Home > Anybody Out There? (Walsh Family #4)(10)

Anybody Out There? (Walsh Family #4)(10)
Marian Keyes

Coaster’s stony face remained stony. He could have given those statues on Easter Island a run for their money. He cut in on me. “’Fraid I can’t help.” And with lightning speed, I found myself outside his office, with the door shut firmly behind me.

Nita was studying herself in a compact; she looked like she’d tried on every single product simultaneously, like a little girl who’d gone berserk in her mother’s makeup drawer.

“Nita, can you help me.”

“Anna, I am totally in love with this gloss—”

“I’m looking for a man.”

“Welcome to New York City.” She didn’t even look up from the mirror. “Eight-minute dating. Like speed dating, but slower. You get eight minutes instead of three. It’s totally great, I got four matches last time.”

“Not just any man. He works here. He’s quite tall and…and…” There was no other way round this, I had to say it. “And, um, beautiful. He has a tiny scar on his eyebrow and he sounds like he might be from Boston.”

Suddenly I had her interest. She jerked her head up. “Totally giving Denis Leary? But, like, younger?”


“Aidan Maddox. In IT, further along this floor. Make a left, then another, two rights, then you’ll see his pod.”

“Thank you. Just one other thing. Is he married?”

“Aidan Maddox? Oh my God. No, he’s not married.” She gave a little chuckle that said, And he’s never likely to be either.

I found him and stood by his cubicle, looking at his back, willing him to turn around. “Hey,” I said affably.

He swiveled around very quickly, like he was frightened. “Oh,” he said. “Hey. It’s you. How’s your hand?”

I extended it for him to have a look. “I called my lawyer, the writ is on its way. Hey, would you like to go for a drink sometime?”

He looked like he’d been hit by a train. “You’re asking me out for a drink?”

“Yes,” I said firmly. “Yes, I am.”

After a pause, he said, sounding perplexed, “But what if I said no?”

“What’s the worst that can happen? You’ve already scalded me with boiling coffee.”

He looked at me with an expression curiously akin to despair and the silence stretched too long. My confidence burst with a bang and suddenly I was desperate to leave.

“Do you have a card?” he asked.

“Sure!” I knew a rejection when I heard one.

I fumbled in my wallet and passed over a neon-pink rectangle with CANDY GRRRL in red wet-look type, followed in smaller writing by Anna Walsh, public-relations superstar. In the top right-hand corner was the famous growling-girl logo—an illustration of a winking girl, her teeth bared in a “grrr.”

We both looked at it. Suddenly I saw it through his eyes.

“Cute,” he said. Once again he sounded confused.

“Yes, it really gives the impression of gravitas,” I said. “Well, er, sayonara.”

I’d never before in my life said “sayonara.”

“Yeah, okay, sayonara,” he replied. Still sounding baffled.

And off I went.

So, you win some, you lose some, and plenty more where he came from. Anyway, I tended to like Italian and Jewish men; dark and short was more my thing.

But that night I woke up at 3:15 A.M., thinking about this Aidan. I’d really thought we’d connected.

But I’d had other intense, and ultimately meaningless, encounters in New York. Like the time the man on the subway had started talking to me about the book I was reading. (Paulo Coelho, which I so did not get.) We had a great chat all the way to Riverdale; I told him all kinds of things about myself, like my teenage preoccupation with mysticism, which I was now mortified by, and he told me about his nighttime cleaning job and the two women in his life whom he was unable to choose between.

And there was the girl I’d met at Shakespeare in the Park—we’d both been stood up, so we talked to each other while we waited and she told me everything about her two Burmese cats, who she said had helped her depression so much that she’d reduced her dose of Cipramil from forty milligrams right down to ten.

It’s a New York thing: you meet, tell each other absolutely everything about yourself, you genuinely connect, then you never see each other again. It’s very nice. Usually.

But I didn’t want my encounter with this Aidan to be a one-off and for the following few days I was a little expectant in every ringing-phone and incoming-e-mail situation, but nada.


Helen was clattering away at the ancient Amstrad, which lived in the hall, on top of the hostess trolley, and if you wanted to sit down to send an e-mail, you had to open the trolley doors and sit on a low stool, with your knees in the hot shelves.

“Who are you e-mailing?” I called.

She stuck her head around the door, winced at the sight of the tassels, and said, “No one, I’m writing a thing, you know, a telly script. About a detective.”

I was speechless. Helen claimed—proudly—to be practically illiterate.

“I might as well,” she said. “I’ve plenty of material. It’s actually very good, I’ll print it off for you.”

The ancient printer screeched and squeaked for about ten minutes, then Helen proudly ripped off a single page and gave it to me. Still speechless, I read it.

Lucky Star

By and about Helen Walsh

Scene One: small proud Dublin detective agency. Two women, one young, beautiful (me). Other old (Mum). Young woman, feet on desk. Old woman, feet not on desk because of arthritis in knees. Slow day. Quiet. Bored. Clock ticking. Car parks outside. Man comes in. Good-looking. Big feet.

Me: What can I do you for?

Man: I’m looking for a woman.

Me: This isn’t a knocking shop.

Man: No, I mean, I’m looking for my girl friend. She’s gone missing.

Me: Have you spoken to the boys in blue?

Man: Yes, but they won’t do anything until she’s been gone twenty-four hours. Anyway, they just think we’ve had a row.

Me (whipping feet off desk, narrowing eyes, leaning forward): And have you?

Man (morto): Yes.

Me: About what? Another man? Someone she works with?

Man (still morto): Yes.

Me: She working late a lot recently? Spending too much time with her colleague?

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