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Having said that this would be a two-part story I have now decided to split it into 3 as it was starting to get lengthy. I hope you enjoy but constructive criticism is always welcome.
On a bus to St. Cloud, Minnesota
I thought I saw you there
With the snow falling down around you
Like a silent prayer
And once on a street in New York City
With the jazz and the sin in the air
And once on a cold L.A. freeway
And it’s strange, but it’s true
I was sure it was you
Just a face in the crowd
On a bus to St. Cloud
I have spent the best part of two decades looking for a face in the crowd. To be more precise I have looked for flame-coloured hair in a crowd and have had several near-fights with more than one boyfriend / husband when I’ve grabbed a red-headed girl to turn her around to look at her.
I still haven’t found her but I certainly keep looking for her.
After I regained consciousness, I realised I was alone and they had all gone so at least I wasn’t going to get another beating. The first thing I did was to try ringing Brigid’s mobile but got the ‘turned off or out of range’ message so I sent her a text but don’t know to this day if she ever got it.
‘My darling Bridge’
‘We will be together again, I love you, I will find you, wait for me.’
I also wrote it down on a piece of paper and found a place in her bedroom where I thought she would find it but Mum and Da wouldn’t. I was in a lot of pain, both mental and physical, as I packed a few clothes and possessions into a backpack and left the house in the allotted time. I didn’t know if my father would return to make sure I had gone and I had no desire for another confrontation which, given my physical condition, I would surely loose. I was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe without pain and I guessed that I had broken ribs so went straight to the A&E department at the hospital.
The nurse wanted to call the police when I said that I had been beaten up but didn’t know my attackers. I persuaded her not to call them on the promise that I would go to the cop-shop myself after I had been patched up and got out of there. That took another week as I was also diagnosed with a damaged spleen and had to stay in hospital after surgery. They didn’t buy the ‘no next of kin’ story either but couldn’t do much about it.
After I was released from hospital, I went back to the house but it was shut up and the locks changed. The next-door neighbour said she thought they had gone to Ireland and was surprised by the fact that I didn’t know where they were. I could also see her wondering about my still-bruised and battered appearance but didn’t give a fuck as to what she thought.
Our ‘A’ level results had been announced whilst I was in hospital and so I went to school to collect them and was not surprised when they asked why neither of us had been in to collect them on results day. I fobbed them off and they didn’t push it. I was pleased with my own results but knew that going to Uni wasn’t an option for me whereas the Deputy Head told me that Brigid had done well enough to get into her first choice of Bristol University. This gave me hope of being able to track her down there, if all other attempts failed, although I would have to wait a few weeks before term started.
Not wishing to wait that long if I could help it, I rang both sets of grandparents in Ireland but both put the phone down on me when I identified myself, as did most of the other relations I called. My uncle Vinnie did more than that, he threatened to kill me if I ever showed my face in Ireland. I guess the story was out … or maybe an appropriate version as I’m not sure they would admit to the world that their son and daughter had been fucking each other.
My parents were both born in Ireland to very large families and came over to the UK in the 70’s while, over time, some of their siblings went to the US, Canada and Australia. We had 13 aunts and uncles and numerous cousins spread around the globe and Mum and Da could have taken Brigid to any number of places to keep us apart.
I did wonder why she would go willingly with them but then realised they probably would have told her that they would have me arrested, as my father had said, if she did not cooperate. I suspect that the potential rape charge was an empty threat as the shame on the family of having our relationship out in the open would have been too great, but the pressure on my beloved Bridge would have been huge.
After I left hospital, I kipped on a mate’s couch for a few nights but moved on when his mum started to make noises about people outstaying their welcome and I then shuttled through a few more living rooms and spare bedrooms for a couple of weeks. I needed to find a long-term solution for a roof over my head and my rapidly diminishing savings but still held out hope of finding Brigid first.
These days it is relatively easy to track people on mersin escort the internet through social media but in the pre-Facebook era there was no simple solution. I contacted all of her friends that I could remember but no-one had heard from her and they were all surprised that I didn’t know where she was. The story of a ‘big family bust up’ could only be stretched so far the longer time went on.
