composure. His heart ached as her lovely face sprang into his mind. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.
There’d been nothing on the six o’clock news about her being discovered. Perhaps the cops were keeping it quiet for a while. He was surprised that someone’s dog – or a council park attendant – hadn’t found her. The undergrowth was pretty thick near the edge of the river; he remembered catching his parka on something. A chill swept through him as he pondered the possibility of having left a thread behind. Too late now...a member of the orchestra passed by, looking at him strangely. Had she spoken to him? She must have, because she shrugged and kept going. No, breathe, that’s it breathe. Don’t draw attention to yourself.
The orchestra filed in, took their places and sat to tune their instruments on the note, A , from the First Oboist. The conductor walked to the podium to enthusiastic clapping; the concert was underway.
Motionless, he absorbed the glorious sounds into his mind and body, forcing his fear into oblivion. By the end of the symphony which opened the evening performance, he had managed to thrust the horror of dawn and the memory of the photographer who had been taking shots of the park and the river banks. Instead, visions of his holiday burst forth...the surf breaking on the sand, the early morning sun warming his skin...dogs snuffling excitedly past, out with their jogging owners...
Clapping brought him out of his thoughts. He was close enough to spot a young girl in the audience looking at him. ‘Having a kip were you?’ she mouthed, grinning. He smiled back, his eyes alighting on her soft, red mouth. The audience coughed and rustled with anticipation then burst into applause as the young conductor came back. Dingo resisted the urge to hold his hands over his ears as a wave of clapping thundered throughout the auditorium. One, two, three four...sixseveneightnineten. The conductor raised his baton for the music to begin. The lead in from the orchestra heightened the tension as the glorious notes of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 20 in D Minor filled the vast hall. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the music and performance, he forgot everything that had happened on this terrible day. His subconscious mind counted every beat, anticipated every note – but though numbers were his obsession, he forgot even that.
The second movement, the Romance, brought him back to the here and now and as the movement ended and the third and last started, suddenly he became impatient for it to finish. Why did they have to have an interval? Couldn’t this lot sit on their arses for a bit longer? Anger and exhaustion surged through him; the day’s events would no longer be denied...
Her lovely face, laughing and chatting. ‘So Dingo, tell me your real name? Come on, you owe me!’ She brought out a bottle of diet Coke and proceeded to pour him a glass. Gratefully, he took it and made a laughing reference to being a mystery man – for how could he tell her his real name? Sometimes he was glad he didn’t have friends when he was young, because the bullies would have mauled him in the playground. Then he would remember watching, through the upstairs window of the music room, the other kids go by for school, laughing and hitting each other with their schoolbags, longing to join them. Surely anything was better than the loneliness of his life...her beautiful face changed from laughing to a grimace...
The applause brought him back to the present. Had he made a fool of himself? Apparently not! The acknowledgement from the audience went on and on – endless bowing and smiling – when would it ever end? He had never wanted to escape so badly.
When interval came, he scurried backstage and moved to the plate glass window looking out over the steps where people, wrapped in stylish coats, braved the night air. Beyond the expanse of lawn, the water rippled all colours from the city lights. Have they found her yet?