Lost but not Forgotten
Morgan held up the business card that was given to her by the gentleman on the freeway. The squinting redhead turned the card into the light trying to read the subtle inscription on it more readily. "Jim Mullins, Questioner of Truth," was all that it said, along with a strange, eight digit phone number and a Galway, Ireland address. She turned the card over to find a hand written phone number on the unprinted rear with an area code that she recognized as Houston's.
Again the curious lass flipped the card to its face, "Questioner of truth," she read again, "What a strange thing to put on a business card. I guess if you want to catch someone's attention this will do it with a minimum amount of words," the young woman snickered. "I wonder what it means and what he does for a living?"
The relaxing woman set the card aside, leaning comfortably back against the cushiony softness of her couch. Taking the day off seemed to be the best thing that Morgan could possibly do for herself. Funny, she thought, just this morning I was looking for more ways to keep myself busy!
Morgan's body was relaxed, feeling as if a garbage truck had just been removed from its resting spot on top of her chest. A heavy sigh issued involuntarily from her throat. "What should I do today?" the redhead asked herself, not really caring at that moment what the answer was. Suddenly a thought gained momentum in her awareness, This would be a fabulous time to check out the trails that I just heard about in Memorial Park! Spending a day alone in nature, with only the trees and the wind as company, seemed to be a small taste of Heaven right then. No phones, no pagers, no bosses, nothing but me and the Earth. The longing girl closed her eyes, reveling in the imagined sound of only nature surrounding her.
The lass felt still and relaxed as at any time she could remember. A small smile crossed her face, thinking about the sheer amazement of just living. God, I love life! Morgan thought with no comprehensible prompting. Her only yearning was to be outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, enjoying the beauty and solitude of a natural surrounding.
Her mind tailed off to the events of the earlier morning. "What an experience," Morgan exclaimed, shaking her head and chuckling aloud. "What a morning!" the reflecting lass chuckled once more.
Standing suddenly to her feet, the business card that Morgan had casually laid in her lap dropped to the carpeted floor. The still chuckling girl looked down and saw, "Questioner of Truth," staring up at her and sat back down on the sofa to retrieve it. I have got to call this guy right now, Morgan thought, picking up the card from the floor.
Sliding to the end of the couch, the tickled lass picked up the telephone and dialed the number written on the back of the card. "Life Specialties, may I help you," a female voice answered.
"Uh, yes, may I speak to Jim Mullins please," Morgan asked politely.
"I'm sorry, but he isn't in yet. May I take your name and number? I'll have him call you when he arrives."
Morgan sat silently for a moment, then answered, "Yeah, I'm going to be away from my phone for a while but if you can have him page me at 662. . . ."
"Oh, excuse me, but Mister Mullins has just walked in. May I tell him who's calling?"
"My name is Morgan, Morgan O'Malley. I met him just this morning and he asked me to call him, sort of."
"Could you hold for a minute while I give him the message?" Without Morgan's answer the line went silent.
"Hi, Miss O'Malley?" was the next thing she heard, in a male voice. "'Tis so grand to hear from you! How can I be of service?"
Morgan hesitated at the sound of the voice then answered, "Hi, uh, Mister Mullins. I'm sorry to bother you, but I was just looking at your business card and it fascinated me so much that I just had to call you. The thing about questioner of truth really got me going. I can't even begin to explain what that means to me right now."
"Believe me, lass, ya' don't even have ta' try. I have this way of findin' just the right people at just the right time. You seemed a bit shook when I saw ya' last, is everything alright? Are you all right?" Jim answered sincerely.
"Oh yeah, everything's better now than it was. I appreciate you stopping to check on me so much. Unfortunately, it's not like most people around here. I guess that I just called because I wanted to find out more about your card, it intrigues me. Can you tell me a little about it?" Morgan buried herself deeper into the soft couch, settling in for a long explanation.
