Siphon Draw Apothecary

Six months ago I met Alan and Colleen Sinclair. Together they own and operate the Siphon Draw Apothecary in Apache Junction, Arizona where they sell a variety of organic handmade items that range from supplements to soaps. Just before Christmas Alan approached me about the possibility of doing not one, but two commercials for their business. I leapt at the chance to be involved.


Apothecary 1:

The first commercial was pitched to me as a concept. Alan first explained to me what the apothecary meant to him and then went on to explain that he wanted the audience to develop an emotional connection rather than a commercial one. Luckily, my job is by definition to create and/or enhance the emotional base of any given media. Alan then asked me to approach the commercial as I would a film.

Now it may go without saying, but to have full freedom over the musical direction of any given project is simultaneously the most freeing and most constricting thing that can happen to a composer. There is something about being able to go anywhere and do anything that makes you want to go nowhere and do nothing. However, by the end of our initial discussion I had, for the first time in my young career, walked away knowing exactly what I wanted to do and with what I wanted to do it.

Not long after that conversation I had sent Alan a rough cut of the cue to use as reference in the editing room and to my surprise he loved it so much that he asked me to develop the sections even further. This, for those of you who are unaware, is not a request that is typically made of a composer. Especially when they are writing for a commercial considering that you want to condense information not expand on it. Regardless, I did. In fact, by some miracle I did not end up rearranging or rewriting any of the music present in the rough draft. Which is a really big deal because this job usually revolves around the cutting room floor…I guess Alan didn’t get the memo.





Apothecary 2:

A few weeks later, I paired up with Siphon Draw Apothecary once more to produce another commercial. This time it was dedicated to the holidays!

[This next part is something I probably shouldn’t be writing down considering the fact that either Alan or Colleen could read this at any moment, but hey…I heard somewhere that transparency is a virtue.]

Admittedly I approached the project with a bit more confidence than I had approached the previous.

Or perhaps a better word is not confidence, but hubris.

I believe that it was equal parts my recent success and my general distaste for Christmas music that had me thinking that not only was I going to deliver once more, but that I was going to reinvent the Christmas music wheel. Of course only one of those expectations was in any way realistic. I did not reinvent the wheel…and I was hardly able to deliver.

Instead I spent the most part of two weeks biding my time. I came up with literally every excuse to restart or to work on something else. I had no idea what I was doing and I definitely had no idea where to start.

So, when Alan asked me if I could have the music ready by tomorrow I said something along the lines of, “I finished it yesterday. I’ll send it when I get home.” That was of course a rather considerably large bluff and believe me when I tell you this…I have never written anything so quickly in my life.

The next day I finished it. Or maybe it was that night. Either way I did the job and to be honest I did a damn good one if I do say so myself. Not only did I manage to reorganize the material from our initial commercial into a song-like format that pushed the music into vastly different places, but I also managed to sneak one of those classic Christmas carol into the back half of the composition.



P.S. This year I am going to focus more on producing sheet music from each of my musical projects. I didn’t really make an effort last year, which is a hypocritical thing to do considering that I get upset when my favorite composers don’t release sheet music. So, if you have any requests for sheet music or even full scores with relation to the music on the website or on my SoundCloud please let me know. Otherwise I am going to be putting together sheet music on a case-by-case basis!


See you in two weeks.


Until Death

Written by

Matthew Thrasher



6:30 PM

Frank pulled the cruiser into the department parking lot and killed the engine. He had scoured his memory on the drive over for any reason for this impromptu meeting, but had come up with nothing. He thought that it was highly unlikely this meeting had anything to do with his recent misconduct with Alex Verney. Frank would bet his next paycheck that Alex would keep quiet about the altercation that evening, not wanting to attract any more attention from the authorities. However, Litchfield repeatedly stated that he had eyes and ears all over the city, and at times it felt as if he might be Big Brother, so there was no telling what the man knew. When Frank knew he couldn’t stall any longer, he took a deep breath and exited the cruiser.

Frank entered the station to find the desks empty and the hallways deserted. He checked his watch and was surprised to find that it was already 6:30. Shit, Frank thought. He was supposed to be off duty an hour and a half ago. He considered himself lucky that he didn’t have a hundred voicemails from Valerie. It actually struck him as odd that Valerie hadn’t tried to contact him at all, but that was something to worry about later.

As Frank made his way through the station, he grew increasingly more worried that he had been called in to be reprimanded for that evening’s behavior. He tried to dismiss the thought and get himself under control, with little success. When he arrived at the Deputy Chief’s office, Suzanne’s desk out front was vacant. Frank assumed that she had probably gone home right after she had made the call to him. He approached the doorway cautiously, lightly tapping one knuckle on the door as he entered.

“You wanted to see me, sir?” Frank said. He was having a hard time controlling his nerves, but managed to keep his voice steady. Litchfield stared at his computer screen, never moving a muscle as Frank spoke.

“Come sit down, Frank,” the Deputy Chief said, his eyes glued to the screen. As Frank sat down in the chair in front of the desk, Litchfield clicked his mouse and turned to face him. The Deputy Chief usually had a terrible poker face, but at that moment Frank had no idea what the man was thinking. Frank’s heart was beating like he was a rabbit caught in a trap. Litchfield breathed a heavy sigh and rubbed his eyes with the thumb and forefinger of one hand.

“This has been a stressful week for all of us, Frank. The pressure of this job… not a lot of people can handle it.” Frank nodded his head slightly. “But over the years you’ve proved yourself a real asset to this department. You’re reliable,” Litchfield said. He tapped a case folder on his desk. “This shit made me realize that I need more men like you by my side. So, no more beating around the bush. How’s about we make you a sergeant?”

Frank was blindsided by the offer. He had been waiting to make sergeant for the last six months, and it only took two disappearances and a week of grueling emotional turmoil for him to finally achieve it. After shaking off the initial shock of the proposition, Frank was filled with immense gratitude.

“I’d be honored, sir,” Frank said with a smile on his face. The Deputy Chief returned a tired grin. Frank took a deep breath and chuckled, Litchfield furrowed his brow. “From the way Sue sounded, I thought you were gonna send me to the farm.”

Litchfield looked toward Suzanne’s desk.

“She’s been a little shaken up by everything that’s going on. You know, she’s got two girls of her own, one of them about the same age as Jackie Douglas.”

Frank nodded his head, emotions clashing within him. While he was incredibly excited by the promotion, it also doubled his internal pressure to find the person responsible for the disappearances. He had nearly lost himself in thought when he noticed Litchfield stand, an action that he mimicked from his spot across the desk. The Deputy Chief extended his hand, which Frank grasped and shook firmly.

“Go home, Frank. And congratulations.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Frank exited the office and headed to the back of the station to turn in his bodycam. On his way there, Frank pondered whether he could have been wrong in his initial impression of Litchfield. He had always thought of the Deputy Chief as a blowhard whose one-track mind only had one objective: rising through the ranks. However, it seemed that when the chips were down, Litchfield knew what he was doing. Frank was also shocked that the Deputy Chief had taken note of his work ethic, something that Frank never thought the man would ever acknowledge, even if he spent an eternity on the force. Maybe he was a good cop disguised in an asshole’s body.

Frank dropped off the bodycam and headed home. He was worried about what Valerie would say about him being almost two hours late, but was hoping that the good news might balance things out. He pulled the cruiser into his driveway and prepped an apology before he exited the car.

When Frank walked in the front door, he couldn’t help but smile. Valerie was seated in the recliner with Cade in her lap, both of them fast asleep. Frank tiptoed past, being extremely careful not to wake them, and scurried down the hallway. He changed into a plain white tee shirt and sweat pants, grabbing the Tom Clancy novel he had been reading slowly but surely off his nightstand, and crept back into the living room. He planted himself on the couch and began to read. He intended to wait until Valerie had woken up, but before he knew it Frank had drifted off to sleep. This time it was a black, dreamless sleep where time seemed to be nonexistent. Two minutes or two years could have passed before he was awakened by Valerie’s light shaking of his arm.

“Hey,” Frank said with a lazy smile. Valerie kissed him and sat down on the couch next to him.

“Hey yourself,” she said. Valerie was dressed in pajamas, her hair in a messy bun that resembled a bird’s nest. She was wearing glasses that would look more at home on a librarian than a stay-at-home mom in suburban Arizona. Somehow, someway, Valerie could still make that look work for her. Frank didn’t know how she did it.

“Have a good nap?” Frank asked, motioning toward the recliner.

“I could ask you the same thing. Tom Clancy is nature’s NyQuil, huh?”

“Hey, we don’t trash Clancy in this family.”

“Oh, was that in the monthly newsletter? I must have missed it,” Valerie said, giving Frank a sarcastic grin. Both of them laughed, making sure to keep it quiet so as not to wake Cade.

“I have some good news,” Frank said.

“What is it?”

“In the very near future, you’ll be married to Vander PD’s newest sergeant,” Frank said, beaming.

“Oh my God, that’s amazing!” Valerie gave Frank a long kiss. She pulled away and the two looked into each other’s eyes. “When will I get to meet him?”

“I’ll introduce you tomorrow,” Frank quipped back. He loved their playful banter, but didn’t see much of it when times were stressful. He was beyond grateful to see it now.

“Alright Sergeant, let’s go to bed.”

“Ten-four,” Frank said. For the first time in the last week, Frank finally felt like himself again.


September 1st


7:00 AM

Frank awoke to the decadent smell of freshly-cooked bacon wafting through his bedroom door. He sat up in bed, deeply inhaling the aroma as he stretched and rubbed his eyes. The first touches of morning light were peaking through the window, illuminating the room in a soft, comforting glow. It seemed as if everything in his life that had been insanely hectic for the last week had faded away, so Frank took a moment to bask in the serenity of the year’s first September morning.

