TIME FOR A DRINK! LIFT YOUR GLASS TO BECKYB – Marilyn Armstrong

Time for a Drink for BeckyB!

It was party time in Massachusetts. I would probably have been content to stay home and process bird pictures, but Garry felt we needed an airing. Also, he wanted to find out how his cochlear implant would handle a really large party.

George Regan gives amazing parties. He’s kind of the best PR guys in the state, so if you’re trying to make it in politics or business or whatever, George is your guy.

He’s also a remarkably nice person, too, with dogs and a lovely house on the water in Quincy. We are lucky to get annual invitations. We often don’t make it because it’s December which is usually busy — with bad weather. But this year, we made it.

Time for evening light through tall windows

In addition to wanting to test out his new hearing, there was a friend who was going to be there who Garry wanted to see very much. He has been ill, so it has been a long time since we’ve spent time together — and George’s place is about as midway to our houses as you can get. They live in Bourne, on the Cape while we reside in Uxbridge, south-central of nowhere.

Quincy is one of those places which somehow is always in the middle of a traffic jam, so even though it should only be about an hour’s drive, it always takes at least two … and that’s on a Tuesday afternoon. I can only imagine the traffic on Saturday or Sunday, especially since they are on the road which goes to the stadium where the Patriots play.

It’s close enough to Boston so over the years, it has become part and parcel of the Boston mega-traffic-jam, so we got stuck in it going there and coming back. We thought there had to be an accident or something along the way, but no accident that we found.

Time to drive to the party

Just traffic and a lot of it.

We made it. Not only did we make it, but we didn’t get lost, which may be some kind of record for us. We often set out for events, but get so lost, we end up going home without ever going to the party.

Time for that drink!

The moment we got there, I realized that wearing a black coat — Garry was wearing a gray one — were mistakes. In the “throw the coats in there” room were dozens of black and gray overcoats. We are nothing if not consistent.

I keep intending to get something in some other color, but somehow, best intentions notwithstanding, my coats are always black or gray and I can never find them.

Dinner was constantly served – Always time to eat!

There were a lot of people at the party. Garry eventually spotted three (other than the host) who he knew.

I knew Garry. And the host.

I used to know George’s beautiful Golden Retriever, but he passed a couple of years ago. During parties in the summer, the swimming pool belonged to the Golden. He used to swim around the pool trying to corral about 100 tennis balls. Then he would emerge from the pool, sopping wet, and shake.


Not square, but the beautiful Golden Retriever needed remembering too.


Almost everyone was all dressed except me because I don’t dress. It is one of the few privileges of age, so it made me laugh as guests ran in every direction as the dog shook off the pool water. Then he’d jump back into the pool because keeping track of hundreds of floating tennis balls is a pretty big job, but he was a dedicated retriever.

You better believe that NO ONE complained about the water and the shaking retriever. George adored that dog and his two other pugs who were carried during the party because they were old and couldn’t manage in a house that crowded.

Time to drive home

And then we were homeward bound with about a million other cars. Now, we can say we have partied, celebrated, and hobnobbed. Oddly, I enjoyed the party. I met the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a bunch of people I didn’t know. Ate pieces of hot pizza from Bertucci’s and took some interesting pictures.

These days, that’s a party!

PHOTO CHALLENGE: FESTIVAL – WHERE’S THE BAR? – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge: Festival

One thing is true of every festival. Everyone says hi and finds a place to sit. Then they ask: “Where’s the bar?”

After which, everyone bellies up to the bar, especially if it isn’t a “cash bar.”

Pity I don’t drink. Sometimes, I think a drink might be a perfect solution to an imperfect world.

ODD BALLS FROM THE MOB – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 22, 2018


A little light on the party

We went to a party. They aren’t my best pictures, but they were more fun than most.

A word about processing people pictures from parties. I use a lot of creative effects on people pictures because what I want to show is their faces, their laughter, the fun without making every look like they have the neck of a chicken or, as Garry puts it “the chrome dome.”

Everyone wants to look good. Most people our age don’t expect to look young and they don’t mind seeing character in their faces, but they also don’t want to look like they were just unearthed from a grave. Finding a balance is a bit of a trick. I put more time and energy into processing people — especially people in my age group — than I do for anything else.

Trees don’t care if the bark looks grungy, but people care a lot when their skin looks like tree bark.