"Well, it's not really my usual business card, ‘tis a wee bit more personal, only for special people. I'd love to tell ya' more about it, but I've got a meeting that I'm supposed to be in right now. Could Patricia and I meet you for dinner somewhere or something? We'd love to really meet ya'. Just name a time and a place and we'll be there."
"Yeah, that'd be great!" Morgan answered excitedly. "How about seven o'clock at The Adobe Restaurant on Westheimer Road?"
"Aye lass, that'll be gorgeous. We'll see you then!"
"You know where it is? The restaurant, I mean."
"Oh yes, lass, I'm only two blocks from there right now. See ya' tonight. Have a brilliant day!" the cheery man responded with so much joy and enthusiasm in his voice that Morgan couldn't help but smile.
"What a trip," she admitted to herself, picking up her car keys and heading toward the door. I've got until seven o'clock, plenty of time to explore something new!"
"I don't believe you've met my wife," Jim prompted Morgan as they were being led to their assigned table. "Morgan, my beautiful wife Patricia. Patricia, Morgan. Now that we've all been formally introduced. . . ."
Morgan, Jim and Patricia arrived at their table, seating themselves casually around its small circumference. "I didn't ask, but, I hope you guys like Mexican food," Morgan asked apologetically.
"Oh, yes," Patricia answered quickly, "We've got a Tex-Mex restaurant in Limerick, you know. We've been there several times. Somehow though, it's not quite the same as this food, I guess it looses a bit in translation," she laughed casually.
"Tell us what's good here," Jim responded, prompting further conversation. "We're still kind of new to the delicacies of the local culinary arts."
Morgan explained the menu to the two, creating the courage to ask them more about their card. "What does it mean on your card, questioner of truth?" she finally asked, taking a sip of her iced tea.
Jim and Patricia both laughed, "Got you, too, eh? We get lots of response from that one. Patricia and I just enjoy helping people. I do that mostly in my profession, but, sometimes people like you come along that seem to be asking for a new perspective on life. That's kind of where the line comes from. You know, truth is relative, always open to a different viewpoint."
"Yeah, and it takes a special person to question everything that they've been taught all their lives as unquestionable," Patricia chimed in, asserting herself into the conversation. "But enough of the deep conversation, tell us about yourself. How did you come to be on the side of the carriageway for us to meet you?"
Morgan was mystified. She sat in front of the couple wide-eyed, unable to answer for several seconds. "I guess that it's a really long story. I'm sorry, I'm just stunned. I just think the timing's incredible that we've met, and under the strangest of circumstances. I really don't know how to take all of this, it's almost too weird for human feasibility," again she answered disjointedly, staring between Jim and his lovely wife. "My boyfriend, Logan, has been missing for a while now. Almost everyone thinks he's dead. They have plenty of proof, too. But, I think. . . I know he's still alive. Just, no one else will believe me!"
"Tell us about Logan. That is, if you care to. I surely don't want to pry and if I cross any boundaries just let me know. You just said he was missing, how did that come about?" Jim answered compassionately.
Morgan stared down into her open palms, feeling a wave of loneliness rush through her. The lass began to recant the story of Logan's disappearance, starting with their final evening's ritual, continuing through the finding of his truck and the burned body, finishing with the inconclusive autopsy report. She then went on to describe Logan's parents reactions and surety of his demise.
"Well lass, I dare say you've been through quite a wringer lately. But I think you've got the right intention and attitude. I would love to be your friend while we're here and even when we go back to Ireland. You did say your name was O'Malley, that's a good Irish name, maybe you'd like to come and visit with us on a holiday to Ireland sometime," Patricia suggested. "We'd love to have the company! Jim and I own several Bed and Breakfasts around the countryside."
"Oh, that would be wonderful!" Morgan responded, lightening up at the thought of an extended visit to her roots. "I would love that so much! Funny, I've had such a longing to go to Ireland lately and I couldn't figure out why. I've heard lots about the country from my family and all, but since Logan's and my ceremony, I've had a really deep desire to go there. Something happened that night that seemed to reawaken an old sleeping part of myself! And now you guys come along! I'm telling you, all these events seem to add up to be much more than sheer coincidence!" She smiled largely, shaking her head in disbelief. "Jim, you said you were here on business. What are you doing?"
