Sunday, June 17, 2018

How To Stay Inspired

Washington Irving says Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them.

Put differently, The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. - Eric Hoffer

And as John Ruskin puts it, The highest reward for a persons toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it?” 

In relation to creative endeavors according to Aristotle, it must be remembered that The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

The hardest part of writing is not the conception of a story but the presentation of the story to readers. While it isnt effortless to conceive an ideathough writers are generally blessed with a fertile imagination, which, in a way, is what distinguishes a creative mind from a non-creative onepresenting a story to readers in a way that makes sense to them as it does in your head, in terms of characterization, style, and plot is not easy at all.

Illusion, Voltaire says, is the first of all pleasures.” But thats not all. It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.” 

Herbert Read, of course, agrees with that. The modern work of art, as I have said, is a symbol,he says. 

To send light into the darkness of mens heart - such is the duty of the artist, Robert Schumann adds. 

Henri Matisse acknowledges, however, that Creativity takes courage.” 

If you try, you risk failure. If you dont, you ensure it,” chimes in an anonymous voice. 

Elizabeth Bowen explains that its important because Art is one thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting. 

The purpose of a writer,” after all, is to keep civilization from destroying itself,” says Albert Camus.

Which might explain why Buddha says that Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely. 

But what about books? Can reading books, by any chance, be considered living wisely? Cassandra Clare seems to have a unique take on books. One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”  

And sometimes, so do critics. But...
You cant let praise or criticism get to you. Its a weakness to get caught up in either one,John Wooden warns.

The pleasure of criticizing takes away from us the pleasure of being moved by some very fine things.” Jean de La Bruy√®re. 

Remember the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

Also, remember...

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” - Aristotle.

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Romantic Thriller


Revised Edition 


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In less than an hour, an innocent girl's dream goes bust, a delicate, interracial marriage teeters on the edge of the abyss, a time-honored friendship shatters, and a family implodes on account of one man's crazy and senseless attachment to a custom that seeks to determine who should be married  and to whom...

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Book Excerpt

The black SUV nosed its way through the evening traffic at Lemon Grove, heading out to Santee at a steady speed. Jessica, ensconced in the backseat, her head resting on Femi’s shoulder, looked up and her eyes lit up with recognition.
She patted Femi on the knee. “We are pretty close now.”
“Yeah, Lemon Grove is the halfway point,” she explained. “We should be about 14 minutes from Santee now.”
“Good,” he breathed, turning a smiling face towards her. “I guess the cab was worth it then.”
“Thanks to VenChemical, wouldn’t you say?” She teased him. “I hope they won’t mind the expense though.”
“Bastards!” He mouthed, averting his gaze.
Jessica squeezed his hand, ignoring the outburst. “If it wasn’t for their money, you know, we’d be taking the 992 bus into downtown San Diego and then changing to ‘the trolley.’
If it wasn’t for their money, we’d not be coming to San Diego in the first place, he mused, but said instead, “What’s ‘the trolley’?”
“Oh, it’s what we call our light rail electric train, the Green line goes out to Santee.”
“I see,” he nodded and turned his gaze back to the road.
The decision to visit San Diego, like most of the choices they’d made as a couple, was a spur-of-the-moment one. And it was made on their last night in New York.
“Seeing as we are already here in the states,” Jessica had said. “How about we make a quick trip to San Diego to see my parents before going on this mission for VenChemical? I mean, we have their credit card, we might as well get something out of it in case it doesn’t work out.”