Frank was scheduled for the night shift, and he intended to utilize every available moment of daylight to spend with Valerie and Cade. He climbed out of bed and watched as the sun crested Callaway Creek Mountain, appreciating the natural beauty that Arizona had to offer. Frank could feel no trace of the near-crippling anxiety that had almost consumed him and hoped that it was gone for good. Thoughts of the two missing girls still itched at the back of his mind, occasionally gaining some of his attention, but he was able to brush them off for the time being. He was determined to let nothing ruin his time with his family.

Frank walked out of the bedroom toward the kitchen, where he found Valerie finishing up breakfast. Cade was in the living room sitting against the couch, playing with his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine toy. Frank went to Cade first, sitting down cross-legged on the floor next to him. Cade paid no attention, completely engrossed in his attempt to chew Thomas in half. Frank started slowly walking his fingers across the floor, which caught Cade’s eye. The kid was smart enough to know what was coming next. Frank started tickling Cade around his midsection, causing Cade to laugh hysterically and drop his toy under the couch. Frank retrieved the toy and handed it back to his son before standing up with a grunt and meandering over to the kitchen.

Frank wrapped his arms around Valerie’s waist and kissed her cheek as she scraped scrambled eggs from a stove pan onto the two plates in front of her. The breakfast that she had made included scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and two slices of buttered toast each, a monumental step up from Frank’s usual breakfast of soggy oatmeal and black coffee on the way out the door. Frank took his plate and seated himself at the head of the dining table, making sure that he could see Cade. Valerie sat in the chair next to Frank and they both took a moment to admire their son as he slid Thomas the Tank Engine back and forth across the carpet. Frank couldn’t believe that the pure-hearted bundle of joy seated in the living room was truly his flesh and blood, his DNA.

When Frank had first heard about Valerie’s pregnancy, he initially had reservations about being a father, but after seeing Cade’s face for the first time, he knew that everything had turned out right. Cade had been a fairly easy baby to raise compared to some of the horror stories he had heard other new parents tell. Cade wasn’t colicky, he hardly ever fussed, and he seemed curious and inquisitive about the world around him.

“That kid is going to be smarter than the both of us,” Valerie would say occasionally.

“Dear God, let’s hope so,” was Frank’s usual response.

Frank turned his head to Valerie who met his gaze, and they both smiled. Frank knew that they were thinking the same thing. How did we make something so perfect and pure? Frank personally didn’t have the slightest clue.

He took a bite of his eggs and before he knew it, he was devouring the entire plate like a feral animal. The bacon didn’t stand a chance; it was gone in a matter of seconds. The stress of the last week and Frank’s constant mental frenzy had caused his meal schedule to be thrown out of whack, and he was compensating greatly.

“Don’t just inhale it,” Valerie said, the look on her face a combination of amusement and horror.

“Sorry Hun,” Frank said, wiping his face with a napkin, “The food is amazing.” Valerie chuckled and rolled her eyes before continuing to eat her breakfast.

“So I was thinking that maybe we could take Cade to the park today,” Frank said, just moments after clearing the last bits of food off his plate. Valerie’s eyes lit up at the proposition.

“That’s a great idea!” Valerie shouted. Cade turned his head, curious as to why his mother had raised her voice. After the momentary distraction, he returned to the important matter of picking up Thomas the Tank Engine and throwing him onto the ground repeatedly.

“I thought it would be nice for him to play around in the sand and maybe I can push him on the swings. Who knows, he might make a little friend or two,” Frank said.

“I’ll get ready for the day and then we can go right on over,” Valerie said, beaming with joy. Frank leaned in and gave Valerie a kiss. Just then, Frank felt a tug at the bottom of his shirt. He turned to find Cade standing right next to him, his trusty Thomas held in one hand. Frank figured that Cade must have waddled over in the short time that he had turned his head to look at Valerie. Kid is like The Flash, thought Frank. Cade lifted Thomas above his head, offering him to his father as a grin spread across his infantile face.

“Thank you, Cade,” Frank said. He accepted the gift graciously and picked Cade up, placing him on his lap. The two pushed Thomas back and forth to each other on the table as Valerie finished her breakfast and left the room to get ready for the day. Frank played with Cade until Valerie was out of the shower, at which time he handed Cade off to her and took a shower of his own. He got ready much quicker than Valerie and found himself in the living room with Cade as he watched a television show that was supposed to be good for developing brains. As soon as the episode ended, Valerie was ready to go and the three of them hopped in the family SUV and made their way to the park.

When they arrived at Hammond Park, Cade immediately made a beeline for the playground sandbox. He planted himself in the center and went to work repeatedly picking up handfuls of sand and letting it slip through his fingers. Frank and Valerie occupied the bench closest to the sandbox, where Valerie took out a book and began to read, glancing up every few pages or so to make sure Cade was still his happy-go-lucky self. Frank was staring into the space in front of him, letting his mind wander while Valerie kept her nose buried in the book. The novel she was invested in was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Frank thought that the book completed a comical picture of the two of them.

His mind kept trying to pull thoughts of Katheryn and Jackie to the surface as he let it wander and he had to make a conscious effort to suppress them. He would focus all of his attention onto what Cade was doing, and that helped to keep his mind occupied. At that moment, Cade was using a plastic shovel that someone had left in the sandbox to make an enormous mound of sand in front of himself. Birds were singing in the trees and the sky was clear and blue, the perfect setting for a day at the park.

After a while, Cade grew tired of the sandbox and meandered over to his mother, lifting his arms in the air to indicate that he wanted to be picked up. Before Cade could reach her, Frank swooped in and did the job for her, carrying him toward the swing set. Valerie smiled and waved to Cade, who returned the gesture with a giggle.

Frank placed Cade in the bucket swing and began to push him, much to Cade’s amusement. The higher he was pushed, the louder his laugh grew. Frank pushed the swing reflexively, looking around at the different types of people that frequented Hammond Park. There were two mothers shooting the breeze on a bench near the jungle gym as their daughters ran rampant around the playground, as well as a father and son tossing a Frisbee to their golden retriever. There was also a woman in a bright pink track suit speed-walking down the runners’ path near the parking lot, where she passed a bench that was occupied by an elderly man in a black jacket. The man had a snow-white goatee and was wearing a gray ivy cap pulled down low. He seemed to be doing nothing more than enjoying the sound of the birds, but the man had Frank’s undivided attention from the moment he first caught sight of him. Frank’s palms became sweaty and his mouth dried out, and he couldn’t help but feel like somehow he knew the man, although the face didn’t ring any bells. The anxiety that Frank had been keeping at bay suddenly came rushing out, congregating in his chest and squeezing his heart until it felt ready to burst. Every breath became a struggle, and Frank felt like his lungs might wither and die.

Suddenly, the bucket swing that Cade was seated in struck Frank in the chest on a backswing, knocking whatever air was left in his lungs out of him and doubling him over. He winced and took a few seconds to regain his breath, glancing up at the bench afterwards. The elderly man was gone. Frank looked in every direction but could not seem to find any trace of him. Oddly enough, Frank’s anxiety had dissipated and he felt just as good as he had that morning. Maybe what I needed was a sharp blow to the chest, Frank thought.

He began to push Cade on the swing once again when he noticed Valerie standing near her bench with a concerned look on her face. Frank flashed a cheesy fake smile in her direction to indicate that he was okay and that he did realize how dumb he must have just looked. Valerie rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling. She sat down and delved back into Gillian Flynn’s world.

They spent another hour at the park, running around in the grass and helping Cade traverse the jungle gym. Valerie didn’t end up doing all that much reading, but she was okay with that. She would much rather play with Cade. By the time the three of them left the park, he had fallen asleep.


When they got home, Frank used the time that Cade was asleep to fix the malfunctioning garage door that he had been meaning to get to for some time. The door would open properly most of the time, but occasionally it would get stuck halfway or not move at all. It took a few hours, but Frank finally got it back in suitable working condition.

When Cade awoke from his nap, Valerie thought it would be a good idea for the three of them to watch one of Cade’s favorite movies together. She put Toy Story in the DVD player and they watched it uninterrupted from start to finish. Frank had to admit that he loved the movie just as much as anyone else, but the best thing about watching it was seeing how captivated Cade looked during every scene. The kid was mesmerized by the Pixar characters and it filled Frank with joy to see how much happiness Cade radiated while watching the film, even though it was about the 12,000th time he had seen it.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Frank prepared his equipment and uniform for his shift, Valerie decided to clean the bathroom, and Cade played with various toys in the meantime. Frank made spaghetti for the adults for dinner and a small bowl of macaroni and cheese for Cade. Frank and Valerie thought their dinner was delicious, and Cade wore most of his on his face instead of eating it. After Frank and Valerie finished tucking Cade into bed a few hours later, Frank opted to get a few hours of shut eye himself before he went on duty at 1:00 in the morning.


The night shift was long and tedious, filled with mental malaise and wandering thoughts. Frank spent the majority of the night trying to keep his mind occupied, but the most exciting task he was assigned was crashing a party on 16th Street. The neighbors had made a noise complaint and there was a variety of cars on the street, but when a teenager opened the door to speak to Frank, he was the only person who could be seen. A fold-up table was placed in the center of the living room and red solo cups were strewn about the room haphazardly.

“You have a little party going on in there?” Frank asked.

“Just have a few friends over,” the teenager said. He was choosing his words deliberately and carefully.

“Where are they at, then?” Frank asked. The teenager hesitated for a moment.

“Upstairs.” Frank nearly smirked at the succinct response.

“Okay, well you guys keep it down, alright? I don’t want to have to come back here,” Frank said, turning and walking back toward his car.

“Yes sir, Officer,” the teenager mumbled, miming a sloppy salute. Frank had to hand it to the kid, the sober act was pretty convincing up to that point. He also found it impressive that everyone in the house managed to hide and keep quiet so well. He chuckled as he walked back to his patrol car.