The waitress arrived with their meal, interrupting the conversation as their plates were set before them. "Mmm, smells wonderful!" Jim began as his plate was set in front of him. "'Tis a bit different than the 'Mexican food' in Ireland. But then again, the Irish food in America is a bit different also. And the Guinness here. . . ." he pinched his nose in mock disgust. "I don't know what they do to the brew here, but the stuff certainly doesn't travel very well!"
Morgan giggled at the faces Jim made. "Guess I'll have to come to Ireland just to try the Guinness, huh?"
"Yeah, you know what they say in Ireland, 'Guinness is good for you, lots of vitamins!'" Jim laughed aloud as Patricia playfully poked him in the ribs. "Okay, what I'm doing here," the playful Irishman began again, still chuckling. "I own a business that supplies companies with fire fighting equipment and trains people to use it. I have a friend who lives here who was going to help us, but he was offered a position at the last minute with the company that he already works for. His new position was such an over the top opportunity for him that he just couldn't turn it down. 'Tis lovely for him, but it leaves us in a bit of a bind. We're looking for someone with some pretty specific skills that we can train for the position."
"What is it, the position I mean. What kind of skills are you looking for?" Morgan inquired interestedly.
"As I was sayin' earlier, we teach a company's personnel to use our equipment, everything to from fire extinguishers to fire coats and helmets. Mostly, we train at our facility in Galway and need someone who can help us manage the numbers of students who are coming to us from all over Ireland and the UK. We are even beginning to have people from Europe and America inquire about our services. We travel occasionally, mostly in Ireland but sometimes to other places in the UK. Have anyone in mind?"
"Oh Jeez, this really is too weird now. I didn't tell you that Logan is a professional firefighter. He was even talking about changing his career path just before he disappeared."
This is just so amazing! Oh, I wish Logan were here right now! Logan has even talked a lot about Ireland and is proud to be Irish himself, but he has told me lots of times how he's just a big city boy and living any place smaller than Houston would probably drive him crazy."
"So he's an Irishman too, eh? Would you think he'd be interested at all if the lad comes back in time for us to meet him?"
"I don't know, like I said, Logan has been pretty adamant about city life. But yes, he is surely an Irishman. Keohane is his name, Logan Patrick Keohane." She laughed slightly, having never before stated his whole name at once. "His father is Yancy and his mother is Anne."
"Keohane?" Patricia perked up. "I know some Keohanes down in County Cork, Robert and his wife Megan. Wouldn't it be just lovely if. . . ."
Morgan whacked her forehead with the palm of her hand. "Logan has talked about his uncle Robert who lives somewhere in County Cork, Banty or Brantree or something with a Ban."
"Bantry!" Patricia blurted out excitedly. "Yes, that's Robert! Got to be the same, I haven't heard of any more Robert Keohanes around there! We've just got to get this Logan of your's home so we can talk to him! Wouldn't it be grand to have you around for more than just a holiday. I think you'd really love Ireland."
Morgan was stunned once more at the suddenness of creation. Now if only I can get the last few pieces to fall in place.
"Oh, and Morgan, we desperately need someone to oversee the business affairs of our bed and Breakfasts. We own seven B and Bs in southwestern Ireland and need someone of your spunk and intelligence to manage the lot of them." Patricia smiled warmly at her. "I'm very good at seeing the possibilities in people and you, I think, have a very bright future before you!"
Morgan's heart leapt! The prospect of a move to a different country into a career that she was fascinated with almost took her breath away with excitement. "Oh, Patricia, you don't know how much that prospect excites me! We've got to get Logan back here at once and at least present him with the idea. Look, I've got goose bumps!" Morgan held out her arm to show Patricia and Jim.