They were sitting in the elegant cocktail bar of their deluxe hotel, sipping white wine, ogling each other, and evaluating their options. Femi pondered the proposal with a pseudo calm, his head inclined. “I think they’ve already set up that lousy meeting with the minister.”
“I understand that,” Jessica swallowed, studying him. “I was considering of a flying visit, maybe just a day,” she shrugged. “I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to see my dad and mom again.”
It wasn’t the soft tone of her voice, it was the directness of the argument that struck a sensitive chord with Femi. If they went to Lagos, he mused, he’d take her to visit his parents, so it seemed fair for him to make out the time to meet her parents while they were still here. He looked up and grinned. “Yeah, I guess a flying visit will be better than not seeing them at all.”
A smile lit Jessica’s face. She sipped her wine and winked at him. “Okay, I’ll call them.”
Her family home was a three-room fully detached house on two levels consisting of a small, pie-shaped front yard, a remodeled entrance hall, a living room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms with a window, a small laundry room, and a wide, well-tended backyard. It sat in a quiet cul-de-sac neighborhood of Santee right in the middle of the hills.
That evening, her parents—Liam and Melissa Rhodes—were standing in the front yard of their home, surveying the lane when the black SUV pulled into their driveway. Until that cheery telephone call from New York, they had no idea their only daughter was even in the United States. They had figured she was still in Monaco on honeymoon. This visit, therefore, was both a surprise and a delight.

Liam watched the car with suppressed excitement and then turned to his wife with a sardonic smile. “I suppose we have an authentic Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner situation on our hands, eh!”
Melissa frowned. “Let’s be civil, Liam, we don’t know him yet.”
“That’s what I’m saying, we don’t know him at all.”
“I said ‘yet.’”
Her husband shrugged. “He’s the reason she abandoned San Diego State University and opted for a European degree instead,” he mouthed. “He’d better be worth it.”
Melissa opened her mouth to speak but before she could do so she saw the car door fly open before the driver killed the engine, and from the corner of her eye, noticed her daughter jumping out with a wide grin and running towards her.
“Mom,” Jessica cried, wrapping her arms around her.
“My girl!” Melissa grabbed her in a bear hug. As she raised her hand to push a strand of hair from her daughter’s face, the petite cracker detached herself from the embrace and jumped into her father’s arms, causing general laughter.
“Princess!” Liam cooed. “My little princess.”
“Daddy!” She cried, delighting her parents with her childlike giggle. It was as if time had suddenly stopped and spun backward.  

Inside the car, Femi stroked his goatee and stared at them in both amusement and uncertainty, unsure how he might fit into such a picture-perfect family image. For a moment, indecision clouded his vision, and then, exhaling, he opened the car door and stepped out with some care.
On the threshold, Liam, his arm around his daughter, the remains of the smile still on his face, turned his head, training a pair of narrowed, dark-brown eyes on the tall, slim figure walking towards them.
Femi stopped in front of the trio, a look of emotion creasing his face.
“Dad, mom,” Jessica beamed. “This is Femi, my husband.” She held her breath, and in the brief silence that trailed the introduction, said in a voice imbued with contrition, “I know this might appear unorthodox and eccentric and I know I should have given you guys a heads-up about the marriage. I’m sorry,” she breathed. “It’s just that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.”
She swallowed, her eyes dancing, her pulse quickening. Somehow, it didn’t sound right even in her ears. “Listen, I understand how crazy that might sound but I assure you the decision wasn’t prompted by a sudden whim. I mean, we weren’t just being silly. The truth is, when we met in that college atmosphere, both of us being foreigners and all, and able to hold a conversation beyond the usual Italian talking point, the experience created a very special bond between us, the friendship, the complicity, and the shared interests made it really magical, so during the graduation process, we decided to transform our love story into a memorable event, after all, we’d already been together for two years.”
Her parents, momentarily rendered speechless by the curious back-story which, at face value seemed too flimsy to clear up the madness, exchanged glances.
Jessica’s gaze, at last, came to rest on her husband’s face. “Femi,” she cooed, “Meet my dad, Liam and my mom, Melissa.”
“Hello, sir,” Femi, noticeably flustered, darted a quick glance at his father-in-law—a short, portly man—before turning his gaze to the rotund, matronly figure beside him as he received a look of careful appraisal. “Ma’am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Before Liam could react, a smiling Melissa stepped forward. “Hello Femi,” she said in a soft, casual voice, ignoring the outstretched hand. “Welcome. You know you are not photogenic at all,” she breathed, grabbing him in a warm embrace. “You look much better in person.”

