Through the Fog (Chapter 33)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

“Let’s see . . . ” ruffling through a sheaf of loose papers, neatly numbered in the upper right corner. “Ah, here we go.”

He scanned each page, blurting out a fragmented summary. Rob kept his questions direct and relevant, as always.

“O’Quinn had him brought to his place in the south, where things, as you Yanks say, went south, themselves. I feel compelled to mention Web had an episode of abnormal unconsciousness; 36 hours where all he remembers is someone giving him sips of water, but not much.”

“Something to keep him out?”

“Not sure why they would, since O’Quinn was in too much of a hurry to wait ’til he regained consciousness, but it seems odd that his lucid moments were of someone giving him something to drink.”

“O’Quinn left, the cousins followed the next day with Web, who pulled his hollow-leg-for-liquor trick again and fled. Briefly, and not very successfully.” He gave me a completely unnecessary smile.

“Arrived on foot in Killarney where he was going to walk into the garda station and take his chances, as he thought then, being an illegal alien without identification. Runs, quite literally, into a specialist working with the sections of An Garda which specialize in subversive and extremist groups, and art and antique theft.”

“She brings him straight to Galway, a few hours’ drive. He rides along blissfully despite the fact that he’s unsure about her character, and all she’s mentioned is she wants a quiet place to talk, as a reporter. Is he just sponging a ride to Galway, or does he have, um, other motivations?” If he keeps grinning at me like that . . .

“Once they’re in Galway, Dubin has managed to track them down. Was he following Siobhan or Web? Was he monitoring police radios? At his level in the criminal world, perhaps he even has, well, ‘assistance’ from within the police force? Hard to say, but he knew where Web was, or at least how to find him.”

“Siobhan does her best to help her charge escape, but doesn’t correctly identify your fellows as friendly. They walk into the Burren, sleep under a dolmen half-way across, and waltz into the Burren Perfumery for breakfast. Yes, dressed like that” to Rob’s raised eyebrows and vague wave at my suit.

“Rode the shuttle back to Carran, I collected them from the roadside and drove them as far as Kilfenora, where I live. They walked to Lisdoonvarna, where Siobhan used her connections to get a hotel room and a cleaning for their clothing.” Rob’s eyebrows shot up again. “Yes, although Web was quite vague about it, it does seem they were sitting in nothing but hotel bathrobes during dinner, lunch you’d call it.”

“It was less risky to have our clothes cleaned than to go to a shop and buy replacements.”

“You decided that?” Rob seemed doubtful.

I didn’t want to admit it, but he had me. “No, Siobhan’s idea.”

“So, she wanted to keep you out of circulation. Or, to be alone with you . . . ” If these two don’t stop that infernal grinning . . .

“Fine. She arranged it so either we were alone or I wasn’t out in public, or both. Why?”

Mossie took that one. “My guess is that the reasons were personal. You didn’t escape from a trained specialist without her absolute trust. And she wouldn’t have trusted you as a person if her interest were purely professional.”

Rob suggested an alternative. “Or, she let you go. Maybe she wanted to follow you. Use you as bait for Dubin? No, she had a shot at Dubin last time you were here. I can think of a handful of ideas, but I think our best course of action is to find her and ask her.”

“Why? Why don’t I just get on an airplane and go home?”

“You could. And then you could look over your shoulder every day until Dubin is caught. If he ever is.”

“Why is it my problem?”

Mossie chipped in. “It’s not. But you’re a natural part of the solution. He wants you; he made that clear. Siobhan may or may not have some personal involvement with you, but she was almost certainly using you as bait. I’m not sure why she wasn’t ready for Dubin when he followed you here to Galway, but it seems the meeting was simply premature, not totally unexpected.”

“Besides,” added Rob, “where’s your spirit of adventure?”

“It’s in an expensive hotel, wearing new clothes it hasn’t slept in for, what, three, four, no; five days. It’s getting a decent night’s rest. That’s where my spirit of adventure is. I’m leaving now to join it.”

As I stood, Mossie and Rob exchanged glances. Rob said, “You’re right; he’s not saying no; he’s just saying ‘not tonight.’ Can’t argue that.”

“I’ve got a room at the Victoria; big enough for all of us. Five minutes’ walk. We can start now, since Web is already up.”

Rob went to the bar to settle up for drinks and dinner.

“I think I like your friend, and I see why you instinctively came here. His thinking is tidy and methodical. You could use that.”

“Yeah, yeah. You try wandering the countryside with a Swiss cheese memory and see how you do.”

“Too right; I keep forgetting” with a chuckle at his childish pun “that you’re working from a rather shaky foundation. Perhaps a good night’s sleep will help.”

Rob said as he rejoined us “Good thought. Hasn’t it seemed like you regain memories of whatever you’re thinking about when you fall asleep?”

We were out the back door, and down the short alley, walking up Shop Street. “Sometimes. It’s not consistent. Nothing is. Sometimes I sleep, have bizarre dreams, and wake up more confused than when I went down. Other times, I drift off without realizing it, and come to with total clarity about what was on my mind when I passed out.”

“D’you think a good knock on the head would help?” I didn’t think Mossie was serious, but the look I gave him probably clarified my stance.

The short walk up to Victoria Place was filled with what Rob and Mossie obviously took for witty repartee about my condition. My repeated suggestions of anatomically inappropriate and unlikely activities seemed to go unheeded. I think the drink had affected them, although I’ve never seen lemon squash make someone as obnoxious as Mossie was getting. Their continual suggestion that I was being overly sensitive was clearly a misguided attempt to pacify me.

We walked up to Rob’s third-floor room; suite, almost. As penance, I demanded one of the beds, and let them fight over who got the remaining bed and who got to sleep in the chair.

I was in my usual sleep attire (the suit I was born in) and out like a light before they’d sorted it out.

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