The piano accordian player slumped forward, his instrument wheezing in sympathy. This confused the crowd surrounding him. They stood in silence, unsure whether this was part of the act, an idosyncracy perhaps, that the accordianist used to end his performance. A little boy stepped forward, stretched out an arm ready to poke the dormant figure with a chubby finger but was stopped by his mother who pulled him back, remonstrating with her young son in hushed tones.

The accordian player had slumped in such a way that the keyboard end of the concertina propped him under his chin. The hand holding the other end had slipped down to his side, leaving that end of the accordian to dandle over his knee. It flexed weakly back and forth, issuing a tiny whining sound, moving imperceptibly like the chest of some premature calf. His sharp features, softened in sleep, were being slowly covered by his hair as it fell further over his face with each mournful breath of the accordian.

The crowd was dispersing now, most of the shoppers deciding they had seen enough of the strange busker. Carla remained in place as those around her recalled where they were going before they stopped to watch, as they reset themselves upon their previous path. As the pavement cleared, she moved towards the musician, slowly, so as not to disturb him. Stopping a few feet in front, she crouched to get a better look at his face. She angled her head to see past the lengthy fringe that had drooped down over much of his face.

‘Karl?’ she said.

‘Do you know this man, madam,’ said a voice behind her.

She turned to face a woman police officer.

‘I’m sorry, what?’

‘I was wondering if you knew this gentlemen.’

Carla thought for a moment.

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