The last symphony
The music teacher zipped up his bag and buttoned his overcoat.
The last student to leave pushed his way past and headed for the door. “See ya, Mr Woodley,” he said.
“Goodbye, Felix. Keep practising the violin.”
Mr Woodley looked around the room one last time. Posters of the great composers covered the walls – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, et al. Keyboard consoles with computers lined up in the centre of the room. Papers and old magazines littered the shelves. Two Spanish guitars stood on one of the shelves.
The elderly man sighed. I’ll miss the students, he thought.
* * * * *
Thirty minutes later, a black Toyota drew up outside The Oasis Motel. The owner looked up as a short, balding man with glasses pushed back the sliding door.
“Do you have a single unit available for one night?”
“Yes. Follow me. I’ll show you, Mr …”
“I’m John.” He offered his hand.
He led the music teacher across a grassed area to a unit on the ground floor opposite the office. A few flakes of snow swirled down. He pushed the door open and ushered Mr Woodley inside.
“What do you think?”
Woodley glanced around at the double bed, a bedside table, a dressing table, two armchairs, a small dining table and two wooden chairs. At the rear, there was a small kitchen unit and a bathroom.
“It’s most suitable. I’ll take it.”
“That will be eighty dollars.”
Two hours later, Woodley returned to the motel after enjoying a meal at a café just down the road. He stomped snow from his boots, unlocked the door to his unit and passed inside. A waft of warm air bathed his red face. He was glad that he had left the heater on. He removed his beret and overcoat and lay down on the bed.
He stretched his right arm towards the bedside table and reached for a framed photograph. The woman and little girl in the picture smiled at him. Tears welled in his eyes. My dear Nancy and Sally-Anne. Oh, God, why did you take them from me? He buried his face in the pillow.
The old man lay sobbing for several minutes before he managed to compose himself. He placed the photograph back on the table and stretched for the radio. He tuned in to the Classical channel. Ah, Ravel’s ‘Bolero’. One of my favourites.
* * * * *
At eleven o’clock the next morning, Mr Woodley had not yet checked out. He only booked one night, John thought. I must go and see whether he’s still sleeping. I hope he hasn’t done a runner. He was relieved to see the black Toyota sitting under a blanket of snow.
He knocked on the door of the unit and waited. He could hear music, but Woodley didn’t stir. He knocked twice more before concern caused him to grapple in his pocket for the master key. He unlocked and gently opened the door, knocking again loudly.
Woodley was lying on the bed. John prodded the old man gently, but he didn’t move. He pushed a little more roughly. “Are you alright, Mr Woodley?”
The music stopped. The radio announcer spoke. “That was the third and last symphony of Joseph Woodley, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. Woodley never wrote any more music following the tragic road accident that took the lives of his wife and daughter.”
John’s eye roved to the bedside table and the radio. He noticed the photograph standing there. Could that be them? Then his eyes were drawn to an overturned bottle of tablets.
He picked up the phone and dialled. “Police. This is John Dean, the owner of The Oasis Motel. I have to report a suicide in one of my units.”