Femi smiled. “Thank you.”
“Mom, don’t say it like that,” Jessica cackled. “He’s vain, it’ll go into his head.”
Liam, unable to help himself, gave a short, throaty laugh as Femi turned a goofy smile toward his wife, and then the duo, bubbling over with suppressed amusement, made a face at each other, causing a surprised Melissa to convulse with laughter. It was in that brief visual exchange that Liam sensed, not the chemistry, but the artless spark of friendship between his daughter and the man who made her opt for a European degree.
His hand around his daughter’s shoulder went slack. His body, tense from the moment Femi stepped out of the car, relaxed. He exhaled, and with a little pout, reached out and clasped Femi by the shoulder. “Welcome to the family.” 

Video Book Trailer - Black Gold

“Black Gold is chock-full of lyrical imagery and metaphors. Frequently, the result is beautiful.” 

J.W. George | Author

The language is flowery and evocative. Every scene, every setting, every action, every emotion, is described in luxurious detail, with perhaps more similes than I’ve ever encountered in a single novel.” 
– Dave Saari | Author

“I like the trouble this interracial marriage caused when the couple met Femi’s parents and I enjoy the scenes set in Italy; the author’s knowledge of the country make them believable. He also puts his poetic ability to good use and there are lots of examples of this in the descriptive sections.” 
Rosie Amber | Roses are Amber Book Club

Sunday, April 22, 2018

World Book Day

It's a celebration! A worldwide celebration of books and reading,  designated as such by UNESCO. 

But more than that, World Book daymarked in over 100 countries all over the worldis a celebration of authors - the men and women who inspire, educate, and often, entertain us.  

One of the main highlights of this celebration, aside from book offerings from publishers for distribution to schools, is the sharing of a story. It, therefore, is no surprise that the principal hashtag for this event is #ShareAStory 


     Share a story!

AuthorSuite Blog now shares titbits of conversations with Augustine Sam

On when he first considered himself a writer

I think I first considered myself a writer when my first play for radio was aired on my local radio station. I was in high school at the time and my two sisters and I used to sit by the radio every Thursday evening to listen to the radio plays. One day, I told them I would convert one of my stories into a play and sell it to the radio station. Mercifully, they didn’t dismiss it as an untenable dream. They actually encouraged me to do it.

Back then, while other kids my age kept diaries, I kept piles of notebooks where I wrote short stories mainly for the pleasure of my two sisters who, by the way, were my first real fans. I eventually converted one of my short crime stories into a play and took it to the radio station. The producer of the radio theater, who was used to receiving scripts from Theater Arts students and lecturers from the local university, tried her best to be polite, took the script from me and sent me home.
One week later, I went back to see her, half-expecting to be politely dismissed. I was surprised when she said she had read and enjoyed the script and said I should have left a phone number or a forwarding address. The next Thursday evening, when I sat by the radio and heard the words: “Radio Theater presents The Turning Point, a play for radio written by Augustine Sam,” I was thrilled. I think that’s when I began to consider myself a writer.

On what motivated the story of his debut novel

Interestingly, it was conceived originally as a single chapter in another novel I was working on at the time and it was meant to create a minor distraction for the protagonists based on events of a date night. But for some reason I couldn't write it, the more I thought about it the more the story expanded, slowly detaching itself from the original plot until it became clear to me that the story of my protagonist, Paige Lyman, deserved more than a chapter. As every writer knows, when a story is ready to be told, there's nothing an author can do to stop it. So, I put the other novel on hold and focused instead on the plot development that later became Take Back the Memory.   

On what inspired his mystery/thriller novel

Actually, The Conspiracy of Silence was motivated by a play I wrote for the radio many years ago. It was a 30-minute play about a musician accused of a murder he did not commit. His sister, as it turned out, was the only person who knew he was innocent though the evidence pointed to his culpability, and her desperation to save him became the core of the play. When it was aired, I felt that it was too short to convey the kind of emotion that should naturally accompany a tense plot such as that, so I decided to turn it into a novel and added all the powerful ingredients that I couldn’t put in the radio play.

