If you missed part one last Friday, catch up here.
On the news the next day the police were asking for a couple to come forward who were believed to be witnesses.
Beth was waiting for me in a café, the other side of town from the shooting. ‘I don’t even know your name, but I can tell you’re a compassionate man, you understand people.’
She was quite attractive, in a homely sort of way, but it was the sadness in her eyes that affected me and I almost felt like the man she imagined me to be. Was it possible to atone for everything I’d done. I’d never killed my wife in cold blood, like the gunman, but I had killed…
‘Are you okay? I don’t think you policeman are as tough as you like to think.’
…His eyes, as if he was looking into the gates of hell… I pulled myself together, I was definitely losing it.
‘Sorry, I’m upsetting you. Tell me about your family Beth.’
She talked and I held her hand platonically. She paused.
‘I’m supposed to be meeting a friend for an early dinner, my mother’s picking the children up from school, we were going to the concert hall, but she’s ill. Are you one of those detectives who loves music?’
‘Yes’ I lied automatically.
‘You’re welcome to the other ticket, it’s Verdi’s Requiem, perhaps something deep and stirring would be good for both of us.’ She suddenly laughed. ‘Rather ironic, we were supposed to have the Day of Judgment yesterday.’
‘I’ll come with you.’
My brain was ticking over, there was lasagne verdi and wasn’t there a Verdi who wrote operas? I could nip into the gents and get on the internet with my mobile, find out more.
I paid for dinner with my laundered money, then we rushed to the concert hall, it was starting at 7pm. While Beth was in the Ladies I bought a programme and scanned it hurriedly. Four columns of Latin, that shouldn’t take long to sing. I started reading the English translation. I had been lulled into feeling like a new man, but the words leapt off the page.
The day of wrath, that day will dissolve the world in ashes… how great will be the terror, when the judge comes…
I closed the programme, just words, made up like an opera….
We had good seats, in the middle, a few rows back. The stage filled with a large orchestra, behind them were banked an enormous choir. Everyone was clapping and they hadn’t even played anything yet, four soloists walked on.
As they started singing I followed the Latin words as best I could, I soon realised they kept repeating every line, how long was this going to take? I tried to relax and let the music wash over me, but suddenly the orchestra were playing wildly, the choir was crying out, and I could feel the vibrations of the bass drum like a death knell. Beside me Beth clasped my hand and trembled with the thrill of the music. But I trembled with terror; at that moment I knew it was true, there would be a Day of Judgement and I would never be ready.
The programme dropped from my hands, I had no idea how much time passed, as that terrible theme was repeated. Then everyone was clapping and Beth was leading me out. She leaned up and brushed my cheek.
‘Wasn’t it wonderful, there’s no need to be ashamed, shedding a few tears. That’s strange, it shouldn’t be dark outside yet at this time of year, must be a storm coming.’
She slipped her arm through mine, I tried to blank my mind, slip back to normality, but as we stepped outside the sky was black, not the clear black of night, but dark rolling storm clouds. I looked up in abject terror as the sky rent in two, then cast my eyes down. Beth was no longer beside me.
For more dark stories dip into this book.
Only 99 pence or $1.29