Silk Slippers and Tutus

A Matt Murphy Mystery - Book Three

by H. Paul Doucette

Being a Private Detective in Greenwich Village has its ups and downs. Sometimes a case comes through the door that sends you into the world behind the facade and into the shadows where the darker side of human nature resides, even a world one thinks of as the epitome of beauty.

There are fewer areas of art where such beauty is as wondrously presented than in the world of ballet. Or, at least, one would think so.

New York is famous for many things including for being a center of culture, so when a young dancer from Montreal is given an opportunity to debut in a new ballet choreographed by a brilliant rising star, she happily accepts. However, a shadow follows her from Montreal to the Big Apple.

Murphy is approached by a dance studio owner who has been chosen to open a ballet with this young ballerina as the principal dancer. It seems that her studio has been experiencing a number of 'odd' accidents and she is concerned that there may be something a bit more sinister going on.

As Murphy looks into these accidents, he slowly enters into the darker side to this world. A world of egos, jealousies, rivalries, sexual encounters, embittered betrayals and revenge.

To complicate his life even more, his friend Crazy Pete is brutally attacked and he goes after the ones responsible.


Chapter One


It was one of those really great spring days. You know the ones; filled with promise of the coming summer that lay just around the corner with its heat rising from baked pavement trapped between the buildings. Until then, warm air gently blew in the open window behind my desk carrying with it the smells and sounds of the Village: an old familiar melody that never grows tired.

My name is Matt Murphy. I run a one man detective agency out of a small office on Leroy Street in the Village. I know what you’re thinking, a private eye, wow. Late nights in smoke filled bars rubbing elbows with wise guys, hoods, loose dames, a cigarette in the corner of my mouth and a glass of whiskey straight up, of course, with a look of menace and disdain on my face. Not even close.

My main business comes from a couple of insurance companies that have me on retainer to look into certain claims. I also work for two law firms on a regular basis when they need background or alibi checks done. It isn’t the most glamorous work but it pays the bills and puts something in the bank and I almost never have to use my gun.

On this particular day, Friday to be exact, I was sitting in my office with my feet up on the corner of the desk reading the Times and listening to a song on the radio by a couple of kids named the Everly Brothers, nice harmonies, happy to just sit back and enjoy the day and think about tonight when I would be with the love of my life.

Most of the news seemed to be focused on the tensions between the Soviets and us, our growing involvement in a place called Vietnam and the situation in Cuba. I couldn’t help wondering why we felt the need to become involved in the affairs of other countries, especially ones where we had no apparent economic interests. I mean, didn’t we have enough going on right here at home.

I wasn’t really looking for a new case but the Fates, who long ago had taken a special interest in my life, had other plans for me... must have been a boring day for them.

It has been over six months since my last big case involving my best friend and a couple of crooked cops. His name is Abe Goldman and he is a cop. He was working a case that turned sour when he discovered it involved some dirty cops. He was set up by these cops and shot. Luckily he survived. I set out to find who was behind it and stumbled into the corruption within the N.Y.P.D. Since then there have been a lot of changes within the police department. Abe has since recovered and is now back on the job where he was promoted to Lieutenant and placed in charge of the Homicide Unit at the 6th Precinct.

As I was saying, the Fates decided that I must have been idle long enough, so, in their wisdom and to make sure I didn’t slip into an easy comfortable life, they sent her to my door.

“Mr. Murphy?” she said, knocking softly on the glass panel, as she opened the door.

“That’s me,” I said, swinging my feet to the floor and swiveling the chair to face her.

She stood about five six. Looked to be in her forties. She had a nice looking slender figure with long legs. It all came wrapped in a colorful floral dress under a light woolen waist length jacket. Her thick red hair was tied up in a bun at the back of her head but didn’t have that severe matronly look you’d expect to see. Not many women could have pulled that look off as well as she did. She wore just enough makeup to accent her facial features perfectly. By anyone’s standard she was a looker.

“Have a seat, Miss ...”

“Smithson,” she said, as she moved and sat in one of the two chairs in front of the desk.

“Okay,” I said. “How can I help you?”

“I have come to you on the recommendation of Mr. Saul Rubinek. He said that you are the detective that was involved in that horrible business with those poor actors some time ago. Is that correct?”

“Yes,” I said. Uh-oh.

“Good, then I have come to the right man.” She settled back into the chair, relaxing her shoulders. “I own a dance studio here in the Village on W 10th St. near Waverly. It is not a very big studio but I have several of the more notable dancers in the city in my company. Are you familiar with the dance scene?”

“Not really. I have seen a few performances but that’s it.”

“Yes. I see. Well, as I was saying, I have a studio. At the present time, it consists of twelve permanent dancers and a list of a dozen or so call ups.”

I must have given her a funny look at that point because she said, “Call ups are dancers who are not a permanent part of any company but who are available as extras, stand-ins, that sort of thing.”

"Silk Slippers and Tutus" by H. Paul Doucette


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