a heap as Lucy smiled and went about her business. Soon thereafter Lucy found herself alone being questioned pointedly by Winston. She came clean about her job on the police force and that turned out to be the smart move. She managed to get an inroad for Ruby to join as a translater. The timing would be critical. Lucy is being tailed by Winston's operatives. She makes a discreet call to Tenaya to give them a heads up and get things rolling for Ruby. We pick up as Winston is about to meet with the Chinese.

Winston rose from his comfortable chair behind his desk and bowed. "Welcome. I trust you had a pleasant trip."
 
The man in the lavender suit responded, "We are concerned with the news. We don't wish to be in the spotlight. We don't want to be a part of any American sideshow."
 
"I assure you that whatever happens in Bel Air it has no effect on our business here. If anything, it draws any attention away. That's their circus. It won't affect us." Winston answered.
 
Winston showed a barely perceptible irritation. Lucy made note of it. They're the ones with the real power. Winston's subservient to them.
 
The same man in the lavender suit spoke. "Our scientists have verified the effectiveness of the sample. We are interested in acquiring all that you can supply."
 
"Have you discussed the price with your superiors?"
 
"The price is acceptable."
 
The man in the lavender suit began conferring with his partner, a small man who said very little. One of the remarks produced some laughter which the little one quickly stifled and frowned upon. The woman put her hand to her mouth and attempted unsuccessfully to cover a smile. He stood up, shook hands with Winston, gave Lucy a leering glance, and headed towards the door.
 
Once they were gone, Lucy seized the opportunity. "I don't know very much Chinese, but they have something up their sleeves. I'm surprised you didn't knock that arrogant punk out! You should have a translator in here on the sly. No telling what they are saying. I know just the girl."
 
"We're on the same page there, Lucy. I didn't like that little tete a tete at all. They'll have a hard time laughing when I blow their heads off. Bring her in. I'm trusting you to follow procedures with her. I don't want people I don't approve of personally knowing where we are. Trust no one. Money does strange things to people, so does fear. I got plenty of both." Winston had a lot of arrogance, but he had smarts too. Lucy's Toyota already had a transponder installed. That happened the second she walked in the door. Winston liked to know exactly where his people were at all times.
 
A woman named Jennifer showed Lucy to her quarters. This would be home away from home. It reminded her of county jail. There were bunks lined along the wall and most of them looked occupied. "You'll be next to me. We have a window, one of the few in the compound. Jennifer Lansing, call me Jen". She extended her hand in greeting.
 
Lucy put her bag on the bunk and exchanged a handshake.
 
~~~~~
 
Harpster's property in the Angeles Forest had nothing in common with the quaint cabin in the woods that Tenaya had in her mind. It did qualify as a log cabin as the construction consisted of logs, but beyond that, there proved to be no similarity. Opulence rivaling the Blackwell mansion dazzled the eye in all directions. Winston's compound could be reached on foot from the cabin's location. Winston knew that, no one in Harpster's party did.
 
The Bard looked down from the tree he had climbed. He had to be at least thirty feet up. No one noticed him climbing it. Tenaya burst out laughing when she heard strange bird noises and looked up. The Bard started singing "Rockin' Robin". That put Tenaya to her knees in laughter. He spoke out in an ominous voice:
 


"I climb the precipice
seeking the eagle's oubliette
if not flight
                then a view
an eagle does not feel risk in flight
or perched on high

I sense danger with
                every step
                                as I push forward
                seeking
                               
                    the eagle underestimates
my cleverness
my compulsion
my dominion
my dreams
               
                       an eagle lives a dream
                                but it has none"



 
Harpster smiled as the words filtered down and out into the forest. As if on cue, an eagle flew overhead in an endless graceful glide. He preferred the company of artists. They understood him, even crazy ones if that is what one would call the Bard. Harpster never did.
 
The Bard reached the ground in seconds. "The eagle has landed. That's one small step for man, one giant leap of faith. I think I know a secret. The enemy waits nearby with sharpened fangs and pollywog tails. Let the frog giggin' begin… "
 
Q pointed in a northeast direction. "The signal is over there and it is not far… fairly strong too... no scrambling."
 
The Bard started doing push-ups and singing "Doo Wah Diddy".
 
Tenaya joined him and didn't sound half-bad. "They are in trouble ladies and germs", she said.
 
Harpster looked on in amusement. Diamond and Ruby jumped in as well. They didn't hold back. Harpster shook his head wishing he had recording equipment. It had to be the best version he'd ever heard. He had a perfect video to go along with it too.
 
In the middle of the break before the storm, Tenaya felt the vibrations of her phone in her front pocket. She waved her arms and made the ssshhhh sound. She mouthed, "Lucy".
 
"It's me. There's a tail on me. I'm in, but not exactly trusted apparently. You need to get Ruby back to my apartment. We have need for a translator in Mandarin. Have her tone the whole beauty thing way down. Winston doesn't need to see that it's Ruby. Just get real plain, real quick. Go now. I'm stopping at the mansion first. That will give you some time. I need to know what these Chinese are planning. I have a feeling that they are up to something." Lucy spoke and didn't move her head or use her usual hand gestures. Someone following her wouldn't be aware that she had a telephone conversation going on.
 
"Okay. If it's a go, she'll be there. Plain… got it. Take care." Tenaya went from frivolous fun to deadly serious business just like that. It was time to get down to business.
 
Tenaya already had everyone's attention. She spoke, "Lucy is in, but Winston is not showing her trust yet. She's being tailed which is going to restrict her movements. She plans to stop by the mansion to buy us some time." She turned to Ruby. "She wants you to translate. She says to tone down the beauty several notches. Look as plain as possible, no makeup, no nothing. She's going to pick you up at her apartment. So, we need to hit the road right now."
 
Ruby didn't hesitate, "Let's do it".
 
Diamond wasn't in the big hurry that her daughter seemed to be. "Oh, hell no. There has to be a little conversation about this. This jump-how high routine isn't something we respond to. This is dangerous as hell. Her life is at stake. Harpster, for Christ's sake, this is your daughter. You waited thirty-five years for this. You're seriously going to allow this?"
 
Harpster smiled. "She is all grown up, Di. She makes her own decisions. I know that you already know that. She's her momma's girl."
 
Diamond just threw her arms up. She walked over to Ruby and gave her a big hug. "You do what you've gotta do. Everyone here has your back. Be careful. Hear me? Careful."
 
Five minutes later Q had her in his car on the way to Lucy's apartment. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She could see that whimsical look that Harpster often had on his face. It is a trait that very few people have. The total lack of fear. It was as though this was all a fantasy and she was going to enjoy the ride. He said, "Having fun yet?"
 
Despite the gravity of the situation, Ruby managed a little laugh. "It's all part of growin' up. May as well have fun. Besides, that crazy fool has got my back, Jack! I'm a big fan of crazy."
 
They both laughed. Q said, "The Bard is quite a guy. Harpster has more faith in him than he does even in me. There is a lot of truth in what he says. I just hope that he can hold it together. Mental illness is no joke. I've seen him off the deep end too. I mean way off the deep end. But, my gut tells me that we are all on the right side."
 
