Somewhere along the line I’d decided to trust her. I wasn’t totally sold on the reporter angle; maybe I’d watched too much American television, but that seemed like the easiest way to ask a lot of probing questions without raising suspicions.
Whatever; I suddenly wasn’t in a hurry to escape, at least not from her. Yeah, I know: stifle it.
I told her everything—almost. I described events; the kidnapping, meeting O’Quinn, my beating, the long sleep, the short trip with the cousins and my escape, lake boating and more escaping. I left out pilfering money from unsuspecting tourists, and most especially I left out my lack of memory. Maybe I wasn’t ready to trust her completely; maybe it was just a little humiliating. Doesn’t make sense, looking back, but I’ve heard men can be funny around attractive women.
“Does it really make sense to you that O’Quinn would go to all that effort just to get your not-very-good opinion about some artifacts you don’t even specialize in?”
“Hey, I didn’t say my opinion was no good; just that I specialize more in the linguistic aspects of the history. And as far as it making sense, I’m not sure. He seemed nuts, frankly, but he was dead on about some information being hard to come by. I’ve been on waiting lists for years sometimes to get access to certain documents; the older they are, the more complete they are, the longer the line to see ’em. And even if you’re an expert in the field, you sit with a hawk-eyed librarian or docent making sure you don’t actually touch the documents or scribble notes in the margins or tear out pages to sell on the internet.”
“But why you? Why not someone who knows this stuff better?”
“Maybe I have better access to the documents; I don’t know. Without my memor-” Darn. Darn darn darn. Darn a lot.
“Without your what? Memory? Is that what you said, memory? Saints, have you lost your memory?”
“I didn’t say that. I was going to say, memorabilia. I mean, um. Nothing. I wasn’t saying anything. I don’t know. I’ll shut up now.”
She stared as if I had three eyes. I may have had three eyes but I sure had no brain. I really needed a vacation. One where you sleep in a lot, eat nice big meals, and stay in out of the weather. Maybe a week in a spa in Sedona, with extensive psychiatric care.
“You don’t know what’s going on, do you? They hit you so hard you’ve lost your memory—no, you’ve told me stuff before that. When did you lose it? How? What’s the first thing you remember?”
I wrestled. So far, I was trusting all the wrong people, and none of the right ones. I’d gone almost willingly with Niall and Fearghal, and never said a word to the two harmless chaps in the alley behind my house. Ignored chances to go to the police or a doctor, and ended up boating across McGillicuddy’s Reeks being chased by two thugs who may or may not have wanted to hurt me. And now people were dead. Or person.
I just couldn’t see how telling her could hurt. I described the basement, the shoes, my not-remembered escape from the cousins, the bits that had come back to me. I covered it all in as much detail as I could, as we headed north into Limerick.
“So, you don’t even know your name, other than Dr. Something-or-other Martin?”
She knew my name. I didn’t. Strange.
“Nope. It’s been troubling me a little, during the two minutes I’ve had to think about it.”
“Noah. Your name is Noah.”
“Hey, it’s your name; why would I joke? What’s the matter, don’t you like it?”
“Um, well, it’s hard to say, but on first hearing it sounds, I dunno; not like me.”
“Well, that’s who you are: Dr. Noah Webster Martin, noted Celtic historian. Makes you sound like a dictionary of boot sellers.”
“Noah Webster? Are my parents still alive? I’d love to discuss that with ’em.”
“Maybe you go by Webster?” She knew as soon as she’d said it that didn’t make sense. If Noah was bad, Webster was worse.
Here my life was completely upside down, I was driving through the most beautiful place on earth with a woman who was becoming more attractive the longer I looked at her, and I had to have a dumb name like that. I mean, sorry, anybody named Noah, but it doesn’t work for me.
I needed a distraction; someplace to stop and regroup mentally.
“Could we please stop and eat something? I’ve been running and moving and being chased, and I’m tired. Unless you have some reason to think someone dangerous has followed us all the way from Killarney or farther, I’m stopping.”
She was lost in thought and just nodded vaguely.
The highway had turned into Roxborough Road, then into Ennis Road. Ennis was the road to Galway. I hadn’t said anything about wanting to go to Galway, and I held back, reconsidering my level of trust in Siobhan.
As we made the middle of town, I circled the long thin blocks on tiny one-way streets until I found a place to park. Straight across the street was a hole-in-the-wall called “Katie’s Food for Thought” which looked clean enough and obscure enough at the same time.
Katie, if that was her name, had two tiny tables and an almost overly warm manner. “Dinner, then, or just tea?” “Dinner; whatever you’d have yourself, if that’s okay.”
She smiled. “Tuna, then, on white toast. Tomato?” I nodded, Siobhan shook her head.
“And you’ll have tea, of course.”
We sat to wait for the sandwiches. Katie was never more than two feet away, so meaningful conversation was sort of difficult. Since we had nothing else to talk about, we essentially sat looking out the window until Katie brought our lunch, as I would have called it back home. We ate in more silence. Katie puttered in the kitchen, another room full of boxes, and a room around the corner we couldn’t see into.
I’d thought stopping would be restful, but I was anxious to get wherever we were going, or to at least find out how Siobhan thought she could help me.
She was watching me. “Yeah, let’s go.” We paid Katie, who wrapped our leftovers for the road and crossed the street to the van.
“Which way? You still haven’t told me where we’re going.”
She stared straight ahead; considering something. I could almost see her weighing two options; eyes flicking away from me, then toward me.
“Galway City. Continue up the Ennis road, and when we hit Ennis town, head north.”
Galway. Maybe it was coincidence that I’d had a burning urge to go to Galway when I thought I was in danger, and now Siobhan was taking me there, supposedly to safety.
Like I said, maybe it was coincidence. Like how your thumb hurts just after you swing the hammer.