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Conversations at 30,000 Feet
(A Maeve Downey and Ginny Sommers missing moment from Second of All)
by Genevieve Dewey
“Have you ever done something that seemed to be the practical sort of thing to do, and you did it thinking, no big deal, maybe it wasn’t a nice move but surely everyone would see it was not sinister. And when you did it, you were totally oblivious to the connotations it might have in another’s mind or the potential ramifications? And even after you did it, you’re thinking, what’s the big deal? And they’re thinking, deal breaker?”
Maeve Downey knit her brows together and tapped her index fingers without unlacing her hands. She tilted her head to look at her blonde row mate. Never in her nearly eighty decades on this planet had she ever met such a balled up bundle of energy and tamped down emotions before like this Agent Sommers. ’Cept, of course, when she looked in her own mirror.
“Well, tis my experience people often see sinister things when they go lookin’ for ’em,” Maeve answered.
“I don’t think he was looking for them, per se, but…” Ginny trailed off, frowned, scooted a bit in her seat then started twirling the tiny straw in her cocktail again at break-neck pace.
Maeve was of the opinion that the girl ought to try something a bit stronger than vodka and tonic. She would offer her something, but, was fairly certain that wouldn’t go over well, seein’ as the girl was a Federal Agent and all. Seemed to be one of those that actually took the job seriously, to boot.
“I just… and true, maybe I’m just tired, not at the top of my game, I mean, clearly not, here we are, aren’t we?” Ginny babbled on.
“Where? Thirty thousand feet above the Atlantic? Or were ye speaking more metaphorical like?” Maeve asked.
Truth be told, she too, was feeling too weary to keep up her usual level of banter. There was an irony to gaining exhaustion through helping one’s son retire from a game one was still playing. Children weren’t supposed to retire before their parents any more than they were supposed to die before their parents… but God never did play by human rules.
Agent Sommers’ school ring clacked as she slapped her hand flat on the snack tray. She drummed her finger tips a few quick times, took a deep breath, then seemed to calm a bit. A very small bit. She turned counter clockwise, pushing her elbow into the seat behind her to brace herself and stared Maeve down. She had that hardened female copper look in her eyes and her mouth turned down just slightly, so as to say, ‘I mean business’, yet not be off-putting. Maeve smiled. Ah, maybe she did have a round or two left in her. This was always Maeve’s favorite part of the dance, the rare occasions when law caught up on the race track enough to have a friendly chat with her. Pauli and Mickey had always hated it. Maybe that was the Downey in ’em—rapscallions all of ’em—but when they’d been caught, nothing but a bunch of red-eared little boys. Not Maeve. Chess had always been her favorite game. There was nothing more exhilarating than having a chat with someone who could actually keep up with her. ‘Twas a shame it happened so rarely.
Agent Sommers finished her examination of Maeve’s face and must have decided it wasn’t worth it because she drooped back against the seat and went back to staring out the window as she had while making her decision to carry on to Ireland instead of going after Tommy. A smart decision on her part, smarter than she knew.
“Isn’t there more than one St. Brigid’s well in Ireland? Why fly into Dublin when there must be one closer to Galway?”
Maeve chuckled. “That’s the tack your ship’s sailing? There aren’t always flights into Galway from the States. Call yourself an investigator?”
Ginny’s mouth pursed a bit in obvious amusement but she kept staring at the shut airplane window.
“Seemed better than asking Tommy’s grandmother if she thought he’d forgive me for handcuffing him to a bed. I like to ease into things.”
“Handcuff—oh ho!” Maeve chortled so loud people’s heads started to turn.
Ginny grinned at Maeve but her eyes still seemed haunted.
“I honestly thought it wasn’t that big a deal, I swear. I left the key, and his phone in reach. I just wanted a head start. I knew it’d make him mad, sure, but I was thinking mad enough to say ‘screw it, I’m staying home’, not…not…”
Maeve fought through her chuckles and reached in her purse for her flask. She picked up the girl’s plastic cup and poured her herb-infused alcohol in the cup. Agent Sommers stared at the cup with her mouth parted and her brows furrowed.
“Exactly how many people did you bribe to get that through?”
“Now don’t be gettin’ yer nickers in a twist, what’s the point as we’re halfway round the world already?”
“The point is, if you can get something through, a terrorist could—”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, lay it down, woman, and take a drink.”
The stunned look on Agent Sommers’ face was worth breaking her own rule against unnecessary cussing. And swearing was almost always unnecessary, in her opinion. Ginny laughed a bit and took a sip of the concoction. She let out a wheeze.
“Wow! What is in that?” Ginny squeaked out. She took her paper napkin and dabbed her eyes.
“Ah, just a few herbs. Just a garden variety tincture, no pun intended,” Maeve smiled. It was one of her ‘don’t mind me, I’m just a dotterin old lady’ smiles.
She was pleased to see the girl’s eyes narrow. Yes, this one had a sharp mind.
Ginny took another tiny sip. “Wormwood? And… is that anise? No… it’s…”
Maeve watched Ginny wipe her brow and blink her eyes, frowning intently into her cup. She set it on the tray with a shaking hand, and with a resigned sigh, turned her head back to Maeve.
“Dammit,” Ginny whispered sadly. Maeve patted her leg under the tray.
“You’re a good Agent. I just have a few decades on ye, that’s all,” Maeve said kindly, and she did mean it kindly. “Have a good rest now. Tommy’ll prob’ly forgive ye anything. He’s more like his father than he wants to admit.”
“I know…” Ginny replied in a breathy mumble, eyes drooping.
Maeve watched the girl finally succumb to sleep then leaned her own head against her chair and closed her eyes. She hoped the two would work their handcuff problem out. Seein’ as how they were about to have a lot more pressing problems than a lover’s quarrel.
–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey All Rights Reserved.