I’m not about to go off and confront some mysterious American before I’ve spoken to Roddy, so first thing this morning – I didn’t get another wink of sleep after my nocturnal visitor, and in the end went for a run at half five to work off some nervous energy – I was waiting outside the gym.
Roddy was first in to open up, he always is. I saw him wandering up the alleyway – the staff entrance is round the back of an old tenement building, in a cobblestoned alleyway covered in some amazing graffiti and often vaguely dripping substances Cara once described as ‘evil in liquid form’ – and ran out to meet him. He had his earphones in, but looked up sharply, instantly on guard when I approached.
“What’s this about you seeing me in America?” I blurted. Ever the subtle inquisitor, me.
“Aye I wondered what you were doing there,” he shrugged, unlocking the twenty-five million locks to the back door of the gym. I followed him into his pokey wee office and waited impatiently as he painstakingly got the crappy coffee maker going.
Finally, in his own sweet time, he started to talk. He saw me in Indiana.
“Indiana?” I butted in, even though it’s never a great idea to interrupt Roddy, you never know when or if he might start speaking again. “I don’t even know where that is.”
It’s in between Ohio and Illinois, he explained, which didn’t help much as I don’t really know where they are either. “Near Chicago.” Okay, Chicago I kind of know. It’s in the middle, towards the top, right?
Roddy was on his way to Chicago, in fact, when he stopped at a truck stop just before the Illinois border and saw me. He paused then to explain that he’d done an Iron Man competition in Florida about a month before, and had taken a notion to just rent a car and explore for a few weeks. “It’s an interesting country, America,” he said.
Good for America, but what about me? He didn’t have much to add to what he’d already told Cara. He’d picked up a burger from the food court at this massive petrol station/truck stop place, when he saw me coming out of one of the shops. He shouted and ran after me, but got caught up in a massive coach load of wee old people on some kind of day trip. By the time he got back out to the car park, I was driving away.
“Was I by myself?” I asked. “Her, I mean. The one who looked like me.” Because it wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been.
But what if it was?
“Yeah,” he said. “Wait – no, you couldnae have been. You were sitting in the right hand side of the car, which I didn’t click at the time, but obviously that’s the passenger seat in America.”
“But you didn’t see who was driving?”
He shook his head. “I was just looking at you.”
“Was I injured?”
I gestured to my face. “Bashed up like this?”
“Definitely not, that’s what I was checking for. You looked normal, like anyone who had just popped out for petrol. You maybe even laughed, now I think about it, or smiled at least, as the car passed me.”
“It wasn’t me, Roddy.”
“She looked a helluva lot like you.”
I shrugged helplessly. “I don’t have a passport. I checked my bank account last night too,” I added. “Nothing, No activity on it at all in the last year – definitely no plane tickets.”
“Do you want to do this fight thing, then?” Roddy’s not a big one for the unknown. Things are what they are to him, whether you can explain them or not.
Afterwards, I spent a long time battering at the punching bag, which is my preferred way of thinking things over. We didn’t really get anywhere, and I feel more disappointed than I care to admit. It just seems hopeless. I keep trying to force my mind over the past year, but it just looks into blackness, like a lighthouse beam over a stormy sea.
A stormy sea.
Why do I keep thinking that?
If this snatch of memory is accurate, it was a wee boat. I think maybe even a rowing boat, so despite joking about with Cara I’m pretty confident I didn’t take it to America. I’ve heard of people yachting across the Atlantic, but definitely never rowing.
The only thing that Roddy observed from the little of what I could remember about the fight, was that the guy seemed to be more of a wrestler than a martial artist as such. And it’s true, he did go in for locks and holds rather than nimble kicks. Roddy agreed that it seemed to be someone who knows his stuff, but he pointed out that it really wasn’t a performance. A lot of competition fighters, he said – this with a critical frown – can tend towards showy moves like whirling around and kicking because it looks cool, but in a real situation would leave you vulnerable. This wasn’t that. This was efficient, brutal.
So that’s clear as mud then. Good-o.
That leaves me with the American. The American who must have followed me home from Cara’s restaurant. My tummy flips over at the thought of him behind me in the shadows all that way. He could have leapt out and grabbed me at any moment.
For heaven’s sake Linley, get a grip! He didn’t. And if he did, you’d have made short work of him.
(Yes I talk to myself in my blog, now.)
This isn’t like me, feeling all nervy and vulnerable. I’m jumping at my own shadow these days, and if I don’t get a grip, I’m going to bloody bop myself one.