Dux of the school, then Edinburgh, then a job with an investment firm on Charlotte Square. Soon, six months in Hong Kong, then a more senior job in New York, then a promotion. We met twice in the bar of the Carlyle, once, and more to his liking, in the Royalton. Early, wrong side of the tracks gaucherie giving way to a competent young man in dark suit, plain shirt and solid, professional, tie. A feeling that he was enjoying life and breaking a few American girls hearts. A world his parents could never dream existed and never share.
Glancing up from lunch in the Dover Street Chez Gerard I saw the scenes on the television above the bar. A rush back to my desk, calls to the US impossible, all circuits down. No way of contacting the Manhattan office.
Home on the Thursday night. Tired, irritable, no flights, the car at the airport, the trains full, security making the journey back to Scotland endless. Down the drive and through the gates into the courtyard, a chance to change, relax and have a drink. A grim faced 'font' meeting me at the door, two six month old puppies leaping on my feet. Could I go to see the folk in the cottage to put their mind to rest? The half formed 'I don't know them. Can't I do it later ?' caught in my throat before spoken. Better placed than most to help. 11/11.
The slow recognition that hope is an untrustworthy friend. Uncomprehending heads sinking deep onto shoulders, gentle people shrinking before your eyes. Hasty calls to friends, harried employers,embassy folk, a colleague ringing the bell of the Columbus Circle apartment. Anyone who might know . Later, much later,a memorial service with an old pump organ; biting my tongue - hard - to stop the tears, the 'fonts' hand unwavering holding onto my arm. Seeing them driven home to a silent, dark cottage through streets of bowed heads. Grief,they say, the price one pays for love. The waste.
If left unchallenged the footsteps of evil men pass even the most peaceful door.