Here’s the opening “podcast” episode in Bleeder, book #3 in the “Behind the Mic Mysteries,” called “Art of the Steal:”
“Is everyone here?”
An enormous red feather plume dips up and down from the spectacular hat of a white-haired woman holding a clipboard. She looks over a sea of Red Hatters, older women touting glittery, feathery and otherwise heavily decorated, ruby-colored headwear of all shapes and sizes. They gather outside Art on The Square, a contemporary gallery and working studio spaces for artists in the historic downtown section of Evergreen, California, a small mountain town bustling with tourists during the summer.
“Margaret said she would be late,” offers a prim lady wearing a tiny scarlet pill box hat with a veil.
“Thank you, Elizabeth.” The feather plume takes another dive as Pearl Morgan’s head looks down again to her checklist. A stout woman with an ample bosom, she circles a name on the paper she is holding. “Then I believe all are present and accounted for. Shall we begin our gallery experience?”
She opens the heavy glass door, which emits a brief beep, and holds it as the others file in, nodding and smiling and murmuring pleasantries. When all the women are inside, Pearl enters, glancing around as if in search of something or someone.
“Ladies, I’m sure the proprietor, Paolo Romano, will explain more in detail, but this is considered a contemporary art gallery, or art of today, according to Wikipedia.” She flips a sheet held on her arm and reads. “It’s produced by artists who are living in the twenty-first century. Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary society and the issues to ourselves, and the world around us.”
The women are surrounded by various artworks hung on the walls, sculptures on pedestals and jewelry in glass cases. Individual white lights from a ceiling grid focus on the art, illuminating the mostly bright, bold colors. Soft jazz music plays from discreet speakers.
Pearl looks at her wristwatch and frowns. “Let me find Mr. Romano. You may begin looking around.”
Her sensible low-heeled shoes echo on the concrete floor as Pearl strides toward the back of the gallery, where the owner’s office is. “Paolo? We’re here.”
Low whispers of appreciation, surprise and even an occasional repulsion emit from the group as they begin to look at the art.
“What is that supposed to be?” asks one woman, nudging the lady next to her, and pointing to an abstract painting in wild shades of orange, pink, and yellow. She has a confused expression on her face.
“Well, it certainly wouldn’t go in my living r—” The woman is interrupted by a scream.
All the red hats turn toward the sound of Pearl’s anguished utterance. Pearl runs into the gallery from a door marked “Personnel Only,” her hat askew, the long feather covering her face like a stripe of blood. “Call the police!” she shouts. “I think he’s dead!”
Meanwhile, here’s a scene from the studio recording session for the “Fade Out” audio book … complete with professional actors and sound effects! Now available through Amazon or Audible at https://tinyurl.com/FadeOutAudioBook
Here’s another excerpt from the murder mystery podcast in “Dead Air,” book #2 in the continuing Behind the Mic Mysteries. It’s a take-off of the 1940s “film noir” days with a “gumshoe,” or private investigator and a “dame,” or woman, complete with a glossary at the end. Only in my story, the dame is the private eye, and a gentleman needs her help. This is Episode #2:
The gent’s got sweat drippin’ down his forehead, nervous as a losing bookie at the track. He throws back the hooch and finally spills.
“Ain’t it always about a woman? But I wouldn’t figure a good-lookin’ cat like you would have lady troubles.”
“Actually, it’s my wife.”
“Now we’re gettin’ somewhere. So, she’s stepping out? Fooling around?”
“No, it’s about my wife.”
“Oh, so you want me to find somethin’ on her so’s you can get a divorce?”
“No, really it’s about me.”
“You’re the one messin’ around? Spending time in a flophouse?”
“No, no. I think someone’s trying to kill me.”
The glass in my paw drops, shattering on the wood floor into a million pieces.
Mysterious music fades up full and under, and my voice begins.
“Welcome back to ‘Murder in the Air Mystery Theatre.’ I’m Lauren Price. Tonight on ‘L.N. Pane, P.I.,’ a gentleman needs our female private investigator’s help to find out who’s trying to kill him.”
“Sorry, ma’am, didn’t mean to shock you,” the handsome gent says as he helps me clean up the sharp, shiny shards from the smooth surface.
“Nah, the glass was just slippery, yeah, that was it.” Little did he know that this was exactly the kind of case I had been hankering to land. I’d had my fill of insurance fraud and infidelity by spouses to last me a lifetime. But attempted murder? This could be my ticket to the big time.
