Through the Fog (Chapter 8)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

“My apologies, Dr. Martin. Please, come in, sit down. I know it’s a warm evening, but I hope you’ll forgive me a small fire; I get cold so easily. Should have retired to France long ago, but, there you have it, I’m Irish as Irish, and can’t leave despite it all.”

Martin. Nope; nothing. He could’ve been talking to anyone for all it meant to me.

“Any chance of a shower, or a drink, or a meal?” He clearly knew who I was; I hoped my friendly banter could delay the inevitable storm of his discovering I had almost no memory.

“Mercy; have they given you nothing? You—get over to the cottage and bring back a bottle and sandwich, and don’t be doing nothing stupid on the way” to Dope, then to Pally “and you—outside the door. Pretend you’ve the smarts to keep watch so we’re not interrupted.”

Their frantic scurrying would have been humorous under other circumstances. Now, it just added to my apprehension.

“Please, Dr. Martin; please, sit. As long as we can come to terms, you’re in no danger. I’m a patriot and a scientist, not a criminal.”

I couldn’t decide which end of the sofa to sit on, so I dropped in the middle.

“Before we begin, you might dab your cheek with a bit of tissue, lest it drips on your coat.” I dabbed, I removed my coat, I shuffled around pretending to get comfortable. I stalled.

“I assume those two idiots had a time getting you here or you wouldn’t have been a day late. They’re not brilliant, but I may have underestimated you if you’ve the gumption or smarts to slow them down even a little.

“I’ll get right in, then: will you change your mind about becoming a wealthy patriot, or do you insist on being a dead traitor?”

My blank stare may not have helped him any, but it was all I had.

“Come now; I realize the physical objects themselves aren’t your speciality so much as the linguistic aspects, as you call them, but you’re my best chance at getting these items cataloged and sold now that I’ve gained no small bit of notoriety in your field.”

“I’m not asking you to negotiate deals, nor to bother yourself about, shall we say, my suppliers and customers. All I want is your honest opinion of the authenticity of the items and their best value in the particular market I’m moving them to. You needn’t feel squeamish about it; the articles are pagan to begin with, not Christian, and the funds will be used in the continuing efforts to liberate our good Christian land from its oppressors.”

“And kidnapping me is a better solution than doing a bit of research on your own?”

“As I’ve already explained in our many telephone conversations, Dr. Martin, I do not have access to the information necessary. Documents of that type aren’t readily available anywhere except the moth-eaten museums and university basements where they’ll rot. And, as you know only too well, I have no one I can trust to gain access to those places and not betray me.”

“Look, I’m tired. It’s been a long two days. Let me sleep on it, after a hot shower, and especially after that” pointing at the parcels of food Dope was carrying in: a four-pack of Guinness in cans, and a bag dripping something onto the floor.

“No, I’m afraid not. I was afraid your reluctance would outweigh your common sense.”

“Both of you, sit down and eat. Eat it all, drink up, despite the pint I’m sure you had already. He gets nothing, and I want him to watch you enjoying it.”

Sullenly, Dope and Pally crushed against me on either side, pulling out a can of beer each, and slopping fish and chips and vinegar on the stone-topped table between us.

I’d had enough. I grabbed for a piece of the fish; had it almost to my mouth when Pally slapped it away. Anger must have blurred what was left of my thinking, because my hand slapped backwards into his face. Not hard enough to hurt him, but hard enough to really cheese him off badly. He glanced at our host, then smiled.

I glanced, too. He was nodding slowly. He didn’t look amused. I didn’t feel amused.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow, so to speak, but suffice it to say that being dragged bodily to the damp dirt floor of a storage shed and then kicked, punched, and generally battered is no substitute for fish and chips, with or without vinegar.

After Dope and Pally were done, they slammed the door shut. The heavy wooden crossbar dropped into place.

Deprivation is a powerful tool. Fear, too. Isolation. They’ll all break you in the end. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started yelling. Loud. Banging the walls with my fists; kicking, screaming for help. Pathetic, but I’d had a bad day.

Not bad enough, I guess. The crossbar slid up, the door whipped open, and Pally walked in. I don’t know what he swung at my head, but I didn’t duck in time.

It hurt. A lot. Briefly. Then, it didn’t hurt at all.

Leave a Reply