IRISH BLUE 5 BRING ME A DONKEY A novel by Sheila Willar Copyright 2016 Sheila Willar ISBN 978-0-9867101-4-8 Untie them and bring them to me. - Matthew 21:2
CHAPTER 4 ............................ THE FETE
Erin knew exactly what Rettel meant when he wrote “ten less one is more than none”, and she wanted nothing to do with it. Ryan was referring to the fact that there were ten Irish Blue chairs in total and that if one was in Jerusalem, then there were still nine unaccounted for.
Erin was tired of being baited by Rettel and by treasure hunters in general, so she decided to leave the city and go home to Kinkerry for the weekend. Fortunately, Kelly and Matthew were able to travel with her and were sympathetic to the predicament she was in.
Matthew had first hand experience sitting on an Irish Blue chair, and he nearly lost his life because of it. Not only did the mention of ‘The Chair’ make his skin sweat, but the intentional boldness of Rettel to write about it in such a public way made him intensely defensive. Matthew was a first year Law student and was full of vinegar as he insisted that Erin remove herself from Rettel’s control.
“He can’t make you do anything!” pronounced Matthew. “You have rights!”
“On paper maybe, but not where it counts,” replied Erin. “I don’t know who these people are and I don’t want to find out! Treasure hunters don’t play fair!”
Kelly blushed at the mention of ‘treasure hunters’ because her father was one of the most relentless of them all. While others fought over the prize, he would quietly sneak in a back way and steal it out from under them. Over the years he had filled his homes with priceless works of art that were once destined for displays in museums and places of worship.
“If the Irish Blue Head Chair is in Jerusalem, then what does he want from you?” asked Matthew as he winced at the memory of it.
“Oh I know exactly what he wants!” stated Erin. “He wants the other nine chairs and for some reason he thinks that I know where they are.” “But you don’t. Right?” asked Matthew nervously.
“No! Of course not! The last I saw the nine was on Mead Carrick Island where the Mancinni’s crated them up and took them away. As far as I know they’re in a vault somewhere very far from here.
During the next few hours they travelled along increasingly narrow, winding roads, which gave them the time to whittle down a plan to help Erin get her website back. They concluded that in order for her to be truly free, she had to convince Rettel that she has no interest in, and no knowledge of the other nine Irish Blue Chairs.
Kelly picked up Erin’s phone to text Rettel. She asked Erin, “What do you want me to say?”
“Tell him I want a face to face meeting to talk about the chairs.”
“Tell him I don’t know where they are but I will answer any questions he has about them.”
“Say in exchange, I want a promise that he will give Ansel back to me and will remove Rettel from the site. ”
A few minutes of silence passed until Erin’s phone pinged.
“He’s replied!” announced Kelly.
“What’d he say?” demanded Matthew.
“It’s not my deal to make. Monday. 2pm. I’ll let u know where.”
“Damned relic hunters,” swore Erin.
“You’re not going alone,” advised Kelly.
“We’ll go too!” agreed Matthew with a shiver.
Erin Kelly and Matthew finally arrived at Erin’s parents house where they were greeted warmly with hugs, a pat on the head, and a pinch on the cheek.
“Hurry dear. Do something with your hair will you?” urged Erin’s mother.
"What do you mean?” asked Erin who hadn’t yet put her bags down.
“You’ve come for ‘The Fete’ haven’t you?” she asked as if stating the obvious.
“No indeed I have not!” answered Erin with gusto. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Erin’s mother sighed and looked at the ceiling as she wondered how her child could be so daft. “Honestly Erin. You’re just trying to be difficult. Everyone knows about the Fete. You know about it don’t you Kelly?”
“No … sorry,” replied Kelly as she hurried past the brew.
“The Mancinni’s are having a garden party tonight,” she admonished.
“I am NOT going to the Mancinni’s. It’s been a long drive and I just want to relax,” announced Erin.
“You’re telling me you aren’t going to The Fete? The whole town will be there! It’s the highlight of the year and Father Michael is giving the blessing for the new library."
"I'm NOT going."
"You don’t have to change if that’s the problem.
“I am NOT going.”
“So you think you’re too good for us now that you live in the big city,” Erin’s mother jabbed.
“I’m not even answering that.”
“Little Finny is going. Your own flesh and blood no less. He’ll be three before Christmas and his curls are as divine as a cherub.”
“Alright! I’ll go see Finny but just for a few minutes and that’s all. I’ll say ‘hello’ to Father Michael and whoever else might be there. That way I won’t have to go out for the rest of the weekend.”
