9 June, 2010
Somehow I seem to have fallen out of fictional inspiration lately, having difficulties finding the time and inspiration to focusing my mind on it.
It is still my hope and intention to some day get back to the Wordzzle game and finish off The Slumber Party Mystery story.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 73

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #73
riverboat, procrastinaton, drank, demons, invisible, candle, enough, film stars, summer job, computer, general demeanor, surprisingly, masked man, reach, standards

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 20 - Procrastination

Skittles resisted another impulse to reach out for one of the tempting nectarines. He reminded himself again that as a detective, he had to keep certain standards. Not eating while interviewing people was one of them.

"Dr Challenge," he said, focusing on the man on the other side of the table. "Please tell me when and why you came here today."

Adam hesitated a moment. He was still fighting invisible demons within himself about what to say.

"I came to see the Brigadier General," he said. "He's a patient of mine."

"Excuse me," said Skittles bluntly, "but to me you look dressed for a party rather than a housecall." He looked disapprovingly at Adam's lavender colored shirt.

Adam in turn did not like the detective's general demeanor. The man reminded him of one of those old film stars – what was his name – he'd played a riverboat captain once… Adam found himself wondering if the lieutenant drank. The riverboat captain did... But enough with the procrastination. He would have to tell the truth. Or part of it, anyway.

"Well, as a matter of fact I was invited to a party," he said, taking the invitation card out of his pocket and pushing it across the table to Skittles, who took it and read out aloud:

"Welcome to be my guest at a slumber party this Friday evening."

Skittles stared at the card, and then at Adam. "Slumber party?" he said, incredulously. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I don't know," said Adam, truthfully. "As you can see, it is not signed, but it's one of the General's cards. It has his address printed on it. So I came to find out."

" An old man inviting his doctor to a slumber party!" said Skittles. "That doesn't make any sense! Slumber parties, that's for giggling school girls!"

"Well," said Adam, "as a doctor I can't just ignore a strange message like that from a patient. True, it might be just a prank. It might also be really serious. The General is not at all well, you know. He has hinted at times…" Adam fell silent and tried his best to play the role of the masked man who is really just waiting to have his mask ripped off. Skittles fell for it.

"Oh," he said, as it dawned upon him what Adam was suggesting. "You mean… You thought the General might intend to take his own life?"

"Well," said Adam. "You never know."

"But…" said Skittles, thinking hard. Something did not quite make sense. "But you diagnosed he'd had a sun stroke!"

"Yes," said Adam. "That's what it seemed like when I examined him after we got him out of the pool. I'm telling you now what I thought when I got the card."

Skittles looked again at the doctor's lavender shirt, and his thoughts went simultaneously to the young girl sitting at her computer upstairs. Just a little while ago she had surprisingly admitted to him that Adam Challenge was "the love of her life"…

"You didn't think of the possibility that someone else from this house might have sent the card?" he asked. "Someone thinking more along the line of a late candle lit dinner, perhaps…?"

Adam blushed and looked very uncomfortable. "Well, yes and no," he said. "It wasn't my first thought. It did occur to me that Diana might be home for some kind of summer job. But that was only after…" Adam broke off in the middle of the sentence and fell silent.

"After…?" prompted Skittles.

"Do you think I might have one of those nectarines?" said Adam. "I'm terribly thirsty!"

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #72

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #72
corn pone, delegation, nectarines, happiness, 12 going on 13, prancing horses, magenta, butterflies, fragmentary, arthritis, lavender cowboy, over the moon, preparation, zebra, area rug

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 19 - In the Drawingroom

When Skittles came downstairs into the hall again, he was met by a little delegation: Bumblebee, Adam and William were all standing there together, waiting for him.

Bumblebee was again holding out a tray with a glass of water and an aspirin tablet, and Skittles received the peace offering, grateful that the butler had not forgotten him.

"Lieutenant, how much longer do you intend to keep us here?" asked Adam. "I have patients to see, you know," he added, trying to sound important.

William, who had been going to say that he was needed back at the shop before closing time, looked at Adam in surprise. "Patients? On a Friday evening?"

Adam hummed. "Well, yes. I sort of promised I'd make a housecall. An old lady with arthritis…"

"I see," said Skittles. "And the name of this lady…?"

Adam tried to look shocked. "I can't reveal details about my patients."

"Well then," said Skittles, "since arthritis is hardly a life-threatening emergency, the lady will have to wait a while longer, while we have a little talk."

Turning to Bumblebee, he said: "Is there another room down here that we could use instead of the library, do you think? I found the atmosphere in there a bit stuffy."

If Bumblebee took offence that Skittles was not feeling over the moon about the library as interview room, he did not show it. "Maybe you'd prefer the drawing room then, sir," he suggested politely, pointing towards another door. This room was brighter than the library, with a smooth area rug in mild colors on the floor. The walls were covered with pictures, but most of them were light drawings and cheerful water colours. Skittles stopped to examine a pencil drawing of prancing horses. It was signed "Diana, 12 going on 13". Next to that one hung a drawing of a zebra, just signed "D". There was also a watercolour of magenta coloured butterflies with the same signature. Apparently, young Diana was quite an accomplished artist, Skittles thought to himself. The odd thing that struck him was that compared to the fragmentary images he had got from Diana's childhood so far, these pictures seemed breathe happiness and freedom rather than feelings of being shut up and stifled by conventions.

