They decided to leave the pub early enough, it was only going on 10 o’clock. Fiona had started feeling a little restless. She had assured Junior that it wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy his company, in fact she really enjoyed talking to him and showed a keen interest in the mystery of the woman who she suspected was going to discover a great deal of sadness should she succeed in starting to remember her past. She had touched his elbow and her eyes had glossed over with a wet sheen when she had empathized with the as yet unknown story of the poor woman’s life. No, it was the dog she had started worrying about. He might be afraid, being left alone in her small cottage and she hadn’t thought of leaving a light on somewhere and maybe she should have left the radio on at low volume to make him feel more secure. She had no doubts that his story was a sad one also, although at least even though he had been abandoned he had been left in a place of relative safety, where his chances of being found and taken in by someone who cared about his wellbeing were pretty good and he had been given a tin of food. The circumstances in which the poor woman had been found and the subsequent loss of her memory and the failed attempts at rousing someone somewhere who knew her, cared about her, made her feel very sad.
“She must be a good person to have done that, to have bought him a tin of food. I wish we could help her.”
They were standing in the small parking lot outside the An Fidleir Dubh, reluctant to part ways. Junior asked Fiona where she lived and found that the cottage she was renting on the edge of the village was on his way home. He suggested to drive behind her on her way home and maybe he could come in for a few minutes and meet the dog.
“I’d like that,” she said, “and maybe you could help me decide on what to call him. I think I’ll keep him, and I can’t keep calling him poor dog. That’s not going to help his development. He seems a very young dog still, and he’s a bit timid right now, the poor thing.”
There was barely any traffic on the road once they had left the city behind them. Fiona led the way in her Mini. It was a clear night, the moon still an almost perfectly round ball in the sky. They drove past fields, and the loosely strewn about farmhouses, set back from the road a good bit, long driveways leading to them. One or two large rectangles of light allowing glimpses inside. People here in the country didn’t use blinds or curtains much and what struck him was that apart from that the most common denominator between these dwellings was the large wall-mounted flat screen television. The old Romans had large murals and mosaics, we have super-sized TVs. He wondered whether Fiona’s home had one of these immense things also. Somehow he couldn’t picture it. She seemed to be into social media and he had caught her checking her Facebook feed whenever he returned having been away from their table to go to the bar or to the toilet. At one point she had become a bit flustered about it and explained that she was trying to keep her mother from fussing and ringing her way too often. She’d instigated the use of Facebook, but now, whenever she didn’t show enough presence there and didn’t like pictures and random statuses her mother was posting quickly enough, her mother would worry that something might be amiss and would call to make sure she was OK. Comes with being an only child she had shrugged.
They were on the main road through the village now, getting closer to the end of the village where Fiona’s cottage and the still to be christened dog were to be encountered. The footpath had just ended, no one had been out and about, no sign of life anywhere except a tabby cat which had crossed the road at leisurely pace and forced them to slow down. Just as Fiona indicated right to signal that she was about to park her car on the side of the road next to a small cottage the bright headlights of a tractor emerged from behind the bend in the road and drew closer. Junior was blinded by the headlights and squinted his eyes to try and see who was driving the farm vehicle into the quiet and sleepy village at this late hour. All he could make out was a dark shape of a man who seemed to be keeping his gaze fixed on Fiona’s Mini while driving past at slow speed.
Junior parked his bike behind Fiona and walked toward the driver’s door to open it for her. She held on to his arm while she got out of the car and he could feel her hand trembling. The tractor had slowed to a stop a short distance away from them.
“Let’s go inside, Junior, quick, please. The old guy gives me the creeps. What is he doing here and why has he stopped? Can you see if he is watching us? I’m afraid to look.”
© Ash N. Finn, 2016