On what book for him was the easiest to write or the hardest or the most fun

My poetry collection, Flashes of Emotion, was perhaps the easiest to write because of the genre. In my creative mind, poetry comes before prose, so working on that collection was like a homecoming for me. While that was the easiest, Black Gold was the hardest to create because I actually set out to write a short novel out of a rather complex plot and it was difficult to tell the story in its entirety without short-changing the reader. The most fun, without a doubt, was Take Back the Memory, because, funny enough, at every turn there was a woman reading over my shoulders, trying to determine if part of her soul was being stolen for literary narration. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Anatomy of a Plot

A real "wow" Factor   


for Readers' Favorite


The conscience of a town steeped in sexism, vanity, and hypocrisy, is pricked by the brutal murder of a mysterious woman in an L.A. park. But the shock is transformed into a steamy, seductive scandal when the body turns out to be that of the flamboyant First Lady of the state.

Soon, a dazzlingly intricate shuffle of volatile links leads the police to the delicate theory of secret lover/blackmailer, and to the indictment of Benjamin Carlton, Hollywood’s most influential black celebrity.
Then curious things begin to happen when Carlton’s ambitious girlfriend, Rita Spencer suddenly unearths the shocking secret that Susan Whitaker did not, in fact, exist. She little realizes however that her discovery of this colossal fraud is a mere curtain raiser to a chilling world of ugly skeletons dating back to the assassination of a U.S. senator in a Washington hotel sauna, skeletons connected to riveting sex scandals in high places, skeletons the FBI and political kingmakers will kill for… 

“This is definitely one wild ride from start to finish.”
 – Amazon Top 500 Reviewer

What Inspired You to Write this Book?
The Conspiracy of Silence was inspired by a play I wrote for the radio many years ago. It was a short play about an entertainer who was wrongfully accused of murder and the only person alive who knew he did not commit the crime was his sister. Trouble was, she had no way to prove it. When the play was aired, it made quite some wave but I felt that it was too short to convey all the emotion that should naturally accompany a tense plot such as that. So I decided to rebuild the story into a fast-paced mystery/thriller accompanied with an epic courtroom showdown.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters were developed as the plot evolved in my mind. The protagonist, Rita Spencer, was the first character I worked on to replace the entertainer’s sister in the original radio play. I thought it would make for better plot development for her to be his lover, not his sister. Now, here's a young, introverted lawyer who's suddenly thrust into a limelight she dreads because of a murder case which has the potential to be a watershed event in her budding career. The heightened tension followed her awareness that her life, in fact, was also on the line… so, to save him she must first save herself.
The other characters just flowed with the plot.
Book Excerpt / Sample

The dim figure continued to lurk in the dusking patch of tangled shrubbery until he was completely enveloped in darkness. Then he choked and swore and frothed at the mouth and went down on all fours. After a while, he clambered out of the shrubbery like a ghost, picked himself up deftly, and wiped his hand across his brow. He was tall and had an athletic build. His hands were covered with fleeced gloves, his face partially masked by a hood. He had a definite presence in spite of the aura of repulsion that swelled around him like foul breath. For a spell, he stood in death-like silence, in a navy hooded sweatshirt, a pair of matching pants, and black running shoes. His dark brown eyes studied his environment like a bloodhound determined to unearth a misplaced object without losing its sense of smell. 

A short distance away, small cylindrical light bulbs cast an eerie glow over the lush greenery of Glennon Park, capturing its beauty in a halo of kaleidoscopic brilliance. And then a throng of men in fancy tee shirts and short pants intermixed with women in jeans and sleeveless tops whisked into view. The dim figure, hearing their muffled voices over the sound of the fountain’s cascading waters, stiffened. Like him, the fountain stood in a poorly lit area of the park. Surrounded by luxuriant shrubs, it was the place where randy youths prone to exploiting the semi-darkness for romantic mischief loved to loiter.
On this particular night, there were no lovers necking by the fountain, but there was something else. A black diamond Cadillac was parked beside the fountain. The curiously unusual sight caused the dim figure’s hands to shake with excitement. Cars were not allowed that far into the park, so whatever fantasies within the limits of human accomplishment the Cadillac’s driver had conceived, this was the wrong night for it, he mused. This’ll be my last murder, he decided, the climax of a long, enterprising career as the greatest hitman of all time. He was a killer so efficient and so elusive that even the FBI nicknamed him Shadow of Death for his uncanny ability to dissolve into a penumbra after every hit.
The author - Augustine Sam
He immediately recognized the wonderful head of hair and the slender, sensual neck as the lone occupant of the Cadillac appeared in silhouette against the fountain. Suddenly his pulse quickened. He mopped his brow with a handkerchief and contemplated the lady’s mesmerizing beauty. It seemed odd to him now to think of her as a victim. He had loved her once; in fact, he still loved her. And therein lay the quandary—a lethal clash between his obsession and his survival instinct. The survival instinct, of course, must win, he mused; for between them now stood the only thing that love could not subdue—a very dark secret.

