Title: Curse of the Ninth
Author: Ruthie Marlenée
Publisher: WiDo/E.L. Marker Publishing
In the music world, there is a superstition, Curse of the Ninth, whereby “a composer who produces a ninth symphony has reached a decisive landmark – to embark on the tenth is a challenge to fate.”
In the fall of 1930, Charley, not yet born, knows what happened to his father Doc as he lay dying. Like a changing of musical guards upon his death, Doc transfers over his consciousness to his unborn son.
Now sharing the life of his dead father, Charley has no choice except to carry out his father’s plans, including taking revenge on Doc’s killer. Despite the consequences.
Charley floats in and out of juvie, jail, and finally ends up in the U.S. Naval Hospital’s mental ward as a perfect candidate for the government’s “Project Chatter.”
Confused and threatened, Charley only wants to live like a normal person and marry the woman he loves, goals that feel impossible unless he can somehow get rid of his father’s beyond-the-grave influence.
While the ten-foot drop off the ladder and the bash to the head were shocking, I must admit, dying wasn’t so painful, but it wasn’t quick either. I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next several hours.
I’d made some mistakes in my life, things for which I can’t be forgiven. If only I could go back and change things; do things differently, make things right. If only I had more time. It isn’t only your life you see flashing before your eyes as you die—I can tell you the truth of that—but foremost is the regrets haunting you during your final brief period of time. I can capture tintypes of memories; strung together like a movie scene or freeze-framed for another day.
I can see how, in a lifetime, not everyone gets a second chance at love. My heart spilled over with so many things to say to her, but death is Cupid’s poisoned arrow. I also worried my endeavors, like my words, would be forgotten; trapped like the important papers in the vault I had intended to open only a short while ago.
As a man who had always fought for control, had I this time left destiny to chance only to lose dominion over it?
Musical memories slowly filled the spaces where blood vacated my body; where cracks and fissures had broken away. And then a silly superstition floated across the forefront of my mind and I struggled to connect the meaning. Was this a musical joke or was this my Curse of the Ninth?
While I wasn’t a composer of music and had always discounted this concept of the curse, I wondered if somehow I’d struck a wrong chord with fate. Was it wrong to have wanted more? Was it wrong to attempt a tenth? Was our baby to be the tenth symphony of my life, and therefore a mistake—? No!
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Ruthie Marlenée is a California native and lives in Los Angeles with her husband. A James Kirkwood Literary Award nominee, she also earned her Writer's Certificate “With Distinction” from UCLA. She is the author of several novels: “Isabela's Island,” “Agave Blues,” and is currently working on the sequel to “Curse of the Ninth.” Marlenée is a ghostwriter, screenwriter, novelist and a poet whose work can be found in several literary publications.
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