A 2nd Street Playhouse Mystery, Thin, Red and Deadly (1)©

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Retired Detective Quinn Moosebroker set down his paint brush and palette as he noticed it was time to get ready for the play. His well meaning daughter, Kate, had arranged for him to take the widow Mrs. Atwwod to a play tonight. She means well, he thought. But felt very unsure if this was a good idea.

A knock at the door of his studio told him that he was pushing the hour too closely and he must hurry to get ready. He turned and walked away from his afternoon in Venice to see Kate in the doorway standing there with a perturbed look on her face. She had assumed the role of his protector, even though it was unclear to him what he needed protecting from.

Quinn stepped through the door patting his daughter on the shoulders with his thick hands and gave her a smile of appreciation. He was a large man and some labeled him dimwitted because he spoke so little.

In his room his blue suit was waiting on the bed. Quinn scratched the back of his head. This was a local play at the 2nd Street Playhouse Mystery Theater. Why the suit? Then he remembered Mrs. Atwood. He frowned then pushed the thoughts aside.

He dressed quickly and as he was leaving he gave Kate a kiss on the cheek.

She called, “Have fun tonight. And don’t solve the mystery of the play and tell Betty the ending before the end of the second act.” She returned to her room to finish getting ready for her date.

He had heard that Blake Knightly the owner of the local bookshop was the playwright. Quinn had met Blake when he first moved to Clearview Terrace from the city. Quinn was pleased that there was a constant supply of new titles at Blake’s shop. Quinn would visit because he was allowed to smoke his pipe and talk about books and writing and even art. Blake even kept a bottle in his lower desk drawer for such occasions if they occurred late in the evening.

The theater group was made up of a dozen or so locals. They were mostly older creative types filing in the boredom of their daily existence. The theater drew the attention of some of the younger crowd for exactly for the same reason. There were opportunities for tech types for sound and lighting. An apprentice carpenter could learn a great deal in a hurry putting together the demands of the stage settings. Millie and Brad would go on hunting trips into the city to scout thrift stores for items for costumes and were very good at finding unique items.

Millie ran the coffee shop and Brad was the local photographer who was known to take discrete boudoir photographs using the theater stage props for his clients.

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Detective Moosebroker swung open the double doors of his one car garage. His heart always skipped a beat when seeing his partially repaired 1946 Chrysler Town and Country, affectionately known as a Woody. Kate’s emergency dried up the restoration fund but he was very pleased with the interior. The exterior received many compliments but he had plans and those plans were set aside. He put the key in the ignition and listened to the purr of the engine. He shifted the lever on the column into first gear and drove out of the garage, braked, turned off the ignition and closed the garage doors. He found pleasure in taking the car from the garage. It’s the little things – he told himself.

He pulled out onto Maple Ave towards Mrs. Atwood. He reminded himself to address her as Betty rather than Mrs. Atwood. They had agreed to begin the evening early with coffee at Millie’s Café a couple of blocks from the 2nd Street Playhouse Mystery Theater. They would look through the windows as they walked the Antique and Artist District from the Café.

His mind drifted to the Cobalt blue oil paint he was using for the cannels of Venice and the pleasant afternoons spent there with his wife years ago. He pulled to the curb and listened for the curb finder. Climbing out he grabbed a rag from under the seat and ran it over the chrome of the side mirror, stooped, straightened his tie and tossed the rag back under the seat.

Mrs. Atwood, Betty was sitting on the edge of her sofa. Her new Shamrock green dress made her feel young. This is the first time she had been out with a man since her husband of twenty-five passed away. She had been ready for an anxious hour.

Quinn walked up the flower lined walk. He thought that he needed to talk to his daughter Kate. He had let his arm be twisted but thought, Just this once.

Quinn noted the cosmos that lined the walk were color matched on both sides of the brick walk. By the time he made it to the door he had a warm feeling. Feeling like a fourteen year old he knocked on the door. Betty took a quick deep breath and opened the front door.

“Hello Mrs. ah, Betty. Hello, Betty.” Quinn managed.

“Hello,” Betty said, extending her hand for a handshake.

So far so good; they both thought simultaneously.