The Shadow of Death moved with stealth in the semi-darkness toward the Cadillac, his hands slightly shaking with excitement with every step he took. His only accomplice was his own shadow, perceptible to no eye but his. It seemed innocuous even to him, like a specter, only there to see, not to arbitrate. It moved when the assassin moved and stopped when he did, like a minion with no initiative of its own, an android programmed to repeat the action of its mentor, silently, as only a ghost would; and then saddled thereafter with the damning knowledge of the truth, a truth that would elude the rest of the world—an everlasting witness, a ghost that would never die.
There was deafening silence inside the Cadillac. All around it, darkness closed in as slowly and unfalteringly as the approaching evil. The assassin’s face was impassive, his heartbeat regular, but his muscles were taut as he strained to open the driver’s door with his gloved hand.
She did not see him, could not see him, because she was leaning face downward on the steering wheel.
Gripped by a morbid fascination with death, he stared down at her, the roaring tension inside him silenced by his cold determination. Everything would depend on this moment, this act, he mulled over, darting a quick glance at the fountain. He did not want any interruption and there was none. He reached for her throat silently, swiftly, giving her no chance to react.
There must be no error, he mumbled. His pressure on her throat was fierce. Time, thoughts, fear, regrets, all ceased to exist as an eternity seemed to roll by in a matter of seconds. And then relief flooded his being.
It was over, he almost smiled. It bore the mark of his usual professional touch—smooth, fast, painless, and very peaceful.
* * * *
The Black Paradise—a majestic all-marble edifice on a 30-acre spread—was an imposing waterfront villa on Santa Monica’s prestigious coastal promenade. A figurative sanctuary of the mob, its grounds were dotted with palm trees, outbuildings, a tennis court, and a large swimming pool. An electronic gate fitted with security monitors led up the garden path, revealing a huge courtyard with a well-tended lawn that accentuated the beauty of the elaborate flower garden. The distinguished abode, embellished with a spectacular glass-roofed, sky-lighted attic, boasted two exquisitely furnished living rooms and four bedrooms.
Every so often the waves crashed below, setting off a beautiful pattern of undulatory spectacle that was afoot at the precise moment the Organized Crime Strike Force of the L.A.P.D. swooped down on the villa.
Tailed by television cameras, masked men in riot gear, enraged by the absence of the mob boss, Talbot, kicked his minders out of their way and rammed rifles against locked doors. Then harrowing screams, not utterly unexpected, transformed the midmorning chaos into sheer pandemonium, when the officers, unaware of the three pythons Talbot nursed as pets, stormed a barricaded room. Cacophonous gunfire, accompanying the screams, preceded the unraveling of five officers, who would later be placed in a hospital bed.
* * * *
Frank Talbot returned home at about midnight that day, to the gruesome sight of three dead pythons and a newfangled dynamics in The Black Paradise. After an initial shock at the images that constituted some disturbing footage of the raid—a prime time topper that evening—he regained his composure. Clenched fists, preceded by a sweeping view of the scene, were quickly unclenched. For a man with a volcanic temper that could go off at any moment, he was incredibly composed, to the chagrin of the chief of police, Eason Grove.

“They want me to react,” he mumbled. “The bastards want me to make a false move and I’m not going to.” The mobster, reaching the attic, reclined on his favorite sofa, smoking a fat Havana cigar and drinking Cognac, as a quiet calm settled over his home. A bulky, clean-shaven lawyer in a gray suit and white tie, sat across from him. Neither of them spoke. Stern-faced and methodical, the lawyer neither drank nor smoked; he gazed at the security monitor as the pinkish bulb blinked thrice, and then the electronic gate rolled back, admitting the chief of police into the villa. The blood pulsed through the mobster’s veins at the sight of the police chief in the monitor, accompanied by Brent Greenberger.

