SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
On my blog on August 18 of this year, I introduced the readers to award winning author Rowena Cherry and her science fiction romance novels that incorporated chess as a theme; each of 4 her novels had a chess-related title! http://www.rowenacherry.blogspot.com/
Today I introduce Michael Weitz, a talented writer and and his first attempt at serious writing http://www.michael-weitz.com/Welcome.html
”Michael Weitz cleverly crafted his debut novel by creating an unusual method of murder not used in mysteries. You are grabbed from the first page.”Robert Berryhill Book Reviews
Blurb from the back cover:
Making house calls or meeting people in public places is how Ray Gordon makes his living. He’s not a doctor. He’s not a prostitute. Ray Gordon is a chess teacher. When one of Ray’s students, Walter Kelly, is found dead in his shop, the police and his family let it go as an accident. Ray, however, doesn’t buy it. As a former cop with a lingering curiosity, Ray snoops around and stumbles into the murky world of methamphetamine, the worst drug epidemic of our time.
The problem? Walter Kelly was 65 years old and his only addictions were woodworking and chess. How does a 65 year old man become involved with illegal drugs? Why is a neighbor glad Walter’s dead? And just how do dead men play chess?
Meyer’s Lumber Company was a long building, painted the same color green as the outfield walls of major league baseball parks. It was old fashioned, in that the exterior walls wore shingles instead of cement. It looked like a leftover factory shop from the 1930s. There were two doors: one for customers to enter the store, where hardware and other supplies could be found, and a larger door. This one was big enough to allow trucks entry to the wood stock that was stacked there, and stood on end in bins, also. The whole place smelled like sawdust and earth. Not like the big, do-it-yourself warehouse stores tacked onto the ends of strip malls.
I went through the larger door, and veered into the shop through an interior entrance. The creamy, vinyl tile floor was chipped. In places, entire squares were missing, which revealed serpentine lines of dried up adhesive.
There were several neat aisles stocked with tools, planes, and measuring tapes, sandpaper, drill bits, and vises. At the end of each aisle, were displays of the latest woodworking gadgets, and near the counter was a large multi-bin stand that turned, and held several sizes of screws and nails in bulk.
“I’m looking for Randy Meyer,” I told the young woman at the counter.
“Is he in trouble?”
“Do you ask all your customers that when they ask for Randy?”
She was late teens or early twenties. She didn’t have a nametag, but she was probably Randy Meyer’s daughter. Somehow, a cashier making minimum wage caring if the boss was in legal trouble didn’t seem to fit.
“No.” She smiled, looking down and turning pink. “I just know he was out late, and you look like a cop.”
“Do I? Really?” I straightened out of my slouch and pulled in my stomach. “How exactly does a cop who’s not in uniform look?”
“Like someone not covered in sawdust.” She smiled. “Hold on, I’ll get him.”
She slid off of her stool, and pushed through a door behind her. I turned, and poked around the open bins of nails and screws.
“I’m Randy Meyer,” a voice behind me said. “What can I do for you?”
Randy was on the height-challenged side of 5 ft 6 or so, and wore his tightly curled orange hair in a business-on-top, party-in-the-back mullet. Must have been the style at his senior prom. His arms were solid. The way baseball bats are solid. He wore a faded red and gray flannel shirt, and wide-legged jeans speckled with sawdust and small bits of wood. A yellow plastic tape measure rode his hip. He looked like an angry lumberjack from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The only thing missing was a knit cap and a mustache.
I introduced myself, and we shook hands. “Could I talk to you a minute about Walter Kelly?” The girl glanced at us both, and returned to her perch on the stool. Randy looked at her, and then motioned for me to follow him to the end of the aisle.
We stopped in front of a display of adhesives. Everything from wood glue to polyurethane bonding agents was right there. If I wanted to stick ceramic to metal, wood to rock, or whatever to something else, I was in the right place.
“What is this?” Randy whispered, as he spun around to face me. “I already talked to the cops.”
“Yeah. Who are you?”
“I was a friend of Walter’s.” I shrugged. “You could say I’m looking into his accident.”
“Yeah? I think you should look somewhere else.”
“I’m not accusing you, Mr. Meyer. But, Walt was a friend of mine, and I’m just trying to put together a timeline leading up to his death. One of Walt’s neighbors saw your truck parked across the street that morning.”
He nodded, and looked at his feet. “That’s right. I never denied it. I was making a delivery.”
“Okay. Again, I’m not accusing you here, but from what I heard, you were in your truck for quite some time. Now, let me tell you how that looks. You were sitting in your truck either working up the nerve to commit murder, or cleaning your hands and calming down, following the murder.”
Randy straightened his shoulders, and his eyes widened. “You son of a bitch,” he said, and I was sure the girl at the counter overheard. “I’ve had my share of problems with the law, but I’ve never killed nobody.”
I held up my hands. “I understand. All I’m saying is how things could look, once the police find out how much money Walt owed you. I just want to understand what happened.”
“Okay.” He pointed toward the door. “Here’s something for you to understand: Get out of my store right now, or I’m going to have more trouble with the cops, if you know what I mean.” I was beginning to think my interrogative manner needed some improvement. Randy didn’t wait for me to leave. He turned and stomped up the aisle, then stiff-armed open the door to the lumberyard.
The girl behind the counter was wide-eyed, but otherwise silent. I shrugged, like it was no big deal to be threatened and kicked out of a store, and then I went outside. The street, where I’d parked in front of Meyer’s Lumber, was wider than most. It was in an industrial area, and built to accommodate tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, and service vehicles. Not only was the street extra-wide, but the parking slots for customers were a good car length and a half away from the thoroughfare. It reminded me a lot of an airport runway, with the buildings set way back from the traffic.
Just as I turned the ignition over, I was rear ended by a passing fork lift, and my car spun 90 degrees.
About the Author:
Michael Weitz grew up in the Pacific Northwest. usually reading anything he could get his hands on. He wrote his first novel in the 6th Grade — an eight page rip-off of Star Wars. A variety of jobs including waiter, gas station attendant, truck driver and a host of others, helped shape his world. After college he landed in the television industry where he wrote and produced a multitude of award-winning commercials, two documentaries about Mt. St. Helens and various other projects. Michael is an avid chess player, and student of the game. Now in Phoenix, married, if Michael isn’t writing or editing his latest novel, he might be found reading, playing chess or shooting pool with his league team. As an avid photographer, he enjoys traveling anywhere.
”My dad taught me how to play chess when I was in third grade and I was instantly hooked. Maybe it was the shape of the pieces, the medieval quality of the lines or maybe it was the sheer depth of possibilities the game held. I still don’t know exactly why I was, or am, so smitten with the game, but I expect I’m not the only person to have been taken in by its charms.”
”Chess has been around for thousands of years and has been compared to art, mathematics and science. In other words, chess is much more than just a game. You don’t even have to be very good at the game to enjoy it.”
”Like art, you don’t have to be able to mold clay or apply paint to a canvas in order to experience it, like math you don’t have to be able to master calculus in order to appreciate it or study every “ology” there is to understand the laws of physics (among other scientific fields).”
”Chess is something anyone can enjoy, study and learn from, but never master. And I’m the perfect example. I love the game and I’ve played in many tournaments. How did I do in those tourneys? Let’s just say I had a lot of fun.”
”If you want to learn more about chess, I encourage you to check out theUS Chess Federation for more information. Or type it into your favorite search engine on the internet and see where the world of chess can take you.”
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS