Thursday, March 23, 2023

Portrait of Miss Emmalee (Part 3 of a 5 Part Story) - A Repost blog post #592



Jorge sounds intriguing, doesn’t he? Will he hurt or help in pursuing the solving of the secret behind Miss Emmalee’s slight frown? Perhaps we’ll find out in this installment of the story.




                                                         PORTRAIT OF MISS EMMALEE

Man, I’m having trouble getting this story out. I keep getting side-tracked, but it’s things that you ought to know about me. Like, while I’m definitely gay—lots better than queer, isn’t it—I don’t advertise the fact. Right or wrong, I stay firmly in the closet. That said, there are some things I won’t do to protect my reputation. I have lots of women friends, but not one of them is a lover or a beard. They’re friends—some of them good friends—and acquaintances, but I don’t think any of them harbor the misconception I’m going to up and fall in love with her someday.

That is not the case with Jorge. I don’t believe he’s gay. Bi, maybe, but his eyes go to dancing when a pretty girl comes around. Given his appearance, they all want to mother him, and do so up until the time they find him doing what he does so well. Someday, I’ll lose him to a gal, and I’ll be sad when it happens. But I won’t try to stop it, nor will it endanger his job at the shop. He’s a damned good auto body man. Of course, he’s a damned good lover too, but every man has the right to determine his own future.


With some unaccustomed spare time on my hands, I renewed my interest in Miss Emmalee Vanderport. Like everyone in town, I knew about the Vanderport family from the old Colonel James Wilson Vanderport having a hand at founding our town, although he didn’t favor it with the Vanderport name, something he did with every other thing he touched. We ended up being named Sidney. Not a terribly distinguished name, but okay, I guess. Sidney, Oklahoma had a certain ring to it… at least to me.

Anyway, the old Colonel opened a logging mill alongside a railroad track, and then history took over. We’d grown from simply a sawmill to a lumbering and farming town in our corner of the state. And along the way, the Vanderports had become rich. Filthy rich, my dear old dad used to say with a sneer. He seemed to have a bone to pick with our town’s foremost family but would never say what it was.

When the Colonel died, the town almost came to a full stop with grief. Maybe that’s not a good word. Trepidation may be more apt. What would happen with the demise of Sidney’s rock… Colonel James Nelson Vanderport. Nothing, turned out to be the answer. Elder son Wilson James Vanderport took over the business and the town survived. He didn’t. James Nelson Vanderport died a few years after his father, and Charles Sidney Vanderport, the second son, picked up the yoke and handled things very well.

Charles Sidney? Maybe the old man did name the town after the family. The long and the short of it is, the Vanderports had been around as long as Sidney, Oklahoma had been around, and Miss Emmalee was the torchbearer for the distaff side of the family. And she had done a fine job of it, as well. Of course, plebians like me always wondered why she hadn’t married and raised a houseful of children. My sainted mother had always equated success for females as marrying well and turning out a brood of acceptable tots. Why hadn’t she married? She’d been a beauty up until the day she died two months ago.


My curiosity led me to the town’s newspaper. I’d have said the newspaper’s morgue, except that pretty well described the entirety of our Sidney Weekly Journal. Miz Myrtle Bailey, who’d been reporter, editor, printer, and janitor of the Journal ever since I could recall, didn’t have copies of the newspaper on modern things like computers or even microfiche, but she did have a printed copy of every edition. With nothing to guide me to specific articles, I started wading through them one by one. Some member of the Vanderport family appeared in virtually every paper. Far from being bored, I found myself fascinated at the unfolding saga of this proud family.

The old Colonel had a past. The title had been honestly earned in Havana during the Spanish and American War. He was nearly cashiered when he fought a duel with one of his fellow officers over some young woman, but his foe survived his wound, and the Colonel survived his commission. Of course, he’d married a very proper Boston debutante and settled down to logging in his native Kentucky. What drew him to Oklahoma, I could never discern.

His two sons were drags, so far as being newsworthy was concerned. The only attention they received was as captains of industry—or what served as captains of industry in our little town. They grew up, married, and in turn, ran the mill before dying unspectacular deaths. None of their progeny was interested in carrying on the family business, so when the younger son, Charles Sidney died about eight years ago, a national corporation acquired the large mill and the remaining Vanderpark kin took the money and ran. All except Miss Emmalee. She stayed on and carried the family name forward in little Sidney.

She was a staple in the Journal, especially after the remainder of the family vamoosed. The articles about her sponsoring this charity or opening this ball—balls in Sidney, Oklahoma? More likely dances—or donating to that cause. That kind of thing. Nonetheless, I began to see her as a woman in her own right. I found something admirable about the gentle way she gave time and money to shaping and molding the young people in our town. Heck, I’d been the beneficiary of some of that largess without realizing it until I saw photos of Mom and myself with her at some camp for youth she’d sponsored. I also learned I’d gained my interest and expertise at the shop she’d built for the local school.

Then she disappeared from the paper’s pages. When questioned, Miz Baily said she’d taken a world cruise. Roamed all over the world for almost a year and a half. Skipping a bunch of issues, I located Miss Emmalee’s triumphant return to the place of her birth. The faded photographs in the paper’s yellowing copies seemed to show an older, more mature woman. But it was undoubtedly Miss Emmalee waving to the photographer or in deep discussion with a town dignitary or two.


My searches at the Journal did nothing but fan the flames of my developing obsession with Miss Emmalee. Some of the facts I’d uncovered stirred up memories. Connections, I guess you’d say. The Vanderports had played a bigger role in our family history than I’d realized. Some of the old photos kicked off vague memories of Miss Emmalee visiting our home. Chatting with Mom or bringing little presents. Always with mom, not when Dad was home. I could vaguely remember sitting on her lap a time or two when I was just a little kid.

A thought hit me in the head so hard, I about fell off my chair. Visiting with Mom. Never with Dad. My thoughts slid to Jorge. It couldn’t be. My mom and Miss Emmalee? Was it possible? But if so, and my dad knew, it explained a lot about his reaction when I confessed to being gay. That thought set me back on my haunches. Did they even have lesbians back in those days? I laughed aloud at my stupidity. Of course, they did. Human beings were human beings even back then with all their strengths and faults firmly in place. Jeez!


