Friday, June 18, 2010

Magpie #19: The Opinel Knife Willow Tea Party Murder Mystery

"What can I possibly write about? An Opinel knife and a plate?" Whitley retorted with a frustrated huff. Whisping away small tendrils of silvered temple strands from the sides of her mouth, blown by the small fan in the humid air. "You know this is going to be tough; what the heck I'm I going to write about? Any suggestions? Chicco thought it an odd prompt as well. The sister team of writers had been writing for a year, trying to hone their craft.

"You know this is really cross-faculty, the subject has more to do with craft than art".
Whitley set her intent violet eyes on Chicco.

"This is really a difficult magpie for me, too Whit; for some reason." Thought Chic. "I'm working on it...".

"Is that dirt under the plate?" enquired Whitley looking at the magpie of the week. "We must really try to find out all the minutae of details, dear. Oh there just has to be, absolutely has to be, in a good murder mystery, a sense of detail so that the reader feels 'they are there'. I believe this is called the third wall in theatre; the audience becomes one with the play; another actor, almost. Yes, this makes a great suspense-filled story; with lots of angst, denouement, climax, you name it; all the technical literary device stuff!"

"Don't think so, it looks sort of like earth, from a garden" stated Chicco matter-of-factly her spectacles two inches from the screen. "Where did I put my magnifying glass? I can see better detail with that magnifier...oh where is it?"

"And the plate?" Whitley asked curtly. "It looks rather garden variety really, 1940's kitch, probably mass-produced. Not sure it is a regular plate; it is an awfully odd shape. I wish we could find out more about the plate and the knife."

Whitney had really wanted to know every find detail in the prompt. Chicco would research each subtle physical clue in the prompt picture while Whitley would learn something about the history of the said prompt. Both would always learn something new along the way; finding their detective skills in the style of Stephen King or...".

Chicco's trance-like state deep in thoughtful searching for something which give away the plot of the said item. Chicco was immediately interrupted with a sense of foreboding; a deadly quiet invaded the room."

"Or the person who wrote "Psycho"? Whitley suddenly jumped up from behind the couch where Chicco was sitting. Chicco let out a terrifying scream. "Ahhhhhh! Crap, Whitley, you scared the bejebbies out of me!"

Whitley had secretly snuck behind the overstuffed davenport. Then the classic Opinel knife fell swiftly to the ground. "Kerplunk!". The heavy sound resounded in the empty halls of Chicco's and Whitley's thatched cottage.

"What's that, it sounded like something fell on the floor?" Chicco said nervously.
"Oh you mean this?" Whitley piped in, trying to sound as much like Sherlock Holmes as much as she could.

"Ahhhhhhh! How did you do that; again?" Chicco screamed, jumping a clear two feet into the air.

"Do what?" Whitley asked nonchalantly, turning her head slighly to the right and on an inquisitive angle acting innocence of any accusation. She picked up the Opinel and was casually playing with it.

"You know exactly what I am talking about! Didn't your mother tell you never to play with knives?

"You mean mom? Our mom? Sure...sure, oh Chicco, you always take things to seriously! You need to learn to relax!" Whitley said sarcastically almost a sardonic intonation.

"Let me look at that knife!" Chicco stated directly; determined to get a hold of the knife.
"How did you get that knife; hey, wait a minute, this is an Opinel knife, no way, it can't be, no it is! it's the prompt! How did you get this knife? Just...what is going on here? Put it back!"

"Chicco, don't you think that maybe I have the exact same knife as Willow's? I collect antiques too, why are you saying it is Willow's?"

"No. I know as a matter of fact that you do not have a knife exactly like the Opinel knife of Willow's. There is no way!" Chicco turned a bright red, her huge eyes reminded Whitley of bug eyes, gigantic through her glasses. She frowned obtusely, her eyebrows set like comma's in her furled forehead.

"What kind of games are you playing today, Whitley?" Chicco, Whitley's younger sister said distractedly, reminded of the many times she was teased by her older sister when she was a young and naive child.

"It reminds me of the time you told me you had gum, Whit. Remember? In order to get some I had to go into the scary damp basement of Donna Litmers house." Chicco appeared annoyed with unresolved angst.

"You told me there was some; that it would be there in the freezer." Chicco voice waivered with emotion. On the verge of tears, Chicco tried to distract herself from her old repressed memories, full of unfinished business. "Would Whitley ever change?" Chicco most certain she would never change; not a smidgeon.

"Remember that? What year was that 1964 or 1965? But then when I got there you came in with Donna and said I had to take it away from the boogieman's body in the freezer." Chicco appeared to become greatly upset her eyes starting to tear.