~~~~~~
 
Chief Sandoval felt and looked defeated. He didn't even know if these were official agents or simply hired kidnappers. Two massive explosions threw him back in his chair and to the ground. He heard gunfire outside and inside as well. Through the smoke strode two men that he didn't recognize. One of them bent over and lifted him to his feet. The man looked at Sandoval and said, "Let's go".


 

Author Notes Rolling along. Keep the suggestions coming along with advice and criticism. I listen intently. Thank you so much.


Chapter 32
All Roads Lead To the Forest

By michaelcahill

Previously, Sandoval was rescued or re-kidnapped and whisked away. The Chief was being grilled before he could open his mouth. The team has settled in at Harpsters Angeles Forest propery and picked up Lucy's signal. The Winston Compound is nearby. A call from Lucy puts them in action. She has arranged for Ruby to be a translator at the compound. Instructions to make Ruby appear as plain as possible and get her to Lucy's apartment are followed and shortly thereafter everyone involved is on the road. Lucy stops by the Blackwell mansion and observes Junior ready to leave town. She also confers with Lincoln. We continue now as Sandoval is being grilled by his benefactors, if that is what they are.

Before Sandoval could utter a word, the questions began. The older man, dressed in generic military garb, did the asking. "What did you tell them?"
 
The Chief hadn't even cleared his head and certainly wasn't thinking clearly. He didn't feel rescued, if that is what had just happened. To be honest, he felt re-kidnapped. "I d-d-didn't… tell them… nuthin'"
 
"Look, I don't have time. What did you tell them? We are here to get you the hell away from these clowns and assess damages. Now, what did you tell them?"
 
"I swear, I did not tell them anything. I told them that I know nothing. Hey, I wasn't lying. I don't know a damn thing. I just provided some security and helped keep a lid on things. That's all I know and all I've ever known." Sandoval couldn't tell if he was worse off or better off. The men that had taken him from in front of the Bel Air Police Department were not better off. That was plain to see. Sandoval could see about six men scattering into the forested area right behind the building he had exited. There was an old troop transport truck waiting with the engine running. He sat in the middle flanked by the older man on his right and the young driver, who had yet to speak a word. The truck went about a mile and pulled off the road seemingly straight into the forest. A small contingent of men quickly covered the truck with camoflague as Sandoval and the two men exited.
 
