The first chapter of my book about the death of a famous punk-rocker
VAYLAND- VAYLAND FESTIVAL
SUNDAY THE 15TH OF JANUARY 2012- 04:27 AM
The silence lasted. Everyone stared. Everyone stared at him. He felt their gazes upon him, even when he closed his eyes. Slowly the silence faded, caused by shock, doubt and disbelieve, it was followed, as could be expected, by chaos. People shouted and tried to flee. People uttered cries of pain when someone pushed them over, they landed in the white snow and were trampled by a thousand feet. People moaned. People cried plaintively and called for help, but no one lend them an ear. Everyone fled. Everyone but him. He opened his eyes, slowly but surely, and looked down on them. They ran through each other. As beasts without a conscious they left the wounded and the dead in the cold. He diverted his eyes from them, his public, his fans, and smashed his guitar on the stage. No one looked at him, no one dared to satisfy their curiosity by turning around to find out what had caused that infernal noise. He was the only one who had an answer to that question, but it didn’t affect him, it left him cold. From the inside he was empty. He was only a casing. His life was over, ruined, and he was dead.
He walked away, shuffling with his feet, away from the chaos, past his drummer, without even looking at him, on his way to a differ-ent life. Deep inside he hated himself, yet he kept on walking. He couldn’t give up, not now. He stopped when he saw the bare door of the dressing room, lonely in the brick wall. For a moment he looked at the discoloured white paint in front of him that wasn’t lit by any kind of light. It took some time before he could see it, since his eyes weren’t used to the dark yet. After all, he had been standing in flashy coloured light for hours. He took a deep breath and put his hand on the handle. While forcing himself to stay calm, he pushed the cold handle down and opened the door. They would come for him. He knew that for sure, so he had to hurry before it would be too late and they could stop him, because they would surely try so. He swallowed away the lump in his throat and stepped into the chilly dressing room. He felt cold air stroke his face. On other days he might have cursed and told someone to turn on the heater, but right now he didn’t even think of that. He only wanted to think of things that really mattered, but instead of consolation he found guilt in his memories and he knew that this guilt would be following him till the very end. With his head low he closed the door, which, while screeching in protest, fell back into its lock. He felt defeated, alone and hopeless, but he had to con-tinue.
He dragged himself to the mirror, which hang at the same height as his eyes on a tiled wall, with underneath a basin of stone accompa-nied by a small tap. Supporting himself with two hands he looked in the silvery surface. He tilted his head while he scanned his face, look-ing in the grey eyes that stared back at him. Why did he feel so empty inside? Why did he know that he couldn’t do this? Comfortless he kept watching. Why, why did the face in the mirror no longer resem-ble his own? Was it him or the mirror?
From behind him he heard the unmistakeable sound of a door be-ing opened carefully. He didn’t want this. He had waited too long and had been so stupid that he had forgotten to lock the door, as he had previously planned.
Even though he knew who had come into the dressing room, he still looked away from his own reflection to see him, standing there alone in the vague light of the hall. He seemed just as confused and shocked as the crowd outside, but in his eyes he saw worry, not fear. At the sight of his drummer tears began to fill his eyes, but he blinked them away and focussed them on his hands, which had turned white and would tremble if he hadn’t clamped tightly to the sink.
His body shook for a moment when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. The hand forced him to turn around, so that he now stood with his back pressed against the basin. He was terrified of what was going to come. Who knew how this would end? Yet he looked up, from a desire to see that face one last time, the face that he wanted to hold on to until his death.
“What are you doing?” whispered his friend, not knowing what else to say, not knowing if he should be angry or if he should start to cry. No answer came off his dry lips. “What’s going on, Keith?” re-peated the drummer, now truly worried.
Keith remained silent, didn’t answer, knowing not to be able to. All he did was look down and shake his head.
His friend didn’t seem to give up, as he had eagerly hoped. He couldn’t share this after all, not with him, nor with the world.