"Are you playing those same game with me now, Whitley? Don't you know that we are supposed now grown-up adults? Chicco was acting like the mother now.

We are too put away our childish games; especially when it comes to teasing your kid sister! Not fair!" Chicco continued.

"We don't need to play these childish games! How childish of you, really, Whitley!"

"I am serious, Chicco, this is definitely Willow's Opinel."

"Are you playing a trick on me?" Chicco felt a twisted tightness in her stomach; a feeling she remember a long time ago. Her nerves having been unhinged in this way by this incredible hoax. Something so typical of her sister's taunting. It seemed so real; yet, it could not be. "This is not real, you're pulling a fast one!" repeated Chicco."I don't forget these things so easily you know..." Chicco gawfed frustratingly. Chicco was considering the plot; which plot would best suit the prompt. It was really a miscellaneous bag of tricks; she could go any which way with this prompt.

"Ohhhhh Chicco..." Chicco could hear Whitley calling her. Coaxingly her tauntingly into the computer room in the basement. "What now?" Chicco smirked.

"Come here Chicco! I want you to check this out!" Whitley was now sitting behind the computer screen in the airconditioned and fully finished basement. The screen was on Magpie 19 photoprompt for the week.

"You can't be serious, Whitley". Chicco sounded very serious.
"You see that small gouge right there by the Opinel's knife beechwood handle?"
"Yeeeah...yes...why are you showing me this Whit?"
"You see that...that special insignia? Do you know what that means? Yes, that's it; the small hand and the crown? Right there..." Whitley pointed to the computer screen and the magpie prompt picture.

Chicco replied as if she were employed at the local library; "No, not really..something to do with somewhere in France, where the knives are made by the Opinel family for generations. They're in the M.O.M.A in NY and the Albert and Victoria museum in England. They are considered utilitarian art." Chicco said with a flair for the academic; realizing she probably knew more than her sister in the history department this week.

"Well, Chicco, I want you to look close, notice here...". Whitley immediately produced the Opinel knife she had in her possession for inspection.

"Do you see this? look closely..."

"The same gouge as in the picture; the same small bit of red paint, if it is indeed red paint" thought Chicco. As soon as Chicco looked at the knife in Whitley's hand; her face grew pale. It was most definitely the same knife as the Opinel prompt on Magpie Tales!

Chicco also noticed other features of the photoprompt. It was by Chicco's exacting sleuthing to such high and exacting standards. She could always beat Whitley in a game of Clue. The girls would play for hours in the screened-in porch of their cottage by the lake.

Chicco would always know; through the powers of observational analytics; Chicco would guess ahead of Whitley. Whitley being older had taken offence to Chicco's amazing powers of observation. Even though the girls played the game solidly for hours on end when they were ten and twelve respectively, now was different. Chicco still considered herself to be the master of the game and could beat any kid on the block at the boardgame "Clue". The block was getting either larger or smaller; Chicco was sure of this fact.

Of course she read reams as a young girl, voraciously devouring any books, preferring The Bobsy Twins. Although the girls had the complete Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys encyclopedia of mystery books, enjoyed the classics like "Ten Little Indians" by Agatha Christie. The girls also watched every Colombo tv series ever made, Streets of San Francisco, adored Jeremy Brett in Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, even the abstract Dr. Who created a world where the "?" was king in fact anything with the word "mystery, murder, suspense, detective or whodunit" Chicco assimilated those worlds to create her own unique world detective stories.
In Chicco's mind, Whitley came along for the ride, enjoying riding on her coat tails and hard work.

However, as Chicco became "master of the game" of solving detective stories before the first or second chapter, her sister's unrelenting teasing turned into the jealous green-eyed monster of jealousy. It just so happened that Chicco had green eyes. Chicco intended on becoming a detective on day; her sister would just have to eat crow.

Chicco was convinced; these two knives were one and the same. Chicco grew a lighter shade of pale. She felt wheezy, light-headed; as if she was going to faint.

Suddenly Chicco felt a cold draft and she felt a chill on her neck. The small curly blonde hairs on the back of her neck were like creeping sensors. They went straight up in the air, magnetically attracted to the source of the stealthy creepiness. Like a willow tree searching for a source of water in the desert, her small hairs went down again when all was calm again, as it should be, however, now not being that time.

She felt it again; that unknown fear; her heart began to beat faster her galvanic skin response unsettled. She did study biometrics and had a biofeedback machine from Radio Shack. Not good now when the galvanic response was off the wall, the adrenal not only kicking it, it was her in the fight and flight response chemical; cortisol; deadly cortisol! Was her sister, by round about way trying to cause her a heart attack? Again! Those small hairs began to stick straight up on her neck.