The butler withdrew, and Adam and Skittles sat down opposite each other at a table in the middle of the room. On the table stood a bowl of nectarines, looking juicy and delicious. Skittles felt his mouth watering, but this was not the right time to relax and eat fruit. He must concentrate on the interview. That lavender cowboy across the table – Skittles did not quite know himself where he got the expression from, maybe it was just the lavender shirt and blue jeans that the doctor was wearing. Hardly an outfit for professional housecalls come to think of it? Anyway, while Skittles had been talking to Diana, the doctor would have had plenty of time for preparations if indeed he had some reason or other not to tell the exact truth. And he, Skittles, was after all the detective, and had to be careful not to fall into the trap of accepting any corn pone opinions served to him on a plate.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #71

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge #71
sober, spoilage, knight, laugh and the world laughs with you, peak, blueberries, owl, drugstore, lampshade, keyboard,  economy, Michael Jackson, ladder, clue, structure

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 18 - Upstairs

Lt Skittles decided to end the interview with Diana for now. Before he went to find Adam Challenge, however, he felt in need of a short break. He also had a sudden urge to see a bit more of the house. Not that there was much point in looking for clues as he didn't even know whether there was any real mystery to be solved. He just had a feeling that perhaps a tour of the house might provide hime with some sense of structure. Since he couldn't think of a better excuse, he asked Diana for directions to the bathroom.

"Follow me upstairs, then!" she said, and led the way. Skittles was glad to get out of the dark library with all its strange objects; but he soon found the rest of the house to be just as museumlike. In the hall right next to the library there was a knight in shining armour standing guard – or rather, Skittles corrected himself, a shining armour presumably without any knight inside. On a small table beside it stood a big ceramic owl crowned with a hideous lampshade with a pattern of blueberries. At the peak of the stairs there was a gallery with a collection of paintings, but Skittles did not get a chance to get a closer look at them. Diana pointed to a door on the right, saying "There's the guest bathroom, just opposite my room."

The bathroom had a suprisingly sober atmosphere of economy with all white tiles and no extraordinary decorations at all. The only object that did not quite seem to belong there was a ladder leaning against one wall.

He could not resist opening the little cabinet over the washbasin, but to his disappointment, this turned out to contain nothing but an unused toothbrush in a clean glass. "I'll probably have to go to the drugstore to get my own aspirins," he thought sulkily.

Leaving the bathroom, he found that Diana had left the door to her room open. She was sitting at her computer, her hands resting on the keyboard. On the wall he could see a poster of Michael Jackson and the text "Laugh and the worlds laughs with you". Under the desk a big box marked "spoilage paper".

"Good luck with the rest of the interviews, lieutenant," she said, without looking up. This left Skittles with no alternative but to go straight downstairs again, feeling that he had been wasting time, while being laughed at behind his back.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 70

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 70

Florida, spit, child bride, operatic, busy, holding pattern, sunflowers, ginger jars, office, superintenden, music to my ears, plot, powerful, braggart, super model

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 17 - Diana's holding pattern

When Bumblebee had left the room, Diana lifted the lid of a big ginger jar decorated with a pattern of sunflowers, dropped the letter in it, and put the lid back on. Before Skittles had time to ask why, she turned back to him again and looked him straight in the eyes.

"Look here, superintendent," she began.

"Lieutenant," said Skittles. His own rank, at least, he still felt pretty sure of.

"Sorry. I guess I read too many British crime novels. Look here, lieutentant, I'm sure you're a very busy man and must be wanting to get back to your office, and I'm getting the impression you don't really understand a thing I'm saying. I assure you I had no intention of hurting my grandfather in any way, nor anybody else for that matter. I was only kind of trying out a holding pattern, you might say, for the plot in my book. By the way, the working title is "Music to my ears" and it's set partly in England, partly in Florida."

Standing there in her lime green dress, not only did she look like a goddess, but like a mysterious combination of innocent child bride and braggart super model all in one, thought Skittles. Humble and powerful at the same time, and somehow operatic. You could never predict when she'd break out into another aria. He still wished he could get her to spit out something a bit more informative, though.

"All I did," continued Diana, "was to put the sausages on the grill. I asked grandpa to keep an eye on them for me, and to watch Bumblebee's reaction when he came out with the drinks. The sausages weren't on the menu, you see. If things went really perfect, I was also hoping that they'd pop out of their skin at just the right moment. In my book, there are explosives involved, but of course I couldn't take my real life experiment that far. Analyze the remains if you will, you'll find nothing extraordinary about the sausages! But of course it was still stupid of me not to think of the fire hazard, on a day like this, and with grandpa not able to rise from his chair on his own. But he had his alarm, you know, and I didn't expect him to faint, and I was really expecting B to come out much sooner. And then when I got upstairs to my room, I saw from my window that Adam had arrived, too – that is, I saw his car parked in front of the house. But then he left again, I watched him drive off rather in a hurry. But then he came back. Has he given you any explanation for that yet?"