MEETING THE MOB: A PARTY FOR THE GANGSTERS OF MEDIA – Garry Armstrong

MEETING THE MOB AT FLORIAN HALL

Once a year, we gather to catch up.  It’s time for the getting together and annual partaking of the M.O.B. party. It’s the Media Of Boston where everyone who used to be someone and more than a few people who still are someone, get together and remember news — the funny, the weird, the crazy, and the scary stuff they covered during Boston’s news history.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist sharing old Dodger baseball memories

I usually don’t go to these things. Part of it is that we are out in the boonies and all these events are in Boston or Dorchester. It’s a long drive through heavy traffic. As a general rule, I can’t find my way anywhere anymore. I never really could, but now that we don’t live in or near the city, it’s worse.

Lots of pictures of “the old days”

Marilyn promised to come with me this year, acting as my ears (she just went around telling everyone to yell in my left ear and oddly, that worked), and as my navigator which mostly meant yelling out the directions from the GPS. It’s not loud enough. Almost nothing is loud enough.

Andy announced dinner about to be served!

In past years,  most of us were competitors at Boston’s major TV News Departments, radio stations, and newspapers. Unlike media elsewhere, we always had a sense of respect, camaraderie between us — even though we all chased the scoops in one of the most  competitive major news markets in the country.

Three guys hanging out!

Careers overlap the end of radio news dominance, the transition from film to electronic news gathering. Some of us began working with elders from the Murrow Boys’ days. Our careers included covering the assassinations of political and social legends,  the Vietnam War, volatile court ordered school busing and integration,  Anti-Nuclear Power demonstrations, Watergate, Three Mile Island and the AIDS epidemic. The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw an explosion of news coverage to match events like 9/11 and beyond.

Birth twins! Garry with Delores Handy (Brown) – both born April 7th!

Many of those at our newsies gathering have put their lives on the line —  multiple times — in pursuit of the truth which is often ridiculed by some public officials.

Charlie and Irene Ballantine – caught off-guard at the table!

The faces are probably familiar to those who have turned to the Boston media for news coverage for the past half a century.  Critics who have questioned their ethics have faded from public view as new crises demand instant and intensive coverage 24/7.

Something to drink?

Some of these careers began with Dwight Eisenhower in the Oval House,  John F.Kennedy as the Junior Massachusetts Senator and Mayor Kevin Hagen White overseeing the transformation of Boston into a world-class city that would host celebrated Tall Ships festivals,  court ordered school integration and a mega-expensive architectural “do” known as “The Big Dig”.

Garry, Lester, and Harvey. Someone is really tall!

Those of a certain age will remember some of these faces as young reporters and photographers who spent the best years of their lives covering stories that are now archive material.

You may not know some of the faces.  Many are behind the cameras that bring you haunting images of the news that never stops. They are reporters who never get their due respect. They’re part of the reason that Boston News coverage is highly respected around the world.

Many of us were bright-eyed idealists when we began our Boston careers. The city and New England region are journalistic gold mines and have been well paved over the years by those seeking journalistic treasure.

You’re looking at many ink-stained wretches who’ve been recognized for their diligent work.  Pulitzer, Emmy and other prestigious awards dot the homes of many of these folks who have devoted their lives to finding the truth, a job that is harder than ever in today’s political climate.

Our stories get bigger with each passing year.  We remember the facts but, in many cases,  prefer to “print the legend”.  We tend to remember our gaffes, the “egg in our faces” stories that go with any lengthy career. We smile at the recollection of our youthful energy and pursuit of stories that would top the likes of Watergate.

Garry and Fred Ward sharing stories

Amid the laughter of shared adventures, we remember those colleagues we’ve lost in the past year. Their images linger in our collective and personal sense memories.

Most of all, we agree, bad times aside,  we’ve been lucky to have spent years pursuing one of the best jobs on the face of the earth.


NOTE: Marilyn took pictures. Not enough and not as good as they should be — but she says she had the wrong camera. And it was hard to get people to stay put long enough to get a good shot. Also, there were so many cameras everywhere (what a surprise! with all those camera people and there were a lot of cameras!), she figured there would plenty of pictures getting taken, even if she personally didn’t take them.

MY MOTHER, THE PARTY PLANNER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s in New York City, social life revolved around the dinner party. Anywhere from six to twelve people would gather at someone’s home for drinks, appetizers and a sit down dinner. This was in addition to the once or twice a year that you would give a large party, with waiters, bar tenders and a buffet dinner.

Over the years your friends got to know each other. And you got to meet new people when you went to your friends’ dinner parties. Some of these people ended up as regulars at your own parties.

My mother loved giving parties. She did it well and often. Our home was beautiful and beautifully maintained – by the housekeepers. My mother didn’t do cleaning. Or cooking. Her elaborate and delicious meals were made by the cooks she always had during those years. (Not uncommon for professionals in the city in that era).