"I think it's settled, for a time anyway; we're going to hold off our search for an assistant for at least two weeks or until Logan returns. I'm not in that big of a rush! Everything except the prime player seems to be falling right into place. If there's one thing I've learned, it is to go with the creative flow, no matter how strange the events may seem at the time! There are greater forces at work than just you and me, Morgan O'Malley!"
Morgan just couldn't sit still. She wanted so much to just run outside and scream into the Universe, "Logan, hurry and get back here! The most amazing things are happening and you're a part of them, hurry home!"
"But I still don't understand," Elizabeth commented as the three captives sat at the small table to eat their dinner. "You were hurt so badly that I couldn't even stand to look at you! Now you say your hip just fine for travel? I. . . I can't believe it!"
"You might as well believe it, here I'll show you!" Logan responded, standing up, grappling for the catch holding his pants.
"No, no, at least not at the dinner table!" Elizabeth objected to his pending bare buns. "I've seen enough already!"
Amanda, laughing at her sister, almost rolled off the chair. "Don't worry sis, I'll make sure he keeps his drawers on now!" She pounded her fist on the table from laughing so hard.
Logan turned red, realizing he was just about to just drop his pants in front of these two young women without even a thought, especially at the dinner table. Jeez, a month ago I felt strange undressing in front of Morgan, now I was just about to bare all in front of two relatively new female friends without a thought, the young man scolded himself. I guess I've loosened up a bit after all. He sat back down, intentionally putting his attention on dinner and refusing to look up at the girls. Being openly unconscious of his body just wasn't like him.
"Hey, moon man!" Amanda teased him, "Are you going to be able to get us out of this swamp tomorrow? We've got the poles down, I guess we just need to pick out one that'll work for us."
"Yeah," Logan replied, not lifting his eyes from his plate, "I'm fine and yes I can find something to use to move the boat. I'd like to get an early start tomorrow, so why don't you guys get the stuff together tonight that you want to take with us. We'll need the same stuff we talked about today."
"What, you think we're going to a picnic or something? Moon man!" Amanda knew that she could get him going by prying into the subject. "Come here, I want to see your bruise!"
Logan shot the tormenting girl a quick glance, picking up a large red bean from his plate and tossing it at her. "I'll show you my bruise," he prodded with a fake angry voice, "Then you'll have to kiss it!" The fireman laughed, tossing another bean at her.
Amanda raked the mushy legume from her hair and tossed it back at Logan, hitting him between his eyes. "God, I can't wait to get home and have a hamburger!" she commented bluntly. "I'm so tired of canned beans, canned meat and canned fruit that I don't want to see another can for a year! I feel like I've been canned!"
"Me, too," Logan agreed. "But, I want some good Salmon. My grandma used to make the best grilled Salmon in the world, fresh out of the river in Ireland! Then she made this dill sauce that. . . Jeez, I can't even think about it. The thought makes my mouth water so much that I could just go crazy!"
"Mmmm, I like Salmon, too," Liz interjected, laying her fork roughly on the table beside the half eaten plate. "But, I guess we should really be thankful that we've had any food at all. We could have starved to death in this piece of shit shanty!"
"That's true, but it doesn't make Salmon sound any less inviting!" the salivating lad responded. "I think I'm ready to chill out for a while. I'm really tired but not sleepy. I think I'll just sit in the study for a while," he teased. Logan's emotions began bubbling from deep inside of him once again. What was it that he really wanted? The homesick lad was ready to get home and see Morgan, but the thought of going back on duty at the fire station, or being in a large city at all, set sourly on his stomach. His dreams returned to his beloved Ireland, playing in the green fields and listening to the waves on the Dingle shore, walking hand in hand with his wife, Morgan. "I wish I knew if she would be at all interested in going to Ireland," he wondered aloud to himself.
"Hey, Logan, off on some strange planet again?" Amanda prodded.
