The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 5 (New)

The Alibi – Chapter 5

Sean Davitty’s head still ached from Cousin Seamus’ all Irish wedding. He slept most of the flight back from Shannon, although Inis Mór to Shannon was a series of puddle jumpers and windups that hadn’t helped his hangover.

But Seamus was his favorite and he was Seamus’ Best Man and Dia could that man go on about his research and studies.

Archeo-linguistics. First Languages. Paleo-linguistics. Languages before there were languages. Going back before France’s Trois-Freres.

Sean smiled, nodded, and drank up another glass.

Besides, if he couldn’t dive in it, Sean wasn’t interested. Even while back home he twice brought his gear down to the harbor to practice. Seamus helmed his father’s boat out to deep water and Sean would go down down down, deep deep deep, and come up laughing at Seamus’ panic stricken face.

“It’s free diving, Seamus. I’m next in line for ONR’s DSEND testing and this puts me near the top.”

Seamus answered with a thick brougue. “I never thought my cousin would be working for the Yank’s Alphabet City.” But on Sean’s second dive, he drew some symbols on his tablet and told Sean to look for them when he was way deep. “Can you do that for me, Sean?”

“What do I get if I find them?”

“Ah, you’re too long among the Yanks, for sure you are.”

“Is this that Sheila Na Gig thing you use to do when we were kids?”

“Aye, them’s pretty stones we found as childrens were carvings of the Mother Goddess and we didn’t know. I’m still on the hunt, but now with the Uni backing me all the way.”

Sean was thrilled his cousin’s childhood fancies were financing his adulthood quest. And when he met his cousin’s bride-to-be, he smiled and nodded; his cousin’s found his Mother Goddess at last.

But Sean came up from the deep with nothing.

Now back in Boston and with a remedial throbbing head to remind him of his week in na hÁrainneacha, Sean practiced the techniques he spent a year learning from the Bajau. He didn’t have their genetic disposition, but he came close – his best dive was ten minutes at two-hundred feet. His teammates shook their heads at him. “You’ve already got all the certifications you need, Sean. You working at being a whale?”

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post . Please or Join Us to continue.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 4 (New)

As mentioned in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (Redux), I work to nail down the opening of whatever I’m working on.

Here’s The Alibi – Chapter 4 and is a precursor to what was The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 11 – Mary Frances Cuccello, Rhinehold, Cranston at AirCon bomb scene

The Alibi – Chapter 4

Maria Francesca Cuccello sat at her top floor, corner apartment’s kitchen table and looked out over the harbor. A cup of coffee steamed in her hand, the coffee slightly beiged by a touch of cream. The steam brought a strong draft of Sambuca to her nostrils and she inhaled deeply. About an eighth of the cup was Sambuca, poured first, then just a splash of cream, just enough to swirl the Sambuca already there, then followed by coffee from a stovetop espresso maker her great-grandfather brought over from the old country.

She’d never been to the old country.

Her great-grandfather, Francesco Romeo Renaldi Fortesso Cucello came to this country the year the Wright Brothers claimed the skies at KittyHawk. He came with a box and no english save “Boston” and “Prince-a Commercia.”

Someone on the same boat, someone lost to her family’s antiquity, spoke English and got him to their cousin’s attic room and a job unloading ships.

Strong backs and a knowledge of ropes, those Italians.

Half a year later his Sicilian made way for Pidgen-English and two rooms with a shared bath basement apartment in the building in exchange for maintenance work.

Three years later he spoke without an accent and spent most of his earnings on good clothes, and language and etiquette lessons. Eight years into this country he started purchasing buildings nobody wanted in sections of North End people avoided, or walked through hurriedly, looking but never stopping, and made deals with other immigrants offering lodging in exchange for remodeling and maintenance work.

He leveraged the remodeled buildings until, in his fifteenth year, he owned the block where he started, no longer had to bang up his hands or suffer rope burns for his daily bread, and went back to Fortuna for a bride.

He arrived and people didn’t recognize him. Fathers entertained him and practically threw their daughters at him.

