Elena glanced at her watch. It was nine-forty in the morning and she was standing in front of the park. Russell was supposed to pick her up within five minutes. Today they were going to Freddy's music shop. Freddy himself might be a drummer but Russell said that he could play a number of other instruments as well, and that he demonstrated the instruments of his shop himself.
Within herself, she praised Russell's sense of punctuality when his van pulled up in front of her. Hey, get on board, Russell called out, I hope I didn't keep you waiting for long.
Elena got up and took the seat beside him, Not at all. On the contrary, you are quite punctual.
He smiled. Would you mind if we make a stop at Chris's place at first? He called up this morning. Said that I might be interested about his further findings on George's body.
Elena raised her eyebrows. Wow, I'm also interested. You sure he wouldn't mind if I show up too?
Russell shook his head. I kinda told him about you already. That you might come and all. He said okay, as long as you keep all of this in confidence. The official report is yet due, you understand.
Elena nodded. Of course, she said, Who's there to tell anyway?
Russell turned on the car radio amd adjusted the knob. Soon the van got filled up with the mellow orchestra-driven slow intro of Sunday by the Cranberries. Wow, Elena thought and closed her eyes. She loved this song. But soon she was interrupted by the screeching sound of static as Russell was adjusting the knob again.
Hey, she protested, What are you doing? Don't change it.
Russell looked at her, perplexed. Um, sorry, he said, You like the song?
I love it! she exclaimed. Russell, still looking at her, turned the knob back to the station. By this time, the song had entered its more upbeat verse after the slow intro.
They didn't speak until the song got over. Then Russell said, You seriously like the Cranberries?
Elena frowned. Why? What's wrong with them?
Russell shrugged. Nothing wrong... it's just you used to play Pumpkins songs and He didn't finish the sentence, as the radio started playing Breaking the Girl by RHCP. Now this, he emphasized, is a band I like.
Elena laughed. Cool, at least there's something we both agree upon.
Elena always had this mental image of a fat middle aged man in a white coat and bloody rubber gloves whenever she heard the word coroner somewhere. Result of watching too many crime thrillers (or CSI?). But thirty-two year old Chris Fields didn't exactly match that image. The person who opened the door for them and introduced himself as Chris was a tall handsome guy with long flowing blonde hair, with his ears pierced and a large phoenix tattoo in his bare chest. It was somehow difficult to believe that this guy went to medical school.
Hi, the guy said as he shook her hand, You must be Elena. Please come in and make yourself comfortable.
Elena looked at Russell. He caught her glance and said to Chris, Um, Chris... we won't sit for long. We have an assignment today.
Chris nodded. I know... but this stuff is pretty interesting. Just sit down and wait a minute. I'm coming.
He returned with a coffee pot and three mugs. For first few minutes, nobody said anything. After a while Chris began, taking a sip from his mug, Russell probably told you that I've found some markings on George's head that don't go with a typical RTA.
Road traffic accident. Elena nodded.
Well, to be precise, I'm pretty sure that he was hit in the forehead with a sharp object.
She nodded again. She heard all this last night.
The marks, like sharp cut injury marks, one even fractured the frontal bone, correspond with something like a small knife or a dagger. Now, the thing is, generally when you attack someone with a dagger, you don't really go for the head, do you? Moreover, George was five feet ten.
Now this was interesting. Elena frowned.
Another thing, Chris continued, I need to consider. When you're standing in the middle of the road and you get hit by a moving car, you know where the primary impact injury will be? At your hips and knees. But when you get hit by a truck, the primary impact would most commonly be in your hips and upper body, not your knees. That's because, you know, the truck wheels are much larger and usually the front bumper is situated much higher than that of a car. Now, estimating the time of death, we should assume it's a truck, because Linus can confirm you that at that time of night, trucks are much more common.
Elena shook her head, Your point being?
Chris nodded. George had his right hip dislocated and left hip bone shattered, with both patella fractured and gross knee instability. But no arm, chest or mid-spinal injury.
Russell said, Okay... then he was hit by a car after all, however rare it was at that time of night.
Chris got up from the couch. Yeah... but that doesn't explain his death, Russell. Primary impact on your chest or head can kill you but you don't die of a primary impact on your hips and knees, man. There wasn't much evidence of massive bleeding from a severed major vessel. If you ask me what killed him, I'll go with the blow on his forehead.
Elena couldn't say anything. She looked at Russell, he was silent as well.
Chris sighed. I'm not publishing my report today. I'll take two more days.
Freddy's music shop wasn't big at all. It was rather small, but well-equipped and decorated. There was a long row of guitars hanging from a wall. Basses were placed under them. Elena noticed that Freddy didn't keep Gibson products. She couldn't spot a single les paul among the thirty-odd guitars displayed. The drumkit section in the back, on the contrary, was a fairly expensive collection sporting mostly Pearl and DW products.
Freddy was a heavyset man in his mid-forties. Elena sensed from their conversation that Russell and Freddy were quite close. When Russell told him that Elena used to play bass in a band Freddy exclaimed, Really? Awesome. Come let's have a short jam.
She protested. We don't have much time, Mr. Hicks. And I haven't touched my bass in
Oh please call me Freddy. He interjected, And let's just play something before we begin talking. I have an idea why you guys are here. But let's play something first.
Elena looked at Russell. He just smiled and shrugged. She mouthed at him, you'll pay for this.
Please, feel free to select any bass you like. Elena went to the wall and after going through the row twice, she decided upon a maple-neck Fender Precision bass. She tied her hair, took the bass, plugged it into an amp and sat down on a chair. She saw that Freddy had taken his position behind a Pearl drum kit with Zildijan hi-hats and cymbals.
This is crazy, she thought, I'm playing bass after at least six months. She asked Freddy, So what do you want to play?
Freddy didn't answer. Instead he started a slow moody rhythm on his hi-hats, riding the cymbals at the same time. Then on the third count after four bars, he hit one of the toms and went into a short roll in the snare and thus entering the main pattern. It was a slow 5/4 rhythm, but Elena was absolutely marvelled by his arrangement. It was a complex and difficult pattern, pushing more towards jazz than rock n' roll.
Elena started from the high Bb. You have to keep that jazzy playful mood, she thought, so as many high notes as possible. And soon the fingers of her right hand found their comfort picking those Fender strings as the left hand found its way across the maple fretboard. Soon she developed a pattern complementing Freddy's drumming and continued with it. Let's not go for too much experiment, she thought and repeated that pattern a few times before letting Freddy entering into a drum solo.
Russell clapped loudly as they finished. Elena felt a little overwhelmed, and also a bit sad that she didn't get to do more of this these days. Freddy came over to her with a big smile on his face.
That's fking cool, he said, That's really pretty awesome shit. We have to do this another time, with more time in our hands.
Elena flushed. Oh come on. You are pretty awesome. And we'll surely do this again later. But right now...
I know, Freddy wiped his forehead and sat on a chair, You guys are here to, let's say, hear what I've got to say about Georgie's death, right?
Elena and Russell looked at each other. Then Russell spoke, Well, that too, yes. But the main reason for our visit is something different.
Freddy raised his eyebrows. Eh? What's that?
Elena spoke up now. Well, it's the channel's decision to run a sort of origin story of the Rosethorns for the 25th anniversary of their first album. I mean, you were a founding member. So was George. So we were planning to ask you to, you know, basically recite your memories regarding those times. How it all began, memories of your first gig, your relationship with Tommy or Peter... stuff like that. And on a later date, we'll film it here on your shop.
Freddy was silent for a while, staring down. Then he bit his lip and looked at them. What makes you think, he said, that I want to talk about Rosethorns?
(to be continued)