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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Murder Ballads" by David Grigg

“You’re taking me where?  Oh, God, I hate folk music! And you’ve got a freaking guitar strung over your back? Michael, you look like a [g******] hippy!”
His heart sank.  This was not a promising start.
It was only their third date.  Well, two-and-a-halfth, maybe.  The first had really just come about by chance when they found themselves at the same table in the canteen, and spent a glorious hour bitching about their physics professor.  He’d fallen for her then, in a big way.  He loved her dark eyes, her slender neck. And her passion – her family were Italian.  He found that he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Then they’d had dinner together at the cheap Vietnamese noodle shop he knew.  They had discovered a mutual interest in Terry Pratchett’s books, and had spent the time yelling over the hubbub at each other about their favorite characters.
Somehow the subject of music hadn’t come up until now.  Stupidly, he’d thought to surprise  her.  Well, he’d done that all right.
They were still walking together down the street towards the club. At least she hadn’t stormed off, that was something.
“Why do you hate it?” he managed.  “Traditional music is important.  Well, that is, I like it,” he finished clumsily.
“Oh, I don’t mind the melodies.  Some great tunes.  It’s just the awful lyrics.  All folk songs are about someone dying, or getting killed, or being murdered.  Murder ballads, isn’t that what someone called them?”
“Nick Cave,” he said bitterly.  “Or at least he put an album out called that.”
Despair was weighing on him.  He really, really liked Claudia, had had high hopes.  But this was a little like being a Christian and then finding out that your date was a militant atheist.  Or that you loved meat and she was a vegan. It was the end of everything.
Desperately, he rallied. “Not all folk songs are like that, not at all.  And anyway, there’s a lot of dying in most love stories – Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and…”
“Isolde, yes.”  Now she shifted ground, a dangerous sign. “And they all treat women as pathetic objects, always being carted off against their will, or having their fathers or their husbands kill their lovers.  Either that, or they are killed themselves for being unfaithful. Mamma Mia!” She added the last just for effect, she spoke hardly any Italian.
“It’s not all like that,” he said stubbornly.  “Anyway, what kind of music do you like?”, he asked, hoping to find common ground.
Surprisingly, she seemed slightly abashed, took a moment to answer.  “Well… Modern classical, I guess you’d call it.  Arvo Pärt, John Tavener. Philip Glass?” She added the last looking up at him with a slight frown. “You must have heard of Philip Glass?”
Hope edged back in him. It seemed as though she did want to find some agreement, too.
If you like this excerpt, you can find a full listing of David's books - available for Kindle - here.

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