“Oh my word; would you look at that car.” The words escaped her lips before she could properly formulate the thought. “My George liked old cars. Sometime let me show you his 1960 MG. He loved that car. He would reach over the door and strike a match on the asphalt to light his cigar. Man had burn holes in all his shirts. He was never happier than when driving that car.”

Quinn immediately liked George. “Yes, I would like to see it.” He opened the door of the passenger side and watched her sit and arrange her dress out of the way. Then he closed the door.

Quinn and Betty arrived and parked in the parking lot near the round-about where four gray haired men with ponytails had their band equipment arranged and where playing an old Seals and Croft tune to the crowd that was milling about at the evenings farmers market gathering.

As they approached the café Quinn witnessed a fierce right slap to the face of a middle aged man from a young woman in the doorway. The man turned rubbing the side of his face and walked directly across the street toward the theater while the woman grabbed a hanky from her clutch purse and cried into it as she rushed away in the opposite direction.

Betty waited for Quinn to open the door for her as they entered the café. Quinn made note of the description of the young woman and the middle aged man. Quinn made note of lots of little details.

Source

Mary Helen rushed through the cast entrance door and to the dressing room. She was thrilled to find one of the makeup tables free. She hurriedly slipped off her shirt and skirt and sat before the makeup mirror and began getting into the character of Morgan the Art Gallery owner. The imperceptible click of a hidden camera recorded her actions once every two minutes.

Gladys a local hairdresser rushed in, “Oh, hi Mary.” She quickly took off her shirt and hung it on a hook behind the door. She grabbed a full length dress which served as her costume and slipped it over her head. She hiked up the skirt portion and shimmied out of her pants.

“Hi Gladys, I’ll be done in a minute.” She gave her ‘face’ a good look and then stood and walked away from the mirror.

“Can you zip me?” Gladys asked then sat quickly, and began her makeup. Once Millie arrived the chair would be taken until minutes before the performance began.


to be continued.....

54 comments

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Woot...woot! I came back to HP to listen to Wild Horses and cry...now, I am grinning like a Cheshire cat and singing Diamond Girl...to myself, of course!

Mike Friedman strikes again as he begins an intriguing tale of another small town...with a whole different agenda, that's for sure...

Oh my, I must come back often...oh, get ready Millie...let's start with a menu...! So far, I love everyone...except, that Brad might need a little redirection...let's see what Mary Helen is "made up" of...Kate sounds like I would be with my parents...what a darling!

Thank you for turning me from sad to silly in less than three hours, Mike. You da man...oh, when is the voting for this year's Hubbies? I am feeling another Best Fiction writer in my ones for you, sir!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Actually I am feeling it in my BONES...thank you, Mr IPad. LOL


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I have a feeling that this is going to be a great story, a little romance plus some mystery. The theater gathering is intriguing. I like Quinn already. Wonderful writing Mike. See you next time.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Why do i feel like a turncoat? So happy that you've started another series, yet, missing Em..Hee


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

“.... don’t solve the mystery of the play and tell... the ending before the end of the second act.”

It is so easy for us writers to do exactly this. So, best plays (and stories) in my book are those with endings I was not able to predict.

I have a gut feeling that this story is going to surprise me.

BTW, dim-witted guys are such a challenge, forcing a woman’s 6th sense into first gear. Thanks to dim-witted guys I have learned how to read minds :)

Thanks, Mck, for an enjoyable read. Your excellent characterization, descriptions and writing style deserve a ‘bravo’.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello mar and welcome to A 2nd Street Playhouse Mystery. We shall certainly see what goes on with this lot. I better start making notes of who-is-who and pretty darn quick. I notice you found Millie's Cafe right off. But of course there could be special tea served there. I am going to try to keep this fun. My dark side wants to burst onto the scene. lol

Thanks for buying a ticket.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Ruby. I figured that I had better not end one series and not have anything up my sleeve for those that stop by for a little fun, intrigue and maybe a pot of coffee. This is my first attempt at several different genres all at once and it could be a disaster. We will certanly see.

Thanks for buying a ticket.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Martie. Thank you. That mind reading stuff can be dangerous. From time to time I attempt that and it has not always turned out well. Let me tell you about the time....oh wait, I might be able to use that later in the story. lol I appreciate seeing you here. I know I have published a few hubs in a very short time. Now, I have to go into the garage and find some reference material to help guide me through this story that I have gotten myself into.

