We rolled into Nashville a bit before suppertime and got a couple of rooms at a Fairfield on the outskirts of town. I didn’t know how long we were going to be on this little adventure and wanted to stretch our cash as long as we could, so I decided to forego the Jacuzzi room, no matter how good a soak sounded after a day in a car with Michael and Myra. Myra was a good co-pilot, but driving all day was driving all day, no matter how much you liked the navigator. Eve and Emily had ridden together, Eve giving me some line about wanting to get to know the kid better, but I figured she just didn’t want me to suggest that Michael ride shotgun with her in her beat up pickup, and I was pretty sure that the suspension in that thing didn’t do anyone any favors after the first five hours on the road. Cain looked fresh as a daisy after a day on his motorcycle, and I was more than a little jealous. I’ve always loved bikes, the feeling of power and control is like nothing else in the world, and there’s really nothing wrong with a couple of gnats in your teeth. I’ve always considered it a fair exchange.
“Alright, kiddies. We’ve got three rooms, so I figured Myra and I would share one…” I started, but Eve was smirking at me so I pulled up short. “What?”
“Nothing, dear. Go right ahead with your little bunk assignments.” Eve replied.
I went on. “Um…there are two beds in each room, so I thought Eve and Emily would share one room and Michael and Cain could share the other one. Is that okay with everyone?” Hearing no objections, I went on. “Why don’t we take an hour or so to freshen up, grab a nap if you want one, and we can all meet back here for dinner, then we can figure out where to start looking for whoever it is we’re supposed to find. That work?” I passed keys out to everyone and grabbed my bag from the back of Eve’s truck. She was still smirking at me as I passed her on my way to the elevator.
“What are you grinning about?” I asked.
“Nothing. I just think it’s cute.” She said.
“You’re being so, what’s the word, solicitous of Myra. I mean, really, Adam. You left her more than two decades ago and haven’t spared a moment’s thought for her until a couple of days ago when you were steered back into her life by our friendly meddling archangel, and now all of a sudden you’re playing Daddy of the Year to little Emily, who I assure you is more than capable of taking care of herself, and you’re being all Ward Cleaver to Myra, who might even be buying it, which is quite possibly saddest thing I’ve seen since you fell head over heels for that redhead in Ireland. You remember her? What was her name?”
“Sorcha.” I replied quietly. I remembered her well. Almost stereotypically Irish, with brilliant green eyes, milk-white skin and curly red hair. The name means “bright, radiant, light” and I used to joke with her that she got particularly radiant when she was angry, which with me around happened more often than she deserved.
I met her when I was passing through Ireland studying the myth of Cuchulain. I’d heard them once long ago, and when Sechan Torpeist brought them back in the 7th Century, I decided to wander through Ireland following the trail of Ulster’s Hound. I’d been hanging around Mecca for a while listening to the (at that time) new teachings of Mohammed, but headed West when it became apparent that one more time a young prophet was going to talk a lot about love and peace, and one more time the powers that be were going to start killing people to protect he status quo.
I’d seen all that before with the Carpenter, and I kinda liked Mohammed, so I headed to Europe before the people around him could muddy up everything he was trying to teach. I’ve always wondered if I stuck around if I could have avoided some of the stupidity they put into his version of The Book about women. I know if Eve had been around that crap would never have seen print. But anyway, I headed west, and stopped in Ireland to wander around and look for Hound tracks.
I do that every now and then, meander a countryside to look for evidence of legends. It’s pretty entertaining to see where the tallest of tales grows from, and you get to see some pretty country that way. Well, I was meandering around the part of Ireland where Cuchulain was supposed to have killed Cullen’s watchdog and taken its place, when I came upon a little farmhouse. It was late, I was hungry, and there was a pot on the fire. The Irish have always been a hospitable people, and when I knocked on the door and showed that I had a little booze with me, I was welcomed to hearth and home.
Her father, Finlay if I recall, was a fisherman in County Donegal, and he had a couple of big mackerel over a fire when I first arrived. He and I sat up most of the night drinking and telling lies, as fisherman and travelling men are wont to do, and by the time the sun came up, we were fast friends. Truth be told, I didn’t even notice Sorcha that first night, but I later found out that she noticed me. That’s not some great comment on my virility or spectacular attractiveness, although I am plenty virile and more attractive than most. It’s more a comment on exactly how few men of apparently similar age had ventured near the coast of County Donegal since she had developed an eye for young men.
The next morning Finlay and I went out on his boat, my first efforts at fishing since most people stopped doing it by standing in the shallows and casting nets. I’d been pretty good at surf fishing, and was relatively handy with a spear in a stream, but this whole business of rods was foreign to me. There were no reels involved, thank Father, or I’m sure I would have ended up more frequently punctured than I did, but I still managed to provide Finlay with a good day’s worth of amusement. At least he knew what he was doing, and I could row well enough, so the day wasn’t a complete waste. It was when we walking back up the path to their house that I first got a good look at Sorcha. She was chopping wood for the dinner fire, and the sun was setting behind her making it look like her hair was a fiery halo. I’ll admit it; I was downright twitterpated. I might even have left the fish lying along the path if Finlay hadn’t noticed my plight and helped me back into motion with a kick in the ass.
“Put ‘em back in yer head, laddie, that’s me Sorcha you’re gapin’ at.”
“Me daughter. And I’ll thank you to be scrubbin’ yer thoughts clean as snow before ye direct ‘em her way again.” I looked over at him, but the old man was grinning at me.
“Sorry.” I said, not meaning a letter of the word.
“Liar,” he laughed as we continued on our way up to the house.