Within a minute or two they returned to the road in a 2003 Prius and soon found their way onto the familiar 5 freeway north bound, destination unknown, at least to the Chief.
 
~~~~~~
 
Lucy arrived at the Blackwell mansion and knocked on the door. A worried Lincoln answered and a look of relief lit up us face when he saw Lucy standing there. "Well, hello Lucy. I was worried about you. Junior didn't seem to know what had happened to you."
 
"Well, I guess the brothers don't have those communication lines open. I'm assisting his brother Winston with some family matters. Is he in?" Lucy looked quickly around assessing the atmosphere at the mansion. It seemed business as usual.
 
"I thought you had resigned when you didn't show up this morning. I hope you have a good excuse for not showing up this morning. You're not dead, so that is one good reason you can't use." Junior didn't add much of a jolly tone to his inquiry.
 
"I thought that Winston would have cleared things with you. That was my impression anyway. I'm assisting him with some business. He assured me that everything would be taken care of. My apologies. I'm surprised that he would leave you out of the picture. You are the head of the company." Lucy thought a little prodding might produce an angry, ill-advised remark.
 
"Oh, I see. I've been busy and haven't conferred with him yet. Well, fortunately my secretary is on maternity leave and can fill in with some light baby-sitting when needed. I'll get with Winston later. In the meantime, I will be out of town for a couple weeks. A singer in the Bahamas is creating a great deal of buzz and I want to go see for myself. Take care." Junior looked distraught. Lucy made note of that last remark. Nonesense aside about an island singing sensation, he had clearly made plans to leave the country. The bags by the door confirmed her suspicion. Lincoln made eye contact and nodded towards the bags. He was tipping her off. But, she already had taken a few steps ahead of him.
 
With Junior out of earshot, Lucy addressed Lincoln, "You okay? If you need to get out of here, then go for it. They don't seem to suspect anything, but you never know."
 
Lincoln sighed. "I think I am okay. I don't sense anything. Junior is more concerned about his own ass at the moment. His flight is in six hours, I saw the tickets on his desk."
 
"Okay, I'll be in touch. Just play like you know nothing and everything is status quo. Call if you need me."
 
Lucy headed towards her apartment hoping that Ruby had already arrived and would be ready to roll. Idiot brothers. One doesn't have a clue what the other is up to. Junior doesn't know a damn thing... Winston doesn't give a damn about Junior... our gain. Okay... Ruby.... be there.
 
Ruby answered the door. She looked nothing like the dive-esque queen she recalled from the other night. This Ruby transcended beauty. The good news was, she wouldn't be recognized dressed down and with no make-up. Lucy wouldn't have known who answered her door if she hadn't been expecting her.
 
"Is this plain enough?" Ruby laughed, "We'll see what four years of Mandarin at Grambling will do for us".
 
"They taught Mandarin at Grambling?" Lucy seemed overly surprised.
 
"Yeah, but not for the coloreds… they thought I was white!"
 
They both burst out laughing. Lucy said, "Y'all was serious bout them civil rights, huh?"
 
"Oh hells yes, missy Lucy. They's seriouser then a mutha. Of course, I don't associate with the poor coloreds; bless their hearts. It's good to be white!" Ruby offered a high-five and Lucy slapped it up high. They laughed halfway to Angeles Forest. Fortunately, no one recorded their conversation. 
 
"If Winston happens to recognize you or you suspect he does, play it straight forward. You know, hell yes, I'm Ruby Dancer; I'm here to get my share! Winston has a lot of people that are following his paranoid wishes. They tailed me all the way down here. I don't see them now, but who knows?"
 
Lucy and Ruby continued the journey with little conversation. The lack of dialogue stemmed from their own inner contemplation and not any kind of awkwardness between them. Some people meet and it seems like they have always known each other. Lucy and Ruby shared a bond like that. Ruby had a blindfold on now that they were getting closer to the compound. They both knew the play and prepared to put it in motion.
 
The car carrying Sandoval would arrive almost simultaneously. Doctor Khin, who know one had seen since Harpster's supposed murder, already sat in conference with Winston. He spoke with a coolness and Winston listened. Winston didn't like listening, but the Doctor's words carried a great deal of weight with him. The Doctor's extensive knowledge of chemical and biological weaponry was a necessity. It also presented a familiar face to the Chinese though Khin's knowledge of the language was limited. Dr. Khin had extensive ties to China and dealt more on a world level when it came to terrorism and weapons supply.
 
Winston realized the value of Dr. Khin, but did not trust him. Winston didn't trust anyone. Most people that used Benzedrine in the high doses provided by the good doctor could list paranoia as a side effect. Amphetamine addiction resembled schizophrenia to the point that a psychiatrist would be unable to tell the difference. It made for an uneasy liaison and certainly, a risk where business was concerned, but Khin needed control over Winston. Winston in his current state ran the show, but the show was in danger of going off the deep end. Khin didn't run the show, but for all intents and purposes, he ran Winston.
 
Sandoval was shocked to see Lucy when she pulled up with a blindfolded Ruby. It especially irked him that she appeared to be an insider while he gave every semblance of a prisoner in custody.
 
Lucy smiled her most contemptuous smile in greeting her former boss, "Look what the cat dragged in. Been a bad boy have we? Better watch your ass here, Chief. This isn't like the girl's camp you run in Bel Air. There are real men here… and real woman too." She stared into his eyes and laughed as he averted his towards the ground. "Don't be shy; I have bigger fish to fry."
 
Lucy turned and took Ruby into the compound. The Chief stood there seething. A moment later, they escorted him inside.
 
The Bard took all of this in from about a hundred yards away… and fifty some feet in the air kneeling on the crossed branches of a picture-postcard-like Douglas Fir tree. The Bard slipped down the tree and to the ground as nimbly as a panther. Tenaya waited below for his report.
 
"It had the shimmering quality of a dream. She emerged into the sunlight and the sun covered its eyes. So spectacular was her beauty that the earth itself sighed at the thought of her upon it." The Bard seemed on edge, but not dangerously so, just ready with all senses on alert.



 

Author Notes Everybody is in the area of Winstons Compound now. Heating up. The input is life saving, or story saving at least! Thank you so much. Maybe too many characters and angles. We'll see.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 33
Ruby's New Job

By michaelcahill

Previously, Sandoval was rescued or re-kidnapped by Winston's men. They grilled him and drove him to the Winston's compound. Lucy visited the Blackwell mansion and then picked up a toned down Ruby to take to her new position as translator for Winston in his dealings with the Chinese. Tenaya and the Bard having discovered the location of the compound were staking it out from a safe distance. The Bard climbed one of the giant pine trees and saw Sandoval arrive and then he saw Lucy and Ruby arrive. They returned to make their report at Harpsters cabin. We pick up the story now as The Bard is telling Tenaya what he saw before making their way back to the cabin.
The Bard slipped down the tree and to the ground as nimbly as a panther. Tenaya waited below for his report.
 
"It had the shimmering quality of a dream. She emerged into the sunlight and the sun covered its eyes. So spectacular was her beauty that the earth itself sighed at the thought of her upon it." The Bard seemed on edge, but not dangerously so, just ready with all senses on alert.





Tenaya spoke his language by now. She didn't even ask if he was talking about Lucy. She said, "Did she have Ruby with her?"
 
"Yes, the Nubian goddess suitably disguised stood by her side. It was a sight that even the most worthy foe would shy from. Oh, and that jackass, Sandoval had an escort punking him inside the building. Surprise! What does she win, Don Pardo? A new Humvee… ready for battle for all the discriminating wannabe warriors of Southern California. Surfs up, Alex."
 
Tenaya laughed even though she wasn't in a laughing mood. The Bard had some great material. She said, "So, they somehow got the Chief out of his predicament. That's not good. Harpster needs to know that. I think we have plenty to report. Great work. Let's head back. I wonder if Junior ready to skip town will be news to Winston." Be safe Lucy, you have back up. You know that.
 
Tenaya and the Bard made their way back to Harpster's property with the latest news. The Bard observing Dr. Khin's arrival had to be the biggest surprise. Making a move to get Sandoval was not unexpected. Winston didn't like loose ends and Sandoval qualified as that.
 
Upon hearing the latest, Harpster jumped on the phone. "Damn. This bastard's gonna pay for that. Keep me posted on his condition. Oh, the good doctor has surfaced down here. He may be a bigger player than we thought. I want to know everything about him. Yes… that's right… I need to know now. Our people are already in there. Khin is a wild card. Hadn't figured him for much of a player. Get back to me quick. I want to know if he wears boxers or briefs. All right then."
 
