When all the people stop moving at night, not a sound comes from human activity. The moon and the stars are so far away. The black sky isn’t going to change its indifferent attitude. That is the time one can try to listen, to hear something one may not able to hear when the world is covered in manmade noise.
Night may be synonymous with contemplation, dissolution, rebirth or new beginnings. Did you ever hear the sound of the night?
It is the sound that belongs to the night, like music belongs to instruments. It is delicate, faint and slight to our ears but it is actually forceful, intense and mighty to the night.
Go ahead, open the door and walk into what nature has provided for you. In the middle of the garden, put your hands out and touch the tree trunk with your palms, close your eyes and let its stability influence you.
Without any fixed attitude, open your heart to the truth that the universe has supplied. Try to sense the subtle energies, the occult or other dimensions. It could be a revolution in your thinking that gets you deeper into nature and on the right track. If you feel the connection, congratulation, you got it much easier than I.
If you didn’t get it, don’t worry, try it again another time. It was not easy for me at the beginning either.
You may ask, what is the point of listening to the sound of the night?
There’s no point, only to raise our awareness, to be aware of what is going on around us.
We think we are the intelligent beings that rule the Earth. We sent people to the moon, talked about the black holes. Yes, in some ways we know much more than our ancestors but there are still so many things that we don’t know or understand in our daily lives.
What we know of our existence is probably much less than what our pets know.
Lots of us hear of dogs going away from their masters to die. How often does one hear of a person knowing that he or she is going to die? Rarely. Not as often as we hear about dogs knowing.
I am not trying to say that dogs are much smarter than us. I just want to point out that dogs are much closer to nature than us. They may know what’s really going on in nature. They often see what we’ve lost the ability to see.
During the day, anxieties and physical activities dominate our senses. We can’t see beyond the surface.
* * *
Let me tell you a story. See if you can explain it in a logical way.
It happened to someone I knew.
Dean was an uncomplicated Australian bloke. He had grown up in the country and loved his football games and cold beers. He lived not far from where he worked and drove a Holden. He wouldn’t miss a chance for a sausage and a bowl of hot chips.
He was not much different from the guy next door. The only thing that made him stand out from the rest was that he loved to dance.
Dean often went to the Rocker’s Social Club on Friday and Saturday nights, bought a cold beer from the bar, listened to the live band play 60’s rock ‘n’ roll music and asked ladies without partners to dance. The ladies always outnumbered the men. Being in demand, he could have as many dances as he wanted any night.
It was a relaxing way to spend the weekends. He could have dinner at the Club if he liked. It didn’t cost an arm and a leg and he really enjoyed socialising with the dancers in the Club.
For three years he had been going to the Club. He knew all the regulars by sight. He could even call out the names of some of them.
John and his partner, Wendy, were true fans of Elvis Presley. His Elvis style jacket and her big, swinging, layered, full skirt attracted the most attention on the floor.
Larry always wore a short sleeved shirt, no matter how cold the weather was. The way he danced made him sweat even in the coldest winter.
Nina was a beautiful dancer. She could dance to any music and with any partner. Most of the regular guys loved to take her onto the dance floor. She was one of the popular ladies. If you didn’t ask her before the music started, you were unlikely to have much luck to dance with her.
Tom was a big man. He had a huge pot belly that made him look like he was pregnant with triplets but he was as light as a feather on his feet. Many ladies loved to dance with him.
Rose was covered with cheap jewellery. One wondered whether that would give her a rash in the hot weather. Under all that metal, plastic, glass and synthetic stones her skin must have been crying out for air. She was not much to look at but she certainly knew how to dance.
Peter and Liney were both married but not to each other. They were dancing partners. They danced very well together – they were graceful, smooth and complemented each other. When they danced, it was more like a showcase than casual dancing.
Annie could dance very well if she kept her mouth shut. She was too interested in gossip to concentrate on her steps. She would tell you who went home with whom last night, who had been angry with whom the other day, who had lost her purse, who had been rejected by a lady. Really, no one in the Club cared what others did. Most of the people went there to relax and dance.
Paula was a good looking lady who could dance well but the unhappy expression on her face turned most of the guys away. Her eyes were cold; her voice was flat. That was why she spent more time sitting than dancing. She switched her internal light off. No one wanted to be with someone who was moping and depressed.
