CHAPTER ONE

"It is the greatest pipe organ we have made, our finest work since ein hunderten Jahren. Und dieser catastroph on the day we set it up and it plays the first time!" Dirk Deventer, the Tonal Director of the L.C. Krantzler Pipe Organ Company, wrung his hands and stared off into space. His thin body shook with the remembrance of sudden, horrible death.

"Well, now sir, why don't you just calm down a bit and try to tell me exactly what happened." Captain Casimir Wysocki, one of the Garfield police force's finest, could barely understand Deventer's particular mix-up of languages. Working in this part of northern New Jersey, you had to cut through the gabble of at least a half-dozen different languages every day just to write a traffic ticket. For him, Polish was no problem, but this crazy mixture of emotionally charged German and English . . .

"Ich weiss nicht, but Mark he played louder and louder, he was drawing out the Military Trumpet, and Himmel!". He was sobbing now. "This body - from out of the sky - knocks him off the bench. The awful sound as he fell on the keyboards! And then . . . todten . . . death." Deventer's thin face was a pale mask of horror. He turned away, fumbling for his pipe as tears ran down his cheeks.

Captain Wysocki quietly left the Tonal Director's office and stood in the corridor; he would learn no more from Deventer for now.

Normally the corridor is a cacaphony of sounds from the voicing rooms where the individual pipes of an organ are made to sound, but the death of Mark T. Krantzler, President of Krantzler Pipe Organs, had caused an uncomfortable silence to descend over the entire factory. Wysocki went out on the balcony overlooking the Erecting Hall floor, and observed his men were continuing their grisly work. Satisfied that they were doing everything needed, he went down the balcony and into the Factory Superintendent's office. "Your Mr. Deventer won't be of much help, even if I could understand him.", he said as he entered.

Karl Heyer, the essential rotund Bavarian type with a beer belly, red nose, looked up with wry grin. "Nope. Dirk thinks he is very, very artistic and always acts the part. Used to be the tonal director around here was just another Joe working for a living and making good organs. This fellow acts more like a prissy ballet dancer than like an organ builder."

"Yeah, but I've got to find out why two men are dead. You were in the, whaddaya call it, the Erecting Hall, when it happened. OK, now you tell me about it."

"Sure, Captain." Heyer lit up a big, black cigar, puffed out a few lungfuls of pungent smoke, and settled back in his old-fashioned castered oak chair. "The Erecting Hall is where we set up each organ and play it before shipping it out. The job we've got in there now is the biggest we've ever done, so all the brass from the front office come out to give 'er a try. Funny, though, I didn't see Al Cannon - he's the V-P. He and Mark, they shove each other off the bench trying to prove who's the flashiest player. Gives everybody a real kick watching those two.

"Anyway, Mark starts up with the soft stuff, Flute Celestes and whatnot, and builds 'er up slow." Pride showed on his face. "When the folks up in the shops start to hear the music, they say 'It's the Sound.' Even the folks who live around here call its that. Now, when Mark's playing, he takes his time about building up the crescendo. It gives everybody a chance to come on out to the Erecting Hall balconies and listen. We like 'em to do that. Builds up Company pride. Well he really took his sweet old time about it today, 'cause it takes a while to build up through a hundred-fifty-odd ranks of pipes. Toward the end, man, did that baby thunder!

"Well, everybody's enjoying it, and he's about ready to give us some fanfares on the Military Trumpet, and I look up. Here's a guy come flying off the fifth balcony like a taxi hit him. He sails down - seems like it took forever - and lands right on top of old Mark. Knocks him right into the keyboards. Sweet Jesus, what an awful sound! Y'know for a second I thought it was Cannon - looked just like him - but it was Szewczyk from the engraving shop. Good man, he did nice hand engraving. Gonna be hard to replace him. So, anyway, all hell breaks loose, the girls from the console shop screaming and stuff. We pulled 'em both off the console. What a mess! Hell, Mark never had a chance.

"And old D.D. - Damn Dutchman they call him on the voicing floor - now all he can think of is how everybody's going to remember", he made a snobby face and put an imaginary monocle in his eye, "dot Herr Krantzler vass killt on mein grosser Wunderorgel."

"Don't like Deventer, huh?"

"Fooey. Back before old man L.C. retired, things were OK around here. We all worked together and built real nice organs, not that we don't today. But there's so much backbiting anymore. Politics. And it all started after Mark took over. He was the world's greatest guy, but Al was running him ragged in management and D.D. was prissing him to death." He leaned forward and looked at the closed door. "Y'ask me, Cannon and D.D., they were getting ready to, y'know, ease Mark out - they both have lots of stock in the company."

"You don't suppose Cannon or Deventer tried to advance their positions by, uh, more positive action?"

"Nahh. Al is too damn smart to try something like that. And D.D. think of it? Ha!" He leaned back and spread his burly arms. "In the offices they call him - that Dumb Dutchman!" He hurled the cigar butt into the wastecan and erupted into gales of beerhall laughter.