19th 08 - 2010 | 1 comment »

Extra Luck: Sanyo & Leveen

Process note: Mr. Luck isn’t the only one investigating what’s going on with Felix Benes. This is my first go at introducing the LVPD into the mix. But it doesn’t work. To quote Lenny Nero: “It’s a test pattern. Nothing happens. I’m snoring.” I knew it was not great before Eric pointed it out to me. We considered letting it sit a while as a place holder, but Eric came up with better characters. I plan on writing the replacement scene today and posting it tomorrow (08/20/10) for #FridayFlash.

In the meantime, what do you think? Does this work as a scene?


Detectives Raymond Sanyo and Beth Leveen arrived at Dana Spelman’s condo shortly after 1pm.

Det. Sanyo could still taste the garlic on his breath. “I can’t wait until lunch tomorrow. Pizza buffet. You asked for it.”

Beth rolled her eyes. “I’m sure your arteries are in shock after eating healthy.”

“How was that stuff healthy? Olives and greasy meat?”

“Olive oil is good for you.”

“And my breath smells like ass.”

Det. Leveen rang the bell and waited. Sanyo checked the address before Beth rang again.

“We have tried to contact her by phone, right?” Ray asked.

“Yes. No answer at any of her contact numbers. Left a message yesterday on her personal and work voice mails.”

Ray snorted, a noise the emanated from deep within the big man.

Det. Leveen leaned on the doorbell. “You think something is up?”

Ray shrugged. “Odd that she hasn’t called us back about an investigation involving one of her clients. Maybe she’s avoiding us.”

He turned his back to the door and surveyed the neighborhood. “Crap.”

“What?” Beth peered through the front window.

“This neighborhood is too damn new. No nosey little old ladies to question.”

“Little old ladies?” The entrance room was neat and tidy.

“Well, little old men too. They’re just as likely to peek from behind the blinds or water their lawn too long when something is going on. Never underestimate the hobbies of the elderly, Leveen. Young people, they keep too much to themselves.”

“I’ll remember that the next time we get a call and one of your old ladies has mistaken the sound of a video game for an actual crime being committed.”

“Hey, those teenagers had the volume way too high. That was disturbing the peace.”

Beth frowned at Spelman’s door and her verbose partner. The place was quiet. “No one’s here. Let’s go.”

“Just a sec.” He pointed at a landscaping truck parked in front of a section of condos up the street. Pointed the other way, the crew of workers had already taken care of Spelman and her neighbors.

Ray approached and greeted a Hispanic man gathering a blower from the truck’s trailer. He waited until Beth had caught before flashing his badge.

“Have you guys done any work on unit 26?” He pointed a thumb toward Dana Spelman’s condo.

“Uh… No, sir. We skipped it.”

“Any reason why?”

“Uh… I don’t know. Was told to skip it. Talk to Julio, he’ll know more.”

A bigger man in a work shirt and straw hat was already approaching. “Julio?” Ray asked.

“Si. Is there any problem?”

Ray flashed his badge again. “None at all. You guys skipped unit 26?”

“Yes, sir. The back gate was supposed to be unlatched for us. It wasn’t so we skipped it.”

“The woman that lives there forgot to leave it open?” Beth asked.


“Is she’s the forgetful type?”

Julio gave her a noncommittal shrug. “The HOA in this neighborhood… They’re pretty strict. No one is very forgetful.”

“Place looks great,” said Ray. “You do good work.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Have a good one.” Ray waved as they walked away and Beth nodded.

“Place of employment next?” she asked when they got back to the car.

“Yep. We can let her know that she’s going to get an HOA citation.”

The secretary at the reception desk wore the same suit as Beth, but at two sizes smaller and three inches taller, no one could really tell.

“I’m sorry. Ms. Spelman no longer works for Devine, Chance and Merit.” Her smile suggested that Dets. Sanyo and Leveen be satisfied with that and continue on with their day.

Ray leaned forward. “Is there any other information you can give us? Like date of termination? Reason for termination? Forward information?”

Her glossed lips curved, but the smile did not reach the receptionists eyes. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have the authority to convey those facts. If I knew them.”

“Logically, you should point us to someone who can answer those questions.”

“I suppose so. Just one moment.” She worked the phone and quietly explained her predicament to whomever she had decided had authority. “Mr. Felts will see you. 5th floor.”

“Thank you.” Ray’s smile didn’t meet his eyes either.

