The last half-dozen miles from Oranmore to the center of Galway City went either much too slowly or much too fast. The traffic was thick, the closer you got to the center, so sometimes we were crawling. A light rain had started; it seemed like someone’s work shift had just ended. By the time we rounded the traffic circle off the N6 we were in a snarl of traffic that seemed sure to delay us half an hour at least. Except, I didn’t know where we were going, or if I wanted to go there. I didn’t know where I would have gone had I come here alone—or, in fact, if I really wanted to go there, either. I wasn’t making much progress in sorting out who Dr. Noah Webster Martin was, or why he was driving to Galway with a gorgeous redheaded Irish girl.
Which was why we were going much too fast despite the traffic. I was afraid I was going to find out I couldn’t trust Siobhan. I was afraid I’d find it out too late, not that finding out sooner would make it much better. I was afraid I was spending my last few happy moments watching her focused on the traffic, biting her lower lip and obviously pondering something ponderous under her copper curls.
I needed sleep. I mean, not just because I was tired; but it seemed to be the time memory bits surfaced. I’d been driving most of the way from the south up to Galway, and even when Siobhan took over I’d wanted to stay awake so I could, well, you know, watch her. A lot.
She didn’t comment on it anymore; just gave me sideways glances like the cute senior in math who wishes you’d stop looking at her but doesn’t do much about it.
I’d spent a lot of time wondering whether this might constitute unfaithfulness (emotionally, at least) to someone I already had a relationship with. I wasn’t married; I knew that. At least, I hoped I did. Some things seemed so fundamentally true I wasn’t sure how I could question them. But there might have been someone I was forgetting. Besides myself, I mean. Well, wanting to forget myself, at least. But as Fred Astaire said, “If I’d forgotten myself with her, I’d remember!”
No, didn’t seem like there was someone pining away for me back home.
Home. If I really did have money, why buy a small house in a decidedly average LA neighborhood? I couldn’t remember anyplace else as ‘home’, but then, that hadn’t felt like home until one of my nocturnal epiphanies. Was it related to my research? If I was an ‘amateur’ what was I researching, and why? And did anyone really care, including me? I was beginning to wonder. I didn’t seem to be making any proactive moves; spent all my time reacting to everyone else’s actions.
Thing is, I didn’t know what to proact about. Or to. Or with. I was in a foreign country without any real feeling of self, without any valid identification that’d let me leave said foreign country to go somewhere else to get a feeling of self, and barely enough money for supper and a night in a hotel, let alone airfare home.
Okay, maybe good solid re-action is the best I’ve got right now. I realize I spend a lot of time sounding like I’m excusing my wrong-headed choices and occasional appearance of cowardice and/or laziness, but it’s so much easier when you’re sitting in the overstuffed chair with a book in one hand and a glass in the other. When you’re the one wanted for killing someone whose death quite frankly doesn’t bother you much and might do you some good and you’ve had too little food and rest, too far apart, and you’re still in the rapidly grubbifying suit you were kidnapped in (kidnapped! add that to the list), well, it’s not as easy. Unless you’re planning on it for your next reality vacation, take my word for it. It’s not as easy when it’s you.
Siobhan parked the van in a parking structure. “We walk from here.”
“Oh, we’re back to that now?”
“Back to what? Not once have you shared where we were going, or why we had to come all the way to Galway for it. We were just going somewhere quiet to talk, remember? Did you think I was just riding along because I like you?”
“Well, some, sure. You’re a man, and I know how men work. As long as you think there’s a hope, you’re like slobbering puppies dribbling all over a girl’s shoes.”
She was becoming less amusing all the time. But her indignation seemed real enough.
“So tell me I’m wrong. Tell me why you came all the way to Galway, grinning all the way? Faith, you even drove half the trip yourself! Did you think I wouldn’t notice how you reacted to my suggestion we come to Galway? You wanted to come here.”
I didn’t want to share, but I wasn’t completely clear about how I was going to avoid it. “I would have gone anywhere with you at that point. I was tired and lonely and a cute redhead asks me to go to Galway with her. Like you said, we’re Pavlovian drooling puppies. You rang the bell and I drooled. Stop acting like I’m the one who’s acting strangely. Galway was your idea. We’re here. Your call—do we do whatever you dragged me here for or do we split up?”
She’d been glaring suspiciously, but now she looked worried. She didn’t want me going anywhere without her. Or my suspicious-o-meter needed calibrating after the past few days’ adventures.
“Let’s go.” I didn’t know if it was a truce, surrender, or just a new strategy. I didn’t know any way to find out other than to follow her.
I followed her.