I don’t think this is going the way Richie thought it would. Has he discovered a liaison between his mother and Miss Emmalee? It would explain his father’s attitude, wouldn’t it? And maybe lend a little credence to Richie’s own leanings.

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Portrait of Miss Emmalee (A Story in 5 parts-Part 2), A Repost blog post #591

  Image courtesy of


What is so intriguing about Miss Emmalee’s portrait to our protagonist? There must be something behind it. Can he solve the puzzle of the intriguing painting?


                                                          PORTRAIT OF MISS EMMALEE

The next evening, I was deep into the Burke book when I’ll swear, I heard a sigh. My eyes flew to the mantlepiece where the frown on the portrait’s face seemed deeper… although that could merely have been the lighting. Nonetheless, I abandoned the book to contemplate what I knew of the woman’s life. Like everyone else in this town, I’d seen and met her often in my early years, but really, she was simply like the sun, remote but showering light and kindness and good cheer over the townsfolk. I recalled only one exchange with Miss Emmalee of any import.

Just out of high school and still living over my teacher’s garage, I was marking time before reporting to the Army when I joined a baseball game of neighborhood kids at one of the fields at City Park. My sports were basketball and soccer, but I was a fair fielder, so held up my end of the bargain… except in the batting department. I only managed one double out of four turns at the bat.

As I left the field after the game, I passed Miss Emmalee, still seated in the stands—dressed to the nines, as was her hallmark—when her soft, cultured voice halted me mid-step.

“You’re swinging too early, you know that, don’t you?”

“Beg pardon, ma’am?” I asked, uncertain if she was speaking to me.

“You’re too anxious. Let the ball come, and then meet it. There’s a right time to swing, you know.”

“Yes, ma’am, I know.” It seemed somewhat surreal that this prim and proper lady would take the time to talk to me, much less about a sport I doubtless knew more than she did.

She twirled the pink parasol—yes, parasol—she used to keep the sun off her fair skin. “If you know that, why do you anticipate the ball too early?”

I shrugged. “Not my day, I guess.”

“Don’t throw away your days, Richie-O.”

I about jumped out of my skin that she knew my name. Not just my name, but the familiar most of the kids used. Richie, for my first name, Richard, and for my last name, Orchard. That alone was enough to draw me to her side. “No, ma’am, I’ll try not to do that.”

“Each one is precious, you know.” She gave a tinkle of a laugh. “Of course, you don’t. You’re still young enough to believe you’re immortal.”

I frowned. “Uh-uh, I’m going into the army in ten days, so I know there’ll be some perilous times coming down the pike at me.”

She smiled, revealing tiny lines in what I’d thought was a flawless face. “Perilous times. I like the way you framed that. Why didn’t you say dangerous times like every other boy… young man would say?”

“Dunno. To be honest, I don’t always think like all the other guys.” I gave an insincere laugh. “Got me thrown outta my folks’ house, in fact.”

“So I understand. I admire the fortitude with which you picked up your life and moved on.”

My cheeks burned at the recollection of some of the things I’d done to move on. “Thank you. Sometimes it seemed like there was a guardian angel watching out for me. It was hard, but I did it.”

Her bright blue eyes twinkled. “Wouldn’t it be nice if it were true. All of us would benefit from one, I imagine. But I want you to know, I admire the way you took charge of your life.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” I said touching the bill of my baseball cap in salutation. “Excuse me now, I have to go get cleaned up.”

“Certainly, young man. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”

“For me too, ma’am.”

For some reason that brief interchange had remained in my mind. Miss Emmalee had been somewhere between my mother’s and grandmother’s age at the time. Perhaps I remember it so well because that was the first time she seemed like a real person, not just some local paragon of proper deportment and good works. But remember it, I did.


As work on the Porsche neared completion, I forgot Miss Emmalee and paintings and mysteries. The car looked damned good… better than I expected, actually. I put out the word, and the buyers came flocking. It always amazed me that I could live in this little Oklahoma town, restore cars, and attract car collectors from Oklahoma City and Dallas and Little Rock and Phoenix. Heck, I had one guy in St. Louis who kept in contact. Guess that says something for the quality of my work.

At any rate, once the Porsche was sold, I decided to take some time for myself. There was enough regular work to keep Jorge, my one full-time employee busy. A part time girl did the office work, and the two of them could keep things afloat for a few days. Jorge’s not only the best body man in this part of the state… he also has the best body in this part of the state. Although twenty-five, he looks like a teenager with thick black hair that seemed to absorb the sunlight and cheeks so brown and smooth you wanted to pinch them. He was my pressure valve, as well.

And before everyone starts yelling about the impropriety of a relationship between employee and employer, that  relationship started before he was my employee. I met him when I was returning from a nearby town two years ago and saw a young man hitchhiking. I did take him for a teen when I stopped and offered a lift. But the deep voice and his manner of speaking—shy but not reluctant—and his knowledge about mechanics clued me I’d misjudged his age. So I asked him outright.

“Twenty-three,” he answered.

“No way,” I said.

“Prove it,” he said, digging out a worn wallet and showing me his driver’s license. Jorge Vallarte, Dallas address, good-looking photo despite the lousy lighting and the blank stare into the camera.

I quickly tumbled to the fact the guy was broke and heading up to Oklahoma City to try to find a cousin… and hopefully some work. By the time we drove into Sidney, I knew just about all I needed to know. He was broke, hungry, and just this side of desperate. I also knew he’d been in the auto body repair trade for a few years.

As we sat at the table in my house eating some chili I’d heated up, I recalled my own brief time on the street and told him right up front that he was hunky and handsome and pushed all my buttons. But I gave him some options. He could sleep in my house for the night. If he slept in the spare bedroom, I’d feed him breakfast in the morning and send him on his way with twenty bucks in his pocket.

If he opted to sleep in my bedroom, I’d feed him breakfast in the morning and send him off with fifty bucks. He regarded me through large, liquid brown eyes and smiled. “I do good job for you,” he said in his slightly fractured English. Even the frown that followed was sexy as hell. “But there some things Jorge don’t do.”

I laid a hand on his sinewy forearm on the table. “We’ll figure those out as we go,” I said. “Would you like a shower first?”

His smile almost blinded me.

