By sean mcnulty
Katrine grabbed her glass and only when it reached her lips did she realise it was empty. So she got to her feet (all the five feet of her) but was stopped from going to the bar by Stinson who said: ‘No, Katrine, I will get your drink for you. I need to go up and get mine anyway.’
‘Your beer is as flat as you’d probably have the Earth, mate,’ jumped in Masterson. ‘It’s been sitting up there for the past I-donno-how-long.’
‘You don’t have to,’ said Katrine, respectably.
‘I’ll have no protest,’ said Stinson. ‘I have it. And one for Walter too. We shall make a toast to your mother’s memory.’
‘It’s about time you got your round in,’ said Masterson.
‘Your tipple of choice?’ Stinson asked Katrine.
‘Just water for him.’
‘And I’ll have another triple,’ grunted Masterson, his almost depleted glass waving in the air above him.
As Stinson attended to the next round of drinks, silence gave their table the onceover, and it was a silence that thoroughly fit Walter’s mood, as he was once more faraway in his thoughts; but this time he had the brooding of a regular deep-thinker, not the spiritual wanderer of before. Masterson and Katrine however had taken to staring at each other in apparent efforts to evaluate their respective other; although Ronan Masterson wore his swinish hulk pattern well – ungildedly so – it was actually Katrine, the trained psychoanalyst, who found the measuring game more galling as nothing about the man appeared to make sense. Whereas Stinson was every bit the pious ingénue, the kind she imagined doddering all over the island of Ireland on a daily basis from youth to old age, this Masterson looked like an unwieldy subject, one she couldn’t fathom with the standard gaze. She would need more time to acquire a detailed anamnesis. (She did notice some lust during the stare but she always saw a bit of lust. It wasn’t enough to determine an adequate diagnosis. She might have enjoyed Masterson’s lust too if his being a priest hadn’t mildly appalled her. )
Masterson on the other hand felt he had sized up the little Danish girl well during his own staring: Too smart for her own good. Mad as all fuck probably. But nevertheless worth a tumble.
‘So where are yous headed?’ he asked her, finally, putting an end to the silence.
‘Then why bother?’
She aimed her head at the coffin.
‘Oh, the box,’ he said.
‘Yes, the box.’
‘What’s in it?’
‘Ah.’ Masterson smirked. ‘I was thinking gold bullion or something.’
‘Joke all you please. But she was worth more than that.’
‘I’m sure. How do you plan to get to this Akkitok if you don’t know where it is.’
‘We hoped to find someone here to take us. We heard the people of the Faroes are amongst the only people in the world who know of the place.’
‘And no luck?’
‘No sympathy. Not a single fisherman here would have us. So far. We’ll try again tomorrow.’
‘Well, they might be a bit put off by the human remains. You know, fishermen are very superstitious.’
Katrine chose not to respond to this point and instead asked him: ‘What about you two?’
‘Who two?’ asked Masterson, surprised at first, but he grasped her meaning pretty quick, as her head subsequently lifted to acknowledge Stinson returning with a tray of drinks.
Even though Katrine was by no means someone who placed trust in divine will, it had been turning in her mind since Stinson first joined them that maybe these priests had arrived according to some celestial plan, their chosen saviours, and if this proved to be the case, she swore on her mother’s erstwhile pagan soul to be more charitable to the faithful in the future.