“Good. You should change your clothes though, and fix your hair! We’re leaving in ten.”
“You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”
“You’d better catch up!” quipped her mother as she hurried away.
“I’ll be there soon enough.”
The garden party was an important community event for Kinkerry. The Mancinni’s had donated the library to the town and sponsored the Fete at their new estate as a way of marking their partnership with the County.
Erin entered the Mancinni’s property through delicately wrought iron gates that were designed to look like tree branches blowing in the wind. The front lawn was dotted with tents that were full of food and music, and the near bare Autumn trees were decorated with hanging lanterns and sparkling lights. The theme of the new library was “Learning Together” and that is exactly what Mrs. Mancinni intended to do.
Erin meandered along a network of paths and in one of the food tents she ate sweet scones and sipped on a mug of hot Irish Coffee. She was happy to see her old friends and family and was genuinely glad to be there.
The event was well attended and the sound of excited laughter infused the air throughout the beautifully manicured grounds. However, there was one piercing voice that rose above the others and it was getting closer. It belonged to Mrs. Mancinni, and before Erin could escape, the self-imposed monarch of Kinkerry had bolted to her side.
“There you are dear! The woman of the hour! Aren’t you making a scene down there in Dublin, putting everyone in their place and all?” she sang with a hint of jealousy.
“I. I …”
“Now. Now. Don’t be coy. We both know you have some help,” she whispered as she flipped her neon orange scarf over her shoulder.
“It was nice to see you …” quipped Erin as she turned to leave.
“The last time I saw you was in Jerusalem,” shouted Mrs. Mancinni.
“Where you left me and Father Michael in jail,” replied Erin as she again turned to leave.
“You didn’t stay in jail dear thanks to myself and the cardinal. I only wanted what was mine.”
“Speaking of what is yours. Congratulations on the new library.”
“Ay. She’s a beauty and she’ll have beautiful things.”
“That sounds wonderful,” stated Erin as she backed away.
“I would like to put “my” chair in it, seeing as it belongs to Kinkerry.”
“I don’t have it and I don’t know where it is,” blustered Erin.
“Never mind dear. It will turn up eventually. However, I do have something else for the library that I would like your opinion on. Won’t you come up to the house and see it?” suggested Mrs. Mancinni.
“No thank you! I really must go,” she insisted as she waved goodbye.
“Not even if it could get you your website back?” teased Mrs. Mancinni who was used to having the upper hand in negotiations.
Erin turned on her heels. “Why would I need it back?” asked Erin with her best poker face.
“Well dear, I don’t read the internet, but I do have people who do that for me, and as far as I can tell, you’ve been hacked.”
Erin dropped her shoulders. She hated treasure hunters 'and' their private investigators.
The two women walked back to the main house side by side, and Mrs. Mancinni chatted about the garden as if they were old friends and hadn’t a hint of bad blood between them.
Erin followed the matriarch through a set of beautifully carved wooden doors, where security guards and staff bristled to attention when they heard their eccentric employer approach. They were escorted down a broad hallway and into a cathedral like room that looked similar to the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Dozens of crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling in a glittering waterfall of glass.
“This is my dining room”, announced Mrs. Mancinni. “For special guests.”
“It’s lovely,” answered Erin as she spun around to take it all in. There were so many light fixtures over her head that she felt like she was in a galaxy of stars.
“Don’t you think there is something missing?” sang Astor whimsically.
Erin was overwhelmed with the ornamental embellishments and couldn’t imagine that something was missing. “No. I don’t know what you mean. How could you possibly add more to this place?”
Mrs. Mancinni ran her hand over the long stone dining table as she teased, “Nothing missing at all?”
Erin looked at the table but she was so nervous that her mind was blank.
“Look up!” was all that Mrs. Mancinni offered as a clue.
Erin squinted as she peered through the sea of crystals that hung from the ceiling and spread thousands of flecks of sparkling light. “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re referring to.”
“Try again. Look on the ceiling.”
Erin tilted her head back further and put her hand over her forehead in order to shade the direct light from her eyes. “I … still don’t see.”
“On the very ceiling!” insisted Mrs. Mancinni.
Erin’s gaze darted from one mural to another as she scanned the hand painted artwork that covered the panels above the dining room table. She was about to stop the guessing game when she suddenly saw “them” and drew a deep breath.
“There now … you see them don’t you?” needled Mrs. Mancinni with a hiss.