Frank parked at the end of the street, far enough out of view to not be seen by the partygoers but close enough to see them come out of the house. His plan was to wait until the inebriated teens stumbled out of the house and stop the prospective drunk drivers before they could ruin anybody’s life. I’m a glorified babysitter, Frank thought. He couldn’t wait to get home and spend the rest of the weekend with his family.


September 3rd


9:20 AM

Valerie sprinted down the middle of Wright Street as Catholics of all ages cheered her on. She was breathing heavily and her legs were tired, but she was determined to finish the race on a high note. She had known that she wouldn’t be in top fighting shape for the 5K, but she was running out of steam faster than expected. In her prime, Valerie could finish half-marathons without a problem, but this race was kicking her ass. Every time one of her Nikes hit the pavement she felt the needle in her fuel tank dipping closer to empty.

Valerie was having one of the best weekends she’d had in recent memory, and finishing this race would be the cherry on top. On Friday, Frank had suggested that they take Cade to the park, and seeing the two of them interact warmed Valerie’s heart. It was also great to see her husband’s usual personality shine through the stress and anxiety that he had been experiencing the previous week. She was even able to poke jokes at him and he would give them right back, just like they were in college again. Saturday was just as good as Friday, most of the day being spent lounging around and watching movies as a family. She even found time to finish Gone Girl, and was excited to pick up another Gillian Flynn novel as soon as possible.

It had been a relief to Valerie when she learned that the church was still putting on their annual 5K for Leukemia that Sunday. She had been uncertain about whether it would still happen in light of recent events, but believed that it was important that the show go on. The event was for a good cause and was the first race she had been able to run in two years.

Valerie spotted Frank and Cade in the crowd as she inched closer to the finish line. There was a light breeze blowing through the Sunday morning air and Valerie was extremely grateful for it. Beads of sweat dripped down her face intermittently, but she paid no mind to them. This was the final stretch, and Valerie kicked into the highest gear that she had.

She crossed the finish line in front of the church a few seconds later, clocking in a time just under twenty-two minutes. A few racers had finished before her, but she was still in the top ten. She slowed to a walk and paced around with her hands on her head as Frank walked over to her with Cade in his arms. Cade was clapping his hands together and was wearing an ear-to-ear grin.

“That was incredible!” Frank exclaimed as he leaned in and gave her a kiss in between her gasping breaths.

“Thanks,” Valerie managed to force out, flashing a smile. She noticed some commotion near the church and saw that members of the congregation were taking photos with the winner of the race. Valerie recognized the woman from Sunday mass, but was unsure of her name. Mindy or Mandy sounded vaguely correct. Good for her, Valerie thought. That’ll be me again soon enough.

Frank couldn’t have been more proud of his wife. After taking off two years due to the pregnancy and raising Cade, Valerie finished in the top ten during her first race back. He was truly amazed by her. This was the one of the best weekends the family had ever had together, and Frank loved every second of it. He remained in the same state of joy until he learned of Vander’s third disappearance the following day.


A Case Study: John Williams

I started this project just over two months ago. When I started I didn’t know how it would end and I certainly had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to learn all that I could from my musical endeavors without always having to start from scratch. In school, you are never forced to just make up something to learn (could you imagine that) that would be insane. Instead you are assigned to a class with a specific educational goal, like international sports or film production. And in the parameters of those classes you are given assignments in effort for you to learn as much as you can about one thing. So, that’s what I did.

Last time I presented to you a set of themes that I had written in the style of John Williams. Arguably those themes are some of the best music, if not the best music, I have ever written. I can still say that, though in my mind they are considerably lesser to this piece I am about to show you.

Weirdly enough this piece actually began with the middle section. I had hoped, as I always do, that the music I was writing at the time would have been fulfilling and eye opening, but at the time it was only fulfilling. It was derivative. And I even claimed it was when I posted a variation on it called the New Republic theme suite. It was only after I wrote the theme suite that I realized the potential of what I was doing and so I seized that potential. I wrangled it for a few months all the while balancing my social life and my schooling and what have you until I had finished the Family That Stray Together Stays Together theme suite (a theme suite that took me a whole month to write). Then, I knew exactly what I wanted to do…and two weeks later I am here with the most intense four minutes of music I have ever written.

As I have mentioned before, this music was set to a scene in a novel at the end of a trilogy where everything was at stake. That is kind of how I felt writing this music, because as the due date approached I realized I would have to cut many grand ideas out of my final product in order to publish it on time. How could I possibly end the piece when it was unfinished? I had so many reservations about what direction to take the piece in when I started, but as I got into the writing process I suddenly had no reservations at all. I only had possibilities, and now those possibilities had to be thrown to the wayside because I put a deadline on myself.

Now with all of that being said and done, I am glad to say that I have come to a wonderful agreement with myself about the music: It is complete. All themes are present in this piece of music, even if only briefly, and I am so proud of the amount of Star Wars that I captured here that I just want to brag about it! I won’t though. I have heard that such actions are unbecoming. Rather I will explain to you how it is that I feel this piece should be listened to. First of all, it is to be treated as a singular cue in a much bigger scene. That is why the music sounds like it will continue, and why it does not. Secondly, as a listener it has always been a fun game of mine to try and spot the little thematic variations and developments. So, listen carefully for those. Lastly, I would like to put a disclaimer out there that I have in fact used a very small amount of actual Star Wars music. When you here it, know that I do not own it and I do not intend to profit off of it. I simply couldn’t resist the urge when I saw the opportunity. (Let me know if you can hear it).



Returning to the analogy of using classes and musical artists I would like to express the things I have learned over these last couple of months writing all of this music. After all, that is what these Case Studies are be about.

1) Translating a harmonic language is more than half the battle. John is famously known for mostly being a neo-romantic composer and to discover what that meant I had to break my personal and academic sense of tonality in order to do it. I can’t say that I have mastered his tonal language, but I can say that now that I have used it and I have begun to understand it; it will never leave me.

2) Time is fluid, and so my manipulation of it has to be as well. I maintained 4/4 for most of the piece, however when it came time to switch between styles or even break up tonality in order to introduce other motives I had to be able to cycle through time signatures like crazy. Overall the result is pretty satisfying.

3) Sometimes all preconceived notion have to be thrown to the wayside. There is a section in here that is unlike anything I have ever written and it came from a moment when I thought: What would being shot down feel like? What would that sound like? And so, one of the most nonsensical things I have ever written throws all notions of harmony away for an extremely jarring moment that gave me some great responses from my test audiences.

*Stay tuned, later today is the last post of Until Death for the rest of the year. There are some exciting things in store for you!*


A Case Study: John Williams

John Williams:

American film and concert composer, 85, with a decade that spans over six decades into the modern day. He is one of the most influential American composers whose work includes classic films that shaped the film industry today like: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws. These works have earned him countless awards alongside the reputation of being the only living person with 50 Oscar nominations and hundreds of Academy Award nominations. Williams’s body of work also includes over forty modern concert works including over 11 concerti of which are performed around the country. Recently, he was awarded a lifetime achievement by the American Film institution.



Personally, John Williams has been one of the most influential musical forces in my life thus far, and for many reasons at that. His orchestrations have consistently mesmerized me and the level of characterization that he brings to each and every project that he is involved with is something that I have always found to be transcendent. If the digital albums I have on my phone could be played back as physical records, I would have worn each of the scores that I own out three times over. In other words, I really enjoy his music.

Some of my favorite music of all time comes from his film discography (i.e. the Book Thief, the Empire Strikes Back, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and his most recent collaboration with director Steven Spielberg the BFG). Each of the aforementioned scores employs wildly different techniques that sound so surreal they force me to stop and think about what I just listened too. Whether he is capturing the sleepy adolescents of a girl under Nazi occupation with a dark secret hidden in her basement, or exhilarating an audience with a space opera that balances the pastoral with the frenetic, John’s music never fails to place exclusively human emotions in all of their depth into the capable hands of a live orchestra.

About two months ago I decided to attempt to understand the musicians, which I admire most. And of course I didn’t want to start with someone easier to understand. So, I jumped right in with the plan to write a few themes suites of which would be incorporated into a much larger work that would do its best to inhabit the spirit of John Williams’s music. However, a problem emerged almost immediately: there is no one John Williams sound. Every film is vast and complex and ultimately totally new. How could I possibly hope to sound like John Williams when John Williams actively tries to not sound like John Williams? That is a complicated question with a simple answer. I would just have to choose one of the many universes he has created over his insanely long career and find a way to work within those parameters.

Now, I am an insane Star Wars fan. Interestingly enough it wasn’t until The Force Awakens that I actually cared about it the way that people had been caring about it for the last forty years. I mean it was cool and I was always aware of its existence, but I never really considered myself to be apart of the fandom. It was the collaboration between J.J. Abrams (one of my favorite creative peoples of the modern era) and John Williams that sparked my interest into a relatively hot fire and I have yet to look back. One of the reasons that I find the Star Wars universe to be so interesting is the fact that it is FUN. What a wild place to find yourself in. It is this thought exactly that I decided to orient my study of John Williams in the Star Wars area of his career.

Part 1:

I only wrote two themes suites for this project because I had no idea how I was going to come out on the other end by the time this whole thing was over. These suites are set to the context of the final novel in Chuck Wendigs Aftermath Trilogy, Empire’s End. I did this because I didn’t want to try and overwrite the preexisting material composed by both John Williams and Michael Giacchino on the last eight films. In fact, I was terrified that I if I had tried I would be too close to the material and would not be able to create anything truly original, because I am familiar with all of the incredible thematic and motivic details of the main saga and Rogue One.