Diamond jumped up. "I want to know about my baby. Is she safe or what? And don't sing some song about it or flip some rhyme. Please, just tell me straight up."
 
The Bard stood at attention. "Yes, sir! The lovely Ruby, jewel of the Angeles Forest, is in good hands. The mythical goddess Lucy is by her side, come to life by the power of belief. Present arms!" The Bard pulled up his sleeves and showed Diamond his white as snow arms.
 
"Holy crap, we are in good hands." Diamond laughed out loud. The Bard rolled up his pant legs for good measure as everyone joined the laughter.
 
(Winston's Compound)

No one exchanged witty remarks or broke into laughter at the Winston compound. Lucy had found out some things and remained in Winston's good graces. Ruby looked nothing like Ruby. But, Winston wouldn't let on if he suspected. He had more on the ball than Junior did. The speed not only made Winston paranoid, it kept his mind spinning like a top. It is hard to argue with a schizophrenic and no different with a speed freak.
 
Winston did not intend to tell anyone about his new translator, especially Dr. Khin. Of course, he didn't trust him either. He called Lucy and Ruby over.
 
 
 "I want to be clear on this, so listen up." Lucy and Ruby both nodded their heads and Winston continued, "Your little language skills are top secret. Lucy knows, of course, but no one else. That is my ace in the hole. Khin knows enough to get a message across. You're going to tell me if and when that happens." His pupils looked like black holes with a light blue border. Lucy saw the crazed look in his eyes and recognized it. Crazy is one thing, this is crazy with inhuman shots of adrenaline.
 
Winston's eyes would dart manically and then suddenly focus intently on something or someone. Ruby felt his gaze burrowing into her. She ignored it. She had experience with speed being a musician. Meth is a favorite among musicians. It keeps them sharp, so they think, and able to put in ridiculous hours of rehearsal and performing.
 
Lucy cut in to Winston's dazed stare. "What about the mansion? With Junior leaving town, no one is there but Lincoln. Do you want me to keep an eye on things there?"
 
Winston laughed as though he had been practicing maniacal laughter. "Junior has changed his travel plans. He's going to be my guest." He stopped laughing and narrowed his eyes. "I don't like loose ends, especially ones that talk. Lincoln has the house under control. I need you here. I like someone that is motivated by money. They're more trustworthy… well, as long as you're the one with the biggest wallet". Lucy and Ruby took that as their cue to join in the insane laughter. They were bonding.
 
(Blackwell Mansion)
 
Junior didn't make it to his rendezvous at Winston's compound. Tenaya had tipped off the Police Chief. The LAPD beat Winston's men to the punch. They caught him in the driveway as Lincoln began to start his car. Six squad cars converged and took Junior and Lincoln into custody. The waved a search warrant under Junior's nose and asked for the keys to the mansion.
 
"You have no damn right to enter my house. What am I even in custody for?" Junior had his pasty-white never-worked-a-day-in-his-life tantrum going beautifully. A stranger would be happy to see him in cuffs without having a clue as to why. He paused his whiny diatribe as he saw Lilith pull up. "Lilith! Lilith! Get Q. Tell him what they're doing here. Lilith, dammit! Lilith!"
 
Lilith looked over at Junior with an expression that could only be described as contained jubilation. She wasn't sure what might be going on, but she was in favor of anything unfortunate that might befall Junior. "I'll get right on it, dear one. Q and Z and mind them P's. I'll get back to you. Nap time now. Toodles. Don't forget to write". She blew Junior a kiss and smiled.
 
Officer Langilotti lowered his voice as he spoke to Lincoln. "I was instructed to cuff you as though you were part of it. We don't want this fool knowing you're on our side. I'll get these off as soon as Mr. Blackwell is on his way". He backed up and spoke loudly, "Yep, it looks like the butler really did do it. Well, it looks like you'll be able to keep your position in jail. He'll" he gestured towards Junior, "need all the help he can get".
 
(Winston's Compound)
 
In the middle of their bonding session, two worried men burst into the office. "The cops got him. They hooked him up before they even left the driveway. That butler too. On their way downtown, nothing we could do."
 
Winston's laughter ceased immediately. "You couldn't take out a few rinky-dink L.A. cops? CHRIST! Well, I gotta call Q. He's about to earn his pay."
 
I'll just step outside and holler. He's damn near close enough. Lucy made it a point to keep a satisfied smirk off her face.
 
(Harpster's Cabin)
 
"They have him in custody. They're searching the house. Okay, perfect." Harpster divided his remarks between the telephone and the people in the room.
 
Tenaya smiled. Perfect. I love the LAPD. "Winston is next. As soon as the girls bring his big plans to a sudden halt, we scoop him up."
 
Harpster smiled and hung up his cell phone. "Johnstone's gonna make it. The Kevlar saved him. Thank God. We go way back."
 
Diamond shifted her weight to her right foot and tapped her left impatiently, "I don't speak all this code. Could somebody PLEASE tell me what's going on now. More importantly, how does this affect my girl?"
 
The Bard snapped to and saluted Diamond. "Swab the deck, swabbie. Winston's soon a'walkin the plank. KIEL HALL THAT MAN! Tie that man to the yardarm. Winston's in a dingy singin' rub-a-dub dub. It's wrasslin' not wrestling. And I want all my fans to be there!" The Bard flexed his muscles and spoke into an imaginary hand-held mic. "Wicked Winston's goin' down! The tag team CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOOOOOORLD the Amazon Princess, Luctretia McEvil and the Siren of the South, Precious Ruby, the Dancing Queens will emerge victorious and have their hands raised in a token of victory!"
 
For some reason the Bard tickled the hell out of Diamond. She held back laughter as she deadpanned, "So, they're gonna' be okay. Excellent." She grabbed her own imaginary hand-held mic. "Nurse! Medication time! Drinks are on me."



 

Author Notes Things are occurring at different locations simultaneously. It makes for some jumping around. I've begun each section with the location the action is taking place at. Hope that helps. Trying to get enough tied together to return the focus to the main characters and story line. Appreciate all the advice and I'm taking it to heart. This will be something that I think I can edit and maybe publish.

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.



Chapter 34
Poppers Anyone?

By michaelcahill

Previously, All the pieces began to fall into place as the various factions made plans and processed information. Winston is beginning to suspect everyone as his drug addiction begins to send him out of control. We continue now as the final pieces are put in play.




Winston's fit would have to wait. The Chinese had arrived for further negotiations. "Okay, everyone out except the girls. Send Khin in." The room emptied until it was Winston, Lucy and Ruby. He addressed them, "Show no interest. You are here as eye candy. Look available and sexy. I want them to think that you two may be part of the deal. Don't react, especially when they speak Chinese. Just take out your hairbrush if they say something I need to know. I'll make up a reason to leave the room with you. Got it?"
 
They both nodded in the affirmative. They took a seat by the wall, close enough to hear, but not in the middle of things. The same Chinese businessmen filed into the room accompanied by Dr. Khin.
 
"Please". Winston waved his hand in front of his desk at the three chairs sitting there. He glanced at Dr. Khin who sat in a chair to the side of the desk. Lucy stood up and approached the men. Winston looked perplexed as though he wasn't sure what she was up to. "Can I get you boys something?" Ruby took the cue and joined her. "Something to drink? Something to eat?" Ruby made eye contact with the Chinese man in the middle. He always did the talking.
 
He smiled slightly, "No… Ah… Thank you. Perhaps after our little business."
 
The two women smiled and walked slowly back to their chairs. Everyone was at ease now.
 
"The sample was of high quality and the price is agreeable." He spoke to the man to his right in Chinese and the man answered with a short phrase.
 
Ruby heard the remark and didn't react. She knew exactly what he said. I hope the two hostesses or servers, she wasn't sure which, come along with the deal. The other man answered in the affirmative. She got her hairbrush out.
 
"The transfer is set for tomorrow at the docks as we planned." Winston noticed Ruby brushing her hair as he spoke. "If you'll excuse me for one moment." He nodded to Ruby.
 
While Ruby followed Winston to the door, Winston said, "Keep them entertained. I'll just be a moment."
 
Lucy nodded in agreement. She zeroed in on Dr. Khin who looked ready to follow Winston and Ruby out the door. "So you speak Chinese? I speak a little Spanish. Chinese seems so… complicated."
 
"Actually, English is more complex. So many rules. So many exceptions." He smiled and said something in Chinese that evoked a bit of laughter.
 
I wish you were here now, girl. I'd love to know what was so damn funny. "I suppose whatever one grows up with seems the most easy. Did your parents speak Chinese?"
 
"Oh, no. I took it in college. Language is a requirement for Doctors. My folks and their folks are born Americans. No one speaks a word of Chinese, except for me. A shame really. It is an interesting language and culture." Dr. Khin had a smooth bedside manner. He took readily to chitchat and had a soothing quality to his voice.
 