I visited all of the relations I knew of in the UK. To be more precise I parked up outside their houses and waited for hours on end to see if my parents or Brigid was there. Nada … nothing … diddly-squat … well apart from being questioned by the police as to what I was doing there (residents had complained about my presence, yadda, yadda) on two occasions. I bet I know which residents complained.
After days and weeks of fruitless searching I finally arrived in Bristol at the start of Freshers Week and hung around for two days as all the other new students signed up in the registration office for the courses I knew she was planning to do.
She never appeared and my heart sank. Once the last student had been dealt with, I approached one of the people who had been processing the students and enquired whether Brigid Honan had already registered or had changed courses. They were reluctant to divulge any information at first but when I convinced them I was her long-lost brother they checked the records.
She had withdrawn her application to the University and they had no idea if she had gone to another one.
I had no idea what to do next and very little money left to do it.
So I joined the Royal Marines and kept looking for a face in a crowd.
There are very few villas on the Val do Lobo coast in the Algarve, Portugal that are not overlooked by others and I have the privilege of living in one, right on the cliffs, next to a golf course. It has 8 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms and is valued at about €10m. I drive a Bentley Continental or a Range Rover depending on my mood. ‘Nice life’ you might say or, if you are envious, ‘how did you earn enough money to pay for it’?
The truth is that it’s all an illusion. I actually live in a small apartment over the 4-car garage as I’m nothing more than a glorified security guard, chauffeur, janitor and dog sitter rolled into one. I keep the place safe until the owner, a Premier League footballer, or his family, come for a few weeks in the summer and the odd break during the rest of the year. The rest of the time it remains empty along with just about every other property in the Golden Triangle of Almancil, Val do Lobo and Quinta do Largo.
Being a solitary person these days it suits me down to the ground.
‘Sounds ideal’ you might say and ask ‘how did I get the gig’?
Simples, I saved the guy from a beating by a bunch of Tottenham supporters in a nightclub in Vilamoura where I was a bouncer (he played for Chelsea at the time) and we got chatting afterwards and he offered me the job. That was three years ago and I have been here ever since. I still work as a bouncer now and again but at the age of 38 I’m starting to feel it’s a young man’s game even though I keep my 1.90m and 115kg frame in shape (that’s 6ft 4in and 250lbs in old money) and my obligatory (for a bouncer) shaven head.
In my case the slap-head look isn’t just to look hard as being a male red-head (a polite name for Ginger) there is a tendency to go bald, so it is a vanity thing. To any young blokes out there, I never knew this, but, if you want to know what your hair will look like when you are older just look at your Mum’s father. In my case I was totally fucked in the adult hair stakes before I even knew it; Grandad was as bald as a coot. There is one big downside of being a slap-head in Portugal … the summer sun is pretty bloody fierce and I use a lot of sun-cream otherwise I go very pink which is not an attractive sight.
But I digress. I’m a janitor but I also get to be a bodyguard when Johannes is in town. Yeah, he’s Dutch and a bit paranoid about mixing with hoi-polloi especially after the previous incident so he goes around with an ‘entourage’ to shield him from the common people. That, and an open invitation into the VIP section of any club, keeps him away from the great unwashed.
Unless you happen to be young, female, blonde and pneumatic, then you get an automatic invite into his company … and boudoir. I don’t see it myself but he’s a great fan of busty blondes, despite the fact that he’s already married to one. I’m very definitely a petite, small-breasted, red-head sort of guy … and one in particular … but I should not even think about her.
She’s gone and I will never see her again.
I was at Faro airport to pick up the aforementioned busty blonde wife, Anja, and I needed to be there with the Range Rover to pick her, the kids and the nanny, up. Anja’s easily flustered and would panic if I was not there on time because, escort mersin like a lot of girls married to footballers, she is not the sharpest knife in the box.
