Waltzing Chapter 9

The  mystery is unfolding, chapter-by-chapter. Here’s Chapter 9. If you’ve missed the previous chapters, scroll down and catch up. New installments are posted on Fridays.

Waltzing in the Snow

Chapter 9: More than Kin and Less than Kind

Daniel walked Amanda back to the W after dinner. She was a bit tipsy and very tired. It had been a challenging day and after the gin & tonic they had shared a bottle of wine with dinner. She checked her phone. Elise had sent her a text message: All OK here. Dull day.

And she had two voicemail messages from her daughter:

            Mom, how is it going in NYC? Did they find your friend’s body? It’s so morbid! I’ll be up past midnight so call me whenever.

            Already 11. If you are still up call me. I want to know what happened.

Amanda called and told her daughter about the odd experience of retuning to the 6th Precinct and about her reunions with Daniel and Mr. and Mrs. Ruiz. Rebecca thought it was amazing that she knew Daniel Blake and that they had been close friends in college. Amanda thought it was more amazing that she still felt close to him all these years later and that she wanted to reconnect with her old friend.

Midnight in New York was noon in Hong Kong, so Amanda called Jason. He was astonished at the news.

“It’s all too confusing, isn’t it? The body of Maria Ruiz with the barrette you gave Candy and the hit man style shooting, plus the Russian mobster. It’s too much like a wacky crime novel, too unreal!”

“You said it Jason, unreal…”

“Oh, pretty weird on this end too.”


“Do you remember Horatio Lane?”


“The little guy with the thick glasses. He worked with Dad in Madrid and then they came back to DC together. The spook.”

“That strange little man was CIA?”

“Yup, honestly, Amanda, I know you were young but he was so obvious. He was the CIA man in the US Embassy. Dad used to call him ‘Spooky’ behind his back.”

“Oh, yeah… I remember he came to Easter dinner one year. When was that? Oh, right before I graduated from college. That was the year I invited a bunch of friends to visit.”

“Yes, all your nerdy friends — the playwright, the pre-med girl, Candy…”

“Well, I ran into Horatio Lane here.”

“In Hong Kong?”

“Yeah, I’m here. It’s not that weird a place to live.” Jason sounded defensive. He’d retired from U. Mass where he’d taught history and followed his banker wife to Hong Kong. He was blogging about Chinese art, hoping to write a book about the Boxer Revolution and hanging out with the expat community. “Well, Spooky and I had a pretty bizarre conversation about that Easter weekend. He reminded me about the big goon who showed up in time for dessert on Sunday.”

“He was somebody’s bodyguard — a big, bouncer type. I remember he had the coldest eyes.”

“Yes, that’s him. Horatio was a little weird about the whole thing. Dropped hints that Dad had hired the goon to do something terrible, made like I knew what was going on. But when I pressed him to tell me what he was talking about, he just clammed up.”

“That is strange. Very strange.”

“Spooky has got to be pushing 90, but he’s the bridge champ at the social club Ellen had to join for the business connections. It’s not like he’d make up a story. It got me thinking about the old days, when I was little and Dad was stationed in Vienna. Everything was Cold War espionage.”

“Jason, Washington in 1980 was a long way off from Vienna in the 50s.”

“I guess. No, I know you’re right. Spooky was probably trying to mess with me. It must be hard for a man like him to give it all up — the intrigue, the drama, and then, nothing.”

“Do you realize Rebecca is the same age I was when I graduated from NYU? She wants to visit you before she goes back to school in the fall.”

“Tell her we have plenty of room and I’d love to see her. Ellen is planning to retire next year, so tell her to give me a call or email me and we’ll show her around.”

“Coming back to the States when Ellen retires?”

“She wants to go back to Boston or to live in DC.”

“Boston? Didn’t you just sell the house?”

Jason sighed audibly, and Amanda chuckled in response.

“It’s a good thing she knows how to make a living,” Jason added. “I can’t believe she misses Boston.

They chatted for a while, but when Amanda started to yawn they said goodnight.




    • Candy

      It certainly is an old-fashioned term. That’s why it seemed perfect for the characters looking back on the hey day of the Cold War. Long time ago and yet, there are echos of it remaining in today’s politics.

  1. We still use the word ‘spooks’, but that may be because of the popularity of that British TV show of the same name.

    Just want to clarify something : Jason is Amanda’s brother right? So /their/ father is the one who may or may not have hired someone to do something ‘terrible’?

    Apologies, but the one bad thing about serializations is that it’s hard to remember who’s who from one week to the next. I’m definitely going to re-read this whole story from start to finish once you publish the completed story.

    You are going to publish aren’t you?

    • Candy

      Yes, Jason is Amanda’s brother. Actually he’s her much older half brother. You’ll meet their father very soon.

      The next few chapters are very short, so I may run a couple at a time. That may help with your reader’s continuity issues. My plan is to publish, but first I need input about the end. I’ve drafted two different Chapter 17s. The alternatives don’t have different “villains” but the post-solution endings are radically different. I’m torn and hope that you and the other steady readers will help me decide which ending is more satisfying.

  2. The process of reading your installments is also revealing a lot about myself as a reader as well. I keep finding myself wanting to send each post to my Kindle so I can find a quiet moment to read it, since my brain seems in an entirely different mode when I’m cruising blog posts. The momentum is drastically different for me, if that makes sense.

    • Candy

      IT DOES!
      I can relate to your response. I’ve been posting short stories on my freelance writing site for years, but serializing is another thing entirely. It invites the reader to slow down, to return to a time when we weren’t rushing through a book to get to the next one. I’ve also found that many of my short story readers print out the text and read it on paper! There is something about fiction that makes it want to fly off the computer screen.

  3. Metan

    I agree with Jeri. Sometimes serial stories that get you wanting to know more (like this one, good job 🙂 ) make you crazy too because you want them all at once!
    In the past I have been known to buy episodes of a serial and agonizingly save all the episodes up until the end and then read them all at once. 😀

    • Candy

      Well, when I do publish this one — it’ll be in ONE novella-sized ebook.

      The big deal for me is getting all of your input on the last chapter(s). With two alternative chapter 17s… I want advice. Looking forward to posting the two endings and seeing what happens!