a cup of coffee

An east wind whipped down Little Catherine St, April showers thinned the blood around the rag doll corpse lying at the intersection with Thomas St., her emerald slippers discarded, thrown aside during the struggle .

Hey, what goes around comes around.

The crying girl with the garrotted womb looked down at the broken body and spat in its face, lit a cigarette and pushed on with her childless buggy.

A twelve year old hoodie stuffed a piece of paper into the corpse’s bodice pocket, “for Darren” it read, in badly joined up writing. Sitting at a corner coffee shop, a man with strong opinions held court.

I stood up and left for a different funeral.

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Oh Christ, I want my funerals sepia toned, yellow golden and melancholic. Old age or he went quickly is good, I cope with this passing, in as much as you recover from a teenage broken heart. It allows us to hold hands, cry and remember good stuff.

 “Emily, I’d kill a buffalo for you”, they laughed too loudly at the back end of the second day. He didn’t want to be anywhere else but there at the hotel, where it was safe with the others who lingered too long and were broken.  He should have gone home earlier, gone home with his wife to their children but he needed to stay. It shouldn’t have happened, everyone agreed. Christ, if ever there was one which shouldn’t have happened, this was it.

There was talk of medication, the early stages when it’s dangerous on the lead into the bubble, when reality can be distorted and pain exaggerated. John had been sad for a while; everyone said this too but knew him as a rock of sense. So he took the tablets and started to make things right, the house, the policies, the future, the pipe from the exhaust to the inside of the car.

You go to the funeral, forget you’re an atheist and hold out for ceremony and ritual. You think you’re hard, enlightened, that the experience gained from your short life will carry you through. But really, you rely on ritual and religion.

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There was a little grey in Emily’s raven black hair but she still had that swanlike grace, the coolest laughing blue eyes and kissable generous mouth.  Back then he was no killer, he was drenched in Joni Mitchell sad songs and saturated in teenage hesitation. She’d lived across the road from him growing up, floating to and from school, never seeing his gaze or hearing those words which caught at the back of his throat. He hadn’t expected to see her at the funeral.

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On John’s 1st anniversary I said to anyone who’d listen, that if somehow the man could still be here and look back at the last year, he’d never have done it. But I knew this was stupid, utterly stupid, so I told them instead about walking alone on a beach as the tide came in and of looking back, seeing my footprints grow faint and eventually disappear. There was no sense, no rhyme nor reason, nothing but a flimsy analogy. Nothing made sense save the washed beach and the disappeared footprints.

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He’d leant records to Emily’s brother but never wanted his poxy Paul McCartney love songs in return; he had his own solo love songs. He was a complicit emotional wreck, happy to be ignored and happier to return for further rejection, an ethereal existence dragging him to a hateful place of mirrors and acne.

Back then, a cup of coffee was pre-latte, in a chipped mug by the spoon. You could have cream on top, which was more soft cheese and could be scooped surreptitiously. A cup of coffee with a gal was a leap into the firmament and he dreamed of coffee with the dark haired, tall girl who lived so near. 

A couple of years later he met her on Grafton Street. She saw him first and said hello first, he mumbled coffee. Truth be known he’d given up on her by then but carried their coffees on his tray, went to pay and realized he had no money.

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Johnny went down in the dead afternoon heat of a country graveyard. I remembered the previous day at the house, queuing to sympathize in the hallway, the coffin lid leaning up against the wall and the child’s schoolbag underneath. They’d laid him out in the kitchen, still blue gray and I hoped that now he had turned the softer waxy yellow. His eldest kicked a ball in the garden and we talked on the deck about needing a drink. We’re a tense crowd at the best of times made up of people who work in private and public sectors. One of the lads, one close in and who hadn’t worked for a while came out and shouted that, ye’d driven him to it. There was nothing to do but laugh.

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No one was ever done for the girl’s murder. The kids kicked her slippers up and down Thomas St. They identified and interviewed loads of suspects but all they got was the same vague answer, “ I saw nothing” from civil servants, or the PAYE guy who couldn’t be sure or the bank official who couldn’t remember. The crying woman with the garrotted womb sat there, staring back blankly.

The Hoodie went home to her estate and met her mates in the derelict house adjacent to her home. They sat around and listened to Calvin’s latest rap. They didn’t understand much about regeneration other than it was another thing denied. Calvin got to the bit about loving and missing Darren and how he was cut by a scimitar and bled to death., The Hoodie lit a joint.

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2 responses to “a cup of coffee

  1. Pretty grim piece! How’re tings?

  2. hey there bob the builder – yes grim – grim is good here – yes i meant that.

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