~~~~~
 
Winston looked perturbed. "What did they say?"
 
"He said you would look good in a hat." Ruby's expression was unreadable.
 
"What the hell does that mean? Look good in a hat? What is a Taylor? You brought me out here for that?" Winston's mind kicked in to overdrive. The speed made a nice catalyst.
 
"The Chinese mafia obliterate the face of their enemies. It is referring to a corpse in a casket with a hat covering the face. It is something I thought you should know." Ruby looked concerned when in reality she was delighted. Damn that sounds so good, I believe it.
 
"A hat huh? There's gonna be plenty of hats floating at the bottom of the harbor. I've got hats for every last one of the back stabbing bastards."
 
"Sir? I think you should calm down before you go back in. You don't want them to know you're on to them."
 
"Yes, thank you. Okay, there'll be plenty of time for anger later." Winston wasn't close to calm when he went back in.
 
"Sorry, a little business matter. So, we are set then. The money will be there then?"
 
"Yes, Mr. Blackwell. We will make the exchange there. It is all arranged. We set sail, so to speak, as soon as we have paid you and the product is on board. He stood up and extended his hand."
 
Winston grabbed it immediately and applied a little extra pressure as he shook it. "Let's hope everything goes as planned."
 
As soon as the men left the room, Winston addressed Dr. Khin. "So, what did they say to each other in Chinese?"
 
Dr. Khin smiled and said, "They said that they hoped the two ladies were part of the deal or something to that effect."
 
"Did they mention how the girls might look in hats?" Winston's eyes bore into Dr. Khin's as though he could see inside his cranium.
 
"Hats?" Khin felt ill at ease with Winston's scrutiny and strange behavior. "I know nothing about hats. They didn't mention anything about wardrobe. I'm guessing that they would prefer that there was no wardrobe to consider at all." Khin smiled expecting a little laugh.
 
Winston's expression didn't change. "I see. Hmm… nothing about hats. Very interesting."
 
