Wednesday, December 13, 2006

One More Story

It was months after Kirk went missing, and there were CID agents in our livingroom. We were all sitting around the table, two dark-suited men, my mother and I. It had been a long and strange conversation. There are any number of stories that could come out of it, but there's just one I want to tell right now.

It was nearly the end of the whole interview. They had been kind, calm, reserved but suddenly they were uncomfortable. They shifted in their chairs and exchanged a look. Finally one cleared his throat.

There was one more thing, something that might be hard...

I didn't know what to think. If they knew what had happened to Kirk surely they would have said something at the start, not waited until the very end of a couple of hours of talk. Months of horrible imagined scenes came quickly to mind.

... there was talk (he said) ... someone had mentioned ... a Russian woman that Kirk might have become friends with.

And I think we shocked those poor CID men, my mother and I, because we burst out laughing. Real laughter, honest, genuine, true laughter.

It was utterly ridiculous to imagine Kirk, six weeks away from home, suddenly starting a torrid affair with a Russian seductress and... no, not Kirk. Not that I doubt the story - there probably was a Russian out there somewhere, and Kirk being Kirk would have delighted in talking to her. But unfaithful? No.

So why tell this piece of that afternoon? Because of the story. Just one of Kirk's many little moments captured, only this was the last one, during one of the very last phone calls, just before the last trip.

I have a confession to make, he said, there's... another woman.

Excellent, I answered, and how old is she?

He laughed. You didn't ask what she looked like!

I know you too well.

She was six, the daughter of the man who owned the house Kirk was staying in somewhere in Iraq. They had asked him in for dinner, and as he sat in their warm house, happily trying to communicate with broken English, Russian, Arabic and German, he felt a small hand on his arm, and turned to see a pair of enormous brown eyes. She was fascinated with this stranger, this American, and once she overcame her shyness she refused to leave his side for the rest of the night. He talked to her father about his own children, and they agreed that this was what was really important. The little girl finally went to sleep sitting with him.

Sorry, he said, he was in love.

No Russian woman, just one small Iraqi girl. One last story.

1 comment:

child2 said...

sorry, mom...you've been outclassed by the big brown eyes.