The evening following Fancy’s funeral was the deadline for the Cowley Station’s closing and Morse’s footsteps rang more solemnly than usual through the empty halls. The near overwhelming sense of loss was only capitalized by how they’d spent this morning, and several beers and several hours later, Morse was already feeling a mite guilty about how he’d snapped out in the pub. It wasn’t that he was wrong but, more the sense that he (as always) shouldn’t have said it. It was a continuing problem.
Strange was already at his desk, putting the lid on a file box that a maintenance man was preparing to take away. He was greeted with a solemn, “Matey, "and Morse simply ducked his head in acknowledgement as he moved to his own corner of the office. Even with the overheads, the darkness of the night seemed to permeate everything. It felt wrong to break the quiet with something as trivial as a hello.
The sergeant’s fingers rested lightly on the desktop as he took a look for where to start, only to find that something had been left for him. The flat brown bag with a folded edge was easy enough to recognize. It wouldn’t take a genius to glean that the parcel was LP sized.
Morse gave Strange a quizzical glance but the man’s head was down as he flipped through some papers and turned to tuck them into another box.
Once it was clear that he hadn’t left it, Morse moved his attention back to the bag and shifted the flap to extract it’s contents.
Rosalind Calloway’s face, pleasant and lovely, a resting rose, stared back at him. Even now she stole his breath. The shuffling, packing, dying sounds of Cowley had taken a sideline to the immediate thunder of his pulse in his ears. Waves of conflicting feelings battered his thoughts and Morse was helpless to do any more than cling to a single thought - how?
When his flat had been burgled he’d been wrapped up in work, doing his best to push through the vulnerability of the robbery itself than what had actually been taken. By the time he’d absorbed how much had actually been stolen, the twist of emotion had been unique. In a way, he supposed, it was some form of forced closure to lose her again.
But here she was, back in his hands, with the bold signature,
Un bel di
And he realises he’d missed her. Utterly and truly he’d missed her. Morse felt a wave of foolish pity for himself. He was idiotic to invest so much emotion into a thing, a simple object, but this record represented more than that. For better or for worse. He also realized very suddenly that the heartbreak attached, after so much time, had taken its rightful place with all the other old tragedies. The feelings were dulled and carefully tucked into its rightful place in his mind, painful but lovely, like so many other things. It’s sting has been soothed, or perhaps simply replaced, with fresher loves and losses.
A note was stuck under his thumb where he’d grabbed the album, and as his thudding heart evened out and the residual reality of the world once more rose around him, Morse set down the record to read it. A swirl of familiar handwriting met his eyes.
I think this belongs to you, unless there are other Morse’s with a fondness for sopranos. Didn’t seem right to leave it.
A surprisingly relieved sigh slipped audibly from his lips and Morse felt a sudden wave of affection that almost made him smile.
Trewlove. Blessed Trewlove. Leave it to Shirley to add another unexpected emotional layer to such a simple thing.
Later when he returns home, once more solemn over the closing of Cowley and Fancy, about his vow with the City Boys to do everything possible for George, he once more finds Rosalind Calloway staring at him from her paper sleeve.
Morse pours himself a few fingers and settles in and while the first notes swell he lets his head fall back and closes his eyes. He thinks maybe that there’s some meaning in this, that if he believed in anything like divine providence, fate, or any of that rubbish, he might take this as a sign.
He had loved and lost yet again she’d come back to him. Doors continued to close and people moved on, and for all he gained Morse also lost along the way, but this - this simple thing - came back.
It would never leave again.