Khin had a perplexed look on his face. He had no response. That Benzedrine seems to be frying his brain. Hmm. Hope he holds up until the deal is done. "Anything else? The product is packaged and ready for transport."
 
Winston didn't respond. He began talking to Ruby as though Khin had already left. Khin thought little of it and left.
 
Ruby spoke as soon as Khin left. "I thought he knew some Chinese. It doesn't sound like it".
 
"Oh. He knows Chinese. Enough to plot with Chinamen. Yep. He knows enough Chinese for that". Winston stared off into space. "Lopez! Get in here".
 
A large Hispanic man came into the room and stood at attention. "Yes, sir. Lopez".
 
Lucy and Ruby looked on as Winston spoke. "I want that shifty bastard Khin tailed. I want to know every move he makes. Here me, Lopez. I don't want anything interfering with my plans. If the cops try to arrest him or if aliens drop out of the sky in spaceships, you intervene. I don't want him talking to anybody. He knows too damn much".
 
Damn! Twenty-one hours to go and this rice eater is screwing me. Ha! Knew it all along… Well… take the money and run. Leave him there with his buddies… then blow them to hell… Yeah, to hell. Winston dug in his right pants pocket and found what he was looking for, Benzedrine. He popped the inhaler and then popped a couple more. There were many substitutes that Dr. Khin provided, but a Benzedrine inhaler or "popper" as they're known on the street remained his favorite. He had pills, Dexedrine, Adderall and the like, but "poppers" where his favorite. Yep, straight to hell… do not pass go… don't collect… just… Lucy… she is a challenging woman… that Ruby… whoa. Better bring her… translating what these back stabbers are conspiring about… yeah… come in handy.
 
"Tomorrow is the day. I need you there. Don't trust these bastards. Back stabbers. Be ready". He wasn't even looking at Ruby as he spoke. He just walked away nodding his head and gesturing with his hands.
 
"Looks like we may be in the middle of it. Just where I want to be". Lucy looked intimidating when she had a look of deadly determination. Ruby's eyes grew taking it in.
 
 
 
 

Author Notes Everyone getting into place. Trying to keep it moving. Who invited all these people to my story? Thanks for all the great input and advice. Trying to follow it!!



characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, presumed deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnapped father and the Bard.


Chapter 35
The Harbor Cruz!

By michaelcahill

Previously, Winston's addiction to speed is wrecking havoc on his mind. His paranoia is not without basis as Dr. Khin does appear to be up to no good. Lucy and Ruby relay information to the rest of the crew at Harpsters cabin and plans are made. The big deal is going down in San Pedro on the docks. We join the story as the various factions load up and head that way. The deal is about ready to go down. But, there are those that plan to stop it and throw some people in jail while they are at it.

Communication between Lucy and the group at Harpster's cabin was sparse, but to the point. A plan began to take shape, but a lot of it would have to be played by ear. There were several wild cards now, not the least of which was Winston. In his paranoid state, there was no telling what might be brewing in his drug-addled mind. He certainly had surprises in store for Dr. Khin.
 
Harpster tried to consider all the contingencies, but he didn't know what all of them where. "It looks like Lucy and Ruby are going to be there for the exchange. That is where we make our play. I would have preferred to make our move right here. This little compound is almost an office for Winston. There isn't more than twenty people here at any one time."
 
Q had his opinion. "Look, I know you have some mixed feelings about Winston. But, I can almost guarantee you that Winston is not your flesh and blood. Junior is debatable too…"
 
"I know all of that. But, there was a time that they were little boys bouncing on my knee. You have to know that it gives me pause. Winston's sick. That drug is twisting him. He's not the man I know. That damn Khin. He's the one I want. But, Winston has to be stopped, what will be will be... like the song. Too late for Dr. Phil to step in now. The play is at the dock. But, number one is the safety of the girls." Harpster looked at Tenaya.
 
She responded, "Lucy is more than equipped to handle any situation. Me and my friend here are ready for anything." She nodded at the Bard who was staring blankly off into space. "You take care of things up here and we will take care of our end. We know the risk. We have no choice but to take action. We know what they have in those suitcases and how many lives are at stake. We have to stop it."
 
The Bard looked over to Tenaya and smiled. "We have this."
 
"Oh God. Now I'm worried. I like it better when he sounds like he's auditioning for Saturday Night Live. "We have this?" That sounds like Law and Order." Diamond started laughing.
 
The Bard smiled slightly, "I have to make an effort to live with these boring people for a little while. It isn't easy. Why would anyone eat buttered toast when there is sugar and cinnamon sitting right in front of them?" He found that highly amusing and began doing one-handed push-ups while laughing hysterically.
 
"That's better!" Diamond laughed with him.
 
Tenaya gathered up her things. "Let's go. I want to be in position long before anyone arrives." She nodded to Harpster. "You know what to do".
 
"Everything is a go here". Harpster looked confidant. "A lot of people have been waiting for this moment for a long time".
 
"You just make sure that my baby is safe. All the rest of it… that's your game. I just care about my girl". Diamond was the only one that showed any nerves. The others were just better at covering them up.
 