Ginger and Mia were older ladies. They danced with each other. No guy asked them to dance or tried to separate them. They happily said hello to the regulars and were pleasant enough when they met people’s eyes on the dance floor. Lots of members from the band would wave to them when they arrived.
Sometimes when Dean got to the Club a bit late and all the tables were occupied, some regulars would ask him to join them. He never walked away because the Club was fully booked.
Sometimes he didn’t feel like talking. At those times, when the Club was filled with people, he would go to the next room to play the pokies for a while. After an hour or two, those customers who had come for dinner would leave and he would have no problem getting a table by himself.
* * *
One Friday night, he saw a new face. She was on her own. She looked uncomfortable as she walked in. No one would feel comfortable walking into a place like that on her own.
Many curious eyes were focused on her which made the situation even worse for her.
Larry spotted her. He didn’t wait. He went up to her straight away and asked her for a dance.
Men were studying her carefully. A slim lady with long red hair would always be a subject for men to study. Those without partners wanted to see if she was any good to dance with on the floor. They watched how she carried herself, twisted her waist, moved her hips and shifted her feet. Was she an interesting target? Or just another one who would not last for more than a couple of dances.
Ladies were studying her carefully. They wanted to see who the competition was for men’s attention. Those without partners were concentrating on finding her faults. Whenever the conversation landed on the new lady, they would have some criticism to contribute. To know one’s enemy was inbuilt in every creature which was seeking a mate in public.
Dean did not get a chance to dance with the red haired lady before she disappeared. He was disappointed.
The very next night, Dean saw her again, while he was dancing with Annie.
“Isabella is strange.”
“The new red head.”
Dean liked her name. He had never personally known anyone by that name.
“Doesn’t she own another dress? Wearing a t-shirt and jeans would be better than wearing the same dress as last night.”
“That’s a nice dress.”
“I knew you would say that. Did you wear the same clothes as last night?”
“No. Maybe that is her favourite dress.”
“Very strange to me.”
“I don’t mind it, she looks nice.”
He couldn’t wait for the music to stop so he could make his move.
Tom and Isabella seemed to be having a great time. After the band stopped for a break, they put on a CD with line dance music. Those two continued on their merry way, dancing with the big crowd.
Line dancing had gained in popularity recently. It was a choreographed dance, with a repeated sequence of steps, in which dancers danced in lines. Without regard for the gender of the individuals, all dancers faced the same direction, executing the steps at the same time, and moved according to the music. No dancers were in physical contact with each other.
Dean was a rock ‘n’ roll dancer. He had no idea how to do the line dance moves. He stayed at the bar, waiting for the line dance music to stop.
Isabella was not the best dancer around but she sure was by far the best looking chick in that Club.
When the music finally stopped, Dean couldn’t see Isabella. He went to the gambling section of the Club but couldn’t find her there either. Once again, she had disappeared.
That got on his nerves and gave rise to a passing sense of frustration. He had set his mind on Isabella. He wanted to have a dance with her and to get to know her a little, that was all. Not much to ask was it?
* * *
The following Friday night, Dean sprayed on the new cologne he had bought during the week and put on the freshly ironed shirt. Shortly after 6.30 pm, he signed into the Club and sat near the entrance at the table he had booked. From that position, he would not miss anyone walking in.
“Had a fight with the lawn mower, Dean!”
Oh no, go away, Dean thought. “How are you Rose?”
“I am not so good. Last night my sister called, she’s the one who lives in Queensland. I think I told you in the past, she wants to come to Melbourne to go shopping. Four days. She is going to stay with me for four days. I’m telling ya, we will end up killing each other after two days. What am I going to do with her? She will drive me crazy. She’s the kind of person who never shuts up, keeps talking like if she stopped, the world is going to explode. Ya could not imagine how bad it is, believe me, it is as true as I am standing here in front of ya…”
“Sorry Rose, I’ve got to order my dinner before I starve to death.”
Phew! Got rid of Rose, a lady he would not miss if he never saw her again.
Waiting in line to order and pay for dinner, he caught up with a few regulars but his eyes were keenly doing their job.
