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The door burst open, hitting the wall with a resounding thud. Virginia stormed into the living room, tossed her backpack on the rust-colored overstuffed chair, and hustled down the tiled hall into the kitchen, waving a sheet of paper.
"I did it! Andy, I really did it! My story got chosen for the next presentation at the Georgetown Playhouse. They actually bought my story. Can you believe it?" Virginia spun around with her arms out, the paper flapping from her fingers, her ponytail bouncing like a happy blonde squirrel as she pranced. She stopped; her arms fell to her sides and with her head tilted, she stared. "What are you doing?"
Andy looked up at her, pushing his glasses up his nose. "My hobby, magic. I'm now 'The Great Andy'. Nice ring, don't you think?" He put the magic apparatus down on the table, pushed his chair back and stood. "Great going with the story." He reached for Virginia and gave her a bear hug. "Do you get to write the stage play, too? When is it being produced?"
"I'll help with the transition, but they have someone who does those things. I get my name in the program, consult with the playwright and everything. The opening will be in twelve weeks." She pulled out a chair and sat down.
Andy smiled as he leaned back. "Just think. Here you are, a curator of American History at the San Gabriel Museum, and getting a play made from your manuscript. That's wonderful."
"Even after seventeen rejections," Virginia said. "This'll show 'em."
Andy marched to the cupboard and pulled out a bottle of Riesling they had purchased at a winery in Santa Barbara, California. He carried it to the cabinet near the stove, and withdrew a metal contraption. Hepositioned it over the bottle and with a flourish, removed the cork.
"You could have done that with a corkscrew, you know," Virginia grinned and shook her head. This must be his newest plaything from his lab at the university or from the garage. That's what she got for being married to an engineering professor.
"You like it? It was the result of an assignment I gave some of my juniors as a class project." Andy held it up. "They did a nice job of packaging. If you..."
"Andy, dear, it's a nice toy. How about the wine?"
He poured two glasses and brought them to the table. "You want to miss out on the nuances of the device? It is quite imaginative, really."
"Here I am, on the eve of my triumph and you want to talk about--that thing. Get real!"
Virginia sipped the wine and glanced around the table. Three decks of cards were stacked next to a square circle--a black box with a screen on one side and a steel cylinder inside sitting on a base with four small legs--tilted off its base. A long, low mirror was mounted in a slot on a two by four with two 'one by twos' for support and sat parallel to Andy. She pointed at the mirror where his University of Texas baseball cap precariously hung on the left side. "What's that for?"
"It's for practicing card and sleight of hand tricks. This way I can see what the audience sees and see what I need to work on. I made it this afternoon. Now tell me more about the play. Which story did they buy?"
She sipped some wine. Getting up, she turned and slid her hand across the top of the mirror. "Nice mirror. You need another hobby like I need a root canal." She started for the living room.
"I'll go get my backpack. I put the details about the play in it." She walked through the doorway into the living room.
Virginia strolled back, dumped her pack out on the table, retrieving her small, red notebook. She sat down and opened the book.
Her blue eyes widened. "The story they bought was Murder as a Community Project. I think it's neat that it's being done by a community theater, get it?"
Andy leaned forward. "Do you think you can keep the murders confined to fiction and acting this time? Have you seen the morning paper?"
She placed her notebook on the table. "No. Why?"
"There's an article about the Theater Murderer. He's struck again. That makes five victims in theaters in six months."
"From what I remember, there were two in Austin, one in Cedar Park and one in Round Rock. Where was the latest killing?"
"Georgetown," Andy said.
"Well. I don't see a problem," Virginia said. "My little story is in a smaller theater and not as well known."
"I hope you're right. You seem to attract murder."
Virginia gave him her best melting-stone smile. "Why Doctor Clark, what on Earth do you mean?"
"My dear, it seems like every time you launch into something new, you get involved in murders up to your pretty little neck."
"Andy, my love, I'm sure everything will be just fine. What could go wrong?"