I took my own shower while he had his in the guest bathroom, and we met in the hallway afterward, me in my robe, and Jorge wrapped in a skimpy towel. I about passed out from all the finely defined muscles playing in his broad chest and flat belly. We spent an unforgettable night defining those barriers he wouldn’t break—having to do mostly with his trim behind.

I fed Jorge the next morning and gave him the promised fifty bucks, but he never left. He asked—in his shy way—to see my auto repair shop, and once there, he picked up a wrench and went to work. By the end of the day, he was on my payroll, but in this part of Bible Belt Oklahoma, he couldn’t live with me. He stayed for a delightful week while he looked for accommodations. But there were—and still are—plenty of occasions for him to visit the house.


Well, we learn our hero’s name—Richie, or Richie-O to his familiars. And it seems a very familiar has shown up in his life. Go, Jorge! Will his lover distract him from his quest?

 Until next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Portrait of Miss Emmalee (A Story in 5 parts-Part 1), A Repost blog post #590 

 Image courtesy of


Taking the coward's way out these next few weeks. Life keeps getting in the way and I can see disaster looming over the month of March, so am going to do a repost of a five-part story I did just about one year ago. It's an original story I particularly like, partially because it could have taken place in the little Oklahoma town where I grew up, and partially because it sort of marries the two parts of my own life... being gay in a little lumber and farming town and growing out of the limitations placed by that culture. 


                                                          PORTRAIT OF MISS EMMALEE

The first moment I cast eyes on the painting, I knew I had to have it. Yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t explain why the portrait of Emmalee Vanderport called to me so strongly. While serving in the army, I’d once stood at the Louvre admiring Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa without suffering such an emotional tug. But like Cornel Wilde in the movie Laura, I was struck dumb by pigments of varicolored oils dabbed on canvas.

After haggling over the price with the estate sale manager, I gritted my teeth and robbed my savings of three thousand dollars to acquire it. Carrying the three by four painting to the car, I stowed it lovingly in the back of my GMC Terrain, giving it one last glance before closing the hatch and crawling behind the steering wheel. All the way home, I chastised myself, asking why, why, why?

But when I hung it over the mantlepiece in the stead of the seascape that had graced that space, I was again made rapt, and the questions fell away… except for what to do with the seascape, really, a very good piece itself. I stowed the usurped painting out of sight, and sat in my recliner to view the new acquisition.

Immediately, the enchantment returned. The portrait, obviously done in the bower at the rear of the Vanderport mansion, showed a slightly pouty young, swan-necked woman with brown hair in a formal coiffure, her green eyes peering from beneath slightly drawn brows. Emmalee Vanderport looked comfortable over my fireplace. And I was comfortable having her there.

That evening, as I sat rereading James Lee Burke’s Creole Belle, Dave Robicheau’s preoccupation with a Cajun girl named Tee Jolie Melton made me vaguely uncomfortable with my obsession over the Vanderport portrait. I dropped the book in my lap and lifted my eyes to meet the emerald orbs of the painting and puzzle once again over the slightly knitted brows. What was bothering that lovely woman as she sat patiently—or perhaps impatiently—for the artist reproducing her features on canvas like a geomancer rendering beauty from ugly oil pots. Was I smitten?

I experienced no lust upon viewing the painting, and I usually equated the two. No, I wasn’t in love with the image of Miss Emmalee—as the whole town knew her—I was puzzled by it. And a puzzle calls for solving.

The next morning, I set about that task by revisiting the Vanderport mansion on the north side of town to find the sale winding down. All the prime pieces were gone, and the few prospective buyers wandering about were simply looking for some small token they could claim once belonged to the town’s most notable family. In some of the tellings, the item would become a gift bestowed in gratitude for some imaginary favor, in others, simply tokens of friendship. I doubted many would admit they picked it up for a song at an estate sale. We humans tend toward hubris and self-delusions, I fear.

A rather jaundiced view for a man only twenty-eight, but it was dictated by my own history. And perhaps that’s why I wanted to know the reason for Miss Emmalee’s shaded look. I’d been on my own since I was seventeen when in a fit of unwarranted honesty with my father, I admitted my attraction to one of my male schoolmates. Dad, a frustrated jock and insincere evangelist, tossed me out without thinking about it twice and thwarted all Mom’s efforts to bring me back into the fold. I still recall one odd exchange from that fateful day.

“You can’t throw the boy out, Henry. It violates the contract,” my mother shouted as it became clear my father was serious about banishing me from home.

“Contract be damned,’ he yelled back at her. “I’ll not have a pansy… a queer contaminating our family.”

As traumatized as I was, I managed to ask my mother what she meant about a contract. I recall her answer, her last words to me on that day. “Contract? Oh, honey, all I meant was that there’s an unwritten contract between parents and child. The parents nurture and protect. The child learns to behave and grow.”

Unable to lash out in any meaningful way at my father, I took it out on her. “So I guess I violated the contract first by turning out queer!” I used the hateful word deliberately. I’ll forever regret my cruelty to the one person fighting for me.

The first few years were difficult. After my secret Adonis yielded to my passionate pursuit, the event left something to be desired, and to make matters worse, he promptly wrote me off as a conquest and moved on. Out of desperation, I sold myself to some men on the street for a meal or a roof over my head for the night, but that always left me feeling unclean.

Rescue came quickly when one of my teachers learned I was homeless and put me up in a one-room apartment—if that’s the proper name for it—over his garage and steered me to an after-school job at a local car parts store. That saw me through graduation without further degrading myself, and after that, I joined the Army, spending some time serving in Germany. I worked like hell earning college credits whenever possible and took my bachelor’s degree within a few months of leaving the service.

And then my old man did me a favor. He died. Finally free to do so, Mom reached out to me, and I moved back into my old room. Beyond that, she used some of Dad’s insurance money to stake me in my own business. I started buying old cars—classics when I could find them—and restoring the vehicles before selling them for a profit. Life was good again. Then Mom died, leaving me the rest of the money and the house. Since then, my shop had prospered enough to move into a proper business site.

But I digress. The estate manager, who turned out to be a Vanderport cousin, took the time to fill me in on some of Miss Emmalee’s background. She’d been born in this house some eighty-odd years ago, graduated from a women’s college back east, and returned to live out her life as an unmarried spinster, living off the family’s wealth and occupying herself by volunteering both time and money to the community.

