Cara needed to fetch the papers for the next event of the
day. The clutter of papers in her bedroom was gradually
diminishing but raffle prizes were being added. Stifling in
her silk blouse and waistcoat on the warm day, she decided
to change as the formal meetings were ended. Pulling on a
clean white t–shirt and transferring her badge, she
took papers, a bag of pens and a bag of wrapped mint sweets
and trotted downstairs again. The lifts were always busy in
hotels and she quite enjoyed the carpeted stairs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ she had
only one floor to go.
A Garda car, white with a high–vis stripe, was now
parked in front of the hotel. No uniformed people were in
sight. The ambulance had gone. Getting more worried about
the injured parties as time went on, she decided to stand in
front of the door and ask the next guard to appear what was
happening. Meanwhile small knots of Mensans were clustering
in the foyer.
"Treasure Hunt," she called, waving a sheet in the air.
"Teams of three or four." The teams were to make sure
everyone had company and met other people besides, in the
case of couples, their own partners. Immediately teams
formed and Cara had a queue on her hands.
"You're not timed," she told them. "You'll be sent out
three minutes apart. Hand the sheets in at the registration
desk on your return." She distributed sheets, pens and mints
and set the first team loose. "Out the door, out the gate,
turn right." They jogged off reading the first clue.
"Any problem?" someone asked her, indicating the Garda car.
"Nothing to worry about," she assured him.
"Can we go with you?" a pair of leggy blondes from
England wearing t–shirts and shorts asked a local
member, a single thirtyish man named John with a modest
demeanour. "Your badge says Clondalkin so we're sure to win."
Cara stifled a grin. She had asked John, a civil
servant, to organise a pub crawl and he had replied,
"You know as much about Clondalkin's pubs as I do."
"But you live there," she'd protested, and he'd reiterated
"– And you know as much about the pubs as I do."
Therefore she'd driven to Clondalkin village, a pretty
and historic cluster with a round tower, square tower and
monastic settlement, strolled around and worked out a
treasure trail which included some of the pubs. The hunters
could stop for refreshment if they wished or could walk on
past because the clues referred to items outside the
premises. For instance:
'On Sunday my doors are shut no more
Inside you'll smell the hops and yeast.
If today held a birthday treat in store
How old would be my sable beast?'
The Black Lion had its date of origin on its painted sign.
John acquiesced, warning the girls that he couldn't
promise anything. Cara gave them a sheet and sent them out
to the bright sunshine.
The teams went off briskly and the foyer was soon nearly
"I'm looking for the organiser," said a deep voice behind
Cara as she finished directing the final team out the gate.
Turning, she saw a uniformed garda eyeing her suspiciously.
Perhaps it hadn't been wise for her to wear an
X–Files T–shirt with a caricature of Agent
Scully standing with folded arms. Or did everyone who found
themselves facing the uniform immediately wonder what they
had done wrong?
"That would be me. How can I help? And how are the
people who were injured?"
"I'll come to that in a minute. Can I have your name
please?" He was broadly built and sounded as though he was
from Kerry. Cara gave it, pointing to the spelling on her
badge as he wrote it down.
"I'm Garda Kennedy. And you're the organiser of Mencap,
is that correct?"
"Ah Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mencap does wonderful work, but we're not
connected. This is Mensa. The high IQ society," she added
when the name didn't seem to register with him.
He looked her up and down again and wrote it in his
notebook without comment.
"We're going to have to ask you a few questions," he
announced. "Would you mind coming this way?"