*Prologue*

"Can I help you, officer?" The policeman standing at our front door was quite young, but grey streaks shone in his black hair. He looked extremely tired, and I got the impression that this was just another call that he didn't want to make.
"Does Karl Finnigan live here?" I nodded. "I'm afraid I've got some bad news." Now there's a surprise. Finn's always in trouble.
"Okay, you'd better come in," I sighed, standing back to let him in. I wonder what Finn's got himself into this time?

Finn was the drummer of our band, Jaded Horses. He was always getting himself into trouble. In fact, I don't think we've gone for longer than a week, even when we were on tour, without a phone call or a policeman coming round to inform us that Finn was in custody. The last time, it was because he had decided to strip, climb onto the roof of a local church, burn a huge wooden cross and declare that all religion was a load of bollocks.

Tim, our bass player, came into the room and grinned at the sight of the policeman.
"Let me guess, it's about Finn, right?" I nodded, rolling my eyes. Tim folded his arms and nodded understandingly. "Right, what's the dozy bugger gone and got himself into this time?"

"I'm sorry, but your friend Karl Finnigan was gunned down earlier today. From the evidence of a witness, it appeared that he was being tailed by a group of people. The witness said she saw him dart down an alleyway. The gang followed, and moments later there was the sound of a gunshot."

I couldn't speak. I couldn't think. This was not what I had been expecting at all. It didn't make sense to me. Why would anyone want to shoot Finn? Okay, he was a dumb bastard and seemed to possess the unnerving talent of annoying a lot of people, but no-one actually hated him, did they? I just stared at the floor. I heard a thud behind me as Tim sat down heavily on the sofa.
"Is he..."
"He's still alive, but he's in an extremely critical condition." Silence followed these words. For once, even I was at a loss for something to say.

"Fuck!" Tim swore loudly and aimed a kick at the coffee table.
"I'm sorry," said the policeman again. Tim rounded on him. He had quite a temper on him, especially when he was upset.
"Like fuck you are!" he spat. "You're a policeman. You see this sort of shit every fucking day! What do you know what it's fucking like, eh? You stand there in your smart uniform, you don't even know him and you say you're fucking sorry?" Tim crumpled into a heap on the sofa, sobbing.
"Sorry about him, he's a bit upset," I found myself saying to the policeman.
"It's okay, I'm used to it." The policeman gave a weak smile.
"Exactly! You're fucking used to it!" yelled Tim.
"Shut up, Tim. Could you take us to the hospital?"

*

Four hours later, Tim and I were still sat in the hospital waiting area, waiting for news of Finn. We'd been through the lot - tears, tantrums, threats, swearing at the tops of our voices, and now we were settling for silent, numb disbelief. Tim was staring out of the window at nothing in particular, and I was absent-mindedly shredding a magazine into little pieces.

"Why, Billie?" Tim asked after a while. "Why would anyone want to shoot him?" I shrugged. I'd been thinking the exact same thing, and I was still as confused as I was four hours ago. Possible reasons whirled through my head. Maybe they were anti-gay? Finn was openly, even boastfully, gay, and every time anyone made a derogatory comment about his sexuality he would smile, wink and make the heckler look stupid. Or maybe they were people seeking some sort of revenge after the church incident? Maybe it was someone who was jealous, as Jaded Horses were now starting to become a bit more successful? Or maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Tim jumped up as a nurse approached, but she went to speak to the couple behind us. He waited impatiently until she'd finished, and asked again if she had any news of Finn.
"I've told you before, I will tell you when I hear anything," said the nurse, failing to mask her annoyance. Tim slumped back down onto his seat and resumed staring out of the window. I continued shredding my magazine, my mind drifting back to the day when the crazy little Irish boy had walked into my life.