“Word of advice, Frank, don’t say anything,” the lawyer rose to his feet. “I’ll do the talking.”
Talbot hunched his shoulders, pointing his fat cigar at the lawyer. “Can’t you see I’m enjoying my Cognac, Steve? Do I look like a guy who’d waste his midnight smoke on a goon like Eason Grove?”
“Good,” the bulky man softened his lips without smiling. His olive green eyes dilated as the mobster sat back, sipped his Cognac and dragged on the fat cigar. His pose, as usual, was snobbish; his dark, wide-nosed face, emphasized by high cheekbones, bore no expression, but the rest of his body, though seemingly relaxed, was discernibly taut.
Talbot’s family, already upset by the afternoon raid, scrambled out of the way of the police chief as he stepped in, sandwiched between two gun-wielding officers. Unfazed by the pandemonium, Grove affixed a scowl to his face, betraying his irritation at the subdued murmurs of the mobster’s family, as he made his way upstairs for the much-anticipated confrontation. Awaiting him in the uneasy silence of the attic, Talbot’s lawyer adjusted his tie, grunting. Beside him, the mobster cast a sideways glance at the security monitor and noticed a welcome activity outside the electronic gate. In the excitement of the moment, no one noticed him depress a button on the tiny remote control in his hand.

And then, as the chief of police, his feet on the elegant Persian rug, started toward the celebrated mobster, his path partially blocked by the lawyer who stood with his back to Talbot, the sudden arrival of a horde of reporters shattered the serenity of the attic. Television cameras and fretful newsmen filled the room, jostling uneasily and noisily, for space, as powerful floodlights suddenly illuminated the fashionable loft of the villa, startling the police.
“What the hell is going on?” Eason Grove muttered in indignation.

The chaos paralyzed the policemen, who stood back in disbelief, gazing at the unfolding drama with wide eyes. Talbot sat calmly, drinking his Cognac and puffing on his cigar, his visage unchanged, his composure amazingly unflappable, as if unaware of the commotion around him. The cameras found him, and for a long time, lingered for a close-up detail of his person the way a child’s tongue lingers on an ice-cream-filled wafer cone. Talbot looked impressive for the camera. He wore an unbuttoned gray housecoat over a blue shirt and a pair of white tennis shorts. His inner thigh hair was long and messy. His feet were bare and his toenails were clean. He was clean-shaven too, with no protruding stomach in sight. He had pronounced lips, mean, dark eyes, and a huge nose that gave him the look of a malevolent primate. At forty-nine, he exuded some kind of brutal sex appeal. The cameras, satisfied, shifted away from him to what should now be the news.
Hovering near the door of the attic, the policemen, stunned by the unexpected media scenario, gaped at their chief like dumb gawks as he stood dumbfounded, unable to make sense of what had just happened. Fists clenched, furrows in his brow, Eason Grove shook his head in anger at the realization that Talbot had outsmarted him once again.

