The Tragedy began with a phone call. My phone woke me up with one of those generic iPhone ringtones that was more annoying than anything else. It was 1:37 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, so any sane person would have been already awake and half way through their day. But I was currently unemployed and last night I had gone on a bit of a Doctor Who binge—so I hadn’t bothered to set an alarm. I didn’t recognize the number, but I had been passing around a lot of resumes recently. I crawled out of bed and jumped up and down a couple of times, trying to make it sound like I hadn’t just rolled out of bed, just in case it was a potential employer. “Hello?”
“Hello? Is this Fiona Carson?” It was an accent that I couldn’t quite place through the just woken fog in my head. Where had I applied that people had accents?
“Yes, this is she.”
“Hello, Miss Carson. My name is Hamish Duncan. Your mother provided me with this number.”
“Did she now?” I needed to have a word with my mother about her matchmaking tendencies. Where had she found this guy?
“Uh—Yes. You see, I think that your Grandfather and my Grandmother were in love.”
There were about a hundred things I could have imagined that phone call was going to be about. That was most certainly not one of them. “I’m sorry?”
“My nana just recently passed away, and among her person effects were a rather extensive collection of letters from a Mr. Douglas Carson. According to the letters, He proceeded to have a daughter named Lillian and two grandchildren by the names of Fiona and Andrew. Is it correct to assume that this is your family?”
“Uh—Yeah. That sounds like us. How did you get this number again?”
“Oh, I found your mother’s number in the book, Lillian Carson, but she was at work and said that this whole family history was more your thing then hers and suggested I call you instead.”
“Oh,” I needed to have a serious word with my mother about who she gave my cell phone number out to, because this most certainly wasn’t the first time. At least this time it wasn’t some complicated blind date situation—or if it was I had to give her props for mixing it up a bit. The accent was new and different.
A nervous sort of cough came through the line. “Of course, if you prefer I hang up and never call again, I can do that. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, but I just thought that if someone had this collection of letters from my grandfather, I’d be interested to see them, so I thought I would try to get in contact you. You’re mentioned in them, y’know?”
“Where are you anyways? I’ve got this feeling you aren’t from around here.” It was a bit creepy that a man I’d never met was calling me, but then again, had I found a stack of letters like that when Grandpa Dougie died, I’d likely have done the same. And Mom was right, this was entirely my kind of thing. Real family history in my hands and what not. But the call had come from a local area code.
“Oh. I’m in—uh—Hilton? It’s a nice hotel down by the beach.” There was rustling papers and then “Yes, Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 3001 Atlantic Avenue.”
“You’re already in Virginia Beach? Why? What if Mom and I had both told you to fuck off?”
“Well, there are things mentioned in these letters, locations, places he wrote from, that kind of thing, so I thought I would go and check them out whether or not you all were interested. If you are though—I think it would be more fun to do it with someone else, especially someone who knows the city. Or even the country for that matter. I’ve never been to America before.”
“Okay. Well, maybe we could meet up for dinner or something, so I can take a look at these letters of yours and see what’s going on. I’m not making any promises, but, it’s too neat an idea to pass up.”
“It is kind of neat,” He agreed, “Where do you want to meet?”