Book Spotlight on Mood Indigo


Mood Indigo by Ken Bachtold
Contemporary MM, Mystery/Suspense
Dreamspinner Press
Release date: March 2nd, 2016

What happens when a powerful connection forms between two damaged strangers? 

Found injured by the side of a road, Bill Ward suffers from retrograde amnesia. Having no recollection of his past, he feels like a nobody. Romance is definitely not an option for a nobody. Jazz singer and piano player Johnny Desmond, on the other hand, is emotionally dead from the ultimate betrayal. But from the moment their eyes meet, there’s no fighting it, and with their friends’ encouragement, Bill and Johnny decide to get to know each other. 

Bill’s memories are hovering at the edge of his mind, tormenting him with fear and doubts about what he has to offer. Johnny also has a past—one that could endanger his life. It might have been love at first sight, but it will take courage and commitment to see it through to love that lasts forever.

Available at Amazon, Publisher

Excerpt:

WHEN I imagine the perfect jazz club, I always envision a crowded, low-ceilinged room, several steps down from the sidewalk, and filled with a blue/purple haze of smoke. Piano, bass, and drums, of course, usually a bit worn, a banjo and an alto sax. Sometimes an odd instrument just seems to appear in the vision, a violin, a trombone, and once or twice, of all things, a harmonica. But whatever the makeup of the band, whatever beautiful interweaving of sound they make, whatever the surroundings, there’s always a gorgeous, coffee-skinned singer in a brilliantly spangled gown, seemingly made of diamonds, and who has a white flower in her hair. And she’s always singing “Blues in The Night” or “I’ve Got A Right to Sing the Blues” or perhaps, “Blue Moon,” but always a song with blues in the title. I mean, what’s a jazz singer supposed to be all about, except the low-down blues.

And yet the club I frequent these days, in my new life, is nothing like that. Naturally, there’s no smoke; that goes without saying. And instead of a string bass, there’s a bass guitar, the drums are chrome, as flashing as sunlight reflected off the bumpers of an automobile, and there’s no band name emblazoned anywhere on any drum. A violin. No sax, no banjo, but a plethora of guitars, all wired up for mechanical sound. The only thing that seems to remain of my vision is a worn, old piano, but not an upright, a black baby grand. It looks so lost and out of place amidst all the elegant, modern instruments. And the singer? Ah, now we come to it. The singer, who is also the piano player, is an incredibly handsome man with almost unreal movie-star looks. Black, black hair, with almost bluish tints under the stage lights. Eyes of the palest blue, reminding me, strangely, of looking down while ice skating—some latent memory from my lost years? A square chin and a generous mouth, with a slightly plump lower lip. And tall. Before he sits, he dwarfs the piano, and he looks as though he might crush the piano bench. He never does, though. He almost glides to the bench, and then stretches his long fingers, preparing once again to entice heavenly sounds from the old piano. Tonight he wears a sky-blue silk shirt and worn Levi’s. Beautiful brown leather boots tap the piano pedals every so often. The other musicians surround him with intense but muted notes, so as not to drown out the richness of a real piano. It’s a unique sound, but mesmerizing in its beauty. The club is usually full, most often with many folks I recognize as regulars, like me. I always wonder how close this image is to my imagined jazz club, the one that used to be.

Of course, nothing is like it used to be, because, for me, there is no used to be. Not since that fateful day two years ago when I finally woke up and found out nobody knew who I was. I’d been unconscious for weeks, they told me. I had no identification, and nobody had come forward to claim me.

They’d found me lying by the side of the highway, apparently near death, with major cuts and raw scrapes, the worst a bloody mass at the back of my head, but, thankfully, no broken bones, although both shoulders had been dislocated. In short, I was a mess.

I was wearing only a badly torn pair of sweatpants. Of course, I don’t remember any of this. I was told about it later by the doctors. No identification. No indication of who I was or where I’d come from. A search had found no missing person who fit my description. A mystery man for sure. I wasn’t local, as it appeared, for when I finally was able to speak, I had some sort of slight accent. No one could quite place it, and I was absolutely no help at all. But I didn’t quite sound like anybody around me.

When I first regained consciousness, I didn’t realize I was in a hospital. I thought I was in my bedroom, except I couldn’t seem to remember what it looked like, or where it was. Then I became aware that the head of the bed was raised, and there were rails on either side of me. The realization dawned slowly that I was, indeed, in a hospital. The entire room was painted a startling white, and I was hooked up to a myriad of machines that seemed to speak to each other in mechanical squawks, like a gaggle of strange ducks. As I looked down at myself, I was almost covered in white gauze bandages. I looked like a Halloween monster. Sunlight peered in a large window, through slatted blinds, and formed jail-like shadows on the floor. My hands looked like paws, covered as they were in bandages. As I fumbled madly for the call button, I noticed a plastic bracelet around my wrist with “John Doe” printed on it. I began pressing the call button like it was a machine gun. A startled doctor came rushing in, followed by two nurses.

“Oh,” he said, “you’re awake, finally.”

Even in my reduced state of awareness, I noticed immediately that he was very handsome, with wavy brown hair and eyes to match, brown, not wavy. And he smiled a beautiful smile. I felt a tingle somewhere inside. The two young nurses were very pretty, but no tingle. I didn’t have time to assess this knowledge.

“Who am I?” I asked him.

