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20pt. Large Print Edition!
Grant Jefferson joins the Gay Men's Chorus as a protégé of its biggest supporter, and begins causing more dischord than harmony. Determined he's going to Broadway, Grant sees the chorus as the means to his end, and doesn't care much how many of the other members he uses as his stepping stones—or how hard they get stepped on.
So, when a car bomb ends Grant's plans to be a star on The Great White Way, there is no shortage of possible suspects; and when the chorus' board of directors hires Dick Hardesty to see what he can find out about the murder, he ends up in a case as complicated as a madrigal.
That Wednesday evening, shortly after Jonathan had left for class and while Joshua and I were finishing up the dishes, the phone rang.
“Hi, Dick. Is Jonathan home?”
I recognized the voice.
“Sorry, Eric, he’s at class. He should be home around nine thirty. Do you want him to call you?”
“Uh, no, I won’t be home. But can you tell him Jim is in the hospital? Mercy Memorial, Room seven thirty-four.”
“Jim? Bowers? The guy who does the solo in ‘I Am What I Am?’ Jonathan said he’d missed rehearsal last night. What happened?”
“He got hit by a car—apparently on his way to rehearsal! A hit-and-run. I saw it on the news this morning, and when they mentioned he’d been taken to Mercy Memorial, I called right away.”
I hadn’t seen the morning news, and we normally watched only the national news at night. “I’m really sorry to hear that,” I said. “How’s he doing?”
“They wouldn’t tell me much at first, but I called again when I got home from work, and apparently, he’s still unconscious.”
“I’ll be sure to tell Jonathan,” I said. “And thanks for calling.”
Jonathan spent a lot of time on the phone over the next couple of nights, talking with Eric and other friends from the chorus about Jim Bowers’ condition and its ramifications for the chorus. Normally, one member’s absence wouldn’t be such a pivotal factor, but this particular absence involved a serious and growing rift within the group over Grant Jefferson’s—and, by natural extension, Crandall Booth’s—influence over it.
Rothenberger kept totally out of it and said nothing, but it was clear he was unhappy with everything that was going on, and I, for one, certainly couldn’t blame him.
Jim had regained consciousness but was still in the intensive care unit. I was a bit surprised to learn that Crandall Booth had insisted on being notified and on visiting him as soon as he regained consciousness, which was very nice of him. The police had had no luck in tracking down who was responsible for the hit-and-run. From all reports, Jim had no recollection of the accident and was unable to give a description of the car.
The following Tuesday, Jonathan came home from chorus practice shaking his head.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” he said before we’d even broken our welcome-home hug.
“Trouble among the angels?” I asked, leading him to the couch.
He sighed. “Yeah, I’m afraid so. And Grant is definitely Lucifer.”
“So, what happened?” I asked, picking up the remote to turn off the TV.
“Big brouhaha,” he said, leaning back. “Everything was going along fine until near the end, when Grant asked if we were going to practice ‘I Am What I Am’ and Roger said ‘Not tonight.’
“Well, that did it. Grant started complaining about how he needed the practice. Now, I haven’t been with the chorus very long, but even I know you don’t do that. It’s the director who says which songs will be rehearsed and which won’t. He made a concession last week in letting Grant sing it, but he wasn’t about to start letting the members take over. And we never go through the entire program at any one practice anyway.
“When Roger told Grant he was sure Jim will be out of the hospital in plenty of time before the concert, Grant looked like someone had slapped him. He looked around at a couple of his cronies, and they all chimed in, insisting that we did need to practice that particular song. Roger was obviously furious, but he merely stared at Grant and repeated, ‘Not tonight,’ and went on with the rehearsal.”
“I surely don’t envy Rothenberger his job,” I said.
“Yeah,” Jonathan agreed, reaching to take my hand. “But that’s not the best—or make that the worst—part. Sal Lennox, one of the tenors, told Eric he’s been dating a mechanic at Mr. Booth’s Porsche dealership, and they had a date for after rehearsal the night of Jim’s accident but the guy didn’t show up. He called later to explain he’d been called into work to do an emergency repair on a Porsche. Mr. Booth said it was for an out-of-town client who had gotten into a front-end fender-bender while visiting the city and he had to have it the next day in order to return home.
“But I caught up with Sal after rehearsal and asked him to find out what color the car was—he was on his way over to his boyfriend’s, anyway.”
I looked at him with mild surprise and admiration. “The color?”
He turned to me and nodded. “Grant drives a baby-blue Porsche, and you know what I think? I think Grant was the one who hit Jim, and I don’t think it was an accident!”