The room emptied and everyone traveled towards their destination. Everything had been planned for. Winston and his cohorts had no idea what would await them at San Pedro Harbor.
 
~~~~~~
 
Everything looked like it should as the three Humvees pulled up to the parking facilities near San Pedro's Harbor area. The vehicles arrived at different times and parked in different areas so as not to look like a contingent.
 
Winston, Khin, Lucy and Ruby looked ready to do some fishin' and have a little picnic. The product was in a picnic basket and an oversize tackle box. Winston carried a large duffel bag that looked like it might have fishing gear in it. It didn't, but it looked like it might.
 
The other vehicles parked and their passengers exited in similar get-ups and headed to pier six. It was late afternoon, so there were people to blend in with, but it wasn't overly crowded.
 
In Winston's group alone, the level of betrayal was amazing. He had been correct to suspect Khin. Khin had set him up. Ruby had not been far off the mark with her little story of intrigue. If Khin had his way, the Chinese would be dumping Winston off in the Pacific later that evening. It would be a swim that Winston would be unable to complete. As the saying goes, "dead men don't swim".
 
Winston planned to give Khin a shot of his own product. That seemed amusing to Winston. The question was when. He would take his cues from Ruby. It depended on what the Chinese had to say and where the money was. That was number one to him. As far as the product went, he didn't have any. He had a duffel bag that did not carry any product. If he was caught, he had a roll full of fishing equipment. "Yes, officer, I have no idea what these people are up to. I'm a war hero. I'm just here to do a little fishin." In his mind that would get him off scot free.
 
"Ruby, we've got to watch these two. They may off each other before anyone else gets a chance".
 
"My eyes are open, believe me. They have been. I've been around speed freaks before. Winston's off the deep end. There's no telling. Khin's little plan to control him is going to end up a little different then he planned".
 
"Okay, our people should already be in place. We just have to trust that they're there".
 
Lucy could see several of the opposing players trying to blend in with the crowd. She hadn't noticed any of their own people and that was good. She knew they were around and still couldn't find them. That meant that the enemy wouldn't have a clue.
 
One of the Chinese approached Winston who was leaning against the railing looking out over the Pacific chatting with Doctor Khin. Lucy and Ruby stood behind them within earshot. The man dressed in a business suit looked somewhat out of place, but not entirely. There were all kinds on the docks. He took up a leisurely pose looking out over the ocean. He didn't look all that leisurely to Lucy, but wouldn't stand out to a random passerby.
 
"Everything is set and we are go on our end". The man spoke softly and did not look towards Winston.
 
"We're good to go here. Give the word". Winston spoke a little louder and looked directly at the man.
 
The man felt obviously ill at ease under Winston's scrutiny. Winston was pleased.
 
Khin said something in Chinese. The man responded once again without averting his gaze or seeming to acknowledge anyone.
 
Ruby slipped up beside Winston and whispered into his ear. "Stay sharp". She wasn't making anything up this time. Khin had said, "taking him out" in the form of a question. And the man had responded, "it is set".
 
Ruby removed her sun hat and ran her hand over her hair brushing it back. She replaced the hat back on her head. Lucy turned and knelt down to tie her shoe. They had limited signals worked out. Lucy had just told her team that there was something amiss between the parties making the deal.

That left a lot of room for discussion. But, at least Tenaya and the Bard knew that this would not be a smooth deal. They knew to expect the unexpected within the bad guys themselves. Hell, maybe they'd get lucky and they bad guys would take each other out.
 
Winston turned and caught the eye of one of his other men a little ways up the dock. He crossed his arms briefly and received a head nod in return. It seemed obvious to Lucy, but she imagined that it probably didn't to anyone else. Double cross. That's pretty easy to catch. I hope Tenaya saw that.
 
Double cross. That's a little obvious. We'll, I was looking for it I guess. Tenaya conferred with the Bard. They were right on the dock in plain view. They were disguised in full Navy dress and had stationed themselves near a Navy cruiser used to take troops to and from shore. For today, the vessel and its entire crew were on duty under the auspices of National Homeland Security. Seems they had gotten wind of terrorists making a major biological-weapons purchase today. 


 

Author Notes Well, the party is at the docks in San Pedro. Shhh. It's a surprise party. Thoughts? Input? Help? Always ready for any and all!!


Chapter 36
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

By michaelcahill

The various players began arriving at San Pedro Harbor for the exchange. Winston's paranoia had turned out to have some merit as Doctor Khin indeed had plans to double cross him with the Chinese. Winston had plans to double cross the good doctor himself. Tenaya and the Bard were already in place when Winston and Khin arrivend accompanied by Lucy and Ruby. Two other vehicles with Winston's men arrived as well. We join the story now as the exchange is about to be made.





Winston and his party began gathering up their things and heading towards the freighter "Ming". It was large even for a freighter. There where at least a hundred Ford Escorts on deck and uncountable crates of undetermined goods. The parties involved slowly made their way to the gangplank where the exchange was to take place.
 
Khin suddenly was smiling as though greeting old friends. He waved and said, "Hey, Johnny. Good to see you". Then he spoke Chinese to them.
 
Ruby grabbed Lucy's arm and pulled her close. "We're made. He said take out the cops too".
 
Lucy reached up and grabbed her hat and suddenly everything went into slow motion from her perspective. She threw her hat towards the water. It spun like a Frisbee. A small facemask slipped out and slowly dropped to the ground about five feet away. It was a make-you-feel-better preventative tool in case any of the biological substance were to escape by accident. Her left hand reached into her jacket and pulled out her 38, which she pointed at Winston.
 
Winston had already reached in his jacket for a syringe and it was loaded and on its way to Dr. Khin's right shoulder blade.
 
Dr. Khin still smiled, but his eyes were turning in Winston's direction and taking in the sight of Winston's hand holding the syringe. His arm began to raise, but it was not in time. The syringe pierced the biceps that Khin had turned towards it and Winston pushed the plunger delivering the deadly payload inside.
 
Winston's smile turned to a grimace as a bullet tore through his left side grazing his ribs. He crumpled to the ground.
 
