Beyond Regret in Rural Ireland

‘Better be careful wearing something like that, people might think your some sort of queer,’ the bar tender seemed to shudder on the final word. Strange how people seem to think domestic matters are of public importance.

‘I’ve no interest in sex with men, or women for that matter,’ I respond as he hands me my change.

‘Best be on your way after that one with talk like that,’ he says as he turns towards a bleeding-hearted deity and blesses himself. ‘Fucking white suit,’ he mutters as he finds a stool and his eyes return to the TV.

My target’s stench assaults me first. Why do these animals start to rot unless they constantly cleanse themselves?

I glance over my left shoulder and there he sits, a neat stack of coins stands as indication that he intends to continue drinking. An unholy marriage of black and white curdles in front of him. He toys with a paddy-cap between grimy fingers, yellowed at the tips, as glassy corpse-blue eyes stare into the abyss.

‘Are you happy?’ I ask and a phlegmy laugh creeps up from the depths of a beer belly and crawls through yellowed teeth.

‘Happiness is for children and fools,’ he says as he finishes the brownish mess in his glass and motions for another.

‘Is that the last time you were happy?’ I ask. He continues staring ahead so I add, ‘when you were young?’ His eyes shift towards the TV and a flicker of life seems to kindle.

It’s a football match. The modern war substitute popularised to give a sense of triumph and ego stroking without all that messy blood and treaties to clean up.

‘You could have went professional if your father hadn’t passed,’ I say, as I brace myself for his fist.

‘Anyone could have been anything had the circumstances been different,’ he simply says as he grabs a packet of Major cigarettes and matches.

He’s half way towards the back door before I make a move to follow. It looks like subtlety won’t do here. I stand and walk after him.

‘But you actually could have been,’ I begin as I watch him suckle that Freudian nipple and watch the snow lay a soft blanket on the ground for people to soil.

‘That scout would have taken you to England with him. He wasn’t trying to use you. Your mother wouldn’t have resented you for selling the farm. If you had told her about the scout, that is.’

He moves towards the door to return to his stupor at the bar.

‘But she did resent you for staying. For not making something of yourself!’

‘That was a nice trip down memory lane,’ he says as he turns towards me.

He eyes up my suit. ‘You some sort of angel here to help me?’ he scoffs.

‘Is that a yes then?’ I ask hoping I can send him back and end this.

‘I’d be richer probably. Have more shite around me. Don’t mean I’d be happy though.’ He turns and walks back into the pub, I shudder and follow him in.

‘What about Peg?’ I ask ready to end this puerile game. ‘You know she loved you. She would have waited if you’d let her.’

‘And we’d have a couple of little brats running around to break her heart and me to drink away her soul.’

‘I could take away the need to drink?’ I whisper as I see the bartender eye me with suspicion. Our conversation makes him naturally suspicious but my target acts like miracles were as commonplace as suffering.

‘Sure I’d have to live with my demons and mistakes then. Why would I want that?’ he says as he gulps his medicine.

‘But that’s my point. You don’t need to. I can give you whatever it is you want.’ I can’t help raising my voice slightly. He acts like a solution to his squalor walks into his tomb everyday.

‘You know what the problem with you people is,’ he begins.

‘I’m not a person,’ I retort.

‘Not everyone needs to be saved God-genie.’

He’s halfway towards the door before I realise he’s gotten up again. I decide that a sharp shock is the only way to get through.

‘Nice trick,’ he says as I stand before him in the snow. ‘Must really save time in walking.’

‘I can’t give you this ability.’ I say through clenched teeth. I wish I could. It might end this courting.

‘I never asked for it.’ he says as if I’d offered him another burden to wear on his hunched shoulders.

‘You never asked for anything!’ I shout as the snow hardens to hailstone and beats the ground.

‘Well what does that tell you then?’ he shrugs.

‘You all want something!’

‘Only to be left alone,’ he mutters as he blows a cloud of smoke in my face.

***

He’s gone. It’s all dissolved and I’m back here without my mission completed.

‘You can’t save them all,’ her voice echoes through the vast bleached vacuum.

‘Well what about me?’ I plead.

‘You just have to wait until one allows you to save them. It’s only then that your mission is completed.’ The disembodied voice sooths.

And I’m alone again floating in this void of failure waiting until a single fragment of humanity can evolve past this pathetic pride impediment.

 

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