We are nearing the end of our Writer’s Block section, so if you have been hooked on the story so far, why not finish it? The best contribution submitted before 12pm Thursday 8th December will go up that same day. The story so far (latest instalment on next page):
Victor loved to people-watch. Today he had chosen his favourite spot, just by the fountain, where he had a good enough view of two sides of the square to be able to see where people were coming from, watch them pass by the little café with the never-changing ‘specials’ board, and follow them until they disappeared down the side street which led to the watchmakers.
But today something seemed different. The water seemed a little more unsettled. The not-quite-encrusted chewing gum he usually had to avoid when settling into his observation post had disappeared.
And then he saw it: a piano falling, unarguably, to the street. He thought heavily in the moment before the thing landed. This was happening. He was a privileged witness, inheriting every moment from luck. He smiled to himself. The seconds were molasses in the quiet afternoon sun. He considered how majestic the ebony box looked drifting through the air, how no one would ever appreciate this moment as he was appreciating it now and how he ought to be seen doing something to help the woman whom the piano was about to kill.
His feet rooted helplessly to the floor, he reached out a hand, and for a second his heart stopped. The piano didn’t. It fell and fell, the masses gradually turning to watch its horrific beauty, tumbling obscenely through the air. And then it hit.
The dust settled, and Victor was on his feet. As he proceeded toward the wreckage, a shrill scream came from amidst the crowd and dissected the stultified silence. His feet moved quicker than his mind. Choking on the moment, he surveyed the scene; a mesh of splinters, the snapped strings, and the blood stained ivories. She had been lucky, or so it seemed. A broken arm, a leg perhaps. He was no doctor. He knelt and inspected. He delicately lifted her, summoning a forgotten strength, and brought her away.
Standing now, he felt her weight. He looked at the crowds, increasingly blurry. There was a faint ringing in his ears, a dizziness. One step. Two steps. On the third, he collapsed.
“Now, I been working homicide for perhaps ten years, I was a beat man for fifteen years before that, but I gotta tell you, it ain’t never easy looking at a body. You see hard-bitten cops in the movies, think that’s glamorous, think that’s fun? Well I’m tellin’ you that it’s not. It’s fucken awful.
Take this poor bitch. Piano on her head – no reason, just some sick bastard decides that he’s going to use an orchestra to kill someone, and suddenly we’re pulling piccolos out of hearts and extracting heads from tubas. And I don’t even want to go into what he did with the maracas…
So now I’ve gotta go down to the cells and see if the voyeuristic freak we’ve got on record for peeking into women’s changing rooms who happens to be the only good witness can do any good. Gotta see if he’s come round from that strange fainting spell, and explain to him that just grabbing a woman who’s had a heavy object fall on her and dragging her away might look a little odd.
God, but I love my job.”
Victor opened his eyes, head pounding, and sat up from the hard floor…
…He winced as he looked around him. The light was bright and it took his eyes a few seconds to start seeing properly. The woman was gone. The voice was gone. But a small empty room had appeared and there was an old man sitting primly on a stool in the corner.
“Where am I?” muttered Victor.
“Somewhere safe, sir” said the old man. He wore a morning suit and the voice coming out of his puckered old mouth matched it. “I think Madam will see you now if you’d like to follow me.”
He helped Victor to get up, linked arms with him and led him out of the room. As they passed silently through rooms filled with paintings and statues of musical instruments, Victor could only think of the woman under the piano. Had he dropped her when he fell? Was she alright? Would he ever see her again?
They had reached a set of wooden double doors. “Before you enter, sir, I must urge you not to speak as you did in that little room. No more of the piccolo voyeur. This whole affair has made Madam rather fragile, and if you were to mention such things too vigorously…”
Without finishing his sentence, he opened the door…