One caught his eye, Alessa Magdalena Montonori, third daughter of Don Carlo Vicenzi Montonori, full figured, blue-eyed, waist-length raven black hair pulled back into a punishing bun, and with a stutter that made speech a near impossibility for her.

Francesco took her hand in his, asked if she wanted to speak without fear, and wiped a tear from her eye as she nodded.

They wed. On the shipride home he told her of Demosthenes and began working with her daily. Her vocabulary swelled with her belly. Ten months later Rocco was born. Francesco arraigned for a radio-telephone call to Palermo. Don Carlo arrived later than expected and Francesco kept the line open despite the cost and angry Boston aristocats demanding time on the line.

Don Carlo and his wife, Simona Contessa, arrived via truck and heard the scratchy sound of a baby crying followed by a woman’s voice speaking in flawless English, “Shh, shh, shh, Rocco, listen. It’s your grandmother and grandfather come to say hello to you.”

Don Carlo spoke into the mouthpiece, “Chi ha detto questo?

Sono io, papà. Alessa Maddalena. Non riconosci il suono di tua figlia?” It’s me, Papa. Alessa Magdalena. Don’t you recognize the sound of your own daughter?

Don Carlo and Simona Contessa cried through the rest of the call.

Francesco offered to pay for them to come to America to see their grandson. He repeated the offer, in Sicilian then in English and again in Sicilian. Someone on their end had to help them understand they heard correctly.

In 1919, Francesco’s new homeland asked him to go back to Sicily, to help them. One storm passed, another was coming, and his knowledge was needed.

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post . Please or Join Us to continue.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 3 (New…Mostly Kinda…)

As mentioned in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (Redux), I work to nail down the opening of whatever I’m working on.

Here’s The Alibi – Chapter 3 and borrows heavily from what was The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 5

I’ve learned to live with my rewriting. Hope you can, too.

The Alibi – Chapter 3

Dev Surely remembered The Farm recruiting her in high school. It was Friday, her last day of detention – the last day this time, anyway – everybody else had bugged out early, and the clock was sweeping towards five-pm. Special Assistant Blah-Blah-Blah Cam Connelly came up to her in detention hall, sat at the desk next to hers, gave her a once-over, and smiled.

She gave him the finger.

He chuckled but said nothing.

She decided to give him a once-over, too.

No idea what he was doing at McLouth, Kansas, high school. His clothes were too nice – light blue suit with a navy blue stripe on cream shirt, tie matching his suit – his face too clean shaven and with absolutely no stubble at all even though it was closing in on five in the afternoon, his dusty brown hair too well groomed, his hands nicely manicured and almost graceful if you didn’t notice the veins and tendons sliding over each other as he clasped them together, and an amazing smile under bright gray eyes, and he didn’t smell of farm. Everybody around here smelled of farm. Wheat, corn, cattle. Lots and lots of cattle. Some pigs. A couple of sheep. Hay.

Who was this mud-fucker?

She checked out his shoes. Everybody around here had cowshit on or under their shoes. You couldn’t help it.

But this guy had clean and recently polished black patent leathers.

With laces neatly tied and even.

He smiled when she caught his eyes.

Smiled and nodded, like he watched her evaluate him.

That’s when she knew he let her inspect him.

She turned her head away, didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

He sat without talking for a full three minutes.

She knew because she timed him.

Finally she turned to face him full on, one hand flat on her desk and the other holding the back of her chair. “What?”

He kept on smiling. “That’s pretty good, Devorah. Most people your age won’t last thirty seconds. Hell, most people your age won’t last three.”

“Don’t call me Devorah.”

“Right, right. Dev. I saw that on your record.” He held his hand out. “So, Dev, nice to meet you. I’m Cameron Connelly. Most people call me Cam.”

She didn’t take it. “So what’s this about?”

Cam Connelly kept his eyes on hers and didn’t blink unless she did. “Your school’s star linebacker makes a pass at you and you knacker him? Impressive.”


“Kneed him so hard in the balls he won’t play this weekend. Maybe not even next.”

“He picked me up.”

“Not much else to do in McLouth?”

