Which is, of course, all easier said than done. Naked Man doesn’t have a wallet or any ID on him, which is actually something of a relief given it would need to be stuffed up his bum. He’s still either unable or unwilling to tell us his name or anything else, but the seen-it-all-before nurse says she can sign him in as an unconscious admission for now, and worry about who he is later.
A couple of orderlies help him on to a stretcher and cover him with a blanket then start to wheel him away. He half sits up in protest when he realises I’m not coming, shooting me such a plaintive look that my heart contracts and half of me wants to go running after him, but I’m not family. They wouldn’t let me into the treatment bit anyway. I take half a step forwards anyway, then I spot one of the orderlies, a friendly wee Polish guy with a gold tooth, take his hand and murmur something that seems to calm him down.
‘Sure you don’t know him?’ Harry asks and I jump.
Of course he’s still standing there, with his big stupid luminous waistjacket and his polis battering stick.
‘The guy’s had a helluva morning,’ I shrug. ‘I’ve got a heart, you know.’
‘You do not,’ he grins, sounding for just a second so much like old Harry that I get a lump in my throat. I hate him, I remind myself, though in truth I’m not sure I have the energy right now.
‘What do you know?’
‘What’s going on, Kirsty? Are you okay?’
‘Nothing a roll and sausage won’t fix.’
‘We need to have a wee word first.’
‘No we don’t.’ One thing about being one of those MacIvars is that I had my rights drilled into me before my ABCs. ‘Am I under arrest?’
‘What would you be under arrest for?’
‘It doesn’t work like that, sunshine. I’m away home.’
‘Where are you staying?’
‘None of your business.’
‘I could drive you.’ He sighs impatiently, follows me as I start to make my way to the wide doors of the Accident and Emergency department. ‘Where have you been Kirsty? You just took off without a word ten bloody year ago —’
‘Are we pretending you don’t know why?’
‘I was on your side. You could have trusted me.’
I flash a pointed look at his uniform and scoff. Outside, the car park is flooded with bright sunshine, and the air is warm. Hold on a minute. It’s —
Morning. It was Wednesday morning and then it was nighttime and now it’s morning again. That makes it, almost undeniably, Thursday.
‘The funeral,’ I gasp. ‘Shit — shit. Can you take me?’
‘Please, Harry. It’s at St Theresa’s.’
‘Can you just shut up and take me?’
I’m an absolute mess. The running gear I put on three days ago in Brisbane is filthy and probably stinking to high heaven, though at least it’s black, I suppose. My hair is sticking in every which direction, and a sliver of pleasure at how appalled Agnes will be at the state of me takes the edge off the horror.
Harry opens the boot of the police car and rummages in what looks like a sports kit. ‘Here,’ he says, handing me a black hoodie. ‘It’s a bit manky but it’s probably cleaner than any of your stuff.’
I put it on. It smells like endless nights in Harry’s room, watching cult horror films while a selection of his wee brothers snored, companionably munching every variety of crisp known to man. All of a sudden it’s all too much and grief smashes over me.
‘There, doll,’ Harry murmurs into my hair, holding me against his chest as I gasp and choke, struggling to catch my breath, but no tears escape. ‘There’s nothing your granny wouldn’t forgive you, you know that.’
‘I need to go.’ I pull away.
‘You want to go to the chapel now?’ he frowns, rubbing my shoulder. ‘You should maybe —‘
‘I’ll slip in the back, they’ll never know. Are you taking me or am I walking?’