Dinner was finished, two bottles of beer were gone and the band had played the first round but Isabella hadn’t shown up. Dean became anxious as time went past.
Suddenly he heard someone call out.
“You can stay with me tonight.”
That was Nina, inviting Isabella to sit with her. Dean quickly stood up, pulling out one of the chairs at his table, and smiled at Isabella.
“Please, be my guest, have a seat!”
Isabella happily accepted his offer.
“Would you like a drink first? Or dance?”
The lead singer was singing a song called ‘Uh-oh I’m falling in love again’. Many rock ‘n’ rollers on the dance floor were singing a few words here and there too, while twisting their body and kicking their feet.
Dean and Isabella danced well together. She was willing to follow every step that Dean led, not trying to lead Dean into what she wanted. Dean was quite pleased. He gave that a tick.
Halfway through the song, Dean changed the steps to the ‘quick step’. Isabella followed like a duck in water; well, another tick.
“Do you like Jimmie Rodgers’ songs?”
“Mmm, I like ‘Kisses sweeter than wine’.”
“The world I used to know?”
“Nobody knows but me!”
“Born to lose!”
What a lady. Dean was over the moon. He had never met a lady who was a fan of ‘the father of country music’ like himself. When Jimmie Rogers died at the age of 35, he and Isabella weren’t even born yet, yet they knew his songs like true fans. He had to give two ticks for that.
When Isabella smiled, she brought sunshine to the person she smiled at. Dean was charmed by her from top to toe. Never before had he felt so hearty and warm just by being associated with another person.
He could dance whole night with her without any interruptions. She was light on her feet, easy to dance with. She had a delightful personality, easy to talk to. She was good looking, easy on the eyes.
‘Where have you been all my life?’ he thought, but did not dare to say out loud. It would have been too tacky to say, like one of those pick-up lines but, honestly, it was how he felt.
Forty five minutes went by. The band took a break. Dean felt that they were the fastest 45 minutes he had ever experienced. He showed Isabella the way to the table.
“Hi, Isabella,” Ginger called. “Mia found a place that sells purple roses.”
Isabella stopped to talk to Ginger and Mia. Dean didn’t want to pry so he walked back to his table, sat down and waited for Isabella’s return.
When the fifteen minute break was over and the band started to play again, Isabella still hadn’t returned. Dean looked around for her but he couldn’t see her. Once again, she had disappeared.
Dean was disappointed. He thought that was appalling. She should at least have let him know she was leaving. He sat there on his own for a while, having lost the feeling for dancing.
When he thought Isabella had really gone for the night, he got up and went home himself.
He couldn’t sleep that night. He could still feel Isabella in his arms. Her body movement, her voice and her facial expressions penetrated into his brain. He couldn’t get her out of his mind.
* * *
The next morning, he tried to call the Club to book a table but it was fully booked.
He panicked for a second but then he remembered that Isabella always came to the Club around 8 o’clock, stayed for an hour or so and then left. He didn’t really need a table. He just had to keep an eye out for her, approach her as soon as she walked through the door, dance one round and then she would be gone.
That Saturday, he went to the Club a little later than usual, checked Isabella wasn’t in and then stayed in the club foyer, keeping his eye on the front entrance where everyone signed in when they arrived.
The receptionist was an attractive middle-aged lady. Dean chatted with her between her answering phone calls and customer enquiries.
Time passed painfully slowly.
“Hello Dean.” Mia passed through the foyer.
“Leaving so early?”
“I am not leaving. I’m just going to the car to get the purple roses I found for Isabella. She said she was longing for them but wasn’t able to find any. The other day I was in the nursery and I saw purple roses. How about that?”
Dean walked into the dancing room and saw Isabella dancing with Larry. He must have got mixed up somewhere. He had checked she was not in before he went to wait in the foyer. He hadn’t turned his face away from the front entrance so he couldn’t have missed anyone walking through that door.
The whole situation left him feeling a bit confused and bewildered but he had no time to be puzzled. If he wanted to dance with Isabella, he had to focus. Larry was a great dancer. He had to keep an eye on him. If he made a move before him, that would be the end of his chance.
