The packed audience in the Guthrie Theatre was no surprise to the detective pulling his muscled body past bent knees to his center seat. Arne Sorensen relaxed into a comfortable, low-rider position and prepared to bathe in another critically-acclaimed classical performance by the world-famous Kathleen Anne Dunn. Though he had met the virtuoso when they were freshly-hatched teenagers, Arne had no thought, no delusions of attention or recognition from the only woman on the planet from whom he craved both. Besides, Arne was only 15 years old when he last had the luxury her company and that was 23 years ago when they had plucked blueberries together one hot summer day under a cloudless Minnesota sky.
Cellist Kathleen Anne Dunn prepped backstage for her solo concert without a thread of angst in spite of a sold out crowd. Kathy didn't meditate or take beta-blockers before her stage performances. She simply pulled forward two nearly lifelong sustaining thoughts. One was her cello. It was absolutely her most beloved companion. They would always have time for each other, could always talk. Dreams and plans were always shared. Nothing was held back. The other thought was a only memory. Of a smiling boy named Arne. Of blueberries. Of a terrifying escape to freedom on a hot summer day.
When the Minneapolis Police Department awarded Arne Sorensen his detective's badge, he hooked it to his belt and went back to his investigation. Not one to savor his own accomplishments, Detective Sorensen pursued the Twin Cities' worst offenders. Husbands who brutalize their wives, parents who pimp their children, fathers who abuse their daughters. Arne came from a family of floor and carpet retailers and never, not once in his law enforcement career, had he fooled himself into thinking his choice in the Special Victims Unit had anything to do but what happened on that day when the blueberries were ripe for the picking.
The first time Arne saw Kathy Dunn was under her Twins cap and flicking a blueberry into her mouth. The single look at her face was shattering to his boyhood, an existential realization of his teen age. As they worked in the blueberry field throughout that summer, Arne remembered how they could talk without words and feel without touch. The teenagers grew as close and thick as the fruit-heavy bushes that surrounded them and scented them with their sweetness.
Arne was game the day Kathy came up with the idea to pool their earnings, though he was a little confused as to why she was out working in the fields in the first place. He knew who Kathy Dunn of Dunn&Dunn Pharmaceuticals fame was, but the why eluded him. Until she told him. And then, his youthful anger and indignance ran so deep within him, the need for revenge was so crushing that Arne made a ultimately devasting move to himself and his family. But it was one he would never regret. Arne told his parents.
The curtains at the Guthrie Theatre lifted to the applause that Kathy Dunn recognized as home. Not home in the family sense, but home to childhood memories of snowy romps in dog parks with strangers' pets, secret day-long bus rides with her reluctant and exasperated tutors, cello practice in the champion horse stables at night. Home to anything that kept her away from the familial torment in the Dunn mansion. Posture perfect, Kathy Dunn took the stage with her instrument, sat down, placed her bow on the strings and drew a landscape of harmonic pleasure and joy for her audience.
Arne Sorensen was unabashed when he felt the drops on his cheeks. His eyes were closed and he was lost, but the part of his detective's brain that was always on alert told him he wasn't alone in his tears. Kathy was as magnificent on her cello as she was two decades ago with her strength in revealing to him what her father had been doing to her since she was nine. After so many years on the job and after so many never-ending cases of depravity, Detective Sorensen knew that Kathy's strength was what saved her in the end.
"Arne, let's put all our money together and just go." Kathy showed up late to the blueberry fields that morning in a shiny, long limousine; her bike nowhere in sight. She had been found out and forbidden to continue with this "stupid idea to fraternize with the peons and trash who perform such debasing work." Kathy was sputtering and crying about how it hurts so much, and Arne was crying, telling her that it was just words and how her father can diss him to high hell and it doesn't matter. It's just words, Kathy. It's just words. And at that moment, she looked him in the soul and said, "No it's not."
Kathy told Arne about how she had begged the chauffeur to bring her to the blueberry fields on the promise she would come back home in the limo later in the day. "I would rather die," she whimpered. Arne was alarmed. Kathy was never dramatic and had never even so much as held his hand, yet here she was trembling and clinging to his neck. He had no experience in such things and he was scared. So with the impatience and demanding nature of a teenager, Arne tearfully blurted out, "Just tell me!" And she did.
Detective Sorensen was straining to hold the final note of Kathy's Concierto in D Major in his mind. It might even carry him through to the next time she performed in town when his parents could join him. Arne's parents were Kathy's heroes. In just two days, they risked and lost everything to save her. When they took her in, they faced trumped-up kidnapping charges. The next day, when she vanished to the Sorensen's foreman's cousin's mother-in-law's home in New York City, they were charged with trafficking. By the time Kathy was 18 years old and the Sorensens were cleared on all charges, they had lost their home, their business and their savings to the immensely wealthy founder of Dunn&Dunn Pharmaceuticals.
It wasn't until Kathy's name started circulating among the musically appreciative elitist circles that she agreed to appear professionally as Kathleen Anne Dunn. Kathy had always despised the full name of her cruel grandmother who seemed to delight in her son's deviance for no other reason than to indulge him. In exchange for her agreement, Kathy's father repaid every dollar, doubled, back to the Sorensen family.
It was her best performance, Kathy realized with surprise as she stared at the back of the theatre's stage curtains. Something had happened. She had walked back on stage after the first encore and felt something. Something good. When the curtain rose for the second encore, she thought age saw someone. Someone good and decent. After the theatre had cleared, her cello was packed and her dressing room's lights were off, she walked back onto the stage to capture if she could a meaning of what she had felt and seen.
And there he was, still sitting in an empty theatre. A boy. No, a man. Smiling at her, and standing in a field of blueberries on a cloudless day.