The Mysterious Bookshop


When Lt. Jones awoke, he found himself inside a theater.  A different theater than the one where he'd bought a ticket.  Darn it, he'd really been enjoying the picture! Disoriented as usual by the journey from where he had been to where he was now, he simply sat back in his velvet-backed chair.  Presently he used the armrests to hoist himself up and survey his surroundings to see if he could get his bearings and ascertain where in the world he was. No sooner had he done so than a man came bounding up to him and said, ‘Hi-de-ho, cat! Slip me some skin!’  Lt. Jones replied, ‘Do I know you, sir?’

The man said, ‘I’m Alan Freed, King of the Moondoggers!’

While the Lieutenant was pondering the rationality of someone who would introduce himself in such a manner, another man charged up to them and said, ‘I demand that this den of iniquity be closed!’

All innocence, Freed plaintively inquired, ‘Have you got something against hockey in general, or the Barons in particular?’

The other man roared, ‘You know what I’m talking about!  I want this degenerate noise out of Cleveland!  You are corrupting our youth!’

Suddenly serious, Freed moved close to the other man and said, ‘Oh, come now, sir, it's just music, it can't hurt you.’

‘Music!  Bah! That’s not music, it’s noise!  You’ll be lucky if anyone shows up to listen to that drivel!’

‘Be that as it may, we are going ahead with our show.’

‘Do that and you will bear the consequences!’  And with that the man stalked off.  Lt. Jones said mildly, ‘I’d keep an eye on that man if I were you.’  ‘All bark and no bite,’ replied Freed. ‘Forget about him.’

Resolving not to forget anything he'd seen and heard, the Lieutenant commenced to walk around, appearing to simply meander; in actual fact he was carefully surveying the scene.  It seems he was in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Cleveland Arena and according to the poster it was March 1952. He found himself near the bank of pay telephones where he heard a familiar voice. ‘They wouldn’t listen to reason--we’ll have to go all the way.  What?  The minute that jungle music starts, like we planned.’

This was the man from earlier.  Now what sinister plot had HE cooked up?

While the Lieutenant was pondering the various possibilities for mayhem, the man came boiling out of the booth and plowed right into the Lieutenant, sending both men to the floor. ‘Why don’t you watch where you’re going, jerk!’ shouted the man as he picked himself up. ‘You’re probably one of those middle-aged teenagers who actually LIKE this infernal racket!’  The Lieutenant took some umbrage at the ‘middle-aged’ comment, and replied, ‘Actually, sir, my tastes run more towards Edgard Varese than Paul Williams and the Hucklebuckers.’

‘Well, at last!  Someone with common sense in this cesspool!  But who is this Versus character, anyway?  Never mind.  Listen, how would you like to join me and some other gentlemen in keeping our community safe from this menace?’

‘How so?’

‘We plan to cut the power once this awful racket starts. When it doesn’t come back on, all of these teen-aged fools will leave--not one of them can sit still for more than a few minutes!’

‘Won’t sabotaging the concert strengthen their resolve?’

‘Of course it won’t! Come on!’

The two men, led by the rock and roll hater, whose name was Kirby, sidled up to the basement door and snuck down the stairs to the generator room. There Kirby prepared to shut off the power mains but before he could do so, they were joined by an unexpected figure--Alan Freed!

‘What are you doing here?’ yelled Kirby.

‘I’m promoting this show. What are you doing here?’ replied Freed.

‘Whether you like it or not, I’m shutting down this travesty!’  Kirby’s voice was loud enough to drown out the music, Lt. Jones reflected.  But even he was shocked at Freed’s reply.

‘Go right ahead.’

Now this penetrated the Lieutenant’s usual reserve. ‘You mean you WANT this man to sabotage the concert?’ he asked, incredulous.

‘I’ve already sold more tickets than there are seats,’ replied the impresario. ‘The more I think about it, I think it would be just fine if I can blame any trouble on a power outage, then I come out smelling like a rose, and when I put on another dance next month at the Pavilion, I’m just about guaranteed a sellout!’

'You can book the Roman Colosseum for all I care!  We'll stop that one too!' shouted Kirby. 'One way or another, we are going to keep our kids on the straight and narrow!'

'You haven't got a leg to stand on,' said Freed. 'We'll have all the necessary permits, more than adequate security, and enough chairs!'

This was new in Lt. Jones’ experience. Deliberately overselling a concert and then cutting the power to end it so prematurely?  The Lieutenant considered this turn of events but couldn't for the life of him make any sense out of it.  All at once the crowd started cheering. Paul Williams and the Hucklebuckers had taken the stage.  The concert was starting!

Kirby elbowed Freed aside and,  with both hands, pulled the power levers and the arena suddenly went dark and silent. For an instant, anyway. Then a roar of outrage welled up from the crowd and soon the noise of raucous booing and crashing and shouting was heard.

The Hucklebuckers had only played part of one song before the power went out, and while there was some destruction, the crowed had little stomach for breaking things in the dark, and, as Kirby had predicted, the teenagers filed out once it became clear that there would be no further rock and roll that night.  Kirby, Lt. Jones, and Alan Freed peered cautiously from behind the basement door and, seeing no one, came out into the floor seating area. There were some broken chairs scattered about, and some unpleasant-looking stains on the floor but really nothing that comprised major damage.  That is, until Kirby shouted, ‘Hey!  Over here!’

Splayed on the floor was a body--very very dead.

Tune in Thursday, June 2, for the next installment of Lieutenant Jones and the Fearsome Noise, as your friendly blogger is taking Memorial Day off.

Note that YFB has taken a few liberties with the historical record of The Moondog Coronation Ball, with no aspersions whatsoever cast on any real people or events.  

Meanwhile, check out some of these titles that are about music, or musicians, or at least have 'music' in the title:


Questions/Comments/Marshall Stacks?

Written by Ian Kern — May 28, 2016

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

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