Isabella saw him. She gave him a big smile. He received it whole heartedly and returned an even bigger smile.
“She turned Gary down.”
Annie stood next to Dean.
“Who turned Gary down?”
“Isabella, who else?”
“I think she likes you. If I were you, I wouldn’t hesitate for too long. One of those guys will snatch her up pretty soon.”
“What are you talking about?”
Annie winked at him. If not for Paul calling her to dance, she would have stayed next to Dean and kept gossiping.
What Annie said made Dean feel good. He knew he liked Isabella. He hoped Annie was right and that Isabella liked him too.
Nina waved to Dean, asking him for a dance. He gladly got on the floor with Nina. Dancing with Nina was a showcase. Her movements were filled with experience, flowing smoothly and with polish.
Dean couldn’t help finding a chance to greet Isabella on the floor.
Nina took notice. As soon as the singer finished the song, she turned to Larry and Isabella and asked to change partners.
Dean gave Nina a kiss on the cheek. He appreciated her sensitivity.
How ironic, the next song was ‘Pretty Woman’. Dean told Isabella, “This song is for you.”
They had a great time dancing together. He had the ability to make her laugh and she had the ability to spray sunshine over him.
The good time passed quickly. Again the band took a break. Mia caught Isabella’s attention, calling her to their table. Dean was not going to take a chance with letting her out of his sight so he followed her.
Mia presented a pot of purple roses, wrapped in lovely paper with a red coloured ribbon, to Isabella.
“When I saw this red ribbon, I had to have it for the pot. See, it’s the same red as your hair colour.”
“How much do I owe you?”
“I am not going to hear about it again, Isabella. This is from me. I am glad that I could get you the roses that you have been longing for.”
Isabella gave Mia a big hug, happily took the pot and walked straight to the exit.
* * *
“Where you are going? Isabella?”
“Time for me to go.”
“The night is still young.”
“Not to me.”
“Can’t you stay a bit longer?”
“I wish. I’ve really got to go before Taffy comes back to guard my door, otherwise I’ll have trouble getting back.”
“Who’s this Taffy?”
“He could kill a person just by looking at him.”
“No one is that tough.”
“Did you drive here?”
“I came by taxi.”
“I can take you home.”
“That’s alright, I can call a taxi.”
“Please let me, it would be my pleasure.”
“Thank you, you are so nice.”
Dean couldn’t help being so pleased with himself. It was exactly as he had said; it was his pleasure to have the chance to take Isabella home.
On the way to Isabella’s home, he tried to ask for her phone number. She said Michael had taken her mobile phone away so she was not able to contact anyone.
He thought, ‘Fair enough, she doesn’t want to give me her phone number. A lady should take precautions, not give away her phone number too easily.’
He asked her whether she would like to go to some other place to dance one day.
“I would love to, if only Taffy would go away.”
“But you are here right now.”
“Taffy has dinner with Michael. He’s too busy eating and listening to Michael complaining.”
“You never stay at the club very long.”
“I know. How I wish I could dance all night long.”
“One night, we could try.”
“Oh, that would be really wonderful.”
Isabella clapped her hands like a little girl. Dean loved her pure and innocent behaviour.
“What kind of cuisine do you like?”
“I like anything. My mum is a good cook. She can cook all kinds of dishes. My taste buds have been spoiled by her.”
“Tell me, what are your favourite dishes?”
“Let’s see, the last dinner mum cooked was her own mushroom ravioli, Arabic spiced lamb, roasted baby beets, sweet potatoes, Persian fetta salad and caramel banana banoffee tart. Yummy!”
Isabella licked her lips like she hadn’t eaten for months. Dean laughed. He had never known a slim lady who talked about food in such a way.
“Oh, oh, my favourite is mum’s chocolate brownie with raspberries. No one can make it better than my mum.”
“Can you cook?”
“I tried to learn from mum…. Ah, that is the street, number 13.”
It was not that far from the Club. Dean stopped the car.
Isabella went in through the side gate and quickly disappeared into the darkness.
Dean couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. Isabella had him wrapped around her little finger. He knew that but he didn’t care, he simply loved that high feeling.