Mom’s NY dining room set up for a buffet party

However my mom did do all of the menu planning. She spent lots of time reading recipes in magazines and clipping them out. She turned them into a giant cookbook that filled several loose leaf notebooks. I still have them in my basement. I could never part with them.

My dad and I had a great time taste testing new recipes all the time. And I don’t mean meatloaf and brownies. Mom used recipes from American, French, Italian and Asian cuisine. There was also a smattering of Austrian and Eastern European when we had cooks from those areas. The dishes would be considered high-end or gourmet by today’s standards, though some were homier than others (a favorite was home cooked fried chicken, for example).

The desserts were to die for. My father was very thin, so my mother was always trying to fatten him up. She was always trying to entice him with amazing desserts – all kinds of cakes, pies, trifles, custards and puddings, you name it. Dad never gained weight, but we did. I ended up on a diet for most of my late teenage years living at home.

I had a friend who used to joke that at most people’s homes you got Twinkies for dessert, but at Ellin’s house, you got Oeufs A La Neige or Floating Island. That was my favorite dessert as a child.

Oeufs A La Neige, or Floating Island Dessert

My mother planned her parties meticulously. From the guest list and seating arrangements to the menu, from the place settings, the crystal and good china, to the dinner table centerpiece. Fresh flowers always decorated the rest of the house as well.

For summer parties at the CT house, Mom and I filled the house with flowers from our garden, including a big fancy centerpiece for the dining room table. Every week during the summer, company or not, we always did vases and vases of flowers for the house, just for us. These were simpler and less numerous. Those long hours arranging flowers with my mom are some of my favorite memories. My grandmother would often come in to talk with us while we worked. It was a wonderful time.

Summer meant flowers to me. I loved floral arranging so much, I actually got a part-time job in a florist shop for a short while in 2002. I also went on a dried flower binge and filled my entire house with dried flower arrangements of all kinds, in all kinds of exotic containers.

I was involved in every aspect of party planning from the time I was nine or ten years old. I was also allowed to sit with the guests before and after dinner. As a teenager, I usually joined the adults at the table as well. My parents’ friends adored me. I got to know many of them very well and I grew up with them as a part of my life from early childhood, on.

As an only child, I was very comfortable with adults. And I was always respected by them. My opinion was elicited from early on, at least on topics that I could understand and comment on at my current age level. I also knew when to be quiet and just listen.

Mom’s CT dining room

My parents were well-educated, intellectual, New York City professionals. So the conversations were always exciting, animated, interesting and fun. There were always lots of loud disagreements, but never any hostility. I learned to debate someone with differing views in a civil manner.

When I was a young wife and mother in NYC in the mid 1970’s – 1980’s, I followed in my mother’s party planning footsteps. I gave regular dinner parties for four to six guests. However, I had to do all the work MYSELF, including the cooking. I’ll never forget how proud I was to cook my first dinner party for my parents and some of their friends. It wasn’t as fancy or elegant as my mom’s, but I did it all on my own!

My first real dining room in NYC as a young lawyer

What I didn’t realize was that the times were changing and social life was different than in my mother’s heyday. I had party after party and rarely got invited back to anyone’s home for dinner. The trend now was for two couples to get together by going out to dinner at a restaurant. So people would invite us out to dinner with them, but not to their homes.

It was years before I gave up the ghost and stopped slaving over dinner parties, even after I had children. I eventually gave into the ‘let’s go out to dinner’ tradition. I don’t miss the hard work that went into planning formal parties. But there was an excitement and an element of creativity involved in the process that I do miss.

I still have people over for dinner. But it’s usually one or two couples and we usually grill or order pizza. I sometimes miss the good old ‘party’ days – but not enough to go back.

A VERY HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, AUNT HELEN! BY TOM CURLEY

I have a wonderful family. Most of them live in Minnesota. Oddly, we don’t talk much. It’s not that we don’t like each other. It’s not that we’re mad at each other. We all get along just fine. We just don’t. Talk.

Maybe it’s because we’re WASPs. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) We tend to talk to each other when we need to. Don’t ask me why. I guess it’s a WASP thing. (I’m sure I’ll be getting angry emails from WASPs who do talk all the time. Sorry.) Maybe we forget because life tends to keep us occupied. We do all get together, but very rarely. Usually it’s because someone dies. We all got together for my Uncle’s funeral, my Mom’s funeral, and my Dad’s funeral.

Last weekend Ellin and I flew out to Minnesota for another big get together. The only difference was this time it wasn’t for a funeral. It was for a birthday. My Aunt Helen’s birthday.

