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Gus: Part one of two parts

Tags: moolight

The universe, a giant unending night-time sky, an infinity of stars stretching out as far as the eye can see. Some stars are brighter and larger than others; this can be true of the sky above or of the land we live upon.

The biggest star, the moon, is full and bright, it moves yet is unmoving. A disk of light leading the way, watching over a world in darkness bathing in light. Floating forever we drift with cloud underneath, endless tufts of cotton to catch us if we ever were to fall. Our luminary reflection distorted, both seen and unseen. But our reverie is as infinite as the boundaries of all of space and time.

Sometimes in reverie, we see without seeing at all, we feel without feeling at all, we drift as slow as the blanket of white which moves at times below us and at others… Above. We never move any closer to that great big ball of light in the sky even when we believe we are already there. That torch one day will shine upon us all, giving us each our own spotlight, giving us each our own Moonlight Sonata.

1.

A moment of indecision was interrupted by the arrival of Missus Brady into Crew’s Chemist on the further most corner of the old Castletown village.

‘Good afternoon Mister Crew, how are you today?’

‘So good to see you, Missus Brady, I hope you are well. Actually, it is a minute after six so I guess it is a good evening. You know, my father and his father before him were Mister Crew. I am plain auld Gus as I have mentioned to you before or if you must, Henry will suffice.’

‘None of that nonsense young man, your father and his father before him, lord rest their souls, and now you, as long as this store stands you all will be Mister Crew.’

‘Well my dear, we all appreciate your loyalty and you know I am not such a young man no more. Now if you give me a moment, I will just go get your prescription for you" Gus moves into a back area and returns to his side of the counter in a matter of seconds. ‘Now there, here you are.’

‘Thank you so much, how much do I owe you?’

‘Now put that purse away, Missus Brady. I will see you end of the month and we can square things up then.’

‘If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, your father and your grandfather would be so proud of you.’

‘You were always so kind Missus Brady, do be safe making your way home, it will be getting dark soon.’

‘I will.’

Gus smiles to himself as Missus Brady exits the store though it is more of a reflective smile than anything else for Gus has no heir to take the store when and if such a time should come when he fails to return, though how much longer can or could such a store like this one keep on operating?

The other end of the village is the business end of town begins especially now with it leading right into the new town center, a new town center which comes equipped with two new and much larger pharmacies. Time moves on and waits for no one.

The earlier indecision has come to pass as Gus decides to shut up shop for the day. Instead of heading straight home to the old family house where he lives alone as unfortunately there is no family still living other than Gus, he heads to that new town center and passes right by one of those two new chemist stores almost as soon as he enters into this town center. He can’t help but have himself a quick look inside the large bright white store.

‘Progress,’ he says to himself, ‘if this keeps up I most definitely will not be looking forward to the eighties, as if this decade was all that great.’

A grand piano rests in the center mall area of this new town center and the piano is surrounded on three sides with a thick red rope hooked on steel stands. Having never really done anything spontaneous or out of the ordinary before this particular day, Gus stands looking at the piano for a moment then moves to sit on the stool by that piano.

Why not? He may as well do this, what’s the worst that can come from it? It has been many years since he last played but once he lifts the lid he begins to play the one song he used to play over and over in his early teens. Moonlight Sonata.

His eyes close as he plays and unbeknown to him, a crowd begins to gather to listen to Gus play. He completely loses himself in the moment moving in an almost reactionary way to what he is playing. Never before in the past did playing the piano ever feel this good. Only at the moment he stops playing does he realize that a crowd is enjoying his performance, he hears applause before opening his eyes.

He stands and nervously smiles before giving a slight bow then he begins to move away. Yeah, doing something like this is certainly out of character for Gus though indeed why not rebel a little, even if no harm can come from it?

‘Hey how about playing some more, mister,’ a male voice calls out once the applause calms.

‘Err…’ Gus says turning in the general direction from where the voice had called out, ‘thank you, but I really better be getting going.’

He has had enough excitement for one day. As Gus walks away a young lady follows.

‘That was really good,’ she says. Gus stops and turns. ‘Are you classically trained?’ she asks.

‘Who me? Nah, not at all, I learned how to play of course but that was a long time ago. I haven’t played in almost forty years.’

‘Really? That is hard to believe and impressive too, you played flawlessly and so effortlessly.’

‘Thank you, Miss.’

‘My name is Evelyn.’

‘Nice to meet you Evelyn, my name is Henry but people call me Gus… Well, at least they used to.’

‘Do you mind if I walk with you for a bit Gus,’ she asks reaching out for a handshake.

‘No, I don’t mind at all,’ responds Gus after a slight pause as he considers accepting the offer of the handshake, he does accept.

A couple hours have passed as Gus closes in on arriving back home alone. He sees his nearest neighbour out in his garden.

‘Hello,’ speaks Gus as he gives a slight wave.

‘Hi, beautiful evening isn’t it?’

‘It is indeed,’ Gus manages to say before his neighbour heads inside.

Gus makes himself a sandwich and a mug of tea before turning his television on. A news report tells of a disturbing occurrence. Police have discovered the body of a young lady in Castletown, the very town Gus has lived his whole life within, the discovery having been made not so far from that new town center, and they are looking for help identifying her.