Five paces from the desk, he asked: “Isn’t she wearing the same suit as you?”

“Yes,” said Beth, “but I have better shoes.”

Mr. Felts let them wait ten minutes in his pseudo-lobby: three fairly comfortable chairs next to the desk of an older, though no less steely gazed, receptionist. Beth sat while Ray stood cross-armed and nodded to the aids and assistants that scurried by. Something caught his eye on a bulletin board. He investigated and was back before Mr. Felts showed them into his office.

“Det. Leveen and Det. Sanyo, yes? I’m Richard Felts, a partner here at Devine, Chance and Merit. How can I help you? You are with the LVPD, yes?”

Felts might have had an inch of height on Dana. His finely tailored suit matched his steel gray hair. He was slim and fit for a man with hound-dog wrinkles.

“That’s right,” said Ray.

“You both look like you’ve been out in the heat today. Can I get you anything?” He motioned to the bar and minifridge behind his desk. The windows of his office were comfortably tinted.

“Nothing for me,” said Ray.

“Water would be good,” said Beth.

Mr. Felt passed her a plastic bottle. He sat on the edge of his polished redwood desk. Ray and Beth took seats in the office’s gleaming leather chairs.

“We’ve been investigating the disappearance of Felix Benes,” Beth explained as she twisted open the bottle.

“Dr. Benes, the cancer researcher.”

Both Ray and Beth nodded.

Mr. Felts went around his desk and shuffled several files. When he didn’t find what he was looking for, he checked files that lined a desk drawer. “I believe that we’re no longer handling that case, and that we’ve already been cooperative with the LVPD on the matter of Felix Benes.”

“We had the name of the associate in charge of Mr. Benes’s case, but we haven’t been able to contact her yet,” Beth explained.


“We were informed by the well-dressed young lady downstairs that Dana Spelman is no longer employed here,” said Ray.

“That’s correct. Ms. Spelman left our employment two days ago.”

“Was the Benes case reassigned before it was closed?”

“No. It was simply decided that our agency wasn’t the right one to be handling the case. Especially considering the circumstances.”

“Those circumstances being Mr. Benes’s disappearance?”

“In part.” Mr. Felts referred to the file. “There were many incompatibilities. Mr. Benes is an unstable man. His testimony in any suit would have been highly suspect.”

“Was Ms. Spelman let go from the firm because she didn’t share those opinions?”

“They weren’t among the reasons she gave for leaving.”

“She left?” Beth asked. “I guess I was under the impression that Devine, Chance and Merit were the ones that terminated her employment.”

“No. Ms. Spelman received a better offer elsewhere.”


“I would tell you if I knew, but she was not under any obligation to share that information.”

Ray rose and dug a card from his wallet. “Well, we’d like to talk to Ms. Spelman. If your HR department can help us out any further, we’d appreciate it.”

“Of course.” Felts pocketed the card without looking at it.

Ray was still sitting. “I noticed a post on one of the bulletin boards. About a guy that’s been causing some problems for your security staff?”

Felts grimaced, for effect. “That.”

“Is there a reason you haven’t called us in to help out on this?”

“I think that the pride of our security chief is mostly the reason we haven’t turned to outside help. Rest assured, that man is fairly harmless. There’s been a mild case of trespassing. Nothing more.”

To Beth, Ray didn’t look convinced. “Well, you have our card if you need us on that count too.”

9th 07 - 2010 | 1 comment »

Fiction: Not the Girl for Him

Originally posted at http://katen.livejournal.com.

Aleister Luck had a problem and her name was Rosalyn.


Every private detective in every novel, TV show, or movie is pleasantly labeled as “down on his luck.” That’s a label for the poor. Of course this is because private detectives in novels, TV shows, and movies are good people. They help the needy and if they’re involved in shady dealings it’s in the interest of doing right regardless of margins.

Mr. Luck was one of those good people. Or at least he tried to be. He was selective about his clientele and didn’t worry about whether they could pay. And that’s why Mr. Luck generally turned to magic to make a living.


The night he became acquainted with Rosalyn, Luck was happily working the blackjack tables at Jummer’s Casino. The night started out uneventful.

Luck always chose a busy table. It was more interesting to spread winning around. If there was someone loud, flamboyant, self-centered at the table, so much the better. In comparison, the casual observer wouldn’t notice Aleister Luck and the casino didn’t get too suspicious when he wasn’t the only one with a pile of chips in front of him.