He made it rhyme with cloud. “It’s McLouth. Like your teeth after getting punched in the face.”

He nodded. “How tall are you?”

“Five fuck off.”

Cam Connelly laughed. “Okay. I have a favor to ask you. Give me this favor, it might change your life. Don’t grant me this favor, you’ll never see me again.” He cocked his head slightly left. “He picked you up? You mean off the floor?”

“I was at my locker. He tapped me on the shoulder. I had my pack in my hands. He grabbed me by the elbows and lifted me up to his face level.”

“Maybe he wanted to ask you out.”

“Maybe he’s an asshole. Maybe the two of you are related.”

His eyes obviously ran down her body. “You’re what, five-one? Five-two? You’re basically a perfectly – some might even say wonderfully – formed woman in a tiny body. What’s not to like?”

“You looking to get your balls knackered, too?”

His head rocked back and he laughed, loud and unashamedly. He sounded like some African tribal leader bragging about the wealth of his people. “So how about it, grant me the favor?”

“Why should I?”

“No reason, really. But it could change your life.”

“No thanks.”

“Okay. Still, I think we could use you. With the proper training and education, you’d be outstanding.”

“Who’s we? What training and education?”

“You have to grant me the favor.”

“You haven’t told me what it is.”

“Meet me here tomorrow, nine o’clock sharp.”

“If I show up – and I won’t – I’m bringing my dad’s handgun.”

“Exactly the kind of attitude we’re looking for.” He held out his hand again. “See you tomorrow?”

Her eyes went from his face to his hand and back. She took it. He had rough hands but they didn’t feel like farm-roughened. “Guess you’ll have to wait and see…Cam.”

The clock rang five.

He held the door for her on their way out.

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post . Please or Join Us to continue.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 2 (New)

As mentioned in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 1 (Redux), I work to nail down the opening of whatever I’m working on.

In the case of The Alibi, it means I’ll rewrite opening chapters/scenes/anything and everything until I feel I’ve got it close enough to move on.

And, of course, I’ll share all these writes and rewrites and rerewrites with you because, I know, you enjoy them so.

So here’s The Alibi – Chapter 2, but not again because this is brand new material (read carefully and you’ll even see a note to myself in the text, something I do to make sure I review a specific aspect of a story during the real rewriting as opposed to the I’ve-got-to-get-this-correct rewriting.

The Alibi – Chapter 2

Leddy Cranston saw the flickering blue of their living room TV even though the blinds were drawn. “Time.”

Her phone answered, “It’s 11:57, Leddy.”

Pop would be livid.

If he were awake.

But awake or not, he got home first so the door cam would be disabled and she’d have to use her key to get in.

She entered quietly, the only sound in the house some low voices from the TV and Pop snoring on his recliner, probably a book – a genuine book, not an ebook on a reader – half open on his lap, his readers perched on the end of his nose, his sport coat off and his tie loosened but still knotted.

And a fifth of Grand MacNish Scotch barely touched on the end table beside his chair.

Pop would never succeed as a drunk.

She entered the living room just as the glass in his hand started its slide to the floor.

Glass safely on a coaster on the coffee table, Leddy sat on their loveseat. Mom and Pop hogged the loveseat once Leddy was too big to sit between them. Back then Pop never used his recliner. They’d sit side-by-side, Pop with his hand under Mom’s leg or on her leg or holding her hand.

Leddy was relegated to Pop’s recliner.

Did they ever pay attention to what was on the tube or did they just like to sit and cuddle with each other?

That all changed when they came home from the hospital one day. Mom wasn’t feeling well and kept losing her balance. Pop was pale but Mom kept her smile on. That’s when Pop’s hand went from on or under her leg to always around her, holding her close, cherishing each second. That’s when Mom’s hand would rest on Pop’s leg.

They sat her down in the kitchen a few months later. Mom smiled, Pop’s face shined with tears.

“I’m dying, Leddy.”

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post . Please or Join Us to continue.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery):

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

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.

You have to be a paying subscriber (Muse level (1$US/month) or higher) to view the rest of this post . Please or Join Us to continue.

Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)