Once we were outside the church again and all was securely locked, Dubin muttered something to Feany who walked off southwest down Market, away from the car.
I turned toward Dubin, eyebrows raised. Which, of course, he couldn’t see in the pitch black dark, but he must have heard them creaking, or maybe he just knew I was puzzled.
“Feany will take other transportation and retrieve my plane. If you would be so kind as to drive, I’ll nap until we arrive at my vacation home.”
“Which is?” There was an infinitesimal pause.
“I’ll direct you out of the city, you’ll follow the coast for a certain distance, and then you’ll wake me.”
We walked in silence the last block. I opened the rear door behind the driver, since he seemed to expect it. I closed it with the same exaggerated gentleness as Feany had, and let myself in behind the wheel.
We crossed the water and headed out Taylor’s Hill, which becomes Kingston, and then the Barna Road.
His voice from the dashboard in front of me startled me. “Continue for precisely 14 miles, and then press the button next to this speaker. I’ll provide exact directions at that time.”
“This button?” I’d fumbled in the dark and found where the voice seemed to come from, and there was definitely a button there.
“Yes, that button. Pray do not amuse yourself further playing with the toys and let me rest.”
I left the toys alone, and drove.
Had there been a moon I knew I could have seen the Aran Isles ahead to the left. Fourteen miles would put us about as near as you could get to Killeany out on Inis Mór without a boat or plane. I hoped fervently that we weren’t going out there. It was gonna be tough enough to get out of this without adding islands to it.
Once he’d dismissed Feany, I seriously considered other options. Dubin was no match for me physically, despite my sedentary lifestyle, but who knew what kind of armaments he carried. Besides, once Siobhan had set things in motion, I’d mentally committed to seeing it through, and I couldn’t change my plans without discussing it with her first.
No, we’d jumped, and I was either going to weave my own parachute or hit the ground trying.
The stretch of road seemed familiar, I realized with a jolt. I found myself slowing for sharp turns before they came into the headlights. This is a good sign, I thought. I wasn’t sure if I should let it be, or try to force it a little.
I knew we were going somewhere there was a place Feany could land the plane, otherwise there wasn’t much point bringing it the short distance from Galway. Funny that we’d landed in Galway instead of wherever we were going, and just driving the half hour back, but I wasn’t inside Dubin’s head enough to guess the reason. And, maybe there wasn’t one; I tend to forget that sometimes people do what they do just because it’s what they do, and Dubin, despite his bigger-than-life reputation, was still people.
What would be out here that would make it somewhere I’d been often enough to make the road from Galway familiar? The Arans? No, I hadn’t really mined the linguistics there; planning a whole book on them and I hadn’t wanted to start something I’d get sucked into.
Memories like that were bubbling up to the surface now and again without the same smack in the mind they’d had at first. I wasn’t sure yet if it was comforting or disturbing; kinda like putting on a new pair of jeans and not being sure if they were really too tight, or just needed stretching.
No, I hadn’t been coming out here for research. Vacation? No, my vacations were always, always directly related to my research. Steeping myself in an environment like tea in a pot; that was my method.
Huh. Connemara was world famous for its beauty, for its overall Celticness. But I couldn’t come up with any good reason I knew this road, at least not before the 14 miles ticked up on the odometer.
I pressed the button ever so briefly. Dubin’s voice came back almost immediately. “In a moment there will be a signpost for the airport. One minute later will be a turning to the left. Take that.”
In three minutes we were sliding slowly down a fairly inadequate track. Dubin didn’t offer any further guidance, and I didn’t ask. I figured it out pretty quickly, though. After half a mile, we came to ocean, and the road turned left, through an enormous gate which stood open. The house was so huge that even in the black it blotted out enough stars to be visible.
We pulled up to a sort of carport, a graveled area with room for two more cars, if we’d had two more cars.
I got out and stepped back to Dubin’s door.
“Your driving leaves much to be desired, Dr. Martin. One cannot properly chauffeur while thinking of other things. One can drive, certainly, but not chauffeur.”
“Apologies. Should I drive for you again I’ll concentrate.”
By now he was out, leading me toward the house. “If our association is successful, you may indeed be driving for me again. Despite your substandard driving you know how to maintain an intelligent silence, which, despite what you may have seen, my other drivers fail at miserably.”
I tried to picture Feany gabbling on about football or the weather. I couldn’t. Maybe you had to know him better. I didn’t want to. Sorry.
Dubin unlocked the door and we walked into a thoroughly modern interior which looked infinitely more like a summer rental than a permanent home. No pictures of family, nothing personal; just that hotel-decoration feeling to everything; enough personality to be quaint, but not enough that you risk offending anyone with taste.
Great. It’s not even his real home. One more reason they’ll never find me.