“It almost seems as if you really don’t care anymore,” said the somewhat raucous voice from above him. “It almost seems as if you meant what you said before, during the show, but I know that you didn’t, Keith. I know that you do care. Why can’t you just show them? You’re not embarrassed of it, are you?”
Keith suppressed the inclination of telling him everything, an in-clination that slowly crept up inside of him.
“Keith, you can trust me, really,” said his friend, his eyes begging and watery. “I have always been there for you, shared my deepest se-crets with you and now this. Don’t you understand that this is your last and only change to tell me the truth, because apparently you have never done that before. When you admitted that you’re a liar, I knew you were right, but why was your lie not followed by the truth as in normal people. You can’t remain silent forever.”
Keith sighed deeply and finally looked away from his feet. The words were unbearable, but not as unbearable as the possible future. He could let this end the right way. He really could. He just had to hold on. He cleared his throat and said: “Tim, you wouldn’t under-stand. I am… not able to tell you.” In doubt he looked away, not giving the painful thought a chance to enter his head. Even when he only spoke about it in references it hurt him. “You’re wrong,” he went on without looking at Tim. “I want to trust you, I swear, but I just can’t. Let me protect you and myself from this, please.”
Keith looked up again and saw anger coming up in the eyes of his friend. He had to accept the effect of the words he had spoken. He knew pretty well that when he had told the truth, Tim would have forgiven hem, but he wouldn’t have forgiven himself. The consequences were just too awful.
“It’s truly unbelievable!” Tim called out. “How can you do this to me. I was prepared to take the blame for you, but after this, not any more. Even when I give you the chance to explain yourself you still keep your mouth shut. I thought you’d understand, but I was wrong. Don’t the feelings of others effect you at all?”
Keith swallowed and felt his hands tingle. “Please Tim, don’t go this far. You can still go back,” he begged, knowing that this was the only way to convince his friend to leave without making him hate him. But Tim shook his head, whereby his long hair hit him in his face, and said: “I am going this far. I’m even going further if you won’t tell me. I don’t care how bad it is. You’re like a brother to me, Keith, and I don’t want to lose you. You’re supposed to tell me-“
“You won’t believe it anyway,” interrupted Keith, watching the door, hoping that this would work and telling himself that this was the only way. Tim had to leave, he had to leave, before this was all going to go wrong.
“After all this I’d even believe the stupidest fairy-tale!”
Keith laughed, not because he thought it was funny, but because he had never been this nervous in his life.
“I can’t stand this any longer!” yelled Tim. “Really. I can’t! Walk to fucking hell with those secrets of yours. I wanted to help you, but I don’t really feel like it anymore. This is what you’re doing it for; making my life as hard as possible. I quit, you’ll have to do it without me! You’re going to have to find another idiot who wants to drum for you, because you should no longer expect that from me.”
Even though he had prepared himself for this, the words of his friend still stunned him. That such a monster lived inside people he knew, but from Tim he had always thought that the monster was una-ble to get out of its cage. Now that the monster had broken out he felt both fear and relief. Tim would leave, this future would be spared for him.
Suddenly he realized that he had been quiet for some time and that if he stopped right now this would still go wrong. Thus he pushed the angry Tim away from him. “Leave!” he yelled, while tears of true inner pain made their way down his cheek. “Just leave! I don’t need you! I never want to see you here again! Never again!”
Tim squeezed his eyes until they were only slits, which he always did when he was angry, and swallowed away all curses that arose in him. He turned around and walked away, while slamming the door into its lock from behind him. The blow vibrated in Keith’s bones. Tim’s voice still echoed in his head. With his arms weak on either sides of his body and all his limbs trembling he stared at the door. Bit-ter tears flowed over his face and he tasted salt on his lips. Only now he realized exactly what he was doing. He no longer stood at the side line anymore. Now it was all reality and it was really happening. The numbness had disappeared.
