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Timing is everything: in music, sex, comedy, car motors . . . and murder.
Jazz saxophonist Al Waters is
blessed with good looks, musical talent, and charm . . . but cursed
with an inability to hold on to success, both in career and in love.
Although sexual conquests are an easy goal for him, he has always
chased away opportunities for true intimacy. For a woman, to fall for
him is to face heartbreak; for a man, to push him is to flirt with
violence. Al has made enemies in too many ways, over too many years to
worry about payback, or changing his ways . . . until he meets
This enigmatic younger woman drops
into his life, and sings her way into his heart; but she soon reveals a
secret, with potentially devastating complications she could never have
imagined. With Stephanie, Al's life changes forever; as do the lives of
all those around him, particularly his best friend, pianist Billy
Crothers: an enormously talented but equally flawed man, addicted to a
pernicious craving quite different from Al's thirst for love.
From New York, to Montreal, to Las
Vegas, to Miami; in nightclubs, showrooms, dancehalls, and seedy
bars . . . Al and Billy have survived a lifetime of hits and misses in their
musical and personal lives. But another, much deadlier kind of hit or
miss is about to change everything.
Short Selected Excerpts
need to listen to the spaces, Alfred ... the ones between your words,
and those even bigger spaces, between your times of well-being.
For you to be able to relate to other people in an intimate way, you
must open up your heart as you do when you play music. Sometimes
the words you say are like, I suppose ... unnecessary notes, the kind
you say the over-technical jazz musician plays.”
* * *
* * *
The walk was a healthy shock to Al's system as the night air filled his
lungs, replacing the stale, smoke-laden atmosphere of Lou's Lounge with
ocean scents. He found himself enjoying the transition from performer
to listener, as a medley of seagull squawks and rustling palm branches
reminded him of how wonderful the simple, gentle music of nature could
be. Al mused on how humankind had taken the inspiration of the music of
the universe and cultivated it, making it ever more complex in rhythm
and harmony; yet never improving upon its intrinsic purity or
The orderly stood and
looked down at the patient. Carefully removing the oxygen mask, he
inspected the familiar face up close. "Come on, my friend," he said
softly as he stroked the patient's forehead with one gentle finger,
"you have to hear what I need to say to you."
Was the anticipated moment worth killing for? Worth dying for?
Regardless, it had to be soon . . . The first words heard by the
patient upon regaining consciousness would also be the last thing he
heard. He so needed the patient to be awake: to know what was going to happen
to him, to know fear, to know revenge was about to be unleashed upon
him—and by whom.
* * *
Al Waters, music was life: breath drawn in and expelled as the very
energy of existence, with a perfect balance needed to survive. Rhythm
was as powerful a need, and as vital to his soul, as was his heart to
his body; while melody and harmony were extensions of his thoughts and
feelings from as far back as his conscious memories could search. A
song was not just a song; but was rather, for the few minutes of its
performance—everything. To abandon your fears completely to the dangers
of such naked public exploration is always a gamble, playing the thrill
of success against the threat of failure. Tonight, all the chips he'd
earned in a lifetime of practice and preparation were on the table.
* * *
Moaning softly, the man in the hospital bed stirred. It had only been a
few minutes since the visitor in green had entered room 510, but time
was desperately limited—and the patient's return to consciousness at
this moment would be perfect. If only there were such a thing as
"perfect". The universe began from what must not have been perfection,
or why would whatever it was, become what it is . . . or rather, what
it continues to become? Is it chaos? Is it a plan? Could those two
words describe one thing at once; one moment . . . like this one?