It was dark by the time we arrived. I parked the Mini in the same car park Siobhan had left the van. I did not, however, head for The Quay. Instead, I tried my best to go on autopilot, walking without thinking. In not too many minutes, we were across the street from Tigh Coili.
“Well?” He could tell I was nervous. I didn’t really know Rob would be there. Anyone could have been there instead. Maybe some anyones I didn’t want to run into.
“Web? Web! I was really beginning to wonder!”
I whipped around just in time for Rob to grab me in a bear hug. “I flew over as soon as James called and said you’d left your wallet behind at Riley’s.”
“Flew here? Why?”
At some point, I guess everyone gets a chance to look at me like I’ve got three eyes.
“What’re you talking about? You’re planning a trip to Ireland, I’m supposed to come along, you’re not at your playhouse when I come to pick you up, so I assume you’ve bugged out again like last time. Remember any of that?”
“He doesn’t” Wheeler contributed. “The first thing he remembers, other than a few bits and pieces including your friendship, is the morning he missed you. Mossie Wheeler, latest victim of Dr. Martin’s adventures.” They shook hands.
“While we’re introducing ourselves, what were you yelling as you walked up?”
“Your name. Right?” He grabbed my arm and pulled me across the street toward the pub. “Dr. Noah Webster Martin, who can’t stand his two first names so everyone who wants to stay friends with him calls him ‘Web.’ Right?” He managed to look amused and concerned at the same time.
“Well, that’s one little mystery solved. I just knew I couldn’t really be a guy called ‘Noah.'”
The publican greeted me by name (well, nickname) as if he knew me. Rob held up three fingers as we walked by, and he (the publican) nodded slightly. We made our way to the darkness in the back, around a half-wall in a sort of cubbyhole.
“So, who goes first?”
I thought a moment. “Why don’t you fill me in on what you’ve been doing first. Who knows; it may trigger some memory.”
“You really don’t remember anything?”
“Well, information itself seems to be intact. I remember my research, for instance. I could tell you right now what the name of this pub means, the correct pronunciation of ‘Galway’ and its origins as a name, why the ‘c’ in ‘Celts’ is pronounced like a ‘k’, that sort of thing. I remember that you’re my closest friend, that I’m not married (right?)” with a quick glance up from the table I’d been staring at. Rob grinned. “Not even seriously attached. Not enough redheads in the States for you; you’re always talking about settling down here with a copper-haired beauty. Nope; not married.”
Mossie grinned at me. I studiously ignored him.
“Don’t tell me he’s already found one?”
“Oh, I’ll let him tell his story. You’ve known him longer; I’ll let you decide.”
They were ganging up on me. Nothing’s ever fair.
Our pints arrived, great big Imperial pints of Guinness. “Same in a few, then, gents?”
Rob gave him a thumbs up, and started his story.