The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (Redux)

I’ve mentioned a few times how much I work to nail down the opening of whatever I’m working on. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short story, novella, novel, poem, … unless and until that opening sequence is working, everything’s going to suffer because I have no clear direction of where things are heading in the story.

Yes, I may know the major plot points, may have scenes fully formed, know the plot line, story arc, often I’ll have the complete throughline either written down or in my head.

Which is why, after getting much of the second section of The Alibi written, I knew there were holes in the storyline and basic structure in the beginning.

So here’s The Alibi – Chapter 1 AGAIN!

feel free to compare it to the previous version

You can get the backstory on this rewrite at The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (backstory).

The Alibi – Chapter 1

Ed Voss stood in the middle of his apple orchard and let the scent of the blossoms envelop him. He focused on G. His only knowledge of G came from Maestro Fortuna, the stories he told him. Once Maestro Fortuna stood on this very spot and smiled as a shape formed in the air.

Ed shook his head to clear it and blinked a few times before he could recognize the shape as female, its body’s curves outlined in earth tones of browns and greens and blues. Eyes floated in what now and again seemed to be a face, and he heard laughter.

No, not quite laughter. More like a chuckle. A playful chuckle, the kind of sound someone makes when they’re tickled by someone they know.

And love.

And a moment later Ed’s orchard came to life. Leaves budded, apples ripened, flowers opened, birds nested, bees buzzed, worms burst through the soil.

And that was just what he could see. Could feel. Hear. Taste. Touch.

Could experience.

Maestro Fortuna sighed as the shape faded. “Her gift to you, Ed, for inviting her here.”

But Ed couldn’t find her – communicate to her? – on his own. Not yet.

He lowered his gaze to the still rich soil. No, not yet. Possibly not ever.

He wondered if he couldn’t do it because he lisped. Maybe G couldn’t understand him?

No. Maestro Fortuna chuckled when Ed mentioned it to him. “It’s not so much the words as the intention. We can do some things – exercises – about the lisp, and would you want to? Remember, your strength is your weakness, your weakness your strength. You talk slowly and consider your words before you speak so you won’t lisp when you talk. You mean everything you say and mean what you say. That’s a gift from you to others, Ed.” Maestro Fortuna rubbed Ed’s back gently. “And it’s your call. We can do some things if you wish.”

Ed shook his head slowly, smiled shyly, and spoke clearly. “No thank you, Professori. I’m fine like this.”

The warm, August sun dried sweat on Ed’s bare chest and back, both permanently tanned from many summer suns above and below the equator. He took his ballcap off to wipe his brow and felt furrows there, as if plowed like his fields, and realized he was tense with concentration.

That’s not how Maestro Fortuna did it.

Maestro Fortuna relaxed with slow, even breathing.

First lesson; Lower-Center-Relax-Breathe.

Ed descended through levels of awareness as Maestro Fortuna taught him and smiled. He imagined – or heard? – Maestro Fortuna’s voice. “Good! You remembered. Now again…”

Ed closed his eyes, breathed deep and exhaled slowly. His feet tingled inside his workboots, a sign G was near, could feel him, recognized his presence.

Low, deep, wide.

What was that?

A sound?

Ed cocked his head.

A sound?

His name?

Someone called his name?

But not his name, not his given name. They used the name Maestro Fortuna gave him.

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