Aha! Was the fact she was unmarried the source of the sadness I discerned in those painted eyes? Perhaps. As the cousin could contribute nothing more, I thanked her for visiting with me and returned to working on a Porsche I’d found as a near ruin and was on the verge of rendering into a classic. When I sold this one, it alone would make the nut for the next month.


Sounds like Miss Emmalee’s portrait has grabbed hold of our unnamed protagonist in a serious way. Why? Because it hints at secrets, and there’s nothing—short of sex—that pushes our buttons than learning other people’s secrets. Wonder what happens next? We’ll find out next week.

 Until then.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Smoky – A Repost from May 12, 2016 blog post #589

 Image Courtesy of Pixabay:

 Regular readers of this site know that I endure a “blue period” from January through May because of certain family events. My elder son died in January, my wife-his mom- died in February, her birthday’s in March, and our anniversary is in April. May 14 is my deceased son’s birthday. So sometimes I get maudlin. Ergo, I resurrected this story from almost seven years ago.






I called her Smoky.

She was the girl who always carried the faint fragrance of jasmine with her, and I was the guy who was in love with her from the day we met in freshman English. It was a big class, but I was fortunate enough to sit beside her. Before the class convened, I screwed up the courage to utter the five most difficult words I had ever spoken.

“Hi, I’m Am. Ambrose Haller.”

She looked puzzled before responding. “Gwendolyn Sharp. Nice to meet you.”

Understanding her confusion, I stiffened my spine and spoke again. “I didn’t stutter. I really said ‘I’m Am.’ That’s what everybody calls me instead of Ambrose.”

“Oh.” Then she smiled. Smiled with her whole being. With her eyes as well as her lips. Her irises were gray. Not pale. Dark, smoky gray. Seemingly infused with swirling mists of changing shades and shapes. I’d never seen eyes like that before. In that moment, she became Smoky to me.

Her laugh was silver pinging off crystal. “Let’s do that over again. Hi, Am, I’m Gwen.”

When I took the dainty hand she offered, some part of my essence flowed through our clasped palms into her. Did she recognize what had just happened?

Professor Sorloff called the class to attention, breaking the magic of the moment and earning my undying enmity. Damn Sorloff! Why was somebody with a name like that teaching English, anyway?

For one hour, three days a week over two semesters, I sat beside my angel. Although almost everyone else I knew despised the class, I could hardly wait for 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We became friends, almost intimates, occasionally sharing confidences that drew me closer to her. I suffered some setbacks, as well. There was the boyfriend, Dirk, who showed up after class to claim her as though he owned her. Later came the bitter breakup that left her shaken and unhappy.

My opportunity, right? I thought so, too. But while she shared some of her feelings with me, it was a strapping footballer named Robin who apparently had a more comfortable shoulder. The school term staggered to a close with me little more than a classmate to my beautiful Smoky.

My sophomore year was a drag because she transferred to New Mexico State in order to follow her football tight end to Las Cruces. For an entire semester, the slightest whiff of jasmine made me ill.



Twenty years passed before I glanced through the one-way glass wall of my office at the Central Avenue Branch of the Spartan Bank and noticed a woman waiting in line for a teller. She wore a pair of large, very dark glasses, something signs prominently displayed on the bank’s doors discouraged. As usual, I took special notice of someone who might be attempting to mask her identity. The tall woman was quite well-formed. I’m not certain if I made that mental note as a banker identifying a potential scam artist or as a man who’d recently undergone a divorce. Regardless of the reason, she was in my sights now.

The woman was not a regular customer of the branch yet somehow looked familiar. Drawn by curiosity—or perhaps caution—I moved into the lobby to stand at the tall table that once held deposit slips and counter checks before banks went to computers and did away with such necessities. She stood in profile as she moved up the line.

Her delicate features sent my mind racing over wanted posters and past relationships, but I had not pulled whatever was niggling at me from my memory banks by the time she finished her transaction and started for the door. On impulse, I moved to intercept her.

“Excuse me, ma’m. I’m Mr. Haller, the manager. May I welcome you to our branch?”

She halted abruptly, which excited my suspicion… and brought a hint of jasmine.

She pulled off the shades and looked up at me. “Am?”

“Smoky!” I exclaimed.

Her laugh still sent shivers down my back “I haven’t been called that in years. It’s good to hear it again.”

“I lost track of you after you transferred to State.”

“I’ve wondered about you often. So you’re a banker?” That tinkling laugh again. “My banker. I just opened an account last week.”

She was more beautiful as a mature woman than she had ever been as a coed. Back then, her looks merely promised something. Now she delivered on that promise. True beauty.

Somehow we ended up agreeing to meet for coffee after work. She was employed as an electrical engineer at a firm a couple of blocks down the street. In that enchanted half hour, I confessed my recent divorce and learned of her difficult breakup from her husband… that same footballer who’d taken her away from me all those years ago.

That coffee was succeeded by dinner a few nights later, which gave rise to others. Then came the magical night where I found myself where I’d only dreamed I would ever be.

On top of Old Smoky.



Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Forgive me.

 Stay safe and stay strong. And keep reading.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Jazz Penrod From the BJ Vinson Murder Mystery Series (Part 2 of 2 Parts) blog post #588

 Last week, I told of a conversation wherein I was asked my favorite (other than the protagonist and supporting cast) characters in the BJ Vinson series. I settled on Jazz Penrod, the gay, half-Navajo-half white teenager first introduced the second book in the series, The Bisti Business. He also shows up in the fourth book (Abaddon’s Locusts). In part one, we examined Jazz in Bisti. Today, I’d like to compare him in Abaddon.


In Chapter 1 of the novel, BJ has just returned home from his office. As he prepares a meal, the doorbell rings.

 I turned off the stove and opened the door to reveal a tall raven-haired Navajo with high cheekbones. It took a moment to recognize the good-looking guy. “Henry Secatero, as I live and breathe.”

His deep voice came up out of his nether regions. “Wasn’t sure you’d remember me.”

“How could I forget the guys who helped me solve a case. Is Jazz with you?” His quick frown told me he was about to deliver bad news. “Come on in.”

We settled in the den with a couple of jiggers of Scotch. He laid what appeared to be a sleeve for a laptop computer on the floor beside his chair and took a sip before speaking. “Jazz is gone.”

