Duke sat in the studio, restlessly brooding…it seemed more so than ever that he was agitated and growing increasingly uncomfortable with everything that was going on around him. Duke was coming to the realisation that he would always be at the BMI, inextricably linked, bound by and woven into its histories…Duke didn’t know if that is what he wanted and the agitation was building through a sense that something was inevitably approaching, he wasn’t sure what that something was, but he felt that everything would be coming to a head soon. This next performance seemed to have risk, the stakes were raised somehow and he didn’t like the uncertainty…what was going to happen when he walked out on the stage in the John Lee Theatre? SWITCH Dinah Washington’s honeyed tones filled the studio, “Blue Gardenia” gently breezed its way out of the speakers and Duke sat watching as the text panels for the exhibition were being cut. The studio door slammed suddenly and the knife that was working in unison with the steel rule and the cutting mat suddenly deviated going straight across the rule and deep into his thumb…blood spurted out…Duke seemed quietly amused. SWITCH He looked in the mirror for Duke. It was 30 minutes before the performance and he needed to find Duke quickly. He couldn’t do this on his own; he risked getting hurt without Duke. With make-up applied he lifted his iPhone and selected the camera icon, he’d spent the last ten minutes staring into the mirror…searching…he pressed the button and looked down at the image that had been made. A sense of relief washed over him as he saw Duke’s features appear on the screen. Behind Duke he could see his own body. Now looking up into the mirror the relief was complete, there was Duke looking at him and now he was ready. SWITCH The lights went up…Duke looked into the depths of the audience…he could just about see the outline of the faces against the glare of the spotlights, he turned to look at the pillar and began…SWITCH “Are you OK? Are you hurt?” Cat Fuller asked as she sat with Duke in the control room shortly after the performance had finished. Duke didn’t answer but he looked with Cat Fuller through the control room window as the audience started to leave their seats. He had made a quick exit from the stage and into the control room as soon as the lights had gone down and he was intrigued to know what the audience had thought. Jack was interviewing them as they left so he knew he would find out what they had thought soon. Cat Fuller had kindly agreed to work on lighting and Duke wanted to thank her, they looked at each other in silence and although he didn’t speak Duke hoped that Cat Fuller could see the gratitude in his eyes. He repositioned his hat and walked out of the room. SWITCH “It was funny to begin with.” “Around the 10 minute mark I just wanted to it to end.” “He was very humble.” “He was like a mosquito bouncing against a window. Despite the obstacle in his way he kept going…he never gave up.” “It was really hard to watch and by the end I was hiding my face, I just couldn’t bare to see him hurt any more.” SWITCH Brighton had been a real tonic and the time away had been just what he needed. Having promised himself a new pair of trousers from the North Laines he found himself in the changing room of his favourite clothes shop, Jump The Gun. With the changing room curtain closed he reached up to the hook inside and placed the hanger over it. As he removed his trousers in preparation for the elegant pair of checked sta-prest that were folded neatly in front of him he caught a peripheral view of something on his leg. He hadn’t looked in a mirror since returning to the dressing room following the live performance; somehow he just couldn’t see anything in the reflections outside of the BMI, it seemed difficult to look because he didn’t know what he was looking at, or for, anymore. He now studied his leg and was confronted with a fierce blackened blue, purple, red stain that stretched down from his hip to his knee in a sprawling explosive pattern. He touched the skin gingerly and recoiled as the pain forced a short intake of breath. Duke never got hurt in performances, Duke always made sure that he didn’t get hurt either…why now was his body marked so severely by the performance…it never had been like this before? His hand moved away from his leg and his upper arm was suddenly exposed as his short sleeve rose to reveal a smaller yet similarly angry marking under the skin, again he touched the area and felt the tender shock of pain shooting through his arm. He felt a sting and he looked into the mirror…was Duke here in Brighton? “Are you OK in there? Are you trying the whole shop on?” Suzanne was standing outside impatiently. He hurriedly pulled the new trousers on and pulled the sleeve down over his arm before heading out of the changing room. Suzanne greeted him, she looked first at the trousers and then up at his face, “They’re lively…you ok? You look pale?” SWITCH It was late and he found himself restless and unable to sleep. He navigated his way out of bed and through the door of the spare room quietly so that he didn’t disturb Suzanne or Sonny. The creaking stairs were always going to emit sound but he did his best to supress the noise with a carefully orchestrated dance that enabled him to navigate his way down to the kitchen. Natalie and Ben’s house in Lewes was familiar to him, whenever they headed to Brighton for a break, their friends kindly offered the spare room and it had been great to catch up this week. He filled the kettle and prepared a mug, as he waited for the building sound to breath life into the early morning silence he rested a hand on his right hip and gently placed his left hand on the darkened splatter of bruising on his thigh. As he prodded the tender skin he winced as an agonising shot rocketed through the limb, he glanced up and caught sight of a reflection in the kitchen window, it’s a face he knew…Duke was here, Duke had taken the journey with him. He reached for the packet of Nurofen on the window ledge and popped a couple of capsules out of the packaging. Once the tea was made he took a seat at the dining table and thought through the last few days…weeks…he knew that Duke was here now and he felt threatened by that…this was his family time and he had been looking forward to being with them away from everything. Maybe he needed to find more about Duke so that he could understand what he wanted and why he was here. He looked over to the kitchen and saw the clock was showing 4.18am he finished his tea and rose from the seat. Now back in the kitchen he placed the freshly rinsed mug onto the drainer. Although he had the urge to look into the darkened window again he didn’t, simply turning around and switching the light off before heading back up the creaky stairs to bed. SWITCH The first day back in the studio had been slow during the morning, Jack was due in with the rough edit of the ‘live’ film and he had had been easing himself back in gradually by catching up with some sketchbook work. He hadn’t spoken to Duke and they had kept a healthy distance throughout, neither wanted to talk about Brighton and the tension was palpable. He selected Pino Donaggio’s “Don’t Look Now” Soundtrack to listen to and set about trying to get himself into action. SWITCH He’d sent a message to Tom Hicks, the best researcher he knew, simply asking if he could find anything out about Duke. As usual it had taken very little time for Tom to get on the case and uncover some facts. His phone signalled a new text and he read it to himself Looks like Duke Kinsey was from Aston. I’ll find out more as soon as I get chance to do some proper digging. Speak soon Tom. He looked over at Duke “You never told me you were born in Aston.” SWITCH He stood with Duke, Jack and Dr Connie as the recording of the live performance came to a close on the screen; they had all winced at one point or another but hadn’t verbalised their discomfort beyond a short gasp or in take of breath. Jack clicked onto another recording and the sound of the audience interviews filled the studio…he’d heard many of them on the night after the show but his ears perked up as he identified a voice he couldn’t recall. “What’s this one?” he enquired. Jack responded, “Oh yes, this is the last one I did, don’t think I played it to you on the night.” Dr Connie interjected, “I was sitting near her I think.” The girl seemed serious and closed her short analysis of the events she had just witnessed with a statement that seemed to spark a sense of satisfaction in Duke. “What did I think of Duke? I guess I’d say he was like a modern day Sisyphus.”