Chapter 2

To get to the Beckett house you have to pass an ancient church, go up a hill and enter a little alleyway on your left. If you turn your back on the Beckett house however, you over-view the amazing sight of Cork City. Most days of the year Cork's beauty is overshadowed by a dull, impenetrable wall of grey clouds, but by the time Eileen and Ben arrived, the driz-zling rainfall had come to a halt. They walked through the little wooden gate, through a small, wild garden and Eileen looked up to her house. She had always loved this place; she had always wanted to own it, although not under these cir-cumstances of course. Everywhere she looked memories overcame her. Over there she had had a baby swimming pool, a pink one and she used to complain until her mother and father sat down next to her in the water, even though the swimming pool was way too small for all of them. When she grew older, the time before her mother had passed away, her father had always played badminton with her. When she came to the door, it was as if she saw her younger self sitting in front of the huge living room window, celebrating her eighth birthday with her granny and daddy and her friends. It had been her first birthday without her mother.
Ben had to open the door, because her hands were shaking and couldn't find the strength to fit the key into the hole. Inside, Eileen went straight for the living room and sunk into the huge red armchair. Ben followed.
Ben: "Miss Beckett. Eileen. I am so sorry. Today has been hard enough for you with Fergus' burial, but I think you would have wanted to know right away. Your father was poisoned. The ballistic report came in just before I left for the funeral. Prussic Acid. His lips turned blue." (pause)
Eileen sat there staring at the old fashioned pattern of the wallpapers opposite her, listening to Ben explaining about Prussic Acid, how it works and how her father didn't have to suffer or feel any pain. Eileen couldn't talk, she was simply too shocked. None of this made sense. Why? Ben talked and talked, it felt as if he was talking her life away. She didn't understand. She couldn't focus. She felt so sick, she wanted to throw up. She wanted to be alone and with millions of people at the same time. She wanted to drown and to fall and to run and to feel some adrenalin. But she didn't. She just sat there staring at the old fashioned pattern of the wallpapers opposite her. This had to stop. She had to say something. But she didn't.
Ben: "Eileen, I know this must be so hard for you, but there is something else."
Go ahead, kill me, Eileen thought.
Ben: "This place is no longer safe for you. We don't have a clue who has killed your father. We don't know where they gave him the Prussic Acid. It could have been here, you know? It could be in the salt or sugar. We don't know why they've killed Agent Fergus and we have no idea what their intentions could be. Ultimately we do not know if you are safe. And although your father was a well-respected officer, you have to endure the normal procedure…. Witness-protection programme, which in your case means leaving the country altogether."(pause)
Eileen: (quiet, then angry, shouting) "Summing up, you come to my father's burial, you come into my house – to tell me that my father was murdered and that now you guys are sending me into exile? Get. Out. Of. My. House or I swear to god I will…"
And that was when Eileen collapsed.
She awoke the next morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and because rays of sunlight were tickling her nose. She was lying in her bed, the curtains were open and a surprisingly beautiful day was awaiting her. The last thing she could remember was Ben catching her before she hit her head on the stone table. Sleeping had helped. She felt better now. She could think reasonably again. She thought about all the stuff Ben told her yesterday. At first she couldn't rebuild her memories of last night properly, everything was blurry, but after some minutes of reflecting and after some sips of coffee she pretty much worked out everything. Now all she had to do was to decide. She could hear Ben downstairs in the kitch-en. All of a sudden she felt glad that she cleaned the whole house last weekend.
She had two options: 1. Run away from the police. 2. Comply with the police.
And seen, as number one was impossible for her to accom-plish in her recent condition, she decided to give number two a shot. Right now she was sick of Ireland and of people killing her father, so why not go?
She heard Ben coming up the stairs, and pretended to be sleeping. Now that was really making her mad. How come Ben was behaving like her babysitter? How come he checked on her every 20 minutes? She guessed he had slept over last night to make sure she wouldn't run away. But anyway, she had made her decision. After trying to get Stark on the phone for 10 minutes but only reaching his mailbox and leaving 25 messages, she got up and went into her private bathroom, took a shower, brushed her teeth. If she was going to witness-protection, she would go pretty. She even used mascara. Eileen unknotted her long curly hair with her hairbrush, and after she got dressed she emptied her cup of coffee and went downstairs.
Eileen: "Good morning, Ben. Nice to see you are still around."
Ben: "Good morning Miss Sarcasm."
Eileen: "Is there more coffee?"
Ben: "Yes, over here. Wait."
Eileen: "Thanks. (pause) So Ben, I thought about yesterday evening."
Ben: "And?"
Eileen: "And I made up my mind."
Ben: "So?"
Eileen: "So, I don't see any way around the whole witness-protection thingy, if the police wants me to go. And…" (pause)
Ben: "And?"
Eileen: "And I imagine that spending some time abroad would comfort me." (pause)
Eileen: "I don't get to choose, do I? I can't say: Take me to New Zealand, can I? Well, because that would be awesome, you know."
Ben: (laughing) "My apologies."
Eileen: "Do you realize that those few hours we have known each other you have apologized to me at least five times? Could you stop that?"
Ben: "I'm sorry about that, yes!"
Eileen: "Oh will you stop saying that! Please!! I've had enough apologies for a lifetime. So now, back to the issue. Where am I going? And who is going to come with me? Stark?"
Ben: "I'm sor – Er, no. Stark won't be coming with you. As to where you are going? I'm not quite sure if you are going to like it, but do you enjoy hiking?"
Eileen: "Playing games now, are you? Yes, I like hiking very much. Then who is coming with me?"
Ben: "And what about skiing?"
Eileen: "Never tried it to be honest, now please, spit it out!!"
Ben: (pause, smiling) "Maria Alm – Austria. With me."

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