“Gone?” My hand tightened on the rocks glass halfway to my mouth. That free spirit was too young and lively to be… gone. “You mean—”

“Naw, not hit the dust. Just disappeared. Poof. And that ain’t like Jazz.”

Jasper Penrod, who dubbed himself Jazz as soon as he was old enough, was Henry’s mixed-blood half-brother. The two helped me solve a case I mentally called the Bisti Business up in the Four Corners area three years ago.

I rubbed my chin, trying to recall what I knew of Jazz’s situation. “Are you sure? Way I understand it, he spends some of his time on the Navajo Reservation and some in Farmington. Hard to keep track of him.”

“Yeah, he bounces around, but he don’t go outa touch for long. He calls me regular-like. If he can’t reach me on my cell, he leaves a message at the chapter house. I didn’t get worried until I saw his Uncle Riley in Farmington and found out Jazz hadn’t called him or his mother either. Been three… four weeks since anybody heard from him.”

 “Do you have any idea why?”

“Not sure, but this might have something to do with it.” Henry leaned over and picked up the canvas case. He hesitated after pulling out an Acer laptop computer. “Man, I sure hate to show you this.”

My raised eyebrows probably expressed my surprise better than my spoken “Why?”

“You’ll see a Jazz you ain’t seen before. Hell, I ain’t seen before. You gotta understand. Jazz being like he is, you know gay and all, it’s not easy for him up in Farmington. When he was growing up, he didn’t mind casual… affairs, I guess you’d say. Until he saw what you and Paul had together, he didn’t believe nobody was out there for him. Permanent, I mean.” Sweat formed on Henry’s upper lip, attesting to how hard it was to talk about his brother’s homosexuality.

I called to mind an image of the uncommonly handsome, unabashedly gay, and friendly-as-a-puppy kid I’d come to admire. All his life he maneuvered successfully in an environment of miners and oil field workers normally hostile to his lifestyle, thanks in large part to the aggressive protection provided by Henry, their Navajo father Louie, and Jazz’s Anglo Uncle Riley.

Henry drew a deep breath and let it out. “Anyway, he started looking for a steady. Someone he could build something with. And there wasn’t nobody in Farmington. Nobody he could attach to, at any rate. Not on the rez neither. He’d try with this guy or that but didn’t find what he was looking for.” Henry gave an insincere laugh. “Jazz looking like he does, lotsa guys you wouldn’t even expect would go with him for a while. Some might even have stuck, but they wasn’t what he was looking for.” Henry’s face twisted in perplexity. “You want the truth? I think he was looking for another you. He really dug you.”

“There was never anything between—”

He waved a hand. “I know. He told me he offered, and you said you already had somebody. That really impressed him. That’s what he was looking for. A guy who’d turn down an offer because they belonged to him.” Henry ran an agitated hand through thick black hair. “Aw, I’m screwing this up. All I’m saying is he was looking for love. Just like I do, but on the other side of the bed.”

“You’re doing fine. Tell me something. What do you really think about your brother being gay? I know you won’t stand for people picking on him, but how do you feel about it down deep?”

“I don’t understand it. I look at a guy—hell, I look at you—and ask myself what would Jazz see?” Henry shrugged. “He’d see mutton stew while I see cactus. Sometimes I sorta understand when I remember that it’s the same as me looking at a woman. At least to him, it is.”

Despite just being called a cactus, I nodded. “Now show me what you came to show me.”

He fired up the laptop and stared at the blank screen as the device went through its booting up process. “How’d you get his password?” I asked as we waited.

“It’s taped on the back of the computer. Jazz was private… but not secretive, I guess you’d say. I felt like shit going through his stuff,” he added in a low voice. “But I’m glad I did. I found these.”

He handed over the machine. Jazz used for his Email, and Henry went to the Sent section to select a message. “That’s the first one I found. After you read it, scroll up to the next one. Jeez, I need to go for a walk or something while you do that. Okay?”

“Leave the door unlocked. Just come in when you work it off.”

Henry had selected the first Email message where his brother responded to a contact from someone named Juan. They apparently connected through a site called Unwilling to switch back and forth between Jazz’s Sent and Trash containers, I searched his My Folders until I spotted one labeled Juan. Upon opening that file, I found messages between the two stretching back about four months and ending five weeks ago right after they exchanged Skype addresses. The pair started off using Aesopian language, but as time went one, they became more direct.

The first photograph in the Email file was a bust shot of Juan showing an attractive, smiling Hispanic on the shy side of thirty with a white blaze in his dark hair. He wore a bright yellow polo shirt. Jazz responded with a photo of himself standing beside the old ‘91Jeep Wrangler ragtop I’d helped him buy during the Bisti case. He wore a pair of walking shorts and a blue, sleeveless pullover that clearly showed his six-pack.

Juan responded with a request for a headshot, a close-up to see if he was as “beautiful as he seemed to be.” Jazz’s next photo was a wowser, as I used to say when I was a kid. Jazz qualified as stunningly handsome, and the camera wallowed in it. The half dozen messages led me right where I feared this was going. Juan’s second photo was shirtless; Jazz matched it. Long before I reached the modest naked and the stark-naked shots, I knew what happened to Jazz Penrod. The internet swept him into a sex ring. Grateful his brother was out walking off his frustration, I considered my conclusion for a minute before acceptance came. The Jazz I knew was open and honest, and if you couldn’t take him the way he was, he’d write you off. He wasn’t venal. Money had its place, but it wasn’t that important to him.

When Henry returned, I set aside the laptop

He balked at my conclusion. “No way! Jazz ain’t… whata you call it? Promiscuous. He had sex with guys, but he didn’t spread it all over the place. He wouldn’t go to bed with nobody he didn’t like.”

“Which is why this Juan—probably not his real name—took his time. He reeled Jazz in like a deep diving trout… playing him and teasing him until he landed him. As soon as Jazz sent him his first picture, Juan knew he had a winner. So he played him, feeding him more and more. That’s what the pictures were all about. Getting Jazz to commit deeper and deeper to what he thought was a kindred soul.”

 Now let’s look at Jazz in Chapter 27. He’s managed to escape the clutches of the human trafficking ring, but was injured in the process. That and the drugs the ring hooked him on left him amnesia. He has no idea BJ and Henry are searching for him. Jazz is with a Navajo family who’s befriended him and are working to get him free of drugs. Klah, the family’s son, is dazzled by Jazz.