* * *
The next morning, Dean wanted to clean up the car. Its exterior needed a good wash and the interior needed vacuuming and a wipe over. He wanted to keep the car in the best possible condition. Who knew? He might get another chance to take Isabella home again. He had to give her the best impression he could.
He listened to the iPod while washing the car. He felt so good that there was a possibility of a brighter future. Oh yes, life was good when one was in this rosy state.
The bright egg yolk coloured earring, between the front passenger seat and the gearbox, caught his eye. Isabella must have dropped it last night.
She wore the same purple dress with yellow dots every time she came to the Club. Although Dean was not a keen observer of ladies’ outfits, it was all she ever wore so it was pretty easy for him to remember the details. Isabella always wore the dress with a bright egg yolk coloured belt and matching coloured earrings.
Dean couldn’t call to let her know he had her earring. He thought he could wait until next Friday to give it back to her at the Club but then she wouldn’t have the earring when she got dressed. He thought she might worry that she had lost it somewhere.
He thought he better take it back to Isabella.
After he had finished cleaning the car, Dean had a shave and shower, put on a clean t-shirt and jeans and happily drove to Isabella’s home.
He stopped the car right in front of number 13. It was a weatherboard house in need of some maintenance with a large lock on the new side gate. The front garden looked like no one lived in the house or the people living in the house didn’t care for the garden.
It took a long time for someone to answer the door bell.
“What do you want?” An unfriendly face appeared behind the open door.
“Is Isabella in?”
“Wrong house. Next door.” The man tilted his head to one side then rudely shut the door on Dean.
Dean was pretty sure Isabella had entered the side gate of this house. The door was shut so he had no choice but walk next door. It was a newish, brick veneer double story building. The house was set on top of a double garage, with a well-kept front garden.
He walked up the steps to the front door. A nicely presented lady answered the door bell. When he asked for Isabella, the smile on the lady’s face suddenly vanished.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Dean Sutherland.”
“Where are you from?”
“Who sent you here?”
“No one, I just want to see Isabella…”
“If you want to see her room, go ahead, I haven’t touched it.”
She held the door wide open. Dean took it as an invitation and walked right in.
“Second door on the left.”
He felt a bit strange but he walked to the door and knocked.
“God has answered my prayer if she answers your knock.”
The lady gave him a dirty look and opened the door for him.
It was Isabella’s room alright. It was a bright and girlish room with a large window looking into their beautiful backyard and the backyard next door.
A few bras and stockings hung on the bed frame. Some clothes were dumped on the bed and the chair. The wardrobe doors were open showing a wardrobe filled with colourful, pretty clothes.
“She’s got lots of clothes,” Dean couldn’t help saying. He thought, ‘Why does she always wear the same dress?’
“She loved to dress up. That’s why I told the police she wouldn’t have left without taking her clothes with her.”
“What do you mean ‘you told the police’?”
“They said she ran away from home. I told them someone had kidnapped her. Didn’t you say you are from the local police station?”
“No, I am not a policeman. I met Isabella in the Rocker’s Club where we danced.”
“I didn’t know she could dance.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.” Dean thought he better keep his mouth shut. Isabella may not have been telling her mother what she was doing.
“Stay here, I’ll be back.”
The lady walked out the door. Dean looked out through the window. He saw a pot of purple roses with a red ribbon sitting on top of the barbeque in the nice large paved area next door.
* * *
“Would you please follow me?”
The lady came back and led him to the lounge where two men greeted him and exchanged a few polite sentences.
“When did you last dance with Isabella?” The older man asked. He was Jon.
The younger man was Isabella’s brother Anthony. He jumped up and shouted at Dean, “I am not in the mood for jokes. What do you want from us?”
The lady was Isabella’s mother, Kathy. She quickly calmed Anthony down.
“Give him a chance to explain himself.”
Dean realised something was not right. He thought that maybe Isabella was hiding from her family. He didn’t want to cause any trouble by saying the wrong thing.
“Let’s start from the beginning,” Jon said. “How long have you known Isabella?”
“Maybe I should go and let Isabella answer your questions.”
Anthony kicked the furniture, his face turning red. “How are we going to get hold of her? You tell me.”
Dean held his breath, not daring to say a word.
“Where is Isabella?” Kathy asked. “Did you kidnap her?”
