Chapter 39. Sorting things out.
Once Marianne had spoken to Maeve, she set about trying to contact the student’s union. Shit, thought Marianne as she googled her way through their website, the Kent Union’s emergency immigration advice was closed, only providing a link to the national UK Council for Immigration Affairs. As she didn’t have any of Adam’s official papers, or even his full address, or student number, she couldn’t see how she could even explain the situation properly, never mind ensure that they would take her seriously. She knew that Adam was a PhD student but his supervisor had been taken into custody by the police almost a year ago and was not likely to be released.
Meanwhile, Orla was telling Ada the news. Ada was desperate to help, showing how guiltily she felt for causing the situation, she was wildly angry on Adam’s part, “Sure isn’t he more local than the people who come from here?”
Orla didn’t quite follow, “Sorry? He’s Greek, with an English father, not really local to Canterbury is he?”
“No, but you know what I mean, who else knows about the ancient water systems? That young man knows every stone in the Cathedral. I mean really!”
Ada was prone to exaggeration. Orla’s aim was to make sure that Ada didn’t make anything worse, didn’t actually do anything at all, but she was not confident that she could handle her. Deciding the less said the better Orla was wrapping up the call with a promise to keep Ada up to date with the news as it came through.
Just before Ada left the call, she said almost to herself, “They wouldn’t have taken him down to Napier Barracks, would they?”
Maeve was retracing her journey in a very different frame of mind. It was only yesterday morning that she had set off thinking this was a romantic tryst, how wrong could she be. Steve really needs some help, she thought, and I don’t think I am the right person to give it. She was pretty sure that the biggest step for Steve was for him to admit that he wasn’t in control and that he needed to act. His concerns over how it might affect his career were real, and probably valid, but she was equally sure that there were other routes he could take. Maeve appreciated how Steve had been there for her when she was dealing with Ada, now it was her turn, if she couldn’t be the professional that he needed at least she could point him in the right direction.
Reflecting on the day, in another about turn, she had discovered a fabulous hideaway with a like minded community. Who already felt like old friends. Sitting on the train, she was still smiling at the insanity of going swimming in the sea, in winter. Maybe she should get Ada started on it, after all her house opened onto the shore. If it didn’t kill her it would probably keep her heart going for years. She couldn’t quite imagine Ada with neoprene extremities and a bobble hat, still the image made her laugh to herself.
Back in Folkestone, once Ada had finished her call with Orla, and it had occurred to Ada that they might have taken Adam to the asylum seeker’s holding site at Napier Barracks, she wanted to take action. Ada was trying to be responsible but she was agitated and doing nothing wasn’t an option. Thinking to herself, ‘ach if I try to call, I’ll never get through, or they’ll keep me for hours hanging-on the phone’, so she decided to go there and have a look. What harm would it do, if she went to have a look? It was only a twenty minute walk from Sandgate, up the hill away and from the shore, it would be a good walk for her daily exercise. Within minutes Ada was wrapped up, and had set off.
On the train Maeve was enjoying the time to think things through. Fiona had returned the bag Maeve had used for indulgent food for the journey. But Fiona had repacked it with fresh scones, butter pats, and homemade jam as a delicious surprise, which it was. Maeve had already picked up some good coffee at the train station in Inverness and was enjoying laying out a spread for herself as she went through the issues. She felt happier about dealing with the water spirit, she was replaying in mind the advice that it could be a guide so long as she stayed in control. This business with the shoe was confusing. Maeve was coming to the conclusion that she needed to take another walk through the woods, maybe starting close to the river, to see what emerged. She could address the water spirit first, and then walk to where she had first felt the child. Maeve had picked up all of the multiple text messages about the mass march, the chaos and the major incident, but in her imagination it hadn’t changed the woods. The woods would be in exactly the same state as at her last visit. She was in for a shock.
Steve arrived in Folkestone. The cross country motorbike ride under the archway of trees, now bare of leaves, had brought him back to when he first met Maeve. The roar of the bike plus focusing on the bends in the road shut out everyday thoughts, he felt music, the big rock guitar chords of Jimi Hendrix reflected his emotions. He was not calm.
Steve was parking his motorbike at Napier Barracks when he looked up and saw Ada making her way towards him wrapped up in a dramatic lime green coat, with a large bright red, floral Russian head scarf swept around her head and shoulders. Hardly discrete, thought Steve, but then she is probably trying to attract attention. He was still furious with Ada, if she hadn’t started this ridiculous online nonsense none of this would have happened.
Ada saw Steve and accosted him first with,
“Aha! If you’re here, I was right, Adam must be here too!”
Steve knew that it was partly his fault. It was his colleague Tim who was playing internal politics and was taking it out on Steve, who had caused this particular issue. This only added fuel to his ire, anger building, he didn’t even try to control himself,
“You are a selfish, self centred, self important woman.” He was drawing breath to let rip, building up to a full on explosion, when Ada laughed out loud.
“Is that the best you can do? Oh my gawd! You need to get out more.” Once Ada had started laughing it triggered a release, she was now convulsed with laughter. She had been feeling very guilty, but Steve heading in for an attack before she had time to grovel her apology, absolved her.
It made Steve feel faintly ridiculous, he wanted to be angry but at the same time laughter is infectious, and he wanted to join in. It defused the situation.
“God Almighty, how did we get here?”, Ada with tears still running down her face. “We are some pair.” Trying to control her breath, and to stop hiccuping, Ada was talking in short bursts, “I never meant that to happen. You know, in the woods.” Pause. “But what happened your end to let Adam end up here?”
Deflated, the flare of anger evaporated, Steve began to see the ridiculousness of the situation too. “If only Adam……”
“...Hadn’t been Adam?” Ada was laughing again, “He’s such a nice boy, but he’s not really with it, is he?”
Steve shrugged, smiling, and exasperated, “Yes! Exactly.” He didn’t mean to agree with Ada but she was right, Adam was far too trusting. What idiot would turn themselves in for something they hadn’t done without trying to get some help first.
Ada sighed, she was now fully recovered. “So what do we do now? I was ready for a fight. Do I need to go and make placards and ‘man the barricades’?”
Steve gave himself a mental shake, bringing his emotional levels as close to normal as he could, “Hopefully not.” He could just see Ada on the barricades in Paris and it wasn’t an image that he wanted to see here. “Right now it would be better if there was no fuss, no media. Ada, I mean that, no media, understand?”
Ada was a little shamefaced, “I hear you. But tell me what’s going on, or I might have to do something…..”
She was still a bit uncomfortable about all the trouble she had caused but she was also aware of the pressure that the media can bring to bear on a situation. Right now she was a hot property, and that meant power. This time she had no intention of doing anything, until she fully understood the situation. If she caused a media storm it would be on purpose, not by accident. She could drum up a crowd if need be, and she knew it. She waited for Steve to explain.
“Look, I don’t know the full extent of the situation yet. I know there have been a series of cock-ups.” He looked up at Ada, she wasn’t buying that these were errors, “Well anyway, it may be simple to resolve, or it may already have gone too far in the system.” He looked at her again and added, “I may be able to do something. If there is no outside pressure!”
He didn’t trust her not to act impulsively, sighing at the idea that he was making a deal with Ada said, “Give me an hour, if he’s not out by then…...well, then you do whatever you have to, but I don’t want to know anything.”
Ada nodded acceptance, “You’d better go in then. It’s bloody freezing out here, so hurry up!” She had a grim smile, it wasn’t a threat, but it left Steve in no doubt that if he didn’t find a solution, she would. Steve left her on the pavement as he made his way to the central admin block