The first theme is one that I spent nearly the whole two months trying to write. Why did I spend so long writing a single theme? Because I am a technically challenged individual and John is not. This theme modulates four separate times to what are considered distant key centers. The form looks like this: Introduction in D major, ‘A’ section statement in D major, diminished transition to Eb Major, ‘A’ section statement with variation in Eb flat major, transition to Gb Major through the applied fifth (Db Major), ‘A’ statement with variation in Gb Major, diminished transition to ‘B’ section in G major, ‘B’ statement in G major, transition passage modulating to D major, ‘A’ statement with variation in D major, closing material (plagal cadence).


There is a reason for the rigid structure of the music, I promise. This theme represents the team led by Nora Wexely and Wedge Antilles throughout the entirety of the trilogy. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, the team is kind of thrown together and none of them really work well together. However through their trials, hunting down high-ranking imperials for the New Republic leadership, they learn to take care of each other until their final battle on Jakku, which leads to the destruction we see at the beginning of the Force Awakens. Likewise, I found it conceptually satisfying to have the theme restart a few times before it could be fully stated and to then have it dissipate into an unfinished statement of the theme in the home key.

The second theme was surprisingly easy for me to write, because it likes to stay in mostly one place. There aren’t many ‘firm’ key changes in this suite and when there changes in the tonal center they are verbatim transpositions that thread together two individual themes, which sound amazingly powerful when played together. The form looks like this: Introduction in Bb major, ‘A’ and ‘B’ statement in Bb major, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Statement with minor variation in G minor, theme two introduction and development section, them one and two statement, theme one and two variation and development, transition passage with modulation home key, verbatim repeat of first section, closing material in Bb major.


This theme is a straightforward march with two themes and variation and development that represents the fledgling New Republic. I think it would be fair to put a disclaimer here acknowledging the fact that this suite shares many similarities with the March of the Resistance by John Williams form the Force Awakens. In fact, I would be fine calling this work derivative considering that the New Republic eventually forms the Resistance seen in the film. I rather like the idea that conceptually my theme evolves into the March of the Resistance; it creates a sort of musical continuity between the Return of the Jedi and the Force Awakens that makes Star Wars so much fun.

Thank you for tuning in! In two weeks I’ll be finishing this year off with an incredible supersized post that is guaranteed blow your sock off! Don’t Miss It.






Until Death

Written by

Matthew Thrasher


August 30th



8:30 PM

Frank had finished his shift and gone home for the evening, where he now stared mindlessly at the television from his living room recliner, clad in sweat pants and an old Academy tee shirt. He was looking at the pictures moving on the screen, but he wasn’t seeing anything. There was too much on his mind to focus on the hijinks of some nonsensical sitcom family.

Frank had smoked every day this week, each day smoking one more cigarette than he had the previous. Today he burned through three, but the familiar act of gripping the smoldering stick between his fingers had failed to stop his mind from racing and the calming effect of the carcinogen inhalation was now almost negligible. He was starting to leave these sessions just as anxious as he had been going in. Valerie knew that he had been smoking, too. Frank could see it in her eyes when he spoke to her. He had been making less of an effort to hide it, and maybe even subconsciously wanted her to know. It was growing increasingly bothersome to Frank that she was ignoring his nasty habit rather than confronting him about it.

There had been no new leads or recent developments in the Katheryn Jennings case. Frank had even driven past the tattoo parlor parking lot a few more times, hoping to spark an epiphany or make a groundbreaking discovery, with no luck. The pain and tightness that he had been experiencing in his chest recently had subsided to a dull throb. He could hear a faint hum in his eardrums and his body felt as if it was an idling car whose engine was begging to be given a rest. From the hall, he heard the door to Cade’s room close and the soft shuffle of his wife’s footsteps toward the living room.

Valerie took a seat on the couch adjacent to the recliner and faced Frank, grabbing the remote off the coffee table and muting the television. She took a deep breath and allowed her eyes to wander while she searched for the right words.

“You know that you can always talk to me, about anything, right?” Valerie asked earnestly. Frank hesitated before answering, retracting the recliner’s footrest and sitting up straight in the chair.

“I know that…” Frank muttered. He could see the worry culminating behind his wife’s emerald green eyes.

“I know you’ve been smoking…” There it was. Frank felt a wave of relief, but before he could get a word in, Valerie continued. “I saw the story about the missing girl on the news. Is that why you’ve been acting so strange?” Frank swallowed hard.

“You know I can’t talk about open cases,” Frank said, his face becoming stern.

“I know, I know you can’t. But you can talk to me about how you feel, Francis.” Frank nodded silently, frustrating Valerie. “You can’t just nod your head until I stop and then keeping brooding like you have been,” she said, beginning to raise her voice. Frank stared at her unflinchingly. Valerie uttered a deep sigh and walked over to Frank, sitting down on the arm of the recliner and taking his hand in hers. “I know you, Francis. I know that it’s not easy for you to open up. But everything that’s going on is obviously upsetting you, and I want you to know that whatever you’re going through, you’re not going through it alone.” He wrapped his arms around his wife, leaned his head against her, and held her tight.

“Thank you,” Frank said, on the precipice of tears. They sat together in a comfortable silence and before Frank knew it the anxious haze that had shrouded him had dissipated. It occurred to him that never in his five years on the force had a missing persons case involving a teenager resulted in anything but an eye roll and a slap on the wrist. The situation was tragic, but it was standard police work. When he had joined the Vander police force all of those years ago he witnessed a murder so grisly he has yet to see anything like it again. At the time it had shaken him so badly that Valerie had taken notice as she had now, but that case was the exception not the normal. So why should this one get under his skin? He tilted his head to look at Valerie, eternally thankful to have her by his side. She met his eyes with a warm, loving gaze.

“Come on, let’s go to bed,” Valerie spoke softly, almost as a whisper. Frank’s mind remained relatively unburdened by thoughts of the case for the rest of the night as the couple retired to the bedroom.


August 31st


9:00 AM

Frank was greeted the next morning with the news that there had been yet another disappearance. Information was being spewed left and right by his fellow officers, and Frank was having difficulty making heads or tails of it. He was still trying to comprehend the situation when he was pulled into the briefing room where Deputy Chief Litchfield began to lay it all out for him.

“Okay, listen up people. At 6:00 o’clock yesterday evening, fourteen-year-old Jacquelyn Douglas was reported missing by her mother Angela,” the Deputy Chief stated, gesturing to the wall behind him, where a photo of Jackie had been taped next to one of Katheryn. “She was last seen at 3:00 PM getting off the school bus at the corner of Sonora Street and Gilmour Avenue, just two blocks from her home. Jacquelyn is a young pianist and honor student, and her instructors are being questioned as we speak. As of now, there is no evidence to suggest that the disappearance is connected to the Jennings case in any way, but we will not rule out the possibility. As always, keep your ears to the ground and report to Kotching and Atencio if you come across anything. Alright, let’s get to work.”

Frank left the briefing room speechless. One legitimate disappearance in Vander was shocking enough, but two in the span of less than a week was unheard of. He felt like he was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. He tried to dispel all thoughts of the two missing girls as he made his way toward his cruiser, placing all of his effort into focusing on the tasks before him.


The first call that Frank responded to was from one of Vander’s most notorious frequent callers, Gloria Wilson. Gloria’s house doubled as Vander’s hub for feral cats, which was how she occupied the most of her time. The woman was a widow in her late seventies who lived in a neighborhood a few blocks south of the Hayden Grove Cemetery, and she was crazier than a shithouse rat. When Frank arrived, she spun him a story that the department had heard so many times that most officers could recite it like Homer reciting the Odyssey.

“That Kenneth Fillmore is spying on me! He’s got cameras all around the neighborhood. I’ve seen them myself! But every time I go to show anyone else, poof! They’re gone! He’s trying to make me seem crazy, I know it. I think he might be working for the Soviets,” Gloria spouted. Frank nodded and pretended to be enthralled by the story, even going so far as to pretend to take notes. Talking to Gloria was about as fun as getting teeth pulled, but the more she thought you believed her, the quicker you could get off her front step. If he pointed out the fact that Kenneth Fillmore had been dead for the last year and a half and the house across the street had been vacant ever since, he feared he might send her into a frenzy. The last thing that you call crazy, is crazy. He told Gloria that he would talk to Mr. Fillmore and get to the bottom of everything, at which point she let him go.

For some time after, Frank sat at the bottom of the hill facing Frontier Avenue, pulling over the occasional speeder. He received a call from the dispatcher in the early afternoon about a public disturbance at a nearby convenience store, but when he arrived, order had already been naturally restored. It was clear to Frank that whoever had been causing problems had high-tailed it out of there when they heard that the 5-0 was coming. He spent the rest of the afternoon staring out the windshield of his cruiser at the bottom of the hill with thoughts of Katheryn Jennings and Jackie Douglas scratching at the back of his mind. He tried to push the thoughts away and found that a knot was forming in his stomach. Frank closed his eyes and leaned his head back, the urge to light up slowly creeping upon him. After his conversation with Valerie last night, he wasn’t keen on giving in to his bad habit. He breathed in for five seconds, held for five, then out, repeat. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out…


Frank opened his eyes and found himself kneeling in front of the altar of Saint Bernadette’s Catholic Church, facing the pews. Every seat in the church was filled with quiet, motionless churchgoers dressed in black, all staring unblinkingly toward the altar. Frank searched the crowd and found that he recognized every face that his eyes passed over. His mother was seated in the front row wearing a long, A-line dress, just like the ones that she would wear every Sunday when he was a child. He saw Valerie sitting in one of the middle rows, looking exactly as she did the first day that he had met her in college. Frank noticed Chief Ellerton and Deputy Chief Litchfield seated toward the back of the church as well. Most of the crowd was full of former teachers, friends, and members of the Vander community, but his heart stopped when he noticed Katheryn Jennings and Jacquelyn Douglas sitting in the farthest corner of the church.

