by H.St Vincent Beechey

The journey from Shannon to Killarney was not turning out a great success. Bonnie had lapsed into a sulky silence, which was just as well as I was furiously rehearsing how I would raise the subject of Helena. To cap it all, I had become increasingly aware of an odour, a penetrating and ubiquitous odour that filled the car which, heater on and windows shut because of the rain, seemed hardly large enough to contain it. It was a rich and earthy smell, redolent of peat and bog, the smell of tweed, of wet, new, tweed.

On my arrival in Killarney, I had succumbed to temptation and bought tweeds to impress Bonnie, and was wearing them for the first time; she was unimpressed!

‘Do you mind if I open a window?’ She wound her window right down without waiting for a reply. A blast of cold air carried its burden of rain, drenching us.

‘Is it always like this?’

‘It was a lovely day yesterday,’ I found myself apologising, ‘Helena and I went on a picnic…’Ñ Whoops!

‘Helena?’

‘We have a lot to catch up on’ I said, stalling. ‘We can have a good long talk once we get back to the hotel. Did I tell you it’s not far from the lake?’

‘Was that where you had a picnic with Helena?’ Once Bonnie gets her teeth into something there’s no shifting her.

‘Sort of. We rowed across to the island. We were burying her husband.”Ask a silly question and get a silly answer!’ Bonnie snorted and wound up the window. She was now nearly as wet as I was.

I am sure we were both thoroughly confused by the time we reached the hotel. God knows how much information she had elicited from me on the subject of Helena. I had been concentrating all my attention on driving through the downpour. It was more like Queensland than Ireland. I was relieved to arrive in one piece.

Once again Bonnie amazed me. Within two minutes of entering the hotel, she had the staff fawning at her heels. Luggage was unloaded and whisked to her room. Registration formalities were a breeze. Bonnie was treated like a visiting film star.

‘I’m going to get changed,’ I said. ‘I’ll see you in the bar.’

I was being sneaky. If my calculations were correct, Gazza and his mates would be there by now. I’d give them plenty of time to move in on Bonnie, I’d have a leisurely bath. After being a shower man all my life, I felt pleasantly decadent soaking in a hot tub. Besides it gives you time to thinkÑthe longer the better in my present predicament.

On entering the bar an hour later, I had a shock. Seated next to the peat burning stove, a tourist gimmick were Bonnie and Helena deep in conversation, their heads close together.

As I approached, Helena rose to her feet. ‘Good evening Charlie.’ She turned to Bonnie, ‘It has been nice meeting you. I am sure you two have a lot to catch up on. I won’t stay. Good night.’ Helpless I watched as she walked away.

‘Do sit down Charlie, there’s a dear.’ Bonnie smiled a smug smile. She seemed very happy with herself.

I wanted to rush off and follow Helena, but it was awkward in view of what she’d said. Before I could decide what to do, Bonnie had taken the matter out of my hands. Somehow she signalled a waiter and I found myself ordering drinks. By the time they arrived, Bonnie was flashing a dazzling smile to someone behind me. Next thing I knew was a hearty slap on the back. It was Gazza with the gang not far behind him.

My hopes of foisting her off on Gary were dashed. Bonnie took my left hand in hers. She has a firm grip and short of wrenching it free. I was trapped. We were surrounded by partying Aussies. The crowd was augmented by a party of Americans and somehow people formed the impression that they were celebrating an engagement.

I had built up a certain tolerance for alcohol in Dublin but it wasn’t proof against the sort of school drinking I was involved in that night. I found my speech was getting slurred.

‘Tell me, Gazza mate, hooza lucky couple?’

‘You sly old bugger,’ he pressed another double whiskey into my free hand. ‘Honest, mate, I didn’t think you had it in you. Where have you been hidin’ her! Congratulations mate, I wish you both all the best.’

And smiling Bonnie raised her glass of lemon, lime, and soda in answer to the toast.

I awoke in the morning with a splitting headache, and Bonnie in my bed.

‘What the hell!’

‘I put you to bed.’ She smiled a sleepy smile. ‘Don’t worry. Nothing happened. You were a perfect gentleman.’

‘Get out, Get out quick. This is Ireland..’

‘Don’t worry. They seem to think we are engaged.’

‘If you’ve fouled things up with Helena. I’ll, I’ll….’

‘Oh her, She will be gone by now. She told me she was leaving.’

Bonnie had never seen me angry. Very few people have, but I am told it is an impressive sight. I don’t go loud, I go quiet.

‘Go back to your room and stay there. I will deal with you later. And I thrust her bundled clothes into her arms and turfed her out into the corridor. I dressed quickly and went to Helena’s room. It was empty except for a couple of maids making up the room.

“I’m sure I don’t know, Sor. The lady left early. Maybe they can help you at the desk.’

The desk clerk confirmed that Helena had booked out after a 5 am. call..”But if your name is Quin Sor, I have a letter for you.’

‘Dear Charlie,’ it read. ‘I think, perhaps, that you should have a little time alone to sort things out with Bonnie. If you cannot remember the itinerary I showed you, don’t worry. I have your internet address and will contact you in a week. I promise. Love, Helena.’

I went back to my room to pack, settled my account and headed North, leaving Bonnie to her fate. It was a better fate than if I followed my inclination.

All in all, it had NOT been a good weekend!

 

© Copyright H.St V.Beechey

 

 

Next Episode: Good Timing

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