“I apologize that I can’t provide appropriate sleepwear, nor indeed anything for the morrow, but at the top of the stairs you’ll find a room where you can make yourself comfortable if you like. The larder is also well-stocked, if you have need of anything. I personally do not eat this late in the day, but your digestion may be better than mine.”
I risked the appearance of subordination. “No conversation?”
He stopped with his back to me; my paranoia made me think he’d stiffened slightly. “Sufficient for each day is its own evil, Dr. Martin.” Marvelous—Irish mafioso quoting scripture to me.
Dubin disappeared down a hallway that seemed to go on for a mile, but probably wasn’t really more than half that.
My digestion was certainly better than his, or at least more active. I headed across the entryway to the door he’d pointed out as the kitchen.
The fridge was certainly full; so were the cupboards. I didn’t want to make too much noise so I didn’t cook, but I made one monster of a sandwich out of some ham that still makes my mouth water to think of it, and bread that was softer than most Irish brown bread, and wasn’t sliced so thick it wouldn’t fit the toaster like I’ve seen it some places.
The door we’d come through opened, and closed. Feany’s head glanced into the kitchen, where I stood, frozen, at the counter. He barely glanced at me, saw what I was doing, and disappeared. His footsteps went down the hallway, rather than up the stairs.
I shook myself like a wet dog. If he wasn’t worried about me, I wasn’t gonna worry about him. No, really.
I took my leaning tower of goodness and two bottles from a sixer of Harp up to the room he’d indicated. It was small, but well-arranged: dresser on a wall too short to walk up close to anyway, bathroom; er, toilet, next to the closet, so the two wasted the same wall instead of each wasting one of their own, and a wall of books opposite.
And above the bed, an enormous window, overlooking, I assumed in the dark, Galway Bay and the Arans.
There was a small breakfast-in-bed tray under the lone night stand. I put my goodies on that, closed the door, and undressed to shower.
For some reason, standing naked in a tiny little space full of steam makes me introspective; as if, without much in the way of external stimuli, my mind felt compelled to seek out internal ones.
Although I’d remembered bits and pieces from my childhood, and entire people, such as Rob, and even the endless minutiae of my academic achievements, my life, my self, hadn’t returned. I honestly couldn’t say if I was really the same person I’d been the first 40 years of my life.
Funny thing is, I was finding that I kinda liked it that way.
I had a hard time imagining that a bookworm who inherited, rather than earned, his money, and had never married, wasn’t even in a serious relationship—well, it just added up to a crashing bore, in my head.
But I didn’t feel like that personality suited me. Sure, I realize I think more of me than others might, but I thought I’d been handling things pretty well, all things considered. Certainly not in the manner of a bookish self-important dweeb, which is the only picture I could come up with out of the circumstances I could remember from my life. Not, mind you, that I could remember actually being a bookish self-important dweeb; it just fit the facts I had at hand, is all.
I thought about my last shower; no, the one before that; the one where Siobhan was sitting outside the bathroom wearing only a hotel bathrobe, waiting to have lunch with me. I thought about her hand in mine as we walked down the dark road in Chapeltown toward the Ring Lyne, toward Dubin, toward what I was in now.
What would life be like with someone who was, essentially, a member of the secret police? Could I deal with that? I didn’t have any life experience to allow me to answer that question, beyond a handful of days where I didn’t even know who I was, let alone what kind of life I could accept with a partner sharing it.
I knew, though, that I had to go through with this, not just because it was the only way I was going to see Siobhan again, but the only way I’d be able to look her in the eye when I did see her.
I wondered if my occasionally nomadic lifestyle led to my being more comfortable in bed wearing what I’d worn for my shower, or if it was just a happy coincidence. It popped into my head that Rob, when we’d shared a hotel room, wore fairly nice silk jammies, and had been uncomfortable with my sleep attire. I’d always made sure I had a robe when we traveled together, to avoid offending his delicate sensibilities. He admitted he wore the silks (or others like them) every night, whether he was in a hotel with me or home alone. Made me glad I didn’t care.
There was no television or radio, not that I’d expected Dubin to allow even one-way contact with the outside world. I just have a bad habit of doing something, anything, while I’m eating in bed, another bad habit.
I slipped out the other side of the bed, where the books were. Looked like a really generic conglomeration of things the casual visitor to Ireland might find interesting: books about Ireland, the latest Dick Francis, a couple romances, stuff like that. I grabbed a couple of the travel books that looked like they might have info about the Inverin area where we were staying.
One was in Gaelige; Tim Stampton’s “Ogham: An Irish Alphabet”, which looked fun, even if I already knew what it said. I flipped it open to all the dry info in the front of books no one but other authors ever reads. Published by Cló Iar-Chonnachta. The name Lochlainn Ó Tuairisg popped into my head; I felt like a face should be attached to it, as if Lochlainn was someone I’d met. And, there it was at the bottom of the page, big as life:
Co. na Gaillimhe
Or, in English, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Inverin, Conamara, County Galway. Which was exactly where I was now.