After something that seemed like ages he finally realized that he had no other choice. He had set foot on this path and there was no way back anymore. It would get easier as he went on. The faster the better. He had to end this, here and now. If he wasn’t here anymore, no one would unravel his secret, but they would at least not be hurt the way he had been hurt. He only did this to protect them. He was going to die anyway, eventually. With trembling knees he walked to-wards the only way in and out of the dressing room. He shoved the rusty lock in front of the door, so that no one could stop him and he walked back to the mirror. Then he sat down under the basin, on the cold tiled floor and pried a ballpoint pen with stiff fingers from his pocket. He had wanted to bring paper, to write on, but he had realized that it was better to write his message on his arm. Why? He had no idea, he truly didn’t. It had just come to him.
Arduously he took off his leather jacket and threw the piece of clothing away from him. It lay motionless on one of the benches. He looked at the pale skin of his right underarm. A few tears slid down and dripped from his chin onto his skin. He elevated his nose and wiped it away. For a short moment he closed his eyes and thought of how they would soon come in and find him here. How they would read the text on his arm. Keith hoped with all his heart that they would be able to forgive him after that. He didn’t want to hurt them. They had to understand that he was doing this for them, without tell-ing them and maybe they would understand it once he wasn’t there anymore or they would simply hate him, but at least he knew that he had done everything within his powers to protect them. He had cho-sen them, his friends, who were like family to him, over himself and that was going to cost him his life, but for them he didn’t mind sacri-ficing it.
He swallowed and pressed the pen against his skin. Sobbing, he began to write. His handwriting was even worse than normally, but that didn’t matter, it didn’t matter how it looked. The only thing that mattered was what it meant. When he was done he threw his pen against the door opposite of him, where it clattered onto the floor, broken, and he reread his letter. Even more tears filled his eyes, but he didn’t bother wiping them away again. He let them flow. While cry-ing he pulled out his pistol, a USP, and examined the weapon in his shaky hands. He felt the cold steal press against the skin of his fingers and he saw his own misshaped reflection in the smooth dark surface. He only had one bullet and he couldn’t afford wasting it. Shivering he loaded the USP and put the barrel against his temple. His hands were sweating, cold sweat that made the trigger of the gun slippery under his fingers. His heart pounded in his head and he was strangely aware of every sense in his body. He smelled fear and sweat, both coming from him. He saw every detail of the dressing room, including the tiny cracks in the ceiling, as if a miniature earthquake had shud-dered the plaster, and he felt everything. He took a deep breath and pulled the trigger a bit further back, but not far enough, he knew that. He was so scared. Had he planned this too well? Yes, maybe he had, but there was, as he had realized before, no way back. Well, actually there was, yet he couldn’t take it. He just couldn’t give up, not now. He had to do this, for everyone. He swallowed, squeezed his eyes to-gether, took one last deep breath and forced his finger to pull the trigger.
VAYLAND- VAYLAND FESTIVAL
SUNDAY THE 15TH OF JANUARY 2012- 04:44 AM
Still angry Tim leaned against the car door on the now almost empty parking lot. He didn’t look up, not even when Vhem came up beside him and lit a cigarette. The bassist blew smoke in his face and sighed: “Hey, what are you worrying about? We know Keith. You know what he’s like. Tomorrow he’ll just come in laughing and tell us that everything was some kind of joke or a bet.”
Tim finally did look aside. “I know Keith, better than anyone else,” he said slowly, picking his words carefully. “We’ve been friends since kindergarten and he was never, never so… different.”
Once again Vhem blew smoke in his face and the tip of his ciga-rette lit up. “I wouldn’t seriously worry if I were you,” he said. “Really, there’s no point.”
It stayed quiet for a while, until Tim turned his eyes away from the with tattoos decorated face of the man next to him and he said, almost whispering: “I told Keith that I quit the band.”
Startled Vhem observed the face of his younger friend, who looked defeated. Apparently Tim already regretted what he had said. A dark, sober shadow had fallen over the usually so cheerful face of the boy and made him feel sorry.