Chicco turned around suddenly; she felt someone was standing behind her. Her lips felt numb, she was sure they were blue around the corners. Her hands went cold. She felt she was going into shock.

Whitley was indeed standing behind her with the Opinel knife. She held the knife up over Chicco's head.

Chicco grabbed the knife suddenly, wrestling the Opinel knife from Whitley's pasty and weak hand.
"Ahahha! I knew it was you again! Whitley, stop goofing around!" Chicco yelled emphatically.

Indeed, it was the actual, the original, the Opinel knife! As real as the one pictured in Willow's Magpie Tales prompt.

"How did you do it, come on tell me...right now!" Chicco still could not believe that this Opinel knife was the exact same knife as in the Magpie Tales prompt. her eyes, and started to rub her eyes with the back of her clammy hands.

"Well, it is the same knife, Chicco and there is something else I want to tell you"
Suddenly a lilting knock could be heard at the door.

"Must be Avon calling" Whitley said jokingly.

"Can I have my knife back, please?" Whitley looked pleased, like the cat that had just swallowed the canary for lunch.

Appropriate for the setting of this tale, it was that suspended moment in time; that time of day when everything stands still; it was high noon at the not-so-ok ranch of Whitley and Chicco; sisters and co-writers; there business; The Two Sister's Mystery Theatre.

"Could you get that please" referring to the door chime. Whitley was chuckling under her breath.

As Chicco opened the door she could not believe what she saw; her mouth dropped open in amazement. Suddenly her hand let drop the Opinel knife. A hard clunk on the ceramic floor. Chicco bent down to pick up the knife while opening the door. "Ker-plunk!".

As Chicco bent down to retrieve the Opinel knife, she viewed something rather familiar. There standing at the doorway, a pair of brown sueded shoes attached to a very stylish and stunningly beautiful woman.

Chicco knew this woman but did not believe it could possibly be the person she thought; but it was indeed that very person. Chicco said outloud; "I didn't know we know any movie stars?" The plot thickened.

There standing at the front doorway of Chicco and Whitney's house stood Willow of the Willow Manor. "The Willow!" Chicco could not believe her eyes; she rubbed them in round circles. Was it the imagined whiskey or was she sleeping on the job; it was all too real to be real!

"Willow?" Chicco looked like she was in total shock.

"Oh hi, Chicco, how are you doing? Do you still have that Opinel knife I've been looking for, it's got to be here somewhere, I am sure of this! I seemed to have misplaced it somewhere; I must have had my computer on one of those new apps! I wonder how that happened?" Willow enquired matter-of-factly, as if nothing was at all unusual or out of the norm.

Chicco did not look at all well. Her knees would not hold her weight.

"Maybe you had better sit down, Chicco." Whitley said calmly.
"I'm sure she's going to be ok Willow, she just has to get use to these new apps"

Willow then broke the silence;

"I hope somebody will write a really good tale on magpie 19 today; we're on #19 already? Tempus Fugit; Time sure flies!

Chicco said "Hey, thanks a lot Willow! You got some crazy apps lately! Do you want to stay for dinner?

Willow " Oh, thanks Chicco, but I've got to get going, so much to do right now. I'll make this promise though, we'll do lunch later, ok? Then I can tell you exactly how I get to have, as you mentioned to me in that last comment; "the best blog in the whole world with the best apps", ok?" Willow continued;

"Please don't mind that I step out for a minute, don't mind me I've got some errands to do in town. I've also got to get this Opinel knife sharpened; obviously. It won't work very well if I don't get it sharpened!" Willow seemed a tad distracted.

Chicco looked somewhat distracted herself and somewhat on the defensive, "Why do you have to sharpened the Opinel knife right now, Willow?"

"Oh that's easy peasy" chimed Willow. Willow smiled at Whitley sitting on the davenport.

Chicco implored; "Oh please, Willow, please tell us..."

"Well I need to sharpen the knife because...."

"Go on..." Whitley appeared intently interested as well, having just come in from the kitchen with tea.

"I've got to pare the apples we are having for our new apple recipe; and guess what? you'll never guess the pattern of china I'm going to photograph the new recipe on...can you guess?"

"Blue Willow?" said Chicco plainly.

"Oh that'd be much too obvious; you must have intrigue in any good murder mystery!" Willow stated scientifically, playing the famous sleuth; Sherlock Holmes.

