• The Opera Lively Serial Novel Project - Chapter 6

    Chapter 6

    Linda Freeman took a slow deep breath to relax her body and steady her nerves. Funny, she thought, how even after all her time on stage she could still get butterflies waiting to go on. The butterflies would be replaced with exhilaration, she knew, as soon as she stepped onstage. Or at least they normally would have, had it not been such a sad time for the opera world.

    She felt on edge ever since she caught wind of the ‘accidents’. When the official reports went public a few days ago they all gave the same spiel. ‘A tragic accident’, ‘the details couldn’t be released’, or it was ‘still under investigation’, and perhaps the public believed that, but despite its international reach the opera community is tightly knit and much more sinister accounts were being spread through the ranks. The news of the deaths rocked Linda; these were people she knew, people she worked with. One of the singers, Amelia, was a dear friend of hers. She couldn’t quite believe there was foul play--who would want to murder Amelia?--but something Amelia had confided in her just before her death had Linda frightened. She hoped she would feel better after her meeting with Detective Lindstrom.

    However that wasn’t all that kept her tightly coiled these days; there was also her increasingly fixated secret admirer, the one fan who seemed to always know where she was. She received flowers every day now, even delivered to her hotel rooms, the whereabouts of which should not be common knowledge. She was always too frightened to stay after she’d get the flowers, so she was constantly switching hotels. Following her from country to country it was always the same arrangement of flowers, a dozen white roses with one red rose in the center all tied with a black bow and a small card that simply said ‘your special admirer’. Except tonight, tonight she didn’t get any, which almost had her more frightened like a sudden change in the weather that signals a terrible storm.

    It wasn’t unusual for an opera singer to have secret admirers but this one was different, this one had her constantly looking over her shoulder, always feeling eyes on her even when she was alone. The only place she felt safe anymore was the stage. Linda had to think about something else. She could feel her throat tightening from her anxiety.

    She continued her breathing exercises, making sure her throat carried no tension. Then she mentally walked through all the stage blocking again. She, Blondchen, Belmonte, and Pedrillo were to make their escape attempt in total darkness with nothing but foot stamping and some sparse dialogue to move the story along. The escape scene always presented a challenge for directors since there wasn’t any music written for it, so Linda saw this as a tidy solution. ‘Just have to finish this last performance and then I’ll be free on my wonderful private vacation.’ She reminded herself of that while she waited on the platform by the window she would climb out of.

    She had lost count of how many performances of Constanza she’d given. She regretted having to retire the role, especially since it had become her calling card, but she needed to move on and her voice was quickly changing due to the pregnancy. Constanza wasn’t as easy to sing as she once was, and now with the baby on the way who knows where her voice will take her. Linda put her hands on her stomach, just a hint of a bump, and her thoughts drifted to the baby’s father. Her throat tightened again.

    No sooner said than done, on the stroke
    of midnight the brave knight was there;
    Gently she gave him her white hand,
    Next morning her cell was found to be empty;
    She was gone, up and away!


    Shaking off all other thought Linda gladly became Constanza once more and peered around as if it was difficult to see the two men below.

    She's opening up, Sir, she's opening up!

    Pedrillo placed a ladder under the window and held it steady as Linda climbed down. She ran to Belmonte and embraced him, clinging to him, before delivering her line.

    How anxiously my heart is beating! If only we can escape safely.

    Next came Blondchen and then the lights went out leaving the entire theater plunged into darkness. They stamped their feet to indicate escape and Blondchen screamed. Osmin had found them.

    As the bass projected his lines to the dark void where the audience was, she and Blondchen made their way off stage, but something stopped her. Linda felt someone’s breath on the back of her neck and a tug on her sleeve. Before she could remember who was where, a hand clamped a thick cloth down over her mouth while another came down around her waist. She kicked and stretched reaching for her colleagues; help was just a few feet away but it may as well have been miles. She felt as though her ribs would break. The assailant picked her up so her feet couldn’t touch the floor. She struggled silently but whoever had her was far too strong. The cloth smelled of chemicals, Linda realized as she tried feebly once more to escape; she was getting a strange numbing sensation in her fingers and her limbs felt heavy. Panicked she tore one of the elaborate hair pins from her wig and jabbed at the stranger before at last falling unconscious. Several minutes later the lights came back on.

    My Lord, the most scandalous treachery in your palace?

    Treachery?

    The fine architect has abducted your lovely Constanza.


    Osmin gestured towards the spot where Constanza was to be led in by guards and waited. Nothing. Strange, he thought, Linda never misses her cue.

    ---------------

    “Detective Lindstrom here.”

    “Yes, hello Detective. My name is Susan Parker, I’m Miss Freeman’s manager.” The manager’s voice cracked.

    “Yes I remember. Are you calling about our meeting? Does she need to reschedule? I would really like to speak with her as soon as possible.” Karen didn’t like the tone of this manager’s voice; something was wrong.

    “Well…that’s why I’m calling. It hasn’t been officially announced yet but…Linda was taken.”

    “What?”

    “They told me they think there was a struggle because they found her hair pin on stage, the last place anyone saw her, and…it was bloody.”

    The detective took a deep breath and released it very slowly.

    “So she’s still alive? Was there a note or anything else at all?”

    “The detective I spoke to would barely talk to me, he was so flippant! It was like he didn’t care!” She sounded close to tears.

    “Ms. Parker take a deep breath, I need your help, ok? Now what opera was it, in English please?” Her sense of dread was almost palpable and she grimly knew a change in the pattern didn’t bode well. Was this kidnapping linked to the murders or were there two parties preying on opera singers now? This can’t be coincidence, she thought.

    ---------

    Detective Risi smothered a laugh as his fellow investigator loudly slurped down his pasta. He was glad to be out of that stuffy office. After hours of setting up interviews, tossing around theories, and endless calls the three detectives set out despite the hour to get a much needed meal. They found a nice Italian place that was still busy, where they continued their discussion.

    “So in this song they realize they’re brother and sister and they still want to get married?” Green asked, mouth full, shaking his head.

    Detective Green was a bit rough around the edges, Risi mused, but at least he was trying. He glanced at Lindstrom hoping she would save him from this conversation soon. She had excused herself to take a call and was looking quite agitated as she made her way to the table.

    “Things just got more complicated.” She sighed, glancing at the two men.

    “Well what happened now?” Green leaned forward, lowering his voice as Lindstrom took her seat.

    “Linda Freeman, another opera singer of course, and possibly the only person with any idea why Amelia Wells was targeted has been kidnapped. In fact she was taken during a performance, right from the stage. I can’t believe it. She was going to meet me tomorrow. She said she had something to tell me about Amelia among other things.”

    “Wait! Linda Freeman? What opera was it?” Risi asked. Green rolled his eyes; of course Risi would know who she was.

    “The Abduction from the Seraglio. I’m going to meet with her manager right now. Tomorrow I’m going to try to speak with the lead investigator. You two are welcome to come along of course. From what the manager said this man won’t be very accommodating.” God knows I could use the help, she 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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