Jazz leaned on the handle of his Bully Tools weed cutter, taking pleasure in watching Klah’s wiry, graceful figure swing his scythe-like implement. Jazz’s chest swelled with an emotion that defied definition. Nonetheless, he kept edging toward calling it what it was. But recollections of Juan’s betrayal got in the way every time. He smiled to himself and started swinging his weedwhacker along the barrow ditch on his side of the road. The sharp smell of the cut weeds and the dust his weedwhacker raised was somehow pleasing to him.

Klah had managed to get them work with the Alamo School Board clearing ditches alongside the busier roads on the reservation. Jazz mentally shook his head. The school board, for crying out loud. It not only ran the school, it was also responsible for roads. Klah told him the school board was the biggest employer on the reservation. They even employed the only policeman on the place.

Despite the heat of a late summer sun, Jazz enjoyed the work. That is, he enjoyed the exercise. He’d stopped running daily and now re-learned that exercise, along with the diet Dibe and Hosteen Platero laid out for him kept his cramps… and usually his nausea at bay. He still craved the crack, but he’d come to understand that was a mental thing that sometimes utilized his guts to make itself known. Still, there was no question in his mind he was getting better, and swinging a weedwhacker daily helped.

It didn’t take long for Jazz and Klah to learn that walking to the far end of their assigned section and working back toward the settlement eliminated a long walk home at the end of the day. Now judging the work shift to be over, they hoisted tools to their shoulders and headed for the school board. After putting their equipment away, they wordlessly walked to the wellness center where they showered and changed into clean clothes they packed with them.

Afterward, they resisted the urge to grab a prepackaged sandwich at the minimart, instead returning to the trailer so Klah could fix a stew with the ingredients Jazz needed for his damaged system. Jazz came to hate green tea, but then perversely decided he liked it. The vitamins and minerals he required were expensive. Even so, they found it more convenient to get most of them in tablet form. Klah’s cooking skills weren’t sufficient to utilize all the natural sources of everything Jazz’s recovery required.

Tired but restless, along about sundown, they wandered to the minimart. They didn’t need anything, but it was something to do. They gave the little store the once-over to make certain Cheese and his buddies weren’t around before entering. Because they were working men now, they splurged on a couple of strawberry soft drinks and went back outside to lean against the side of the building to sip at them.

“Good pop,” Klah said.

“I always liked Cokes, but you got me hung up on strawberry now. What have you done to me?”

Klah grinned, something Jazz enjoyed watching. “Improved your lifestyle. Uh-oh.” He pursed his lips, blushed red by the strawberry, and nodded.


“Girl I used to know. And she’s got her sister with her.”

Jazz turned to watch two women in tight slacks walking toward the entrance. One of them did a double take and headed straight for them.

“Klah! I heard you come back. Why didn’t you look me up?”

“Hello, Thunder Thighs,” he responded.

She turned sideways and posed with one hand behind her head. “You can’t call me that no more. I lost my baby fat.”

“So I noticed. But you’ll always be Thunder Thighs to me.”

“All right, but only you. Nobody else can call me that. Who’s that with you?”

“Bicycle, this here’s Clarise Mockingbird, but I call her Thunder Thighs.” Klah looked over her shoulder. “Is that little Maudie I see?”

“Except my sister ain’t so little no more. Come on over here and meet Bicycle.”

Jazz caught Klah’s quick frown but didn’t quite understand it. Was his lover going to hold on so tight there would be no room for anyone else in their lives?

Maudie offered a soft hand, prompting Jazz to accept it. She held on a moment as he confirmed his pseudonym. He felt compelled to explain.

“He named me that because he found me right after I had a bicycle wreck on I-40 and can’t remember who I am.”

She batted big black eyes. “You don’t know who you are?”

“Well, sorta. It’s a weird story.”

“I like weird. Tell me all about it.”

“But you gotta buy us sodas first,” her sister said.

After Klah returned with two bottles—a Coke for Thunder Thighs and a grape for Maudie—they settled in the dirt at the side of the building. After staring at the ground for a minute, Jazz came up with a story.

“This old ram got away. I couldn’t catch it on foot, so I grabbed a bicycle and started after it.”

“Got away from where?” Thunder Thighs asked.

He ignored her. “He got out on the highway, you know I-40, so I chased him right up the blacktop. Then this big semi roared up behind me and knocked me in the ditch. Don’t remember much after that.”

“Aw, that’s a big tale,” Maudie said.

“All right, it was a Big Foot. You know, one of those sasquatch things.”

Maudie slapped his arm playfully. “Either you’re trying to make fools of us or else Coyote’s making a fool of you.”

“We really did find him riding a bicycle on I-40 after dark. And a semi did roar by. The wash from passing threw him right off the road. Knocked him silly.”

“That’s your version,” Jazz said. “I like mine better.” He noticed Maudie’s little hand still rested on his forearm.

“What the hell’s going on here!”

The booming voice startled all of them. Jazz glanced around to see Cheese Apachito advancing on him. Without another word, the man clapped him up beside the head. He saw stars, but managed to roll over and come to his feet.

“What was that for?” he demanded as he set his stance.

“Nobody fucks with my woman.” Cheese’s flushed face turned dark with blood.

“Didn’t know she was your woman,” he said.

“I’m not. He’s just being a big bully. Like he always does.”

Cheese lunged at him. Jazz sidestepped, missing a good chance to ring the man’s bells with a chop to the ear.

“No need for this, man,” he said. “I’m not—”

Cheese came for him again. Jazz didn’t know where it came from, but he dropped into a squatting stance and deflected the other’s blows with his forearms. When he saw an opportunity, he lashed out with this left and caught Cheese on the nose. The man grunted and came back with a solid blow to Jazz’s left shoulder. It rocked him. But he let go with a right, catching his opponent’s injured nose again. Cheese instinctively put his hands to his face, and Jazz doubled him over with a jab to the stomach. That ended things. Maudie and Thunder Thighs went to help the bully while Klah urged Jazz toward home.

“Man, you rang his bell. Where’d you learn to fight like that?” Klah asked after a few minutes of silence.

“Dunno. Think maybe my brother taught me.” He frowned. “Or maybe it was my uncle.”