Frank felt a wave of sickness rush over him and tried to stand up to leave, but found that he was unable to move anything but his eyes. He began to panic and felt a hot coil wrap itself around his lungs. The church bell began to ring, its sharp peals echoing throughout the building. The crowd rose in unison and turned to face the wide double doors at the back of the building. Frank watched the churchgoers stand together and noticed something near him out of the corner of his eye. It was difficult to determine what the object was in the periphery of his vision, but Frank was almost positive that it was a casket. The realization sent a wave of sorrow and guilt rushing over him and tears began to flow down his cheeks uncontrollably as the doors to the church burst open.

Standing in the threshold of the doorway was a malevolent being that Frank knew could only come from Hell itself. The creature was gargantuan, towering over every patron of the church, the doorway stretching to allow its entrance. As the demon stepped into the house of the holy, its cloven feet clacked on the hardwood floor and its menacing horns scraped the ceiling. Every inch of the being was as black as the midnight sky, and Frank knew that the demon was there for him. The colossal hellspawn picked up the basin of holy water from where it resided in front of the doors and began walking slowly toward the altar. As it approached, Frank could see nothing but fire behind its eyes. The crowd’s gaze followed the demon as it meandered up the center aisle and stopped in front of Frank.

Frank quaked with fear as the demon raised the basin above Frank’s head. A curling, evil smile stretched across its face as it tilted the basin, pouring the holy water onto Frank’s head. When it touched his body, the water felt like molten magma. Frank attempted to scream as the holy water began burning his skin away, but was unable to utter a sound. As Frank started praying for death, the pain ceased and he opened his eyes.

He was standing in the middle of a dense forest, twilight tinting nearly everything in view black. Suddenly, he heard Tyler’s scream ring out through the trees and found himself running toward the sound faster than his legs could carry him, running for what felt like an entire lifetime. When his legs eventually collapsed on him, he found himself at the base of the largest tree in the forest. Halfway up the tree he saw Tyler, nailed through the hands and feet in a morbid representation of Christ. Instead of blood, a black, viscous liquid dripped from his wounds. Maggots had eaten away through his mouth and cheeks, leaving something that resembled a smile permanently on his face.

“Cleanse your soul of evil and sin,” Tyler barked, causing Frank to recoil. Tyler’s body began to spasm while Frank looked on in horror. Tyler opened his mouth, letting out a stream of black smoke that began coalescing at the base of the tree. Frank was frozen in fear as he witnessed the black mass transform into his demon. In one swift movement, the demon brought its leg up over Frank’s head and stomped down, crushing his body into a pulp.




4:30 PM

Frank awoke in his patrol car with a gasp, drenched in sweat and shivering uncontrollably. He looked around frantically, trying to readjust to reality. Frank shook his head and rubbed his eyes, slowly remembering that he was on duty and parked in his usual spot for catching speeders. Whatever dream he had just experienced, it had not been a pleasant one. He could only remember kernels of information: a church, some trees, the color black. The memories of the dream were fading with every passing second.

Frank could feel the cloud of anxiety expanding inside him once again and thoughts of the missing girls could no longer be ignored. What good was he doing sitting on his ass when he could be out helping save them? Frank began working over the facts of the case once more and had a sudden revelation. He knew that the last place that Katheryn had been seen was in her class at Vander Community college, and while the detectives had already spoken to the professor, days had gone by and the case had made no noticeable progress since then. Frank thought that giving the scholar a second pass couldn’t hurt and could possibly unearth new information. He called the college and found that the professor was named Martin Calhoun and was currently teaching a class in room 214 in the West Building. He thanked the woman on the other end of the line and sped off toward the college, hoping to catch the professor as class was ending.

Frank arrived in the nick of time, walking up to the door of room 214 just as a bald, bespectacled man with a double windsor knotted tie emerged. He was carrying a briefcase in one hand and a stack of papers in the other, leading Frank to believe that he was the professor.

“Excuse me, Martin Calhoun?”

“Yes?” the professor responded, looking up from the papers in his hand.

“Do you have a moment to speak with me about Katheryn Jennings?” Frank asked. The professor furrowed his brow.

“I already spoke to two detectives about it the other day and I told them everything I know, but if you would like me to talk to you again, I would be happy to help. It’s just that I have errands to run before my next class,” Martin stated.

“It will only take a moment.”

“I wish I could, but I really must get going. If you come back after my class tonight, I’ll sit down with you and tell you everything I told them. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” The professor began striding away toward the parking lot.

“Dr. Calhoun,” Frank said, taking a few steps in pursuit.

“Excuse me, officer.” The words stopped Frank in his tracks and he watched the professor walk briskly away. He took a deep breath and exhaled forcefully. Back to square one.

Frank checked his watch, which informed him that it was ten to five. He decided to cut his losses for the day and head back to the station to finish off his shift. As he drove through the streets of Vander, he couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied with how things turned out. He arrived in the department parking lot and was walking toward the station’s front door when he saw a young man in his late teens cautiously approach him. He had shaggy brown hair and was wearing an AC/DC shirt with worn-out jeans and a pair of Chuck Taylors.

“Excuse me, Officer…” the young man said, leaning in to see Frank’s nameplate, “Bailey. Umm… I think I might have some information that could be helpful in the Katheryn Jennings disappearance.” Frank’s blood began to pump faster and had every intention of seizing this opportunity. He ushered the young man into the building and sat him down with Detective Kotching. He remained close by so that he could hear every word.

“What’s your name?” Kotching asked.

“Max Johnson,” the young man said, visibly nervous but maintaining composure.

“Okay Max, tell me what you know.”

“Well, I’m not sure if what I know is actually helpful. I just remembered something from class that I think it would be better if you knew, just to make sure.” Kotching nodded patiently. “Okay well, Katheryn and I have Spanish class together and she’s basically a local celebrity, so I took notice of her right away.” Max began to fidget slightly, uncomfortable with divulging this information. “But so did Alex Verney, another guy in our class. So one day I see Alex trying to make a move on her, and she rejected him. I didn’t hear most of the conversion but I think she said something that hurt his ego and he made a big deal out of it and stormed out of class. Not too long after that, Katheryn goes missing and Alex hasn’t been to class since. Seems a little strange and I thought the police should know.”

“Do you know where this Alex Verney lives?” Kotching asked earnestly.

“Yeah, he lives at the Sun Springs Apartment Complex, I think. I’m always hearing about parties he’s got going on over there,” Max stated. Kotching copied the name of the complex onto a slip of paper.

“Thank you, Max. You’ve been a huge help,” Kotching said while shaking the young man’s hand.

“I hope you guys find her soon,” Max said before getting up and exiting the station. You and me both, kid, Frank thought.

“Alright, let’s go see what the guy knows,” Frank said to Kotching. The detective glared at Frank.

“Are you crazy, Bailey? I’ve got two cases in my lap that both have a dozen possible leads more likely than a college kid with a bruised ego. I’ll send someone over to talk to him tomorrow.”

“But John…”

“Frank, I know what I’m doing. You did your job, now go home to your wife and kid.” Frank would have continued to argue, but he knew the detective well enough to realize that he wouldn’t get another word out of him. Frank walked out of the station and before he reached his patrol car, he had already decided what he was going to do.

He searched for Sun Springs Apartment Complex on his phone and called the number that he found. The man on the other end of the line informed him that they don’t divulge resident information, especially not on the phone, but if Frank came into the office to prove that he was an officer, then the man could help him. Frank hung up and jumped into the cruiser, speeding off toward Sun Springs.

When he arrived, the man informed him that Alex Verney resided in apartment 143. Frank walked up to the door, the anxious feeling slowly subsiding. He rapped his knuckles on the door three times in succession, and upon receiving no response, knocked again. Suddenly, Frank heard the muffled sound of shuffling feet and the door opened a sliver.

“What?” Alex snapped.

“Alex Verney? I have some questions for you about Katheryn Jennings.”

“I don’t know anything,” Alex said, and tried to close the door. Frank shot his hand out to stop it from closing.

“If you could just speak with me, I would greatly appreciate it,” Frank said. His words were amicable, but his tone was threatening.

“Come on, man! Leave me alone,” Alex shouted. Frank pushed on the door, opening it a few inches wider.

“What do you know about Katheryn Jennings? I’ve been hearing that you two didn’t get along so well, so I don’t buy that you don’t know anything about her.” Frank’s stare was cold and intimidating.

“Alright man, Jesus,” Alex said, letting the door swing open. Frank was surprised by the young man’s disheveled appearance and could tell that the apartment was in disarray. “Yeah, I know Katheryn is missing and I know that the last thing I said to her… well, I wish I hadn’t. But I swear I don’t know anything.” Just then, an African-American teenager that Frank recognized as Tre Voss, one of Vander High’s most notorious weed dealers, emerged from the hallway.

“A little bit of a young crowd to be hanging out with, don’t you think?” Frank asked Alex. He raised his voice so Tre could hear him. “You know anything about Katheryn Jennings, Tre?” The kid remained silent and shot daggers at Frank, who returned his attention back to Alex.

“I’ve been told that you and her had a fight not too long ago. Nothing about it seem pertinent to her disappearance?” Frank asked.

“I asked her out and she rejected me, that’s all that fucking happened. What are you saying?” Alex asked, raising his voice.

“You were one of the last people to have a hostile encounter with Katheryn. I’m just trying to get the facts straight,” Frank responded.

“Jesus H. Christ!” Alex shouted, “I like the girl is all, okay? I asked her out and she rejected me and I lost my cool for a second. That’s it, that’s all that happened! If you’re suggesting that I had anything to do with her going missing, then fuck you.” Alex slammed the door in Frank’s face. Frank was taken aback and hesitated a moment before pounding on the door.

