Saturday, February 4, 2017

Valentine’s Day Massacre

In the novel Charade, late one night Star Lance visits the graveyard behind the church on the hill up the street from her Arrowstar antique shop in Mineral City, Arizona. She hid out in the trees near the tombstones waiting for a regular night-time visitor she’d observed from her front porch on several occasions. While her curiosity compelled her to want to find out who this nocturnal visitor might be, her fear of spending time in a cemetery in the dark had her talking to herself about something that happened way back in 1929.

“Didn’t I read something in history about a massacre that happened on Valentine’s Day?” And she shivered at the thought. Not that she expected a massacre, rather someone possibly jumping out from behind a tree brandishing a knife. “Oh well, at least if someone stabs me, I can be buried right here.”

The massacre Star referenced took place during the era of prohibition on Chicago’s north side. On a night historically celebrating romance and love, some of Al Capone’s gang members, dressed in police uniforms, attacked a rival gang, mowing them down with machine guns as the men lined up against a brick wall inside a garage. Seven men died that night, but Capone’s archenemy George “Bugs” Moran wasn’t among them. Moran showed up late for the meeting.

Unfortunately, Al Capone couldn’t be linked to the murders. Ultimately Capone spent time in jail for contempt of court and tax evasion without ever being indicted for the more serious crimes authorities were certain he committed. Capone died an invalid recluse at his Florida home in 1939 after having served only 12 years in jail. It seems hardly enough punishment for a man newspapers dubbed Public Enemy No. 1.

It’s strange how we sometimes try to alleviate our fears in stressful situations, as Star did, by thinking of something scarier than the situation we’re in. Valentine’s Day is upon us, so why not chow down on chocolates from a heart-shaped box and watch Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in the movie Love Actually? Star Lance would be the only woman outlandish enough to spend Valentine’s Night “sneaking around in a graveyard with cold and damp seeping in through [her] shoes.” Wouldn’t she?

When you’ve read Charade, I hope you’re interested in knowing
more about the women buried in the Storm family’s plot in the cemetery on the hill where Star’s curiosity took her on Valentines’ Night. The Storm Women novel reveals the twists and turns in the lives of all six women buried there without their husbands by their sides.

Read On! Write On!
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