• The Opera Lively Serial Novel Project - Chapter 2

    Chapter 2

    Judging from the general manager's explanations, this was a terrible accident that could not possibly have happened. Detective Green listened with great patience. Evidently, all imaginable precautions were taken, and the idea was so ridiculous that no precautions would even have been needed. The Rorschach-blot shaped stain of blood on the stage floor in front of them was a reminder that something had happened.

    Green changed the subject, or so he thought. "You say she jumped from there?" He pointed up at the top of the oddly skewed tower. "Wouldn't that be dangerous?"

    "Absolutely ridiculous! We have endless safety precautions. That fuss she raised today, well, you know how temperamental great artists are." Detective Green nodded companionably. He was a good listener, as several murderers could have attested. The general manager's voice trembled as he went on. "It was a dream team. The finest Tosca, Scarpia, Cavaradossi, any opera house could have assembled. That's why they chose us for the Opera Goes to the Movies broadcast. We may be a regional company, but our productions are world-class."

    His voice trembled even more. "And it's next Saturday! What am I going to do?"

    Green didn't particularly care what the general manager was going to do. He had a firing squad to interview.

    By the time he was halfway through with the firing squad, he was feeling rather depressed about the future of America, if it lay in the hands of kids like these. College kids seemed to get younger every year, he'd noticed, and, to be fair, people don't show to their best advantage when they know that they've just killed someone famous--this Marcello seemed to have been famous.

    His partner poked her head around the door. "Time to bring the next one in, Joe?" He nodded.

    The next one was named Zach, and he was an extremely unprepossessing specimen, with thick glasses and pimples sprouting from between the hairs of an extremely sparse attempt at a beard. He probably didn't usually bite his nails, but he was making an exception this evening.

    "It was Josh's idea. He says he likes theater, and he applied to be a summary this year."

    "A summary?"

    "Someone who just stands around on stage and doesn't sing. They told him they needed a..." Josh gulped. "A firing squad, and he said he could get us--we're in ROTC, so we'd know how to handle guns." He took a deep breath and went on. "And it couldn't have happened!"

    Green had figured out by now that it couldn't have happened. Enough people had told him that.

    "I mean, we loaded them! It was a sealed box of blanks!"

    "After you loaded them, did you march straight onstage?" Green already knew the answer.

    "No sir, we left them there while we got our uniforms on."

    "Did anything unusual happen, before you got on stage?"

    "No sir, but we were a bit confused. You see, we were last minute replacements--I don't know what went wrong. So they told us where to go, and when we were walking up there, Carlos whispered to me, 'Wait a minute, do we know who we're supposed to shoot?' I thought it'd be obvious, or they'd have told us, but I asked a guy we ran into in the hall. He sort of smirked, and said 'Shoot the girl. The opera's named Tosca, and she's Tosca.' And as soon as we got down the hall, Josh whispered that he must have been kidding, we were supposed to shoot the guy."

    Zach's face filled with sudden irrational horror. "Did we shoot the right person?"

    "I don't know," Green said. "I don't know opera either."

    With many more interviews to go, Green felt a sudden desire to stretch his legs for a moment. Down the hallway to the corner and back should get the blood flowing to his brain again. Halfway down the hall, he leaned over and picked up a photograph--a picture of a man, slightly pudgy for his elaborately epauletted uniform, his hand tucked inside his jacket like someone saying the Pledge of Allegiance on a cold day. He shrugged. "Probably costume design for one of their shows," he thought.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Opera Lively Serial Novel Project started by Amfortas View original post

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