This is the second chapter in my serialized mystery novella. If you missed chapter 1, scroll down and catch up. Every Friday, I’ll post an additional chapter.
Chapter 2: All the World’s a Play
Daniel was exhausted. It was almost five and he’d been at his computer writing and rewriting the same scene over and over again since ten in the morning. He was still far from happy with the dialog. Something wasn’t ringing true. The woman’s voice was on target, but her son’s words didn’t hang together. He was stilted and awkward. Daniel checked the contents of his refrigerator and, for the tenth time, concluded that there was nothing worth eating in the house.
He went down the three flights and out to a small bar around the corner. The food was good, there was always someone to talk to and, best of all — it was a good place to listen to people talk. Daniel’s plays were fueled on the conversations of real people, their rhythms, vocabularies, their pauses and their stutters. It was music to Daniel’s ears. Chelsea had changed a great deal since he’d moved into the 8th Avenue walk-up as a college senior. His rental had become a co-op and the insider’s price was perfect for an aspiring playwright with a down payment provided by his parents. Success in the theater had not changed him. His income rocketed up and down each year and the small one-bedroom was always home.
The neighborhood was now chic, with fancy condominiums, expensive restaurants and fashionable boutiques. It was a gay Mecca, but Daniel often found himself thinking he was a leftover from the old Chelsea, the grungier, West Side of the 80s, before everything was stylish and perfect.
The bar was a leftover too.
“Hey Danny boy,” Frank the bartender called out in his genuine Irish brogue. Frank was the nephew of the owner, an Irish-American fond of hiring his relatives from the old country to infuse authenticity into his Irish Pub. It was one of the things that kept the bar in business, surrounded by alternatives that were self-consciously contemporary or marketed to gay men, the Pub was old-fashioned and predictable. That was its appeal.
Daniel scoped out potential conversation sources. Two fashionably dressed women drank martinis at a table surrounded by shopping bags. Three of the regulars were watching a Mets day game on the TV at one end of the bar, and at the other end two twenty-somethings sat drinking beers. Daniel picked a stool one over from the young couple. She was a tall, sturdy blonde with a mystifying accent and he was just another young man trying to make it as an actor in New York.
“Usual?” Frank asked.
“And today’s soup — whatever it is.”
“Potato leek. Very good, I just had a bowl for lunch. Saw you on that TV show. “
“Since when do you watch anything but sports?”
“Ah, Danny, don’t be a snob. Here’s your whiskey, soup in five.”
In no time at all, Daniel fell into a conversation with the young couple. She turned out to be Dutch and they’d just met that afternoon, walking on the Highline. For Daniel, at his parasitic best, talking to them was like striking gold. He immediately understood how to fix his young male character’s voice and now he was contemplating adding a Dutch girlfriend to the cast.
He missed the local news breaking in during the ballgame, announcing that two bodies were found during the demolition of a warehouse damaged by Sandy’s record-breaking storm surge.
The bodies do not appear to be unaccounted for casualties of the storm. It seems more likely that they were buried during the construction of the warehouse in 1981. The as yet unidentified bodies appear to be of a middle-aged man and a young woman. They were buried with personal effects that may be helpful in identifying the remains. More on this and the weekend weather at 6….