The Hollow Crown
His fingers traced along the top of the index. As quickly as one is drawn, it is flung back, failing some minute test. The cards are yellowed, marked out against the green leather of a large partner’s desk. The sole illumination being a desk lamp, casting its light down and upwards onto the arched stonework.
Then he rests upon one, brings it closer to the eye scrutinising it. In a precise handwritten script, ink slightly fading with time, the cards is titled 974. Gottowt, Prince. In subscript, deceased during fall of Boston 1960. Cross-references to a Schrekt, Alexander and Schnell (all faded, all marked with a black D) are on the card. His finger moves down the other references, pausing on 859N, and another cross –reference, 731?.
He flips to another quickly, the headline 859S, voluminous cross references, some more recent than others. Cross-references link to other cross references – an index of its own. Cards move back and forth, his fingers the rival of any Toreador playing an instrument, deftly navigating the eddies of his induction. The cards are piled together, supposed names, strengths, suppositions as to who and why of battles long passed.
The symphony pauses, as he hovers over a single card. The legend is 516L Normand. A single reference – a query – Why Providence and not Boston? Draws his attention across the numerous references. This is placed askance to the other pile, showing dates and names of incursions. He notices a curious cross reference 818.Con on the more recent cards. He taps his fingers at this, contemplating for a moment. “ A trend, small but a trend.”
If the supposition is correct – he turns and looks towards the densest part of the index. He examines Wymer, Winthrop, Flood and starts to see a larger pattern. He moves towards 970…
“Michael, Konrad played the “King of the Swingers” why do you ask?” the polite English tones of his fellow outcast bring him back to the discussion.
“Did he..” the index clicks to the lyric, “I’ve reached the top and had to stop…”