A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is – full of surprises.
– Isaac Bashevis Singer
As Susan Stuart, the abstract painting’s artist is dead (murdered), Detective Sergeant Fielding and Detective Larry Hutchinson have hauled in her brother Robbie Stuart. Dana Bowman, as usual has wangled her way into this interview held in the boardroom of the Thurston Public Library. The three are sitting around the back of the boardroom table right in front of the abstract painting.
All characters (excluding Mr. Swan) are from the short story collection Beyond The Tripping Point by Sharon A. Crawford (Blue Denim Press, Oct. 2012)
Stuart (looking down at the trio): What’s this? I thought I was coming to see Detective Hutchinson about some wrap-up stuff to my sister’s death.
Hutchinson (pointing to each): Come this way and sit down Mr. Stuart. This is Dana Bowman, one of the PIs who runs The Attic Investigative Agency. And this is Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding who is in charge of the kidnapping of Sebastian Overture, who is Dana’s business partner and also her fraternal twin.
Stuart: So what’s it to do with me?
Hutchinson: First, sit down here.
Stuart shrugs his shoulders, walks to the other end of the room and sits down.
Fielding: Well, first off, this painting behind me was done by your sister Susan…
Stuart: I know that. She did it a couple of years before her death.
Fielding: …and there is this photo. (He shows the photo of Susan, Bast, and Robbie).
Stuart: Yeah, that reporter. He interviewed Susan and I just before she had her art exhibit here. What of it? Oh, I get it. You think I have something to do with his kidnapping.
Fielding: Right now we just want to find out the circumstances surrounding this photo. What exactly did Mr. Overture interview you about?
Stuart: I told you – my sister’s upcoming art show and her artistic talents.
Dana: Oh come on, Mr. Stuart, my brother used to write crime stories, not art stories. So what was he there for?
Stuart: You’re not police. I don’t have to talk to you.
Fielding: Answer the question, Stuart.
Stuart: He asked me about my father.
Dana: You mean Roger Stuart who also disappeared …
Fielding: Dana. I’ll ask the questions.
Dana: Well, ask the right ones. It’s my brother who’s missing. Surely Mr. Stuart can relate to that with his father’s disappearance.
Stuart: Yeah right. My father disappeared many years ago when I was a teenager. He ran off with his secretary and left my mom, sister and myself. It eventually killed my mom.
Hutchinson: Your mother died of cancer.
Stuart (standing): Damn right. And she wouldn’t have gotten it if Dad had stayed with her. And Suzie would still be alive.
Hutchinson: All right. We’ve already covered all this when your sister was murdered. Just answer Detective Fielding’s questions…and Dana Bowman’s too. We just need to know what happened in that interview you and your sister had with Bast Overture.
Stuart: He just asked about Dad disappearing and how it affected us, particularly if that had anything to do with what Suzie drew?
Fielding: And did it?
Stuart: Well, yeah. She painted abstracts because she said she found life, her life, anything but concrete in what happened, so she chose abstracts to show her feelings.
Dana (pointing to the abstract behind her): So, what feelings did Susan show in this painting?
Stuart: I dunno.
Fielding: Come on, come on, you were there when Mr. Overture interviewed your sister. What did he ask you?
Stuart: Just to tell him about Dad’s disappearance.
Fielding: I see. And what did you say about that?
Stuart shrugs his shoulders.
Dana: What can you tell us about the photographer who took this picture?
Stuart: I dunno. He was a photographer – from the newspaper, I guess. He came in midway and took various photos.
Fielding: Anything unusual about him?
Stuart (shrugging his shoulder): I dunno. He’s a photographer. Oh wait a minute. He seemed very interested in Suzie’s painting – that one now up on the wall.
Fielding: In what way?
Stuart: Just what it meant to her – why she painted it?
Fielding: Okay, can you tell us that now?
Stuart: She said it represented a maze – something she felt she lived in because of Dad’s disappearance. Life to her was a maze where people always had to be on high alert for someone coming in and snatching their lives, destroying their lives. If you could figure how to get out of the maze you were home free.
Fielding: And did she say if she knew how to get home free.
Stuart: She said she was working on it.
Fielding: And was that photographer Cory Swan.
Stuart: Yes, that’s him.
Fielding: Was Mr. Swan present when your sister talked about that abstract and mazes.
Stuart: Yes, he was and he seemed very interested. He even stopped shooting photos to listen.
Dana: And yet the photo here doesn’t even show that abstract painting – doesn’t even show any of your sister’s paintings. And why would he take a photo with my brother, who was doing the story interview. Reporters don’t usually put themselves into the story.
Stuart: I don’t know. I’ve never seen that photo before. All I know is the photographer stopped taking photos when Suzie spoke and…wait a minute, he aimed his camera at us, and I guess that’s when he did take that shot.
Dana: Do you know if that photo was the one included in the newspaper story?
Stuart: I don’t think so. The photo was one of Suzie holding up one of her paintings. I still have a copy of the story.
Fielding: Where was it published?
Stuart: The Toronto Herald.
Fielding: Back to the photo. Do you remember which photo your sister was holding up?
Stuart: No, some abstract obviously?
Dana (pointing): Was it this abstract.
Stuart shrugs his shoulders.
The abstract painting starts to vibrate and a loud wailing is heard. It seems to be coming from the abstract painting.
Sharon A. Crawford
You can read more about the characters and their stories in from Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
Sharon A. is teaching Getting Your Memoir off the Ground Workshop, Saturday, February 22, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Details at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html
Also see more of See Sharon A.’s Upcoming Gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html