The Music Festival

Tory bakes bread in the morning at one supermarket, and he fills the shelves after closing hours at another supermarket. He earns just enough to get his teen daughter through school but the cost is dear. He resents the customers that come in for their morning bread just as he’s finishing his shift. They’re weary eyed because they had to get up at 7 to be at the shops at 8, to start work at 9. He finished filling the shelves at midnight before stealing a nap in the car and beginning his shift with the competitor at 4am to bake.

He finishes his bakery shift at around 9am which means he gets to watch the grumpy businessmen – well dressed and well rested – coming to get the bread for their office tea-rooms. He imagines their internal dialogues whining about the early start and the lack of caffeine in their systems. Those poor, poor businessmen, with their BMWs and their six-figure salaries.

Tory has the sleeping pattern of a rodent, or a small bird, or something… He takes his daughter to school in the morning, and he conducts his errands during normal business hours. It means he’s catching shut-eye for only a few hours a day, intermittently at best.

Today his daughter is attending her first music festival. He drops her off before his shift at supermarket A and he’ll pick her up at midnight on his way to supermarket B. The time comes to pick her up and he’s spent. He won’t get his two hours of sleep between shifts today, but it’s okay. This is his way of looking out for his little girl.

She’s not at the pick-up point. Tory expected this. She’s an excited teenager. Tory’s dead tired and his patience is thin when he’s so fatigued. Half an hour passes and he jumps out of the car to find her himself. He slips past the abysmal security and like a homing missile, he locks onto where he thinks he’ll find his daughter. He doesn’t aim for the main arena, nor the food vans, nor the bathrooms. He sets his heading for the area where all the electrical transformers and shipping crates are being stored: the darkest, seediest place around.

Tory sees a frizzy-haired twenty-something man with a rainbow coloured top tying his shoelaces. But someone else’s legs are sticking out from underneath him. It’s hard to think when you’re this tired. Autopilot kicks in. Tory grabs the frizzy hair and yanks it skyward. Half of it comes loose in his hand, but the half that stays attached has enough strength to lift the rainbow man a foot into the air. The unidentified legs belong to his daughter. The man wasn’t tying his shoelaces at all. He was about to do something far more sinister.

Without letting go of the frizzy locks, Tory drags the rainbow man to the nearest searchlight and holds the man’s face to the lens. “Feel the rainbow!” He roars as the man screams in pain from being scorched by the light. The man slumps by the light and Tory scoops up his daughter to take her to safety.

A few days later, after setting out the morning bread for the first customers, Tory notices a peculiar looking guy in a suit and tie. The man has half a head of frizzy hair, a particularly sunburned face and bloodshot eyes. Their eyes meet and both men pause. Is there a hint of recognition? It doesn’t matter. They each go their separate ways.

T

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