“Tim,” started Vhem a little doubtful, “you can’t quit. You and Keith are best friends.”
Tim shrugged. “Well, not anymore.”
Unhappy Vhem sighed and took another puff of his cigarette. “You’re gonna be so sorry, Tim. You can better make it up to him, before it’s too late. I’m sure that Keith will accept your apology. Oth-erwise, I’ll-“
“No Vhem,” interrupted Tim, giving him a piercing look. “He won’t accept my apology. I’ve gone too far, but he deserved it. And by the way, I’m not gonna tell him I’m sorry, because I’m not. I don’t wanna talk to Keith ever again.”
Vhem saw the anger in the eyes of his friend and looked away. “I understand that you’re angry, Tim, but don’t you think you’re a bit overacting?”
The drummer shook his head decisively, but he had tears in his eyes. “I’m not overacting, Vhem. You haven’t heard what he said, or you’d think differently about it.”
“I mean it, Tim. If you don’t want to apologize for Keith, then please do it for me and Cal.”
The drummer muttered something between his lips, but the words were unintelligible. Yet Vhem felt relieved, because he knew that this meant that Tim would at least think about it. Now they only had to find a way to make up for the situation they were in. Keith had gotten them into some real trouble.
Silently he stared into the distance, where he could still see the stage, somewhere faraway in the twilight. He heard sirens of ambu-lances against the background, ambulances that came to collect the wounded. The police would probably come later and eventually eve-ryone else would turn up. He sighed at the thought of all those journalists who would be bothering them the coming weeks or even months.
Tim looked in the same direction, but he didn’t think about the performance. Maybe Vhem was right, maybe he had to make an apol-ogy. He actually had no idea what had gone through his mind. How could he ever have said that he was going to quit? He could barely realize it, but he had said it and now he was here, with a chaos of memories in his mind and the smell of smoke in his nose, shivering in the cold, leaning against a car. He looked at Vhem and he knew what the bassist was thinking about. The man didn’t notice, until his face hardened and his tattoos made an awkward jump.
“Look at who’s there,” said the bassist with a nod of his head in the direction of someone on the other side of Tim, “mister recordman. What is he doing here?”
Tim turned his head and looked at the man in suit, who came walking towards them. His face was emotionless, like always. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and an ugly tie had been tied around his neck. He blew warm clouds of breath into the wintery air. Right in front of them he halted. Swaying back and fro on his feet he examined them, as if he was searching for something.
“Where’s Keith?” he asked with a smooth voice.
Vhem raised his shoulders and took another puff of his cigarette. This caused Dal Collins, their boss, to deflect his eyes automatically to Tim. He ignored the piercing look. “In the dressing room,” he mumbled against his will.
“Then why are you guys standing here? I thought you were all so close.”
None of them answered, so mister Collins sighed and went on undisturbed. “Go and get Cal and then come back to the dressing room. We have a lot to talk about.”
It remained silent, until Tim cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said, without looking at the man, “but I no longer talk to Keith. He never wanted to see me again and I happily give him his way.”
Vhem was astonished. Apparently the chance that this was all go-ing to be alright was very small. He had assumed that Tim would change his mind, but it seemed as if the boy was going to persist.
The recordman didn’t see Vhem’s startled gaze and kept looking at Tim inquisitively. “You’re such a baby, Tim”, he said as if he was really talking to an infant, “Grownups talk to solve their fights, they aren’t this stubborn. You know why? Because it works.”
Tim stepped away from the car, so that he was standing right in front of Dal Collins. “Mature? Me?” he asked while laughing mock-ingly. “Since when do you think I’m mature? Every single time you get the opportunity you point out that I’m still seventeen and therefore not a grownup. You just find it amusing that you can decide over me, so stop acting as if you don’t know what I’m talking about.”
Dal Collins laughed as well. “Don’t sweat it, Tim, seventeen, eighteen, what’s the difference? You can talk right? Then go and make it up to Keith, then we can all continue our lives, okay?”