‘Stereotyping’ I hear you shout, but, over the course of the last few years, I have met a lot of footballers’ wives / girlfriends and while they are letch-worthy in their skimpy bikinis around the pool, candidates for MENSA they are not. Given that their husbands don’t normally have too many GCSE’s between them then they are hardly likely to go looking for the female equivalent of Einstein. No, some brainless, reality TV celeb or the girl from the make-up counter in Harrods is more their level and funnily enough there is an endless supply of pretty girls like that looking for the earnings power of even a part-way talented footballer.
They were working on the airport again. Portugal is a work-in-progress and at the speed the locals work, it will be for the next 1000 years. It made the parking a bit more difficult but at least the sun was shining as I waited for them to emerge from the arrivals’ hall. I recognised Anja mainly by the horde of gawking Portuguese men who seem attracted to tall, beautiful, blonde, busty women because every single adjective there is the antithesis of the local women.
The three kids had grown a lot since I had last seen them but at least she wasn’t pregnant again as she had been two years ago as, to tell you the truth, there is only so much flesh I want to see hanging out of a string bikini. The new au-pair was tall and slim and would have been more my style if she wasn’t wearing so many piercings … eyebrows, nose, ears and even her lip … that she must have set every security device off at Gatwick. Added to that was the fact she was sporting an emo-goth vibe … black hair style, pale face and dark make-up … and a sulky pout that would have won her Miss Sulky of the Year award for the last 5 years.
Kin’ell! It was just about a full house for the ‘Things I Dislike About Women’ award.
Anja saw me as I moved towards them to help with the bags.
“Sean … good to see you. Can you grab the bags please?”
Yeah, Sean, my middle name, I gave up being Fearghus after it happened. In fact, I was tempted to call myself the English version, ‘John’ as I want nothing more to do with the Irish as they want nothing more to do with me.
I dropped the tailgate and loaded in the bags. It was going to be tight squeeze as the kids were bigger but fortunately the au-pair was bright enough to pull out one of the three child seats and put it in the boot before settling the eldest kid on her lap. We still had not exchanged any words and she didn’t make eye contact.
I got in and fired up the engine and Anja spoke to me.
“How are you Sean? Keeping well?”
“Yeah, I’m good. How are you all doing?”
“Great. When’s Johannes coming over?”
“In three weeks, he’s with the national squad at the moment.”
Yeah, I know, we’re not the greatest of conversationalists but I’m a bit wary of her since last year when she tried to take a claw hammer to me when she had a few too many lines of coke after drinking a bottle of brandy. I’d turned her down during a party when Johannes was balls deep in the arse of someone else’s wife in front of the majority of his team-mates. She is a firm believer in ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’ which is ok but I prefer a bit more foreplay than a thong pulled to one side and a tube of lube thrust into my hand.
The 30-minute drive back to Quinta seemed much longer. The au-pair spoke quietly to the kids, pointing out things we passed and asked them questions making sure they responded. I warmed to her as she obviously wasn’t a complete air-head. We still hadn’t been introduced so I reached my right hand back.
“Hi, I’m Sean, by the way.
She ignored my hand but did at least look at me in the rear-view mirror although her shades meant I could not see her eyes.
“Yes, I know. I’m Caitlin, Caitlin O’Meara.”
She had an accent that was very mid-Atlantic and, with that name, I assumed she was Irish-American and hoped she didn’t feel the need to start telling me that her Irish ancestry dates back to the Great Hunger of 1845. One thing I did notice was that she also had a tongue piercing which, to my surprise, I found strangely erotic. I’ve never been a fan myself as it doesn’t enhance a BJ for me and I always think it must hurt like buggery when it gets done but, on her, it looked sexy! Go figure!
She screwed her nose up in distaste. I thought she looked cute but her tone of voice was distinctly cool.
“Why do Brits automatically think all Irish-Americans come from Boston? I’m from Baltimore, Maryland actually.”
Why do they always say the state as well? Is it to distinguish it from some other major conurbation called Baltimore in the US that a foreigner might have heard about? She’s obviously not pegged me for Irish as the last thing I need is mersin escort bayan an attempt to see whether we have a long distant family connection … unless she happens to know a Brigid Honan who conceivably could have pitched up in the US nearly 20 years ago.