“You have a brother and an uncle?”

“Yeah. Seems like I do. Sounds right in my head, anyway.”


“My brother is. Uncle’s not. Leastways that’s the way it seems.”



Yeah, I’d say Jazz has matured.

 Stay safe and stay strong. And stay out of the clutches of human traffickers.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Jazz Penrod From the BJ Vinson Murder Mystery Series (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #587

The other day, I was talking with an author friend about characters we’ve created in our own writings. When she asked which of the individuals (outside of the protagonist and his supporting staff) in the BJ Vinson Murder Mystery Series was my favorite, the answer came right away, Jasper (Jazz) Penrod, the sassy, openly-gay-and-don’t-give-a-damn-how-you-feel-about-it, half Navajo-half white teenager I introduced in the series,
The Bisti Business. Had to be, I built another book (Abaddon’s Locusts). Bisti was the second book; Abaddon, the fourth. That got me to thinking about how characters mature from one book to the other. As a result, I’d like to take a brief look at Jazz in both of the novels to see how he’s grown.



BJ is in Farmington, New Mexico with a young man named Aggie Alfano (son of a California wine mogul) trying to locate his gay brother Lando and Lando’s lover Dana, who have disappeared while traveling the state. BJ picks up a hint of trouble between the two young men that might involve someone named Jazz Penrod.


He checks with his Farmington Police contact Sgt. Dixie Lee to see if she knows the kid:


The kid had first come to the department’s attention the day he turned thirteen when he broke a bottle over his father’s head during a drunken domestic brawl. The prosecutors decided he was acting in defense of his mother, so no juvie charges were filed. Within a month, he was back in their sights when a cop caught a twenty-two-year-old man in a compromising position with him. Since Jazz was a minor, the entire weight of the law fell upon the adult, who was charged with child sexual abuse. The next time it was a high school senior basketball player who suffered the consequences.

“There’s not much here except for sexual liaisons and the beer bottle incident with his father,” I said. “Just a shoplifting charge last year that was dismissed.”

“Yeah. We looked into it, and it was clear the accusation was payback when Jazz spurned some guy’s advances.”

“No fighting. Nothing like that,” I continued. “That’s unusual, especially the lack of fighting. I’d think an obvious gay would be in scrapes all the time around here.”

“Probably would be except for his older brother and his uncle. He’s got protectors on both sides of the family. Henry Secatero, his half-brother, is more of a father than Louie Secatero ever was. Henry’s a tough guy, and if anybody plows into Jazz….” Dix faltered, apparently tripping over on her choice of words. “That is, if anybody attacks Jazz, they have him to deal with. Henry’s been in trouble more than once over situations like that, but it’s never anything serious enough for more than a night in jail.”

“How old is Henry?”

“Around twenty-eight or so.”

“Native American, I take it,” Aggie interjected.

“You take it right.”

“You said something about protection from the other side of the family, too,” I said.


“His mother’s brother, Riley Penrod has always been protective of his nephew. Riley’s been in a few fistfights over Jazz. Not as much and not as violently as Henry, but enough so you’d sit up and take notice. So word got around pretty quick not to lean on Jazz.”

She did that thing with the curl of hair at her shoulder. “Of course, Jazz does all right on his own. He looks like an angel, but he fights like a devil.”

I tapped the folder in her hand. “Nothing about that in there from the quick glance I saw.”

“No, he’s always been the victim. That is to say, the other guy threw the first punch, but Jazz gets in his quota. You wouldn’t think it from looking at the kid. He’s long and lanky, but he’s got a set of muscles hidden under his shirt. Here, take a look for yourself.”

Even the kid’s mug shot, taken for the bogus shoplifting charge, was something. A spectacularly handsome adolescent peered out from the image through dark, smoky eyes. Full, blushed lips. High, smooth cheeks. Gracefully arched brows that ended in a slight, upward twist, giving the teen an impish look. Raven hair spilled down on his neck in an ebony halo, slightly wavy and looking silky to the touch. Jazz Penrod was saved from androgyny by an Adam’s apple and the defined, definitely male slope of his shoulders. I got the feeling that in person, the kid was graceful, maybe even excessively so, but not a mama’s boy. I could understand how he came by his reputation. With those sultry, exotic looks, he’d get plenty of action by just crooking his little finger—or better yet, lifting one of those eyebrows. There was little of his mother in the image; he probably resembled Louis, his father.


He and Aggie find Jazz the next day. BJ is speaking.


“Look across the street. The kid walking west.”

“It’s him. It’s the Penrod kid, isn’t it?”

“Think so, but I can’t be sure.”

“Let’s go talk to him.”

I pulled out and turned back toward our rooms. “We will. But I don’t want to spook him.”

“What are you going to do?”

“The kid’s gay. He’s receptive to the attention of presentable men, so—”

“Hell, we’re presentable. Let’s go.”

“Not we. Me. You look too much like your brother. You wait in my room while I try to pick him up. If I can, I’ll bring him back for a chat.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I let Aggie into my room and drove out onto Main. For a moment, I thought I’d lost Penrod, but then I spotted him far down the street. That long-legged gait ate up the distance.

I drove past, confirming it was Jazz. Pulling a U in full view of him, I approached at a crawl. His stride shortened as he eyed the car. I halted ten paces in front of him and leaned across the seat so he could get a good look at me.

The “stare” is a standard move for a lot of gays on the make, but in New Mexico it is a complicated maneuver. Many Native American cultures have an eye avoidance custom, considering it rude. Gangbangers take it as dissing, a challenge to their machismo. A lot of straights feel it’s an invasion of their space; it makes them uncomfortable. Jazz Penrod didn’t have a problem with it; his gaze locked onto mine.


“Morning.” His smile displayed a row of straight, sparkling white teeth. “Can I help you?”

“Maybe you can. I’m new in town. Just here for a couple of days. You look like a fellow who can tell me where the action is.”

“Depends on what kind of action you’re looking for.”

“Why don’t you get in the car, and we’ll discuss it. Maybe we can go back to my motel room to talk at leisure.”

“Where you staying?”

I motioned with my head. “Down the street. Trail’s End.”

He did a half turn and looked toward the motel. “Don’t see why not.” He stepped off the curb, grasped the door handle, and slid into the passenger’s seat. “My name’s Jazz.”