“Alex! Open the door. Open the goddamn door!” Frank beat his fist against the door a few more times before turning around and walking away in a huff. He was breathing heavy and felt like his head was stuck in a pressure cooker. Frank got inside his patrol car and took multiple deep breaths to calm himself down. When his blood stopped boiling, he realized how far he had flown off the rails. Christ Frank, you need to get yourself together, Old Boy. He hit the gas and pulled out of the Sun Springs parking lot, needing to distance himself from Alex Verney and the hysterical thoughts creeping into his mind. He drove and continued to do so until he no longer remembered why he was driving in the first place.

It was only when Frank’s phone began to ring that he had realized how long he had been out driving around. When he answered, it was Suzanne, Deputy Chief Litchfield’s secretary on the other end of the line. While her demeanor was normally friendly, her voice now sounded grave and concerned.

“The Deputy Chief needs to see you in his office. He wants you back to the station, now,” Suzanne said. Frank felt like a rock had been dropped in his stomach. Shit.


So Far…(A year in Review)

Today I was not going to post anything, I was more than happy to skip this weekend and call it a day so that my attention could be focused where it was needed most: on myself and my family. Now that the concert is over I feel a differently about today. I had always supported the band’s decision to perform, but I did not know how I would react to it being there in person. It was an inherently challenging experience for them. They had to face the past; they had to dive in to their body of work and look to it with positivity and love. And as I watched the show unfold it became clear to me that not only did I thoroughly enjoy the show, but that everything is going to be all right. I cannot express the amount of inspiration that I felt Friday evening watching my family up there powering through one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. There was so much support in that crowd and on that stage between the band members and their guests’. It was amazing.

So when I came home today I thought that I would try to do the same. I went through the past eleven months of content that I have placed here and tried to see what I had accomplished over that period of time. Had I achieved my goals? Was I proud of the work I had done here? Did any of that matter anymore?

The answer is yes to each of those questions. Some of the hardest things to do when dealing with loss on a personal level are to remain positive, fair (to yourself and others), and constructive. This fact is no less true for myself.


White Room

White Room was the first real effort that I had made towards being a filmmaking. This film was made in three days by a crew of three people and was submitted only minutes before the due date to a festival that had no intention of judging the films it presented by achievement, but by (practically) picking the winners out of a hat. So much effort went into this film that it cannot be summed up here. Instead I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a long time collaborator and friend, Matthew Thrasher. I knew that we would be friends for the foreseeable future even then, however I did not foresee the unique way that we would continue to influence one another in our everyday lives. White Room would not have been able to exist without him!


The Locker Room Mascot Massacre

This film had some incredible hardships. So many hardships in fact that I honestly don’t think that there is a way to watch it, because it was taken down only hours after it was uploaded to Youtube. My notation software had shit the bed, which meant that I had no way to produce digital playback and had to perform the score myself. I had prematurely agreed to write music for the entirety of the film without having ever written a piece of music longer than a single minute previous. And my point of view concerning the tone of the film, the orchestration, and the placement of the score were the exact opposite of the director’s at every step of the scoring process. I learned two big things here that governed the artistic vision up through the now:

1.) It is your responsibility as the composer to be able to perform (to some extent) everything that you write. How can you expect someone to play your music if you can’t?

2.) Homework is necessary. Study what you write and write what you study. There is no substitute for hard work. It was a dream come true to get a genre film like this, because I suddenly had an excuse to truly learn something new inside and out. All of a sudden the world in which I operated was a little bigger and a little fuller.



SEE marks the first literature post on the website, and the first time that the website had lived up to its purpose. After all, the refrain on the homepage is Music, Film, and Literature. I wrote this baby thinking that there was no way I was going to write anything worthy of a public blog only to be proven wrong. To this day I love this little story, this vignette of anxiety and fear. I produced it at a time when I could not go a day without feeling like I was going to crawl out of skin from the sheer distaste of my life at the time. There were not many things that were outwardly unfortunate about it; in fact most people never noticed it. I regularly succumbed to panic attacks and I did not know how to talk about it, which is why I suppose I wrote this piece of literature. When I posted it I was (as I am with all of my posts) very excited to see people reacting to it. Yet, at the same time I could not help but feel awful about the responses because seemingly so many people had told me that they understood the writing on a deeper level. Meaning that a lot of people felt the same way I did, miserable. So, with that being said I have one thing to tell you…talk about it. Take care of yourself; it is okay to not be okay. You might very well be surprised by the amount of people that will empathize with you. In memory of my father and support for my mother and all of the hard work that my family is doing for mental health awareness: #fuckdepression.



My friend Alex Rhodes ( fellow composer) and I manned a pop culture podcast/ gaming channel for a little while. This has nothing to do with the website really, it’s just fun and we are ridiculous and completely inappropriate at all times. Alex scored White Room, and Matt makes many appearances so that is pretty cool. Check it out if you get bored or you like pop culture or you like video games. We are normal people! I promise!




Reveries was the beginning of a journey for me. Over eight months I learned a lot about myself and managed to inject some love back into writing music, an act that had grown stale for me after I failed to make it into the composition studio. When I started this I had been sure that I hated writing music. I was very angry with my education and struggled with my own self worth as an artist, but that changed as I rediscovered the things that I loved most about music; its power to transform. Above I have linked the compilation of roughly 23 minutes of music. If you would like to read the blogs for each one I figure they are easy enough to find.


Found and Lost

This marked my second time working on a senior thesis film and my first experience on a real set with a rather large crew. I was an inexperienced script supervisor who had unwittingly found himself on a friendly, yet fast paced set with a job that required more from me than I was originally ready to give. The whole ordeal was incredibly enlightening for me, never again will I underestimate the job of any crew member!



I first worked with student director Stacy Howard on her junior thesis film, which made her senior thesis film Amásáni our second collaboration. I have learned so much working on these projects and despite the hardships that arose everything turned out all right. I had experienced my first recording session with a live audience, I had been given the opportunity to learn more about traditional Navajo music, and I had strengthened the most valuable skill you can have a as a human being, patience. Amásáni went on to be accepted into the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.



Q’s was my second short story on the website. My goal here was to expand the scope of the stories I was telling here on the website. I think I did it. Here we have dueling narrative with multiple characters that builds into a very anti-climactic ending where everyone goes about their own ways without trouble (relatively speaking). I love stories where bad shit happens in the most unexpected places, however when I wrote the story all of my expectations for what the story should have been were naturally banished by the true intention of the story. I don’t know what the intention was to be honest, but it flows really well so I must have figured it out. What started out as the opening scene to a feature film I was writing for myself turned into another vignette of anxiety and fear. Same, but different.



Oh boy, Sic is the project that got away. I was approached by one of my longest running friends who suggested I should make a short film for the Coppola Short Film Festival. Of course I said yes immediately and began to brainstorm ways, in which I could organically thread the narrative of a feature into five minutes. It resulted in what I can only describe as a David Lynch film for people who don’t get David Lynch films. It would have been shot in that way as well, however life intervened and before we could so much as finish pre-production I got that fatal call from my mother calling me to California. Not being able to do this project was very difficult for me. I wanted this so badly to be a film that saw the light of day, but the time for it passed while I was away mourning with my family. Preparing for this film did, however remind me why I love film so much and ignited the passion once more. Soon I will be presenting short films on the website, but for now I can only dream.


It Walks There

It Walks There is the third story I have posted on the website and maybe not so ironically it follows the same themes as the previous two stories pretty closely. None of this was intentional, but I guess I just feel a lot of fear and anxiety (if that was not the most artsy thing I have ever said, I don’t know what is). This story is actually mostly autobiographical. IT did exist and IT was something I was genuinely afraid of. IT did leave footprints in the hall that led up and down the hallway, but not in or out. IT did only come at night and amongst some of the other unnerving, unexplainable shit that I have experienced living in a haunted house it is one of the most clear memories I have as a young child. The memory came to me as I was in California with my family during my fathers wake, yet only manifested itself after I had returned home. Maybe it was the Pynchon in me that loved the fact that this story literally and narratively went nowhere quick or far, but the central idea of not having any resolution of the stories mysteries was palpable for me. I hope that it was for you too.


Until Death

Until Death is a bit of an experiment for both Matthew and I. Inspired by the novels of Stephen King, more specifically the Green Mile, and a desire to one day be able to write with the vividness and fluidity of the said author. I coaxed Matt into giving serialization a shot. Since we have begun posting to my website I can honestly say that Until Death may be one of the greatest adventures I have ever jumped headfirst into. Matt’s style of writing is so clear that his final drafts are just his rough drafts with a few words switched around. It is so much fun to see someone explore a world as real as Vander and I only hope that as the journey continues you will continue to find satisfaction in it as well.


Going through all of this made me realize quite a few things. First, it was weird to see some clearly defined patterns in my work. In many places where I though I was ‘changing things up’ I realize now that I was just riffing off of the same ideas. Which by no means is a bad thing, but it is worth noting. Second, I am not as emotionally elastic as I thought that I was. Revisiting some of the material brought to my attention that I spend a lot of time with anxiety. I have always known this, but it is a different thing to know it qualitatively versus knowing it quantitatively; meaning that I could use a little more positivity in my life.

On December 5th this website turns one year old. In a little over a month I will have been producing content on a (relatively) regular basis for 365 days, which is something I am extremely proud of! However, with a new year comes a new approach. I hope to diversify the content presented here even more so than it is now. Beginning with the continuation of Until Death into the new year, the beginning of a new composition series ‘A Case Study,’ and the presentation of original short films I look forward to the growth of this creative space into something unexpected.





Until Death

A continuation…



8:50 AM

Frank had been hopeful that being briefed on Katheryn Jennings’s disappearance might ease his anxiety, but he was mistaken. He had arrived at the department at ten minutes to nine, joining a steady flow of police personnel into the briefing room where there were five long tables running parallel to each other. Frank chose the third from the front, giving him a direct line of sight to the where Deputy Chief Brian Litchfield would be giving the department the rundown. As the flow of Vander Police Department employees entering the room slowed to a trickle, Frank found himself tapping the table relentlessly. The Deputy Chief, being the finely-tuned machine that he was, arrived exactly at nine o’clock. He started the briefing without delay, and Frank absorbed every word.