The man kept watching him, challenging him, but just when he wanted to fight back Vhem grabbed his wrist and pulled him with him, away from Dal Collins. “We shall be in the dressing room in a minute, sir”, he yelled backwards, while dragging Tim along. The lad didn’t spend a lot of effort in attempting to stop him, but it was obvi-ous that this was against his will. If it had been up to him he had persisted until it would have ended in a physical fight. Once mister Collins wasn’t able to hear them anymore Vhem looked at Tim angri-ly.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he hissed from between his teeth. “Starting an argument with the big boss is not even a good idea if the devil lands on earth and the world changes into one huge hell!”
Tim raised his shoulders. “Have it your way,” he said without emotion, knowing that Vhem found him very tiresome.
“Have it your way,” imitated Vhem annoyed.
Tim ignored him and pulled his wrist loose. Quietly he started to walk again, across the empty parking lot, towards the snowy field be-hind the dressing rooms. Leaving traces in the snow, he made his way, followed by Vhem, to a tree on a small hill against which he had seen Cal lean. A painful silence ruled between Tim and Vhem while they paced through the snow. Cal observed them, completely uninterested. He laughed when Tim stepped on a broken beer bottle, which had been buried under the snow, and screamed “Fuck!”. Angrily he looked at Cal, but he just stood there, amused, looking down on them, with in one hand half a bottle of beer, which he turned around slowly. When Tim had finally calmed down and Cal had taken another sip of his beer, they spoke again for the first time in quite a while.
“So, what are you guys doing here?” he asked, looking away for a moment to see the dressing rooms and the stage, where the sound of sirens had become even louder in the meanwhile. “Aren’t you with Keith?”
Vhem looked aside at Tim, but he was clearly not planning to an-swer Cal. He squeezed his eyes together and stared in the distance, in the other way, at the stars in dark sky, that told him that it would be a cold day.
“Our boss tells us to come to the dressing room”, said Vhem after a while. “I think he wants us to talk to Keith. Or maybe he just wants someone to explain the whole damn thing to him.”
“Well, in my case there’s no point, because I don’t know a fuck about this and I can see from your faces that Keith really is the only one.”
Vhem shook his head to confirm. “Of course I don’t know any-thing. Keith hasn’t told anyone. But if you wanna find out you better come with us.”
“Do you have a hunch, Vhem?” asked the guitarist, who kept leaning against the tree.
Vhem nodded. “I think it was just a stupid joke.”
“If that’s the case Keith is, when it’s up to me, deep in the shit”, said Cal and again he looked at the stage and then slowly at Tim, as if he thought that he could explain this. Eventually the drummer stopped looking at the nightly sky. He had followed the conversation, but he couldn’t care less. His eyes past over Cal, who was, like himself and Vhem, still dressed in his show outfit, without seeing anything.
“You tell me, Tim,” said Cal and he took another sip of the alco-hol in his hand. “Is this one of Keith’s stupid jokes?”
Tim shrugged and looked at the broken glass in the dark snow. “How am I supposed to know,” he said. “If it was a joke, then I think you’ll have to go and visit him the coming months in jail, don’t you think?”
“How do you mean ‘you’?”
“I quit and I’m not planning to come back.”
Vhem looked at him in anger. “Tim, you idiot! Do you even real-ize what you’re saying?”
Tim clenched his fists. “Of course I know what I’m saying!” he yelled while he kicked the shards of glass away with his sneakers. “You said that I’d better think about it twice, but now I’m more than sure that I want to quit this fucking band.”
Cal lowered his beer bottle. “You must be kidding me,” he whis-pered barely audible.
“Tim, what’s going on with you today?” Vhem asked, who tried to save the conversation.
The young drummer slumped to the ground and with his head in his hands he sat cross-legged in the cold snow. Icy water penetrated his jeans, but he ignored it. “I just don’t know, I don’t know any-more,” he said while shaking his head.
