I looked at what I could see of the glorious old building; the triple nave above us, the square stone columns, arches everywhere. I wanted to take a closer look at the organ; built just before the Great War, it incorporated parts from the original from 1872. I had a quick mental image of being under a pump organ; I was so small that I could only pump one of the pedals; someone else was on the other, and the feet of the players (I use the term loosely) dangled over our heads. I wonder where that was, and if it was even real.
Now that Feany II (or perhaps III) was off the phone, the silence in the building was impressive. I could hear myself breathing. I noticed it was a skosh faster than normal. I decided that was okay. I couldn’t hear FIII breathing. Maybe he didn’t go in for that sort of thing.
I still didn’t have a watch. I decided to allow one actual minute for every five I felt; that way I’d only be wrong by a factor of, say, three or four. After what felt like two hours, but was probably closer to 20 minutes, the cute little back door we’d come through the first night opened. Feany, the original, came through.
Followed by Dubin. Bingo. Professionally, I was most pleased. Personally, I wasn’t looking forward to his company. Partly because I was fairly sure the feeling was mutual.
Feany the First, establishing the pecking order, stepped just past Feany III (where was Feany II from the phone? No matter; plenty of Feanys here.) Dubin continued to his rightful place, right up in my face.
Which he hit. Hard. I wish people would stop that.
It was just an open-handed slap, but, little as he was, it rocked my head like a boxer’s punch. He’d probably been practicing.
“Good evening, Dr. Martin. Or, for me, at least. I’d prefer to know of your inability to follow directions now than to discover it later in the little game I’m playing.
Of course, it will not be a good evening for you, but I’ll find a way to accept that.”
Oh, goody. Just what I was hoping for: personal vengeance from one of the guys who invented it. I wondered, briefly, what Dr. Simon Thursgood thought about it. He made no comment; perhaps he continued his longstanding disinterest in my wellbeing.
Dubin turned and produced the large key, and opened the door to his private stash. Feany III waved his gun at me; Feany the First followed behind him. I guess pecking orders are reversed when you’re following someone; I’ll have to look that up.
Dubin apparently wanted more than to verify that the map was still there; I mean, it was, but he was rolling it up. I wished he’d learn to be as gentle with people (me, for instance) as he was with the map. Feany the First produced a mailing tube (had it been there, or had he really brought it along? Is this really the important thing to be thinking about right now? Could you please pay attention to what’s going on here?)
Map properly intubated, Dubin started toward the door. It was tough in that cramped space, but the Feanys parted like the Red Sea before Moses and let him through. I followed without even waiting for Feany III’s gunwave.
We left by Dubin’s private entrance, and walked in amiable silence to the big shiny black car. The same shiny black car. This raised wonderful possibilities regarding tracking devices already in place. Or not; who knows how long the batteries last in those things. Not me, for one.
Feany the First drove. Feany III opened the door for Dubin, then hauled me around to the other side and shoved me in, getting into the front after I was safely ensconced in the back.
“Unfortunately, Dr. Martin, having another eminent Celtic historian perish from food poisoning wouldn’t do at this point. It is best for me if you simply disappear. I hate to use the jet again so soon; it’s quite expensive. However, it would be the best method for taking you out to sea. I would say I hope you’re a strong swimmer, but I don’t think it will matter. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I prefer to ponder the upcoming events in silence until we arrive at the airport.”
“Galway, or Inverin?”
“Do you not grasp the meaning of ‘silence’, Dr. Martin?”
“Look, if I’m about to fall to my death from an airplane, what difference does it make to me whether you get silence or not? I’m just surprised you’re involving yourself personally, that’s all. Did you kill Thursgood yourself, too, or don’t you have the guts to make it that personal?” Shut up shut up shut UP, Web. There’s a fine line between annoying him into talking and goading him into shooting your elbows by the roadside.
“I have plenty of guts, as you put it, sir. And I involve myself personally only when it’s absolutely imperative to my ends to ensure, absolutely, that tasks are performed exactly as I envision them. In the case of the late, lamented Dr. Simon Thursgood, yes, I did indeed apply the final dose of medication which achieved my ends: to wit, his death.”
Bingo. Again. I really, and I mean really, hoped Max and Siobhan’s buddies had gotten that, because that was all they needed. But I guess Dubin was on a roll, and like many of the Irish, he enjoyed a good story most when he was the one telling it.
“In your case, it is imperative that no trace of you be found; your aimless wanderings of late will lend credence to the belief that you’ve simply wandered off again. I tell you, though, man to man, that I do not take the same pleasure in removing you as I did with Dr. Thursgood. I had hopes for you, young man; I had hopes. I am personally disappointed in your sloppy attempt to steal my map; I’m not sure what good it would have done.”
We’d arrived at the Galway airport while Dubin was talking; Feany was parking in his usual ‘caravan of camels from the east’ method across three spaces; and Dubin’s face was suddenly shocked.
“Feany, remove Dr. Martin from the car and ascertain whether he is carrying any listening devices. Dr. Martin, I have been stupid. I do not like behaving stupidly. You had raised such hopes in me that I failed to maintain an appropriate distance and proper levels of vigilance. It is unfortunate, since now my associates will need to be reassured of my control of the situation. This will require certain discomforts to you. The only comfort I can offer is that, within the hour you will no longer be aware of them, while these gentlemen will most certainly remember them permanently.”
Feany removed me from the car. He looked distressed. I had the impression he wasn’t enjoying this. Feany III, on the other hand, was smiling. Have I mentioned the shark thing? I have? Okay; I’ll give it a rest then.
The two Feanys frog-marched me through the shadows to the darker shadows behind the terminal. Dubin followed.
He was swinging something in his hand; something shiny that reflected a glimmer of some light somewhere each time it made its arc. He probably wasn’t smiling, being concerned about my welfare and all. I know I sure wasn’t.