It would recur several times more in different forms. I should make it clear that we were sufficiently old-fashioned to wait till our wedding night for our lovemaking. Well, I was anyway. Since we never discussed other possibilities, I didn't know what Nuala's feelings were on the matter.
But I respected her vulnerability--at the core of her enormous energy and strength--too much even to suggest otherwise to her. To be honest I was not without some unease as we approached our wedding day and night. I was not afraid of lovemaking, not even afraid that I lacked the tenderness and sensitivity I needed to be a good bridegroom. But I was afraid of hurting Nuala.
Now go away. Obviously the Adversary is part of me, so that thought must have been banging around, you should excuse the expression, in one of the subbasements of my soul. I was also afraid about the loss of my personal privacy. I had been an Irish bachelor, living in his own pad, for six years, counting those last two at Marquette after I flunked out of Notre Dame. I had become selfish and self-centered. How would I cope with a loud, mercurial, enthusiastic person of the opposite gender who usually bounded instead of walked, and who would surely want to remake me and my life, as Irish women always want to do?
But I desired her so much that I figured I could put up with those minor inconveniences. At the graveside that day, she said, "I suppose you were hoping I'd never get one of these experiencesagain, weren't you, Dermot Michael?
Irish whiskey : a Nuala Anne McGrail novel - Anaheim Public Library
And especially not before our wedding? The results of your experiences have always been interesting. She knows things that others don't know, which is why she is such a good detective and I am reduced to being her spear-carrier when we get involved in a mystery. Moreover, she picks up psychic vibrations of which almost everyone else is unaware, like the horrors of the Civil War prison camp at 31st and Cottage Grove in Chicago or of Bealneblah The Vale of the Blossoms where Michael Collins was killed.
Nuala and I keep these traits--fascinating but a little scary--to ourselves, though my brother George the Priest has some inkling of them. We were on the edge of another one. In my experience, young women especially when they are not quite yet twenty-one are overwhelmed by the excitement of wedding preparations, an effect reinforced by the high anxiety of their mothers. I assumed that Nuala would be no different from the rest of them. Wrong again. Her mother and father were coming over from Ireland a week before the wedding their first trip to America and it was most unlikely that her beautiful and serene mother ever suffered from high anxiety anyway.
Nuala was content to let my mother for whom yet another family wedding in which she was responsible for the bride was an unexpected opportunity and my sister Cindy assume full responsibility. You'll love it. Totally cool. I had not, however, tried to explain.
Series: Nuala Anne McGrail
Nuala had kept up her usual routine. By day she went to Mass every morning, ran a couple of miles, worked at Arthur Andersen which had graciously given her an extended leave for a honeymoon because they wanted her back sang two nights a week at the Abbey Pub, was faithful to her two voice lessons a week with Madame in the Fine Arts Building on South Michigan Avenue, and even cut her first disc of Irish songs, a copy of which we planned to give to everyone who came to the wedding.
After five minutes of reflection she decided that the Casino Club was too fancy for the reception and chose instead the Grand Ballroom of the Drake and selected the menu.
She deferred to me on both decisions. At first I thought this was merely ceremonial. Then I realized that when she said, "Whatever you think best, Dermot," she meant it.
Los Angeles and San Francisco? Or Paris, Florence and Rome? The only time the old Nuala returned was when she announced to us, "Isn't my pompous asshole brother Laurence flying in from Pacific Palisades to vet my intended and his family and himself bringing his fat bitch of a wife with him? Ma's language would have been worse than Nuala's.
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A writer, would you believe? No good will ever come of marrying a writer. I'm not a docile little sister who does what the friggin' amadon wants her to do. She turned on me, ready to vent her anger on me. If she was angry at her brother, then loyalty demanded that I be, too. Instead she grinned. Sure, if it's not in Pacific Palisades, it isn't any good at all, at all. Or that tub of lard he's married to and herself with all them expensive rings she wears?
And won't he be thinking that it was irresponsible altogether for you to spend money on a phone they didn't need, the shithead that he is? That she was on a run just now suggested an intense dislike which I had not heard before. Heaven forfend that I ever become the target of such rage. I would dry up and wither away.
She hugged me and murmured, "Aren't you the lovely man, Dermot Michael? Grand altogether. Do it, Dermot Michael! Please do it! Josaphat's Church. Och, don't be daft.
But he could ruin the wedding for everyone in my family and maybe some in your family. For some reason that escapes me people tend to think of me as a pushover, though I'm built like a linebacker college not pro. Maybe it's my innocent face, dimple, and longish blond hair. Cute, they seem to think, but hardly anything more than a cream puff, physically and emotionally.
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Maybe Nuala's brother would have to learn the hard way. I'm going to kiss my woman good night. Mind you I was not invited into the apartment, which I'm sure was just as well. The apartment was on the second floor of a wooden A-frame house which had once been an elegant home.
It was the only house in the neighborhood that had survived the Great Chicago Fire which in that area had spread as far as Fullerton Avenue two blocks north. Nuala had shared the apartment with a crew of greenhorns like herself, though none of them shared her passion for neatness. The first floor was vacant. When the greenhorns were shipped back to Ireland because they were illegal and Nuala was deported though she was legal, I had bought the house at a bargain price and remodeled the second floor temporarily because I was sure she'd be back.
Then I had begun the process of restoring the whole place. It was across the street from a church and a parochial school; the neighborhood was a mix of ethnics of every hue under heaven and gentrifying yuppies and boasted a couple of corner groceries and bars. A strip mall over on Clybourn, the nearby Kennedy Expressway, fast public transportation into the Loop, and Lincoln Park and the Lake within walking distance--why not raise one's children here in West Lincoln Park, or DePaul after the neighborhood university as real estate people had recently named it?
I assumed that I would marry Nuala eventually, some unspecified years into the future. But about that I had no definite plans. None that I was willing to admit to myself anyway. So within the month I had bought a ring with which to surprise her on the Labor Day weekend along with a suggestion of a Christmas wedding--only to find that she had already chatted with her buddy, the little bishop. The groom is always the last to know. So the following week, I had advanced my notion of living after our marriage in the house on Southport. I had heard then for the first time, though not the last, "Sure, whatever you think best, Dermot.
Lincoln," written on that fateful Good Friday, a couple of hours before he and his wife went over to Ford's Theater to see Our American Cousin. During the course of our investigating the Camp Douglas matter, Nuala had imagined herself bonding with Ms. Murray, a fearsome woman much like herself. Whether this bonding was metaphorical or literal, I did not know. Nor did I ask because I was sure that the explanation would not be satisfactory. Some of the Irish, particularly if they are Irish speakers from the West, tend to live in a borderland between various worlds, all of them "real" in one way or another.
When one asks them to distinguish among the degrees of real in these worlds, they are incapable of answering the question. I think. So, after the emotional exhaustion of the weekend retreat and mortality-reminding experience of praying at my grandparents' grave, I was not eager to face our guests at my family's home.