No, he doesn’t sport a pencil mustache or walk around with a conductor’s baton, but private eye Willis Gidney is now — apparently — a band leader.

Just how does a fictional character do this?

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It started two years ago, when Thomas met pianist Steve Mencher, and asked drummer John Shepherd to join them.  The trio sounded great! Then they added David Shulman on violin and Alex Martin on guitar.  After a few rehearsals the group knew they were ready to play out, to gig, but they had a problem — what to call the band?

All the names Thomas came up with were rock’n’roll band names, like THE ROUTERS or SHIMMY & the CHIMPS or AARDVARK & the BARFALOTS.

David said that jazz groups are typically named after the band leader.

“But we don’t have a leader,” Steve said.

“Let’s name the band after Willis Gidney,” Alex said.

They all looked to Thomas.  “Uh, okay. Um.  Great.  Only problem is, he doesn’t actually exist.”

“Excellent,” John said. “That’ll be a big change from some of the real-life band leaders we’ve had.”

Thomas didn’t know how Willis would feel about this, but had a quick talk with him later.

“Are you up for this?” he asked the private eye.

“Is there any work involved?” Gidney asked.

“For us, yes. But not for you.”

“Then I’m okay with it,” Gidney said.

So if you’re near Greenbelt, Maryland this Halloween, please join the band at the New Deal Cafe. The band guarantees that their leader will NOT be there.


Published by Thomas Kaufman

Thomas Kaufman is the author of STEAL THE SHOW and DRINK THE TEA, which won the PWA/St Martin's Press Best First PI Novel Competition. He is also an Emmy award- winning motion picture director/cameraman. Since graduating from the University of Southern California with an MFA in Film Production, he has worked as a Director of Photography on documentary, commercial, and fiction films. In addition to working as director/cameraman for National Geographic and Discovery Channels, Mr Kaufman has also shot documentaries for British Broadcasting Corporation, WGBH, WNET, and Academy Award-winners Mark Jonathan Harris, Charles Guggenheim, and Barbara Koppel.

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