The platform was cold and desolate, two lines heading in opposite directions, North and South, positive and negative, home or away.
Charles-Henri stood with his back turned, cigarette smoke mixing with his condensed breath in the winter air.
His tantrum had started in the previous town the quartet had played in. The town itself was a one horse affair, the market the highlight of these simple folks week.
They had stood in the well practiced semi circle in the middle if the square, by the fountain, the smell of fish wafted over from the nearby stall and their acoustic instruments competed with the yells if the stall holders advertising their wares.
It was a bad day, instead of a crowd watching the performance, there was just one bearded soak, red eyes dulled by the mornings alcohol, peering at them from where he sat nearby. No one else seemed interested in the music, the slow, mournful music they had played to death for the last 25 years.
The violinist abruptly stopped mid fiddle, the guitarist quickly followed suit and the harmonica player caught on leaving only Charles-Henri doggedly squeezing away, staring off into the horizon, off, far far away to his younger years of sweat girls and French kisses.
The other players looked at him, he finally wheezed to a sad finish.
There were tears in his eyes, there always were after that song, but this time the others had had enough.
“We need something upbeat!”
“We need real songs, happy songs, not this m**** we squeeze out every week!”
The accordion player looked at them in such a withering way, “ I danced to that song on my wedding day. “ he said.
“I do not care if you made love to your wife, God rest her sole, to that song, I am not playing it ever again!”
And the violinist picked up his fiddle and stuck up an uplifting, jaunty beat, thinking of swirling skirts and frilly knickers, not the funeral march of before.
The guitarist and harmonica player joined in until a crowd had gathered and feet were tapping, tips landing in the open case at their feet.
It was a couple of minutes before they noticed the disappearance of Charles-Henri and it was only hours later, on the platform, did they see him again, to beg with him to come back, to complete their quartet, brothers together after all these years.