I love Philadelphia. Went to school on the Main Line and now have been visiting pretty regularly. There are so many interesting and fun things to do. Historical things like Constitution Hall and the Liberty Bell. Educational things like the Art Museum and Franklin Institute. Funky things like South Street and creepy things like the Mutter Museum. Tasty things like Pat’s Cheesesteaks and the Italian Market.
Loving Philly so much, I knew it was time to pay it homage in a novel and so I set some of the early scenes in SINS OF THE FLESH in Philadelphia.
Caterina Shaw, the heroine, is a celebrated cellist who plays with an orchestra in the Kimmel Center and lives not that far away in a townhouse just off South Street. She also has spent time playing at the Academy of Music. The Academy is one of the oldest opera houses in America that is still in use for its original intent. It’s a National Historic landmark which sits on the corner of Broad and Locust Streets in Philadelphia.
One of the early scenes in the novel describes a chase through the Academy of Music building where the heroine has sought refuge. Here’s a little excerpt from that scene.
He continued down the section of Broad known as the Avenue of the Arts until he stood in front of the plain red brick facade of the Academy of Music.
The building was quiet tonight. The only life was the muted glow of the gas lanterns glimmering light onto the empty sidewalks surrounding the building.
The gated entrance near the front of the building was too conspicuous, even though the recessed stage door lay in the shadows, providing some protection from prying eyes.
Mick had downloaded the blueprints for the building from the Internet and knew just where to go. Turning onto Locust, he proceeded to a narrow alley behind the building. The light from the street lamps illuminated the mouth of the alley, but beyond that only darkness lingered.
He looked around.
The cobblestoned street was empty of any pedestrians, so he slipped into the narrow alley and paused a few steps in to allow his eyes to adjust to the lack of light and to check for signs of anyone else.
The long slender alley was also empty.
Time for him to move in.
He stole down the alley while hugging the wall, the ground uneven beneath his feet. The area lit only by the small beam from a flashlight he pulled from his pocket. He moved quickly, every action efficiently cautious, until he located the entrance shown on the blueprints.
Pointing the flashlight at the door, he prepared to jimmy the lock but found that someone had beaten him to it. Rather inexpertly at that. Large sharp gouges along the seam of the door and at the lock gleamed silvery bright in the beam from his flashlight.
He reached behind him, withdrew his 9 mm Glock from beneath his leather jacket and released the safety. With a gloved hand, he slowly opened the door and risked but a sharp glance inside before he cleared the entrance.
The interior was almost as gloomy as the night outside, but since his eyes had adjusted already, he could make out the tangle of shapes before him.
Large lockers and an assortment of equipment lined the edges of a hallway, but a fairly wide and navigable path existed down the center. Slowly he inched along, pausing well before the low light cast by an illuminated exit sign so that he would remain hidden.
He recalled from the building plans where the stairs would be that led to the manager’s office and dressing rooms, as well as the stairs to the basement level and trap door area. Crouching, he rushed past the dim circle of light cast by the exit sign.
As he did so his foot brushed against a cable housing on the ground. It slithered and shook like an angry rattlesnake. The rattle bounced loudly off the walls in the quiet of the hall and he stilled, waiting to see if anyone would respond to the sound.
Only silence answered.
Mick released a low grateful sigh and proceeded, decidedly more careful of the objects littering the floor and sides of the hall. More cables. A Klieg light. A box brimming with colored gels for the spotlights.
Muscles tense, every inch of him on alert, he skirted all the items until he neared the stairs to the basement level.
Pausing, he peered down the darkened stairway, vigilant for any signs of life.
As before, the space was empty and the area down below was deadly quiet.
He took the first step down the stairs.
A muffled thud sounded in back of him.
Copyright 2009 Caridad Pineiro Scordato