“Do ya know who’s tryin’ to kill you?”
“And how do you s’pose she’s trying to off you?”
“I think it’s poison.”
“How do you feel? Are you sick? Do you have any symptoms?”
“Actually, I feel fine.”
“Hold on, then why do you suspect poison?”
“Because I’ve been seen a lot of arsenic in the house.”
“I smell a rat.”
“I’m glad you agree with me.”
“No, literally, maybe she’s trying to kill a rat in your house.”
“What? No, we don’t have any rats or mice or rodents of any kind that I know of.”
“Okay, we’re gettin’ nowhere fast. I think I’d better pay a visit to the missus. My fee is $200 a day plus expenses. Any problem with that?” He doesn’t need to know I’d do this job for free.
“Oh, no, I’ll give you your first day’s pay right now.” He pulls out a check and writes it for the full pair of Cs.
I can tell I’ve got a live one here, but I play it cool. “Thank you, Mr. Harrington,” I read from the check, which I tuck into my brassiere. “I’ll be in touch.”
“Wait, my wife can’t know I’ve hired you!”
“Trust me, she won’t suspect a thing.”
“Will the lady private eye be able to figure out if the good looking gentleman’s life is really in danger? Stay tuned for the next podcast of ‘Murder in the Air Mystery Theatre.’ I’m Lauren Price. Thanks for listening.”
From my laptop at the apartment, I enter a few keystrokes. I barely have any energy left, but the campy mystery theatre podcast I write and produce is a creative outlet and a good escape, a diversion, from the serious and sometimes depressing crime beat I cover on a daily basis. But tonight especially, it’s also an attempt to lighten the heaviness in my heart from today’s horrible events. The screen shows the podcast is saved, and I take the last sip from my glass of white wine and close the lid.
TO BE CONTINUED
GLOSSARY Film Noir Slang, in order of use
Glad rags: Fancy clothes
Ankle: to walk
Up-and-down, as in “to give something the up-and-down”: A look
Dick: Detective. Usually qualified with “private”
Stiff: A corpse
Tail: Shadow, follow
Patsy: Person who is set up; fool, chump
Bulge, as in “The kid had the bulge there”: The advantage
Gum-shoe: Detective; also gumshoeing = detective work
Pack: To carry, esp. a gun
Heat: A gun
Buy a drink: To pour a drink
Square: Honest; on the square: telling the truth
Fade: Go away, get lost
Spill: Talk, inform; spill it = tell me
Flophouse: “A cheap transient hotel where a lot of men sleep in large rooms”
Authors and Editors of the anthology: Isabella Maldonado, Nancy Hart Newcomer, Susan Budavari, Kate Joy Steele, Connie Flynn, M. Evonne Dobson, Teresa Waggoner, Bill Butler, Denise Todd, Merle McCann, Suzanne Flaig, Kaye Owen, Laurie Fagen, Yvonne M. Corrigan-Carr, Katherine Atwell Herbert, Robert Dukelow, Mary Ball, Kris Neri, Susan Cummins Miller, Lori Hines, Jacinda J. Power, Patricia Bonn. Lead Editor: Yvonne M. Corrigan-Carr. Editors: Susan Budavari, Susan Cummins Miller, Merle McCann, Meg E Dobson, Dana King-Esquer. Editorial Advisor and Formatter: Deborah J Ledford. Consulting Editor: Donna T. Hanna. Cover Layout: Kästle Olson
By Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Authors, Merle McCann, Margaret Morse, Kris Neri, Nancy Hart Newcomer, Toni Niesen, R K Olson, Cathy Ann Rogers, Martin Roselius, Amy Schuster, Jackie Sereno, Louise M. Signorelli, Kate Joy Steele, Shannon Baker, Susan Budavari, Yvonne M. Corrigan-Carr, Laurie Fagen, Katherine Atwell Herbert, Machelle Langseth, Kari Wainwright
By Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Members, Deborah J Ledford, Kris Neri, Susan Budavari, Shannon Baker, Laurie Fagen, Suzanne Flaig, Arthur Kerns, Elizabeth R. Marshall, Merle McCann, Margaret Morse, Nancy Hart Newcomer, Toni Niesen, Virginia Nosky, R K Olson, Cathy Ann Rogers, Martin Roselius, Amy Schuster, Judy Starbuck, Judith Starkston, Kate Joy Steele