In an attempt to comfort him Vhem put his hand on his shoulder, but Tim shook it off. “Leave me alone!” he yelled in protest.
Vhem ignored his words and pulled him upright on one arm. Then he also grabbed his other arm and shook him.
“Listen to me Tim,” he said loudly. “You’re really going too far now! Mister Collins was right; don’t be such a toddler, this is nothing like you.”
“Maybe you’re right Vhem,” Tim mumbled, looking at his friend with red eyes, red eyes of fatigue.
“Maybe? I am right, trust me.”
“Are you done, gentlemen?” Cal asked, interrupting the conver-sation. “Then we can now go and fix this. I don’t want anything to change about our band, alright? It’s my life and I’m not going to let you ruin it.” He quickly drank the last beer and flung the empty bottle in the snow. “You coming?”
VAYLAND- VAYLAND FESTIVAL
SUNDAY THE 15TH OF JANUARY 2012- 05:01 AM
Confused all three musicians halted when they saw their boss running into the dressing room door angrily. He cursed, he swore and he raged, but that didn’t seem to matter just the tiniest bit. With one raised eyebrow Tim looked aside at Vhem, but he only shook his head and said: “I’m sorry Tim, but I have no clue.”
The man in suit suddenly stopped when he saw them. The rage in his flushed face was still visible and was now aimed at the band members. “Do you know anything about this?” he asked in a hoarse voice.
“Yes, of course,” grinned Cal sarcastically, “we know everything about locked doors.”
Irritated mister Collins spit at the floor and tried once more to open the door. However, it was to no avail; the door didn’t open. Ap-parently it was just as suborn as the recordman.
Not knowing what else to do, the band members kept staring at their boss, until he finally gave up and asked them for help, the frus-tration visible on his face. Both Cal and Vhem kept staring at the door in discomfort, without saying anything. Tim sighed. They wanted him to apologize, so that everything would once more be the way it had been, and maybe that wasn’t that bad at all, maybe he just hadn’t been himself. It must have been fatigue that had made him fight this feud. For a moment he looked at the faces of his friends, his family, and saw that these were uncertain, before he swallowed, raked his courage and stepped forward. He didn’t even take the effort to try the door. Keith probably locked it from the inside. That was after all what he would have done himself. Instead of pointlessly pulling the handle he raised his voice and called: “Keith, I know you’re in there. Please open the door!”
He waited, but no answer came.
“I’m sorry, Keith. You’re right. I don’t have to know your secret, not anymore. You have the right to have secrets, we all do. I was stu-pid to say that I wanted to quit the band. I didn’t mean it, really, I didn’t. I should never have done that. I know; I’m a fucking idiot and I understand that you hate me, that’s what I would do. I hope you can forgive me, even though I don’t deserve that at all. Please let us in Keith.”
He beat his fist against the door. “Keith!” he screamed, almost begging, but before he could start screaming again, Cal pushed him away and pounded on the door himself. “Hey Keith. Open this fuck-ing door. You can’t stay in there forever!”
Still no reaction, nothing at all.
“Once I’m inside I’ll kill him,” Vhem said while he threw his cigarette on the floor and stamped it out. Then he walked away. They waited in silence until he’d come back, while they stared at their feet in discomfort, hoping for an answer from Keith which didn’t come. Not much later Vhem returned. He came walking towards them with a crowbar in his hands.
“Move!” he warned. Hastily everyone jumped backwards, away from the door, and they looked at how Vhem rammed the point of the crowbar in the crack between the door and the wall and started to pull as hard as he could on the other end. While cursing and ranting at eve-rything and everyone he kept pulling. Sweat dripped over his face and the heat coming off him was almost tangible, but his efforts were eventually rewarded when they heard the sound of breaking iron, probably from the lock, and a door that swung open on its protesting hinges.