Let me escort you to your seat near the front.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Awesome!!! We have a new story from Mike. I love the characters and the plot so far. Looks like it will be a good one.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

I'm wondering what significance the aruguing couple play in this. I'm sure I'll find out!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Thanks Becky. I like the start, we shall see if I cab carry this story anywhere. The goal is 121 episodes...no, no, no that is not the goal.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello bravewarrior, good eye. You certainly will find out. Thanks for stopping by.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

OMG...I love your writing style Mike! Enjoyed this story so much and can't wait for what is to follow. Voted up and more and will share. Read all the comments and see that I have plenty of company. Thanks Mike.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Audrey, thank you so much. I am pushing my limits fairly hard here. I hope that it does not show. This will be much different than anything I have tried here before. Thanks for the compliment, that is much appreciated. I always enjoy your visits.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

When you sell the screenplay, Mike, I can see Tom Hanks in the part of Quinn. Whatcha think?


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello drbj, I like the way you think. Thank you very much. I may have to follow Tom Hanks on Twitter just to gain the inside track.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Oooh, this sounds as if there might be some characters with a darker type nature included, with the subtle clicking of the hidden camera... I like the romance and the discomfort of someone reentering the dating game, the detective and gentleman aspect, the hidden agenda behind the slap and the theatre setting. Great to find a new beginning after a rather somber conclusion to the old EWC. I'm in for a nice piece of pie and some coffee please. Here are some quarters for the juke box. The price of inflation is worth it.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

"..... this story I got myself into...."

I know exactly how you feel. Lol. Personally I love this kind of adventure.... a story is a wild horse.... what a challenge to stay intact on its back.....

Good luck!

I will behave myself in the front seat. Promise.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Peg, yes, I have opened the door to a bit of the darker side while at the same time remembering who will stop by to read. So look out we may have wondered into rated PG territory. Grab a chair, I'll get that coffee and generous slice of fresh pie. The jukebox is over by the window and you will be surprised what hits are there to entertain.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Martie, I just recently discovered what an accomplished writer you are. So I will listen to your words of wisdom. Heck the story is wide open, there may be room for a wild horse. Or a villain named Horse. Who knows? Certainly not me. Thanks for coming back.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 3 years ago from Great Britain

Can t wait for next episode........


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Dim. Let me get you a nice seat. Thanks for coming to the opening.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

May I pick my seat.....oh Mike, I mean may I sit next to my Sista, Martie...we should probably keep each other in check!

Peg, will you join us...after our pie and tea, of course?!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Good morning mar. Select the seat of your choice. Security has been advised to watch you are Martie. :)

Have some more tea.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and interesting and looking forward to more. Love the name of the detective. Passing this on.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Gypsy, I was in the back painting a plywood art gallery, or I would have been here sooner. Thanks for buying a ticket. I hope to make this fun.


wayne barrett profile image

wayne barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

Very good! You have me interested.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Stopping in for some mint iced tea...such a hot day.

Thinking of the cast and looking forward to the show...

Keep cool y'all...Hugs, mar


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Hi mar, mck, and other friends that may pop in. Thought I would stop in to see what's up. We are having a really noisy thunderstorm right now. The rain is pouring down. Hope y'all are having a great day.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Wayne - thanks. Good to see you.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello mar - mint iced tea it is. It was very hot here today. I slept most of the day. Not like me at all.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hi Becky so you have all the reain. It sure is not raining here in the west. Noisy thunder storms, I hope the pup is doing ok with that.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Rufus was under the bed with the first crack of thunder. It is barely high enough for him to slide under. He has to slide under it because it is too low for him to get under any other way. Dennis is sure he is going to get stuck under there someday and we are going to have to lift the bed to get him out. He started out when the thunder was over, and I just got hold of his legs and slid him out. Wood floors are nice and slick.