My Favorite Aunt

My Favorite Aunt

My Aunt Helen’s 100th birthday! My younger brother Todd from upstate NY came as well as my older brother Roger from Ohio. Helen’s two children were there along with their children and their children’s children. She knew there was going to be a party and that the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were going to be there.

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Four generations

But they didn’t tell her about me and my two brothers. That was the surprise. My Aunt Helen and my parents had this odd thing about surprises. When we were growing up, the only place we ever went to on vacation was out to Minnesota to visit my aunt and my uncle. More often than not, we just showed up unannounced. Surprise! We’re here for a week! Now, my cousins and I have always thought this to be really strange. If you show up unannounced most people will not only be surprised, but also more than a little annoyed.

But not my parents or my aunt and uncle. They loved it. It was their thing. So that’s what we did. And she loved it.  The look on her face when her three nephews walked out to say happy birthday was worth the trip.

Surprise!

Surprise!

She’s gotten pretty frail and her voice is very soft and sometimes the words she wants to say have a hard time coming out. After getting over the shock of seeing us the first thing she said was. “I never thought I’d see the kids again”.

The Kids

The Kids

The kids are 62, 64, 65, 69 and 74. The next day there was an official party for her at the home where she lives. All sorts of friends showed up as well as four generations of family.

All the kids

All the kids

The secret to her longevity? I don’t know. She’s a tough old bird. Maybe it’s because her granddaughter Erica told her years ago when she was a child “Grandma, you have to live to be 100”.

You did it Grandma

You did it Grandma

Maybe it’s because she has at least one beer every day.

Cheers

Cheers

Maybe it’s because she always said it was her goal to make it to 100. When we reminded her of that she said. “I guess I have to come up with another goal. Do you think 105 is unreasonable?”

Hell no Aunt Helen. It’s not unreasonable at all.

See Ellin’s view of this celebration: IT REALLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE BY ELLIN CURLEY

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

A birthday party was the perfect prescription for those of us trying to wrestle with the state of our nation and the new administration in Washington, D.C. Our friend Dave invited us to share his birthday. Nothing fancy. No presents. Just a few friends, snacks, drinks and a small cake.

Dave lives just a few miles from our house and the 2pm start meant we had enough time to socialize and get home for the two NFL playoff games. We have priorities!!

We heard laughter as we arrived. Always a good sign. I counted maybe eight faces as we went inside. Good for me. My poor hearing means I don’t do well in large groups. I looked around and knew everyone. Another good sign. There would be no forced conversation with strangers.

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It was a (mostly) baby boomer gathering and birthday boy, Dave could’ve been singing “When I’m 64.” He wasn’t singing. I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss politics. After a few hugs, kisses, and handshakes, guess who and what was the focus of our jibber-jabber? No one mentioned his name, the new President. The guy with the orange hair. President Obama’s successor. The reality show star. But we could feel his eerie presence, lurking like a shadow.

The conversation ranged from new cabinet nominees, to health care, to repeated questions about how this guy became our Commander-In-Chief. Even though half the folks in the room were normally Republicans, no one (apparently) had voted for him. But someone voted for him because he’s in the White House.

Meanwhile, talk about health care and the lack there of, not to mention the unfortunate quality of same, segued into cemetery plots. The cost of burials. We compared traditional burials with cremation. Marilyn reminded us about drive-through cremation, the economical alternative to getting planted in the traditional way. Francesca said they bury them vertically in parts of Italy because there’s no more room. The burial biz could be bigger than plastics for new graduates. There was a longish couple of silences while we all digested how we would each have to deal with “the big sleep”…  possibly sooner rather than later.

Time for the birthday cake and a round of “Happy Birthday” for Dave. We sang with gusto, each in our own key. Our enthusiasm compensated for lack of musical talent.

It wasn’t an easy segue. I asked a couple how their kids were doing. They are now young adults, one in college, another graduating high school. Another long pause and segue into the cost of college. Would Mom and Dad be around to see how their daughter and son fared professionally? A bit of a crap shoot, that.

We segued back to cemeteries and the cost of dying. Someone talked about time payments. Apparently, if you don’t keep up your payments, some places will dig up the bodies and stack them like cord wood. We laughed. Ruefully.

I noticed everyone casting furtive glances around the room. I blushed a little because I realized I was the oldest in our gathering. Marilyn assured me I look younger than her, certainly younger than my years. Thanks, Mar.