Vhem dropped the crowbar, which clattered on the ground and broke a few tiles, but no one paid attention to it. Still looking at them, the bassist said loudly: “Keith, that would have been a lot easier if you had-“
His voice died away and as if penetrated he stayed in the opening of the door, gazing at something past the wall.
“Vhem, what’s wrong?” Tim asked with a trembling voice, not knowing what to expect. But Vhem didn’t reply. The drummer’s legs were shaky while he walked towards his frozen friend and looked in-side the dressing room. He let out a cry of disbelief when he saw what Vhem had seen before. Then he pushed him aside and ran towards Keith, who lay motionless on the floor with his head against the wall. He dropped on his knees. And while ignoring the pain that that had caused him, he shook Keith, but he didn’t get any response, as could be expected. He saw neither the blood, nor the USP, which lay in the lifeless hand of his friend. He kept shaking and screaming. He yelled Keith’s name, he called him, cursed at him, begged him and then he started to cry. With his face pressed against Keith’s shoulder he wailed piteously. Tears flowed over his face and his head pounded. This could not truly have happened, it just couldn’t. He refused to believe it.
“Keith,” he stammered in between his sobbing, “please Keith… no, I… this can’t be… please say something, please Keith… wake up-“
He felt an arm around his shuddering shoulders. This arm pulled him up. He fought it, pushed Vhem away, but he kept on holding on to him.
“Tim, there’s nothing you can do. He’s dead.”
Furiously he shook his head, avoiding Vhem’s gaze. “No!” he screamed. “He can’t be! He can’t be dead. He shouldn’t be dead.”
Silently Vhem pulled him further away from Keith and forced him to sit down on the painful wooden bench, still holding on to him. With red eyes caused by tears Tim stammered supplications, but no one could help him, no one could help Keith.
For a long time deathly silence lasted. Everyone was in shock. Everyone felt terrible and no one knew what to do.
Tim cried, like a child, while Vhem tried to comfort him, but he too, felt just as miserable. Cal had slowly stepped into the dressing room and stood, with his arms limp next to his body, and stared in the mirror. His eyes too, were red. And mister Collins was just as silent and unconversable, but there were no tears, no sadness, no pity, only a pale face in which the terror was still readable. This however, didn’t last for long, because soon the man panicked. He began to pace through the dressing room uncomfortable, mumbling the strangest things, until he had scraped himself together and cleared his throat. “I’ll call the police,” he mumbled almost unintelligible.
From the corners of his eyes Tim saw how his boss pried an iPh-one from his pocket, typed in the number with trembling fingers and pressed the thing so hard against his ear that his knuckles slowly turned white.
He closed his eyes. He no longer wanted to look at the cold body of his friend, his best friend, who stared silently into the nothingness. He no longer wanted to go on. He wanted to pick up the USP, which lay next to Keith in a pool of blood, press the barrel against his skull, lay down next to him and disappear.
Something, a voice, interrupted his thoughts.
“Ththis is Dal Collins,” stammered mister Collins through the phone, “I…I want to report someone’s death. I…I-“
For a moment silence remained, then the voice sounded again, this time a little firmer and a tad irritated. “I am calm,” he assured the person on the other side of the line. “Yes, I know for sure that this is real. I can see it, right?... Where I am? I’m at Vayland Festival, in the dressing room… Keith, Keith Dinly… Yeah, yes, that’s him… Thank you.”
VAYLAND- VAYLAND FESTIVAL
SUNDAY THE 15TH OF JANUARY 2012- 06:45 AM
“Detective Joanne Arens,” said the woman with the dark hair while she held out her hand to mister Collins. A little doubtful he grabbed the hand and shook. His thoughts were probably still an immense chaos and it lasted for a while before he had finally rediscovered his manners.
“This is my partner Billy Kestner,” she said, pointing at a man with orange hair, who leaned over Keith’s body. He didn’t look up when she said his name, but just continued searching the corpse.