A description of this lady and what she was wearing is given, no photo, however, and this description causes Gus to drop his tea for everything described just so happens to match that of Evelyn, the lady he had met not so long ago.

2.

A full day passes without incident; a day like most others where Gus does nothing out of or away from routine though the following day again Gus does do something out of character. Maybe he is still rocked from the television news report telling of the finding the body of a young lady with whom he had met not all so long before viewing the report or perhaps it is something else, the playing of the piano at the new town center is out of character for him after all. Perhaps there is something more to recent form.

Instead of getting up, ready, and out to Crew’s Chemist early in the morning as he usually would do, Gus decides to rest a little longer and he allows one of those who work for him to open the store. When he does rise, his choice of breakfast is quite different to his regular choices for breakfast. This may not seem like a big deal but Gus is taking on change, no matter how big or small that change is.

Closing in on midday Gus is ready to make his way back to the pharmacy but before he can leave the house a knock comes to his front door. Gus answers and before a word can be spoken the first thought that Gus has is to question what is wrong with the world for the head of hair on the man standing before him is something which has been trending quite a bit during this decade that is not all so far away from coming to an end, and this is something he finds difficult in getting a grip with.

‘Yes, can I help you?’ asks Gus.

‘Sorry to bother you, sir. I am constable Pierce Rowan. Do you mind if I come in?’

‘I am actually on my way out.’

Constable Rowan makes his way into the house for he was not about to let the lack of an invite or the statement of intent to leave from stopping him making his way inside the house. Gus closes the front door and follows the constable into the kitchen. Times being what they are, this is not unusual behaviour, still, it is unappreciated behaviour.

‘I’m sorry but is there something I can help you with?’

‘I do apologise for barging in sir, we are doing door to door inquires this morning and afternoon…’

‘In regards with what?’

‘You may be aware that a young lady has been discovered the evening before last’. The constable takes out a photo and shows it to the man before him. ‘Do you recognize this lady?’

Gus took a look at the photo. ‘No, not really… Kind of.’

‘What do you mean by that sir?’

‘I don’t know her but I did actually meet this lady on the evening in question.’

‘You did what sir? Day in question sir, what do you mean by that?’

‘Isn’t that the girl reported on the news to have been discovered dead?’

‘It is sir, yes.’

‘I did meet her briefly on the day she was found.’

‘You did? Can you tell me the circumstances to your meeting with this lady?’

‘Well, I took a trip to the new town center. There is a Grand piano there right in the open. For some reason or another, I decided to play it for a moment or two. Soon after I stopped playing this lady approached me to comment on my playing?’

‘… And what happened then?’

‘Nothing really, I thanked her and left.’

‘Left the town center?’

‘Yes.’

‘Alone?’

‘Yes. This lady and I did walk for a moment or so but I left her at the town center and she was fine and well when I did.’

‘And you didn’t report that to police?’

‘There was nothing to report. I know nothing of her or what of what happened to her.

‘You didn’t happen to catch her name did you?’

‘She told me her name was... Let me see… Ester… Lindsey… No; her name she told me was Evelyn.’

‘And a last name?’

‘No, I didn’t get that, she just told me her name was Evelyn.’

‘Did she mention as to where she is from or as to family or friends?’

‘No nothing like that, our conversation really was brief.’

‘Well thank you, sir, if you remember anything else please don’t hesitate to visit the police department, we may need to speak again if that is alright with you.’

‘It is indeed, I am glad I could be of some assistance. If I am not here I most likely will be down at the Chemist at the corner of the old village.’

‘Oh I know it, what’s it called... Crew’s Chemist, right?’

‘Yes, that is right. My name is Henry but call me Gus, people call me Gus.’

‘Well alright Gus, thank you once again.’

The two men shake hands and the constable leaves as Gus smiles that smile of his which is so unique he could nearly paten it. On this occasion, however, his smile is more a smile of uncertainty rather than of anything else.

Out and about, a moving car with a mega-phone-like display of speakers on its roof grabs the attention of not only Gus but also that of other people near-by. With the current year being well into its second half, a voice speaking through these speakers advertises discounts on all 1979 model cars which are on sale at the local town car dealership.

Gus doesn’t own a car; neither does he have any interest in acquiring one, sure where would he be going that he would need one? That question gets him thinking; maybe it is about time he did at least think about heading off to somewhere that he has never been before. Maybe he is at a point where he is free to be anywhere or to go to anywhere he would like to go. He never really cared for such things before but now… Perhaps.

The working day once more comes to an end and once again instead of heading straight home, Gus wanders for a while taking in his surroundings on a more than pleasant evening. With the night-time sky having arrived and this clear sky displaying the moon and the multitude of stars in all their glory, Moonlight Sonata once again plays out. In this moment it is something Gus hears in his own head rather than anything being playing on an actual piano.

Once home Gus begins to fix himself a meal while his radio, being fixed on a classical music station, gently sounds out a tune or three as he does so. A local news report interrupts the broadcast close to the top of the hour and that news reports of another death. This one is that of a police officer, a constable Pierce Rowan. The circumstances of his death are not announced, safe to say that this absolutely stuns Gus, and he has no idea of what to make of it.

Two brief comings together with strangers within days of one another, stranger who themselves are both dead. This is most unusual to say the least.

 

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