I looked at my watch and loudly announced we had to get home to feed the dogs, my best move to end the talk about dying and the prohibitive cost of funerals, not to mention grave maintenance. You need a multi-generational maintenance contract or they’ll toss your bones in the big pit. In any case, it’s not like you’ll be around to make sure they keep their end of the bargain.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVE!!!

A SERIAL KILLER IS LOOSE! MURDER MOST FOUL! by GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 3)

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for a couple by Garry, aka “The first Victim.”


THE THIRD VICTIM: Looking for Connections!

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Some of the usual suspects were released on ROR four days ago. A bluff move to flush out perps higher up the chain. But then another twist. A third body. The Third Man.

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The corpse was found less than an hour after the suspects’ release…. which was before any media update. The cops were keeping a tight lid on information. All the released suspects were being closely tailed.

The third victim was found  in a field adjoining the site of the original crimes. All doubts vanished. For the newshounds, it was clear.  A serial killer at work!!  Police refused comment. Of course. Unnamed sources close to the investigation admit that motivation for the three murders remains murky.

Which has only heightened media speculation.

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Is there a drug connection? Money laundering? Has the Mob invaded this sleepy New England village?

An Interpol agent was spotted at the latest crime scene. A handout statement offered no insight why international law enforcement was now involved.

Then, a break from a trusted, veteran reporter — retired but he sometimes helps when police need answers.

A connection was spotted between two of the three victims. Similar tattoos. The veteran reporter noticed the familiar inks and huddled with Interpol to see if there’s a link to the Russian mob. No confirmation from the reporter or Interpol, but chatter with gangland tattoo experts has been confirmed.

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover.

Some of the police are trying to remain under cover. This group from Dodge City are keeping a low profile.

Meanwhile, the now four-pronged investigation is advancing on multiple fronts. State troopers and local detectives are looking for connections between the three victims.

Was the first victim an anomaly or grisly diversion in the serial killings? Or, were the later killings an attempt to befog the first murder? Was this a hate crime? If so, what do the haters hate?

So many questions, so few answers.

Network news outlets have set up staging areas, each trying to scoop the other as they slaver over every new bit of gossip and try to spin it into the story. The FBI’s BAU (Behavior Analyst Unit) is on the case and their current thinking is that the killer is a pro. A stone cold killer.

They’re working backwards, trying to connect the three murders. Fresh eyes are looking at murders number one and two.


Background Review: THE SECOND VICTIM: Murder most foul!

(There will be a short quiz following the conclusion of this story.)

Local, state and federal investigators are offering minimal information about the latest victim. CSU photos show he was white, middle-aged, and apparently healthy. There’s no word on how or when the victim was killed. A local resident confirmed the body was found in the same area, the same farm land where the first murder occurred more than two weeks ago.

Some wonder if  this is a worse case scenario. It’s top buzz on talk shows.

A SERIAL killer running amok…. on the heels of the late summer birthday party murder!!

Victim Number Two

Victim Number Two

Shock waves continue to reverberate. It’s the ultimate loss of innocence for a small town where typically, the top news item is roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins are the high-priority items on the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.


THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY – The First Victim

My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

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A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

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It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The FIRST victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


What’s the motive? Where are the connections? Is it a stone-cold killer or a killer made of actual stone? Tune in next week for another episode of MidSummer Murder!


Part I – LATE MIDSUMMER MURDER MYSTERY BY GARRY ARMSTRONG

Part II – A SERIAL KILLER? LATE SUMMER MURDER MYSTERY BY GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 2)

A SERIAL KILLER? LATE SUMMER MURDER MYSTERY by GARRY ARMSTRONG (PART 2)

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for the first one, which is Garry’s, aka “The Victim.”


Investigators now must rethink their original premise.

It’s no longer an isolated or random case of violence. Network news outlets are in the area. The FBI’s BAU (Behavior Analyst Unit) is on the case too. This is the team popularized by TV’s long-running “Criminal Minds” series.  No local or state turf wars here because the case is becoming sufficiently bizarre even for veteran crime investigators.

In a gruesome discovery, a second victim has been found!

Murder most foul!

Local, state and federal investigators are offering minimal information about the latest victim. CSU photos show he was white, middle-aged, and apparently healthy. There’s no word on how or when the victim was killed. A local resident confirmed the body was found in the same area, the same farm land where the first murder occurred over a week ago.

Some wonder if  this is a worse case scenario.

A SERIAL killer running amuck…. on the heels of the late summer birthday party murder!!

Victim Number Two

Victim Number Two

Shock waves continue to reverberate. It’s the ultimate loss of innocence for a small town where typically, the top news item is roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins are the high-priority items on the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.

