Elanor Tarrant wished she was in the bush, eyes closed, listening as the stars overhead played the music of the spheres. She dreamed she was filled by a symphony so perfect everything else dropped away. That she was held tightly in the arms of the man she’d loved and lost.
Instead, the air was filled with the discordant rumble of traffic, screaming children, and the squishing sounds of tyres on wet roads. In the distance thunder growled. Storms were brewing, and not just outside.
A deep sigh as she walked towards the grey concrete courthouse. The big glass doors opened, and the building swallowed her. Producing her police identification, she was signed in and escorted to the waiting room.
In her mind, the gentle first notes of Albinoni’s Adagio played. The slow and melancholy music reflected her mood. Soon Tom would be avenged. She would do whatever it took.
‘Wait here please Sergeant.’
Another layer was added to the Adagio as a violin took up the theme.
She wondered how the inquiry had reacted to the report she’d submitted yesterday – a document with crucial sections missing. Those pages were her insurance and once she handed them over, the policy was null and void.
Her eyes focussed on the watercolour of the Blue Mountains taking her back to school holidays spent with her grandparents in Katoomba. Walking with her grandfather to the Anzac March and listening to the beat of the brass band, war medals proudly displayed on his chest.
Tom had been awarded a bravery medal for losing his life on duty.
They’d worked on the operation for two years, a tight knit team of ten. She’d watched in anger as the target vessel turned and headed out to sea, the drugs and Tom still on board. There’d been a single shot, and a splash briefly breaking the foamy lines in the boats wake.
The operation named Ventura wasn’t bungled, but white anted from within. And Tom Harrison paid the price.
She’d waited with the rest of the team while the rubber dingy searched before it headed back to shore.
‘What did you find?’ she asked when the small craft returned. In the light of early dawn, the diver’s wetsuit glistened like blood.
‘I found Tom. Dead.’ Cold fingers of fear ran over her body. She looked towards Iain Croft standing alongside. He swore and walked away.
Nothing had been out of place in the final briefing, apart from a growing chill in her gut. Un-named, it made her wary. Now she could identify it – betrayal.
A week later and a New Orleans jazz band played the coffin into the church to a dirge. As Tom was laid to rest, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ filled the air.
Elanor was no saint, and in her determination to catch the man responsible for cold-blooded murder, she crossed personal and professional lines.
As she waited, more layers were added to the Adagio as other sections of the orchestra joined in.
Behind closed doors, the official inquiry was being held before a panel of law officers and senior police. A knot formed in her stomach. She knew it was adrenalin, preparing her for fight, or flight.
Iain Croft would follow her into the witness box, his reputation on the line. That made him a dangerous man.
‘Sergeant Tarrant please,’ said a uniformed officer as the doors opened. The room was filled with waiting faces.
The complexity of the Adagio grew, the melody clear.
She brushed the rebellious strand of hair from her face.
‘Sir, I need to add these documents?’ the file held before her.
‘This is what your report didn’t include?’ The Police Commissioner asked.
‘Please sit Sergeant.’
She watched her career ending with every line the panel read, with every photograph they studied.
A small price compared to the one Tom Harrison had paid.
Looking up, the Commissioner met her eyes. ‘You have the evidence in support of these allegations?’
‘Yes Sir.’ She reached under her jacket, withdrew an envelope and handed it over.
‘Please see if Inspector Croft has arrived yet.’ The Commissioner asked.
Her gut tied itself into a knot.
The door opened, and as Croft walked into the silent room he was handed the file.
Elanor could hear the last part of the melody taken up by the orchestra as the final parts of the composition were woven together.
Croft turned towards her, his face flushed.
‘Sergeant, you are excused,’ said the Commissioner.
‘You’re going to let her walk? Leaving my personal and professional reputation in the gutter? Sir, I protest!’
‘The evidence is comprehensive, Inspector.’
‘She’s lying,’ he said.
‘I have no reason to lie.’ Her words were softly pitched. ‘You warned them about Tom, the call is on record,’ a pause as she caught her breath. ‘He was the man I loved, and you sold him out for a share of the drugs. The evidence will make sure you rot in jail.’
‘It’s contaminated; it won’t stand up in court.’
‘You may be wrong, Inspector,’ said the Commissioner. ‘You’re dismissed Sergeant.’
She turned towards the Commissioner, saluted, and walked towards the door. As she reached for the handle, the music reached a crescendo. Croft turned towards her, and drawing a gun fired twice.
The impact pushed her against the door and she slid slowly to the floor. From the distance shouting, orders, the sounds of a scuffle. ‘Help is on the way, hang on Elanor.’
Her plan had worked. Croft’s life sentence was assured. There was nothing left for her without Tom.
There was no pain. Only the sound of the music she and Tom had loved. Albinoni’s final tender notes filled her mind, and as they died away, she exhaled one last time.
I've been writing since childhood. I love short stories, and longer works. My preference is crime with a twist in the tail. My first collection of short stories - 'The Whitworth Mysteries' was published in 2021.