“Okay, listen up, cause I’m in no mood to be repeating myself. As you know, we have a missing persons case. Her name is Katheryn Jennings, age twenty-one, attends Vander Community College. Some of you might remember her as the winner of the Miss Vander competition last month,” the Deputy Chief stated. Frank remembered that he had seen her photo from the pageant in the newspaper, which must have been why she had seemed so familiar to him. “Her five minutes of fame could have played a factor in her disappearance.” Frank nodded his head slightly. It didn’t take a genius to realize that connection. It’s not uncommon for stalkers and psychopaths to come out of their dark holes to harass beautiful woman that happen to stumble into the public eye. “Katheryn was last seen in her Bio 201 class at Vander Community College at 8:00 P.M. It’s likely that she was abducted while walking to her apartment in the Valley Vista Apartment Complex. When she had not returned home by late yesterday morning, her roommate, Aubrey De La Rosa, called Katheryn’s parents after failing to reach her several times. The parents called us soon after that.”

Litchfield continued with the briefing, stating that as far as her parents or Aubrey knew, Katheryn hadn’t been seeing anybody romantically and was very dedicated to her schoolwork. She had returned from a two-year trip to Italy about a year ago, where she had been living in Padua with a host family where she helped run events for a local church. Someone in the room scoffed under their breath at this piece of information, and the Deputy Chief shot daggers in return around the room until he was sure it would not happen again, only then did he continue. The trip abroad had been arranged by Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which Katheryn had attended ever since she was an infant. Katheryn had led many charity events and fundraisers for the church when she was in high school, so when she asked if she could be a part of one of the churches in Italy for two years, her parents and Sacred Heart were happy to oblige. Now that she was residing in Vander once again, she had rejoined the Sacred Heart community and attended mass every Sunday. To Frank and everyone else in Vander, Katheryn seemed to be a saint.

“We currently have a BOLO out on Katheryn, and everybody should be on high alert. Patrol guys, if you find anything useful, report into Kotching and Atencio ASAP. Alright, let’s get to work.”

Everybody exited the briefing room, moving on to their regularly scheduled assignments. Frank leaned against the hallway wall, trying to thread together pieces of the case and conjure some sort of lead. He had lost track of time and was staring into the dead space in front of him when Deputy Chief Litchfield approached him. There were no more people bustling out of the room and everyone but Frank had gone about their duties.

“You losing your mind on me, Bailey? You’re staring at the wall like a goddamn vegetable,” Litchfield said. Startled, Frank shook his head slightly before locking eyes with the Deputy Chief.

“Sorry, Litch.”

“Hey, it’s Deputy Chief to you. How many times do I have to say that?” asked Litchfield, a scowl enveloping his face. “How about you get your thumb out of your ass and go do the job I’m paying you to do. How’s that sound?”

“Ten four, Vicejefe,” Frank responded, a slight smirk touching the corners of his mouth. Litchfield furrowed his brow in frustration but remained silent, walking past Frank to attend to more important matters. Frank enjoyed making the Deputy Chief’s blood boil. It was apparent to Frank that Litchfield was only concerned with climbing the department ladder and obtaining the position of Chief to feed his own ego, a quality that Frank found despicable in a law enforcement officer. He made the most of every opportunity to push Litchfield’s buttons.

Frank sauntered down the hallway and out the back door of the department to where his patrol car was parked. As he climbed into the driver’s seat, he thought about Vander Community College and the Valley Vista Apartment Complex. The college was only a stone’s throw from the apartment, with a handful of establishments running down Peyton Street in between. Frank walked the street in his head, looking for any areas where an abduction could have occurred. First he came to a Circle K, which was open twenty-four hours and always well-lit, so the chances that Katheryn could have been taken there were slim. Then he came to a barbershop and a tattoo parlor that resided next to one another, with the tattoo parlor’s parking lot adjacent to it. The parking lot was at the corner of Peyton and Mangold Street and had no lights in its vicinity. Big Dave’s Tire Shop was across Mangold Street and was the last building before Valley Vista Apartments. Frank would bet his whole year’s salary that she was taken at that dark, foreboding parking lot.

He turned the key in the ignition and started the car. He was assigned to patrol Vander’s western block today, so he thought he would go check out the parking lot for himself. If Frank was going to find anything helpful to the case, he believed that it would be at ground zero. He pulled away from the station and made his way to Mangold Street.

When he arrived, he parked in the lot, which was empty except for a lifted black F-150 and sun-worn red Subaru. He paced around the entirety of the lot, looking for broken glass, drops of blood, anything that could point to a sign of a struggle. He knew that the area had likely been combed through already, but it didn’t hurt to have a fresh set of eyes look around. Frank found nothing, not even a broken beer bottle. He leaned against his cruiser, scanning the surrounding area. Frank thought about asking the employees of Viper Tattoo and Big Dave’s if they had seen anything, but decided that it would be overkill. If they had seen anything, they would have spoken to Kotching and Atencio about it, and judging by the lack of leads, Frank thought it was safe to assume that there were no witnesses. Frank breathed a heavy sigh. It seemed he had reached a dead end before he had even started. As he opened the door to the cruiser, he noticed the Fine Stay Motel a block down Mangold Street. The gears in Frank’s brain began to slowly turn. Frank got into the car and drove a block down Mangold, parking in the Fine Stay parking lot. He stepped out of the car to look in the direction of the Viper Tattoo lot and found that he could still see a sliver of it from where he was standing. If the Fine Stay had any sort of camera pointed down Mangold, there was a chance that Katheryn and her abductor would be on the footage.

Frank walked to the office. As he opened the door and approached the counter, the skinny employee with shoulder length, greasy brown hair working behind the desk looked up and stared at Frank with sunken eyes. Frank shot him a polite smile that was returned with the same expressionless gaze.

“Good morning,” Frank said, “I’m Officer Bailey. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me.” The desk clerk shrugged and looked down at his hands, where he was fiddling with a hangnail. “Does this motel have any security cameras that face toward Peyton Street?” The employee looked up with an expression of irritation and perplexity.

“What do we look like, the fuckin’ Ritz? Course we don’t got cameras. We barely got bedsheets, for Christ’s sake. I already told your buddies this anyways, so what’re you bothering me again for?” Frank should have guessed that Kotching and Atencio had already talked to the man. The motel wasn’t directly on Katheryn’s route home, but the detectives were thorough. He also knew that people in this part of town didn’t generally welcome the police snooping around their businesses after they had already spoken to them once, so he decided to cut the conversation short.

“Thank you for your time,” Frank said as he turned and began walking out the door.

“What’s this about, anyway?” the clerk asked as Frank crossed the threshold of the doorway. He turned back to face the man, who seemed slightly uneasy. “I mean, what’s the missing girl gotta do with the motel? Your friends didn’t say.”

“Nothing directly, as far as we know. Just covering our bases.” The desk clerk relaxed, his worries melting away when he realized that the police officer in his office had nothing to do with the motel itself. “If you hear anything, give the department a call, alright?”

“Sure,” the clerk muttered as he went back to wrestling with his hangnail. Frank doubted that the man had heard what Frank said. He made his way back to his patrol car and slumped into the driver’s seat. He had made no progress and the anxious feeling had not subsided, turning into a slight, uncomfortable tightness in his chest. Frank couldn’t pinpoint why the case bothered him so much, which added to the irritation. He took a deep breath, and while thoughts of cigarettes started floating around the back of his mind, a dispatcher’s voice came through the radio.

“Reported fireworks at the abandoned church on Simmons Road,” the voice stated. Fireworks had been illegal in Vander ever since the wildfire the year before, which made Frank’s life a living hell during the fourth of July weekend. He thought it was strange to have people lighting fireworks off at this time of the year, but Vander High students tended to meet up at the abandoned church lot to drink and engage in other illicit activities, so it didn’t come as a complete surprise.

“Officer Seven-one-two responding,” Frank said to the dispatcher. This was an easy way to get his mind off Katheryn Jennings.

“Copy,” Frank heard through the radio as he pulled out of the Fine Stay parking lot and drove south toward Simmons Road. When he arrived at the church, the lot seemed completely desolate. It was right next to a housing community, which is where the call complaining to the station about fireworks probably came from, but it seemed that the pyrotechnic wrongdoers were long gone.

The church had once been a thriving Catholic community called the Holy Apostles. Around the time that Frank joined the police department, the Catholic community deciding on expanding and building a new, larger church called Sacred Heart on the opposite side of town. It was determined that the lot with the old church would be given back to the city of Vander because the Catholic community did not have the attendance or religious personnel to keep both churches running in a city as small as Vander. However, ever since the new church had been built, the old lot had been stuck in legal limbo while companies competed for the land. The ordeal was a complicated mess of red tape, building codes, and unreached deals. The lot devolved into a hangout for teenagers to fight, drink, and exchange bodily fluids with each other. The church itself was tagged relentlessly with graffiti, but the doors were always chained and padlocked and the windows boarded with plywood so that minimal damage could be done.

Frank pulled the cruiser around the building’s right side, parking in the slowly diminishing shade cast by the house of worship. As he put the patrol car in park, Frank noticed a muddy-colored car parked at the rear of the building. He exited his vehicle to investigate further, noting that the car was a Honda Civic and appeared to have been manufactured in the early to mid 1990’s. The sedan didn’t emanate a feeling of abandonment, but upon further examination of the lot and surrounding area, it seemed to Frank as if he was the only creature with a heartbeat for miles. Frank’s initial thought was that the Civic belonged to the firework fiend, who, after seeing the cruiser in the distance, decided to make a break for it and hop the wall into the neighboring community. Running away and ditching their primary means of transportation wouldn’t be the brightest course of action, but Frank had experience dealing with the delinquents of Vander High and had concluded that none of them were going to be the next Albert Einstein. If he had to make an educated guess, Frank would say that the car belonged to Jimmy Sanders or Lucas Younger. They were the type to end up in Dutch for petty crimes like shoplifting, lighting off fireworks, or spray painting a bad word on the high school gym. Frank knew how to lure them out.