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My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

The honored guest

The honored guest

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

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Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

72-food-grill-barbecue-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_082

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

72-shed-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_058

It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The FIRST victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


More to come! Suggestions anyone? We suspect there will be at least one more victim, probably more than one. Who’s the killer … and what’s the motive? 

 

LATE MIDSUMMER MURDER MYSTERY by GARRY ARMSTRONG

THIS IS FICTION! NOT TRUE. A STORY. NOT A REAL EVENT.

Homage to MidSomer Murders from Garry Armstrong, the show’s current number one fan. And with a nod  and a wink to Sunset Boulevard and Philip Marlowe. On the occasion of our granddaughter’s 20th birthday, a lovely little murder.

Photographs (mostly) by Marilyn Armstrong,  except for the first one, which is Garry’s, aka “The Victim.”


Shock waves are still reverberating throughout our pastoral valley. Some call it a loss of innocence for this small town. Usually, the biggest news is about roadwork tying up traffic on main street. Burglaries or car break-ins top the police blotter. No one worries about big city violence. Everyone knows everybody. It’s that kind of town.

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My granddaughter’s birthday party murder was the game changer!

State police are still sifting through the testimony of party guests. Records are being checked for previous criminal activity. Cold cases are being unwrapped, searching for clues or patterns.

The honored guest

The honored guest

Reviewing party guests, no one stands out as an obvious suspect. Everyone seems pleasant, amiable. Perhaps not overly friendly, but polite and civil. No blatant hostility was evident. No obvious suspects stand out from the crowd.


THE SUSPECTS

Profilers are looking at the gathering, breaking them down into age groups and backgrounds. Motive is the big question. Everyone is so vague in their answers. This case calls for someone with expertise.

And, that would be me. The victim. This is my case, my story. I will tell it best because it revolves around me. It always did, in life and now, in death.

72-Garry-Fenway-Park_185

A retired, award-winning TV News reporter, I was checking out suspicious things before my demise that warm summer’s day. Now I know it was no coincidence, but at the time, I was bemused by the variety of possible weapons I found in the shed. All so readily available to anyone with a grudge and an opportunity to commit murder.

I’d covered so many murders in my forty plus years on the job, I knew something was amiss. Something was strange, wrong. Creepy. Unfortunately, I was right. Pity I didn’t realize the object was … me.

I didn’t say anything to anyone. It was pleasant party. I hoped we could avoid family squabbles and enjoy the festivities and go home with nothing more than mild indigestion to deal with. Everyone was focused on food. Hot dogs, burgers, salad, coke and beer. Good stuff. Classic American cuisine.

72-food-grill-barbecue-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_082

I was on my third or fourth hot dog. Feeling pretty good. I discreetly eyed the other guests, trying to put those weapons I’d seen out of my mind. Conversation was light. Restrained. Most guests kept their distance. Something was amiss, but I couldn’t put my finger on precisely what.

72-shed-midsummer-murder-kkbd-09102016_058

It fell on me to make some toasts, I suppose because of my professional background. I looked at the faces as I offered some light banter. No one seemed offended — but no one really laughed. I must’ve touched someone’s hot button — but who?

I turned around to get some water. I felt a whack on the back of my head. The world went blank.

The Victim!

The Victim!

On the ground unable to move, I could still hear the people gathered around me. I hoped someone was calling for help, but it seemed everyone was taking pictures — of me — or selfies with my body as background.

I heard giggles and laughter. Then nothing. Nothing but The Big Sleep.


To be continued … as soon as we figure out what happens next!

And since that was indeed a gather together of friends and family in celebration …

The Daily Post | Together

MUNDANE MONDAY WITH A BOUNCY ZING

It was my granddaughter’s 20th birthday celebration over the weekend. For everyone who was sure as soon as the calendar flipped to September that the heat would dissipate and we’d have crisp, autumn weather, they were wrong. We are getting cooler nights, but our days have been quite hot and sticky.

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Saturday, party day, was rather warm. Also, very bright. It was afternoon and we were on the south side of the house (where the lawn is) and the sun was relentless. I’m not good in hot weather. I never really was and the older I get, the less I can tolerate it so we left fairly early, but not before I managed to get almost a hundred pictures!

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Bouncy house!

Birthday woman ... not a girl anymore :-)

Birthday woman … not a girl anymore 🙂

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How about a dip?

It was a good party. For a bit of zing, there was a “bouncy house.” You’d be surprised at how many grownups find bouncing adds zing to their  lives. I’m not a bouncer. I would bounce once, fall down, and have to be extracted. But I think I captured the essence of party and zing.