He didn’t answer, but instead crossed the room quickly and put his stethoscope on a small patch of skin on my chest. It was cold, but the hand that held it was warm and provoked very pleasant feelings.

“What’s my name?”

“Just stay quiet for moment, and let me check your vitals.”

I wanted to tell him that the most vital thing was that I find out my name. John Doe, indeed. I dangled the bracelet on my wrist for emphasis. Intense on his ministrations, he didn’t notice. I was tempted to dangle it again, but I thought better of it when I figured he might jab me with a needle in retaliation.

He took my pulse and, again, I liked the feel of his fingers on the side of my throat. No wrist was available. And he put a thermometer in my ear, and then he related his findings to one of the nurses, who wrote his words down in my chart. The other nurse put a blood pressure cuff on my arm, puffed it up until it was tight, and then released it. Her touch didn’t do much for me. A vague thought was taking form in my mind. Could I be gay? Thinking on it for a moment, I found the idea didn’t bother me.

“You say you don’t know who you are,” the good-looking doctor asked me.

“No.”

“You don’t remember anything at all about yourself.”

“Nothing.”

A mirror was no help, because my head looked like a mummy from one of Anne Rice’s famous books. The handsome young doctor, Dr. Bud Wilson, I’d learned, turned out to be some sort of super plastic surgeon, who had done what he called “major work” on my face. Much later, questions by police and hospital personnel only caused me to become even more befuddled than I already was.

“Come on, buddy,” the cop of the day, or a doctor or nurse would say, “you must remember something about yourself. You seem to know who’s president, and all that kind of stuff, but nothing about yourself? There must be something.”

“Nope. Not a thing.”

Finally, quite some time later, after of the last bandages were off, they held a mirror in front of my face.

“Take a look. Who do you think that is?”

I was quite startled to see green eyes looking back at me. Somehow, I figured they’d be blue. The strange face before me was not what I would call handsome, not in Dr. Wilson’s league, but, after checking quite carefully, I figured it was not bad at all. I was rather rugged-looking. Short, blond, rather wavy hair helped a lot. “A handsome devil,” I told them, despite the few fading red lines still present here and there.

My sense of humor did not sit well. As he started to leave, I called him back.

“Ah… do you suppose… do you suppose I could be… gay?”

His serious face broke into a broad smile.

“Judging by your lingering glances at the male staff, and only passing notice to the female staff, I feel pretty safe in saying… that you are.”

“Oh.” A brilliant response.

“You’re not alone, you know. We have quite a scattering of gay folks here among the doctors and nurses.

He leaned close to my ear.

“Myself included.”

“But….”

He hurried out before I could go any further. However, he waved a hand over his shoulder. He was kind enough to have one of the volunteers bring me several gay-themed novels that he thought I could read to pass the time. I found them very interesting to say the least. In another, but equally serious vein, various doctors told me I had retrograde amnesia, in which “the unlucky recipient thereof can’t retrieve information that he or she had before a particular date, usually the date of an accident.” In some cases, the memory loss can extend back decades, while in others the person may lose only a few months. Mine seemed to be unique in that I could remember most things, but absolutely nothing about myself. Family, friends, house, schools, work, nothing. An abyss.



Ken Bachtold Biography
BA & MA from San Francisco State University in Theatre (Acting and Directing) with a minor in Art.
When I constantly had trouble finding the type of book I liked to read, I finally said to myself, “Why don’t you stop moaning and write one yourself?” So I did. I was thrilled to the marrow (literally) when Dreamspinner accepted Seeing the Same Blue. Then followed acceptance of Blue Valentine Blues, part of their Valentine anthology. Next, came acceptance of All By Myself. And, now Mood Indigo is being released. My cup runeth over!  All books can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Before that, Outskirts Press published Love Like Lightning – Ten Stories of Love at First Sight, also on Amazon.
My original play, Starting Over (which I also directed), was just staged as part of the Ninth Annual Fresh Fruit Festival here in New York.  Audience reaction was terrific.  It was one of nine plays accepted out of 60 submitted.  It was an MM romance.  The blurb in the brochure for the festival read, "A play about love and loss.  Griff has recently lost his longtime partner.  Can he find happiness with Ben, the new neighbor down the hall?  He’s supported by his sister and opposed by his widowed mother, now remarried to a homophobic preacher."
I've also written 5 musicals, book, music and lyrics.
Saloon (loosely suggested by the old melodrama The Drunkard) which opened The Gatetway Dinner Theatre in New Jersey to great reviews (I can forward them if you wish). It was subsequently optioned by Broadway producer Jerry Schloschberg (who, at the time was, producing the revival ofOn The Town with Bernadette Peters), but a show sluggishly following the old material opened and closed the same night, and he backed off thinking there was now a "stigma" on the material.
The Facts of Life (a musical about War, Prejudice and Aging, circa the ‘60s) was written at the BMI Music Workshop, taught by Broadway legend, Lyman Engle, and only after several auditions before acceptance in the class.  It was deemed worthy of a staged reading there.
Boo!, based on the old gothic novel The Castle Spectre was done by several regional theatres.
I was hired to doctor a musical based on Iphigenia At Aulis, called The Winds Of Aulis.  I changed the name to Dilemma! and wrote a subplot and mostly new lyrics.  Although the play was fully backed, it never reached production and I never found out why.
  
I’ve written and staged numerous night club and cabaret acts and taught singing for the musical stage for 15 years.


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