Erin didn’t want to say anything. She wanted to run away as fast as possible. What she saw floating above her were the nine Irish Blue Stone Chairs that had been taken from Meade Carrick. The mystical stones had become lighter than air and had ended up floating above Mrs. Mancinni’s private dining room.
“I wanted to see your reaction.”
Erin was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t speak.
“When I came back from Jerusalem, they were up there,” stated Mrs. Mancinni. “It took me the longest time to find them. At first I thought that someone had stolen them, and I vowed an all out war to get them back. Then one day the custodian asked me if I wanted to keep the ‘balloons’ that were in the dining room? I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about, but as soon as I laid eyes on them I knew exactly what they were. I knew that the nine Irish Blue Chairs had become lighter than air, and do you know what else I knew?”
Erin shook her head to say “No”.
It made me realize, all be it too late, that when I saw you at the police station in Jerusalem, the stones that you had in your possession were the Irish Blue ‘Head Chair’ no less. It was right there in front of me and I didn’t recognize it. You had ‘my chair’ all along and you did not give it to me!"
“Where is it?”
“We left it there and I don’t know what has become of it.”
“I want you to get it back for me. I want a complete set.”
“Not in a million, million years.”
“Why are the stones lighter than air?”
“I don’t know. We first started to notice it in Turkey when we met ‘Noah’s people’, and each day from then on it got lighter and lighter. When we left the chair in Jerusalem, the stone had become as light as a cushion.”
“Then all you have to do is go back to where you left it.”
“I can’t help you!” reaffirmed Erin.
“Ah! But I think you can. Your Rettel might be able to help,” suggested Mrs. Mancini.
“No way! I’m trying to get rid of that guy!”
“My sources say that your Rettel knows a lot more than he lets on and that he may be after the whole set as well!”
Erin looked directly at her interrogator. “I don’t know who the mysterious Rettel is. I think he wants the nine chairs and he thinks I know where they are, which up until now, I didn’t, and now that I do, it doesn’t help things at all. I was going to tell him the truth and be done with him, but now I’ll have to lie and hope he believes me.”
“No need to lie dear. He wants the same thing I want, which is the whole set.”
“I can’t help you with that. I’m out! I want nothing to do with any of this! You and the rest of the treasure hunters can search all you want, but I am done!” shouted Erin as she turned and quickly left the room and ran out of the house.
Erin meandered her way through the crowd, but on the way to the gate she met Father Michael.
“Hey! Good to see you!” he shouted.
“Good to see you too,” said Erin plainly.
“Oh, you know. Nothing big. Just Mrs. Mancinni. She wants her chair back.”
“Oh! That!” exclaimed Father Michael. “I suppose she showed you the floating furniture.”
“You’ve seen it?” asked Erin.
“Are you kidding? She invites me up there every week. I would have eaten dinner on those things if she hadn’t told me what they were.”
“And did she ask you to help her get the head chair back?”
“Indeed she did.”
“Well I guess she hit me up after you said ‘No’” laughed Erin.
Father Michael did not smile.
“Wait! You mean you’re going to help her?”
“No. But she dangles the fate of Kinkerry in front of me every time I see her, which I can tell you is a powerful difficult thing to walk away from. Times are hard here Erin. The only people with money are people like her and your father. Without them the town would be desperate."
"But you won't get involved. Tell me you won't!" she implored.
“The library was her idea, to get things started she says. She’s offering a community centre and a proper fixing up of the cathedral if I can get her chair back. Just imagine a swimming pool and a new bell tower … ” Michael sighed as he considered the possibilities."
“You can get the money other ways,” admonished Erin.
“It’s not the money. Ever since we returned, I haven’t been able to sleep. At first I thought it was that dammed decrepit finger I brought back from the monastery, but I know in my heart that Thee Irish Blue Head Chair belongs in Ireland.”
“We didn’t take it from here. We followed it to where it was going,” argued Erin.
“Agreed. But there’s something up. I can feel it in my bones. Until those stones are united there’ll be hell to pay.”
“That chair is God’s proxy! It has a job to do and it’ll come back to Ireland when it’s ready.”
“Proxy for what? And the other nine? What do we do about them?” he asked.
“Forget they exist. All of them,” cautioned Erin. Just then, a band of nieces and nephews surrounded her and pulled her away for the rest of the evening.
“I can’t do that.” whispered Father Michael under his breath.
Father Michael stood tall as he pronounced a blessing over the new library. He told the excited crowd that a building of this distinction would change the nature of the whole town forever, that it would improve the futures of their children and children’s children.
Erin clapped along with the crowd, but she frowned when Michael concluded by hinting that more such buildings were on the way.