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE

ZING! | THE DAILY POST

PARTY PHOTOGRAPHY – NOTHING TO SHOOT?

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Parties are where they invite you to take pictures but don’t make it easy. Cluttered locations, poor light, too many folks in tight spaces. I hate battling crowds under any circumstances, but especially when I’m shooting.

So, there I am. At a party. I know one or two people (maybe), and I have to take some pictures. Who are these people? Unless it’s my party … and we don’t give parties anymore … I hope someone will come by to tell me who should be in the pictures.

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Looking around. People are talking in groups. Eating. A few laughing. Some loners. People talking in pairs, in groups.

M's 60th-058

72-Garry and Charlie

Mostly of the other cameras are big ones, Canon and Nikon. I’ve got the funny little camera, my Pentax Q S1 with its lenses, plus extra batteries and accessories. It weighs less than a standard point-and-shoot. They sneer, but I don’t care.

Kaitlin 15th birthday

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Parties are stressful. Garry can’t hear in crowds and I can’t remember names. You can tell me your name and within a breath, I’ll say, “I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” If it happens more than twice, I’m too embarrassed to ask again. I shoot and hope Garry can identify the people in the shot. Later.

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There’s always a picture somewhere. Somehow. You have to look for it, sometimes very hard, but it’s there. And it’s better than sitting in a corner demolishing the brownies.

TRIUMPH OF GOOD OVER EVIL

We need to celebrate Fall of Sauron day. The triumph of good over evil. The dropping of the One Ring into the cracks of doom. The journey of a couple of fragile Hobbits — successful beyond all logic and reason — to conquer the dark doom of Mordor.


The message came by email out of my past. Blowing away at least thirty years of haze and fog …

… I still have your letter of congratulations on my first marriage … written in Elvish.

     d

I remember learning Elvish. J.R.R. Tolkien had amazing appendices, from which you could learn Elvish. Well enough to write a little and read even more. I could have studied other Middle Earth languages too, but quit after Elvish because I had, you know, to work.

I admit I don’t remember writing that note. I remember writing the “Fall of Sauron Day” (in English) service. The first version plus 5 or 6 later revisions.

macro fuchsia

We held the annual celebration as near as scheduling allowed to the Vernal Equinox — March 21st or thereabouts. It was like a miniature Seder, but with more wine drunk a lot faster. Drunk being the operative word.

all that is gold

The entire service lasted just short of an hour. Including about six glasses of wine. I’m sure I have a copy of the service in a huge box of writing in the back of the basement, near the oil tank. If it hasn’t rotted or turned to dust by now.

On a year when “the boys” (our lively groups of crazed engineers) had available time, we had visual and sound effects. We came in costume, or some semblance thereof. When life was too busy to make costumes, we did the best we could with whatever came to hand, dressing in some version of Middle Earth-wear.

Then we celebrated. Drank to excess. Which wasn’t hard since I basically didn’t drink. We laughed, ate mushrooms (the favorite food of Hobbits). Some of us me passed out and/or got sick me again.

Those were crazy busy years. Babies. Work.  Establishing a profession. Partying hearty almost every night, then getting up and doing it again.

All of this took place in my twenties. As I rounded the corner to 30, I wanted out. There is such thing as too much fun.

I lived nine years in Israel, but never properly learned Hebrew. Maybe if I had studied Hebrew with the same determination I’d put into Elvish, it would have turned out differently.

So, for now, if anyone would like to join me in a revived celebration of the destruction of Sauron, I have the service somewhere. We’d have to cut down on the booze since we don’t drink anymore, but I’m pretty sure we could make the rest of it work for us. Because celebrating good over evil is bound to be a rewarding holiday.

PLANNING TO CELEBRATE

Just you wait . Come September, it will be 25 years of marriage. We are going to Cooperstown. We will do wild and crazy stuff. Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. See Doubleday field. Take a lot of pictures.

September 2013

September 2013 – the last big party

The leaves should be turning, or at least beginning to turn. I certainly hope so. Maybe we’ll get married again … it would be the fourth time … and I have to remember to call the museum and see if they have someone who could perform a little ceremony. Garry would love getting married on Doubleday Field.

That’s as wild a party in which I can imagine wanting to participate. Maybe it’s because I’m chock full of antibiotics and dreading looking forward to getting that infected thing in my mouth fixed while wondering which overworked credit card can pay for it. Regardless, it’s not easy to get up a head of enthusiasm for serious partying these days.

I remember going to and giving parties when I was young. There was the requisite drinking, smoking, playing loud music. Eating brownies. Making gigantic pots of chili, enough to feed an unlimited number of people. And there were a lot of people.

