After a little back and forth, we agreed to meet for dinner at a little diner in the middle of the city, a street over from Andrew’s house. Being overly cautious, I made plans with my brother to go to his house after the meal if I thought this guy was overly creepy and likely to follow me home.
Hamish suggested that I try to bring things that my Grandpa Dougie had written on so that I could help him verify that the handwriting matched, that he had the right man. I could understand that Virginia Beach might have had more than one Douglas Carson, but I found it unlikely that there was more than one with a daughter Lillian and grandchildren Fiona and Andrew. Still, it would be nice to be absolutely sure.
I made sure to arrive a little bit later than we’d agreed on so that I could see this guy before I sat down with him. Call me paranoid, but this was an unusual situation. I knew the waitresses here from visiting with Andrew a few times, so I pulled one aside and asked about him. “He looks nervous, but not creepy,” Miss Amanda told me with a small pop of her gum, “Blind date, Fi? I thought you made your mother promise no more of those.”
“Nah, Miss Amanda, it’s more complicated than that. But thanks.”
“Sure thing, sweet pea. You’re in the new girl’s section today, so let me know how she does,” and she pointed me towards the table.
He looked about my age, maybe a year off one way or the other. He had curly, reddish hair, and was fidgeting nervously with the salt and pepper shakers in the middle of the table. He didn’t look much like an axe murder, but then again, how many axe murderers really did?
“Hello there. Hamish Duncan, I assume?” I tried to keep my sweetest smile on my face as I approach the table.
He looked up and offered me the most adorable smile. “Aye. Yes, yes of course. You must be Fiona. Uh, I can call you Fiona, yes?” He got half way out of his chair and made a vague gesture to the chair on the other side of the table. “I’m sorry, I’m nervous. This is weird for me.” He sat back in his chair heavily as I took the seat opposite him.
“Yeah, It’s strange for me too. Believe it or not, not too many people call me claiming their grandparents were in love with my grandparents.” I picked up the menu to glance at the daily specials, “And yes, Fiona is fine. And, Hamish for you?”
The waitress came over and far too bubbly explaining the specials and offering us way too many things that we didn’t really want before taking our drink orders and reassuring us she’d be back soon to take the rest of our orders.
We sat awkwardly in silence for a little bit longer before I coughed. “So, these letters then.”
“Yes, yes, of course.” Hamish pulled up a bag from the ground and pulled out a small folder. “I didn’t bring them all here because there is an awful lot of them, but I have them back at the hotel if you think you’d like to take a look at them all.” He let folder fall open on his place mat. “I don’t mean to sound stuffy, but try to make sure that nothing gets on these. I mean, I know I’ve put them in covers, but I’m still kind of paranoid about the whole thing. I know they were technically from your grandfather, but they were sent to my Nan, so.”
He handed me a letter from the folder. It had been carefully slid into one of those plastic page protectors that my mother used to use for scrapbooking, with the hole punches in the side so that he could be placed into a binder of some kind.
I didn’t really need the comparison letter, but I pulled it out of my bag anyway. It was my seventeenth birthday card from Grandpa Dougie, the last of my birthdays that he was still all there. I didn’t give Hamish the card, but I did show him enough that he could see that the handwriting was identical. After all, a birthday card between a girl and her grandfather was personal.
“So, it is him? This is your grandfather?”
“Yes.” I tried not to cry with the weight of missing my grandfather, “Yes, it certainly is.”