This night, his fellow players were a pair of giggling middle-aged women, a quiet bearded man, and a college-aged kid accompanied by his blonde girlfriend. The women were fairly new to the game. The kid had been drinking and his girlfriend found his poor math skills exceedingly funny. The bearded fellow was sandwiched between them.

A near perfect set up.

Dealt from a shoe, all face up, no one really noticed that Mr. Luck didn’t look at his cards.

He had instead trained himself to look at people’s hands and wrists, blocking out the card faces. The ladies both had manicured nails, doubtless the product of an afternoon at the casino’s spa. The college kid had a tattoo of ornate lettering that started at wrist. Luck couldn’t read what it said. Luck’s own hands were a geography of dry skin and hangnails. Dealers’ hands were never interesting. They were clean, soft, and dealers rarely wore jewelry.

He didn’t watch to see what the other players were dealt or what the house had. He motioned for another card without any information. He simply knew it was the right decision. He put chips forward haphazardly too, never checking their color or the size of his stacks.

He won when he wanted and he lost when he wanted. Occasionally, he shifted his efforts to someone else at the table. With a thought, he knew that the card dealt next would be what that player needed. On the surface, he wasn’t a good enough player to cause anyone to notice him. It might have only been luck, but every time he walked away from the table, Mr. Luck had rent, utilities, and enough to eat well.

Things started to go wrong after the second lady, wearing a wide turquoise necklace, split a pair. It was really more information about the table than Aleister Luck preferred, but it wasn’t anything that should cause him trouble. But she lost when Aleister saw her winning. The next hand, Aleister lost when he had decided not to. Panic became an itch in the back of his throat. How much had he lost? How had he lost? His faith shaken, Mr. Luck excused himself from the table, sweeping his winnings into a plastic cup usually used for slot tokens.

And then he saw her.

He had encountered her one or two times in the past on the casino floor. She always smiled at him, but he took it as a gesture of general friendliness. Nothing of note.

Tonight, she was sitting on a stool at the vacant table next to Luck’s. She had been watching him and her face flashed an honest smile when he had turned toward her. Observed, his magic had failed. How much had she really noticed about Aleister Luck?

Luck nodded politely and headed to the bar. He tried to ignore her. The lack of a compelling sport to watch on the big screens didn’t help. She followed.

“Can I buy you a drink?” she asked.

She was small with honey hair and lightly tanned skin. She wore light pink lipstick and clothes that could be described as breezy by a newsstand magazine.

Luck weighed her interest. She wouldn’t be put off easily. “Sure,” he said.

She took the chair next to him and offered a hand. “Rosalyn,” she said.

“Aleister. Aleister Luck.”

“Luck? Are you particularly lucky, Mr. Luck?”

“Not at all.” Aleister answered honestly. She could be an employee of the casino, but he didn’t think so. “Rosalyn, is there anything I can help you with?”

Sometimes people happened upon him. Instead of seeing an ad or looking him up online, they found him.

“No, I…” And there it was, a blush below her tan. “I just thought you might be an interesting person to know.”

“I see.” She was attracted to him, for whatever reason. Aleister wasn’t good or even novel looking. He was careful not to be outstanding in any way. Yet, every so often, a woman took an “interest” in him. She’d pay attention to him. She’d stalk him in the nosey way woman did. She’d find out what she could about him.

In short, until she lost interest, his life was ruined.


Right. So. Here we are. The first meandering steps into the world of Aleister Luck. If it is confusing, please comment. Feedback is good!

Also, I apologies in advance if I never write about Rosalyn again. This is play-piece. It might have nothing to do with the novel that Eric and I end up writing. It’s meant to be a troubleshooting exercise. My “wouldn’t it be cool if” is met with Eric’s sense of system. The piece came pretty easily with some angst Wednesday night when Eric mentioned a new facet to the rules governing Luck’s magic. I sent it to him yesterday and Eric bounced it back with a couple notes. I think the changes I made in regards to those notes have improved the piece. Regardless of whether this eventually “makes the cut” in any way, shape, or form, I’ve enjoyed doing this more than anything I’ve written this year.

About This Blog

In July of 2010, Katherine and Eric Nabity began work on a novel featuring Mr. Luck. This blog includes some proof-of-concept vignettes, progress notes, "alternate takes", and commentary on the collaborative process that Eric and Katherine engage in.

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