Rodger told me it rained in Kingman last night when he called. Az is in their monsoon season.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Becky. I see I am asleep at the comment wheel. So sorry. Rufus is a smart dog. Duck for cover at the first sign of trouble. I here the same thing from Arizona. It is still raining. We are hearing of flash flood warnings in the high desert in the next county over. They say it has been raining for days.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

I can see this new story is going to have a bit of everything, romance, intrigue and mystery. A doting daughter, arguing couples and clicking cameras.

A great first part that has me waiting to read the next.

Let me guess the poster was done by y... love it

Awesome write Mike.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Rosemay I think you are right there will be a bit of everything. This is all experimental, I have no idea where this leads. I admit I did the poster. Rosemay it is really good to see you.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

How did I miss this? I am glad to read the first one in this series. This is going to be another great series, Mike. I enjoyed reading this and the second one. I'm glad I'm caught up! Thanks for your creativity and wonderful writing.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

hello suzettenaples. And thank you. I am nervous about this story. In the last story the characters just sat around and drank coffee and ate pastry. lol I appreciate your visit.

I have been catching u with your stories here at the hub. I am just a few behind now.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

I'm so sorry I'm late. This summer has been nutty and has taken up too much of my time. How wonderful to return and see a mystery from Mike! I am drawn to the characters, and liked Quinn instantly. There is something afoot in Poirot fashion. It’s in the air ; we can almost taste it, beginning with a couple of incidents. The slap in front of the cafe; the camera clicks and the musical chairs. I’m hooked. I’ll be back tomorrow to read the new chapters. :-) Up +++.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Genna, you are always welcome what ever time you arrive. Everyone seems very busy this summer. The sunshine seems to be a big attraction. This is my first attempt at a mystery. We shall see how it goes. Thanks for the visit, let me show you to your seat.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

We have had much cooler temps than is customary for August. No need for any air conditioning, and I’ve even worn a hoodies when outdoors many evenings. So unusual, but we are grateful. Hubby is pessimistically cautious. He thinks this is the lovely lull before hurricane season pays its final call. I said it might be an apology from Mother Nature for what she did to us last year. (Between nor’easters and hurricanes, we had five bad storms from August to December.) He reminded me that Mother Nature doesn’t send flowers.

Anywho, Mike, I hope you and everyone are enjoying their summer. Now I’m off to read the second installment of your wonderful story.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Genna. Here in So Cal we have had two 'light' winters in a row. I am bracing for a big heavy winter. We do not have a hurricane season, though some winters you could not tell that by watching the trees fall down from the soaked earth. Every time we have multiple days of rain that happens.

Thanks for the compliment.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

I read part two without reading part one. I should have read serially, however, I was following the link on social media and read the one that appeared on my stream.

I loved the characters and setting. I'm sure this is going to be a great series.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Vinaya thanks for joining us. I have finished part four, so you are not that far behind. I appreciate you stopping by.


Kimmie Thompson profile image

Kimmie Thompson 3 years ago

Hi Mike,

A little behind oh heck a lot behind but will catch up in time. I am so excited to see you are writing another wonderful series. The story line looks amazing and I look forward to the next chapter. Great start for sure.

See you soon,

Kimmie


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Kimmie!!!!!! Wonderful to see you here. This is going to be a quick 10 or 11 part series.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Yay--I am so glad to see that you have another series!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello Audrey. Yes, I am sitting here thinking about episode 11. I hope you enjoy the series. It is my first attempt at a mystery. Thanks for the visit, I appreciate it.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

Beautiful mckbirdbks. As you say, 'it's the detail that counts', and you had me at the column gear lever and curb finder.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello John. I think the only reason these stories work at all is in the little added details that we all remember but never give any thought to. Thanks for the visit. I understand it is getting cold there, winter is seattling in.


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 2 years ago from Canada

This is going to be good! So excited to be here at long last. I am enjoying the story and impressed with the pictures you paint of the characters and the scenes. Regards, snakeslane


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello snakeslane. So very good to see you out-and-about. I think reading this without the weekly delays is the best way to go. I hope you enjoyed this episode.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Hi Mike - Came back for a quick review and to share on FB! Fabulous episode my friend. ~ Audrey


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas Author

Hello my friend. This is the first episode of what now has run to 20 episodes covering two mysteries. Thank you so much for your continued support. I hope your Valentine's Day was special.

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