“Sorry, just that I know people … well, never mind. First time in Portugal?”
“I arrived back in London 2 days ago so my feet haven’t stopped and I’m still fucking jet-lagged … oops, sorry Anja.”
She blushed prettily and I noticed a smattering of freckles across her cheeks. I grinned at her in the mirror and was about to make a witty comment when I had to take avoiding action against an incoming car on the wrong side of the road. You can say all you like about Italian and French drivers being the worst in Europe but the Portuguese are the pits!
I heard both Anja and Caitlin gasp as we swerved past the 20-year old car driven by a doddery old cunt in the flat cap that any Portuguese male over 50 feels the need to wear. I have learnt from past experience that there is little point in gesticulating at them because in all honesty he hasn’t seen you. As far as he is concerned, you were never there.
We made it to the villa and I had my first run-in with Caitlin as I unpacked the car. She was standing around doing something with her phone when I called over.
“Caitlin, could you give me a hand with these cases, one of them is yours after all.”
I couldn’t see her eyes because of her sunglasses but I could detect the eye-roll from the flounce of her shoulders.
“Pardon me? I totally do not do manual labour … you’re the hired help, aren’t you?”
We now definitely had the full-house as I added ‘mouthy’ to her descriptive list. I wasn’t going to settle for this from some teenage princess.
“Either way, your bag stays here ‘coz I ain’t carrying it.”
The glare from her eyes would have burned paint if not for her shades and the sigh of irritation was loud enough to be heard back at the airport.
Once the bags were put away, I went off to do whatever I did when the family were in town. Moving things that needed moving, lifting things that needed lifting … you get my drift … maybe a bit of life-guarding when the kids were in the pool (because Anja and Johannes were always far too fucking busy to look after their own kids) and that was about it. The villa had a regular gardening service throughout the year and the regular maid acted as cook whilst they were in residence so Anja wouldn’t chip her nails. They always had a nanny / au-pair in tow to look after the kids so they could slob by the pool, eat in the over-priced restaurants of the Golden Triangle and get shit-faced at the myriad of parties that are on offer.
During my moving and lifting duties I seemed to come across Caitlin and the kids quite a lot and despite my first impression I concluded that she was streets ahead of the previous girls from the last two years as a child minder. She engaged with the kids and made sure they responded, she kept discipline, she was sympathetic when needed and tough when required … I was all-round impressed at her maturity and capability although I was disgruntled that she ignored me most of the time.
I was surprised by my own reaction as I don’t like people that much and don’t care what they think of me. For whatever reason I needed some approbation from this girl.
I was bringing some bottles of water up from the store room to the kitchen when I heard Caitlin talking to the children as she supervised their evening meal and was, again, impressed by the way she handled them, especially knowing that she had only met them two days ago.
“Come on Daan, eat up, there is no ice-cream until you finish that.”
The 5-year old boy just sat and looked disdainfully at it.
“I don’t like it.”
“How do you know, you haven’t even tasted it? Anyway, you have to try everything once.”
“I just know.”
She looked over at me and her gaze warmed up a bit.
“Come on spinach is good for you. Popeye eats spinach and you how strong he is. I bet Sean ate spinach when he was little and look at how big he is now. You want to be careful, otherwise he might eat yours and then you will be hungry.”
She gestured with her head and eyes indicating that I should attempt to steal Daan’s food so I made a quick grab for it and the squealing child covered his plate and started eating.
Caitlin nodded her thanks but whatever smile passed over her lips did not reach her eyes.
I felt unhappy that I had not received more recognition and did not understand why I felt that way.
In previous years, if there was no grand function arranged, the nanny and I would eat on the terrace after the kids had been put to bed. On this evening Anja was out with friends so, at about 8.30, I made my way from my little apartment to the main house to find Tanya the cook was just leaving to go home. She is 28, speaks four languages and has a degree in architecture but her mother doesn’t want her to leave the Algarve. Unfortunately, there is no work locally for multi-lingual architects so peripatetic cooking and cleaning gigs is all the she can get.
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