I accepted the handshake, noting the strength of his grip, which argued Jazz Penrod worked for his living, although exactly what kind of work seemed to be a mystery.

“BJ. Up from Albuquerque for a visit.”

“BJ. Like the initials?”

I nodded.

“Here on business?”

“In a way.”

As I pulled out onto the street, his eyes raked me. “Go in the back way,” he directed. “I know the girl who works in the office there.”

“You mean Melissa? She seems like a decent sort.”

“She is, but….” He left the rest unsaid.

I turned away from the office and circled around behind the building in order to reach my room. Jazz got out of the car and waited until I unlocked the door. As I moved aside, he stepped into the room where he abruptly halted.

“What is this?” He backed up, bumping into me. “I don’t do threesomes.”

“Not asking you to.” I applied pressure to his broad shoulders. “Just want to talk to you for a few minutes.”

“No, thanks. I gotta be someplace.”

I managed to close the door and lean against it, blocking his way. “Hear me out, and then you can leave if you want. Won’t take but a minute.”

Jazz stepped forward, giving me some room. He motioned toward Aggie sitting on the edge of the bed. “I know you. Well, I mean….”

“Looks just like his brother, doesn’t he?”

“You’re Lando’s brother?”

“I’m Aggie Alfano.”

“Look, man, Lando and Dana came on to me. I didn’t—”

“Nobody’s pissed, Jazz,” I assured him. “We just need some answers. Dana and Lando are missing, and we’re trying to find out what happened to them.”


“Yes, and their car went over the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos the other day, although neither of them was in it.”

“No shit? That Porsche? Man, that was a bitchin’ ride.”

“Sit down,” I indicated one of the two chairs at a small table. “Let’s see if we can figure out a couple of things.”

I examined the young man as he strolled to the table and settled into a seat. Although the photo Dix Lee had shown us looked vaguely androgynous, the flesh and blood Jazz Penrod exuded a powerful masculinity. But there was something else at work, too. Some sense of vulnerability, approachability. This guy could probably raise the pulse rate of half the men and women in town. He tossed his head, throwing his shoulder-length hair back. Seductive as hell, and he wasn’t even trying.

“When did you meet Lando and Dana?” I asked.

“I don’t remember the exact date, but I know it was a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago.” His voice was a light baritone with a husky quality. The inflection on some of his words was different—he almost swallowed the final syllables. Yet, he came across loud and clear.

I took out the calendar I’d worked up for Lando’s trip and made a notation. “That would have been August 12, right?”

He shrugged. “I guess. I know they’d gone to the Aztec Ruins that day because they talked about it.”

“You met them at the Sidewinder?”

“Yeah. We got to talking, and they bought me a drink or two.”

“We understand Lando and Dana got into an argument at the bar. Was that over you?”

Jazz smiled. “Nope. They were arguing about where to go the next day. Lando wanted to go see the Bisti Badlands, but Dana wanted to try the Salmon Ruins.”

“That was it? That caused an argument?”

“Not really an argument, but,” Jazz cut his eyes to where Aggie sat on the bed, “Lando did this Italian thing. You know, getting earnest when he talked.”

Aggie chuckled aloud. “You got him down pat, Jazz. That’s my brother. Italian.”

“So did you go back to the motel with them when they left the bar?” I asked.

Jazz shook his head. “No.”

“Look, we need the truth, okay?”

“Uh-uh, I didn’t go to the motel with them, but they gave me a ride back to town and dropped me off at my place. It was their decision, not mine,” he added. “They were pretty much into each other—that night, anyway.”

“But you saw them again and decided to get between them.”

“Not exactly. I mean, I saw them again. I went to the Salmon Ruins with them the next day, but I wasn’t trying to cause trouble.”

“But that’s the way it turned out, right?” I asked. The skin around those expressive black eyes tightened; I recognized stubbornness when I saw it. “Jazz, those guys might be in real trouble. We need to know everything that happened. Some trivial little detail might turn out to be important. You caused some trouble between them—right or wrong?”

“Okay. Yeah, Lando caught me flirting with Dana at the pueblo. Pissed him off, but he got mad at Dana, not me.”

I decided to push. “Come on, Lando was a good-looking guy. He owned the car, and he was the guy with the money.”

Jazz came halfway out of his seat. “Hey, man, I’m no whore. I only go with guys I like.”

I nodded at Aggie. “What’s not to like? And from the picture I’ve seen, Lando’s even better looking than his brother.”

“Yeah,” the kid said, settling back in his chair again. “He was fucking beautiful. But Dana was, too. And I like guys who don’t look like me. You know, with the same dark hair, dark eyes—like me.” With a sideways look at Aggie, he gave a grin. “I’d go for you before him. That’s cool hair. Brown, but not really brown either. Reminds me of coffee with cream in it. And I like green eyes—you know, like emeralds.”

“Thanks for the compliment. I understand how it went now. So Lando got steamed?”

“Yeah. They got in an argument—a real one this time. I guess I shoulda felt bad, but I didn’t.”

“You like two good-looking guys fighting over you?”

“Well, yeah. Who wouldn’t? But it wasn’t like that. Lando didn’t get his nose outa joint because I didn’t come on to him; he just didn’t want Dana to get with me. They argued all the way back to town. But you know after awhile, I got the feeling they weren’t really arguing about me. Something was bothering them, all right, but it wasn’t me.”

“They never said what it was?” He shook his head. “But you went back to the motel with them, didn’t you?” I said.

“Yeah. I got out in front of the motel to walk home, but I heard Lando say he was going down the street to take care of some business at a gallery. Something about a painting he wanted to buy.”

“And he left you alone with Dana.”

“Not really. Like I said, I got out in front of the motel and started up the street, but when Lando pulled out alone, I went back—you know, to apologize to Dana. He invited me inside.”

“So you got together with Dana?” Aggie’s voice held a trace of anger.

The insolent grin returned. “Yeah, we did it.”

“And Lando caught you?” Aggie pressed.

“No, but it took longer then we planned, and I was just walking up the street when the Porsche came back. Lando might have seen me on the sidewalk, but I’m not really sure.”

Aggie and I exchanged glances. That explained the fight that almost came to blows Melissa had described.


Next week, Jazz in Abaddon’s Locusts. Has he changed?

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Blog Archive