"Well, I am sure we are going to find out one of these days. One of the readers or writers is sure to have the entire photo analysed down to a "t". Or should I say "m". Dial "M" for it now...ahhh...hhmmmm...?
"Mmmm...Murder?" said Chicco with stuttered nervousness.
"Exactly!" Willow exclaimed excitedly.

Chicco thought very heartily; "No, no, it must be the Blue Willow pattern, the murderer would never use anything else in a Willow magpie!"
"Who said anything about murder?" Whitley said inquisitively.

"It's a whodunit if I ever saw one". Chicco replied.
"Yes, but whodunit?" Willow wanted to know.

"I'd say the gardener by the apple tree with the Opinel"

Willow thought pensively and said "Much too simple, my dear Watsons, I think the next scene would be too obvious; we want to build suspense!"

What if the knife was the murderer? Willow rebutted.
"The murderer?" said Whitney and Chicco syncronistically.

"Just the knife? That's ridiculous" Chicco said without thinking.

"Oh no, it can happen, most definitely" Willow peeped. "Sometimes weapons have been known to be in the most inconvenient of places; if you get my drift?"
"Ohhhh, I see what you are saying...keep 'em guessing!"

"Exactly! Yes, I suppose I was saying that, in a roundabout way!" Willow smiled.

"Hey! Who left the knife on the chair? I almost sat on it!" said Chicco as she sat beside Whitley on the loveseat near the computer desk.

"Oh, don't ever do that; please!" piped Chicco to Whitley angrily. Chicco almost sat down on the Opinel knife that had been carelessly placed there by Whitley a few moments ago.

"Remember; it's not people who murder people it's people's knives who murder people". said Chicco definitely; her bright eyes twinkling like bright dust motes ready to catch fire.

"What?" "That's is definitely a twisted twist; but I like it!" said Whitley. "It may work". Whitley appeared pleased as punch. Whitley took a sip of tea. "Care for a tea biscuit Willow, do you like the pattern?"

"Now that's one crazy premise" thought Willow outloud. "Oh yes, of course I do, Chicco! Blue Willow, how'd you know I like Blue Willow?"

"Just a lucky guess, I guess" Whitley said bashfully.

"However, it might just work....why not give it a try" Willow then smiled a huge Cheshire Cat grin and walked back into the computer.

"Say hi to the other Maggers or is it piepies Magpies! Hi!!!"
Chicco could hear a loud "Hi!" from all the magpiers. They sounded a bit like magpies!
"Ok I will, see ya Chicco and Whitney! Got to go!" Willow friendly bellowed from the inside of the computer!

"See ya soon Willow! And please remember; don't go into any rabbit holes without us!" said Chicco and Whitney in harmony this time.



  1. Go here to sharpened your crafty Opinel knife for yourself and whittle away a poem, a short story, or whatever suits your fancy!

  2. Very witty, I love what you did here, very post modern, and a great read!

  3. what a story..nicely done!

  4. ha. a very nice write...not people who kill people but the knives...or are they only the instrument of the emotions...great mgapie!

  5. Hey Brian! Thanks! I think I was trying to actually make the knife the who in whodunit. And there was no "murder" per se; it's all "the plays the thing"; about constructing a murder mystery. I don't know that I want to actually write a murder mystery unless it's funny. The way people have to get "into" that mode; it's not my thing; really! I tried it...nope; not my thing. And we're all heard "guns dont murder people; people murder people". Well I thought I let the Opinel be the murderer as a joke! Get it? Silly I know!thanks Brian! I am going to pop over to your blog and read your most excellent writing; you are so talented! I am learning from the masters here!

  6. My fortune cookie tonight: "writing has more to do with craft than art".

  7. Definitely writing requires knowledge of various techniques to master. The writing "craft" once mastered allows the creative mind to flourish and hopefully, produce art. Great literature is great art. Art being wholly subjective. Craft being wholly objective. The two "twains" meet somewhere in the middle and that lucky day; Voila; c'est beaux arts! Thanks Willow for expanding on this highly philosophic adage of the most wise Confusiousian fortune cookie !

  8. How clever you are - this is a fine, fine tale full of twists and turns, a giggle here and a shiver there.

  9. Thank-you precious darlings! I'm workin' it!

  10. I can't stop laughing! That was really great. I have to say, that was the best Magpie about the magpies I have ever read, and quite a few people seem to be doing those. Such a lovely relationship between the sisters!

    P.S. What do magpies sound like?

  11. What a twist on the prompt,it had me riveted I thought one was going to kill the other.. And you had Willow arrive too. Very surreal!


  12. You wrote a little book ~ and I loved reading it!