“Alright, it’s fine by me if you hide. I’m gonna tow this car here if no one comes out to claim it, though,” Frank shouted to the abandoned lot. The response was absolute silence, not even the chirrup of a bird. “Fine, have it your way.” Frank was surprised. That trick always worked when they busted kids partying and getting drunk around bonfires in the land out beyond the cemetery. He had no intention of going to the trouble of getting the car towed, but decided that searching the plate number and speaking to the troublemaker’s parents might be the next best thing. He pulled out his black pocket notebook and scribbled down the make and model of the car as well as the plate number. As he was returning the notebook to his pocket, he glanced up at the rear of the church.

Above the weather-worn double doors was a bronze depiction of a crucified Jesus. The drooping eyes seemed to be staring into his and gave him a feeling of intense nausea. Frank was not a fan of churches and despised the representations of Jesus on the cross. He thought it morbid to choose a torture device with a malnourished, bleeding, broken man tacked to it as the symbol of one’s religion. Valerie was Catholic and attended mass at Sacred Heart every Sunday, so Frank kept most of his feelings on the subject matter to himself. He was an atheist, but had been raised Catholic by his mother. Frank couldn’t remember many fond memories of his mother, but didn’t care to try. He hadn’t spoken to her in a little over a decade.

The longer he stared into the vacant eyes of the crucified Jesus above the doorway, the more nauseated he felt. The contents of his stomach seemed to solidify into a solid mass of rock and sink within his body. The tightness in his chest turned into a death grip on his heart and his breathing became short and laborious. Frank’s hands became clammy and a dizziness encircled his head, but he could not seem to break the gaze of the bronze man above him.

Suddenly, the dispatcher’s voice sounded from the radio. Hearing the female voice pulled Frank back to reality, allowing him to snap out of the trance. Frank walked swiftly back to his cruiser while the dispatcher spoke.

“We have an accident on the bypass, multiple vehicles involved. Injuries reported.” Frank quickly jumped into the front seat and turned the patrol car on, taking a deep breath and gripping the steering wheel tightly.

“Seven-one-two en route,” Frank spoke into his shoulder microphone and peeled out of the church parking lot. It’s a busy morning in Vander, Frank thought. The one thing he knew for sure was that he was going to need a cigarette later. Or ten.



August 27th


9:20 AM

Valerie entered Sacred Heart Catholic Church clad in a modest pink dress with a rose gold necklace that Frank had given her for their third anniversary and a pale pink clutch handbag to match, her nicest Sunday attire. She figured that if there was ever a time to look her best, it would be in God’s house. Valerie dipped her finger in the basin of holy water and made the sign of the cross before walking down the center aisle between the rows of wooden benches. She took a seat in one of the middle rows on the left and kneeled to pray before mass began. Valerie felt like she had a little more than usual to talk to the big guy upstairs about this week.

The first thing that Valerie prayed about was her husband’s peace of mind. She knew that the job of a law enforcement officer was a stressful one, but the last few days had seemed even more emotionally taxing on Frank. She wished that Frank would come with her to Sunday mass, even if his beliefs drastically differed from hers. He had been dead set against church ever since she had known him, but he wouldn’t go into much detail on why. She still made the occasional request for him to join her, though. Valerie thought that maybe Frank would find peace within the church if he just gave it a chance, but every time she brought it up, he would respond with, “You know I don’t buy what they’re selling,” or something to that effect. Her husband was a compassionate man and a great father, but he was not one to open up easily and internalized the majority of his emotions, sometimes leading to a raging sea of conflict in his mind. Valerie believed that being present in the church could calm the tides, but if Frank wouldn’t come, she would pray twice as hard for him.

She also prayed for Cade, that he should maintain good health and grow up full of wonder and excitement. A prayer was issued for Pam Johnson as well, who worked in Human Resources at Southwest Pharmaceuticals with Valerie and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer the previous week. She asked God to help Pam with a swift and painless recovery. Finally, she prayed that her father’s soul rest peacefully in Heaven, just as she did every week, before sitting back on the pew. She leisurely flipped through the psalm book in front of her until mass began.

For most of the mass, the regular routine was followed and the proceedings were pleasantly predictable. Songs were sung in voices desperately attempting to be angelic; bible passages were read aloud. Valerie placed her five-dollar donation in the basket that was passed around and greeted her neighboring churchgoers with “peace be with you.” Father David preached a homily about maintaining strength in one’s faith in the face of adversity while everyone nodded their heads silently. Everything seemed to occur just as it had for countless Sundays, until Father David stood up after communion. He had made sure that everyone had returned to their seats before he spoke.

“Brothers and sisters, as you probably know, a beloved member of our Sacred Heart community is missing. Katheryn Jennings is a beautiful, intelligent young woman and always made faith a priority. Her parents are here with us today. Please bow your heads with me and pray for her safe return.” Before Valerie bowed her head, she looked toward the front row, where she could see Katheryn’s parents. Only the backs of their heads were visible to her, but from the way Katheryn’s mother was constantly bringing a tissue to her face, Valerie assumed that she was crying. The man in the row behind them leaned forward, placing his hands on their shoulders and whispering something to comfort them. Valerie recognized him as one of the lectors who sometimes read the bible passages aloud during mass. She hoped that whatever he was saying was helping ease their suffering, at least momentarily.

Valerie bowed her head and prayed with the rest of the church. She had heard about Katheryn the day before on the news and thought that maybe a portion of what was troubling Frank was due to Katheryn’s disappearance. Cases such as Katheryn’s didn’t happen often in Vander, and she knew it must be stressful for the whole department. She didn’t want to further burden Frank’s mind by bringing it up, so she had kept it to herself.

It had come as a saddening shock when she saw the news report. Valerie did not know Katheryn very well, but had seen her with her family at mass and charity events organized by Sacred Heart. From what Valerie had seen, Katheryn seemed to enjoy organizing events for the church like it was her profession. She had even been helping arrange the 5K Run for Leukemia that Valerie was planning on participating in next Saturday. Valerie prayed hard for her safe return.

When mass ended, Valerie considered given her thoughts and prayers to Katheryn’s parents, but decided against it. They had enough on their minds and were probably being bombarded by countless other people giving them their own thoughts and prayers. When pulling out of the church parking lot, her mind once again turned to her husband. Today was his day off, so she hoped that he was giving his mind a rest, at least for just a little while. She decided that she would suggest watching Young Frankenstein with Frank when she arrived home. Frank was a sucker for Mel Brooks films. She doubted they would be able to watch anything uninterrupted by Cade, but thought that Frank would appreciate the gesture anyway. She switched on the radio, where a Bryan Adams song was just beginning. She turned the volume up and sang along as she cruised the Vander streets and headed back home.



August 28th



7:00 PM

        A growing audience packed themselves into their seats at the Vander Performing Arts Center as the night’s performers waited backstage. Among them, tapping her foot nervously, was Jacquelyn Douglas, known as Jackie to her friends and parents. Jackie was fourteen, barely a freshman in High School, and was the youngest of the performers slated for the evening’s show. The entertainment that the attending audience members had come to see was a compilation of musical pieces performed by some of Vander’s most talented musicians. Jackie had been given the opportunity to close the show with a rendition of the first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and was feeling a cinderblock of pressure resting on her shoulders.

Jackie had been a natural at the piano ever since she sat down at one at age seven. It was as if the ebony and ivory keys spoke to her and guided her elegantly through each piece. Her first instructor had called her a prodigy and had stated that Jackie was the quickest learner she had ever seen. Recently, Jackie had begun to gain the attention of individuals outside of Vander, and even outside the state of Arizona. The Vander Chronicle had recently written an article about her musical prowess, and word had traveled around town. She knew that many of the people filing into the auditorium had only come to see her. Jackie thought that maybe someone from New York could be coming to see her performance, but that could just have been wishful thinking. If she could play the Mozart piece without a hitch, it could prove to be a giant stepping stone on the path of her blossoming musical career.

Jackie heard the bow of a violin as the show began. She did not know how long the violin piece lasted, but soon it was replaced by a cello, and after that Jackie stopped hearing the music completely. She was in her own world, going over each note to the Mozart piece in her head repeatedly. Before she knew it, someone was tapping her on the shoulder and telling her that it was her turn in the spotlight. Jackie walked out to the grand piano on stage on legs that felt as sturdy as a house of cards. Somehow she made it to the seat without her knees buckling underneath her and sat down. The crowd could have been clapping for her or they could have been completely silent, but Jackie couldn’t tell. She couldn’t hear anything except the sound of her own heartbeat in her ears. She took a deep breath and glanced down at the keys. Under so much pressure and with so many watchful eyes glued to her, the keys looked more like a monster’s teeth than a means of creation.

As soon as she began to play, the anxiety melted away and she felt the most comfortable she had ever felt in her young life. She was the only person in the auditorium and was playing Mozart for the angels in Heaven. Time ceased to exist and Jackie lived blissfully in each moment from note to note. She didn’t want the piece to end, but when it did, it concluded beautifully, the last notes sounding like the last moments of a life well-lived.

The crowd erupted in applause. Almost in unison, the members of the audience rose to give Jackie a standing ovation. A few people whistled their approval and when she took a bow, the applause grew even louder. Jackie was overwhelmed by the reaction, and felt as if the smile on her face had been permanently set there in stone. She could see old teachers and members of her church cheering her on and her mother was jumping in elation. Hot tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. She was proud. She was triumphant. This was the best moment of her life. Late in the afternoon of August 30th, Jackie disappeared.