Ransom Note Press
Androgynous Murder Party

Ransom Note Press HomeAndrogynous Murder...Circle of AssassinsCop with the Pink PistolNever Kill a FriendNine Man's MurderThe Ocelot ChroniclesOutsmarting of CriminalsSplitTales from the Back PageWho Gets the Apartment?Writing on the WallSales and Order InfoSubmission Guidelines




by Steven Rigolosi

Tales from the Back Page #3


"Hysterical ... a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed on a summer's day!"  -- Midwest Book Review

"Nothing in Androgynous Murder House Party is typical of the mystery genre (even the dénouement will surprise). Rigolosi truly is refreshing." -- The GenReview



Looking to throw a party with flair, verve, pizzazz? Why not rent a belly dancer, a cotton candy machine, a fortune teller, a 1950s jukebox, or a mime? From tame alligators to dancing zebras, we have everything you could possibly want to make your get-together memorable. Call us at 212-555-9090, or visit our Website at www.whataparty.com for the full list of rentables. 
You'll be glad you did!

Six friends gather for a holiday weekend at the Long Island estate of independently wealthy snob Robin Anders. As near-deadly accidents and mishaps mount, Robin is faced with the possibility that one of the six may be plotting murder most foul. But a larger question looms in the air: 
Are Robin, Lee, Alex, Chris, Law, and J men or women?

Chapter 1 of Androgynous Murder House Party:

            One loves one's friends, one really does. But to be forced to entertain them for an entire weekend? To plaster a smile on one's face so tightly for three days that one practically gives oneself a facelift? To suffer through the lingering effects of long-ago misunderstandings that have never been satisfactorily resolved? This, surely, is asking too much of one?
            Yes, it is asking too much of one. And yet that is exactly what Lee did—phoning me up and suggesting none too subtly that a weekend getaway could be just what the doctor ordered. Apparently, Lee and assorted others had been chatting, and the subject of my house on Long Island cropped up, and before anyone knew it, plans were being made to invite our entire circle to _____________ for the upcoming weekend. The rub being, of course, that the gathering needed my blessing to come to fruition.
            The tender young thing who does my manicures was gently applying a protective glaze when the phone rang. At that very moment, I was wondering whether I should place my hand on that untamed youth in a way that would make my interest obvious, as the two of us have always had a physical chemistry that we must stop struggling against, at some point, so that we may embrace our desires and move beyond the sexually supercharged atmosphere that results whenever my fingers are tended to. 
I fear I was slightly grumpy at the ringing phone's interruption of what was looking to be at least a liaison dangereuse, if not an affaire de coeur, as the manicurist is a dear thing, but quite vapid and certainly not one to keep around one's manse for longer than, say, a season, and preferably the season in which the fewest clothes are worn. 
"Who is this calling?" I asked truculently. I fear I have the habit of broadcasting my state of mind quite blatantly, as I have found that inhibiting one's thoughts leads to all manner of gastric distress. 
"'Tis I," responded Lee, in that irritating manner that is so hard to gauge; one can never tell whether Lee is speaking seriously, or whether fun is being had at one's expense. "Am I interrupting anything dreadfully important?"
"Not at all," said I, shortly yet graciously, as one must show a certain amount of noblesse oblige to those of the lower classes, and there is no better form of n.o. than patience. "The child who does my manicures is just finishing up. Hold the line for a moment, would you?" 
            I reached into the pocket of my robe and paid the urchin, adding an ample tip. The creature is always on time and always efficient, and therefore deserves the money; and, due to extreme mindlessness, is certainly fated to end up in an abusive relationship, so why not help the child enjoy life a bit more now? As the manicurist left, I gave those well sculpted buttocks a small pat, a liberty that I feel was within my rights, given the tip I'd bestowed.
            "We had the most fabulous idea," Lee continued, as I listened, grimacing. The combination of "we" and "most fabulous idea" could only mean that Lee et alia had cooked up a scheme sure to involve me in its serpentine machinations. "Wouldn't it be simply irresistible to have a gathering at the house in _____________ over the weekend?" 
            "You can't possibly be serious, Lee," I gasped. "The weekend is a mere four days away. To get the house opened, have it cleaned and staffed, and have all the foods and spirits ordered would take at least a month. I simply cannot believe you are suggesting such foolishness."
            "Oh, be a sport. I'll help with the arrangements, and I'll even come out early to help set up. I still have my key. It'll be tons of fun. Besides, the gang hasn’t been together for a while, and we miss you."
            This is the problem with longtime dear friends; they know your weaknesses and how to exploit them. Lee knows that I am, at heart, a romantic, and that I can neither abide nor resist sentimentality. Thus, in less time than it takes dime-store nail polish to dry on the fingernails of a Times Square hooker, I'd agreed to the gathering and was planning the guest list with Lee, who'd already determined whom to invite long before calling me. 
            There'd be few surprises among the guests; they would be the same group of posers, dilettantes, and frauds who've been boring me senseless for the past twenty years. Of course, one or two would ask to bring a current lover, recently estranged partner, or flavor of the month, and we'd have some good-natured fun with that person, in a manner that Lee once likened to George and Martha's treatment of Sunny in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? This was an observation, not a judgment, since it went without saying that anyone fool enough to traipse into a gathering of long-time friends deserves that sort of trial by fire.
            "I think we have everyone," I said, ticking off names. "Except for Michael and Michael. Have we excluded them deliberately?"
            "Perhaps unconsciously. But even if they were invited, I doubt they'd come. They're in the middle of a huge…thing. It seems that Michael was jogging in Washington Square Park when he bumped into—of all people—Michael…I know, I know, I am as surprised as you are…The two were having an uncomfortable chat when suddenly Michael arrived on the scene with Michael. Well, Michael had a wild idea, and the four of them went back to Michael's loft, and…well, you can guess what happened. Of course, word got back to Michael, and he flipped! Meanwhile, it turns out that Michael's roommate, Michael, was an ex of Michael's from way back, and much old sludge was dredged up, with the result that Michael and Michael are now not speaking."
            "Oh dear," I said. "I'd best just send them an invitation through the U.S. Postal Service on the day before we leave for _____________. The weekend will be over before they even get it."
            We divided up the tasks, with Lee calling the guests to proffer the formal invite and I making the arrangements to get the house opened and ready. 
Within five minutes of hanging up the phone, I felt a migraine forming behind my left eye. Why was Lee always able to talk me into these mad schemes? Our relationship had ended long ago, but I suppose a bit of the magic remained. And perhaps some of the bitterness.