Lucy dropped to a crouching position to return fire and watched both of her targets collapse in a heap before she could fire. She felt a hard blow to her back and tumbled forward.
 
Tenaya and the Bard had taken off with weapons drawn in full sprint as soon as they saw Lucy's hat in the air. It wasn't a planned signal, but they got the idea.
 
One of the Chinese, a large man, had a knife drawn and prepared to deliver a strike to Lucy who was struggling to regain her footing. Ruby reached into the picnic basket she had sat on the ground and pulled out a hot dog. She let the bun fall to the ground and put the wiener to the neck of the man with the knife. He froze in place.
 
Everyone on the dock froze as the significance of the situation became clear. The deadly biological toxin was hidden inside the hotdog.
 
The Bard found it highly amusing. "Studies say that the nitrates in those things will kill you. Ohhhhh, I'm glad I'm not an Oscar Meyer Wiener… EVERYBODY! That is … what the hell is wrong with you people? That was the day that earth lost its sense of humor. Eich Bein Ein… well, you get the idea".
 
The knife dropped to the ground. Lucy picked it up and rose to her feet. Khin twitched on the ground as the poison took rapid effect. He reached in his vest pocket, pulled a small pistol out, and aimed it at Lucy. The Bard was the only one looking. He jumped in front of Lucy just as a shot rang out. It struck the Bard in the top of the head and spun him around and to the ground where he lay unmoving. Khin looked satisfied as he breathed his last breath.
 
The rest of the DEA agents and assigned officers and military personnel were already in action rounding up the rest of the parties involved. The paramedics were on standby and tending to the Bard within two minutes of the shooting. His head was covered in blood and he wasn't moving. He had steady vital signs and was on a stretcher in an ambulance and on his way to USC Medical Center five minutes after the shooting.
 
Winston's wound was not fatal and he followed close behind on his way to the same facility.
 
Ruby and Tenaya piled into Tenaya's car and headed to the hospital. Lucy insisted on riding along with the Bard. Ruby called and reassured her mom and filed Harpster and Q in on the events on the dock. Chief Sandoval had been returned to custody and the compound had been searched and taken over at the same time the business at the dock went down.
 
The only casualty had been Doctor Khin, killed with his own nasty weapon. The Bard's condition remained to be seen.
 
"I'm here with you. You're in the ambulance. You hold on dammit. We're almost there. You're going to be fine". Lucy realized the depth of her feelings riding along in that ambulance. The Bard hadn't regained consciousness or moved a muscle since the shooting. His vitals were steady but they were slowly dropping as the blood continued to flow from the terrible wound. "Why? Why did you do that, dammit? You really took a bullet for me. You saved my life. Don't you die on me now. I have a lot of pay back in store for you".
 
The ambulance pulled up to the emergency room doors and Lucy was brushed aside as the hospital staff rushed the Bard inside. She was escorted to the waiting room where Ruby and Tenaya already waited. There wasn't anything to say. The mood couldn't be more somber.
 
Everything had gone perfectly. Even what went wrong somehow went right. But, the man of the hour clung to life not more than fifty-feet away. Sgt. Slater, American hero. The Bard, homeless man that wandered the streets of Bel Air and somehow made a difference. He had sacrificed so much and never asked for a thing in return. The last thing he did was right in line with his character. He took a bullet for his woman.
 
Lucy sat there inconsolable. Tenaya had never seen her partner and best friend in this state before. "All we can do now is wait, Lucy. It's out of our hands. Damn it. You love that crazy fool, don't you?"
 
"Yep. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. I must be as crazy as he is. There is such a soul inside of that crazy package. I can't resist it." Lucy realized now what she had suspected for a long time. She loved him. The how and why didn't matter. It never does when the heart decides. Logic and sense, well that is for the brain, the thinking part of a human. Love doesn't concern itself with that, not real love.
 
The news didn't look good as the doctor slowly walked towards them. They collectively braced for the worst news. Tenaya put her arm around Lucy ready to support her. All eyes were on the doctor who all too closely resembled the angel of death.
 
"Well, we managed to stop the bleeding. He is alive. But, I am afraid the brain sustained extensive damage due to oxygen deprivation. He has some abilities that might improve with therapy. He seems to be able to see some light. He says he sees diamonds sparkling everywhere. But, he's basically incoherent. He doesn't even know who he is. I asked him his name and he said he was the Bard of Bel Air… and then he…"
 
Lucy broke from Tenaya's grasp and ran down the hall towards the Bard's room. The doctor looked on in shock as Ruby jumped up on top of the table and sang, "There he was just a walkin' down the street singin… " It wasn't long before people driving by USC County General would swear they heard "Do Wah Diddy" being sung by everyone in it.


THE END
 
The epilogue of this book is also the prologue of the sequel, Bel Air: A Bard's Guide.




 

Author Notes Okay! Now what? I obviously have a lot that needs to be written about. But, I wrote this like an ending. Should I just keep going and try to match this semi-ending? Go right to part two even though all of the questions would be from part one? Well, I guess I'll keep going unless someone has a good idea! Hahaha. The story just went this way. I know... I wrote it!! There's always editing. Don't be shy about suggestions, as you can see, I need them! Okay, this has to be the end. I'll write a sequel!! Thanks to all for their help. Mikey

characters:

Johnathon Blackwell Senior-Harpster, deceased former owner of a music conglomerate.

Johnathon Blackwell Junior- Senior's son and heir apparent to the family fortune.

Lilith Blackwell- Widow of Blackwell Senior and claimant to the estate.

The Bard-Stewart Slater, homeless, writer, musician, mentally ill. witness to the death of Harpster amongst other things.

Detective Tenaya Adrian- lead is there is a murder to investigate.

Detective Lucy Smaldino, Tenaya's partner

Lincoln- The Blackwell family butler.

Ruby Dancer- singer and Daughter of Harpster though she doesn't know anything about it.

Diamond Dancer- mother of Ruby and former mistress of Harpster. Refuses to tell Ruby anything about her father.

Dr. Khin- The Blackwell personal family physcian

"Q & A"-- Q Aubrey Langstan--"Q" The Blackwell family attorney.

Daniel- Blackwell Senior's Deaf brother.

Esmeralda "Emma" Blackwell- Blackwell Seniors Mother

Winston- Blackwell Senior's son. War hero turned mercenary. Kidnaped father and the Bard.



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