Thursday, November 10, 2011
Interior courtyard, farmhouse, Porto, Portugal
“Pass the eggs, please.”
“Whoa there, big guy," Mike cautioned. "Your stomach won’t take kindly to too much too soon.”
I stared at Angus -- who shrugged and passed the eggs. Mike grimaced. I ladled on thirds; the damn things were unbelievable with shards of green pepper, a hint of some kind of cheese and sausage crumbles. I ate left handed, since my right shoulder was still barking from the flesh wound.
Angus cradled his mug of tea in both hands and stared over the rim at me. Mike stirred his coffee. They were comfortable in each other’s presence like people who had spent a lot of time together. They passed the salt or offered cream without being asked. One of the farm ladies came out with a fresh pot of coffee and set it down. I waved my hand over my overturned cup in a universal gesture of ‘no thanks.’
Then I dove back into the eggs, blocking with a crust of bread and shoveling with my fork.
I thought about fourths but Mike’s gaze cut me short.
“Please, start at the top and tell us again this fetching sea story.” Angus grinned over his tea.
I swallowed, then started. “Okay, I had this hare-brained idea that I could track Walters' …” I paused “... track whatever the hell he's doing with money laundering.” I put my fork down, dabbed my face with my napkin and placed it atop my plate.
“Why do you care?” asked Mike.
“I told you already.” I caught Mike glancing at Angus. I resumed. “Believe me, don’t believe me – I don’t give a flying …” Angus' upraised hand cut me short.
“It’s okay, Lad. Kindly resume.”
I glared at Mike for a bit, then continued. “Walters' had a hard-on for me. I didn't know all of it until I was boxed in that hold where you found me. He …” I thought back on Walters' spew. I fumbled with a crust of bread while I felt the mixture of shame and anger triggered by his words. Mike poured more coffee into his cup. His spoon clattered and brought me back to the present.
Quietly, almost to myself, I continued. “Like I said, he had his reasons for wanting me to … fail.” The last word tasted bad. “It still seems like it’s not real. My ex dead, Moira taken, this crazy ...” I waved around “... goose chase journey, being here … all of it. Not real.”
A dog barked in the distance as we each sat with our own thoughts for a moment.
Angus spoke first. “Thank you, Jake lad, I know its no easy thing.”
“Sorry, Bro.” Mike tipped his mug to me.
I nodded back at him.
“Would you go back over the part about the insurance company?” Angus put his cup down.
“The insurance company.”
I looked back and forth between them. They gazed back with a strange calm.
“That's what this is about, isn’t it? You two want to do something to, something about, this reinsurance company.” They didn't respond.
I looked at the courtyard, at Angus' watch, at Mike’s hands, then back to their faces.
“You don’t want the money.” They didn't blink. “It's not the money is it?”
“Its not the money,” Angus confirmed.
“Its him.” I said.
“Its him,” they replied in unison.
Posted by Jake at 4:11 PM