I check the form before glancing up at him again. “You better remember, because it wants that, too.”
Calvin leans back and runs a hand through his hair, laughing. An apple core sits on a plate in front of him, along with a handful of orange peels, the empty wrappers of two granola bars, and a bit of crust from one peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Calvin revelation: he eats a lot.
I move on to the next section. “Tell me about your parents.”
“They’re called Padraig and Marina. They’re . . .” He trails off, shrugging. “They’re nice.”
“Padraig?” I say, doing my best to repeat his pronunciation.
He turns to face me, tucking a purple-socked foot underneath him. His hair is standing straight up, almost as if it is as delighted as he is by my mistake. “Patrick,” he repeats in an obnoxious American accent, emphasizing each letter this time.
I feel my face heat. “Oh. Patrick. I am an idiot.”
“You Americans speak at the back of your mouth and crowd all your consonants together. Where you might say ‘How are you?’?” he says, now using an almost perfect American accent, “an Irishman would simply say, ‘Hawarya?’?”
My voice comes out shaky and soft: “I like that.”
Close your mouth, Holland.
He continues as if he hasn’t noticed my swoon. “The accent is stronger some times than others—like when I’ve had a few pints and I have to remind myself to slow down. If we were in Galway, you wouldn’t understand a thing I said.”
“I’m sure we sound fairly boring in comparison.”
He gives a slight shake of his head. “I like the way you sound, though.”
I clear my throat and look down to the forms.
We spend the next fifteen minutes going through his phone, looking at photos of his family while I write down the full names and birth dates of all his siblings. He’s twenty-seven, the oldest of four: Brigid is twenty-five and closest to Calvin, Finnian is twenty-three, and Molly is nineteen.
“So is the birth order rule true?” I ask him. “Are you the dependable oldest child? The conscientious, overachieving, structured . . .”
He laughs and tips his beer to his lips to take a swallow. “I’m here on an expired visa and had to marry a stranger to get the job of my dreams. ‘Conscientious’ might not fit me to a T.” Pausing, he scratches his jaw. “But yeah, I was a know-it-all with them, and a bit of a bossy little shite, especially when our parents weren’t around. But they retaliated sometimes. Once, a girl I fancied was outside with a friend in the street, and Brigid and Finn stripped me bare and pushed me out the front door.”
“Oh my God.”
“Eh, I’m sure I deserved it.” He tilts his chin to me. “What about you, baby of six? Are you the classic youngest child?”
“I’m sure Davis would say I am. I mean, Robert created a job for me and my uncle pays most of my rent, so . . .” I trail off and motion to the room around us, as if to say see? “I’d say that’s a yes.”
“I don’t know,” he says, elbows on his knees while he looks at me. “This feels pretty selfless. Giving up half your space and putting yourself at risk.”
“I think you’re giving me too much credit.” I busy myself straightening a pile of papers. Guilt is like a little stopwatch tick-tick-ticking away in the back of my head. In my heart, I know I did this for Robert. But having Calvin here so close . . . and feeling like I’ve finally done something useful for the production . . . I can’t deny that I also did it at least a little for me.
“Thomas,” Calvin mutters, tapping his list of my siblings’ names with the tip of his pencil. “Bram, Matthew, Olivia, Davis, Holland.”
“That’s right,” I say, and stand to get us each another beer. “Thomas is an ophthalmologist in Des Moines. Bram is a high school math teacher in Fargo. Matthew is in tech support at the University of Iowa . . .”
He cuts in: “Davis lives in Wisconsin, and Olivia is . . . ?” He shuffles through his notes, but I know he won’t find anything.
“Who knows,” I tell him, returning with the bottles. “Last week she wanted to go to massage school. Before that, she decided she was going to turn Mom and Dad’s land into an organic farm.”
“Every family needs one of those.” He points his thumb to his chest.
“Some of these yes-or-no questions are really easy.” I motion for him to hand me his laptop, and he does, almost gladly.
“Cheers.” He leans back again, wiggling his purple socks.
“Never been arrested . . .” I click the box marked NO and move on to the next one. “While in the United States, do you plan to engage in espionage?”
He gives me an evil smirk.
I grin, and then look back to the form. “Plan to engage in any activity a purpose of which is opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States, by force, violence, or other unlawful means?”
He pretends to think, and I move on. “Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” He shakes his head and I click the correct box. “Do you intend to practice polygamy in the United States?”
“Let’s see how this one goes first.”