We wandered around Lausanne. There were no street musicians along quai de Belgique. There were plenty of tourists, but there was no single sight to concentrate them. In the area around the Cathedral, the Château Saint Maire, and along Place de la Palud and the Place St-François we found four guitarists, a flautist, a folk harpist, and an untidy group of Peruvian pan-pipers. Eric was not there.
I parked Susyn on a bench and went to work. It took time. These were the musicians’ prime hours. If I interrupted them with questions, it would make them resentful, so I had to wait around for one of them to take a break.
The flautist quit first, and I could see why. In the ten minutes I watched her, she got only a few francs in tips. I moved up to her as she was pulling her flute apart and putting it back in it’s case. She was like NORAD, all antennae and sensors, with a strong defensive perimeter. Even though Europe is kinder than America, a young woman traveling alone has to be cautious. I squatted down at a comfortable distance, just out of reach, like I would have with a frightened animal, and showed her Raven’s picture. She hadn’t seen her, or at least she made that claim.
“I’m looking for her for her father.”
The flautist shrugged. We had not exchanged names, and it did not seem likely that we would. I had to do something to penetrate her shield of suspicion, so I embellished the truth. A lot, actually. I said that she had fought with her father, but that her father had fallen ill, and had sent me to find her and tell her that all was forgiven. Perhaps it was not an inspired story. It only made her draw further into her shell.
A young couple down the street were closing up shop for the night, so I approached them. They, too, were shielded, but benignly, by their mutual involvement. He was a fairly good guitarist and she had sung with a small, sweet voice. From moment to moment, they found little ways to touch each other. They were so obviously in love that they shone like a lantern. I saw that the guitar case was well filled with coins. I wasn’t surprised. On a warm summer night, beneath the towering silhouette of the Cathedral, in Europe, the sweet sound of her voice and the sweeter radiance of their affection completed a seamless ambiance of romance. No wonder the passing tourists smiled a little more, held hands a little tighter, and tossed a coin into his guitar case as they passed.
The young guitarist told me that he had seen Eric and Raven at the small hotel where they were staying last night. They had come in late and had been turned away. Eric had asked the guitarist and his girlfriend if there were any other accommodations nearby, and had mentioned being enroute to Montreaux.
I spent the rest of the night asking questions, but that was the closest I got to a lead.
* * *
We slept well, in separate rooms. At nine the next morning, we had breakfast on the terrace again and outlined our plans. Susyn had picked up schedules for trains and lake steamers, which I studied briefly.
“We don’t know that they went to Montreaux,” I said, “but we do know that they came to Lausanne. We need to move on, but we also need to stay here and look some more. It seems that we should split up.” more tomorrow