“When I played Carnegie Hall in…it must have been 1918 or 1919 or so…the result was a near riot,” Hanna said. She lit a fresh cigarette but didn’t inhale, letting the smoke wreathe her head. “My own composition–very dissonant, very futurist, full of radical tone clusters and other such nonsense. The result was a near riot.”

“They didn’t like it?” Berne asked.

“It was one thing for young turks like Ornstein and Schoenberg and Scriabin to play music like that. But a woman? There was an editorial in the Times the next day saying that I was childishly beating my piano and letting my handlers–my male handlers–transform it into something avant-garde.”

“What did you do?”

“I sent them a copy of one of my sheets with all the music there in full notation. Never did get a response, but I loved the fact that little old me could case such a sensation.”

Bern delicately cleared his throat and swatted away some encroaching smoke. “Why’d you give up performing then?”

“Two things, really,” Hanna sighed. “For one, I grew bored with futurism and dissonance. Experimenting with tonality…now that was enough to get me attacked from all sides. The futurists who’d made me their poster child weren’t happy, and the people I’d irritated in the first place weren’t either.”

“And the second thing?”

“I fell in love.”

Bert’s team specialized in “turning around” houses—buying them cheap on good land, fixing them up, and then selling them at a profit. If they’d been doing business the normal way, he never would have looked twice at the ad in the paper, but sometimes business was slow, and the team had to be willing to take jobs for hire.

He’d gotten a call from Harvey, the realtor who Bert did most of his Cascade business with. A vacation cabin, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a two-track road that didn’t even have a name, only a vague description.

“Who the hell’d want to vacation that far out?” he’d said.

“Hey, some people like to get away. Maybe they were Australian looking for a bit of that homely feel. The point is, Bert, the place is sitting with the next of kin, and they’re ready to give it up as a derelict. I’ve already got some interested buyers lined up—more Aussies, maybe, who knows—but they’ve all got ten thumbs. City types, you know.”

“I know,” Bert had grunted. Part of the beauty of his job was that the noise and pointy things tended to keep people away.