The Adventures of Sam Sonata - Music Detective
It was a cold evening in Musictown as a Sibelius sunset descended behind a choppy Mendelssohn sea. High above - in my office in a remote corner of Symphony Center - I poured myself a glass of 12 year old Scotch and watched as the people below scurried away to their homes in the suburbs like 32nd-notes in a Mozart concerto. The Scotch hit my gut and gave me that same warm feeling I get when I hear Billie sing the blues or Miles plays his horn.
My name is Sam Sonata and I'm a music detective. I take the cases no one else will and I do it hard and tight like a well-rehearsed musical combo. I cover the opera houses, jazz joints and garages of Musictown like a jewel case on a cd - and I do it good and right like a Bernstein conducting a Mahler symphony. How does one become a music dick? I don't know - I guess it's just something in the blood.
My secretary - a limber brunette with a mouthpiece that wouldn't quit entered the room carrying a recently received news release.
"Sam, I've got bad news," she said in her trembling soprano voice.
"Give it to me straight, Ruby," I said.
"Guided by Voices is calling it quits," she said shakily.
Darkness crashed against my brain like a stormy Beethoven interlude.
"Damn that Bob Pollard," I said and hit the desk with my fist.
"Are you going to be okay, Sam?" she asked as she rubbed my shoulders. "I could stay and--"
"No, no - you go home. I'll be fine." "Well you know - anytime you want me to stay around and listen to some Tony Bennett or something-"
"Ah Ruby baby - when will you be mine?" I muttered under my breath.
"Anytime you want me, anytime you need me--just whistle a happy tune" she replied hopefully - eying my pennywhistle -which had fallen off my desk and onto the floor by feet.
"No. You go home. I have work to do with my files. Goodbye Ruby Tuesday."
"You know very well my name is Thursday," she said petulantly and collecting her coat and hat left the office for home.
"But that's not the song," I said softly and downed my glass of liquid glissando.
The Sarah Vaughn record suddenly ended and I opened my files. Within were records, cassettes, and cds of every known artist or music perpetrator in the business. I dug through the 45s before selecting one - Madonna's "Lucky Star" - a guilty pleasure. Good thing I did.
I heard her before I even saw a glimpse - her stiletto heels echoed staccato down the hallway. I hid behind the door - 45 in hand - as the doorknob turned and she entered.
Tall and blonde - with Debussy blue eyes, gams like two bassoons that didn't quit, and full pouty lips that had played a clarinet or two in her day - she stood in the halflight and spoke in a smoky yet mellifluous voice.
"Help, I need somebody. Not just anybody."
I lowered the 45 and stepped out of the shadows.
"I'm Sam Sonata, Music Detective - what can I do for you, Miss...?"
"Mrs.! Mrs. Musette Littlesong. And you can help me by putting that thing down."
I placed the 45 within easy reach and sat on the corner of the desk, arms folded. The woman stood erect like the caryatid of a goddess - her full curves visible beneath her silk blouse. She looked like she could play a woodwind all night long. Yeah - she looked like she had a lot of wind.
"You can take that baton out of your pocket too, Mr. Sonata," she said with her eyes flashing.
"What baton?" I grinned. "Have a seat."
Her body moved like the Third Movement of Brahms' Fourth - smooth and easy. She arranged her long legs as I watched with the rapt attention of a First Violinist playing for a Mitropoulus at Carnegie Hall.
"So what's the gig?" I asked as she settled in her chair.
"I need a listener," she said in voice dripping with harmonious honey - her eyes lowered. "Are you a good listener?"
"The best." I said and licked my lower lip. "Go on."
"Well - when I was younger, so much younger than today," she began. "I never needed anybody's help in any way."
"Skip the overture - let's get to the theme," I snarled.
"Very well Mr. Sonata, but I must say you have the manners of a Christina Aguilera, or a... Lou Reed."
That stung, but I kept my ears open.
"It's about my daughter, Melody," she continued, - she's gone missing!" Huge sobs burst forth in an aria of wailing.
I poured her a glass of the cheap stuff I keep for clients and patted her shoulder pad.
"How long has your daughter been missing?" I asked.
"I don't know, I don't know," she sobbed in ever-higher registers.
"Tut, tut - you don't even know when your own daughter disappeared?"
"Keep your sarcasm to yourself, Sonata. I'm very busy. I work with a lot of people. I'm an entertainer--"
"I'll bet you are," I sneered.
"Look - I'm desperate. Without my Melody... I don't know if I can go on."
"OK. I understand. You're pretty broken up about the girl. Quit with the sad song. Were there any clues left behind that might tell us where she is?"
"Only this," she said and pulled a toy xylophone out of her purse. Carved into one corner were the initials "N&M."
"Do you know what that means?" she asked.
"I might," I said thoughtfully. "Tell me - was anything missing from her room?"
"Well - she does collect antique string instruments and I thought I noticed one of her favorites was missing, why?"
"So, they got away with the lute," I said thinking out loud. "What about friends?
"She's such and open and friendly girl with everyone - that's why I'm so worried."
"Alright Mrs. Littlesong - I'll take the case."
Her key suddenly changed from minor to major.
"Oh thank you Mr. Sontata!" She stood up and adjusted her hat - which had the wingspan of a Canadian goose.
"Can you come out to my place in Harmony Hills, my husband is currently on tour and I so desperately want you to play my organ. Consider it my Musical Offering."
"I'd be there with bells on, but that would probably slow me down - so I'd better take them off first."
"Are you sure you can you find me?"
"Don't worry - I'll follow the lieder."
She batted her long lashes and turned and strode out of the room - walking to a metronome beat with that slow andante rolling of the hips - leaving me with just a pleasant tune playing over and over in my head.
I smiled and turned off the turntable. Pounding down one last Scotch, I bent over to adjust my sock-garters. Suddenly a dark figure burst out of the closet behind me like a fortissimo double stop, and hit me in the head like a Keith Moon cymbal crash, and I fell into silence and darkness.
I woke up several hours later on the floor of my office with the birds singing outside my window and my head and body feeling like the late, great Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham had played an extended drum solo on me. Climbing to my feet I discovered the xylophone was gone, along with my bottle of good Scotch. This was getting personal.
To Be Continued...
Chapters: Two - Three - Four - Five - Six - Seven - Eight - Nine - Ten
Past, present & future
misguided ramblings of the MusiCurmudgeon
Stroll through the vaults of a diseased mind!
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