Dean jumped. “No, of course not. I didn’t kidnap Isabella.”
“Please, Dean, don’t harm her. Let her come back where she belongs. She is our family. We miss her.” Kathy cried uncontrollably.
“What do you want from us?” Anthony asked.
“I came here today in good faith to return Isabella’s earring to her. That’s all.”
Dean gave the earring to Jon.
Kathy quickly moved next to Jon and looked at it.
“That’s Isabella’s,” Kathy said.
Jon started to cry, “Thank God she is alright.”
“Where is she?” Anthony grabbed Dean’s t-shirt. He was going to hit him, Dean thought, stepping back.
The police arrived. Dean thought they must have called the police while he had been waiting in Isabella’s room.
With the authorities present, Dean had no choice but to spill the beans, to protect himself from trouble. He explained how he and Isabella had met. He answered all of Jon’s, Kathy’s, Anthony’s and the police’s questions.
Through the questioning, he found out that Isabella had in fact been missing for more than eight months.
“You are not telling the truth.” Anthony was an aggressive man. “You said Isabella went into the backyard next door through the side gate!”
“Yes, I saw that before I drove away. She was worried. She wanted to get back before the guard’s return. She said the guard’s name was Taffy and his mate was Michael.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Anthony, give Dean a chance to talk. He saw Isabella. He may be able to help us to find her,” Kathy said. “If he hadn’t seen her, he wouldn’t know the dress she wore.”
“I know he saw her because he kidnapped her.”
“Calm down Anthony. We’re all anxious to find Isabella. Let Dean do his part.”
Dean knew very well that he was in deep trouble. If he didn’t do the right thing, he might become a suspect and end up at the police station behind bars.
“If I am the kidnapper, do you think I would be sitting here talking to you?”
“Michael lives next door. Taffy is his dog.” Jon turned to Anthony. “I think Dean is telling the truth but I don’t understand why she didn’t come home but went to the Club? Why did she go back next door?”
“Dad, you are wishing that is the truth. If Isabella was able to escape from next door, she would come back here. She wouldn’t go dancing and return to him again. I know Isabella would come back here if she could free herself.”
Anthony didn’t believe a word that Dean said.
“What is this Michael like?” one policeman asked.
“He is a grumpy old man,” Anthony answered.
“He is ok as a neighbour but I wouldn’t want to be friends with him,” Jon added.
“I wish he would take his wheelie bins to the backyard. He leaves them in front of his side gate. He seldom pushes them out onto the nature strip on the rubbish collection days. They really stink. Every time I have to cover my nose to collect my mail,” Kathy complained.
“Before he built the barbeque area up, he kept the bins in the backyard. It wasn’t too bad for us back then,” Jon said.
Once Jon mentioned the barbeque, it was as if a light hit Dean. He was too uptight to worry about getting into trouble. He used all his energy and wits on how to convince them to believe he had only met Isabella two weeks ago.
“I saw the purple roses on the top of the barbeque in the backyard next door, from Isabella’s bedroom window. Why don’t you go over there and have a look? I am sure Ginger and Mia could be the witnesses you need to prove that Isabella took the purple roses with the red ribbon with her last night.”
They all went to Isabella’s bedroom, had a good look at the pot of purple roses on the top of the newly built barbeque. A red ribbon was wrapped around the pot.
Kathy and Jon burst into tears. They hugged each other with happiness.
* * *
On Friday morning, Dean received a phone call from Jon, thanking him for helping them find Isabella’s body.
That was right, they found Isabella’s body. She had been dead for more than six months. She had been buried under the barbeque area next door to where she used to live.
Michael had confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Isabella.
Jon didn’t understand what had happened to Dean in the Rocker’s Social Club. Nevertheless, he was grateful to have found his daughter. He would give her a proper burial after the police released her body.
Dean couldn’t continue to work after talking to Jon. He took the rest of that day off and two weeks’ sick leave after that.
He wanted to run away and hide himself somewhere but where could he run? Where could he hide himself?
Dean never went back to the Rocker’s Social Club.
Can you explain it in a logical way?
Can you hear the sound in the night? That delicate yet forceful, faint yet intense, slight yet mighty, that sound of the night?