Monday didn’t start too well for Harry. In fact, as the day progressed, it didn’t get any better. Before he left for the airport with Danny (via a taxi, as Alan was ‘going to be busy’), he’d managed a call through to the General Records Office at Southport, only to discover that his source there was on a training course that morning. The certificates he’d wanted would have to wait that little while longer.
Then, he’d rung Ana, to check the position with the DNA test. Ana had promised, anyway, to ring him once the results were through, but he couldn’t resist checking. “It’s bad news, Harry,” she’d told him. “She’s had a problem with her daughter, and had to take her to the doctor. She won’t get into work until later this morning…”
Ana must have heard Harry’s sigh. “What’s the matter?” she’d asked.
“Oh, just – you know: kids! They get in the way, sometimes, don’t they?” It was the kind of throwaway remark that missed the bin. Ana’s response was swift, and curt:
“I’m afraid that’s life, Harry. Deal with it.” And she’d put the phone down on him. He’d never understand that woman even if he enrolled in a post-graduate course in Ana Studies, he thought, ruefully.
So, if Harry wasn’t in the best of moods as they boarded the plane home, it was perhaps understandable. He consoled himself with the fact that he’d re-built some rapport with Danny the previous night. They’d gone for a meal in the kind of restaurant that would make a vegetarian see red, polishing off a huge steak each, washed down with a bottle of deep, ruby wine.
Now, en route back to Merseyside, they could relax a little and perhaps work some more on the McFry case. Danny had wanted to be sure that Lillian’s medals were safe. After all, if Harry could lose a £20 million bond, then it was quite possible to lose the medals.
“Don’t worry. The bond is securely stashed away in a safe in a government office – and I’ve got the receipt. The medals – well, they’re even safer,” Harry had said. He had left it at that, but he did sound pretty certain, Danny remembered thinking.
Then, so as to appear not entirely insensitive to his colleague’s inner turmoil, Danny raised the subject of Ana.
“It hasn’t worked out like you wanted with her, has it, Harry?” he asked.
“I’m not sure how I wanted it to work out, to be honest. I thought at one point we might be able to rekindle it, but she was giving out mixed messages.”
“In what way?”
“Well, the whole thing with this Pablo. I never expected she’d be married. You’d think someone might have told me, somewhere along the line.” Harry sounded genuinely betrayed.
Danny stared at him. “Married? What makes you say that?”
“You saw the ring, I’m sure. And no doubt you heard all about Pablo.”
Danny didn’t know much about Pablo, but he knew Harry had made a big mistake. He’d only been in Madrid a couple of nights, but he’d noticed something that Harry, if he ever knew it, must have forgotten. He wasn’t sure how he could best disabuse his colleague.
“Err … I don’t know what Pablo means to Ana, Harry, but I know one thing for sure. They’re not married.”
Harry was dismissive. “Don’t be a mug, Danny. Like I said – you saw the ring.”
“Which was on her left hand, if you remember. And, I may be wrong, but don’t the continentals wear their wedding bands on their right hand?”
Harry stared straight ahead, his eyes unpicking the stitches on the fabric of the headrest in front of him, the sound of the aircraft suddenly becoming thunderous, the smell of the instant coffee in the jug on the trolley being slowly pushed past his seat overpowering him. He could taste the bitterness of his last cigarette at the airport, and could feel the grain in the vinyl armrests under his fingers. It was as if he’d been pulled awake, from a dream, into the ‘now’. Dumbkopf! Danny was right! How could he have been so stupid as to forget something so simple as that? He desperately tried to replay, in his mind, the meeting in the bar with Ana, tried to replay all the subsequent conversations he’d had with Ana, with Alan and with Yolanda … but the rewind button seemed stuck, somehow. He had assumed Ana was married, just because she was wearing what he realized might have been a piece of gaudy costume jewelry! There had been no withholding of information on the part of his brother, no marriage he had never been told about – instead, he’d misread the situation altogether.
He didn’t know what to say, but his mind settled on blaming Danny. “I wish you’d told me this earlier, Danny. I feel so stupid now.” He felt like maybe he’d checked his brains in at left luggage before they’d left John Lennon airport to start their trip.
Danny knew Harry didn’t really blame him for the situation, but having unmasked his stupidity, he didn’t really know how to make amends.
“Maybe you’ll get another chance with Ana?” he said, finally. But it sounded lame.
“I wouldn’t blame her if she never wanted to talk to me again, the way I treated her just now,” Harry said.
After that, they didn’t have a great deal of conversation, so it was a relief to Danny when the plane finally touched down, and they could make their way out of the airport to collect his car.