I don’t remember events in detail because I was having the kind of good time that comes with too much drinking, smoking, overeating — and ultimately (or in my case, almost immediately) passing out. I slept through most of the high points of the best celebrations of my youth. I can claim I was there because I have witnesses … but I don’t remember much.

Did I have a huge amount of fun? I’m told I had a really good time. I have no reason to suspect duplicity on the part of those who have assured me it is true.

Today, I might go as far as a clumsy high-five with my husband, but have a party? You mean … cook for a lot of people, then clean up the mess? He’s limping. I’m just limp. I think will put a pin in that. We’ll have that big party later. Much later.

A HOLIDAY CELEBRATING THE TRIUMPH OF GOOD OVER EVIL

We need to celebrate Fall of Sauron day. The triumph of good over evil. The dropping of the One Ring into the cracks of doom. The journey of a couple of fragile Hobbits — successful beyond all logic and reason — to conquer the dark doom of Mordor.


The message came by email out of my past. Blowing away at least thirty years of haze and fog …

… I still have your letter of congratulations on my first marriage … written in Elvish.

     d

I remember learning Elvish. J.R.R. Tolkien had amazing appendices, from which you could learn Elvish. Well enough to write a little and read even more. I could have studied other Middle Earth languages too, but quit after Elvish because I had, you know, to work.

I admit I don’t remember writing that note. I remember writing the “Fall of Sauron Day” (in English) service. The first version plus 5 or 6 later revisions.

macro fuchsia

We held the annual celebration as near as scheduling allowed to the Vernal Equinox — March 21st or thereabouts. It was like a miniature Seder, but with more wine drunk a lot faster. Drunk being the operative word.

all that is gold

The entire service lasted just short of an hour. Including about six glasses of wine. I’m sure I have a copy of the service in a huge box of writing in the back of the basement, near the oil tank. If it hasn’t rotted or turned to dust by now.

On a year when “the boys” (our lively groups of crazed engineers) had available time, we had visual and sound effects. We came in costume, or some semblance thereof. When life was too busy to make costumes, we did the best we could with whatever came to hand, dressing in some version of Middle Earth-wear.

Then we celebrated. Drank to excess. Which wasn’t hard since I basically didn’t drink. We laughed, ate mushrooms (the favorite food of Hobbits). Some of us me passed out and/or got sick me again.

Those were crazy busy years. Babies. Work.  Establishing a profession. Partying hearty almost every night, then getting up and doing it again.

All of this took place in my twenties. As I rounded the corner to 30, I wanted out. There is such thing as too much fun.

I lived nine years in Israel, but never properly learned Hebrew. Maybe if I had studied Hebrew with the same determination I’d put into Elvish, it would have turned out differently.

So, for now, if anyone would like to join me in a revived celebration of the destruction of Sauron, I have the service somewhere. We’d have to cut down on the booze since we don’t drink anymore, but I’m pretty sure we could make the rest of it work for us. Because celebrating good over evil is bound to be a rewarding holiday.

MY PARTY

I was turning 60. The preceding five years had been rough. I had been nearly dead. Having pulled back from that edge, I was struggling to put myself back together and rejoin the living.

I’d aged a lot. I went into the period looking younger than my years. I came out of it looking older.

Sixty is the leading edge of years termed golden — a cynical stab at making a sow’s ear into a silk purse. The downward slope of life’s mountain is perilous. Sharp turns, unexpected twists, unseen hazards blocking the path. They poke and hurt.

Friends pass on. The remaining ones are too tired to be social. They move far away and you can’t visit. You can’t bring yourself to do battle with airports and security. Your passion for travel drops way down on your “to do” list.

Email and telephones are the fallback position and take the place that hanging out once held. Communicating becomes a challenge. Telephones have terrible audio. Even email messages grow succinct.

When I turned 60, my husband conspired to throw me a party. No easy feat as the pool of living friends had greatly diminished, yet somehow, he did it. I saw faces I loved, hadn’t seen in a long time. Some I’d never see again, though I didn’t know it at the time.

There were friends from all over my world. Family I would never see again. It would be the last time my brother would visit. In less than a year, pancreatic cancer would take him away. I look at the pictures. More than half of those guests are gone.

The gathering was a great, though. A beautiful, bittersweet gift.

Life goes on. Good times never entirely end and there will always days when laughter rings, even if it’s only Garry and I enjoying our private jokes.

I don’t spend much effort saving for future rainy days because, metaphorically speaking, it’s raining pretty hard. Tomorrow arrived a while ago.