Well, Hamish clearly hadn’t been expecting that answer. He didn’t speak until the waitress came back, and only then to calmly place his order. I awkwardly sipped at my soda while I waited for him to collect his thoughts. “I was so sure that they were in love,” He finally mutter, “So sure.”
“Well,” I stirred my straw in my soda and watched the carbonation bubbles rise to the top, “They could have been in love. I mean, look at the letters. I would bet that Grandpa Dougie did love you grandmother. After all, doesn’t he say he made a mistake, that the situation changed things? I know I’ve made mistakes and hurt people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Haven’t you?”
Hamish looked up at me suddenly sheepish. “I’m sorry. I might be overreacting a bit. This is just—not what I anticipated.”
“When did you lose your grandmother?” Perhaps it was a rude question, but I had a feeling.
“Just over a month ago,” He confessed, “It wasn’t unexpected per se, but it was sudden,” he added with a soft voice.
“I get it.” I answered. Grandpa Dougie had been gone for a couple of years now, but I remembered when it was just over a month ago. “Well, Hamish Duncan, you have intrigued me. There is clearly a story here that I didn’t know about, and I think it will be fun to figure it out. If you want my help to figure out the love story between your grandmother and my grandfather, then I’m in. I think it will be an interesting piece of both our families’ history, and even if it ends up not being what we think it’s going to be, I think it will be better to know then to wonder. At the very least, I’d really like the rest of the letters if you don’t mind.”
“Really?” Hamish looked at me like I’d just given him a life time worth of birthday presents in one sitting. Sure, I’d let him think that I was giving him a present, and it wasn’t just my own selfish desire to know what happen.
“Really. Let’s make a plan.”
“Where do you think we should start?” Hamish’s seemingly bubbly nature was back, and I was glad for that. I liked him a lot better when he was smiling.
“Well, I’m not sure where. You’re the one with all the letters, and therefore all the details on this little madness.”
“Right. Fair point. Okay.” He took a bite of his hamburger and chewed it thoughtfully. I picked up a French fry with one hand and continued to stir my soda in its glass with the other. Understanding Hamish was easy, talking to him was easy, and following his enthusiasm was going to be easy. That made me nervous. Good things never came from easy. “Well, I know my Nan and her brother grew up in this town with their parents who worked in a church. Apparently that’s where they met and knew Douglas from. She worked as a secretary in the church before running to Scotland. Do you think that your grandfather might have been working for the church too?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I mean, my grandfather was a good man, and he took us to church most Sundays–but he doesn’t seem the type to work for a church beyond helping out on the occasional handy man day around the building, or help setting up a set for the children’s play or something. I’m not sure he was even an elder.”
I was suddenly very aware of the fact that the only two things I’d told this man about Grandpa Dougie was that he’d knocked up one woman before they were married and while he was in love with another woman, and that he hadn’t been big on being involved with the church. “Don’t get the wrong idea, now. Grandpa Dougie was a good man. He worked hard and took care of mom and Andrew and me after my dad dipped out. He was nice to his neighbors and even though we never had much he knew how to make things worthwhile. He was a much better man then a lot of people I know. So, don’t go thinking—“
“No, no, no. I’d never assume.” He waved his hands quickly in front of me. “No, I know that is an interesting situation and that things are going to come out in strange orders and implications.”
“Okay. I mean, I just don’t want you coming in here and thinking that my grandpa was something terrible or whatever. He was a good man. No matter what this story tells us, I know he was a good man.”
“I believe you. I do. And remember, My Nan and her brother were good people too.” Hamish set his burger back down on the plate neatly and took a sip of his water. “Look, we don’t know what we are going to find here. Things could be really good, but they could be just as terrible. If we aren’t prepared to face that, maybe I should just lend you the letters to read and then we can go our separate ways once and for all.”
“No–no, it’s too good a mystery now. I want to know the answer. I’m prepared to face all possibilities–I just want you to understand he was a good grandfather, and my word should carry some weight on that.”
“Duly acknowledged.” Hamish reached a hand across the table to shake. “Both our grandparents were good people in the core, no matter what the mistakes of this investigation tells us. Deal?”
I took his hand and shook it firmly. “You’ve got yourself a deal.” And we returned to our meals.