“Son of a bitch,” he muttered, unheard by the reporters. The bastard had apparently called in the press after speaking to him—the usual mob strategy employed to embarrass the police—cheap but always effective. He stormed around the attic, furious at his inability to keep the news media out of the drama.
“Can you tell us what’s going on here, Chief?” The reporters raised their voices above the noise. “Is Mr. Talbot under arrest? If so, what is he accused of?”
Eason Grove raised his hand in unfocused rage. As he tried to shield his eyes from the bright lights, he became aware of a hand shoving a microphone toward him. “What brought you out here at this time of night, Chief?”
“It is morning already.” The reporters roared with laughter.
“Gentlemen please,” Grove stood still. “My presence here does not call for this kind of excitement.”
“You are saying…”
“Listen, I came out here to have a little talk with Mr. Talbot.”
“About what exactly?”
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”
“But why now?”
The chief of police hesitated. He shoved his hands into his pockets, recalling his wife’s tease that he was always found wanting before the camera.
“Well,” he breathed. “Mr. Talbot had been away, as he said, at a charity event, and I had to wait for him to get back, sadly, it turned out to be now.”
“Chief, we learned that you had several officers waiting here for him since mid-day, is that correct?”
“That is correct.”
“Does this have anything to do with the mysterious murder at Glennon Park?”
“What made you say that?”
The reporter grimaced. “The head of your homicide unit said earlier that he would get to the bottom of the murder no matter whose ox was gored and now we find him right there beside you, I’m wondering if there is a connection.”
Like a boxer who had collected a battery of blows, Grove was unsteady on his feet. He stared into the camera and made an unsuccessful attempt to smile. “Mr. Talbot and I are going to discuss a different matter altogether, we haven’t got much time, so if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen, I want to speak privately with him.” He moved away from the spotlight.
The reporters shuffled around the room, exchanging telling glances, but none of them left the attic, to Talbot’s utter satisfaction.
“Damn it,” Grove muttered in a fit of pique, convinced now that his pronouncements and actions at this shady hour would be weighed with remarkable suspicion. He turned his head up like a dog with one ear cocked at the realization that his presence here at this time of the night was nothing short of an unwelcome presage of a media firestorm in the morning.
Awaiting his next move, the hovering reporters gripped their tape recorders eagerly, satisfied that they hadn’t missed their sleep for nothing. Having already got their story, they were now waiting for the nitty-gritty of the encounter—a sort of icing on their already delicious cake. They trained their cameras and recorders at the police chief with unfeigned elation while he planted himself in front of the mobster, flanked by two uniformed officers. They clicked away with enthusiasm as he gestured toward Talbot, who was partially shielded by his husky lawyer.
“Why are you hiding, Frank? Talk to me, damn it,” he roared at the mobster, who tried not to smirk when he noticed that the Chief’s embarrassment had become obvious even to his own officers.
“I have a lawyer, sir; he speaks for me,” Talbot said gallantly, staring at the cameras, not at the Chief.
“A straight question deserves a straight answer, doesn’t it?” Grove gestured, his face distorted by rage.
The mobster’s lawyer, who was still blocking his path, pouted. “So, what’s the question?”
Like one who’d bitten into a sour candy, Grove’s face puckered. “Where were you on Saturday night, Frank, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.?”
“Good Lord!” the lawyer affixed a bogus frown to his placid face. “So this is what it’s all about, the Glennon Park murder?” He sat down and crossed one fat leg over another, gesturing suavely to candy up the reporters for the presentation of his rock-solid alibi. “On Saturday night, between 8.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m., Talbot was at a dinner event in Beverly Hills, hosted in his honor by the board of the L.A. Youth Project, in recognition of his financial contributions to the organization.” The frown on his face deepened as he gazed from Grove to the reporters. “Of course, for an event as important as that, his family, his bodyguards, his workers and business associates, were with him.” He spread his hands in an exaggerated show of surprise. “Is that so difficult for the police to verify?”
“Damn it!” Eason Grove, surprised by the new development, stared incredulously at the lawyer. “This is not over,” he spat.

And then, weary with anger and frustration, he turned abruptly and stormed out of The Black Paradise. The racket that characterized his advent a few minutes ago contrasted with the sobriety that now marked his exit.
The press, to Talbot’s delight, did not leave with him, lingering outside the door of the attic.
“What can I say, gentlemen?” the mobster sat upright, gloating over the police’s inability to link him to the murder. As the waves crashed below, he fielded questions from reporters, telling them what the police chief had held back.
“Obviously, it was the Glennon Park mystery that brought him out here. I have no idea what it is about this Muslim lady that’s getting them excited,” he laughed. “It has nothing to do with me, gentlemen. I’m not their man.”
Calm and collected, he looked away from the cameras, sipped his Cognac and puffed on his fat cigar, ignoring everyone else in the room as if they had all suddenly become invisible. All subsequent questions bounced off him like rubber balls off the wall, neither acknowledged nor answered. The reporters, familiar with his antics, stifled their laughter. When the last of them had gone, the mobster jettisoned his indifference and summoned a meeting of his inner circle.

And the only item on the agenda was Glennon Park. 


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