After missing a year or two of the large annual bluegrass and folk music festival in my city, I decided to take a chance in 2022 and attend. I didn’t make up my mind until the last minute, when a friend knowledgeable about the event assured me that the planners were taking every precaution to prevent the spread of Covid.
Our state still has mask rules and proof of vax rules for indoor gatherings, and my friend assured me that the hotel where the event was held had a good system for moving air in and out.
Before going further, I have to take a detour. While still working almost daily on the third draft of my historical fiction novel, I’ve been thinking about my next writing project: a cozy mystery. A cozy is one of four subgenres of the larger mystery genre that also includes “crime novels that center around a professional detective,” police procedurals, and caper stories. In cozies, sex and violence occur off-stage, and female, amateur detectives solve the crime.
I bring up this topic because I have been thinking about possible settings for my story’s crime to take place, and since I was going to a music festival, why not consider that setting? Eventually, the locale could be a folk event, rock concert, musical theatre, or symphony hall.
Having lost volunteers over the Covid years, the local event needed help, so I signed up.
My particular assignment was not taxing, though I covered enough territory to log 11,000+ steps on my Fitbit. My job did take me backstage and into a kitchen where I took a series of uninspiring photos, including several of a walk-in refrigerator. Returning to my volunteer post with two free hours on my hands, I pulled out a small notebook I had decided to carry that day to jot down any “cozy” inspirations that came to me.
On the first page, I wrote The Death of a Dobro (an acoustic resonator guitar) Player. I then went on to say, “Research temperature in walk-in refrigerators and whether that temperature can kill you.” I moved from there to the actual research. With a range of thirty-five to forty-five degrees Fahrenheit in such refrigerators, hypothermia could occur at the lower level, meaning it could be one entry on my list of potential causes of death.
Thrilled at my good use of waiting time, I left the hotel at the noon hour to eat and exercise. And, while away, I opened my purse. It seemed too light. Something was missing. My money? No. My vaccination record? No and not heavy. My phone? No. But where was my notebook? I took everything out twice. Still no notebook.
My breathing came faster, realizing that someone who read my first entries might think I was planning a murder, not at some unnamed festival but at the one going on right then.
When I returned to my post, two women I’d spoken to earlier were still there. As casual as I could sound, I said, “Any chance you found a notebook here? I’ve lost mine.”
One of them pointed to an empty chair. “I saw one. It was there, but it’s gone now.”
Relieved they hadn’t apparently opened the book, I stewed over what to do next.
“I really need to find it,” I said. “It’s important.”
“You might as well contact __________. She was here earlier.”
With their assistance, I texted this to-remain-unnamed woman, who said she had seen my notebook and put it in a safe place.
With help from the others with me, I recovered the notebook and made sure Death of a Dobro Player stayed in my purse the rest of the day.
Face it. If you found a notebook and wanted to return it to its owner, wouldn’t you need to know to whom it belonged? Wouldn’t you have to peek?
The woman who found it never returned during my remaining six hours on the job, though that part of the festival was her primarily responsibility.
Why she didn’t come back to the scene of my crime will remain a mystery.