"Oh, sorry, just thinking about Morgan and Ireland. I wish I knew if she'd even consider moving there. I really want to live there, but being with Morgan is about the most important thing in my life." Logan slid his chair away from the table and walked into the small kitchen. Digging through the closest rickety drawer, the fireman found several small sheets of paper and sat down with them and a pencil, scribbling down notes.
"What are you doing?" Amanda asked curiously.
"Oh, nothing," Logan responded, not looking up from the paper that he was now diligently writing on.
"Oh come on, what are you doing?" she asked him again, a little more emphatically.
"I got this idea to write down several different areas of my life to see if I can understand why I decided to do whatever it was. Like, why I'm a firefighter, why I got married, and divorced. You know, maybe then I can decide if it is something that I still want to do with myself."
"Why are you a firefighter?" Amanda asked again, stopping him in mid sentence. "I'd like to know because I want to know what direction I really want to pursue in my life. Somehow, being a chemical engineer doesn't work for me anymore."
"Well, my ideas started with things like, my work is a secure job working for a governmental agency, and I chose something with security. But, that wasn't really the reason, so I went a little deeper. My father was in the navy during the Korean War and was a deck board firefighter on an aircraft carrier, some of the reason is that I chose to be like him. That still wasn't quite all of the reason. Then, I remembered reading books upon books about knights in shining armor, fighting fire breathing dragons and rescuing damsels in distress throughout my childhood and teens. I wanted so much to be a knight, questing after the Holy Grail, living an adventurous, exciting life that I guess I chose the occupation most like the job description. Believe me, I've lived some adventures, fought some fiery dragons and at least tried to rescue some damsels in distress. That last part got me into more trouble than any of the rest. Yet, that description is a pretty good way of summing up my past relationships. You know, I just thought, the relationship I have with Morgan is different, she doesn't need rescuing like the others. Maybe that's why I sometimes feel so strangely around her. She's gotten herself pretty much together, doesn't need anyone. Still, I can feel her pure love more than anyone I've ever been with. Pretty cool, huh?"
"Lucky girl," Amanda responded quietly, then she perked up again. "Knight in shining armor, huh? Must be a guy thing. I'd rather be Rapunzel, rescued by my Prince from my ivory tower!" she laughed and faked a swoon with the back of her left hand against her forehead.
"Right now I'm wondering how I got here, on this island." Logan continued lightheartedly. I had plenty of opportunity not to be here. I was really early for work, Morgan begged me to stay home, just call in sick, and I refused her. But, probably the biggest thing is, I didn't have to stop for the guy on the side of the freeway! Those were all events that could have easily been avoided, any one changing the outcome that I'm experiencing right now." Logan paused, contemplating silently for several seconds. "I'm really beginning to find more proof that there is some higher form of consciousness, I call God, that can work far beyond conventional thinking. I've wanted, for some time, to have the opportunity to really have the time to find me, to really see what I wanted in the greater scope of my life. Somehow, I feel that I'll get the answer when we get home. But, I needed this time of quiet and change to open me up for some calling other than what I would have even dreamed of in the ‘reality' of my life not long ago." Logan sat his pencil and paper on the couch beside him, pondering a feeling of deep connectedness to his lover.
"Something is waiting for me at home, I can feel it in my bones." the excited fireman continued. "A change so wondrous and so drastic that I can't even comprehend it right now. I just know that whatever occurs involves Morgan in a very direct way. You know, from this point, I can't regret a second of this whole experience."
"Pretty deep," Amanda responded reverently, looking mistily into space. "Is there any more of that paper around here? I would like to try some of that myself."
Logan handed her several pieces of his stack of paper and smiled up at her. "I think you're a brave lass," he commented, smiling warmly again, admiring her courage and willingness to try something different. Most profoundly though, the admiring lad respected Amanda's dedication to herself and her willingness to change. "It's going to be a lucky guy who finds you now!" he told the smiling girl warmly and tenderly.
"What are you guys doing?" Elizabeth asked, entering the room.
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