A high mournful voice filled the room, the words rendered incomprehensible by Harris’ lack of Italian, but the emotion unmistakeable. The voice sang of grief, and heartbreak, and loss. The tape on the reel-to-reel machine said it was Verdi, but Harris thought the song could easily have been written for the scene before him.
A candle on the table danced in the breeze. It was a tall, thick church candle, but it had been burning for a while now and was little more than a stump. A small stream of melted wax had fallen from the flame and spilt onto the table, where it had cooled and hardened. One edge touched a plate with a cold, half-eaten dinner on it. Another edge had pooled around the woman’s hand, mingling with her blood.
Harris took out his gold pocket watch and slowly, deliberately began to wind it. Behind him, on tape, the tenor sang on.
The woman was young, perhaps twenty-five, perhaps as much as thirty but definitely no more. She was dressed in a delicate silk dress that went down from neck to knee: it flattered her figure, something he suspected she had known. She was also dead, lying face down in her own blood, the back of her head crushed almost beyond recognition. A bloody pestle and mortar lay on the floor behind her, a circle of chalk drawn around it.
Harris slipped his watch back into his pocket.
He shook his head sadly, and left.