Tim couldn’t take his eyes off the man sitting there next to his friend and treating his body as if it were a piece of meat at the butch-er. He wanted to stand up and run to the man to just make him stop touching Keith, but his legs were too weak and didn’t obey him. The whole scene in front of his eyes just tore him apart. He was never go-ing to like Billy Kestner, only because of this one scene that he knew he would play over and over again in his head, till death also took that away from him.
Once again his eyes followed Keith’s body, all the way from his toes to his face. His eyes were shut, his mouth with dry lips a little open. And the path of tears was still visible on his cheeks. His hair hang around his face, as two curtains on either side that used to close when his friend tried to separate himself from the rest of the world, which he had done often when he was still alive.
The memory struck him in mid-air. So suddenly that it made him gasp for breath. In front of his eyes Keith’s dead face disappeared and made place for his smiling face. The studio doomed up behind the memory of his friend, cheerful and careless, till he had suddenly stopped smiling. He dropped himself on a stool and put his hands in his hair. He leaned to the front, so that his hair covered his face com-pletely. Still Tim had seen the aura of darkness fall over his friend. It was tangible in the air, as if everything had suddenly frozen. He felt the goose bumps re-emerged on his skin, as he sat in the dressing room, being held into place by Vhem, who also stared at Keith. Tim wondered what he was thinking about. The image of the studio and Keith sitting like that, with his hair as a wall in between him and the world, reappeared in front of Tim. He tried to fight it. Yet he saw the motion of Keith slowly looking up and staring with his sad grey eyes into his. The goose bumps got worse. He could see a wisdom in those eyes, a knowledge of a to him unknown world, a world of pain and suffering without a further obvious reason.
“I can understand that this a shock for all of you,” interrupted Jo-anne Arens’ harsh voice his thoughts rudely and he knew he must have missed a part of the conversation. “But I will have to request you to leave the crime scene, so that Kestner can do his job and I can in-terrogate you one by one, then you can go home.”
A feeling of numbness came over him. He didn’t quite follow what the people around him were saying. It seemed as if they were speaking a different language, one that he couldn’t understand.
“Wait a minute!” mister Collins called out startled. “You think that we, that we killed him?!”
For a moment she looked away, but soon her gaze touched his again and she was forced to answer. “Well mister Collins, we cannot exclude any possibilities. But if you’re innocent you’ve got nothing to fear. We’ll just have a chat and then we’ll decide about everything else.”
The man’s business instinct finally took it over from him. “Where did you propose to talk, Ms. Arens?” he asked, his voice already less vibrating than before, which scared Tim. Just that one tone, that sudden change in attitude made him feel uncomfortably fragile.
“At the police station if possible,” she replied curtly but friendly. “Will you please just follow me, gentlemen?”
Reluctant and once again angry, Dal Collins followed her out-side. Cal too, didn’t seem to be bothered by leaving with her. Tim however, stayed put. His legs still refused to obey him and all logic seemed to have faded from his mind. He wanted to stay here, with Keith, to rot away slowly. Silently he watched how Billy Kestner threw an immaculate white cloth over his friend and turned to his uni-formed colleagues. He couldn’t hear what they were saying and he couldn’t care anymore either.
Vhem looked at him with his chestnut brown eyes, and rose.
“You can’t stay here, Tim. You have to come with me”, he said almost whispering.
He shook his head and remained quiet.
Joanne Arens appeared in the door opening with a clearly acted smile on her face that was supposed to be warm, but he only felt the wintery cold both in his mind and in his limbs. He only saw her pale face surrounded by black hair, no eyes, no mouth, nothing.
“Tim,” said Vhem pervasive. “Tim, there’s nothing left you can do. He’s dead. Gone. You have to accept it and go on. Isn’t that what he would have told you?”
He looked up, begging, begging for mercy. He didn’t want to be-lieve it, but he was forced to. Eventually he pushed himself away from the bench and while waving on his feet he followed detective Arens, feeling as if the world had just ended and he was the only one to survive, with nothing left to live for.